The Super Bowl fallout has all but settled, and the start of the scouting combine in Indianapolis is less than two weeks away. As the NFL offseason cranks to life, here are a dozen burning questions that serve to start the debate in 2008:
New England cornerback
Known for rarely taking the field,
It's not likely because of the impact that losing Johnson would have on the Bengals' salary cap. If Cincinnati either trades or releases their talkative receiver, it will have to absorb a 2008 cap hit of slightly more than $8 million. While the salary cap rises another $7 million this season to $116 million, that's still a sizable chunk of dead money that would ensue from Johnson's departure.
That's probably the No. 1 reason Bengals head coach
We think not. Eagles president
But Baltimore, even having hired longtime Eagles assistant
The Chiefs obviously must apply their franchise tag to league sacks leader
Franchising Allen will cost the Chiefs just under $9 million this year, but potentially losing the ability to wrap him up for the foreseeable future would be devastating to the rebuilding program that is just now getting underway in earnest in Kansas City. Allen is one of the game's premier pass rushers and he's the cornerstone of a Chiefs defense that has a chance to be pretty good in the coming years.
Besides Allen, the names you hear most around the league include Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, Tennessee defensive tackle
Weren't we just trying to figure this same question out in Pittsburgh after the Steelers hired
But Sparano says the Dolphins will play what their personnel dictates they can play, and that evaluation process is still ongoing. Most teams that switch to a 3-4 need a couple years of personnel acquisition under their belts before they can fully implement that system, like San Francisco's recent experience. That means Miami will likely be more 4-3 than 3-4 in '08, but will begin the process of accumulating players who fit the 3-4 from this day forward.
The league tinkered with its format on draft weekend, and we'll get to see the changes put into effect when this year's pick-a-thon arrives April 26-27. For starters, only the first two rounds will be conducted on Saturday, with the draft starting three hours later, at 3 p.m. -- all the better to nudge the first two high-profile rounds into a prime-time finish for TV. Round 3 is now part of Sunday's schedule.
In a further attempt to streamline things, the NFL cut the time that teams have to make a first-round selection, from 15 to 10 minutes, and from 10 to seven minutes in the second round. That ensures that we'll never again have to suffer through a record six-hour and eight-minute first round, as we did in '07.
The Browns starting quarterback is taking part in the first Pro Bowl of his career this week, as an injury replacement for
Cleveland, with an eye on its
While the Browns can still negotiate with Anderson after he reaches restricted free agency, and will tender him at a first- and third-round compensation level, it'll be intriguing to see if a QB-needy team like Baltimore or Chicago might make a bid for him if he reaches the market.
The Bears outside linebacker is likely to draw plenty of interest, but one team to keep an eye on is San Francisco, which is rumored to have investigated dealing for Briggs before last season's trading deadline. The 49ers have
Briggs is one of the premier free agents available this year, and San Francisco might seek an upgrade at inside linebacker, where veteran
The Cardinals won't be a big player next month in free agency, largely because they've got so many more pressing issues on their roster at the moment. The most important task will be negotiating a restructured contract with Pro Bowl receiver
Arizona has to reduce that to a more cap-friendly number in order to address other matters, such as: either signing linebacker Karlos Dansby to a long-term deal or franchising him at about $8 million this year; making a decision on whether running back
Collins went 3-1 as a starter in place of the injured
In addition, Washington is projected to be a league-worst $21 million over the salary cap and might not be able to compete for Collins if the bidding goes higher than it expects.