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Matt Daley

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Joined December 2016

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Great article. Could honestly write about this for 500 pages (let alone words per website suggested word limit).

I don’t know how it stops – at least basketball has a whole series of “1 and done” athletes that know they’re amazing and head to the pros to start earning money. It’s more egregious in the NFL, where they effectively force athletes to stay in college for 3 years. Starting with Nick Bosa this year, more of them should start sitting out their 3rd year to preserve themselves for the pros the second they feel their pinky toe get sore.

As a complete aside, Zion Williamson oughta make Duke take out a $100m insurance policy before he hits the court again.

Why it's time to pay college athletes

As a Baltimore fan, I am overjoyed that Denver have given up a high 4th-round pick for Flacco. He has been nothing short of awful – and while people will point out that he hasn’t been given much to work with, frankly when you ask for top-10 money then a team would expect top-10 performance. Essentially his $18.5m this year is guaranteed as Denver aren’t trading a 4th rounder to cut a guy after 2 months. Those base salaries for 2020 and 2021 look scary though.
Denver have a nice RB in Lindsay but otherwise their O-line is below average, their TE group pitiful, and Sanders has a 0% chance of playing this year post-Achilles tear. Sutton might turn out ok but overall – is this much better than Baltimore’s skill group? Anyway good luck to Elway, he’s gonna need it.

Elway or the highway: Denver treading water with Joe Flacco

Losing Shazier when they did killed their SB hopes last year. He was the heart and soul of their defence. It’s a lot of talent for an organisation to bleed, but in Conner and Smith-Schuster they have done an amazing job at re-loading.

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

Well with his contract the way it is, Pittsburgh gain nothing by cutting him. It is within their rights to tell him not to come to training, and have him on the inactive list each week for the year before he is cut at the end of the season. Frankly if Josh Gordon can command a 5th round pick even with advance warning that he will be released, AB will still fetch a premium. There are teams out there who will think they can control him and his talent is unmatched.

If you were an NFL GM and there was a re-draft of every player today, who would you take first: AB or Amari Cooper?

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

I think BB sent Garoppolo to San Fran for less than what he could have got from Cleveland to ensure he got him out of the AFC. I don’t think Pittsburgh would want the thought of Brady and a pissed off AB in the way of any potential AFC championship every year.

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

The $20+m Pittsburgh are swallowing factors into the draft compensation, both from a Steelers view (why move him for a third-rounder, he’s way better than that) and another team (elite talent for 3 years under contract with no guaranteed money owed). FWIW speculation last year about an OBJ trade was starting at a first and another high-round pick, and he was due a massive extension that would put $60m+ in a cap dent in a team.

Put it to you this way, if Pittsburgh had paid way more guaranteed money and his cap hits were now $3m a year for 3 years, I would argue that’s now worth way more than a first-rounder. Conversely, I think someone like Joe Flacco who has 3 years of $25m+ left will struggle to get any trade interest not because he isn’t any good, but because his contract is horrific and nobody will trade for it.

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

There are two questions every team will ask if they are in the market for someone:
1) Is he better than what we currently have? That answer will be yes for 31 teams.
2) Can we afford it?
AB will have all of his guaranteed money on Pittsburgh’s books, leaving him with non-guaranteed cap hits of roughly $12m/season for the next 3 years. Almost every team will be able to get around that e.g. turn his $12m base for 2019 into signing bonus that gives hits of 4/16/16 rather than 12/12/12. AB won’t mind as he gets the money up-front, and it makes him harder to cut the following year.

Now as you correctly allude to, two big sticking points are going to be draft compensation, and locker room culture. As for the first – I expect conversations will start at a first round pick. Brown is a top-3 WR without debate. 6 x 100-catch seasons and has only just turned 30. Will still be good for at least 3 years barring injury. The more pertinent question is whether you can tolerate his headache. Will Sam Darnold be able to deal with AB in his ear all game asking for targets? Ditto Josh Allen? Would AB start sulking if A-Rod tells him to get stuffed? Can you trust him after the Facebook Live saga of 2016? If a team thinks he’s worth the risk, they should make a bid. But caveat emptor.

