With the new NFL administrative year nearly upon us, the salary cap number has been established...and it's approximately the amount of the Detroit Tigers' payroll.
The NFL has finally set the 2012 salary cap — $120.6 million. That is just a slight increase ($225,000) over the 2011 limit.
The NFL has also releseased the contract figures for franchised players, such as the Lions' own Cliff Avril:
Quarterback, $14.4; running back, $7.7; receiver, $9.5; tight end, $5.4; offensive line, $9.4; defensive tackle, $7.96; linebacker, $8.85; cornerback, $10.3; safety, $6.2; kicker-punter, $2.65.
Where does this leave the Detroit Lions? They must quickly reduce payroll, as the cap clock is ticking.
On Twitter, CBS Sport's Pat Kirwin:
The Freep's Dave Birkett has more bad news:
As of Friday, the Lions were a projected $11.55 million over the cap, said a person who analyzes contracts across the league.
That number includes a $10.605 million franchise-tag number for defensive end Cliff Avril but does not include projected restricted free agent tenders for linebacker DeAndre Levy, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and offensive lineman Corey Hilliard.
(FYI: The Net Rat has done us all an invaluable service by tracking the Lions' contract numbers, and more importantly, keeping it current up to the minute. To take a look at the Lions' payroll in depth, the Net Rat has made it available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet.)
As of Sunday afternoon, going by the NFL's rules, the Net Rat's calculations has the Lions at $4,469,780 over the salary cap. The Lions must clear nearly $4.5MM by 4PM Tuesday. Honestly, they need cleave even more off, considering the numerous free agents the Lions need to re-sign.
Confusing it may be, no matter the number, the Lions have work to do.
So whom do the the Lions cut to meet 4PM Tuesday salary cap deadline? I think at least 3 players have reason to worry.
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch's contract for 2012 is worth $6.730MM against the 2012 cap He's 33 years old, coming off a solid, but nowhere near spectacular season, is going into the 3rd year of a four year deal, and his on field production should be replaced by the athletic combination of Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young.
I'd hate losing the intangibles of Vanden Bosch's leadership and character (a big reason why Jim Schwartz made him the Lions' number one free agent target going into 2010). But 2 seasons after bringing Vanden Bosch on board, the Lions may have have reached a point where it's no longer needed. They have developed their own leaders over the past two seasons. This is unquestionably Matthew Stafford's team.
31 year old DT Corey Williams is in the final season of his three year deal, and would be a $5MM cap hit in 2012. Williams is coming off a down statistical season compared to 2010, and the Lions have a highly regarded in-house replacement in last year's 1st round draft pick, Nick Fairley, waiting in the wings. But the Lions are hurting for depth at DT, as both Sammie Hill and Andre Fluellen are currently free agents.
Like Williams and Vanden Bosch, WR Nate Burleson is also on the bad side of 30. Going into the 3rd year of a five season deal, he will make $4.516MM in 2012. But the Lions do have Titus Young coming off a very solid rookie season, who could replace Burleson in the starting lineup. Young would be a fine number two to Megatron. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no depth at the WR position once you get past Young. In cutting Burleson, the Lions 3rd WR would become...well, someone who isn't on the roster at this time.
The obvious move to cut salary would be waiving Vanden Bosch. With Cliff Avril given the franchise tag (and sticking the Lions with a $10.6MM one year contract), the Lions have their impact, pass rushing end. The depth is there, as Jackson and Young have all kinds of mostly untapped potential, mostly due to playing behind Vanden Bosch. The Lions could go into the season with those three in a rotation, and I doubt Vanden Bosch would be missed at all. But given the Lions' cap issues, Williams and Burleson cannot consider their roster spots safe.
But it doesn't take a mathmagician or capologist (or any other made up NFL jargon) to figure out there's another way the Lions can make the NFL's cap number. Renegotiate contracts.
If the Lions can come to a long-term agreement with Avril, reducing the cap hit for this season, it would be a start in solving the Lions' problems. But it wouldn't be enough.
