How Tyrod Taylor and Colin Kaepernick are linked in this weird offseason, and other notes from the week in the NFL
1. I think Tyrod Taylor enters the season as the Bills starting quarterback—without the security of a long-term deal. General manager Doug Whaley is perfectly fine playing patient, forcing Taylor to prove that his 2015 was no fluke. More than anything, Whaley wants to savor one more year of Taylor’s bargain salary (a highly attractive cap hit of $3.1 million). If Taylor plays well in 2016, the Bills can tag him or sign him to a long-term deal. But Buffalo is also considering contingency plans, wining and dining nearly every top draft-eligible quarterback. Hypothetically, a drafted player can take over in 2017 if Taylor a) can’t sustain his success or b) spurns the Bills in free agency á là Brock Osweiler. However it shakes out, the decision falls on Whaley, and he has no motivation to do anything brash.
2. Speaking of those Broncos… I think I’m not surprised that John Elway reportedly inquired about Taylor. Gary Kubiak was offensive coordinator for part of Tyrod Taylor’s tenure in Baltimore, and last offseason Denver actually offered Taylor more money than the Bills for Taylor in free agency; the quarterback chose Buffalo for the opportunity to win the starting job. While the marriage makes sense, I just don't see it happening. To me, this feels like a smokescreen for Denver to spur a Colin Kaepernick trade. Then again, everything feels like a smokescreen this time of year.
3. I think I hate to pile on, but no, I’m going to pile on. I was disgusted by Greg Hardy's ESPN interview. From a misguided assessment of why his jury trial was dismissed to his hollow declarations of innocence, the entire segment made me cringe. However, I was most offended by this quote regarding domestic violence: “It’s the Bible belt. It’s just something that’s, I wouldn’t even say frowned upon, just something that’s nonexistent in most southern homes.” That statement implies that domestic violence only affects certain populations, and that’s damning beyond our insular world of football.
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4. I think I agree with Karlos Dansby that “it just wasn’t cool” that the Browns released safety Donte Whitner two days before the start of their offseason program. Most teams have already allocated free-agent spending, and Whitner, a respected and still serviceable veteran, might have missed out on a payday. But I’m also reminded that this is why so many players include salary triggers such as roster bonuses in their contract. Whitner's agent could have forced the Browns to make this decision earlier.
5. I think the Terron Beckham story is built on hype—but I’m totally transfixed. Beckham, cousin of Odell, is a trainer/fitness model from Queens. He never played college football. His most notable athletic credential is a viral Instagram video
where he bench presses 225-pounds 45 times. And so when he emerged this spring with aspirations to make the NFL as a running back, eyes naturally should roll. Beckham held a showcase at a New Jersey gym on Thursday and because of his freakish folklore and famous last name, NFL scouts and the New York media showed up. (The 23-year-old is not draft-eligible, and can sign with a team anytime). Beckham put up ridiculous numbers—his 44.5-inch vertical leap, for example, would have been best at the combine—and so of course, someone has to give him a chance, right?
6. I think I like this point from Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner:
Ramsey vs Tunsil decision is no-brainer for me. How many recent SB winners had bad tackles? And how many had bad corners?— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) April 8, 2016
And yet, I still feel confident that if Tennessee keeps the No. 1 pick, they’re going Tunsil.
7. I think one player who graded very high on the intangible scale at the combine: Alabama running back Derrick Henry. One offensive assistant coach told me the Heisman-winner “ticked every box for natural leadership, and then some.”
8. I think the least surprising headline of the week comes courtesy of ESPN and Ashley Fox: “NFL is full speed ahead to China, but not everybody is on board.” Fox quotes Giants owner John Mara: “I'm sure not volunteering to play over there. That's a tough trip. I don't know how you do that.” No kidding.
9. I think I really enjoyed Andrew Brandt’s tribute to agent Eugene Parker, who died last week at age 60.
10. I think I was incredibly impressed by the poise of Carson Wentz when I shadowed his session at Jon Gruden’s QB camp. Wentz fielded every X’s-and-O’s-type question with ease. He did, however, get flustered during this exchange, as Gruden tried to bait the young quarterback.
Gruden: “You’re working out with [Jared] Goff, right?”
Wentz: “I am.”
Gruden: “Well I’m a general manager, who do I want?”
[Thiry 30 seconds of awkward silence; Wentz musters a meek smile.]
Gruden: “Well, who do I want?”
[Twenty more seconds of silence.]
Wentz: “It’s your decision, but I know who I want.”
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