Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the trade that should happen is Baltimore signing left tackle Jared Gaither to an offer sheet and trading him to Dallas for a second-round pick. Am I sure the Ravens would do it? No, but I think it has a heck of a chance of passing muster, and I think Baltimore realizes it'd be a smart deal.
This has little to do with Gaither's ability; he's a top-12 NFL left tackle, he's young (24), with 28 starts already on his resume. But the Ravens aren't going to pay two players franchise-tackle money. Michael Oher will be the one to get the big bucks after being picked in the first round a year ago.
This deal would allow the Cowboys to get a much-needed, long-term left tackle, still use prospect Doug Free to compete with Marc Colombo at right tackle and eventually replace him permanently. Dallas would keep the 27th overall pick while filling a hole with the 59th, and Baltimore would get a third pick in the top 60 of a good draft to play with. Maybe it would allow the Ravens to move up a bit ... and get a player in a strong draft they wouldn't normally be able to get drafting so late in the round, like they did last year with Oher.
2. I think if you're a person of means, and you're a fan of good inside stories about a very good team and the league, and you care about good causes, I suggest you consider attending what I'm calling the New England Locker Room Luncheon at Davio's in Foxboro, Mass., from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on May 11.
I'm going to host this cozy affair with Patriots tackle Matt Light and wide receiver Julian Edelman and ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss, the Patriots beat man who formerly worked for the Boston Globe. We're selling 30 seats for $1,000 apiece, and for that grand you'll get your picture taken with Light and Edelman, autographs galore, and more than an hour of quality football talk. I'll MC a panel and wedge some inside stories about the Patriots' great run of the past and their prospects for another title in the future from two important pieces of it and the bright Reiss.
The luncheon will benefit the Matt Light Foundation (he specializes in helping at-risk teens) and the Greater Boston Food Bank, two causes near and dear to the four of us. For ticket information, or to place your reservation, contact Margrette Mondillo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you can make it, and pass along the info to Pats' fans or fans of the game if you know someone who might be interested.
3. I think the Browns may do several things at number seven, but the one thing they won't do is take Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. They could draft into the strength of that area of the draft and pick a tackle, or they could take Eric Berry, or they could take Joe Haden, or they could trade down to fortify their five-in-the-top-100 slate of picks (overall: 7, 38, 71, 85, 92). They'll do so with a GM, Tom Heckert, who, along with Andy Reid, used to turn draft choices into more quality draft picks as well as any team in the league. I just don't think the Browns see Clausen as a no-doubt franchise guy.
4. I think, for those Browns fans who yearn for a franchise receiver and ask, "Why don't we trade down a bit in the round and get Dez Bryant?'' here's your answer: Eric Mangini's spent a lot of energy trying to get his locker room right, and though Bryant appears to be on the right track and could well be a terrific NFL citizen for the next 10 years, they don't sell insurance for this kind of thing, and the Browns would rather take guys without question marks on their resumes.
5. I think the one thing most of us can agree on is Bradford one, Ndamukong Suh two, to the Lions, and Gerald McCoy three, to Tampa Bay.
6. I think I believe Mike Shanahan is serious when he says he might take a quarterback very high. I don't see how he could get the quarterback he wants, Bradford -- he'd have to denude this draft and next year's to do so -- but he's sniffing around Tim Tebow an awful lot. Private workout in Gainesville, long visit in Virginia. The 'Skins are spending an awful lot of time on quarterbacks for a team that just traded for one who should play four more years. ("Denude.'' Did you like that one? Did you click on dictionary.com to find the meaning?)
7. I think the overtime-reform issue still has some legs, and I believe it's got a very good chance to pass for the regular-season as well as the playoffs when NFL owners meet in May in Dallas. For many of you who asked why the league just didn't make it a strict two-possession rule, I'll give you Competition Committee member Bill Polian's take on it: "I'm a two-possession opponent, and here's why. Defense is a part of football, and you need to earn that second possession by playing defense on the first. Two years ago, in San Diego, we lost the flip in overtime. Peyton Manning didn't get on the field that night because our defense couldn't stop San Diego from scoring a touchdown. I've got no beef with that. Under the new rule, we'd be incentivized to stop San Diego from scoring a touchdown and at least holding them to a field goal. One of the reasons I like the new rule is it's not a guarantee to possess; it's an opportunity to possess.''
8. I think the important thing to realize about the Jets' moves is that Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan need to be on the same page to make the deals they've made. They need to be OK with the risk of the Cromarties and the Holmeses, and with the potential of LaDainian Tomlinson being unhappy with his touches, because if one isn't on board, the other can't be fully supportive and they can't build a team together. Tannenbaum, Ryan and owner Woody Johnson are all men who accept risk, significant risk, and they'd have to be risk-takers to do what they've done this off-season. We're still 10 days out from the draft. Who knows what else can happen.
9. I think if the Steelers didn't trade Holmes, there's a good chance the Steelers would have cut him. That might be hard to believe, but ace beat man Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette first raised the prospect that his days were numbered last week, and I believe him.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The end is not going to be pretty for David Ortiz. It's coming.
b. Rick Ankiel's a heck of a comeback story. He strafed the Red Sox all weekend, and you had to be happy for him. And that redone Royal ballpark looks beautiful.
c. Tom Verducci's tremendous piece on Roy Halladay in the magazine's preview issue (what a talented dude Verducci is) foretold what's coming, I believe. One week, two wins, one earned run in 16 innings. It's going to be a good spring, summer and fall for Phils fans watching that guy.
d. The bullying story out of South Hadley, Mass., is so sad and so compelling and so important. So glad my kids got out of school without being tormented by bullies. Good luck to your kids doing the same.
e. Somehow the moment was nicer to see Phil Mickelson, with his wife and mother battling breast cancer, enveloping the wife in a bearhug after winning the Masters, than any other outcome would have been.
f. The Tiger Woods/Dad commercial is downright creepy. If Nike's goal was to make viewers emote, they hit a home run. It's the wrong emoting, though. It's not "Awwww.'' It's "Yecchhhhh.''
g. Devils over Flyers in seven, but they'll be too beat up to go much further, I fear. In the finals, I like Chicago over Washington in a classic, wide-open series.
h. Watched "Julie and Julia'' for the second time over the weekend, and for the second time I was transfixed. What a movie. Meryl Streep's got to be the best actor/actress of our day.
i. Spirit Airlines will charge for carry-on bags that can't fit beneath the seat. I believe the next step is an airline charging for clothing. Worn, not packed.
j. Coffeenerdness: Had a cup of that McDonald's coffee for a buck the other day, and it's damn good. Maybe I'm just an addict, and it was an any-port-in-the-storm moment, but I liked it.
k. My prayers to the mining families in West Virginia. As a country, we should respect that industry more than I think we do.
l. Ditto to the people of Poland. That poor country, losing so many of its leaders in one plane crash. Amazed that a pilot could, apparently, have so much power over so many lives.
m. And a final thanks for your tremendous efforts for Five For Fighting. Your donations totaled $198,170, nearly enough for 10 remote platoons to be outfitted with recreation and communication gear for their off time. I am truly appreciative of your efforts for all the soldiers. Thank you.
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