How does that old adage go, "Money can't buy good taste?"
Apparently NFL executives are inflicted with the same dilemma, as merely having the ability to make moves does not necessarily mean they will be good ones.
Here are the ten most puzzling moves of the offseason.
The Denver Broncos Writing a Blank Check to Peyton Manning
The Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning because it was too risky to make him the highest paid player in the NFL after multiple neck surgeries cost him the entire 2011 season. So in comes the Denver Broncos to make Peyton Manning…the highest paid player in football after two neck surgeries cost him the entire 2011 season.
Not only did they give Manning all of this money, they got rid of their current starter, Tim Tebow, meaning their future is inexorably tied to the health of a 36-year-old quarterback. The Broncos have gone ahead and guaranteed his $18 million this season, and if he passes his physical next season, two $20 million contracts will be guaranteed to come his way for 2013-2014. This move could make Denver relevant quickly, or it could set their entire franchise back five years.
The Bills Giving Mario Williams a Ton of Cash
No one can say Mario Williams’ primary objective is not winning…oh wait. The former No. 1 overall pick signed a massive 6-year; $96 million contract to go from the AFC South Champion Houston Texans to the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Bills. Let’s just hope the heat doesn’t go out or Mario may have to burn some of that cash just to stay warm up there in the frigid arctic that is Buffalo, New York.
But Mario Williams’ decision to sign isn’t the only questionable move here. It takes two to tango and the Buffalo Bills are leading with their checkbook. Williams was hurt for most of the 2011 season and was only able to record 11 total tackles in five games. But even without the injury concern, Williams’ last three seasons have found him unable to even break the 10-sack barrier. The last time he broke that plateau was, coincidentally, the last time he made a Pro Bowl, 2009.
To put his contract in better perspective, the Chicago Bears only gave Julius Peppers a 6-year, $84 million contract, and that was only after he had proven himself with six, double-digit sack seasons.
Tim Tebow To The Jets
What do most teams do after giving their starting quarterback a 5-year, $58,250,000 contract? Why, they go out and sign another starting quarterback and create one of the biggest media circuses-slash-quarterback controversies the NFL has ever seen.
Everyone knows what Tim Tebow is about, and for most people, they either love him or hate him. That being said, it is a little weird to bring in a QB to compete with Mark Sanchez, whose confidence has already been called into question.
Had the Jets just parted ways with Sanchez and handed the reigns over to Tebow, the move may not have made the list, but the way they have handled this situation does not make a lot of financial sense, and it clearly puts both Sanchez and Tebow in a tougher spot to succeed.
The Giants Trying to Sneak Jake Ballard Through Waivers
Jake Ballard was quickly becoming Eli Manning’s favorite target during the 2011 season. In just his rookie year, Ballard caught 38 balls for 604 yards, which was good enough for 3rd in receiving on the 5th ranked passing offense in the league. But after a knee injury forced him out of the Super Bowl, Ballard was going to miss part of the 2012 season. Still, even coach Tom Coughlin expected him back to play a “significant role” with the team.
It would appear the Giants' front office got a little too smart for their own good as they released Jake Ballard with hopes he would clear waivers and they would be able to place him on the team’s PUP list(Physically Unable to Perform), thus clearing up another roster spot while still retaining Ballard for the future. But oops, no one gave the Patriots the memo, as they scooped up Ballard and added him to their roster, which already included the best tight end tandem in football (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez). Nice try New York.
The Dolphins Trading Brandon Marshall For Next to Nothing
It is hard to keep track of all of these general manager-type conversions that have to be done when making deals. This player is worth a first round pick, that player is worth two seconds and a fourth – it’s madness. But what about a player who just put up 1,214 yards en route to his fifth straight 1,000+ yard season?
