With Super Bowl XLVI in the books and not much on the NFL plate otherwise, I wanted to take time out to look into some potential things we could see in the 2012 NFL season. On this list you obviously won’t see Tom Brady or Eli Manning, but there could be some other interesting names moving, retiring, or just taking on a different role in 2012.
Now obviously this is an opinion-based story, but also some knowledge of the NFL goes into it. Some of these moves make great sense, some of it well just pure wishful thinking. In other words, don’t sweat it out fans if you see the name of one of your favorite players here. Also if you have anything to add, please feel free to comment at the end of this article. As always, thanks for reading!
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts: He missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, but the work ethic of Manning, and pure desire to play will have him back in 2012. Now the burning question is, where? With the Colts owning the number 1 pick in this year’s draft, it is believed they will choose the coveted QB Andrew Luck out of Stanford. The buzz is that the Colts would consider releasing Manning before having to pay him huge dollars and also have Luck sit the bench. So with that being said, if Manning is released, the list of teams after him can be a big one.
Owner Jerry Jones would love the draw of a big time QB, and he has a great arsenal of weapons in Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson and Jason Witten. What about Tony Romo you may ask? Well let’s face it, he isn’t getting to the playoffs let alone winning division titles or making it to any Super Bowls. The move makes sense on many levels. As for other suitors, the Dolphins would seem the next logical choice, and maybe the Cardinals. The Jets and Redskins are most likely out.
David Garrard, QB, Free Agent: With the shock of his release right before the 2011 season behind him, and his rehab work from surgery going well, Garrard will also be back in 2012, and is the second best option at QB besides Manning. Opting to have surgery this season did cost him some potential good jobs, but it also opens the door for him to be healthier and a starter in 2012. With the list of teams looking, the Dolphins seem a nice fit. They have an improved running game and a big time WR in Brandon Marshall. However, Garrard does not have the same clout as Manning as far as being too picky, so teams like the Redskins are very much in the mix.
Terrell Owens, WR, Free Agent: Another player that missed all of 2011, and at times totally forgotten, yet Owens swears he will be back in the NFL in 2012. Still very much the physical specimen, Owens can fill in nicely with a pass-happy offense. The question is, does he still have enough speed to go up against young corners? Also, can he be a good teammate and keep his mouth quiet? There are certainly teams that could use his service, and he will at least get a look this off-season.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets: There was some talk of L.T. retiring after this season, but nothing has been set in stone yet. However, after his sound off on Showtime Networks “Inside The NFL”, Tomlinson could be looking for a new home. Calling QB Mark Sanchez “pampered” and saying that head coach Rex Ryan spoke to much about opponents each week isn’t going to have him back welcomed with open arms. He can still be serviceable as a 3rd down back with good hands and some power running. A team like Bengals could use a guy like him to catch some passes out of the backfield. Tomlinson would probably want to consider a team with a chance of winning it all, so knowing where he could go is tough at this time.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Patriots: Here is one guy who probably wishes he missed all of 2011. Not being able to catch passes with Tom Brady at QB is not the best career move, and many teams may be pretty sour on him at this point. His attitude has never been a key asset either, so would any team really want a loud mouth WR with diminished skills? Possibly not, but in pro sports, where many athletes get third and fourth chances, Ochocinco could show up somewhere again next season. In my opinion I’d rather see Chad Johnson return, the name change seems to have ruined his career.
Ray Lewis, MLB, Ravens: He instantly squashed rumors of retiring the day after his teams loss in the AFC Championship game, and so far kicker Billy Cundiff lives on. Lewis is the type of player that may have to be carted off the field with a gruesome injury before he ever openly decides to retire. In reality with all his heart, and ability, are we really ready for life in the NFL without Ray Lewis? He will be in yet another Pro Bowl this season and most surely on the field in 2012, with the Ravens.
