The NFL offseason has already been relatively wild. We saw Tom Brady retire again, Sean Payton return to the NFL to coach the Denver Broncos and Aaron Rodgers is meditating in darkness. Whatever visions he sees in the pitch black will have major ramifications on the NFL world.
With a loaded 2023 NFL Draft class, free agency right around the corner and a quarterback carousel that could be full of surprises, this NFL offseason is sure to dominate headlines once again. Plus, we could see a couple of record-breaking quarterback contract extensions.
What does the future hold for Rodgers as well as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo? What kinds of changes are coming to the league this offseason? Below, we will break down 10 crazy predictions for the NFL offseason.
10. Jimmy Garoppolo signs with the Buccaneers
With the San Francisco 49ers' decision to tab Trey Lance to start the 2022 season followed by the emergence of new starting quarterback Brock Purdy, Jimmy G will be on the move this offseason. My wild prediction is that he proves time is a flat circle by replacing his former teammate, Tom Brady, under center in Tampa.
Is Garoppolo someone who can command an elite air attack? Probably not, but the Buccaneers aren't exactly in a great position to tank. Look at this roster on paper: They have talent on both sides of the ball. I say go sign a quarterback with starting experience and see what you can do.
9. Derek Carr signs with the Jets
After all of us witnessed Zach Wilson's struggles last season, the Jets are going to be looking to add another quarterback. They may want a veteran who has plenty of experience as a starter, so Carr could fit in here. The Jets have underrated talent in the backfield and at wide receiver. Adding a quarterback who can just be a consistent presence under center would make New York better immediately. Carr isn't high on my QB power rankings, but I really think the Jets could be contenders if they upgrade at the most important position.
8. Tony Pollard draws major interest in free agency, leaves Cowboys
There are several intriguing running backs looking for new deals this offseason, including Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery. The one I predict will receive the most interest, however, is Tony Pollard of the Cowboys.
Pollard picked up Pro Bowl honors this season by racking up a career-high 1,359 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games played. Whether it's working in the pass game, beating defenses to the corner off a jet sweep or just operating as your typical back in between the tackles, Pollard is a versatile weapon who teams are going to be bidding on -- more so than Barkley, Jacobs or Montgomery.
Spotrac projects Pollard will sign a three-year, $25.40 million deal that carries an average annual value of $8.4 million. My prediction is it's going to be higher than that, with his new AAV surpassing $10 million.
7. Dan Snyder sells team to Jeff Bezos, Jay-Z, Matthew McConaughey
This offseason, it finally happens. After more than two decades, the Washington NFL franchise will be under new ownership, as Snyder sells his beloved Commanders to a group headlined by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, musician Jay-Z and actor Matthew McConaughey.
The Commanders announced Nov. 2 that the Snyders had hired Bank of America Securities to "consider potential transactions." League sources estimated to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones that the full franchise would sell between $5.5 billion and $6.5 billion, but some believe it could go for even more.
6. Odell Beckham Jr. signs with the New York Giants
After being spurned by the Cowboys this past season, OBJ is going to sign with his former team. It seemed like the Cowboys were all-in on signing Beckham, then he showed up for his visit and Dallas signed ... T.Y. Hilton. Despite all of the reports saying both sides were/are still talking, we haven't seen anything come to fruition, and it's fair to wonder if anything ever will.
Another reason why Beckham could be interested in his former team is because it appears to be on the rise. Brian Daboll was clearly a good hire, Saquon Barkley is back to being a star and Daniel Jones may be a franchise quarterback. At the very least, he's earned the right to be the guy in 2023. The Giants have a need at the wide receiver position, and OBJ has remained in touch with some of his friends there.
5. Lamar Jackson demands trade
Contract negotiations did not go too well last year, thanks to those dang Cleveland Browns, who gave Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed contract. ESPN reported that Jackson turned down a five-year extension worth over $250 million with $133 million guaranteed at signing before the start of the 2022 season.
That fully guaranteed contract is a huge obstacle to overcome in this situation, which will lead to tension between the two sides -- who both want the same thing. My prediction is that Jackson will demand a trade after not getting that fully guaranteed deal. Armed with the franchise tag, the Ravens will use it. Per CBS Sports cap guru Joel Corry, the exclusive franchise designation will be most likely. Four of the last five times quarterbacks have been designated as franchise players, the exclusive tag has been used.