The biggest reason for the Lions' residing in salary cap Hell is Calvin Johnson's massive contract. Reducing Megatron's 2012 cap number, which stands at a gut churning, roster crippling $21.081MM, is the Lions' best hope of not having to cut a veteran or two while giving them wiggle room to bring back most of their own free agents. Megatron will still get paid, as the Lions would be robbing from their future salary cap in order to free up cash today...but the alternative is much, much worse.
If the Lions can't renegotiate Megaton's contract, the Lions have only one way to get under the cap by Tuesday. Attack their roster with all the subtlety of a drunken butcher with a meat cleaver, and start hacking off contacts.
It won't be pretty.no comments
As you may already know, Guinness has joined forces with TWFE in order to set a Guinness World Record. That being the World's Biggest St. Patrick's Day Party, where you may see sights as this...
Well, hopefully not that...
The gist: As a reminder (or if you missed last week's post), what is this record of which I speak? Guinness wants to set a world record, and is asking bloggers in all 50 states (including yours truly here in Michigan) to help in their quest. All they is asking is when you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, do so in true Irish fashion by raising a pint of Guinness. Not a tough request, if you ask me. Guinness would also very much appreciate your visiting Guinness.com and taking a simple pledge.
Your mission: When you go to Guinness.com, you will be prompted to click “Join the Party,” after which, you'll be taken to a form to sign the pledge. This form asks for first name, country, zip and optional code, which is MICH. This is how Guinness and I will track pledges. You need a paper trail (as it were) to set a world record, after all. Keep in mind you'd be doing me a favor by doing so. Even better, you could win a trip to Dublin as well!
Pro tip for St. Patrick's Day: If you are looking to get your Guinness on when St. Patty's Day rolls around (or anytime, for that matter), check out the new Guinness Pub Finder on Facebook, where you can locate a pub in your area and rate a Guinness pint. For example, I found 5 watering holes nearby serving Guinness. Definitely good information to have on hand.
Friendly piece of advice: Even if you find the Guinness is nearby, it doesn't mean you should take chances, be it on St. Patrick's Day or at any other time. So please drink responsibly when celebrating. Don't drink and drive, and if you must be out and about with the Irish (and those who are for one day), please use a designated driver.
One last reminder: And don't forget to pledge (using MICH as the code) at Guinness.com!no comments
The Detroit Lions' sometimes problematic defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, is in the news for all the wrong reasons...again.
Suh has an M.O. with the local Portland police at this point. With fast car in his hands, it's even odds Suh will do something stupid.
Police Lt. Robert King says Suh also was cited in his hometown of Portland, Ore., for improperly signaling and not carrying proof of insurance. He was cooperative and released at the scene.
King says Suh was driving a BMW 91 mph in a 55 mph zone. The combined fine for the three offenses is $955.
Before everyone gets their righteous indignation on, let's put this latest incident in perspective.
If the speed limit was 55, Suh was on a highway, not in a residential area. Driving 91 MPH in a BMW is comparable to 65 in a Malibu. The car is nowhere near its limits. It's also damn likely Suh's BMW is insured, he just didn't have the papers with him. Honestly, $955 is walking around money for Suh.
In the big scheme of things, the media will make much more of this incident than is justified. Suh will pay the fine, and move on (as should everyone else). Hopefully it will be lesson learned.
As I've said in the past, I've done many of the same things as Suh (without the expensive cars and wallet full of Benjamins) when I was in my late teens/early 20's. I drove too fast, didn't always have the correct paperwork on me, didn't think about any sort of consequences and...let me just admit it's worth repeating, drove too fast all the damn time.
The only reason this latest brush with Johnny Law is even close to being news is Suh's history of bad driving (if one previous accident can be considered "a history of bad driving") and stomping on the arms of offensive linemen. But once again, this incident shows Suh's apparent immaturity. I'm not at all surprised Suh is committing the same mistakes as pretty much every young American with a nice car and a little coin in their pocket mades before they realize one important thing.
