OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Surveying the NFL landscape from a Maryland hotel room early on a Tuesday morning:
Moss and the Hall. Overnight I see that Roddy White and a slew of fans are demanding the retiring Randy Moss be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he is first eligible in 2016. White Tweeted if the 44 voters don't get it right, players should be added to the committee. They may be someday, but that's a whole different issue. (Because if you add a retired player from the Steelers, you're going to have to add one from the Browns. And the Chargers. Etc.)
I am a fan of the five-year waiting period for players, because I think it takes the emotion out of the voting. And I think the five-year period will be good for Moss. I'd be very surprised if he were not elected to the Hall -- he is the best deep-threat receiver I have covered in my 27 years in the business -- but there are some lingering issues that should have their proper airing. Dogging it in Oakland is a big one. The whole issue of "being a distraction,'' or whatever acting like a selfish kid should be called, is something else, but I've never really been clear about whether we should consider that even remotely, seeing that we're asked to consider a player's on-field performance only.
As I consider Moss' total career, I think the dominance he showed for so long -- only Jerry Rice has more than his 153 touchdown catches -- is Hall-worthy. The pros likely outweigh the cons, but the five-year wait will be a good means of putting everything Moss did in proper focus.
It's always something with Braylon Edwards. Now his friends (and maybe Edwards) were involved in an incident in a Detroit-area bar Sunday night in which a man took 14 stitches after being cut with a knife. Edwards sent out a couple of my-dog-ate-my-homework tweets about his phone being stolen and someone sending out false tweets under his name about fighting. This comes after he pleaded guilty to a September DWI 11 days ago. I could see a team like the Patriots waiting until Edwards' value is at rock bottom -- one year, $1.5 million -- and swoop in to get a player motivated to have a great year.
The Raiders reward Kamerion Wimbley. Strikes me as a Raiders-have-to-pay-more-to-keep-a-good-player kind of contract. He's averaged seven sacks a year over a five-year career, and now they're paying him the average of $9.6 million a year ... pretty steep. But Wimbley could be the kind of rising player the Raiders would have risked going to the market next year if he played this season on a one-year deal. For that money, he'd better be.
Tim Hightower is a lucky man. The Redskins threw a life raft to a player buried behind Beanie Wells and promising rookie Ryan Williams on the Arizona depth chart, and now he'll come in to challenge Ryan Torain for the starting job in Washington. "I like everything about him,'' Mike Shanahan said Monday. "He's a good blocker, an excellent runner. Last year he averaged 4.8 yards a carry.'' Shanahan has been look for rushing depth, and he thinks Hightower is a good match for his one-cut running style -- in other words, making one cut and, regardless of what the runner sees, heading upfield to get whatever he can instead of attempting to run outside. I give Hightower a good shot to beat out Torain, but whatever happens, both will run more than 100 times, if healthy, this year for Washington.
Now onto your email:
• PROBABLY NOT"As a Bengal fan, I've been perplexed by the (non-)moves that the Bengals have been making during this free agency period. Is there anything they can do to give us fans hope that they'll win more than 3 games this year? Or do I just need to focus my attention on my fantasy team and wait for 2012?''-- GF, Columbia, Md.
Cincinnati is always going to have to overpay players to get them to sign, or take players on a downward path (Nate Clements), or be the haven for guys looking for a career jumpstart (Manny Lawson). Sorry. That's just the way life is, and will be as long Cincinnati is perceived by players and agents as a second-class NFL team. Or third-.
• TIKI WAITS"One question I haven't heard come up since the feeding frenzy began is: what's going on with Tiki Barber? Has anybody even offered him an invite to come to camp? Personally I think he's kidding himself trying to unretire after four seasons, particularly considering that he was well past where running backs reach the point of diminishing returns when he retired. Tiki is the latest athlete to learn an important lesson: once the cheering stops, the people move on.''-- Richard, Huntsville, Ala.
Whoa, whoa. "Well past the point of diminishing returns when he retired?'' Do you watch football? In his last three years, Barber was first, first and second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. In his last year, he averaged a 104-yard rushing game. Teams, rightfully, don't want to bring back a 36-year-old running back who hasn't played since 2006. I don't blame them. But let's not knock the most productive back in football in his last three seasons for what he did then. Now, as for the present, Barber would love to sign with the Steelers, and I still think it's possible. But he may have to wait for a team to suffer a running back injury or two before he gets a shot in some team's camp.
• GOOD QUESTION"Why the hell are the Cowboys so anemic in free agency? I see they just got rid of past free agency 'mistakes!' They need to address the defensive backs that are AWFUL (including the so called shut down cover corner Newman). Signed, VERY DISAPPOINTED COWBOYS FAN."-- Brian Porter, Chicago
You certainly sound VERY DISAPPOINTED, and may I add an exclamation point? The Cowboys wanted more than anything in this free market to re-sign their left tackle, which they did in Doug Free, and to get Nnamdi Asomugha, which they did not. By the time they'd lost out on Asomugha (and on lesser-light corners like Josh Wilson, who signed with Washington), they figured, correctly, it would be a mistake to overpay for a cornerback like Kelly Jennings, who is not as good as Mike Jenkins or Terence Newman. I don't blame you for being frustrated, but there's got to be a candidate out there who would improve your team for you to spend real money.
• WHAT CHOICE DO THE COLTS HAVE?"Do you feel the Colts are going to be in trouble with their lack of activity this offseason? I have been following a lot of the Colts blogs and it appears many Colts fans are freaking out about losing Colts vets like Clint Session, Charlie Johnson and Kelvin Hayden. I agree I would like to see the Colts take some action on the guys that are available, particularly Lofa Tatupu and Tommie Harris to shore up some of our weaknesses. But in reality, isn't the Colts front office following their typical mantra of develop within? The last time we made big FA signing was when we brought Adam Vinatieri over from the dark-side. The Colts have always had a knack for making smart draft picks and turning water in to wine with our undrafted FA signings.''-- Eric Landry, Lake St. Louis, Mo.
The Colts are always going to have a haves and have-nots roster. They've been top- and bottom-heavy during the Polian Era, and it's won them a lot of games. Now, with at least two more valued veterans to sign long-term (Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis), I never thought Indianapolis was going to be a serious player for anyone -- except maybe a home-run threat out of the backfield like Reggie Bush, if he could have been acquired on the cheap.