With the Ravens getting set to go through the parade circuit in Baltimore after their Super Bowl XLVII win, and the 2012 season behind us, here are five storylines to keep an eye on as the offseason begins. And there will be plenty more to get into once the NFL scouting combine kicks off later this month in Indy.
1. The Revis situation: Can the Jets really trade away the NFL’s top player at the CB position? Of course they can. Given his age (he will be 28 at the start of the season), the ACL injury and the new money he wants, I can see why New York would look to make a move and try to maximize his value. Would I trade away Revis? Nope. Not in today’s game where secondary play is crucial. But remember this: players are independent contractors in the NFL. And they will follow the money. It’s not easy to find a sense of loyalty between the locker room and management in the offseason.
2. Manti Te’o’s draft stock: It’s time to look at Te’o the football player. We all know the story of the “hoax” and the former Irish LB will have to answer some tough questions when he interviews with teams at the combine. However, his workouts in Indy will carry some weight. I talked to a longtime NFL scout last night that called the LB’s game tape “excellent” outside of the BCS title game, expected Te’o to test well at the combine and run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.7 range. And the majority of scouts I've talked to have Te’o graded as a mid-to-late first round prospect. Let's see what he can do in front of the entire league at the combine later this month.
3. Flacco’s contract: I don’t think we can put Flacco in the same discussion with Brady, Rodgers or Brees, but look at the situation here. This is about opportunity. And in a contract year, the Ravens’ QB just put together a playoff run that is going to lead to legit money. $20-million a year? That’s a steep price. However, Flacco has leverage now after throwing 11 TDs and no interceptions on his way to scooping up a ring and the Super Bowl MVP award. That sells when it is time to discuss contracts. And Flacco deserves new money.
4. Chip Kelly, Michael Vick & the Eagles: I’m looking forward to checking out Kelly’s offensive system in the NFL because I want to see the type of adjustments he makes in the pro game. But who is going to play QB for the new Eagles’ head coach? Maybe Vick will take a pay cut. Maybe not. That remains to be seen as the offseason rolls on. If Kelly wants to run an offense with spread looks, movement, tempo, etc. I’m going to choose Vick over Nick Foles. But the money has to be right. And for all the hype surrounding Kelly’s hire in Philly, it still goes back to the QB position. Is it Vick, Foles, or a possible rookie draft pick? We will find out soon.
5. 2013 Rookie QB class: After the Senior Bowl week, I talked about the QBs down in Mobile. There wasn’t a clear-cut guy (an immediate impact player) you had to get on your roster. Does that mean Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the top two QBs? This is a tough draft class to figure out at the QB position, and with multiple teams desperate to make an upgrade, we could see clubs reaching in the first round. And don’t forget about possible free agents such as Vick, Alex Smith or even a trade to get Matt Flynn out of Seattle. Not the year to fill a need at the position.