Arena football might not have the popularity, following, or sheer resources, money, and influence that the NFL has, but it still has a robust and rabidly loyal fanbase. While, at the time of writing, the league is in its offseason, that doesn’t mean dedicated fans aren’t paying attention. The 2017 arena football outlook is shaping up, and fans of the sport are certainly paying attention.

Even though teams might not take their respective fields of play during the offseason, there’s still plenty going on that fans can follow that impacts the 2017 arena football outlook. Which players are going to retire after the end of any season is almost the first thing to impact a team’s outlook. Other players that are free agents might also impact the team if they depart for another franchise or even another league, but this can sometimes be offset by new free agent signings or other uses of the payroll or salary cap freed up by departures.

The offseason is a necessary time for some players to stop licking their wounds and actually heal and recuperate. Surgical procedures that are either necessary or just good ideas happen often in the early offseason so that players have time to recover, rehab, and then still get into playing shape before the next season starts.

We spoke with a fan who owns an air duct cleaning company (http://www.alpineaircare.com) who used to be a player, and he was saying that many players rely on the offseason to improve their personal skills or individual game, since there’s so little time to do it in the regular season. Of course teams can improve themselves through free agent signings, trades, and even the annual draft of rookies from the amateur ranks.

The champions are rarely decided before the end of the actual playing season, but the offseason often determines which teams are primed to make a run for it.