Catching Up With The NFL Offseason

With the new league year beginning next week, I thought it’d be nice to give a little recap of the weeks since the Super Bowl.  It’s the NFL Offseason, which, well, kinda doesn’t exist, I guess.

We’ll start by going through guys who received the franchise/transition tag.

Muhammed Wilkerson

I was a little surprised by this.  Muhammed Wilkerson has been a great player the last three seasons.  He’s secretly making his way into the top ten pass-rushers in the league.  With 12 sacks this past year and 10.5 two years ago, he’s made his case.  So why didn’t he get paid?

The pass-rushing market is getting insanely expensive.  If you thought last year’s money was insane, then you just wait.  He is the best pass-rusher on the market this Spring, but are we sure he’s worth a Justin Houston-like contract?  Are we sure Justin Houston was worth a Justin Houston-like contract?

The Jets probably weren’t ready to give him a massive deal.  They wanted one more year.  They had the cap room to do it.  Maybe they have a couple funny feelings going forward for him?  The tag keeps Wilkerson with the team, and pays him an amount he should be content with, at least for one year ($15.701 million).

Justin Tucker

I don’t know what the right price is for Justin Tucker, let alone kickers themselves.  I don’t understand tagging your kicker.  Give him whatever he wants!  He knows what is reasonable.  He knows he getting no more than $5 million a year.  Just hammer out a deal!  This isn’t hard!  Ravens, you have one of the best kickers in the league (and definitely the best fantasy kicker)!  Just pay him!

Cordy Glenn

Cordy Glenn has proven himself, no doubt.  However, in the season where his true value showed, the Bills happened to be cap-crunched.  That is the simplest way to explain Glenn getting the tag.  The Bills just simply don’t have the money this offseason.

As said with most these guys though, their salary is just fine.  He’ll make $13.706 million this upcoming season.  Yeah, players like long-term security, but it’s not like Glenn is getting screwed here.  He has one more year to prove himself even more.  Glenn exploded on the scene this year not only due to his production, but for the fact that he had a young and raw quarterback to protect too.

It’s too hard to project what Glenn will make after next year, but for now, he’s taken care of and the Bills keep a valuable guy.

Alshon Jeffrey

This tag makes no sense.  The Bears have all the cap space in the world, and weren’t able to get a deal done with Alshon Jeffrey.  Jeffrey is a top-13 or so wide receiver in the league, and even higher when he’s 100% healthy.

That’s been the main problem with Jeffrey, and perhaps it is why he was tagged.  We know he’s a beast when he is 100%.  But he missed seven games this past season, and had a banged up rookie year too.  The years he has been healthy, his production has been massive.

Perhaps Chicago wasn’t comfortable with giving him a big deal the year after he played half the season.  He is worth it though, and the Bears have to understand the risk they’re taking here.  This is not a guy you want to hit the open market.

Josh Norman

This is one of the tags that actually make sense.  Josh Norman had a great year and was one of the best players on the league’s 2nd best defense (by DVOA).  But I understand this tag.

This was Norman’s 1st great year.  It is the best walk year a guy can have.  But when you’re practically unknown, at least to the general NFL public, it could be hard to get a big deal.  Again, Norman’s never had a better year.  Carolina tagged him to see whether he could do again, and if he proves himself, then he’ll get paid.

I’m not playing the “Are we sure he’s good?” game with Norman.  It’s just a little concerning that he was unknown before this year, and was probably gonna get a Byron Maxwell-type deal (Good God, is that thing ugly)  from someone.  Smart move by Carolina.

Olivier Vernon

The Dolphins have absolutely no cap room, so applying the tag was really the only option.  I think they were scared of what Olivier Vernon was gonna ask for.  We know how this pass-rushing market is, and his demands might have been insane.  Vernon’s a very good player, and he’s super skilled.  With 29 sacks in four seasons, he’s gonna get paid at some point.  Staying healthy (which has never been a problem for him, by the way) is all he can hope for this upcoming season.

Von Miller

The Broncos aren’t out of room on their cap, it’s just that there’s a lot of uncertainty.  We don’t know about Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler yet (more on that later).  Malik Jackson is a free agent, and is gonna get paid by someone.  Tagging Von Miller, Super Bowl MVP, has pros and cons.  We know he’s amazing.  There’s no need for him to prove himself.  If I’m a GM, John Elway or not, I’d be making him the highest paid defensive player in the league.  Denver couldn’t do that because of the other predicaments they’re in.  Those we’ll get into soon.

