Quick Hits: Bill Belichick only pays half price for his talent

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco gestures to a teammate from the sidelines during the second half of the Bengals’ NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Maryland October 11, 2009. REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

In Friday’s Quick-Hits, I discuss the one big difference between the Redskins and Patriots (besides you know, that whole winning thing), Chris Johnson’s second holdout in as many years, the narrowing race to sign Nnamdi Asomugha, and the reuniting of Roy Williams and Mike Martz. Plus Vince Young, the Bucs and more.

– In the wake of the Patriots acquiring Chad Ochocinco from the Bengals, MMA Blitz writer and fellow TSR contributor Drew Ellis texted me this last night: “Is it just me or are the Patriots turning into the Redskins?” I get his point. The Patriots have never been worried about “name” talent; Bill Belichick just plugs players into his schemes and they win. But besides the obvious differences (like winning), the main reason the Patriots and Redskins are different is because Belichick never pays full price for anything. What did he give up to acquire Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth the last two days? Two fifth round picks and a sixth-rounder? That’s nothing. That’s three special teamers or camp bodies in exchange for a receiver who absolutely loves Belichick and one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game when he’s motivated. On the flip side, the Redskins have paid out the ass for veteran talent and haven’t gotten anything to show for it. As I texted Drew, Belichick doesn’t take a dump in the morning without having a game plan. These moves will pan out – I guarantee it.

– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Titans need to pony up and pay Chris Johnson, who will not report to camp on Friday says beat writer Jim Wyatt. Johnson has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL the past few seasons and he’s only 25. That means he has four or five more productive seasons left in him, so why Tennessee would dick around now is beyond me. They’re going to need this kid when Jake Locker is ready to take over the offense and is looking around for help. And seeing as how Kenny Britt probably won’t be around in another year or two, giving CJ a five-year deal makes a lot of sense.

– The race to sign Nnamdi Asomugha is apparently down to two teams according to NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi. Apparently some players in Dallas (with Tony Romo being one of them) are willing to restructure their deals in order to land the top corner on the market, while the Jets have made some moves in the past 24 hours to help clear cap space. (They released Mark Brunell and waived CB Will Billingsley and G Marlon Davis.) If it’s down to the Cowboys and Jets, I think New York walks away the winner. But I’m also the guy who predicted that he would land with the Bucs so…Dallas it is.

– The Bears have reunited Roy Williams with his former coordinator Mike Martz after signing the receiver to a two-year deal. It’s a nice fit given how productive Williams was under Martz in Detroit. It’s funny though, I have often wondered whether or not Williams could get any slower and the Bears have provided the answer. His speed should transfer real nice onto that dirt patch Chicago calls a field.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young (10) signs autographs for fans after a 24-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals of an NFL pre-season game at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee on August 23, 2010. (UPI Photo/Frederick Breedon IV)

Vince Young did the right thing signing a one-year deal with the Eagles. There was no market for him as a starter, so he might as well go to a place where the coaching staff is excellent and he can learn from a guy in Michael Vick (who obviously had to do some growing up himself). Besides, Vick always gets hurt once or twice a year so maybe if V.Y. turns in a solid preseason and fills in admirably for Vick, there will be a market for him next offseason.

– Let me get this straight: the Bucs want nothing to do with Nnamdi Asomugha but they hand free agent punter Michael Koenen $19.5 million, with $6.5 million guaranteed? Koenen is one of the best in the league but it’s a little befuddling why Tampa would pony up that much for a punter instead of at least kicking the tires on Asomugha (especially given Aqib Talib’s legal issues). My God, man.

– For the past two years I have wondered why the Saints were so willing to push Reggie Bush out the door. He said he was willing to take a paycut to stay in NOLA, so why not keep the versatile playmaker around as a role player? But the deal they just made for Darren Sproles was solid. The Saints have averaged more yards and points with Bush out of the lineup than with him in it, and they essentially just filled his role with a cheaper option in Sproles. Oh, and New Orleans also received a late-round pick and a 22-year-old special teams ace in Jonathon Amaya for Bush when they sent him to Miami. Nice work this offseason, Mickey Loomis.

– Here’s my off-the-cuff prediction of the day: Osi Umenyiora winds up in Atlanta after the Giants cut him.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2011 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Where will Nnamdi Asomugha land?

