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Rams Get Compensatory Pick

Posted by nickwagoner on March 26, 2012 – 8:38 PM

- The NFL announced today that 15 teams will receive compensatory selections in this year’s NFL Draft.

- The compensatory picks are determined based on a formula the league uses to determine a team’s net gain or loss in the previous year’s free agency. For example, a team losing a number of talented players without signing guys of equal value in free agency to replace them will be rewarded with extra picks.

- The Rams received an addition seventh-round selection, No. 252 overall from the league. League rules require that the number of compensatory picks awarded must equal 32, the number of teams in the league. The Rams actually did not garner a pick based on the formula but on the league’s rule that 32 picks must be awarded. Indianapolis also got a pick for this reason as the Rams and Colts were the two teams on top of the draft order.

- The Rams now have eight (8) total picks in this year’s draft including No. 6 overall, two picks in the second round, a third round pick, a fourth round pick, a sixth-round pick and two seventh rounders. The Rams traded their fifth-round pick to Denver for WR Brandon Lloyd and acquired an additional second round pick from Washington in the trade for the No. 2 overall pick.

- The Raiders got the biggest reward, an additional third round pick (and more) after they lost CB Nnamdi Asomugha, OL Robert Gallery, LB Thomas Howard and TE Zach Miller, among others.

 

ROUND CHOICE/

 

ROUND

OVERALL SELECTION

TEAM

3

33-95

 

Oakland

4

33-128

 

Minnesota

 

34-129

 

Oakland

 

35-130

 

Baltimore

 

36-131

 

New York Giants

 

37-132

 

Green Bay

 

38-133

 

Green Bay

 

39-134

 

Minnesota

 

40-135

 

Dallas

5

33-168

 

Oakland

 

34-169

 

Baltimore

 

35-170

 

Indianapolis

6

33-202

 

New York Jets

 

34-203

 

New York Jets

 

35-204

 

Cleveland

 

36-205

 

Cleveland

 

37-206

 

Indianapolis

 

38-207

 

Carolina

7

33-240

 

Pittsburgh

 

34-241

 

Green Bay

 

35-242

 

New York Jets

 

36-243

 

Green Bay

 

37-244

 

New York Jets

 

38-245

 

Cleveland

 

39-246

 

Pittsburgh

 

40-247

 

Cleveland

 

41-248

 

Pittsburgh

 

42-249

 

Atlanta

 

43-250

 

San Diego

 

44-251

 

Buffalo

 

45-252

 

St. Louis

 

46-253

 

Indianapolis

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

League Statement on Bounty Programs

Posted by nickwagoner on March 22, 2012 – 4:53 PM

- Following up the league’s statement revealing the penalties for the bounty systems in place in New Orleans the past three years, the league sent a strong reminder that all teams must abide by the no bounty codes. Here is that statement:

In addition to announcing discipline on the New Orleans Saints and individual employees for the operation of an illegal bounty program, Commissioner Roger Goodell also instructed all clubs today to certify that no such program exists at any NFL team.

In a memo to NFL clubs, Commissioner Goodell directed the principal owner of every NFL team to meet with the head coach and confirm that the club does not operate a similar pay-for-performance or bounty program and to instruct his coach that no such program is permissible and that if such a program exists, it must be terminated immediately.

Each principal owner and head coach must certify this in writing to the commissioner by March 30.

“Bounty programs have no place in our game,” Commissioner Goodell stated. “They are incompatible with our efforts to promote sportsmanship, fair play, and player safety.”

Going forward, Commissioner Goodell said, the annual certifications required of each club under the league’s “Integrity of the Game Policy” will be modified to include specific references to bounties and pay-for-performance programs. The prohibition on pay-for-performance programs includes not just “bounties” but any form of non-contract bonus payment. Owners and head coaches share the responsibility for ensuring adherence to these rules and for promoting player safety and the integrity of the game.


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NFL Statement on Gregg Williams, Saints

Posted by nickwagoner on March 21, 2012 – 10:37 PM

- The NFL released the following statement earlier today in handing down punishments for the “bounty” program that was in place in New Orleans from 2009-2011.

Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the New Orleans Saints today of the discipline that will be imposed on team management for violations of the NFL’s long-standing “bounty” rule that endangered player safety over a three-year period.

Discipline for individual players involved in the Saints’ prohibited program continues to be under review with the NFL Players Association and will be addressed by Commissioner Goodell at a later date. The program included “bounty” payments for “knock-outs” and “cart-offs,” plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game. At times, the bounties even targeted specific players by name.

The NFL’s extensive investigation established the existence of an active bounty program on the Saints during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons in violation of league rules, a deliberate effort to conceal the program’s existence from league investigators, and a clear determination to maintain the program despite express direction from Saints ownership that it stop as well as ongoing inquiries from the league office.

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game,” Commissioner Goodell said. “We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.”

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Commissioner Goodell continued. “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff, and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”

Following the March 2 announcement of the NFL’s initial findings, the league office conducted further investigation, including Commissioner Goodell meeting with many of the key individuals involved, sometimes on multiple occasions. The commissioner also discussed the matter with the leadership of the NFL Players Association and individual players.

Based on the record, Commissioner Goodell has imposed the following discipline on Saints management:

The New Orleans Saints are fined $500,000. In addition, because the violation involves a competitive rule, the Saints will forfeit their selections in the second round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts.

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective April 1.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games of the 2012 season. 
Former Saints (and current St. Louis Rams) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, effective immediately. Commissioner Goodell will review Coach Williams’ status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether to reinstate him, and, if so, on what terms. Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings. 
Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games of the 2012 season.
The Saints and the individuals disciplined today are expected to participate in efforts led by the league office to develop programs that will instruct players and coaches at all levels of the game on the need for respect for the game and those who participate in it, on principles of fair play, safety and sportsmanship, and to ensure that bounties will not be part of football at any level.

Commissioner Goodell stated that the actions of the individuals disciplined today violated league rules and constituted conduct detrimental to the league and players. He said the existence of a pay-for-performance/bounty program undermined the integrity of the game. The violations were compounded by the failure of Coach Payton to supervise the players and coaches and his affirmative decision starting in 2010 (a) not to inquire into the facts concerning the pay-for-performance/bounty program even though he was aware of the league’s inquiries both in 2010 and 2012; (b) to falsely deny that the program existed; (c) to encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to “make sure our ducks are in a row;” and (d) to ignore instructions from the league office and club ownership to ensure that no such program existed.  

“Beyond the clear and continuing violations of league rules, and lying to investigators, the bounty program is squarely contrary to the league’s most important initiatives – enhancing player health and safety and protecting the integrity of the game,” Commissioner Goodell said. “Let me be clear. There is no place in the NFL for deliberately seeking to injure another player, let alone offering a reward for doing so. Any form of bounty is incompatible with our commitment to create a culture of sportsmanship, fairness, and safety. Programs of this kind have no place in our game and we are determined that bounties will no longer be a part of the NFL.” 

A 2007 amendment to the NFL Constitution and By-Laws obligated coaches and supervisory employees “to communicate openly and candidly with the principal owner and/or his designated representative; to ensure that club ownership is informed on a complete and timely basis of all matters affecting the club’s operations; and to avoid actions that undermine or damage the club’s reputation or operating success.” The obligation to supervise the coaching staff and players is also expressly set forth in the employment agreement signed by Coach Payton.   

Commissioner Goodell said he will separately address potential sanctions for players and others with documented involvement in the bounty program.

“While I will not address player conduct at this time, I am profoundly troubled by the fact that players – including leaders among the defensive players – embraced this program so enthusiastically and participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players,” Commissioner Goodell said. “While all club personnel are expected to play to win, they must not let the quest for victory so cloud their judgment that they willingly and willfully target their opponents and engage in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players.”

While NFL staff has interviewed people in connection with public allegations of bounty programs at other clubs, no evidence was established showing that the programs at other clubs involved targeting opposing players or rewarding players for injuring an opponent. Commissioner Goodell emphasized that if additional information is brought to his attention that discloses bounties offered for injuring specific opposing players, he will revisit the matter to consider additional discipline. 

