FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2020, file photo, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh cheers on his team from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. One year ago, Saleh and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy missed out on the coaching carousel despite being coordinators of the two Super Bowl teams. The two figure to be near the top of many of the lists of possible head coaching candidates again this offseason when the NFL is hoping some new rules lead to more opportunities for minority coaches.(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)

For non-playoff teams, important NFL off-season is underway

While 14 teams are focused on their pursuit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy with the expanded NFL playoffs set to kick off this weekend, the off-season is underway for 18 other clubs.

Six teams are searching for new head coaches. Seven are looking for general managers. Quarterbacks and other star players will surely be on the move.

Everyone hopes normalcy returns by the start of the new season.

The league already pulled off a difficult task by completing its 256-game regular season on time during the coronavirus pandemic. The goal now is playing the Super Bowl in Tampa on Feb. 7.

Getting an opportunity to win a championship begins with a strong off-season.

Here are some things to look for this off-season:

COACHES: The Chargers, Jaguars, Texans, Falcons, Jets and Lions need new coaches. Much attention is given to minority candidates because the league strengthened its Rooney Rule. In November, the NFL implemented a seven-point mobility plan that it projects will enhance opportunities for minorities in coaching and front-office positions. The firing of Anthony Lynn by the Chargers leaves only three minority coaches. Chiefs offensive co-ordinator Eric Bieniemy and 49ers defensive co-ordinator Robert Saleh are expected to interview for multiple open spots and would increase the total if they get jobs. Whoever replaces Lynn in Los Angeles inherits a solid nucleus led by quarterback Justin Herbert. The opening in Houston is also attractive because of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Jacksonville has the No. 1 overall pick so the new coach should get a franchise QB.

FREE AGENCY: The new league season begins March 17 and revenue losses due to the pandemic mean the salary cap will be reduced. The floor is $175 million, which would be a decrease of $23.2 million. Over the Cap estimates it’ll be $176 million. There will be a slew of talented players available because teams are going to make cost-cutting decisions. Veterans with big contracts will be looking for new teams. The franchise tag will account for a larger percentage of the salary cap so that will deter teams from using it. The Eagles and Saints are two teams facing major cap issues and will have to slash payroll significantly.

DRAFT: The 86th NFL draft is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Cleveland. The city is planning for a socially distanced event after last year’s draft in Las Vegas was cancelled and held virtually. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is expected to go to Jacksonville with the first pick. The Jets have the second pick and they could take Ohio State QB Justin Fields even though they have Sam Darnold. Brigham Young QB Zach Wilson could crack the top 10. Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith of Alabama and fellow wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase of LSU are projected as potential top-five picks.

QUARTERBACKS: A pair of NFC East QBs could be on the move in the off-season. Carson Wentz may have played his last game with the Philadelphia Eagles, and same for Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys. Wentz had the worst season of his five-year career before he was benched for the last four games. Prescott put up excellent numbers before a gruesome ankle injury ended his season in October. Mitchell Trubisky, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston will be among the free agents. The Lions may shop Matthew Stafford, and retirement is a possibility for Philip Rivers.

COVID-19: It wasn’t business as usual this season because of the pandemic and some changes will become part of the league going forward.

Virtual meetings, a prolonged training camp acclamation period, expanded practice squads and unlimited callbacks from injured reserve are among some of the aspects that will be considered.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Many students and staff at St. Joseph High School are in COVID-19 quarantine. (File photo by JeffAdvocate staff)
St. Joseph High School students return to at-home learning today

Majority of students under COVID-19 quarantine

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits

Outcome leaves no judicial opinions on the books

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Military to support vaccination efforts in northern Ontario Indigenous communities

Canadian Armed Forces to support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Eugene Levy, left, and his son Dan Levy accept the Best Comedy Series Award for ‘“Schitt’s Creek” at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Dan Levy to make ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting debut on Feb. 6

‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator to host show

Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, as Noah Hanifin looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Morgan Reilly’s three assists lifts Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Flames

Leafs 3 Flames 2 CALGARY — Morgan Reilly’s three assists helped the… Continue reading

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Road warriors: Bucs win 31-26 at Green Bay, reach Super Bowl

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road… Continue reading

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward… Continue reading

Most Read