2019-2020 NFL Offseason

Yes, it seems early to start an offseason thread, but what the heck. I want wanted to comment on a recent discussion about the QB carousel on <i>The Ringer</i> (with Robert Mays and Mina Kimes)–specifically, surprising and off-the-wall comments about one QB in particular, and that QB is

Matt Stafford. Their opinion of him seems rather low, or at least they seemed uncertain if Stafford is a legitimate franchise QB. I haven’t been a believer in Stafford’s career, but I think he, with the help of Caldwell, turned himself into a legitimate franchise QB. The Lions moving on from Stafford would suggest a return to being the Cleveland Browns of the NFC.

So what about the other QBs that could possibly move. Mays and Kimes also mentioned Andy Dalton, Case Keenum, Foles, Bridgewater, Manning, and Tannehill. They also mentioned Carr, Mariota, and Winston. Dalton and Tannehill are interesting ones. If my team didn’t have a QB I wouldn’t be too thrilled about getting, either. I think if you surround them with a good team, especially a strong defense and run game, I think they can have success, but I’m less certain if they can win a Super Bowl. At this point, I’d be wary of taking Mariota as well. Of the names, mentioned I would prefer taking a chance on Carr.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention Flacco. I wanted him to go to the Jaguars, but I don’t know if he’d be a good fit with DeFilippo. They mentioned Foles going there. I’m not that enthused, but it might work.

For teams that need a QB–like the Dolphins (if they’re moving on from Tannehill) and Redskins–who do you get? Also, I really don’t like the Trubisky situation with the Bears.

323 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL Offseason

  1. In lieu of possible trade of Antonio Brown, where would be a good landing spot for him and LeVeon Bell? The first team that came to mind is the Colts. Brown, plus TY Hilton would be a deadly combination. (I think the Colts should upgrade their RB, but they don’t have to spend a lot for that.)

    My understanding is that they have a lot of cap space. If the Colts have a lot of cap space, going out and getting Earl Thomas might be something they should consider (although given Earl’s age and injury, I’d be hesitant).

    Which team would be justified in getting (and paying for) Bell? I would think it has to be a run first team, and they’d have to have the cap space. The first team that came to mind is the Panthers, although I think the Panthers should get a stout, hammering type of back, a workhorse that can run in between the tackles or off tackle. Besides the Panthers, I thought of the Jets and Texans, although they’re not run first teams. I could see Bell being a very productive player on those teams–ditto the Chiefs. I suspect those teams are going to be more pass-first, spread offenses, and I feel like it’s not worth paying a lot for a RB on those teams. If I’m going to consider the Jets, Texans, and Chiefs, I would add the Colts to the list as well. Oh, the Raiders might be another one, but I doubt they’ll be run first. (I love watching Bell run, but I prefer RBs bruising power.)

  2. I believe that Brown is still under contract, so if another team would want him, they would have to trade for him. Based on what I know from Reid, he values draft picks. Should a team be willing to give a one this year and a two next year? I guess that depends on the team as well, because we already know the draft order, so a higher draft pick may be all the Steelers want, or maybe a higher draft pick this year with a third or fourth next year may be all they would want.

    Wasn’t the rumor that the Steelers would use a transition tag on Bell and then trade him? Is that risky? But if that happens I would think a team would have to give up at least a second round pick for him.

    But if you are talking fantasy and they could go anywhere, I like Brown to Indy. That would be a great move for them and possibly him. Although the talk was he lost a step, and it could be as he didn’t have the numbers he had previously. Bell and Lamar Jackson was linked, and that would be cool if the Ravens could get him. But if the Steelers are going to trade Bell, that would be highly unlikely that they would trade him in the division, and it doesn’t seem like the Ravens can sign him as a free agent, so probably not.

    1. If I’m the Steelers, I’m thinking of the rapidly closing Roethlisberger window, which means not draft picks, but missing pieces who could get into the post season again. Juju Smith-Schuster is a nice receiver, but he’s not the number one Brown is. Can he be a good number one if there’s an equally good number two? What about Alshon Jeffery and an Eagles DB? Jeffery doesn’t get thrown to when Wentz is in the backfield anyway. I don’t know what the cap implications would be, but personnel wise it could work.

      1. Man you are pretty high on Jeffery. I think he’s too slow for an outside receiver, and too big for an inside guy. But with Juju on the outside that might actually work. I think if I was the Steelers and I took Jeffery they would have to throw in a Fletcher Cox. If that was the case the Steelers could throw in a fifth round pick? That would sound about right to me.

        1. He can dominate, but he is inconsistent. He was great with Brandon Marshall on the other side, which is why I think it could work with Juju.

    2. I thought about this question without really thinking about what would have to be given up to get AB (or Bell). Adding draft picks as a part of trade makes the proposition less appealing to me–at least for the team giving up the picks, unless the team wouldn’t have to give up much. I don’t like giving up a lot for a WR, and if I did, I’d prefer the bigger WRs that excel who can out muscle their defender. On a related note, I’m with Mitchell with regard to Jeffery. I really like him and WRs like him. With someone like Jeffery (and for a time I thought Kelvin Benjamin was like this, too), they may not put up big numbers, but if they can make a handful of catches in crucial situations–e.g., 3rd or isolation in the end zone or one one or two bombs–they are really valuable and worth more than people might think. I’d rather have a WR like than a great slot WR who catches a lot of balls.

      Bell and Lamar Jackson was linked, and that would be cool if the Ravens could get him.

      The main reason I didn’t mention the Ravens is that I think the RBs they have are good enough. I suspect Bell would make them better, although he’s not a bruiser in the way that Gus Edwards seems to be. Having said that, I’m concerned that defenses may figure out a way to defend the Ravens offense with Jackson, and in that case, they may need a better RB.

  3. Actually looking at the draft order, I can see San Fran offering their number two this year and a low pick next year for Brown. If they wanted him of course.

  4. I’m hearing Flacco to the Broncos, which makes sense if Elway is sticking with the defense and strong run game formula. I still think this is a situation where Flacco can be and is the most effective (to the point where he can lead them to a Super Bowl.)

    I’m disappointed that he didn’t go to the Jaguars, but the Jags hiring DeFilippo suggests that they’re going to be more pass-oriented, so that probably wasn’t a good fit. If they’re going to be a run first team, they should consider Keenum.

    Which team would make a good fit for Keenum? The first team that popped into my mind: the Bears. If the Bears could get him as a backup that would be great for them, although I think Keenum would likely steal the starting job from Trubisky.

    Probably a better and more realistic fit would be the Redskins.

    If a team can get Keenum as a backup that would be great for that team.

    (If the Jaguars are going to be run-based offense, I’d go for Keenum.)

    1. I get why you think Keenum would be good in a run first offense, as in limit his throws and protect him from having to pass too much. Yet I picture him as an aggressive down-the-field thrower, who can get hot or into a “zone” or rhythm the more he throws. I think that’s part of the reason he struggled in Denver. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly saying Keenum is that good. He’s serviceable, and I would have him as a viable starter though (maybe top 20 if not just outside of that).

      1. I get why you think Keenum would be good in a run first offense, as in limit his throws and protect him from having to pass too much.

        That, and the fact that I don’t think he can be consistently good enough to build an offense around him (the definition of a back up). With a real strong run game and defense, you’d only need him to make a handful of key throws. What’s good about Keenum is that he’s better at creating something out of nothing than people think–and that’s what you need to win the Super Bowl.

        If the Jags defense is dominant, and their run game is top three, with Keenum, I think they’d have a good shot of winning the Super Bowl. (But given their OC and head coach, I’m guessing they’re going to be more pass oriented. Foles would make more sense in that situation, I guess.)

        By the way, if Miami moves on from Tannehill, who would be a good replacement? I’m not a huge fan or believer in Tannehill, but if I were a fan, I wouldn’t be thrilled if Bridgewater, Foles, Dalton, or Keenum was the replacement.

      2. One other thing I forgot to say: To me, the problem in Denver last year and the problem in Minnesota wasn’t the QBs–the problem was the OL and run games. The Broncos could be productive, but I don’t think they were consistent or good enough. That is, for Keenum to be effective, you better have one of the better run games in the league, and I wouldn’t say the Broncos qualified. Same with the Vikings.

        By the way, Flacco is in the same situation. It’s not about him–it’s about the OL and run game. If both are good and the defense is also really good, they can win it all. (If Kubiak was their OC, I’d like their chances.)

        1. In Keenum’s one good year (of his entire NFL career) at Minnesota, he didn’t have a good run game. He was gun-slinging it. Hence my take on him.

          1. Fluke implies it couldn’t happen again or that it is highly unlikely. I think it’s possible if he has the receiver talent that he had in Minnesota and if that team had to throw as much as Minnesota did. I tend to agree with you in that average QBs should be placed in situations where they don’t have to make too many plays. I would put Dak in that category as well. But I was just pointing out the other side for Keenum and that he seem to like to push the ball down the field. I wished Dak would be more aggressive down the field as well, but if he did it a lot it would be hard for Dallas to be a great ball control team.

      1. So I’m thinking they’re going to draft a QB, and just get the best, cheapest QB available. I wonder if Bradford is available for cheap. Another guy: Fitzpatrick.

        Tannehill would be a good backup, if he can’t find a team where he could start. I’d be happy with him in Seattle. I’d love Keenum in Seattle. Same with the Raiders.

  5. Of this list, John Brown stands out, especially if a team can get him for a good deal. Run-based teams should consider this, especially if they don’t have a vertical threat (or is Brown not as good a vertical threat as I’m thinking). Panthers, Cowboys, and Broncos would be good. I like the pairing with Amari or Emmanuel Sanders. (Ravens should probably consider keeping him, too, if they don’t have to spend a lot.)

    He would also be a really good #3 addition to a lot of teams–Lions, Bucs (reuniting with Arians)–the list is long.

    I heard the Cowboys might move on from Beasley. If so, they should consider Humphries.

    1. Humphries is awesome… But I’m not 100% sure how much he will costs and I’m not sure they will want to pay for someone that high. Realistically he and Golden Tate could cost around the same is my guess.

      1. I don’t share your opinion of Humphries. In fact, my impression is that he’s a poor man’s version of Beasley (and I wouldn’t say Beasley is awesome. He’s a solid-to-good slot WR in my opinion.)

        1. I only saw him play a couple times and he was doing good, but you are probably right. On PFF top free agents, Golden Tate was top twenty, Beasley top fifty, and Humphries not listed. So if he is pretty cheap, I would definitely be happy if the Cowboys got him.

  6. You know Beasley has to be considered by the Patriots.

    You shouldn’t be so shy about giving up draft picks. If you’re targeting a first-round WR, you’d be silly not to give up a pick for AB. I might not want to give up a second-round pick (where all the value supposedly is) but a first and two thirds for AB? If your team is already playoff good or nearly playoff good?

    As much as I like Alshon, I have to disagree about a slot guy. You’d rather have Jeffrey than Edelmann? The case can be made but I think I’ll take Edelmann every time if I have Brady (or someone Brady-like) for a QB.

    1. You know Beasley has to be considered by the Patriots.

      Yeah, but moreso if they lose Edelman.

      If you’re targeting a first-round WR, you’d be silly not to give up a pick for AB.

      Well, it depends. I don’t like using a top 10 pick on a WR. The WR better be a Julio Jones, Megatron type of WR. Also, if you draft a WR they’re not going to cost as much as an established player like AB.

      As much as I like Alshon, I have to disagree about a slot guy. You’d rather have Jeffrey than Edelmann?

      Yeah, I think so. I think you have to take Edelman out of the context of the Patriots. If the team in question didn’t have Belichick, would you want Edelman or Jeffery? I’d take Jeffery. I think it’s hard to build an offense around a slot WR; it’s easier to build it around someone like Jeffery. and I think if you put Jeffery in a good run-based offense, I’d prefer Jeffery.

      1. I heard someone on the radio say the Patriots this season have been referring to third downs as “Third and Jules.”

        “What down is it?”
        “Third and Jules.”
        🙂

      2. I think we had this discussion before, but AB is a slot guy. I would think teams would want to build around him. There are slot guys that cannot take their guy deep ala Edelman, but guys like AB and Doug Baldwin can make plays deep.

        1. Right, but did we figure out if he only played the slot? That’s not the impression I have. By the way, while I love Baldwin, I don’t get the sense that you can really build a team around him. That is, he, by himself, isn’t going to elevate the WRs around him. I could be wrong about that, though.

          1. I’m pretty sure AB plays the slot more than 50% of the time, probably more (but I could be wrong). I see Mike Evans in the slot, but that doesn’t mean he cannot be classified as an outside guy. That goes for Dez as well.

  7. I’m pretty sure AB plays the slot more than 50% of the time, probably more (but I could be wrong).

    Maybe this is a better way to frame the question: Is he primarily or only effective in the slot? If he’s only or primarily good in the slot, I wouldn’t want to build around him.

    1. I skimmed the list. I’m not sure how they do the rankings. I’d probably have a hard time after #30. Off the top of my head, I’d guess that there might be a bias or higher bar for RBs to make the list. If a RB doesn’t catch a lot of balls, their rushing stats would have to be really good for them to make this list–or that’s what I’m guessing. I didn’t see if Chris Carson made the list, but I think you could have made a case for him.

  8. Don,

    Fluke implies it couldn’t happen again or that it is highly unlikely. I think it’s possible if he has the receiver talent that he had in Minnesota and if that team had to throw as much as Minnesota did.

    It’s possible, but how likely, is it? I think it’s pretty unlikely that Keenum would replicate that performance, under similar conditions. I like Keenum, too, and I’ve liked him before that performance, but he was playing out of his mind that year. “Fluke” really seems like the appropriate word.

    But I was just pointing out the other side for Keenum and that he seem to like to push the ball down the field.

    Not just pushing the ball down the field, but he’s flashed in other positive ways as well. To me, he’s a perfect example of a good backup–a QB that can play like a starter in relatively short stretches. In 2017, he played like a good starting QB for an entire season, but I do tend to think that was a one off. Cinderella turning back into a pumpkin, if you know what I mean.

    I wished Dak would be more aggressive down the field as well, but if he did it a lot it would be hard for Dallas to be a great ball control team.

    How aggressive do you mean? I think throwing 2-4 deep passes a game is an important part of a good run-based offense. The Seahawks deep passing game came alive this year, and I think that had to do with a run game. The vertical passing game is a perfect complement for a good run game. Indeed, I tend to think that without it, the run game can’t be as good. (At the same time, the vertical passing game can’t be as good with a really good run game as well.)

  9. Here’s what comes to mind after hearing this news: After watching the Patriots passing game, especially Edelman, Gronk and Hogan, the Patriots going after OBJ is believable–believable because their passing game didn’t look good, Edelman and Gronk, as pass catchers looked like they were past their prime. Remember also that the Patriots traded for Josh Gordon. Whether OBJ is a good fit, what all of this tells me is that Belichick believes they really need a playmaking pass catcher. And it’s likely going to be a huge priority going into this next season. (This thinking would be consistent if the Patriots want to utilize more of a pro style run-first approach as well. I think it’s harder to use routes/schemes to get WRs open when you utilizes more traditional pro style sets. Therefore, you need at least one good one-on-one pass catcher.)

    I agree with Cowherd that Belichick hasn’t been great in the draft with regard to WRs, and relying on the draft is probably not the solution, partly because developing a WR would take too long.

    If all of this is true, I would think the Patriots would also be interested in AB, unless they think his off field issues is significantly worse than OBJ.

  10. Did the Pats trade for Gordon? I thought they just picked him up after Cleveland released him. But I could be wrong.

    My understanding is OBJ is a good teammate (teammates like him) and isn’t really a problem in the locker room or off-the-field as in missing meetings and always late. He has on-the-field and sideline moments, but if pundits are right, he isn’t really a huge problem. That’s the opposite of AB, who is rough off-the-field which is obviously getting much worse, now that he wants to leave. All of that is to say, OBJ will not be cheap. It’s not like the Giants want him out nor does it seem OBJ wants out. AB on the other hand should be affordable in terms of trade value.

    1. I think the Pats made a conditional trade (i.e., Gordon had to play x number of games, or something to that effect).

      … but if pundits are right, he isn’t really a huge problem.

      Didn’t the Giants have problems with him? I thought the Giants considered trading him because he is difficult.

  11. A few criticisms of the Flacco trade. I thought it was an okay deal. The stronger criticism is why bring in Keenum. I wouldn’t bet on the Broncos, but I think if they have a few more pieces on defenses, and another receiver, they got a shot. They have a decent running game.

    As Raiders fans, would you want them to get Kyler Murray? Would you guys want the Raiders to trade Carr and get Murray? That would seem like a good move to me.

    1. A few criticisms of the Flacco trade. I thought it was an okay deal. The stronger criticism is why bring in Keenum.

      I don’t understand what you mean. Are you saying that Flacco makes sense–if the Broncos want to win with a good defense and run game–but if that’s the case, why bring in Keenum? Bringing in Keenum makes sense with the formula above. The problem is that some combination of the defense and run game weren’t good enough for them to be successful. To fair, they had injuries on the OL and even on the defense at one point.

      As Raiders fans, would you want them to get Kyler Murray? Would you guys want the Raiders to trade Carr and get Murray? That would seem like a good move to me.

      I haven’t seen Murray play, so I don’t have an informed opinion. But he’s a short QB right? That’s a turnoff right there.

      1. Keenum is more Favre than a Phil Simms. I thought your argument before was Keenum has the “skills” to be a Phil Simms, which I don’t necessarily disagree. I just think his style is closer to Favre. In terms of Flacco, he definitely is more Simms than Favre. He can be the QB that throws 15-20 times a game. I’m not sure what kind of team Elway wants to build, but I think it’s okay if he wants to move on from Keenum to go to Flacco. But then Elway’s error was more Keenum than Flacco. If the thought is that Flacco isn’t an upgrade, then your belief is they should stick with Keenum and going after Flacco is the error. I’m not way on the other side of that, but I lean that the criticism shouldn’t be getting Flacco, but why did you go after Keenum last year. But one could say that is because Flacco wasn’t available when they got Keenum, which is valid as well.

        Murray would definitely be the shortest (smallest hand) starting QB in the league if he became a starter. Despite all of that, I still would take the chance on a Murray and move on from Carr. But isn’t Gruden’s thing, experienced QBs?

        1. I know what you mean by the Favre-Simms framework, but I don’t really care for it. Keenum has shown the ability to create when a play breaks down, but guys like him, Flacco, and Dalton are basically QBs that can be effective if you surround them with a good running game and defense. (Flacco has way better mobility than people think. He’s not great, but he’s far from a statue, too.)

          Now having said that, my sense is that Flacco is a legitimate starter, while Keenum is really not (or just barely). I think that’s the main difference, although Flacco hasn’t played like a good starter in the past few years. But I’d argue the main reason is that their run game sucks, and he had no pass catching weapons. (In one year, old man Steve Smith was their best WR.) Given what Flacco has done in the past, I have more faith he’ll do better–with a good run game and receiving targets (and Sanders and Sutton should be good).

          But one could say that is because Flacco wasn’t available when they got Keenum, which is valid as well.

          That was my thought. Who was available? Cousins, Alex Smith—anyone else? Keenum at a much cheaper price than Cousins seems like a good deal.

          Murray would definitely be the shortest (smallest hand) starting QB in the league if he became a starter. Despite all of that, I still would take the chance on a Murray and move on from Carr. But isn’t Gruden’s thing, experienced QBs?

          Having small hands worries me, as I don’t think there are many really good QBs with small hands. (Wilson has big hands.) If they’re going to move on from Carr, I’d like someone better. Plus, they have a lot of holes to fill.

          1. But the other argument is that Elway could have waited and not try to pick up any QB if he thought like you that Keenum is a number two guy. He could have also drafted a QB, four of which started this past year.

            Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State is the more NFL type QB both in talent (arm talent) and physicality. The problem is he doesn’t have the cache that Murray has. So to move on from Carr to Haskins doesn’t make as much sense. Moving from Carr to Murray is a bigger risk, but brings with it a lot of hope and excitement. That’s something the Raiders can take with them to Vegas.

        2. How does a Russell Wilson fanatic say small stature is a turnoff? I would worry more about the QB’s game than his height if I admired Wilson that much.

          I think height is something to consider, but it shouldn’t be a turnoff. I wouldn’t walk away from Wilson or Brees.

          I’m not ready to think about Murray as a QB just yet. I’m still recovering from him walking away from the Athletics. Grr.

          1. How does a Russell Wilson fanatic say small stature is a turnoff?

            Answer: Russell Wilson is a freak, a miracle, an anomaly. He’s more the exception that proves the rule. Some Seattle fans make fun of pundits who downgraded Wilson because of his height. I don’t. It’s a very real issue in my opinion, and Wilson’s success doesn’t de-legitimize the scouts who downgraded him.

            I think height is something to consider, but it shouldn’t be a turnoff.

            To be fair, it’s not the only thing. Wilson not only had large hands, but in his last year he played in a more pro style offense in Wisconsin (behind a big and tall OL), and did well. Also, Wilson played four years, and I believe he started in all or most of them. I’d be more open to Murray if the same applied to him.

  12. Don,

    But the other argument is that Elway could have waited and not try to pick up any QB if he thought like you that Keenum is a number two guy.

    I think the right move was finding a stop gap QB. Now, if he felt he could have gotten a franchise QB in the draft (and they did have a high draft pick, right?), then I think you’re right. But if not, the move to get Keenum makes sense. The plan would have worked if their defense and/or run game was a lot better.

    So to move on from Carr to Haskins doesn’t make as much sense.

    I’m curious to hear Mitchell’s thoughts on this, but as a Raiders fan, I’m more concerned about Gruden than Carr and the QB position in general. In terms of players, I’m thinking of the other positions over the QB. I’m less certain about whether Carr can be a legitimate starter, but I’m not at the point where I’ve written him off. Now, if there’s a QB that they’re really confident about, then I could get behind that pick. But a lot of other positions seem like way bigger priorities.

    1. Would it change your mind if the Raiders could get a round two or three pick for Carr from let’s say the Jags? Then they could still get another player and still get Murray. Unless they would have to move up to get Murray, of course.

