It’s official, Peyton Manning is a Bronco. I have to say, after Tebowmania I did not see this coming.
It seems that the biggest factors for Manning were freedom to run the offense as he wants to (which he wouldn’t have had as much of in Tennessee or San Francisco) and his connection with the coaching staff and John Elway. This was a long, crazy process that has completely destroyed my column. I am very upset at how inconsiderate Peyton was with his decision making. I’ve come close to 1,000 column views in a week people!! One thousand! I will soon have 100 followers on twitter. I demand Peyton consider my schedule when making his decisions in the future. With that said, Peyton, if by some chance you see my Eagles in the Super Bowl, that guy in a different colored jersey wearing #24? He’s totally on your side, throw the ball to him.
I have to admit I’m happy it’s over and we can start focusing on the draft, my favorite offseason activity. Everyone is going to spend the next 3 days talking about what Denver’s offense will look like, how this will affect the AFC West, the inevitable matchups that suddenly turn into huge games, etc. I don’t want to talk about that.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the person who is happiest that this is all over, Alex Smith. Alex did not re-sign before free agency hit with the 49ers because he knew they were going to pursue Peyton Manning. Alex is acting like a spoiled child who doesn’t know his value and should be happy he’s the only experienced QB that can be acquired without a trade. Alex however doesn’t seem to understand that just because he’s #1 doesn’t mean he isn’t the tallest midget.
Let me be blunt Alex: you not so smartz. I understand that you’re upset the 49ers were chasing Peyton. However, in a QB starved league the only other team remotely interested in you, the Dolphins, apparently had you as Plan D. I’m pretty sure Plan E is a time machine medical experiment to give Daunte Culpepper AJ Feeley’s knee, Pat White’s speed, and Chad Henne’s youth. They missed out on Peyton, trading up for Robert Griffin III, and Matt Flynn. Heck, Alex, you may even be a preemptive Plan E if they can’t get Tannehill in the draft. Tannehill could go as high as the 4th overall pick to the Browns or a trading partner.
Alex needs to look at the writing on the wall and realize that the NFL views him at this point in his career as at best a low end starter. A player doesn’t generally improve his play drastically after 70games. Late bloomers don’t have 70 games under their belt before they bloom. Alex had what you could argue was the best season he could possibly have in 2011. Does anyone really see him getting better? You may disagree, but a guy who was a 7th round draft pick with 2 career starts and 132 career passing attempts had far more suitors than Alex. That should tell you what NFL GMs, coaches, and scouts think of his value.
I don’t really feel bad for Alex. I’ll never feel bad for anyone who had more money guaranteed in one day than I will earn my whole life ($24 million. I ain’t broke, but I don’t make $500k per year). Smith needs to take a step back and assess his value to the NFL, which comparatively is probably higher right now than it really is. If you gave me the option of Kyle Orton or Alex Smith for one game or a season, I’m taking Orton. Compare Alex and Kyle side by side and you’ll see what a I mean.
Smith: 70 games, 58% completion 12,543 yards, 6.4 yards per attempt, 68 touchdowns and 58 interceptions 76.4 QB Rating
Orton: 71 games, 58.3% completion 14,532 yards, 6.59 yards per attempt, 80 touchdowns and 57 interceptions 79.4 QB Rating.
In all stats, Orton looks better than Smith. Certainly a lot of other factors must be taken into account but you cannot state that Smith is definitively better than Orton, who just took a gig as a backup in Dallas, as an overpaid, insurance in case Romo continues to suck backup, but a backup nonetheless. Alex, you should have taken the money the 49ers offered. Now your best case scenario is going back to the 49ers with the full knowledge that they were perfectly happy letting you look elsewhere because you weren’t worth much anywhere else. You could have pretended they weren’t actually chasing Peyton had you already signed. Now you’ll have a big “Plan B” stamped on your forehead if you go back. At least it’s not Plan D, E or F like you would be in Miami.
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Everyone always talks about the big winners and losers in free agency. Last year, the big winners were my Philadelphia Eagles. Oops. The Dream Team went 8-8 (I hate that label and am very happy that not only is Vince Young gone, no one wants him), missed the playoffs, and had more fans than normal calling for Andy Reid’s head. Everyone is calling the Bucs, Redskins, and Bills free agency/offseason champs. Call my experience jaded but not only is the precedent there for these moves not working out right away, I also think the moves weren’t all as good on paper as they seem. Let me show you want mean with the Redskins.
The Redskins made a huge splash trading up to the #2 overall pick for the right to take the QB the Colts don’t take. I’m OK with this move as I said last week. What I’m not OK with is their free agent haul. They added WR Pierre Garcon, WR Josh Morgan, Safety Brandon Meriweather, and CB Cedric Griffin. The Redskins paid Pierre Garcon like a #1 WR. Garcon has been an extremely frustrating WR with too many drops and inconsistent play. If you had a choice of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon who would you choose? Well the Redskins paid Garcon only slightly less than what Jackson got from the Eagles. The difference is less than $2M guaranteed and barely more than a $1M per year average. If that doesn’t make sense, they’re paying Josh Morgan what is essentially $6M per year for the first 2 years and 3 option years after that to spread out the signing bonus proration.