Apparently the Miami Dolphins’ front office thinks 6-4, 230-pound. wide receivers just grow on trees because they were willing to part was with Brandon Marshall for nothing more than two third-round draft picks. I’m not saying Miami should not have traded Marshall – if they felt he needed to go that so be it – but just giving him away for next to nothing is questionable to say the least.
The Franchise Tag Being Used as a Weapon
The NFL is a business. How many of us have heard that old gem dusted off time and time again to justify poor management? This offseason, Matt Forte, Drew Brees and Wes Welker are all being held hostage at the barrel end of a franchise tag. While the rule was put in place for teams to try and retain their star players, lately, it has been used more as a way to not give a team’s star the long-term deal they have earned.
My only concern here is the negative precedent teams are forming by overly manipulating the way a franchise tag is used. By all accounts, Matt Forte, Drew Brees and Wes Welker had said the right things and did not do the customary holdout; but still, they are now being forced to take a stand which makes them all look like selfish, “in it for the money” types. I’m afraid the wielding of the franchise tag by teams will start to backfire and force star players to leave their clubs as soon as they can for a team with more perceived player loyalty.
The Patriots Letting “The Law Firm” Go
Although the Patriots have never relied too heavily on the running game, their multi-named back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, had been a solid workhorse for the club. Everyone knows the Patriots live and die with the right arm of Tom Brady, but on those rare occasiones a yard needed to be picked up or a short-yardage TD needed converting, it was Green-Ellis who got the call.
With 11 touchdowns last season, and 13 the year before that, The Law Firm was money on the goal line. Now the Pats turn to the unproven Stevan Ridley and the underachieving Joseph Addai, to anchor their rushing attack. The Bengals now get to have Green-Ellis on retainer to either make a potent one-two punch with Cedric Benson, or fill in as his replacement if he leaves via free agency.
Matt Flynn’s 1-Game Payday
Here is a bit of fun trivia for you – which Packer has thrown for the most yards in a single game? Well, since this category is marked “Matt Flynn,” I’ll just assume everyone knows the question is rhetorical.
Matt Flynn started in one game for the Green Bay Packers in 2011, but Flynn made the most of his opportunity by throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns and leading the Pack to a 45-41 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 17.
In Flynn’s other four brief appearances at QB last season notched Flynn a stat line of 2-for-5, 38 yards and one interception. But I guess when you break a franchise’s all-time record; people tend to forget what came before. The Seattle Seahawks jumped on Flynn this offseason and gave him $19.5 million to come break their records.
Chad Ochocinco Being Released By The Patriots
After a less than productive year in New England, the Patriots got rid of Ochocino in favor of a host of middle of the pack receivers. While no one can justify Ocho’s lack of productivity in his first season, he is still the receiver who was just two season seasons removed from his 7th 1,000+ yard campaign.
For a measly $925,000 contract for the 2012 season, it may have been premature for the Patriots to cut bait so quickly. The Miami Dolphins were more than happy to pick him up to fill a hole left by their own questionable move – but we’ll get to that later.
The danger here is that we have seen this dance before. A backup QB getting a small opportunity then becoming a new team’s starter the following year – how has that worked out for Kevin Kolb in Arizona? Maybe Seattle will be different, but for a team trying to turn around their franchise, Flynn is a risky gamble to take.
Blackballed: No Teams Willing To Give T.O. a Shot
Terrell Owens is a Grade-A moron, everyone knows that. But if they blackballed everyone of his ilk from the NFL, games would be played between two centers, three field goal kickers and a punter.
The simple fact is Terrell Owens can still play wide receiver – and do so better than most. In 2010, T.O. caught 72 balls for 983 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games. Compared to this season, those stats would have been better than Greg Jennings, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson and Julio Jones – but apparently no team can use that kind of production.
Randy Moss, who has openly admitted to taking plays off and not giving his full effort, just signed with the 49ers after a 2010 season which saw him merely get 393 yards and quit on three different teams – but he is more deserving of a contract than Owens? Something smells funny with the way Owens has been ostracized from the league.
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