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Six things to watch before training camps


The NFL calendar is rapidly expanding, but even in this 24/7 world there is still a little quiet time. After the close of OTAs, mandatory minicamps and before the opening of training camp, players and coaches have about five weeks to get away and catch some sun. There will still be plenty of issues, however, that are going to dominate the news cycle and keep our attention.

Here are six that we're keeping a close eye on:

1. Tom Brady appeal:The league's most visible player will have his case heard by Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday in an attempt to reduce a four-game suspension for allegedly having knowledge of illegally doctored footballs in this past year's AFC Championship Game. As NFL Media's Judy Battista said this week, the anticipation of an outcome and the eventual outcome will undoubtedly dominate the quietest part of the NFL calendar. How long can we expect to wait? The Greg Hardy appeal was heard 25 days ago and counting, while the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal appeals were decided in four days for Sean Payton and Gregg Williams and eight days for the four players initially suspended. 

2. Greg Hardy resolution: As we just mentioned, the appeal for Greg Hardy's 10-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league concluded almost a month ago. Dallas will be waiting with bated breath to see if they got the biggest steal of the offseason (production wise, but certainly not public relations wise) or if they have to wait more than half a season to unleash one of the league's best pass rushers. We've known for quite some time that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is all in on the 2015 season, now we'll see if his chances get any better.

3. Unhappiness with franchise tags: Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant are a high-profile grouping of star players who are currently unhappy with the franchise tag. All have distanced themselves from their respective teams for the most part (Bryant made a late appearance before Dallas broke for the summer despite the fact that camp was not mandatory for him) but the action will heat up in the coming weeks. Teams have until July 15 to negotiate long-term deals or else players will need to go through the 2015 season under their one-year tag. As we know, deadlines spur action, but which teams will cave?

4. HBO's "Ballers": The summer series starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the first television show to truly take a crack at the off-field lives of NFL players in more than a decade and has already lined up a slew of current league stars. DeSean Jackson and Victor Cruz, among others, are on board. Terrell Suggs and Rashard Mendenhall have both made appearances in the writer's room for the show, which premiered Sunday. Will we learn anything this summer, or will we just wait to see The Rock lay the smackdown on fictional Dolphins wideout Ricky Jarret, played by John David Washington?

5. Veteran free agent signings: Guards like John Moffitt and Evan Mathis will have teams interested this offseason given the intense push for help along the offensive line's interior. Wes Welker, Michael Vick and a few other big names are also looking for jobs at the moment.

6. Rob Gronkowski: The Patriots tight end is always doing something awesome, or at the least, something we wish we were doing during our summers off from college a few years back. Where will he wind up next?

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the Bills' QB situation, Tom Brady's appeal and the Odell Beckham Jr. drama. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.