While draftniks will be glued to college prospects lifting weights, running sprints and throwing spirals, the Around the NFL crew hits Indianapolis with different eyes.
The combine offers a rare chance to pester coaches and league executives with a laundry list of questions. It's an especially important time for the gaggle of new coaches and front office types meeting the national media for the first time.
Teams are well-schooled at keeping a lid on their plans, but that won't stop us from hunting down clues on what all 32 teams plan to do once the new league year kicks off on March 9.
What do we hope to learn? We hit the AFC on Thursday. Here are the questions we want answered in the NFC:
1. How do the Eagles feel about Bradford?
New coach Doug Pederson said Sam Bradford"would definitely fit the kind of offensive structure that I'll bring," but at what cost? Reports out of Philly suggest the Eagles aren't inclined to tag last year's starting quarterback at $20 million-plus. Could they chase down Kansas City's Chase Daniel, who Pederson views as more than a backup? Bradford's no star, but the Eagles also realize he can't easily be replaced. We're looking for answers on how they'll approach his free-agent status.
2. Could Kirk Cousins ditch the 'Skins?
It would be shocking to see Cousins land elsewhere next season. We don't expect that to happen, but the Redskins passer holds the leverage here, knowing that a handful of teams would offer a bundle of dough for his services. With Jay Gruden's offense now anchored around the young signal-caller, the franchise tag is certainly in play. We're looking for the 'Skins to come clean on where they stand with Cousins.
3. Panthers ready to talk contract with Josh Norman?
Dave Gettleman always is one of the best interviews at the combine. After the Panthers GM openly hinted at Steve Smith's departure two winters ago, we expect Gettleman to speak frankly about Norman hitting the open market. Hoping to break the bank, the talented cornerback isn't even negotiating with Carolina. "You can't sign everybody," Gettleman said this month, "but we're going to do everything we can to keep our core together." It's clear the Panthers would consider tagging Norman, but will they push for a long-term deal?
4. Do the Giants want to keep Jason Pierre-Paul?
We expect New York to move on from the pass rusher who mangled his hand last summer in a fireworks accident on Fourth of July weekend. JPP pushed the pocket in 2015, but the film doesn't lie: His heavily mitted hand caused tackling issues. Giants GM Jerry Reese has never re-signed one of his first-round picks, so what to do with JPP? New York's defense desperately needs difference-makers, but we expect Big Blue to move on. Will Reese or new coach Ben McAdoo tell us differently?
5. Will Chip Kelly dish on Kaepernick?
Next to Bill Belichick, no coach disdains these media soirées more than Kelly. After three years of prickly pressers in Philly, will the new 49ers coach lighten up at the combine? We doubt it, but he can't run from questions about Colin Kaepernick. Amid reports the quarterback "wants out of San Francisco," NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted that Kelly was planning to sign or trade for Kaepenerick no matter where he landed. That said, Kelly has yet to fully endorse Kaepernick. If he passes up the chance in Indy, questions around the QB's future in San Francisco will burn bright.
6. Will the Bears fight to keep Alshon Jeffery?
We'd be stunned if they don't. It will cost Chicago a bundle to tag or keep Jeffery on a long-term deal, but you can't allow him to walk after trading away Brandon Marshall last offseason. If the Bears hope to convince fans they're serious about winning, Chicago GM Ryan Pace would be wise to clarify his plan in Indy.
7. Doug Martin a tag candidate for Tampa?
Tampa scribes believe the Bucs would need to payDoug Martin $7 million-plus annually on a long-term deal. That kind of scratch comes with a risk, though: Do you get last year's whirlwind or the oft-injured runner from previous seasons? There's a strong argument for tagging Martin to see if he can repeat his 1,400-yard campaign. After all, Charles Sims -- a talented passing-down specialist -- can't fill those shoes alone. We'll listen closely to what coach Dirk Koetter and Tampa's front office have to say about Martin's future.