The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement will make this offseason either very tumultuous or very boring. Should there be no negotiation, prolonged posturing and no resolution we’re all in for a long hibernation period where we learn to like Arena Football (Go Philadelphia Soul). Tumultuous would be the case if an agreement is reached say sometime around the March 3 deadline or thereabouts. In that event, teams would have to scramble acclimating to any and all new practices a new CBA could demand, while cramming an entire off-season’s worth of activity (trades, free agency, Draft Day deals) into a few short weeks. Until one outcome or another either happens or not we are left to speculate about the fates of our favorite NFL teams. Let’s hope we don’t have to substitute Arena League players for our Fantasy Leagues in 2011. It would at least give us some idea of the hellish indecisive limbo that NFL owners are experiencing.
One thing that can proceed is that NFL teams have been given the green light to place franchise tags on players under the rules of the expiring CBA. The NFL notified teams that they can apply the franchise tag and/or the transition tag on a player(s) they want to retain for the 2011 season. Under the franchise tag, the player is tendered a one-year contract at the average of the five highest-paid players at his position or 120 percent of the player’s 2010 salary, whatever is higher. With the transition tag, a player is tendered a one-year contract at the average of the top 10 highest-paid players at his position or 120 percent of the player’s 2010 salary.
The franchise tag value at the quarterback position was $16.405 million in 2010 – which means we know now what the Eagles will be ready to offer Michael Vick. Several reports over the past week indicated that Vick will be offered the Eagles franchise tag. This is not due to the Eagles’ lack of interest in signing Vick to a long-term deal, rather because the Pro Bowl QB reached incentives in 2010that eliminated the possibility of doing a long-term extension under the current framework of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Since that CBA expires at midnight on March 4 the Eagles need to franchise Vick in order to retain his services for 2011 and beyond.
It is no secret that former Eagles franchise QB Kevin Kolb (spent training camp and exactly one half of one game into 2010 with that title) will probably not be a member of this team. We don’t need a crystal ball to see the proverbial handwriting on the wall but we may need some legal counsel to determine how and when Kolb may have opportunity to ply his wares for another NFL team (due to the lack of a new CBA, the Eagles and QB Kevin Kolb worked on a contract extension April 29, 2010. With no CBA, the 30 percent rule restricts base salaries from increasing more than 30% from year-to-year so Kolb received a $10.7 million signing bonus, keeping his services through the 2011 season @ $12.25).
No trades are permitted until a new CBA is agreed to and implemented, so the Eagles could opt to simply franchise Vick and keep both QB one more season. The NFL Draft will also be limited without a new CBA as no trades of players will be permitted, merely swapping of draft picks. There are questions about Vick’s durability and accuracy, which was proven as Kolb spelled Vick for a month after injury. Vick broke down late in the season due to his style of play. Despite Vick’s Miracle in the Meadowlands performance, the lasting image for Eagles fans may be that underthrown interception in the end zone which ended their comeback hopes against the Packers in the NFC playoffs.
We the public have no way of knowing Kevin Kolb’s fate for 2011 and beyond but that never stopped us before. Educated guessing, analytical speculation and blind dumb luck all have one thing in common: until an outcome is proven, one person’s opinion is just as valid as the others. Hopefully, we all aspire to analytical speculation based on what knowledge we do posses rather than what we don’t.
We know that of the 32 NFL franchises, it is relatively safe to assume that 18 of them do not have pressing QB needs. Another half dozen teams already have expensive and convoluted QB situations and might not be looking to make matters worse (such as San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Buffalo and Cincinnati). Even some of those who do have vacancies will very likely opt for blue chip prospects from the NFL Draft (which remains on schedule). Andrew Luck is headed back to school leaving names like Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Cam Newton (Auburn), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Christian Ponder (Florida State) and Jake Locker (Washington). Most of those are not walking into NFL camps (provided there ARE training camps this summer) and assuming they will be the next Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan, meaning that free agency (if it exists in 2011) could be that much more important to franchises with needs. This leaves a relatively large group of 9 NFL destinations that makes sense for Kevin Kolb should he be moved for the 2011 season.
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR
All-World WR Larry Fitzgerald has stated publicly that Kolb tops his wish list for 2011. Kolb has stated publicly that he would welcome a trade to Arizona and the chance to play with Fitzgerald. Management may not feel the same way as they cut Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart and handed the reins to Derek Anderson following the retirement of Kurt Warner. Arizona could have traded a second round pick for former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (who resides in the same zip code as Ken Whisenhunt). Now it might take a first round pick to nab Kolb. Would that be worth it or should they draft their own guy?
