Case Keenum Out to Prove Himself With Broncos
Where he might go: His regular season success, and a postseason touchdown throw that will be remembered for decades, were not enough to earn him the full-time job in Minnesota, so Keenum has reportedly agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos to take over as that team’s starting quarterback. The deal cannot be completed until Wednesday, but all indications are that he has found a permanent home.
What that means: The Broncos won the Super Bowl as recently as the 2015 season, but the retirement of Peyton Manning after his second Super Bowl title left the team without a reliable starting quarterback. That led to two years missing the playoffs as the once-terrific defense slowly withered away. Enter Keenum, who had been stamped with the label of journeyman backup until last season, but will now be asked to prove that his 11-2 record as a starter in 2017 was not a fluke. There is plenty of statistical evidence to show that Keenum earned his success last season, but stepping away from the talent-ridden Vikings could make him suddenly appear far more pedestrian.
Drew Brees Staying in New Orleans
What that means: The 17-year veteran lasted a few hours as a free agent before the Sains did what everyone expected and brought him back on a two-year deal that will likely ensure that he finishes his career in New Orleans. While Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara both had fantastic seasons, leading to a great deal more diversity in the Saints offense, Brees was still the team’s engine and he produced his 12th consecutive season with more than 4,000 passing yards. His 23 touchdown passes were the fewest he had thrown since 2005, but the 39-year-old can still get the job done.
The ‘Other’ Minnesota Quarterbacks Look for Homes
Where they might go: Teddy Bridgewater was once an ascending star who was expected to lead the Vikings to the promised land, and Sam Bradford was the quarterback Minnesota traded two draft picks to acquire when Bridgewater’s knee exploded before the 2016 season. Neither were on the field for the team’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the N.F.C. Championship game thanks to their injuries, and Case Keenum’s stellar play. Unsatisfied with all three options, the Vikings let all three go. Bradford appears to be on his way to the Arizona Cardinals while Bridgewater is expected to try to rebuild his career with the Jets.
What that means: Bradford, 30, has occasionally shown signs of why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, but he has also dealt with fairly serious injuries. He inherits a Cardinals team that was a contender with Carson Palmer on the field over the last few years but fairly bad without him. If Bradford can stay injury-free there is the potential for a good fit, but in the competitive N.F.C. West it will be an uphill climb. The stakes are lower for the 25-year-old Bridgewater who has attempted just 2 passes in the two seasons since his devastating knee injury (both fell incomplete.) He looked great in 2015, and has youth on his side, but the Jets are bringing back Josh McCown, and have enough question marks on the team’s roster to take a great deal of pressure off Bridgewater’s comeback.
Andrew Norwell Upgrades Jacksonville’s Line
Where he might go: Several media outlets have reported that Norwell, a guard, will sign with the Jaguars on the largest contract ever for a player of his position. He is also expected to break records for average per season and guaranteed money.
What that means: The Carolina Panthers were unwilling to pay money more typically associated with offensive tackles to a guard, but the Jaguars saw a good fit for the first-team All-Pro player. He immediately upgrades Jacksonville’s line and should make life considerably easier for Leonard Fournette, the team’s rookie running back who had 1,040 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns as a rookie despite inconsistent work from the team’s interior linemen.
Allen Robinson, on the Comeback Trail, Leaves Jaguars
Where he might go: It is expected that Robinson, a 24-year-old wide receiver, will sign a three-year deal with the Bears where he will try to aid in the development of the team’s young quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.
What that means: Robinson was well on his way to being considered a top-flight receiver after he finished the 2015 season with 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He slowed down some in 2016, and missed all but one game in 2017 because of a torn A.C.L., but he is still young and at 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds he provides a big target for Trubisky.
Sammy Watkins Makes the Speedy Chiefs Even Faster
Where he might go: All signs are pointing toward Watkins, the 24-year-old wide receiver, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs after just one season with the Los Angeles Rams.
What that means: He has not quite lived up to the hype generated by his sophomore season in 2015, but Watkins had bursts of production for the Rams last season and he gives the Chiefs another burner on offense alongside Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. Kansas City’s offense may be fairly inconsistent as Patrick Mahomes gets used to the starting job, but the strong-armed quarterback should not have to worry about overthrowing many players this year.
Danny Amendola Leaving Patriots
Where he might go: The undersized 32-year-old wide receiver is on the verge of signing with the Miami Dolphins, where he is expected to be one of two additions to a new-look offense along with Albert Wilson, formerly of the Chiefs.
What that means: Amendola was a fan favorite, and a frequent target for Tom Brady in the passing game, but the oft-injured receiver has never had production that matched his level of fame. Last season was just the third time in his nine seasons that Amendola played in as many as 15 games, but he did well with that opportunity, catching 61 passes for 659 yards. The highlight of his season was putting up 152 receiving yards in New England’s loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII. The thought of a breakout season at this point for a former Texas Tech star is a little unrealistic, but he can make a big play on occasion which could prove useful for Miami. Wilson, at 25, has more potential for career growth, but he is also much less of a sure thing.
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