Seattle Seahawks Golden Tate (81) can’t hold on to a Matt Hasselbeck pass as Oakland Raiders Nnamdi Asomugha (21) defends in the second quarter at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on October 31, 2010. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 33-3. UPI/Terry Schmitt

With the lockout in the rearview mirror, NFL fans can now put away their “Lawyer Jargon for Dummies” textbooks and start hitting the rumor mill once again.

Since I’m a fun guy who likes to have some fun and enjoys a little fun, I’ve decided to have a little fun by trying to predict where some of the top free agents will land over the next two weeks. Remember, this is all for fun and is not to be taken too seriously. If you’re the asswipe who reads these things and immediately gets in a tizzy because you disagree, then be aware of my one and only rule when it comes to predictions: Don’t criticize me if you don’t have the stones to leave your own predictions in the comments section.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have some good ol’ fashion family fun! (Have I overused that word yet? Did the joke land? It wasn’t funny in the first place? All right…) Here are 10 free agents and my predictions for where they might land. In the “Hedging my bet with” section, I list an alternative to where I think said free agent may wind up.

Nnamdi Asomugha, CB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has been reported that the 2011 NFL salary cap will (roughly) be around $120 million, which leaves the Bucs with (roughly) $60 million to spend in free agency. Of course, that doesn’t mean that cheapo Malcolm Glazer will open his wallet, but we do know that the new CBA comes with a salary cap floor. Thus, teams like the Bucs will have to spend something in free agency. The Bucs have built a solid, young core centered around quarterback Josh Freeman. With Aqib Talib’s legal situation up in the air, they have a definite need at corner and if teams like the Eagles, Cowboys and Jets feel as though Asomugha’s price tag is too steep, maybe the Bucs will step in and shell out big money to land the top free agent on the market. (And if you’re wondering about whether or not Asomugha is a fit for Raheem Morris’ defensive scheme, don’t worry about it because the man is a fit for every defense.)
Hedging my bet with: New York Jets

DeAngelo Williams, RB: Carolina Panthers
The emergence of Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart make Williams expendable but the Panthers are still the frontrunners to retain him in my eyes. He says he wants to stay in Carolina and while he’d be a fool to not at least test the market, I think he’ll eventually stay put. The Panthers realize they need a good stable of running backs no matter who starts at quarterback this season, so re-signing Williams is still a priority despite expanding rolls for Goodson and Stewart.
Hedging my bet with: New York Giants.

Read the rest of this entry »

NFL News & Notes: Lockout Update, Haynesworth, & MJD’s knee

Washington Redskins’ Albert Haynesworth is seen on the sidelines as the Redskins play a pre-season game against the Buffalo Bills at FedEx Field in Washington on August 13, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Players and owners in the “red zone” in terms of labor talks?
A league source tells SI.com that the players and owners are “in the red zone” with regard to the labor negotiations. The source says that back in March, “we weren’t in the same stadium.” But now the two sides are apparently inching closer to wrapping up a deal thanks to the momentum that has been created over the last couple of weeks. The two sides will continue talks on Thursday and Friday, with five players and DeMaurice Smith conversing with Roger Goodell and five owners. While these discussions remain fluid, talks continue to progress.

Redskins won’t release Haynesworth
Mike Shanahan and the Redskins appear determined to leave Albert Haynesworth in NFL purgatory. Philadelphia Sports Daily says that the Skins will not release the DT quickly after the lockout and if any team wants him, they’ll have to trade for him. Apparently Washington doesn’t want to give into what Haynesworth wants, which is to be released. I can’t envision a scenario in which Haynesworth is still a Redskin by the start of the season, but you never know. Shanahan has proven time and time again that he can be stubborn.

MJD: The Jaguars are scared of my knee
In an interview with the Florida Times Union, running back Maurice Jones-Drew says that the Jaguars are “already kind of scared of my (surgically repaired) knee” and are “anxious to throw Rashad (Jennings) in” for more carries. As Rotoworld.com points out, Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter insists that there have been no discussions in the offensive staff room over MJD’s knee, although the team’s official website did run a story earlier this week about how the coaching staff wants to get Jennings more involved. Seeing as how the NFL is largely a two-back league now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Jennings did get more touches next year – regardless of whether or not there is concern about MJD’s knee.

