What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- Peyton officially announced as Broncos new QB
- Tebow traded to NY Jets twice in one day
- Goodell drops the hammer on the Saints
- Hines Ward officially retires as a Steeler
- Rooney adamant about wanting to keep Wallace despite reports he wants big money
- Steelers are among other teams proposing rules changes for next season
- The Steelers lose their first big name to free agency
It seems as though March Madness this year can also refer to the NFL offseason. What a crazy month it has been so far. In one week, Peyton Manning was announced as the newest Denver Broncos quarterback for an obscene amount of money, Timmy Tebow was traded to the Jets twice in the same day, the Saints lost their head coach for a season among other punishments from Goodell for Bounty-Gate, and Hines Ward officially retires and earns Steeler For Life status.
Reports started circulating Friday out of San Francisco where Mike Wallace had visited during his period of restricted free agency that the wide receiver was after Larry Fitzgerald-type money in a new contract. San Fran has since shored up their remaining needs at wide receiver without signing Wallace and Art Rooney II has come out to reiterate that the Steelers are intending on trying to sign Wallace to a long term deal. The Steelers are among some of the teams to propose some rules changes at this week’s NFL Owners Meetings in Florida. And the first lost of free agency, except for the cuts that were made earlier, is with CB William Gay who signed a 2 year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, often referred to as Steelers West.
All through the courtship of Peyton Manning the past couple of weeks, it seemed to reason that money was not going to be the deciding factor in his decision on where to play since being released from the Colts. Even still John Elway threw a boat-load of cash at Peyton after he decided to give them the final rose in his personal version of the NFL Bachelor. Peyton’s contract is worth about a gajillion dollars for 5 years, or $96 million, I’m still fuzzy on the details, and apparently had a stipulation that Tim Tebow get shipped to the first team to show any interest. The Jets (who stated that they “passed” on Peyton Manning) were first in line to snatch up Tebow, even without reading the terms of his contract first. After some negotiating and the Jaguars getting back in the mix to pull off the trade, the Jets finally landed their locker room savior. The Jets snagged Tebow hoping that he will excel in their Wild Cat offense, put just enough pressure on Mark Sanchez to make him an above mediocre quarterback, clean up Rex Ryan’s potty mouth, and baptize all of Antonio Cromartie’s kids. No doubt that should be super entertaining to see how that will all play out.
On the same day the Tebow Trade debacle was going on, the NFL released the punishment for Gregg Williams and the Saints for their roles in the bounty program that had been reportedly going on in New Orleans since the 2009 season. Williams was immediately suspended from the NFL indefinitely, leaving his now team St. Louis without a defensive coordinator, Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire upcoming season effective April 1st, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first 8 games of the season, and the Saints were fined $500,000 and 2nd round draft picks this year and next year. Pretty harsh penalties by Goodell, who immediately took to the airwaves on ESPN following the announcement of the punishment to reiterate his “focus on player safety” and flex his muscles some more.
I don’t disagree with this punishment considering that the Saints were warned in 2010 to stop any bounty program that they had going on and not only lied to the Commish, but once he left the room they kept throwing more money into the bounty pot and played the “we don’t need no stinkin rules!” game instead of tightening up. The Boss doesn’t like being lied to, but if you think this punishment was just about the bounties and the lying you’re dead wrong. This punishment was to send a message to the rest of the league that may or may not already have a similar “incentive” program in place you had better make sure no word of it gets out and shut it down real quick. The Commish likes to pretend he gives a crap about player safety while he’s pushing an 18 game schedule and ignoring the hits that happen to his least favorite players. What the Commish likes more than player safety, though, is money. And with all the former players filing lawsuits against the league for not properly handling their concussions and health care now that they can’t remember their home address and can’t stop drooling on themselves, the Commish needs to put a pretty good act of caring about the well-being of the athletes on so the amount of lawsuits don’t double or triple now that some players could likely prove their careers could have ended as a result of a bounty-hit. I, along with most NFL fans not in the New England area, would have liked the Commish to flex some of these punishment muscles when it came to the hoodie and Spy-Gate, since that act was actually influencing the competitive balance of games.