clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Weekend: Free Agency - Expensive Puzzle Pieces...

New, comments

"L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" - Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1740 to 1786)

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

"Boldness, boldness...Always boldness!" Frederick II of Prussia would have made a great NFL owner. His audacity tempered by his audience savvy, Frederick had a knack knowing what to do." I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse..."

There's an interesting free agency period looming, and it all starts March 7th. The "Gigantor" names - like Von Miller, Alshon Jeffrey, etc... - have been franchise tagged. Left behind, is a very strong list of players at most positions. Offensive line help is there; for teams willing to pay for it. On defense, Mario Williams hit the door in Buffalo and could cash in with a team that doesn't bother with missing leadership skills. (See: Dallas Cowboys) But make no mistake: this is a "Seller's Market". Teams - desperate for quick fixes - will be crossing their fingers as they sign HUGE contracts on high "risk-reward" players...

Overpaying for a player really doesn't happen, or at least I think that's true. The functional playing life span of an NFL player isn't long, and teams buying in on a free agent have more than enough data on hand to make - for the most part - informed decisions. That teams paint a player or two in rose colored hues more than they should is on them, not the player. History tells us high priced free agents are a gamble at best...

Here's a few players I think will cash in far beyond reason:

Janoris Jenkins - I think a few teams will throw serious cash at Jenkins in free agency. Why, I really don't know? If their aim is to spend big on a corner back who gets beat on a fairly regular basis, then O' Happy Day for them. Whichever team pays for Jenkins better have a great defensive front seven, and a sideline concussion protocol specialist with the attention span of a goldfish...

Danny Trevathan - We see a Super Bowl performer get overpaid every year, and Trevathan is this year's winner. He's good, but not great. He's going to get "GREAT" money from someone, and his dependence on the other 10 guys on Denver's defense will be curiously missed...

Doug Martin - Running backs like Martin have to squeeze every penny they can out of their careers. With an average career life of around 3 years, NFL running backs need to grab all the money they can. The guys like Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte are rare, so having proved their dependability, they deserve long $$$. Martin seems to be less dependable, but that won't stop a team like Dallas from throwing piles of cash his way...

Marvin Jones - If you're a wide receiver, and you have a guy like A.J. Green taking all the heat on the other side of the field, you better - at the VERY least - become a relevant offensive player. In point of fact, there's nothing about Jones' game that's remarkable... Nothing... He can stretch a defense - a little. He can catch a pass - sometimes. If anything, Green should get a share of whatever huge contract Jones signs. He's a weak #2 wide receiver at best, and a more likely # 3 fit. Someone is going to pay Jones in the $6 to $8 million range, and get little in return...

Stefan Wisniewski - This is a "seller's" market for Centers, Cleveland's Alex Mack will set the money benchmark. Many seem to laud Winiewski's talents, but the nagging thought of why he's been allowed to wander from team to team can't be overlooked... There's something fans aren't seeing about this former Oakland 2011 2nd round pick, and teams thinking of heaping money his way better figure it out. Jacksonville let him walk after one season, so...?

Russell Okung - Left Tackle is among the toughest positions to play in the NFL. Okung's time in Seattle never really showed me "top-tier" talent for the position, and he'll be serviceable for another team. The thinking will be he can play on the left, but if it doesn't really work he can slide to the right... Yes, Okung is going to be one of those guesswork free agents...

Prince Amukamara - Didn't Eddie Murphy play him in a movie? No? Well, the former 2011 first round pick by the New York Giants has been far than "Princely" at corner back. He's had 1 - ONE! - complete season in his career, seven interceptions, and virtually nothing to pad a resume that says: Pay Me! NFL teams being titchy beasts, someone is going to over pay Amukamara for a couple 8 to 10 game seasons...

**

The 2016 NFL Combine is done. Having read loads of NFL scouting responses to this draft class' performance in Indianapolis, the word "mediocre" may well apply? The only position turning scouting heads in Indy was at corner back. Florida State's Jalen Ramsey sealed his top 5 draft selection, with a stellar Combine performance to stack on his game film resume. Florida's Vernon Hargreaves is a top 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft...

I can see at least three corner backs being selected in the first round in 2016. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks sees five defensive backs being taken on Day 1, and I don't think it's all that much of a stretch. In fact, this may be one of the best corner back prospect classes we've seen in quite some time?

Yet, I think the running backs may have been overlooked. In the 2015 NFL Draft, four running backs were taken in the first two rounds: Todd Gurley(Rams), Melvin Gordon(Chargers) in the first, with T.J. Yeldon(Jaguars), and Ameer Abdullah(Detroit) in the second round. I think we'll see something similar in 2016, with at least four running backs hearing their names called in the first two rounds.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama's Derrick Henry will get the nod Day 1. College Pro days will more than likely set the next two running backs to come off the board, but my sleeper pick to possibly find his way into the second round is Alabama's overshadowed Kenyan Drake. "The Tide" had a bruising run game - led by Henry - and Drake took a backseat. The ding on him is he tends to run "frantic", but show me a back up running back who doesn't? When they finally get on the field, they have to go from 0 to 60 in a flash. Drake will take some coaching, but I think he's the gem many teams will pass by on Draft Day - and regret it... Georgia's Keith Marshall will be an interesting story to watch unfold too...

***

Jeff Fisher is getting an off season pounding in the NFL media. Some of it a get, while most of it I don't... Excuse trains get going easily, but I look for both pros and cons before heading down any track. His win/loss record isn't going to see him into the Hall of Fame. Yet, the idea Fisher isn't a very good coach is far from evenly arrived at by most who slather the NFL fan version of: "Off with his head...!"

More than a few point to the Robert Griffin III trade that sent a boatload of picks Fisher's and team general manager Les Snead's way. While the 1st round choices from 2012 to 2015 were sound, what happened in the 2nd round during their tenure has to make them squirm a bit. Brian Quick, Isaiah Pead, etc... It's been a rough round for Fisher and Snead, and looms as a solid source point to grumble...

Say what you must, but like in most things "timing is everything"... That the NFC West transformed into an NFL powerhouse in 2012 is missed by most. It left Fisher chasing division opponent strengths, and not the larger NFL picture. His team's failures against non-NFC West opponents are well marked, but his strategy was sound. When you play a team twice a year, it's not a bad idea to make sure they get draft and scheme attention. The trouble starts with NFL teams getting to study an entire division as a whole, and find weaknesses that can be exploited against them all. Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona had more veteran teams thru the 2012 -15 period, and had fewer issues than the ever-young Rams.

Fair being fair, it's the course Fisher decided to take when he signed on in 2012. Building for the future in the NFL can be downright ugly at times, and there's no guaranteed outcome. Anyone who says the now-L.A. Rams aren't a more competitive team than they were prior to Fisher's arrival is flat out wrong. But "win/loss" records are the rat killer when all is said and done. The 2016 NFL season is - without a doubt - a make or break one for Fisher and Snead. Odds say - with the move from St. Louis to L.A. factored in - the Rams are in for a tough season. Contract extension aside, if Fisher can't break his sub-.500 record trend, another coach will get to reap any benefits from the long re-build...

****

Enjoy the weekend! Give me a Twitter whisper every now, and then? @thenovelroad