Chad Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace & more NFL Quick-Hits

Every Sunday our NFL columnist Anthony Stalter provides his quick-hits from the week that was in the NFL.

Did this Mike Wallace situation escalate or what?
Last Wednesday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers had broken off contract talks with Wallace until he signs his one-year, $2.472 million tender and reports to the team. That same evening, Mike Tomlin held a press conference and said that the situation is “bigger than Wallace” and that he was going to go work with Emmaunel Sanders “because he’s here, and be exited about doing it.” Two days later, the Steelers hand $42.5 million to Wallace’s teammate Antonio Brown, which wasn’t a message to Wallace as much as it was a statement that the team wasn’t playing around. Reports have also surfaced that Wallace rejected a contract offer in the five-year, $50 million range and that he could be traded during camp. But a trade is going to be incredibly difficult because no team will want to surrender a first-round pick for Wallace this offseason and keep in mind that the Steelers only received a fifth-rounder for Santonio Holmes (who was a Super Bowl MVP, mind you). Thus, it appears as though Wallace has two choices: Play for just over $2 million this season or holdout, which really doesn’t help him achieve what he wants (that being a long-term deal). At this point, the Steelers are in complete control. If Wallace signs his tender, reports to camp and is motivated to stick it up Pittsburgh’s ass, then the Steelers win. If he doesn’t report, then the Steelers are already preparing for life after Mike Wallace.

Chad Johnson appears to be a tad delusional.
While speaking to the media earlier this week, Johnson predicted a “monster” season for himself this year in Miami and then essentially blamed his poor performance last season on the Patriots. Said the Twitter artist formerly known as Ochocinco: “My personality was controlled last year. You perform. It’s never been vindictive. I never got anybody in trouble.” He went on: “The didn’t hear me at all last year. Zero. Zilch. When my mouth is running, it forces me to stuff that I do well, I do extremely well. The Pats know what I do well. You put that player in position to make those same plays he’s been making his whole career. It’s not rocket science.”

Let’s keep in mind that Bill Belichick and the Patriots coveted Johnson. It’s not like they grabbed him off the scrap heap and paid him the veteran minimum – they gave up a fifth and a sixth round pick because they thought he could still play. What they quickly found out is that they acquired damaged goods. According to a report by the Bengals’ official website back in June, T.J. Houshmandzadeh used to tell Johnson where to line up on offense when the two were in Cincinnati. And around that same time, multiple sources told the Boston Globe that Johnson just didn’t have the “football I.Q.” to succeed with the Patriots, who used to tell him to run a route a certain way and he would do the opposite. New England also gave him the benefit of the doubt by keeping him on their roster until this spring when it was clear that he still hadn’t fully grasped the offseason. So it’s a little arrogant on Johnson’s part to blame his poor 2011 on the Patriots because they didn’t let him be him. Belichick’s rigid ways may have had some negative impact on Johnson’s play but his declining skills are mostly to blame for his one-year stop in New England.

What exactly is Dwayne Bowe’s game plan here?
He took exception to the Chiefs slapping him with their franchise tag earlier this year, so he skipped OTAs and minicamp in efforts to voice his displeasure with the situation. But now that he’s no longer eligible for a long-term deal, why skip training camp? Why not sign the one-year tender and play for $9.5 million guaranteed? I get it – if you’re Bowe, why bust your butt in training camp if you can show up for Week 1 and make the same amount of money. But he’s not endearing himself to the Chiefs or other teams by skipping training camp. Look, there are no guarantees in life. Bowe could get hurt in training camp or on the first snap of the regular season. He could also go on to have a great season without taking one practice rep, assuming pf course that he even shows up for the regular season. But if the ultimate goal is to receive a long-term contract, then why drive another stake between yourself and the people who can accomplish that objective? If you want your bosses to give you a raise, or if you want to make yourself more attractive to the competition, you don’t stop driving into the office.