If Pittsburgh are serious about moving him and eating $21m in cap this year, they will have absolutely no shortage of takers with attractive offers. But AB is the bluest of blue-chip talents. They don’t grow on trees.

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

Hell will freeze, thaw, and re-freeze again before Pittsburgh trade AB to the Pats.

Is Antonio Brown on his way out?

100% should have taken Darnold. Barkley is a great RB, but taking him has set the NYG recovery back another season. Now there is a real paucity of QBs coming out in the next draft and, even if there is one they like, Oakland will be at #1 on draft day so there’s no guarantee they’ll get who they want.

A midseason guide to the 2018 NFL 'race to the bottom'

Jags – legit. They’re going to win the same way the 2015 Denver Broncos did – hide the QB, run the ball, play punishing defence. Fortunately they play in a division where those other offences have spent the last few years misfiring. Football doesn’t have to be won pretty – grinding teams into dust works too. 11-5

Texans – underrated. Watson was much better on paper than his tape shows – would probably have lead the league in picks if he stayed healthy and didn’t have Hopkins bailing him out. Front 7 will run riot if they can stop taking turns on the trainer’s table. Schedule is a dream after opener v New England. O-line 3nd worst behind Seattle and Minnesota. 8-8

Titans – entering the realm of 2017 Jags and early 2010’s Bengals, aka team will go as far as Mariota will take them. He hasn’t looked the same since ankle injury – another one of those QBs who regressed when mobility is taken away and forced to play from the pocket. Bold prediction: Dion Lewis has more yards from scrimmage this year than Derrick Henry. 6-10.

Colts – competing with Miami for worst roster in football. Skill positions anaemic for all participants not named TY Hilton; relying on re-tred Eric Ebron to be RZ threat. Desperately need recent draft picks to step up; Nelson is unbustable, others need similar. If Luck does not come as advertised, it will be another long year in Indiana. 3-13.

2018-19 AFC South preview

Hahaha David Akers delivering a sermon to the Dallas heretics

2018 NFL Draft live blog

What do you think of the timing of the Colts trade? It was certainly curious insofar as it was made a good month from the draft – did they think they wouldn’t get a better offer, or were they sold on the quantity of picks? It certainly seems that this is not a particularly deep draft – maybe getting the number 6 pick was the key, allowing them to get a premium non-QB player that they would have picked at 3 anyway. I suspect they might have preferred that deal to, say, Buffalo trading them 12 + 22. They might have wanted next year’s 1st instead of 22. I can’t imagine the Jets were the only team they spoke to. Perhaps they were scared the QBs wouldn’t live up to the hype and this would be the 2013 draft all over again – lots of sellers, no buyers?

I wouldn’t worry about Cleveland’s cap space. Frankly, they’d love to be doing a big extension or two – it would show that some of the players they’re drafting are sticking to the roster!

Why the 2018 NFL draft is a powder keg waiting to go off

I suspect he won’t be a free agent in any scenario barring a career-threatening injury. If Jarvis Landry can get tag-and-traded, teams will be falling over themselves for Beckham next year – Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Jets or San Francisco I think would all trade a late 1st or 2nd round pick for him given their cap space. The hesitation all boils down to the Giants being wary of giving him a whole lot of up-front money – Beckham will use Mike Evans’ $82.5m/5 contract with $55m in guarantees as the starting point of any negotiation, and the two-year cash flow of $36m if he was tagged twice. With all that said, has Beckham’s behaviour *really* been that bad? I don’t recall him being arrested/accused of assault/in constant trouble with the law (assault on a kicking net notwithstanding). Frankly Ndamukong Suh’s on-field behaviour prior to landing his megadeal with Miami was much worse.

So I feel the crossroads is now for the Giants, as his trade value won’t be any higher. He has a year left now at a very manageable cap number, but next year will be on minimum $16m (whether that be franchise tag or new deal + signing bonus). No doubt Beckham knows this too, and is strong-arming the Giants into extending him or trading him to a team that will sign him to that big deal straight away.

Should the Giants trade Odell Beckham Jr?