      1. I’d be more open to this if I was really confident about Murray, or I was really confident about Gruden and his team and they were really confident about Murray.

    2. I think there are other pundits (not all) that believe what you believe in the stop gap QB, even though it costs the team cap space and guarantee money in the future (ie: Keenum is going to cost the Broncos even if they release him before next year.). I’m sort of the fence, but if that was the Cowboys, I would be on the side of not risking the cap space on a guy they don’t truly believe in just to fill in the gap or on a whim they think he will be their franchise guy.

      1. But let’s say the Cowboys felt like they had a shot to have a really good defense and run game, which I think reasonably describes the Broncos heading into 2018. In that situation, the team can get into the playoffs and maybe go far with a good stop gap QB, and have little chance without him.

  13. There are three ideas about improving officiating in this.

    Idea 1: Adding a real-time video replay official who has the power to throw a flag on a missed called.

    Idea 2: Open up the review system to challenge everything—even no-calls—while either keeping the number of challenges at two or increasing it to three.

    Idea 3: Add an eighth official to the field of play.
    Verdict: Good.

    The author doesn’t like the first two ideas, but likes the third. Off the top of my head, I’d agree. However, let me say something about the first idea. I like the idea of the field official asking for feedback from an official in a booth with access to video (replay). The booth official would generally only comment if they are asked. For example, suppose the field officials were unsure about a certain call. The head official could ask for feedback from the booth official. If the booth official was certain about a call, he could say so, and that could ultimately determine the call. Perhaps in rare, egregious occasions, the booth official could offer comments, without being asked. A good example might be that non defensive pass interference call in the Rams-Saints game. The booth official could say, “Hey you guys, can you discuss this a bit more. I really think that was a DPI and helmet to helmet hit.” This would be helpful if the officials saw something, but just wasn’t sure if it justified a flag.

    What’s more problematic is if none of them actually saw the infraction. In situations like this, I wish the head official had like a google glass that allowed him to quickly watch a video replay. I would think a smart phone would be sufficient. I’m basically think of a way the head official could see the replay without walking off the field to go watch the video. But if a booth official chimes in, without being asked, the replay should be clear cut. You see it and a quick decision can be made. They should not speak for more murky calls.

  14. Put this way, yes, the Rodgers and the Packers could really take off–especially if they LaFleur tries to run the ball. Actually, if they adopt a more pass-first approach like the Rams, the Packers could take off. Without upgrades to the WRs, though, I’m a little skeptical the offense would be as good–unless the Packers also utilize a lot of no-huddle/variations in tempo. But Rodgers in those stretch PA boots would be potent. (Aaron Jones seems like a good RB as well.)

    I didn’t read the article, but if Earl goes to the Cowboys–especially a discounted price–I will be highly annoyed. Putting that aside, I think Earl could make the Cowboys a dominant defense (although maybe that’s obvious).

  15. Why would you care if Thomas goes to the Cowboys on a discounted price? Because Seattle didn’t offer him much or because he didn’t want to stay with the Seahawks. I would be surprised if the Cowboys pick him up despite all the reports. They will have to sign Zeke, Cooper, D-Law, and Dak within the next two years. I know Romo is no longer on the books, and much of Witten’s salary as well, but it’s hard to pay all those guys and Earl.

    1. Imagine if the Patriots got Demarcus Lawrence, when Lawrence, two seasons prior, went over to the Patriots locker room saying, “Come get me,” to Belichick. And then later not showing up to practice all off season, because he wanted a bigger and longer contract–and then he ends up with the Patriots for a team friendly deal, enabling the Patriots to also ink deals for key players.

      1. In that scenario if I thought Dallas tried to keep him but he didn’t want to stay, I would be irritated at D-Law. So much so I would mind if he left. If I had thought Dallas didn’t try hard to keep him, I may be irritated at the team but then again maybe not depending on the price.

        In Earl’s case it seem highly unlikely the Hawks wanted to pay asking price which caused the rift. His injury probably lowed that price making a lower signing more probable but I’m guessing at this point not with the Hawks.

        1. My sense is that Earl wanted a longer term deal, so if he goes to the Cowboys for shorter deal that will be annoying. I would think Seahawks would have given him more money but on shorter term deal.

          1. But Earl’s injury could have change things (hence the salute after he went down). So maybe he might not be able to demand as much.

  16. Don,
    Do you mean, the Hawks would have a chance to sign him, that Earl would be open to less? If so, I don’t get that sense. Schneider said Earl testing FA, but he says he understands—it’s a business.

    1. Actually I meant that you cannot compare what you thought would be a good offer to Earl pre-injury to one post-injury. So if he was looking for so much dollars for so many years prior to getting injured, maybe he would have to tamper those expectations post-injury. Maybe he will have to take a shorter deal now, and prove that he is still worth a big contract. As for him staying with Seattle, I’m guessing the “hometown” discount is long gone (maybe there isn’t as much animosity as I think), and Seattle would have to pay more than other teams would.

      1. Thinking that Earl would be open to taking less because of his recent injury is what I was getting at. But I didn’t think Earl was thinking that way—because I think the Hawks would have been willing to offer something.

        I wonder if Colts would do this.

        I saw something that seems to confirm this—namely, Earl’s saying that he wants to be highest paid safety.

        1. I’m sure Earl wants to get as much as he can and I would think he would need to present it as he should get as much now as prior to the injury. I’m just not sure that’s realistic (I could be wrong.). But his offers may dictate otherwise.

          1. My understanding is that he wants to be the highest paid safety. I suspect that he wants a long term contract with a lot of guaranteed money, and I would guess this is what created an impasse with the Hawks. (Maybe with the Cowboys as well.)

            If these are his demands than I think the list of teams will be narrow–namely, teams with a need at safety, big cap space, and willingness to take a chance. All it takes is one, I guess.

            It doesn’t seem like the Cowboys are one of those teams. What would annoy me is if Earl accepted significantly less to play for them, partly because it would mean he wasn’t willing to do the same for the Hawks.

          2. But what if it’s a team like the Rams? You can surely see why a team like the Rams would want him, and why he would take a lot less to play for them than he would Seattle, right? If I’m Los Angeles I at least give Earl’s agent a call.

    1. It wasn’t that obvious to me, although after they hired John DeFilippo, Foles makes more sense. All of this together suggests to me that the Jaguars are moving away from a run-first offense, and going to a more pass-based offense a la Eagles and Colts. (Marrone never struck me as a run-first guy, too.) Given that Tom Coughlin is an executive there, I would guess that they might be a team that balances spread and pro style offenses, with tilt towards the spread. Well, that would be a scenario that I would find palatable, anyway.

  17. Mitchell,

    But what if it’s a team like the Rams? You can surely see why a team like the Rams would want him, and why he would take a lot less to play for them than he would Seattle, right?

    Yes, if Earl has said his main concern is getting on a team that gives him the best chance of winning another Super Bowl. But I don’t think that’s his issue. The issue is money, and/or a long term deal. He’s also expressed a desire to play for the Cowboys, his childhood team, but even with the Cowboys I read a headline that said Earl wouldn’t give them a discount. So if he takes less, then this would suggest Earl’s issue wasn’t about money after all.

  18. Do players ever get traded for other players any more in the NFL? Why wouldn’t the Giants, Seahawks, and Steelers, just exchange Landon Collins, Earl, and AB for each other.

    1. Wait, who would go where?
      Earl to the Giants
      AB to the SEA
      Collins to PIT?

      or

      AB to the Giants
      Collins to the Seahawks
      Earl to the Steelers?

      I think the costs and the type of contracts might mess things up.

      I was thinking about possible landing spots for AB. Here’s one that would be killer–the Chiefs, although there might not be enough balls to go around.

      AB to the Colts or Eagles would seem like a pretty good match as well. The Raiders need a good WR, but I’m not sure I’d be happy if they went after him.

      1. I didn’t really think about who would go where, but what is the last trade you can remember where two players (that actually play) were traded for each other?

        1. I don’t think it happens often, but the one that first came to mind is Max Unger for Jimmy Graham (some draft picks were also exchanged in the deal). The Seahawks also got a draft pick and a WR for Michael Bennett, I believe.

          I think if you see a player trade, the players aren’t really that great.

          1. Do you think draft picks are preferred over players with big contracts because of the rookie wage scale? Would that be true even if the draft pick was a lower pick like a third or fourth round pick which a lot of players go for?

  19. Do you think draft picks are preferred over players with big contracts because of the rookie wage scale? Would that be true even if the draft pick was a lower pick like a third or fourth round pick which a lot of players go for?

    Yes, I suspect that draft picks are preferred because of the rookie contracts. Also, trading a 1st or 2nd round pick seems pretty rare. My sense is that teams tend not to trade really good, young players, unless there is off field issues (but a lot of teams might not want those players). And teams don’t want to trade for older players. The Unger-Graham trade seems like an anomaly, but the Seahawks were willing to trade Unger because he was always hurt, and the Saints had problems with Graham.

  20. This makes sense.

    Here’s another thought: What about Tannehill to the Bears? I guess it depends on how much faith they have in Trubisky (I don’t have a lot). They could compete for the starting position, but the only thing is how this would affect Trubisky’s confidence. Unless you’ve basically given up hope, I’d be wary of doing this.

    1. Man, although it’s close, I wouldn’t have Keenum over Tannehill. Redskins probably should have gone for Tannehill and I would guess his price would be lower.

      1. If this means the Redskins are only paying 3.5 mil for Keenum in 2019 (and they can cut him without cost after that), I think this is a great deal for them, and I doubt they could get a better deal for Tannehill.

        If you could get Tannehill for the same or lower deal, I would go for him, too. That’s mainly because I still think there is a chance Tannehill could become a legitimate franchise QB. The chances are slim, but I still wonder because maybe another coach/system/team could make the difference. On the other hand, Keenum’s played on several teams, I’m more certain about who he is.

  21. Guys,

    Random questions: How good do you think the ’97-’98 Broncos (the one that went to back-to-back Super Bowls), and Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys? Which one was better?

    My sense is that Cowboys were better, maybe by a lot, and I would say they were great against West Coast offenses. But I wouldn’t put them in the all-time great category. I recall those Broncos defenses being pretty good, but not much more than that. My memory is a little hazy, though, so I wanted to get your guys’ opinion on this.

    By the way, I’m asking this because both teams seemed to have a formula where they relied on a great/dominant run-based offense–but didn’t necessarily have a dominant defense. They are examples of teams that could win the Super Bowl with this type of formula. Can you guys think of any other examples? (I think the 2014 Cowboys was also in this mold as well. Oh, what about the ’98 “Dirty Bird” Falcons, with Jamal Anderson? Their run game may not have been dominant, but it was very good. Their defense wasn’t dominant, but they also seemed very good. They seemed more like a balanced team.)

  22. This is the Broncos team that beat the Packers, right? I remember that I picked them to beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl and everyone thought I was crazy. I kind of thought I was too, because although I thought they would win, I didn’t think they were even close to being as good as Green Bay. I wish I could remember why I thought they weren’t great and why I thought they would win anyway.

    1. Yes, but the Broncos also beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl the following year. So I’m asking about defenses from both teams. Do you have any recollection about how good those defenses were, particularly in relation to other Super Bowl defenses?

      I wish I could remember why I thought they weren’t great and why I thought they would win anyway.

      Based on a hazy memory, I think the Packers, overall, seemed more impressive. Elway was on the decline, and while they had a terrific run game, I think their offense didn’t seem as formidable as the one lead by Favre. Also, the Packers defense, with that blob-like DT, Gilbert Brown, and Reggie White seemed well-equipped to stop TD. Indeed, I remember the Denver O-lineman saying they felt disrespected by comments running up to the game. TD ended up with 157 yards, and my guess is that many people didn’t expect this.

  23. Here’s a player-for-player trade:

    …involving draft picks…

    This is an interesting trade. I don’t know much about Zeitler, but if he’s a solid lineman, it seems like a decent trade in terms of value. The Browns defense will likely get better, maybe significantly, and that’s a big plus, but how big of a hit does their OL take? The situation seems reversed with the Giants. If Zeitler is good, that should really boost the Giants offense, but how much does their defense diminish with the loss of Vernon (and Landon Collins)? The move could create greater disparity between the quality of offense versus the quality of defense on both teams. That is, one could get a lot better, while the other gets significantly worse. I’m not really keen on that.

      1. I think Vernon was hurt a lot, and I’m not sure if he’s worth a lot. How old is he? How old is Zeitler? If Zeitler is solid and not that old, I kinda like this deal. Indeed, a part of me wishes the Seahawks could make a move like this.

        1. I checked and Vernon missed 5 games, but I don’t know if he played hurt in the others. I’m guessing he was still the Giants most productive pass rusher, but I didn’t check his stats against the others.

          He’s only in his second contract I believe, so I’m pretty sure he is currently in his prime, as in high twenties, low thirties.

          1. He’s 28, so that’s a decent age. If he can be healthy, pairing him with Garrett seems like an ideal situation for the defense. If the Browns have a competent replacement for Zeitler on the team, this seems like a really good deal for them.

  24. Interesting names in here, particularly Jackson. I really liked what I saw of Hyde in the past, but I just wonder if he’s either declined or not as good as I thought.

      1. Not sure how much Jackson will cost, but it can’t be as much as when he left the Broncos. Cowboys should consider going after Michael Bennett, although he might be too expensive.

  25. This is annoying:

    Bennett seems perfect for them because a) he’s versatile and b) disruptive. Eric Weddle seems like another good fit for the Patriots. Boo Patriots.

  26. So much for Weddle going to the Pats:

    Even though people say Weddle had a good year last year, my sense is that he’s declined quite a bit. I’ve heard he’s versatile, though, and I think that’s what Wade Phillips likes, too. Boo.

  27. Can someone explain the Chiefs’ third recommendation? It sounds like they want to eliminate the coin toss to begin the OT. However, the team that won the coin toss at the start of the game gets to decide if they want to kick, receive or choose a goal to defend. Is that really better?

    The Broncos suggest providing another way for losing team to get the ball, instead of via an onside kick–but they don’t offer an alternative. (Or am I misunderstanding their suggestion?)

    As for reviewing personal fouls, I don’t know why the league doesn’t use the following approach: Instruct officials to call personal fouls that are obvious and egregious. The league will review the game later, and assign still fines to players for the close calls or missed egregious ones. My sense is that the league really wants to eliminate plays that where a player intentionally, not inadvertently, does something harmful or inappropriate. If the league administered serious fines after the game, I would think this would dramatically reduce these type of plays. Calling a personal foul on a ambiguous or ticky-tacky play hurts the game in my view.

    1. Here’s Denver’s proposal of an alternative to an onside kick:

      Denver’s proposal would give teams trailing in the fourth quarter one opportunity per game to remain on offense after a score if they can convert what is essentially a fourth-and-15 attempt instead of an onside kick. The proposal is similar to a rule in the Alliance of American Football which offers teams the chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from its 28 if it is down by 17 points or more in a game. The rule also applies if a team is trailing by any deficit with five minutes or less remaining in the fourth quarter. The Broncos proposal would have each team start at its 35-yard line instead of kicking off.

      So it sounds like a team could choose to start on it’s 35 yard line after scoring, and they would have one play to gain 15 yards. It’s an interesting idea. I wish the chances of converting an onside kick were a little better, but I’m not sure this is the best way….One question: can they score on this one play? I guess they can, but initially I was thinking they needed to get 15 yards and then they would have start the drive. A part of me feels like it would be better if the team can’t score. This would make it harder to convert the 15 yards.

      Also, with regard to the Chiefs’ third suggestion, I didn’t realize that it was part of their first suggestion–namely, allow both teams a possession in OT. So the the team that won the toss at the start would get to decide if they wanted it first. (I’m not sure why they wouldn’t do another coin toss, unless they wanted to save time?)

      OK, here’s an alternate idea to the onside kick:

      In the 4th quarter, if a team is losing, they can either kick an onside kick or after a TD, they can decide to kick a 50 yard extra point. If they make the extra point, they get the ball on their own 25 yard line. IF they miss, they can kick an onside kick or regular kickoff. I don’t really have an answer for FGs. IF the team makes a FG, they just have the regular options to kick or onside kick, I guess….Or maybe the team that kicks a 50 yard FG or longer will get the ball on their 25.

  28. I actually would like a rule like if you win the coin toss at the start of the game, you can either choose what you want to do now (receive or choose a side of the field) OR defer it to OT which may be a more important choice or may be a choice you may never get to make.

    The 4th down play instead of the onsides kick idea isn’t a new one, I believe, and I think that is the best option of the ones suggested (especially the convoluted Reid rule). But is that rule to eliminate kick offs all together or just because an onsides kick is so hard to recover if you are the kicking team? I’m sort of okay that onsides kicks are super hard to recover. But if it is for player safety and to eliminate kick offs all together, I’m okay with it, but it does eliminate the surprise onsides kick, which is the best part of any kick off. My suggestion is to have a special punting situation from the kicking team’s 40 or 45. The special punting situation is that any fair catch inside the twenty even if it’s not in the end zone will bring the ball out to the twenty (college kick off rule), and a punt out of bounds is a penalty. You could also have fake punts that need to gain 15 yards (or whatever) to have the team maintain the ball or not even a fake punt, but just send your offense on the field.

    1. I actually would like a rule like if you win the coin toss at the start of the game, you can either choose what you want to do now (receive or choose a side of the field) OR defer it to OT which may be a more important choice or may be a choice you may never get to make.

      I kinda like this, too (at least if OT stays as is). It’s not perfect, but at least if a team defers choice in OT, they have to sacrifice something to the other team for this, so it’s not simply being able to get the ball first based on chance alone, if that makes sense.

      Ultimately, though, I wish there were someway to OT to be like OT in sports like basketball….What about this: What if you just put 5 more minutes on the clock. The teams do a coin toss, and winner decides to receive, kick, or choose goal to defend. The team with more points at the end of 5:00 minutes is the winner. That is, it’s a variation of sudden death, where the team scores a TD first wins, etc. So, if a team A gets the ball scores a TD with 2:00 minutes left, Team A will kick to Team B, with Team B having 2:00 minutes to try to win. If the score is tied after 5:00 minutes, then whoever kicked the ball at the start of the first OT would get to receive it in the second OT. (There must be some significant drawback that hasn’t come to mind, yet. I’m sure someone has already thought of this idea.)

      The 4th down play instead of the onsides kick idea isn’t a new one, I believe, and I think that is the best option of the ones suggested (especially the convoluted Reid rule).

      Hahaha. The reason I thought of the long extra point was because I’m trying to think of an alternative to, eliminating the kickoff and starting on a team’s 35, in a situation where they have one shot to get 15 yards. Doing this just seems so odd and different from anything else in football. Now, if you eliminate the kickoffs (and I didn’t think the suggestion was made with that intention), then the idea would be more palatable to me. In a way, it kinda reminds me a little of OT in college football. I don’t like it because it’s so different.

      By the way, I had an even more bizarre idea. In order for a team to get the ball back, they could opt to kick the extra point or FG–with a narrower field goal posts. That is, the field goal posts would be adjustable, and you would move them a few feet inward. (Because kickers are so much better now, I kinda like the idea of making the goal posts a little narrower. Kickers who are accurate would have more value, and I think the game might be more exciting, but that’s another story.)

      Then again, in either of my suggestions, the team that successfully made these special extra points/FGs, would end up receiving the ball without a kickoff…What if by making the special extra point/FG, the other team would kick off to you? OK, I know that’s ridiculous, but…

      (By the way, for 2 point conversions, a team who wanted the ball back could get the ball if they scored the 2 point conversion from the 10 or 15 yard line.)

      I’m sort of okay that onsides kicks are super hard to recover.

      It was always pretty hard, but it seems way harder now (because the kicking team’s coverage can’t get a running start?). If you allow the kicking team to get a running start for onsides kicks or some other rule modification to make it a little easier, I’d favor that. By the way, you can punt the ball, right? If so, why hasn’t anyone tried to do a high, short punt?

      The special punting situation is that any fair catch inside the twenty even if it’s not in the end zone will bring the ball out to the twenty (college kick off rule), and a punt out of bounds is a penalty. You could also have fake punts that need to gain 15 yards (or whatever) to have the team maintain the ball or not even a fake punt, but just send your offense on the field.

      Do you mean that instead of kickoffs, the punting team would come onto the field and start at their 40 or 45? Man, I kinda like this idea–including the idea that if they got fifteen yards then they could get a first down (basically the same as recovery an onside kick). Could the team score a TD on this play? I guess they would be able to–it just seems a little weird–but it might make the game more exciting and interesting.

      Do you guys know if punts are a bit safer to kickoffs? If so that’s another good feature about this idea. Also it still allows the return game to be a feature of the game and that appeals to me.

      Are there any drawbacks you can think of? If not, I think this idea has real potential!

  29. I’m very, very uneasy and unsettled by the recent moves by the Raiders–the pick up on AB and now this:

    For one thing, in terms of balancing character and talent, Gruden seems incautiously (in my opinion) tilt towards talent. Either that, or the red flagged players he signed on really aren’t that bad, or his crew are really good at handling them. I’m highly skeptical at both ideas.

    There’s no doubt the Raiders need a WR with AB’s talent, though.

    As for Osemele, what comes to mind is this: Much of Gruden’s actions seem to be an indictment and criticism of McKenzie’s decisions. Then again, maybe Osemele’s abilities have declined, and/or McKenzie overpaid for him. At this point, I tend to have more faith in McKenzie. What’s important to remember is that the Raiders were in a terrible mess in terms of cap and roster when McKenzie arrived. He turned that around in a big way. I think you can criticize him for the defensive side of the ball, but again, I think the bad situation he inherited contributed to that–I tend to think he was still digging his way out.

    Right or wrong, Gruden seems to think McKenzie did a bad job, and he seems to be overturning a lot of what McKenzie did. At this point, I think the key question for Raider fans is, how much faith do you have in Gruden? I have very little, but I hope I’m wrong.

