Author Topic: 10 bold predictions for the NFL offseason  (Read 1229 times)

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Offline Chris_

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10 bold predictions for the NFL offseason
« on: February 09, 2008, 11:17:18 AM »

Fret not, football fans. Sure, the games are over but the NFL now is a year-round pastime. There's almost as much intrigue from February to June as there is from July to January. Here are ten things that could happen in the coming months:

1. Defensive linemen will cash in. The success of the New York Giants confirmed that one of the most critical components of a successful NFL team is an overpowering defensive line. Having four men who can pressure quarterbacks without blitz help allows the other seven defenders to cover the five (at most) eligible receivers.

The greatest beneficiaries of the Giants' success are the defensive tackles and defensive ends who qualify for free agency Feb. 29. Defensive linemen will be the most overpaid players of the offseason.
4. Eagles could trade McNabb

Unlike Losman, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb isn't saying he wants out of Philadelphia and team officials say they plan to keep him. But the Eagles didn't draft Kevin Kolb in the second round last spring because they want to make him a running back.

Surely, the Eagles will listen to trade offers; they just don't want to appear interested in a trade so they can maximize leverage. And McNabb is playing along (just ask FOX's Pam Oliver) because he realizes doing so increases the likelihood of securing a fresh start elsewhere.

There's too much smoke not to believe McNabb is available for the right price. That doesn't mean a trade definitely will happen, but it means a trade definitely could happen.
5. Union will assert itself

With several NFL owners rattling their pens about opting out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw is starting to talk tough. And that's a break from the too-cozy relationship between Upshaw and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, which was good for labor peace but bad for appearances.

The union and management are supposed to fight from time to time, and with management poised to pull the plug on the labor contract two years early, Upshaw is prepared to become a pain in the butt.

For starters, Upshaw seems ready to resist moving the Pro Bowl from Hawaii to the mainland, which hardly is one of the league's most pressing issues. Once free agency begins, look for Upshaw to be far more zealous about teams' failure to use the "poison-pill" provisions in offer sheets. It's a device that, if employed properly, renders the right of first refusal meaningless in bids for restricted free agents.

Minnesota Vikings officials hatched the idea two years ago by inserting into an offer sheet for Seattle Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson a provision that made his entire seven-year, $49 million deal guaranteed if he wasn't the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team at any point during the term of the contract. The Seahawks responded by signing Vikings wide receiver Nate Burleson to a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet that becomes fully guaranteed if Burleson played five games in the state of Minnesota during any year of the contract.

The league tried to write this loophole out of the labor contract, but a deal hasn't been reached with the union. So it's still a viable tool to enhance player movement.

Last offseason, no NFL team used a poison pill and the union could have claimed collusion but didn't. This year, Upshaw probably won't be so nice.
7. Jerry Jones will make a big splash

With another embarrassing and early exit from the playoffs and a new stadium on the horizon, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones will feel compelled to make a big splash this offseason. The most popular speculation is he'll trade his two first-round picks and running back Marion Barber (a restricted free agent) to the Miami Dolphins for the No. 1-overall selection in the NFL Draft. Jones then could select Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.

That's not the only power play Jones might make. With wide receiver Randy Moss hitting the open market Feb. 29 -- unless the Patriots use the franchise tag on him -- hauling in the single-season touchdown receptions leader would create a compelling Texas tandem of Terrell Owens and Moss.

There is only one football, though, and that could create a problem. Likewise, Jones would have to give Owens, who is entering the final year of his contract, a big raise to ensure there would be no locker-room rivalry.

Regardless of whether he acquires McFadden, Moss or someone else, count on one thing: Jones will do something big aimed at making his team better.

Interesting predictions.
I wouldn't be surprised by anything Jones does. I'm surprised McNabb is still in Philly. And contracts are getting screwy as hell.
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