There is absolutely no problem with paying Beckham $20m/year. The two big questions with the next contract are going to be the duration and amount of guaranteed money.

Realistically, they could offer him a $120m/6 year contract with $40m guaranteed. They could make salaries for the first two years guaranteed (FWIW the franchise tag for WR is $16.2m this year, and another 20% the following year would make it $20m, so they’re overpaying by $4m).

After the two year mark, the Giants can get out of that contract whenever they like with no dead money, and with the salary cap continuing to escalate, by 2024 $20m might be below market value for a WR who is in his prime. Alternatively they could play hardball and force him to renegotiate after the guaranteed money is out and suggest that he won’t make $20m/year on the open market if his level of play drops off and threaten to cut him if he doesn’t drop his cap number, with the trade-off being new guaranteed money for him.

Now is the above contract likely? Probably not. He’ll want a fairly substantial signing bonus no doubt, and probably more guaranteed. But the total APY is just for show. So whatever, if he wants $20m/year they should give it to him – they just need to be sure they can get out from the contract in two or three years if he doesn’t continue as advertised.

Should the Giants trade Odell Beckham Jr?

My own 2c:

Best QB – yeah, Pats. Is Tom Brady a better QB than Aaron Rodgers? Arguable. Would Jimmy G be the starter on a third of the teams in the NFL if the season started next week? Absolutely.
Worst QB – Jets/Bears/Browns/49ers. Any/all of the above. How does Kaepernick not have a job!? (Well, we know…)

Best RB – still reckon the Cowboys. Elliott nuff said, but Alfred Morris is no slouch either. Falcons, agreed. I dunno about Cincinatti though, Mixon had better be good because Hill has been downright horrible the last two years, and Bernard is coming off an ACL. And that O-line…
Worst RB – Giants/Lions/Colts

Best WR – If a reinstated Martavis Bryant resumes circa 2015, Steelers by a mile. Giants if we’re talking 2015 Brandon Marshall, not 2016 Brandon Marshall (Sterling Shephard is a pretty good WR3). Texans if anyone can throw a pass within 30 feet of DeAndre Hopkins.
Worst WR – Ravens. Holy smokes they’re going to be bad this year. Bills if Sammy Watkins can’t get on the park. Jets if Decker is cut. Rams are also horrible, granted.

Best O-line (that is not the Cowboys) – Steelers, again – continuity. Dolphins if Tunsil to left tackle works out. Raiders.
Worst O-line (that is not the Seahawks) – yeah, Cincinatti. (Dis)honourable mention to Vikings and Colts.

NFL's best and worst position groups: Offense

Hope he learns a lot about being a shoe salesman, because that’s what he’ll be doing when he busts so hard.

Will Lonzo Ball's $US495 ($AU670) shoe alienate him from fans?

Interesting that Dallas drafted Taco Charlton over Reuben Foster. I bet their recent swings and misses on Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy were on their minds when they turned in the player card.

Anyway, I think that draft overwhelmingly answered that question in the affirmative – good talent will still be drafted, albeit a little later, despite whatever off-the-field questions they have to answer.

NFL Draft: Are character concerns worth the risk?

That’s a fair point, though I’d say Seattle are probably more worried about facing Atlanta than Atlanta are facing Seattle. The Week 7 clash in New England will be one of the games of the season, at this stage. Anything’s possible in the NFC South, granted. (Remember a few short years ago when Carolina qualified for the post-season with a 7-8-1 record? How times have changed…) The draft can change things quickly, and it’s not beyond possibility that Atlanta only make it out of the division with a wildcard spot whereby they have to play, say… Seattle in Seattle? 🙂

2017 NFL pre-draft primer: NFC

Thanks for the comment Keagan!

I think my outlook on Tampa is part a reflection of the strength of the NFC South. They are going to face tough opponents in Atlanta, Carolina and even New Orleans for six games, and while Atlanta are probably the pick of the lot, there’s no easy games there. They also face Minnesota and Green Bay away, and tough games against the Giants and Patriots. The NFC East and South, and the AFC West are the three toughest divisions in football, in my opinion. I’d be picking better than 8-8 if they were in the NFC West, that’s for sure!

