You can’t say anything about the NFL today without adding the caveat “if the CBA gets done.” It’s to a point where I can’t read anything the owners or the NFLPA says without getting annoyed. Just shut up and get that thing done. Stop using the media as a leverage tool. NFL fans would be happier to know that all involved parties are behind closed doors trying to hammer this thing out. And if other NFL fans are anything like me, they don’t want to read up-to-minute updates on the progress. They want to read “The CBA has been finalized, football resumes in 2011″ and that’s it.
So enough with the CBA. Let’s get into some football. Here are some non-CBA storylines to follow as we kick off the 2011 off-season.
Running back musical chairs
Running back is the most entertaining off-season position to follow because it has the most turnover out of any position. So who’s going to be switching homes in 2011? DeAngelo Williams is the best free agent running back available. Will he look to sign somewhere where he can be a 25-carry featured back? Will some of these backups who were thrust into starting roles due to injuries ahead of them like James Starks, Mike Goodson, Mike Tolbert, and Chris Ivory be the target of trades? And how about the old guys? It’s hard to imagine Thomas Jones back in Kansa City after a 3.7 yards per carry season. The Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams duo had a highly underwhelming season compared to what they had done in previous years. Both could be offseason casualties for the Dolphins. Brandon Jacobs has had a rocky past year with the Giants and is due $4.65 million in 2011. That’s a high salary for a 29 year old backup.
Nnamdi Asomugha is a wanted man
There’s not a team in the league who wouldn’t want this guy, even at the price tag he’ll come at. So who will win the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes? You’d think it’d be a proven playoff team after all the losing he did in Oakland. But which of those teams has the money to fork over for Nnamdi? Would he take a pay-cut? In Oakland, Nnamdi played a specific cornerback position and stayed on one side of the field at all times. Will he be looking for a team that lets him play more of a Charles Woodson-type role where he can play all over the field? Or will he want to shed the label as a guy who doesn’t follow the other team’s number 1 receiver and sign with a team that lets him do just that? Will he? Only Nnamdi knows. For now, he’s the most coveted free agent on the market hands down.
The Carson Palmer Situation
Carson doesn’t want to be a Bengal anymore and quarterback is the one position where if the guy doesn’t want to be there, you should move on and get someone who does (i.e. Jay Cutler). Whether he’s traded or released, I think Carson will be playing for a new team in 2011. The Titans, Dolphins, Niners and Cardinals seem to be the obvious QB-needy team. Carson lacks the footwork and mobility to be in a pure west-coast offense, so that would eliminate the Niners, who plan to move to a power west-coast attack under Jim Harbough. It’s unclear what direction the Titans offense will go in without an offensive coordinator. The Dolphins could be a fit with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll moving them towards a spread short-pass attack. If Carson has his choice in free agency, I can’t see the Cardinals as a fit, as their offense has very little to offer outside of Larry Fitzgerald.
Will (insert disgruntled player) finally be traded???
Carson Palmer might not even be the most disgruntled player on his own team. Chad Ochocinco has been flirting with the idea of joining the Patriots on twitter. At this point he’d probably accept a trade to just about any team that is close to contending. Albert Haynesworth has done everything possible outside of choking Dan Snyder to get traded from the Redskins. With the big bonus part of his contract paid and the rest of it at a market-fair price, Albert might actually have some trade value. Vincent Jackson showed us last year why holding out into the regular season is stupid. All he did was lose millions of dollars and he’s still a Charger. The Chargers now have their franchise tag to use on V-Jax, which many expect them to exercise. However, he could still be traded. Kevin Kolb made it clear following the Eagles season that he wants a starting job in the NFL somewhere now. It’s going to take at least a 1st rounder to pry him away from Andy Reid. Will a team like Cleveland (same offense as Philly now) or any of the other QB-needy teams prefer that solution to any of the incoming rookie quarterbacks?
- Ben Layman