  30. There are times when a deal is too good to pass up. AB’s contract was miserable in Pittsburgh. I had no idea he was so underpaid for so long.

    http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/26186487/grading-antonio-brown-trade-steelers-raiders-won

    I blame AB a lot less than I did, now that I’ve seen how the Steelers managed his and Bell’s contracts. The Raiders gave up almost nothing. AB seems like a great fit, personality-wise and (obviously) skills-wise, for Gruden and the Raiders. I can’t think of a single team I’d warn away from a trade like this.

    I’ve heard some buzz that Osemele wasn’t as good as he was in the Raiders’ playoff season. I think it’ll hurt to lose him, but obviously I don’t have nearly the same info as the Raiders do about him.

    I’d be pretty excited if I were a Jets fan, though. The off-season moves have been pretty encouraging even without Osemele.

      1. I haven’t read the article the article, but his thinking in this tweet isn’t so great in my opinion:

        He seems to be saying that the locker room culture is not great so who cares if it stays the same or gets worse. I don’t agree with that.

      2. You were saying a lot of the same things about the Rams last off-season. Did you hear anything at all last season about any problems in the locker room? I didn’t. Is it possible you put too much weight on such concerns, as I (admittedly) might put too little?

        1. I didn’t hear anything negative the Rams locker room last year, and they seemed fine. I think there are at least two possibilities that occurred:

          1. The Rams actually had a good locker room, or at least not a very bad one.
          2. The Rams didn’t have a good locker room, and maybe even had a bad one, but still managed to succeed.

          Where I think I may be erring the most is in the negative impact when bringing in several red flagged players. But I have hard time believing that a team or any organization can have success if their locker room and overall culture isn’t very good. You have read and reviewed a bunch of business books, right? If you read a lot I’d be surprised if you didn’t read about the importance of workplace culture. I think most people who study organizations or lead them–including in the military and government–understand the importance of culture. There will always be individuals that pose a threat to undermine the type of culture needed for success. I think my main point is that an NFL team has to be really careful about the number of these players they bring in. Maybe I’m overestimating the threat here or underestimating the capacity of an organization to deal with these players effectively. But I do think managing the tension that can arise is a major issue. Do you agree with that? Or do you I’m overstating the challenge, and placing too much importance on culture?

          1. I’ve read a TON of books about workplace culture and I’m a very strong believer in its importance. As a teacher, I put a lot of time and energy into establishing and maintaining classroom culture too.

            I want to say that I believe positivity is stronger than negativity, and people who contribute positively to a culture are more influential than people who contribute negatively.

            But what works best in my classroom doesn’t work best in someone else’s, necessarily. I always prefer a little bit of chaos, and a lot of freedom of expression. Other teachers (other managers, other executives, other whatever) might not make that work the way I do. It would have been very easy for someone to point at my classroom management and say it was crazy; how could that possibly work? It worked because I (usually) knew what I was doing and who I was teaching.

            So I scoff a little when people worry about locker room culture without knowing what the culture actually is. John Madden’s Raiders were notorious for being crazy and reckless. Madden said he didn’t care what his players were doing off the field as long as they were ready to play when they were on it, and if he had been more restrictive, it’s possible guys like Ken Stabler and Ted Hendricks would have floundered. I’m not sure because Stabler played under Bear Bryant who I think was more of a general, so maybe he would have been fine.

            Madden (and Flores, later) made it work. Flores’s coaching staff supposedly got their defense to instigate a huge fight in practice the week before the Super Bowl against the Redskins. This could be apocryphal, but Flores is said to have responded, “Now I know we’re ready for the game.”

            There’s some very recent domestic violence stuff with Antonio Brown that’s concerning, but aside from that, has Brown really been bad off the field? With the social media stuff, I’d say the problem is Mike Tomlin doesn’t understand young people and how important social media is to them. Rather than help his players use it positively, he simply banned it, and if you know young people you know this doesn’t work.

            That’s not AB being a bad teammate; that’s Tomlin being a bad coach.

            I’m skeptical about comments about what a player is going to add or take away from the locker room culture unless I’m hearing it from a person who knows what the culture is, and what the head coach’s intention for the culture is.

            If late reports from ex-Steelers are true, it sounds like Roethlisberger is much more of a detriment to good locker room culture than Bell or Brown. Heck, the argument could be made that Villanueva is more detrimental. The truth is I don’t think we know without knowing what the management is trying to do with culture.

            I guess I’m saying what I always say about supposed bulletin board material. We don’t have the kind of info we need to judge anyone as good or bad for team culture the way we can’t really say something someone says makes a difference in motivating his opponent.

    1. Man the article was long and kind of hard to follow. I will just say that while I’m very skeptical, I hope I’m wrong about the red flags or wrong that Gruden is a good coach that can make all this work.

      1. Another way of looking at the value, as Tony Kornheiser pointed out: The Raiders effectively traded Amari Cooper, a 3rd round pick, and a 5th round pic for Antonio Brown and a 1st round pick. They also had to commit to a considerable contract for AB, so throw that in too. Given the potential benefit vs what they gave away, this really seems like a great deal for Oakland / Las Vegas.

        1. But what about AB’s age? (I’d add off field concerns, but I know you don’t think this is a big concern.) AB’s going to be 31 in July. How many good years does AB have to have to make this deal worth it for you? Would two more years of playing at high level be worth it, while becoming a really good #2 in his 3rd and subsequent years?

          On another note, would you have wanted Terrell Owens on your team?

        2. Did Ant Brown extend his contract with the Raiders already? He currently has one more year on his Steeler contract, but did he restructure or do a new contract that extended that past the one year with the Raiders?

          1. I’d like to know the answer to this–as well as how much guaranteed money he’s getting from the Raiders. I’m assuming the Raiders have given him quite a bit of money, though.

          2. He might not have signed a contract with the Raiders yet. If that’s the case, I’m guessing the Raiders will owe him what was left on the Steeler contract, and he could become a free agent after next year. That’s what is happening in Amari’s case, where he is going to be paid the Raider contract next year by the Cowboys, and then the Cowboys would have to try and sign him to a new contract.

            If this is the case with AB, I hope the Raiders talked to AB to ensure that they can sign him after next year. As in AB is willing to negotiate with the Raiders, because if not the trade would be for AB’s services for only one year. Kawhi Leonard seems to be in that boat with Toronto, and that he might not resign with them next season.

          3. via Bleacher Report:

            Brown will receive a new contract as part of the agreement that will pay out $50.125 million over the next three seasons, and that his guaranteed cash has gone from $0 to $30.125 million. ESPN’s Adam Schefter added the deal could increase to $54.125 million with incentives. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted this new contract now “makes him the NFL’s highest paid WR.

          4. I will add this, even though I don’t think either of you seems to have a problem with AB or Leveon Bell wanting more money despite being in the middle of contracts.

            When a player is clearly among the best at his position, the fact that he’s signed a contract is only part of the picture, and it’s not the only one worth considering. Since NFL contracts are seldom guaranteed, a team can at any time just cut a player loose and that player gets nothing. If the team isn’t committed for the length of the contract, I don’t think the player should necessarily be either, especially when the contracts become drastically lopsided in the team’s favor.

            I also don’t blame the Steelers for not wanting to meet Bell’s demands, not at a time when elite RBs aren’t as valuable in today’s game, as compared to RBs who are just very good.

            So good for AB for getting a contract he deserves, and I hope Bell at least gets to a situation where he’s comfortable with the team he’s on and the compensation he receives.

    2. I’m pessimistic about what the Raiders are doing, but let me push back on what Cowherd is saying in several different ways.

      I tend to agree that for this deal to be worth it, Brown will have to be very productive for 3 years, paying him a lot and giving up a 3rd and 5th seems acceptable. I also think he can elevate the offense, but making the other WRs better. Carr, if he’s a good QB, should benefit from that.

      Additionally, I think AB is significantly better than Cooper. Cooper paid a lot less may be a better value, but a) I don’t think his salary will likely grow, and I don’t think he’ll be worth that; b) he’s not a great #1 WR. AB seems like the type of WR (assuming he plays at a high level and stays healthy) that you can build your passing game around. I prefer doing that with big WRs, but of the smaller guys, AB and OBJ seem to be the best.

      Having said that, Cowherd’s points about AB staying healthy, happy, and even playing at a high level, especially in year 2 and 3, are valid concerns, and I don’t really have a good answer to those. I can’t argue that these things make the deal dicey.

      Also, something that might be overlooked: AB and Carr could both be actually really good, but both will matter little if their OL is iffy. From Carr’s rookie year, the Raiders had a solid pass protecting line. Last year, wasn’t very good, but they also had injuries and relied on younger players. (Maybe Tom Cable isn’t helping, too.) Whatever the case may be, if they don’t improve things there, it doesn’t matter how good they are in the skill positions.

  31. I’m not trying too negative, but I can’t help but, once again, feel a little uneasy about this. From what I recall Brown came from the Niners, and he wasn’t that good there. He goes the Patriots and does well. The thing is, the Patriots had a terrific OL, and ostensibly a great OL coach. Plus, I think the schemes help all the players in New England. Maybe if Brown was playing next to Osemele I’d be less concerned, but now the Raiders will have to find someone else.

    Again, I hope I am wrong, and I will admit this if I turn out to be.

    1. Colts: Devin Funchess
      Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu
      49ers: Kwon Alexander, LB Buccaneers
      Bears: Mike Davis, Seattle RB

      I like that Funchess is big, but he seems really inconsistent to me, not always dependable.

      I’m less sure about Mathieu. He didn’t really stand out to me last year. One year in Arizona, before he tore his ACL, he looked like a defensive player of the year–on Earl’s level if not better. But he’s never played that way since.

      Titans: Adam Humphries
      Jets: Jamison Crowder (They also got Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders.)

  32. Brown will receive a new contract as part of the agreement that will pay out $50.125 million over the next three seasons, and that his guaranteed cash has gone from $0 to $30.125 million.

    This isn’t comforting. $30 million, whether they keep him for three years or not. If Brown gets hurt, his play declines, or he’s a disruptive force on the team, will that surprise anyone? If not, I would say the Raiders are taking a pretty big gamble. Also, Cowherd speculated that the move was done to sell tickets. That’s something I can’t dismiss as well.

    From what I know, AB has been durable, but the Raiders seem to be taking a chance on age and football character.

    Since NFL contracts are seldom guaranteed, a team can at any time just cut a player loose and that player gets nothing. If the team isn’t committed for the length of the contract, I don’t think the player should necessarily be either, especially when the contracts become drastically lopsided in the team’s favor.

    I really disliked the fact that teams can cut a player before the end of a contract, and yet we still use the word “contract.” The players are in an unfair situation. To me, here’s the issue. Sometimes a player will perform above or below a contract. If teams have to keep and pay players for the total cost and length of the contract, then that would make the situation fair. When a player plays above a contract, the team would benefit. When a player plays below a contract, the player would benefit. But now that teams can cut a player (sometimes after only a year), without much penalty, this makes the situation unfair. As far as I know, the players don’t have a similar ability–they have to resort to holdouts, or maybe sitting out a year like LeVeon, but the players suffer in this as well.

    Having said that, my impression is that AB didn’t handle the situation well. It seems like he signed a bad second contract. Isn’t that on him and his agent? Also, what he did last year hurt his teammates, not just himself.

    1. If AB only makes his guaranteed cash, that’s about $11M per season. In baseball, that’s what Kendrys Morales is scheduled to make. He’s a Toronto DH/1B with a career .268 BA. In 2018, Morales had 103 hits, 21 HR, 57 RBI, and 2 SB at age 34 in 130 games.

      AB is a hall of famer who last season put up numbers pretty much equivalent to his hall of fame peak years. Of course there’s no guarantee he’s this productive for 3 more seasons, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

      You know who makes $11M in the NBA this season? Imam Shumpert and Jusuf Nurkic. Solid players for sure but AB caught 14 TDs last season.

      You can’t compare players across sports like this, but $11M a season for the best WR in the league over the past six years? Totally worth the risk if you only gave up a 3rd rounder and a 5th rounder, the 66th and 141st picks of the draft. In 2010, the year Antonio Brown was drafted, the 66th pick was Amari Spievey for the Lions, a safety who played 35 games in the NFL. The 141st pick that year was a Bears CB named Joshua Moore who played 3 games and had 1 tackle. What are the Raiders risking from a strictly football perspective?

      1. The situation is $11 million a season even if he declines or the team cuts him. That is, the risk is the Raiders lose $11 million a season if AB doesn’t perform well and/or isn’t with the team. In terms of football, that $11 million less in cap space that you have for each of those years (assuming the money is spread out over three years). That doesn’t seem like a small risk.

        If AB plays well, and the Raiders keep him for all three years, than I assume that means they’re paying more than $11 million a year. If he plays at or near his current level, I think that might be worth it, but I ask you, are the chances pretty low that AB, at 31+, would decline, get hurt, or even cause off field disruptions? Answer the same question if AB was going to be 27.

  33. There is always a risk of injury and there is risk with any contract (not only in sports). I think there is a greater chance that AB will perform up to his contract than not. Of course he’s reliant on someone throwing him the ball, so that might hinder him as well.

    That being said though, I believe teams are built with third to fifth round picks. And the benefit because of the rookie wage scale, is these guys are cheap compared to first round picks. Your chance of landing a star of course goes down considerably, but you hope to get one to two contributors every year in these rounds. Some of Dallas’ picks in the last four years include Michael Gallup, Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis, Dak, Maliek Collins, and Damien Wilson, all starters. I was going to ask whether you would want a first round pick (what the Raiders got for Amari) or a third and a fifth. To me with the rookie wage scale, it’s pretty close. I think AB is worth at least a second and a fourth, so it’s still a deal, and the Raiders seem to have tons of picks, but I wouldn’t gloss over the cost of those picks.

    1. There is always a risk of injury and there is risk with any contract (not only in sports).

      Yes, but not all risks are the same. A 25 year old who has never had injuries or off field issues and has performed well for several years could get hurt, become a locker room problem, or even decline in performance, too. But the risk is probably way less than a 31 year old who has already had locker room issues.

      I think there is a greater chance that AB will perform up to his contract than not.

      I hope you’re right, but it seems dicey. Even if AB stays healthy, and maintains his level of play, if he becomes a huge locker room problem, that could negate the value of the deal. I will say this: This is not the type of player I’d want to give significant guaranteed money on a mutli-year contract.

      That being said though, I believe teams are built with third to fifth round picks. And the benefit because of the rookie wage scale, is these guys are cheap compared to first round picks.

      In a way, if you can turn 1st and 2nd rounders into a bunch of 3rd-5ths, yes that can make a huge impact. It’s not just 3rd-5th round, but having a pretty large number of them that’s critical I think.

      I was going to ask whether you would want a first round pick (what the Raiders got for Amari) or a third and a fifth.

      Based on watching the Seahawks I’d rather have the first. The quality of first rounders can be quite significant from a 3rd or 5th rounder. On the other hand, if you don’t find that player you can always trade back for more picks. I think in the last two years Seattle has traded back twice with their first pick.

      1. If Seattle traded back the past two years, you could make the assumption that they would rather have a 3rd and a 5th over a 1st rounder. The same teams love to move up, I feel like, and the same teams like to trade for more picks (ie: Pats).

        1. My sense is that a first can get you better than a 3rd and 5th. Sometimes they would just move back several slots (still in the first or going into the second), and then get an extra pick. And if I’m not mistaken they ended up getting 3 picks for one, and they don’t have a really high number 1.

  34. I apologize if I’ve ranted about this before, but I tired of hearing comments like the one below:

    The implication is, why don’t other teams copy the same approach? My response: Because no one else can coach like Belichick. Now, I have a specific idea of his coaching, and I should say right off the bat that my opinion could be totally wrong. However, if I’m correct, people shouldn’t point to New England as a team to emulate.

    OK, here’s my perception of Belichick and the key to the Patriots success: the players don’t really matter relative to Belichick’s ability to get his teams to morph into a style that best exploits opponents. Think about this: Through Belichick’s tenure in New England, how often has he had a truly great roster? How often has the roster been lackluster (including because of injuries)? Based on what I’ve seen, a great roster is not why they’re going to all those Super Bowls.

    If this is accurate, then Belichick can afford not to resign really good players. He can trade or cut players that don’t adhere that don’t adhere to his philosophy and culture. Other coaches and organization can’t afford to do that to the same degree, because they rely on the talented players more than Belichick does. I think Belichick needs some talent (like at QB), but many of the players just need to buy into his philosophy and be really intelligent. Give him Brady and a few other really talented players, and the rest of the roster just needs to be intelligent, good team players. I don’t think you can say that about any other coach/team.

    One last point, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. Belichick’s approach can work as long as there are one or two teams with a lot of talent and good coaching–teams that won the Super Bowl in the 80s and most of the 90s. Those type of teams have basically become extinct in the past 15 years or so. There have been teams with a lot of talent on one side of the ball, but not both. In my view, the morphing approach wouldn’t be really effective on these type of teams–not winning Super Bowls, anyway. I bring this up because I think it lends support to the theory that Belichick’s morphing style is the key to the Patriots’ success.

  35. Whoa: Giants trade OBJ to the Browns for Jabril Peppers and Browns 1st and 3rd round draft picks. Here’s the Browns offense:

    As far as I know, their defensive roster is pretty tough as well. It’s premature to call them Super Bowl contenders, but their roster makes this claim not totally crazy.

    Edit

    I forget the Browns also have Kareem Hunt.

      1. Too soon for the Browns? They gathered all these stars, but their QB will be a NFL sophomore. How long can they keep all these guys? Maybe they have cap space…

        1. I’m not even thinking of long-term sustainability. If they be really successful in the next two years, that’s pretty exciting. They might not be able to keep everyone, but as long as they didn’t mess up their cap, especially subsequent years, and I tend to think these moves are sound.

          Defenses will be ready for Mayfield, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles this. But the bigger key might be the quality of the OL. If they really struggle, nothing else matters–unless the defense is truly dominant.

          Speaking of which, I forgot to mention that they also picked up Sheldon Richardson. That DL is looking good.

    1. Is Ford a legitimate pass rusher or just good playing next to Houston and Jones? That seems like a reach for the Niners. Do you think he can be an every down LB, or is he?

      1. My sense is that Ford’s effectiveness wasn’t a simply a function of playing next to good players. (Houston didn’t always play, and I don’t think he’s as dominant as he once was. He’s kinda like a older DeMarcus Ware–can’t do it all game, but really good in spots.)

        Having said that, is he worth a lot of money? There are a bunch of edge rushers that are good, but I don’t know how good. Is Ford like Vernon, Clark, Ingram–I could name several others. (I tend to think Ingram is the best of that group, but maybe not be much.) I think it depends on how much you value a really good pass rusher, who may not be top tier.

        1. I’m probably most familiar to Vernon’s game and maybe Clark. There are edge rushers that mostly seem to just use quickness, like a Dante Fowler, but on the running plays, they can barely hold the edge. Whereas Vernon often plays the middle and rushes from that spot and he and Clark seem like every down guys. I wasn’t sure if Ford was that kind of guy. Randy Gregory is more in the mode of playing mostly as a rusher. He has a great motor, so on running plays he can run down a guy, but if you run towards him, it’s tough for him to hold up. I wouldn’t pay him big monies even if he never like the doobie.

  36. Where is Cole Beasley on this list? Haha, anywhoo, he’s either chasing money or overestimating his ability, because it’s not far fetch to think his career will die in Buffalo.

  37. I have a thought or hypothesis on this. Ingram seems like a smaller framed guy, but he has a physical running style. I wonder how long he can be productive. Murray, on the other hand, seems bigger, and bigger framed. I like physical RBs, but I’m not keen on small-ish physical RBs (e.g., Maurice Jones-Drew, Muscle Hamster–I love watching these guys in their prime, but these aren’t the type of RBs I’d prefer on my team.)

    On another note, the Raiders are really active in free agency. Besides AB, I’m hearing their signing Tyrell Williams from the Chargers. They also signed LeMarcus Joyner from the Rams. My honest reaction is that I think these are pretty risky picks. My impression is that the outcome for teams really active in free agency, especially early on, isn’t really great.

    The Ravens, not the Browns, get Earl Thomas; and they sign Mark Ingram. Earl could really elevate that defense into dominant one. From what I saw, their secondary looked really good, maybe one of the best. If Earl plays at his normal level, we could see LOB 2 or No Fly Zone 2. I kinda like the way the Ravens are headed, but I’m not sold on Jackson.

    (* I forget Raiders signed Trent Brown. Man, my feeling is that even if these players aren’t terrible, these signings won’t have good value–i.e., the Raiders paid more than what they’re worth, or get more than what they paid for.)

    1. Yeah but Ingram is leaps and bounds better than Murray. The Saints could even draft a guy better than Murray in a middle round (ie: 3-5).

      I thought the Ravens lost like 3-5 starters from their defense? Some old guys though (Suggs), I believe. Suggs is on the market? Dallas go get ’em.

      1. I’d say Ingram is better than Murray, but for how much longer–that’s my point. Also, Kamara is the RB1. Murray is a decent RB2. Then again, you make a good point–couldn’t the Saints get a similar back in the draft?

        I thought the Ravens lost like 3-5 starters from their defense? Some old guys though (Suggs), I believe. Suggs is on the market? Dallas go get ’em.

        Suggs went to the Cardinals. (I think Thomas Davis went there, too.) Ravens also lost Za’darious Smith (to the Packers) and CJ Mosley (to the Jets). Those are some big losses–and I better pump the breaks on them being a dominant defense.

        As for the Cowboys, the Chiefs released Eric Berry. I’m not sure how much he’d cost, but that seems like a guy they should look at. (I really hope he doesn’t go to the Patriots.)

  38. This kinda makes me feel the 49ers are really uncertain about McKinnon’s recovery (i.e., he can return to form). The way Breida (and another RB they had) performed, I was getting the feeling that Kyle Shanahan could mimic his father’s ability to find late round RBs and get a lot of value. If that’s the case, why spend on a RB in free agency. The move says they’re not certain about their existing stable and the rookies; and it also says to me that running is a big priority (which is not a surprise).

