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2024 NFL offseason: Majority of teams open mandatory minicamps this week

We've reached the last week before NFL summer break. Most teams are cramming for their final exams prior to the roughly six-week sabbatical before training camps.

More than 20 clubs are holding mandatory minicamps this week (the Rams are in action but do not have an official minicamp).

Monday: Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams*, New England Patriots

Tuesday: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders

Each club can conduct one mandatory minicamp during Phase Three of the offseason workout program. Whereas previous work was voluntary, skipping mandatory minicamp is a finable offense.

While no broad conclusions can be ascertained, minicamps, with 11-on-11 sessions, provide the best opportunity for evaluation ahead of July training camps. Questions about which veterans will attend and who will skip become weightier than the voluntary portion. With a host of new coordinators around the league, their installs ramp up during minicamp.

Each team has numerous storylines to follow during their week of work. Let's look at one question for each team kicking off mandatory minicamp this week.


How is Kirk Cousins' rehab going? The new quarterback took reps during OTAs, which is an excellent sign eight months post-Achilles injury. This is the time of year clubs pull back on injured players. Cousins' participation indicates that the club isn't as concerned about a setback. How much he'll do during minicamp remains to be seen, but all reps in Zac Robinson's offense are notable as the team gets the 35-year-old up to speed on a new offense with a first-time NFL play-caller. Any indicators of how Robinson's scheme mimics or differs from Sean McVay's system is also worth noting this week.

What will Ryan Nielsen's defense look like in Jacksonville? From his brief time in Atlanta, we know that Nielsen can coach around deficiencies. With the Jags lacking obvious press corner candidates, he'll have to once again. In the secondary, will the rookies -- Jarrian Jones (third round) and Deantre Prince (fifth round) -- get a shot to edge their way into playing time early in the season? Jones could push for the starting slot spot during training camp. Questions about the interior rotation after the offseason additions of Arik Armstead and second-round pick Maason Smith and how Nielson will use his linebacker crew abound. The offense gets the attention, but how the defense improves in 2024 will be a big part of the story in Jacksonville.

How does the young defense look under Chris Shula? The youth shined last season for Raheem Morris. L.A. is once again counting on first-year players in key spots under Shula. Jared Verse and Braden Fiske are the headliners, alongside second-year performers Kobie Turner and Byron Young. The combination of youth and talent is intriguing in L.A. On the back end, I'm curious whether Kamren Kinchens pushes for playing time at safety. The third-rounder could earn starting reps. If he struggles now or in training camp, it could incentivize the Rams to bring in another veteran safety.

Can Drake Maye push Jacoby Brissett? Maye bumped up to the No. 2 spot during last week's OTAs, passing Bailey Zappe. Offensive coordinator Andy Van Pelt made it clear that Brissett "is our starter," but reports out of Foxborough suggest Maye has made strides and impressed teammates. A good minicamp could force coaches to consider whether Maye can make a move at Brissett's gig during training camp. We've seen young quarterbacks develop rapidly in the past and force the hand of a team that insisted it planned to start a veteran. Building a base in minicamp could push the narrative that maybe Maye is ready for more heading into the summer.


How is the Kyler Murray-Marvin Harrison Jr. connection coming along? Nowadays, rookie receivers enter the NFL speeding down the tarmac. A rookie has hit or surpassed the 1,400-yard mark in three of the past four seasons. Puka Nacua set the rookie mark last year (1,486), Ja'Marr Chase went for 1,455 yards in 2021, and Justin Jefferson hit 1,400 yards in 2020. Even in 2022, Garrett Wilson put up 1,103 yards despite catching passes from Zack Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco. In that context, Harrison enters the league with the chance to see a ton of spiraling pigskins from a quarterback who, in the past, has force-fed his top target. Murray and Harrison building chemistry at this stage will help them hit the ground running in Week 1.

What is the offensive line pecking order? Is there even a pecking order at this point? The only staples thus far have been Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and Tyler Linderbaum at center. The three other spots are up for grabs. Andrew Vorhees, coming off a red-shirt season, Ben Cleveland, Daniel Faalele, Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Josh Jones and 2024 second-round pick Roger Rosengarten will all get a chance to grab one of the three starting gigs. Rosengarten is one to watch at right tackle. Vorhees could swipe the left guard spot after impressing during OTAs. But any or all could change between now and Week 1. The non-contact nature of offseason workouts makes it difficult to gauge how offensive lines will look when the real action starts, but we can get a sense of how teams view their potential rotation and competitions.

