Loving the Rams-Titans Trade, Manziel Sinks Deeper, Pats Release Easley
1. I think I absolutely love the Rams-Titans trade. For Tennessee, protecting Marcus Mariota is essential. But one stud offensive lineman won’t transform the Titans into contenders. Their roster is littered with deficiencies, which they can now fill with a haul of picks. Their secondary is a wreck. They could use defensive linemen. They could definitely use more than one offensive linemen. As Peter King noted on Monday, the strength of the 2016 draft is in the middle class: “Twenty-five to 55 is the same player, to me.” “Eleven to 40 is the same guy.” “To us, 18 to 48 you can get the same player.” “Load me up with twos and threes in this draft. That’s where I’d want a lot of picks.” Well, the Titans now own picks 33, 43, 45, 64, 76. As for the Rams? When you have the youngest roster for the fourth-straight year (last season, they opened with an average player age of 24.94) you need a quarterback. Oh, and of course that also helps as you try to sell seats in a new stadium.
2. I think while everyone (myself included) figured Laremy Tunsil was the surest selection for Tennessee, I NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport brings up a point worth noting: Taylor Lewan has never played right tackle. Moving him across the line might have raised another issue.
3. I think Drew Rosenhaus’ plea for Johnny Manziel to seek treatment should not be taken lightly. Rosenhaus never has fired a player in 27 years as an NFL agent. Think of the players he has stood by who were beset by off-the-field transgressions… actually, look no further than Greg Hardy. So for Rosenhaus to tell Sirius Radio, "I wasn't walking into an easy situation, but it has descended,” that’s incredibly telling. It’s also a reminder of how bold a move Erik Burkhardt made in February, severing professional ties with Manziel who was not only his most lucrative client, but also his good friend. In reporting the story on Manziel early this offseason, I learned about a deep-rooted culture of enablement. Burkhardt, and now Rosenhaus demonstrated gravitas that could eventually help Manziel pivot.
• THE FALL OF JOHNNY FOOTBALL: The MMQB combed through Johnny Manziel’s past and spoke to more than a dozen people who are or were in the quarterback’s inner circle to find out: Just how did it go so wrong?
4. Although I think last week’s hoopla of figuring out who exactly Manziel was living with was laughable, I was not surprised whatsoever when Josh Gordon’s name surfaced. I was equally nonplussed when TMZ reported Gordon scooped Manziel after he was involved in a fender bender last weekend in Hollywood. Manziel and Gordon have a very strong bond. They spoke nearly every day last year when Manziel was with the Browns and Gordon was serving his suspension.
5. I think I was surprised when another first-rounder from the 2014 NFL draft was waived by his original team. The Patriots cutting Dominique Easley seemed vexing, especially considering the timing. With New England operating with limited cap space—and a desire to extend several players, including Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower—why waste $2.9 million in dead space just to make Easley go away? However, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe illustrates a pattern of irresponsibility that clearly irked New England. According to Volin, Easley “routinely ignored requests to rehab his injuries with the Patriots’ trainers, and instead did it on his own.” The 25-year-old also had a love for aggressive dogs, landing him in some dicey situations. (For example, Easley could not participate in his 2014 rookie mini-camp because he sustained injuries when his pet pit bull bit him two weeks before the draft.)
6. After reading Volin’s piece, I think New England had been anticipating this move for some time. They shelled out good money for defensive tackle Terrance Knighton in free agency. I liked that move originally, but I like it even more now.
7. I think Sports Illustrated’s exclusive with Jason Pierre-Paul, in which the defensive end candidly discusses the fireworks incident that cost him part of his hand and nearly his career, is worth your time (assuming, that is, that you’ve already eaten breakfast). While we knew the details were gruesome, the images were nonetheless shocking. One the most fascinating tidbits to me was this: In a Week 10 game against the Patriots, the bone in Pierre-Paul’s middle finger came out and had to be trimmed and sewn back in. Yuck.
8. I wish Percy Harvin peace in retirement. It’s a shame the talented receiver and return man never found sustained success in the NFL. Battling a litany of injury and personal issues, Harvin cycled through four teams in four years. I’ll remember sitting with him on a shady afternoon at Bills' training camp last summer as he explained how he didn't want to be considered “just a gadget guy anymore”—and how he felt misunderstood. “I’ve always just let things ride,” he said. “And maybe that was one of my faults, not speaking up to say what it really was. It bothers me when people call me a monster.”
9. I think Tyrann Mathieu’s eloquence in speaking out against violence in New Orleans in the wake of Will Smith’s murder is something to admire. In relaying his frustration with the culture of indifference, Mathieu emerges not as an athlete leveraging his platform to make a political statement, but as a young man who is opinionated about his hometown. His anger is legitimate and his sentiment is authentic. I hope it resonates, but even more so, I hope it’s a reminder to athletes to ignore the fear of debilitating backlash and speak out if they truly are passionate.
• A SENSELESS DEATH, A BROKEN CITY: As the police piece together the events that led to Will Smith’s death, violence-plagued New Orleans takes stock and asks whether a football hero’s loss will make any difference.
10. I think I want to end this on a sweet note. Steve Smith Sr. asking Aubrey, a North Carolina teenager with autism, to prom should put a smile on anyone’s face.
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