The need to grow the fuck up.no comments
Today it became official. A 35 year old QB was waived this afternoon, and controversy reigned.
Here are the facts:
- This QB is recovering from serious neck injury, which required his missing the 2011 season its entirety.
- The injury took three surgeries to (possibly) correct. He has clearance to play from doctors, but no one can be sure he's 100%.
- Surgery or not, this QB remains one hit away from his career being finished.
- If he wasn't let go, he would have been owed $28MM for the coming season with a cap hit to match.
As for the team that waived the injured and aging QB, they are in a bad way.
- This team has admitted they are in full rebuilding mode after a horrific 2-14 year, losing 13 straight to start the 2011 season.
- They've fired their head coach, who was part of a Super Bowl winning staff, thus cutting ties from the past.
- They have their pick of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III with the 1st selection in the upcoming draft, both thought to have franchise QB talent.
- For what the 35 year old QB would have cost for one season, this team will have the consensus best player in the draft under contract for the next several years, and enough cap flexibility to fill numerous roster holes.
So of course you release this QB, no matter who he may be. Even if his last name happens to be Manning.
Obviously, I'm referring to the Indianapolis Colts and their hall of fame bund, long-time, now former, QB Peyton Manning. But if you leave Manning's name out of the equation, the front office of any NFL team would have been considered negligent in their duties if they had done anything other than cutting him.
When you look at the facts, why was giving Manning his walking papers even debated? If this were a non-football situation, say an insurance company making a determination whether to give a policy to someone with similar health issues, they would look at the risk factors...and decline to offer coverage. At the very least, maybe you could have gotten a policy. But the premiums would be insanely, unacceptably, cripplingly high...just as Manning's salary cap hit would have been for the Colts.
With that masssive contract off the books, rhe Colts now find themselves in the rare position of being able to replace one franchise QB with (if they select the right player in the draft) another.
Manning may still have a few good seasons left in him (I would never bet against him, Manning could throw for 3000 yards with his eyes closed, one arm tied behind his back and with a bad...uh, neck), but he is also old, expensive and injured on a team needing young, affordable and healthy. Manning would have blocked the heir apparent at QB in a league where 1st overall draft picks don't sit on the bench watching the incumbent QB play for two seasons, they start from game one.
But for as much attention the Colts-Manning divorce is receiving, this is nothing new. Just as I wrote in my post about the the Detroit Lions' contract negotiations with Cliff Avril, this is a case of NFL history repeating itself...as it always does. Pro Bowl/All-Pro/Hall of Fame QB's like Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana, Bobby Layne, Joe Namath, Warren Moon, Ken Stabler, Norm Van Brocklin and Y.A. Tittle, to name just a few, finished their careers playing for teams other than the one they are most closely associated or had their best seasons.
Turns out Peyton Manning is in fine company.
As for Colts fans, who are in mourning tonight, their minds may understand the reasons why Manning was cut, but their hearts are in complete denial. No one will convince them cutting Manning is ultimately for the best. Not for a few years, anyway.
But I would hope as a die hard fan of the Detroit Lions, if the franchise finds themselves in the same situation with Matthew Stafford a decade plus from now, I would look back on what I wrote today. Instead of cursing the front office, I would accept they would be doing what is best for the team, painful it may be, in the long run.
Unfortunately for players and fans, things change. Team needs change. Talent changes. The game itself changes. It's a fact of NFL life. It's also a business where "What have you done for me lately?" trumps "Thanks for the four MVP awards, giving your all (and a few body parts) for us in the past."
Peyton Manning moving on from Indianapolis reminds me all fans have to come to grips with one incontrovertible fact. Nothing lasts forever in sports. Absolutely nothing.
