What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- Joe Flacco becomes the NFL’s highest paid player
- Willie Gay returns to Pittsburgh
- Steelers do not use Franchise Tag for the third season in a row
Welcome to the Tuesday morning edition of my MMQB. I couldn’t possibly let the week go by before dumping all over Joe Flacco’s contract now could I? In this Bizzaro World we are living in right now where the Baltimore Ratbirds are the Super Bowl Champions and Joe Flacco is an MVP, we’ve now gotten a little weirder as he became the highest paid player in the NFL with his giant contract extension. Not to be outdone by the men in purple to the south, the Steelers countered the Joe Flacco news with a splash signing of themselves. Pittsburgh welcomes back Big Play Willie Gay to the Black & Gold as we all know we needed a scooch more depth in the secondary and Darrelle Revis was just outside our price range. Cue Willie Gay haters. For the third season in a row the Steelers declined to use the franchise tag on anyone and they weren’t the only team to do as such. Only 8 players in the NFL received the tag, pretty much guaranteeing a lot of players are going to be moving around the league once the free agency period opens March 12th.
How many cheap shots can be taken at Joe Flacco’s 6 year, $120 million contract? Let’s see, we have to first give the dude credit for taking a chance on himself by turning down a more modest deal last offseason and gambling on his own abilities (or sheer luck, depending on how you look at it) to earn the highest contract in the league. So the biggest credit for Joe Flacco’s instant fortune should go to none other than Denver safety Rahim Moore. Moore’s total brain fart in coverage of Jacoby Jones that allowed Flacco’s signature chucking of the ball as hard as he can let Jones catch the 70 yard game-tying touchdown with 31 seconds left in regulation and set up the Ratbirds improbable 38-35 win in double overtime to propel them to the AFC Championship. Here’s hoping Flacco takes Rahim out for a steak at the very least. On second thought, he’s probably still bummed about that play so Flacco should probably take him to the strip club instead. The Ratbirds were able to get Flacco’s ink on the contract before they had to franchise him and eat up a bunch of their cap space for 2013 in the process. Although Bert will average about $20 million a season with his new deal, the reported cap hit this season is just under $7 million, which will give the Ratbirds the opportunity to sign more than just their personalityless quarterback.
As much as we all know that as soon as a player, coach, or any other person with any kind of ties to the Steelers organization is released for one reason or another the Arizona Cardinals will pounce on them like they’re the last donut in the box. But now we know that you can come home again once you’ve been out in Steelers West. The Cardinals released former Steelers CB Willie Gay rather than pay him the $3.225 million he was due and the Steelers quickly scooped him back up. The signing provides a modicum of insurance in case Keenan Lewis is lost to free agency, but most of all provides depth in the secondary either way.
Speaking of free agency and Keenan Lewis, the Steelers declined to tag Lewis this Monday thereby allowing him to enter the realms of free agency if they cannot extend his deal before next week. As Craig pointed out, the Steelers didn’t have many options when it came to using the tag as they’re already in a pinch when it comes to the cap this season and each position for tagging a player have quite a hefty cap hit associated. The Steelers have gone the past three seasons without tagging anyone and thanks to going on a restructuring rampage the past couple of weeks, just might be in the position to offer a reasonable contract to Lewis other than using the tag, as Colbert has put that Lewis was their top FA priority of the offseason. For those of you still holding out hope that Mike Wallace will resign with the Steelers you might want to check into some kind of support group for that.