Super Bowl LVI is less than two weeks away, but the NFL is already looking to the future as preparations for next season have begun.
On March 16, the NFL’s free agency period will kick off with a plethora of high-profile names set to hit the open market.
That means a fresh opportunity to place your wagers for the 2023 Super Bowl champions for bettors. Game-changing players such as Davante Adams, T.J. Watt, Von Miller and more are up for grabs.
Even better? More teams than ever will be in the running for their services.
NFL Free Agency: Big salary cap increase, betting options plentiful
The NFL’s 2022 salary cap is $208.2 million — a $25 million increase from the 2021 season. That’s the most significant season-to-season increase in league history.
Wagers are sure to be flying then.
Currently, Canadians can only make bets with provincial lotteries, like Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s Proline Plus sportsbook. OLG should release their odds following this year’s Super Bowl.
But, when Ontario launches its new online market, other recognizable sportsbooks should be up and running as well.
Here are three teams – and player situations – that are worth following.
WR Davante Adams: Toast of free agency but situation is complicated
Of all the names in free agency, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is the prized jewel.
He is widely considered the best wide receiver in the game at the moment – and with good reason. This past season Adams went for 123 receptions, 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns.
His situation is woefully complicated, though.
Adams hits free agency after declining Green Bay’s contract extension offer earlier this year. He made it clear he wants to be the highest-paid receiver in the league.
Currently, that title belongs to Arizona Cardinals star catcher DeAndre Hopkins who makes $27.5 million per year.
That number alone will price out a lot of teams in the market.
Adams’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, will also seemingly impact his decision. If Rodgers retires or goes elsewhere, then it’s likely Adams goes. If Rodgers stays, then Adams is more likely to as well.
But it won’t be easy in any scenario.
Green Bay is roughly $40 million over the 2022 salary cap budget.
Las Vegas Raiders best suitor for Adams
The Las Vegas Raiders seem like the most likely fit in this scenario.
For starters, Adams has familiarity with the Raiders’ starting quarterback, Derek Carr. The pair starred at Fresno State during their college days.
The Raiders will also have roughly $27 million available in salary cap space. However, should the team get rid of outside linebacker, Cory Littleton, they would free up another $15.8 million.
That decision could make way to potentially fulfill Adams’ desire to be the highest-paid receiver in the game.
Adams will be looking to strike while the iron is hot. Will he be willing to stay in Green Bay with Rodgers revaluating his playing status every year?
Chances are he will want more security.
Las Vegas – who entered the postseason with +5000 odds to win the 2021 SB per BetMGM Sportsbook – can provide that. In turn, Adams can deliver a legitimate Super Bowl contender in Sin City.
QB Aaron Rodgers: Time to move on from Packers
Oddsmakers will have to keep a close eye on the Rodgers – Adams dynamic entering free agency.
But the odds-on MVP favourite (-650 per BetMGM) has given some clues as to what his next move will be.
Rodgers doesn’t want to be a part of a rebuild. The Packers’ roster construction and salary cap situation is a mess currently. So, he would almost certainly be in that situation should Adams leave.
Rodgers, Denver Broncos partnership seems like ideal fit
Rodgers – in the tail end of his career – wants to win and win now.
That makes the Denver Broncos a key market for bettors to keep an eye on. Recently the franchise hired Green Bay’s former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, as its head coach. Rodgers and Hackett spent three years together in Green Bay.
More importantly, the Broncos have a glaring void for an elite quarterback.
Going up against Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr in the AFC West is not easy. Doing so with a string of mediocre slingers is next to impossible.
The franchise could take the next step with Rodgers in the mix just as it did with Payton Manning in 2015.
Denver has $44.8 million in cap space entering the offseason. They also have the ninth pick in the draft.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.: Career revival year makes wideout key target
Once considered one of the best wide receivers, these days, Odell Beckham Jr. is simply trying to stick with a single team.
Signed in November after being cut from the Cleveland Browns, OBJ has had a career revival of sorts with the Los Angeles Rams.
He caught 27 passes for 305 yards and pulled in five touchdowns in seven regular-season starts. That’s also translated to Rams’ wins as Los Angeles heads to the Super Bowl.
Per BetMGM, they also have the second-best odds to win it all (+200) out of the remaining four teams.
They opened the season with +2000 odds.
Rams, Beckham contract renewal likely
Even if the Rams don’t go all the way, the OBJ experiment has clearly gone well.
Consider the Matthew Stafford – Beckham connection is humming along without an entire training camp under their belts. That means next season should – in theory – be an opportunity to build off this momentum even further.
Beckham’s former club, the Browns, didn’t seem right for such a larger-than-life personality.
In the bright lights of LA – with multiple business and sponsorship opportunities available – Beckham appears to be in his element.
In other words, Beckham will also probably be keen on staying in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the franchise will likely need to decide between OBJ and star pass-rusher Von Miller. It’s unlikely the team will have enough to sign both players.
Beckham is younger, focused and revitalized in LA.
Expect the Rams to resign him instead and have great odds of making a repeat Super Bowl run in 2023.