What was that old board game we used to play as children, the one with the dice in the plastic bubble where we’d press down on the bubble to see the dice pop around like popcorn until they finally landed on a number so we could move our pieces?
That’s what the last twenty-four hours have been like for professional football players: a career-threatening game of musical chairs with free agents too numerous to mention getting their chair pulled right out from under them. Once upon a time, they had job security and a comfy place to sit. Not so much anymore.
Prior to the official start of NFL free agency (4 pm Tuesday), all football-related ESPN broadcasts had a huge countdown clock looming. It was like the second coming of Y2K. Better have your canned goods ready for all hell was about to break loose.
Who would re-sign? Who would be traded? Who would be cut altogether?
We heard big time names mentioned in the fray: DeMarcus Ware, Darrelle Revis, Steve Smith, Julius Peppers, Darren McFadden, Aqib Talib, Darren Sprowles, Michael Vick. Should they stay or should they go now? Very few of them had any say in their futures; even fewer will be making the money they were making only twenty-hours ago.
This time of year has to be maddening for everyone involved: for the GMs because they’re scrambling to do their best to cut high-cost players and make cap room for the upcoming season, for the players because suddenly, that multi-million dollar paycheck no longer exists and for the media because they are likely getting less sleep in their beds than they are reliable information from their sources.
Tuesday afternoon’s free agency fracas was so frenzied, the NFL.com’s transactions page couldn’t even keep up.
Here’s a list of the transactions that occurred only eight hours after the trading deadline:
|Agreed to terms with DT Jonathan Babineaux on a three-year contract. Agreed to terms with OL Joe Hawley on a two-year contract extension and G Jon Asamoah, DE Tyson Jackson and DT Paul Soliai. Released S Thomas DeCoud.|
|Re-signed TE Mike Caussin and PK Dan Carpenter. Released QB Kevin Kolb.|
|Agreed to terms with DE Lamarr Houston on a five-year contract; S Ryan Mundy on a two-year contract; and LB D.J. Williams and LB Jordan Senn on one-year contracts. Terminated the contract of DE Julius Peppers.|
|Re-signed WR Brandon Tate. Terminated the contract of C Kyle Cook.|
|Released DE DeMarcus Ware.|
|Agreed to terms with WR Andre Caldwell on a two-year contract and S T.J. Ward.|
|Released TE Owen Daniels and CB Brice McCain.|
|Re-signed PK Adam Vinatieri. Agreed to terms with DE Arthur Jones. Re-signed CB Vontae Davis and RB Ahmad Bradshaw.|
|Released RB Justin Forsett. Agreed to terms with G Zane Beadles.|
|Re-signed LB Larry Dean. Agreed to terms with QB Matt Cassel on a two-year contract and DE Everson Griffen.|
|Agreed to term S Jairus Byrd on a six-year contract.|
|Re-signed K Nick Folk to a multiyear contract.|
|Agreed to terms with OL Rodger Saffold on a five-year contract, Re-signed RB Darren McFadden to a one-year contract.|
|Agreed to terms with P Donnie Jones and S Malcolm Jenkins on three-year contracts. Released S Patrick Chung.|
|Released LB LaMarr Woodley.|
|Agreed to terms with RB Donald Brown on a three-year contract.|
|Released CB Carlos Rogers. Acquired QB Blaine Gabbert from Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2014 sixth-round draft pick this year and a conditional 2015 pick. Agreed to terms with K Phil Dawson on a two-year contract.|
|Signed TE Anthony McCray to a one-year contract.|
|Agreed to terms with KR/RB Leon Washington on a one-year contract.|
|Re-signed WR Santana Moss to a one-year contract and LB Perry Riley. Agreed to terms with G Shawn Lauvao.|
DeMarcus Ware is a 31-year old defensive end and now, a former Dallas Cowboy. He made $4.2 million last year but was scheduled to make over $12 million in 2014. See ya’, wouldn’t wanna be ya’. Most agree that Ware still has plenty in the tank. Despite only having six sacks in 2012, he had 19.5 in 2011 and 20 in 2008. Still the Cowboys had to ask themselves what he had done for them lately and whether that was worth a healthy percentage of their salary cap. They did, it wasn’t, so they parted ways.
Darrelle Revis was once the best cornerback in the game. That honor now belongs to Richard Sherman. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Revis to a hearty contract last off-season but new management questioned whether that deal was still beneficial to the organization. After all, $16 million dollars is a lot of money to pay for two interceptions (Revis’ total last year) and one questionable knee.
Julius Peppers is 34 years old and, at 6’7” and 280 lbs., is still physically imposing. Just not imposing enough to warrant the $9.8 million the Chicago Bears were going to have to pay him next season. So Peppers go bye-bye.
I could go on and on but why bother. The last twenty-four hours prove more than anything the NFL is a business and a cutthroat one at that. There is very little guaranteed money and certainly no guaranteed future. So many contracts are back-loaded to fit a particular year’s cap that the athlete rarely gets to see a large portion of his paycheck.
It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. Notice how I said “almost.”
With everything that’s going on in sports right now, this just proves once again that the NFL still reigns supreme, as businesslike as it may be. In fact, that’s probably why we enjoy it so much. There wasn’t a guy who walked into my bar yesterday, who wasn’t on a date, that wasn’t talking football over everything else. March Madness and the Major League Baseball season are both right around the corner, the NBA playoffs are one month away and all any sports fan could talk about is which NFL player is either looking for work or playing in a different uniform.
Even with all the misery that comes with this big name chopping block, there is still a glimmer of optimism. We tune in to the free agency transactions in the hopes that our teams will make the right decisions, that we will sign that one player who could get us one step closer to a Super Bowl. Well, everyone but Browns fans who have probably given up at this point.
Here’s hoping your team made all the right moves on Tuesday. We’ll find out whether or not they did in just a few months.
You’re not kidding, Chump. We blink and there’s a player going from the NFC to the AFC. The Ware release is shocking and the fact that Revis might actually return with the Jets is crazy.
Broncos land Ware and Talib. Denver poised to make another run.
Ware didn’t lose much coin in the process either, CDR. I think he signed a three-year, $30 million deal with $20 mil of that guaranteed. He wasn’t scheduled to make much more than that in Dallas plus he doesn’t have to play for the Cowboys anymore, he he.
We all know how much Rex Ryan loves having Darrelle Revis in his backfield but I’m not sure he can convince Jets ownership to sign him to such a large contact. I’ve also heard Denver’s name in that mix but I’m not sure how much more money the have to spend either. I don’t think Revis wants to come too much off his number, not that he might have a choice.
One Yahoo sportswriter called the Bucs’ Revis signing one of the worst in league history. One year cost them $16 mil and two draft picks including a first rounder last year.
Jerry Jones suggest that the release of DeMarcus Ware has nothing to do with his talent and was simply a business decision . Ware leads the Cowboys’ franchise in several defensive statistics . and he and Jason Witten have been the only reason to watch that sorry @@s team for the past six seasons . Ware’s cap figure wasn’t that great and now that he’s joined the Broncos on a three year $30 million deal . I’d like to know what Jones makes of that !
They’re all business decisions, Al. If he wanted to keep him, I’m sure they could have restructured.
Either way, Ware got his money and now he’s playing for a contender.
For the record, so is Revis.
The only business aspect Jerry Jones understands, is how to use Cowboys’ Stadium to make money . In terms of his franchise while it remains profitable , competitively it remains a frigging mess !
Ware is cut but Romo remains with his $119 million seven year contract . One playoff win to his career resume’ and idiots continue to believe that the quarterback can lead that franchise to a Superbowl ? There’s more chance of George Clooney ”
laying the wood” to Ellen DeGeneres and getting her to change teams sexually .
Another reclamation project for Belichick that is doomed for failure . Revis’ best years are behind him , not ahead of him at this point of his career !
Dropped this piece on the NBA and the Chicago Bulls . They could very well the best team in the NBA over the past six weeks .
The running of the Bulls
A couple of things pop up here…
First, in the initial seven hours of 2014 NFL Free Agency somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million in guaranteed money was spent on a fairly large group of players while at the same time one MLB player recently signed for around $250 million in guaranteed money! The NFL has this thing wired verses the players in the MLB who have snookered their owners for outrageous sums of money.
The second thing is that in 2013, after all the hoopla about NFL Free Agency died down and we witnessed the new season unfold, not one of those “big name players” actually changed the dreary fortunes of their new teams.
Teams that rely on the “meat market” to fill their rosters with old, expensive players, by and large, are doomed to be also-rans in this league…
It’s his stadium. He can do what he wants with it. I’m pretty sure Jerry Jones didn’t just build Cowboys Stadium to have it sit there vacant.
And look, the Cowboys will probably regret the day they cut Ware, particularly if he goes on to dominate as he has in the past. By no means am I justifying their decision. They probably just screwed up balancing his numbers. $12 mil is a lot of cap space. I didn’t tell ’em to sign Romo either. In fact, I’m not quite sure what the Cowboys are doing. But how is that different from any thing they’ve done over the last ten to twelve years?
Here’s the major difference between MLB and the NFL, and I know you know this.
Those NFL contracts are not guaranteed. A player can be cut on a whim. In Major League Baseball, a guy like A-Rod can sign a monster deal, then be traded with his old team still paying the remainder of his salary just to get him off the books. Shit, I think the Rangers are STILL paying him money.
Some of the NFL free agents have had happy endings this season. Ware, Revis, Talib, Sprowles. All these guys landed on their feet because their new GMs still believed they had something to offer.
I watched Jerry Maguire last night. I’m just happy Rod Tidwell got to finish his career with the Arizona Cardinals.
Jerry Jones doesn’t own Texas Stadium at all , Chris . Get the facts straight , as the venue was financed through county funding , with none of Jones’ money being used , whatsoever . What gave you the impression that he did ? There are only two venues in the NFL that are actually owned by the franchise owners and those are Lambeau Field where the city’s residents are in fact that franchise owners with their being shareholders (permitted to residents only of Green Bay) and Sun Life Stadium in Miami , currently owned by Stephen Ross , the team’s owner .
Jerry Jones believes he can do no wrong because in in his world , it’s his way or the highway ! Personally, I can’t see the Cowboys doing anything worthwhile during the off-season or in the NFL draft , given how much of a mess they made of last season both on and off the field of play !
Since when was Cowboys’ Stadium … Jerry Jones’ ? It wasn’t his money that built the venue , nor was it privately funded as many have tried to suggest . Jones got county commissioners to fast track legislation that benefited himself and several wealthy speculators in order that the venue got built using public funds . There hasn’t been a venue in the NFL that has been privately funded since Joe Robbie had Dolphins’ Stadium built .
Part of the brilliance of the NFL…free agency, the combine, the draft, preseason, etc all builds hope for the average fan that next season their team’s story will be a better one than the last.
As Andy Dufresne once said, “Hope is a good thing.”
Did former Broncos’ wide receiver Eric Decker take one hit to the head , too many ? He went to Jets to have either Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith throw passes to him over Peyton Manning ? Say it ain’t so ? I don’t how much money the Jets’ offered , Decker had a ” cushy number ” in Denver .
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t the NFL still getting some play ….
The running of the Bulls
tophatal …………… .
Jed, great quote… everyone benefits with a little hope
even the logically threadbare wonderboy
three consecutive frothing posts with 15, count them 15, assorted hyper links to other vaguely related topics all aimed at arguing with Chris that it’s Jerry Jones’ stadium and he can indeed do what he wants with it.
The vacuous assertion that because it was built with public money that it somehow does not all under the control of Jerry Jones is laughable. The John Q. Public citizens of the republic of Texas might be on the hook to settle the Bond debt but no Texas taxpayer is listed as the controlling interest in the stadium title, naming rights etc other than Jerry Jones.
