Behind the Jets-Browns trade and thoughts on all 32 draft classes
KANSAS CITY -- I'm going to have 32 opinions on 32 teams here in a few paragraphs, and a few will surprise you. But I've got to start off with a cool story that played a big part in the trade of the weekend -- and, in all likelihood, the trade of the year in the NFL.
If you're a New York Jets fan, and you find yourself standing in line at a Modell's somewhere in the metropolis this week waiting for your SANCHEZ jersey, you really should pause and give thanks to four people:
The trade got done when it got done -- and without another team busting in to trump the Jets at the last minute -- because Aponte spied a minute clause, one unknown-to-most, in the collective bargaining agreement (I bet
Here's what happened: When the Jets went to work out Sanchez at Mission Viejo High in California on March 24, he was so impressive and cast such a presence on the practice field that Ryan turned to Tannenbaum and said: "This is our guy. Let's go get him.'' Easier said than done, of course.
By last Friday, the Jets were having mostly fruitless discussions with the Rams, picking second, and Browns, picking fifth. The Rams wanted a ransom to move out of No. 2. At five, the Browns didn't want quite so much, but there was the matter of three players Cleveland liked. And the matter of not doing anything until Cleveland was on the clock, because if Sanchez wasn't there, the Jets weren't interested in moving from their pick at 17 to five. Given that the Jets didn't want to include their 2010 first-round pick in the deal, they had to get creative and throw in the three players coach Mangini wanted: Elam, defensive lineman
Elam was the apple of Mangini's eye in the deal. In March, the Browns signed Elam, a restricted free-agent, to a one-year, $1.5-million offer sheet. The Jets, loaded with safeties, still matched it. And last Friday, when Tannenbaum and Mangini were talking conditional trade, Elam's name was front and center. He'd have to be in the deal for it to work for the Browns.
Not so fast, Aponte said. She remembered an obscure article in the CBA -- Article XIX of Veteran Free Agency, Section 3 (h). It said: "If a Club exercises its right of first refusal and matches an offer sheet, that club may not trade that player to the Club that submitted the offer sheet for at least one calendar year, unless the player consents to such trade.''
Aponte told Mangini the consent would have to be in writing. One problem: Now it was Friday, and the Jets had to finesse this very carefully. In March, Elam signed the offer sheet with Cleveland; he thought he'd be a Brown. A week later, the Jets matched the offer, and now he thought he was a Jet for good. So now the Jets had to find some face-saving way to ask Elam to sign this formal document approving a trade ... a trade that might not happen.
Late Friday, Ryan got on the phone with Elam and explained the lay of the land. The conversation went something like: We don't know if this is going to happen, but we know you had some interest in going to the Browns in March, and now we've got
Elam thought about it, then told Tannenbaum he'd do it. The Jets e-mailed Elam a PDF attachment with the correct language. He signed it and faxed it to the Jets' offices in Florham Park, N.J. The Jets re-faxed it to the league office, knowing that if they made the deal with the Browns on the clock, this was one technicality that, were it not satisfied to the league's approval, the trade could get knocked down.
At the same time, the Jets knew the Washington Redskins would be watching. If the Redskins knew they were doing this deal without a 2010 first-round pick included in the compensation package, Washington could jump in while New York struggled to make the deal, and the 'Skins could get Sanchez. A longshot, but a chance.
On Saturday, the draft got to Cleveland's pick. The Browns were set on moving down, and they pulled the trigger. The deal got approved by the league when it looked over the paperwork and saw Elam's signature on the legal document approving the trade.
And now you know ... the rest of the story.
One final note on the Jets: Tannenbaum told me Sunday night that running back
Let's look briefly -- and in a few cases not-so-briefly -- at nuggets for the 32 teams (click team name to see complete draft class):
"Every team that passed on me will regret it for the rest of the history of their franchise.''
Chicago and Dallas are in the clear. Their first picks came after No. 39. But all you other teams out there, all 29, you're in big, big trouble. Huge trouble. When Eben Britton speaks, we all quake because Britton is the best tackle in the history of football, and when he gets out there on the field, boy, he's going to put
Come to think of it, the Jaguars passed on Britton, too. So
"Countless hours in the weight room. Countless hours in the cafeteria.''
