Twenty of the NFL's 32 teams kicked off organized team activities (OTAs) this week, with more soon to follow. It's one of the clearest demarcations between the stretches of offseason focused on roster construction and season preparation. And it's a chance to reassess some of the biggest stories around the league ahead of the 2023 season.
Here are some of the top storylines to follow, now that most teams are actually back on the field:
Aaron Rodgers begins piloting the Jets
After 18 years with the Packers, the future Hall of Famer is ending a recent streak of OTA absences to take center stage in the New Jersey area, where he and reunited pal Nathaniel Hackett are busy prepping the quarterback's Gang Green debut. Every practice rep matters when you're swapping teams for the first time in almost two decades, and the 39-year-old Rodgers figures to use the spring to feel out a new-look receiving corps headlined by Garrett Wilson, Mecole Hardman and ex-Packers target Allen Lazard.
Rodgers did leave the field early Tuesday as he "tweaked" his calf. The veteran says he.
Jordan Love takes command of Packers' huddle
It's the 1B of Rodgers-related storylines. After three years sitting behind A-Rod, the former first-round pick is finally taking the reigns atop the QB depth chart. Love has handled first-team work in the spring before, but this time, it'll carry into the summer and fall. Still just 24, his chemistry with an equally youthful pass-catching corps could help determine how much coach Matt LaFleur needs to lean on the ground game going into the season.
Calvin Ridley debuts as Jaguars' new WR1
A year after Christian Kirk made waves for his lucrative deal as Jacksonville's new target for Trevor Lawrence, Ridley is seizing the headlines after making his first appearance in teal threads. The former Falcons standout is expected to play a massive role for Lawrence after serving a full-season suspension in 2022, so long as he builds a good rapport with the ascending QB.
Lamar Jackson begins post-contract tour
After skipping the first day of OTAs, the Ravens' star QB reported for duty on Tuesday. It marks the first time Jackson has taken the field on something under than a rookie contract in Baltimore. Now sporting a record $260 million deal that (at least briefly) makes him the league's highest-paid player at his position, the former MVP is facing pressure not only to live up to the money but rebound from back-to-back injury-riddled seasons -- all while learning a new system from coordinator Todd Monken, alongside new weapons like Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie receiver Zay Flowers.
Bryce Young leads rookie QBs on track to start
The No. 1 overall pick has echoed Panthers brass in suggesting he's got to earn the starting job out of the gate, but already the Alabama product is a front-runner to open his rookie campaign under center. When Carolina kicked off OTAs on Monday, Young took the majority of first-team reps, with veteran counterpart Andy Dalton admitting the starting title is only his for so long. The Texans' C.J. Stroud (No. 2 overall) also figures to overtake vets Case Keenum and Davis Mills for Houston's top job. The Colts' Anthony Richardson (No. 4) is more of a mystery; team owner Jim Irsay has already said the rookie will start in 2023, but he's considered the most unpolished passer of the group, with Gardner Minshew in place as a potential Week 1 placeholder.
Big-name Cardinals awaiting flight elsewhere
Arizona's new regime is just getting underway, but coach Jonathan Gannon may not have two of the roster's most accomplished players -- in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and safety Budda Baker -- anytime soon, or ever. Both Pro Bowlers were absent to start OTAs, and both have been popular subjects of trade speculation. Hopkins, in particular, has repeatedly left the door open for a move to a new team, and it's possible a contender like the Bills or Chiefs could look to make him a splashy summer addition.
Bill O'Brien begins Patriots' QB reclamation project
Maybe that's an exaggeration of the state of their QB room, headlined by 2021 first-rounder Mac Jones, but Jones' drop-off from a relatively promising rookie year was steep. Since young backup Bailey Zappe's brief stint as a replacement, coach Bill Belichick has repeatedly teased the idea of benching Jones for good. O'Brien knows a thing or two about overseeing top-level QB play, but it remains to be seen how much he alone can elevate a group that relies more on elite protection and timing than off-script ability.
Giants experimenting with return specialists
It says something about how far New York has come since the entry of Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen that the Giants' big spring concern isn't really how well QB Daniel Jones is holding up. Truth be told, there are plenty of questions about the durability of his new weaponry, which includes ex-Raiders tight end Darren Waller. But a big talking point as the G-Men began practice was the deployment of cornerback Adoree' Jackson and rookie WR Jalin Hyatt as punt returners; Jackson suffered a costly injury while manning the role in 2022, while Hyatt could prove to be an invaluable piece of the offense for Jones.