With the free agency frenzy right around the corner and the 2021 NFL Draft coming down the pike in short order, here are five things I'd like to see this offseason:
Russell Wilson changes the Bears forever
This is less about Russell Wilson -- and more about the overall concept of the Chicago Bears.
What are we trying to do here?
Fans of this organization have suffered through Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, Chase Daniel, Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley under center since Jay Cutler capped his good-but-not-great career. The two decades prior to Cutler weren't any prettier at the most important position in sports.
For this blogger? Exhaustion has set in.
Verbally slamming Trubisky has lost any sense of adventure. I don't trust Ryan Pace to navigate the team forward, but the embattled general manager would cover a thousand sins by pulling off a trade for Wilson. It would cost a bundle, but so what? Wilson would alter the Bears on an almost spiritual level.
His presence would mend fences with unhappy, franchise-tagged wideout Allen Robinson, too, eternally stuck with stinky passers dating back to his salad days with Blake Bortles in Jacksonville. The 8-8 playoff team nobody believed in this past season would zoom into September as a dangerous NFC heavy.
One final trickle-down effect: Wilson's departure (in this exercise) leads to Seattle tractor-beaming Sam Darnold away from the Jets, pairing the one-time USC star with former Trojans coach Pete Carroll.
Deshaun Watson to the Niners
The Jets sit on piles of money and a rash of high picks. They're the most logical landing spot for Watson.
This is my little fantasy world, though. MY DESIRES. Love over logic ... and I adore the idea of pairing Watson with Kyle Shanahan, arguably the game's finest play-caller.
The Niners keep singing pretty words about Jimmy Garoppolo, but also inquired about Matthew Stafford, pinged the Panthers over Teddy Bridgewater and internally discussed chasing Tom Brady last offseason. Garoppolo's on-field performance isn't enough to slow San Francisco's wandering eye, while his durability issues -- 23 missed starts since 2018 -- have deep-sixed the Niners in two of the past three seasons.
In this scenario, I'm sending Jimmy G to Houston for a (joyful) reunion with ex-Pats dudes Nick Caserio and Jack Easterby. Garoppolo has a no-trade clause, but denying a swap would risk the $25.5 million he's set to earn in 2021.
Bill Belichick pulls a draft stunner
Baker Mayfield in a Patriots uniform?
It might have happened in 2018 -- according to Mayfield's agent, Jack Mills -- had the Browns gone elsewhere with the first overall pick.
"We knew that the Jets at (No.) 3 was the bottom line," Mills told SI's Andrew Brandt. "We had another team that said, 'You may get a big surprise on draft day at No. 2 if he is available.' And that team was the Patriots."
Three years later, New England brass are back at it, sniffing around the draft's top passers despite their perch down at No. 15 on the board. The Patriots taunted media goons last offseason by ignoring the quarterback position for months, generating mind-numbing debates over whether Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer might start before Cam Newton arrived in late June.
Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and BYU's Zach Wilson are essentially unattainable for New England, but hopscotching Carolina at No. 8 could set the table for Bill Belichick to find his quarterback of tomorrow in Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones.
If you think Bill plans to sleepwalk through next season with Newton as his starter, I beg you to put down the bath salts. The Patriots are crafting something spicy.
Brandon Staley mind-melds with Justin Herbert
When Brandon Staley speaks, it pours forth: Awesome Nerd Energy. Total obsession. A singular love for football. While you're trying out that new sushi place, this guy is burning the midnight oil with spools of film depicting last autumn's Chargers.
Staley is a defensive whiz kid with plans to unleash Joey Bosa and Derwin James. No relationship matters more, though, than Staley's union with second-year passer Justin Herbert. One argument for keeping Anthony Lynn boiled down to retaining an offense that Herbert all but mastered.
Is new play-caller Joe Lombardi the right guy for the gig? He spent all but two of the past 12 years as the quarterback coach to Drew Brees. Passing game coordinator and quarterback coach Shane Day came from Kyle Shanahan's Niners thinktank, which Staley labeled as "one of the premium systems in the NFL."
Said Staley: "What we've tried to do with this staff is kind of complement yourself with people you respect (from) organizations you respect, whether it's college or the NFL. It'll be a team effort, for sure."
Gone are the days of the beer-bellied ol' ball coach rolling in after a few cold ones at Chippy's Tavern. Staley belongs to the New Wave: brainy, orderly and driven by a guiding vision. I trust this marriage to soar.
Matt Rhule stars on Hard Knocks
The young and sassy Carolina Panthers are Hard Knocks-eligible. So are the Cowboys, Giants, Broncos and Cardinals, per Dan Hanzus' Official Hard Knocks Team Generator.
I'm lobbying for a month-plus of Matt Rhule on HBO. The Carolina coach would serve as a splendid leading man and a Jimmy Johnson-esque firestarter who might just have his Troy Aikman by then with the Panthers picking eighth overall in the draft. Or perhaps they swing a deal for Deshaun Watson and we're gifted with a close-up look at a real-life NFL god-man.
Of course, with Dallas in the mix, my proposal sits out there in deep space not unlike an unsuspecting Alderaan.