Will losing Robby Anderson hurt Sam Darnold?

Will losing Robby Anderson hurt Sam Darnold?

So far in free agency, the New York Jets and general manager Joe Douglas have set out what they had to do by establishing the offensive line. The team brought back Alex Lewis, and signed Greg Van Roten, George Fant, and Connor McGovern, as their number one priority in the offseason was to protect Sam Darnold for the 2020 season. The Jets 2019 offensive line changed frequently every week, so this was their biggest need. New York also brought back other players such as Brian Poole, and Janoris Jenkins, but one other impact player was still available in wide receiver Robby Anderson.

Anderson’s market was slow, and the longer free agency went, the better chance he had at returning to the Jets. However, Anderson ended up signing a 2-year, $12 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets even more thin at wide receiver. New York responded by signing receiver Breshad Perriman, who finished 2019 very well over the last five games of the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but has struggled most of his career. With Anderson gone, Darnold has lost his biggest playmaker and a guy with whom he had great chemistry with. 

Over Darnold’s first two seasons in the league, 19.3% of his passes have gone to Anderson, and 11 of Darnold’s 36 career touchdown passes have connected with Anderson, which is more than any other player for Darnold. Not only that, Darnold loses a proven deep threat that can take the top off the defense and create separation for big plays on this offense. An offense that other than Anderson, hasn’t really had many big playmakers on the outside. 

It’s never a good thing to lose a playmaker like Anderson for a quarterback so young in his development, and a guy that your young quarterback trusts a lot. While Perriman finished the season well for Tampa Bay, prior to his strong five-game finish to which he caught 25 receptions for 506 yards and five touchdowns, he had only caught 11 passes in a pass first offense in their first 11 games, and is notorious for drops, especially during his time as a Baltimore Raven. The Jets are banking on Perriman that his finish to 2019 is a sign of things to come, but he’s got a lot to prove.

The Jets have helped Darnold with the offensive line, but now their job is to find him some playmakers. There is still time for Douglas as it’s only March and the draft is right around the corner. Douglas is going to go best player available, but you must figure wide receiver just jumped even higher on their list of needs after Anderson’s departure. At the 11th overall pick, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb could be there for the taking for the Jets. If the Jets want to offset the loss of Anderson, Darnold’s most trusted receiver, Douglas is going to have to work his magic once the draft and the next wave of free agency rolls around in order to keep their quarterback happy.

3 Losers through 2 Weeks of NFL Free Agency

3 Losers through 2 Weeks of NFL Free Agency

Every offseason, no matter the sport, has teams that improve and fill the holes they need to, and there are others that just sit back and trust their process, and those are teams we generally call losers. However, this offseason, we have seen certain teams, talented ones too, purge assets like never before, for what reasons I don’t know. It seems like nobody is safe anymore in today’s NFL, no matter how talented of a player or a team one is. These 3 teams definitely fell onto that list. Here are my 3 offseason losers so far.

Minnesota Vikings

So you extended Kirk Cousins for 2 more years? After the kind of year he had in 2019, itmakes sense. However, I will ask the Vikings the same question Gamora asked Thanos inAvengers: Infinity War, and that is “what did it cost?” And Thanos’ answer is similar to minewhen judging the Vikings offseason, and that is “everything.” While I may be exaggerating a bit,they did lose a lot, especially on defense. Their defensive line has been formidable for a longtime, but now it took a hit. 3 years after losing talented defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to amicrofracture surgery that paralyzed a nerve in his knee and hence ending his football career,now they lose both Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen. Joseph was already set to be a freeagent, and at age 31, they replaced him fine with the younger and at this point, better version ofhim in Michael Pierce, who’s 27. However, Everson Griffen, who has been a very consistent anddominant pass rusher for a long time with the Vikings, having 3 double digit sack seasons and 3others with 8 sacks, will be more difficult to replace. While they do save the $13 million in thecap space, the production of Griffen may be lost, and while Danielle Hunter is a dynamic passrusher in his own right, with 3 double digit sack seasons of his own, a lot of his production alsocame as a result of Griffen being very good on the right side of the line, and vice versa. Now,Hunter will see more double teams, which could make it harder for a smaller pass rusher, withHunter standing at 6’5” but just 252 pounds. Can you trust Ifeadi Odenigbo and StevenWeatherly to match the production Griffen did to give Hunter those opportunities in one-on-onesituations? Not going to trust it. While they did well saving the money, it doesn’t seem evidentthe Vikings have spent it well either, and it will be tough to find a player as good as Griffen infree agency for that price.

