NFL training camp gets going in three weeks, and that means the NFL regular season is only two months away. I imagine most of us will be focusing on our San Francisco 49ers during training camp, but it will help to know a little bit about the rest of the league. SB Nation’s 32 NFL sites are putting together basic rundowns of what their team has been up to this offseason.
Each explainer includes free agent additions and departures, trades, draft picks expected to contribute as rookies, biggest offseason addition, biggest storyline, underrated storyline, and notable injuries. The idea is to give you a quick but thorough background on each team. We’ll use these to look at 49ers opponents, but if we have time, I want to try and use all 32 to give us a nice look around the league.
Will DeShaun Watson be starting at quarterback by then? Head coach Bill O’Brien has pushed for patience, saying Watson is not where he needs to be to be a full-time starter. Of course, when you spend the No. 12 overall pick on a quarterback, you’re hoping for something sooner rather than later. And Tom Savage is not exactly going to blow anybody away. He might hold off Watson at the start of the season, but is there much of a chance Watson is not starting by the time the 49ers travel to Houston?
Notable free agent additions: None
Notable free agent departures: A.J. Bouye, Vince Wilfork (retirement)
Trades: Brock Osweiler to Cleveland, trade up in the first round for DeShaun Watson with Cleveland, trade into fourth round for Carlos Watkins with Cleveland
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: DeShaun Watson, Zach Cunningham, D’Onta Foreman, and Carlos Watkins will all likely see the field throughout their rookie year. Watson of course is the quarterback of the future, but look for Cunningham and Foreman to carve out big roles this season as a nickel linebacker and short yardage back, respectively. Watkins will likely see plenty of snaps as a rotational interior pass rusher behind J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Biggest offseason addition: DeShaun Watson, hands down. Anytime your team adds a potential franchise quarterback, it’s automatically the biggest move of the offseason. Whether it was through free agency last year with Osweiler or through the draft this year for Watson, the Texans have been ultra-aggressive in their approach to finding a capable signal caller in the post-Matt Schaub era. Hopefully Watson will finally be the guy to end their arduous search.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Who will start at quarterback on opening day? Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson will both compete for the job, though Savage has the early leg up in the competition due to his experience. If Watson shows up to camp and flashes something special early, however, we may see him start sooner than anyone previously anticipated.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: When will DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney be signed to contract extensions? The Texans have quite a bit of free cap space at the moment with A.J. Bouye taking his talents to Jacksonville instead of staying in Houston, so presumably all of that money - 29.8 million to be exact - will be set aside to keep Hopkins and Clowney on the team long term. Both players seem optimistic about deals getting done, with Hopkins the more likely candidate to be extended this offseason, but until the ink has dried on both contracts there will still be some apprehensiveness among Texans fans about the situation.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: No star players have sustained any major injuries this offseason so far, though J.J. Watt’s recovery from last offseason’s back ailments still loom large over the organization. As long as Watt is healthy and ready to hit the ground running in August, expect the Texans to be an elite defense yet again in 2017. If he still needs more time to “get right”, however, it may be another slow start for him this September as the training staff eases him back into a full time workload.