    1. Nah that isn’t a lot of money. Amari is making that much in one year. I think Zeke makes more than that and he is still on his rookie contract. Stop being a cheapskate.

      1. Actually, I’m not sure how much 2nd or 3rd RBs generally get. If it’s not uncommon to pay them $5 million or less per year, than I guess this is a good deal. It just seems like they’re OK at the RB position (unless they’re uncertain about McKinnon’s recovery) and that they have other holes to fill.

        1. But his skill set and knowledge of the offense would make Coleman a good candidate to be the main guy there I would think. In that situation $5 million doesn’t seem like a lot. I guess how much of it is guaranteed would be a factor as well I suppose.

  39. I think there’s potentially really good value here if teams can sign some of these players on team friendly deals:

    The ones that come to mind are Justin Houston, Jared Cook, KJ Wright, and Markus Golden. If they’re health prognosis is solid, they could be great values. (I’m sad that KJ will probably be leaving the Seahawks.)

    Houston kinda reminds me of DeMarcus Ware. On a key third down, maybe 2 minute drive, he could get you a sack. If Houston can do this, I think he has a lot of value. (Of course, he’s struggled to stay healthy, though.)

    I wasn’t a big fan of Cook, but his last year with the Packers and years with the Raiders have made me think he’s underrated. (He might have been the Raiders best pass-catching weapon.)

    1. He did lead the Raiders in receptions last season.

      Gostkowski’s a free agent, huh? That’s a bit of a surprise.

  40. Seahawks: resign KJ Wright and DJ Fluker. Sign Mike Iupati.

    I thought KJ was a goner, so I’m really happy they re-signed. I’m also relieved and happy about the guard situation. It’s highly unlikely both of those guys will play all 16 games, though. But it at least creates some stability, and when the OL is healthy they could be better than last year. Best day in the offseason!

    1. Outside of injuries is Iupati still good? I know he was close to great at one point, but that was some years ago right?

      1. I haven’t watched Iupati much, but if OL ratings by organizations like PFF matter, I believe they ranked him as the 6th best run blocker, but he wasn’t rated as a good pass blocker.

        I think my enthusiasm has decreased a bit since yesterday. Even if those guys play well, in all likelihood, they’re going to miss games, and likely not a small amount. That means, other players are going to get considerable playing time. I’m nervous that those replacements will be shaky. But most of my enthusiasm stems from avoiding a situation where the Seahawks lose both Sweezy and Fluker and basically go into the season with the existing roster, whatever rookies they draft and some cheap FA. The rookies and cheap FAs in the past have been big disappointments (with Fluker and Sweezy being exceptions). Signing Fluker and, to a lesser degree, Iupati avoids that situation. Iupati could be disappointing like those previous cheap FA.

        However, the biggest issue is health, not actual ability (although he’s not a spring chicken.) There are also two significant factors in the plus column: 1) He is known to be a good run-blocker in the mauling sense; and 2) Schotty and the Seahawks are the perfect fit for that, whereas the Cardinals may not have been. In my opinion, one of the highest priorities for the team is good physical run-blockers. To me, Schotty has a very primitive, Neanderthal-ish approach to offense–i.e., “My OL bash your DL, unga-bunga.” I’m kidding, but only a little. This isn’t that far off from his approach. I like placing a little more emphasis on physicality and execution, but Schotty goes way too far in my view. If I’m right, then a lot depends on getting an OL that can out physical and out execute the opposing defense, especially the best ones–particularly in the run game. If I had to boil down the keys to the Seahawk success next year, this would be at the top of the list.

        Edit

        By the way, I just heard that PFF also rated Fluker as the 70th best run blocker (out of 88 players).

    1. I think the Titans are going in with the plan that Mariota is the definite starter. But if Tannehill starts looking better than Mariota in the offseason–and he has the potential to do so–that could create a QB controversy. I’m a little concerned about how this could impact Mariota in terms of his confidence as well. I don’t think he’s established himself enough where I would be confident that this wouldn’t really impact him.

      But the signing makes sense. I would have liked to have seen Tannehill go to the Bears, but that would be even more problematic for Trubisky. (I’m at the point where my faith in Trubisky is low, way lower than in Mariota, so I tend to think the Bears are better off giving Tannehill a shot and moving on from Trubisky.)

  41. The tweet made me think again of Jim Caldwell. Cowherd raises concerns about the culture and locker room. I think that’s valid. Caldwell may not be a great coach, but I think he would be a good guy to address this issue. He seems disciplined and organized. I think he was crucial to getting the Lions to stop being the Cleveland of the NFC, which isn’t a small feat.

    Don’t Write Off the Steelers

    I also saw a blurb that Cowherd warned not to discount the Steelers next year–i.e., don’t just assume the Steelers will fall behind the Browns and Ravens. I agree with this. The Steelers could very well be in an addition by subtraction situation. I think the Seahawks experienced something like that last year. Seattle became far less talented without Bennett, Sherman, and Earl (due to injury), but I really think they performed better as a team overall, and I think losing those three players actually contributed to that (because of losing distractions and creating a more unified team and stronger locker room).

    I think the Steelers are still going to have one of the better OLs, they have Ben, and talent on defense. Besides culture, I think the bigger issue is the way their more offensive, pass-heavy approach. If this team went back to the old Steeler way–emphasizing a physical defense and run game, they’d be better off. (I’m not sure Roethlisberger would be OK with that, though.)

    1. Was he slated to be their starting RT? If so, you’re right, that’s not good to hear. I think they lost John Feliciano, who I don’t think was great, but at least had some experience. So, it’s Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson, plus Trent Brown (whom I can’t help but feel they overpaid for), and Kolten Miller (and the jury’s out on him, I think). Who do they have at LG, replacing Osemele?

  42. Mitchell,

    So I scoff a little when people worry about locker room culture without knowing what the culture actually is.

    I think we have to separate between values, standards, and norms and the means by which management promotes and enforces them. With regard to the former, I would expect that certain values and norms would appear consistently in a good work place culture–e.g., hard work, good performance, respect for others, etc. However, with regard to establishing and maintaining a good culture, organizations can vary in the way that they do this. You mentioned positive versus a negative approach. I think Pete Carroll ascribes to more of the former, while Belichick is more of the latter. Yet, if one examined both organizations would see a lot of cultural similarities–not exactly the same, but many.

    The one value that I think both would share and that is most germane to our discussion involves teamwork and team unity–the idea that the team is more important than the individual; that players have to make individual sacrifices for the betterment of the team; that the rules apply to everyone. I’m almost certain that good NFL organization not only values this, but does a good job of establishing this value in the organization and the individuals that are a part of it.

    Really talented players can pose a threat to this objective. For example, they might begin to believe and act as if they are more important to than the team, that he rules don’t apply to them, like it does to others. Or, maybe a talented player has off field issues that bring in distractions from the media, and these disruptions hurt the team’s overall performance. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that any of these situations will definitely lead to deleterious effects. Some organizations can manage these situations well and avoid those problems. But I strongly disagree with dismissing the concerns that these situations could cause to the team, and its culture.

    John Madden’s Raiders were notorious for being crazy and reckless.

    What about the idea that players and the media landscape have changed, so that Madden’s approach either wouldn’t be so effective if he didn’t change?

    There’s some very recent domestic violence stuff with Antonio Brown that’s concerning, but aside from that, has Brown really been bad off the field?

    I honestly don’t know a lot about what was said. My understanding is that he made publicly criticized the team or players and quit on the team in the last game (i.e., he refused to go play). I’m not sure if this is correct, but if it is, that’s not a good thing. And while I suspect Tomlin (and the organization overall) deserve a lot of blame, this doesn’t absolve the player or eliminate any red flags. If AB disrupts the Raiders in some way, no one can say it was a surprise.

    I’m skeptical about comments about what a player is going to add or take away from the locker room culture unless I’m hearing it from a person who knows what the culture is, and what the head coach’s intention for the culture is.

    The skepticism is fair, but I would disagree if you’re dismissing the red flags around this–which is the impression I get. I also don’t think the taking a player like AB definitely means the Raiders will have problems. I don’t think anyone knows for sure. At the same time, I think Gruden has shown a relatively high tolerance for guys with red flags, and I do think this increases the challenges to establishing a good culture (because it strengthens idea that talent is more important than character, and certain individuals are more valuable than others).

  43. I didn’t watch the Giants closely, especially towards the end of the season, but count me as a skeptic of Gettleman’s claims. I don’t get the sense that the OL was the main problem. It just seems like Eli has declined. On the other hand–and this is what makes evaluating Eli so difficult–Eli’s career, in my opinion, has been characterized by periods of mediocre play, and while performing quite well in other moments. That’s my impression of his career, other than 2009, the year of his second Super Bowl, which seemed like his best and most consistent year. So on some level, it makes sense to expect that he could turn things around. When I watch him, I can’t really point to anything specifically about this throwing that makes me say he’s significantly declined. Still, I feel like the problem is with him–and last year makes me a little more confident about that. In previous years, you could point to a poor supporting cast. In 2018, while the OL still had problems, it doesn’t seem like that sufficiently explains his lackluster performance. (Also, I didn’t get the impression that Eli was great in the second half, as Gettleman claims. But again, I lost interest in the team at some point.)

    1. No way. He does fit the old Raiders identity, but times have changed, especially in relation to what we know about head injuries. The fact that Burfict continued and continues to play really undermines the notion that the league really cares about cleaning up the game in my opinion.

      1. I am kinda happy. Let’s see what Gruden can do with him. $5M is a bargain if they can keep him on the field and out of league trouble for, say, 13 games.

  44. Several comments about this article:

    1. I don’t feel any bitterness towards Earl for leaving for more money. (The way he handled the whole thing is another issue.)

    2. A player flipping off a coach creates an interesting situation, and I’m ambivalent/leaning toward the negative about the way Carroll has handled it (although we’re only seeing the public side of things). In another interview, Carroll expressed some sympathy to Earl by talking about players in general–how they’re young, still trying to find their way, trying to make business decisions, etc. I think Carroll is right, and I respect that he is understanding and gracious when it comes to players behaving in difficult and sometimes inappropriate ways. At the same time, he is an authority figure, and the respect and authority that players, assistant coaches and others in the organization have for him is critical. If he lets another person treat him inappropriately and disrespectfully, he is in danger of losing the respect of those around him. So when he publicly responds to Earl, I think he should be mindful of the way other players and coaches perceive these responses. (Carroll’s words and actions outside of public view are also critical.)

    1. Reid,

      You mentioned in previous posts how unfair it is for players in Earl’s situation as compared to the owners/GMs. I wonder what steps you think Earl should have taken or basically what would you have done in his situation?

      1. I really don’t know what steps he should have taken, but my sense is that there were better ones available–although that depends. If maximizing his salary far outweighed any other concerns (e.g., impact on the team, previous trust and good relations with management), then maybe he took the right steps.

        I’d like to think I’d handle it differently. For one thing, the Seahawks are not solely responsible for the current CBA. Additionally, the current situation is something the players union agreed to, as far I know. Second, my perception is that Seahawks do a lot to treat the players with respect. Carroll’s approach is to help players realize their potential and their goals. The emphasis is on caring about the player. In a business like NFL, this approach has real limits, but I think the Seahawks take it to this limit (and I think you could make a case this actually hurts what they do on the field).

        If both are true, I’d hope I’d be more understanding and show a little more deference to the FO, Carroll, and the team.

        1. Despite all that you wrote, Earl must have felt that the team wasn’t going to pay him what he’s worth (like it’s not about the money per se, but the feeling that the FO doesn’t care about Earl the worker or person if they willing to pay this other guy so much but not me). And my guess is Seattle’s offer (if there was one) wasn’t even close to what he thought he’s worth or what he ended up getting. Add to that they got rid of all his “closest” teammates (just a guess) and the fact that Carroll seem to have a lot of power in the FO, could make a lot of the good things Carroll does irrelevant. All assumptions, but it tough to see the good things you mentioned if you think the FO doesn’t care about you by giving you what you think you are worth, but willing to give it to others.

          1. Despite all that you wrote, Earl must have felt that the team wasn’t going to pay him what he’s worth (like it’s not about the money per se, but the feeling that the FO doesn’t care about Earl the worker or person if they willing to pay this other guy so much but not me).

            He might have felt that, but do you think he was being reasonable? Do you think the team not wanting to pay $15 million per year to a 30 year old, with injury history, indicates that they don’t care about him as a worker or person?

            They paid Kam a 3rd contract, and the team paid for him in 2018, and they’re still paying–even though Kam didn’t and won’t play. They gave Marshawn a 3rd contract and that didn’t work out that great, too, as he was often injured at the end. If he’s mad at that, OK, but it’s hard to blame the team in my opinion. I also don’t think it means they don’t care.

            Something else: it’s not like Earl handled the situation great, too (i.e., going to the Cowboy lockerroom). You want the team to take extra special care of you, this is not a good way to do that.

            Also, since we’re speculating, I could see the FO saying things like, “We understand you want more money, and you prefer being traded. We’ll do our best to facilitate this, but please help us by doing X, Y, Z.” If Earl blew that off, you could see would decrease likelihood FO would accomodate Earl more.

            And the FO also tried to trade him in the off season–but they couldn’t find any takers. Do you think it was unreasonable to not want to trade Earl for 3rd or even a 2nd? (I heard they had a deal with KC before Earl got hurt.)

            Add to that they got rid of all his “closest” teammates (just a guess)…

            Let’s assume this is true, do you think blaming the team for this is reasonable? And if you’re saying Earl thinks they got rid of his friends to hurt him, that’s so unreasonable I won’t even ask you.

            … and the fact that Carroll seem to have a lot of power in the FO,…

            Carroll has power, but this organization has a cap plan and they’re really disciplined about it. They don’t give me the impression that they will mess up their plan just because of one guy.

            All assumptions, but it tough to see the good things you mentioned if you think the FO doesn’t care about you by giving you what you think you are worth, but willing to give it to others.

            There are plenty of players that didn’t get what they wanted–and so they left in free agency (e.g., Golden Tate, Sweezy, Maxwell, etc.) The FO made them offers, but they could get better deal. Seahawks don’t give everything a player wants. I’ll say this: the ones that generally get better treatment are the ones that do everything right–they buy in, they’re good teammates, etc. Earl (and Sherm) weren’t really doing that at the end. (In contrast, they did give KJ Wright a contract, a player who doesn’t everything right. But it should be noted that the free agent market wasn’t so great for him. If it were, he’d probably be gone–i.e., the team didn’t give him what he wanted.)

          2. Do you think the team not wanting to pay $15 million per year to a 30 year old, with injury history, indicates that they don’t care about him as a worker or person?

            Was that the amount he wanted from Seattle to stay? Because he took less than that to go to Baltimore. If Seattle did offer him a decent contract and he refused it, than maybe he is just a “bad” guy or a diva.

            And the FO also tried to trade him in the off season–but they couldn’t find any takers. Do you think it was unreasonable to not want to trade Earl for 3rd or even a 2nd? (I heard they had a deal with KC before Earl got hurt.)

            I’m pretty sure the talk was they wanted a number one from the Cowboys.

            Let’s assume this is true, do you think blaming the team for this is reasonable?

            I would think most people would have some resentment if they got rid of the coworkers they were closest to. Maybe one could say that’s not be reasonable, but it seems realistic to me.

            Your original answer made it seem like it should be hard to have resentment in Seattle based on how well the players are treated. I agree that Earl probably isn’t a great guy and that he acted was terrible. I was just laying out a possibility of why Earl could be pissed at Seattle and Carroll. My assumptions could be way off, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a player to not feel appreciated if in Earl’s situation, and I don’t think that the only reason Earl could have acted out is because he only cares about the money. He could feel unappreciated despite how well Carroll treats his players.

    2. I don’t blame you for holding onto your concept of a coach as an authority figure — many athletes feel the same way, especially those who played as youth but not professionally. In recent years, I’ve been leaning in a new direction, because it makes much more sense to me to think of team owners and coaches as partners. “Labor” disputes in professional sports really highlight this for me. Professional leagues absolutely cannot thrive without the highest levels of athletes, so the relationship is one of mutal need. And if you ask me, the leagues need the players far more than the players need the leagues except maybe at the semi-pro level such as the new spring football leagues.

      This doesn’t (necessarily) excuse Thomas’s uncivil and unprofessional behavior. I’m inclined to write him a pass because coaches and players both do stupid things in the heat of competition. It’s over the line, yes, but it’s one incident. How long did we put up with Woody Hayes and Bob Knight?

      There needs to be mutual respect, not as boss and employer, but as partner and partner in this relationship.

      1. In recent years, I’ve been leaning in a new direction, because it makes much more sense to me to think of team owners and coaches as partners.

        I think that’s fine, but are you saying that the owners and coaches are essentially equal in terms of power and authority with the players? That is, do you think they’re collaborators operating on a level playing field, or does one group have more power and authority over the other?

        This doesn’t (necessarily) excuse Thomas’s uncivil and unprofessional behavior. I’m inclined to write him a pass because coaches and players both do stupid things in the heat of competition. It’s over the line, yes, but it’s one incident.

        If this were only one incident, and Thomas genuinely felt contrite and apologize, I think giving him a pass could totally be justified. But what if this wasn’t the first incident, and it was clear he didn’t genuinely feel contrite? Suppose incidents like this occurred with other players. Is there a point where the coach shouldn’t give these things a pass? And let’s say the coach did address these things, but they still keep happening. is there a point where the coach has administer a more severe consequence?

        There needs to be mutual respect, not as boss and employer, but as partner and partner in this relationship.

        I agree, but I also think the boss/employer will have, and probably should have, more authority. Additionally, having more authority doesn’t preclude mutual respect. Do you agree with both?

      2. Reid said

        I think that’s fine, but are you saying that the owners and coaches are essentially equal in terms of power and authority with the players? That is, do you think they’re collaborators operating on a level playing field, or does one group have more power and authority over the other?

        I think if we keep concerning ourselves with authority and power, we’ll never get past this old way of thinking of the relationship. When you and I work on an important project together, does one of us have more authority or power than the other, and does it matter? Or do we focus instead on our common goal and objectives? Why can’t an NFL reconceive the relationship between its management and players similarly? Everyone has something at stake. Everyone has the same basic goals.

        If Tomlin had said, “Look, men. I don’t understand social media and I don’t like it, but I do understand how important it is to you. What can we do so that my secondary and tertiary goals are satisfied and so are yours when it comes to social media?” don’t you think his team would have responded much better than it did to his “NO SOCIAL MEDIA” edict? I do. And for all Tomlin’s supposed power and authority, did anyone achieve his goals? No. You can blame the player, as many do, or you can blame them both, as I do, for not partnering in good faith.

        If this were only one incident, and Thomas genuinely felt contrite and apologize, I think giving him a pass could totally be justified. But what if this wasn’t the first incident, and it was clear he didn’t genuinely feel contrite?

        I know you don’t believe me, but I honestly wouldn’t care. The man was being wheeled off the field for what could have been the last time (and what turned out to be the last time as a Seahawk). I wouldn’t behave that way (I don’t think), but is it really that big a deal? My ego can handle a middle finger, and I don’t feel like less of anything if others see me take it. I get the sense his coach feels the same way. What does his coach have to prove to anyone by not sticking to the high road?

        Suppose incidents like this occurred with other players. Is there a point where the coach shouldn’t give these things a pass? And let’s say the coach did address these things, but they still keep happening. is there a point where the coach has administer a more severe consequence?

        If it’s a healthy partnership, incidents like this won’t keep happening. If it’s an unhealthy partnership, the team needs to decide how to make it healthy or to end the relationship. I don’t understand this whole “administer a more severe consequence” concept. If you and I were working on an important project together, and you did that to me, would I administer a consequence to you? If I found the relationship unworkable, I would leave the partnership (as Thomas seems to have done to the best of his ability). If not, I would express my displeasure and see if we couldn’t continue with the project. I could try to make you run laps, but I have a feeling the result would be the same: our partnership would be over.

        I agree, but I also think the boss/employer will have, and probably should have, more authority.

        I feel like I’m somehow not getting through to you that I don’t think they should think of themselves as boss and employee. How else can I put it so you understand I’m trying to revise the way teams see the relationships as partnerships?

        1. I feel like I’m somehow not getting through to you that I don’t think they should think of themselves as boss and employee. How else can I put it so you understand I’m trying to revise the way teams see the relationships as partnerships?

          I think I understand what you’re trying to do. But here’s where I’m having problems:

          1. The revision can’t (and shouldn’t) eliminate the power disparity that exists between employer and employee. Employers will have more power–power to make the final call on decisions. If you think any revision can or should do this, then this is where we would disagree.

          2. The disparity in power doesn’t preclude a working relationship that functions very similarly to a partnership. Cooperation and mutual respect can occur. Do you think this is possible or do you think the type of relationship you have in mind requires an elimination of power disparity?

          3. Accepting a power disparity–recognizing the importance proper use of authority–is not equivalent to a dictatorial, drill sergeant approach. I’m not sure if you agree or not, but it would help to know your stance on this.

          Perhaps, what you’re attempting to do is de-emphasize the power disparity–you want people stop fixating on this, even though you recognize it’s a reality. If so, I’m far more sympathetic to this. I think employers can spend too much time thinking about using power, enforcing rules, resorting to punishment–versus cultivating mutual respect, exercising more patient, allowing more autonomy to employees, and being patient when they make mistakes. If this is where you’re coming from, I agree with all of this.

          However, I don’t think this eliminates the important issue of administering consequences, enforcing standards and rules. If you think efforts to foster mutual respect and cooperation will eliminate the need for these things, I really disagree with you. For one thing, ending a relationship–i.e., job termination–is an example of administering consequences, a very severe one. Additionally, exercising patience with a difficult relationship can negatively impact the culture and even the effectiveness of the employer. I’ll go into that more later if we need to, but I think if you respond to the points above, we can move this discussion along.

        2. (Shoot, I thought my one response would basically address most of the key points in your post, but here’s one I forgot.)

          When you and I work on an important project together, does one of us have more authority or power than the other, and does it matter?

