If you pay any attention at all to this year’s NFL off-season news, the reports fall into two categories. The first category is a “listicle” – a list of some sort with a unifying theme such as The Ten Worst Salary Cap Situations in 2017 or The Five Most Desirable Free Agent WRs. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of those things quickly. The other category focuses on the consensus regarding desirable free agents this year and analyzes them to death. Let me list the players with constant focus:
- LeVeon Bell: Will the Steelers retain him with a franchise tag?
- Kirk Cousins: Will the Skins retain him with a franchise tag?
- Jimmy Garoppolo: Will the Pats trade him? If so, where?
- Tony Romo: Where will he play QB next year?
Let me try to provide brief answers to three of those four “vexing” questions:
- LeVeon Bell: The Steelers will retain him one way or the other.
- Kirk Cousins: The Skins will franchise him.
- Tony Romo: The Cowboys can afford to keep him as a backup but if they release him, Tony Romo will play for either the Texans or the Broncos.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a more complicated situation. The Pats do need a solid backup QB given the fact that Tom Brady is battling Father Time in addition to opposing defenses. Garoppolo looked awfully good in his 6 quarters of action last year leading some to believe he is the heir apparent to Brady and therefore will not be traded. However, coming to that conclusion assumes the ability to read the mind of Bill Belichick because if Belichick is convinced that Jacoby Brissett can be his “QB of the Future”, then this is the time to cash in on Garoppolo’s soaring trade value. I will not even pretend to be able to read Bill Belichick’s mind…
Let me offer some words of caution to QB-hungry teams out there who covet Jimmy Garoppolo. If you are indeed able to come up with a package of players/draft picks to pry him loose from the Pats, remember Belichick’s track record when it comes to trading backup QBs.
- Matt Cassell
- Brian Hoyer
- Ryan Mallet
I am not saying that Jimmy Garoppolo is destined to be a journeyman QB at best, but there is some history there.
Enough about The Big Four of free agents. I think there is a free agency situation that is well under the radar but it is important. Terrelle Pryor is 27 years old; he tried to make it in the NFL as a QB put of Ohio State but after three years below mediocrity with the Raiders, he signed on with the Browns seeking to reinvent himself as a WR. In his first year, they targeted him 8 times and he caught 1 pass for 42 yards. Last year, he caught 77 passes for 1007 yards and 4 TDs.
Before anyone looks at those numbers and shrugs them off, consider that he was the lead receiver for a Browns’ team that did not have a competent QB to throw him the ball partly because the OL could not keep a QB healthy very long. I do not want to make Terrelle Pryor out to be the poor man’s version of Julio Jones, but he is important to the Browns and he could be an important addition to a team that actually has a chance to be in the playoffs in 2017. I am going to pay attention to news about Pryor’s negotiations this off-season. I believe that he would cost the Browns $15.1M to play under the franchise tag.
Another NFL story that is under the radar relates to the continued interactions between law enforcement officials and Raiders’ OLB, Aldon Smith. He has been in the league since 2011 and was the NFC defensive player of the year with the Niners in 2012. However, he has not been anywhere near a model citizen and is currently serving a 1-year suspension from the league. I do not represent that this is the full extent of his relationship with the gendarmes in various jurisdictions but consider:
- Arrested more than once for DUI
- Arrested for getting into a confrontation with a TSA employee who thought Smith was carrying a bomb.
- Arrested for possession an assault weapon without proper registration.
- Arrested for a hit-and-run incident
He has been suspended by the NFL multiple times; if my count is correct he has missed all of part of 4 seasons – and he has only been in the league for 6 years. I mention this because Aldon Smith had applied for reinstatement to the NFL when his most recent suspension ended late last year; that matter remains under review. And now …
- Aldon Smith is under investigation regarding a domestic violence situation. Remember, the NFL has a precedent of handing out suspension(s) for such matters even without charges being filed against the alleged perpetrator.
Aldon Smith has recorded 47.5 sacks in 59 NFL games; in 2012, he recorded 19.5 sacks in 16 regular season games. He would have been a perfect Oakland Raider in the days of Al Davis and before the days of Roger Goodell and the NFL’s menu of suspensions for anti-social behaviors. Smith’s problem is that he wants to play today and not back then.
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald regarding another arrest situation related to sports:
“A Baylor assistant strength coach was arrested in a prostitution sting. OK, I’ve heard of better ways of rehabilitating a program’s image. The good news is that after working with him, a prostitute achieved personal bests in the vertical leap and shuttle run.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………