Draft day minus 12 days and counting, and everyone wants to know what the Detroit Lions are going to do with the first pick on April 25. Here's my read of where they are this morning. All things considered, I think they're going to handle it as well as any team hamstrung with this millstone of a pick can handle it.
I believe the Lions will target three players -- Georgia quarterback
That's the general idea. It's not new.
Williams, a defensive end, got 10 percent more guaranteed money than Smith, a quarterback. Russell, a quarterback, got 21 percent more guaranteed money than Williams -- and 34 percent more guaranteed money than the quarterback taken two years previously. Long got the premium of a five-year deal (and the ability to be a free agent at 27 at a position where he may be able to hit the free-agent jackpot twice) and an average increase of 12 percent per year over Russell.
So follow the money: A defensive end gets 10 percent more than a quarterback, a quarterback gets 21 percent more than a defensive end, and a tackle gets 12 percent more than a quarterback. To me, that says Condon/Dogra will want 20 percent more for the quarterback than what Long got last year. So Stafford, in that scenario, would want either $36 million guaranteed over five years, or $42 million over six. Let's say Condon/Dogra take a this-economy-stinks discount. Maybe they go to $34 million or $35 million over five, or $38-ish million over six. Maybe.
That's one factor in this. The other factor is which player makes more sense to the Lions.
Stafford had a very good pro day at Georgia and then a better individual workout with the Lions. He's a confident, commanding presence. If the Lions were interested in
There are some lingering questions about Stafford in Detroit because the Lions remember the ghost of
Smith would cost a little less, maybe $33 million guaranteed over five years, and he'd probably be able to move in at left tackle immediately, or after one year, enabling the Lions to strengthen the line. They could team him with last year's first-rounder,
I keep hearing Curry is the safest pick of them all, and there's something to it because of his athletic and physical gifts. Lions coach
My guess is that's how they fall in the Lions' pecking order right now: Stafford, Smith and Curry. But I caution you that it's only an educated guess, because the Lions aren't talking. There's a certain tea-leaf-reading you have to do in cases like this, and the most logical thing is the Lions, who can certainly survive over the next two or three years with a Backus-Cherilus tackle tandem, are thinking Stafford, then Smith, then Curry, for football and future and financial reasons.
"I have tons of questions. The beauty of being an outsider is I can hear people in the league say, 'Well, this is the way we've always done it.' And I can ask, 'What's the best way of doing it, not just the way you've always done it?'''
"I don't think he was a nuisance at all to anyone. But the competitive nature that he has is he wants the ball. Now, the way he goes about it is a little different and a little bit hard to handle for people sometimes. That is the way he is. That is Terrell. So with the group of guys we have, we are going to be able to spread the ball around as a unit.''
"[Bleep] you. You can't open my [bleeping] door.''
Granted it's still two weeks before the draft, but what does this say about the idiocy of the top of the NFL draft, and what a burden having one of the tops picks is? As of Friday, not one of the first six teams in the first round -- Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland or Cincinnati -- was entertaining a serious trade proposal to move down in the draft ... and these six teams won 16 of their 96 games last year.
Just before Amtrak Acela Train 2172 left New York Penn Station on the continuation of its trip from Washington to Boston last Tuesday, a sultry,
There have been a few travel notes that you just can't make up over the years. The farter on the plane from Newark to Providence comes to mind, as does the yipping dog halfway across the country on the redeye from Seattle to Newark, and the woman clipping her nails on the jam-packed New Jersey Transit commuter from Montclair to Manhattan. This one joins the club.
One of the issues for new NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is something I'd call "hidden seasons.'' It's an issue getting no attention out there, but I can guarantee you after talking to Smith that it's on his radar for the collective bargaining process facing the union.
(I'll have more from Smith at the top of my Tuesday column, and I'll have a good chunk about my time spent with him last week in Washington in the Scorecard section of
Let me preface this by saying I remember about 10 years ago talking to a prominent player about his team's marginal playoff chances late in a season. This team wasn't a great team, and this player didn't seem all that excited about making the playoffs. I asked why, and he said it's because in the playoffs he got paid a fraction of what he got paid during the season, and he hated the risk he'd have to take in the playoff game because of his non-guaranteed contract.
We never think of that, but I'm going to give you an illustration of that. Let's take the New England Patriots over the past eight years. In that time, they've played 17 playoff games -- an extra season. No one's crying for the Patriots; it's why you play the game, obviously, and playoff veterans see their careers advance in ways they wouldn't have had they not been successful in the postseason. But check out the money the players make in the postseason compared to what they make in the regular season, looking at the Patriots' year-by-year playoff résumé since 2001:
Let's look at how that compares to a player's regular-season money. I'll take
For his 2009 regular-season games, Brady will make 27 times what he made for playoff games.
Vrabel's cap number this year in Kansas City is $4.393 million, a per-game average of $274,563. That's eight times as much, per game, as he made in the 17 playoff games he was eligible to play in New England.
Vrabel was New England's player rep to the union, and a member of the 10-man Executive Board of player reps. The payout issue is something he's been bothered by for years.