Asomugha to receive $19 million a year?
NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora seems to think that free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha could receive a contact that approaches $19 million a year. If so, it would make Asomugha the highest paid player in NFL history. La Canfora believes that the Bucs could be serious bidders for the cornerback, which makes sense given Aqib Talib’s legal troubles. The Texans are also reportedly interested in Asomugha, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Lions also got in the mix once the lockout lifts. The Eagles, Ravens and Jets have also been mentioned as possible suitors.

Texans to pursue Nnamdi Asomugha?

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award finalist Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders speaks at a press conference during the week of Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas on February 4, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo

The NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora is the latest to report that the Texans plan to pursue cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha once the lockout lifts. ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky said the same thing last week, which was in line with similar reports made by the Houston Chronicle within the last month.

Considering the Texans finished dead last in passing defense in 2010, they would be foolish not to at least entertain pursuing Asomugha, who will become a free agent as soon as the labor dispute ends. According to stats compiled by NFL.com, he has surrendered just 1.2 catches per game since 2008. That’s the lowest mark in the league among qualifying defensive backs, although it’s also important to keep in mind that he’s only been thrown at 2.2 times per game.

The Texans like cornerbacks Glover Quin and 2010 first round pick Kareem Jackson, but I would imagine they would gladly move either to nickel in order to make room for Asomugha. The problem is that other teams may outbid Houston when it’s time to pony up for Asomugha’s services. The Eagles, Redskins, Ravens, Lions and even Jets may have interest in the soon-to-be-former Raider in the upcoming months. If the money is right, it’s hard to see Asomugha passing on the chance to play for a contender like the Eagles, Ravens or Jets, especially coming from Oakland.

That said, the Texans defense figures to be revamped under new coordinator Wade Phillips, and it’s not like the team doesn’t have talent on that side of the ball thanks to Mario Williams and Brian Cushing. One year after losing Dunta Robinson in free agency, maybe Houston will strike it rich with Asomugha. (Uh, “strike it rich” on the field, that is. Lord knows Asomugha will cost a truckload to bring in.)

Nnamdi Asomugha a long shot to join the Packers?

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award finalist Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders speaks at a press conference during the week of Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas on February 4, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo

The moment it was announced that Nnamdi Asomugha was likely to become a free agent this offseason, two potential landing spots emerged right away: Green Bay and Philadelphia.

Asomugha has a close relationship with Packers’ corner Charles Woodson, making Green Bay an obvious choice. Philadelphia is in need of a defensive back and there have been whispers that they’re willing to pay to pair Asomugha up with Asante Samuel.

But as Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com writes, the odds of Asomugha landing in Green Bay might be lower than people think.

I’ve tended to shy away from any anticipation of this move, knowing that Packers general manager Ted Thompson strongly prefers developing his own starters and depth through the draft. The Packers also are relatively well-stacked at cornerback with Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. Williams is 27 and Shields is 23, and there is a strong possibility all NFL teams will be back to dealing with a salary cap when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

But don’t take it from me. Woodson himself downplayed the possibility during an interview with Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. While he would be willing to move to safety to make the arrangement work, Woodson said he wasn’t sure if it would come to that.

Woodson: “I’m not doing any recruiting. We’ve texted a few times about winning a Super Bowl. Nothing really about his future I don’t know what’s going on about him and Oakland or anything else. When I look at our team and I look at young Sam and Tramon, (I think), ‘Where’s he going to fit? How is that possibly going to work out?’ I think that would be the first question you have to ask.”

As Seifert points out, even though Thompson did pluck Woodson off the free agent market a couple of years ago, he prefers to build his roster through the draft. The team is also very high on Shields, who is expected to take over for Woodson one day.

Simply put, the Packers don’t need to spend big on Asomugha. Would Thompson love to have a talent such as Asomugha in his defensive backfield? Sure, just as any GM would. But it seems unlikely at this point that the Packers would pull the trigger on a move like that and have Woodson move to safety when he’s still playing corner at a Pro Bowl-level.

Philadelphia would seemingly be the front-runners at this point to land Asomugha’s services.

Related Posts