Randy Moss, WR, Free Agent: When the 2011 season started, and no team showing any interest in Moss, he decided to retire. After missing an entire season, and most likely not working out, it may be safe to say Moss will stay retired. He did revive his career with some good seasons in New England, and he can hang his hat on that at least.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Free Agent: The skills are pretty much gone as he showed during a rough half-season in Minnesota in 2011. After being released by the Vikings, teams like the Texans and the Bears who were desperate for a veteran QB, did not go after McNabb, which shows how little interest there is in him. Unless the plan for him is to be a back-up and carry a clipboard, we may not see McNabb in 2012.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: After not getting his new contract last season, and also being benched by his team at points during the season many feel his time in Philly is over. Jackson is still an explosive play-maker and has great speed and good hands. The problem lies within his small frame, and he his not the ultimate possession receiver. Jackson is full out homerun hitting or not much at all, and that does not get a lot of teams excited about paying him 10+ million dollars per year. His skills and style is best set for Philly, but it remains to be seen what they will do about a deal.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills: Over the course of 1 season he went from being an up-and-coming big game WR, to a trouble-making, bad taste celebrating cancer to a struggling Bills team. Costing his team penalties for tasteless impressions of Jets WR’s Santonio Holes and Plaxico Burress, then showing up late for team meetings, and mouthing off have easily made him a target. The Bills are a team that needs to move forward, and Johnson’s mouth is quickly out-playing his skill, but he does have enough talent to draw some trade interest.
Shawne Merriman, LB, Bills: After leaving San Diego, and fearing for his career about to be over, Merriman caught on with the Bills, only to suffer another season-ending injury. In his time he was truly a force at LB, but now with these injuries continuing to slow him down, he seems more of a shell of himself. If the Bills do not bring him back, it will be difficult for him to find a team who will take a chance for any kind of real money or serious playing time.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: We are all very confident that he will get the contract he is searching for, in fact the Saints should already be drawing it up.He has become the face of a team and a city, and has become one of the true elite QBs in the NFL. He also brought a Super Bowl to New Orleans, and that will earn him plenty of love for years to come. The chance of him being elsewhere in 2012 is about the same as me being the next QB in New Orleans.
Jon Gruden, Analyst, ESPN: With every off-season comes the name of the popular Gruden. The former Super Bowl winning coach has spent the last few seasons as a color analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, and just signed a long-term, big-money deal to stay with the network. Here is the one point that has many curious though: He can opt out of the ESPN deal, and there is a very lusty job open in Indianapolis with the Colts. The chance to coach the young QB Andrew Luck, veteran WR Reggie Wayne, and that beautiful dome can be attractive to many, no matter how much Gruden seems to like the booth. If this job is not for Gruden, than we can expect to hear the Bill Cowher chants next.
Carlos Rogers, CB, 49ers: After a great 2011 season all around for the 49ers, it is expected that they will try hard to keep Rogers. He finally showed the form that had him as a high draft choice, and will be in the Pro Bowl this season. He has showed interest in returning to San Fran, but just how much will he cost?
Vince Young, QB, Eagles: Sure his pre-season hype of calling the Eagles the “Dream Team” made them a true target and they came up short this past season, but Young can still play in this league. His ability to run and manage a game could be serviceable to a team looking for a jump-start at QB. The Redskins and Dolphins both seem like good chances for him to play, unless they go with the other options available.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: One of the games very best can still produce, but is he ready for a change of scene? Fitz went over 1,000 yards again this season, but his catches have dropped, and during the season expressed frustration with the Cardinals situation at QB. If they were to somehow get Peyton Manning, we would have to say 100 percent that he would stay, but outside of that, we can’t be too sure. The Cardinals would make it really tough for a team to grab him, and he would not come cheap, but crazier things have happen. Hey, Carson Palmer retired himself into a new gig, and Fitz could always do the same.
Earl Bennett’s orange cleats: The hoopla he tried to create with wearing these awful things were nothing more than a fine-fest for him. Yes, his work with QB Jay Cutler is breathing some life into his play, but there is no need for crazy colored shoes to try and make a statement. Let’s win some games and make noise in the playoffs before we try fashion statements shall we Bears?
Well here are just some of the stories we can look forward to in 2012. For now let’s get ready for the Pro Bowl and of course the Super Bowl. We can save all this other speculation for the off-season.
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