When last we left basketball doofus, Peter King, he was explaining common British phrases he picked up “across the pond” and retweeting made up scoops from a fake Adam Schefter account. But what about this week? Well, apparently free agency is finally working as it was intended, which is somehow different from how it has always worked for reasons that aren’t clear. If that sentence made your eyes cross and veins bluge, just wait for what the rest of this shitpile has in store for you. Now READ ON.
Time to take a breath.
One sentence of writing and PK is already winded? Eh, not surprising.
We’ll eventually get to the rise of the NFL’s middle class in the leagues’ 22nd year of free agency, spurred by $665 million guaranteed to players in the first six days of the open market, and the $1.52 billion in paper contracts for 128 players.
“But first, 800 words on the shocking decline of respect this generation shows for the printed word. I have no way to prove this but I saw a kid using a cell phone in the library and what more evidence do I need?.”
But you’ve been pounded over the head with that for a week. So let’s take a quick detour and look at the hot-button issues the Competition Committee has pored over in advance of the annual league meetings. There are four issues that will draw significant attention when owners, club executives and coaches begin meeting six days from now in Orlando:
The point-after. No change for this year, and I doubt anything will change for several years, because there’s no momentum to make a change despite the fact that just one PAT is missed every 43 games
“Enough about free agency! Let’s pay attention to a change that isn’t going to be made for a while!”
Playoff expansion. I’m hearing it’s probably a matter of when, not if.
“As are all things that Roger Goodell desires. The world can only hold out so long before it bends to his indomitable will.”
More likely than not, the league will add two playoff teams in time for the 2015 season, meaning 14 playoff teams (instead of the current 12) out of 32. I’m also hearing the league would be inclined toward one team in each conference getting a first-week bye in the postseason. That would mean matchups of two versus seven seeds, three versus six, and four versus five in the wild-card round. This, of course, would mean six wild-card games instead of four, with at least one of them likely moving to Monday night.
Unfair to have teams play Monday night? I don’t see it, though I’m not a fan of playoff expansion because I think it devalues the 17 weeks of the regular season.
You could argue that with more playoffs teams, more otherwise pointless late-season regular season games will have postseason ramifications. At least that will be Goodell’s reasoning when 60 percent of the league makes the playoffs a decade from now.
Using the N-word on the field. There won’t be a rule change mandating a flag if an official hears the N-word. But officials will have the right to penalize verbal abuse, whether it be a player using a racist term or directing other foul language at either opponents or officials. There’s a feeling that the league wants to promote more respect on the field, but outlawing one word is too slippery a slope.
Because “verbal abuse” certainly isn’t a ridiculously vague and unenforceable violation too.
“Naughty words, the offense, 15 yards, hug and make up and replay the down.”
The NFL’s new middle class
After three years of a stalled market, free agency finally works.
When I see free agency this year, I see it working the way it was meant to work when the league implemented it before the 1993 season. If a player is stuck behind a good player somewhere, he can move and start somewhere else. And if a player thinks he’s undervalued and his contract is up, well, he can move too.
How is that different from how free agency has operated over the past 20 years? Did Peter just assume it was for starters only up until this point?
Raiders of the Lost Tackles
The Raiders would like to build like the Packers, but they can’t.
You see, there’s THE RIGHT WAY and THE RAIDER WAY.
When Oakland hired Reggie McKenzie to be its general manager in 2012, he wanted to build the team in the image he knew best after spending 18 years in the Midwest—the Green Bay Way.
Which is super easy to implement when you inherit a team with no quarterback and no draft picks.
Draft and develop, spend money on your own players.
And never, ever sign free agents, unless it’s Julius Peppers and it’s a few days ago.
You’ve heard the story by now:
So let me waste your time by telling you again!
Oakland thought Veldheer wanted too much money to be the left tackle and saw him more as a right tackle. And so the Raiders let him go and signed Saffold, a player St. Louis was demoting from tackle to guard (though the Rams liked Saffold a lot at guard.) You won’t find many personnel people in the league who value Saffold over Veldheer. But the Raiders agreed to pay Saffold an average of $8.5 million a year during the pre-free agency negotiating period. Veldheer ended up getting $7 million a year to play left tackle for the Cardinals.
Oh wow, he’s seriously recapping the entire thing after presuming everyone already knew it. That’s aggressive word count padding.
The Raiders wouldn’t make McKenzie available to me, so I couldn’t ask him about the prevailing view around the league: that Oakland got cold feet when the team saw the intense criticism of Saffold’s contract.
The nerve! Even after you offered to let him go off the record on that and any random gay player bashing he wanted to get off his chest.
