Case Keenum Out to Prove Himself With Broncos
Where he might go: His regular season success, and a postseason touchdown throw that will be remembered for decades, were not enough to earn him the full-time job in Minnesota, so Keenum has reportedly agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos to take over as that teamâs starting quarterback. The deal cannot be completed until Wednesday, but all indications are that he has found a permanent home.
What that means: The Broncos won the Super Bowl as recently as the 2015 season, but the retirement of Peyton Manning after his second Super Bowl title left the team without a reliable starting quarterback. That led to two years missing the playoffs as the once-terrific defense slowly withered away. Enter Keenum, who had been stamped with the label of journeyman backup until last season, but will now be asked to prove that his 11-2 record as a starter in 2017 was not a fluke. There is plenty of statistical evidence to show that Keenum earned his success last season, but stepping away from the talent-ridden Vikings could make him suddenly appear far more pedestrian.
Drew Brees Staying in New Orleans
What that means: The 17-year veteran lasted a few hours as a free agent before the Saints did what everyone expected, bringing him back on a two-year deal that will most likely ensure that he finishes his career in New Orleans. While Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara both had fantastic seasons, leading to much more diversity in the Saints offense, Brees was still the teamâs engine, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the 12th consecutive season. His 23 touchdown passes were the fewest he had thrown since 2005, but the 39-year-old can still get the job done.
The âOtherâ Minnesota Quarterbacks Look for Homes
Where they might go: Teddy Bridgewater was once an ascending star who was expected to lead the Vikings to the promised land and, when Bridgewaterâs knee exploded before the 2016 season, Sam Bradford was the quarterback Minnesota traded two draft picks to acquire. Neither were on the field for the teamâs loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the N.F.C. Championship game, however, thanks to their injuries and Case Keenumâs stellar play. Unsatisfied with all three options, the Vikings let all three go. Bradford appears to be on his way to the Arizona Cardinals while Bridgewater is expected to try to rebuild his career with the Jets.
What that means: Bradford, 30, has occasionally shown signs of why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, but he has also dealt with fairly serious injuries. He inherits a Cardinals team that was a contender with Carson Palmer on the field over the last few years but fairly bad without him. If Bradford can stay injury-free, there is the potential for a good fit, but it will be an uphill climb in the competitive N.F.C. West. The stakes are lower for the 25-year-old Bridgewater, who has attempted just two passes in the two seasons since his devastating knee injury (both fell incomplete). He looked great in 2015, and has youth on his side, but the Jets are also bringing back Josh McCown, and have enough question marks on the teamâs roster to ease the pressure on Bridgewaterâs comeback.
Andrew Norwell Upgrades Jacksonvilleâs Line
Where he might go: Several news media reports indicate that Norwell, a guard, will sign with the Jaguars on the largest contract ever for a player of his position. He is also expected to break records for average money per season and guaranteed money.
What that means: The Carolina Panthers were unwilling to pay money more typically associated with offensive tackles to a guard, but the Jaguars saw a good fit for the first-team All-Pro player. He immediately upgrades Jacksonvilleâs line and should make life considerably easier for Leonard Fournette, the teamâs rookie running back who had 1,040 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie despite inconsistent work from the teamâs interior linemen.
Malcolm Butler Headed to Titans
Where he might go: Butler appears committed to joining the Titans after four years in New England. The 28-year-old cornerback will be paid like a top defensive back even after a rocky end to his career with the Patriots.
What that means: Butler was once the hero of a Super Bowl victory thanks to a last-minute interception and had developed into one of the gameâs better cornerbacks in just his third year, but a poor end to the 2017 season, and a bizarre demotion to the bench for last yearâs Super Bowl, made him a bit of a wild card heading into free agency. Butler is not old enough to have lost a step, and the Titans clearly believe he just needed a change of scenery. But the Patriots are known for getting rid of players at just the right time â if occasionally a year early â so he is far from a sure thing to succeed.
Allen Robinson, on the Comeback Trail, Leaves Jaguars
Where he might go: It is expected that Robinson, a 24-year-old wide receiver, will sign a three-year deal with the Bears, where he will try to aid in the development of the teamâs young quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.
What that means: Robinson was well on his way to being considered a top-flight receiver after he finished the 2015 season with 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He slowed down some in 2016, and missed all but one game in 2017 because of a torn A.C.L., but he is still young and, at 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, he provides a big target for Trubisky.
Sammy Watkins Makes the Speedy Chiefs Even Faster
Where he might go: All signs are pointing toward Watkins, the 24-year-old wide receiver, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs after just one season with the Los Angeles Rams.
What that means: He has not quite lived up to the hype generated by his sophomore season in 2015, but Watkins had bursts of production for the Rams last season, and he gives the Chiefs another burner on offense alongside Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. Kansas Cityâs offense may be fairly inconsistent as Patrick Mahomes gets used to the starting quarterback job, but the strong-armed Mahomes should not have to worry about overthrowing many players this year.
Danny Amendola Leaving Patriots
Where he might go: The undersized 32-year-old wide receiver is on the verge of signing with the Miami Dolphins, where he is expected to be one of two additions to a new-look offense along with Albert Wilson, formerly of the Chiefs.
What that means: Amendola was a fan favorite and a frequent target for Tom Brady in the passing game, but the oft-injured receiver has never had production that matched his level of fame. Last season was just the third time in his nine seasons that Amendola played in as many as 15 games, but he did well with that opportunity, catching 61 passes for 659 yards. The highlight of his season was putting up 152 receiving yards in New Englandâs loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII. The thought of a breakout season at this point for the former Texas Tech star is a little unrealistic, but he can make a big play on occasion, which could prove useful for Miami. Wilson, at 25, has more potential for career growth, but he is also much less of a sure thing.
Richard Sherman Joins 49ers
Where he went: As has been known for a few days, Sherman, the 29-year old cornerback who has starred for the Seattle Seahawks for the last seven seasons, is headed to San Francisco to bring a veteran presence to a youthful team.
What that means: Sherman is working his way back from a tear of his Achillesâ tendon, but the 49ers must have been confident that he can regain his explosiveness since they have agreed to pay him $13 million in 2018. The contract is structured to help the team if Sherman does not perform, but he will bring intelligence and swagger to a defense that is still firmly in rebuilding mode.