Will the Franchise date be a date that's stood up?
February 8th is the first day teams can franchise or transition their star players that are eligible for free agency. This process is one of the reasons you don't see a high volume of great names in the free agent market. Players hate this process. Not because it brings a nice paycheck, but the length of the deal is only one season. Think of it this way. If a player signs a one-year deal as a franchised player, gets hurt for the season, the value and length of their next contract will drop significantly. While I'm sure there's no sympathy for men playing games at mind-numbing salaries, I think anti-Franchisism is a value position.
Some say the franchise is an unfair practice because:
1. There's a five month period to sign franchise tagged players to long-term contracts. You can't extend the contract of a franchised player after July 14th. It would make sense that teams be given the ability to sign players to long term contracts during a period when most quality free agents are already signed. Rather, you have a "disenfranchised" player playing on a one-year deal. Sign the player to a long-term deal and you make him happy and settle any controlled factors for that position.
2. Takes freedom away from players to get out of disastrous towns and/or teams. I didn't blame Big Daddy for wanting to leave Cincinnati. He was about as childish as Corey Dillon about leaving. But the team was a disaster during his time here and his desire to leave should bring understanding. But think of it this way. Was Big Daddy really a "franchise" player? Does it make sense that this procedure was implemented so teams could keep their best player? As good as Big Daddy's potential always seems to be, he wasn't our best player. So now tagging a player is used as a negotiation tactic (read: threat).
Now, there's two types of franchises.
"Exclusive Franchise" players are paid the average (sometimes greater) of the top-five players at their respective position for the upcoming season based on a date this spring; or 120% of the player's previous season's salary -- whichever is greater. No teams can negotiate with an exclusive franchise.
"Non-Exclusive Franchise" players are paid the average of the top-five at their respective position from the previous season. Other teams may negotiate with a non-exclusive franchise player.
There's logic in tagging Eric Steinbach as a non-exclusive franchise player. For one, he'd get a one-year deal that's average to the top-five salaries at his position last season. It would also leave the door open for other teams to grab Steinbach with two first round picks in return. With teams always looking for Pro Bowl talent at guard, this could be a win-win for the Bengals. No one wants him? Fine, we keep an alternate Pro Bowl guard. Someone gets him? Fine, we get two first round draft picks. See, win-win.
If you feel that draft too?
Other than Adam and Brad, most NFL fans are either breaking out their mitts for the summer or watching the NFL's off-season calendar. The start of free agency and the NFL draft are the two biggest events. It's an opportunity for players to get handsomely paid in Washington and for crappy teams to mysteriously find a way to remain crappy. Usually free agency and the draft showcases a players talent. But I disagree. It usually showcases (Patriots) or exposes (Texans, Lions) a team's evaluation process. The talent is a specter that dissolves as the teams with better chemistry run laps against teams saturated with talent. Football is like every other sport. You don't have to have the best talent. A good work ethic, perfection, heart and a passion for your team usually rewards the entire organization.
So, the positional draft breakdown. I say Cornerback. WHAT HAVE YOU!
If I were a betting man, I'd bet that the Bengals draft cornerback. There's intense scrutiny on the crap that was Tory James and Deltha O'Neal in '06. Reports suggest that O'Neal and James ate lunch away from the team and bringing rookie Johnathan Joseph along as the season wore on. That didn't sit favorably in the public's perception. Many think Joseph will be an incredible talent -- myself included. But many more believe that James and O'Neal can't offer much to this team anymore -- especially being the catalysts of taking a rookie from the whole "team is chemistry" concept.
Drafting a cornerback in the first round would give the Bengals two first-round corners in the past two years. I've supported the argument that this team can not run one-on-one coverage with our corners. So the linebackers have to sit ten yards deep because the cornerbacks play off the receivers. With the corners playing back, the receivers ran freely in their routes. To make up for this, linebackers had to drop back into the abyss. It seemed like everything 15 yards and under was completed without a problem.
Drafting a solid cover corner would give this defense more options to blitz and, for the love of god, stop the linebackers from turning around and sprinting with their backs to the quarterback.
So who's mocking the Bengals?
Since we've mastered handguns and stun-guns, why not a tank?
NFL Draft Countdown agrees:
The NFL Report says Paul Posluszny, LB, PSU.
I have no problem with Posluszny. And I learned how to spell Houshmandzadeh by habit now so learning, Posl... Paul's last name, will be easy. I think the logic is there and supports that character and talent can co-exist -- in the same person. Who knew?