Incumbent Candidates: Derek Anderson, Richard Bartell, Max “Monty” Hall, John “Red” Skelton
Best Bet: This team has never drafted successfully @ QB (Leinart and Neil Lomax holds most of the franchise records after 75 years and three cities. Trade for Kolb so that Fitzgerald doesn’t walk and then build, build, build! This team was in the Super Bowl XLIII? Really? Look for us to be asking the same questions 12 months from now heading into the 2012 Draft. Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford are not walking through that locker room door but neither is Neil Lomax. Go get a QB!
Is it really possible that the team will abandon plans to groom Jimmy Claussen after just one season? Well new Head Coach (Rivera) and Defensive Coordinator (McDermott) so you tell me where their focus will be? Yep. Offense. Ranked 32 in points scored, 32 in offensive yards and passing yards. It makes sense for the team to draft defensively. Getting Kolb would make sense as he is familiar with both Rivera and McDermott, but not before the logjam of mediocrity thins out at QB. Kolb is an upgrade.
Drafting offensive linemen would be a solid move but the team went heavy on offense in last year’s draft. Look for Rivera and McDermott to find “their players” through the draft while they sort through the NFL waiver wire for discarded Chargers, Bears and Eagles already familiar with their scheme. Team needs essentially everything so that makes it easy!
THE LONGEST YARD
When a team overhauls their coaching staff, it indicates that they can’t fire all of the players to start over. New Head Coach Pat Shurmur is a QB Guru as is his GM Mike Holmgren. Both Shurmur and Defensive Coordinator Dick Jauron come from the Philadelphia system and have coached Kolb. Team Personnel Director Tom Heckert also migrated from the Eagles franchise but a lot more has to be done to salvage this organization. 5-11 is bad but the team might be worse than their record indicates. This team needs someone like Kevin Kolb but they already have time, money and more money invested in Colt McCoy. No idea why they paid Delhomme and Wallace so much to stand around and watch.
Incumbent Candidates: Jake Delhomme, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace
Best Bet: With McCoy(6 TD/9 INT) taking the bulk of snaps in his rookie season, Cleveland finished 31st in Points Scored, 29th in Yards, 29th in Passing Yards and 20th in Rushing Yards (thanks to Peyton Hillis 1,177 & 11 TD). Hillis and Cribbs are offensive supernova but they truly need a solid infrastructure and supporting cast. In 2 years Colt McCoy will either be the next Roger Staubach or the next Eli Manning but which is good and which is bad? Depends on the team around them. Eli Manning went to a Super Bowl and won with a VERY good team as did Staubach. So did Trent Dilfer while guys like Jim Kelly and Dan Marino never won one! Keep McCoy and coach him up but don’t send him out there without pads or a helmet and ask him to tough it out!
HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL
In the NFL, an 8-8 record is considered exactly what one might think – average. Not a winning season nor a losing season. Average. Aside from a few brief glimpses, that has been the persona of this franchise for the better part of their 15-year existence. However, if one looks closely at the 2010 version, it may be evident that these Jaguars are in better shape than their record suggests. Third in the NFL in Rushing Yards, 15th in Total Yards, 18th in PPG. Maybe the defense really has been improving and the offense really does show signs of life? They do have a solid running game despite an unspectacular fan turnout. Maybe moving this franchise to Los Angeles would pump new life into a team in heart failure?
Incumbent Candidates: David Garrard, Trent Edwards, Todd Bouman
Best Bet: It can be safely said that no NFL team is more in need of a talent infusion at QB. Other teams have more NEED at QB or have fewer options or less talent, but these Jaguars are a team that could step up to the next level immediately with a young, veteran QB (like Aaron Rodgers). The offense is solid if unspectacular with MJD & the VERY young receivers while the line is workably consistent. Bringing in the likes of Brett Favre or Kurt Warner – a true gunslinger – would instantaneously make this team a playoff contender. Since John Elway and Dan Marino are retired, why not Kevin Kolb? He is a pocket passer but he understands the game, knows the West Coast offense and he wants to win right now. Rather than drafting Cam Newton (which is not realistic in 2011 Draft), maybe it is time to finally challenge David Garrard? Of course, Kolb has done nothing in his career but challenge sitting QB including Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Does Kolb really want another battle? Good for Jacksonville to bring in Kolb. Bad for Kolb to compete with Garrard but when Kolb wins the Jaguars would win!
