Coaches, executives, even players will feel some heat this season, but who is under the most pressure? Our experts weigh in.
Brady Henderson, Seattle Seahawks reporter: Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi. It's not the obvious candidate, and the division probably doesn't have one. Ifedi led the league in penalties last year and has had an up-and-down first two seasons since Seattle drafted him 31st overall in 2016. Ifedi probably isn’t in any serious danger of losing his starting job anytime soon, and his salaries for the next two seasons are guaranteed as a first-round pick. But 2018 is nonetheless a pivotal season. The Seahawks will have a decision to make next offseason on whether to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, and it’s hard to imagine them doing that unless he takes a step this season. The hope is that the presence of new offensive line coach Mike Solari will help, as will Ifedi being in his second season at right tackle after starting at right guard as a rookie.
Lindsey Thiry, Los Angeles Rams reporter: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. And the seat isn’t that hot. Really, it’s only lukewarm. After a 9-7 season that included missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Carroll made several changes to his staff and made changes to the roster as the organization tries to recapture the momentum that brought it a Super Bowl title in 2014 and appearance in 2015. Star veterans are gone on defense and it remains to be seen if the Seahawks did enough on offense to provide support for Russell Wilson. If they miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season, it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s talk about the 66-year-old Carroll moving on.
Nick Wagoner, San Francisco 49ers reporter: Cardinals QB Sam Bradford. With no obvious choice among the coaches and general managers, we turn to the most high-profile position that could change hands at some point in 2018. Really, it’s just a matter of time before No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen becomes Arizona’s starter. That’s why the Cardinals traded up to get him. In the meantime, Bradford will likely get the first opportunity to hold down the job as Rosen develops. With talented weapons such as running back David Johnson and receiver Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal, Bradford is in one of the better situations he has had as a starter in the league. But if Bradford is unable to stay healthy, an issue that has loomed over his career, or struggles in the early going, Rosen could find himself behind center sooner than later.
Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals reporter: Bradford. As long as he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback. That much has been said by coach Steve Wilks. But Bradford’s job isn’t completely secure. Even if the Cardinals promised Bradford he’d start regardless of the situation this season -- as long as he can physically play -- having Rosen waiting in the wings can’t be comforting. What will be interesting to watch is whether Arizona has a quick hook with Bradford, should he or the offense start to struggle at any point.