Here’s an idea to end the stalemate between Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars.
It would appear as though the only way the situation will be resolved is if the two sides come to some sort of compromise. He is the Jacksonville offense but the Jaguars hold all the leverage right now. He’s under contract for the next two years and the team doesn’t want to set a precedent for paying players with more than one year remaining on their deals (which makes sense). I don’t write contracts for a living but one would think that if the Jaguars would be willing to make at least some of his current deal guaranteed, MJD would report to camp with a slight raise. If not, then the Jaguars might as well keep fining him until he shows up because with or without him, they’re not going to challenge for a postseason berth this season. Besides, in 2009 the Jaguars and MJD agreed to a fair contract. The team expected him to be this good, which is why they invested so much money in him then. For him to turn around and now try to hold the team hostage for more money is slightly ridiculous. Thus, if the two sides can come to some sort of compromise that makes all parties happy and gets MJD to camp, that would appear to be the best solution.

It would be a mistake if soon-to-be Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III let Mike Holmgren go.
Poor ownership, failed player evaluation and scouting, and bad hiring decisions have all contributed to the lack of success that Cleveland has had over the years. But a lack of vision, continuity, and cohesion has been the biggest reason the Browns have suffered through a decade of losing. Holmgren’s first two years in Cleveland haven’t been very successful but there’s excitement building thanks to the first-round selections of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. Holmgren knows how to build a winner, as he did so he Green Bay and Seattle before Cleveland hired him as its team president back in 2010. It’s understandable if Haslam wants to bring in his own people but to fire Holmgren and start over isn’t a move that brings the Browns closer to competing. This is a team that has lacked vision and while Holmgren hasn’t done enough to earn his new boss’s trust, Haslam owes it to the fan base in Cleveland to keep the train on the tracks.

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Holmgren officially makes first horrible decision with Cleveland

Jake Delhomme must have comprising photos of Mike Holmgren, because that’s the only logical explanation as to why the Browns are set to pay the former Panther QB $7 million in 2010.

I’m trying to give Holmgren the benefit of the doubt in his first season with the Browns, even though some of the decisions thus far have been a little head scratching. But this latest move is making it awfully hard for me to do that. There’s absolutely no reason to give a washed up Jake Delhomme $7 million, because chances are high that no other team would have. This kind of financial commitment signals that Holmgren wants Delhomme to be his starter in 2010, which is absolutely ludicrous.

Delhomme was so bad last year that he made guys like Kerry Collins, Shaun Hill and whatever puss the Bills trotted onto the field look good. While he did turn in good efforts against the Falcons (twice) and Redskins, the rest of Delhomme’s season was highly forgettable. His skills have obviously deteriorated and his 8:18 touchdown to interception ratio proves that his decision-making isn’t quite up to par these days either. He was absolutely brutal against the Eagles in the opener and in his last game as a starter against the Jets. In fact, he was so bad against New York that most people figured that he had taken his last snap as a regular starter in the NFL. Most people outside of Holmgren, that is.

I’m willing to bet that Seneca Wallace beats out Delhomme in preseason and becomes the Browns’ starting quarterback for 2010. And if that happens, then Holmgren’s decision to give Delhomme $7 mil will look even worse. I just don’t get it. I don’t get what Holmgren saw in Delhomme last year that made him believe that he could be his starting quarterback in 2010. The only thing I can think of is that Holmgren is trying to submarine Eric Mangini so that he can get rid of him after 2010. Because there’s no way Mangini will succeed if Delhomme winds up being the starter.

Oh, and Rick Smith has my vote for 2010 Agent of the Year. Delhomme will make $19.7 million this season, which is so unbelievable that I might pass out on my keyboard before I complete this sentenohowg1hglwerkgh.gr…#


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Report: John Fox is interested in Browns’ job

According to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Panthers’ head coach John Fox is reportedly “very interested” in the Browns’ job if it becomes available this offseason.

1. Fox is “very interested” in the possibility, according to a league source.

2. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson would be willing to arrive at a contract settlement to get out of the $6 million owed Fox for the 2010 season.

3. Richardson, seeing a potential owners’ lockout in 2011, would not replace Fox with Bill Cowher, but might promote from within.