          If you and I, as friends, worked on some project (e.g., building a model rocket), I don’t think one would have more authority, and it wouldn’t matter. But suppose we add a few more people to the project. The more people we add, would it matter if one or more people had more authority? How likely would it be for the group to operate with everyone having equal authority? (By this I mean, one wouldn’t exert more leadership than any other–that all decisions will be made collectively without someone organizing this process.) Now, let’s suppose you had a $1 million and you wanted to start a model rocket business. I decided to help you, and you hired people. Wouldn’t there be differences in authority now, and wouldn’t that matter? If I or an employee behaved as we had equal authority, you don’t think that would cause a lot of problems?

  45. The Raiders won an award for best transaction at the recent Sloan Conference. For the Khalil Mack trade.

    The Raiders didn’t believe it either. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey — founder of the conference and a member of the voting panel — called team president Marc Badain to tell him of the award beforehand.

    “Marc thought I was making fun of him,” Morey said in a telephone interview Saturday. “I had to tell him several times that I wasn’t kidding. I guess they took a lot of heat for that.”

    Someone told Morey that Jon Gruden loves the trophy. And that the large, lower-case “a” sits on his desk in his office.

    This is from Vic Tafur at the Athletic. Pretty cute story.

    1. I disliked him when he was with the Packers (especially since there were many games with the Seahawks, with some run ins). I relish seeing him get nailed by the Seahawk OL.

      Edit:

      On the other hand, if he’s got something left in the tank, I suspect he’d be great in Phillips’s scheme, and he could cause headaches for Seattle. So there’s an ugh reaction to this move.

  46. Cobb has not really looked that great in teh past few years, but he might have been hurt, too. Maybe he can revive himself in Dallas. Don, how are you liking this?

  47. Was that the amount he wanted from Seattle to stay? Because he took less than that to go to Baltimore. If Seattle did offer him a decent contract and he refused it, than maybe he is just a “bad” guy or a diva.

    I don’t know if that was the original number he used when negotiations first started, but that’s the number that came out during free agency. I thought he wanted a longer term contract, but I’m sure if he confirmed that. In any event, I believe was going to give him a one year, $12 million deal, I think, and he was ready to sign. So up until the Ravens came in, it seems like no other team wanted to give him a long term deal, and not $15 million per year. If this is true, my point is that this suggests that Seattle may not have been so unreasonable, although I don’t know what they offered him. (Also Earl was surprised by Ravens offer and quickly jumped at it. If you read the reports it reinforces the idea this was all about money. Another report said that if Dallas and SF offer was similar he go to SF with Sherm. In other words, if Dallas paid more, he go to Dallas.)

    I’m pretty sure the talk was they wanted a number one from the Cowboys.

    I heard that, too–either that or a 2nd round. (I thought they were going to deal Earl to KC for a 2nd rounder, but I’m not sure.) What I’m asking is if you think they’re unreasonable for declining a 3rd round pick.

    I would think most people would have some resentment if they got rid of the coworkers they were closest to. Maybe one could say that’s not be reasonable, but it seems realistic to me.

    In the NFL, I would be surprised if this happens–especially in the sense that contributing to a player acting out against a team. What you’re saying sounds like, “Man, they cut my players l liked–I’m going to make it rough on them.”

    I was just laying out a possibility of why Earl could be pissed at Seattle and Carroll. My assumptions could be way off, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a player to not feel appreciated if in Earl’s situation, and I don’t think that the only reason Earl could have acted out is because he only cares about the money. He could feel unappreciated despite how well Carroll treats his players.

    I think the explanations you offered could be correct. The bigger question for me is if they’re reasonable and fair, or not. Players can have a lot of reasons they don’t feel appreciated or respected–but it doesn’t mean they’re right or have a reasonable view. When Sherm left, he made some comment like the team didn’t really support him, that they just gave up on him after the injury, something to that effect, and I thought that was unfair (although I don’t know what happened behind the scenes.) If anything it just seemed like Carroll was too patient, that he tolerated too much.

    While I say the Seahawks do a lot to treat their players respectfully and they genuinely care–this is relative to the cold-blooded nature of the NFL. Performance matters. If you’re not good–or injuries or age are an issue, they can and will be cold-blooded. But I feel like within this context, they’re really trying to care for their players and treat them with respect.

  48. Here’s Russell Okung’s thread on the unfairness of not having guaranteed contract:

    He doesn’t really mention the salary cap, and I would guess that’s one of the biggest obstacles to guaranteed contracts. My sense is that guaranteed contracts would cripple the ability of put the best team on the field. At the end, Okung suggests not counting dead money against the cap. I assume he means that teams could cut players, but still honor the contract (i.e., pay what was stipulated in contract), but that money wouldn’t count against the team’s cap. Would that solve the problem? I’m not sure.

    The one idea I had was to not count season injuries (or worse) against the cap. I’m not sure that would make guaranteed contracts more palatable to teams, but I would it would allow teams to get another player. (And if this happened, wouldn’t that benefit players?)

    1. My sense is that guaranteed contracts would cripple the ability of put the best team on the field.

      You think so? Most (if not all) the bigger named players have contracts that have at least part of their monies guaranteed. It’s those fringe stars that probably don’t get it, but I believe Cole Beasley contract had guaranteed money with Buffalo. I guess it’s a matter of how much is guaranteed. To me contracts without guaranteed monies is unfair to the players, yes, but it makes the NFL that much more interesting if you are into that “part” of the league. Because most stars get guaranteed monies, it makes it more difficult to manage the cap, which probably makes it more interesting to fans who follow it. Like Romo’s guaranteed portion ate at Dallas’ cap for two years after Romo retired I believe. I guess what I said so far makes it sound like I’m in favor of guaranteed money for everyone, but that would take away a good portion of “managing” the cap from the team. In terms of keeping the best players on the field, guaranteed money could possibly mean not cutting veteran players, because you would owe them that money anyway. So the team instead of having a younger guy, would have to keep the veteran. Also guaranteed money for everyone would mean less money for the better players, because teams wouldn’t be able to cut guys to “make room” to pay their better players. Okung’s suggestion of not including dead money may solve some of the problems I mentioned above, but again it would take away some of the “fun” of teams having to manage the cap. Not to mention, what’s in it for the owners to agree to that? I would rather the players just fight for more money for all players that sort of takes into account the risk of being cut or not getting guaranteed money.

  49. Most (if not all) the bigger named players have contracts that have at least part of their monies guaranteed.

    But think if they were guaranteed the entire contract–all the money for multiple years. If the player can’t play due to injury or plays below their contract, the team is stuck. Now, smart teams can cut players after one or two years without hurting their future cap.

    One thing: Because of the hard cap, value is key. The quality of the player isn’t as important as the quality of the player relative to the contract (cap hit). A team can have a lot of great players, but if they’re being overpaid, that team isn’t going to be in as good a shape as a team who doesn’t sign those players, but has players with good value. I think you see this in free agency. Teams that go crazy in the beginning may be getting really good players, but they’re often overpaying for them (I worry Trent Brown is going to be like this.). The guys available now might not be as good, but they’ll might provide teams with better value.

    To me contracts without guaranteed monies is unfair to the players, yes, but it makes the NFL that much more interesting if you are into that “part” of the league.

    Yeah, I’m not really into managing the cap game. I’d much prefer players getting paid fairly and fielding really good teams.

    I’m not sure guaranteed contracts would take away from the “fun” you mentioned though. One possible consequence is that contracts would be for less money and less years–which seems like a more accurate and honest reflection on contracts today. GMs would just have to play the cap game really well.

    In terms of keeping the best players on the field, guaranteed money could possibly mean not cutting veteran players, because you would owe them that money anyway. So the team instead of having a younger guy, would have to keep the veteran.

    But wouldn’t that likely hurt the quality of the team? Think about the importance of value. Teams are likely cutting vets because they likely have less value than younger players. If value is critical to fielding the best teams (over a period of time), getting stuck with veterans will likely hamstring teams, right?

    Not to mention, what’s in it for the owners to agree to that?

    I can’t think of much, and it seems like owners would be worse off. If dead money doesn’t count, that essentially is a way of expanding the cap, which translates to more spending by the owner. But the status quo is not fair to the players–i.e., “Here’s a four year contract for $20 million, but really we’re only guaranteeing $10 million and we can cut you after 1 year with no penalties.”

    I would rather the players just fight for more money for all players that sort of takes into account the risk of being cut or not getting guaranteed money.

    How would getting a greater cut sort out the last two problems?

    1. If the player can’t play due to injury or plays below their contract, the team is stuck. Now, smart teams can cut players after one or two years without hurting their future cap.

      Huh? Yeah this would be a reasoning against guaranteed money, which is what I said. I guess you were defending your if the player is injured his contract shouldn’t be counted against the cap idea.

      I’m not sure guaranteed contracts would take away from the “fun” you mentioned though. One possible consequence is that contracts would be for less money and less years–which seems like a more accurate and honest reflection on contracts today. GMs would just have to play the cap game really well.

      I think it’s easier to manage a cap if you had longer contracts (ie: harder to manage shorter contracts). The Phillies just gave Harper a 13 year deal knowing he wasn’t going to be great for 13 years. But it was a benefit to the Phillies because they could spread that money over 13 years so they don’t have larger cap hit if he was paid the same amount over 9 years. I guess you could say yeah but what about the last four years where he’s not playing or not good and still counting against the cap. But I think that’s still easier to deal with knowing the cap will probably be higher then and his hit on the cap will be easier to take.

      Think about the importance of value. Teams are likely cutting vets because they likely have less value than younger players.

      I think you have a point here. But at some point the player is not going to be worth what he’s owed and then if monies were guaranteed the team would be stuck. At least at this point with teams having to choose whether to give guaranteed monies, the team either “made their bed” with a larger guaranteed contract and have to deal with it or benefit from it if the player stays productive or they could just get out from under it, at least they have options.

      How would getting a greater cut sort out the last two problems?

      Two problems, which two problems? Basically what I’m saying about more money instead of guaranteed contracts is this: I can offer a player 4 years for 24 million with no guarantee money or 4 years for 20 million with 10 guaranteed. Players should say if you not going make all contracts guaranteed, then the owners should be willing to pay more to all players. Which could mean increasing the rookie salary cap and the league minimums and then looking for a 10% bump in all future contracts.

  50. Don,

    Huh?

    I said that I think guaranteed contracts would cripple teams’ ability to field the best team. You said, “You think so?” I was responding to that–explaining how I think that would happen.

    I think it’s easier to manage a cap if you had longer contracts (ie: harder to manage shorter contracts).

    So that would make cap management even more fun, right? (That’s what I was addressing.)

    But at some point the player is not going to be worth what he’s owed and then if monies were guaranteed the team would be stuck

    Right–this is one reason guaranteed contracts would make it harder to field the best teams. (It sounds like we agree on this point?)

    Two problems, which two problems?

    This: “… the risk of being cut or not getting guaranteed money.”

    Basically what I’m saying about more money instead of guaranteed contracts is this: I can offer a player 4 years for 24 million with no guarantee money or 4 years for 20 million with 10 guaranteed.

    Either proposition seems bad–neither is truly a contract. Offering 24 million means little if the owner ultimately can choose to pay or not. Similarly, $20 million is a bit illusory as well. What’s real is what’s guaranteed.

    To me a better, fairer option would be something like this: either a contract where money and years are guaranteed, or the allow both sides to opt out in a relatively equal way. For example, if teams can end a multi-year contract after one year without pay total value of contract, then players should be allowed to go to FA after one year, too–or something like that.

    Players should say if you not going make all contracts guaranteed, then the owners should be willing to pay more to all players.

    (This is different from the 4 year, 24 million scenario, right?) I think this makes a little more sense. It sounds like something I heard someone else say: The key issue is how much of the league revenue will go to the players. After that, the players can decide how that is divided. More could go to rookies, some of the funds could go to health insurance or retirement. It makes sense on some level, but is this how other unions make deals? That is, management decides on a lump sum employees get, and the union decides how to spend that (salaries, health care and other benefits). Seems like a better deal for management and something that could cause dissension in unions.

    1. I said that I think guaranteed contracts would cripple teams’ ability to field the best team.

      Yeah my bad. We basically was saying the same thing, where guaranteed contracts could potentially hurt the product overall.

      So that would make cap management even more fun, right? (That’s what I was addressing.)

      Again I misinterpreted. Yeah I guess it could lead to shorter contracts, but like in my Harper example it could lead to longer contracts to spread the monies out.

      (This is different from the 4 year, 24 million scenario, right?) I think this makes a little more sense.

      Actually it’s one in the same, I was trying to point out how a contract without guaranteed monies could equal a contract with guarantee monies by increase the value. Basically mitigate the risk of not having guaranteed contracts by getting more money overall.

      The key issue is how much of the league revenue will go to the players.

      Do any other sports league have this? I heard of revenue sharing, but that refers to all teams sharing a pot of certain revenue made by the league. I’m not sure if any of that goes to the players.

      1. Yeah my bad. We basically was saying the same thing, where guaranteed contracts could potentially hurt the product overall.

        Got it.

        Again I misinterpreted. Yeah I guess it could lead to shorter contracts, but like in my Harper example it could lead to longer contracts to spread the monies out.

        I’m unclear and uncertain if they would make longer contracts (and I assume you mean with all the money guaranteed?). Spreading the cap out isn’t good if the player has regressed or not playing any more. Or am I missing something?

        Actually it’s one in the same, I was trying to point out how a contract without guaranteed monies could equal a contract with guarantee monies by increase the value.

        But the increased value is not very meaningful if the money isn’t guaranteed, right? You don’t think $10 mil guaranteed is more valuable than $24 not guaranteed?

        Do any other sports league have this? I heard of revenue sharing, but that refers to all teams sharing a pot of certain revenue made by the league. I’m not sure if any of that goes to the players.

        I have no idea. I have a fuzzy recollection that in the last CBA a certain amount of money was given to the players and that that was supposed to be for insurance or pensions…Basically the union would decide how much from that would go to those things versus going to players now, I guess. I have no idea if this accurate, but it sounds similar to this idea of wrangling over percentage of the revenues.

        While the union (of any league) may not technically wrangle over revenue, isn’t that essentially what happens? Or do unions push that to the side when thinking about salaries and benefits. In other words, their demands could exceed revenues (wherein the owners would have to reach into their pockets). This scenario not only sounds impractical, but unreasonable. Therefore, couldn’t we assume that everything the players can’t exceed revenues of the league (and probably will be much less)?

        1. $1 million more a year could not compensate for no guaranteed money? Hmmmm. How much more would it take? Don’t you think most contracts (at least the more well known guys) get completed? I cannot think of someone Dallas cut to save money recently. I know Sean Lee would have, but he redid his deal. I actually have no idea…

          1. $1 million more a year could not compensate for no guaranteed money?

            I have to be missing something. You’re talking about this, right: “4 years for 24 million with no guarantee money or 4 years for 20 million with 10 guaranteed?”( I assume you mean $1 million more per year.)

            The first offer is more, but who cares if it’s not guaranteed? It’s more on paper, but if the team cuts you after one year, you only get $6 million. What I am missing?

          2. So even if the offer was $28 million over four years, you would still rather take the $10 million guaranteed with a total contract of $20 million? Are you saying the non guaranteed contract only gets better if you are offered $40 million, which means you are mostly likely at least to get the first year’s $10 million?

            In the original offer of 4 years and $24 million, you are taking the risk of getting cut yes, but you are getting a bump up in pay of 20% to compensate you for that risk. It’s like you can buy a stock in a Hawaiian Electric type company and know they probably won’t ever go “belly up”, but with little return on investment, or you can take a risk on a new type of company (ie: Biki) with a possibility of a higher return. It’s the same concept more money due to more risk.

  51. The big talk in Dallas is the Randall Cobb signing. The obvious comparison between Cobb and Beasley occurred. Cobb is one year younger 29 to Beasley’s 30 (I know, I was surprised too.). Cobb ended up getting a couple million less than Beasley a year, but even if that wasn’t the case who do you guys think is the better player? Cobb’s production seem to have slowed down quite a bit recently, and he plays with Rodgers. However, Cobb might have been great at one time, and I do not know if I can say that about Beasley. Both have been injured often in the past few years, I think. Thoughts?

    1. Cobb’s production seem to have slowed down quite a bit recently,…

      That’s my impression. But I will also say that a few years ago when Cobb was a free agent, the Raiders were in play for him, and I really didn’t want them to spend a lot. I can’t remember if this was after Cobb seemed to slow down or before, though.

      Beasley seems better, but I don’t know by how much.

      1. The Cowboy insiders seem to think Beasley may be the better possession guy, as in can get open underneath with his quickness, but Cobb has a the greater ability to get RAC. That seems about right to me. Cobb probably has better down field ability as well, but that could just be playing with Rodgers versus Dak.

        1. Yeah, that’s my general impression as well. What’s worrisome is that even with Rodgers he hasn’t looked good in the last few years. I think for Dallas, the hope is that Cooper will open things up for him. That could happen, and he could be very productive.

  52. So even if the offer was $28 million over four years, you would still rather take the $10 million guaranteed with a total contract of $20 million?

    Short answer to first question: Yes. My thought process: You view the guaranteed money and the point at which a team can terminate the contract as the contract, not the total dollar amount and years of the contract.

    Are you saying the non guaranteed contract only gets better if you are offered $40 million, which means you are mostly likely at least to get the first year’s $10 million?

    First, let me say something: Taking the average per year is sort of an easy way to get a sense of the contract, but it’s not a good way in my opinion. NFL contracts, when applied, are almost never like that. You see teams front load the contract with the guaranteed money.

    Now, here are some other thoughts:

    1. If your performance starts, you get older, or have injury issues, you should expect that you won’t play out the contract;
    2. If none of these things are true, given that the cap keeps increasing, the chances that the contract will favor the team and not you increase. So in a way, a longer term deal can favor the team–unless the entire salary is guaranteed.

    If these things are true, two conclusions come to mind: 1) Contracts are often short term, and only worth the amount guaranteed; 2) These contracts actually may favor the players. I think this might be a reason some players see the franchise tag more positively.

  53. Justin Houston to the Colts. Who’s going to line up on D for the Chiefs, man? Seems like they’re leaking Pro-Bowlers.

    1. A part of me feels like the Chiefs are saying: “Our defense sucked last year, even with those guys, so why keep ’em?” I’m being facetious, but maybe they’re thinking that those guys aren’t worth the cost, given the production. Also, the lack of production may be due to the nature of their offense. That is, if they’re going to be a high-scoring, fast break offense, their defense is probably not going to be great anyway. I doubt they’re conceding to the degree I’m implying, but some of this could be factoring in.

      Another possibility is that they’re shoring up their secondary in order to prevent quick scoring by their opponents. And maybe they’re thinking that their new DC, Steve Spagnuolo, can scheme pass pressure. They also still have Chris Jones. Finally, I’ve heard the upcoming draft has good D-linemen.

      On another note, the Colts seem like they’re in a great position. They got a great OG and a MLB, and will have them cheap for a few years, and they are in a great cap situation.

      1. The Chiefs defense was bad last year, but they had a good if not approaching great pass rush. I think they were second in the league in hurries and sacks. I know part of that is game script as in they were ahead by a lot in numerous games, so teeing off on the QB gets easier, but I think even without that they would have had a good pass rush. Now two thirds of that rush is gone.

        1. I sort of feel like those stats are misleading. There were times they could be dominant, but other times when they seemed to be non-existent. My perception is that they were not very good against the run. Maybe my overall impression of their defense is overshadowing the quality of their pass rush. (Another possibility is that they weren’t consistent.)

  54. Rob Gronkowski retires. End of an era. I think we all saw this coming. When the Patriots hiked the last ball in the Super Bowl, I told my dad they should have let Gronk take the hike. Kind of disappointed now that they didn’t.

    1. He seemed to be in decline, so I think this is a good time for him to go out. I think the Patriots might miss his blocking, at this point, more than his pass-catching.

      So, where would you guys rank Gronk in terms of all-time TEs? I don’t really have a strong opinion. I think blocking is an important part of being a TE, and I have no clue on the quality of blocking from any of the best TEs.

      One last thing. Gronk kinda reminds me of Mark Bavaro, only with a longer career.

      The highlights below made me think of Bavaro, specifically his brute force on display after the catch.

  55. Off the top of my head (to Don’s chagrin)–“The Catch” That’s gotta be a contender. One thing that came to mind: I think the greatest play has to involve one of the greatest players. Also, the moment or circumstance has to be really important to. So, for example, I thought of Marshawn Lynch’s “Beastquake” run, but I don’t think he’s one of the all-time greatest players, nor do I think the moment was big enough. A third criterion would be the play itself–how extraordinary. Montana throwing a TD to John Taylor to win the Super Bowl against the Bengals has the first two criteria, but not really the third in my opinion. The winning play probably should meet all three criteria. (I think “the Catch” would qualify.)

    (I’d like to see a great run included in this, but I can’t think of one that meets all three criteria, not off the top of my head.)

  56. Raiders fans were polled about this on Raiders.com last year or the year before.

    I don’t know about the “greatest players” criteria. If I were a Giants fan I’d go with the David Tyree catch. If I were a Steelers fan I’d go with the Immaculate Reception, and Franco Harris is really a borderline Hall of Famer if you ask me, elected because he was memorable and played a high-profile position for a dominant team.

    As a Raiders fan I like the Immaculate Deception, but I might vote for the Jack Squirek interception in the Super Bowl.

    1. Oh you’re talking about picking a greatest play of all time for the whole league. I was reading the guy’s tweet saying they’re surveying for one play for each team. Yeah, for all time I think I’d vote for The Catch as well.

      1. I think each team will pick a play (involving their team, I assume) and they’re going to do a March Madness bracket thing.

    2. If I were a Giants’ or Steelers’ fan, I wouldn’t want either of those plays. To me, those plays are too flukey/lucky to choose. If the Immaculate Reception wins, I’ll be annoyed (although maybe I’m just biased, but I don’t think so). (I wouldn’t want the “Holy Roller” to be chosen.)

      For the Giants, I’d rather have that long 3rd down play that Eli had to convert in his second Super Bowl performance. Or, I’d rather choose a play with LT in it.

