McNabb's deal, Brady's contract and five books for Father's Day
News from a quiet week, including what to expect from Brett Favre
MMQB's Summer Five ranges from war stories to high school football
Updates on training camp Tweetups, 10 Things I Think I Think and more
I'm mostly going off Favre watch for a week (I can just feel the disappointment out there) to talk about some other quarterbacks, Donovan McNabb and Mark Sanchez most notably, and one of the left coast teams I've largely ignored this spring. I also have a couple of notes about Roger Goodell trying to prove he's the fittest commissioner of our time. Then it's onto something I do far, far too little -- promote reading.
Not to be preachy, but in the IM/texting/twitterization of America, I'm going to give you five superb summer options, including the most vivid, riveting war book of our time. I'm not a history buff, but I'm a huge fan of books that put you in the middle of something historical, and you simply have to read Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. More about that later.
A lone paragraph on Favre first: He'll be on HBO tonight with Joe Buck on his new show, Joe Buck Live, and it's a good get, obviously. America might be totally sick of Favre, but everyone in the business wants to hear about his probable return to football. What he's likely to say is what we mostly know now: that after late-May arthroscopic surgery to detach a fraying right biceps tendon, he's giving serious consideration to returning to pro football if he can throw pain-free by late this month. I'm sure Buck will press Favre about why, and Favre will say it's not about revenge against the Packers. You have to decide if you believe that or not.
Now for a fairly quiet news week, for once.
The McNabb deal makes sense, there's nothing sinister about it. "Donovan's contract yelled out that it needed to be adjusted,'' said Eagles president Joe Banner.
Due $9.2 million this year and $10 million next year before the deal dissolved, McNabb had $5.2 million added to the next two years. That's it. As for the buzz over the past three months that McNabb was demanding a new deal, Banner contends it never happened.
"Donovan was great,'' Banner said. "It was never even remotely threatening with Donovan and [agent] Fletcher Smith. It was literally quite cordial. At the end of the conversation we had with them after the season, they said, 'Would you be interested in looking at the contract?' And we said yes.''
Banner said it took six or seven conversations with Smith to get done. The reason it hadn't been done earlier is because McNabb, from 2002 to 2006, missed 20 games due to injury, and the Eagles just didn't know if he could stay healthy. With McNabb missing two games over the past two years, the time was right to be fair to him.
Want to know why the Patriots are playing hardball with the Vince Wilforks of the world? Because soon they're going to have to pay very big for Tom Brady. Brady's due $14.5 million, total, over the next two years. Peyton Manning's due $29.8 million over the next two. Now McNabb's in line to make exactly $10 million more than Brady in 2009 and '10 combined. You tell me how laughable that is. Brady's not saying a word. His agent, Don Yee, is not saying a word. But they're taking notes about a system that's paying Matt Cassel the same money to play 2009 as Brady will make in the next two years combined.
Mark Sanchez did fine with his five-year, $47.5-million deal with New York, obviously. But there was no pillaging of the Jets salary cap. The only way to judge these things is the way you judge real estate, and when you do it that way, the Jets got more house for their money than Detroit and Atlanta got for theirs.
Let's look at the quarterbacks picked in the top five of the last two years -- Matt Ryan third by Atlanta last year, Matthew Stafford first by Detroit this year, Sanchez fifth by the Jets this year. Ryan and Stafford signed six-year deals, but since Sanchez signed a five-year deal, let's compare apples to apples. Five years to five years. The money each will get over the first five years of their deals, with minimum playing-time incentives reached:
Now, Ryan and Stafford both got picked higher than Sanchez. That's a factor. But it's interesting this deal got done now, when there wasn't any pressure to get a deal done, rather than five weeks from now on the verge of camp, when the Jets might have been forced to pay more.
There's a reason Roger Goodell's always on the elliptical trainer. At any league meeting or Super Bowl, you're bound to see Goodell, at 5:15 a.m. or some similarly early hour, dripping with sweat in the fitness center of some hotel. Now we'll see if all the sweat equity pays off. In three weeks, he and close to a dozen community leaders in Seattle will attempt to climb the 14,411-foot peak at Mount Rainier to raise --they hope -- more than $1 million for the United Way.
"I've been staring at that mountain since I was a kid,'' Jim Mora told me Friday, "and it's time I do something about it. It's great the commissioner will come along with us. He'll make it. We'll all make it.''
The climbing schedule would sound hellish for a world-class athlete, never mind a 50-year-old commissioner. On the morning of July 7, the climbers will trek to about 10,000 feet, set up tent, and sleep until about midnight. Then, beginning shortly after midnight, they'll attempt to go the final 4,400 feet in about eight hours and later make the much-quicker trek back down. The final 9,000 feet encompass about eight miles of climbing, and at that altitude, sickness, vertigo and nausea are not only possible, they're common.
Speaking of the Seahawks ... It's funny in this game. We tend to believe so strongly in everything we see now that we forget what we saw a short time ago. Take the NFC West. We're all enamored with the Arizona Cardinals, their explosive offense and burgeoning young defensive talent. For good reason. They were great down the stretch of the playoffs and came within an 85-yard Steeler drive of shocking the world and winning the Super Bowl.
But a year ago, before Matt Hasselbeck's back injury and the lame-duck Mike Holmgren malaise and injuries to the best left tackle in football and to every wideout who could walk and chew gum at the same time, Seattle was a pretty formidable team. Who knows? The Seahawks could be again. But to do so the defense that was so sieve-like last year has to rebound to at least the middle of the NFL pack.
Seattle fell from 15th to 30th in team defense from 2007 to '08, surrendering 66 yards a game more last year then the previous year. New coach Jim Mora has put the D in the hands of a firecracker assistant, Gus Bradley, who made a meteoric rise from NCAA nether lands (North Dakota State) to NFL coordinator in four years.
"I feel very good about the direction of our defense,'' said Mora, "and I feel great about Gus Bradley. I sit in all the defensive meetings, and when they're over, it's like, 'We've been in here 45 minutes? I thought it was 10 or 15.' He's a dynamic teacher. Captivating.''
Early on, Bradley knows he's going to have to get top pick Aaron Curry to rush the passer better than he ever did at Wake Forest. Curry never was put in position in college to rush the passer, but you don't pick a linebacker fourth overall in the draft and tell him to eat space or drop in coverage. You tell him -- at least in some obvious passing downs -- to go get the quarterback. "I think Aaron's a good blitzer,'' Bradley said. "But until you put on the pads in training camp and see him in games, there's going to be some doubt.''
I asked Mora for a couple of defensive players who'd stood out in the offseason, and he said Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson. Both defensive ends. Both former high picks. So maybe there will be less pressure on Curry to be a 12-sack guy if these bookend ends emerge and if Patrick Kerney can stay healthy and give Seattle the production he's used to giving.
Look for Bradley to bring some of the principles of Tampa Bay's classic two-deep coverage to Seattle, only with more aggression. He'll blitz more than Monte Kiffin did with the Bucs. Now he's got to find someone to get home.
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