The findings in the league’s investigation, corroborated by multiple independent sources, conclusively established the following:

1. The Saints defensive team operated a pay-for-performance/bounty program, primarily funded by players, during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Under that program, players regularly made cash “donations” to a pool, and were “fined” for mental errors, loafing, penalties, and the like.  At least one assistant coach (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) also occasionally contributed to the pool. There is no evidence that any club money was contributed to the program.

2. Payments were made for plays such as interceptions or fumble recoveries. All such payments are against league rules. Payments also were made for plays on which opposing players were injured.  In addition, specific players were sometimes targeted. The investigation showed bounties being placed on four quarterbacks of opposing teams – Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner. Multiple sources have confirmed that several players pledged funds toward bounties on specific opposing players, with defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010.

3. Coach Williams acknowledged that he designed and implemented the program with the assistance of certain defensive players. He said that he did so after being told by Saints Head Coach Sean Payton that his assignment was to make the defense “nasty.” Coach Williams described his role as overseeing record keeping, defining payout amounts, deciding on who received payouts, and distributing envelopes with cash to players who “earned” rewards.

4. In each of the 2009-2011 seasons, the Saints were one of the top five teams in the league in roughing the passer penalties. In 2009 and 2011, the Saints were also in the top five teams in unnecessary roughness penalties; in 2010, the Saints ranked sixth in the category.  In the January 16, 2010 divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saints defensive players were assessed $15,000 in fines for fouls committed against opposing players.  The following week, in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saints defensive players were assessed $30,000 in fines for four separate illegal hits, several of which were directed against quarterback Brett Favre.

5. Coach Williams now acknowledges that when he was first questioned about this matter in early 2010 he intentionally misled NFL investigators and made no effort to stop the program after he became aware of the league’s investigation. 

6. Coach Williams further confirmed that the program continued during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and that he occasionally contributed funds to the pool in each of those seasons. 

7. Assistant Head Coach/Defense Joe Vitt acknowledged that he was aware of the program in 2009-2011. He admitted that, when interviewed in 2010, he “fabricated the truth” to NFL investigators and denied that any pay-for-performance or bounty program existed at the Saints. 

8. Coach Vitt said one of his primary roles was to monitor the activity of Coach Williams. This was based on the direction of Coach Payton, who apparently had less than full confidence in Coach Williams. Despite Coach Vitt’s knowledge of the bounty program, his understanding of the terms “knock-out” and “cart-off,” his witnessing Coach Williams handing out envelopes that he believed to contain cash, and his acknowledgement that the defensive meeting preceding the 2010 NFC Championship Game may have “got out of hand” with respect to Brett Favre, Coach Vitt claimed he never advised either Coach Payton or General Manager Mickey Loomis of the “pay-for-performance/bounty” program.

9. A summary prepared following a Saints preseason game included the statement, “1 Cart-off – Crank up the John Deer (sic) Tractor” in reference to a hit on an opposing player.  Similar statements are reflected in prepared documents or slides in connection with other games in multiple seasons. A review of the game films confirms that opposing players were injured on the plays identified in the documents. 

10. When interviewed in 2012, Sean Payton claimed to be entirely unaware of the program, a claim contradicted by others.  Further, prior to the Saints’ opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers (sic).” When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a “bounty” on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

11. In early 2010, Mr. Loomis advised Coach Payton that the league office was investigating allegations concerning a bounty program.  Coach Payton said that he met with his top two defensive assistants, Coach Williams and Coach Vitt, in advance of the interview with league investigators and told them, “Let’s make sure our ducks are in a row.” Remarkably, Coach Payton claimed that he never inquired of Coach Williams and Coach Vitt as to what happened in the interviews, never asked them if a “pay-for-performance” or bounty program was in fact in place, and never gave any instructions to discontinue such a program. 

12. In January 2012, prior to the Saints’ first playoff game of the 2011 season, Coach Payton was advised by Mr. Loomis that the league office had reopened the investigation. Coach Payton made a cursory inquiry but took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued. 