      For the Raiders, the one that came to mind was Marcus Allen’s Super Bowl run against the Redskins. Or maybe the “Sea of Hands” play. (That might be a little lucky, though.)

      1. Well the Marcus Allen run was the winner, I’m pretty sure. You dismiss the lucky plays but what makes something great? Is something great only if it happens by design? Some would say the greatest scientific discoveries were the result of flukes. I watch football for entertainment, and the Immaculate Deception is one of the most entertaining plays I’ve ever seen, especially since I watched it live on TV. I’ll never forget the way I felt as it unfolded. The Marcus run is up there for me too, but the Squirek interception is maybe the best I’ve ever felt watching football.

        1. You dismiss the lucky plays but what makes something great? Is something great only if it happens by design?

          But “not by design” doesn’t equal “lucky.” Marcus’s great run is a case in point–at least I assume the run wasn’t designed that way. Same with many of Russell Wilson’s great scramble plays.

          … but the Squirek interception is maybe the best I’ve ever felt watching football.

          That was cool–not something I would choose as the best, but whatever. But if you’re going by how a play made you feel, of course that’s a totally valid pick.

          Putting aside Allen’s run, I’m not sure which Raider moment I’d choose. One thing I didn’t mention is that I think the play has to either feel or be iconic. I thought of maybe a bomb to Cliff Branch, but I can’t think of one that was special or iconic.

  57. Allen was a great RB, but he had an effortless style that frequently resulted in rather unspectacular highlights (especially relative to other all-time great RBs). He didn’t seem to be the fastest, quickest, most powerful, or most evasive RB–and I think that hurts him. He’s a great player and maybe the greatest all around player of all time.

  58. Which nicknames are missing?

    Off the top of my head:

    Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds
    Same Mills–the “Field Mouse”
    Doug Martin–the “Muscle Hamster”
    Kenny Stabler
    Ted Hendricks–the Mad Stork

    1. For Revis Island and Beast Mode, I feel like it’s a better nickname for their play on the field than a name for the player. When you see them make a play on the field, you say, “Woah Beast Mode” or “That guy got stranded on Revis Island”. But as nicknames for the player, it’s shouldn’t be an all-time great to me anyway.

      1. Both aren’t names that you’d use as something you’d call the player, or at least not as much as more conventional nicknames, but I don’t think that should be held against the nickname. I like both. I also love Megatron, the Nigerian Nightmare, Honey Badger, and Primetime. (Terrance “Potroast” Knighton was pretty cool, too.)

        I never knew that Brian Dawkins was called “Weapon X,” which is kinda cool, and that AP was “All Day,” which is kinda lame. Big Ben is kinda lame, too.

        1. I pretty sure I knew Dawkin’s nickname, but it’s funny that I never knew Peyton was The Sheriff. I don’t recall that at all. Why is Honey Badger a good name? I don’t really get it. I like Snacks. That is an awesome nickname and really funny.

          1. Just saw this.

            I only heard Manning called “the Sheriff” in the last year or two in his career….Actually, I feel like I noticed it more when he was close to retiring.

            As for the Honey Badger, have you seen the nature videos/programs on honey badgers? They’re small, but super ferocious and formidable. It really fit Mathieu, especially with his bleached hair.

            Snacks is definitely cool, too.

  59. I’m hearing it’s a 6th rounder. If true, what the heck? Does Quinn have a big contract that has to be taken on? I don’t get this. Why wouldn’t more teams (like the Raiders) take a shot on Quinn for a 6th rounder?

    1. I only know the name. Is he good? I sort of remember watching him play, but don’t remember him doing much when I saw him.

      1. He was good when he played for the Rams (especially when they played against Seattle, but that’s not saying much). At the time, I never thought he was an elite player, maybe in the second tier (but there’s a lot of good edge rushers in that category). I’ll put it this way: If he plays like how he did with the Rams, this will be a really good pickup for the Cowboys. (I gotta believe he’s slipped quite a bit, otherwise way more teams would be going after him.)

        1. (I gotta believe he’s slipped quite a bit, otherwise way more teams would be going after him.)

          Yeah you would think so, but who knows what the Dolphins are doing. They don’t have a starting QB (They didn’t even seem to go after one with the exception of Bridgewater). The paid Amendola, who is being held together with band aids at this point. And who know what other things they did, that I don’t know about because I don’t follow them.

          1. It’s not the Dolphins so much as other teams going after Quinn. A 6th rounder for a guy who was a really good pass rusher? I think the Cowboys may have to pay 9 mil for him, so maybe that’s why. Still, unless a team is confident he’s not going to become a really good pass rusher, $9 million for one year prove it deal seems like a good risk.

  60. I haven’t read the article about this yet, but I wanted to respond to Jennings’s remarks above. I also comment about Green Bay’s offensive problems, and make a broader point about dealing with super star player.

    First, my sense is that McCarthy and Rodgers are not the only ones who had tension because of wanting credit for success. I get the sense that they may have been the case between Montana and Walsh and even Belichick and Brady. Indeed, I would be surprised if these tensions were rare. With McCarthy and Rodgers, maybe the problem was bigger than other places, but I also suspect the biggest difference is that the information is public and accentuated by certain individuals, whereas most teams would keep this in house and try to downplay these tensions.

    Second point. I’ve long felt that the quality of WRs/TEs were the primary reason for the struggles or less than stellar performance by the Packer offense. But I’m open to another possibility. Consider this scenario: Perhaps the WRs/TEs weren’t good enough to consistently get open. Rodgers responded by playing outside of structure a lot more. He did this for so long (over several seasons) that his ability to play within structure started to deteriorate. Additionally, and maybe relatedly, his decision to improvise or play within structure also deteriorated as well. To be more specific, he could be bailing from the pocket too quickly. The difficulty with being a good pocket QB and scrambler is that the latter will interfere with the former. The trick is knowing the appropriate time to give up on the play and improvise. But there’s no sure way of knowing that. Maybe Rodgers is bailing too often on the pocket. Maybe at some point, or at least for a significant number of plays, if Rodgers hung in the pocket and played within structure, the offense would have taken off. I think that’s possible, and I would lean heavily in this direction if I was sure the WRs/TEs were really good. Still, I can’t rule out this possibility.

    Interestingly, I worried Russell Wilson’s improvisation would hurt his ability to play within structure–or more specifically, to play from the pocket, too. But with Wilson, it was more about being losing confidence in the OL and never really be able to trust them. It’s remarkable to me how he can play with an unreliable OL, and then do well from the pocket when the OL provides good pass protection. I gotta believe that is really hard to do.

    (I save the third point for later.)

  61. Don, how are you feeling about this?

    1. At this point I’m pretty indifferent. If the Cowboys end up not be able to sign Dak, Byron Jones, and Amari (a little less so with Zeke), I think the D-Law contract could be a mistake. The Cowboys reporters were commenting that New England would get rid of D-Law in this situation. I can see that as well. It tough to know what the true cost of a contract is, without knowing what the Cowboys will lose in future contracts with other players.

      1. At this point I’m pretty indifferent. If the Cowboys end up not be able to sign Dak, Byron Jones, and Amari (a little less so with Zeke), I think the D-Law contract could be a mistake.

        I feel like if they re-sign Cooper, they will be overpaying for him. That could apply to Prescott as well. (I’ve become more iffy on Prescott, especially if you have pay him a lot. What’s your feeling on this? If I were a Cowboy fan, I think I’d want them to draft a QB, see if they hit on a really good one. While I’m iffy on Prescott, I wouldn’t want to start from scratch, either.) I also kinda OK with letting Jones go.

        The formula has been to build a really good run-based offense, and then just allow Marinelli to coach up no-name guys–which he’s done a really good job of doing, I’d say. Paying D-Law goes against this, and maybe it’s a mistake, but on the other hand, you need a few good players. (They should probably keep at least one of their LBs, too.) On the other hand, Marinelli’s strength seems to be the DL and front seven. Because of that, maybe you’d want to go cheap on those positions and spend more on the area that’s not your strength (i.e., pay Jones, etc.). And then build that great ball control offense. This seems like a coherent plan at least.

        (A part of me wishes the Seahawks spent their money on the front seven and OL and skimped on the secondary. The latter seems to be Carroll’s strength. They’ve shown they can find and develop later round players. It would make sense to never really pay big bucks for those positions and use the money elsewhere, although I can totally understand wanting to keep Sherm, Earl, and Kam. But still, you gotta make the tough decisions–and keeping those guys while sacrificing the OL was a really bad move, in my view.)

  62. I think Cowherd makes a lot of sense here, and I tend to agree with him about Steelers doing well. At the very least, I think the Steelers will be better getting rid of distractions by Bell and Brown. Whether those two players are good teammates, character guys or not–there really did seem to be a lot of dissension and distraction. This is similar with Sherman and even Thomas and Bennett with the Seahawks. Addition by subtraction–even if you’re subtracting really good players.

    It also makes sense that Roethlisberger, Smith-Shuster, and Tomlin will be focused and motivated.

    Finally, there’s a lot of expectations on the Browns. That’s pressure, and I still wanted to know about their OL. If it’s shaky the new toys on offense aren’t going to matter. Kichens is a new head coach. He has to manage all the players and coaches. That seems like a really different job, and how well he’ll do with that is not known. The more people hype the Browns and overlook the Steelers, the more I think the Steelers will have a better year.

  63. The following comment by Andy Benoit from this SI discussion about the possibility of trading Russell Wilson lowered my opinion on him, at least just a little. Here’s Benoit arguing for trading Wilson:

    Let’s assume there’s someone in the draft they like in Seattle—which is a big assumption, but we’re just having a hypothetical conversation. That’s absolutely the route I’d go because our offense, what’s also true about a run-based/play-action offense is it is simple on the quarterback. You hand the ball off or you read half the field, which is what you do on almost every play-action pass. You’re not doing full-field reads. I would say, in theory, you could transition a rookie quarterback into that approach pretty well and not skip a beat. That brings us back to the money. Why would we pay Russell Wilson $30 million-plus when all we’re asking him to do is run a fairly simple scheme that other quarterbacks can run. Intellectually, they can run it. They’re not as talented, but they can at least attempt what we’re asking them to do.

    If Benoit took a moment to recall the level of success the Seahawks had with Tavaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Matt Flynn, he might have changed his mind. The idea that the offense is intellectually easy, and therefore rolling with a rookie is viable, just seems dubious (and if Benoit also took a moment to think about the supporting cast on this team, maybe he’d have second thoughts as well, not that the supporting cast is bad, but they are a few injuries away from being very shaky).

    But the thinking that stood out for me: Super Bowl winning QBs generally have to make a handful of really difficult plays–difficult because of pressure and/or circumstances. An example of the latter might be a play at a crucial moment breaking down–maybe an O-lineman missed a block. Can the QB now make a play? A very small number of QBs can do this, especially when the stakes are so high. Even if the offense is simple, finding a QB like this isn’t going to be easy–but it will be necessary if you want to win a Super Bowl. (The exception is if you have an all-time great defense.)

    1. I’ve been reading speculation that teams might make a push to trade FOR Wilson. Someone said that if you could get him for two first-round picks, you should leap at that. I think I agree.

      1. I don’t know the details but he set a deadline for the Seahawks to extend him by April something, and after that he says he won’t talk about it until the season’s over.

      2. Would you do this for just Wilson or any really good QB?

        I wrote about this in another thread, but my current thought is that the trade should allow a team a reasonable, if not strong, chance to find a franchise QB. Would 2 first rounders (plus whatever picks the team has) be enough? Even if these would be a top 10 pick (which you can’t predict), I don’t think this would be adequate. Think about the long period of time several teams have gone without finding a really good QB–the Browns and Steelers come to mind. It’s kinda crazy when you think about the difficulty some teams have had in finding this QB.

        I don’t know the details but he set a deadline for the Seahawks to extend him by April something, and after that he says he won’t talk about it until the season’s over.

        April 15. I heard one of the Seattle journalists say that Wilson wouldn’t reject a good offer if it was made after the 15th, but the back-and-forth discussions would basically cease, at least until the end of the season.

    2. What is Wilson’s situation in terms of contract? He has one more year on his current one right? Why did he come out and say he wanted to be the highest paid QB before his contract is up? Didn’t he make a comment about wanting a deal before the year starts? I could just be making all this up.

      1. I believe he has one more year. I don’t know about the other comments, but the Seahawks’ general MO is to redo a deal in the last year of a player’s contract, at least for the players they really want to keep.

        On a side note, listening to Brock Huard describe the situation, I got a bad impression about Wilson. Huard has made the point that the Seahawks have a timetable and order set for contracts they work on–and they stick to this. Huard speculated that Russ was basically violating that–“cutting in line” if you will. If true, this kinda rubs me the wrong way, and I think it can create problems for the FO and Carroll. If the FO accommodates Wilson, against their schedule, that just accentuates that Wilson is special, and it can engender resentment and also undermine the esprit de corps that is crucial to good winning culture in my opinion.

        On the other hand, I heard that in the last contract, when the negotiations extending during the off season created a lot of distractions and negativity, and Wilson wanted to avoid that. That’s understandable, but still, if he’s basically telling the FO to change their schedule for him, I think that’s troubling and problematic.

        1. The impression I got from listening to Dan Patrick (?) was Russ was sort of hinting that he would sit next year (or training camp) if no new contract was reached, and he wasn’t going to sign a contract less than the highest paid QB in the league. Based on what you wrote, I guess you didn’t hear the same thing.

          1. Yeah, I didn’t hear anything like that–so I have no idea if it’s true. I did hear that whether a contract is signed by April 15 or not, he’s showing up this year to training camp, workouts, etc.

  64. Doesn’t this Russell Wilson contract deadline thing constitute doing something to harm the team? Should he be disciplined for it according to Pete Carroll’s rules?

    1. It just seems like this would go under distractions: meet my terms by X date or we’re not talking anymore. Although I suppose the deadline could be seen as a way not to be a distraction: We’ll focus on football after the 15th. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between this and Antonio Brown.

  65. It just seems like this would go under distractions:

    I don’t want to assume too much, so I’m going to ask a question: Are you saying that any time a player causes a distraction that violates the rule?

    Although I suppose the deadline could be seen as a way not to be a distraction: We’ll focus on football after the 15th.

    I believe that for the last contract, the extended negotiations (going through the off season workouts) were a distraction to Wilson, and he didn’t want that. A part of me sympathizes, but another part of me doesn’t. I mean, the Seahawks have a schedule they stick to with regard to doing contracts. Wilson seems to be demanding they change for him.

    To be fair to Wilson he also said he’s not missing any practices or workouts. Today was the first, and he showed up.

    As for distractions and hurting the team, I don’t think these are cut-and-dried matters. I think coaches have to constantly manage both. That is, they have to make sure there aren’t too many distractions or behaviors that hurt the team. The goal isn’t to eliminate either completely–that’s not possible.

    There doesn’t seem to be much difference between this and Antonio Brown.

    Wasn’t AB publicly critical of Roethlisberger? And I believe he got into a social media spat with Smith-Shuster recently? Also, my understanding is that he refused to play or go onto the field in the last game. If this is accurate, Russell Wilson has done nothing like this. I think this is very different.

    1. I don’t want to pick nits, but AB showed up to play. It was practice that he missed. The team said no. I differentiate between missing practice and refusing to play in a game, but I understand if others don’t, especially if there’s a team “rule” about it.

      1. According to this report, he missed the walkthrough, and didn’t play. From the article, it’s not clear why he didn’t play, but,

        “His teammates expected him to play on Sunday,” Kinkhabwala reported on “The Aftermath” on Monday. “He came to Heinz Field Sunday, he obviously did not suit up, and now this becomes a question of, what is going on with Antonio Brown? Is the level of discipline and accountability where this team needs it to be?”

        Did he choose not to suit up, did the team discipline him, or did he not play because he was injured? It’s not entirely clear, but the first two sound more likely.

        Also, did he not publicly bicker and criticize Big Ben? I know he had some words for Smith-Shuster.

        I don’t see how Russell Wilson is even in the same ballpark, in terms of distractions or whether he’s a good teammate.

      2. Oh, I wasn’t suggesting Wilson is more of a distraction, but as far as I know it’s not a Steelers rule not to do anything to hurt the team. But I see from this conversation (yet again) that you and I have different reactions to the word “rule,” a word I despise.

        Anyway, Don makes a few good points but it remains that Wilson is a winning QB, one of the best in the game, and he stays in Seattle. How you’re supposed to build Super Bowl winning teams with high-priced QBs is a major problem, but not as major as how you’re supposed to win one without an excellent quarterback. As long as he’s their QB, they have a chance.

        Would I rather be the Seahawks, with their expensive QB and not as many assets, or the Raiders with their less talented expensive QB and all kinds of interesting but unrealized assets? It’s something I’ll think about all summer, I think.

        I admired the heck out of the Rams’ approach last season, and maybe this season. That young bargain QB is a rapidly closing window, and while it fell one game short last year, it looks to me like the way to go when you still have that QB. What do the Packers and Seahawks do?

  66. I’m guessing Reid is pleased that Wilson is signed, but maybe not. These short contracts can really hurt a team’s chances to win it all, as by the time the deal starts to turn team friendly (at the end of year two or three) a new contract will need to be redone.

    On sort of a side note, Wilson through his agent said he gave Seattle a hometown discount. But the other side of that statement would be that this short contract will greatly decrease his chances of finishing his career a Hawk, is my thoughts. After this contract is up, my guess is Seattle will have to overpay for a guy on the downside of his career or Wilson would have to take a pay cut (relatively speaking).

    1. I’m very pleased with this. But my reaction should be seen in the following context:

      1. Peter King reported that Wilson’s camp would not sign a long term deal if the team didn’t sign him by the 15th. King explicitly said this meant never signing a long term deal. Was it a bluff? It seems like it, but I certainly didn’t want to find out. By the way, King mentioned that the Seahawks would still have Wilson for three years, even if they failed to get a deal done. But that wasn’t much of a consolation to me–especially if Wilson was serious about not signing a long-term deal. Basically, you would have a QB as a kind of lame duck. How could he be fully committed in that situation? It would be nightmarish situation, and I’d seriously consider trading him at that point. A big reason I’m happy is because the team has avoided this situation.

      2. I haven’t really looked at or understood the numbers and the implications of this. So maybe that’s why I’m happy.

      On sort of a side note, Wilson through his agent said he gave Seattle a hometown discount.

      If you believed that they really wanted a salary based on a percentage of the cap, then they’re right. In retrospect, that just seemed like a way to gain leverage, but I was worried they were serious about that, and that would basically prevent a deal from getting done. If they really, really wanted to play hardball, they could have tried something like that–or required more money. Then again, that would be huge gamble on their part. In this way, calling this a discount might be more agent spin that something substantive.

  67. Mitchell,

    Oh, I wasn’t suggesting Wilson is more of a distraction,…

    Wait, so what did you mean by, “There doesn’t seem to be much difference between this and Antonio Brown?”

    …but as far as I know it’s not a Steelers rule not to do anything to hurt the team.

    You would agree the Steelers would not like a player doing anything to hurt the team, right? Or am I wrong? This seems nitpicky to me.

    But I see from this conversation (yet again) that you and I have different reactions to the word “rule,” a word I despise.

    I don’t understand your hang-up with the word. If you’re not opposed to the concept, what word would be less triggering for you? (Then again, I get the sense you may not even like the concept of having standards of conduct or behavior that an organization or person in authority applies to the people that work in the organization.)

    What do the Packers and Seahawks do?

    This is such a broad question–I’m not sure what you mean by it? Do you mean, what positions should they prioritize? What positions will they go on the cheap?

    As for the 2018 Rams, one thing that I think may be underappreciated: They played an offense the teams weren’t prepared for. They did not play in their no-huddle style in the pre-season, and opponents didn’t seem ready for it. The situation really felt like Chip Kelly’s first NFL season.

    My sense is that any new offense or approach that defenses and DCs have no solid game plan provides a really huge advantage to the offense–it almost feels like this feature is more important than the players themselves. A part of me feels like this is what happened to the Eagles when Wentz went down in ’17 and Foles lead them to the Super Bowl. The Eagles made adjustments based on Foles, and the opposing teams didn’t have enough tape and time to find a way to effectively defend the Eagles. The 2018 Ravens, when they totally changed their offense when Lamar Jackson started. I think this also explains the success of the Patriot protean style.

    If this is accurate, then one wonders if coaches should take more chances implementing novel schemes–even if the coaches don’t feel real knowledgeable or comfortable with those schemes. This reminds me of an anecdote when Dean Smith was an assistant to Frank McGuire. Before a game, McGuire, on the spur of the moment, announced that the team would come out in a 1-2-2 zone. Smith protested, saying they never practiced that zone at all. McGuire said that they could try it out and if the opponent did well, they could switch to their normal game plan. McGuire’s plan worked. I believe the other team struggled with the 1-2-2; they didn’t know to attack it.

    Even if what I’m saying is correct, the application of this seems limited and not really sustainable. A coach is going to run out of novel approaches. And opposing teams will eventually catch up.

  68. Big trade. I have mixed feelings about this. More later.

      1. I think the trade occurred because Clark wanted big money:

        And I believe Chiefs gave him a comparable deal. If Clark was willing to take less, I have a feeling Seahawks might have kept him.

        Overall, I think this is potentially good for the long-term, but potentially painful for the short-term. Even if Clark stayed on the team, the ‘Hawks needed another pass rusher. Now they’ll need two. The odds of them finding even one rookie that could replace Clark’s production would be fairly low in my opinion. The situation would be even more grim if Baldwin is banged up or retires. (He’s had his third offseason surgery, and he faces a long road back.) If Baldwin doesn’t play, I could see them hovering around .500. (They do have more cap space now that Clark is off the books, but I’d say finding good D-linemen will be low.)

        But next year, I believe they’ll have 12 picks. They have two first rounders this year. If they parlay that into a few more picks, and hit on a few players in the next two drafts, they can be Super Bowl contenders. This puts a lot of burden on the FO and coaches to find and develop players, respectively. But to me, this seems like the most viable way to become Super Bowl contending team.