However, it wasn’t just their defensive line that took a hit. That secondary does not lookgood either. Outside of Mike Hughes, they have lost many of the cornerbacks that have beenmainstays on that defense for the last 6 years. They cut Trae Waynes, Mackenzie Alexander,and Xavier Rhodes, and strangely put the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris for $15 millionafter only one good season. Even though much of those corners didn’t live up to their first roundprojections, Waynes has still been a decent rotational guy between the #2 cornerback spot andthe slot corner spot, and Alexander got better year-to-year despite underwhelming. Waynes wasa little penalty-prone for my liking, but is balanced besides that, with decent speed and goodphysicality for his size, and was a decent #2 corner. Again, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t aliability either. As for Rhodes, he was one of the best corners in football from 2015-17, when hewas as physical and lockdown as it gets. He had a down year this year, fine, but that shouldn’tmean you should just cut him. In a pass-happy and offensive league, cornerbacks have become more of a premium, and a lot harder to find, especially physical corners like Rhodes at 6’ 1” and218 pounds. With already having offensive line issues and now pass rush issues, creating moreholes is never a good thing for an already talented team. Now, you leave an alreadyinjury-prone Mike Hughes as your best option with nothing beyond that that’s trustworthy. Yikes.

Finally, there was them trading Stefon Diggs. I didn’t like this, but also didn’t hate it asmuch as the previous cuts the Vikings made on defense, because at least they got decent valueback for him. Normally when players make it public they want out, that will drop the value.However, the Vikings still received a first round pick from the Bills, along with a 5th and 6throunder this year, and a 4th in 2021. However, what it does is, similarly to what I was sayingwith Danielle Hunter, will put more double teams on Adam Theilen. Unless they take a receiverwith one of those picks and he has instant impact, that will put a lot more pressure on Theilen toget open looks on more intermediate routes, especially if Dalvin Cook doesn’t stay healthy. Sooverall, I trust the Vikings as one of the better player development franchises in the NFL, butthem purging that many assets just to save money will make it very hard to replenish those andkeep the team towards the top talent wise in the 3-year window they have to win with KirkCousins under center.

Atlanta Falcons

A team that I thought had Top 5 talent might not have it anymore. Like the Vikings, theFalcons were extremely cash strapped ($6.1 million in cap space entering free agency), andthey overreacted badly to it. Outside of pass rush, the Falcons didn’t really need much, with atalented offensive team that got younger on the offensive line last draft, and a still dynamic corein Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones. Defensively, they were talented and stillyoung too, with them having talented linebackers and safeties and a very underrated defensivetackle in Grady Jarrett. Really, the only thing they were lacking was pass rush, which theycould’ve solved in the draft or some of the money they got back by letting their projected freeagents go. Instead, they did the opposite, and cut too many players again. Starting with thedefense, they cut Desmond Trufant, De’Vondre Campbell, and Vic Beasley. I am fine with themgetting rid of Beasley, being he has really struggled the last 2 years, is exclusively a speedrusher, and never has been a great run stopper. Yet they replaced him with Dante Fowler, whois essentially the same type of player, and is more injury prone and was almost double the pricein terms of average annual value. Fowler did have a much better season last year than Beasley,but can you really trust that to duplicate for somebody who’s been notoriously inconsistent andinjury prone, and isn’t a good run stopper or power rusher? Not for $16 million per year. Whenthe Falcons got rid of Beasley, I was expecting them to go all in on a Yannick Ngakoue or aJadeveon Clowney, or even take a value pick on an older but still more talented EversonGriffen. Instead, they gambled on somebody that was better recently than Beasley, but is thesame type of player, and likely will lead to the same types of pass rush problems for theFalcons.

As for Desmond Trufant, that will be a difficult loss, similarly to Rhodes, becausecornerbacks are a premium now, especially #1 corners and physical corners. While Trufant’sbest years weren’t as good as Rhodes’, he still provided the same kind of role, especially whenDan Quinn came over and brought the physical Seahawks cornerback scheme to Atlanta. He had some down stretches from 2017-19 after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week9 of the 2016 season, an injury that was one of many differences that prevented the Falconsfrom beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but in my opinion was the biggest one, as BrianPoole kept getting roasted that entire game. Having lost Robert Alford last year and IsaiahOliver having trouble with injuries throughout his short career so far, the Falcons are creating amajor hole with themselves at corner, and one that you wouldn’t want to solve already havingpass rush issues.