As a wise young bartender once said, "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end."no comments
A little more than a week ago I wrote what I believed would happen in the Lions' contract negotiations with so to be free agent DE Cliff Avril. I envisioned a 10 step process, and step 3 was this:
3. With the free agency deadline approaching, the Lions finally stick the franchise tag on Avril, because they aren't stupid. 25 year old defensive ends with double digit sack talent don't just grow on trees or fall into your lap in every draft.
This morning the Lions reached step 3.
But with free agency fast approaching and a long-term deal still out of reach, the Lions had little choice but to use the franchise tag on their most productive pass rusher today.
The Lions used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Avril. The exclusive tag would prevent other teams from trying to sign Avril and guarantee him a one-year salary the average of the top five defensive ends in the league, about $10.6 million. Under the non-exclusive tag, the Lions have the right to match any offer to Avril or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
"I've been franchised? NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Being franchised all but confirms Avril will be a Detroit Lion in 2012. No team in their right mind will both sign Avril for what would be an expensive long-term contract and lose a pair of 1st round picks in the process. It's not happening. Avril is worth plenty...but not two 1st round picks worth of plenty.
But if some team is crazy enough to fork over two 1st round picks, I'm sure the Lions will be more than willing to take them. Cap relief and 1st round picks are not a bad fall back position if Avril does find a suitor willing to pay the price. Realistically, I don't see that scenario happening. Forget about it and move on...
Avril and his representation have bitched long and loud over not wanting to be tagged. Not a big deal, all about to be franchised players do so. But the Lions had no choice in tagging Avril, for the aforementioned reasons. Young, talented pass rushing DE's are an extremely valuable commodity, and the Lions could not risk losing one of the better ones in the NFL. If it means pissing off Avril, so be it. Avril won't be so pissed when he and the Lions finally agree to a contract.
In the long run, I would have no problem with the Lions keeping Avril. Ask Wayne Fontes how neccesary a passing rushing DE is in the NFL. He spent most of the 90's looking for a DE "who could block out the sun." He never found one.
As great as it is the Lions are all but guaranteed of keeping Avril on the defensive line, it also places them in scary salary cap Hell. Approximately half of their cap is tied up in the contracts of Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and now Cliff Avril, who will be a one year $10.6MM cap hit unless the Lions can come to terms on a back loaded long-term back deal.
Let's not forget the Lions have several free agents they would like to keep, including the unrestricted LB Stephen Tulloch and long-time starting OLT Jeff Backus, and the restricted LB DeAndre Levy. There's only so much money to go around, and the Lions are finding themselves stretched thin.
Thus, out of several on going contract negotiations, the Lions' most important won't be with any of their free agents (or free agents they would like to recruit). It'll be with Megatron, as the Lions need their All-World WR to restructure his deal, which currently stands at a cap crippling $21MM for the coming season.
If the Lions and Megatron can come to an amicable agreement, all is well. The Lions will have some (not a lot, but some) cap flexibility. Enough to re-sign their most important free agents, and make a few other moves. Otherwise, it's going to be a white knuckle ride as the Lions would have some scary player decisions to make. And by player decisions, I mean contracts to be lopped off with malice.
Currently, the Lions are caught between Avril and a hard place. It's not a place they can't get out from, but it will take some serious cap creativity. Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew have work to do, especially with their calculators.no comments
Yes, I did go off on a rant about the ridiculousness of the NFL Combine. But ultimately, I did watch...but very little. I had the combine tuned in for maybe 45 minutes overall, mostly with it running in the background while I was trying to be productive. I'm more convinced than ever the combine is coma inducing. Honestly, as a fan, the most entertaining thing about the entire weekend is the face of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen, running the 40 in his suit. Otherwise...meh.
If pure athleticism and great combine workout numbers make good NFL players, then why isn't Mike McMahon still quarterbacking the Lions and why is Vince Young a backup? Steve Mariucci used to rave about McMahon's athleticism...but he couldn't throw an accurate 10 yard pass to save his life. Neither McMahon or Mooch are in the NFL. It's not a coincidence.
