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2024 AFC East burning questions: Jets’ Aaron Rodgers ready to rebound? Dolphins to extend Tua before season?

The NFL is just about in its dead period on the calendar. While teams are still going through OTAs and minicamps over these next few days and weeks, the main pillars of roster building this offseason have already come and gone. Still, this doesn’t mean there aren’t questions hovering over each franchise. Position battles are still on the horizon, updates on contracts and injuries need to unfold and a lot more.Β 

With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at the AFC East and identify one burning question that remains with each club.Β 

Is Keon Coleman ready for a heavy workload?

The Buffalo Bills turned their wide receiver room on its head this offseason. The club let Gabe Davis walk in free agency to ultimately sign with the Jaguars and then they pulled off a stunning trade that sent Stefon Diggs out of town to Houston. That leaves the cupboard pretty bare with Buffalo’s receiver depth chart. The club brought in veteran pass catchers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Curtis Samuel, and Mack Hollins, but none provide the upside that Diggs brought to the table. That responsibility to add a high ceiling to the room could fall on the shoulders of rookie Keon Coleman, who was drafted atop the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft out of FSU.Β 

With Diggs and Davis gone, that puts 241 targets up for grabs from last season. Sure, those veterans along with tight end Dalton Kincaid (91 targets last season) will likely take a slice out of that target share, but Coleman will be given the opportunity to take the lion’s share. If he can produce with that heavy workload, he’ll help put Buffalo in a position for another deep playoff run. However, if the rookie struggles, it could leave the Bills offense somewhat limited.Β 

When is Tua Tagovailoa’s contract extension coming?

The Miami Dolphins have a decision to make with Tua Tagovailoa. The quarterback is heading into the final year of his rookie deal after the team picked up his fifth-year option last offseason. Beyond 2024, however, Tagovailoa’s future is an unknown. Sure, the Dolphins could elect to take Tagovailoa down a path similar to what Lamar Jackson, Dak PrescottΒ and Kirk Cousins followed in their careers and look to franchise tag him after this year, but it wouldn’t come without some drama that could bleed in throughout the regular season.Β 

The 26-year-old is coming off his best season of his career in 2023 where he enjoyed highs in passing touchdowns (29) and completion percentage (69.3) along with leading the league in passing yards (4,624). Most importantly, Tagovailoa played in all 17 games for the first time in his career after missing a total of 11 games in his first three seasons. Are the Dolphins willing to back up the Brink’s truck after that season and be the latest team to hand a quarterback a monster extension? Or do they want to see Tagovailoa replicate what they saw in 2023 before they tag and extend him next spring?Β 

Is Aaron Rodgers ready for a Year 2 rebound with New York?

I’m bullish on the New York Jets in 2024. Even in a conference that features teams led byΒ Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe BurrowΒ and other elite quarterbacks, I think they have the makings of a surprise team to come out of the AFC and reach the Super Bowl. That’s thanks to a stellar and explosive defense along with some young pieces on offense. They also addressed some of their biggest needs this offseason along the offensive line with three starting-caliber tackles.Β 

Of course, a big reason why New York’s ceiling is so high is due to the presence of Aaron Rodgers. We were unable to see what Rodgers’ tenure with the Jets could be in Year 1 after he tore his Achilles just four snaps into his season. That sent the Jets down a familiar path of mediocrity, but the arrow is pointing up now that Rodgers is set to rebound in 2024.Β 

What kind of player are we getting with Rodgers, though? Yes, he’s an all-time great quarterback earmarked for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but he’s also a 40-year-old man coming off a torn Achilles. He said at Jets OTAs that he feels “90% myself and 10% not sure what’s going on with various parts of my body.” If that’s the case, a 90% version of Aaron Rodgers is better than any quarterback the Jets have had under center in decades and should push for the playoffs. However, if those percentages start to dip in the other direction, it could be another unfortunate chapter in the team’s history.Β 

Who will be the starting left tackle?

For most, the biggest question for the Patriots is probably centered around when we’ll see Drake Maye ascend to QB1 on the depth chart. However, I’d argue that one thing needs to be sorted out before that conversation can even take place: Who is the left tackle? The Patriots don’t have a clear answer at blindside tackle, which doesn’t exactly fill you with optimism for the development of Maye.Β 

The team signed former Steeler Chukwuma Okorafor in free agency and drafted Caedan Wallace in the third round of the NFL Draft out of Penn State. Okorafor has primarily been a right tackle throughout his time in the NFL and Wallace was also predominantly on the right side at the collegiate level, so either one will be going through quite the transition flipping positions. This will be a central storyline throughout training camp and could directly link to when we see Maye on the field. If New England’s seeing the blindside struggle, Jacoby Brissett may be the better option to endure that rather than denting the development of Maye, especially with pass-rushing teams like the Jets and 49ers on the docket in the first month of the year.Β 

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Author: Tyler Sullivan
June 3, 2024 | 10:15 am

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