Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Normally, I would caution folks about spending too much time imbibing at the local pub while adorned in whatever green clothing one might have; but in many parts of the country today, bars and restaurants are closed as we are learning the fundamentals of “social distancing”. To demonstrate that I am in tune with the times, let me offer a suggestion for your “isolationist St. Patrick’s Day festivities”.
- Wear that same hideous green outfit you would have worn to the pub.
- Dig around and find that bottle of crème de menthe in the back of your liquor cabinet and pour that nasty green stuff on some vanilla ice cream.
- Read some Green Lantern comic books.
- Binge watch the old Bonanza TV shows starring Lorne Greene.
No need to thank me. I’m just trying to do my part…
There is NFL news today even though this is not nearly the NFL season. In the absence of real games, NFL Free Agency becomes an even bigger deal than it normally is. And in the ramp up to the start of the free agent feeding frenzy, there have been two head scratching moves and trades:
- Two seasons ago, the Jags were in the AFC Championship Game and led the Patriots in the 4th quarter by 10 points. Yes, they lost that game, but it was their young and aggressive defense that got them there because – remember – Blake Bortles was the one running the offense. Since that game, the Jags have been dismantling that young, aggressive and competent defense. Last year they parted company with Jalen Ramesy, Malik Jackson, AJ Bouye and Dante Fowler. This year, they traded Calais Campbell to the Ravens for a 5th round pick – – that is NOT a typo – – and they put the franchise tag on Yannick Ngakoue who has made it clear he wants out of Jax.
- The Houston Texans seemingly look at the Jags’ strange moves and call the bets. Last year, the Texans traded away Jadeveon Clowney – who admittedly did not want to stay with the team – for the football equivalent of a ham sandwich. They followed that move with a trade to acquire Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills but gave up two first round picks and a second rounder in the deal. [Aside: The 2020 season will be the final year of Tunsil’s contract…] Now it gets even stranger; the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cards for David Johnson.
If you can make sense out of the long-range strategic moves made by the jags and Texans over the past couple of years, you can probably also identify the man who put the “ram” in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong. Don’t look at me for an explanation…
There have been a few other surprising moves – but not nearly at the same jaw-dropping level:
- The Cowboys will pay Dak Prescott $31.5M next year to play on the franchise tag. I recognize that QBs in general are “overpaid” but this one was a bit shocking until I also realized …
- The Titans signed Ryan Tannehill to a 4-year deal that averages out to $29.5M per year. [Aside: All of a sudden, Nick Foles at $22M per year looks like a bargain?]
- The Bills acquired Stefon Diggs from the Vikes for a package of draft picks including a first rounder this year.
- Tom Brady will not be with the Patriots next year. He said his football career will be “continuing elsewhere” – – but that destination is still TBD.
Quick Quiz: If Brady’s departure from New England signals the end of the Pats’ domination of the AFC East, which team in that division is best poised to take over?
I was fishing around for more information regarding the new NFL CBA and ran across something I had missed in my first scan of the reports. The CBA was approved in a very close vote; there were 1019 votes to approve and 959 votes to turn it down. Even though that vote is very close, the decision to ratify the agreement seemed obvious until I ran across this tidbit:
- Approximately 500 players who were eligible to vote did not vote.
I recognize that people do not vote in elections all the time; more than 40% of the voting age population in the US did not vote in the 2016 Presidential election. However, the ratification vote here would have a direct impact on a player’s working life and career; so, I am surprised that such a large percentage took a pass on voting.
Bob Molinaro had this item in a recent column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Money matters: For what it’s worth, nearly 60 percent of NFL players make the league minimum. It’s their chosen profession, sure. But the owners strike a hard bargain.”
If I have read the new CBA correctly on the issue of rookie minimum salaries, those folks on the bottom rungs of the pay scale will get a raise that translates to a significant percentage even if it does not translate into generational-altering wealth. The rookie minimum last year was $495K and this year it will be $675K. That is a 36% pay increase and that is nothing to sneeze at – – especially in these times of the coronavirus.
Finally, Dwight Perry had these observations in the Seattle Times a while back:
“With the specter of opposing pitchers plunking Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask:
“• Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target?
“• By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of “Bean Town”?
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………