With the conclusion of minicamps this week, the NFL is finally on summer vacation. Players have scattered for a little over a month, and even coaches take a few weeks off as anticipation builds for training camps to open late in July. But the NFL never goes completely quiet -- there are injuries to rehab, contracts to negotiate, deals to be done.
These five questions are some of the biggest hovering over the league as teams break and everyone takes a breather.
1) How will the two big contract issues in New York be resolved?
The Jets and Giants each have huge contract decisions looming. July 17 is the key date for the New York Giants and running back Saquon Barkley. That's the deadline for teams and franchise-tagged players to sign multi-year extensions. The Giants and Barkley both profess to want that, but the sides were still far apart when the Giants used the franchise tag in the spring. Complicating matters is that while the Giants love Barkley -- team owner John Mara would like him to be a Giant for life -- the running back market cratered during free agency. Barkley has not signed the $10.1 million franchise tender, so he was not required to participate in minicamp. If no extension is reached by July 17, he would play the 2023 season on the one-year franchise tag. The more immediate question in that case is whether Barkley would hold out for any part of training camp or even the season. Barkley recently acknowledged that sitting out the season could be in the conversation if there is no deal. That wouldn't be ideal for a team that is hoping Barkley will be a part of a more explosive offense.
Across town, Jets coach Robert Saleh said during OTAs that All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams will get a new contract and be in training camp. The defensive tackle market has exploded while Williams has been waiting for his extension -- witness the new deals for Dexter Lawrence and Ed Oliver, for instance -- and Williams stayed away from the offseason program and occasionally expressed frustration on social media as time dragged on. For a team that is all in on a Super Bowl push with Aaron Rodgers, getting Williams settled and avoiding any distractions that could accompany a protracted negotiation is paramount.
Purdy's recovery from offseason elbow surgery has been promising -- he started throwing a football as June began and San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said the team was "incredibly encouraged" by the progress. The 49ers have said they are hopeful Purdy will be available for training camp. It's not clear, though, when in training camp and how little work the 49ers would be comfortable with Purdy having before the regular season starts. Trey Lance and Sam Darnold, who was signed to a one-year contract this offseason, took the first-team reps during the offseason work, but Purdy is the presumptive starter whenever he is ready. Purdy's timeline means the 49ers' training camp will have plenty of intrigue at the most important position.
3) Which teams land the late entry free agents?
Players the caliber of DeAndre Hopkins and Dalvin Cook don't often hit the open market deep into the offseason. But when Hopkins was released by the Arizona Cardinals in late May and Cook by the Minnesota Vikings in early June, top-flight skill position players were suddenly awaiting suitors. Some caveats apply: Hopkins hasn't played a full season since 2020 and he is 31 years old. Also, Odell Beckham Jr. will make at least $15 million this season and his deal might have shaped Hopkins' early contract expectations. Cook will soon turn 28 years old and has logged four straight seasons of at least 1,100 yards rushing, but he is a running back in a very difficult running back market. Still, Hopkins and Cook would be valuable additions for contending teams. Complicating their free agencies, though, is that a lot of the salary cap space has already been chewed up by June. In a podcast conversation with former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall just before his release, Hopkins listed quarterbacks he wanted to catch passes from -- they were all top quarterbacks on contending teams, like the Bills and Chiefs, who have little cap space available. As minicamps ended, Hopkins had visits with the Titans and Patriots.
4) What of Jimmy G's foot?
The late spring news that Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had foot surgery in March -- and that a waiver was added to his contract that allowed him to sign despite being unable to pass the team's physical -- raised, at the very least, the question of when Garoppolo, starting his first season in Las Vegas, will be able to go again. The good news is NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport recently reported Garoppolo is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. He has been in the building rehabbing his foot and attending meetings, but he did not practice during OTAs or minicamp. Coach Josh McDaniels would not put a timeline on Garoppolo's return when he spoke to reporters during OTAs, although he did say he had information that told him the Raiders are "going to be fine" and that he -- McDaniels -- had no anxiety about the situation. Garoppolo, of course, knows McDaniels' offense from their shared time together in New England, although he has not been able to be on the field with his new teammates. Brian Hoyer is on the roster, but the Raiders have put their eggs into the Garoppolo basket, so any delay, any setback, any nagging of the injury sets the Raiders further back in the brutally competitive AFC West.
5) Will the Commanders look any different this season?
The most eagerly awaited business transaction in the NFL is on the cusp of completion this summer, with the Washington Commanders set to be sold, bringing an end to the Dan Snyder era. The Commanders have been in limbo -- worse, they have backslid -- in the last few years, as Snyder has been the subject of numerous investigations, FedEx Field further deteriorated and the last eight months have been consumed by the sale process. Snyder's departure should energize the fans and commence conversations about a new stadium plan, but the most immediate intrigue will surround whether the new ownership will start making changes inside the building right away and how they will evaluate the decisions of the current braintrust. New owners mean every employee in the organization is on notice, which will add a layer of urgency beginning in training camp.