Fact or Fiction for Latest NFL Offseason Rumors

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2014

Fact or Fiction for Latest NFL Offseason Rumors

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    You can never believe everything you hear. This is especially true when talking about the NFL offseason when actual on-field action gives way to a myriad of headline-grabbing rumors.

    Football fanatics are always hungry for more NFL news, and the media is always there to feed it to them. At this time of year, however, speculation reigns supreme.

    Trying to predict what will actually unfold over the next several weeks can be a crapshoot, as it is virtually impossible to peer inside the minds of players, coaches and executive decision-makers.

    However, we can make an educated attempt at cutting through the hype to take a deeper look inside the numbers, trends and comments surrounding situations in the NFL offseason.

    We will do exactly that over the next few pages as we try to debunk or confirm the latest and most noteworthy offseason rumors. 

FACT: Da'Quan Bowers Could Be on His Way Out in Tampa Bay

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    A lot was expected of former Clemson standout Da'Quan Bowers when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft.

    However, the defensive end has failed to live up to his pass-rushing potential and is progressively inching toward the roster bubble this offseason.

    Bowers lost the starting defensive end job last offseason because of poor conditioning and could be on the verge of losing his roster spot for the same reason, according to Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune.

    “I see a lot of signs that he can be what everybody thought he was going to when he was coming out of college,’’ defensive line coach Joe Cullen said, per Cummings. “But again, a lot of that will depend on how he gets into shape and what happens in the preseason.’’

    The problem for Bowers is that all the potential in the world means nothing to an employer when it isn't reached. 

    Bowers, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, had the physical potential of a first-round selection. However, he has been a huge disappointment on the field for the Buccaneers, amassing just 45 tackles and 5.5 sacks in three seasons as a pro.

    Bowers is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is due to make just under $1 million in base salary, so he may have one last chance to prove he belongs with the organization.

    However, it doesn't make a ton of sense for a team looking to make a quick turnaround to hold a roster spot for a depth player who registered a mere seven tackles and a lone sack a season ago. 

FICTION: Matt Schaub Is Firmly Entrenched as Raiders Starter

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    Even though he struggled in 2013, it made sense for the Oakland Raiders to acquire veteran quarterback Matt Schaub from the Houston Texans this offseason. 

    The 10-year veteran brings a wealth of knowledge and a little playoff experience to Oakland where consistency under center has become a longstanding issue. The team remained committed to him as this year's starter, even after spending a second-round selection on Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. 

    Shortly after May's draft, ESPN's Jim Trotter stated that it would take something "catastrophic" for Carr to start in his rookie season. 

    However, it doesn't make much sense to keep Carr on the bench if he proves to be the better quarterback heading into the regular season.

    According to NFL Media's Albert Breer, some in the Raiders organization believe that Carr will push Schaub for the starting job, even as the team puts its public support behind the veteran. According to Breer, Carr has already shown enough to convince the Raiders that he can play right away.

    Carr has already bypassed Matt McGloin on the team's depth chart, which at least puts him in a position to compete for the starting role. If the rookie passer can show enough progress in training camp, Schaub could be one preseason pick-six away from relinquishing the starting role. 

FACT: Brian Hoyer Is Holding Off Johnny Manziel as Starting QB

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    Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com recently wrote that "all signs point" to rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel starting for the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.

    While it is true Manziel has moved ahead of Tyler Thigpen to No. 2 on the depth chart and head coach Mike Pettine has admitted that he doesn't believe starter Brian Hoyer's lead in the quarterback competition is "insurmountable," per The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot, the rookie has a long way to go before actually wrestling away the starting job.

    According to ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, Hoyer has looked better than Manziel in practices, and the rookie is still showing signs of inconsistency. 

    The most telling quote about what the Browns want from the quarterback position, however, may have come from Pettine in a recent story by The MMQB's Greg A. Bedard.

    On the chances of Manziel starting, Pettine stated, "It could happen, but in my ideal world, it’s not opening day.”

    Pettine has been brutally honest and open since joining the Browns this offseason, so we're inclined to believe that he really doesn't want to throw in the rookie against the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens to start the season.

