Since Tom Brady took over as quarterback of the Patriots in 2001, New England has won 14 division titles, seven AFC championships and five Lombardi Trophies. He’s back in 2017 at the age of 40 and so are the franchise’s lofty expectations.
Coach Bill O’Brien has done the impossible in Houston, winning the AFC South the last two seasons without a quarterback. He has started six different quarterbacks in those 32 games and won games with all of them.
Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys finished 1-2 in the voting for the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and both will be a year better in 2017. Elliott led the NFL in rushing by 300 yards and scored a conference-leading 16 touchdowns.
When all the wheeling and dealing was done, the Cleveland Browns wound up with three first-round draft picks and all should be walk in starters – pass rusher Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku.
Jerry Rice became the most prolific receiver in NFL history, playing 20 seasons and catching 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns. He went to 13 Pro Bowls and was the NFL MVP in 1987. That’s pretty good value for the 16th overall pick of a draft.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff was the first overall pick of the 2016 draft. But Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, a fourth-round selection, won NFL Rookie of the Year honors. The first pick is not always the best pick.
The window of NFL free agency opened on March 9 and by the end of the day, there had been 17 contracts of $30 million or more signed, including two apiece by the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Drew Brees suffered a torn labrum in the 2005 season finale and the Chargers already had first-round draft pick Philip Rivers waiting in the wings at quarterback, so Brees left San Diego for New Orleans in free agency.