With a few weeks to go until training camp, we’re officially in the dead month of the NFL offseason. But the season will be here before you know it, so to get you ready, here are five players who have a solid chance to win next year’s MVP award.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
It was an incredible 2018 for Mahomes, who went on to win the MVP. In his first year as the starter, he threw for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns and posted a league-leading QBR of 82.0, as well as earning a division title and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Going into the fall, questions about Tyreek Hill’s off-the-field trouble still linger, and his absence could lead to a downturn in Mahomes’ production. But with Pro Bowler Travis Kelce, an improved defense to help win games, and a future Hall of Fame coach in Andy Reid, Mahomes should once again be in the MVP conversation.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
The Browns loaded up this offseason, highlighted by their trade for star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. All this new talent, as well as a new head coach in Freddie Kitchens, should go on to help Mayfield reach new heights in 2019.
The former No. 1 overall pick had an excellent rookie campaign, throwing for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions. More impressively, in the last seven games, Mayfield ranked third in TD passes, fourth in passer rating, and first in yards-per-attempt among all QBs with 200-plus passes. This may be his time to take the leap to superstardom.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Last season, Luck came back from a season-long injury in 2017 and didn’t miss a beat. In his return to the lineup, he had the fifth-most passing yards with 4,593 and the second-most touchdowns with 39. All while leading the Colts to the playoffs following a 1-5 start.
This season, it’s fair to expect more of the same. The Colts will be favored to win the AFC South and will have a good chance to dethrone the Texans assuming they don’t have another awful start to the season. If Luck remains healthy, the Colts will be good, and his MVP chances will be even better.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
After two years of Nick Foles being the quarterback to finish out the season in Philadelphia, this is officially Wentz’s team once again. With Foles’ departure, the Eagles gave Wentz a four-year, $128 million extension, despite an ACL injury in 2017 and back injury last year.
While it’s a risk, it’s also easy to forget how dominant Wentz was in 2017. In 13 games, he threw for nearly 3,300 yards and had 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, and was considered the MVP-favorite before going down. But he’s finally healthy, the Eagles have upgraded their offense in multiple areas, and now it’s time to see if Wentz is ready to carry them to another Super Bowl.
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Donald is the first non-QB on this list, and likely the only defensive player who may warrant any MVP consideration. But the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is an enormous impact player ready to once again make the Rams a Super Bowl contender.
In 2018, Donald recorded a league-leading 20.5 sacks, a mark that no other interior defensive lineman has ever reached. He is the best defensive lineman, and possibly defensive player, in the NFL. Should he be the focal point of a Rams defense that has the potential to be great, Donald might get some MVP love when it’s all said and done.
NFL training camps will begin in about a month, with preseason games starting up in the second week of August. Football season is just around the corner!