We’ve never seen an offseason such as this: a Franz Ferdinand-esque powder keg of kinetic energy waiting to unleash its ripple effect across the NFL.
From where we stand, a laundry list of mega-named signal-callers is teed up for a free-agency shuffling that could repaint the league from the inside out. Our eyes will be forced to adjust as a handful of iconic passers land in new zip codes come March. Beyond player relocation, the NFL must self-examine and also peer ahead to striking a fresh-faced collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association as pro football veers into a new decade.
Mid-level bloggers hold zero control over the game board, so it’s nothing short of a fool’s errand for me to ask the spiteful Football Gods to hear my desires for the future.
Wishing to shout at the skies nonetheless, I present to you my offseason wish list for 2020:
A quarterback carousel that cooperates with my fancies
Brady’s situation gets solved in a hurry: Color me cynical, but I find the breathless reporting around TB12’s future nothing short of ponderous. The greatest quarterback of all time wants to be wanted and deserves to look around, but the vibe is all wrong for Tom Brady to wrap up his career anywhere but Foxborough. The sight of Tommy prancing about with lightning bolts on his helmet — or dolled up in silver and black four miles from The Sands — is too awkward a final chapter to stomach. With offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels returning to the Patriots to call plays and Brady already asking for a “weapons add”, the table is set for one final assault on the AFC.
Brees secretly agrees to a multi-passer Saints attack (nickname: THE STING-YA-BUTT-FROM-THE-SKY OFFENSE): I’ll wager my leased family Volkswagen that coach Sean Payton occasionally lies awake at night pondering a Saints playbook with Taysom Hill in a starring role. Hill certainly does, telling anyone who will listen: “I want to play quarterback in this league, and if New Orleans don’t view me that way, well, then I have to leave.”
Is a breakup really necessary, though? Drew Brees is already talking up a double-headed signal-calling frenzy in NOLA, saying: “If I’m back, and Taysom’s alongside me, call the plays that puts us in the best position to win,” Brees told PFT Live. “If that means Taysom Hill is taking 30 snaps a game, 25 snaps a game, so be it. I’m all for that.”
Sign me up. With Brees still operating as a mental giant under center who can make most of the throws, I’d love to see the 41-year-old arm agree in secret to a shock-and-awe two-passer playbook that employs Brees and Hill on the field together for a majority of Saints snaps. Imagine a gridiron movement leaving enemies unsure if they’ll be felled by a Brees dart in the heart or Taysom dancing over, around and beneath defenders toward sunlight. Fast-forward to January, when Payton’s STING-YA-BUTT-FROM-THE-SKY OFFENSE has poured out 39 points per tilt as a triple-sized Rubik’s Cube unsolvable to non-psilocybin-practicing shaman types.
Rivers to Vegas: Philip Rivers and the Chargers are ancient history. Now officially headed for free agency, Rivers made his feelings clear by moving his Swiss Family Robinson-sized lineup of wife-and-offspring to Florida. While the Bucs reportedly harbor “legitimate” interest in the 38-year-old flinger, I’m wishing for a juicier landing spot: Las Vegas. Why not side with Jon Gruden and the Raiders? After all, this is the coach who fell hard for a latter-stage Rich Gannon before winning a Super Bowl with a 34-year-old Brad Johnson. Close your eyes and envision Rivers guiding the surging black-clad Raiders to a rousing Monday night comeback over the we-should-have-rethought-this-plan Bolts. I see it, too.
Stafford to Los Angeles: All is not lost for the Chargers, though, as we lobby for Bolts general manager Tom Telesco to defy Bob Quinn’s publicly stated reticence and execute a draft-day swap with Detroit for Matthew Stafford. The move is tricky — and highly unlikely — due to the $30 million-plus dead-cap hit the Lions would incur, but everything changes if Detroit snatches a young quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. Battling to win hearts in Los Angeles, the Chargers could do worse than a household name with a rocket arm. A fresh start would help Stafford, too. His wife, Kelly, is open to this plan, writing on her Instagram story: “Well if Detroit is done with us … I could stay in Cali.”
Hit CTRL+ALT+DEL on Mitchell Trubisky
Jumping back onto the carousel for one more ride, I’m asking Bears management to peer inward and assess the flaws that saddled Chicago faithful with Mitchell Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft. A course correction is required. Chicago must treat Mitchell like what he is: a low-tier starter begging for camp competition. In this scenario, I’d pit Trubisky against a traded-for Cam Newton, hitting the scene as a big-bodied, alpha slinger who allows the Bears to lash out at the NFC North as an angry kitty ready to tussle.
Monday doubleheaders and Saturday tripleheaders:
Yes, there’s buzz of adding an extra week of regular-season fare in the next CBA, but instead, let’s maximize what already exists: Flex a string of final-month showdowns into secondary Monday night slots beside a string of Saturday triple-headers. Boosted ratings, lit-up weekends when the college game goes silent and the chance to promote edgy, unexpected playoff contenders on national television while easing the Sunday slate.
Eyes-open approach to XFL rule tweaks
Reminder: #XFL Teams can go for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line or three points from the 10-yard line. That means a team could score a nine-points in one possession! So that had me thinking…
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Dianna (@diannaESPN)
February 9, 2020
Easy to imagine NFL heavies laughing off the XFL as another experimental frivolity, but that would serve as a mistake. The richest aspect of from-scratch leagues is the opportunity to toy with stuck-in-the-mud rulebook quirks that hamper pro football. As baseball struggles with pace-of-game issues, the NFL sports problems of its own around kickoffs, extra points, pass-interference hijinks, the what-on-god’s-green-earth-is-a-catch question and so much more. Taking a close look at the XFL’s newfangled rulebook wouldn’t hurt. Case in point: I’m into the extra-point procedures noted by ESPN’s Dianna Russini. It tugs us — and coaches, too — from the comfort zone and would generate reams of new situational strategy. Time to get frisky.
Exterminate all domes
My request boils down to one, simple technical fix: Slice the roof off all domed stadiums. I’m calling for a return to rugged, outdoor football action from coast to coast. Begone, cushy 72-degree climates. Give me Detroit in a mid-December snowsquall and swampy, late-summer downpours in New Orleans. And while Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium is a beautiful place to witness a battle, my preference is for workers to immediately knife off the roof and allow Mother Nature in.
Kaleidoscopic uniform freedom for all
The headiest news of the week: The Bucs appear poised to reimagine their uniforms. Ranking among the NFL’s ghastlier getups of recent years, the move is long overdue. So why couldn’t they fix their fashion flub earlier? It boils down to the league’s five-year waiting period between uniform overhauls.
My request: Smash this technicality into a thousand pieces.
I’m all for teams boasting a Kardashian-dense closet of various game day options. A classic 1950s look one Sunday, followed by futuristic threads of chaos the next. Total freedom. Fresh vistas. A brave new age for sporting getups.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSessler.