The carousel is spinning.
The NFL offseason has scattered some of the NFL’s stars (Carson Wentz, for one) and a few more may be on the move soon.
Deshaun Watson. J.J. Watt. Russell Wilson.
In Pittsburgh, it seems that Ben Roethlisberger is certain to stay. But could the team somehow add Watt too? And will Wilson really leave Seattle? According to an ESPN article, Wilson is not demanding a trade just yet, but he does have a short list of teams (Saints, Cowboys, Raiders, and Bears) he’d be willing to leave for.
It’s hard telling where everyone will end up, but the NFL landscape will certainly look much different before the season begins next fall. Futures odds will get shuffled along the way. But there may be some opportunities to gain an edge if you can predict the future of the NFL’s stars.
No Watt family reunion in Pittsburgh
Last week, news emerged that the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have found some common ground regarding his return and both sides hope to have a deal in place by March 17, according to NFL.com.
But Steelers fans were even more excited about the prospect of getting J.J. Watt, the former Houston defensive end who would possibly join brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh. Last week at FanDuel Sportsbook in Colorado, the Steelers and the Packers were the favorites to get J.J. But on Monday, he announced on social media he was heading to Arizona.
J.J. Watt agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals for $31 million, with $23 million guaranteed, NFL.com reported.
Steelers moves and futures odds
In other personnel matters, a Pro Football Focus article expects that the Steelers are likely to lose left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, running back James Connor, and receiver Juju Smith-Schuster in free agency. And the team already lost center Maurkice Pouncey to retirement. So the 2021 Steelers will rely heavily on a defense that was among the league’s best last season and perhaps a rebuilt offense that could get a new running back in the draft.
Complicating matters for Pittsburgh, Big Ben’s total salary cap hit this season is believed to be $41.25 million, a big barrier for what the team could do in free agency.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Steelers at third in AFC North futures behind Baltimore (+110) and Cleveland (+200) at +280. Pittsburgh is +1400 to win the AFC and +3100 to win the next Super Bowl.
Will Jalen Hurts be the focal point in Philadelphia?
Following the trade of former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts is alone atop the depth chart in Philadelphia. But with the No. 6 pick in April’s NFL Draft, some have wondered if the team would consider taking another quarterback. A few mock drafts have even linked Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to Philadelphia.
So the quarterback position will likely dominate the Eagles’ offseason discussions, but there are holes elsewhere on the roster as well. Philadelphia is also over the salary cap, with the number at $43 million according to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. So the team will have to do some bargain shopping in free agency, while still trying to upgrade a team that finished 4-11 last season.
Eagles futures odds
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Eagles (+440) at third in NFC East futures, behind Dallas (-105) and Washington (+300).
Philadelphia is +3400 to win the NFC and +6500 to win the next Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites at +500, followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +950.
The Raiders are the favorites for Russell Wilson
If Wilson does move on to another team, this Reuters article has a rundown of the most likely landing spot. The Las Vegas Raiders are the favorites at 5-1. The Cowboys (6-1), Washington Football Team (8-1), and the new-look Jacksonville Jaguars with head coach Urban Meyer are also in the mix at 8-1.
As for Deshaun Watson, FanDuel Sportsbook in Colorado has him likely to remain in Houston at +200. The Broncos (+300), Dolphins (+300), 49ers (+350), Panthers (+700), and Jets (+900) are also on the board.
So with free agency looming only a few weeks away, the carousel is likely to speed up. Teams will look to settle some questions on their roster before searching for other answers in free agency.
Some big names will find new homes.
And the NFL landscape will undergo a major change.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy