NFL Outside the Lines – Off-season
The Draft is done and over with, and a phenomenon has taken place. For the first time as far as I can remember, there has been a mad rush of signings. At least half the Drafted players are under contract; some teams have signed all their players.
Why? The simplest explanation given by everyone: there is a pay scale not much to really negotiates on. Basically we already know ahead of time what the #64 pick will make, regardless of where he plays, what position and so on.
Although I agree totally that the new Rookie Salary Structure has made it easier for team/player to come to an agreement, I think there is one other factor, and this may be the biggest reason. A year ago when the draft was held in April, there wasn’t this mad rush of signings, yet the rules were already there. I believe that the fact that its so late in the off=season, and OTAs ready to start, GMs are making sure they get their players signed. This also means that the Owners and GMs around the league dictate when they want a player under contract. Generally they have no rush to negotiate unless they are running out of time.
AFC East is entering the new season preparations with numerous questions, more than I can remember since the Dark Side Domination began at the turn of the century.
- The Dark Side (New England Patriots) high-powered scoring machine has been on the decline, and since Welker left, there really is no WR that lets DC stay up nights. The defense has improved on paper, but there are players coming back from serious injuries. Adding experienced CBs, even if one is suspended fopr 4 games, should help. Will the Patriots or continue to slide back to the group?
- The NYLK (New York Lucky Jets) have more questions than last year? A year ago they were expected by experts here and everywhere to be nothing more than a 4-6 win team. As we have learned “LUCK” propelled them to an 8-8 season and second place, again. This year they have to wonder will Geno improve? Do they go with a proven veteran, Vick? What do they do with the numerous RBs? Can the D improve? Pressure is on to do better than a year ago, even if they were lucky to be 8-8.
- The Team From Down Under (Miami Dolphins) remain the most equipped team to make a run at the Patriots, however the previous front office regime, has created a mess at OL. Tannehill improved in some areas in season two, but regressed in others. Can he make the jump to almost elite in year 3? Can the OL develop fast enough to salvage the season? Is this Philbin’s last stand? Will the new OC succeed and make fans happy?
- The Molsons (Buffalo Bills) probably have the most questions coming in. Have they found a QB? Can he stay healthy? Is there life after Pettine (the Saviour). Can the running game be what used to be? Is Watkins the real deal?
MY NFL Rankings