Not Bending For Beckham

New York Giants star wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr., said he would not step onto a football field without his contract issue being resolved.  The “issue” being that Beckham wants to be the highest paid wide-out in the NFL.  This is a problem for the NY Giants because they are not used to being threatened by a player and because they are generally not known as a team who will overpay for talent – no matter who it is.  But this problem might find a very satisfying remedy if the rumors coming out are true.  The rumor is that the NY Giants are indeed shopping Beckham around – and the price would include a first round pick for this year’s draft.

Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

The New York Giants were 3-13 last season and find themselves with the number two overall pick in the draft.  The whole direction of the draft kinda-sorta depends on what the Giants want to do with that #2 overall pick.  Now, with the possibility of getting another first round pick – the Giants can try to revamp their roster the right way and look to a bright future that won’t be that distant.

The Giants have options here if they trade Beckham.  “Options” aren’t essentially granted to a team coming off of a three-win season.

The first team that comes up in trade talks with the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr. is – surprise, surprise – the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns have been very aggressive in the off-season and are making moves that actually “make sense” for a change.  The Browns have the money under the cap to pay Beckham what he wants, they already acquired Jarvis Landry (a close friend of Beckham’s), and they have more than enough “draft-pick-capital” to trade to the NY Giants.  The Browns have the 1st and 4th overall picks and also have three picks in the second round.

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Depending on how the Giants wanted to play this, they could end up with the 2nd and 4th overall picks of this year’s draft, and in addition pick up maybe two more second round picks — if the Browns wanted to get really crazy they might throw in a first or second round pick in the 2019 draft – but that probably wouldn’t be necessary.

With those picks, the Giants could do literally whatever they wanted. They could draft a quarterback and maybe  Bradley Chubb, the pass rusher out of N.C. State.  They could take Quinton Nelson, the offensive lineman from Notre Dame and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley OR they could trade that number two overall pick to a team like Buffalo or Arizona who might trade their first round pick and some more goodies to the Giants so they can grab a quarterback.

The bottom line is, why WOULDN’T the Giants trade Beckham?  Although he is undeniably one of the most talented receivers in the league, he’s also a loud mouth, a self entitled diva -with a target on his back – and he is also coming off of an ankle injury that ended his 2017 campaign.  The Browns would and should do this deal because they can get their QB with the number one overall pick and have him set up with a pretty decent offense (better than what ANY of these top ranked quarterbacks had for themselves at college).

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The wide-receiver position is NOT the position you pay the big bucks to when you have other needs, and especially if you’re rebuilding.   The Giants have to think “big picture” here and right now they are the third (and maybe even) the fourth best team in their division.  Trading Beckham would help get things in the right direction for them, immediately.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Three Teams Taking Advantage in the Off-Season

When discussing the NFL Off-Season hype that comes around every year, some teams use this time to make  “splash” signings, while others hope to fill  holes in their roster and others just bolster what they already have.  These three teams have taken advantage of free agency and the trade-block as best as they could in 2018.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

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Sometimes, the rich, do indeed get richer.  That is the story with the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.  While some teams are scrambling to sign a free agent quarterback, or positioning themselves in the draft to get one – the Eagles, have both a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Nick Foles,  and a quarterback who was (with debate) on his way to winning league MVP in Carson Wentz.   Already having one of the more balanced rosters in the league, the Eagles went and signed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (1 year, $2.6 million), re-signing their own linebacker, the versatile Nigel Bradham and trading with the Seahawks to land defensive end Michael Bennett.   All this did was bolster an already strong run defense that in 2017 allowed 4. 5 yards a rush, which was third best in the NFL and it will surely increase their sack number (which last year was at 36 for the season) and will add even more power to the league’s best defense in applying pressure.   When you’re already at the top of the mountain, you don’t have to jump any higher, just secure your footing, and that is just what the Eagles did.

2. Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings were thought to be the team that would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl until that NFC Championship game where they got thoroughly embarrassed by the Eagles.  The Vikings one issue was an obvious one.  When a team lets all three of their quarterbacks go and test the free agency market – it’s a telling sign.  The Vikings had just about every position on the field covered except for quarterback.  They did the only logical thing.  They went all in on the player who would demand the most money in free agency this year, former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.   They were willing to sign Cousins to a three year deal with $84 million guaranteed.  This is a gamble worth taking.  Cousins was working with a beaten up offensive line, and targets that were more often injured than capable of playing the game of football. Even then, he threw for over 4000 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.   Playing indoors for at least nine times a year (remember they have that one away game at Detroit which is also played indoors), playing for a smart organization and healthy/good players around him – is only going to make Cousins excel in Minnesota.  The offensive system will be something similar to what was run in Washington so the learning curve shouldn’t be a hurdle for him.  Aside from this signing, was also the ability to acquire defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one year deal.  This is a low-risk, high reward type of deal for the Vikings who have a strong front and are hoping to get a season out of Richardson in which he can try to prove himself as a force in this league again.