Another thing that can help questionable cornerback play is good coverage linebackerplay. Teams like the Panthers, Steelers, and 49ers over the years have proven that. TheFalcons had a chance to do that too by re-signing outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, whosigned for just $8.1 million with the Cardinals. Campbell along with Deion Jones created a veryyoung and fast linebacker tandem that is very good in both man and zone coverage. Obviously,Deion Jones is the much better player of the two, and is arguably now a Top 3 middlelinebacker in football with Luke Kuechly retiring. However, Campbell served his purpose for awhile, and played especially well in 2018 when it seemed like half the defense was hurt.Campbell was a bit down last year, but I also think was misused by Dan Quinn, being usedmore in pass rush situations, which isn’t his strength being a faster but smaller linebacker. Now,they will have to trust several day 3 picks to rotate alongside Deion Jones, which will be tough totrust when it comes to guarding slot areas and outside routes, especially with iffy corner play.Deion Jones is a great player, but he is only one player, he won’t be able to guard every yard onthe field. This will allow offenses to decoy away from him if they want to do middle of the field orslot area routes, and will make it difficult for them to have a formidable pass defense especiallywith iffy corners. Especially for $8.1 million, even if it meant giving a little more to keep him,keeping Campbell could’ve been a very easy move to keep that linebacking core strong. Whythey let go of him for a convenient price made no sense.

Lastly, we have the running backs. The Falcons terminated the final season of DevontaFreeman’s 3-year contract due to his injury issues, which they should’ve tried to prepare foranyway, but not in the way they did. With an extra second round pick for trading Mohamed Sanuand a deep running back draft this year, the Falcons could’ve used one of those second roundpicks for an insurance policy if Freeman gets hurt, and a guy that could start if they let Freemanwalk in 2021 if he still had his injury issues. But cutting him impulsively when he has beenreliable when healthy made no sense. Then, similarly to Beasley, they contradicted themselvesby signing another injury-prone running back, gambling on Todd Gurley. Now, them only givinghim a 1-year, prove it type deal wasn’t bad, but Gurley has dealt with all kinds of football injuryissues, and in addition has arthritic knees, which is not good long term. They might still draft arunning back anyway, but now they have to have him learn the system and play more rightaway, similarly to the Rams using Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown last year, and theystruggled. Who they draft in this draft, assuming they do it with one of their 2nd or 3rd roundpicks, will likely be better than Henderson or Brown, but that doesn’t mean they will be greatright away either. With Gurley having more significant injury issues than Freeman and also notguaranteeing to be a scheme fit either, I think the Falcons were better off gambling on keepingthe guy they know that works with their offense, even if it is a little more money.

Houston Texans

The team everybody has mocked the most this offseason, and with good reason, roundsout the list here. The Texans, talent wise, have really gone downhill from a roster constructionstandpoint since last August when they fired their general manager and operated since thenwithout a GM. I said, at that time, if they are just going to weather the storm and stick with whatthey had and just try to fill holes with bargain deals or scheme fits, it would be fine. However, theTexans did quite the opposite, trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick and two platoonlinebackers, and then giving up essentially your entire draft of the next 2 years for LaremyTunsil. This offseason, we found the icing on the cake to all this misery, giving up DeAndreHopkins, a 29-year old, super talented, very consistent, and durable wide receiver, and theydidn’t even get a first round pick back? I bashed the Giants last April for trading Odell BeckhamJr. after re-signing him and witnessing a 2018 season where his antics weren’t as bad, not tomention would’ve been a nice player to help a young quarterback, who they drafted thatfollowing draft in Daniel Jones. Their return of a first round pick, third round pick, and JabrillPeppers wasn’t terrible, but also wasn’t great. However, in comparison to the trade the Texansmade sending Hopkins to the Cardinals though, the Giants look like geniuses, especiallyconsidering that price they gave up was only lower because of Odell Beckham’s antics.DeAndre Hopkins has never had those issues in his career, where teams and certain fanswould portray that player as a “diva” or a “cancer.” I was never one of those people with Odell,even though he was troublesome at times, that wanted him off my team because of that.However, I can admit that the discipline level of DeAndre Hopkins is still a lot higher than that ofOdell Beckham. So with that, you’re expecting the trade to be higher than what the Giants gotfor Beckham. Nope. The Texans only got a 2nd round pick, a 4th round pick, and DavidJohnson back, a running back on a bad contract that hasn’t been good in 4 years and only wasreally that good in Bruce Arians’ offense. If the Texans were to gamble on an injury prone, freeagent running back, they definitely could’ve done it without having to trade the best player ontheir team. Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, and even somebody like Jordan Howardwould’ve been better options that were also less expensive. With the Texans having less draftcapital because of previous dumb decisions, they knew they had to nail free agency to fill theholes on their team, and it’s not like they were badly cash-strapped either, as they entered freeagency with $63 million dollars. You sign Melvin Gordon, some interior offensive linemen, andsomebody like Ha-Ha Clinton Dix for slightly more than what they got from their respectiveteams they signed with, the Texans’ lack of draft capital doesn’t seem as worrisome becausethey have a more balanced team. Instead, they trade away the most skilled receiver in footballand don’t even get a first round pick back, still have offensive line problems, question marks inthe running game, question marks in their secondary, and holes on their defensive line outsideof J.J. Watt, who has had trouble staying healthy himself. For years, the Texans have had agood roster and were often times a quarterback away. However, because of this offseasoncoupled with the trades they made last year, DeShaun Watson could very much turn intoAndrew Luck of 2012 and 2013, having to carry a team himself. Watson is talented enough andmore than capable of doing it, but on a long-term basis, that can only take you so far. Now,taking away his top weapon and not helping in other areas to make it easier for him will not help him take any next steps that he can grow into with his development and have this Texans teambe a serious threat rather than just a good or average team like they seem to be every year.