The Rams took Saffold back, happily, at a reduced price. And the Raiders had to settle for Jets right tackle Austin Howard, plus a mélange of vets on defense (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Tarell Brown) who were seeking homes after being dissed or cut by their teams.
Dissed? Is there a provision in the CBA that dictates that players hit free agency if the front office says yo mama jokes about them?
FIVE THINGS I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW
1. Where to find baristas WHO GET IT
2. Johnny Manziel is kind of short relative to his position. WHY IS NO ONE COVERING THIS?
C. How to make lists
4. I SAT NEXT TO NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON ON A PLANE! REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU WATCH COSMOS, EGGHEADS!
5. Thanks for the kind words last week from The Normans. Miss you guys.
3. The Panthers do not currently employ a wide receiver who caught a pass for them in 2013.
“Once you go Cam, you can’t help but scram, am I right?”
5. If a once-proud player’s stock has plummeted more precipitously than Josh Freeman’s, I’d like to know who that player is. A year ago, Freeman was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback, at $8.43 million, and then enter the 2014 free-agent market or sign a long-term deal with the Bucs, who could have franchised him. Then he got supplanted by Mike Glennon, cut, signed by Minnesota, and benched after one start for the Vikings. Now, at 26, he’ll have to sign a bargain deal in a place like Oakland and compete just to make the roster. There’s a book in there somewhere.
Haha, Peter’s still mad because he thinks Freeman torpedoed the fortunes of Schiano in Tampa so he’ll just keep shoehorning subtle gloating that Freeman’s career is also fucked whenever possible.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK THAT MAY INTEREST ONLY ME
From The NFL Owns The Sporting Calendar Dept.:
On the third day of free agency last Thursday, except for three minutes that were spent discussing the bathroom habits of Mike Greenberg, the first 66 minutes of ESPN’s popular “Mike and Mike” morning-drive radio show were devoted to NFL free agency.
WOW! CRAZY! WEIRD! Iit’s not like ESPN has a financial stake in and an interest in exploiting the NFL’s incredible popularity. And, as we all know, “Mike and Mike” listeners are where sports fans go for coverage of the entire sports world, no matter how seemingly obscure. I get all my Australian Rules Football results from them.
MR. STARWOOD PREFERRED MEMBER TRAVEL NOTE OF THE WEEK
A vote for Virgin Atlantic: After visiting my brother and his family in England, I flew back home a week ago on Virgin Atlantic and the flight staff was beyond pleasant. Water and smiles from the flight attendants were plentiful; there were very few announcements, so as not to disrupt sleep; and there wasn’t a single bump on the seven-hour flight. Usually a flight that long is a grinder, but all in all, I must say it was probably the lowest-stress flying experience that I’ve ever had. If I’m going to complain about silly travel problems, I should praise an airline for getting it right, and this one did.
Also, the plane didn’t fucking disappear, which is really just a great customer service touch.
By the way, I’m even more annoyed by PK thinking one positive comment about his travel experience balances out years of petty gripes.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
“Rob Ryan’s already turnt up for St. Patrick’s Day…”
— @NFLtalkRT, with an impressive photo of the New Orleans defensive coordinator at a parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Saintsland.
Okay, this feature is pure misery but I did enjoy seeing the phrase TURNT UP appear in a Peter King column. I bet he had to ask the hippity hop youngsters on THEMMQB staff what it means. “Why the extra T? That phrase leads the language in weirdness.”
“Yes, March Madness, there is a Virginia.”
— @NYPost_Serby, the ever-clever Steve Serby, after Virginia beat Duke for its first ACC Tournament title in a thousand years on Sunday.
“Dude in a bulkhead seat took his shoes off and is actually rubbing his feet on the touchscreen on the wall. How can anybody think this is OK”
— @billbarnwell of Grantland, on a Sunday flight.
Ain’t that America.
Oh no, it’s like he’s wiping his ass on the screen that beams images into your eyes. You just got pinkeye is what I’m saying.
Peter took a week off bitching about his travel experiences, but worry not, he’s got another football writer to cover this week in slovenly traveler judging. Just thankful there wasn’t an overheard conversation transcribed.
TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK
1. I think I’d love to hear some good reasons why James Jones, he of the 17 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons, is sitting on the sidelines of free agency, offer-less. He’s a very good deep threat whom Aaron Rodgers would like to have back. I don’t get that one. Jones and Cam Newton would make beautiful music in Carolina.
