4 reasons why there are more trades than there used to be at the NFL trading deadline

Leave a comment

Reasons why there are more trades than there used to be at the NFL trading deadline:

1. In 2012, the league moved the deadline from the Tuesday after Week 6 to the Tuesday after Week 8. More teams (Giants, Raiders, for instance this year) know they can punt the season with the deadline two weeks later.

2. GMs and club presidents are more aggressive than the last generation of traditional front-office people. Howie Roseman (Eagles), Les Snead (Rams), Chris Ballard (Colts), John Lynch (Niners), John Schneider (Seahawks), Bob Quinn (Lions) are young, and they’re restless.

3. You can trade Compensatory Picks now; this is the second year it’s been legal to do so. So there are, potentially, about 38 more draft choices that teams can move, or conditionally move. Why does this matter? The Patriots, for instance, have four regular picks in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft—but that doesn’t include the additional two they’re scheduled to receive for the losses of big-money free-agents Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler. So they know they have six picks in the top three rounds, which could make them more aggressive, say, for a cornerback this week.

4. Teams are living for today more than they used to. GMs have begun treating trading like baseball teams at the deadline—if they can solve a problem for the last nine weeks of the season, they’re not as worried about 2019 and beyond. Witness Dallas with Amari Cooper. Witness Detroit with Snacks Harrison. Nothing in the future is promised. The Cowboys and Lions are driving for the playoffs this year; they’ll worry about next year next year.

A few teams I’m hearing about:

• Denver could well be a seller—and wants to be, after falling to 3-5 on Sunday in Kansas City. Chief targets: wideout Demaryius Thomas, who turned 31 Thursday, could probably be had for a third-round pick, and defensive end Shane Ray and linebacker Brandon Marshall could move too. Less likely: cornerback Bradley Roby.

• The Rams, speaking of “baseball trades,” want a pass-rusher. I hear defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is lukewarm on Denver’s Ray (having coached him two years ago), and if the Jags make disappointing high first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr., available, the Rams would have interest. L.A. is unlikely to deal swing guard Jamon Brown for a late-round pick, though there’s been interest. He’s a low-cost insurance guy for the line.

• Oakland, which owns first-round picks from Dallas and Chicago as well as its own, could have three picks in the top 20 (let me guess: 3, 15, 18) and might not be done dealing. I would not be surprised to see pass-rusher Bruce Irvin moved, and the organization has soured on 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley, the disappointing cornerback.

• The Giants could deal cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who still has some value despite inconsistent play and being owed $3.5 million for the rest of this year with an $11.15-million-salary-plus-roster-bonus deal next year, per Over The Cap. They’d like to keep their young offensive core together. Eli Manning? It makes too much sense to deal him to Jacksonville for a pittance in the wake of another poor performance by Blake Bortles on Sunday in London, but there’s no indication Manning would waive his no-trade clause. 

• The Colts, showing life the last two games, would like to add a receiver. But I don’t believe they will do anything to affect their draft status next April; picks are too important to GM Chris Ballard.

• San Francisco: Multiple reports say wide receiver Pierre Garcon could be dealt. It makes sense because the Niners will be all in on the 2019 draft and season. That is when Jimmy Garoppolo will be a factor again and this organization is all about building around their franchise quarterback, knee surgery and all.

You can read more of Peter King’s Football Morning in America here

Joe Flacco was as good as Joe Montana (for one postseason)

Joe Flacco
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Whatever you end up thinking about Joe Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore, I would urge you to remember what he did six years ago, in the postseason of his fifth NFL year.

He beat Andrew Luck by 15 in a wild-card game. He made the throw of his life to help beat Peyton Manning, in 2-degree wind chill in Denver, by three in a divisional game. He beat Tom Brady by 15 in the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro. He beat the broiling-hot Colin Kaepernick by three in the Super Bowl.

Flacco, easily, had one of the best postseasons by a quarterback in history. Who beats two of the top five quarterbacks ever, in the span of eight days, both in hostile road environments?

I covered that divisional game in Denver on a Saturday afternoon that became Saturday night, a 4-hour, 11-minute slugfest. The game was tied at 7, at 14, at 21, at 28, and … well, I’ll tell you how it got tied at 35 in case you don’t recall.

With 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Denver up 35-28, Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell called into Flacco’s helmet in the deafening roar of a crowd anticipating a trip to the AFC title game: “Scat right 99 … “ with some other signaling words behind it. Flacco loved it. Four receivers, two left and two right, all running go routes.

As I stood in the end zone (in Denver, in the last couple of minutes, media can stand on the field, out of the way, to see the end of the game), I saw Denver pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers both pressure Flacco, who stepped up and flung it high and far into the Denver night. Man, it was a high ball. And when it came down, it nestled into the arms of Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown.

The stadium got church-sermon quiet in the matter of about three seconds. Seventy yards away from the Baltimore sideline, I could hear the shrieks of the Ravens players. Jones found Flacco and screamed: “SMOKIN’ JOE!”

In the sixth quarter—or second overtime—Justin Tucker, with the wind chill dipping below zero, drilled a 47-yard field goal to win it 38-35.

