THE 2016 SEASON unofficially kicks off in late July, when training camps open. Haven't been keeping up with league news since the clock struck zero on Super Bowl 50? Do not fret: Here are the most important story lines to know heading into camp.
1. THE RETURN GAME
Several stars will be in uniform after missing most or all of last season with injuries. The Panthers and the Packers welcome their top wideouts back from ACL tears in Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson, respectively, while quarterbacks Tony Romo (Cowboys; missed 12 games with collarbone injuries) and Joe Flacco (Ravens; six with left knee injuries) will again be under center.
2. OLD PLAYERS, NEW PLACES
How will the marquee free agents fit in with their new teams? The ones to watch: outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (now with the Raiders), defensive end Malik Jackson (Jaguars), running back Lamar Miller (Texans), cornerback Josh Norman (Redskins), quarterback Brock Osweiler [Texans] and DE Oliver Vernon (Giants).
3. 1 ... 2 ... GO!
Just as in 2015, the top two draft picks in '16 were quarterbacks. Will Jared Goff and Carson Wentz be Week 1 starters, as the Bucs' Jameis Winston and the Titans' Marcus Mariota were last year? Not likely. Case Keenum is the incumbent for the now Los Angeles Rams, while Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said Wentz, No. 3 on the depth chart, may not even be active on game days.
4. SUPER UNKNOWN
Who will be the starting QB for the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos? After Peyton Manning's retirement and Osweiler's defection to Houston ($72 million over four years), Denver is left with underachieving Mark Sanchez, 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian and '16 first-rounder Paxton Lynch, none of whom have thrown a pass for the Broncos. Good luck, Gary Kubiak.
5. CLOSE THE GATE
Last week Tom Brady dropped the appeal of his Deflategate suspension, meaning 2014 second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo will start the Patriots' first four games. He has the size, the skills, the looks and the boring quotes to transition seamlessly into Brady's spot, but can he approach his mentor's 2.85 TD/INT ratio or Super Bowl era--record .771 winning percentage?