Fearless predictions


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Jan 22, 2006
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Fearless predictions

Don Banks, SI.com

The NFL offseason has begun, and there's always enough speculation and storylines to go around. Here are 32 fearless predictions -- one for each franchise -- of what will transpire in the coming five and a half months, as teams vie to remake their rosters and position themselves for a Super Bowl push in 2006. And for the record, wild guesses were not only allowed, they were encouraged:


Buffalo -- Age is a big topic in Buffalo this offseason, but with five starters on defense who will all be at least 31 by August, the Bills won't be able to afford such a concentration of experience on that side of the ball. Anybody among the group of Sam Adams, Jeff Posey, London Fletcher, Lawyer Milloy and Troy Vincent could be vulnerable.

Miami -- The Dolphins' search for another starting quarterback option could include talks with Atlanta about the availability of Michael Vick's backup, Matt Schaub. The Falcons might be willing to part with Schaub for a second-round pick -- the same price the Dolphins paid for A.J. Feeley two years ago.

New England -- The Patriots will try to keep No. 2 receiver David Givens, and the free-agent-to-be would like to stay in New England if at all possible. But if somebody is willing to pay Givens anything approaching No. 1 receiver money, the Patriots, who have their top receiver, Deion Branch, entering the final year of his deal, will thank Givens for his service and move on.

New York Jets -- The youthful tandem of new general manager Mike Tannebaum and new head coach Eric Mangini will infuse the Jets with some much needed fresh air, and make the Jets' Long Island team complex a much more fashionable destination for potential free agents.


Baltimore -- While the Ravens' interest in Bengals backup Jon Kitna as a veteran option alongside Kyle Boller has been well chronicled, Brad Johnson is the name to watch if things don't progress on the Kitna front. The Vikings veteran won't return to Minnesota for another season as Daunte Culpepper's stand-in.

Cincinnati -- The Bengals won't have any more pressing issues this offseason than making sure they keep their outstanding offensive line together. All five starters are entering the last year of their contracts, so look for Cincy to start locking up two or three of their stalwarts any day now.

Cleveland -- A pass rusher who could line up either at end or outside linebacker in Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defensive formation will be the Browns' first, second, and third thoughts come draft time. Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka or Penn State's Tamba Hali are among those on the radar.

Pittsburgh -- By recent Super Bowl champion standards, the Steelers will have a fairly status quo offseason, losing only one free agent of note they would prefer to keep: Receiver Antwaan Randle El. Pittsburgh has a shot to retain Randle El, but the money being offered from the likes of Chicago and Washington will mean the Steelers will allow their No. 2 receiver to walk for a second year in a row.


Houston -- After much consultation and considerable public debate, new Texans head coach Gary Kubiak will opt for selecting USC running back Reggie Bush over hometown favorite Vince Young, the Texas quarterback. And there was much rejoicing in the David Carr camp.

Indianapolis -- An easy one: The Colts will franchise potential free-agent receiver Reggie Wayne if they can't strike a long-term deal with him by late February, while regretfully watching as running back Edgerrin James hangs up his horse shoes and signs elsewhere.

Jacksonville -- The Jaguars could be a better team in 2006, but with their significantly tougher schedule, it might not be reflected in their record. Jacksonville went 12-4 in 2005, but was 9-1 against teams with losing records. Next season the Jags face nine teams coming off winning marks, plus the Eagles, who will likely rebound.

Tennessee -- If it comes down to Vince Young or Jay Cutler on draft day, don't be surprised if the Titans bypass Steve McNair's good friend from Houston and take the guy who starred in their backyard at Vanderbilt.


Denver -- If they decide they really want to, the Broncos will win the Terrell Owens Sweepstakes, reasoning that the risk to their locker-room chemistry is worth it if they can get one monster season out of a well-behaved Owens and get over the Super Bowl hump .

Kansas City -- If the Chiefs were to add Terrell Owens as their latest offensive weapon, they'd live to regret it. In the short term, Kansas City might find a way to spread the ball around and keep T.O., running back Larry Johnson and tight end Tony Gonzalez happy, but over the long haul, that's a recipe for disaster.

Oakland -- If the Vikings opt to shop Culpepper around, you can expect the Raiders to be interested in acquiring the quarterback who had so much success firing the deep ball to Randy Moss in Minnesota.

San Diego -- With quarterback Drew Brees unable to be counted on for much of anything until well into the preseason, the Chargers will do as they've said and resist any and all trade feelers for third-year quarterback Philip Rivers, who has yet to make an NFL start despite being drafted in 2004's first round.


Dallas -- The Cowboys' revolving door at kicker will end this offseason when Dallas signs a proven commodity during free agency. It could be soon-to-be-ex-Colt Mike Vanderjagt, Green Bay's Ryan Longwell, or even New England's Adam Vinatieri if the Patriots somehow allow Mr. Clutch to get to the open market.

New York Giants -- With Will Allen expected to leave via free agency, and Will Peterson a question mark due to his struggles with a back injury, New York will enter both free agency and the draft with cornerback atop the need list. That could mean pursuing Bills free agent Nate Clements, or potential cap casualties such as Ty Law and Sam Madison.

Philadelphia -- As much as the Eagles need to replace the receiving threat they're about to lose once Terrell Owens officially leaves the organization, they'll make the bigger priority out of finding a tough, dependable rusher who can stay healthy and balance the offense. Sitting No. 14 in the draft, that could make USC's LenDale White enticing.

Washington -- The Redskins' cap situation will be their biggest obstacle to improvement this offseason. Even if LaVar Arrington is cut after June 1 and counts just $5 million against the 2006 cap, Washington still will have to shave another $15 million off the anticipated $95 million cap. Bottom line? It'll be tough for the Redskins to land the top-notch No. 2 receiver they covet.


Chicago -- The Bears will make a push to bring Chicago-area native Antwaan Randle El home and install the Steelers free agent in their lineup as the ideal No. 2 receiver alongside last year's big signing, Muhsin Muhammad.

Detroit -- New offensive coordinator Mike Martz will give it a month or so and then declare that he can win with 2002 first-round pick Joey Harrington at quarterback. But that won't necessarily preclude Detroit from giving the position first-round attention in the draft.

Green Bay -- Brett Favre will retire. Finally. Amid great fanfare. And then he'll get the itch to play again as training camp approaches, sparking a whole new genre of Favre un-retirement stories.

Minnesota -- The Vikings may flirt with the idea of getting into the bidding for one of the premier free-agent running backs -- such as Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James or Jamal Lewis -- but they're much more likely to address their need with the No. 17 pick in the draft's first round.


Atlanta -- The Falcons will rely heavily on new quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to bridge the gap that has surfaced at times in Michael Vick's understanding of Atlanta's offense under coordinator Greg Knapp. The Falcons may even re-label their attack, doing away with the nebulous West Coast moniker.

Carolina -- His history of injuries aside, the Panthers will make the re-signing of running back DeShaun Foster their top priority as free agency approaches. Carolina is convinced Foster is their best longterm option, and that he would generate plenty of interest if allowed to elicit offers.

New Orleans -- The Saints might get caught up in Vince Young Fever, and they might be intrigued by the rising first-round prospects of Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. But when their No. 2 pick rolls around on April 29, they'll turn in a card with Matt Leinart's name on it.

Tampa Bay -- With the Bucs looking at a significant salary cap squeeze before free agency starts, veteran quarterback Brian Griese shouldn't count on that $2.6 million bonus he's due next month. Griese can remain a Buc if he wants, but he'll have to play ball and seriously reduce his 2006 cap number of $7.08 million to do so.


Have to click the link to read them all....too many characters :(
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