I will always remember Flacco after that game. Smiling, fairly happy, but with him, you could never tell just how happy. His backup, Tyrod Taylor, seemed more thrilled, honestly.

Then the win in Foxboro. Coach John Harbaugh afterward called him “Brady-like … When we scouted him, so many times you look at a player and you say, ‘Is this going to be too big for him? Is the stage going to be too big?’ Never. It never has been.’’

Then the win in the Super Bowl, in New Orleans. Flacco told me after that game, at a family party in Huck Finn’s restaurant in the French Quarter, that his idol growing up was Joe Montana. (How many kid quarterbacks have said that? Only all of them.) That caused me to go back to my hotel room in the wee hours of Monday morning to see how Flacco’s postseason compared to Montana’s finest one.

Not far off, as it turned out.

So … I get that Flacco has been a mediocre quarterback since then, in part due to injury. He’s 43-42, with one playoff win (albeit in Pittsburgh) since that night in Huck Finn’s. But I guess I’m a glass-half-full guy. Elite or not, Flacco deserves to be remembered as the man who delivered a Super Bowl title to Baltimore. And when the Ravens picked him 18th out of Delaware in 2008, I guarantee if you’d told owner Steve Bisciotti he’d win one Super Bowl with Flacco in 11 seasons, he’d have signed for it right then.

Read more Football Morning in America here

3 reasons why Colin Kaepernick case was settled

Leave a comment

There is far more we don’t know about the Colin Kaepernick/NFL/collusion settlement than we know, because the terms of the deal announced Friday are confidential and have not leaked. So it’s wrong to knock Kaepernick for caving, because we don’t know what his options were; if he and his counsel felt they faced a certain loss in the case to be heard by arbitrator Stephen Burbank, why just take the loss without dinging the NFL? It’s wrong to assume the NFL felt it was going to lose the case and thus settled; if that were the case, why would Kaepernick have taken a deal?

I know three things that influence my opinion of the case:

• One: When the depositions given by NFL people in the case were complete, those inside the league felt confident that nothing was said by a league executive or employee that could be deemed damaging enough to prove the case that two or more teams colluded to limit Kaepernick’s NFL employment. Very confident. Maybe that’s right; maybe it isn’t. Now, in the time between the end of the depositions and now, could some attorney have told Roger Goodell or his top legal lieutenant, Jeff Pash, that they might have liability with something in one or more of the depositions? I don’t know that. But the big reason why so many who covered this story were surprised was because they didn’t see it coming—that’s how confident the NFL was in its case.

• Two: The NFL is coming off a strong season, with no mega-controversies (till the woefully handled missed pass-interference call in the NFC title game, with the league office’s clumsy attempt to bury it by ignoring it for 10 days) and an uptick in TV ratings and an influx of new stars like surprising young MVP Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley. The Bears and Rams and Chargers lifted dormant or down markets. Concussions were down a significant 23 percent year over year, giving hope that the game can be made safer. Roger Goodell mostly stayed out of sight during 2018, which turned out to be a pretty good strategy—fans didn’t have the commissioner on whom to focus their anger. With all that giving the NFL momentum this offseason, it’s probably a smart investment for the league to make the Kaepernick problem go away.

• Three: This comes from an excellent summation of the legality of the settlement from the University of New Hampshire’s associate dean of the School of Law, Michael McCann, writing for Sports Illustrated: “The loser of Burbank’s award could have challenged it in federal court, thereby creating public records with detailed information about the grievance. The NFL has long tried to avoid the discovery process and disclosure of any discovery.” Smart. So even if the NFL were to win the arbitration, Kaepernick could have appealed, and attorney Michael Geragos could have filed to force an appeals court to open up the NFL’s depositions.

In the end, if you’re talking a just way for this to end and you believe (as I do) that Kaepernick is likely to never play in the NFL again, he deserves a multi-million-dollar settlement, if that’s what he got. He did exacerbate what was a dicey situation already with his own actions, once wearing socks with pigs dressed as police officers. There were times when critics saw him as more interested in being a victim than a football player. Regardless, he didn’t deserve to be shunned by 32 teams.

I’ll always think Kaepernick hasn’t found NFL employment in 25 months because of business reasons, not football ones. I believe some teams have had interest in signing Kaepernick as a backup quarterback who may have been able to work his way into the starting job—on some teams—when the noise died down. But interested coaches and GMs with some franchises would have had to battle the business side of the organization and possibly the owner to get the deal done. That wouldn’t have to happen in a place like New England. If Bill Belichick wanted Kaepernick, I’ve got to think owner Robert Kraft would agree to let him make that move. (Maybe that’s why that rumor got some legs over the weekend, though I couldn’t find any confirmation of any interest by New England in Kaepernick.)

In the end, this became about more than whether Kaepernick’s free-wheeling style of play would fit a particular offense. It became about business, and whether Kaepernick would have indelibly affected the bottom line over the football product.

In my opinion, those issues are more specious than real, but I’m not the one running a team. It’s an unfulfilling end to the Kaepernick/NFL saga, if this is it. But we don’t get to choose the end that seems most satisfying or fair.

Read more from Football Morning in America here