Forgive me if this sounds cliché, but ever since Dan Marino retired, this franchise has not been the same. Maybe it was Don Shula’s influence or perhaps the curse of the 1972 Dolphins lives on… but when was the last time anyone truly feared the Miami Dolphins? They had a solid defense under Jimmy Johnson and there was that brief period of time when Ricky Williams was both lucid and effective between the tackles but that seems like a haze from a long-forgotten slumber. They have been sleepwalking through the NFL with Wildcat formations and a revolving door front office, Names like Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano have intermingled with Jim Harbaugh, Wayne Huizenga, Zach Thomas and Karim Abdul-Jabbar but the success associated with these names has not been in Miami. 7-9 record in 2010, 30th in points scored, 21st in overall yards and rushing yards – but oddly 16th in Passing Yards!
Incumbent Candidates: Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen
Best Bet: Chad and Chad have shown us what they can do. Chad the former (Henne) is the more talented of the two at this point in his career but Henne vs. Pennington is commensurate to determining which Corey is better – Haim or Feldman? Henne remains the starter and Pennington may even remain as the grizzled veteran backup (though not so grizzled) but this team MUST draft their future franchise QB in the 2011 or 2012 Draft. As Luck or Locker or Newton would have it, there is time to develop or distinguish themselves. Think of Eli Manning sitting behind Kurt Warner or Steve Young sitting behind Joe Montana or Steve McNair sitting behind Chris Chandler. Gabbert is an option to groom behind the veterans while Cam Newton is a good bet for Tennessee or Miami. Luck probably will wind up going the route of Stafford and Bradford – heading for a bad team in dire straits and taking his lumps. Kolb is not heading to Miami. Maybe it is because they have enough veterans and need to rebuild or maybe it is because of the trade history regarding AJ Feeley? Probably more about Luck and Newton than Feeley.
In the 50th Anniversary season of the proud Minnesota Vikings, the future Hall of Fame QB faltered, the Metrodome roof collapsed and the team regressed from an NFC Championship to not making the playoffs. Not even Fran Tarkenton could escape that many disasters at one time! For now, the francise remains the Minnesota Vikings, but who will play for them in 2011? Has anyone noticed that Adrian Peterson still plays for this team? Well he does but Brett Favre and Tavaris Jackson may not. This team would do well to stop putting off the future and find a way to patch holes in their ship.
** Jackson has no 2011 contract currently (R) Brett Favre has filed for retirement
Best Bet: Please let Favre fade off into the sunset on his John Deere tractor with his Wrangler jeans – and do not send a contingency to convince him to give one more year for the Gipper! The Gipper is gone, Favre’s career is over and the Vikings need to let Favre’s legacy mirgrate back to Cheese Country. Meanwhile this team needs a new identity. What about the Purple People Eaters or even the Vikings teams that made the Super Bowl but never won it? Defense is the dire need for this team which has proven they can manage a game with Peterson and any stopgap QB. This is a team that would do well to consider Kevin Kolb but who should not center their future around the success of such an acquisition. They would do just as well with David Garrard, Marc Bulger or Brody Croyle at the helm because these seafaring Vikings will not reach the New World for quite some time. Tavaris Jackson has earned the job but his contract has expired but neither Joe Webb nor Patrick Ramsey are ready. Webb learned to play QB about 10 minutes ago (see Philadelphia game) while Ramsey is the world’s foremost Professional Clipboard Artist and should remain as suck. Kolb, Croyle, Bulger, Vince Young or Matt Hasselbach, it really doesn’t much matter. A wise move would be to find the next Matt Schaub or Matt Cassel – but how many backups in the NFL could start for another team? Oh wait… is Kevin Kolb raising his hand?
This one is going to depend on how Pete Carroll wants to continue putting his stamp on this franchise. If he chooses to build from within, he will do so through the draft focusing on the defense and fundamentals. Carroll is also an excellent offensive coach and would be a fool to waste his time not trying to improve a team 23rd in overall offense, 28th in offensive yards and 31 in rushing yards.
Incumbent Candidates: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, JP Lohsman
Best Bet: Look for Carroll to appoint a “caretaker QB” (Hasselbach could find himself in Cleveland playing the role of Jake Delhomme to help Mike Holmgren & Pat Shurmur mold Colt McCoy) and draft a franchise QB. Lohsman and Whitehurst are none of those things so one of them stays to become a clipboard expert. This team can continue to compete in a weak NFC West but they will never improve until they have an identity. Pete Carroll has been here before but this is NOT college and he won’t have ten years to rebuild an entire philosophy and program. Trading for Kolb would make sense but it is not a price Seattle is willing to pay. They will use most of their draft picks on defense and will grab offensive veterans off the scrap heap.