Though we'll never see such a thing, you know what I'd love to see at the combine? The interviews between team and player. That's where the real drama happens, not from obese offensive linemen doing bench presses. Let's see the tension caused by taking the Wonderlic! Now that's drama...
Packers WR Donald Driver will be on the new season of Dancing with the Stars. As much as I loathe the coverage of the combine, I loathe Dancing with the Stars 50x more. Then again, I'm not the target demo. But when I woke up the other morning, and heard the Driver story teased on Detroit's 50K watt 24 hour news radio station WWJ...well, if I could shake my head, I would have. Sadly, an NFL player in a faux dance competition with Urkel, a 55 year old Martina Navratilova and a bunch of washed up once weres and never gonna bes is big news in today's world. The MSM needs to DIAF.
Same goes for the breathless local reports Barry Sander's filing for divorce from a Detroit TV news anchor. Don't want to know about it, don't care about it, and it's none of our damn business. I've been through a divorce, there's nothing pleasant about them. They're painful as all Hell. Sanders deserves his privacy.
And don't get me going on all the reports about Tim Tebow's dating life. Don't give a fuck. Will never give a fuck. If it's ever found I do give a fuck, it means I've been fucked over by the Devil and must be fucking killed post haste.
The Rams have admitted they want to trade the number 2 pick, as has damn every team in the same position for the past several decades. This is news? The NFL media might just as well copy and paste the same articles from last year, just changing the team name. Will a team so desperately fall in love with Robert Griffin III and offer a king's ransom in trade to the Rams? The media will say yes...but calmer heads will prevail in NFL war rooms. They always do.
After 14 seasons, the Steelers have said they will release Hines Ward...and no one is surprised. Why? Because the NFL is business. Period. Admittedly, the Steelers said all the right things, but Ward is an outlier. He's one of the team's all-time greats, what else would you expect from the Steelers? There would have been a fan revolt otherwise. Regardless, all NFL teams won't give two shits about giving a player the proverbial bus ticket out of town once their skills begin to decline or suffer a major injury. At least Ward had a long career, and made his money. But he's the exception, not the rule, in the NFL. Which is why I would never decry a player trying to get as much cash as possible in a contract negotiation. Odds are said player is not going to have a 14 year career.
Money keeps the NFL in the news, with reports Drew Brees and the Saints are having difficulties in coming to an agreement on a new deal. Brees IS the Saints. The Saints were damned lucky to land a franchise level QB in his prime via free agency, which the equivalent of lightning striking several times in the same spot. It just doesn't happen. The Saints won't be so lucky for it to happen again. If the Saints don't keep Brees, the entire front office should be shit canned.
The NFL will start the 2012 season on a Wednesday, not wanting to compete with President Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination the following night. I'm sure everyone involved, the NFL, the DNC, the TV networks, know a marquee matchup to open the season (such as the Packers-Saints classic which started 2011) would trounce any political convention coverage in the Nielsen ratings. (Actually, a Leave it Beaver rerun featuring Lumpy Rutherford would win big in the ratings against the 2012 Democratic convention, as there will be no drama whatsoever) The NFL's anti-trust exemption is the biggest reason why league has more money than your typical SEC football player, Scrooge McDuck, Mitt Romney, the Russian mafia, Warren Buffett, Chumlee on Pawn Stars, and Kwame Kilpatrick's mayoral slush fuind combined. No matter which party is in control, the NFL wants to stay in the good graces of politicians. There's no reason to piss anyone in political power off in an election year, and put the anti-trust exemption at even a smidgen of risk. Hell, it's not as if a Thursday night game kicking off the season is a beloved tradition for anyone other than NBC.
Now EVERYONE get off my damn lawn!no comments
TWFE is working with Guinness to help set a Guinness World Records title for "The Largest St. Patrick’s Day Celebration" ever.
