Niners coach Harbaugh got his man in QB Kaepernick; mailbag (cont.)
Tough weekend for Mark Herzlich, the Boston College linebacker who worked so hard to come back from a battle with cancer -- he's clean, but went undrafted. The Omaha Nighthawks of United Football League drafted him in the ninth round Monday night, and he'll have a decision to make whether he wants to play there first or wait for a free-agent trial with an NFL team. Herzlich played with a 12-inch titanium rod in his leg and overcame a summer foot injury to play a full season, but a less impactful one, with BC in 2010. "It's a slap in the face,'' Herzlich said, "but this is not the end for me. And it doesn't kill me. You don't have to scrape me off the floor. But there aren't too many positives about this.'' He said he'll return to his home in Pennsylvania, continue his workout regimen, and wait for the lockout to end so he can sign with team in free agency.'' We'll see if the UFL can make it attractive for him to play there, but that would abort most if not all of a rookie season in the NFL because of the timing of the season.
Now onto your e-mail:
I'M NOT SURE CHANGES ARE NEEDED. "In light of the Bears-Ravens trade snafu, are there any changes the NFL plans to make as to how trades are phoned in? I understand they responded to the Vikings-Ravens-Jax botched trade by adding additional phones, but in this day and age of texts, twitter, etc., it seems a bit antiquated to require two separate phone calls. Perhaps one conference call with both teams on the line at the same time would work or, being a $9B enterprise, station one NFL official at each of the 32 war rooms. I don't think Jerry Angelo was acting nefariously -- I believe it was an honest mix-up, but one for which the Ravens should have been compensated -- but the NFL can do better in my opinion.''
-- Andy, Baltimore
I think you're over-complicating matters. A phone call to one of four dedicated phone lines for draft-day transactions is not so difficult to make. The Bears screwed up the process. It's a one-time thing. The 2003 story is a different one; two phone lines were in place then and maybe they were being blocked by one team, maybe not. But I see no reason to overhaul the system because the Bears messed up communications on a phone call.
I'M NOT SURE YOUR VALUE SYSTEM IS CORRECT. "Why do GMs in the NFL fall in love with draft prospects when the trade market (when it reopens) is so much cheaper? If the Falcons had waited for the CBA to be completed, they could have offered up far less to receive an NFL wide receiver that could help them immediately while achieving their goal of getting younger. I know he isn't the best example because of his personality, but Miami paid a quarter the price for Brandon Marshall. I would imagine that if the Falcons offered Arizona the same level of compensation, they could have landed Larry Fitzgerald. Who would you rather have, Fitzgerald (27 years old) or Julio Jones?''
-- Andrew Gardiner, Toronto
Fitzgerald. But that option was not open to the Falcons, and my experience is the Cardinals would not have taken the deal, because Fitzgerald is the centerpiece of their franchise. I often think draft picks are overvalued, so on that point I agree. But I can tell you this right now: Miami would rather have two second-round picks and the $10 million a year it's paying for Marshall back instead of having Marshall on the team.
YES. "Now that the Bucs went defensive line and linebacker in the draft, don't they really have to go after a cornerback in free agency? Ronde Barber is old, and at the very least Aqib Talib is certainly going to be suspended by the league for his offseason gun incident, if not cut outright. Will the Glazers finally spend some money, maybe on Nnamdi Asomugha?''
-- Mark, Tampa, Fla.
I can't see the Glazers, one of the lowest-spending owner groups in the league, spending $18 million a year on a cornerback like Asomugha, regardless how good he is. But yes, they'll need to address cornerback in free agency, maybe with someone like Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph, if he comes free.
YES. "So you really think Trent Dilfer "earned (his) dough" for blasting the Vikings and Christian Ponder over the weekend? Take a look at what he said last year about Sam Bradford. His evaluation of his talent was similar to what he said about Ponder, and his evaluation of the Rams for taking Bradford also quite negative. Let's not give credit to someone for making a ridiculously heated argument against a young man who hasn't even had a chance to prove himself yet.''
-- John, Boston
So what do you want your analysts to say? Sugary-sweet things like you hear 80 percent of the time on ESPN and NFL Network draft coverage? It was stunning to see Ponder picked 12th overall. Stunning. I'm glad there's one analyst who's going to shoot from the hip, even if he might be wrong sometimes. And I saw what Dilfer said about Ponder. It was not at all "ridiculously heated.'' It was strident, but it was reasoned. He said he'd watched tape of Ponder, and said he thought he "melted'' at some big times on the field. If I'm ESPN, and I employ Dilfer, I'm telling him, "Great job,'' not, "Be nice until we see him play for three years.''
THANK YOU. "I read several articles on the big news Monday morning, and stayed up late to watch the coverage of it Sunday night, as well. In my personal opinion, none of them were as honest and touching as what you wrote at the top of MMQB, and it was a perfect example of why, even when I am fed up with the NFL or football in general, I take the time to read your column every Monday morning.''
-- Kyle Davis, Helena, Mont.
I appreciate that. Thanks a lot.