Because only three of those 17 touchdowns came last season? The 14 TD season in 2012 was a huge statistical aberration in Jones’ career. It’s not all that surprising that the third best receiver on the Packers doesn’t command immediate and overwhelming interest on the market. And it’s not like if you don’t sign in the first few weeks of free agency that you’re suddenly out of football for good. Some team will pick him up and then PK will claim they spent too much money on the Packers’ third best receiver.
2. I think I like what the Broncos are doing in free agency; I appreciate the fact they’re growing some teeth on defense. On the other side of the ball, I realize Ryan Clady will return from his Lisfranc foot sprain (he was hurt in the Broncos’ second game last season) to nail down the left tackle spot in 2014. But Denver has lost effective guard Zane Beadles to Jacksonville and done nothing to improve the line in free agency. In the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning scrambled for his life much of the time. I counted eight “quiet” pockets when I re-watched the game, meaning only on eight pass attempts did Manning have all the time he needed to make a comfortable throw. I’m sure John Elway is concerned about the line, particularly right tackle Orlando Franklin’s ability to hold off quick outside rushers, but we haven’t seen him act on it yet.
“I like what the Broncos are doing in free agency except the part where they’re fucking up and getting their most important player killed.”
4. I think if I were Miami, I’d follow up with Devin Hester. He’s a “U” guy and wants to play for the Dolphins … Miami has $25 million free under the cap … The Dolphins have a pedestrian return man in Marcus Thigpen … What’s the delay? The fit is perfect.
Hester’s a great player and I would guess he still has another productive season in him, but I understand why teams aren’t falling over themselves trying to land him as their first priority. I just like that Miami’s GM is supposed to look at Hester and think, “Well, he’s old but he went to college nearby and wants to play here. Who are we to say no? FIVE YEARS, $40 MIL GUARANTEED.”
8. I think every year Julian Edelman is healthy for 16 games and has Tom Brady throwing to him, he’ll catch at least 100 balls.
Each of them for seven yards.
9. I think it’s been a bad week for Cam Newton’s pass catchers: Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell signed elsewhere, and neither Hakeem Nicks nor Emmanuel Sanders became a Panther. But let’s judge the makeup of Carolina’s receiving corps in August, when training camp is in full swing, and not on St. Patrick’s Day. There are no games today.
Didn’t you just poke fun at them for not having any receivers who caught a pass for them last season?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
e. How incredible a story, a jumbo jet disappearing. It’s amazing in this day and age there isn’t a fail-safe system that can account for an airplane vanishing.
Just grateful he didn’t make a “they should make the whole plane out of the black box!” joke.
f. Good week for my new rotisserie baseball team. When y-
Nope. Don’t give a shit.
h. Coffeenerdness: Big fan of the reusable Starbucks cup that saves you 10 cents every time it’s used. Paid for itself in about a day and a half.
In money or the smug belief you’re saving the environment? I bet you demand uber kudos from bystanders between each sip.
i. Beernerdness: Not that I have a go-to beer (well, I might if I lived in Seattle), but having Brooklyn Lager on tap at most of the places in my neighborhood is a very good thing.
No go-to beer? What happened between you and Allagash? Was there a fight?
j. Some journalism people to point out: ESPN’s Adam Schefter just had as good a week as I can remember in this business, breaking story after story of who was signing where. This is a rivalry business, naturally, but you’ve got to tip your hat to a man who is so on top of his game, and Schefter certainly is.
Especially when some other reporter beats him to breaking a contract then he copies the details on Twitter and claims it came from his own source.
And without Glazer around to scoop him every step of the way, there’s no way Schefter wouldn’t do well. I DEMAND AN ASTERISK ON THIS FREE AGENCY!
k. Good luck to Rick Reilly as he moves away from writing. It’s become fashionable to rap Reilly for some of his recent work, and he’s not without his faults. (Nor am I, as you all know very well.)
Is it better or worse that Peter King might actually be somewhat aware of how awful he is? I’ll go worse. When discussing PK, always go with the worst.
But I’ve always viewed his prose as I-am-not-worthy stuff, so much of it brilliant. He raised the bar for sportswriters everywhere. I’ll miss reading him.
Lofty praise for Schefter and Reilly. Is Petey angling for a job at ESPN down the line? Since we’re sticking with the “assume the worst” standard, I’ll say yes and shoot myself.
n. Louisville, fourth-seeded? So there are 12 teams in America that are either better overall than Louisville or playing better right now? I don’t think so. I’m a basketball doofus and even I know that stinks.
“I saw a lot of people complaining about this, so even though I’m clueless, I will too! It’s good to appear to belong!”
THE ADIEU HAIKU
Do not grade teams now.
Free agency just one piece
of a big puzzle.
A recycled cup
Some coffee-flavored water
A case of the runs