Looking into the NFL future makes for outstanding chatter. However, if a panel of insightful editors convenes, the chatter morphs into an interesting conversation. With the season roughly eight weeks away, storylines will begin dominating attention. With that said, FPC editors Andrew Kelly (Rams), Brandon Ray (Bills), Jake Schyvinck (Packers), and Terrance Biggs (Raiders) present their takes on the camp storylines.
I believe that the biggest storyline heading into training camp will be status of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Had he not torn his ACL against the Rams this past season, Wentz was likely look at an NFL MVP award to go along with his Super Bowl ring. Now, his status for week one is uncertain. Luckily, for Philadelphia, they have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Nick Foles, but Foles is not Wentz. Philly is still a strong team even without Wentz, but they are the hands down Super Bowl favorites with him.
The road for the Eagles at the beginning of the season is a tough one facing Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis (likely with Andrew Luck), and Tennessee in the first four weeks. The NFC East is shaping up to be much stronger this season than last season. The Eagles will look to come out of the gates fast in order to keep up with the rest of their division. However, they will come out of the gates considerably faster with a healthy Wentz. Expect all eyes on the City of Brotherly Love come training camp.
One storyline to lookout for during training camp is the new adjustment and overall attitude of the New York Giants offense. The entire team quit last season under Ben McAdoo, both offense and defense. It also did not help that injuries played a factor during the season. With Pat Shurmur taking the reins, while still believing in Eli Manning, bringing in Saquon Barkley as their new workhorse back, and with Odell Beckham going into his contract season, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Giants offense.
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One big improvement they made was bulking up the offensive line with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez. Now it is just a matter of all the other pieces falling into place. The NFC East could become the most competitive division 2018. Each team in the division made improvements and the Giants could take the biggest step forward out of everyone.
The biggest storyline heading into training camp will likely be the list of star players looking for contract extensions. We saw Matt Ryan receive a five-year, $150 million extension from the Falcons. Kirk Cousins also got a fully guaranteed three-year deal from the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers is next up on the quarterback front, and his deal could change the game when it comes to extensions. The top wide receivers looking for deals are Julio Jones and Odell Beckham. Julio and the Falcons appear to have a shaky relationship at this point, while Beckham is looking to be the highest paid receiver. Two other stars to watch are Aaron Donald and Le’Veon Bell. It is likely the latter plays 2018 under the franchise tag, while the former should be paid like the best defender in football.
With the furiously paced offseason in Los Angeles, how will the Rams blend all those volatile elements? Talib, Suh, and Peters all possess All-Pro talent. However, they each own the potential for locker room distraction. With that said, combining Sun and Donald gives LA a devastating combo, for at least one year. In football, chemistry matters. Under Wade Phillips, that defense could threaten the Eagles and Falcons. If the Rams can rein in the personalities, the NFL should worry.