Facilities are open, draft picks can be signed, trades can be made and free agents can be negotiated with. After Friday night rolls around, those free agents can start signing contracts and any team with a big payroll is going to resemble Tony Siragusa in an Old Country Buffet.
Imagine all the excitement of summer free agency crammed into one month!
Even better is the fact that all this time analysts, players, owners, scouts and coaches have spent hours and days and weeks speculating, analyzing, and running around names like Kevin Kolb and Randy Moss to the point where nobody knows what will even be the right move. That way, us fans and writers can all have a good laugh in the end.
Ah, how I missed the NFL.
Despite all the potential busts and washed up superstars, there are some free agency MVP’s, and I’ll start with Nnamdi Asomugha.
Widely considered the most valuable player available, at 30-years old, Asomugha is still a lockdown defensive back and has most owners drooling over him. What makes him an interesting case is his “post-NFL” dreams – being an actor. Many people think that alone could land him in New York, with either the Jets or Giants.
Can you imagine an NFL superstar lining up teams to be a springboard for his acting career? That’d be like Matt Damon taking an acting gig in Cleveland with hopes of falling onto the Browns depth chart after they cut Jake Delhomme (which, by the way, is long overdue).
Regardless, a more likely destination for the most butchered name in the NFL is Houston, who has plenty of cap room and a strong defensive unit always striving to improve.
If you’re a team seeking a d-back who can’t land Asomugha, your next best bet will probably be Ike Taylor. They love Taylor here in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers usually lock down the guys they really care about – which they haven’t done with Ike. Taylor says he wants to get top dollar, so he might be out of luck in Pittsburgh.
Bad news for the Black and Yellow: The Ravens are seeking a big-time hard hitting man in their defensive backfield, and Taylor fits the bill.
From here on out, the top players in the skill positions are almost all question marks at this point.
Deangelo Williams says he wants to retire as a Panther, but his injuries last year make him a big risk for Carolina to keep around and for any other team to jump on. He could be a total stud or a total bust.
Perhaps my favorite risk on the board is Minnesota’s Sidney Rice. Because I hate Brett Favre with a burning insidious and indescribable passion, I followed his every move during his reunion tour in Minnesota. He and Rice, as much as it burns my fingers to type it, were an absolutely deadly combination two seasons ago.
But, outside of that season where he had 83 receptions, 1,312 yards and 8 touchdowns, Rice has been a pretty big non-factor. He’s not a guy many people would want to take a risk on, but his freakish athleticism, size, and big play ability make him an exciting consideration. I could see him in D.C. by the end of the week, knowing Dan Snyder.
Rice’s biggest opposition in the market is the ridiculous amount of talent and career yards available across the board. Want to hear some familiar names that will be available through trade or free agency? Check out this list of wide receivers who have either proved they can catch balls or piss people off:
Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Lance Moore, Santana Moss, Chad Ochocinco (sigh), Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins, Steve Smith, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, and, wait for it – Randy Moss (recently declared in “freakish shape”), Plaxico Burress (recently jailed), and Terrell Owens (recently, well…nothing).
A sure bet for a good ball catcher would be the Raiders tight end Zach Miller, who at 25 has had a productive four-year campaign in the NFL. The only problem is that the Raiders probably will, and definitely should, hold onto him.
Rumors that the Ravens are going to cut Todd Heap also bolster the tight end market, but those are only rumors.
Finally, there is the quarterback department. Let’s get a few things straightened out before we watch the usual culprits (the Redskins, Eagles, Cardinals, Raiders, Browns, and Broncos) play quarterback musical chairs.
First off, anyone who thinks Carson Palmer is going to see another Pro-Bowl or playoff game is absolutely out of their mind. If he couldn’t get it done with the wideouts he had in Cincinnati, he isn’t going to get it done in D.C. or Arizona or anywhere else. Never mind the fact that Bengals owner Mike Brown said he would never trade Palmer – so he’ll be stuck in the mediocrity that is Cincinnati sports for a long time.
The Broncos say Kyle Orton will be available through trade. They also seem to be neglecting the fact that his replacement (Tim Tebow) plays like Mike Vick. Unfortunately for Tebow, he’s neither close to as talented as nor as durable as Vick. Between Orton and Tebow’s speculated destinations and performance, I’m about as bored as I was during this week’s season premier of Entourage.
Last but certainly not least is the Eagles’ Kevin Kolb. For all my favorite fans back in Philly (I’m trying to inject as much sarcasm into this sentence as possible), I wish you the best with Kolb. But, if you think he’s just going to “walk out” of Philly for a first round pick with a pat on the back from Andy Reid, I think you need to reconsider.
First off, the NFL is learning. We’ve all been conned by the “I’m-a-good-quarterback-in-Philadelphia-but-nowhere-else” move. Remember A.J. Feeley? That guy who Andy Reid managed to get top draft picks to give away a few years back? Yeah, neither do I.
Remember when the ‘Skins took McNabb for a 2nd and 4th round pick, and now he’s on his way out of D.C. after one drama filled season? Yeah, well so does everyone else.
The fact is that a QB with a 3-4 record who has more interceptions than touchdowns is worth about as much as a signed A.J. Feeley jersey (about 30 dollars). And it ain’t much.
I’d be shocked (and appalled) if Reid can work his magic again this summer and pick up a first rounder. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t expect it. Look for the Eagles to either keep a disgruntled Kolb to back up the fragile Vick (so what does that make Tebow?) or get rid of him for something less than a first rounder.
Oh, and if all this free agent talk is stressing you out or getting you excited, Ricky Williams is always available. I heard he’s got a few ways to relax the mind.
For more entertainment, see this horrible rant about why Brett Favre should (that's not a typo) come back next season: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d820f8854/article/situation-in-philly-would-ideally-suit-favre-if-he-returns