        I’m a little bummed that Clark’s moving on though. He seems to not only have developed as a player, but as a leader as well. He’s also expressed some disappointment and resentment about the trade, and I feel a little bad about that (even though I think the team made the right move).

  69. Seahawks sign Ziggy Ansah and release Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor

    A lot of fans seem excited by the Ansah signing. I admit, I was/am too. But really, I think this is partly a function of desperation. The Seahawks desperately need pass rushers, and there is really available ones that one can count on. Ansah’s coming off a shoulder injury (and I’ve learned he’s had shoulder problems early in his career), and might miss the first month of the regular season. Even when he’s ready to play, the chances of him being really productive is far from a guarantee. I believe he’s 30 now. To rely on Ansah is dicey in my opinion, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Seahawks have a relatively weak pass rush next year. That’s concerning.

    As for the release of Doug Baldwin and Chancellor, I have a mix of negative feelings about the end of Baldwin’s career with the ‘Hawks. (With Kam, the move is mostly a formality to me, as his career has been over a while now.) I’m bummed, and frustrated–frustrated because if DK Metcalf was a deep threat and solid #3 WR, at worst, a receiving group of Lockett and (a healthy) Baldwin would have been a very dangerous receiving group, and probably the best Wilson has had. Obviously, with Baldwin’s release, that’s not happening. None of this is a surprise, but now that all of this is a reality I’m feeling the impact of it.

  70. I agree people shouldn’t be writing off Rodgers–in fact, I think it’s a little crazy. I would modify one thing Cowherd said. It’s not about the OL as much as the run game. If the run game becomes more of a factor in their offense, both in terms of effectiveness and conceptually (i.e., the offense is built upon the run), and the defense is really good (top 5), they will be a Super Bowl contender.

    Now, this assumes the WRs/TEs are solid, which brings me to a second point: Since Jordy’s injury, did Rodgers ever play with a true playmaking pass catcher? I don’t think he has. I think it’s really, really difficult to be productive QB without one pass catcher like this. Have their been any QBs that have put up terrific passing numbers without at least one playmaking pass catcher? I can’t think of many.

    1. If Green Bay has a good running game, solid receivers, and a top five defense, they will not be a contender, they should be a favorite to win the Super Bowl no?

      Green Bay seems to contend with much less in the past just because of Rodgers and maybe Jordy as you pointed out. Speaking of Jordy, a lot of people think Adams is that play-maker. I would fall on the side that don’t think he is, but that’s just me. You probably could find a whole bunch of smarter guys (about football only) that would say Adams is that guy.

      1. If Green Bay has a good running game, solid receivers, and a top five defense, they will not be a contender, they should be a favorite to win the Super Bowl no?

        It’s reasonable to say this, but I’d like to know who the other contenders are before taking this position.

        Also, I would think that what I’m saying is a no-brainer, but there seems to be some who think Rodgers is in decline or not as good as people think. I really disagree with that.

        One thing I forgot to mention. If the pass catching group is good, I think the Packers might be in contention as well. That is, the defense need not be top 5 nor the offense need not have a good run game or be based on one. Give Rodgers a true play making target, plus good complementary WRs/TEs, and I’d expect him and the offense to take off. (I would pick a team that had a strong defense, run game, and good QB to beat them in the playoffs, though.)

    2. Aw man, both of you guys aren’t impressed with Adams? I admit I don’t know if he’s the guy, but I definitely lean in his favor. If nothing else the guy scores TDs.

      1. My position is based on this hypothesis: If Rodgers had one playmaking pass-catcher and a few good complementary WRs, he and the offense would put up really good numbers. If this is true, then I would assume Adams is not that guy, and/or the rest of the pass-catchers aren’t good. I admit this isn’t a rigorous way to evaluate a WR.

        1. I sort of agree. However, the feud between Rodgers and McCarthy has to be calculated into this somehow, and the fact that Rodgers didn’t believe in the play-calling.

          1. I can’t say those things aren’t a factor at all, but I tend to think they are not really significant relative to the quality of pass-catchers.

            If I had to choose another factor, I’d suggest that Rodgers may have improvised too much, and that hurt his ability to play within the structure. And because of that he’s been a little lost or out of sorts.

            Still, I think adding a true playmaker would likely cure all the other problems we’ve mentioned.

          2. I can’t say those things aren’t a factor at all, but I tend to think they are not really significant relative to the quality of pass-catchers.

            If I had to choose another factor, I’d suggest that Rodgers may have improvised too much, and that hurt his ability to play within the structure. And because of that he’s been a little lost or out of sorts.

            Still, I think adding a true playmaker would likely cure all the other problems we’ve mentioned.

  71. Kurt Warner’s top 5 QBs heading into 2019:

    According to Warner, Wilson was tied for #5, but he does’nt appear on the list to the right. Weirdly, Prescott and Mayfied appear on the list, but not Brady and Wilson. With this clarification, his list seems pretty reasonable.

    He called on others to make their list. I don’t really like rankings (which I will explain later), but here’s my list for today:

    1. Aaron Rodgers
    2. Russell Wilson
    3. Tom Brady
    4. Drew Brees
    5. Patrick Mahomes

    A lot of these QBs aren’t that different in terms of quality in my opinion. This is why I prefer using tiers. But let me explain the ranking above.

    Maybe Rodgers has genuinely declined, and I’m applying a narrative that is no longer true. That could be, but for now, I’m going to say he’s the best QB. Wilson is not far behind in my opinion.

    With Brees and Brady, I think they’re fairly equal, and I think the physical skills have diminished. I do have some uncertainty about the degree to which their physical tools have declined, though.

    I also don’t think Ryan or Rivers is that far from this group. I think both are a little better throwing in a messy pocket as well. Still, I guess I’d put them below those two. Roethlisberger would probably be in here, too, but I think I like him the least of these three. I think his accuracy and ball security are a little less than everyone else above.

    Right below these guys are Newton (assuming he’s healthy) and Stafford.

    Bascially, I think I’d put Brees, Brady, Ryan, Rivers and Roethlisberger in the same tier. One way to justify this is to think if Brees and Brady switched teams with some of the other QBs. How would the Patriots and Saints do if they had Ryan and Rivers? I think the success would be similar, but I could be wrong.

    Finally, I could have chosen Mahomes in the #3 spot. The main hesitation is that he’s only did this for a year. If we push that aside and assume he’s going to play similarly, I’d put him at three and maybe in the same tier as Wilson and Rodgers.

    1. I like that you mention Ryan, but I’m a little surprised not to see Luck in your mentions. I wouldn’t have been surprised if you’d put him in your top 5.

      1. I knew I was going to miss someone. Luck should probably be in that 2nd tier, but I’m not sure where I’d put him. Also, DeShaun Watson is probably in or very close to being in that group.

      2. Hahaha I actually deleted Deshaun Watson from my reponse because I couldn’t specifically remember anything you’d said about him.

        1. You guys both think Deshaun over Dak and is it by a lot? I probably have them both in the same tier, and may even favor Dak slightly.

          1. I’m more confident that Watson is a franchise QB than Prescott. I don’t know if I’d say I’m way more confident, but it’s significant enough.

            My sense with Prescott is that he’s the type of QB that needs a really good cast. Think of someone like Carson Palmer. Give them a good supporting cast, and I could see them taking their team to a Super Bowl.

            With Watson, my sense is that he can still perform well even in less than ideal situations. I still want to see him in more playoff games–to see if he can make the big throws and protect the football.

      1. I only have a vague sense of NFL rosters, but the list seems reasonable. However, I think I would replace the Patriots with the Packers. Also, the 49ers also might deserve some consideration.

        A part of me feels like the gap isn’t that big between teams on the list and some of the teams that didn’t.

        1. I thought the Eagles would be on there, but the writer did mention them. The Chiefs? I guess they have talent, but their defense isn’t great, and they no longer have Hunt.

          I thought the list sort of showed the importance of a good to great QB. So many on the list don’t have the QB that can carry a team like Cleveland, Dallas, and Chicago, so it’s harder for pundits to pick them to win it all despite having a great overall team. The writer even mentioned Seattle and the Packers as two teams that may win a lot of games that are not on the list.

      2. Before I clicked the link I chose the Rams as my number 1, so I’m pleased to see them at number 2 on this list. I must not be seeing the same Chargers receivers everyone else is seeing because I thought last year they were serviceable at best. I would have put the Saints higher up, maybe 2 or 3, and I’m slightly surprised the Vikings aren’t in the top 9.

        1. I tend to think the Rams were too high. Who did the Rams add on defense, besides Weddle? (I think they added an OLB, but I can’t remember whom.)

          I must not be seeing the same Chargers receivers everyone else is seeing because I thought last year they were serviceable at best.

          Allen/Williams/Benjamin, plus Hunter Henry, seem better than the Rams pass catchers. To me, the Rams offensive success reminds me a lot of the 2013 Eagles, with Chip Kelly. The offense made the QB and WRs look better than they were. Woods, Kupp, Watkins are good, but not great imo.

          I also thought of the Vikings as well. I think they may be downgraded because of their OL, but they did try to address this in the off season.

          1. In terms of receivers and the Rams’ offensive success, I would tend to agree with Reid, but really the Rams was having problems on offense around the same time Cupp went down and Watkins seem to have been playing injured. I’m not a guy that thinks Cupp is special, but he might very well be.

  72. Don,

    Deshaun is a more accurate passer overall you think?

    I don’t think I would say that.

    If you had them switch teams last year, I think Cowboys would have had more success and Texans less success.

    1. I will probably agree with the Dak having less success with the Texans, I’m not super sure about Dallas having more success with Deshaun though.

      Deshaun had a better year than Dak, especially by stats (just guessing didn’t check), but he is helped by a top five if not top three receiver. Dak looked much better when Amari joined.

      But I wouldn’t disagree with Deshaun’s upside being higher, actually I wouldn’t argue with someone who thought Deshaun’s upside could be extremely high. But if I had to choose a QB for one game right now, it would be close, but I would probably lean Dak.

  73. I saw that Ndamukung Suh is finalizing a one-year deal with the Buccaneers, which I find a little baffling. First, why don’t the Rams want him for another shot at the Super Bowl, and second, why wouldn’t some other team who’s this close want him? I didn’t hear of any problems with the Rams last year.

  74. Don,

    but really the Rams was having problems on offense around the same time Cupp went down and Watkins seem to have been playing injured.

    I want to say the offensive struggles happened a several games after Kupp got hurt, but I could be wrong. The struggles seemed to stem from opposing DCs coming up with a good game plan against them. But even if this isn’t true maybe with Kupp this plan wouldn’t have worked as well.

    Mitchell,

    I saw that Ndamukung Suh is finalizing a one-year deal with the Buccaneers, which I find a little baffling. First, why don’t the Rams want him for another shot at the Super Bowl, and second, why wouldn’t some other team who’s this close want him? I didn’t hear of any problems with the Rams last year.

    Short explanation: He’s not that good.

    Longer explanation: Put aside the off field issues, if there are any–I don’t think he’s that good. I didn’t even want the Seahawks to get him, and not just because of those off field issues. When he was at Detroit, for at least one season opposing teams struggled to run against them. I think Suh was a big reason for this. The Seahawks could use a run-stuffer like that, and I’d want the player that was in Detroit. (By the way, for the regular season the Rams were awful against the run.)

    I wonder if he isn’t that motivated, or if his abilities have declined.

    1. I thought announcers were saying Suh was playing well during the playoffs last year when the Rams’ defense was playing better. Maybe it was just the Ringer guys? But that sticks in my mind for some reason. Not stats wise, but really getting others free to do the damage.

      1. In my opinion the Rams defense was significantly better in the playoffs. For example, based on their defense in the regular season, if the Seahawks faced them, I was confident the Seahawks could beat them. Based on the way the Rams defense played in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be so confident.

        As for Suh, I feel like he did play better in the playoffs as well, but my recollection of that is hazy. But this supports the notion that he has motivation issues. You could argue that mailing it in during the regular season would be worth tolerating if he performed fairly well in the post-season, I guess. Personally, I’d pass on that.

      2. Well I read a little more and it seems his asking price is high, which would really explain it. I don’t know about motivation, but the guy is 32 and he’s only missed two games in his career — because of suspension, not because of injury. And when he was in Miami he was still excellent against the run. In Miami, I heard the same stuff Don said, not that he racked up stats but that teams had to deal with him and it freed up his teammates.

        Also, the guy was All-Pro three times (actually 3 times first team and 2 times second team). Not Pro-Bowl, but All-Pro. Which of course doesn’t mean he’s that good now, but it speaks well of his career at least.

        1. And when he was in Miami he was still excellent against the run.

          What are you basing this on? I didn’t really focus on him specifically, but overall, I didn’t think the Miami defense was as good as it should have been, versus the run or pass. Certainly, they weren’t as good against the run as the Lions with Suh. (To be fair, the LIons also had two really good LBs, but I wouldn’t say the Dolphins lacked good LBs, but I could be wrong.)

          Which of course doesn’t mean he’s that good now, but it speaks well of his career at least.

          And if we’re talking about the Suh in Detroit, I would be more interested.

        2. Mostly the Miami NFL reporters, really. I can’t tell when a DL is good against the run unless I actually see him stopping the ball.

          1. Ah OK, thanks. Did you read a lot of articles saying this? By the way, for what it’s worth, when I watched the Lions, I don’t recall that Suh was necessarily in on a lot of the stops. But I definitely go the sense that he was a big reason why teams couldn’t run against them. I feel like a lot of great run defenses have this one, often huge, run stuffer. Think of Vince Wilfork, Gilbert Brown. I think you need one fire plug or two really good DTs. For example, In 2013, I thought Cardinals were almost impossible to run against. The had Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett (and Frostee Rucker). Anyway,…

            Oops, my point is that those players not necessarily making the tackle. I think a lot of times, with these good run defenses, the RB seems to be constantly running into a mass of bodies at the LOS. Those big run-stuffers seem to be a key part of creating this, whether they’re the ones making the tackle or not.

  75. Unsurprisingly, I pretty much agree with Cowherd. But let me say one thing that could be used as a rebuttal to his comments, and another explanation to support them. If the problem players are on one year deals where you can cut them easily without losing much money, those moves might be defensible. In other words, you’re giving these players a tryout. They don’t perform and/or behave then the team can cut them. I do think that if the perform and don’t behave, but team keeps them, that can send a bad message and damage the culture. (I assume this one year “tryout” applies to Incognito and Burfict, but not AB or Trent Brown.)

    Now, here’s something to support Cowherd’s position. In the past, the Raiders could get “problem” players and succeed. But here’s the thing: What if the definition of a coachable player and good teammate was inappropriate–i.e., defined too stringently. For example, coaches could have had all these rules that really weren’t essential to be coachable or a good teammate. Think of something like a dress code. Maybe the rules were about a power trip by the coach, more than something critical.

    Now fast forward to 2019. Suppose most coaches have reduced all those unnecessary rules. That is, problem players aren’t trouble because they violate inappropriate rules, but they’re trouble because they’re actually behaving in legitimately bad ways.

    If this is true, this could explain the way taking problem players in the past could work in the past, but not the present.

    1. Unless I’ve missed something, Incognito hasn’t been a behavior problem for years, and he has been in the Pro Bowl since then.

    2. Supposedly, police arrested him for threatening to shoot employees at a funeral home last year. Cowherd also mentions a “gym incident,” but I never looked that up.

  76. Don, have you heard anything to confirm this? Or have you not heard reports that Garrett is taking greater control of the offense? When they chose Moore as OC, I automatically assumed that Garrett would be taking more control of the offense and the play calling.

    But if the above is true, how do you feel about this? It sounds like it would go away from a more pro-style, run-first approach that Garrett seems to prefer. I think if their offense incorporated misdirection type of plays that I associate with Nagy and Reid, I think that could fit with Prescott and Austin, maybe Cobb, too.

    1. The things I’ve heard and read about the OTA thus far, didn’t mention any big changes on offense. The one thing I heard though was the offensive line was doing more pulling and traps, which the Cowboys do some of, but I wouldn’t say a lot of, in the old system.

      I hate Matt Nagy’s offense, so I guess without seeing anything, I wouldn’t be a fan of.

    2. Well, I wouldn’t want the entire offense to be like Nagys, but if the Cowboys sprinkled in some of those plays, I think that would be a positive. (Indeed, a part of me wants Schottenheimer to sprinkle in these type of misdirection plays, although I think of what Houston does.)

  77. Theory on Why Nick Foles Might be an Incredibly Rare QB

    The way I evaluate QBs largely comes down to their ball security and ability to make perform well in high stakes situations, including when a play breaks down or on a difficult throw. The volume stats are overrated in my view. At the same time, the QB who usually can perform well in high stakes, pressure situations usually can usually perform well and put up decent stats during the regular season.

    But suppose there were a QB performed at a mediocre level during the regular season, but could make key throws in the playoffs. According to my theory, that QB could be quite valuable. I would say they could be more valuable than a QB who played great in the regular season, but wasn’t so great in the moments in the playoffs. This is especially true on a team with a really good defense and run game.

    In thinking about this, I guess there might be more QBs like this than I realize. (Maybe Case Keenum?) But the QB that got me thinking about this is Nick Foles. To me, he has not only just looked average during the regular season, he’s looked worse. But then he’ll make some big throws in a big games. So I’m wondering if he’s an example of QB who is not very good, but in big moments can deliver. If so, he’s be a rare QB. I don’t think I can think of another example.

    1. Eli is in that category for me. I never thought he was a great regular season QB, even prior to his “downfall” in recent years.

      In terms of Foles, it’s so hard to judge him. He did well in one (maybe one and half) seasons with Chip, and he had a nice Super Bowl run. Outside of that however, he has been a bottom ten (maybe five) starting QB. That’s when he was a starter. We shall see what he will do next year. If I had to bet, he will be a bottom five QB next year as well.

    2. Eli is a good pick, but I don’t think he’s as bad as Foles has been in the regular season. Foles was good in the first year of Kelly’s offense, but I think that had a lot to do with Kelly’s novel approach. I also think that scheme had a lot to do with Foles’s success when he one the Super Bowl, but that is more of a guess.

      Why do I say that? Well, when Foles took over for Wentz, he initially looked awful in my opinion. I think Pederson revamped the entire offense to suit Foles. Defenses and DCs didn’t have enough game tape and time to adjust to this, and that was a big reason for his success.

      In 2018, when Foles started, he looked mediocre, and probably worse. One explanation is that defenses and DCs now had enough to adjust to him.

      But in the playoffs, he looked better, so maybe it wasn’t scheme? Or did Pederson make an adjustment?

  78. Is it me or does the ball seem to explode out of his hands in a freakish way?

    I’m wondering if the film footage is weird or my eyes are deceiving me–the ball just seems to jump out of his hands in a way that seems unnatural. Part of this may be due to his throwing motion, which seems pretty compact. The way he winds up and throws–I wouldn’t expect the ball to shoot out and go as far as it does. Do you guys agree with what I’m seeing?

    I believe someone compared Marino’s throwing to Namath’s. Maybe Marino’s release was quicker, but the comparison makes sense to me. Based on these clips, in terms of arm talent I’d put Namath up there with guys like Marino and Jeff George.

  79. I don’t know this person, and I don’t know if this stats are true. Initially, the first stat is surprising, especially in Prescott’s first year. But upon a little more reflection, the stat isn’t surprising, especially if you focus on the past year. The Cowboys don’t seem to throw or hit on a lot of deep balls. It’s partly surprising because they have a run first approach. I would be interested to see the stats when the Cowboys run game was at its best versus when it wasn’t so hot (e.g., when Zeke wasn’t playing). Whatever the case may be, they have to fix this. Good run game + a good passing game = an unstoppable offense.

    The second stat might be a little surprising, but given not that much. I don’t know what other thing, but I thought Prescott looked solid on his deep throws–at least in hist first season. Maybe he’s trouble making the right reads, maybe he’s being too cautious, or maybe the WRs aren’t getting open enough. Just in terms of the ability to throw deep, though, he looked quite capable.

    Anyway, I think the tweet was a comment on a tweet about how Prescott has looked good on deep passes so far. They really need to incorporate this element into their offense.

    1. I don’t think the stat is that surprising. Witten during his brief retirement, said that Linehan wants to get in third and short. Not that he prefers that over third and long, Witten made it sound like he doesn’t want to get a first down on first or second downs. I’m wouldn’t doubt if Reid is liking Linehan a little more because of that theory.

      I’m a little surprised that Dak has a good percentage though. It could just be that they do it so rarely, that the guy is more open than normal when they do make a long throw. I don’t think Dak stinks, but I don’t think he’s great either.

      I’ll also add Dak has a lot of Alex Smith in him. He seems to worry a lot about making mistakes (at least that’s how it looks). I’m pretty sure I said this before, Dak should be taking a few more risk with his throws.

    2. I don’t think the stat is that surprising.

      Actually, come to think of it, you might be right. My assumption was that the 2018 Seahawks were up there in throwing deep passes, but when I think about it more, they’re probably less than the Chiefs and Steelers. I wonder what the actual numbers are of all these teams. It would be interesting to see if the Seahawks were near the bottom in attempts.

      In any event, I’m not only thinking about attempts, but also the number of times the Cowboys hit on deep passes. The latter could be something like 2-3, and that would be significant in my opinion.

      Witten during his brief retirement, said that Linehan wants to get in third and short. Not that he prefers that over third and long, Witten made it sound like he doesn’t want to get a first down on first or second downs. I’m wouldn’t doubt if Reid is liking Linehan a little more because of that theory.

      Yeah, that appeals to me, and it makes sense for a team like theirs. I would guess this attitude is from Garrett more than Linehan (who, remember, ran a pass-happy style in Detroit).

      But what you say above isn’t mutually exclusive with throwing deep passes. In fact, deep passes go hand-in-hand a strong run game, although the number of attempts might be less than a aggressive pass-oriented team.

      I’m a little surprised that Dak has a good percentage though.

      His accuracy seems pretty solid to me–that’s what kinda stood out. His deep passes look pretty good at least in his first year.

      I’ll also add Dak has a lot of Alex Smith in him.

