You can still smell the sulfur off the fireworks from the end of Super Bowl LIV, and many fans in Kansas City are still sleeping off the celebration from Wednesday's victory parade. But across the NFL, teams from coast to coast have started looking ahead to 2020.
The NFL is a perpetual motion machine. There may not be another game that counts until September, but the action never stops.
During the season, matriculation (in the words of Hank Stram) is the name of the game. But in the offseason, it's all about speculation. Whether it's free agency, the 2020 draft, potential trades or roster cuts, there's no shortage of important questions.
What will happen to big-name free-agent quarterbacks Tom Brady and Philip Rivers?
How will the first round of this year's draft in Las Vegas shake out?
Which NFL stars will be traded this offseason?
Conversely, which big names could get shown the door?
Here at Bleacher Report, we enjoy playing the "what if?" game as much as the next person. To that end, seven of our NFL writers gathered to offer some bold offseason predictions.
Shock and amazement: The Golden Boy's future came up.
Gary Davenport, NFL Analyst
The New England Patriots Will Build a New-Look Offense...Filled with Old Men
Tom Brady's future might be the NFL's dominant storyline, but it's one that is (in the words of Shakespeare) full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The quarterback will be back with the Pats in 2020.
Assuming he is, the priority then becomes upgrading the offensive talent around him. That won't be easy with limited cap flexibility after re-upping the Golden Boy. But aging veterans such as Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, 31, and Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, 34, might sacrifice a little contract cheese for a chance at a ring.
It's not like the Pats don't have a history of targeting older free agents.
Tyler Dunne, NFL Features Lead Writer
Tom Brady Re-signs with the Patriots
Yeah, Brady wants to see what he's worth to other teams for the first time in his career. Yeah, Bill Belichick would probably like to prove he can win with a different QB. Hubris could split the most powerful coach-QB combo ever.
In the end, both sides have to realize they're best together. The Patriots already have a top-three defense. Go pay up for weapons on offense, and they can run it right on back for Super Bowl No. 7. That is way more attractive than anything any other team could offer Brady.
Mike Freeman, NFL National Lead Writer
Tom Brady Joins the Raiders in Las Vegas
This is more of a wish than anything else. I would love to see Brady transform this organization back into a dominant one. And he'd do it. He'd do it instantly.
Brad Gagnon, NFL Analyst
Tom Brady Will Sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I imagine Bruce Arians is looking for an excuse to cut bait with turnover enthusiast Jameis Winston, who threw an absurd 30 interceptions in 2019 and isn't under contract beyond this winter.
Remember that Arians helped revive Carson Palmer's career in its late stages, and support wouldn't be an issue in terms of personnel. Brady would be joining an offense that features arguably the best one-two receiver duo in the NFL in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, and a team that has the salary-cap space ($85 million) to build on an encouraging finish to the 2019 season (5-3 in its final eight games).
It would make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay to bring in Brady for a year or two while it searches for a long-term option under center.
Matt Miller, NFL National Lead Writer
Tom Brady Signs with...the Patriots
We can speculate about the many places Brady could end his career, but this is about owner Robert Kraft's desire to never see Brady in another jersey. Unless this comes down to Bill Belichick's resigning if he isn't allowed to move on from Brady (can't see that happening), then the expectation should be that the greatest to ever do it continues to do it where he always has.
Brent Sobleski, NFL Analyst
Philip Rivers Signs with the Indianapolis Colts
Some possible situations make too much sense not to happen.
Since the Chargers moved on from Rivers and he isn't ready to retire, the 38-year-old quarterback must find a new home (aside from moving permanently to Florida to be closer to his family).
The Colts, meanwhile, are possibly searching for a new quarterback after Jacoby Brissett faded down the stretch. The familiarity Rivers has with the Colts coaching staff can't be overlooked. Head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni previously served as the Chargers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, respectively.
Plus, the possibility of playing behind the game's best offensive line has to be doubly appealing to the statuesque pocket passer.
Mike Tanier, NFL National Lead Writer
The Giants Will Sign DE Yannick Ngakoue
Defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue is all but out the door in Jacksonville and will fetch a premium on the free-agent market. The Giants have cash ($61.3 million in cap space; more once they trim some fluff) and a general manager with a hankerin' for Hog Mollies. Dave Gettleman and the Giants might get ripped if they splurge on a lineman with a hard-to-spell name, but Ngakoue would be an instant upgrade for a really bad defense.
The Las Vegas Raiders Will Leapfrog the Miami Dolphins and Draft Tua Tagovailoa
Most draftniks expect that if Tua Tagovailoa's dislocated hip checks out, he won't get past the Miami Dolphins at pick No. 5 in April's draft.
What if he doesn't even get that far?
