All of a sudden Tampa, Florida has become a destination location and possibly the hottest sports city in the country. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the NHL. The Tampa Bay Rays made it to the MLB World Series before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. Currently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most popular team in the NFL since the *ahem* GOAT, Tom Brady, decided to take his talents to the Sunshine State this past March.
Since his departure from New England to Tampa Bay became official, big name players as well as veterans who USED to be big names have run to jump on the ever-growing Bucs bandwagon with the 12 license plate. As recently as last season, the only reason anyone spoke of Tampa Bay aside from fantasy stats were to bash those horrid crimson and pewter uniforms. Now, they top the marquee every football Sunday. It started with Brady’s ultimate weapon from New England, tight end Rob Gronkowski, coming out of retirement to put the pads back on. The signings continued with running backs Lesean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed a one-year deal. Linebackers Shaquil Barrett (franchised) and Jason Pierre-Paul (two-year deal) also among others sticking around waiting for rings.
Enter the newest, most high-profile name not named Brady to join the team in free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is set to return to the field after an eight-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Currently in the midst of an ongoing civil lawsuit for alleged rape and sexual misconduct; Brown brings as much baggage as he does skills to the panhandle. Other teams considered him before passing after digging into his background. A good look into that background can be seen in the accompanying video below.
Brown has played for two of the best, most well-run franchises in the history of the league. New England and Pittsburgh have been models of stability and consistency in the last two decades. The Patriots have had one coach, Bill Belichick, in twenty years. They run a notoriously tight ship, have hoisted six Super Bowl trophies and have had great success taking problem players from other teams and turning them into model citizens. The Steelers have had only three coaches since 1969 and current Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been with the team since 2007. Conversely, the Raiders have been a disaster since current Head Coach Jon Gruden was traded by the then Oakland Raiders to Tampa Bay and got his only Super Bowl ring at the end of that same season, against the Raiders, in 2002. Now on his second stint with the team since returning to his former position in 2018, Gruden and the Raiders are looking to atone for the last 18 years of mistakes since the Gruden trade in the first season at their new home in Las Vegas.
Brown got the longest leash in Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round in 2010. He became a star as a Steeler. Eventually, his ego got too big and his teammates, coaches and management were not above Brown putting them on blast in the press and on social media. He was finally traded away to Oakland in 2019. Brown didn’t last a season in New England or Oakland. He couldn’t make it work in (arguably) the two best run organizations in the league, nor could he make it stick on a team where the inmates run the asylum like Oakland. He’s received multiple chances at redemption because on the field, he’s the best wide receiver in the game when his head is right. The problem is his head hasn’t been right in two seasons and counting. He played ONE game for the Patriots and angered the Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock to the point where Brown was cut before he even played a regular season game! From the showing up late/unexcused to practice and meetings to allegedly assaulting women on the staff to disciplinary benchings and ‘fake’ injuries to blasting his own teammates, coaches and fans; Brown has burned every bridge he’s crossed, save for one.
The Tom Brady bridge.
Brady had started building a rapport with Brown in New England before Browns’ off-field transgressions reared their ugly head and he was unceremoniously cut from the team. In their one game together, the duo combined on four of five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, Brady went to bat for Brown with Bucs management and Head Coach Bruce Arians, who has also been the topic of Browns’ venom when the two were together in Pittsburgh. Since the team added Brown last week, Brown is reportedly living in Bradys’ home and according to Arians, is in great physical shape. Now wearing number 81, Brown is now practicing with the team and ready to play in his first game this Sunday as the Buccaneers host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. This can be a pivotal game of NFC Superpowers as both teams have only lost two games on the season. The Saints are 5-2 and Buccaneers are 6-2, respectively.
Can AB be a law-abiding citizen for once in a long while; long enough to make an impact? Can he validate Bradys’ trust in him to his new team and be the once-unstoppable force he was once? Will he fall in line, come in early and stay late and be punctual? Will be again be the locker room cancer he has been over the last five years and get run out of town before his already abbreviated season is done? Brady and company already look to have found the magic as they have raced out to a 6-2 record. Is Brown the final, missing piece to carry Tampa Bay, that new sports Mecca, to a championship? To this writer, the answer is a resounding NO. The Bucs were better off without him and the dude will not grow up until everything is taken from him in the form of a jail cell. At this point, Antonio Brown is emotional napalm, unstable and ready to explode at any moment. Get your popcorn ready.
Stay tuned for the next episode of As the Bandwagon Turns….
