Around the NFL: 10 Nuggets Heading into Free Agency
1. How about Roger Goodell pouring a big cup of antifreeze on everyone’s fun this past weekend? Due to a rule change that allowed teams to gauge the interest of prospective free agents, football fans hovered around Adam Schefter’s Twitter page thinking that free agency was essentially going to start at Midnight on Saturday morning. But Goodell’s memo to teams earlier that day killed everyone’s buzz. Here’s part of the memo, tweeted by Schefter that night: “Clubs are advised that prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year.” Deathly afraid of tampering, can you imagine how those conversations went on Friday night between teams and free agents? “Hi Mike Wallace, this is Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. I just wanted to call and see if you liked the color teal in combination with white and a splash of orange. Yeah, no, I’m not asking you if you want to be a member of the Dolphins. That would be tampering. I’m specifically asking you about color scheme. You do like that color scheme? How about Joe Philbin? Do you like Joe Philbin’s face? Maybe you’d like to see more of Philbin, say, on a daily basis in the fall? Grrrrrrrrreat. Do you also hate purple and the entire state of Minnesota like most reasonable human beings do? Excellent. I’ll see you and your agent at 4:00PM ET on Tuesday then…”
2. People are getting caught up in whether or not the Chiefs should draft Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick when they just placed their franchise tag on Branden Albert. While it would be unprecedented for a team to draft a right tackle with the first overall pick, it doesn’t mean that Kansas City will shy away from arguably the safest prospect in this year’s class. Albert was one of the best pass-blocking offensive tackles in the league last year, but he also missed three games due to a back injury and who knows if the Chiefs will be able to lock him up long term. They could draft Joeckel, play him at right tackle and then re-asses the situation a year from now. If Albert’s back once again becomes an issue or the two sides can’t agree on a long-term deal, then the Chiefs have their left tackle of the future in Joeckel. If they lock Albert up long-term, then at worst they have two book-end tackles for the next six-plus years. Considering defensive coordinators constantly move pass rushers around in effort to create mismatches, that’s not exactly a worst-case scenario. And with no true No. 1 overall talent in this year’s draft, there’s no reason to bypass Joeckel with the top pick just because he could wind up playing right tackle.
3. The best thing for both the Jets and Darrelle Revis is if the cornerback drops off the map and shows up to OTAs healthy and in shape. Owner Woody Johnson isn’t being cheap – he just can’t pay Revis what he wants long-term because his former GM put the team in cap hell by handing out ridiculous contracts to players like Mark Sanchez. And since the Jets can’t afford him, Revis could help himself by not destroying his own trade value. This includes avoiding telling the media that it would be “awesome” to play for the 49ers and reiterating how you want to be the highest paid defensive player in the league. Potential trade partners are already leery about Revis’ knee, parting with premium draft picks, and clearing the necessary cap space to sign him long term. He doesn’t need to provide teams with more reasons to tell the Jets ‘thanks but no thanks.’
4. Percy Harvin’s situation in Minnesota seems combustible, but GM Rick Spielman has wisely suggested that the disgruntled wide receiver isn’t going anywhere. Some fans have opined that Spielman should trade Harvin and then sign a free agent receiver like Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings. But the Vikings are on the rise and thus, parting ways with a playmaker makes little sense. He’s already under contract and the team could potentially line up next year with Harvin, Jennings, Jarius Wright, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph, as opposed to some combination of Peterson, Rudolph, Jennings, Wright and an unproven rookie. And maybe a veteran like Jennings could have a profound impact on Harvin, who has seemingly alienating himself from coaches and teammates. While the defense and offensive line proved to be underrated, the Vikings made the playoffs last year almost solely riding Peterson’s coattails. Unless the situation is so bad that the team needs to wash its hands completely of Harvin as soon as possible, addition is key – not subtraction.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Anquan Boldin, branden albert, Chicago Bears, Dannell Ellerbe, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Darrelle Revis trade, Greg Jennings, Jake Long, Kansas City Chiefs., Louis Delmas, Luke Joeckel, Mike Wallace, NFL column, NFL free agency, NFL Free agency 2013, Percy Harvin, Percy Harvin trade, Percy Harvin Vikings, Phil Emery, Reggie Bush, Roger Goodell, Steven Jackson, Steven Jackson Falcons, Wes Welker
NFL Quick-Hits: Smith dealt, Ryan’s future big pay day & more Revis mess
I. Alex Smith is a solid fit for Andy Reid’s offense in Kansas City and he truly was the best option available this offseason. Geno Smith doesn’t scream “franchise quarterback” and it would have been a tough sell to the fan base to re-install Matt Cassel as the starter while patiently waiting for a better option to come along. Smith was that better option.
