Here’s a look at the most prominent topics that owners, general managers, coaches and scouts will be talking about (and perhaps acting on) at this week’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis:
Who’s going to sign Le’Veon Bell and how much is he going to be paid?
After he sat out the 2018 season in a contract dispute, the Steelers revealed that they won’t tag their star running back, so he’s free to sign with whomever he wants now. Let the bidding wars begin.
Bell, who opted to forgo the $14.5 million he could have made last season by playing under the franchise tag, will be looking to more than make up for that money lost.
He’s a three-time Pro Bowler who’s averaged 86.1 rushing yards and 42.9 receiving yards per game in his career. He’ll be seeking a deal that rivals the nearly $15 million per year the Rams are paying Todd Gurley.
The Jets, with about $100 million to spend in the offseason and in desperate need of skill-position talent on offense, are one of the most likely landing spots for Bell.
Who’s going to take a chance on Antonio Brown?
Brown, the disgruntled Steelers receiver whose behavior has grown more bizarre by the day, is on the trading block. The question is, despite the fact he’s one of the most dynamic players at his position, which team is willing to pay how much for a soon-to-be 31-year-old prone to erratic, selfish behavior?
The Steelers surely would love to get a second-round pick for him, but based on recent events and Brown’s hefty salary, that might be a pipe dream.
Where will Nick Foles end up?
The Eagles have made it clear Carson Wentz is their starting quarterback, but they want to have their cake and eat it, too. That means getting some compensation for Foles when he leaves and making sure he doesn’t end up playing for one of their NFC East rivals, the Giants or Redskins.
The March 5 deadline looms for teams to place the franchise tag on players, and this is something the Eagles are contemplating. If they decide to tag Foles they could trade him. If they do tag Foles, the Eagles better know they’ll be able to trade him for fair compensation, because under the franchise tag Foles wold make about $25 million in 2019, which is a lot more than Philadelphia wants to pay a backup quarterback.
The most likely landing spot for Foles is with the Jaguars, who are seemingly finished with Blake Bortles and where former Eagles assistant, John DeFilippo, is the offensive coordinator. Jacksonville would be a suitable place from the Eagles’ perspective because it would mean he’s out of the division and conference.
What is the Cardinals’ plans with the top pick?
Owners of the No. 1-overall pick often use that pick on a quarterback. Conventional wisdom would tell you the Cardinals don’t need a quarterback after using the 10th overall last year on Josh Rosen.
But they have a new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, and he might not be married to a future with Rosen. Kingsbury, before he was hired by the Cardinals, was quoted saying that, if it were up to him, he would pick Kyler Murray the No. 1 draft choice.
The Cardinals have since publicly endorsed Rosen, but does anyone really know what they’ll do? Of course not.
Who should go No. 1 in the draft?
By most accounts, Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa should be the top player selected.
But his injury history will surely be dissected during Combine week. He played in just three games in 2018 before suffering a season-ending groin/abdominal injury. he also had an ACL knee injury that ended his high school career.
There is hope in San Francisco, which has the second pick, that the Cardinals, who use a 3-4 scheme, might see Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams as a better fit.
Who will trade up for a QB?
Every year, it seems, teams trade up to draft a QB. Last year it was the Jets to get Sam Darnold. The year before, the Chiefs moved up to secure Patrick Mahomes. Could the Giants, currently at No. 6, do something similar this year to get Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins?
Since the 2016 draft, when Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went first and second, only one first-round quarterback hasn’t been drafted involving a trade — Baker Mayfield, the first-overall pick of the Browns last year.
The Giants and Jaguars, with the Nos. 6 and 7 picks, respectively, are the likeliest to move up.
Who are the wild cards this offseason?
The Jets are poised for a spending spree with $100 million in salary-cap space, and the Raiders are always unpredictable — and even more so with Jon Gruden coaching and first-time GM Mike Mayock, the former TV draft analyst.
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The biggest question for the Raiders is whether thy want to move forward with quarterback Derek Carr or trade him and draft a new one (Kyler Murray?).
More Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumors?
This is a story that refuses to go away despite the fact that Giants GM Dave Gettleman insisted at the end last season that the team didn’t sign Beckham to that $90 million contract extension to trade him away.
Beckham, who had 1,052 receiving yards and six TDs (not including the two he threw) in 12 games last season, continues to be the hottest topic of trade rumors despite the fact he, along with running back Saquon Barkley, is one of the centerpieces of the Giants’ offense. Beckham is just 26, compared to Antonio Brown’s 31, and the headaches Beckham generates seem to be less existential.