Every year around this time, I have to decide if “Sweet Sixteen Weekend” is better than the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament or not. There are not as many games – – to be sure – – but these games are usually good ones because – – usually – – all the teams that are still alive are playing well. If last night’s 4 games are an indicator of what is left to come over the weekend, then this year will be a “Sweet Sixteen” year. Last night I saw:
- A Cinderella team stay alive and advance – – Florida Atlantic
- An overtime game – – K-State beating Michigan State
- A buzzer-beater game – – Gonzaga over UCLA
- A dominating display in a blowout win – – UConn.
I was much more impressed by K-State and UConn last night than the other two teams that advanced to the Elite Eight. UConn is very good and very deep; they will be a tough out for anyone. Gonzaga is next up for the Huskies and while Gonzaga will score lots of points, I doubt that they can do much of anything on defense to put the clamps on UConn. Last night’s comeback in the second half against UCLA showed just how much firepower Gonzaga has – – but their defense is just a tad suspect.
This will be an interesting matchup of styles because beating UConn will probably require a team to have a hot night on 3-point shots – – and Gonzaga can get hot from that part of the floor. The oddsmakers are expecting lots of scoring here; the Total Line for this game opened at 154.5. Other games at this point in the bracket have Total Lines ranging from 135 to 143 just for perspective.
Markquis Nowell controls the flow and pace of the game when he is on the floor and that makes K-State a solid contender. FAU has gotten to this point in the tournament with speed and quickness but they have not yet faced a player like Nowell. I think this game will be fun to watch tomorrow night.
Moving on … The Aaron Rodgers soap opera continues apace. Rodgers has said he wants to play again in 2023 – – and collect that $58M or so that will come to him if he does – – and it appears that the Jets are his preferred destination. At this point, one might think that it is time to bring down the curtain on all the sturm und drang and get on with business. Except … now the focus shifts away from the player(s) and the coaches and the “football guys” an onto the GMs and the agents. Now come negotiations over value received by the Packers who currently hold Rodgers’ contractual rights.
Because this had not been settled in the first 48 hours after Rodgers and the Jets announced their “betrothal”, a lot of attention had gone to the question:
- Which side has the most leverage in this matter?
I think the answer is the Packers but let me review the bidding here:
- The Packers have made it pretty clear that they want to move on from Aaron Rodgers and have Jordan Love take over that responsibility.
- The Packers’ salary cap for 2023 will take a huge hit if Rodgers stays or if he leaves; to the Packers, this is pretty much a wash.
- I believe the Packers only have to pay Rodgers if he is on the roster and not released/traded; I do not think they have to have him as part of the team.
- So, the Packers can get on with their off-season work in terms of building their draft board and having workouts and OTAs and the like without having to do anything about “Aaron Rodgers’ landing place”.
- The Jets on the other hand need a QB – – desperately. After all the courting of Aaron Rodgers and after missing out on all the other free agent QBs who were out there, the Jets need to land Rodgers for the roster because starting Zach Wilson at QB is not going to pass muster with the fans or with the NYC tabloids.
- The Jets need their new QB now. Rodgers and the rest of the Jets’ offensive unit need to work together to get in sync. That won’t happen until the trade terms are finalized.
- The Jets have draft picks in 2023 some of which are assets they can dangle in front of the Packers in exchange for Rodgers’ services. After the NFL Draft in about 4 weeks, those assets are gone.
- Time matters to the Jets and time is not nearly so relevant to the Packers.
So, if anyone were to ask me to “broker a deal” here, this is what I think I would try to work toward with the two parties:
- Packers get a second-round pick in 2023 (#42 overall) … and …
- Packers get a conditional third-round pick in 2024 that can elevate to a second-round pick and even to a first-round pick in 2024 if certain milestones are achieved by Rodgers and the Jets in 2023.
[Aside: Not to worry, anyone. There is zero probability that I will be asked to broker such a deal in this matter.]
Finally, let me close today with this observation by Mark Twain:
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………