Nick Foles leads 2019 NFL offseason's most captivating figures

Time to press the reset button.

With Super Bowl LIII in the books and the Patriots on top of the world once again, the offseason is officially upon us.

The playing fields have gone silent, but that's not the case inside team facilities, where all 32 franchises author top-secret plans for free agency and April's draft.

With a flood of new faces -- and plenty of unanswered questions lingering from this past campaign -- here's my list of players, coaches and front office generals who matter most this offseason:

Impending free-agent signal-caller Nick Foles: What's next for the Philly hero who appears determined to latch on as a starter elsewhere? After informing the Eagles he would be paying them $2 million to buy out the $20 million contract option they recently exercised for 2019, the Super Bowl-winning backup is set to march into free agency unless the Eagles slap the franchise tag -- expected to be worth about $25 million -- on Foles to pave the way for a juicy trade.

"I *do* think they'll be able to trade him. My guess is they end up working with Foles and coming up with some solution where he lands at a great place, and he probably ends up getting a contract extension with that," NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport told WIP-FM last month.

Most agree the cost would fall somewhere in the neighborhood of a third-rounder, since the Eagles would likely net a 2020 third-round compensatory pick if Foles is snatched away in free agency. The question boils down to destination, with the Jaguars seen as obvious pursuers in a post-Blake Bortles world. Who else? The Giants seem compelled to stick with an aging Eli Manning -- potentially paired with a rookie -- while the Redskins, another NFC East rival, would make for an awkward match. Miami Herald beat writer Armando Salguero, meanwhile, believes the Dolphinshave no plans to chase after Foles.

The rest of the quarterbacks: Beyond the Foles debate, impending free agent Teddy Bridgewater and Baltimore's Joe Flacco make much more sense for a Washington squad wisely "planning as if"Alex Smith won't see the field in 2019.

Ryan Tannehill is another name to watch. The Dolphins say no decision has been made on the future of their oft-injured passer, but that same front office made it clear it will seek young competition in the draft. QBs Drew Lock (Missouri), Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) and Daniel Jones (Duke) will all become household names as teams turn toward the college ranks for the next big hit under center.

Pursuing parties for runner Le'Veon Bell: The Jets have the second-most cap space league-wide, according to Over The Cap, and reportedly harbor interest in making a run for Bell -- short of breaking the bank -- per the Daily News. Will it matter?

"He has his eyes on the Colts, no doubt about that," one source told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano in December, adding: "He sees Luck and that offense and all that cap room and they're much closer than the Jets. He wants to go someplace he can win right away."

The Colts house affordable backfield help in Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines -- and general manager Chris Ballard has shied away from splashy moves -- but all of that can change. The Raiders and Texans also boast top-10 cap space and could use a versatile, game-changing, dual-threat back like Bell (anyone could) but this boils down to the player deciding where he wants to be.

ESPN reported the Steelers are still open to using the transition tag on Bell, which would allow them to match any offer sheet he signs elsewhere. Can't the team just move on from him, though? After grooming the affordable James Conner into a star and flipping the switch on Jaylen Samuels, another hyper-awkward staredown with Bell is a drama nobody pines for.

Antonio Brown, too: The Steelers are no stranger to tangling with star players to create an offseason's worth of tedious speculation and breathless reporting. This is one unsolved mystery I'm content to ignore until we know how the Steelers plan to move forward.

Rapoport reported before the Super Bowl that Brown "hasn't closed the door on returning" and remains in touch with various Steelers officials. The All-Pro wideout doesn't control the cards here, though, with Pittsburgh able to field trade offers or choose to do literally nothing at all. Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, meaning the steady stream of chatter around his on-field destiny will serve as a lock-and-load narrative at this month's NFL Scouting Combine.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock: After years serving as a draft guru for NFL Network, Mayock is now tasked with turning around a Raiders team that bottomed out hard in 2018, but left Silver and Black fans with one lingering hope: a flurry of early round selections.

Armed with three first-rounders -- Nos. 4, 24 and 27 -- plus seven additional selections, Mayock is less than three months away from a bushel of trigger-pulls that will change the fate of the Raiders for years to come. At first blush, this already has a better chance to work than the ill-fated pairing of Jon Gruden and ex-general manager Reggie McKenzie.

The Sean McVay clone factory: The NFL is a copycat league. This was proven yet again after a rash of owners chased down a flock of millennials to duplicate the works of McVay, wunderkind for the 2018 season's NFC champions. Beyond the Super Bowl LIII loss, McVay has zapped all doubters who questioned what the Rams were doing when they crowned a 30-year-old as their head coach. Two years later, teams followed suit in droves.

New Bengals coach Zac Taylor is a 35-year-old McVay prot��g�� with an uber-light history of play-calling at the NFL level. Green Bay's 39-year-old Matt LaFleur -- another McVay offshoot -- brings one year of work dialing up an offense in Tennessee.

Beyond the McVay branches, 44-year-old Freddie Kitchens played the coordinator role for just half a season in Cleveland, while 39-year-old Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury has never called plays in the NFL.

It's nothing short of a beautiful experiment, but what's to say the Dolphins' "defensive-minded" Brian Flores -- himself just 37 -- doesn't wind up as the finest of the bunch?

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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