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With the 2023 NFL regular season coming to an end, half of the league will turn its attention to the playoffs, while the other half will put its primary focus on who to draft and players who will be available in free agency. Zero games are played from March to August, but seasons can be lost or won during this period.

Last offseason was a pretty wild one: Tom Brady retired for the second time, Aaron Rodgers was traded to the New York Jets, the New Orleans Saints traded Sean Payton to the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers swung a trade for the No. 1 overall pick. What's going to happen this year?

Below, we will break down 10 crazy 2024 offseason predictions. Let's start with the backup quarterback market.

10. Backup QB market explodes

A total of 61 different quarterbacks have started this season, which ranks seventh-most all-time. Some teams -- such as the Cleveland Browns -- have been able to rebound from losing their starter at the most important position. But there are other teams that completely fell apart, like the Jets. That No. 2 quarterback is clearly important. Just check out the Indianapolis Colts, who lost their starter for the year in Week 5, yet free-agent pickup Gardner Minshew has them in playoff contention.

General managers are taking note of this, and budgeting for it. This time around in free agency, the backup quarterback market is going to be hot. Last year, the highest-paid backup was Jacoby Brissett of the Washington Commanders at $8 million, although he was in a position battle with Sam Howell. Maybe it's fair to say the highest-paid backup was a former Commander in Taylor Heinicke, who signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency ($7 million AAV). 

This offseason, multiple backup quarterbacks will be paid $10+ million because their services will be desired by multiple teams. A few quarterbacks that could be attractive options in free agency are Ryan Tannehill, Brissett again, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston, Drew Lock, Minshew and Mason Rudolph

9. Chiefs-Bengals rivalry sees another player switch sides


Last offseason, we saw Patrick Mahomes' blindside blocker Orlando Brown Jr. switch sides and take his talents to rival Cincinnati. This offseason, we will see the opposite. A Bengal turncoat. 

The Chiefs' 2023 campaign put a spotlight on Mahomes' weapons. Travis Kelce hasn't been as explosive, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore are all averaging under 20 receiving yards per game. Rashee Rice was a nice addition in the draft, but he can't carry the passing game alone. One of the best wide receivers in this free agency class currently plays ball in Cincinnati, and that's Tee Higgins.

With the contracts the Bengals gave Joe Burrow and are likely prepared to give Ja'Marr Chase, it feels like Higgins will be playing elsewhere in 2024. He's worth good money that Cincinnati may not be prepared to pay. My prediction is that the Chiefs swoop in and sign the soon-to-be 25-year-old receiver to pair with Mahomes. 

Higgins caught 67 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season back in 2020, then cleared 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Injuries caused him to miss time in 2023, but that shouldn't drastically affect his market. 

8. Ben Johnson denies Panthers, gets hired by Chargers

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson decided last offseason to delay his pursuit of a head coaching job in order to return to Detroit. He was a candidate considered by a handful of teams, including the Panthers. Last January, he was slated to interview with Carolina, but canceled the week of, and made his decision to stay put. This offseason, it's expected that Johnson will be a hot candidate on the head-coaching market.

The 37-year-old was born in Charleston, South Carolina, went to high school in Asheville and attended college in Chapel Hill. Bringing back the "Carolina Kid" to resurrect the Panthers is something many will be hoping for, but that does not happen. Johnson looks at the state of the Panthers franchise, says no thank you and accepts another opportunity on the West Coast -- with Justin Herbert and the Chargers. 

7. Real RB revolt begins, as some consider position changes


One of the major storylines from last offseason had to do with the running back position, and how the league views them in the current era. Six players were given the franchise tag last year: One quarterback, one tight end, one defensive tackle and three running backs. The three running backs were the only players who did not agree to long-term deals before the July 17 deadline. Running backs were not getting paid despite impressive campaigns. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor broke through with a three-year, $42 million extension that included $26.5 million guaranteed, but Zack Moss has been just as good. 

If you think last year was dramatic with the running back position, just wait until this year. Here are some of the players that will be looking for new lucrative deals in free agency: Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, JK Dobbins, A.J. Dillon and the aforementioned Moss. Is any team going to step up and pay the kind of money some of these stars are after? My guess is no.

This offseason, running backs are going to take that next step in looking to form their own union after the lack of legitimate interest out on the open market. Some, like Barkley and Pollard, will even consider switching to receiver. I would love to see Derrick Henry as a pass rusher, but maybe that's a bit of a reach. 

6. NFL makes major kickoff change

In 2022, the NFL implemented a new fair catch rule on kickoffs, where returners could call for a fair catch behind their own 25-yard line, and the ball would be placed at the 25-yard line. This offseason, the league will make a very different change, taking the kickoff format from the XFL.

In the XFL, teams kick off from their own 30-yard line. The players on the kicking team, minus the kicker, line up at the receiving team's 35-yard line. On the receiving team, every player minus the returner lines up five yards away at their own 30. Just the kicker and returner are allowed to move before the ball is fielded, and the ball has to be kicked past the 20.