The Greg One
Photo credits to Clutchpoints.com
Late last week multiple sports outlets reported that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not show up to camp without a new contract. In addition, if they can not come to a deal, Gordon is demanding a trade. Gordons’ agent, Fletcher Smith, told the media that he and his client are dug in on the matter. Reportedly, there has been no progress in negotiations which spurred them to take this drastic action.
Gordon is in is option year, set to make $5.6 million dollars. Given his production since being drafted in 2015, he has transformed into a top-5 running back in the NFL. Last season, he ranked fifth in yards from scrimmage. Over the last three seasons, he’s only second to Todd Gurley in carries with 1,079 and third in the league in touchdowns (38) and yards from scrimmage (5,205) over the last four seasons. Undoubtedly contributing to their decision making process are the recent long-term extensions given to fellow running back contemporaries Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (4-yrs, $60 million, with $45 million dollars guaranteed), Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (3-yrs, $39 million with $30 million dollars guaranteed) and Le’veon Bell (4-yrs, $52.5 million with $25 million dollars guaranteed). All three threatened to sit out until they got a new deal and only Bell actually sat out a season.
To holdout now will be the greatest leverage he has to use. The Chargers are coming off a 12-4 season highlighted (and lowlighted) by a trip into the AFC Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl champions, New England. The window of opportunity for Philip Rivers and company is now and Gordon is a big piece of the pie in that equation. At 26, this is the best time for Gordon to holdout. His value is at its peak, this is the moment of greatest need for his team with the Chargers ascending to championship contender status and he has proven himself to be a durable, reliable, elite dual-threat running back.
The only reason Bell didn’t succeed in getting paid with the Pittsburgh Steelers is because he waited until after he had been franchised twice. Bell and Gurley got their deals before the team had that control in their hands. The Chargers have the same leverage inasmuch that they can franchise tag Gordon for up to two more seasons at the league average of the top-5 running backs in the league. It’s in the Chargers’ best interest to get a long-term deal done or trade Gordon now as opposed digging in and letting him go (after sitting out the season) and getting nothing in return. Gordon loses all leverage by playing the season and allowing himself to get franchised for two seasons. What team is going to give a long-term contract with a boatload of guaranteed money to a 28-year old running back?
So what do the Chargers do?
The Chargers have a lot of big contracts of core players coming up at the end of 2020 and not a lot of cap space to sign them all. Rivers, Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Jatavis Brown, cornerback Trevor Williams, safety Adrian Phillips and center Mike Pouncey headline the players who will be looking to cash in on their on-field success. By the way, franchise defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking for big bucks at the end of the 2021 season. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has some big decisions to make and Gordon is forcing his name to the top of the list.
Without Gordon, the running back depth chart will be Austin Ekeler, second-year pro Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome and Troymaine Pope. Ekeler has proven his versatility and ability to make plays in space but the group behind him is unproven to say the least. Gordon, obviously is the element that takes this group from good to great. As seen by the recent signings of guys like Bell and Gurley plus the growing influx of backs that are as deadly catching the ball as they are running it; the devalued running back position is making a comeback. If Telesco makes a trade he is hamstrung because no team is going to make a fair offer knowing the position he is in. At best he may be able to acquire a package of draft picks. A first round pick isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Oakland Raiders received a first-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Weeks earlier, they had received two first-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick plus a conditional fifth-round selection for Khalil Mack. Cooper was coming off a down 2017 season and found himself lost in the wide receiver shuffle until newly-hired Raiders coach Jon Gruden shipped him out of town. Mack has established himself as a top-5 if not the best pass rusher in the league before Gruden sent him away. Gordon is closer to the Mack end of the spectrum than the Cooper end. The problem is draft picks are always a crapshoot. A package of picks including a first-rounder or two is all well and good, but it does not result in equal value and it does nothing for the loss of production for a team that is among the favorites to appear in the Super Bowl.
The other side of the coin is to sign Gordon and judging from the deals mentioned above, the terms are going to be in the neighborhood of a three- to f0ur-year deal worth $13- to 16-million dollars per year with two-thirds of that money guaranteed. Can the Chargers afford it? According to Sportrac, Over-The-Cap, ESPN Stats and Info and other sources, the Bolts have just under $11 million dollars in cap space. Still, cap space backdoors are known and utilized by ever GM in the league. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers consistent and on course for that long-awaited Super Bowl return. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers in place as the biggest threats to Kansas City, who will be heralded as the heir apparent to the Patriots’ franchise based on the trajectory of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is coming into this, his third season, on the heels of winning the NFL MVP award after his first season as the Chiefs starting QB.
