12 things we know about the NFL now that the Super Bowl is over


No one is really disabled in the offseason. There is never a quiet moment, it seems, for the NFL. Here’s what to keep in mind.

1. Joe Burrow is a major star

If there were any doubts about that, they were erased by the Bengals’ playoff run. Cincinnati’s sophomore quarterback is the real deal and one of the NFL’s biggest stars. The Bengals may have lost on Sunday, but they could stay up. They have Terrier. They have a dynamic group of wide receivers led by Ja’Marr Chase. They have good complementary parts. The task now is to fortify Burrow’s offensive line.

If that happens, Burrow could join Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo’s Josh Allen to form an imposing triumvirate of AFC quarterbacks that could split the bulk of the conference’s Super Bowl berths over the next decade. Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers will have to prove he can join this group.

2. There’s more than one way to build a team and get a QB

The Bengals got Burrow the old-fashioned way: They were pitiful enough to be able to draft him. The Rams took the new-age approach last offseason and traded for Matthew Stafford. Elite quarterbacks are no longer tied to one team forever. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a Super Bowl title in the first season after signing Tom Brady in free agency. The Rams immediately capitalized on their trade for Stafford. Other teams – and other quarterbacks – have no doubt taken notice.

3. It’s Sean McVay’s NFL

Rams coach Sean McVay is now a Super Bowl-winning coach at 36. He coached Sunday’s Super Bowl against one of his former assistant coaches, Zac Taylor of the Bengals. McVay’s offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell now becomes the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Another Rams offensive coordinator under McVay, Matt LaFleur, coached the Green Bay Packers to three straight playoff appearances. It’s good to be Sean McVay these days. Is 36 years old too young to have your own coaching tree?

4. Tanking Allegations Don’t Go Away

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said last week that former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ tanking charges against the team and its owner, Stephen Ross, in his lawsuit for racial discrimination are “probably among the most serious”. allegations I’ve never heard” made within the league. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the claims, denied by Ross, are “very disturbing” and will be investigated and taken “very seriously”. This problem will not simply go away.

The integrity of the outcome of games is under greater scrutiny than ever, given the league’s recent pivot towards the passage of legalized sports betting. The Dolphins and Ross would face major penalties if the charges are substantiated by the NFL, and there will likely be calls for the league to reconsider implementing a coin toss system to discourage teams from losing on purpose. to improve draft positioning.

What will Aaron Rodgers do? The quarterback said shortly after receiving his fourth league MVP award on Thursday night that “there will be a decision in the near future” regarding his next step. He didn’t say if he would continue playing and, if he did, if he would stay with the Packers.

He could join Brady and Ben Roethlisberger in retiring this offseason. He could seek a trade and thus set up a bidding competition between the Buccaneers, Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and other teams in need of a quarterback. (Would the San Francisco 49ers put the Trey Lance era on hold in an attempt to bring Rodgers back to the Bay Area?) He could stay in Green Bay, even if the Packers would have to convince him that a rebuilding phase n is not in sight despite a tighter salary cap and the pending free agency of wide receiver Davante Adams. For a second consecutive offseason, Rodgers’ status is high profile history.

6. No Tom Brady, No Sean Payton

Brady was less than a week away from retirement when he said last week on his “Let’s Go!” podcast that “you never say never” about a return to play. When Payton retired as coach of the New Orleans Saints, he said he didn’t expect to be coach in the 2022 season, but he left open the possibility of a sideline return at some point. Brady and Payton are gone, for now, but not to be forgotten too quickly.

Rodgers is the most high-profile quarterback who could potentially switch teams this offseason, but there are other intriguing possibilities. The Houston Texans could trade Deshaun Watson after he didn’t play at all last season while facing sexual misconduct allegations made by women in civil lawsuits. He denied the charges and was not charged with a crime. Once his legal and playing status is clarified, the Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and other teams could potentially renew their lawsuit.

There was speculation last offseason that the Seattle Seahawks might trade Russell Wilson, so that issue may be revisited. Jimmy Garoppolo seems almost certain to leave the 49ers. And it remains to be seen whether Josh McDaniels, the new coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, will stay with Derek Carr.

Goodell said last week that the league “will not take anything off the table” as it re-examines its minority hiring practices and tries to achieve better results through its diversity efforts. He mentioned the possibility of further modifying or even eliminating the Rooney rule. But there are no easy solutions.

The league office has repeatedly taken steps to require teams to consider deep and diverse candidate pools and to encourage the hiring of minorities. Yet the problems persisted in the final stage of the process, when teams and owners make their hiring choices. The Flores lawsuit took the matter to court. All eyes will be on what the NFL and owners do next.

9. Commanders’ Investigations

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder is facing a new sexual harassment allegation made by Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and the team’s chief marketing officer, during a congressional roundtable. Snyder denied the charge. But the NFL said it would investigate and assess whether disciplinary action was warranted.

After the team announced last week that it would investigate the latest charge, the NFL said within hours that the league — not the team — would investigate. League attorneys wrote to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that the team was denying access to approximately 109,000 documents related to attorney Beth Wilkinson’s earlier investigation into the league’s workplace. ‘team. Snyder’s attorney, Jordan Siev, said the team did not prevent the NFL from obtaining non-privileged documents. Various issues still need to be resolved.

The Denver Broncos are being sold by late owner Pat Bowlen’s trust, and some estimates put the potential price tag at around $4 billion. There has been speculation that Hall of Fame quarterbacks Peyton Manning and John Elway will be courted by potential ownership groups. Media mogul Byron Allen said he would make a bid that, if successful, would make him the first black principal owner of an NFL franchise.

It’s a flagship NFL franchise with a proud history and a devoted fan base, and its sale will likely provide the final indicator of the league’s financial might.

11. Overtime rules, instant replay

The NFL and its Regulatory Competition Committee plan to consider potential changes to the overtime format, particularly for postseason games, after the topic was raised again in the wake of the Chiefs-Bills thriller in the AFC playoffs. But it’s an almost annual conversation and it’s far from certain, people familiar with the deliberations said, that any changes will actually pass this offseason.

The league also plans to consider potential changes to the instant replay system, potentially making rough passer calls reviewable or perhaps even giving a team the ability to challenge any on-field decisions within the structure of the settlement arrangement. current coach’s challenge. But the NFL remains extremely wary of implementing a full-fledged “judge from heaven” system, a person with knowledge of the league’s thinking said.

The rule change process begins in earnest at the NFL combine.

The NFL and NFLPA have made a series of protocol adjustments to deal with the league’s spike in coronavirus cases in December attributed to the omicron variant. The NFL has completed a second straight season — with no games entirely lost — played amid the pandemic. There were problems: Three games were postponed during the 2021 regular season. Rodgers created a national furor when he tested positive for the virus, then vigorously and very publicly defended his unvaccinated status.

But the league reached the finish line on another season. Protocols could ease from here barring another major spike in cases and an increase in disease severity, and the league and union have a whole offseason to study developments and take decisions on next steps.

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