"In the postseason, obviously, you're playing for the championship, the will to win, the love of the game,'' he said last week. "But the reality is that the most valued part of our season is when we're paid the least by far, and when the injury risk is greatest. It's a fine line we walk as players.''
So Pereira's football, with an accompanying certificate of authenticity, will be up for bid at the auction; I expect to have it online within two weeks, and at the Zim benefit May 18, for the highest bid by, I assume, a Steeler fan who will have the absolute perfect gift he/she could never get anywhere else.
Those were the days. Mulvoy gave Zim his ID. Mulvoy gave me my chance.
One other item I'm announcing this week: Two baseball fans will get something they'll never forget: Two tickets to a Red Sox-Yankees game (on one of the following dates: June 9, 10, 11, or Aug. 21, 22, 23), plus an insider's tour of the ballpark, plus a trip to the field for pregame batting practice. Fan of the column (and a Falcons fan who thinks
Updating those who've missed the news: Outstanding pro football writer Paul Zimmerman suffered three strokes in late November and is currently unable to read, write or speak coherently. We're trying to jump-start his therapy and road back to writing one day -- we hope -- by raising money to allow him to undergo some aggressive therapy in Michigan and New Jersey. We've lined up Giants coach
Tickets are $225 apiece, or $1,500 for a table of eight, and are available by sending a check, payable to "Dr. Z/Nothing is Impossible Foundation'' to:
Dr. Z/Nothing is Impossible Foundation
All tickets are tax-deductible. Donations of any amount may be sent to that address as well. For further information, please e-mail me, in the box that comes with this column, or
For all the Zim fans out there, here's a blog update from
1. I think everyone out there -- and I have read four beat reporters or club officials speculating about Plaxico Burress joining their team, as well as
Plaxico Burress is going to jail (I think for one year) and he is not going to be around to play football this fall. Even if Burress goes to jail for less than a year, commissioner
2. I think the Broncos may trade up in the first round, but not for what you think. Not for a quarterback. Maybe for
3. I think
4. I think the NFL is really ticking me off with the timing of the schedule-release tomorrow. By unveiling the schedule (in what -- 30 million homes, or whatever NFL Network hits right now?) Tuesday at 7 p.m., the league is depriving legions of drive-time sports-talk-radio fans the ability to dissect the schedule on the way home, or at the work water-cooler in the afternoon.
I remember listening over the years to WFAN in New York, when (since-divorced)
5. I think I have two issues with the late-afternoon start of the NFL draft. Why, oh why, is the start of Round 1 at 4:05 p.m. Saturday? Did anyone in the league say: Hey, pretty good baseball doubleheader slated for that day on Fox -- Yanks-Red Sox and Cubs-Cards. And both games start at 4:10, the same time
If it's a brisk first round, the way it was last year (3 hours, 30 minutes), the Jets' first pick ought to come around the top of the sixth, the Patriots' first pick an inning later, and the Giants' first right about the time
Just stupid. And what was wrong with a noon start anyway, which is the way it was 'til last year, when the league pushed the start time to 3 p.m.? Noon is perfect for a two-round draft. With the draft starting at 4, the thing could last until midnight. It probably won't, but the maximum amount of time for the two rounds is nine hours and four minutes, which technically makes it possible the draft's first day could end at 1 a.m. ET.
Obviously that's not going to happen, but what if the draft really drags and ends around 11 p.m.? The Cardinals, with the second-to-last pick of the second round, would choose at 8 p.m. local time, then adjourn for post-draft meetings to fine-tune their draft board for Day 2, then be back in the draft room at 6:45 the next morning for a 7 a.m. local time start (10 a.m. ET on Sunday). The Seahawks would be on the clock around 7:20 a.m. local time Sunday with a vital third-round pick, the fourth of the second day of the draft.
The time crunch is unnecessary tail-wagging by TV networks (ESPN, NFL Network) that would telecast the draft aggressively no matter what time it began.
6. I think
7. I think the real story of the
But let's say he makes all of what he's supposed to make in the first three years of his deal. Winslow would make $20.1 million. In the first three years of Colts tight end
8. I think, in the words of one executive on a top 10-drafting team,
9. I think
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I think I am absolutely sick about the injustice that is the death of
b. Sox-Angels. April baseball that looked far more like October baseball over the weekend. I did not much like
c. I fear
e. Keep your Saturday night job,
f. I'm pretty much on board with everything about
g. For a quasi-famous restaurant, Sibling Rivalry, you can do far, far better than you did Friday night.
h. Coffeenerdness: So everyone in Boston kept telling me to try Sibling Rivalry. And as annoying as the microscopic five-bite, $25 cod entrée was, the bitter espresso was worse.
i. Dying to Tweet. Rumor has it I'm going to be taught how by my SI.com people this week, when I'm town for some high-level (ha-ha-ha) meetings in midtown Manhattan. (The real high-level meeting, I think, is seeing Citi Field on Thursday night.) Sounds like I'm missing everything in Tweetland.
j. You put on the best Easter spread in the world,
l. You cannot be serious about shuttering the