As a fan and as a man who was there at the NFL Draft when Gordon was drafted, I want him to stay a Charger for life. I’ve met the man, had a conversation with him and shook his hand on the very first day he was tapped to be a Charger. He’s a solid guy, very kind, very active in the community and has a sparkling reputation as a teammate. That being said, I believe Gordon will be traded. I cannot blame the Chargers front office as much as I’d like to do so. The system is flawed with the way teams can get away with so many years of control before a player can cash in on a long-term deal. I can’t blame Gordon for holding out as much as I can’t blame the Chargers brass for wanting to hold onto control for as long as they can before backing the Brinks truck up to his door. Players are now getting wise to the fact that this is the road to hoe if they’re going to avoid overuse and get paid before getting stuck on a series of one-year contracts.
Whatever they decide, they don’t have long to do it. Gordon and Smith have established the beginning of training camp, July 24, as their hard line date to get a new contract done. If they don’t get a deal, they want the Chargers to start looking for trade partners. There’s no reason at this point to believe they won’t follow through on their threat since no new news has come through the pipeline since this story broke. I believe the Chargers will shop Gordon and take the best offer they can get. Having a disgruntled player in the fold will be a huge distraction to the team, the fan base and the bottom line knowing he is at home while the team is fighting for a playoff spot. If Gordon is gone everyone has no choice but to accept it and move on. The Chargers should be able to get a Khalil Mack-esque deal. It won’t be as good but comparable in the sense that it will be multiple picks and at least one first-round pick. Brace yourselves Chargers fans. It won’t be pretty but we know, now more than ever, how much of a business the NFL has become. May the football Gods have mercy on our souls….
The Greg One
Recently the NFL announced Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill would not be disciplined for audio files that surfaced regarding possible child abuse. The case has been closed by authorities in Kansas City until the audio surfaced and it was reopened. The footage shown below was posted online by local Kansas City television outlet KCTV-5. In it, Hill and his fiancee’ Crystal Espinal, argue over Hills’ treatment of the child and implications are made that he caused the broken arm of their 3-year-old child.
The audio is chilling and the NFL had their own investigation after the legal process had run its course and concluded due to lack of proof. Last weekend the NFL announced Hill would not be suspended and is cleared to participate fully when the Chiefs open training camp on July 27. The news comes as a disappointment to the rest of the AFC when it looked as if, based on the audio, some type of discipline would be handed down. The NFL is on a slippery slope when it comes to its athletes and claims of domestic abuse.
Within the last few years, Washington Redskins running back Adrian Petersen lost a year of his career when pictures of his bruised son surfaced. Former running back Ray Rice never played again after video of him abusing his fiancee’ arose. Ex-Dallas Cowboys linebacker Greg Hardy is out of the league and fighting in the UFC after assault charges against his girlfriend left him exiled from the league. Just last season, the Chiefs dealt with a similar situation with former running back Kareem Hunt after video of him kicking a prone woman promptly got him kicked off the team.
What is the difference in what you hear above and the aforementioned cases? I believe the key word is hear. There is no video, no pictures, only words. They are the undisputed words of Hill and his fiancee’ but just words nonetheless…The sliding scale of discipline is troubling and it’s something the league office has yet to be able to handle with any consistency. What do you think? Did the NFL drop the ball in not punishing Hill or was this an accurate example of due process? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The NFL Draft kicks off in three weeks from today and the Los Angeles Chargers are doing their due diligence in their search to find the heir apparent to Philip Rivers. The team made news Wednesday when NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported they have scheduled highly touted quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen for private workouts. The visits are considered local visits for UCLA product Rosen and USC product Darnold. As a result, they do not count against the Chargers’ thirty allowed draft prospect visits.
Both quarterbacks are projected to go at the top of the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Most projections indicate they will go in the top five, almost certainly in the top ten selections of the draft. The Los Angeles Chargers select 17th. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco would have to sacrifice high draft picks in this draft and likely the 2019 draft as well to get high enough to select one of them. Darnold and Rosen are considered two of the top four quarterbacks in the draft alongside Wyoming product Josh Allen and Oklahoma product Baker Mayfield. All four are projected to be off the board before the top ten selections are complete.
The Chargers know the clock is ticking when it comes to finding the man who will take the team into the future once Rivers calls it a career. Now 15-years a professional, Rivers will not be around very much longer. The franchise quarterback has taken an extraordinary amount of wear-and-tear on his body and he’s going to want to spend more time with his wife and eight children. The Chargers quarterback room currently consists of Rivers, the recent addition of veteran quarterback Geno Smith and the raw talent of project Cardale Jones.