3. Cleveland Browns

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For all the excitement the Browns have generated this off-season, in my eyes this is more about the “hype” than actually making a difference.  Let’s be serious, after an 0-16 season, the only way to go is up, right?  The Browns realized quickly that they had no patience for DeShone Kizer at quarterback so they acquired former Bills QB, Tyrod Taylor.  Tyrod was used more as a scapegoat than anything else in Buffalo, and at least in Cleveland, everyone knows the problems come way before Tyrod had anything to do with it.  For Tyrod Taylor it’s a fresh start somewhere, where the expectations are low.   The Browns also traded for wide receiver Jarvis Landry.  Landry can get open, and he can catch.  What he does after the catch though, is usually get tackled.  Last year Landry racked up 112 receptions and could not get over the 1000 yard receiving mark.  That’s something that is hard to do while even trying to do it.  Pairing him up alongside a healthy Corey Coleman should go over well in Cleveland, if Tyrod Taylor gets the ball to them.  The Browns went all in on this offense as they signed right tackle Chris Hubbard to a five year $37.5 million dollar deal ($18 million guaranteed) to a guy who’s started 14 games in five seasons. . . The Browns also went a little nutty and signed running back Carlos Hyde, who was the 49ers starting running back for the last two seasons and has missed the 1000 yard rushing mark both times. . . but he was playing for the 49ers so we’ll give him a break on that.  It was just a weird signing because they already have Duke Johnson in their backfield and they could have drafted the more explosive, younger and versatile Saquon Barkley in this year’s upcoming draft.  If the Browns can follow these moves with a strong draft AND they are able to maximize the potential that is on this team – they can easily be the third best team in the AFC North. . .That’s an improvement at least.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Who Will Get Mad in March?

March Madness is usually all about College Basketball.  The Bracket Challenge.  The hype, the dramatics, etc, etc. . .  March is also the time when NFL fan-bases get over-hyped or overly depressed because NFL free agency has begun.

It’s usually fan-bases of bad teams that freak out.  If you’re a fan of the Jets, Bears, Browns, Giants or any other team that has a top-ten draft pick – it’s a nervous time.

But is it, really?

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Every team enters the off-season with holes.  Whether it be because of lack of talent on the roster or someone is being paid too much.  Regardless of what it may be, free agency – in some people’s eyes – is the “quick-fix” to all their problems.  In truth free agency can be just what a team needs to get over a hump or take them to the promised land – for example, Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos in 2012 (jeez, that was already SIX years ago. . .).  Or even in 2014 when the Patriots signed corner back DOn the other hand, free-agency can be the equivalent of a broken water pipe being fixed with some duct-tape.  For examples of bad free agent signings just look up any of these Redskins signings: Albert Haynesworth in 2009, Adam Archuletta in 2006 or even Jeremiah Trotter in 2004.  .  .Oh those Redskins. . .

This season, there were names that every bad franchise’s fan base wanted them to throw money at.  So far some players have agreed to terms with teams wanting their services.  This includes “house hold names” like Albert Wilson, who has agreed to go to Miami for three-year $24 million dollar contract and Trey Burton who has agreed to a four-year, $32 million dollar contract.  Now, one isn’t saying that these men aren’t “good” and I could care less about the money they’re getting – BUT – fan bases all start to follow these type of guys on twitter and “all of a sudden” become experts on the “hidden talents” that players like these possess.

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Come on, man. . .

Burton was the third best tight end in Philadelphia and Albert Wilson was probably a three or four guy in Kansas City.   If these are the caliber of players that will get fans in a frenzy because they “missed out” on these guys – then maybe, just maybe – you’ve lost it a little.

It’s easy for fans to say, get this guy – spend this money and fill that hole.  But the NFL is all about the right guys who fit in the right systems.  This is why an intelligent player like Richard Sherman, who’s only worked in one defensive system in his career, chose to sign with the 49ers who run a similar defensive scheme.   This is why teams like the Jets and Vikings are looking at Kirk Cousins to be their next quarterback.  Cousins just ran a west-coast style offense in Washington, and the Vikings and Jets (if we are to judge by their offensive coordinator hires) will be doing something of the same ilk.  Meanwhile, former Bears linebacker Christian Jones who played in a 3-4 defensive scheme is now going to play for the Lions who typically run a 4-3 defensive scheme, so if this signing turns out to be a bad one – there’s your first big clue as to why.

