American Football Expert & Columnist
Pick Six: Tom Brady leads the way while quarterback hunters are up for grabs
Last Updated: 13/03/20 4:33pm
The NFL's deadline day in reverse kicks off what is sure to be a frenzied and historic signing of free agents on Wednesday March 18.
Players who are out of contract can negotiate deals with the 32 NFL teams as soon as Monday and some of the biggest names in the sport are up for grabs. While many could re-sign with their existing teams or be tied to their clubs via the franchise tag (used by teams to protect one star player each season), some elite players are still about to hit the open market.
Here are six storylines to watch when the new NFL league year begins next week.
Where does Tom Brady play in 2020?
For the first time in his glittering career, six-time Super Bowl-winning GOAT Tom Brady is a free agent and we could soon see him in a new uniform. How strange would that look?
New England might still tempt him back yet the silence out of Foxboro has been deafening - and they could have signed him to an extension at any point since the 2019 season ended and they have not.
What next for Tom Brady?
What next for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as free agency edges ever closer?
The Las Vegas Raiders have been reportedly preparing a $30m-per-year deal, Tampa Bay are supposedly "all in" and the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers have been linked with Brady. Whether he stays or goes, Brady is going to be THE story of the offseason.
Rivers on the move
Like Brady, Philip Rivers is another quarterback heading towards the Hall of Fame. But before he parks up in Canton, Ohio, it appears he is going to have one last hurrah in a new city and with a new team.
The Los Angeles Chargers moved on from Rivers earlier in this offseason after he struggled in 2019, particularly through the back-end of the campaign. There is a school of thought Rivers is done in terms of skill-set and arm strength.
NFL offseason news tracker
Stay up-to-date with the latest free agency, draft and injury news throughout the NFL offseason
I am of the opinion he can still get the job done in the right situation. I think that right situation will be with the Indianapolis Colts, where a strong offensive line is already in place to look after a talented but immobile quarterback.
The quarterback carousel
The NFL has never seen an offseason like this in terms of its quarterbacks. Brady and Rivers will grab a lot of the headlines but there are so many other prominent quarterback situations that are up in the air.
Dak Prescott will likely not be allowed to test the open market by the Dallas Cowboys, but many others could be on the move.
Coronavirus: NFL teams suspend travel
Multiple NFL teams have suspended travel for scouts and coaches due to concerns over the coronavirus
Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee), Taysom Hill (New Orleans), Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans) and Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) are up for grabs, while the futures of Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay), Cam Newton (Carolina), Nick Foles (Jacksonville), Derek Carr (Las Vegas), Matthew Stafford (Detroit) and Andy Dalton (Cincinnati) are far from certain.
That is a large portion of the league at the game's most important position.
Offensive weapons up for grabs
There is a very strong chance Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry will not reach the open market because he remains so valuable to his current team. But there is plenty of offensive talent likely to be up for grabs.
Amari Cooper could prove too expensive to keep for the Cowboys and may be of interest to a team like the Denver Broncos and other talented receivers include Emmanuel Sanders (San Francisco) and Robby Anderson (New York Jets).
NFL cancels league meeting
The NFL has cancelled its annual managers meeting. in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
Austin Hooper is a tight end who could reportedly reset the market at that position and look for Green Bay, Carolina, New England and Washington to be interested in acquiring his services.
Let's not forget the big guys… Jack Conklin (Tennessee) is one of the best right tackles in the game and there is some outstanding interior talent in Joe Thuney (New England) and Brandon Scherff (Washington).
Quarterback hunters chasing big money
This free agency signing period is not only going to be about the big-name quarterbacks. It is going to be very much about those whose jobs it is to get after those star passers.
Jadeveon Clowney (Seattle) and Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville) are likely to get to the open market, while Tampa Bay's 2019 sack leader Shaquil Barrett could be re-signed or franchise-tagged by the Buccaneers.
NFL free agency: Five defensive options
While the plethora of free-agent quarterbacks dominate offseason discussion, there are several talented defensive options to take note of
There are other defensive linemen who will provide great value, such as Arik Armstead (San Francisco), Kyle Van Noy (New England) and Matt Judon (Baltimore).
Keep an eye out for teams such as Miami, Las Vegas, New York Giants and Seattle - all need help when it comes to consistently rushing the passer and playing well along the defensive line.
There will be trades
Recent history suggests the opening of the new league year should spark a flurry of big-name trades.
Opening day last year saw Antonio Brown shifted from Pittsburgh to Oakland (that did not work out so well), Odell Beckham Jr. move from the Giants to the Browns (that also did not work out that great), Dee Ford from Kansas City to San Francisco, Joe Flacco from Baltimore to Denver, DeSean Jackson from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia and Olivier Vernon from New York to Cleveland.
Trades have become more and more prevalent in recent years and you should rest assured as soon as the signing flood gates open, trades will be a very prominent form of player movement.