Both the New York Giants at No. 4 and the Detroit Lions at No. 3 could be in the market to trade back if the price is right. The Las Vegas Raiders have two first-rounders (No. 12 and No. 19) and a coach in Jon Gruden who reportedly isn't in love with his quarterback.
With the draft and the Raiders both arriving in Vegas this year, this would start the Silver and Black's Sin City tenure with a bang.
The Bengals Draft Joe Burrow (Not Too Bold), and They Build a Winner with Him (BOLD!)
Since "earning" the first overall pick, the Bengals sure have been ripped to shreds for decades of incompetence and decades of being cheap. Past players criticize this franchise often, and one could even interpret Burrow's recent words as critical of Cincy. But here's thinking the Bengals don't screw up Burrow and do, in fact, build a winner to last with him. He's that good.
The Los Angeles Chargers Will Trade Up to Grab Burrow
This move would be beneficial to both the Chargers and Burrow. For the Chargers, they'd get a near-definite franchise thrower. For Burrow, he wouldn't have to play for the sorry Bengals organization.
The Green Bay Packers Will Draft a QB Early in 2020
My gut tells me the new regime in Green Bay knows Aaron Rodgers' career might be winding down, because that's the truth. Rodgers hasn't been the same player since he fractured his collarbone in 2017. Before that, he had a career passer rating of 103.8. Since then, his completion rate has dropped by about three percentage points, and his passer rating has plummeted to a so-so 96.5.
When the Packers used a first-round pick on Rodgers in 2005, franchise quarterback Brett Favre was entering his age-36 season. There's still no successor in place for Rodgers, who is entering his age-37 campaign. It's time for Green Bay to pull the trigger in hopes of emulating that successful multiyear transition from a decade-and-a-half ago.
5 Quarterbacks Will Be Selected in Round 1
The sheer need at quarterback is astounding in the 2020 offseason. Because of this, expect a heavy run on the position in the first round of the upcoming draft.
Burrow, Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love and Jacob Eason are all carrying Round 1 grades from teams heading into the heart of the draft process and could hear their names called by the time the first half of the first round is over.
6 Offensive Tackles Will Be Selected in the First Round
While the quarterbacks and defensive end Chase Young will dominate first-day draft coverage, offensive tackle is loaded with as many as four Top 10 prospects and two more ready to be selected before the first 32 selections are complete.
Georgia's Andrew Thomas, Iowa's Tristan Wirfs and Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. are generally considered the top three prospects at the position. Each should come off the board in the first half of the first round. Louisville's Mekhi Becton (6'7", 369 lbs) and Houston's Josh Jones (6'7", 310 lbs) continue to see their stock soar because of impressive size and athleticism combos. USC's Austin Jackson is the wild card as a talented, albeit developmental, prospect.
The Carolina Panthers Trade Up for Tagovailoa
The Panthers will move mountains to climb to No. 3 or 4 to beat the Dolphins to Tagovailoa. Matt Rhule (seven-year contract) has time to wait for Tua to get healthy and develop, and the Panthers can determine what Cam Newton has left in the meantime. The Panthers could trade with the Giants at No. 4, because they have Dave Gettleman's number. Double meaning intentional.
The Eagles Will Swing a Trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
Hey, these predictions are supposed to be bold, right?
Granted, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the new regime in Cleveland has already tried to throw cold water on the idea that the team is ready to move on from star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. after one disappointing season. And as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported, Beckham has said he has a "good feeling" about new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
But what happens if the honeymoon doesn't last? What happens if the increased offseason involvement the Browns want from Beckham in 2020 doesn't materialize? What happens if one of the most wideout-needy teams in the NFL comes calling with an offer that would allow the Browns to recoup their investment in OBJ?
The Eagles have a massive need at wide receiver and an aggressive GM in Howie Roseman who has a relationship with new Browns general manager Andrew Berry from their days together in Philly.
Andy Dalton Gets Dealt to the Chicago Bears
Taking a page out of the Titans' 2019 playbook, don't be surprised if the Bears add a veteran behind QB Mitchell Trubisky. If they have a contender like they think they do, and the QB struggles, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy will want a Plan B if things turn south fast. Who knows how much Dalton has left, but, like Ryan Tannehill, he might be motivated.
Beckham Gets Traded, All Right...to the San Francisco 49ers
An explosive player for Jimmy Garoppolo to overthrow.
Cam Newton Heads to the Los Angeles Chargers
The Ron Rivera era is over in Carolina, as is the Luke Kuechly era. Ditto for the Greg Olsen era. Sure, the Panthers have a superstar running back in Christian McCaffrey, but there are too many holes to fill elsewhere. They're extremely unlikely to be competitive in the final year of Newton's contract. They can save $19.1 million by moving on via trade or release, and I'm expecting that to happen.
