The opening acts of NFL free agency are not “sustainable” – to use a word currently in vogue. There may be an important signing with an eye-popping dollar total we have not seen yet; there may be a big trade out there that has not come to fruition. But it is unlikely that we will have as many big movements in such a short time period until next year when NFL free agency begins. To me, the most interesting thing to observe is the wide variety of prices paid by teams to acquire big-play wide receivers.
- Most expensive WR: Odell Beckham Jr. went from the Giants to the Browns. The cost to the Browns was a 1st round pick this year (17th overall) plus a 3rd round pick this year plus Jabrill Peppers a good young defensive back.
- Next-most expensive WR: Antonio Brown went from the Steelers to the Raiders. The cost to the Raiders was a 3rd round pick and a 5th round pick this year.
- Bargain-basement WR: DeSean Jackson went from the Bucs to the Eagles. The cost to the Eagles was a 6th round pick this year – – but they also get a 7th round pick next year in addition to Jackson.
I think we would all agree that Jackson is the least valuable of those three WRs at this point in his career; he will be 33 in December. However, he did lead the entire NFL last year in yards per catch at 18.9 yards per catch. The cost to the Eagles to acquire him and to give the team a legitimate deep threat was trivial – – unless you want to fantasize that the 6th round pick sent to the Bucs is going to turn into the 2019 iteration of 6th round pick Tom Brady.
If you compare Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., you are looking at two of the top five or six WRs in the league. Brown will be 31 when the season starts; Beckham will be 27 in November. Brown has caught 100+ passes in each of the past 6 seasons and led the NFL in TD receptions last year with 15; Beckham has enviable stats but not ones that are equivalent Browns. In that light compare the costs and implications:
- Did the Giants fleece the Browns? Or, did the Steelers take a yard-sale price in their deal just to get Brown out of town and out of their division?
- Are the Browns playing a long game acquiring offensive assets to add to Baker Mayfield thereby justifying the cost? Or, are the Raiders in something of a “win-now mode” acquiring the older WR of the two?
People will argue about who get the best deal here and which team lost out here; those arguments will extend at least until the teams finish the 2019 season. However, the disparity of “prices” paid for WRs in the early flurry of free agency does raise an interesting question:
- What is the market value for some of the remaining WRs who are free agents? Here are a few possibilities: Randall Cobb, Michael Crabtree, Golden Tate…
The fact that these three accomplished WRs moved around with draft picks used mainly as the currency for their acquisition leads me to cite an observation made by Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:
“Reality check: I hope Kyler Murray turns out to be as impactful as his biggest fans imagine. The NFL can’t have too many good quarterbacks. But I find it funny when his Heisman Trophy is cited as proof that he’s got the goods. Come on now, you could wallpaper your house with the press clippings of Heisman quarterbacks who bombed out in the pros. Two words: Gino Torretta. Two more: Danny Wuerffel. Must I go on?”
Oh, but you should go on; the list of Heisman QBs who failed to make the jump to the NFL with any impact is a long one:
- Steve Spurrier (1966)
- Gary Beban (1968)
- Pat Sullivan (1971)
- Andre Ware (1989)
- Ty Detmer (1990)
- Chris Weinke (2000)
- Eric Crouch (2001)
- Jason White (2003)
- Matt Leinart (2004)
- Troy Smith (2006)
- Tim Tebow (2007)
- Johnny Manziel (2012)
More interesting to me is the list of great NFL QBs who failed to win the Heisman Trophy such as:
- Troy Aikman
- Terry Bradshaw
- Len Dawson
- John Elway
- Brett Favre
- Dan Fouts
- Jim Kelly
- Dan Marino
- Joe Montana
- Warren Moon
- Bart Starr
- John Unitas
- Steve Young
I’m sure I left someone off this list who belongs here…
Finally, since today was all about NFL happenings, here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald from soon after the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade in Boston last month:
“A thrown can of beer hit Rob Gronkowski in the head during the Patriots’ championship parade. Alternate punchlines: A) He didn’t feel a thing. B) That’s terrible. What a waste of beer!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………