The NFL offseason used to be relatively straightforward with regards to player movement. If players were free agents, they’d have a chance to take their talents elsewhere. If teams drafted quarterbacks within the last three seasons, it was unlikely that they would be looking for a new one. It was a relatively straight forward exercise in making NFL offseason predictions because the possibilities were not endless.
However, the modern day NFL resembles more of what sports fans know the NBA to be. Players are taking control as much as they ever have. They’re taking control of their own destinies, and forcing the issue if they don’t like their contract situations or the direction of the team. As a result, all the rules we lived by regarding the NFL and player movement have been thrown out the window.
We can expect the NFL offseason to be full of twists and turns. Let’s take a look at bold offseason moves that might happen before training camp begins.
NFL offseason predictions: Michael Thomas will get traded
Even though he would seem to be in a perfect situation, there have been rumblings that Michael Thomas is not ideally happy in New Orleans. He suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 of the 2020 season, and wanted to play despite the organization’s desire to take a conservative approach. While on the mend, he also got into an altercation with teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and was suspended for one game.
Thomas signed a massive contract with the Saints in 2019, and has also spent his entire career playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback. By that logic, life should be good. But with Drew Brees’ future uncertain, and possible residual animosity with the team, Thomas may not be happy with the Saints. Don’t be surprised if he forces his way out of town to a team with an established veteran quarterback.
NFL offseason predictions: Aaron Jones will leave Green Bay
After years of trying to find the perfect running back to help Aaron Rodgers balance the offense, the Green Bay Packers are going to have to make a tough decision in their backfield. Star runner Aaron Jones is a free agent, and he may have played his last down in Green Bay.
— GBP Daily (@GBPdaily) March 4, 2021
Due to the nature of their position, running back contract negotiations are always trickier than most. Because their careers on average are related short, backs look to secure as much money as they can as quickly as possible. The Packers may try to place the franchise tag on Jones, but he, like many other running backs, might want the security of a long term deal.
The Packers are currently under the cap, and might not be able to carve out enough room to offer him a contract like that. Reportedly, Jones already has interest from other teams, and may jump at the chance to secure his only long term deal.
NFL offseason predictions: Chris Godwin will not return to the Bucs
Imagine telling the greatest quarterback of all time, with whom you just won a Super Bowl, that you’re leaving the team for greener pastures. It’s not a logical situation, but Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin may do just that in free agency.
Godwin and teammate Mike Evans have formed a lethal 1-2 punch with the Bucs in recent seasons, but Godwin has the talent to be the primary receiver on many NFL teams. Additionally, the free agent wide receiver has said he is not willing to consider giving Tampa Bay a hometown discount. Tom Brady losing a wide receiver in his prime is not often a prediction made ahead of the NFL offseason, but there’s a good chance Godwin takes his talents elsewhere.
NFL offseason predictions: Drew Lock will be replaced
Unfortunately for young quarterbacks like Drew Lock, teams are not as patient in developing signal callers as they once were. Franchises want to see an almost immediate return on investment. If that isn’t displayed, they will have fewer reservations about trading for or drafting a replacement.
Drew Lock Big Time Throw Rate: 6.4% (7th highest among quarterbacks)
Drew Lock Turnover Worthy Throw Rate: 4.5% (tied for 7th highest among quarterbacks) pic.twitter.com/pChcDptmnS
— PFF DEN Broncos (@PFF_Broncos) March 1, 2021
Lock has been up and down so far in his short time in the NFL, and threw almost as many interceptions as touchdown passes last season. The Broncos have an impressive young core on offense, and may not want to wait for Lock to develop to take advantage of it. They’ll firmly be in the conversation for every big name quarterback mentioned in trade speculation, and will be motivated to get a deal done.
Boldest offseason prediction: Cam Newton will retire
It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, Cam Newton was dissecting the NFL with his arm and his legs. But at this stage of his career, recapturing that magic is going to be close to impossible.
Newton has said that he does not want to be a backup. The issue is, there are very few teams who are looking for stopgap players to start under center. Additionally, Newton’s passing performance last year with the Patriots left a lot to be desired, so it could be dangerous for a team to bet on that improving in the future. If the former NFL MVP doesn’t receive an opportunity to start, there’s a very real chance he’ll call it career.