How is the WR depth chart shaking out? Buffalo threw bodies at the WR question mark this offseason after moving on from Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Keon Coleman seems destined for a big role, but beyond that, there are questions. Khalil Shakir likely sees plenty of snaps. Then, there is a question of who fills out the rest of the duties. Curtis Samuel, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mack Hollins, Chase Claypool, KJ Hamler and Justin Shorter bring different skills and elements. Minicamp could give us a better idea of how the competition will shape up when training camp arrives.

Is Xavier Legette participating and how does the reworked WR corps look? Legette missed some OTA work due to a hamstring injury that popped up. Soft-tissue injuries can be common for first-year players after going from training for the draft to real football work. For some, it becomes a blip on the radar. For others, it nags, disrupts their offseason, and bleeds into the campaign. The Panthers added Legette to a reworked receiver room led by Diontae Johnson and Adam Thielen. If the first-rounder can't build chemistry with Bryce Young early in the offseason, could it linger into training camp?

Will Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins skip? Chase indicated last week that he plans to attend minicamp, thereby avoiding potential fines. That would seem to answer one question and provide the Bengals their top wideout as they get Joe Burrow back into gear this offseason. The other question is whether Chase will get his big deal before hitting the field -- Justin Jefferson's massive contract came down at the open of mandatory minicamp. Higgins has yet to sign his franchise tender, so skipping wouldn't technically be considered a holdout (he's not under contract until he signs the tender or a new deal). Higgins wants a new deal or a trade to a club that will give him one. Following their modus operandi, the Bengals seem inclined to provide neither. The most likely outcome appears that Higgins sits out most of the offseason, is forced to play on the tag and then hits free agency, similar to how the Jessie Bates situation played out. How might that affect Higgins' play in 2024 remains to be seen.

How does Deshaun Watson look? The offseason chatter surrounding Watson sounds similar to last year. The club likes how he looks -- this time coming off a season-ending injury -- and believes he's in for a turnaround year. Cleveland needs to see it from the big-money passer after two disappointing years. How does Watson mesh with new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and weapon Jerry Jeudy? Browns fans have been patient with Watson since his acquisition. Now it's time for the former Pro Bowler to pay that back with improved play.

Courtland Sutton said he'll report to minicamp, but will there be a resolution? A potential holdout candidate, the veteran wideout said he'll report on Tuesday, ending speculation. Will there be any resolution for a wideout who wants a new contract? Sutton is due $13 million in base salary this season and $13.5 million next year. With the exploding market, it's understandable why he wants a new payday as the club's No. 1. However, Denver could be inclined to decline the request. Will it also continue to rebuff trade chatter? It will likely depend on what Sean Payton sees in the development of Marvin Mims Jr., Brandon Johnson, rookies Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele, signee Josh Reynolds, and Tim Patrick in his latest return from injury. Sutton doesn't seem like someone who'd rock the boat in his quest for long-term security, but do the Broncos want those persistent questions around as they break in Bo Nix and a mostly young WR corps?

How is Josh Jacobs' health? General manager Brian Gutekunst said the Jordan Love extension is likely to come closer to training camp, so let's go in a different direction with our minicamp question. Jacobs missed the first week of OTAs but got on the field in the second set of work, which is a positive sign the hamstring issue won't be a lingering problem. The Packers are counting on Jacobs to take on the Aaron Jones role. Green Bay's offense functioned much better with a reliable threat out of the backfield last season. If Jacobs gets dinged up down the road, it could open the door for rookie MarShawn Lloyd to swipe a bigger role.

Who takes the lead at left tackle into training camp? I'll reiterate for those who skip directly to their team of interest that analyzing the trenches during offseason workouts is difficult given the structure. Still, Patrick Mahomes' blind side will always be of interest. Second-year tackle Wanya Morris and second-round rookie Kingsley Suamataia are set to battle for the gig. Can one show enough to Andy Reid and offensive line coach Andy Hecht to make them confident that they will be fine at left tackle heading into training camp? Or might the Chiefs make a call to a veteran option closer to camp (or during), like former Chief Donovan Smith or longtime Aaron Rodgers BFF David Bakhtiari?

Aidan O'Connell or Gardner Minshew? The Raiders quarterback competition might lack pizzazz, but it is intriguing. Coach Antonio Pierce has tossed praise toward O'Connell dating back to when he took over following Josh McDaniels' ouster. Yet, the Raiders went out and signed Minshew as a clear bridge QB. The big question is whether O'Connell displays development from last season when he struggled at times and failed to threaten defenses deep. At this point, Minshew is who he is: A veteran signal-caller who can keep you in contention but will make his share of boondoggle mistakes while trying to make a play. The side game to the competition is who fits better into the offense Luke Getsy wants to run. We'll have a better idea the more reps each gets.