Brandon Meriweather is a safety who can’t cover in a division where their opponents have some of the best WRs in the game. Cedric Griffin isn’t a bad depth signing, but $2.5 million for depth on a team with a huge cap penalty? That’s not good value. The Redskins overpaid for every single free agent they signed and got very little value out of them. The Redskins have “won” the offseason numerous times before. Most fans who have followed the Redskins’ offseason antics the past few years probably remembered the last time the Redskins upgraded their WR corps with 2 veteran when they signed Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd. It didn’t work out then and I doubt it works out now, which is a shame, I’m a huge RG3 fan. Maybe he’ll get traded after a few years like Jay Cutler did because the new coaching staff (yes, I’m predicting Shanahan will be fired in the next few years) wants their own guy.
-Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots was foreseen by just about everyone who remotely knows what they’re talking about. Even I saw it coming, which says a lot.
-Other than Peyton to the Broncos, my biggest shock so far has been Reggie Wayne staying with the Colts. Nostalgia prevailed over logic. Now, I am assuming Wayne had a market for his services. Perhaps this signing showed that no one really wanted him. We’ll never really know but I lean to nostalgia.
-Can someone explain to me why the Texans cut Eric Winston? I still haven’t figured it out yet. They had ways of adding cap room better than cutting a starting OT. Was there an issue in the locker room? Did he want a new deal? He’s obviously not that hurt if he just got a good deal from the Chiefs.
-John Abraham wanted $12M per year as a free agent. I said Abraham wouldn’t be back unless he ate a big piece of humble pie. Well, Abraham showed me his stomach can take more than I expected and re-signed with the Falcons for nearly half his original asking cost. Abraham signed a 3 year $21M deal with only $2.25 million guaranteed and 1/3rd of that is in the form of a “per game roster bonus.” That means if Abraham declines rapidly and can’t stay healthy this year, the Falcons will only have $1.5 million in dead cap space in 2013. I was wrong. He needed a gigantic piece of humble pie a la mode.
-Matt Flynn to Seattle will be largely ignored by the media now because of Peyton but I like the move. Seattle had some of the worst QB play in the NFL last year but with a solid D, good RB, and a very good corps of WRs, they’re very much in the playoff hunt in 2012 if Matt Flynn is an above average QB. If he’s a good QB, Seattle is a Super Bowl contender.
-Free agency is a crazy thing. WRs flew off the board yet LBs are sitting there unsigned. I wonder if teams are hoping one of them gets desperate and signs a below market deal forcing the others to fall as well. It’s like The Most Dangerous (dominos) Game.
-My favorite free agent signing? Jason Jones to the Seahawks. Jones is worth a heck of a lot more than the 1 year deal he signed with Seattle. As the Seahawks have shown with Red Bryant, they’re willing to use talented players in creative ways. I would bet before the end of the season, Jones will line up in at least 5 different spots on the defense.
-Least favorite? Eric Wright to the Bucs. Wright has all the physical tools to be a great CB in this league but he’s lucky there isn’t an easy way to attach “toast” to his name. A guy with the contract he just got should not be burnt that often.
-Peyton Hillis showed the NFL 2 things: 1) How much teammate perception matters and 2) How little value non-elite RBs have to teams. Hillis had his commitment and work ethic questioned by his team after missing numerous games due to strep throat and some internal locker room issues. Combine that with how little the NFL values RBs these days and you go from Madden cover model to a 1 year deal as a backup in less than 8 months. There may not be a Madden jinx, but there may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
-Where are the bountygate punishments? They were going to be released in 24-48 hours over a week ago and I haven’t heard anything. At the very least the player punishment needs to come down ASAP for a guy like Tracy Porter. Porter isn’t a top tier CB, but he’s a quality starter and the threat of a suspension could be hurting his value on the open market.
-Tolbert to the Panthers? Why? He had to be worth more to someone else. I see him as a good backup RB and spot starter. He’s essentially the #3 RB/FB/goal line back in Carolina. Enjoy blocking for Cam Newton inside the 5 and 3 carries per game Mike. Another sign of how little the NFL values RBs.
-Someone is going to flirt with the idea of signing Mike Wallace. I know the 49ers are allegedly considering it but I don’t know if Wallace will sign with a team that will give him a huge downgrade at QB. Still, a part of me is hoping that Colin Kaepernick gets a shot. I had a huge draftcrush on him last year. Kaepernick has all the tools to be an elite QB and the determination to do it, unlike Terrell Pryor.
Sorry for the short column guys. I added some content but I was editing as I found out Peyton signed with the Broncos and it forced me to delete 2 pages worth of content. It was either that or give you outdated information. That’s the nature of the beast this time of year. Tommy has already promised to double my pay this week for the extra effort. He has however asked for your leftover St. Paddy’s day beer and an empty 2 liter bottle. I guess he’s going to “recycle” it so he can pay me. Can someone translate?