HOW SHOULD MLB SCHEDULE THEIR SEASON?

HOW SHOULD MLB SCHEDULE THEIR SEASON?

Ryan Hickey gives his thoughts on how MLB should schedule their season. Listen to The Morning Boys w/ Ryan Hickey every Monday/Thursday from 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- The sun shone bright on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon, the perfect setting for what was supposed to be a celebration of the start of the Major League Baseball season. Instead, the perfect day for baseball was more of a tease. A “what could have been” if the world wasn’t ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. There is hope, though, that a baseball season will be played in 2020, either as normal or as close to normal as possible given the circumstances. The big question from a baseball perspective is how will the season play out if and when play resumes?

There have already been some intriguing suggestions, including holding the World Series during Christmas and seven-inning doubleheaders. Those suggestions can’t be implemented before the most basic question is answered: how many games will be played? 162? 125? 81? All of these suggestions and questions circle around the sport, as a solution can only be thought about once the world can return to some sort of normality. With that said though, let’s have some fun and discuss the best way MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred can go about scheduling their season that would be beneficial for everyone.

Major League Baseball is still hoping for the season to kick off in early June, as Manfred spoke with Scott Van Pelt earlier this week and hoped that spring training can resume again in early May, setting the stage for a June start. So, the start date I am going to use here is June 1st. The season would start as scheduled for that day, as every team’s current opponent for the first day of June would be their Opening Day opposition. By picking up the schedule from that point, many exciting matchups are still preserved, including: Red Sox-Cubs, Astros-Nationals, Yankees-White Sox at the Field of Dreams and Red Sox-Orioles in Williamsport.

Image courtesy of Citi Field

I would institute doubleheaders every other Sunday, so extra games are fit in while not draining the players. Many teams and players have expressed the want to play as many games as possible, as Rockies manager Bud Black supported the idea of doubleheaders every week and Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is in favor of seven-inning doubleheaders to ease the toll on the players while still squeezing in as many games as possible. Let’s not forget, the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Despite the shortened season days wise, trying to fit a grueling schedule into a shorter time period will only wear down players and cause more injuries and sloppy play. The extra game every other week helps to give players, and more importantly pitchers, a chance to recover while still making up for lost time.

I would also extend the end of the season two extra weeks, moving the end of the regular season from September 27th to October 11th. This will allow for the addition of roughly 13 games, so teams can get as close to the 162-game schedule as possible. All-Star week would also be pushed back from July to August, so Los Angeles will still get to host the event and players will have enough time to prove their worthiness of an All-Star nod.

All of these conditions add up to the playing of 126 games from June 1st through early October. That equates to about 77% of the season being played, which is just behind the NBA’s rough estimate of 80% of their schedule being completed for some teams. With both the NBA and NHL considering going right to the playoffs if play resumes, my schedule proposal would put MLB in the same spot in terms of the percent of their regular season completed.

The playoffs are where it gets a little interesting. Pushing the season back an extra two weeks should still allow teams in bad weather cities to host playoff games in their home ballparks. There have been proposals and discussions of neutral site playoff games, with agent Scott Boras wanting the entire playoffs and World Series to be played at neutral sites. With so much baseball already taken away from fans, my scheduling goal is to allow teams that play in cold weather cities to still be able to host playoff games to reward their fans. After all, playoff baseball’s allure is due in part to the raucous environments that the fans provide, as anticipation is palpable on every single pitch.