This is nothing new of the front office to bring in the top quarterbacks in the draft for a visit during the weeks leading up to the event. This is the time to recognize the window on stability at the quarterback position is about to close. Not selecting a franchise-caliber quarterback to be groomed and mentored behind one of the best quarterbacks in the game would be a great setback to a young team that is trending in the right direction. Let’s hope the team acts on that need sooner than later.
Do you believe the Chargers will select a franchise quarterback in the draft or is this much ado about nothing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Mandatory photo credit courtesy of chron.com
Kicking woes were a constant problem for the Los Angeles Chargers during the 2017-18 season. In an attempt to finally solve their kicker quandary, the Bolts signed veteran kicker Caleb Sturgis to a two-year/4.45 million contract. Per Spotrac, the deal includes a one million dollar signing bonus and one million fully guaranteed.
Sturgis entered the NFL after a standout career at the University of Florida. The Miami Dolphins selected him in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft and he played in South Beach for two seasons. He then joined the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2015-16 season where he was cemented as the starter until game one of the 2017-18 season when he went down to a hip flexor injury. The Eagles placed Sturgis on injured reserve and he lost his job to Jake Elliott.
For his career, Sturgis has made 111 of 137 field goals (81%) and 140 of 144 (97%) extra point attempts. The Chargers went through five kickers last season and it directly cost the Bolts wins due to their combined league-low 67% success rate. Sturgis was 7-11 in the critical area of 50+ yard kicks in his most recent stint in Philadelphia.
Immediately after the season ended, the Chargers signed kicker Roberto Aguayo. Aguayo is the former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After entering the draft as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history out of Florida State, Aguayo never found his footing in Tampa. He missed nine of his 31 field goal attempts and two extra points his rookie year, resulting in his getting cut after one season. Quick stints with the Panthers and Bears did not yield better results and he found himself out of work before the end of last season.
Aguayo and Sturgis will be a camp battle to watch as offseason activities and training camps will begin in a few weeks. Can Aguayo find his groove? Has Sturgis fully regained his starter form from when he was a top-10 kicker in the league? Stay tuned…
Do you like this move? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Photo credit courtesy of the official Los Angeles Chargers Twitter account and team website.
On Wednesday, the Baltimore Ravens added depth to their quarterback lineup by signing reclamation project Robert Griffin III. The deal is for one-year/one million dollars. Griffin III has not taken a snap from under center since the end of the 2016 season. Once the face of the Washington Redskins franchise after bursting into the league with a stellar rookie season in 2012, injuries derailed Griffin III’s rise to stardom. Ultimately, the Redskins cut Griffin III in 2016. Replacing him was a quarterback they drafted the same year, two rounds later, Kirk Cousins.
The last time Griffin III was in uniform was as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Injuries and poor performance followed him there as well and the former human highlight reel was cut after the 2016-17 season. He did not play at all in the 2017-18 season. Baltimore had Griffin III in initially just to throw to receiver prospects and were impressed by his performance enough to warrant a workout of his own. As a result, Griffin III now has a role as the experienced backup to starter Joe Flacco. The Ravens also have 2016 UDFA Josh Woodrum as the third quarterback on the roster.
This is Griffin III’s last big break to show he still has what it takes to make it in the NFL. The Ravens look to be the perfect landing spot because he will not be pressed into action right away and will not be looked at to be the answer at quarterback as the Browns thought two seasons ago. Ideally, he will not need to step on the field for anything other than possible garbage time snaps. Flacco has proven to be what Griffin III is not, durable. Griffin III also wins because he gets to put legitimate game snaps on film when he takes the field in the preseason. Even against vanilla defenses, he can still show his arm, ability to read defenses and that he can take full speed NFL hits.
Solid signing by the Baltimore Ravens. What do you think? Leave your comments below.
The Greg One
Free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III worked out with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, igniting talk throughout the league, TV and social media. That visit came and went with little fanfare. The most that was reported was that the visit went ‘well’ and was ‘positive’. Not exactly ringing endorsements.
On Wednesday, the news broke that the Chargers have traded a conditional late round draft pick (7th) to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in the 2016 NFL Draft. This could be a game-changing move for the second team to move into Los Angeles in as many years.