Watch for a blockbuster trade in March, and watch for the Chargers to make the best pitch. They're desperate for something shiny as they move into their new home, and Newton is the type of star who could sell serious tickets for SoFi Stadium. The 30-year-old would also be at least a small upgrade over the much older Philip Rivers, 38.
The Kansas City Chiefs Will Sign (and Then Trade) Chris Jones to the Seattle Seahawks
Chris Jones has already turned down one extension offer from the Chiefs, according to sources close to the standout defensive tackle. General manager Brett Veach won't let Jones walk without getting something in return—and a 2021 compensatory pick isn't enough.
If the sides can't find common ground, the Chiefs can apply the franchise tag and trade him. Seattle is the perfect landing spot with Jarran Reed a free agent and the team equipped with the cap space ($59.7 million) and draft capital to land Jones for the No. 27 overall pick. These teams have history after the Frank Clark deal last year, so it shouldn't be a surprise if they hook up again.
Raiders Trade Derek Carr to the New England Patriots
The smart thing isn't always the easiest decision. But Belichick and the Patriots are well-respected and have made hard decisions regarding iconic players in the past. The idea of moving on from Brady is probably unthinkable for many, including Kraft.
At the same time, the Patriots must prepare for their future. In addition, the Raiders have interest in Brady, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, which only builds on the idea Las Vegas isn't fully invested in its starter. The Patriots can flip the script by acquiring Carr from the Raiders and let the 28-year-old signal-caller indoctrinate himself with the Patriot Way.
The New York Jets Will Move Safety Jamal Adams
The Jets are gonna trade Jamal Adams. You know it's a bad idea; I know it's a bad idea. But we all know Adam Gase is going to do it, because Gase always blames his teams' failures on his best players. It's like he's his own Twitter troll.
The Bengals Will Cut QB Andy Dalton and DE Carlos Dunlap
It's no secret that Dalton's days as the starting quarterback for the Bengals are numbered. The Bengals can save $17.7 million against the cap by cutting loose the 32-year-old in the offseason.
However, the Bengals can save another $6.5 million by also severing ties with veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who is also the wrong side of 30. Dunlap had nine sacks in 2019, but he's on the downslope of his career and has just one 10-sack campaign in 10 seasons.
After the Bengals won just two games in 2019, things won't turn around overnight in the Queen City. But clearing upward of $24 million off the books should set the franchise up well to potentially be a major player in free agency in 2021.
If owner Mike Brown will pry open his checkbook.
The Denver Broncos Release Joe Flacco
The Broncos keep swinging and missing at quarterback. Consider this another L. Flacco looked very old and very slow in his eight games last season, while Drew Lock looked like he may be the future. There's no point in keeping Flacco around. They should cut him even if they have to eat some of his salary.
Xavier Rhodes Gets the Ax From the Vikings
His play has gone downhill like a sled with a jet engine. The Vikings would save about $8 million if they do it.
Chicago Bears Cut Prince Amukamara
Amukamara has been a solid starter for Chicago the last three years, but he'll turn 31 in June. Chicago is low on salary-cap space ($13.4 million) and could use the $9 million it would pocket by parting ways with a player who is likely in decline and entering a walk year. If they did this, though, they'd almost certainly have to use one of their two second-round picks on an outside corner.
The Atlanta Falcons Will Say Goodbye to Devonta Freeman
The Falcons invested heavily in the offensive line last offseason with the expectation that they'd get back to running the ball to victory. That didn't happen, and the team is upside down on the value of running back Devonta Freeman's five-year, $41.3 million deal.
Cutting Freeman before the final three years of his contract come due allows the Falcons to save much-needed money and start over with a younger, cheaper running back.
Chiefs Cut Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins
NFL business never stops.
The Chiefs can enjoy their Super Bowl victory for a few days, but Veach and Co. have plenty of work in front of them in the coming weeks. First, a Patrick Mahomes contract extension should be the organization's top priority since the Super Bowl MVP is entering a walk year. His annual value will supersede the current market and possibly push into the $40 million-per-year range.
But the Chiefs don't have the financial flexibility to get that done. They'll need to shed salary.
Sammy Watkins is a prime target since his release will add $14 million to the team's bottom line. Plus, the Chiefs don't need to pay the wide receiver $21 million in 2020 when the offense also features Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson.
What Davenport Said...Except the Opposite
The Bengals should move on from just about anyone who is still on their roster who was a starter in 2015: Dre Kirkpatrick, Gio Bernard, Dunlap—everyone except Geno Atkins. Many of these guys can still play, but they are already on the decline and won't be able to help the team by the time it rebuilds around Burrow. That's what the Bengals "should" do, mind you; As a bold prediction, they'll end up extending players they really should not extend.
Salary-cap info provided by Spotrac unless otherwise noted.