T-minus two months and counting before the 2022 NFL campaign begins.
There’s much less time between now and Sept. 8, when the Buffalo Bills open the season against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, than everyone thinks.
The first rookies report to training camps in two weeks. From there, competition will commence for roster and starting spots. The preseason will eventually come into focus with the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 4 between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders before the 30 other teams kick into gear the following week.
Between now and the start of the regular season, much can still be accomplished for each of the franchises.
In many cases, bookkeeping is the most pressing concern, with star players looking for new contracts. High-profile battles will ensue. Also, significant roster movement can occur based on possible trade scenarios.
There’s plenty left to do for every team before the official kickoff. The following moves are the most pressing for each situation.
Arizona Cardinals: Extend QB Kyler Murray
The relationship between the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray has been rocky this offseason.
Murray scrubbed his social media account of team references in February. His agent then released a statement about the quarterback wanting a new deal. Both of these occurred around the same time that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported some within the organization viewed Murray as “self-centered, immature and a finger-pointer.”
The 24-year-old quarterback skipped the first portion of optional organized team activities too.
The fact remains that both sides need each other.
The Cardinals may be hesitant to extend the 2019 No. 1 overall pick until they see growth. In doing so, they run the risk of creating a further divide between the two even though Murray is one of the game’s best young quarterbacks.
From Murray’s perspective, he must let perceived slights go so he can get the extension he wants now instead of waiting another year or two.
A long-term commitment will allow both to grow together and remain viable at the game’s most important position.
Atlanta Falcons: Create Open Competition at QB
The Atlanta Falcons must be realistic about their chances this season and assess the best way to move into the future.
Currently, they have the second-longest odds at DraftKings to win the Super Bowl. The roster is clearly in transition after the front office traded the franchise’s all-time leading passer, Matt Ryan, to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
There could be an opportunity to expedite the rebuilding process if Atlanta isn’t dead set on starting a veteran quarterback over a rookie.
“As with any position, the best guy is going to play,” head coach Arthur Smith said after the draft, per The Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “With Marcus [Mariota] being the veteran, that’s the way it’ll go for now.”
According to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, Mariota is “far ahead” of third-round rookie Desmond Ridder heading into traning camp. However, Smith previously told reporters that Ridder is “light-years ahead of most other young quarterbacks from the neck up.”
An open competition should ensue between the two, with an edge going to the rookie if it’s close.