With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crowned 2020 champions, it’s already time to think about the next season in the NFL. Here are 10 files that we will follow with interest in the months to come.
A lower ceiling
The NFL has navigated the pitfalls of the pandemic pretty well this season. The situation should be a little simpler next September, but the substantial drop in crowds in 2020 will have a considerable effect on the salary cap. Each of the 32 teams could spend up to $ 198.2 million on player salaries last season. But instead of increasing from 5 to 10 million as is normally the case, the ceiling could decrease by approximately 15 million per team in 2021. We already know that the floor has been set at 175 million per team.
In order to limit the drop in the salary cap, the NFL could choose to dip into the money that will be generated by the renewal of its television contracts. According to the site Profootballtalk (PFT), the league is about to finalize the bases of these agreements. ESPN’s contract, which notably broadcasts Monday night games, is due to expire after the next season, while those of CBS, Fox and NBC are valid for the next two years. ESPN is a division of the ABC Network, which has long broadcast the Monday Night Football. But since ESPN reaches fewer viewers in the United States, Monday night games are generally less appealing than they were when they were shown on ABC. Could we witness the return of Monday Night Football to ABC? Still according to PFT, ABC would also like to be part of the Super Bowl rotation. Currently, CBS, Fox, and NBC are taking turns broadcasting the game.
An even crazier market
Given the likely drop in the salary cap, several players will receive bad news in the coming weeks. A large number of teams will have to release veterans in order to meet the cap. The autonomy market, which will officially open on March 17, should therefore be more hectic than it normally is. For now, it is on the quarterfinal side that stocks should be the richest: Von Miller (Broncos), Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers), Bud Dupree (Steelers), Matt Judon (Ravens), Jadeveon Clowney ( Titans) and Melvin Ingram (Chargers) could all be free next month.
The quarterback waltz
The trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams may be just the first involving top quarterbacks. Recall that the Detroit Lions received Jared Goff and two first-round picks against Stafford. A high price made necessary because of the « big » contract of Goff. Two other names that come up regularly in rumors are Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold, and Russell Wilson’s is getting around more and more. Would the Seahawks really choose to trade Wilson?
St-Juste and the draft
When the free agent craze has passed, attention will turn to the draft. Recovering from shoulder surgery, quarterback Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) will likely be the first prospect chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars and their new head coach, Urban Meyer. Justin Fields (Ohio State), Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Mac Jones (Alabama) and Kyle Trask (Florida) are five other quarterbacks expected to be selected in the first round. As for Quebec cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, it is possible that he could be selected in the last rounds of the auction. As always, there will be something for everyone in the 2021 Draft and we’ll have time to come back to that in the coming months.
While rookie Benjamin St-Juste will almost certainly get his chance with an NFL team, three Quebecers will want to continue their careers. Antony Auclair could leave the Buccaneers as a free agent. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will try to regain his guard post on the left with the Kansas City Chiefs. And Louis-Philippe Ladouceur could compete in his 17the season with the Dallas Cowboys.
The beginning of domination?
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht made a bold prediction this week: “We’re going to win again next year! He said during the celebrations surrounding his team’s recent championship. The Bucs will first have to manage to strike deals with a few key players. Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Shaquil Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Lavonte David and Leonard Fournette will all have to sign new contracts for 2021. But if the Bucs can come to an agreement with most of these players, their chances of scooping it all up. the second year in a row will be good.
The Rams and the Niners
In addition to the Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will be one to watch in the National Conference. If their defense plays the way it did in 2020, the Rams could be among the top contenders thanks to the acquisition of Matthew Stafford. Could the 49ers choose to emulate the Rams by getting their hands on a new quarterback? It only seems like a matter of time before their association with Jimmy Garoppolo ends. With all of their injuries back, the Niners’ defense should once again become one of the strongest on the tour, ground play is still productive thanks to Kyle Shanahan’s system and the Niners have a good receiving group with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel. and Brandon Aiyuk. The question is whether Jimmy G is the man for the job as a quarterback.
Competition for the Chiefs
We could see during the Super Bowl that there were some weaknesses in the formation of the Chiefs. Adding one or two impact players in defense wouldn’t be a luxury. On offense, the line lacks depth and the Chiefs will need to add another talented wide winger to their squad as Sammy Watkins is still injured. The proverbial Chiefs window will remain open for at least a few years, if only because of Patrick Mahomes, but they will have more competition in the US as the Bills, Ravens and Titans all have good teams. . The Chiefs will even have to be a little more wary of their division rivals than in recent years, especially Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
What will Belichick do?
The New England Patriots had their hands tied over their woes with the salary cap in 2020. The absence of several of their players due to COVID-19 also hurt the team. Do you think Bill Belichick was happy to see Brady lift the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night? Stung in his pride, you say? That’s good, the handsome Tom and his seven rings will be passing through Foxborough next fall. We assume that the match will generate a little talk.