An Update on the NFL Offseason
The NFL makes annual role changes each year to improve the game by providing more safety precautions, better efficiency, and more fun for both the player and the fan. One of the new rules that will improve the safety is ejecting players for egregious hits. A player will either be automatically ejected or if they’re not ejected in that game they will be suspended for one game. A rule to improve the overall efficiency is centralized review, in which “referees will participate in the conversation via wireless headsets and a video tablets,” as ESPN reporter, Kevin Seifert put it. This will hopefully increase the efficiency of officiating greatly. This season there was 29 penalties on players for their celebrations, and the rules tweaked for celebrations a bit to increase the experience for the fan and the player. Though the rules are more lenient, players still cannot do anything representing violence like a bow and arrow, and suggestive acts like twerking. But players can make snow angels, use the ball as a prop, and group celebrations.
Meanwhile many injured player have returned to participate in Organized Team Activities or OTAs. In 2014, two players were diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but at different times. Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry who was diagnosed in December of the year and beat the cancer during the offseason. The following year he was able to play and he won comeback player of the year. The other player was Houston Texans offensive lineman, David Quessenberry who was diagnosed June of 2014. After three years of fighting cancer he is finally back practicing and competing for a starting job.
Two Seattle Seahawk players broke their legs, safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Tyler Lockett. For most of the off season it was thought to be that Lockett was more ahead of recovery than Thomas. But when OTAs came around, Thomas showed he was ahead which makes sense since Lockett had to get surgery and Thomas didn’t.
Two quarterbacks had shoulder surgery before OTAs, Carolina Panther’s Cam Newton and Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck. Luck got his surgery right after the season as his recovery is expected to be six months while Newton waited since his recovery is expected to be four months. Both of the quarterbacks are very essential for their teams to win; so hopefully they will come back as quickly as possible.
Two other quarterbacks broke their legs during the last couple weeks of the season, Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota and (for now) Oakland Raiders Derek Carr. These quarterbacks were also both having a breakout year so hopefully their injury won’t affect how they do this upcoming season. Both of these injuries ruined their playoff runs, for the Titans they had the possibility of winning the division to go to the playoffs but the Houston Texans beat them. While for the Raiders the Texans also took advantage of Carr being injured and beat the Raiders in the wildcard round.
The New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski and the Houston Texans defensive end, J.J Watt both suffered back injuries early in the season. Even though Gronkowski and Watt were both said to be some of the best players in the NFL, their injuries did not stop their teams from succeeding. For the Patriots they also had tight end Martellus Bennett that helped fill the void of the injured Gronkowski, the Patriots also went on to win Super Bowl 51. Meanwhile, the Texans defense was ranked number one overall this season and went on to the divisional round. Though the Texans defense were doing great as they made a key one yard line stop, the offense blew it with Brock Osweiler as quarterback.
Though this player isn’t as known as Thomas, Luck, Watt, or Gronkowski, he is a huge reason why the NFL needs to push for better safety. New Orleans Saints cornerback, P.J. Williams played only the first two games before being injured the rest of the season. In the second game, Williams had a huge blow to the head from the side and behind that left him immobilized while being carted off, Williams was then placed on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. Williams should be a sign to the NFL to increase the safety of a player , especially improving helmets to decrease the risk of concussions.
A different kind of return but Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is going to OTAs after being suspended for drug abuse. Bryant is one suspension away from becoming former Cleveland Brown wide receiver Josh Gordon though his substance-abuse suspension was alcohol not marijuana. Bryant was suspended for a season and is looking to coming back to strong wide receiver corps.
A very surprising cut occurred over the past week. The Kansas City Chiefs cut star wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who is recovering from an injury. Over the past three years Maclin has been one of the better receivers in the NFL. Maclin will be a great addition to any team and will improve their offense greatly.
Surprisingly there is only one player holding out and that is Houston Texans offensive lineman, Duane Brown.Brown has been one of the best and most efficient offensive tackles in the league. Brown’s contract has no guaranteed money for this upcoming season so it makes sense for him to hold out.
Overall this upcoming season will be super interesting with the rookies, the players coming off injuries and the new rules. Hopefully people stop using the saying “break a leg” as good luck especially for sports as it has injured many players.