I would still keep the World Series format the same, as the team with the better record will get home field advantage. I would try my hardest to keep the World Series in the cities that are playing in them because air travel might not return to normal by November and with so many companies laying off employees, fans might not be able to afford to fly to a neutral site to watch their team. A contingency plan would be put in place to have a few different stadiums on call to host the World Series if the weather doesn’t allow for playing in a certain city, but that would be the last resort. Currently, there are options being floated around like expanding the postseason and moving the World Series to a neutral site, options that make sense from a financial perspective to make up for lost revenue but ideas that I would stay away from because they take even more baseball away from the fans and dampen the playoff atmosphere.

This is obviously an unprecedented situation not just in sports, but in the world. MLB has done a good job so far in recognizing this and have entertained many different ways for how baseball could get their season on track. Trying to play 162 games is unrealistic at this point, which is why 126 games is Major League Baseball’s best way to get the most out of a shortened season while also keeping the schedule as normal as possible. That last phrase is critical, because in these times of uncertainty, a sense of normality is the biggest thing that fans need right now.

Big3 Basketball Plans To Launch Quarantined Tournament In April

Big3 Basketball Plans To Launch Quarantined Tournament In April

The Big3 plans to launch a quarantined, reality show-style three-on-three tournament in April to help curb the nation’s appetite for basketball in the aftermath of the coronavirus sports hiatus.

The founders of the league — hip-hop icon and actor Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz — have been having ongoing conversations with multiple TV networks since late last week to broadcast the tournament, which is expected to also garner international interest.

The preseason tournament will feature 16 to 22 players from The Big3 who are negative for the coronavirus, and they will be quarantined in Los Angeles.

Former NBA standouts such as Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph and Greg Oden could participate in the tournament, but many details are still being worked out.

To assure the league is operating under safe conditions, players will be quarantined in a large home provided by the league, sources said. A basketball court/facility will be built on site.

If a player breaks quarantine at any point during the tournament, he would be eliminated and removed from the premises.

The games and the players’ daily lives will be captured on camera for added drama and storylines.

The production crew would be stationed nearby but offsite from the players.

There would be seven rounds of games, with teammates reshuffling after the first round.

When a player accumulates three losses, he is eliminated. Cash prizes totaling millions of dollars will be awarded for first, second, and third-place individual winners.

 

“As long as we can protect the players, which we will do through proper testing and quarantine, Ice cube and I feel we can give fans some safe, entertaining brand of basketball to get everyone through this pandemic,” Jeff Kwatinetz told Yahoo Sports. “Cube and I have been in the entertainment business for 30 years. This is our job. People want to be entertained with all we’re going through and enjoy our sports. We think this will help.”

 

The Big3’s 2020 season is set to kick off on June 20 in Memphis until further notice.

3 Winners of Week 1 of NFL Free Agency

3 Winners of Week 1 of NFL Free Agency

Amidst a pandemic that suspended sports around the world, the NFL was stillfunctioning as usual, and then some. Not in terms of game action, but in terms of transactions,and a lot more than usual. We’ve seen star receivers, corners, and defensive linemen traded fornothing. We’ve seen several players go to division rivals. We’ve seen 2 Top 5 draft picks in your2018 Fantasy Football leagues switch teams. We’ve seen Tom Brady head to an NFC team thatwas on nobody’s radar a month ago. Translation, free agency has been wild, not only with thesignings but with the trades. Here are 3 winners from this wild offseason so far.
Philadelphia Eagles

Since Chip Kelly made so many bizarre trades in the 2015 offseason, Howie Rosemanhas been one of the best general managers in football, not only undoing that but building one ofthe deepest, most balanced, and mentally toughest teams in football. This offseason proved nodifferently, with some very good value picks and what was, in my opinion, the move of theoffseason. Beginning with the signings, Javon Hargrave for 3 years and $39 million is a nicemove to help their run defense and pass rush. Hargrave, at 27 years old, is one of the bestyoung run stoppers in the game and has been a decent pass rusher for a 3-4 nose tackle,recording 6.5 sacks and 4 sacks in his last 2 seasons with the Steelers. While he may be arotational player for the Eagles, he is an excellent young run stopper that will clog up the middlewith his size giving guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Malik Jacksonmore opportunities to rush the passer too. Defensive back Will Parks for a 1-year, $1.6 milliondeal is another great move. Parks is a guy that is versatile, having played safety, slot corner,and outside linebacker in 4 years with the Broncos. With the Eagles lacking corner depth andlinebacker depth and losing Malcolm Jenkins in free agency, Parks can fill many different rolesand allow defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to rotate different coverage looks even more.Filling an even bigger hole, the Eagles also signed linebacker Jatavis Brown to a 1-year deal(contract currently undisclosed). Despite being undersized at 5 ’11’ ‘ and 221 pounds, Brownhas proven himself as a good coverage linebacker, particularly zone but also decent inman-to-man too, and a decent tackler at the second level. Injuries have plagued him throughouthis 4-year career, and didn’t play much last year for the Chargers due to them signing ThomasDavis. With the Eagles having a big void at linebacker after losing Nigel Bradham this year andJordan Hicks last year, Brown should get the playing time, and will help out a lot in coveragedespite being an iffy run stopper. However, the Eagles have had a stout run defense for years,so they won’t need him in that. They signed him for what they needed him for, so expect him toproduce. Lastly, there is the move of the offseason so far, with Roseman absolutely ROBBINGthe Detroit Lions for Darius Slay. The Eagles got a Top 5 corner in football and a Top 3 cornerperformance wise last year for just a 3rd and 5th round pick. The Eagles haven’t had acornerback this good since Troy Vincent in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Even corner depthhas been a missing piece for the Eagles, a franchise that has constantly had trouble developingcorners as well as seen free agent corners bust there. Slay has been a lockdown corner foryears, Top 5 in most years, Top 10 on down years. He led the league with 8 interceptions in2017. While he won’t do that with the Eagles because he likely won’t be thrown to enough toaccumulate those numbers, Slay is the shutdown corner that has been the missing piece of this defense for years, and the Eagles were able to get him for just a 3rd and 5th round pick!?!Absolutely masterful job by Howie Roseman, and in my opinion is the move of the offseason.