      It would be interesting to see what the coverage looks like. If the running game is going well, that should open up good opportunities for the WRs going deep. It could be that they’re struggling to get open, too, or that Prescott doesn’t have a lot of faith in their ability to go get the ball.

  80. I don’t know how much I want to have this conversation, but it’s been on my mind this weekend so I’ll jot it down here and maybe we’ll see.

    I’m about two months behind on my Dan Le Batard Show podcasts (April 11ish now) and they were talking about some things Rashard Mendenhall tweeted about Ben Roethlisberger. He wasn’t messing around: he came right out and said Roethlisberger is a racist and there’s only so much of it a guy can take.

    I’m not saying I buy it all, but honestly, whether you believe the guy or disbelieve the guy, you’re sorta believing one side over the other. And let’s just say there’s something to what Mendenhall tweeted. Wouldn’t that be a good reason for a man like Antonio Brown, who’s been one of the best in the game for ten years, to say he’s had enough and can’t play one more game? In mentally telegraphing to AB the guy should just show up and play, aren’t we saying he should go back to being treated in a way nobody deserves to be treated?

    Again, I’m not saying I believe Mendenhall, but why not give a man the benefit of the doubt, and assume that a person’s motivations are good for whatever his behavior, as long as his behavior isn’t hurting someone?

    Another possibility that was floated in this podcast: maybe that hit by Vontaze Burfect really damaged AB’s head.

    Anyway, something worth thinking about. I hope AB scores 18 TDs this season.

    1. Wouldn’t that be a good reason for a man like Antonio Brown, who’s been one of the best in the game for ten years, to say he’s had enough and can’t play one more game?

      I would be more way more sympathetic to AB–especially if he explicitly told the GM and owner that this was his problem.

      In mentally telegraphing to AB the guy should just show up and play, aren’t we saying he should go back to being treated in a way nobody deserves to be treated?

      Here, you seem to be suggesting that Roethlisberger’s alleged racism manifests itself in the way he treats or interacts with AB. Specifically, let’s say Roethlisberger used the “n word” and not in a way that could be seen as non-racist, when talking with AB. Let’s say he treated AB as if he were inferior intellectually and morally because of AB’s race. If that’s the case, I’d be even more sympathetic with AB.

      But how likely is this? I would expect other black players to react negatively as well.

      Now, let’s suppose Roethlisberger was racist, but not overtly, and suppose he didn’t hold extreme racist views. Do you think that would justify AB’s behavior?

      Again, I’m not saying I believe Mendenhall, but why not give a man the benefit of the doubt, and assume that a person’s motivations are good for whatever his behavior, as long as his behavior isn’t hurting someone?

      One problem: In this scenario, it seems like giving AB the benefit of the doubt, depends on not giving the benefit of the doubt to Roethlisberger.

      Also, is it hard to believe that really good players become dissatisfied with their contract, feeling like they deserve more, and then act out on ways that may not always be appropriate? I feel like this is the most likely, most plausible explanation. Using Occam’s Razor, I’d go with this rather than the ones you proposed.

    2. If you want to weigh “most likely” or “least likely” I don’t really have anything to say, but I know from my own experience that perfectly understandable reasons for weird behaviors very often don’t go along those lines.

      I meant benefit of the doubt not specifically as it relates to AB and his quarterback. I meant in general, for all people everywhere, including for all-pro wide receivers who until recently didn’t seem to be problems for their teams.

      But if I were talking about AB and Roethlisberger, what difference does it make how the racism manifested itself? If ten years isn’t long enough to put up with even the least offensive racism, if such a thing exists, then we again don’t really have anything to talk about.

      Giving AB the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean not giving it to Roethlisberger, as this is not an AB vs. Roethlisberger scenario, at least as we’ve discussed it so far. It’s a wide receiver saying he doesn’t want to play for his team anymore and our accepting that he has a good reason. I’m perfectly capable of giving both the benefit of the doubt here and saying “Welcome to Oakland, AB. I hope you score 18 TDs.”

    3. But if I were talking about AB and Roethlisberger, what difference does it make how the racism manifested itself?

      Well, if the racism wasn’t blatant and obvious in the way that I suggested, then there’s a possibility that Roethlisberger isn’t racist.

      I’ll just end on this point: I’m not sure if AB had a valid reason to behave the way he did. I hope he did, and I hope he’s a good player and teammate in Oakland.

    1. My sense is that something like arthritis is not considered an injury. It seems kinda reasonable. It’s a chronic condition that he has to live with, and you never know how bad it will be. The other alternative would be to list him as injured all the time.

      1. My understanding is the injury report is solely for betting and creating a line or odds on the game. So based on that logic, I would have thought this should be reported somehow (ie: probable?). But maybe the Rams was playing coy because it was the playoffs last year.

    2. So based on that logic, I would have thought this should be reported somehow (ie: probable?).

      But would it have been helpful to gamblers if Gurley was always listed as injured due to his arthritic knee? For example, suppose was listed as injured for the entire 2018. It seems like this designation wouldn’t be very helpful or meaningful, because even with this designation he had good games.

      1. So are you saying every game the Rams do not know if Gurley could be used or not before the game (if that’s the case I guess they couldn’t list him on anything)? However, I would think they would know when he was going to play 100% of his normal snaps versus 50% of his normal snaps (or it might be probable he could only play 50% of his snaps).

    3. So are you saying every game the Rams do not know if Gurley could be used or not before the game (if that’s the case I guess they couldn’t list him on anything)?

      I’m not sure if you watched the entire clip, but based on what Blackmon said, my sense is that every game Blackmon had to work to get right to play, and that his joints never felt right. I think he also said that something could really aggravate the joint and make it a lot worse. It sounds like the player will always feel uncomfortable, but the severity of this can’t be known and can change pretty quickly.

      If this is accurate, and it may not be, I’m not sure how listing this would be helpful to gamblers, unless someone wants to take an ultra-conservative approach and just assume that Gurley won’t play well or a lot.

  81. Why I Think a Great (Passing) QB is a Double-Edged Sword

    (Note: What great QB isn’t great at passing? What I’m getting at are the QBs who have great arms–Montana and Brady don’t have great arms, but they’re great QBs. The QBs I have in mind are Elway, Marino, Favre–I’d include Peyton in this group, and, yes, Aaron Rodgers.)

    They’re double-edged because they’re terrific passing, which is obviously good, but they’re so good that developing a good run game becomes extremely difficult–not just from play calling and play design, but also in terms of getting and developing the necessary personnel. (For example, you may prioritize good pass-blocking and forgo good run-blocking as a result.)

    I’m not sure if LaFleur wants a more run-based offense. I believe his coaching lineage is from Mike Shanahan. Still, based on what I saw from the Titans and McVay’s Rams, I don’t get the impression that he’s run-based guy (like a Kubiak, or even Kyle Shanahan). But if he wants to emphasize the running game a bit more, him limiting Rodgers’s ability to change plays makes all the sense in the world. You give a super smart QB with a great arm this power, and they themselves will have a hard time resisting temptation to just throw a lot. The only thing that will likely rein in these type of QBs is a loss of ability. (And I don’t think that even worked for Marino–but it did for Manning, Elway, and maybe even Romo.)

    1. Seems like Rodgers was talking about calling the plays during the two-minute drill. In those cases, you would think he almost has to throw.

    2. The remark about Roethlisberger makes it seem like this is about the two-minute drill, but the second sentence sounds like the issue goes beyond the 2-minute drill. I’m not sure, though.

      By the way, I forgot to mention that in the NFL bio on Roger Staubach who called plays–Landry or Staubach–was a contentious issue. Landry took this away from Staubach, and the latter did not seem happy about it. (You should see when Tarkenton asked him about this. The knives came out, man. Haha.) Ditka commented and made the remark that they were good for each other. The way I took that was that it was probably good to take some control away from Staubach and not give him the final call. Any great QB is going to be confident they can win with their arm. To decide, “Nope, it’s better than we run. Again. And again. And again.” If the defense dictates this, I think it would be hard for a great QB to do this.

      To me, this is why I give a lot of credit to Troy Aikman and maybe Russell Wilson to some degree. They seem pretty comfortable handing the ball off a lot. This is an underrated trait for a great QB, but it’s crucial one.

  82. This is entertaining:

    I love the part when Gruden imitates Favre, giving two thumb’s up–“Got it.” That made me crack up.

    The story is very funny and entertaining, but for every good outcome from a play like this, you can see a bad, boneheaded one.

    1. Haha. Shaking my head at this–“On every play?!”– not with any disgust, but more amusement. But this is typical Favre. I would think analytics guys would kinda like this mentality.

  83. For whatever reason, this reminded me of Atlanta’s lost to the Pats in the Super Bowl. Someone should have been in Matt Ryan’s ear saying, “Don’t take the sack. Look for Jones here, if he’s not open, throw it away, we kick the field goal and be up 19? or was it 11?”. As Ryan was going back to the huddle, there should have been someone saying “Don’t take the sack” again. Or maybe the coach did tell Ryan that, and he gave him the thumbs up.

    But yeah that video was kind of funny.

    1. I can see why you thought of the Atlanta Super Bowl. But what eclipses that one play was the way the Falcons offense played most of the second half. This is where they needed to “run to win.” Basically, they needed to run the clock out, but they were terrible at this.

      By the way, would you (or Mitchell) want Favre as the QB for your team?

      1. There are not many teams that can run against a defense daring them to pass though. If New England had seven or eight in the box, I can see why Atlanta thought they had to pass more.

        Take Favre over whom? Anyone? I would take him over Dak. Dak is really close to the other end of the “taking chances” spectrum, with Alex Smith probably being the end point.

    2. If New England had seven or eight in the box, I can see why Atlanta thought they had to pass more.

      Eight would be challenging, but if you can’t run well against seven, especially to protect a lead, this is a huge liability. Shanahan should be able to do this. They had a good run game. To me, it just seemed like Quinn was going to live and die with the fast-break, aggressive style.

      Take Favre over whom?

      I wasn’t think of choosing him or someone else. I was asking if you want him to be your QB, which is slightly different. I would choose Favre over a lot of QBs. Would I want him to be the QB for mine team? No.

  84. What’s the Single Greatest QB Performance You’ve Seen?

    That was a question I saw on twitter. Memory is going to be a factor, here, which is stating the obvious, but I have a feeling there may be a bunch of great performances that I saw, but no longer clearly remember.

    The first response that came to mind was Phil Simms Super Bowl performance (against the Broncos?). He was like 24-27 or something like that, I believe. The whole Giants offense was really good, if I recall.

    But I feel like there are performances from Montana, Marino, maybe Elway, that I’m forgetting about.

    The best rookie QB performance that comes to mind is Russell Wilson’s performance in the Divisional Round against Atlanta. I think the Seahawks were done by 21 going into the 3rd quarter, and he put them ahead with 30 seconds left.

  85. Chris Simms Ranks Tom Brady as 9th Best QB Heading Into 2019 Season

    Seems like he’s just trying to get attention, but when you listen to this, it’s a little less trollish. Simms’s most compelling argument, in my opinion, involves putting the other QBs ahead of Brady in the Patriots. I didn’t see his list, but I do believe there are a bunch of QBs who would have similar or better success. (I’m not sure there are eight of them, though.)

    Also, to counter Simms, Curran mentions Brady’s weak supporting cast, which is totally valid to me. The question is, does Brady or Belichick elevate them? I go with Belichick more than Brady. Does anyone think the young Brady elevate the early Patriots’ teams? I do not. I credit that to Belichick. Also, the defensive roster hasn’t been all that great, and they play better than the sum of their parts. That seems to be Belichick’s doing in my opinion.

    Finally, Simms mentions the plays creating really open and easy targets for Brady. While Simms ranking is probably way too low, I have the same impression watching Brady. Now, if Brady switched the play, I think you have give him at least some credit. But a lot of times, the throws themselves are not impressive; a lot of times the plays seemed to doing a lot of the work. (And this is plausible in a league where few teams have a loaded roster–that is, most teams have rather significant weakenesses. A protean style of football can be effective in such situations–if a coach is knowledgeable and skilled enough to take advantage of it. Belichick seems to be the only one able to do that.)

    1. I go with Belichick more than Brady. Does anyone think the young Brady elevate the early Patriots’ teams? I do not. I credit that to Belichick.

      You think Belichick could have 75% of the success with Flacco that he has had with Brady? Or what about a Kirk Cousins?

    2. You think Belichick could have 75% of the success with Flacco that he has had with Brady? Or what about a Kirk Cousins?

      75% doesn’t seem that high, depending on what we’re talking–W-L recording, playoff wins, Super Bowl appearances, Super Bowl wins? I tend to think they could–and I tend to be more confident about Cousins than Flacco.

      1. Brady has 40 some playoff games, 9 Super Bowl appearances, and 6 championships. 75% of that would mean 30 playoff games, 6-7 Super Bowl appearances, and 4 championships. 75% of Brady is second best all time. And second all time to 100% Brady.

        If you believe Flacco and Cousins could do that, then you right it’s mostly about Belichick. If I was picking I would choose those guys to do about 25% of what Brady did at best.

    3. Here’s are some other ways to look at it:

      How much better do you think Flacco and Cousins are from Matt Cassel?

      Also, the first two Super Bowls, maybe the their 3rd, and the recent Super Bowl–to what degree do you credit Brady or Belichick for those wins?

      Finally, how often have the Patriots ever had one of the best rosters in the league? On the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think you can give much credit to Brady, if at all. They haven’t been that great, even in the early years, they had good players and maybe a few great ones (e.g., Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest), but I would be surprised if there weren’t a few more talented defensive rosters for most of Belichick’s tenure. The offensive side of the ball is similar as well in my opinion.

      One question I would have: If you believe Brady elevates the players around him, how does he do this? Generally, I would say QBs that can do this the most have an exceptional arm, and/or the ability to extend plays. I would put QBs like Elway in this category. Most of the best QBs can do this–like Montana, for example–but to a lesser degree. To me, while Elway was dependent on his supporting cast, he seemed less dependent and constrained than most other QBs–and his arm talent and ability to extend plays were the reasons for that.

      But I don’t think this applies to Brady.

      The other possibility is that he elevates them by his knowledge, a la Peyton Manning. I don’t know enough to if and to what degree Brady does this. I will say that the offense functioned fairly well with QBs like Cassel, Garappolo, or Brissett, considering they were very young QBs. When I look at many of the success plays of their offense, what stands out is the play call, the degree to which pass catchers are open or the size of running lanes. This is another reason I give more credit to Belichick than Brady.

      1. My guess is we will never know what kind of success Belichick will have without Brady, because they will end their careers together or not too long after one another. But I will say a couple things. One Brady is great in the pocket. Flacco and Cousins and most middle of the road guys pale in comparison to Brady in terms of pocket presence. Even Peyton doesn’t compare to Brady in terms of moving in the pocket, imo and they have about the same athleticism. Two I’m guessing Belichick doesn’t really share you views, because although he is willing to get rid of just about anybody on the team, the exception is Brady. And it doesn’t seem like they have a great relationship.

        What you are saying about Brady in terms of having an exceptional arm and extending plays (although Brady is great at extending plays and standing in the pocket), would or could you say the same about Brees?

    4. My guess is we will never know what kind of success Belichick will have without Brady,…

      One Brady is great in the pocket. Flacco and Cousins and most middle of the road guys pale in comparison to Brady in terms of pocket presence.

      Wait, are you citing this as an attribute that could explain how Brady elevates those around him?

      With regard to Brady’s play in the pocket, this matter less if the Patriots OL wasn’t good in my view. How would you compare Brady’s pocket play to Rivers and Ryan? Both those guys have really impressed me with the way are able to stay within a quickly crumbling, messy pocket and make difficult throws. I feel like they’re better or more impressive that Brady in this regard.

      Two I’m guessing Belichick doesn’t really share you views, because although he is willing to get rid of just about anybody on the team, the exception is Brady. And it doesn’t seem like they have a great relationship.

      Isn’t Brady asking for relatively small amount of money relative to what he could actually get? Who knows if Belichick would have moved on from Brady if he had asked for top dollar?

      Having said this, I don’t feel comfortable with these sentences, as it’s too dismissive of Brady. What I would say is that, I don’t fully understand what Brady brings to team. I would guess he’s bringing more than I appreciate.

      At the same time, Belichick’s contributions seems more apparent to me. How does Belichick elevate the team? Answer: He has the ability to build a team that can shape-shift to exploit an opponent’s weaknesses.

      Because Brady doesn’t have other-worldly physical abilities, I’m not sure how he’s elevating the team.

      What you are saying about Brady in terms of having an exceptional arm and extending plays (although Brady is great at extending plays and standing in the pocket), would or could you say the same about Brees?

      Absolutely. As I said, I would say that about many QBs. The weird thing is that I would say almost every really good QB has good feet and an ability to extend plays. Even QBs like Flacco, Stafford, Ryan, Rivers–you don’t think of them as athletes, and relative to other QBs, they’re not, but they’re better at moving than people think; and they’re ability to move is important to their success.

      But again, most of these players (including the ones I mentioned) can’t extend plays like Wilson, Tarkenton, Elway (I might add Roethlisberger to list, maybe Mahomes; possibly Wentz, Watson.) They don’t have an arm like Elway or Favre.

      I wouldn’t put Brees in this group, nor Montana, Rivers, most really good QBs.

      Another way to say this is that almost every QB, even very talented ones, are highly dependent on their supporting cast. From what I remember, Elway seemed to be one of the least dependent. He seemed to elevate the skill position players around him, more than the other way. I think Wilson would be the next guy that would come to mind.

      In a way, it’s hard to answer this because most of the really good QBs also have good-to-great supporting cast. So it’s hard to know if they could elevate their teammates. But if they don’t have an incredible arm and/or an incredible ability to scramble–or the ability to be an OC on the field like Peyton Manning–it’s hard to see how they can significantly elevate their teammates. (I think Rodgers can do this, but I feel his limitations also stood out to–which is not a knock on him. The same can be said for Wilson.)

      The thing about Brady is that not only does he not have superhuman physical tools, but prior to Welker, Moss, Gronk, he really seemed to have very limited pass-catchers. Can you remember the WRs and TEs? Deion Branch might have been the best guy, and he really didn’t do anything after he left, as far I remember. Troy Brown also comes to mind. If you compare these guys to the best WRs for the best QBs, it’s no comparison. Maybe Brady elevates his teammates in a similar way that Peyton Manning did. In this true, you could take away Belichick, and Brady should be able to produce the same results (assuming the replacement was a solid coach).

      1. With regard to Brady’s play in the pocket, this matter less if the Patriots OL wasn’t good in my view.

        You are right, yet there are big moments in games, where you have to stand in the pocket and make a play. Brady is as brave and tough as they come, and he is willing to stand in there. Strahan even said as much after their Super Bowl victory. Brady can avoid the rush in the pocket, and is willing to take a hit. Which in big moments, could be the difference between making a play or not. I never got that impression with Peyton in terms of standing in there.

    5. Brady is as brave and tough as they come, and he is willing to stand in there.

      I wouldn’t dispute that, but I wouldn’t say he’s head-and-shoulders above other QBs, nor would I say he’s so exceptional at this, that he elevates his teams. I would be more inclined to point to Ryan, Rivers, and even Luck (earlier in his career, especially) as QB’s who elevated their offense by their ability to hang in and throw from a messy pocket.

      As for Manning, my sense is his knowledge and ability to change plays that elevated those around him (but I also think he had good players around him, too). Do you get the sense that Brady really elevates the offense via his mind? I’m sure he does, but a) I’m not knowledgeable or perceptive enough to notice the specific ways he does this, and b) I don’t get the sense it’s as good as Peyton.

  86. 5 Sleepers in 2019

    This is according to Bucky Brooks

    Atlanta Falcons
    Green Bay Packers
    Minnesota Vikings
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Jacksonville Jaguars

    I didn’t realize people are sleeping on the Packers and Vikings. I would not dismiss them. Indeed, I’m more likely to consider them as potential contenders than teams that fail to make the playoffs. (To be fair, that list my be quite long.)

    With those two teams (and the Lions), I would say their fate depends heavily on the degree to which their offenses can get the run game going. These teams have new coaches that are run-oriented (at least in Detroit and Minnesota; I’m not sure about what LaFleur’s offense will look like–more like McVay’s or Shanahans? ) All these teams have solid QBs at least. Add a really good run game to those teams, and I think they all have a good shot of getting into the playoffs (at least; assuming their defenses aren’t awful).

    The Falcons and Steelers aren’t a surprise. Injuries decimated the Falcons defense last year, and if they get everyone back, I would think they should be solid. The question I have involves two rookie O-linemen that are likely to start. If they do well–if their OL improves–the idea that they would be contenders is not far-fetched.

    As for the Steelers, a part me likes them the most. Colin Cowherd things they’re going to do well–addition by subtraction and a more motivated Roethliberger. I tend to agree with this. If they go back to their old identity of a good physical defense and a strong run game, I’d like their chances even more.

    I think I’m less certain about the Jaguars, although if their defense returns to form, they should be contenders because they were contenders in a similar situation with a much worse QB.

    One team that’s not on here that I would put up there is the San Francisco 49ers. They lost their starting QB and RB. They didn’t win a lot, but they played surprisingly well given the context. They could have one of the best front fours in the league. If that proves true and Garappolo is the real deal, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re one of the best teams in the league.

    I really don’t know who people are overlooking–besides teams like Arizona, Buffalo, Jets, and the Dolphins, not sure who else. I would overlook these teams as well.

    Here some other teams that could be sleepers:

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Winston has a good deep ball. Their OL looked good in pass blocking, like a good run-and-shoot OL–i.e., give QB a lot of time against 4 rushers–and they’ve got skilled pass-catchers. These are really good ingredients for a Bruce Arians offense.

    I’m not sure what they’ve got on defense, but I think Todd Bowles is a good defense.

    This coaching staff has a good chance to be the one that finally turns the Bucs around.

    I mentioned the Lions. If Bevell can do for the Lions what Schottenheimer did for the Seahawks–i.e., transform the rushing attack into one of the better ones in the league–I think the Lions could make the playoffs and do some damage, too. (I’m definitely rooting for Bevell to succeed.)

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