The NFL Combine is this weekend, which means a guy will rise and/or die by his 40-time being a nanosecond faster than the next guy. Ironically, if you perform better in the combine than the guy that put together an All-American season, some would rate the two similarly. In my mind, it's an overrated exercise. Players do not wear pads, have no reason to worry about contact, and the intellectual issues of football are limited to interviews; much of which isn't accurately reflective of the player.
That's not to say it's totally pointless; a vertical, for instance, can point out a guy's ability to go up for the football. However, to take the combine as a source of scouting more than the player's history on the field, or even the relative All-Star games, would be a stretch.
+ Deadline to Remember: February 19 at 4 p.m. is the deadline in which teams can franchise free agency players. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the most deserved on the Bengals roster, however, he's also the most unlikely. Cedric Benson and Shayne Graham are popular speculations.
On Monday, the Giants slapped the franchise tag on Brandon Jacobs, making him the third player franchised this season so far; quarterback Matt Cassel and punter Michael Koenen. However, players like wide receiver Antonio Bryant, defensive end Julius Peppers (who will demand a trade), safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, offensive tackle Jordan Gross, cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dunta Robinson and running back Darren Sproles could be franchised.
Players don't want to be franchised because of the risk of being hurt and losing out on the money. Stacy Andrews is testament to this, as is any senior that returns, gets hurt, when he could have been a top-five pick in the NFL draft as a junior. Let's be a little realistic for a moment rather than playing in the reality exclusive football world.
Why do players worry about this when guys like cops, firefighters, and even our military have equally, if not ten times more concern about their health for a incalculable fraction of an NFL player's pay? We're not suggesting that the players are pay too much -- that's an old argument that most of us agree on. However, stop complaining about it to the press. "Oh, I'm going to be franchised and will only make $9.88 million. Boo-hoo."
Case in point:
"(The Franchise Tag) keeps you from doing everything you want to do," said Seattle Seahawks left offensive tackle Walter Jones, who had the franchise tag applied for three consecutive years before finally reaching a long-term contract agreement. "It restricts your opportunities and potential. It does create some hard feelings. It's not what it was meant to be if you ask me from personal experience."
After being given the franchise tag for three straight seasons, which in essence makes him one of the highest paid offensive tackles in the NFL, Jones was given a seven-year, $50 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. During those seasons he was franchised, Jones made $17,734,000 million ($4,920,000 in 2002, $5,734,000 in 2003 and $7,080,000 in 2004). That's $5,911,333 a season.
No, we're not players. We just don't know how any of this affects players. All I know is that I make enough money to get by the week, and like most of you, are considered expendable at a moment's notice placing any of us on the statistic of over 11 million unemployed.
I'm not criticizing how a man makes his money -- just stop reminding us about it. And stop thinking you're getting PR sympathy by whinning about it and protesting that you won't go to camp and earn the money. All right, I'm stepping off my soap box now.
+ The Bengals pick a WR in the second round? The Bengals select Everette Brown, Defensive End at Florida State, says Scout.com. However, it's the second round pick of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wide Receiver from Maryland, that has us scratching our head. The logic? The Bengals will lack a play-maker when Houshmandzadeh departs. We're not one to bring up trivial matters, but I've never thought of Houshmandzadeh as a play-maker -- that's always been Chad Johnson's designation. If he would be considered the receiver that picks up short third down conversions, and generally the most dependable receiver on the team, then I agree.
However, what's generally negated when describing Houshmandzadeh his intelligence and football knowledge. That's his forte.
+ A complete four rounds. The Football Expert has the Bengals selecting Andre Smith in the first round, center Alex Mack in the second round, running back Donald Brown in the third round and inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in the fourth. This is probably the most realistic scenario for the Bengals in terms of positions that they'll likely address.
Again, we know that they lack a pass rusher. We just don't think they'll go after one this draft because of the money tied up to two other pass rushers.
Ol' boy Jon Kitna could return to Detroit. I say come back to Cincinnati, sign the rest of your career as a backup to Carson Palmer. What do you say, ol' boy?