Every football fan knows that it’s much more than a game. Sure, it’s something that most players play from the time they were kids when it was fun, but the reality is that professional sports is a business. As a matter of fact, it’s a BIG business.
With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, every owner wants to see their team do the best they can on the field. While rebuilding years might be rough for a franchise’s fans, just imagine how rough it is for the owner. They are footing the bill for the entire roster and in some cases the stadium that the team plays in as well.
There is nobody on the “inside” of pro football that doesn’t look ahead. This has to be done to get the drop on other teams in hopes of landing that game-changing free agent or potential Hall of Fame draft pick. One of the things that are done quite regularly is to figure out who is staying and who is going.
If a general manager can predict the future properly he just might be able to create a dynasty on the field and be remembered forever. This includes making educated guesses on who will stay with their current team and who will be leaving. Any inside information that could be found would be key in determining the fate of these players.
We aren’t privy to this type of inside information but here are some good bets on who is moving on next year and who is staying put.
Eli Manning has led the New York Giants offense for a very long time and he has seen his share of success. Let’s face it though, his best days are behind him and the fans in New York have very short memories.
Once the season is finished, they will be looking for a new leader on offense and it’s a good bet that the Giants will give a serious look at Teddy Bridgewater. His contract in New Orleans is up at the end of the season and he could be back in New York next season wearing blue and red. What would the Jets think about that?
Joe Flacco is facing a similar situation in Baltimore that Manning is currently facing in The Big Apple. Change will be in the air as the Ravens will be looking to make a change on their offense and Flacco will probably be shown the door. He’ll probably end up in Miami or in Jacksonville and Eli Manning will be the new man in Baltimore.
Ravens management will bring in Manning hoping he can repeat what his brother did with the Broncos a few years ago. Odds are highly against that though, so Ravens fans are in for a tough next few years.
Everyone knows about the Tom Brady story. Love him or hate him, what he has accomplished makes him a first ballot Hall of Famer without question. If you ever want to wonder about “what could have been” with your favorite NFL team think about this… whatever your favorite team is, they passed on drafting him five times at least, some teams six times. That should make you feel better right? OK Maybe not.
Either way, he isn’t going anywhere and has said that he will come back for at least one more year. As long as he wants to play the Patriots will let them suit up for them. Can you blame them?
This one really isn’t news as he has already officially left the team and other Steelers players have already rummaged through the belongings that he left behind.
Bell gave up more than $14 million to not put on a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform this year and he is either a very smart guy or one of the dumbest to ever play football. That won’t be known for a few years at least though.
He’s going to be the top free agent available once the season is finished and there are plenty of rumors and guesses as to where he will play in 2019.
The Jets are in a prime position for another great draft pick and if they make the right pick there could be a great number of wins for the green and white next year. The franchise is heading in the right direction and they have a ton of cap room.
An offense of Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and another high draft pick would make the Jets a contender next year. Bell will be looking for a contender as well as a huge payday. He might find both of them with the New York Jets.
How fitting would it be if Bell were to help the Jets knock Pittsburgh out of the playoffs in 2019?
The Cowboys have a lot of key players to lock up when this offseason arrives. Byron Jones and Amari Cooper are key components they certainly want to keep and DeMarcus Lawrence will also demand a huge contract. However, the straw that stirs the drink on offense in Dallas isn’t going to be going anywhere either. There is no way Dallas is going to let Dak Prescott walk away from them.
Prescott is still improving and hasn’t come close to his prime yet and that has Dallas fans very excited. Their team has a ton of cap room after this season so there is no reason they can’t keep all of the mentioned players. Make no mistake about it though, if there is an issue, Dak stays above everyone else.
Ja’Wuan James is playing out the final year of his contract with the Miami Dolphins and he probably won’t be back next season. He’s been in the starting lineup with Miami over fifty times so he has some good experience now but the 26-year-old has missed more than 15 games due to injuries.
That’s the main reason that Miami will let him go but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left. He is still young enough to put up three or four more solid seasons. The only question is where will those seasons be played? If he doesn’t own a winter parka already now might be the time to pick one up.
The Bears have made a lot of improvements this season but they are still looking for a few more key guys. Right tackle Bobby Massie is set to have his contract expire at the end of this season and Chicago won’t be in a hurry to bring him back. He’ll turn thirty in the offseason and his play has been largely inconsistent.
Chicago will look hard at bringing James in because he is younger and a more solid player on the line. If he can stay healthy he could be a key contributor to a Bears playoff run.
There won’t be a lot of solid RT’s on the market this year so expect the Bears to make a major play for James.
Here are a few facts about Saints quarterback Drew Brees: He is the NFL’s All-Time Leading Passer (Yards), he is only the fourth QB in history to top 500 wins and he has a shot at Peyton Manning’s record of 539, he is the third man to gain a victory over every single NFL team and he passed for more than 4,500 yards in seven consecutive seasons. These are just a few of his accomplishments. There are countless more.
More importantly, like Brady, Drew Brees has no thoughts of retiring anytime in the near future and as long as he wants to play the Saints will have a roster spot for him. Yes, he returns in 2019.
Ndamukong Suh broke the bank a few years ago with the Dolphins and he’s still laughing about it. He’s having another very solid season in Los Angeles with the Rams but his stay on the west coast may be a short one.