4. Behind the scenes, most if not all of Mike Holmgren’s coaching and executive “ready lists” are made up of clients of agent Bob LaMonte. Fox is in that stable.

This doesn’t make sense to me. Why would Richardson allow Fox to go if he wasn’t going to replace him with Cowher? The Panthers have been the model of inconsistency under Fox over the past couple years, but his teams always play hard and usually find a way to finish respectable. So why allow Fox to jettison if Cowher (who has been linked to Carolina before) wasn’t going to be his replacement? (Unless there’s an internal candidate that Richardson really wants to promote that I’m just not aware of.)

The Browns have an interesting dilemma on their hands with Eric Mangini. Cleveland finished the season winning four in a row, including a 13-6 victory over the defending champion Steelers in mid December. But this was also the same team that looked completely inept for 13 weeks under Mangini, so why should Holmgren believe that Mangini has the Browns heading in the right direction? Four wins over the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars is nice, but that’s the only thing they were: Four wins over the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars.

We’ll see if there’s any teeth to this Fox rumor and monitor Holmgren’s big decision regarding Mangini.


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Mike Holmgren named Browns club president

Mike Holmgren has accepted the Browns’ offer to become the team’s new club president, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Holmgren said on his weekly radio show last Friday that if he took the job, he’d give Browns coach Eric Mangini a chance to prove himself. He said “it’s not fair” to come in and fire a coach after one season, but that he understands sometimes tough decisions aren’t fair.

A league source said Lerner was hoping that whoever he brought in would see that Mangini’s plan was working — and there’s been evidence of that in recent weeks, including back-to-back victories over Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Mangini also has the support of executive advisor Jim Brown, who said he deserves to keep his job.

Terms of Holmgren’s deal were not disclosed, but previous reports estimated it could be around $5 million a year. On Saturday, Holmgren turned down an offer for a high-level post with the Seahawks, which, according to the Seattle Times, was the president’s role.

Holmgren now has decide whether or not to give Mangini a chance to prove himself past one season, or start fresh and hire someone new to coach his team. It’s human nature to want to start with a clean slate, so I would imagine that Holmgren will let Mangini go and hire someone who is familiar with the West Coast Offense (the offense Holmgren ran in his coaching career). But then again, who knows – maybe Holmgren sees that Mangini has the Browns moving in the right direction and values him as an asset.

Regardless of what he decides to do with Mangini, this was absolutely the right hire by the Browns. Holmgren has already proven that he can win in this league and Cleveland needs someone that can build from the ground up. Great hire.

Report: Mangini could be out if Holmgren is hired

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that if the Browns hire Mike Holmgren to run the football operations in Cleveland, head coach Eric Mangini would likely be shown the door.

Holmgren, retired for a year and nearing the end of his football career, likely would want a fresh direction for the team and his own coach. Specifically, he is likely to reach back to his Bill Walsh/West Coast family tree for his coach, seeking someone who shares the same philosophies, terminology, vernacular and football ideology.

Mangini comes from the Bill Belichick/Bill Parcells tree, which is the inverse as Walsh’s tree in many ways. Mangini also has been a controversial figure in Cleveland during his one year there, making it all the more likely that a new president might want to start from scratch with the coaching staff.

When Parcells got to Miami, he immediately fired Cam Cameron, who had only been the Dolphins’ head coach for one brutal season. It didn’t make sense for Parcells to retain Cameron when he wanted one of his guys (Tony Sparano) to run the team. The same could be said for Holmgren. If he doesn’t think Mangini is a fit, there’s no sense wasting another year to see if the two could work together. Cut bait and move on.

Since Holmgren is a West Coast guy, some of the names being thrown around as an eventual replacement for Mangini include Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci (meh), Jim Zorn (ugh), Dick Jauron (ugh!) and Marty Mornhinweg (ugh!!). If I were a Cleveland fan, the only person that I would want to see walking the sidelines in that group is Gruden, although Mariucci wouldn’t be a horrible choice. The other three – Zorn, Jauron and Mornhinweg – have proven that they make better coordinators than head coaches.

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