The NFL has officially entered its dark period. Players and coaches have the next five weeks to relax, while certain general managers will stay in the office laying the groundwork for franchise tag deals or pre-camp contract extensions that have yet to materialize.
But by now you know the NFL is anything but uneventful from the end of minicamp to the beginning of training camp. This has the trappings of a very noisy summer, and here are a few reasons why:
1. The ongoing battle between the Broncos and Von Miller: We won't go over every contract issue here. For a complete list of blockbuster deals that might get done this summer, check here. This post will be updated frequently throughout the break. The Miller deal is interesting because he is arguably the second-best defensive player on the planet right now and neither Miller nor the Broncos are interested in doing this quietly anymore. As ESPN's Jeff Legwold noted, public relations firms are involved, as are some pretty declarative statements on Instagram. Smart money is on the Broncos blinking first if they plan to stay competitive in 2016. Miller can sit out the season and more than make up for his losses in a robust free-agent market in 2017. Miller could theoretically hit the market in 2017 after a fall spent resting his body and working out, which would undeniably set him up to earn the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history.
2. Where will Eugene Monroe land?Eugene Monroe is a 29-year-old former first-round pick who has just hit the open market after a severed relationship with the Baltimore Ravens. While he is not necessarily a top-tier left tackle option, he is well above replacement level and has been cleared for on-field work. The Giants seem to be the most likely destination at the moment, but there are no shortage of teams who might want to upgrade to a tackle who has been -- at times -- an above-replacement level player. The San Francisco 49ers are also a team to watch.
3. Will the Jets draw out their contractual standoffs all summer long? To follow or cover the Jets on a daily basis means to typically commit yourself to a year-round routine. At the moment, the team's starting quarterback and best defensive player are not under contract with no deal seemingly on the horizon. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted last week that talks between the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been nonexistent. A person familiar with the team's plans echoed those sentiments Friday, the last day players were bouncing around the facility before heading home. As for Muhammad Wilkerson, his situation is beginning to mirror that of Von Miller, if a little less intensely. Wilkerson broke his silence in an interview with the New York Post this week and said everything we expected him to: He believes he is worthy of a Fletcher Cox-type deal, he believes the Jets have disrespected him, ect., ect.)
4. What will Jared Goff be doing this summer? NFL Media's Steve Wyche recently noted that Goff is "nowhere near" ready to start an NFL game Week 1, and while that is more of a reflection of the rookie learning curve as a whole, it bears watching. What Wyche meant, to be clear, was that Goff was in the midst of the firehose preparation that often takes place this time of year. Players are asked to digest a lot of information fast, and Goff has to learn all of this with the aid of third-string players. Will anything trickle out of Rams camp that tempers our expectations? Not seeing Goff start the opener would be a tremendous disappointment for the Rams. Not only did they move the club to Los Angeles this offseason, but they mortgaged their near future on the hope that Goff would be the B-12 shot this offense so desperately needs.
5. Injury updates: Some big names, including Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Ravens running back Trent Richardson (big names, I said, not all big-time players), Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware, Ravens receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman and others are all of interest this offseason. While the healing process can't necessarily be expedited during this time, it can most certainly be prolonged due to under-training, overtraining or good old fashioned freak accidents. Some of these issues, most notably with the Ravens, who have a ton of key players hurt or on the mend, will have a major impact on the first five weeks of the NFL season and beyond.
6. Aqib Talib updates: As Rapoport noted recently, investigators are having a difficult time parsing out exactly what happened during the incident at a Dallas night club back in early June. What we do know is that Talib was injured via a gunshot wound and was on crutches. Denver doesn't expect him to miss any regular-season time due to the injury. A suspension is different. So far there has been no word on whether Talib will face league punishment for the incident.
7. Reinstatement news: There's a chance we get some Dion Jordan news coming out of Miami before training camps begin, and there is always an outside curiosity associated with Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who was denied reinstatement in April after another failed drug test. Gordon can reapply in August assuming he spends his down time -- especially this month -- wisely.