Kirk Cousins

This was a logical move by the Redskins.  There was a good chance Kirk Cousins’ contract demands were gonna be insane.  We know how expensive a starting quarterback is these days.  Washington, understandingly so, wasn’t comfortable giving him massive money.

Washington’s battled themselves over who the right guy is for the past four seasons.  Its why Mike Shanahan got fired, and its why Robert Griffin lll is gonna be cut soon.  Washington has found their guy, or at least you’d hope so.

They are 80% sure Cousins is their guy, but you have to be 100% before handing him big money.  That is what this upcoming season is doing for the Redskins and Cousins: Gaining that last 20%.

Eric Berry

I’m gonna do a list of guys who’re most likely to get a deal done this Summer as opposed to keeping the tag below, and I think Eric Berry tops it.

I don’t think the Chiefs and him have reached an agreement yet, and that is why the tag was applied.  Just to be safe.  Eric Berry is an incredible safety and story.  He deserves the money, because he has proven he can come back from anything.

Trumaine Johnson

Los Angeles has two starting cornerbacks to re-sign this Spring, and the better one has been taken care of.  I don’t know if Janoris Jenkins is gonna return with the Rams.  It may be a one or the other situation.

Sure, the Rams would like to have both, but Jenkins is gonna get paid this year, deservedly so, but if the Rams feel better about committing future money to Johnson, than Jenkins will earn his money elsewhere.  He’s frustrated, which isn’t a good sign.

I think they’ve made the right call keeping Johnson for next season.  Don’t think though that they don’t want Jenkins.

Who is most likely to get a deal done before the Summer deadline?

  1. Eric Berry
  2. Von Miller
  3. Alshon Jeffrey

Big names here.  I covered Berry above, and am about to cover Miller below.  Miller hinges on whether Peyton Manning is coming back, what kind of contract Brock Osweiler gets (if any from Denver), and whether Denver re-signs Malik Jackson.

Maybe the Bears re-think it, and decide to hand Jeffrey the money.  He deserves it.

On Peyton Manning and the Broncos…

You can’t believe anything you read, because it changes daily.  From my own thoughts, to Woody Paige’s (I think that column was thoughts, and not a true report, even though he claimed to have two sources on it), to articles you read later in a given afternoon with reports that completely contradict what you read that morning with your coffee.  Its a mess, but thats how this always works, right?

I think Manning is exploring everything.  Because he has a lot of options on his plate.  A return to the Broncos is least likely, but possible.  Going somewhere else like Los Angeles, Houston, or Cleveland has to be considered if he still wants to play.  A GM or front office role/offer could be sitting there from someone, and so could a TV deal from a big-time network (CBS makes all the sense in the world).

I think there’s no doubt that Manning would like to keep playing.  Its just a matter of whether NFL teams want him to keep playing, for them.  The three teams I listed are desperate, but could also have hope in the Draft.  The Rams make perfect sense.  They don’t have a really high pick; chances are the guy they really like will be gone.  Its LA, I mean, what is more appealing than that?  Having Manning come be the quarterback would attract so many more fans, which, newsflash, won’t be a problem in the next six years anyways (taking into account the years before the new stadium and the 2-3 afterward).

I don’t think he knows what he wants to do, and Woody Paige certainly doesn’t either.  Though, if Manning does step away, Paige takes the credit for it, I guess.  Congratulations on breaking news we’ve hoped to know for months.

On notable cuts…

Marques Colsten

The Saints cap is a mess, so this was kinda expected.  Colsten was a great Saint, I mean, look at these stats:

Meanwhile, I can’t wait for Willie Snead to have 100 targets this season.

Roddy White

The Falcons automatically enter the market for a wide receiver with this move.  Whether they spend money on one or use a high draft pick on one remains to be seen.

Roddy White has been on the bubble when it comes to being cut.  His production has dipped, and he’s getting up there in age.

He was becoming a liability for the Falcons, and that is not what Matt Ryan needs.  This gives Atlanta the chance to bring someone new in.

Does White have anything left?  This could be a classic Patriots move, as long as he doesn’t demand to much money.

