Ryan Fitzpatrick and Greg Hardy.
Wesley Hitt and Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
By Robert Klemko
May 31, 2016

1. I think I liked what I saw from Will Compton last week at Washington’s OTAs. It was actually inspiring watching the former undrafted free agent fly around the football and vocally encourage teammates in 11-on-11 sessions on Wednesday. Washington rookies would be wise to take cues from the man penciled in as a starting inside linebacker who four years ago contemplated quitting football after going undrafted and tearing his hamstring.

2. I think if the Seahawks makes the playoffs, the assistant coach of the year nod will have to go to Tom Cable, the offensive line coach tasked with integrating five players who are either new starters or changing positions. The Seahawks took a big step toward improving an annually disappointing group with the first-round selection of German Ifedi, but Gary Gilliam did nothing in 2015 at right tackle that would suggest he’d hold his own on the left side, his new home. If you ask me why OTAs are important, I’d say these summer sessions can make a world of difference for coaches trying to make chicken salad out of… well, you know.

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3. I think the Bills’ new media policy, while a bit extreme and largely naïve, has one saving grace: According to the policy, reporters attending practices may not report “who is rushing the passer, dropped passes, interceptions, QB completion percentage, etc.” I think we can all do without training camp play-by-play that is often vague and almost always misleading.

4. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is indeed looking to earn about $15 million per year with the Jets—significantly more than the three-year, $24 million offer on the table right now—that would still appear to be something of a bargain for the Jets as far as these things go. Twenty-one starting quarterbacks earn better than $15 million a year and several other starters are still on rookie contracts. After the 21 starters at the top, there’s a significant drop-off in compensation: Robert Griffin III, Mark Sanchez and Tyrod Taylor all signed prove-it deals that pay them less than $10 million annually. The 33-year-old Fitzpatrick’s contract season, as it were, was about 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns better than Griffin’s.

5. I think people forget that Hue Jackson, in his first season as coordinator, took an Oakland offense that finished next to last in yards and points in 2009 and installed the second-ranked rushing offense featuring Darren McFadden (1,157 yards!) and Michael Bush (655). Despite his recent success with quarterbacks, it should’ve gone without saying that Jackson would get back to his run-oriented roots with Robert Griffin III as his starting quarterback. Time to get excited about Duke Johnson’s fantasy potential.

6. I think the player I’m most excited to watch after a 2015 absence is DeAndre Levy, the linebacker who made the Lions’ defense tick two years ago and missed 15 games in 2015 after hip surgery. Detroit fielded a quietly outstanding defense in the second half of 2015 after giving up 149 points in a four-game stretch beginning in October. Ascension in the NFC North could be a stretch, but the combination of Levy, Ziggy Ansah, Haloti Ngata and Darius Slay could help make it competitive.

7. I think Aaron Rodgers is fighting an uphill battle in his years-long railing against microphones affixed to players’ shoulder pads. He said this week the arrangement “takes away from the authenticity of the game” and inconveniences quarterbacks whose cadences and audibles can be heard on the television broadcast. If the league ever scaled back NFL Films’ access to the game, it would be a first.

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8. I think Art Briles, the former Baylor coach accused of mishandling sexual assault allegations, and Greg Hardy, the former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end who was accused of battering his ex-girlfriend, will both have jobs in the NFL come September despite the league’s shrinking tolerance for violence against women. Hardy is unquestionably the top free agent available and could sneak into a camp like Atlanta, Detroit or Oakland—three teams who may feel they are one or two pieces away from winning their respective divisions. And while Briles will be considered toxic by many owners and GMs—especially after Baylor’s explosive statement on his firing—he might be an enticing ‘offensive consultant’ for any team looking to integrate a young college quarterback with a spread background.

9. I think the position battle I’m watching closest this offseason is the race to replace Josh Norman in Carolina. The Panthers and GM Dave Gettleman have a theory about building from the line of scrimmage out, and relying on relatively anonymous defensive backs and receivers. That’s all well and good, but if their three drafted cornerbacks (James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez) aren’t up to snuff, there’s a good chance they will be exposed by the likes of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston.

10. I think what the Deflategate saga deserved was a newsbreak from comedian Jim Breuer, who recently discussed encountering John Jastremski at a Mexican resort in January, raising questions as to his current employment status in New England. If the Patriots quietly fired the man responsible for Tom Brady’s footballs, the obvious question is why. Ben Volin takes the latest dive into the never-ending drama.

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