SI’s MMQB Staff Debates the NFL’s Surprising News of the Offseason

The defending Super Bowl champions are among the teams that have had a turbulent offseason, and a few others known for making smart decisions opened themselves up for second-guessing.
Rice has been in the news this offseason and could face a league suspension.
Rice has been in the news this offseason and could face a league suspension. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the NFL offseason, where receivers get paid lots of money (just ask Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle and Nico Collins), the NFL continues to push for an 18-game season, the league and NFLPA discuss ways to ruin the offseason calendar and teams continue to go through their OTAs and mandatory minicamps. 

So we asked our MMQB staff of NFL experts to answer a series of eight questions. Today, they’re going to weigh in on the surprising news of the offseason. 

Let’s get to their answers as we get closer to the NFL taking a break before July training camps.

The news this offseason that left you saying, “Are you kidding me?

Matt Verderame: Everything about the Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City won the Super Bowl, then got into the news for all the wrong reasons over the past few months. 

Of course, the main issue this offseason came from Rashee Rice, who faces eight felony charges in connection with allegedly driving 119 miles per hour on a Saturday evening in Dallas, resulting in a six-car crash. While nobody was considered to be seriously injured, Rice will likely be suspended by the NFL.

Then there was Rice’s incident on May 7 in which he was alleged to have assaulted a photographer outside of a Texas nightclub, although those charges were dropped

Finally, defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals after allegedly leaving two dogs without food or water for more than a week. After being rescued, one of the dogs was euthanized. 

For the Chiefs, training camp can’t come soon enough.

Gilberto Manzano: The Carolina Panthers paying Robert Hunt $100 million

Carolina Panthers guard Robert Hunt
Hunt signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Panthers. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

This section should have been called “Orr you kidding me?” for our colleague Conor Orr. Or maybe “Something wild besides the Atlanta Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr.” 

Seriously, what were the Falcons thinking? But just to avoid the obvious answer, let’s go with the Panthers signing offensive guard Robert Hunt to a massive five-year, $100 million contract with $44 million fully guaranteed in the first two years. No one saw those figures coming before the start of free agency—probably not even Hunt.

But the Panthers were forced to give Hunt a historic contract and make him the highest-paid guard the next few seasons—despite never being named an All-Pro—just to make sure Bryce Young is well protected. 

Conor Orr: The Dallas Cowboys doing absolutely nothing this offseason

I’ll beat this drum until it's broken. Why is there no mad dash to pay all of the players who are making this a palatable football product? And why is there so much of a hurry to let others walk without adequate replacements? I’ve never seen a team settle this hard in a spot where they were just two games away from the Super Bowl. 

Albert Breer: The Baltimore Ravens’ handling of their offensive line

Baltimore Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum
Linderbaum is the one building block the Ravens have on their offensive line. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I’d agree that the Cowboys stepping on the “not gonna pay this guy early” rake again, and almost certainly having to pay for it again, is up there. But if we’re talking about things that were truly surprising, I’m gonna go with the Ravens’ handling of their offensive line, something that’s gone largely unnoticed because, well, people don’t pay a lot of attention to this stuff.

But the Ravens let starting guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson go (to the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets), and traded right tackle Morgan Moses (also to the Jets), and that’s 60% of the line that started in the AFC title game. In addition to that, left tackle Ronnie Stanley has missed 35 games over the past four years, and had to take a pay cut to stay. That leaves center Tyler Linderbaum, who is excellent and just 24, as the one building block Baltimore can count on up front.

For now, the three new starters project to be Andrew Vorhees, Ben Cleveland, and rookie Roger Rosengarten, who have seven career starts between them (all belonging to Cleveland). And while the Ravens have been a draft-and-develop machine over the years, and great at harvesting offensive linemen, this particular dice roll was pretty surprising, I thought.


Published
Albert Breer

ALBERT BREER

Conor Orr

CONOR ORR

Conor Orr is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, where he covers the NFL. He is also the co-host of the MMQB Podcast. Conor has been covering the NFL for more than a decade. His award-winning work has also appeared in The Newark Star-Ledger, NFL.com and NFL Network. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children and a loving terrier named Ernie. 

Gilberto Manzano

GILBERTO MANZANO

Matt Verderame

MATT VERDERAME

Matt Verderame is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated covering the NFL. Before joining SI in March 2023, he wrote for wrote for FanSided and Awful Announcing. He hosts The Matt Verderame Show on Patreon and is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. A proud father of two girls and lover of all Italian food, Verderame is an eternal defender of Rudy, the greatest football movie of all time.