“Curly” Neal died this week at the age of 77. He was a Harlem Globetrotter for more than 20 years known for his exotic dribbling skills and his shaved head. “Curley” Neal entertained millions of people over his career in 97 countries.
Rest in peace, “Curly” Neal.
ESPN reported yesterday that the Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s people are back at the negotiating table regarding a long-term deal for the QB. Recall that the Cowboys put the “exclusive rights franchise tag” on Prescott about 10 days ago. According to the ESPN report yesterday, these negotiations would likely wind up making Dak Prescott the highest paid player in the NFL. If that turns out to be the case, then Dak Prescott is a great example of a person being in the right place at the right time.
- Prescott is a valuable commodity. He is a good, young NFL QB with experience; there are not a lot of them standing around.
- His rookie contract is up just at the time when there is a new CBA that will raise the cap significantly AND will allow the NFL to negotiate even bigger TV deals very soon – – meaning another rise in the salary cap.
- Is Prescott the best player in the NFL? Clearly not, but he is in the right place at the right time.
Another NFL QB finds himself at loose ends this week. The Panthers have released Cam Newton making him an unrestricted free agent. Three years ago, that would have been unimaginable but pro football is a game that changes direction because of injuries more than any other team sport. Newton had a shoulder injury two years ago that clearly diminished his ability to throw the football; he had surgery to remedy that. Last year he had a foot injury that made him miss virtually all the season. That was a double whammy:
- The second injury provides teams with another area of concern when it comes to signing him and expecting him to be healthy enough to play 16 games this year.
- Missing almost all of last year did not let teams see the extent to which that shoulder surgery was successful in restoring his ability to throw the football.
About an hour after Newton’s release had been announced, I got an email from a former colleague asking if I thought Newton would sign on with the Skins to be reunited with his coach from Carolina, Ron Rivera. At the time, I said that I doubted that, and Rivera has pretty much confirmed that assessment subsequently. Here is what I said regarding why I thought the Skins were not in Cam Newton’s future:
- The Skins handed Rivera a young team with the intent that he would build it into a contending team. Cam Newton will be 31 years old before teams show up for Training Camp; he does not fit the profile.
- The Skins have invested draft capital in the QB position. Last year they took Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the draft – at the insistence of owner Danny Boy Snyder. If Haskins in not the starting QB for the Skins this year and is not injured, that is a clear signal that Ron Rivera and his staff are totally convinced that Haskins is a bust and cannot play NFL football. Oh, and by the way, the Skins also sent a 5th round pick to the Panthers this week to obtain Kyle Allen who was Newton’s backup in Carolina last year.
- The Skins do not really need a “veteran QB to mentor” Haskins. Still with the team is Alex Smith who can provide that service even though it is virtually certain that Smith will never again play in an NFL game.
So, where should Cam Newton land as a free agent? I have seen plenty of arguments saying that going to LA to play for the Chargers is the right match. I agree that the Chargers are a talented team – albeit one that was devastated by injury last year – but the Chargers have a hole at QB. Philip Rivers is in Indy now; the guy on top of the depth chart for the Chargers this morning is Tyrod Taylor. Meaning no disrespect to Taylor at all, a healthy Cam Newton is a better QB than Tyrod Taylor. Having said all that, I think there is a better fit for Cam Newton and a team but that fit will only come to light after the NFL Draft:
- IF the Dolphins manage to draft Tua Tagovaiola in this year’s draft, I think it would be smart for them to sign Cam Newton to a 1-year contract with a team option for the second year.
- In Year One, Newton could play QB with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his backup while Tua never sets foot on the field.
- At the end of Year One, the Dolphins can then reassess their situation, Tua’s health and decide what is best for the 2021 season.
I mentioned the NFL Draft above; it is on the schedule for a month from now; it was supposed to be a Las Vegas extravaganza until the coronavirus put the kibosh on such large gatherings. Earlier this week, the NFL GMs expressed their desire to postpone the Draft in light of the virus and how it has affected their scheduling regarding
- Individual pro days with draft candidates
- Meetings with scouts
- Interviews with draft candidates.
The Commish nixed that idea; the Draft will go on as scheduled and I think that is the right decision. Frankly, the processes that have evolved that lead to the NFL Draft have taken on an “Alice in Wonderland” air. There is lots of hustle and bustle and dashing about – – and still the odds on a first-round pick being far less than what was expected is close to 50/50. Maybe this year will convince the GMs to cut back on some of the “showy stuff” and rely on game film analysis to answer what is the seminal question facing them:
- Can the guy whose name you are about to send to the podium play football at the NFL level?
Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation in the Seattle Times a while back and it relates to the problems that face NFL GMs:
“The average male cries 5 to 17 times a year, according to the American Psychological Association.
“What, you think it’s easy running a fantasy football team?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………