Now, the question will be does Jackson actually want out of Baltimore? I say no -- and there's no way the Ravens actually field offers for their star quarterback. Ultimately, Jackson will play on the tag, but the fan base will not have a fun offseason with their team dominating headlines.
4. Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers
Another year, another offseason of wondering what's going to happen with Rodgers and the Packers. Is this our third go-around? My hot take is that I don't think this situation is as dramatic as the reports indicate. Are the Packers more comfortable than they ever have been when it comes to the possibility of Rodgers leaving/retiring? Absolutely. However, that doesn't mean they are rooting for it, or "done" with their legendary quarterback.
My "crazy" prediction is that Rodgers returns to the fold for 2023. Brady may have stolen some of his thunder by being the main retirement of this offseason, plus Rodgers views Green Bay as home. This is something we know. Rodgers has had a wandering eye in the past, but he returns to play for the Packers next season.
3. Anthony Richardson falls to the end of the first round
Florida's Anthony Richardson is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in this class. He's athletic and certainly talented, although "raw" is the descriptor you will usually see near his name in mock drafts. Still, he's attractive enough to be considered a top pick.
As it stands now, all four of our CBS Sports NFL Draft experts don't have Richardson falling further than No. 11 overall -- and Chris Trapasso actually has him going No. 1 overall after the Indianapolis Colts swing a trade with the Chicago Bears. How's this for a crazy prediction? I say Richardson falls to the end of the first round. When we get into the 20s, someone will trade up to get him.
Remember last year when every mock artist had Malik Willis going in the first round? When draft day came, however, Willis fell to No. 86 overall! I don't want to compare Richardson and Willis as prospects, but one thing they do have in common is a "rawness." Richardson does not appear to be a Day 1 starter, but he could develop into something special.
2. NFL makes roughing the passer even worse
It was recently reported the NFL is going to discuss the possibility of making roughing the passer a reviewable penalty. The league has made touching the quarterback a frightening task for defenders, as sack artists are not even permitted to allow the natural force of gravity to affect them -- like when they momentarily put their weight on the quarterback while taking him down to the ground. Instead of reversing course with these rules, my prediction is the NFL is indeed going to make the penalty reviewable -- which will be a disaster.
Remember when the NFL made pass interference reviewable for one year back in 2019? It sounded like such a great idea in theory, but it didn't work out that way. Only 13-of-81 pass interference challenges were successful in 2019, per SI.com. There were two reasons why, in my opinion. One, I hypothesize the league wanted officials to lean toward their original call, and two, slowing down these kinds of plays in the review process really muddled things.
Basically, we paused games to view what we perceived to be clear and obvious pass interference penalties in slow motion, only for the official to turn on his mic and announce that there was no penalty. It was maddening, and that's what will happen with roughing the passer.
1. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow reset QB market
Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are two franchise quarterbacks who are now eligible for contract extensions. There are really no conversations for the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals to have. Both are quarterbacks they want on roster for years to come. Even though it's expensive, it can be beneficial to get these deals done ASAP.
My crazy prediction is that both quarterbacks will sign deals that reset the quarterback market. While some are expecting this, predicting both will reset the entire market in the coming months is actually a hot take. You have to remember, Deshaun Watson's fully-guaranteed contract kind of ruined the market. Lamar Jackson has won an MVP (something Burrow and Herbert haven't done yet), and the Ravens want to keep him in the fold. Yet, that hasn't happened yet. The other part of this prediction is picking BOTH to surpass Aaron Rodgers' AAV of $50.27 million. Spotrac has Herbert's projected AAV at $42.4M, and Burrow's at $44M. Those projected contracts wouldn't even break into the top five of highest-paid quarterbacks.
I'm not Joel Corry, so I won't/can't wax poetic on dollars and cents, but there are multiple facets of a contract extension that makes it what it is -- and each player views these facets a bit differently. Obviously stars expect deals that are well-rounded, but is Burrow's goal to surpass Rodgers in terms of AAV? Does Herbert desire incredible guarantees like Watson has and Jackson wants? That's what will be interesting to watch.