Unless you watched the last game of the Buffalo Bills 2016 season, (I thought not), the last time we saw Jones he was holding up the first NCAA National Championship playoffs trophy as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the first season the NCAA went to a playoff system in the 2014-2015 season, Jones led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win over Alabama and defeated a Marcus Mariota-led Oregon Ducks team to win the championship.
In the 2015-16 season he was named a co-starter with J.T. Barrett. That season he had almost as many rushing attempts (153) as passing attempts (167). Ohio State won all 11 games in which Jones had a role in quarterbacking the team.
Jones was literally the last man up in what was an Ohio State quarterback carousel and he led the Buckeyes through the final three games of the season, including the NCAA playoffs. Playing behind J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, Jones led OSU to a 59-0 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers leading into the playoffs. Take a look at the clip below for a refresher of how that season culminated.
Jones is the epitome of a ‘raw’ talent. At 6’5″-inches tall and 250 pounds he is a dynamic playmaker who can throw the ball a mile and move the ball with his legs. At the combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds, impressive for a man his size. He ran the ball 153 times for 617 yards and passed for 2,323 yards on 167 completions out of 270 attempts.
What led to his acquisition by the Los Angeles Chargers is his familiarity with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Last season, Lynn was the man calling the plays as the interim head coach in the Bills’ season finale. The Bills had fired head coach Rex Ryan the week before. That was the one game Jones played as a Bills quarterback, playing the final quarter after starter E.J. Manuel was benched due to poor performance. In the game. Jones went 6-11 for 96 yards and an interception.
Lynn thought highly enough of Jones from watching his scout team reps and practice habits to convince the front office to trade for him. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jones cried tears of joy upon being informed he had been traded. The Bills signed a free agent quarterback and drafted a quarterback this offseason, most likely leaving Jones as the odd man out. In L.A., he will get meaningful reps and could land as high as the number two quarterback on the depth chart if he plays to expectations.
Excited for the new start, can’t wait to get to work @Chargers ⚡️
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) July 26, 2017
Jones will be joining former teammates Joshua Perry and Joey Bosa. Undoubtedly they will be excited to welcome Jones to the Chargers. What do you think? Do you like this signing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Late Monday afternoon, an interesting pair of tweets came through the Twitter timeline of ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter regarding the Los Angeles Chargers and a certain woebegone quarterback.
RGIII scheduled to work out Tuesday for LA Chargers, per league source. Been training in Florida with former Browns asst. Pep Hamilton.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
Tuesday’s workout with Chargers will be Robert Griffin III’s first team visit this off-season. Had another visit lined up but cancelled it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
With training camp only a couple weeks away, it looks like the Chargers are taking the time to look at upgrading their quarterback situation. On Tuesday, July 25, the Los Angeles Chargers will bring in former superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III in for a workout. Bringing Griffin in is a no-risk proposition. Right now, the Chargers backup quarterbacks are Kellen Clemens, 2016 undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici and 2017 undrafted free agent Eli Jenkins.
Griffin exploded onto the NFL scene as the number two overall selection of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Baylor. His electrifying play caused many sleepless nights for opposing defenses and defensive coordinators as he looked to be the second coming of Michael Vick. He had a rocket for an arm and scintillating speed for a quarterback.
Griffins’ play catapulted him to the 2012 Rookie of the Year award and led the Redskins into the playoffs. A right knee injury suffered in the playoffs ended the Redskins hopes and Griffins’ career went into freefall immediately thereafter. After reconstructive knee surgery, and multiple other injuries Griffin slowly lost grip on his starting role to present Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and was released at the end of the 2015 season.
The Cleveland Browns added Griffin to their roster on a two-year, $15 million deal. A shoulder injury landed the veteran on the injured reserve list after only five games. The Browns cut Griffin on March 10, 2017.
With all the talk of out-of-work quarterbacks centered on Colin Kaepernick, Griffin has been almost completely off the radar. This is the first signs of interest he Griffin has had aside from the aforementioned cancelled visit with an unnamed team. At this point, Griffin has no leverage and will have to exist onveteran minimum, one- or two-year ‘prove-it’ deals until he can show he can still play and last a season without getting injured.
What do you think of the Chargers bringing in Griffin for a workout? Should they sign him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman has always been generous with his thoughts whether we want him to be or not. The Stanford-educated All-Pro is back on his pulpit once again to encourage NFL players to go on strike. The reason: Money. Of course, it’s always money. This time the money they seek comes in the form of fully guaranteed contracts.