"I am ashamed and humiliated ... I realize I cannot be the husband, father, son and citizen I want to be until I overcome my addiction. It is my highest priority, and will be the toughest challenge of my life, but I am going to get the help I need to achieve a complete recovery.''
"Should I be near a phone the next time the Raiders pick? Maybe they'll pick me.''
The Twitter thing is going well. I have no idea what the value is to my company or to me, but it's fun, and the 6,490 Twitterers as of Sunday night came up with some good questions. Not very painful to respond, either. Sorry for all of you trying to get to me in the 24-hour period from 4 p.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday. Writing. Reporting. Monitoring. Traveling.
Maybe Darrius Heyward-Bey is
The Raiders clearly reached. They have to hope he's the kind of guy who rises to a challenge rather than shrinks from it.
Never too early to get started on the 2010 draft. Here are the teams that have acquired extra picks for next year's draft, and where they are in the draft:
1. San Francisco (from Carolina, for choosing DE Everette Brown)
2. Seattle (from Denver, for choosing CB Alphonso Smith)
1. New England (from Jacksonville, for choosing DB Derek Cox)
2. New England (from Tennessee, for choosing TE Jared Cook)
1. Philadelphia (from Seattle, for choosing WR Deon Butler)
1. Philadelphia (from New Orleans, for choosing P Thomas Morstead)
2. Detroit (from Denver, for choosing QB Tom Brandstater)
1. Carolina (from Oakland, for choosing TE Brandon Myers)
2. Buffalo (from Philadelphia, in the Jason Peters trade)
3. Philadelphia (from Indianapolis, for choosing P Pat McAfee)
1. Miami (from Kansas City, for choosing TE Jake O'Connell)
Most picks in 2010, as of this morning: New England, 9; Philadelphia, 9.
Fewest picks in 2010, as of this morning: Denver, 5.
So I stayed at the Kansas City Marriott at Country Club Plaza over the weekend. I was pleased when I made the reservation because of the ridiculously low rate --$129 a night, which I think is the lowest rate I've had at any hotel since the training-camp trip last August. A city Marriott for $129 a night? Unheard of. Great tip for bean-counters in a bad economy, everywhere.
Here's the problem: The hotel was a jobsite. Still is. The lobby Friday featured the thudding and destruction of a major construction project. It was impossible to sit in the lobby without having your senses destroyed. I'd have stayed here anyway because I don't hang around in hotel lobbies, and the rooms were quiet. But my question is: Why doesn't a hotel chain as good as Marriott let potential hotel guests know that they'll be staying in a construction zone? Then you'd totally understand the mess you're heading into.
In the lobby Friday, I commented about the massive mess to one of the bellmen, but he couldn't hear me because of the construction noise.
One other note from the road:
Changing planes at DFW on Sunday, I used the men's room near one of the American gates. I walked into one of the toilet stalls with the automatic flushers.
WHOOOOOSH. I closed the door to the stall and sat down.
Three more times I heard the same WHOOOOOSH as I sat there and minded my own business.
Of course, no flush when I get up and leave the stall. Gotta love technology.
In the midst of trying to figure out how to restock the team of the decade,
We have the auction site up and running. It's
And we have one grand auction item up on the site we really are proud of. Private donors are making one of the great Super Bowl trips you could imagine possible for next season. Imagine flying with a friend, sib or spouse to Miami for the game, playing a round of golf (if you'd like) at a terrific course like Doral in South Florida, going to a Super Bowl party (sounds like that'll be my job Saturday night), and then going to the game on Sunday and flying home Monday. Please, please, please tell your friends to log on and try to bid for this. I can guarantee a good time will certainly be had.
