NFL in 2022: From Brian Flores to Aaron Rodgers, here are the major talking points
The Super Bowl parade is over, but the NFL marches on in the seamless progression from one season to the next.
Challenges linger. Questions persist. The scouting combine is right around the corner, followed by free agency, the draft, schedule release and the rest.
So while the players might be headed to vacation, the 2022 season is already underway.
Among the people, places and issues we’ll be talking about in the coming months:
Rooney Rule — The rule was put in place to promote the hiring of minority coaches and executives, but clearly it is falling short of those objectives. In a league in which 70% of the players are Black, there are only two Black head coaches. That’s down from eight head coaches five years ago. The NFL will look for ways to alter the policy to make it more effective.
Brian Flores — The former Miami coach filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by NFL teams, but also says Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted him to throw games for a better draft spot and offered him $100,000 per loss. That’s an explosive accusation that, if proven, could cost Ross his team. That is being investigated by the league and, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “When we know what those facts are and the impact it has on our game, we’ll deal with it very seriously.”
Alvin Kamara — The star New Orleans running back is accused of punching and badly injuring a man in an attack involving three other men with Kamara at a Las Vegas nightclub. Kamara was arrested after playing in the Pro Bowl.
Vegas, baby — The Pro Bowl is just the start. Las Vegas will play host to the draft April 28-30 and the Super Bowl at the end of the 2023 season. This is the three-day event on the Strip that was supposed to happen in 2020 but was replaced by the virtual draft because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aaron Rodgers — Will the reigning NFL most valuable player stay in Green Bay, or wind up with another team such as Denver, Pittsburgh, San Francisco or Indianapolis? And if Rodgers goes to one of those places, will receiver Davante Adams follow him? Two years ago, Tom Brady left New England for the Buccaneers, and wound up guiding Tampa Bay to a second Super Bowl win.
QB shuffle — Rodgers might be the biggest catch for some team, but other quarterbacks too could be on the move. Will the 49ers stick with Jimmy Garoppolo? Is Russell Wilson long for Seattle? What about Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons? The carousel could be spinning this offseason.
And by the way, is Brady really done for good? On his “Let’s Go” podcast, the seven-time Super Bowl winner seemed to leave the door cracked for a possible return.
Los Angeles honors the Rams for their first Super Bowl win in L.A. The parade wound through the Exposition Park area and ended with a rally outside the Coliseum.
“I’m just gonna take things as they come,” Brady said. “I think that’s the best way to put it and I don’t think anything, you know, you never say never. At the same time I know that I’m very, I feel very good about my decision. I don’t know how I’ll feel six months from now.”
Worst goes first — For the second consecutive year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 1 pick in the draft. They selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence first overall last year and need to find out what they have in him. The safest bet at this point is they will draft either an offensive tackle or pass rusher, and the early candidates include Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. The Jaguars need an elite receiver, but there doesn’t appear to be a prospect worthy of that top spot. They’ll consider trading down too, but finding a trade partner will be a challenge.
New York, New York — Between them, the Jets and Giants have four selections in the top 10. The Jets pick fourth and 10th. The Giants choose fifth and seventh. The Chargers pick 17th, and the Rams aren’t on the clock until the third round.
Daniel Snyder — The NFL has launched a new investigation into the work culture at the Washington Football Team, now the Commanders. Former team employee Tiffani Johnston told Congress that Commanders owner Snyder groped her thigh at a team dinner and once coaxed her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back. “The next day, I learned when I told a senior co-worker about Dan Snyder’s sexual advance that I should `not repeat the story to anyone outside this office door,’” Johnston recalled during a roundtable hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “That was when I also learned there was no one to go to about Dan Snyder’s advance, no path to report the incident.”
Growing the game — The NFL is expanding overseas games beyond London. Teams will square off in Munich for a regular-season game this season to kick off a four-year deal to play games in Germany. In the coming years, there also will be a game in Frankfurt.
Prime time — With “Thursday Night Football” shifting from Fox to Amazon Prime this season, there are reports that Al Michaels is ready to leave NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to call those midweek games. That could trigger a reshuffling in broadcast booths across all the networks. As they say in TV, stay tuned.
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