How is Joe Alt's transition to right tackle going? We've talked a ton about the L.A. wide receiver room this offseason, so let's check in on the club's first-round pick. Alt started 33 games at Notre Dame, all at left tackle. Since the Chargers announced Alt as the No. 5 overall pick, it's been assumed he'd simply walk into the right tackle job with no problem. As Josh Sitton once said, switching from one said to the other is like "wiping your (butt) with the other hand." We don't think Alt will suffer in the switch, but it's worth keeping an eye on the progress.

How is Klink Kubiak's installation going? Every club in the NFC South is breaking in a new offensive coordinator, but none intrigues me as much as Kubiak importing a new offense to The Bayou. The Saints have run a version of the Sean Payton offense since the George W. Bush administration. Importing a Kubiak-Shanahan style scheme should freshen up the joint and provide a different look for a club entering a pivotal season under Dennis Allen. The run scheme could help unleash Alvin Kamara and the QB-friendly offense would give Derek Carr more answers. The Saints have grown bland under Allen. Kubiak can be the hero that finally gets New Orleans back into the postseason.

How does the crowded WR room begin to sort itself out? Adding Malik Nabers provides dynamic go-to potential in a receiver room with an assortment of bodies but lingering questions. Darius Slayton is a deep threat who led the Giants in receiving in four of the past five years but has never had more than 770 yards in a single season. Wan'Dale Robinson flashed upside last season. Ditto Jalin Hyatt, Allen Robinson, Isaiah McKenzie, Isaiah Hodgins, Miles Boykin and Gunner Olszewski all provide different brands of pass catchers. On paper, it's a better unit than last year, but the pecking order remains up for grabs.

Haason Reddick holding out or holding in? Robert Saleh expects Reddick to report, but we've seen optimistic coaches be wrong in the past. There's also the chance that Reddick reports to avoid the $100,000 fine but declines to participate in any on-field work. Reddick reportedly wanted a new deal before the trade from Philly to New York. He didn't participate in OTAs, jumpstarting questions about whether he'd report to minicamp. These situations tend to work out before training camp, but how the chapters unfold can differ from club to club. Will the Jets give him a new deal? One might have presumed that was the plan before Joe Douglas made the trade, but the lack of a pact could suggest otherwise.

Who is WR2? On a national level, there are questions about a QB competition between Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. Locally, however, every report from the beat says it's Wilson's job -- full stop. So, let's assume that continues in minicamp and look at a different position. Behind George Pickens sits a Three Rivers-sized void. Van Jefferson and rookie Roman Wilson would seem to be the top options. Quez Watkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Calvin Austin III, Scott Miller, Marquez Callaway and Denzel Mims could all battle for a role. It's not pretty behind Pickens. Will Pittsburgh add a legit No. 2 before training camp?

How does Ryan Grubb's offense look? We won't get the complete picture in minicamp, but the former UW offensive coordinator taking over in Seattle provides intrigue. Seattle sports one of the top wide receiver trios in the NFL in DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Tyler Lockett. I expect JSN to play a more significant role in Grubb's offense this season. The other big question is how much of the power run game will be used. Grubb enters the NFL known for his pass offense, but his run game is just as creative and should open lanes for Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. With new offensive coordinators dotting the NFL landscape, Grubb's system might be the most interesting to track entering the season.

How does Liam Coen's offense differ from Dave Canales' scheme? Most thoughts surrounding Tampa presume that given the offense returning its key playmakers and upgrading the interior offensive line, things will continue to build on last year's success. But we don't yet know in detail how Coen's offense will run in Tampa -- other than more slot reps for Chris Godwin. Coen yo-yoed between Kentucky and Los Angeles the past few years, so we have some basis for his scheme, and having worked with Baker Mayfield in the past offers comfort. But we need more nuggets heading into the season to know how big the changes from 2023 to 2024 will truly be for the reigning NFC South champs.

How is Jayden Daniels progressing in Kliff Kingsbury's system? The Commanders haven't technically named Daniels the starter, but we don't have to play Washington's game. Marcus Mariota is a mentor at this stage, not a starting quarterback. The Commanders should give Daniels every available rep to get the 23-year-old immersed in Kingsbury's system. Even with 55 career starts, there will be a learning curve for the rookie, but that can be smoothed out with minicamp reps to prep for the grind of training camp.

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