The 2014-15 professional football season was full of ups and downs, from wonders during the draft to upsets on the field. Even though the season concluded with the Patriots’ hard-earned victory at the Super Bowl, football fans can look forward to more chaotic and gratifying professional ball — in the offseason.
The 2015 football offseason promises to be a rip-roaring ride, as players look for bigger paydays and teams find allegiance elsewhere. Here are four top NFL names to keep track of even while football fields lie empty until the fall.
1. Marshawn Lynch
Even though they opted to throw on the one-yard line during Super Bowl XLIX and not continue using him, the Seattle Seahawks remain confident in tailback Marshawn Lynch’s ability to handle the ball. This year’s Super Bowl losers are proposing a $10 million contract to keep Beast Mode on the team, but there are rumors that Lynch, who is turning 29 this year, won’t be returning to football at all.
Though Lynch’s history of injuries isn’t long or grueling, most professional tailbacks see their skill quickly diminish around 30 years old and teams are loathe to offer a long-term deal. Plus, Lynch’s career choices are notoriously difficult to predict; a source close to the player says about whether or not he’ll continue with the sport: “You never know with him.”
Experts say that if the Seahawks lose Lynch, their 2015 lineup will be seriously crippled, relocating them from serious contenders for Super Bowl XLX to has-beens. If he returns or goes, fans should snag a Lynch jersey while they still can.
2. Darrelle Revis
The New England Patriots were able to show off their full defensive potential with Revis Island, one of the league’s best cornerbacks, during their Super Bowl XLIX win. During Revis’ NFL career, he has been selected to six Pro Bowls and now has a Super Bowl ring. Heading into the offseason, Revis is looking mighty fine to a bevy of teams.
Two New York teams, the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, are particularly interested in luring Revis out of New England. Experts say that Revis would be a good fit for the Bills, who already boast one of the most intense pass rushes of professional football; additionally, Revis made his name on the Jets during Coach Rex Ryan’s reign, and now Ryan has moved to the Bills. In truth, neither New York team is remarkably promising for the 2015 season, but Revis might make a move back to his home state if the price is right.
3. Peyton Manning
It is hard to believe that five-time MVP winner Peyton Manning is turning 39 — then again, it feels like he’s been a leading NFL quarterback forever. As Manning’s health remains under close scrutiny, the 17-season veteran continues to waffle over whether or not to continue for another season with the Denver Broncos or to retire for good.
The Broncos eagerly await Manning’s decision; though the team was disappointed with an early elimination in the playoffs, they recognize that Manning’s throwing arm is still golden for its age. In fact, Manning threw for over 4,727 yards this season, with a passer rating of 101.5 If the QB leaves the game, the Broncos will downgrade to Brock Osweiler, who has thrown only 30 passes in his three years of professional ball.
4. Ryan Tannehill
In 2014, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed fans and the team that he deserves a contract extension. Passing over 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, Tannehill improved significantly over his previous performance — and Dolphins’ coach Joe Philbin noticed, as he told Fox Sports, “[Tannehill] did a lot of good things… I think he’s headed in the right direction.” Tannehill’s skill on the field would certainly add stability to a long-flagging professional team.
The problem is that Tannehill’s fifth year will come at a heavy cost to the Dolphins, who are already threatening to surpass their salary cap. Plenty of decently performing QBs are commanding ludicrously high salaries, which means that Tannehill’s contract extension could tip Miami over the edge. Experts are placing Tannehill’s 2016 salary around $15 million, which is quite pricey.
This Super Bowl wasn’t an especially outstanding game. Though there were plenty of upsetting turnovers and flabbergasting plays, both the Patriots and the Seahawks were top teams throughout the 2014 professional season, and both boast incredible lines of fantastic players. Where the drama will truly lie is in the upcoming offseason, when players have the power to make small teams big players in Super Bowl XLX.