Denver Broncos

While the Broncos didn’t have the “flashy” moves that the Eagles and Cardinals havehad so far, there are a lot of good ones in a mix for a team that was already ahead of schedulein their rebuild last year. While they still could use help on their roster, this free agency has beena nice start. In terms of the signings, they franchise tagged a safety in Justin Simmons who hasplayed very well for Denver in three seasons as a starter and played especially well this seasonin Vic Fangio’s defense. I think they will get a deal done long-term before the season starts,before the safety market gets a huge jump if Jamal Adams signs a huge contract with the Jetsand Derwin James possibly signs early with the Chargers. They also signed versatile and solidoffensive lineman Graham Glasgow to a 4-year, $44 million deal. The Broncos had sometrouble on the interior offensive line last year due to losing Matt Paradis, and much of the guysthey had inside last year were young and inexperienced. Glasgow gives the Broncos somebodyin the prime of his career, is versatile to play both center and guard, and is very disciplinedespecially. He has only committed 16 overall penalties in his 4-year playing career. While heisn’t amazing at one particular type of blocking, he is very balanced at all, and even was adecent run blocker for a Lions team that never had good running backs. Now, he is blocking forPhilip Lindsay and another new nice addition, and protecting a kid in Drew Lock that proved mewrong and looked good in the second half of the season with not much in the way of receiverseither. Moving on, who is that nice new addition? That would be Melvin Gordon. A guy thatprobably lost some money by holding out, the Broncos got him on a bargain contract of 2 yearsand $18 million. Gordon is the most skilled running back Denver has had in a while, generallydoing a running back by committee recently, even on their Super Bowl teams in 2013 and 2015.Gordon, when healthy, is a Top 5 running back skill wise in football, and can also be a goodpass-catching back too, despite not getting much opportunity with the Chargers having DannyWoodhead and Austin Ekeler on their roster in 4 of Gordon’s 5 seasons. With iffy receivingtalent, a young tight end, and a young quarterback, this will give the Broncos another weaponon offense, and Philip Lindsay is a good enough running back himself to give Gordon some restand allow the Broncos to make sure he doesn’t get hurt. This is a bargain contract for theBroncos, assuming Gordon can stay healthy, and he already becomes the best player on a veryyoung and rising offensive team. Speaking of bargains, they also made two bargain trades aswell. Before free agency even started, they traded a 4th round pick to the Jaguars forcornerback A.J. Bouye. While I always have said Bouye is a bit overrated, he played well forJacksonville last season after they traded Jalen Ramsey, and he is balanced where he hasplayed well in both man and zone schemes. The Broncos getting him for a 4th round pick is anice trade, and it allows them to have a veteran presence that can help out a roster filled withyoung corners. While I don’t think he’s nearly as good as Chris Harris, Bouye is a good fallbackthat is cheaper and a good value for a 4th round pick. The biggest bargain of all, however, wasthem getting Jurrell Casey for a 7th round pick. This move made no sense for Tennessee andhow Denver got him for a 7th is insane. Jurrell Casey is one of the better and more versatiledefensive linemen in the game, as a 3-4 defensive end and a 4-3 defensive tackle. He has
recorded anywhere from 5 to 7 sacks in the last 6 seasons in a 3-4 defense, which is very goodfor a 3-4 defensive end, and he is very durable too, playing 14 or more games in every seasonin the NFL so far. Also, Vic Fangio has done well at getting the best out of interior defensivelinemen in the past, from Justin Smith in San Francisco to Akiem Hicks in Chicago to somelesser talents like Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean-Francois, Jarvis Jenkins, and Mitch Unrein, whohe later took with him to Denver. Imagine what he could possibly do with Jurrell Casey, who isprobably at a similar level if not better to what Justin Smith was when Fangio got to SanFrancisco. Despite Casey getting older, he continues to get better, and this trade should helphim and the Broncos get the best out of him too, especially for a team that needs help in thatfront 3 to help compliment Von Miller and their collection of young outside pass rushers. Howthey got him for just a 7th round pick too is insane, for a guy that, after Von Miller, is already thesecond best player on that defense. As a whole, this is a nice group of offseason acquisitionsfor a team that already took a big step up this season, and it’s a collection of moves that, if I’mjudging now, can make the Broncos a playoff team this season.

Arizona Cardinals

Speaking of another bargain trade, the Arizona Cardinals made one of those for a Top 5receiver. While I don’t think this was as big of a steal as the Eagles getting Slay, being that theEagles needed a cornerback more than the Cardinals needed a wide receiver, this was still asteal. Giving up a running back that hasn’t been good in 4 years and, in my opinion, was aproduct of Bruce Arians’ offense similarly to when Andre Ellington broke out in 2013 (DavidJohnson was better, but the value and longevity was similar), along with just a 2nd and 4thround pick for arguably the most skilled receiver in football in DeAndre Hopkins, yeah that’s asteal. Hopkins will expand the playbook a lot more for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, allowing him toutilize more complicated routes that a 36-year old Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t run anymore andseveral late-round rookie receivers probably aren’t capable of yet, and probably will never be ata high level. Now they bring in Hopkins, who is 27 years old, has been relatively healthythroughout his career, is uber-talented, and besides one down year in 2016 (he still had 954yards), has been a consistent 1,000 yard receiver and near double digit touchdown guy hisentire career, and has done it with bad quarterbacks up until the last two seasons with DeShaunWatson fully healthy. In addition to the big and flashy move in Hopkins, the Cardinals madesome good moves to help out their defense. Jordan Phillips is a nice signing for a defense thatwas 9th worst against the run last year (120.1 yards per game) and will allow Arizona to havethe true nose tackle that Vance Joseph can use in 3-4 packages to create the hybrid defense hehad in Miami when they were a playoff team in 2016. Another good value signing is signingDevon Kennard to a 3-year, $20 million contract. Kennard is a versatile player that is a goodpass rusher and decent screen defender covering the flats, and is scheme-versatile as well.Kennard has good enough size to be a 4-3 defensive end at 6’3” and 256 pounds, and is decentas a 3-4 outside linebacker with his speed as well. While he isn’t that good as a raw coveragelinebacker, he can do everything else well, covering screen passes, stopping the run, andrushing the passer as a speed rusher. Kennard had 7 sacks in back-to-back seasons with theDetroit Lions, and now playing opposite Chandler Jones should help him get more one-on-oneblocking chances where he can flourish and be even better. Lastly, they signed De’VondreCampbell to a 1-year, $8.5 million contract. The Cardinals, in my opinion, got Campbell on abargain considering he had a down year last year. However, he is a talented and well-roundedplayer that will help this defense a lot. While he isn’t a pass rusher, he can do pretty mucheverything else. He has the speed to man cover and decent zone coverage ability too. He is agood outside run stopper and screen defender. While he is undersized, similarly to JatavisBrown, he still is productive as a well-rounded player. The biggest thing too is, with theCardinals having other young and injury-prone defensive players, he played well in 2018 withmuch of the Falcons defense injured all season. While I think Jordan Hicks is more talented,Campbell’s durability can help him emerge into the most productive linebacker on this team, andthey got him for only $8.5 million. One offseason removed for me questioning and bashing whatthe Cardinals were doing, they redeemed themselves nicely at least so far. They still needoffensive line help for sure to help protect Kyler Murray, but there’s still some time as well as the NFL Draft to solve that, which they ensure will be the path now for Steve Keim and theCardinals now that they filled some of their holes with these moves.

Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Ass.

There may not have been a better set up team in recent history than the New York Knicks. Not in ownership. That guy is a fucking idiot. But in opportunity? The Knicks may be able to turn a corner, and awfully fast.

What’s the genesis of such a thought? There are four, actually. In no specific order of importance:

  • New team President
  • Upcoming new Head Coach
  • 7 first round picks in the next 4 years, including a guaranteed lottery pick
  • Salary cap flexibility lacking long term deals

First off, the Knicks made a move to add a team leader, which considering the results of the last few leadership groups have been nothing. Not nothing but underwhelming. No, nothing, Absolute zero. Zilch.