    While some may believe Cleveland's public support of Hoyer as the starter is only meant to give Manziel confidence when he is handed the starting job prior to the regular season, signs in Cleveland really seem to point toward Hoyer getting the first crack at putting a winner on the field. 

FICTION: The Seahawks Are Moving Terrelle Pryor to Receiver

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    The Seattle Seahawks already have a pretty good starting quarterback in Russell Wilson. So when the team acquired Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders this offseason, it sparked some interesting speculation.

    Shortly after Pryor was dealt, A.J. Perez of NJ.com wrote that the Seahawks really envision Pryor "as a receiver or tight end."

    While this is certainly a novel and not unprecedented idea, there are a couple of problems.

    "I don't know how to catch," Pryor recently told The Seattle Times' Jerry Brewer. "I don't know how to run the ball as a running back. I've been a quarterback my whole life."

    While Pryor's speed and athleticism could make him a valuable offensive weapon, it seems the short-term plan is for him to find a depth role behind Wilson and backup Tarvaris Jackson.

    "Right now, he's learning the quarterback position and (playing another spot) is not even an option," general manager John Schneider said, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.

    While we may eventually see the Seahawks break out Pryor as a receiver or runner (as a surprise during the postseason, perhaps?) it probably won't be soon and probably won't be on a full-time basis. 

FACT: Teddy Bridgewater Could Open the Season as Vikings' Starter

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    In May's draft, the Minnesota Vikings spent a first-round pick on Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater to be their quarterback of the future.

    The Vikings spent a first-round pick on Christian Ponder back in 2011 to be their quarterback of the future, but ESPN's Ben Goessling reported that Ponder has been getting very little work in offseason workouts.

    Thus, Bridgewater and journeyman Matt Cassel appear to be the front-runners for the team's starting quarterback, with the Vikings are in no rush to pick one. 

    ''I want to give everybody an opportunity and make sure it's a legitimate opportunity for all of them," head coach Mike Zimmer recently told Dave Campbell of The Associated Press

    While Cassel has shown flashes during his nine-year career, he isn't a superstar (his career passer rating is 80.5), and there is no reason Bridgewater can't win the job if he impresses in training camp and preseason. 

    Offensive coordinator Norv Turner seems to like what he sees in Bridgewater, recently telling the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Master Tesfatsion“I knew he’d make great decisions, quick decisions, but he has been outstanding throwing the deep ball, which some people thought would be an issue."

    Turner has built a reputation for running an offense that focuses on hard running and deep passing. If Bridgewater can be the accurate, deep-passing complement to star running back Adrian Peterson, he should have an opportunity to shine in Turner's system.

    His opportunity could come as early as Week 1. 

FICTION: Texans Are Looking to Move Andre Johnson

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    Although he hasn't openly asked to be traded, Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson doesn't appear happy with the current direction of the organization.

    According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, Johnson's adviser and uncle, Andre Melton, made it known early on that the wideout would not be at mandatory minicamp.  Johnson indeed stayed away from minicamp just as he has all activities this offseason.

    Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com recently reported there is no indication that the Texans will be quick to move Johnson. The team doesn't really have a backup plan for life without its star wideout, so there is no benefit to seeking an immediate trade.

    Of course, the Texans would also face a world without Johnson if the star wideout decides to simply retire rather than play for his current team, which Florio has pointed to as a possibility. 

    This difference here is that Houston could seek to recoup a large portion of Johnson's bonus money if he retires, reportedly around $8 million, per Florio. If the Texans trade Johnson, the team will be forced to swallow $11.96 million in dead money, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer

    While Houston would probably like to get something out of Johnson rather than let him walk into retirement, the team may not be able to get the desired compensation in a trade because of his hefty contract (three years, $34.5 million).

    It doesn't make a lot of sense to take that much of a dead-money hit unless the Texans can get more than a late-round pick or depth player in return. 

    If a truly jaw-dropping trade offer comes along, the Texans may be forced to consider it, but for now it appears the team would much rather just have him show up to camp.