Plus, looking at Malcolm Butler’s future, why Elway is in for record money, why Grigson might not be so bad in Cleveland, and why Dirk Koetter shouldn’t be apologizing for Tampa Bay’s Twitter guy
1. I think you should read Seth Wickersham’s in-depth look at some growing discord in Seattle, centered around Richard Sherman’s reluctance to move past the team’s Super Bowl XLIX defeat and resentment over the organization’s alleged coddling of Russell Wilson. After declining an interview with Wickersham, Sherman denied the premise of the story. I can’t speak to how players feel about Carroll’s relationship with Wilson, but I can speak to Sherman’s lingering resentment for that goal-line flub. From our interview last winter:
Me: Are you guys completely over the way [Super Bowl XLIX] ended?
Sherman: Yeah, I would say most people are, but it's still being conscious, being cognitive of not making the same mistake twice. You know what I mean? You learn from it, you move forward. That's all that was about, just being cognitive of, we gotta be better in that way. At the one-yard line we gotta ... you would think we'd practice different plays, and scheme something up.
Me: Can you imagine Doug Baldwin screaming at [defensive coordinator] Kris Richard, What the f--- are you guys doing in that coverage?
Sherman: No. If we had lost on an all-out blitz on a fade and they scored a touchdown, then yes. Because it'd be like, What are we doing? Are we really gonna do this again?
Me: So it would be justified, in that case. I guess you see this whole team thing as being more democratic than most coaches see it.
Sherman: Yeah, because most coaches don't see it as a democracy, obviously. That's how a lot of people run their stuff, but here we do it a little different.
2. Malcolm Butler, recipient of a $3.91 million tender as a restricted free agent in New England, says he’s not sure where he’ll be playing next year. “Can’t predict the future,” Butler said this week. “Whatever happens, happens.” Allow me to prognosticate, Malcolm: Bill Belichick is going to offer you less money and less security than, say, the Browns or some handful of other teams that don’t have Tom Brady. And you’re going to have to decide whether you’d like another ring or you’d like to be filthy rich.
3. NFL Twitter reached new levels of snark when news broke that the Browns hired Ryan Grigson as a personnel executive. The former NFL player, longtime scout and ex-Colts GM deserves every bit of criticism for the infamous Trent Richardson deal, and for whiffing on a rare opportunity after drafting a franchise QB in Andrew Luck. But I wouldn’t doubt his ability to mine talent, especially after a layoff. Just remember how Grigson got the Colts job in the first place: as director of college scouting for the Eagles from 2006-09, and director of player personnel from ’10-11, he and his staff drafted DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy in consecutive second rounds, Jason Avant in the fourth, Brent Celek in the fifth and Jason Kelce in the sixth. I think the Browns just got better.
4. I think John Elway’s new contract, which he said he expects to get done before Week 1, could break the bank for executive deals. (Though we’ll never know, because executive contract details are not released by teams.) The argument could be made that Elway is the most valuable executive in the NFL. No executive in the NFL possesses the cachet of a Hall of Fame quarterback who returned to his old team to build a Super Bowl champion and consistent winner.
5. I think there ought to be a separation of church and state when it comes to coaches and social media. There was no need for Dirk Koetter to apologize on behalf of the Bucs for this tweet. I could see the football side of the organization getting out of sorts if the 28-3 joke came out of nowhere, but the Falcons social media side started the playful back-and-forth ribbing. It’s just Twitter, y’all.
6. I normally don’t get bent out of shape over players skipping OTAs (they’re voluntary, after all), but this instance strikes me as odd. Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon are noticeably absent from Giants HQ this week for the first team activities since their unceremonious Wild-Card dismissal in Green Bay. You’d think Beckham (4 catches, 28 yards in that loss) and Vernon (one tackle) would want to turn the page and get back to work ASAP.
7. I think Beckham, who signed the richest shoe deal for any individual NFL player in history with Nike this week, is a genius marketer. Next time you watch a Giants game, count how many times the camera pans to a close-up of Beckham while he’s taking his helmet off. I don’t think that’s a mistake.
8. I think Josh Norman is the closest thing we have in football to a classic wrestling heel, and I’m all for it: “Trust me when I tell you, it’s going to be bad blood this year,” Norman said this week. “You think the NFC East didn’t like each other before? This year right here? There’s going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I’m going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly.”
9. I think I’m a big fan of the 10-minute overtime, but I still prefer the college overtime format. It’s the only solution that’s quick, thrilling and fair.
10. I think the NFL should be thrilled with the passage of the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act, a bill that would lift the ban on state-sponsored betting nationwide. Similar to the jolt in the arm provided by the spread of fantasy football, legalized sports betting in every state would likely vault the NFL out of its current ratings slump.
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