By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and over the weekend, an oddly-timed report surrounding tension brewing between quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals surfaced. In the days since, things have continued to escalate, with reports coming out on Monday hinting that Murray refused to return to the team’s playoff loss once defeat became imminent. This offseason, Murray is eligible for a sizeable extension, making his posturing a likely contract ploy. However, Arizona’s response is unprecedented, hinting that while the pair will likely remain a unit in the short-term, Murray’s long-term future may not be in the desert. It’s a story that is far from over.
In other quarterback news, Indianapolis, one year removed from seemingly committing the franchise’s future to quarterback Carson Wentz, now appear set to move on from the inconsistent veteran. The Colts sent a king’s ransom to the Eagles to acquire Wentz. Still, Indianapolis is wisely acknowledging its mistake following an up-and-down season—complete with an epic Week 18 implosion against Jacksonville to cost the team a playoff spot. It will likely take Wentz to agree to restructure his contract, but the Colts seem intent on moving on one year into the experiment to land a franchise quarterback failed miserably. Either way, the Colts will be significant players on the quarterback market this offseason.
During the second quarter of the Super Bowl, Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury, and on Monday, early fears were confirmed. Beckham, who is heading into free agency, suffered a torn ACL. It’s a devastating turn of events for Beckham, who had salvaged his career following a late-season move to L.A. following a forgettable tenure with the Browns. As a member of the Rams, Beckham re-established himself as one of the better playmaking receivers in the NFL. Now, he faces an uphill climb to be ready for next season and will likely have to settle for a one or two-year, incentive-driven contract.
Also coming out of the Super Bowl, Joe Burrow ended the 2021 season—including playoffs—having taken an unfathomable 70 sacks, including seven in the championship game. Cincinnati’s offensive line ranks among the worst in the NFL, and improving the unit will be the team’s top priority this offseason. On the plus side, Cincinnati is flush with cap space, and there will be plenty of possible upgrades available during free agency. Tackle Terron Armstead and guard Brandon Scherff, each coming off injury-plagued seasons, should be Cincinnati’s top targets, with guard Laken Tomlinson, center Ryan Jensen, and guard Connor Williams all representing massive upgrades along the line.
While Cincinnati will have plenty of options to upgrade its offensive line via free agency, the strength of this year’s class may be at wide receiver. Davante Adams headlines the crop, entering free agency as among the best players in the league. Adams is a candidate to be franchise tagged by the Green Bay Packers. Still, given the franchise’s tumultuous quarterback situation and salary cap challenges, Adams isn’t a lock to be tagged. It’ll take a hefty sum to land Adams, and many teams will be bidding for his services. The Las Vegas Raiders have long been linked to having an interest in Adams, but there isn’t a team in the NFL without interest in adding the superstar pass catcher.
Behind Adams, Chris Godwin is among the best and most versatile receivers in the league. A torn ACL in Week 15 ended Godwin’s 2021 season early, but he is expected to be ready for the start of next season. He may not be a household name, but Godwin is among the best offensive weapons in the NFL. There’s also Mike Williams, an excellent deep threat and red-zone option, veteran Allen Robinson, an unheralded elite receiver, Michael Gallup, among the best complementary receivers in the league, and Juju Smith-Schuster, a fantastic weapon out of the slot. It’s going to be a fun offseason.