Three hot topics and then your mail, in a league that never sleeps:
For now, the extra point’s not going anywhere, though it should.
Judy Battista of the NFL Digital Media Group wrote Monday that the Competition Committee, at its Florida meeting, is considering a proposal to move the extra point to the 25-yard line, effectively making the extra point a 42-yard field goal, and could experiment with the new way in the preseason. As I wrote in the fall, there’s a very, very slight chance the owners would pass such a rule this year for the regular season, and nothing has changed.
Even in the unlikely event the Competition Committee approves the move and recommends it to the owners, there’s no way 24 of 32 owners will approve a rule that is seen as if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it about the game. So this is a great debate to start, but I don’t believe we’ll see a change in the current mode of the PAT for three or four years. Owners need time to be convinced of something that isn’t pressing (it happened in instant replay, which languished for years before being passed), and the extra point is no different.
Many have asked why the PAT must be changed, and the answer is simple: It’s not even remotely a competitive football play any more. In the past three seasons, kickers have made 3,691 of 3,709 PATs. That’s one extra point missed per 207 kicks tried … one PAT missed per 43 games. The point has been around since 1912, and my stance is simple: If you invented the game today, would you include a play worth one point that was designed to be so lopsided in favor of the offense? I doubt it. Which is why the league eventually has to fix it.
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The fate of Jimmy Graham.
Lots of discussion Monday about what will happen to tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency. It’s an intriguing question. Will someone, probably picking near the end of the first round, surrender first-round picks in 2014 and 2015, plus make Graham, 28, the highest-paid tight end in NFL history (at $12 million or $13 million per year)?
First, I would never do it. Let’s say Seattle—with a tight end need—was interested in Graham. The Seahawks have about $15 million in cap room, which shouldn’t be the big reason why they would either sign Graham or not sign him. Remember the important thing: In one year, three of the top players on the roster—Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas—are all eligible to negotiate new deals. Sherman and Thomas would be free agents; Wilson would have a year left on his rookie deal but likely will seek to re-do a contract he has vastly outperformed. The question is not whether Seattle could do the deal for Graham; the question is, with all the big-money deals coming due, whether Seattle GM John Schneider would be smart to sign a player who has hardly been at his best in the postseason, which is where Seattle expects to play for years. (Graham caught one ball for eight yards in his last six playoff quarters of the postseason just past.)
Finally, there is the question of salary management for very good players. Those two first-round picks likely would be key contributors for several years, and Seattle would have them at a team-friendly average of about $1.7 million per year. So you’re not only adding a salary of $12 million per year in Graham; you’re subtracting two top prospects, likely starters, at a favorable salary. Graham would be great, and the Seahawks or Patriots or another team with a crying tight end need would love having him … but the cost is excessive, if you ask me.
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Always find some good info in the Super Bowl DVD, and this one’s no different.
“Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks” is out this morning, produced by NFL Films and Cinedigm. It’s available on DVD and iTunes—here’s the trailer. Other than some colorful stuff from Richard Sherman throughout the season—surprise: he was miked often—the star of the show was Russell Wilson. We did find out that when Sherman tipped the pass away from Michael Crabtree on the decisive play of the NFC title game, these were his words when he finally chased Crabtree down: “Hell of a game! Hell of a game!” But a couple of things in the Super Bowl rout of the Broncos really brought Wilson into focus.
Before halftime, when the Seahawks had built a 22-0 lead, Wilson was taking nothing for granted. He said to his offensive mates: “We gotta have a great second half! Get your mind tuned in. Let’s go be world champions!” And later, with Seattle up 43-8 as the clock wound down, he said to an unseen teammate on the bench: “I’m locked in, you know? Just being in the moment. Just checking the play. Just going up to the line of scrimmage and knowing what I’m doing. What’s my reads? What’s my checks? What’s my possible alerts?’’ You come away from the DVD thinking Wilson’s got the respect and the pulse of the team, and his team trusts him implicitly.
The other interesting thing to me about the Super Bowl footage is how dejected the Broncos looked and acted often during the game. Shellshocked too, from Peyton Manning to Champ Bailey to John Fox. After the Malcolm Smith tipped pick returned for a touchdown, Manning came to the sideline and, bewildered, asked offensive coordinator Adam Gase: “What happened?’’ As usual, the ghost of Steve Sabol shone through the DVD. It’s continuing evidence NFL Films is still very much on its A-game.
Now for your email: