We've made it through the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and the draft. As OTAs, mandatory minicamps, training camp and the preseason approach, here are our top offseason storylines to watch.
When you lose Mike Francesa, you know it's been an offseason for the ages in East Rutherford. "The people running the team are losers," the longtime WFAN host said of the Giants, a franchise he backed publicly until general manager Dave Gettleman spent New York's sixth overall pick on polarizing passer Daniel Jones out of Duke.
That selection served as the toxic cherry on top for most G-Men fans after Gettleman, a month earlier, shipped receiver Odell Beckham to the Brownsfor a song. The radioactive transactions don't end there, but the focus now shifts to Jones and veteran Eli Manning -- longtime chums -- as they battle for New York's starting spot.
Scouts were spread all over the map on Jones, but Gettleman fell hard. So now what? Will the Giants be willing to finally bench Manning -- sooner than later -- if Jones looks like a No. 6 pick?
"If this guy is clearly better than Eli, then he should play Week 1," colleague Chris Wesseling said of Jones on Monday's "Around the NFL Podcast."
The Kingsbury Effect in Cards Land
One of my favorite evenings of football came during the Monday night opener back in 2013, when the Eagles clipped the Redskins, 33-27. The final score doesn't do justice to a first half that saw new coach Chip Kelly's blinding, hurry-up offense confound and disassemble Washington en route to a 26-7 halftime lead. The NFL eventually caught up to Kelly's tricks, but the league continues to pull liberally from the college game for inspiration on offense.
CUT TO: The piping-hot vista of Phoenix, Arizona, where ex-Texas Tech head man Kliff Kingsbury's arrival turns the Cardinals -- previously a comprehensive snoozefest -- into pure fascination. Armed with the ideal quarterback for his Air Raid attack in first overall pick Kyler Murray, Kingsbury is preparing to pepper enemies with a lush, pass-heavy playbook littered with four-wide chaos and David Johnson in the backfield. The offensive line is no treat -- just ask Josh Rosen, sacked 45 times in 2018 -- but Cardinals practices, camp sessions and preseason tilts will become something of a Nancy Drew adventure as scribes search for breadcrumbs that hint at what's to come.
Back in 2013, Kelly -- the ex-Oregon wizard -- managed to enter Week 1 with the pro version of his offense still largely shrouded in secrecy. Can Kingsbury pull off the same level of surprise?
The quarterback Kingsbury didn't want
Josh Rosenisn'tforeveryone. We get it. What I see, though, is a player who landed on his feet after one of the rockiest rookie journeys in eons. Rosen's 13 starts in Arizona unfolded behind five apparitions doubling as blockers amid an aura of underwhelming coaching and not nearly enough talent to make up for it. Then he was bandied about as trade bait and ultimately shipped off to Miami for a second- and fifth-round pick after being drafted 10th overall in 2018.
All of this makes Rosen a figure of massive intrigue. I'm not calling him a victim -- he's flush with greenbacks, he's young and he's living in Miami -- but anyone who's been passed over, dumped, fired, overlooked or undervalued should find something to like in Rosen's redemption arc.
The massive-bodied quarterback from Carolina is saying all the right things about his surgically repaired shoulder, recently telling ESPN's David Newton: "I'm feeling great now. I feel like I do have full strength right now."
Cam also noted that his words alone won't trigger on-field clearance from Panthers doctors. On paper, Newton's status appears brighter than Andrew Luck's did during the Colts QB's prolonged shoulder-woe odyssey of days past, but this remains a concerning wait-and-see scenario for Newton -- and Carolina's season. Until Cam's right, prepare to see plenty of Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen and intriguing hometown rookie Will Grier.
Adam Gase, Gregg Williams and all things Jets
The Jets loom as the more immediate threat after adding ex-Steeler and back-from-the-void runner Le'Veon Bell behind second-year passer Sam Darnold. On defense, the Williams Wall -- Leonard and third-overall pick Quinnen -- gives Gang Green a pair of unruly behemoths to rush the passer in front of star safety Jamal Adams.
The Jets have legitimate talent. The bigger question is how the third Williams -- Gregg, the club's fire-breathing defensive coordinator -- will mesh with new head coach Adam Gase. Additionally, how will Gase mesh long-term with GM Mike Maccagnan, amid whispers the new relationship was already on the rocks in Florham Park?
Who will land "Hard Knocks" (and can it please be the Raiders)?
The choice needs to be Oakland. The Raiders check all the boxes, with the made-for-television/straight-from-television pairing of coach Jon Gruden and first-time GM Mike Mayock. You can already picture HBO's lenses fixed on Antonio Brown as he hops out of a private chopper onto the practice field or waltzes around the complex in a three-piece lilac suit and feathered top hat while tending to his latest (read: ponderous) social media tete-a-tete.
Throw in a trio of first-round rookies and the team's impending move to Vegas -- and you've got a brilliantly bizarre tonic with the chance to top last year's Cleveland-based romp.
How will Freddie Kitchens handle the heat?
When "The Around the NFL Podcast" sat down with Kitchens in March, the new Browns coach was true to form: affable, honest, no-nonsense and minus some of the made-for-media trimmings hot-wired in so many of today's NFL bigwigs.
Kitchens is comfortable in his own skin and clearly on the record about this year's Browns team: They've earned nothing yet. Still, the media (and the schedule-makers) have all but anointed Cleveland, coming off a seven-win jaunt, as the NFL's starry new plaything.
As a lifelong Browns fan -- damaged and suspicious of everything around me -- I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know, I know ... that's a ghastly way to view a truly exciting roster anchored by a genuinely exciting young quarterback in Baker Mayfield, but I'm unsure how to tweak 30-plus years of damaged internal psychology until victory becomes tangible.
Kitchens is driving a caravan of hope unrivaled in pro sports. First-year head coaches who inherited this kind of talent (George Seifert with the Niners and Jim Caldwell with the Colts come to mind) often were taking over for longtime mentors. Kitchens has worked for a laundry list of heavy hitters, but not in Cleveland, where he hit the scene a year ago under the soon-to-be-excommunicated Hue Jackson.
Kitchens comes across as a no-frills, no-BS, WYSIWYG front man -- which might be exactly what this team needs -- but even the best of campaigns are littered with unexpected mishaps, injuries and killer losses. How Kitchens responds to the madness will be closely watched by his players, the fans and everyone wondering what's next for the suddenly glitzy Browns.