It’s that time of the year again, when anything that happens in Organized Team Activities is considered headline-worthy material. As the NFL offseason heats up, it’s a good time to speculate on what will transpire before the preseason kicks off in late summer. With that being said, let’s look at three players, who have a lot to gain in the preseason cycles with their respective teams.
QB Ryan Mallett
The Houston Texans passed on selecting a quarterback in the recent draft, leaving Ryan Mallett and newcomer Brian Hoyer as the top options to fill in the job left by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Mallett has the most to gain here. If he works himself past Hoyer on the depth chart and strings together a few strong starts. Mallet is a free agent in the next offseason, so any degree of even unsustainable success would force a team to pay him without a large sample size.
QB E.J. Manuel
Forgive the Texans for having a lackluster quarterback battle. What’s compelling, though, is the jostling of Buffalo’s four quarterbacks for the right to be the team’s lead signal-caller next season. Of the four Bills quarterbacks (Manuel, Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel), Manuel has the most to prove this 2015 NFL season. Manuel is in the third year of his four-year rookie contract with the Bills, and whether he’ll be the team’s franchise quarterback is something that remains to be seen. With veteran Matt Cassell in tow, Manuel will need to show he can be more consistent than he’s been thus far in the NFL to hold down the job. Current NFL Week 1 odds put the Bills as 2.5-point home underdogs against the Colts.
RB Darren McFadden (Dallas Cowboys)
Despite the departure of DeMarco Murray in free agency, the Cowboys showed no signs of urgency to add bodies in the backfield during the recent NFL Draft—not one of their eight draft picks was a running back. Instead, the Cowboys inked Darren McFadden to a two-year, $3-million deal this offseason. McFadden is obviously not on the same level as Murray, but he’s the favorite in the Cowboys’ clique of running backs that includes Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, and Joseph Randle to be the team’s top tailback this coming season. Nevertheless, McFadden will have to prove that he’s the best choice for Dallas in the training camp if he wants to maximize his earnings in the latter half of his career.