Marching through NFL thoughts: While We’re Waiting

Down by two with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom half of the last inning, my eldest son stepped into the batter’s box. There would be no waiting for a walk as a chin high fastball was offered, and he accepted it with full fury. The clack off the bat was all the runners needed to race towards home. The sound of the ball hitting the fence on the fly meant there would be no chance at catching them on this night. The umpire called the game, and my son walked up to me shaking his head, angry. All of the lessons in the batting cage about elevating the ball came to the forefront as he said “If I hit that a little higher, I clear the fence.”1

Baseball season might be about to begin, but NFL stories abound as reporters ask questions at this week’s owners meetings.

Quarterback Market

Whoo boy. Let’s start with the most exhausting storyline of the offseason. ESPN ran a multiple-sourced article early on Tuesday that indicated Colin Kaepernick has told teams he wants to be able to compete for a starting position and be paid accordingly. The writer reasoned that means high-end backup money or low-end starter money, which would be around nine to 10 million per year. Kaepernick sources (likely agents) fired back that he has never demanded nine to 10 million per year (they did not refute the assertion he wanted a chance to compete for a starting spot).

That ESPN article is about as fair as any at detailing the Kaepernick current situation. If he wants to compete as a starter, then there are precious few teams he would have a chance to do so (the article denotes the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Cleveland Browns). He opted out of the 49ers, so they are eliminated. Two of those teams are waiting on a decision about Tony Romo from the Dallas Cowboys- Chiefs and Broncos. One of those teams- Jets- has an owner, Woody Johnson, who does appear to have crossed him off their list due to his political assertions. That leaves the Cleveland Browns. Hue Jackson has said that the team has not discussed Kaepernick as an option yet, but it could change in the future (perhaps waiting to see how the 2017 NFL Draft falls).

Kaepernick isn’t the only veteran on the open market either. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Daniels, and Jay Cutler are still looking for work. A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo might or might not be available for trade. There is still a whole bunch of fall-out going on.

Speaking of Jimmy-G:

As Joe Thomas stated, Tom Brady playing six to seven more years- heck, even three more years- puts more impetus on trading Jimmy Garoppolo. Unless anyone thinks the Patriots will sign him to the franchise tag (currently $23 million for quarterbacks).

The main issue still being the Patriots want to trade him for the assets of an established starter and he wasn’t able to make it through his only two games ever started healthy.

Josh Gordon

Craig brought up great points earlier this week about why the Browns should just ride out the Josh Gordon situation and accept whatever he might be able to give the team. He laid out how wide receivers are more mercenaries to a NFL team anyway, and the distractions they bring are more forgiveable (or ignoreable). Plus, just imagine Patrick Mahomes tossing 40 yard bombs to Gordon streaking away from a defense.

If the Browns were a more established team, then I would be completely on board with Craig here too. Problem is that Gordon is a short term fix if he can be the first ever NFL player to return from an indefinite suspension. Of course, getting caught with drugs in the car while speeding less than a year ago and then being placed back on the indefinite suspension list for another offense later leads one to not trust the potential superstar.

Here is what I would do. Trade Gordon to a contending team that needs an offensive boost like the Chiefs. Do not accept any draft assets in 2017. Instead, make it a sliding scale of draft pick compensation based on if he remains off the suspension list and his production on the field. Say, a seventh-round pick in 2018 that can become a third-round pick if he breaks 1200 yards or 12 touchdowns.

Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas

Fans tend to side with ownership in many of the CBA discussions and free agency because the owners care about the long-term health of the league alongside the short-term ramifications on our particular team. While the point of view is obviously quite different through the varied lens, there is a more clear linear train of thought that both the fan of the team and the owner of the team care more about the team. Everyone is keeping their own selfish perspective, it just happens to be somewhat aligned.

That alignment breaks down with relocation. Ownership desperately needs the community to believe that the team is embedded in their particular city so that everyone can rally behind them and feel a deeper connection that will last through the rough patches every team faces. However, once another city lifts their blouse to show off their enhanced new stadium for the team to play in, any alignment is broken.

The NFL now has moved out of San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland, and San Franciscso in the last two seasons. The Bay area (one of the most populous areas of the country) has zero teams (Santa Clara is not Bay area). Football is currently king, so the short-term ramifications are small. But, rough days could be ahead for the league and leaving behind huge areas with great fan interest could bite them. A large portion of me hopes it does.

New Uniforms

White helmets! Gun-metal gray accents! Another three years of speculation and discussion just to have the team announce a gigantic reveal where they remove the dumb wording on the pants.

Weird NFL stat manipulation

OK. So, the Browns had Robert Griffin III miss 11 games due to injury after being named starter. Cody Kessler missed four games due to injury after being named starter (he is specifically listed as being included in the article). Josh McCown missed four games due to injury after being named starter. That is 19 games right there, and we haven’t even mentioned Teddy Bridgewater and Tony Romo.

I call shenanigans.

Cameron Erving, right tackle

The Browns made more official what most of us already assumed. After signing J.C. Tretter (center) and Kevin Zeitler (guard), the only remaining starting position open is at right tackle. Cameron Erving will compete with Shon Coleman for the spot (and perhaps others). Those two players both played right tackle in the Browns Week 17 contest.

Myles Garrett
Hat tip to Draftwire who landed an exclusive interview with Myles Garrett. Well worth the read. Here’s a snippet:

When asked what fills his headphones when he’s not on the field, Garrett gave a comprehensive list:

Could be Michael Jackson, Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass. Could be Journey, Queen. Could be Tupac, Drake. Bruno Mars, Adele, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Of Mice and Men.

  1. Apologies but you will be subjected to a story from my 10 and under PONY team from time to time. The other cool part of this particular story is that my younger son was standing on first base, which means he scored the winning run. []