Jeff Fisher has exited stage left and Head Coach Mike Munchak (promoted from O-line) has been busy axing newly hired defensive coordinator Jerry Gray from University of Texas. It is rumored that Munchak is eyeing Mike Tice (former Vikings coach, current Bears assistant) to replace deposed Mike Heimerdinger as offensive coordinator. Friend and former teammate of Coach Munchak, Bruce Matthews has been hired to coach offensive line. That, Chris Johnson and a 6-10 record is about all that can be said for certain regarding the Tennessee Titans.
Incumbent Candidates: Kerry Collins, Chris Simms, Rusty Smith
Best Bet: PUNT!!! Collins is 38 years old but has been “on his last legs” for the better part of the past three seasons. 7 of 10 games started, 14 TD/8 IONT and a 57% pass completion. Not bad. However it is time to decide where this team is headed. Simms may be more worried about his legal difficulties after rejecting a plea (to avoid jail and a criminal record) regarding his charge of driving while high on marijuana. It seems that a $500 fine, five days of community service and a 90-day driver’s license suspension wasn’t appealing to Simms (30), who now goes to trial in March – right about the time the CBA expires. Collins can stick around and we know virtually nothing about Rusty Smith (a Florida Atlantic prospect with one season of NFL experience standing around and garnering the nickname “Clean Shirt”).
Kolb would be a welcome fit… if Vince Young doesn’t find some contractual loophole with team ownership. The ultimatum had been Fisher or Young but right now it appears that the Titans played a game of chicken with two hand-wrestling lepers – and lost both of them! Stay tuned for this one!
BAD NEWS BEARS
Perhaps the best thing to do is burn down the stadium, collect the insurance money and start from scratch. Bringing back Joe Gibbs was about as effective as bringing back Vince Lombardi or George Allen. Maybe this is one NFL team hoping for a lockout in 2011? How about bringing in a real General Manager who will force ownership to write the checks and smile for the crowd? That may never happen with current ownership but these 21st Century Redskins may very well be the most mismanaged franchise in NFL history (including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the 1970s and 1980s).
Incumbent Candidates: Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb, John Beck
Best Bet: McNabb (traded from the Eagles on Easter to make way for Kolb) just got a contract extension and a pay raise right before being benched in favor of Rex Grossman – then was demoted to third string. Grossman proved that he is in fact, the same Rex Grossman who has been vehemently unsuccessful in the NFL. Beck has not thrown an NFL pass since 2007 but may wind up the last man standing in DC. Shanahan & Shanahan can’t seem to figure out what they want to do with this team (save bring back John Elway) and their owner thinks he owns a billion dollar fantasy team. Armageddon would be sweet relief for most Redskins fans. When a proud franchise goes awry, it looks like this!
Bradley Among Tendered RFAs; Coach Added
The Eagles tendered three RFA (restricted free agents) Wednesday, including MLB Stewart Bradley, who started all 12 games he played in 2010. Bradley was tendered at the 2nd round compensation level, meaning that if another team were to sign Bradley to an offer sheet and the Eagles chose not to match that offer, they would receive a 2nd-round pick in return.
Also tendered was OG Max Jean-Gilles, who started 10 games in 2010. Jean-Gilles was tendered at the original pick compensation level, a fourth-rounder. CB Dimitri Patterson, who started nine games in 2010, was tendered for the right of first refusal. RB Eldra Buckley, a key contributor on special teams for the past two seasons, was also tendered a contract as an exclusive rights free agent.
The Eagles also made an addition to the coaching staff, as Matt Nagy, who previously served as a coaches assistant during the 2010 season, was named offensive quality control coach. Nagy had served as a coaching intern during training camp for the Eagles in 2008 and 2009. Nagy replaces Doug Pederson, who was promoted to quarterbacks coach last month. A star collegiately as a quarterback for the University of Delaware, Nagy played six season in the Arena Football League before entering the coaching ranks.
Vick Signs One-Year Deal
“Proud to be an Eagle!” Vick commented.
Vick enjoyed his finest season as pro in 2010 with career highs in QB rating (100.2), completion % (62.6), and passing yards (3,018) while becoming just the 2nd player in league history to throw for over 3,000 yards, rush for over 500 yards and accrue a better-than 100 quarterback rating in one season, joining Steve Young (1992). Along the way, Vick earned a starting spot on the NFC Pro Bowl squad while garnering NFL Comeback player of the year honors.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org