But we should look at the sunshine that is behind the dark clouds of this disaster of a franchise run by a micromanaging douche who walked into family money and makes maybe the most compelling argument ever that the inheritance tax is too forgiving. And if Dolan can just keep from being Dolan, there is still a silver lining.

Let’s start with the new Team President, Leon Rose. Rose is a successful player agent, which is a growing trend both inside and outside of the NBA. After all, who can value players while seeing through bullshit inflation better than an agent? Especially in a time where a decrease in the NBA salary cap is expected? So Rose is clearly on board to attract names and to change a culture that looks like a train parking lot carnival, which a $4 billion franchise frankly should not resemble on any level. And a guy known working with players in a time when the cap is decreasing may be able to use his cap space asset now to acquire bad deals from winning teams in return for future assets from winning teams, or to burn off the remaining bad Knick contracts.

Luckily, Rose has a roster that has nothing but short term deal. Only one player is under contract three years from now. And their only buyout will also be burned out by then. So really when it comes to flexibility, outside of the Julius Randle contract- a guy who was almost traded- there is no major money in the Knicks near term future. And Randle may be moved next season if the Knicks are just as bad as the last two seasons.

The choice of General Manager for Rose’s is crucial. Dolan has been a headline grabber for the Knicks when it comes to acquiring mostly washed up names for futures or for burnt draft picks- come on, who from the Carmelo Anthony trade with Denver do you want back? But the GM will be running the draft, and this is a team that should be building through the draft hardcore. Here’s why.

Rose’s GM will have two first round picks in 2020. One WILL be in the lottery. He will have two first round picks in 2021. One will PROBABLY be in the lottery. Add to it that the one from 2019 was in the lottery. That’s three consecutive lottery picks. That should be a core.

Uh oh…

But wait, there’s more. In 2022? One first round pick SO FAR. But in 2023? Two more first round picks. That is 7 first rounders in 4 years in a sport with a 12 man roster. Which gets to the next GM question or two:

Are Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett players you build a team around? Are they parts of a team you build with? Or are they trade bait for different assets?

Let’s start with the veteran Knox. Much like free agent signing Alonzo Trier, Knox has taken a step back with decreased minutes in a year where he should have been playing. But Fizzdale, knowing he was coaching for his career, was absolutely going with his best odds, and not the odds of the franchise. A lot of coaches on the hot seat do that, giving the finger to the fans.

Know inarguable had a huge year over year decline in production. Also, his per minute play was stagnant. Maybe it’s why you don’t draft players as freshmen unless they were dominant in college, as their games are undeveloped. But that creates a different quandary- Is Kevin Knox tradable?

His stats say no. Not for a first round pick, which is the only way to salvage him. Maybe for an expiring, overblown contract with a sweetener. But one on one? Knox will get you nothing, so it’s best to burn a year to blow him up as a focal point of offense, and to create a market for his game. And ideally to ensure another lottery pick in 2021.

Untradeable today

Which brings us to Barrett. Barrett shows flashes of being a well rounded player. But the guy can’t shoot a free throw. I absolutely wait a year or two on Barrett before making a decision, because contractually you can- he has the longest term contract on the team. But also? He seems to fill in what isn’t going on. If he developes a free throw and a 30+% three point shot? He could be a swing piece at shooting guard and small forward that would be worth 36 minutes a night, at a fair price.

But today? Barrett looks like a part, not a whole.

Maybe the biggest deal for the Knicks is a new head coach. You need a coach that will be able to develop but also manage pro egos. I wrote about such here but be sure that you can not underestimate the importance of who the next head coach is. I am happy that David Blatt is in the organization, because in his head coaching career he has been nothing but a winner. Ideally he has input in finding the next Blatt. And let’s not forget it was Blatt who ended the Cav’s franchise titleless streak, not the other guy they fired after.

The takeaway? This will be the best chance for the Knicks to make moves for the next decade. They will need to draft very well in 2020. They will need to consider moving their bad deals in the same year. They can maybe pull off two 1st round picks 4 years in a row with a Randle trade. That along with cap flexibility would be absolute firepower.

They also maybe have to consider changing coaches two years from now, from a developmental coach to a pro coach. Or maybe they find a guy that can do both. No matter how it breaks down, the Knicks are entering a crucial time in the next few weeks, one that will define this franchise for the next decade. Which can either make the Knicks super interesting, or save the Knicks fans plenty of time from having to watch horrible basketball games.