What is this you ask? It's Guinness and St. Patrick's Day, which go together like, well, Guinness and St. Patrick's Day! Guinness wants to set a world record, and is asking bloggers in all 50 states (including yours truly here in Michigan) to help in their quest. All they is asking is when you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, do so in true Irish fashion by raising a pint of Guinness. They would also very much appreciate your visiting Guinness.com and taking a short pledge.
When you go to Guinness.com, you will be prompted to click “Join the Party,” after which, you'll be taken to a form to sign the pledge. This form asks for first name, country, zip and optional code, which is MICH. This is how Guinness and I will track pledges. You need a paper trail (as it were) to set a world record, after all.
The site is live now! You'll be doing me a solid by checking it out...and don’t forget to pledge! It won't cost you a thing, save for a few minutes of your time and a pint of Guinness. Click the image below to get started!
Let me also add to please drink responsibly when celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Don't drink and drive, and if you must be out and about with the Irish (and those who are for one day), please use a designated driver.
Many fans think the NFL combine is all about the televised on field drills. Don't forget the off field activities, from counting bench presses to getting measurements, from height to IQ. But he most important part of the NFL combine is one fans don't get to see. The interviewing and vetting of prospects by NFL teams.
This also means the topic of NFL teams drafting talent over character and vice versa comes to the fore. Usually one player becomes the focus of such talk. This year it's a cornerback with 1st round talent, and if you go by his off field actions, an unsigned free agent brain.
Janoris Jenkins is considered the 3rd best cornerback prospect in the draft. He's also the poster child for bad decision making. For every good thing he does on the football field, there's a corresponding "What the Hell was he thinking?" moment off of it. He was a 3 year starter for the Florida Gators, before two arrests within three months for marijuana possession got him kicked off the team, forcing him to play at Division II North Alabama as a senior. A good program for DII, but it's still DII. Some one of Jenkins' NFL level talent doesn't play DII ball if he has a choice.
From news reports out of the combine, turns out Jenkins' life has been full of "What the Hell was he thinking?" moments as of late. He has fathered 4 kids (aged 3, 2, 1 and 3 months...HOLY JEBUS DUDE!) via 3 women, been arrested in a bar fight and failed a drug test. If there is misdemeanor level trouble to be found, Jenkins will find it...and women to find trouble with him.
Jenkins makes the perfect case study for the NFL. When you are deciding who is worthy of multi-year, multi-million dollar contract, do you draft talent over character? Is a player of Jenkins' reputation worth gambling a 1st round pick, especially for a team like the Lions, who desperately need a talented CB? When does the risk/reward level on a player of Jenkins' talent and bone-headedness reach a balance? When do you pull the trigger? If the talent us there, do you throw caution to the wind and pull the trigger in the 1st round? Do you wait until 2nd round? 3rd round? Never?
(Answers: There are limits, but most of time you do. Yes. The lower he drops in the draft, the risk/reward level shifts quickly. If you think he's going to start, yes. Definitely. Duh. Come on, this is the NFL, not the Boy Scouts.)
Those questions are why NFL teams go scarily in-depth with their investigations and interviewing (Matt Millen excluded, if you go by the Charles Rogers years in Detroit). If an NFL team clears you to be drafted, your knuckleheadedness been vetted damned thoroughly.
The Lions have been been burned in the past, both in passing on and actually drafting players thought to have knucklehead tendencies. They passed on drafting Randy Moss, who had a controversial, but Hall of Fame worthy career. The Lions didn't pass on Rogers, and paid the price for rest of the 00's. Moss and Rogers are both outliers, but are also worst case scenarios in not doing your due diligence.
To this point, Jenkins' biggest crimes are a love of the chronic, keeping his junk in his pants and not carrying condoms. When you think about it, I've just described 90% of the 21 year old males in the USA...including those who play football at the college and pro level. So let's keep Jenkins and his peccadilloes in perspective. Guys in their early 20's can be idiots, and tend to learn from their mistakes as they age. Hell, even Pac Man Jones grew up...a little.