13. General Manager Mickey Loomis was not present at meetings of the Saints defense at which bounties were discussed and was not aware of bounties being placed on specific players. Mr. Loomis became aware of the allegations regarding a bounty program no later than February 2010 when he was notified of the investigation into the allegations during a meeting with NFL Executive Vice President-Football Operations Ray Anderson. He was directed to ensure that any such program ceased immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis did not do enough to determine if a pay-for-performance/bounty program existed or to end any such program that did exist.

14. Saints owner Tom Benson notified Mr. Loomis in January 2012 prior to the team’s participation in the playoffs that the league’s investigation had been reopened. Mr. Benson reiterated his position that a bounty program was unacceptable and instructed Mr. Loomis to ensure that if a bounty program existed at the Saints it would stop immediately. By his own admission, Mr. Loomis responded to this direction by making only cursory inquiries of Coaches Payton and Williams. He never issued instructions to end the bounty program to either the coaching staff or the players.

15. There is no evidence that Saints ownership had any knowledge of the pay-for-performance or bounty program. There is no evidence that any club funds were used for the program. Ownership made clear that it disapproved of the program, gave prompt and clear direction that it stop, and gave full and immediate cooperation to league investigators.

 


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Free Agent Primer

Posted by nickwagoner on March 12, 2012 – 2:25 PM

- The NFL sent out the following release over the weekend with a FAQ about free agency which is set to begin on Tuesday at 3 p.m. CST. In it are most of the answers you need to get ready for the beginning of free agency.

Q.  When does the 2012 free agency signing period begin?

A.  At 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, March 13. 

Q.  What are the categories of free agency?

A.  Players are either “restricted” or “unrestricted” free agents.  Within the categories are also “franchise” and “transition” players.

Q.  What is the time period for free agency signings this year?

A.  For restricted free agents, from March 13 to April 20.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior Club, from March 13 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 13 until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season, November 13.  If a franchise player does not sign by November 13, he must sit out the season.  There are no transition player designations this year.

Q.  What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

AIn the 2012 League Year, players with three accrued seasons become restricted free agents when their contracts expire.  Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.

Q.  What constitutes an “accrued season”?

A.  Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

Q.  Other than accrued seasons, what determines a restricted free agent? 

 A.  He has received a “qualifying offer” (a salary tender predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 20.  If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has a “right of first refusal.”  If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 20, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club.

 Q.  What determines an unrestricted free agent?

 A.  A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  At that point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by June 1 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract for 110 percent of  his prior year’s salary.  His old club then has until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season (November 13) to sign him.  If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season. 

 Q.  What determines a franchise player?

 A.  The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive

An “exclusive” franchise player – not free to sign with another club – is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 20; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non exclusive franchise player, as explained below.

The methodology for calculating the Required Tender for a non exclusive franchise player has changed.  Formerly, such players were tendered a one year NFL Player Contract for the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position at which the Franchise Player played the most games during the prior League Year, or 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.

Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the new methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:

The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays [formerly, “games”] during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years . . . ; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year . . . (the “Cap Percentage Average”) . . . ; or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater . . . .

If a club extends a Required Tender to a non exclusive franchise player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.

 Q.  How many franchise and transition players can a team designate each season?

 A.  A club can designate one “franchise” player or one “transition” player among its potential free agents.    

 Q.  Can a club decide to withdraw its franchise or transition designations on a player?

 A.  Yes.  A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designation and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent, either immediately or when his contract expires.

 Q.  After withdrawing the designation, can a club then designate another player?

 ANot in the 2012 season.

 Q.  What is the salary cap for 2012?

 A.  The salary cap is $120,600,000 per club.

 Q.  When do teams have to be in compliance with that number and be under the cap?

 A.  At the start of the 2012 League Year, which begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13.

 Q.  If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team carry over room to the next season?

 A.  Yes.  A team may “carry over” room from one League Year to the following League Year by submitting notice to the NFL prior to 4:00 p.m. ET on the day before the team’s final regular-season game indicating the maximum amount of room that the club wishes to carry over. 