That said, a second-round pick and a condition third-round selection that could turn into another second-rounder was a steep price to pay for Smith. Yes, he was having an excellent season before suffering a concussion in mid-November and yes, he should be able to effectively run Reid’s West Coast Offense. But the reason Jim Harbaugh stuck with Colin Kaepernick last season when Smith was healthy is because he knew the Niners were more explosive offensively with Kaepernick under center. Granted, Kaepernick adds another dimension by running the Pistol offense but Smith will prevent Reid from threatening opponents downfield on a consistent basis. Can the Chiefs win with Smith in the time being? Sure, but this move only delays the inevitable, which is that at some point Kansas City will need to draft and develop a young franchise quarterback for the long term.
II. Now that we know the annual average ($20.1 million) of Joe Flacco’s new deal, as well as the guaranteed portion ($52 million) and how much he’ll receive over the first three seasons of the contract ($62 million), there’s absolutely no reason why the Falcons shouldn’t re-sign Matt Ryan well before the end of the 2013 season. Flacco has eight more postseason victories under his belt, but it’s not as if Ryan is on the decline – on the contrary, he’s only going to get better. He posted career numbers last season with Michael Turner barely churning out 3.5 yards per carry. Imagine what Ryan could do against a defense that also had to worry about stopping Steven Jackson (or any other running back that didn’t have cement blocks for feet). The new floor for contracts involving franchise quarterbacks as been set following Flacco’s agreement with the Ravens. The Falcons would be wise to be proactive because with Ryan set to become a free agent in 2014, there’s no sense to wait.
III. Jake Long isn’t going to get the $11 million that he/his agent is asking for on the free agent market. He’s coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons and has also dealt with various injuries over that span. Granted, he’ll be 28 by the start of the season so if he can stay healthy he still has plenty of good years left in the tank. But in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, this was a bad year for him to hit the open market. A team would either have to be crazy or desperate to fork over $11 million per year after what Long has shown the past two seasons.
IV. This situation involving Darrelle Revis and the Jets is ugly. It’s believed that he’s seeking $16 million annually and $60 million guaranteed on his next contract, which would make him the highest paid defensive player in the league. If he holds out this summer, then the final three years of his contract won’t void and he’ll be “stuck” in New York until he becomes a free agent in 2017. Meanwhile, the Jets only have him signed through 2013 and former GM Mike Tannenbaum left the team in cap hell before he was let go at the end of the season. Thus, the Jets could trade Revis, but his value couldn’t be lower coming off knee surgery. Plus, from a scheme standpoint, Revis means more to Rex Ryan’s defense than any other player on the Jets’ roster. If you’re trying to win, it behooves you not to get rid of its best defensive player. Then again, it’s not as if the Jets are going to compete any time soon. Not with Mark Sanchez under center and an overall lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. If new GM John Idzik wanted to start fresh, trading Revis, saving the cap space and acquiring a couple of picks might not be a bad idea. (Even if the Jets aren’t getting max value on their return.)
V. The Falcons’ decision to release John Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson turned heads last week but it’s simple cost versus production. Turner no longer has the ability to create on his own and managed just 3.6 yards per carry last season. Robinson is coming off his best year in Atlanta but he’s maddeningly inconsistent in coverage and the Falcons probably could get better, cheaper production out of Brent Grimes assuming he’s healthy and they re-sign him. After racking up 10 sacks, Abraham was clearly the most productive of the three but he’s no longer an every-down player and GM Thomas Dimitroff recognizes the need to find younger pass rushers. By releasing these three players, Dimitroff created roughly $18 million in cap space. That money can be used not only to sign Matt Ryan to an extension, but also get younger and/or better at running back and up front defensively.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: Alex Smith, Alex Smith Chiefs, Alex Smith trade, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, Darrelle Revis, Darrelle Revis Jets, Darrelle Revis trade, Dunta Robinson, Geno Smith, Jake Long, Jake Long contract, Jeff Idzik, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, joe flacco contract, John Abraham, Kansas City Chiefs., Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan, Matt Ryan contract, Michael Turner, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL column, NFL free agency, NFL Free agency 2013, Steven Jackson Falcons
Offensive line has emerged as the Dolphins biggest issue
Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the issues the Dolphins have had on their O-line thus far in preseason.
Had I wrote this piece before the preseason started, I would have written it about the Dolphins’ free safety position. But considering how good Chris Clemons has looked this offseason, it would be a reach to say that safety will be a big issue for Miami in 2010. (Especially when the ultra-productive Yeremiah Bell remains the starter at strong safety.)
After watching their first three preseason games, the biggest question the Dolphins’ faithful should have is what happened to the offensive line? Once considered a strength because of how well the team could run the ball, Miami’s O-line has be incredibly suspect thus far.
Jake Long and Vernon Carey remain entrenched at the tackle positions, while Richie Incognito and John Jerry are the projected starters at left and right guard, respectively. Joe Berger is slated to start at center after beating out Jake Grove this offseason.