A bit of jealousy has emerged from NFL players after seeing the kind of money that has been doled out to NBA players during the current free agency signing period. Most notably, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors just became the first NBA player to cross the $200 million dollar mark when he signed a five-year deal worth $201 million dollars.
Listen to Shermans’ take on the subject in the clip below:
NBA players signed deals worth close to one billion dollars in the first 24 hours of the NBA free agent signing period. Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward recently signed a four-year/$128 million dollar deal with the Boston Celtics. Kevin Durant took less than maximum money so the Golden State Warriors could bring back free agents and he still fetched a two-year deal worth $53 million dollars. Point guard Kyle Lowry re-signed with the Toronto Raptors on a three-year/$100 million deal.
Deals like these have NFL players green with envy and Sherman isn’t the only one letting their jealousy air in social media.
All the players see are dollar signs. There are plenty of good reasons fully guaranteed contracts wouldn’t work in the NFL. The main reason is the physical pounding is not comparable on any level. The injury risk is infinitely higher in a full-contact sport like pro football compared to the NBA where even hand-checking a player is grounds for a foul. The NBA doesn’t have the violent collisions the NFL has on every play.
The next big reason is the sheer size of the leagues. In the 2016-17 NBA season had a total of 449 players on the opening day roster. There is a minimum 12 to a maximum of 15 total players on an NBA team. Compare that to the 53-man rosters (plus a five-man practice squad) of the 32 NFL teams and now you’re talking nearly 1,700 players, not counting the practice squad players. That’s literally four times the size of the NBA and now everybody gets a guaranteed contract?
If the NBA were the size of the NFL there wouldn’t be guaranteed contracts there either. Those guarantees would wreck the ability of a team to re-sign players or sign replacements when one of those high-dollar players get injured. Small-market teams would be forced to fold because large-market teams with huge bankrolls and multiple revenue streams could outbid them. The NFL would contract because the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans of the world would not be able to afford to stay in business.
Sherman says the only way to get guaranteed contracts is to strike. Players have to be willing to give up game checks to make it happen. Will the rookies be willing to pass up their prime years to get it? Would mid-level players who won’t break the bank be willing to do it? There is a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots in the NFL and fully guaranteed contracts won’t bridge that gap for them.
Enjoy the upcoming season, if we have one. If Richard Sherman gets his way, there will be a long, cold winter without football if players decide to unite on this matter.
What do you think? Ludicrous or long overdue?
The Greg One
The stalemate between the Pittsburgh Steelers and franchise running back Le’Veon Bell continues with no signs of progress. Bell has yet to sign his one-year franchise tender worth a cool $12.1 million dollars. From the looks of things, the mercurial all-purpose running back seems willing to bet on himself in hopes of securing a fat, long-term deal in free agency next summer.
According to numerous reports, the Steelers are willing to make the 25-year old Bell the richest running back in the league with a deal averaging $10 million per year. Bell wants more in the ballpark of what he’ll make this year, per year. Which side will budge first?
The answer will come by Monday, July 17. That date is the deadline for the Steelers to lock Bell into a long-term contract. If the deal does not get done, the franchise tender goes into effect and both sides would have to do this contract dance again next season. If the Steelers decide to franchise Bell for a second year, it would be at a 20% pay raise so Bell would make over $14 million. If not, he will enter the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Without a signed deal in place, Bell can wait until a few days before the start of the regular season to appear and still get paid in full. What player wouldn’t love the idea of skipping all of training camp knowing they won’t get fined? He has yet to appear at any team function while the contract game of chicken plays out.
From the Steelers standpoint, they have reason to be cautious. Bell has an injury history that can’t be ignored. He has only played a full 16 games only once in his four seasons. Ankle injuries have kept him off the field on numerous occasions. A groin injury occurred at the most inopportune time, in the midst of their playoff run, last season. The now surgically-repaired groin is reportedly back to full strength.
They are also taking note of the pounding he’s already taken. Bell has already logged 908 carries and 227 receptions in his short career. Given the shelf life for an NFL running back is averaging a paltry 3.1 years, could this be the beginning of Bells’ decline? Lest we forget he has had two violations of the NFL Substance Abuse policy, the latest indiscretion cost him the first three games of the 2016-17 season.
From Bells’ standpoint, the numbers don’t lie. Over 1100 touches have accounted for over 4,000 yards rushing and over 2,000 yards receiving and 31 touchdowns. Two-time Pro Bowler. Two-time All-Pro. He is clearly one of the top five running backs in the league and he deserves to be paid as such.
We’ll see who wins this tug-of-war soon enough but whose side are you on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One