Q.  What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?

A.  One hundred percent of its remaining room.


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Rams-Redskins Trade a Win-Win

Posted by nickwagoner on March 10, 2012 – 6:54 PM

- The Rams and Redskins issued a joint statement Saturday morning confirming a major trade involving a lot of highly valued draft picks.

- The deal, which has been agreed to but can’t be completed officially until the new league year opens on Tuesday at 3 p.m. CST, sends the Rams’ No. 2 pick to Washington in exchange for Washington’s first rounder this year (No. 6 overall) and second rounder this year (No. 39 overall) plus Washington’s first-round selection in 2013 and 2014.

- Now, it seems people have been quick to say that Washington overpaid for the pick but in looking at it closely, it seems – at least right now – to be a great deal for both sides.

- In acquiring the No. 2 pick, the Redskins will almost certainly land Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. The Redskins haven’t had a franchise quarterback in a long, long time. Griffin will have to prove it on the field but by all accounts, he is the total package and completely capable of living up to that lofty expectation. And Griffin is a great fit for what Washington coach Mike Shanahan likes to do offensively.

- Shanahan has done well with quarterbacks who can make plays on the move, using bootlegs and rollouts to create space and opportunity. He did it with John Elway and Jake Plummer and won big. Presumably, Washington will use its $40 million or so in cap room to get Griffin some play makers to help him have a chance right away. Of course, the Rams hope that Griffin doesn’t have too much success right away so those future ones will hold even greater value.

- As for the Rams, this is the type of trade that can be a franchise changer. The addition of those top picks puts the Rams in position to be power brokers at the NFL Draft for each of the next three years. They can stand pat and add great players. They can manipulate the draft even further by using that ammunition to move up and get players they covet. They can even continue to move down and acquire more picks which would give them even more ammo on draft day.

- The lifeblood of any good franchise is the NFL Draft. The Rams have put themselves in position to find the core of this franchise for the forseeable future in the next three drafts. The key for the Rams, of course, is making good on those picks and finding top caliber players with them.

- Something else to consider as far as this year’s draft: the Rams have three picks in the top 39. One of those picks is the first pick of round 2. That pick could be very valuable and maybe garner even another No. 1 in the 2013 draft. Likewise, the No. 6 pick could also still be moved if another team that doesn’t get Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn wants to move up for Ryan Tannehill. I’ve been told it’s a six-player draft and the Rams would do well to land one of those six but if they opt to move down, they really could make some hay to put pieces in place long term.

- Kudos to new Rams GM Les Snead. He was part of a huge draft trade last year in Atlanta and he showed no fear in getting this deal done. He set a price and he wasted no time to go out and get it. There is still a lot of work to be done, clearly but make no mistake, Rams fans, the future for this franchise is as bright as it’s been in a long time.


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On Peyton Manning and the One Team Legacy

Posted by nickwagoner on March 7, 2012 – 5:52 PM

- I just finished watching Peyton Manning’s goodbye press conference with Colts owner Jim Irsay. It’s easy to be cynical about these types of things but everything Manning and owner Jim Irsay said really rang true to me and seemed very genuine. You’d be hard pressed to find a classier athlete who loved his city more than Manning. I attended the 2010 Final Four in Indianapolis with my father and watched from a couple sections over as Manning spent the entire halftime of the Duke-Butler championship game signing autographs for anyone who wanted one. He even had his own Sharpie. The love between city and player was very obvious and very real.

- Anyway, today’s news conference got me to thinking a bit about the idea of one player being tied to one city for his entire career. In just the past three or four months, we’ve seen Albert Pujols and Peyton Manning leave their city either by choice or by release. These aren’t run of the mill players, they are genuine superstars at or nearly removed from the top of the mountain. Nobody is immune to the harsh nature of sports. When you hear athletes and management types say “it’s just the business side of this game,” they say it because it’s true. But there was a time when there was no business side. Or at least the business part hadn’t been developed and it was OK for athletes to form a never ending bond with one city.

