Connor Van Hulzen – Staff Writer
The completion of Super Bowl 55 means NFL fans can begin the countdown to the start of the next league season on March 17. Even though the free agent period does not start until then and trades may not be officially completed until then either, the weeks immediately following the Super Bowl promise numerous transactions that will have long-term effects on the entire league.
The NFL has not yet approached the NBA’s level of league-altering trades, but the gap is closing between the two leagues and their increasingly absurd offseason transactions.
Before the Super Bowl had even kicked off, the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams agreed to a trade that would see longtime Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford, shipped off to the West Coast in return for Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, and two first round draft picks. This trade appears to be the first in a long line of dominoes to fall.
The list of notable quarterbacks who may have new homes by the time next season starts is a long one. It includes names like the Eagles’ Carson Wentz, the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, the Jets’ Sam Darnold, and the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo.
The retirement of Phillip Rivers and Drew Brees means their former teams – the Colts and Saints – who would usually appear as preseason favorites to make the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl, need to scramble to find a quarterback to lead the team.
The next domino to fall in the quarterback market may be Carson Wentz. After very promising rookie and sophomore seasons that were unfortunately cut short by untimely injuries, Wentz regressed severely for the Philadelphia Eagles this year. Eventually, his backup, Jalen Hurts, supplanted him as the starter towards the end of the season. Apparently fed up with the way the organization treated him, Wentz will reportedly be out the door in a matter of days. On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted, “Eagles are expected to trade Carson Wentz in the coming days in what would be the latest blockbuster QB deal to rock the NFL, sources tell @mortreport and me. The most pertinent questions now become where, when and for what. But it could happen as early as this week.”
Perhaps the most coveted item on the quarterback market this year is Deshaun Watson. At only 25, Watson has proven himself to be a franchise quarterback and a true game changer of an athlete for the Houston Texans. Watson finds himself potentially on the trade market due to his demand to be dealt to another team. The Texans franchise has recently made decisions that have led to the disillusionment of some of their star players. Beginning with the trading of superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins before the season, continuing with the eventual disposal of the decision-maker behind the trade, Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien, and culminating with the failure of the organization to hire a head coach that the players approved of, the Texans have made enough incorrect decisions within the past year to alienate stars like Watson, as well as franchise cornerstone J.J. Watt.
It will take a significant trade package comprised of multiple first round picks and multiple established players in order to get the Texans to even consider trading Watson, but there are teams around the league that are desperate enough to pull off such a trade.
The landscape of the NFL will likely be greatly influenced for years to come by the deals made this offseason, as every team builds what they hope will be enough to win Super Bowl 56.