Growsing that the stadium, it’s calendar and all its resources, belong to the general public and not Jerry Jones, proves once again the lack of attention paid to the context in which Chris replied. The bond holders control virtually nothing. And you knew that.
Sheesh… come on Al… stop beating your head on your keyboard…
What are you talking about? You’re the one who said he owned the stadium in the first place? I was merely following your lead.
And re: the Cowboys, I’m not too sure any team in that division impresses me. This year will probably end up very much like the last year, with none of those teams wanting to win the division or worth a damn.
I agree with you on Decker. Not sure why a wide receiver would want to leave a situation where he’s receiving passes from Peyton and where his team will be a definite playoff contender… unless of course the Jets will pay him three or more times what he’s making now.
Again, except of course in Cleveland and Oakland.
One of my favorite Tweets of all-time was from the Oscars. I forget who exactly they were talking about getting facial plastic surgery but they said the star just went into their doctor and asked for the “Jerry Jones.”
I never said he owned the stadium and there are no bondholders with regard to the funds raised but the Tarrant County Commission . I used the analogy the house that Jerry built not the house he owned and there’s marked difference just in case you and Cap didn’t know that .
The only thing that venue will ever see will be title fights and not much else because the franchise winning a Superbowl won’t be happening anytime soon .
Cap what member of the public will be able to view anything from the skyboxes of that venue with the extortionate prices being charged ?
I took nothing out of context , it was simply Chris not comprehending the use of the words “the house that Jerry built” .
Decker going to the Jets is an absolute joke ! His contract by comparison to what he received with the Broncos last season , he would have been better off remaining with the franchise taking the money Elway would have been offering and still be productive . He sure as hell won’t be with either Sanchez or Geno Smith as his qb in comparison to the productivity he had when receiving passes from Manning .
Everyone still seems to be overlooking the Bulls within the Eastern Conference at present . And again the Heat have a a major misstep against the Nets of of all people . Then they go on and lose to the Nuggets at home ? Two straight home losses and they’re likely to limp into the postseason . I don’t think that was the case for them last season .
Dropped this NBA piece : Running of the Bulls ….
UCF’s (Golden Knights) quarterback Blake Bortles , where do you believe he’s liable to go in the draft ?
What the hell is going on inside the Giants’ front office with GM Jerry Reese ? There are more players leaving the franchise , not because of lack of productivity but from the mere fact Reese doesn’t believe they’re worth the money but yet the quality of the replacements being brought in , if anything , is simply average at best , if that .
The NFC East has always been hyped up ,as one of the best divisions in the NFL . It never was that , and mere hyperbole on the part of the analysts and not much else beyond that .
Do you believe that both Hakeem Nicks and Justin Tuck still didn’t have something to offer the Giants ?
People overlook the Bulls simply because without Derrick Rose, they’re simply not the same team. The Nets, however, are making a nice little run. With all that experience, they’ll be a tough out for either the Pacers or the Heat.
Bortles made quite a name for himself this season. Whoever thought that UCF would be relevant? But they were, largely because of him. He might go top ten, certainly first round with so many teams out there desperate for a quarterback.
So Nicks to the Colts, huh? That’s gotta make Andrew Luck happy. And I didn’t hear. Where did Justin Tuck end up?
That Bulls’ team is resilient and that seems to be what fans are definitely overlooking ! I still have no faith in the Nets and it comes down to the lack of coaching experience of Jason Kidd ! Play off wise as a player , his career is unquestioned , but you simply can’t suggest that because of that , the team will be good enough to take down either the Pacers or Heat at some point in the playoffs .
I’m still trying to figure out George McCaskey and Phil Emery at the moment as the lead executives within the Bears’ front office ! Jay Cutler gets a six year $126.7 million deal , but they believe that it was also best to cut Julius Peppers ? George Halas must be spinning in his grave , after the decision made by his son-in-law McCaskey and the team’s general manager .