Bell was to running backs what Aaron Rodgers was to quarterbacks in 2016

The only realistic candidate for the Bills’ franchise tag is cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The tag is expected to cost about $15 million, which could be too rich for a defense that already has devoted big money to defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and defensive end Jerry Hughes. If the Bills decide to keep quarterback Tyrod Taylor this offseason at a $15.9 million cap number in 2017, they might not have the salary-cap space to assign the franchise tag to Gilmore.

Could it work? It’s hard to see it, given how rarely the Packers dip into the free-agent market and how many questions they have to answer on their offensive line, where T.J. Lang is a free agent. They’re also not a team that would offer Peterson a boatload of carries.

Le’Veon Bell is the easy call here. Bell was to running backs what Aaron Rodgers was to quarterbacks in 2016, a wizard with the ball who shifted and cut with ease. The Steelers would be willing to let Bell play on the $12.7 million running back tag if necessary, but the tag is a placeholder for a long-term deal if it makes sense. The team won’t pay Adrian Peterson money ($14 million per year). The $9 million to $10 million range might be more feasible for both parties.

Running back situation: Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing with 560 yards, but he’s a free agent. Doug Martin and his $7 million cap hit could also be on the way out after a violation for performance-enhancing drugs last season. Charles Sims, who played only seven games in 2016, is in the final year of his contract.

Could it work? It might have been no accident that Peterson mentioned the Bucs (remember in 2015 when his agent, Ben Dogra, posed in a Tampa Bay hat next to Peterson’s jersey during his standoff with the Vikings?). They’ve got the cap space to pay him plenty of money, though an up-and-coming young team might look to stick with a back like Rodgers as it builds around quarterback Jameis Winston. Should the Buccaneers have interest, though, they’ve got the wherewithal to get Peterson.

Long described the pendulum of emotions for him.

For background: Luck’s deal averages $24.594 million; he also received $87 million in guaranteed money. I don’t know that Cousins will receive that much in guaranteed money — it was $47 million fully guaranteed at the time of signing — but the average per year? If he signs a long-term deal, that number has to be in play for a couple of reasons.

Here’s the thing, as Joel Corry (former agent who now works for CBS Sports) told me this past week: Even if Cousins tops Luck, that doesn’t mean he’ll enter next season as the highest-paid quarterback. Actually, by then he could be fourth. There’s a chance Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr all get new deals. Each one would top Luck, too. Again, this isn’t about who’s better but rather about the position they play, a rising salary cap, timing and leverage.

Long described the pendulum of emotions for him.

“It went from the worst nightmare in the world to the best dream all within an hour. You go from the lowest point of your career to the highest point of your career, just like that. It was the most insane thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he said on the Russillo and Kanell program.

Long added that one “could make the claim this is the toughest team in Super Bowl history. It’s unprecedented, that type of comeback.”

He noted that when the Patriots won the overtime coin toss and took the ball, some defensive players looked at each other on the sideline and said, “We’re not going back out there.”

Long, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, plans to keep playing in 2017.

“I’m excited for the next step,” he said. “I didn’t know coming into this year that I could still play football at a high level. I feel like I can play just as well as I did before I started getting hurt [in 2014-2015]. I’m happy to be back.”

It’s possible that Oakland will have none of its original speedsters on the roster when training camp starts this summer.

Heading into the season, the Lions were seemingly in fine shape up front, but the unit finished just south of mediocre in 2014, giving up 47 sacks and springing the running game for just 3.6 yards per carry with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. The veterans got pooped. Dominic Raiola has already been let go for being a poor center, as well as an unpleasant person. Nine-year left guard Rob Sims may be next.

What would be left are a bunch of youngsters entering, at most, their fourth season in the NFL, and that’s fine. The Dallas Cowboys’ top-notch unit was exactly the same way last season, outside of right tackle Doug Free. Travis Swanson (2014) and Larry Warford (2013) appear to be hits. If the Lions can find something other than an undrafted rookie to plug into the right tackle spot for next season, the line could be in great shape for years to come, and that would help Matthew Stafford and the offense much more than trying to give him another splashy playmaker.

We didn’t need to do much research to confirm that conclusion, but the numbers are still pretty stark when you see them in print. The Raiders picked eight of the 135 players with the fastest Combine 40 times over the last nine NFL Drafts, twice the expected rate based on all 32 teams and the most out of any team since 2006. The most surprising part might be that only three were first-round picks (Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Darren McFadden).

Only three of those eight were on the roster last year (McFadden, Tyvon Branch and Chimidi Chekwa). McFadden is an unrestricted free agent this year, and few expect him to return. Chekwa, a low-cost special teams guy, could return as a restricted free agent. Branch is the only one under contract for 2015. However, he’s seen action in a grand total of five games over the last two seasons and is owed almost $20 million over the next three years of his contract.

It’s possible that Oakland will have none of its original speedsters on the roster when training camp starts this summer.