View Full Version : AFC EAST article

02-23-2005, 03:11 PM
AFC offseason storylines Don Banks, SI.com (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/sports/cnnsi/SIG=10jq1r0oi/*http://www.si.com)
http://www.finheaven.com/images/imported/2005/02/don_banks-1.jpghttp://www.finheaven.com/images/imported/2005/02/si_lo_70x24_1-1.gif (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/sports/cnnsi/nfl/article/SIG=10mug73mg/*http%3A//www.si.com/)With the annual blood-letting known as the NFL's salary-cap squeeze well underway, and the league's scouting combine opening in Indianapolis on Wednesday, personnel issues are front and center as late February unwinds.

Will the Patriots part ways with cornerback Ty Law? Can the Ravens finally acquire a legitimate No. 1 receiver? Is Edgerrin James (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4652/) finally too much of a luxury for the powerful Colts? And will Jerome Bettis (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/2354/) and the Steelers take one more victory lap together?

As the cap-tightening continues and the start of free agency looms next week, here's our look at the top offseason storylines for each AFC team, to go along with last week's NFC preview:


New England: The Patriots biggest offseason decision doesn't look as huge as it once did. The two-time defending champions have to make a call on the tricky Law situation, but at least they're doing it from a position of strength. New England proved it can win -- and win it all -- without Law. The reality? The Patriots' Pro Bowl cornerback is probably iffy to return unless he plays ball with the team and significantly lowers his $12 million cap number. If he balks, he'll get the Lawyer Milloy (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/3572/) treatment.

New York: The Jets say Chad Pennington (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5047/)'s surgically repaired shoulder will be fine by training camp, but arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery is still rotator cuff surgery. And that's nothing to take lightly when it comes to the throwing arm of your franchise quarterback. Especially when backup Quincy Carter (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5500/) has a substance-abuse relapse and reportedly is back in drug rehab. With only Brooks Bollinger (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6536/) healthy, look for the Jets to go shopping in March for an insurance policy behind Pennington.
Buffalo: Having boldly removed their safety net with the release of Drew Bledsoe (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/2359/), the Bills have no choice but to focus their attention on accelerating the learning curve for new starting quarterback, J.P. Losman (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6781/). The second-year pro, who lost most of his rookie season due to a broken leg, will be Buffalo's sixth different starting quarterback since Jim Kelly retired at the end of 1996. The remaking of the team's offensive star system will continue with the attempts to trade disgruntled running back Travis Henry (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5505/).

Miami: After years of flirting with the idea of becoming an NFL head coach, Nick Saban finally has to get to work and prove whether or not the hype was right. Good luck. His Dolphins are in the NFL's deepest division, and he finds himself without a lead running back, an offensive line, a proven quarterback or a second-round pick. The last time things were this bleak in Miami, another guy with a five-letter last name starting with S signed on to coach the Dolphins. But the Don Shula hiring turned out OK.