This time of the year rumors and gossip fly everywhere inside and outside of NFL buildings. However, there are trends in the making and evidence before us that can give us some strong hints as to what’s coming down the pike. After listening to some personnel men and other agents, along with my own observations, these 5 predictions may carry some weight.
1) A soft free agency period: The amount of yearly cash spent for in-season extensions are down dramatically for 2012. It’s down more than 50% over the five previous seasons. In addition, the annual cap reset historically gave the majority of teams with cap pressures instant relief. Not this year! The 2013 cap has actually gone south thus putting more pressure on teams with hefty cap numbers this year. Don’t expect those with cash and cap room available to go on a spending spree in free agency. The en vogue move to make is to secure your franchise players for the long term, spend on defensive players in free agency, and sign just one big free agent deal versus two or three like we’ve seen in past decade (minus the cap-less year). The large amount spent by the disappointing Bills and Eagles in free agency in the last two years won’t encourage teams to spend.
2) More non-football guys as GMs: There has been a trend of attorneys and salary cap managers gaining more and more front office power. Historically, a new GM worked his way up through the scouting ranks to secure the top football making decision job. However, as of the last few years, owners are gravitating towards the money people so they can have more control of their finances.
3) More tweaks to the kick off: The competition committee won’t let the opening kickoff get sacked. However, they will make possible adjustments to the lineup and may eliminate the second half kickoff and spot the ball to the receiving team at the 20 or 25. The kickoff team, minus the kicker, could be moved just 3 to 5 yards from the blockers on the receiving team to help prevent them from getting up to full speed. The amount of concussions and injuries are still higher on this one play than any other play in football.
4) The NFL hires Tony Dungy as enforcer: With the time, energy, attention and legal issues it took the Commissioner to battle bounty gate this year, he may look to hand that responsibility to someone else. Tony Dungy is the NFL’s moral compass and is respected by all sides (NFLPA, players, coaches, refs, team executives, owners and the league office). It would make sense for Roger to get out of the business of being the judge and jury for player and coach discipline issues so he can focus running the league. Tony would be a great hire but who knows if the job would interest him.
5) Some player and coaching moves: Tim Tebow gets huge offer to play in CFL for two years. Alex Smith leads the Cardinals to the playoffs. Andy Reid’s first hire as a new head coach; Juan Castillo as his OL/run coordinator. Vick becomes a Buffalo Bill. Saban is the Browns head coach. A rookie QB wins the 2013 Super Bowl.
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