2017 NFL pre-draft primer: NFC

The irony is that the NFL has been trying for years now to have the regular season extended to 18 games by removing two of the preseason fixtures, along with introducing another playoff team to make it seven per conference (only the #1 seed having a bye).

It’s arguable however that having a longer season is actually a benefit to most teams as it reduces the variance each side has in a year. If a team starts 1-5 in a 16-game season, you’d almost be prepared to call it quits. In a 26-game season however, there’s still plenty of time to turn the ship around. The teams that are actually good, rather than lucky, are the ones who play in September the way thing’s stand.

The NRL must look to the NFL for solutions

Dragging up Phil Hughes when your national captain injures their shoulder is pretty poor taste, Laxman. The two are hardly comparable.

Aussies defied spirit of cricket: Laxman

But Moneyball was about statistical evidence as well – the Oakland A’s picked players not on reputations or looks, but for their on-base percentage and cost. In any event, this idea of “can’t play because the ball is wet” is absolutely ridiculous. That logic might work in under-10’s, but not for a professional cricket team. What, you think he’s never bowled with a wet ball before? How insulting.

What to do about Adam Zampa?

That game reminded me so much of Superbowl XLVII where the 49ers came roaring home with a wet sail against the Ravens and so very nearly pulled it off. Goes to show you that sometimes momentum is everything, and when the rules are set up to encourage close games – the opportunity for 2pt conversions, clock stops when ball goes out of play, 2-minute warning, use of timeouts, etc – you sometimes get these results.

I feel for Atlanta. They have a nucleus of a young, dynamic team, but the mental scarring is going to take many years for them to shake off. There’s a real fear that they might not ever get over the hump now – Ryan and Jones alone take up a whopping 22% of their salary cap, and they’re going to start bleeding players and cap space when Ryan, Trufant and Freeman want extensions. Sometimes you need a bit of luck to win, and for three quarters yesterday they had it.

The Falcons find a way to lose a championship they’d already won

Hi Josh, great article.

Almost as interesting as the rebuilding of the 49ers is the analysis into how their roster got to where it is from the end of 2012. Their roster was absolutely *jacked* – their skill players in the offense were Colin Kaepernick / Frank Gore / Bruce Miller / Vernon Davis / Delanie Walker / Michael Crabtree (add an veteran Randy Moss if you want a trip down memory lane). Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were one of the best ILB combos ever seen. They had a young Aldon Smith back when he wasn’t suspended, a good group of young CBs and excellent special teamers. I’m not sure how Baltimore beat them in Superbowl XLVII, but I think if you played that game 100 times, I reckon San Fran win 85 of them at least.

Then it all just feel apart – Kaepernick proved he struggled as a passer, Gore, Davis, Walker and Crabtree left in free agency, Willis retired, Bowman got seriously hurt, Smith got suspended… and just like that, a roster is gutted and missing anything resembling star quality.

The problem they have is that those positions listed (#1 WR, OLB) are really hard to fill outside of the draft – they simply don’t hit the market very often. If Cleveland somehow (!) don’t take Garrett #1, I’d think their reps on draft day would be falling over themselves to hand that card in. Jeffery would be a good signing for them in theory, but I’m super-scared of him suffering the “Torrey Smith” effect and being frozen out of their offense. Their last two season openers (v Min 2015; v LA 2016) have shown how good they can look playing 2TE sets and running the ball – if only their defense could get their offense back on the field! I’d love to see them get their hands on OJ Howard if they traded down in the first round and perhaps sign Ronald Leary from the Cowboys to help their O-line. I don’t think they should trade for Romo – they’re not a QB away from playoff contention, and he might end up being released anyway. I’d prefer them to keep their picks and pray that another QB-crazy draft starts to play out from the #2 spot (it probably won’t, but as they say, it only takes one team…)

The embattled 49ers can build a competitive team in just two seasons

Ryan got the nod for the AP All-Pro team announced last night. Same 50 voters choose the MVP. Don’t hold your breath.

No more frauds in Atlanta: Matt Ryan is the MVP