Though the playoffs are still days away, personnel people around the league are already planning the offseason. Here’s a look at the biggest stars who could be on the move after the Super Bowl.
Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions: It is highly unlikely the Lions will pay a big chunk of cash to retain Suh after the many problems he has had with the organization this year. Still, the man can play. He had 8.5 sacks and 53 tackles, anchoring the league’s second-best defense.
Suh’s biggest problem? His reputation. The man is talented but volatile, and has had several run-ins with the league. His latest was stepping on Aaron Rodgers after a play was over. Suh’s antics have cost him money in suspensions, and now could cost him again as he looks for big free agent money.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: The Bears will have a new head coach, a new general manager, and possibly a new operating structure by next season. Does that mean a new quarterback, as well? Whoever the new general manager is, if he wants to cut Cutty, he will need to find a way around the QB’s massive contract. A trade to the right team could help the Bears avoid having to pay out massive amounts of dead money. Nashville could be a candidate considering their need for a QB and Cutler’s long ties to the city.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: After making 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns, Bryant proved he is a key part of the Cowboys’ potent offense. The Cowboys want to keep him. Jerry Jones said he will work through whatever issues are brought to the table. But the Cowboys are already hamstrung by Romo’s big contract, and there will be several suitors who are interested in Bryant.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: Owner Daniel Snyder is a fan of the mercurial quarterback, but coach Jay Gruden is decidedly not. The team must make a decision by May on if it will give Griffin the fifth year on his rookie contract. It’s not likely.
The problem is that the only way to get rid of Griffin is through a trade or outright release. His mediocre performance has made a trade though, and it’s unlikely Washington will be willing to move on from RG3 and the many draft picks surrendered to get him.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles: The Mizzou alum came back from an ACL tear that ended his 2013 season before it started to make 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also a free agent, and several teams in need of a wide receiver would be willing to pay big money for Maclin’s skill.
But before you start picturing how he will fit in your team’s jersey, know that the Eagles are willing to slap the franchise tag on Maclin.
Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers: Good offensive linemen are always hard to find, and Iupati is a three-time Pro Bowl player. He isn’t likely to stick around under the new regime in San Francisco. There are plenty of teams who could use his help. Iupati could make a difference in for the Panthers, who need more protection for Cam Newton.
Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice: Each of these players bring considerable value on the field and a host of issues off of it. Hardy is a free agent with uncommon talent as a pass rusher, but is still going through an appeal after being convicted of domestic abuse. He has not yet faced league discipline from the issue.
Peterson is signed to the Vikings through 2017, but his cap hit will go up to $15 million next season (and the dead money the Vikings would owe for cutting him drops to $2.4 million). Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer hopes he returns, but Peterson told USA TODAY Sports that it may be time to move on.
Rice is available to play now but, thanks to the release of graphic video showing him punching his future wife, has a badly soiled reputation. He also struggled on the field in 2013 and, at age 28, is probably well past his prime.