Who's going to bite on these receivers?
In restricted free agency are four veteran Pro Bowl wideouts sure to be tagged with restrictive pricetags by their teams: Brandon Marshall (Denver), Vincent Jackson (San Diego), Braylon Edwards (Jets) and Miles Austin (Dallas). The Jets have already announced Edwards will require first- and third-round draft picks as compensation if a team wants to steal him. I expect the other three to be similarly restricted.
That isn't to say a team can't make an offer of something less and get one of those players. But keep in mind that to get one of them, you'd have to not only give a high draft choice or choices, but also pay the player $9-million or so per year. So most teams would say it's ridiculous, particularly in a draft as strong overall as this one, to give a first-round pick and $10 million a year, for example, for a wideout.
Who will be out there fishing for them? I wouldn't be surprised to see Miami and its former Dallas triumvirate of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano sniffing around Austin -- a player Parcells nurtured before leaving the Cowboys -- but I think Jerry Jones would match any offer but a wildly excessive one ($11 million a year, say).
The top candidate, I think, will be Baltimore investigating Marshall or Jackson. The Broncos, despite what coach Josh McDaniels might say about being open to keeping Marshall, want to get a good deal for him and be rid of the guy who averages two or three team-dividing headaches a year. Maybe the 6-5, 230-pound Jackson, who just turned 27 and is one of the game's great deep threats, could be had. San Diego GM A.J. Smith loves building through the draft, the Chargers aren't one of the league's cash-rich teams, and they have some prime other restricted free-agents to sign, such as left tackle Marcus McNeill.
The Ravens are a good trading partner in one way -- they aren't afraid of taking a chance, and owner Steve Bisciotti is a risk-taker. But they're a bad trading partner in another way. They've had so much success with high draft picks in the Ozzie Newsome Era (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed early, Michael Oher, Haloti Ngata and Joe Flacco late) that it would have to be a great deal for them to surrender their first-round pick.
We'll see. If I had to guess, I'd say Marshall has the best chance to go somewhere, for a second-round pick.
I'm still not happy with the league's discipline of Bryant McKinnie.
The NFL's statement on the McKinnie slap-on-the-wrist: "As a result of his dismissal from the NFC Pro Bowl team prior to the game, Bryant McKinnie has forfeited his $22,500 game check and is required to reimburse the NFL for $4,285.13 for Pro Bowl expenses that he incurred. The Competition Committee will review this matter to determine whether additional steps should be taken to deter this type of conduct at the Pro Bowl in the future."
1. Who in the world thought he was getting the $22,500 in the first place, after being whacked from the team the day before the game? That's no penalty. That's an expectation.
2. Who in the world thought the NFL would have picked up his expenses for travel to and from and hotel room at a game he, of his own free will, did not participate in? Again, that's no penalty. I would expect the league would take expense money back from a person who didn't live up to his end of the expense deal.
3. I do appreciate that the Competition Committee will now set some sort of sanction for Pro Bowl players who, for some incredibly immature reason, don't show up for practice or other team functions. But this deserved a $100,000 fine by Goodell.
Here's why: McKinnie openly campaigned on his Twitter feed to get votes for the game, then was voted into the game. He didn't show up for Wednesday's mandatory practice and offensive line meeting. He arrived at Thursday's offensive-line meeting five minutes before the end of it, leaving the players in the room seething; if they had to be there, why didn't McKinnie? In the room were teammate Steve Hutchinson, who put off much-needed offseason shoulder surgery, and Giants tackle David Diehl, who had painful patellar tendinitis.
McKinnie didn't show up at all Friday for the meeting or practice. He did have the intelligence to Tweet about his nocturnal activities while in Miami.
This is not the most important decision the league will have to make this year. Far, far from it. But Bryant McKinnie spit in the face of the Pro Bowl, and the NFL whiffed on sanctioning him.
Can we please stop with the over-the-top Tiger Woods coverage?
Dan Graziano of AOL Fanhouse said it best. Or, I should say, he Tweeted it best. "Tiger story brings out the worst in modern sports 'journalism.' Everyone required to have a strong opinion on a complete non-story.''
I love Mike Tirico of ESPN, but when he said Woods' televised reading of his statement was one of those moments you'll always remember where you were, I was shocked. Do not equate this with the Kennedy assassination or Moon landing or Obama election on the scale of historic events, please.
And as far as reading Woods' honesty or dishonesty in the statement, I mean, the truest thing about this guy is that we really don't know him. He doesn't allow the public to know him. So how on God's green earth could we watch a scripted 13-minute statement -- that for all we know could have been edited or written by some sort of Ari Fleischer -- and say we know if the man is serious or not, or somewhere in between? The columns I've seen, that we've all seen, claiming that he's absolutely full of redemption or absolutely full of crap ... absurd.
We don't know. Let time prove whether the guy has changed or not. That's the only way we can know.
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