This format not only encourages kick returns, but takes away those high-impact collisions that happen during kickoffs -- or at least used to. 

Speaking of the NFL borrowing from the XFL ... 

5. NFL ties itself to the UFL

Just last month, the USFL and XFL announced that they are merging into the United Football League. Maybe this gives both former leagues a better chance at surviving, but what would really help is the NFL tying itself to the UFL, and adopting it as a type of "farm league." This is something that would guarantee the survival of the "spring league," but it's more than that. 

This potential marriage only makes sense if it makes dollars and cents. At least, that's probably how the NFL views it. But, they are won over by the UFL's pitch, which includes the inevitability of an NFL "minor league," offering NFL decision-makers a major say in how the league is run and then the simple fact that the UFL could serve as the playground to test out different ideas when it comes to the game of football, whether that be potential rule changes or how the game is broadcasted altogether.

4. Michael Penix is drafted in the top five

Washington's quarterback has been one of the best college football players over the past two seasons. The Indiana transfer was one of the AP Comeback Players of the Year in 2022 after throwing for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and somehow upped the ante this past season with 4,648 yards, 35 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a College Football Playoff appearance. In the semifinals against Texas, Penix threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the 23-year-old has a chance to become a national champion. 

Penix became the first quarterback to throw for 4,500 yards in back-to-back seasons since Mahomes. As for what his calling card is as a prospect, everyone will claim it's "arm talent." What is "arm talent?" It's being able to throw the football virtually anywhere on the field, even off-platform. I say it's the kind of arm talent that can make a good quarterback great.

After two dominant seasons and a College Football Championship, Penix's stock goes nuts. 

3. Bills interim OC gets a head coaching gig

When the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey following an embarrassing loss to the Broncos, many viewed him as the sacrificial lamb for larger issues in Buffalo. Considering how the Bills have fared since then, that narrative has lost steam. If you want a good example of a sacrificial lamb, go revisit how the Panthers handled Dorsey's eventual replacement a couple years ago, Joe Brady.

Back in 2021, the Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady after a 5-7 start. It did nothing to spark the Matt Rhule-led Panthers, who didn't win another game that season. With Brady, people forget all that transpired before Rhule got rid of him.

As a 30-year-old first-year offensive coordinator in the NFL, Brady helped produce two 1,000-yard receivers while the Panthers struggled with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Carolina didn't have a good offense by any means, but everyone knew who "Brady the Broyles Award winner" was, considering he had a hand in the greatest offense in college football history at LSU the year prior. I'm of course talking about the magical 2019 season where the Tigers went undefeated and Burrow won the Heisman. After his first NFL season, the young Brady received interview requests from multiple teams, who were interested in hiring him as a lead man. A head coach! 

There's no doubt Brady has helped the Bills offense since being promoted. Entering Week 17, the Bills had averaged 158.4 rushing yards per game since he took over in Week 11, which ranked second-most in the NFL. The 28.2 points per game Buffalo averaged since Week 11 also ranked seventh-most in the NFL. My crazy prediction is that the Falcons, who fire Arthur Smith, steal Brady away as a head coach at 34 years old.

2. Bill Belichick is traded to Washington


I'm not the creator of this theory, as the first time this potential move was mentioned publicly was by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. But I've been thinking about this for months now. 

Many are expecting the New England Patriots to part ways with legendary head coach Bill Belichick this offseason, but it's hard to imagine him being fired, and it doesn't seem like he will retire either, given how close he is to Don Shula's record. That means he's being traded! NFL Media reported a couple months ago that Robert Kraft would want some sort of compensation for Belichick, which makes sense. 

No, a 71-year-old Belichick isn't going to fetch a first-round pick on the market. I don't know what the two sides will land on in terms of a Day 2 or Day 3 pick, but new Commanders owner Josh Harris will want to make a splash move after parting ways with Ron Rivera. This would certainly be splashy.

1. Tom Brady and Patriots go head-to-head for Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh has led Michigan to three straight College Football Playoff Appearances and, this year, a No. 1 seed. His potential return to the NFL has been the subject of rumors for years now, and this offseason will be no different. You never know what Harbaugh is going to do, but my prediction is that he'll allow some "wooing." 

Enter the Las Vegas Raiders and the Patriots. Has Antonio Pierce done enough to earn the full-time job in Vegas? Yes. Will the Raiders immediately hand it to him? Probably not. As for the Patriots, it's anticipated Belichick won't be in the fold one way or another, and I've already sent him to Washington above.

Brady's status as a Raiders minority owner has not been finalized yet, but it potentially could be this offseason. The Michigan grad will go to work recruiting Harbaugh, but so will Robert Kraft. Brady and the Patriots will go head-to-head for the first time off the field in a dramatic recruiting battle that will ultimately be for naught, as Harbaugh remains at Michigan.