Five teams wrapped up their offseason this week, with the other 27 teams ready to go on vacation after next week. Here are our biggest movers of the week.
Bengals offense:Giovani Bernard was one of the five to seven best running backs in football last year. Few players more consistently opponents miss in space and few running backs are better in the passing game. In a league where nearly every down is a passing down, Bernard's three-year, $15.5 million contract is an absolute bargain.
While Andy Dalton lost Hue Jackson, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu this offseason, the Bengals still have two quality running backs, a top-tier tight end, and an outstanding offensive line. It's mostly a young group. The sustained success in Cincinnati shows no signs of slowing down. Vive le Mike Brown!
"I'm going for records this year," Kaepernick said to the overeager laughter of people who have never seen Kaepernick smile.
A looser Kaepernick hardly guarantees success. But he sounded like a man who knows he'll have a chance to fit well in Chip Kelly's system and knows he didn't play well last year. Next for Kaepernick is gaining some weight, then an uphill battle for the Week 1 starting job. We wouldn't be too concerned with who will be the September starter. Both Gabbert and Kaepernick should get a chance to show what they can do.
Jimmie Ward: After struggling to get on the field early last season, the 2014 first-round pick finished the season strong with snaps in the slot. Jimmie Ward appears to be a favorite of the new 49ers staff, too, after moving from safety, consistently getting starting cornerback snaps along with Tramaine Brock. Unheralded third-year player Chris Davis has received the most snaps in the slot.
Jay Ajayi fever: Get ready for that average draft position in fantasy leagues to keep climbing. With this week's report that the Dolphins' interest in Arian Foster is mild at best, Ajayi looks like an even safer bet to be Miami's primary running back in his second season. Rookie Kenyan Drake is the favorite to be the team's backup.
Leodis McKelvin and Rueben Randle, Philadelphia Eagles: We try to avoid overrating the endless barrage of offseason plaudits, but sometimes the kudos indicate playing time. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that cornerback McKelvin "stood out the most" during the offseason program. More importantly, he got all the starter snaps during OTAs and minicamp practices along with Ron Brooks. Last year's starters Nolan Caroll and Eric Rowe remain on the team, but are not certain to start (McKelvin and Brooks have played under Jim Schwartz before).
People who love tiresome Von Miller stories: While we sift through competing agendas including reports about sitting out the season, semantic arguments about the word "rejected," and fake deadlines, Miller and the Broncos inch closer to a deal. The real deadline is July 15 and Miller will be paid a lot of money. Wake me up when that happens.
Seahawks rookie running backs: It's way too early to make judgments on rookies, but it is hard to forsee a scenario where Seattle's rookie runners Alex Collins and C.J. Prosise don't have real roles on the team's offense. Even if Thomas Rawls is fully recovered from his ankle surgery, it's easy to imagine Prosise getting major snaps as the third-down back while Collins is the team's primary backup.
Saints pass rush: New Orleans was hurting for defensive ends this offseason, which was part of the reason they moved 2015 second-rounder Hau'oli Kikaha to an edge pass rushing position this offseason. With Kikaha out for the season, the beleaguered defense is going back to the drawing board. Second-year player Obum Gwacham and Kasim Edebali are the top options to rush the passer opposite Cameron Jordan, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The Saints have a few more promising piece than people realise (Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, Stephone Anthony, much of the secondary) but their problem areas are massive. This makes a weak spot weaker.
Certainty on Aqib Talib's status: Talib's gunshot wound raises a few questions for the Broncos. The team has been "getting a handle" on Talib's potential return to the field based on his physical status, but coach Gary Kubiak won't say any more publicly. The Broncos will also wait for legal matters to play out before knowing if Talib will face a possible suspension.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins' mentions: The Bucs tight end could be getting passed on the depth chart by upstart Cameron Brate. Couple that with Jenkins' removal from the field this week by his coach, and you have the recipe for some criticism on Twitter for the third-year player. Just know that if you come at ASJ on Twitter, he is going to come back strong.
This is the most printable response we could find from Friday:
"He's the sixth pick in the draft," Harbaugh said. "I expect him to start."
But could he wind up at guard?
"Did you see him working at guard today?" Harbaugh answered.
The answer, of course, is no. Harbaugh provided cover by saying Stanley still has to earn the starting job, but it would be a surprise if the Ravens don't move on from Monroe's $6.5 million salary eventually.
We'll be back next week to wrap up offseason work before going into a seven-week slumber before training camp.