Jenkins hasn't murdered dogs or kicked babies. He isn't in jail or committed a felony. His drug offenses have been minor, the equivalent of a minor being caught drinking beer. He's done the time, so the speak, for his transgressions and is showing remorse.
This kid (regardless of being considered an adult in the eyes of the law, I think we can all agree in many ways a college senior is still a "kid") is saying all the right things, and admitted at the combine his decision making could be found lacking. He knows the NFL is looking at him with a microscope. His next mistake could be his last as an NFL player, and Jenkins knows it.
Jenkins is likely worth the risk for a team like the Lions, looking for secondary help, even more so if he falls out of the 1st round.
Because most knuckleheads eventually grow up, especially when their livelihood is on the line.no comments
Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew spoke to the media at the NFL combine about his soon to be a free agent (if he's not given the franchise tag) defensive end, Cliff Avril.
Mayhew said all the right things.
“It certainly is not our desire to franchise Cliff,” Mayhew said during breakfast with beat reporters at the NFL combine. “We don’t want to do that, so we’re hopeful we’ll get something long-term done. I think it’s the best thing for him and for us. So that’s not a good option.
“Franchising him is not a good option for us. The only worse option is playing without him.”
Franchising may not be a good option...but it is definitely an option. One which will be used if it means keeping Avril a Lion.
If given a choice between losing one of their best defenders in free agency or ticking him off by franchising him, but keeping Avril on the roster...the Lions will tick him off 100 times out of 100. Regardless, Avril will remain ticked off...until he gets paid, and he will get paid.
So what will ultimately happen? What ALWAYS happens in NFL contract negotiations involving the franchise tag. Drawn out drama, then a long-term contract agreement. The process is a long one, but it's one I've seen before...
1. There will be much posturing, which has already begun from the Avril camp. Mayhew says all the right things (see above), including what Avril wants to hear about a long-term deal getting done. But at the same time, Mayhew knows he has the upper hand, having the franchise tag at his disposal.
2. There will come a point where Avril will clam up, and his representatives will do all the posturing. Avril's agent will complain long and loud to the media the Lions are disrespecting his client by even considering the use of the franchise tag. Mayhew will say nothing. Contract negotiations continue.
3. With the free agency deadline approaching, the Lions finally stick the franchise tag on Avril, because they aren't stupid. 25 year old defensive ends with double digit sack talent don't just grow on trees or fall into your lap in every draft.
4. After being tagged, knowing he's going to be a Lion mo matter what, Avril and his agent continue to threaten a holdout, using the media as a mouthpiece. Why? It's the only negotiating ploy they have left at their disposal. Fans proceed to bitch about Avril's threatened holdout, because they don't care if his career could end on any play and conveniently forget this is his best chance to make serious NFL money. You know, because how much money does anyone really need? At the same time, the Lions and Avril's representation continue to negotiate.
5. Contract talks between Avril and the Lions continue through the summer, with Avril's agent also negotiating via the media. Fans become even more incensed over a a Lion "who is paid big money to play a kid's game," because "they would play for free!"
6. Training camp is quickly approaching, all signs point to the Lions and Avril are at a stalemate, as negotiations look to have broken down. Fans start to panic. Mlive forum members predict the Lions defense will give up 500 yards passing a game. Bleacher Report runs a post featuring a slideshow with 35 DE options for the Lions.
7. Training camp starts. Avril doesn't report. It's a holdout! Fans lose their minds, curse the day the Lions drafted Cliff Avril. Detroit columnists write self-righteous diatribes about the ugly business of sports. But behind the scenes, after a cooling off period, contract talks are back underway and are nearing a conclusion.
8. A few days into camp, the Lions announce they have signed Cliff Avril to a long-term contract with a significant signing bonus.
9. Avril tells the media he's thrilled to be a Lion for the next several seasons, and was confident a deal would get done. Fans claim they knew Avril and the Lions would come to a long-term agreement. Ain't Lions fandom grand? PLAYOFFS, HERE WE COME!
10. The Lions also announce the restructuring of Calvin Johnson's massive contract, which will be the most important move the Lions make in the off season.
The above scenario, one commonly seen in every NFL city, is why I'm not going to worry about the status of Cliff Avril. The contract will ultimately work itself out.
This Avril situation is nothing older Lions fans haven't seen in the past. Just look back over a decade ago to the Lions franchise tagging DE Robert Porcher. It's damn near deja vu all over again. Much like what I expect to go down with Avril, the negotiations between Porcher and the Lions were acrimonious as all Hell, until they weren't...once Porcher signed a long-term contract.
I can't emphasize it enough. In the NFL, history always, always, always repeats itself.no comments
If not watching the NFL combine makes me a bad NFL blogger, so be it. I have my reasons.
This pic summarizes the NFL combine: A timed run to nowhere...
1. The NFL combine is little more than a glorified meat shop where middle aged NFL scouts eyeball and measure young men, from top to bottom, front to back. Players are treated with the same respect as pork belly commodities. The athletes aren't people, they are numbers on a clipboard. The better those numbers are, the more the NFL likes you...intangibles and intelligence be damned.
2. Good combine workouts do not a good football player make. This is known as the Mike Mamula rule. Mamula was a linebacker out of Boston College, considered a middle round talent before the 1995 combine. Mamula found himself the Eagles' 1st round pick (7th overall) in the following draft thanks to his blowing up in combine drills...drills he specifically prepared himself for pre-combine. In other words, Mamula was a workout warrior. He didn't practice football, he worked on his vertical leap. As for Mamula's NFL career? He was a bust at worst, a journeyman at best. Eagles fans would tend to fall on the bust side of the ledger.
3. Watching an endless line of players perform shuttle runs, cone drills and 40 yard dashes is as entertaining as watching C-SPAN 3 in the middle of the night. If I want to watch 350 pound guys sweat, I'll head over to the local all you can eat buffet.
Fat guys running the 40. THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT?
4. It's become another way for the NFL to promote itself to the nth degree. With MLB in spring training, college hoop in their homestretch, and the NBA and NHL in the middle of their regular seasons, the combine allows the NFL to remain in the consciousness of the media and fans, above the fold in newspapers and a lead topic on Sportscenter...even if absolutely NOTHING is happening. Nothing of substance, anyway. I don't consider the leaking of Wonderlic scores substantive, myself.
5. The combine is everything I hate about the NFL rolled into one long weekend in Indianapolis. Talking head analysts fill air time on ESPN and the NFL Network by spewing 40 times amid meaningless speculation as to draft status. Speculation and conjecture are the rule of the day. But it's not newsworthy.
6. The combine gets the draftniks all worked up into a lather, furiously pumping out mock draft after mock draft...and I HATE draftniks and mock drafts. Any event which helps Mel Kiper afford cases of hair spray is not a good thing
7. Because Tom Brady.
Out of uniform, Brady looked like a intramural quarterback.
Which is what the NFL believed after the 2000 combine.
Brady was not a prime physical specimen coming out of Michigan. But he was a good football player with major intangibles, which is a little harder to quantify than counting bench presses.
8. Coaches and GM's give press conferences and media interviews, while doing their damnedest to not say anything of consequence. Watching the Broncos' John Elway attempt to put a positive spin on Tim Tebow during his presser was as funny as it was painful. I had a hard time believing anything he was saying...and I doubt Elway believed it, either. Another example is Lions' GM Martin Mayhew BSing the media, saying the Lions don't have a desire to put a franchise tag on Cliff Avril. But it's almost a certainty to happen. How do I know Mayhew is lying? As I would with any other GM...his lips are moving.
9. Did I say the combine was boring? Because it's deathly boring for outsiders. Stimulating TV, it is not.
10. I want to watch football players play football, not participate in gym class. Now if the combine had a dodgeball segment...no comments