Back in December when it was locked into place, I said that the Cincinnati Bengals were “on the clock” with the overall Number 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. After LSU’s dominant performance in the two CFP tournament games, I have heard and read at least a dozen people who have stated explicitly that the Bengals will take Joe Burrow with that pick. There is a ton of logic behind that assertion; but here in Curmudgeon Central, it is always fun to try to turn logic on its head. So, let me try this one on for size:
The Bengals are not a well-run organization with a long history of shrewd decisions to inspire confidence. I think we might find a way to agree on that premise. So, why should it be axiomatic that the Bengals would do something “obviously logical”? Now when I began to think along those lines and wonder how the Bengals might “upset the draft” I came to two realizations:
- The teams with the first 3 picks in the 2020 NFL Drafts are all poorly run organizations with a history of screwing up. Those three organizations are the Bengals, Skins and Lions.
- The team drafting in the #4 slot – the Giants – as recently as last year drafted outside the lines of conventional wisdom to say the least. The Giants’ reputation for ineptitude on a historical scale does not rival those of the Bengals, Skins or Lions – – or the Browns for that matter – – but they have been a tad flaky recently.
So, it just might be way premature to assume that the Bengals will take Joe Burrow first and then that the Skins will take Chase Young second leaving the rest of the Draft Class to the Lions for the player of their choosing as so many of the Draft Pundits have postulated.
The 2020 NFL Draft will happen on 23-25 April in Las Vegas. Prior to that time, two events will be on the NFL calendar that will – or should – shape the Draft:
- February 24 – March 2 will be the NFL Scouting Combine. Every year a team or two falls in love with a break-out athlete at the Combine and sometimes that can lead to surprise trades to acquire higher draft status for a team so that they can take a pick no one saw coming.
- March 18 will signal the start of NFL free agency in this off-season. Teams can fill some of their needs with signings in free agency that will change the perception of their needs when the Draft rolls around. Moreover, we do not yet know the list of players who will be free agents on that date. Contract extensions and franchise tags can take potential free agents “off the market” so any sort of projecting along that axis is pure speculation.
Having said all that, there are three intriguing possibilities when it comes to free agency for NFL players in 2020:
- Derrick Henry’s rookie contract is up. Given his performance in the regular season where he led the league in yards, carries and yards per carry (despite playing in only 15 games) AND his dominating performance in the Titans’ first two playoff games, he should be of interest to just about every team in the league except the Cowboys and Giants.
- Teddy Bridgewater’s contract is up. He signed on with the Saints last year as an insurance policy for the team and the Saints cashed in. When Drew Brees had to miss 5 games recovering from thumb surgery, Bridgewater took over and led the Saints to wins in all 5 games. His overall QB Rating in those games was 118.1 while the league average was 91. Teams needing to upgrade at QB could find this 27-year old practitioner interesting.
- AJ Green’s contract is up. Green missed all of the 2019 season with an ankle injury that reportedly is now at the point where he can resume normal off-season workouts. Green is 32 years old and is coming off an injury, but when he is healthy, he is still a top-shelf WR.
In another strange football-related note, Chad Johnson – temporarily named Chad Ochocinco – will get an XFL tryout but not as a WR. Johnson is 42 years old and seemingly has come to recognize that his days as a pass catcher are in the past. He will try out as a place kicker and he posted an Instagram video that shows him connecting on a 60-yard field goal attempt – with no rush and using a mechanical holder for the ball.
The XFL will benefit from recognizable names. If you check out XFL rosters, I would be surprised if you would recognize more than 10 players on a random roster. I just checked the roster of the DC Defenders and there are only 6 players there that I know anything about. Having someone like Chad Johnson – even as a kicker – would help the XFL. If Johnson made a team in the XFL and did indeed demonstrate ability as a kicker, he might get an invitation to an NFL training camp in the summer. There is a chance for symbiosis here…
The sign-stealing scandal in MLB has not gone away. Speculation now seems to be on the Mets and their new manager, Carlos Beltran. It seems to be the case that he was one of the participants in the signal stealing as part of the communication link from the “electronic spies” to the batter in the box. As a player for the Astros, he was granted immunity by the Commish if he cooperated with the investigation; now he is no longer a player with immunity; he is a manager who might be a PR liability for his new employer.
I understand the decision of the Commish to grant immunity to players in order to obtain information; I also understand the reluctance to punish players when any punishment – no matter how trivial – will be opposed by the Players Association. Nonetheless, that creates a situation where:
- The players were participants in the signal stealing and the beneficiaries of the stolen signs. They are held harmless.
- Managers and GMs are held accountable.
- Owners face a maximum fine of $5M in this matter. The simple fact is that $5M is something most of these folks can take from their petty cash drawer.
Not particularly satisfying…
Finally, here is a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Disgruntled: Way too kind a word for a freaking nut job who shows up to work with an Uzi.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………