Listen, everyone loves free agency.  But when it comes to cursing out a general manager because he didn’t fill “a hole” with some over-priced shiny new object, there is no reason to throw a fit or curse your general manager’s family from now till eternity.  Oh, and it definitely doesn’t call for burning players’ jerseys.  That’s just stupid.  If we’ve learned anything it’s that winning teams are put together by smart people.  The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers pretty much get it.  They never want to over-pay for talent – they’d rather find those who can fit in their systems.

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So if you’re team is sitting on millions upon millions of dollars and not spending it like crazy in free agency, don’t flip out.  There’s a draft and there is also a coaching staff in place that is there to make players better – imagine that. . .

I mean, if you’re a Jets fan though.  Yeah, I’d be mad as all hell, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

The Giants: In An Awkward Place

Last week, I spoke with Earnest Christian on his “EJ Talks Football” podcast and in our ramblings concerning NFL free agency, we discussed the current position of the New York Giants.  It was a difficult spot for me because I have a hatred for this franchise that goes longer than a quarter of a century. I will not get into why I loathe this franchise so much, but I will say, the reasons have scarred me since a young boy till now.

As a fan who roots against the Giants, last year was a great season.  The Giants looked pitiful, the fans were frustrated and the season was over from the start.  But if one is to really step back and analyze where the Giants are at right  now, it  is a really, really awkward place to be.

The Giants are a team that sit with the number two pick in the NFL draft.  The Giants also have a terrible offensive line (one of the NFL’s worse), an aging quarterback in Eli Manning (whose talents have been diminishing for years and may be at a “rock-bottom” point) and a contract negotiation with stud wide-receiver Odell Beckham.

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When it comes to the offensive line, there are already talks that free agent guard Andrew Norwell signing with the New York Giants is already a “done-deal.”  If this is so, this is the Giants moving in the right direction in the off-season, but it certainly cannot stop there.  Maybe the Giants look to free-agent tackle Nate Solder to help solidify a rebuild of the offensive line, or they look in the draft.  In this year’s draft, quite possibly the best player in it is Notre Dame guard Quentin Nelson.  The Giants taking Nelson number-two overall though would be doubtful, and if this was the course of action they’d want to take they would likely trade down a few spots. . .just a few.

When it comes to Eli Manning and the quarterback situation of the New York Giants, new general manager Dave Gettleman, has told the New York fans and media that Eli Manning will remain as the team’s quarterback.  This was unexpected by many considering how Eli Manning has played in the last few seasons, and also considering that this seemed like a good time to just break free, and draft a new quarterback for the future with the number-two overall pick.  Instead, the Giants have given the cringe-worthy statement of keeping the decrepit QB under-center.  If this is true this means the Giants have no interest in Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Sam Darnold.  This doesn’t mean other teams don’t though.  The Giants can easily trade out of this spot for a mini-ransom of sorts, which is ideal for a team in their position.  Also, keeping Eli Manning in there for another year, really does no damage to the rebuilding model – if the model includes acquiring pieces to an offense that would be better for a new quarterback to control.

Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Finally, we come to the Odell Beckham drama.  With a heavy emphasis on the word “drama” because that’s all Odell is.  Well to be fair, he’s also a top five wide receiver in the league, and one of the two biggest play makers in football (next to Antonio Brown).  With that being said, Odell wants to be the highest paid receiver in the league.  Oh sorry, the highest paid player in the league.  Yeah, no thanks.  This comes at a terrible time for the Giants, but this is a business.  Odell is playing his hand correctly and you can’t blame him.  The truth is, Odell is a star.  A star in New York.  That equates to bigger things than just the football field.  But in the same breath, Odell is someone who came into the league with injury issues, and last year started the season missing week one with an ankle injury and then had his season cut off due to a left ankle fracture in week five.  Odell also has the reputation of being a petulant child and a general pest.  He has a huge target on him from defenders all over the league because he tends to show boat and talk trash — BUT he is the best player on this roster. . . by far.  The question here is, do you really pay a receiver that much (we’re talking in the ball park of ($17 million a year) while rebuilding?  Even if Odell signs a deal of a realistic $14-$15 million a year – where does the sense come in for all of this?  Teams that have the wide-outs with big contracts only make noise if the rest of the team is solid – like the Steelers or the Falcons — but even then – no championships.

This is a very awkward time indeed for the New York Giants.  If I said I feel bad for them, I’d be lying through my teeth.  The petty little demon inside of me is grinning ear to ear.

By the way, we only discussed their offense and how they should go about fixing that. . .this defense gave up the second most yards in the NFL last year as well. . .so uh. . .Good Luck out there with the rebuild G-Men.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio