After an off-season that saw the Seahawks go all-in, the Eagles blow things up, and the Patriots get into an all-out war with the NFL, football is finally back.
While the best teams from 2014 look like the favourites going into 2015, plenty has changed over the last six months.
We picked out the teams, players, and coaches that won the offseason, and others that very much did not.
One thing to know: No one gained more power this off-season than Kelly. After winning an internal struggle in January, he set out dismantling the roster and rebuilding it to his liking. Time will tell if Kelly's radical transformation of the Eagles' roster is a success, but it's abundantly clear that this is his team now.
One thing to know: It was a rough spring for the 49ers. They lost Anthony Davis, Chris Borland, Patrick Williams, Justin Smith, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Frank Gore, and Chris Culliver to either retirement or free agency. Jim Harbaugh is also out. They're widely expected to take a huge step backwards.
One thing to know: The Colts added two big offensive threats in running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson, and no one will benefit more than Andrew Luck. The combination of T.Y. Hilton and Johnson is scary, and adding a legitimately dangerous running back in Gore will open up the already-lethal Colts' passing game. Luck is already a darkhorse MVP candidate.
One thing to know: Six months ago it was hard to imagine it'd get this bad for the Patriots quarterback. While the evidence against him in the Deflategate investigation isn't exactly a smoking gun, his behaviour throughout the process -- including destroying the mobile phone that the NFL explicitly asked to see -- created a backlash that could follow him for the rest of his career.
One thing to know: A year ago Ryan was the lame duck coach of one of the worst teams in the league. After getting fired by the Jets, though, he very much landed on his feet. He's now the head coach for a Bills team that's getting a lot of sleeper buzz and has one of the best defences in the league.
One thing to know: After Doug Marrone led the Bills to a solid 8-8 season, he opted out of his contract with the thought that his job in Buffalo would land him a better head coaching gig. Instead, he landed in Jacksonville as the offensive line coach. Not exactly an upward career move.
One thing to know: The Jets brought back Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, and they picked up WR Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. New head coach Todd Bowles comes to New York from Arizona, where as defensive coordinator he helped transform the Cardinals into one of the toughest defences in the NFL. Last but not least, as an AFC East rival of the New England Patriots, the Jets may also benefit from Tom Brady's four-game suspension.
One thing to know: The Browns will be without Josh Gordon, their best receiver, for the entire season because of multiple positive drug tests. Now they're reportedly trying to convert failed quarterback Terrelle Pryor into a new WR, and either Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel will start at QB. Not great!
One thing to know: Wilson locked up a four-year, $US87 million contract right before reporting to Seahawks training camp, and now he has a bona fide offensive machine to throw to in tight end Jimmy Graham, who Seattle acquired in the off-season. The Seahawks are once again a favourite to come out of the NFC West and make a Super Bowl run.
One thing to know: After going all-in in 2014 and having it backfire on them, the Saints are stuck between rebuilding and trying to compete. Drew Brees may only have a few years left, but the team is in such bad shape cap-wise that it will be tough to put a contending team around him. This summer they lost Jimmy Graham (a cap-conscious trade), Ben Grubbs (ditto), and Junior Galette (an ugly falling out).
One thing to know: The Dolphins made three nice off-season acquisitions in Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Cameron, and Kenny Stills. They will also hope Ryan Tannehill builds off last season's success and become a legitimately elite quarterback. With the Patriots reeling from Deflategate, the Dolphins could be a sleeper pick to win the division.
One thing to know: Shortly after being traded to the Bills in exchange for Kiko Alonso, McCoy accused Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly of being a racist. Later in the summer, Shady really justified his nickname when he tried to have an exclusive 'females-only' party in which the guests were required to send pictures of themselves before attending, sign a confidentially agreement, and follow a specific dress code.
One thing to know: Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer returns from an ACL surgery, and now he'll be protected by guard Mike Iupati, who the Cardinals signed in the off-season for $US40 million over five years. The Cardinals also made history by hiring Jen Welter, the first female coach in league history.
One thing to know: Who doesn't walk away from Deflategate unscathed? The NFL drew out the process for months, and then failed to correct a false ESPN report that helped jumpstart the scandal. The Patriots had to indefinitely suspend two employees, one of whom called himself 'the deflator' in a text. Tom Brady destroyed his mobile phone -- it's just bad for everyone.
One thing to know: Somehow, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has landed on his feet. After disastrous stints in Washington and Cleveland, Shanahan was able to get out of his Browns contract and get a much better job as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. He'll be paired with Matt Ryan -- the best QB Shanahan's worked with in his career.
One thing to know: Richardson was pulled over last week in Missouri after police clocked him driving at 143 mph with a 12-year-old in the back seat and a handgun in his lap. The Jets star defensive lineman had already been suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season due to a failed drug test.
One thing to know: After being declared preseason Super Bowl favourites, the New Orleans Saints were a disaster in 2014. Graham was able to escape that sinking ship and landed in the perfect spot. He'll be the No. 1 option on a Seahawks team that lacked a play-making pass catcher last year.
One thing to know: Jason Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated after a fireworks accident on July 4th. Now he may not play in the upcoming season (photos of his bandaged hand don't look promising). This is bad for JPP -- who had a $US60 million contract offer on the table before the accident -- and the Giants, who are likely to lose their best defensive player.
One thing to know: Dez avoided a potentially disastrous summer -- rather than having to hold out, the Cowboys star receiver signed a five-year, $US70 million contract with $US32 million fully guaranteed, and the rumoured tape that was said to show Bryant involved in some sort of 'incident' turned out to be all hype.
One thing to know: They're still loaded with talent, but it feels like last year was the year this team needed to make a run. The most curious departure is coach John Fox. They also lost Julius Thomas, Rahim Moore, and Terrance Knighton. With Peyton Manning headed toward age 40, the clock is ticking.
One thing to know: After crashing out of the NFL and working for ESPN, Tebow has worked his way back into the league. He's expected to make the Eagles final 53-man roster, and Chip Kelly is reportedly experimenting with Tebow-specific packages for short-yardage situations.
One thing to know: Bradford may be coming off two knee surgeries in two years, but in Philadelphia he'll have a chance to turn his career around. Plenty of other quarterbacks have bounced back from injuries after moving to different teams (Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, for example), and Bradford is undoubtedly hoping to follow suit. In an offensive system that made Nick Foles look like a superstar two years ago, Bradford could flourish.
One thing to know: Somehow, someway Bill Belichick made it out of Deflategate unscathed. When the scandal broke everyone assumed that the notoriously prickly coach was behind it. But in the last six months Belichick has been more or less fully cleared. The Wells Report barely mentions him, and now the public sees this as a Tom Brady scandal, not a Belichick one. By merely avoiding the blast of Deflategate, he's a winner.
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