When last we left cold beer gut guy, Peter King, he was letting the world know that the NFL banning the N-word isn’t the tremendous and totally obviously right move that he initially thought it was. WEIRD! He also passed old man gym bro judgment on some man using a bunch of towels in the sauna. But what about this week? Well, Peter rolled up his sleeves, did some serious reporting, called in all his anonymous sources and guess what? Some players are gonna get paid this week. Insane, I know. Now READ ON.
Ten things you should know about the NFL’s 22nd annual free market, which kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m. (but which is already in full swing because of legal and illegal tampering):
Are we actually getting right to the point this week? No seven-paragraph preamble about a thing you saw on TV? It’s so sad that this is the best-case scenario for this column.
1. Cornerbacks are this year’s quarterbacks.
So they’re getting $100 million contracts?
When a pedestrian corner like Sam Shields of Green Bay gets four years and $39 million ($9.75 million a year for Sam Shields!), significantly better players at a vital position had their bargaining postures strengthened mightily. Specifically, Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aqib Talib will be in the $8-million-plus neighborhood annually.
So… still nowhere close to what a highly sought quarterback would command on the open market?
Washington and New England want Talib; Washington might be more desperate to make a free-agent strike, and the Patriots won’t overpay.
Please get $40 million guaranteed from Snyder. Please get $40 million guaranteed from Snyder. It’d only be better if it were Champ Bailey.
2. Tackles will be paid.
We’re compensating offensive linemen now? Man, football HAS changed.
Ryan Tannehill, meet Brandon Albert. The Dolphins’ new left tackle is expected to be the laid-back Albert. Miami’s expected to blow the opposition out of the water again (remember Mike Wallace and his $13 million average that shocked the NFL last year?) with a deal averaging around $10-11 million.
Tackles are the new corners are the new quarterbacks.
5. Jairus Byrd’s landing spot? A secret.
“Will I sign with the Dolphins or THE TEAM INSIDE THIS MYSTERY BOX?”
He wants $9 million a year, and I can’t figure out who will pay a safety that much.
Snyder Snyder Snyder C’mon Danny, gas up the jet. We need another the Redskins another off-season championship. It’s been, like, a two-year drought.
6. Michael Vick should be in more demand than he is. I keep saying this, and few believe me: Vick’s a very good locker room guy now, a leader, and he’d be a good team guy whether or not he wins the starting job.
Back when Mike Vick was a starter, PK would trash him endlessly. But now that Vick is probably consigned to being a backup the rest of his career, Petey is actually able to say something nice about him, though it’s usually praise for Vick “knowing his place” behind Nick Foles, followed by a backhanded insult about Vick’s skills on the field.
I think if Vick had been more accurate in his past two years in Philly (.581, .546), offensive coordinator Norv Turner could have been sold on him with the Vikings; I know Vick was very interested in Minnesota. The team that makes the most sense is the Jets, because they have no idea if Geno Smith is their quarterback of the future.
Damn straight. If you’re unsure about Geno Smith, you might as well get the best-case scenario for Geno Smith’s career as his backup, but make sure it’s only after best days are behind him.
At receiver, Julian Edelman caught 121 balls in the slot for New England last year, but the Patriots seem content to let the former college quarterback seek his fortune elsewhere; could the Jets, in the latest chapter of the border war between these two lovebird franchises, be “elsewhere?” In my mind, a great fit for Edelman would be Cleveland, which has money to spend and a hole at slot receiver. Cleveland could be in the mix for Eric Decker, who needs suitors.
THE BROWNS MAKING A RUN ON SCRAPPINESS!
8. Michael Bennett is about to be very rich.
I like that this opening section is just a list of people about to make money.
9. Best players to make money who you don’t know well.
“Here are some more people who will make money. Oh, and I assume my readers know nothing about football.”
10. First dominoes to fall: tackles. Too many deals too close to fruition.
Normally, I never trust PK’s hunches on anything, but he’s actually not terrible on contract stuff since that’s what his brand of access journalism lives for. “I sucked up to Tom Dimitroff for three years so he gave me the scoop on this free agent contract, even though the details will be readily available within a few hours anyway. But I’ll get the story five minutes before Ian Rapoport!”
Should be a fun week. We’ll have some good stories at The MMQB this week.
This week, I think you should have more stories that makes reference to the fact that this week is this week, if you have time for it this week.
Quotes of the Week
“Corners and offensive tackles, throw a party. Receivers and running backs, throw a funeral.”
—Anonymous AFC front-office man Sunday, in the midst of feeling out the free-agent market that appears to be on the verge of downsizing salaries to offensive skill players in a big way beginning Tuesday.
Another great and necessary anonymous quote! Gotta make sure no one speaks on the record, even when issuing inane jokes. ESPECIALLY then.
I’d kind of like to see Alfred Morris at the skill players’ funeral for no one. He’d find a way to keep it upbeat.
“Best defense ever. Ever! Hey, we’ll beat the Greek Gods!”
—Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett, as the clock wound down in the Seahawks 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII rout of Denver, captured by NFL Films for its annual Super Bowl champion video.
Only because the Seahawks have been saving a roster spot for Kratos.
What makes the most sense with Jimmy Graham is to split the difference—a la baseball arbitration—on a long-term contract between the tight end franchise number ($7.04 million) and the wide receiver franchise number ($12.32 million). This way, the Saints could still make Graham the highest-paid tight end ever, and the team wouldn’t have the drag, potentially, of losing a grievance and having Graham take up a tenth of the team’s cap with the wideout franchise number.
By splitting the difference, and making a contract for halfway between the tight end and wide receiver franchise numbers, the Saints could pay Graham $48.4-million over five years. Heck, let’s be nice: five years, $50 million … an average of $10-million a year, exactly $1 million a year higher than the biggest tight end contract ever—Rob Gronkowski’s deal with New England.
Whatever happens, consider the great fortune of Graham. He averaged making $824,535 in the first four years of his NFL career for producing this average season:
Touchdown catches: 10.3
Actually, yeah, it is pretty good fortune that Jimmy Graham was able to stay healthy and awesome long enough to earn a decent contract after being underpaid the past three years, especially considering had he got seriously injured, the Saints would have cut his ass without thinking twice about it.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The Raiders will be one of the most interesting teams in free agency. They have a league-record $65 million in cap space available as of this morning, and two very significant free agents, both of whom I hear are very interested in testing the market and getting a golden parachute out of Oakland: tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston.
Yup, the salary cap wheelings and dealings of an NFL franchise is something only Peter King cares about. So obscure!
So if you’re looking for a team this week to throw wild money at a couple of players, look for Oakland to lead the parade. Why? The Raiders have to spend. I’ve written about this the past couple of weeks, but the Raiders illustrate the importance of the rule in the 2011 CBA about minimum spending. In the four seasons between 2013 and 2016, every team in the league has to spend at least 89 percent of its cap limit. So the Raiders must think about extending their own players and signing some from the outside so they account for most of that $65 million of space this year. That’s why Oakland, despite having a GM in Reggie McKenzie, who’s not a big fan of throwing around millions that aren’t his, could be a big player this week.
I really can’t wait until a team totally fucks this system by giving one player way more than they deserve just to comply with this salary cap rule. It’ll royally piss off every ownership-worshiping mainstream NFL writer. “That damn weasel athlete got more than he should have! DO SOMETHING, CONGRESS!” Anyway, I think the Raiders are up to it.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
I was in England over the weekend, visiting my brother and his fine family, and meeting my great-nephew Thomas for the first time.
We fucked up by not revoking his citizenship while he was out of the country. Though I feel like England would rightly interpret foisting Peter King on them as an act of war.
Thomas and his mum (my niece Charlotte) and dad live in Lichfield, about two hours northwest of London, where the accompanying photo was snapped on an afternoon stroll.
Four fun things about the vocabulary and such that I experienced on the trip:
Oh Christ. Don’t make me read this. “THEY CALL BATHROOMS A “LOO” HERE! TALK ABOUT LOO-NEY!”
A Humped Zebra Crossing is a raised striped crosswalk in the road, designed for pedestrians to cross and slowing motorists to navigate … Going pear-shaped means you’ve started to do some sort of plan, and it goes terribly wrong, and you cannot fix it. As in, “I was coming over to your flat, but the baby fell on its head and now our day has gone all pear-shaped.”
Whereas in America, it only refers to Peter King’s physique.
At a small supermarket, I listened to the very polite self-service checkout voice praise the shopper for putting items properly in the bag after scanning them. At the end, the machine told the shopper, in a chipper and high-pitched voice: “Well done!”
What a country!
I watched the Six Nations rugby game between England and Wales on TV Sunday. England 29, Wales 18. Mostly, I was clueless about it
Peter King’s future epitaph, I assume.
but I did note that No. 12 for England was Billy Twelvetrees, who made a lovely grubber kick to lead to a critical try for the home team. My brother Ken told me the history of the name “Twelvetrees.” That was his mother’s maiden name. His father was a tree surgeon. When they married, the father decided to use the mother’s name; good for business, he thought. And so when young Billy was born, he took his mother’s last name.
I bet PFT Commenter would have, I dare say, the strongest take if an NFL player took his mother’s name instead of his dad’s.
Tweets of the Week
“Thought with FA coming up: Remember when we used to talk about ‘news coming across the wire?’ Now Twitter is the wire.”
—@FO_ASchatz, Aaron Schatz of vaunted Football Outsiders, speaking the truth.
Wow, really makes you think.
/unpacks the flat circle of time
Retweet of the Week
Oh no. Is this going to be a thing now? Like the universe and his waistline, Peter King’s column is forever expanding, but this new feature… no, no, I cannot. This is where I draw the line.
/poked with sharp stick by Uproxx overlord
“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was. –Muhammad Ali.”