The biggest problem is at the two guard positions, where Incognito and Jerry haven’t been good in pass protection or run blocking. Both are getting shoved backwards at the snap, which is troubling considering the Dolphins signed Incognito this offseason because of his power and drive in the running game.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: 2010 NFL Preview, 2010 NFL Question Marks Series, 2010 NFL Season Preview, Anthony Stalter, Chris Clemons, Dolphins weakness, Jake Grove, Jake Long, Joe Berger, John Jerry, Miami Dolphins, Richie Incognito, Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell
Which position is the safest bet in the first round?
I was watching one of the many Mel Kiper and Todd McShay arguments on ESPN the other day [video], and Kiper was arguing that if McShay has Matthew Stafford ranked so high (McShay currently has Stafford ranked #8), then he should almost be a no-brainer for the Detroit Lions, who have the #1 overall pick and need a quarterback. McShay isn’t convinced that he’s a so-called “franchise” quarterback, so he says he would go another direction. (For the record, at the time Kiper called McShay “crazy” for having Stafford that high, but now he has the QB ranked #3 on his big board. It’s clear that Kiper’s pure hatred for McShay is causing him to slowly lose his mind.)
Anyway, the debate piqued my interest and got me wondering – when it comes to the first round of the NFL Draft, is one position safer than another? For example, if the Lions have three holes to fill (they have more, but bear with me) – quarterback, linebacker and tackle – and they can’t decide amongst the three players, is one position a safer pick than the other two?
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Posted in: Fantasy Football, MLB, NFL, NFL Draft
Tags: 2009 NFL Draft, Aaron Curry, Adrian Wilson, Anthony Stalter, Brett Favre, Brian Dawkins, Clint Sintim, Donovan McNabb, Drew Brees, Ed Reed, Jake Long, Jason Smith, John Paulsen, John Paulsen and Anthony Stalter, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, NFL Draft, Peyton Manning, Rey Maualuga, Tom Brady, Troy Polomalu, Vernon Gholston
2008 NFL Draft re-do
Don Banks of SI.com decided to re-do the 2008 NFL Draft after what we know now. (I.e. Matt Ryan is a freak.)
1. Miami Dolphins (Original Pick: Jake Long, OT, Michigan)
RE-DO PICK: MATT RYAN, QB, BOSTON COLLEGE
Chad Pennington has been superb, and Chad Henne is locked and loaded as the Dolphins quarterback of the future. But Ryan is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons ever by a rookie quarterback, and you don’t pass on that given a second chance. Just like Ben Roethlisberger in our inaugural re-draft of 2004, Ryan shoots to the top of the heap.
2. St. Louis Rams (Original Pick: Chris Long, DE, Virginia)
RE-DO PICK: JOE FLACCO, QB, DELAWARE
You think Flacco lingers to No. 18 on the board this time around? Uh, no. It’s a quarterbacks league, and while I’m not sure anyone could win in St. Louis about now, Marc Bulger sure isn’t getting it done. The list of teams that wished it had believed in Flacco last spring is getting longer all the time.
3. Atlanta Falcons (Original Pick: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College)
RE-DO PICK: JAKE LONG, OT, MICHIGAN
Without the Falcons getting their quarterback in this slot, they would turn to their need at left offensive tackle, where they took USC’s Sam Baker after trading back into the first round at No. 21. Long, Ryan Clady and Duane Brown have all excelled at LT this year, but the ex-Wolverine has been a solid pro.
4. Oakland Raiders (Original Pick: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas)
RE-DO PICK: CHRIS JOHNSON, RB, EAST CAROLINA
We all know Al Davis loves speed, but in Johnson he gets speed that has actually produced as a rookie. McFadden has just one 100-yard rushing game, and that came in Week 2. Johnson has been a spectacular season-long contributor to Tennessee’s overwhelmingly successful running game.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU)
RE-DO PICK: CHRIS LONG, DE, VIRGINIA
The Chiefs have gotten virtually zero impact out of Dorsey, and they sure could have used some defensive line help to offset the loss of the traded Jared Allen. Long has modest statistics, but his four sacks are a good first step in the right direction. Don’t forget it took Mario Williams until year two to find his groove.
It’s always interesting to look back at the draft every year after most of the regular season has been played out. In April, Glenn Dorsey was arguably the best defender in the draft but as Banks points out, he’s made no impact for the Chiefs. Granted, these players are just 14 weeks into their young careers so a lot could change, but how wrong was everybody (myself included) who suggested the Falcons should have taken Dorsey over Matt Ryan? It would have looked like one of the biggest draft blunders of the year, assuming of course Dorsey was equally ineffective for Atlanta.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Chris Johnson, Chris Long, Darren McFadden, Glenn Dorsey, Jake Long, Kansas City Chiefs., Matt Ryan, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, What if the Dolphins took Matt Ryan