NFL training camps open across the league this week, which means after more than five months off the four-down game is back. It was, as always, a busy and exciting off-season to keep fans’ interests peaked, but now it’s time for NFL football to be played.
TSN.ca recaps the biggest stories of the off-season to get you ready for training camp and the season ahead.
Finding the next Sean McVay
It didn’t take long to dissect this off-season’s trend in new head coaching hires: try to find the next Sean McVay. Of the six new head coaches earning their first full-time shot at running a team, three – Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor and Matt LaFleur – have connections to the Los Angeles Rams head coach, while a fourth, Freddie Kitchens, has had a similar rise through the coaching ranks.
Taylor was McVay’s quarterbacks coach with the Rams last season, LaFleur was his offensive coordinator two years ago and Kingsbury was offered an assistant coaching job with the Rams by McVay before he took the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals went so far as to mention Kingsbury and McVay are friends in their press release.
The NFL lost a little fun this off-season when long-time New England Patriots tight end and jokester Rob Gronkowski called it quits at just 30 years old. Gronkowski will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day after finishing his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns, four All-Pro selections, and three Super Bowl rings in nine seasons.
Top receivers switch teams
Two of the league’s top playmakers will be hitting highlight reels in different colours this season after the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders.
Beckham Jr. joins a suddenly threatening Browns squad and will be catching balls from Baker Mayfield, who is coming off an impressive rookie season in Cleveland. OBJ arrives to camp both healthy and happy after five seasons in New York.
Brown will be tasked with helping quarterback Derek Carr revive his career before the Raiders arrive in Las Vegas in a year’s time. Like Beckham, Brown now appears happy and healthy ahead of training camp in Oakland after a year of trouble in Pittsburgh.
Le’Veon Bell returns
Two years ago, Le’Veon Bell nearly eclipsed 2,000 offensive yards and was named an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then Bell missed an entire season due to a contract dispute. But one of the top running backs in the league returns for this season after departing Pittsburgh and signing a big-money deal with the New York Jets. Bell enters Jets’ camp well-rested and motivated to stick it to his former team.
But while Bell is returning, another of the league’s top running backs could be staying away. The Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon has announced he won’t report to training camp in a pay-me-or-trade-me ultimatum to the team. Gordon, who finished last year with 1,375 offensive yards in just 12 games, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
There is always plenty of movement at the quarterback position every off-season and this year was no different.
- The Cardinals gave up on Josh Rosen after just one season and drafted Kyler Murray first overall to be their starting quarterback.
- Arizona then traded Rosen to the Miami Dolphins, who will slot into their starting lineup to replace Ryan Tannehill
- The Jacksonville Jaguars hoped to solve their quarterback woes by signing former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to a four-year contract, mercifully ending the Blake Bortles era.
- The Denver Broncos acquired Joe Flacco, another former Super Bowl MVP, to keep the seat warm for second-rounder Drew Lock.
- Denver then traded Case Keenum to Washington, who will battle with rookie Dwayne Haskins for starts in light of Alex Smith’s potential career-ending injury.
- The New York Giants made the biggest surprise pick in the draft, taking Daniel Jones sixth overall to potentially take the reins from Eli Manning at some point this season.
CFLers in the NFL
While quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell decided to stay in the CFL, signing a long-term deal with the Calgary Stampeders, a number of CFLers signed south of the border and will attempt to stick in the NFL.
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|Player||Pos.||2018 CFL team||NFL team|