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Sam Farmer: Now that Super Bowl LII is history, it's time to look to the NFL's future

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

"Hopefully, we'll be back in this game with him leading the way," Pederson said.

Foles isn't the only accomplished quarterback who could wind up elsewhere. There's Case Keenum, who played his way into the MVP conversation in Minnesota because of injuries to Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford; and Kirk Cousins, who will be the subject of a bidding battle now that Washington has moved on to Alex Smith, acquired in a trade with Kansas City.

The New York Jets are looking for a quarterback, as are the New York Giants (to receive the baton from Eli Manning), Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. The urgency Jacksonville felt for a long-term answer at that position was likely quelled by the strong play of Blake Bortles at the end of the season, but the shifting sands of the league never fail to produce surprises.

Then there are the newcomers. For the first time, there could be a pair of first-round quarterbacks coming out of USC and UCLA in the same year. It wouldn't be stunning if the Bruins' Josh Rosen and Trojans' Sam Darnold were selected among the top 10 picks in this year's draft. The only other time in the modern era that quarterbacks from the rival schools were selected in the same year was 1989, when UCLA's Troy Aikman went No. 1 overall and USC's Rodney Peete was taken in the sixth round.

The quarterback-prospect spotlight isn't trained only on Darnold and Rosen. Among the other potential first-round picks are Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Wyoming's Josh Allen, and Louisville's Lamar Jackson. With the top six picks going Cleveland, Giants, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Denver, Jets. Of those, only the Colts have their quarterback situation locked down -- assuming Andrew Luck is healthy after sitting out this season because of shoulder problems.

When it comes to officiating changes, the NFL is going to take a hard look at what is and what isn't a catch, a vexing issue that seems to crop up on a weekly basis. Commissioner Roger Goodell has formed a committee to clarify the rule, and intends to start from scratch in looking at the definition.

Also on the table is the situation with the Panthers. Not only has owner Jerry Richardson put the team up for sale, but he's under investigation by the league for his alleged inappropriate workplace conduct and comments. It's unclear what the league will do about the investigation if or when a sale happens. Regardless, it's a dark cloud.

The NFL announced last week that Fox has bought the broadcast rights for Thursday Night Football for the next five years, and it will be interesting to watch how that network promotes and presents those games.

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There are situations to watch in the broadcast booth, too. Who will ESPN hire to replace Jon Gruden on Monday nights, now that the scowling coach has returned to the Raiders? And what of retired Arizona coach Bruce Arians? How will his colorful personality transfer to TV, with networks lobbying for him to become an analyst?

The Coliseum, home to the Rams, is getting a face lift, and the Chargers are hoping StubHub Center can feel more like a home field.

Some of the answers will come sooner, some later, but, like with that fluttering confetti, the air will eventually clear. Just in time for more questions.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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