The offseason is an exciting time for NFL fans because free agency and the draft bring new faces and fresh talent to their favorite teams. While fans see the new additions as signs of hope, however, some veterans undoubtedly see them as competition.
The Atlanta Falcons brought in veteran cornerback Justin Bethel this offseason to provide depth in their secondary. Bethel, who appeared in all 16 games in each of the past six seasons with the Cardinals, has been named to three Pro Bowls as a special teams player and made 14 starts over the past three seasons.
Because most of the participants are either undrafted free agents or rookie tryout invitees looking for a big break, there is desperation to impress coaches. They also are not afforded the same payment luxuries if injured as the draft picks.
Former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said once it became his policy to hold draft picks out of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in rookie minicamp after second-round pick Brian Price suffered a gruesome hamstring injury that limited him to five games and sidetracked his career.
The Los Angeles Chargers already restructured the contract of defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who will be suspended for the first four games of 2018. This means his starting spot is likely safe upon his return.
Things aren’t quite as certain for fellow starter Brandon Mebane.
The longtime veteran is 33 years old, which puts him on the back end of his career. He’s also part of the defensive line that allowed an NFL-high 4.9 yards per carry last season.
It makes some sense for the Chargers to want to keep Mebane, especially with Liuget out for the first month. However, Los Angeles does have young defensive linemen like Darius Philon and rookie third-round pick Justin Jones.