- Growing up, my father always told me about his greatest athletic heros. The names he mentioned most were Mickey Mantle and Johnny Unitas. Mantle was a Yankee his whole career. Unitas very nearly played all of his career with the Colts, much like Manning himself. People choose to forget the one-off he had with San Diego and why wouldn’t they? Johnny U. was the original Colt.

- Point is, days like today with a big press conference announcing a parting of the ways never happened back then. If a guy switched teams, it was generally because he had hung around too long and was just looking for any place that would give him an opportunity. Now, teams and players can part ways for any number of reasons. While money is generally the usual factor (isn’t it always?), you have trades, emerging prospects, suspensions for steroid use or other transgressions, free agency and sometimes even good old fashioned stubborness as reasons that guys leave the franchise that they’ve spent most of their careers with. You even have guys putting their legacy up for debate by forming dream teams.

- I grew up in this era, the one where the one franchise player was almost a myth. There was the occasional Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken Jr. but since the advent of free agency and salary caps, there simply isn’t much room for it. Right here in St. Louis, I watched Isaac Bruce, Mr. St. Louis Ram, end his career in the uniform of the team’s most hated rival. We all know what happened with Brett Favre. Even some of my own childhood idols, guys like Ken Griffey Jr, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley played in multiple uniforms be it in their prime or in the twilight days.

- I don’t want to say that I’ve been jaded by the business side of it. I still believe in some of the romantic parts of sports: things that aren’t real like the idea of being “clutch,” the idea of any given Sunday and the magic of a miracle comeback or upset. Those are the reasons we watch sports and at the same time, those things are easily lost in the shuffle of potential salary cap cuts, scouting combines and whatever the off the field scandal du jour is.

- The point to all of this is this: we no longer live in an era where we can latch on to the names on the back of the jersey. Embracing the name on the front is the far safer and much less emotionally draining move to make. It’s a reality that doesn’t make days like today any easier for Colts fans or even fans of the good old days where players stayed in one place their entire career. What it does do is serve as a reminder to enjoy what you have.

- Whether your team was 13-3 or 3-13 last year, there are at least a couple guys that you probably enjoyed watching and probably in some way made every game worth it for you. The lesson in all of this is that those times might be fleeting. Take a moment to enjoy it while you can because chances are, it won’t last forever.


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Franchise Tags Finalized

Posted by nickwagoner on March 6, 2012 – 4:30 PM

- The NFL announced on Monday the teams that opted to use their franchise tags this year. With prices on tenders lower than ever, more teams than ever opted to use the tag. A whopping 21 teams designated a franchise player, essentially taking those players off the market.

- Here’s a look at those teams and players:

 

2012 FRANCHISE PLAYERS

 

Club

Player

Position

Arizona Campbell, Calais

DE

Atlanta Grimes, Brent

CB

Baltimore Rice, Ray

RB

Chicago Forté, Matt

RB

Cincinnati Nugent, Mike

K

Cleveland Dawson, Phil

K

Dallas Spencer, Anthony

LB

Denver Prater, Matt

K

Detroit Avril, Cliff

DE

Indianapolis Mathis, Robert

DE

Jacksonville Scobee, Josh

K

Kansas City Bowe, Dwayne

WR

New England Welker, Wes

WR

New Orleans Brees, Drew**

QB

New York Giants Weatherford, Steve

P

Oakland Branch, Tyvon

S

Philadelphia Jackson, DeSean

WR

San Francisco Goldson, Dashon

S

Tampa Bay Barth, Connor

K

Tennessee Griffin, Michael

S

Washington Davis, Fred

TE

 **Signifies “exclusive” franchise player – players that cannot even sign offer sheets with other teams.

- Clearly, teams were not afraid to use the tag this year and this list will limit some of the available talent on the market but there are still some top notch players set to hit the market on March 13.

- A few names to keep an eye on when free agency opens: New Orleans WR Marques Colston, San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, Kansas City CB Brandon Carr, Tennessee CB Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee DT Jason Jones, New Orleans G Carl Nicks and Houston DE Mario Williams.

- The Rams opted not to use the tag on anyone this year. That should come as no surprise.

- Teams can still sign their own free agents between now and March 13.


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