—@Sports_Greats. Retweeted by @RSherman_25, Richard Sherman.
An NFL player retweeted a motivational quote from an iconic athlete? THAT NEVER HAPPENS! WEIRDLY WEIRD! I look forward to this section being a new retweeted Bible verse every week, since that’s basically what NFL players do on Twitter. The Dunge will love it.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I’ll leave the automotive legacy to others, but when I think of William Clay Ford the football owner (he died Sunday of pneumonia, at 88), I think of two things:
Losing lots of games and employing Matt Millen?
intense privacy (I never had a conversation with the man)
“When I think of this man’s legacy, I think first of how much he talked to MEEEEEEEEEE.”
and love of Detroit. It made little financial sense for the Ford family to move the Lions back to downtown from Pontiac in 2002, but the Fords were determined to put a stake in the ground and try to help re-energize Detroit.
I hope when people think of the elder Ford, they think of his efforts to return Detroit to greatness, as Herculean a task as that has turned out to be.
“I hope they remember that he failed at this thing, as opposed to that other thing.”
2. I think if a team trades for Ryan Mallett, it has to make a deal knowing he hasn’t played a game of football since 2010.
Well put. Because teams make trades all the time without knowing what a player has been doing the past three years. Good insight. Lofty insight.
5. I think with Jared Allen certain to test the market and leave Minnesota, the Vikings had no choice but to do a deal with their other free-agent pass-rusher, Everson Griffen, who got an average of $8.5-million a year from the Vikings Sunday. It’s inflated, based on what he has accomplished in four seasons: 59 games, 17.5 sacks. Griffen is 26 and hasn’t earned that yet. Problem was, someone else would have paid him if the Vikings didn’t do a deal before free agency.
PK is so in the pocket of the owners that you can tell he gets mad when players get paid. “BUT HE HASN’T EARNED IT! MAKE HIM PUT TOGETHER A HALL OF FAME RESUME BEFORE HE CAN EVEN SNIFF GUARANTEED MONEY!”
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. So great to be able to spend time with family I don’t see much, and so lucky to have a great big brother to see in England. Visiting my brother Ken and his wife, Jane, in the English countryside is always a time to feel grounded and fortunate in a world that moves too fast too often.
b. Two big differences in their lives from mine: You can see the sky vividly on a clear night, and the silence at night is just stunning.
Amazing that a town with fewer than 50,000 people has less noise and pollution than where PK resides in Manhattan. Wow. Really making me ponder things this week. Wow. Crazy. Wow.
c. South By Southwest looks fun. To those who attend: Worthwhile to go one year?
I hate that Peter King has the means to do just about anything he wants whenever he wants, but I would kind of love to have him at SXSW if only because he’d feel old and clueless while ruining some hipster’s good time by asking every panel if there’s a band in existence better than U2.
d. Jealous of those NFLers who saw Duke-Carolina at Cameron Indoor on Saturday night. That’s a bucket list event for me—in Durham.
Just when you think there isn’t anything that could make Duke any douchier.
f. If I haven’t told you already, go see “Gravity.” So many of those Best Oscar movies are so, so good. Other than the fact most movies are 10 to 20 percent too long, this is a great time for movies and to be a movie-goer.
Sure, one fifth of any given movie is pointless filler, but great, great time for movies, you guys.
By the way, Gravity was awful.
g. My next one: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Looks terrific.
Peter King wants to go to South By and watch Wes Anderson movies. Next week, he’s gonna show up with Lena Dunham’s tattoos.
i. Coffeenerdness: Good job by Costa Coffee, the big coffee chain, in England, with the espresso. I like the place. When Starbucks is mobbed, the drinks suffer. I just have three visits to a Costa to compare, but the baristas seem to take their time regardless of attendance in-store. It shows.
Yes, YES, good work, British people. Get him used to and pining for the stellar work of your baristas. Now just as soon as Roger Goodell forces a team to relocate to London, Peter King will have a reason to relocate there permanently. We’ll be rid of him for good. FOR GOOD!
j. Good story in The Guardian on the dangers of caffeine.
k. Beernerdness: Had a Wells Eagle IPA in a country pub Friday night. One thing I love about the beer in England: Less carbonated than ours, by and large. One thing I don’t love: It’s served slightly cooler than tepid, and I’m a cold beer guy. But I’m used to it now. This IPA was cask-pumped and mild.
Aww, what’s wrong, Peter? The other week, you were telling Irish people they’ve been drinking beer wrong for centuries. You’re just gonna cave to the Brits like that? Where’s the strong takes we’ve come to expect?
l. My fantasy baseball draft is Tuesday. March 11! Too early. To say I haven’t studied much would be an understatement. Hope no one laughs when I pick Joe Foy.
The Adieu Haiku
Mr. Detroit, gone.
Bill Ford loved cars, and his town.
City needed him.
Oh Bollocks, it’s him
The ugly American
With chins to the floor