Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I’d love to hear some good reasons why James Jones, he of the 17 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons, is sitting on the sidelines of free agency, offer-less. He’s a very good deep threat whom Aaron Rodgers would like to have back. I don’t get that one. Jones and Cam Newton would make beautiful music in Carolina.
2. I think I like what the Broncos are doing in free agency; I appreciate the fact they’re growing some teeth on defense. On the other side of the ball, I realize Ryan Clady will return from his Lisfranc foot sprain (he was hurt in the Broncos’ second game last season) to nail down the left tackle spot in 2014. But Denver has lost effective guard Zane Beadles to Jacksonville and done nothing to improve the line in free agency. In the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning scrambled for his life much of the time. I counted eight “quiet” pockets when I re-watched the game, meaning only on eight pass attempts did Manning have all the time he needed to make a comfortable throw. I’m sure John Elway is concerned about the line, particularly right tackle Orlando Franklin’s ability to hold off quick outside rushers, but we haven’t seen him act on it yet.
3. I think it’s amazing to see the decline in impact and market presence for B.J. Raji, who re-signed with Green Bay for one year and $4 million. This is a man who looked like a five-year, $40-million player a year or so ago. But you are what your tape says you are, and Raji’s tape stunk last season.
4. I think if I were Miami, I’d follow up with Devin Hester. He’s a “U” guy and wants to play for the Dolphins … Miami has $25 million free under the cap … The Dolphins have a pedestrian return man in Marcus Thigpen … What’s the delay? The fit is perfect.
5. I think this is how I view the first week of free agency for Seattle: totally understandable and justifiable. You think the Seahawks should have kept wideout Golden Tate, at $6 million a year, instead of letting him go to Detroit? You think Seattle should have kept proficient right tackle Breno Giacomini at $4.5 million a year, instead of letting him go to the Jets? There are two factors at play here. When you win the Super Bowl, teams come after your unrestricted free agents, and you’ve got to figure out which ones you should keep and which ones you can replace in the draft. Factor two: Seattle has to find a way to re-sign Russell Wilson, who will be in the last year of his rookie contract next season and eligible to renegotiate, and keep Legion of Boom members Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. The front office has to make all 2014 decisions with 2015 in mind. That’s why, to me, there was one must-sign for Seattle in this year’s free agency class: defensive lineman Michael Bennett. And the Seahawks locked him up for four years and $28.5 million a day before the market opened. When they made that signing, Seattle’s free agency business of consequence was finished, and rightfully so.
6. I think I like the Browns taking a run at Cincinnati restricted free agent Andrew Hawkins, committing $10.8 million in the first two years of an offer sheet so the Bengals won’t match. And Cincinnati almost certainly won’t. Though smurfy, the 5-foot-7 wideout is surprisingly physical and competitive in the air. Hawkins is a good player taken from a division rival who—most likely—will be the slot receiver for your team that Davone Bess wasn’t. Good move by GM Ray Farmer and Cleveland, who’ve got scads of cap room.
7. I think if I’m a Cowboys fan, and I’ve seen defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher fly out the door, with Anthony Spencer soon to follow, I’m thinking: General manager Jerry Jones had better have an impact-player defensive draft, or owner Jerry Jones should fire the GM.
8. I think every year Julian Edelman is healthy for 16 games and has Tom Brady throwing to him, he’ll catch at least 100 balls.
9. I think it’s been a bad week for Cam Newton’s pass catchers: Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell signed elsewhere, and neither Hakeem Nicks nor Emmanuel Sanders became a Panther. But let’s judge the makeup of Carolina’s receiving corps in August, when training camp is in full swing, and not on St. Patrick’s Day. There are no games today.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Best story I read this week: Andrew Solomon in the New Yorker, on how Newtown killer Adam Lanza’s father is coping with life after the inexplicable.
b. Imagine thinking your son would have killed you, your other son, Ryan, and your ex-wife, Nancy, if you’d all been together when Adam Lanza went on his rampage. That’s what Peter Lanza told Solomon would have happened: “With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan; one for me.”
c. Hard to live with that, I’d say.
d. Second-best story: Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times, on a name you might remember if you’re a football fan of a certain age, former Seahawks center Grant Feasel, who died in July 2012 of acute alcoholism—and apparently from the effects of CTE.
e. How incredible a story, a jumbo jet disappearing. It’s amazing in this day and age there isn’t a fail-safe system that can account for an airplane vanishing.
f. Good week for my new rotisserie baseball team. When you draft Patrick Corbin, Brandon Beachy and Oscar Taveras, and they all start falling apart days after the draft, well, maybe it’s a sign that it’s going to be a long year. Or that you don’t know what you’re doing.
g. Jon Stewart is never not funny.
h. Coffeenerdness: Big fan of the reusable Starbucks cup that saves you 10 cents every time it’s used. Paid for itself in about a day and a half.
i. Beernerdness: Not that I have a go-to beer (well, I might if I lived in Seattle), but having Brooklyn Lager on tap at most of the places in my neighborhood is a very good thing.
j. Some journalism people to point out: ESPN’s Adam Schefter just had as good a week as I can remember in this business, breaking story after story of who was signing where. This is a rivalry business, naturally, but you’ve got to tip your hat to a man who is so on top of his game, and Schefter certainly is.
k. Good luck to Rick Reilly as he moves away from writing. It’s become fashionable to rap Reilly for some of his recent work, and he’s not without his faults. (Nor am I, as you all know very well.) But I’ve always viewed his prose as I-am-not-worthy stuff, so much of it brilliant. He raised the bar for sportswriters everywhere. I’ll miss reading him.
l. Hey, Jay Glazer! Feel better. The man’s got double pneumonia, and that cannot be fun. He had a tough time in the hospital last week.
m. Saturday was Sid Hartman’s 94th birthday. The Minnesota media legend (there is a bronze statue of him outside Target Field) still works six days a week, writing three or four columns for the Star Tribune and doing daily radio spots. He also does a radio show on WCCO on Sunday mornings, and then hosts a sports TV show on Sunday nights. Can I have that energy, please, for four more decades?
n. Louisville, fourth-seeded? So there are 12 teams in America that are either better overall than Louisville or playing better right now? I don’t think so. I’m a basketball doofus and even I know that stinks.
The Adieu Haiku
Do not grade teams now.
Free agency just one piece
of a big puzzle.