MMQB (page 5)
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this might well be the week the Matt Walsh silence is broken. I'm not positive, but I sense a thaw in the air. I have a feeling that by the weekend, we could have a resolution on this, and the Patriots may be in the clear. I can't imagine Roger Goodell stepping in front of the media Saturday at the draft and figuring out some other way to say, "I think we're close to a deal with him'' in some different way than he's said it 53 times in the last two months.
2. I think it makes all the sense in the world for Minnesota, desperate for a pass-rusher, to deal for Jared Allen, but to NOT do it 'til after the draft. I'd be stunned if the Vikings made a deal that caused them to lose the 17th pick Saturday. The only way they'd do it is if the Chiefs dropped their demand for two high picks and asked for only this year's first-rounder, which the Vikings would likely do.
Now, about the other team in the mix, Tampa Bay: The Bucs are willing to pay Allen something less than the Dwight Freeney-like contract he wants, but not if it means they'd have to give Kansas City two first-day picks. It's a double-dipping nightmare for a team -- overpaying Allen and paying his team huge compensation. The alternative, obviously, is Kansas City keeping Allen. They'd rather have the two high picks, and my feeling is it's because how can you ever be sure that a reformed two-time DUI-offender is going to stay clean the rest of his career?
3. I think there is a lot of uncertainty in Atlanta about the quarterback situation -- both in this draft and about how to treat the Michael Vick situation -- but if there is any other plan than making a clean break with Vick and taking the quarterback of the future on Saturday, that franchise is making a very big mistake. It's not cruel to permanently cut the cord with Vick. To wait for Vick, possibly until 2010, is something only the president of the Vick fan club would do right now.
4. I think if Matt Ryan doesn't go to Atlanta at three, there's going to be a major-league gold rush for him. The Jets, Ravens and at least three others will try to ensnare him in trade, and in Kansas City, I'd keep those phone lines open Saturday morning.
5. I think it's probably wrong to say Marion Barber III is insane. I'm sure he's of sound mind this morning. But to honestly think the Cowboys should give him a contract worth $8 million a year ... I mean, it defies belief. Barber's been in the league three years. He's carried the ball 138, 135 and 204 times as a pro (after he averaged 192 carries a year in three college seasons at Minnesota); so there's no indication whatsoever that he can be a 22-carry-a-game guy, and certainly no indication that Dallas intends to use him that way. The Cowboys will take a runner in the first two rounds Saturday and make him 1b to Barber's 1a in the backfield. When I saw the Cowboys' offer -- five years, $30 million -- the other day, I cringed, because no one has any idea whether this bull of a running back can take the heat of a full load.
6. I think the three schedule stretches that caught my eye are these: In Weeks 7 through 12, the Colts are at Green Bay, at Tennessee, home to New England, at Pittsburgh, home to Houston, at San Diego. In a 29-day period, Pittsburgh plays Indy, San Diego, Cincinnati, New England and Dallas. The Giants got a friendly nod from Park Avenue to open the season -- Washington, at St. Louis, Cincinnati, bye, Seattle -- and then Carolina at home and at Minnesota to end the regular season.
7. I think it's good to be in the Sirius NFL Radio fold. I started there last Wednesday morning with Bob Papa and Randy Cross, and I'll probably do a couple of midweek slots through the summer. The great thing is, just talking football with a couple of guys and the callers. What's better than that? Gil Brandt called in on Thursday and made a tremendous point on this Malcolm Kelly controversy, about Kelly claiming the university had him run on a slow surface at Oklahoma. Kelly ran 40-yard-dash times of 4.63 and 4.69, and if the surface was so slow, then why did Adrian Peterson run a 4.39 on the same surface last year?
8. I think I love the perspective of Chris Long. Asked him the other day when he was on Sirius whether it would bother him if he sank like a stone in the first round of the draft and got a contract with, say, $10 million less in guarantees than he'd have gotten in one of the very top slots. "Twelve million, $25 million ... I can't spend that kind of money, whatever it is, in three lifetimes, never mind one," he said. "I just want to play football.''
9. I think you might enjoy some of the stories in a piece I did for SI coming to your mailboxes and newsstands this week on the 10-year anniversary of the 1998 draft, which was held exactly 10 years ago last Friday. I won't spoil it, but you'll love the story of what Peyton Manning said to Bill Polian three weeks before the draft, and you'll love how Matt Hasselbeck and Ryan Leaf are inextricably linked in history -- at the beginning of their pro careers and at the end of Leaf's.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Thank you, writers of The Office, for regaining your sanity and your edge in a great show last week. You realize, of course, that we all want to see Jim and Pam get hitched now. If there's a better character actor on TV than Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), I don't know who he is.
b. Rest in peace, Danny Federici. Can't believe you were that ill when I saw you twice on the keyboards on the current Springsteen tour.
c. Coffeenerdness: The Pike Place Roast is a winner, Starbucks. A big winner.
d. For Boston to be 13-7 with David Ortiz hitting .160 (and it took a mini-streak to get to .160) is ... well, it's a sign of a pretty good team.
e. The best lineup, Terry Francona, is Jacoby Ellsbury leading off, Dustin Pedroia second and Jed Lowrie ninth. At shortstop. I know Julio Lugo's making $9 million a year, but Lowrie's lightning in a bottle.
f. Good luck in the marathon this morning, Bob Whiteley. How about my brother-in-law in the big race?
g. Every Red Sox fan on the planet is happy to see you leave Toronto in a huff, Frank Thomas. Now how about signing in Taiwan -- or at least somewhere in the National League?
h. Have this Pennsylvania primary already, will you?