Give or take a certain disgruntled league MVP, NFL training camps will reach full capacity Tuesday when the final 29 teams join the Cowboys, Steelers and defending champion Buccaneers by reporting for the sweaty summer runup to the 2021 season.
With 90-man rosters, the NFL has 2,879 players not named Aaron Rodgers. But, sorry guys, all your fiddles finish runner-up to the Big Cheesehead's arrival or lack thereof in Green Bay.
Still, the story lines beyond the Battle of Green Bay are aplenty.
First and foremost, can soon-to-be-44-year-old Tom Brady and the Bucs be the first repeat champions since 36-year-old Tom Brady and the Patriots did it in 2004?
Secondly, can the Chiefs protect Patrick Mahomes and reach a third consecutive Super Bowl? Can the Saints win without Drew Brees? Can the Steelers still win with Ben Roethlisberger? Will the Cowboys ever win with Dak Prescott?
Here are one person's top five story lines heading into the start of training camps:
1. Will Rodgers report to Green Bay and blame the media?
Prediction: Yes. The war between Rodgers and the Packers is being fought through media surrogates. Say nothing, leak everything and in the event of a stalemate agree to save face and move on by blaming the media for blowing things out of proportion.
Rodgers recently turned down an extension that would have made him the highest-paid player in the league. Don't be surprised if he gets more money up front to soothe his giant ego and is gone before draft day, when the Packers can get more for him. Poor Aaron. Must be tough having a GM that goes 26-6 with back-to-back trips to the NFC Championship Game. Must be tough playing for one of the best young offensive coaches in the league.
No, Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur aren't perfect. Neither is Rodgers. (Should have run it on third down, Aaron.) The Packers are bigger than Rodgers. Heck, the Packers were bigger than Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre. They have existed for more than 100 years. Rodgers appears to think he is bigger than the Packers. That he should have control of personnel decisions. Please. If Favre had control in 2005, Rodgers wouldn't have been drafted. How'd that work out? Nearly 30 years of QB bliss.
If Rodgers had control in 2019, Jordan Love wouldn't have been drafted. Who knows how that will work out, but so far the Packers have reached two consecutive NFC title games while having more than enough time to groom a cap-friendly first-round talent to take them into a fourth decade of stability at the game's most important position. Not a bad plan, especially if Rodgers shows up, blames the media and wins a Super Bowl this year.
2. Will Brady and the Bucswin it all again?
Prediction: No. No way. Can't happen again. Right?
Well … Just don't bet against them. Brady is the master of physical fitness, but he might be even better at mental manipulation. He has won seven Super Bowls and played in 10 of them, yet the undisputed GOAT still creates wonderfully effective perceptions of slights and snubs against him and his teammates.
Five months ago, the Bucs executed a Super Bowl beatdown of the Chiefs in Tampa Bay. Despite the salary cap going down and several key contracts expiring, the Bucs somehow managed to bring all 22 starters back. The last time a reigning Super Bowl champion returned all 22 starters was 1979 when the Steelers successfully defended their title.
3. Will the Chiefsbe able to protect Mahomes?
Prediction: Yes. Not even all-world magician Patrick Mahomes could escape brutal punishment behind the makeshift offensive line the Chiefs put on the field in Super Bowl LV. Instead of celebrating a 14-2 season and a second straight championship, the Chiefs were sent scrambling into an offseason rebuild of their offensive line.
GM Brett Veach responded aggressively, using free agency, a blockbuster trade and the draft to protect Mahomes and allow Andy Reid's group of ridiculously fast skill players do their thing. Kansas City will have five new starters up front. Former Patriots lineman Joe Thuney, the best free-agent guard available, signed a five-year, $80 million deal. A first-round pick was traded for Ravens star left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. And second-round pick Creed Humphrey could become an immediate anchor at center.
4. Which new quarterbackhas the most pressure?
Answer: Matthew Stafford. At least 11 teams will have new starting QBs. Make it 12 if native Minnesotan Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the draft, can overtake Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.
Stafford, who never won a playoff game in 12 years with the Lions, is now expected to win a Super Bowl with a Rams team that's swinging for the fences. The Rams sent two first-round picks, a third-round pick and former first overall pick Jared Goff to the Lions for Stafford. No pressure there, Matthew.
Meanwhile, Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill will replace Brees. Carson Wentz got shipped from Philly to Indy, where he replaces the retired Philip Rivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick landed in Washington, his ninth NFL team. Andy Dalton will try and probably fail by midseason to hold off rookie Justin Fields as the starter in Chicago. The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, the Broncos for Teddy Bridgewater. The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to replace Deshaun Watson, who might never play another down for Houston. And, of course, a new era begins in Jacksonville with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Taking over a Jags team that's riding a 15-game losing streak is Urban Meyer. Meyer makes his NFL debut after losing only 32 games in 17 seasons as a college coach.
5. Is this Russell Wilson'slast stand in Seattle?
Prediction: Yes. Remember when Wilson was the league's most disgruntled player? Way back about four months ago? Rodgers took over the headlines and all the air in the room, but Wilson still isn't happy heading into his 10th season in Seattle.
What a shame. He has never missed a game. Never had a losing season. Owns a Super Bowl ring. Has missed the playoffs only once. And plays for Pete Carroll, an elite coach beloved by players. A year ago, Wilson was striding toward his first MVP — or at least his first career vote for MVP — when he imploded in a flurry of turnovers in back-to-back games against the Bills and Rams.
Wilson has a no-trade clause but told the Seahawks early in the offseason he would accept a trade to Dallas, Chicago, Las Vegas or New Orleans. The Bears went after him hard but failed. Wilson reportedly wants the offense to run through him in part because he has been sacked an average of 44 times a season.
Wilson had just turned 25 when he won his Super Bowl. He had just turned 26 when he played in his second Super Bowl. Everyone was giddy. Since then, Seattle is 3-5 in the postseason and a long way from being giddy. Russell and the Seahawks have one year to change that. Anything short of a Super Bowl victory probably won't do it.