To recap, SI pro football writing legend
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:
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1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of draft weekend:
a. Someone in Washington is going to have to convince
b. Hey, ESPN: Who is
c. Really, really good story by ESPN's
e. I'm pretty confident there's nothing to the story of the new contract for
f. The Mid-American Conference has first-, second- and third-team all-conference teams. Ohio University safety Michael Mitchell did not make any of the three last fall. The Raiders used the 15th pick of the second round on Mitchell.
g. I asked three GMs Saturday and Sunday where they had Mitchell on their boards. One said he had a seventh-round grade. Two said he had a free-agent grade.
h. Mitchell is the highest-drafted player of this decade not to have been invited to the combine.
i. You get the point. The pick of Mitchell, and where he was picked, was greeted with as much incredulity as any pick I remember. The only team clearly in competition for him was Chicago.
j. Hoping you didn't buy in Jersey,
k. Really like the
l. You watch:
m. I don't think it's simply training by the agents. I think the top five picks in this draft -- Stafford, Smith, Jackson, Curry and Sanchez -- will be poster guys for what is good about the NFL. I get the feeling you don't have to force them to do or say the right thing.
n. "Prime U is not what we do. It's who we are.'' Who writes this crap for
o. And another thing, NFL Network: If you show the
p. I don't like
q. I like Seattle's forward-thinking and all. But
r. Maybe they're just looking for
2. I think
3. I think -- no, I know -- that it's no lock
4. I think the Patriots' draft was ... well, uninspired. Keep in mind, we all said the same thing about
That pick was odd. They've got a pair of 25-year-old safeties,
Except for well-regarded cornerback
5. I think in the interest of fairness in advertising, here's how I fared in my
a. I had nine direct hits out of 32 picks (assuming you count
b. My misses:
c. Pick I was most proud of:
d. Pick that ought to get me fired:
e. Pick that worked out ... sort of:
f. Now I know how Paul Zimmerman felt over the years. "It's torture,'' he'd tell me, year after year, trying to get the mock as close to on the mark as he could. I saw how he worked it, starting at the league meetings in March and tirelessly calling every team, finding someone on each team who would give him one or two nuggets to point him in a direction.
But here's how tough it is: Zim had five direct hits last year, and I know for a fact he worked it almost daily for a month. It's just so hard to get right, because as Zim used to say: "One team making one pick you never figured screws up the whole thing.'' This year, who had the Jets getting Sanchez at five, or the Chargers pegging English at 16, or the Ravens moving away from
g. Zim, please come back. You can have the mock back next year. I just borrowed it for a year. It's your franchise.
6. I think it was a pleasure to share quarters Saturday at the Chiefs' draft with old friend
Year after year, I say the same thing (actually, I stole this from a smart man in the league): The draft is the fourth-biggest pro sport in America, just behind the NFL, baseball and the NBA. It's bigger than the NHL.
7. I think the Dolphins could be stealing a big exec from the Red Sox any day now -- Sox chief operating officer
8. I think the Vikings easily took the biggest risks on draft weekend, picking all-purpose threat Percy Harvin at 22 and tackle
Well, of course he was. Everyone could see that. Where you get in trouble is taking risks on guys when the risk-reward ratio is high Now, if you're New England, and you've already got a great team without the holes of Minnesota, and you'd be able to stomach a big mistake there, I can understand taking the chance. I'm surprised the Vikings took it at 22.
9. I think I'm scratching my head at the fall from grace of two players: cornerback
Hobbs is a gutsy, feisty little corner, a confident kid who gave the Patriots some good games covering top receivers. But the Patriots are a totally bottom-line group, and with keepers
Now in Seattle, the loss of Hill will free up $8.3 million in cap room unless he takes a lesser contract. I hear Hill is likely to move on, particularly with Aaron Curry sure to dwarf his salary.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I am so ticked off I missed
b. And the Royals drew 36,363 to the refurbished Kauffman Stadium. Good for them.
c. Was that you, Zack, in the Classic Cup on the Plaza for breakfast Saturday morning? If so, a lot of us left you alone on purpose.
d. By the way, thanks to two Tweeters for steering me to the Classic Cup. Great pulse-of-the-Plaza breakfast spot.
f. Wow. Did you see the straight steal of home by
g. Coffeenerdness: Underrated coffee, always, comes from the French press. Had it Saturday, and even though it always comes out a little muddy at the bottom of the cup, it's like Espresso Junior.
h. Good to spend the weekend around you,
i. And great to have you home,
j. I do believe it might be time to throttle the season down for a while. Talk about a never-ending campaign. Have a good week.