Scott Chandler

Classic Patriots move.  Yes, his role had diminished, but I’ve always liked Scott Chandler.  He’s never really found the consistency.  He had the right situation in Buffalo for two years, and it has never came back.  Maybe my Cardinals can swoop in and make a signing?

Brandon LaFell

Another Patriots cut from this week.  People are wondering who Tom Brady is gonna throw to again.  Lets all chill.  You know they’ll be fine.

James Laurinaitis

The three Rams cut I’m about to go through were all stunning, this one especially.  Laurinaitis has been the guy there for years.  A leader and a phenomenal player.  Of course he was shocked.

Someone is gonna get a good player out of signing him.

Jared Cook

This one made a bit more sense, even though he signed quite a big contract three years ago.  This is another tight end Arizona could go after (Sorry, I just want my team to have a tight end and be able to guard them, two things we haven’t had/been able to do in years).  Cook won’t command a ton of money, like some of the other cuts.

Chris Long

Another shocking cut made by the Rams.  His production had too dipped in the past couple seasons.  Someone will snag him on a bargain, because Chris Long is a good player.  The Rams have built an insanely talented defensive line, and they clearly want to go younger.

Los Angeles clearly has their eyes on a big free agent, aside from the guys they’re already tasked with re-signing.

Charles Johnson

This was more about cap-saving, and Charles Johnson only played nine games this season.  They honestly just didn’t need him anymore.  And at his cap-number, he was solidified in being cut.  He’s another guy who will get a good deal somewhere.  It was only three seasons ago when he had 12.5 sacks, and he’s only 29.

Arian Foster

There’s a lot of ways for someone to understand this move and for someone to not.  Arian Foster for two years straight has had an injury end his season, and was getting paid close to $9 million a year.  Houston wasn’t gonna put up with the injuries anymore, and paying him like a top back was killer.

However, Alfred Blue doesn’t sound too exciting!  The Texans have a lot to address in this upcoming Draft.

Mario Williams

We’ve seen this one coming for awhile.  The original contract he was given was insane, and he’s never made it work there.  He didn’t get along with Rex Ryan, but honestly, its not like he’s totally need there.

After the money he was given by Buffalo, everyone should be cautious with handing him a contract.

On Sam Bradford’s contract…

Remember talking about the insane going rate for starting quarterbacks above?  Yeah, this is what I referencing to.

The length of Sam Bradford’s $36 million contract is two years, which makes sense.  The Eagles don’t know whether Bradford is gonna be their guy, and perhaps two years gives them enough time to see how he fits in new coach Doug Pederson’s system.

But the money? Put it this way:  Sam Bradford is gonna get $18 million a year while the Eagles figure out whether they should pay him more.

This is just how it is now.  If you’re a starter not on a rookie contract, you’re gonna be demanding more than $13 million a season.  There’s nothing the team can do about it.  There’s nothing anyone can do about it.  But paying a guy that much when you’re not totally sure about him yet?  There has to more confidence in the Eagles front office than there is anywhere else.  You’d hope so if they’re paying him that money.

On Colin Kaepernick’s reported trade demand…

This was pretty stunning to me.  I thought Chip Kelly’s hire was perfect for Colin Kaepernick.  I thought he’d be happy by it.

Something tells me though, that his frustration has to do with the front office, and all the mistakes they’ve made, including handling his benching last season.  Guys have a breaking point, and assuming this report is true, we’ve reached it with Kap.

If this is nonsense, or the 49ers really don’t want to move him, I think San Francisco holds off on drafting a quarterback, at least until the later rounds.  They need another guy there, but he doesn’t have to be a high pick.  We know what Kap is, and hopefully Kelly can improve him.  Blaine Gabbert played very well last season.  Chip Kelly can help develop him too.  If the 49ers keep Kap, chances are we have a quarterback battle in training camp.

Now, if someone offers the 49ers a trade for Kap (the teams that would do this are probably the same teams who would have interest in Peyton Manning), and San Francisco moves on, then a quarterback has to be taken early.  We could let Chip try and work some magic (Are we sure its magic?  Nothing has worked yet…) with Gabbert, but chances are he’s not the answer.

I don’t know who the 49ers would take in the draft yet.  We’ll get there later in the Spring.  But keeping Kap and drafting someone high creates a media and quarterback cluster.  We know how those two things go together, and they’re never pretty.