NFL Off-Season Thoughts
Well, it’s been a couple months now, so I’m ready to talk about it.
We’re all friends here. This is a Baltimore website. So I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling cocky in the second half of the Super Bowl with the Falcons up 28-3. I picked Matty Ice and Co. to pull off the upset, you see. And I was really feeling myself.
I was pouring drinks, bragging to my friends at my party and for the first time in my life, felt like a true NFL prognosticator.
You know what happened after that. Look, I know I’m supposed to be impartial, but I was angry. Not because the Patriots annoy me (they do), but because I was so close to being right.
And then I made things worse when James White scored the game-winner in overtime. I turned around and meant to gently toss my remote controller on the couch in a small show of frustration. However, when you’re a few cocktails in, your aim isn’t true and your fastball might have a few more MPH on it than planned. I missed, the remote hit the wood floor and broke.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
The one comfort I took from that darkest of days was that with the Patriots coming off a Super Bowl win, the team could possibly take a step back. After all, they had a few key contributors coming up on free agency and it makes sense that more than one of them would get thrown a bunch of money by some other team and depart New England.
The Patriots managed to keep nose tackle Alan Branch. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is still there. So is safety Duron Harmon. Even star cornerback Malcolm Butler signed his RFA tender this week (even though he could still be traded).
Bill Belichick then horrified me by landing tight end Dwayne Allen and budding star wide receiver Brandin Cooks via trade (more on that later). Then he signed lockdown corner Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Lawrence Guy. And don’t look past the additions of running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, both of whom will join the likes of Welker/Amendola//Blount/Hogan and make crucial plays in crucial situations. Ugh.
I’m going to say it now. Barring injury, the Patriots are a lock to win the Super Bowl. There’s nobody in this league that can beat them.
Don’t believe me? Let’s break down their 2017 opponents.
At home: Texans, Panthers, Falcons, Chargers, Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
On the road: Steelers, Buccaneers, Saints, Raiders, Broncos, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
I don’t see more than 1 loss on that schedule.
So, my point is, get used to this. Tom Brady is already superhuman and his team is actually better than it was at the end of last season.
God help us all.
OK, now that the doom and gloom is out of the way, here are a few thoughts of what’s been going down around the league since February.
WHY? WHY? WHY?
Why do NFL teams trade with Patriots? Haven’t they won enough? Do people enjoy watching Dark Hoodie continue to pad his Hall of Fame at their expense? Coaches and general managers around the league need to take a lesson from the NBA. The Lakers had a trade overturned by the commissioner for mysterious “basketball reasons” and people like Mark Cuban take a public bow when they can thwart a deal that would send a quality player to Los Angeles.
So, please. When Bill Belichick calls, hang up the phone. Believe me, you’re going to come out on the short end of the deal.
B-MARSH TO THE BIG APPLE
The Giants really scored when they signed Brandon Marshall. They already have a quality receiving corps and now have a perfect complement to the stretch-the-field ability of Odell Beckham Jr. I really like their chances in the NFC East, especially if it comes down to a late-season game against the Cowboys for the division crown.
RAIDERS LIVING IN SIN
Sorry, Oakland, this is going to sting. I love the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. I know all the arguments against the move, and they are compelling. I just don’t care. I’m anticipating a future road trip to see the Rams (or the Seahawks, as my wife is a huge fan) and spend a weekend gambling, imbibing and then attending an NFL game.
If that makes me a degenerate, I can live with that.
PANTHERS KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY
Carolina had one member of the Kalil clan and then decided to add another one. But not all Kalils are created equal. The Panthers had Ryan, a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. He’s quality. But I don’t see the logic in signing LT Matt Kalil, who judging by my Twitter feed and the response from Vikings fans, has spent most of his career getting beat on the edge or committing penalties.
But hey, maybe a little brotherly influence can work wonders.
CHARGERS GO SMALL
I’m not talking about their roster. I’m talking about their temporary stadium in Carson, which seats about 30,000 people. They’ve already sold out their season tickets for 2017 (one would hope so) and quite frankly, I’m looking forward to attending a game there in the fall. How often do you get a chance to see an NFL game in a Division III-sized facility?
I wonder how it will look on TV.
Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles! DeSean Jackson to the Bucs! I love both moves and both players are landing in great places with up-and-coming quarterbacks. Kudos!
HOT AND NOT HOT IN CLEVELAND
I love that the Browns beefed up their offensive line by signing guard Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter. That’s a good thing. They also somehow landed QB and human disaster Brock Osweiler. That’s a bad thing.
I’m holding my breath when it comes to the draft. Here’s hoping they get this one right.
ROMO THE MAVERICK
I’m not a hater. I thought it was cool that Tony Romo got a chance to suit up with the Dallas Mavericks on his way to his broadcasting career. What’s the harm? It was a meaningless game.
Can the Dodgers sign him? Maybe Tony can get a hit with runners in scoring position.
OBLIGATORY RAVENS REFERENCE
Don’t worry, Baltimore, I got you.
I love that the team was able to retain Brandon Williams and then went out and added safety Tony Jefferson in free agency. He and Eric Weddle will make a great pair in the secondary.
LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE
The Lions adjusted their uniforms … again. And once again, I can’t tell the difference. Stop fiddling with it. Nobody cares.
ROOF TO NOWHERE
The Falcons really thought they were cool by designing a fancy roof for their fancy new stadium. So, I find it amusing that the roof is causing construction delays and the opening of the facility has been pushed back to mid-August. I think another delay is coming.
THEY’RE STILL HERE!
The Rams are still in Los Angeles. That makes me happy. And they signed WR Robert Woods and CB Nickell Robey. So, it’s clear their roster strategy is to sign as many former USC players as possible. Might as well, they’re playing in the Coliseum.
And shame on St. Louis for suing the NFL. You stole the team from L.A., you can’t get upset that L.A. got them back.
OK, that’s enough for this time. See you next week where we’ll preview the NFL Draft!
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.