Don’t take that as the Rams won’t want to sign him again because they absolutely will. This team is poised for a very good shot at the Super Bowl this year and Suh is a major contributor to the cause. They don't want to see him walk away once the season is done but it’s a hard fact they may have to face.
The Cincinnati Bengals are trying to improve enough to be considered a solid playoff contender. They have made big strides toward that goal over the last year but they still aren’t quite there yet. Right now the biggest problem they have is their defensive line. That’s where Suh comes in.
The Bengals don’t have a ton of cap room and Suh will be 32-years-old next season. They have enough for one solid signing and that could lead to Suh wearing orange and black next season. He would be a welcome addition to a defensive line that is in desperate need of an anchor.
The people of Tampa Bay will be upset to learn that once this season is done the Bucs will be signing Jameis Winston to a new contract. Ryan Fitzpatrick has done a fabulous job in filling in but as he did with the Jets and many other teams, he will be two seasons and done in Tampa. The younger Winston is the one who will lead the Bucs into the future.
Winston has performed well on the field during his first few years with Tampa Bay and if he keeps throwing touchdown passes he will be in Tampa Bay for a very long time.
The Atlanta Falcons love what Grady Jarrett brings to the table but fans better not get used to seeing him for too much longer. When this season is finished he’ll be looking for a big payday with his second NFL contract and the Falcons might not be able to find enough cap room to bring him back.
Last season he had 34 solo tackles and also had a very impressive 15 tackles for loss. This year he missed a couple of games but he is still playing very good football. Good enough for a very nice payday once the season is finished.
Don’t look now but the Cleveland Browns are getting better. Baker Mayfield has led to a lot of hope and with more than $80 million to spend this offseason, the Browns are looking to make a huge move toward giving their fans a winning team for the first time in a very long time.
Jarrett, a defensive tackle, has the ability to come in and be a major player in leading the Browns to the postseason. They can afford him so if he is willing to give them a shot… it could be a very good combination. Can Browns fans say playoffs? Do they dare to dream?
Russell Wilson can’t wait for this season to be over. Once the offseason arrives he will be a very rich man. Not that he isn’t already rich, but what he makes now will only be a fraction of what his new contract will be.
Now there is a slight chance he could take his talents elsewhere but that’s not a high probability at all because Seattle isn’t letting him go anywhere. You can expect them to give him a deal that is comparable to the Aaron Rodgers contract and he will become the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Until next offseason anyway.
In case you haven’t heard by now, Earl Thomas isn’t a big fan of playing football for the Seattle Seahawks. Last year during a Week 16 game against the Cowboys Thomas actually approached Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett and asked about possibly playing there when his time in Seattle was finished.
At the beginning of this season Thomas was holding out and Dallas offered a second-round draft pick for him but ultimately Seattle rejected the offer.
Several weeks later Thomas was injured and while he was being carted off the field he flipped off the Seattle bench. It was then clear to the world that Earl Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks don’t get along.
With all of the above groundwork already laid out, it’s quite obvious that Earl Thomas doesn’t want to sign another contract with Seattle. The Cowboys obviously want him and he obviously wants to play in Dallas so you do the math.
He has been All-Pro several times and will be a very nice addition to the Dallas defense. This year they are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in interceptions so Thomas will certainly improve that statistic and ranking. Forcing turnovers and getting the ball in the hands of Dak Prescott is never a bad thing. If Thomas doesn’t sign with Dallas it will be the shock of the century.
Marcus Mariota hasn’t made a lot of noise since being the #2 overall pick after Jameis Winston. That’s both good news and bad news for the Titans.
The good news is that Mariota keeps his hands to himself off the field (that we know of) and basically stays away from any bad publicity. The bad news is that while he has played solid football, he hasn’t set the world on fire or grabbed many headlines. That too is good and bad. Good because he hasn’t played poorly enough for people notice and bad because he hasn’t played fantastically enough to turn heads.
He has been very solid and will get a very nice contract extension to remain with the Titans.
Daryl Williams met a bad fate when he hurt his knee for a second time early in the season. It’s still doubtful that he’ll get on the field again this year but by the time training camp opens up he should be 100% ready to go. The only question is whose field he will be on. With his contract with the Panthers up at the end of the season, there are a lot of questions.
Certainly, Carolina will want to keep him because when he is healthy he is a very solid right tackle. Williams, on the other hand, might want to shop his services around the league.
Denver offensive tackle Jared Veldheer has missed more than 15 games with various injuries and each time he is away from the field he has admitted to thinking about retirement. The Broncos desperately need someone to help protect quarterback Case Keenum because he was sacked 24 times in the first nine games this season. It’s obvious that it’s time to part ways with Veldheer and Daryl Williams is the perfect fit to replace him.
Before Williams was injured the Panthers had expressed interest in wanting to bring him back next season but that interest surely took a hit when he got hurt. It will be interesting to see what happens but expect the Broncos to make a big play for him.
Jared Goff isn’t coming to the end of his contract just yet but history shows the Rams don’t like to wait until the last moment to lock in guys they like.
Goff won’t face his fifth-year option until 2020 but the Rams previously locked in Todd Gurley and Robert Quinn early so there is nothing to show they wouldn’t do the same with Goff.
If he can take this team to the Super Bowl in a few months that extension could come before the second week in February is over. Either way, he is going to be the Rams' quarterback for a very long time.