Suck it up NFL Quarterbacks

This has been the offseason of the whiny quarterback in the NFL. Several quarterbacks either aren’t happy with the current situation they find themselves in on their roster or aren’t pleased with the offers they’ve received in free agency.

I’m talking mostly about Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nick Foles for the most part, although Colin Kaepernick might also be in the mix. He seems to have checked his ego though and let his bank account swell.

Nick Foles
Foles had the worst Total QBR of any player in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

Foles hasn’t been too bad either, but he isn’t being a good team player. Coming off one of the worst seasons a quarterback has had in the league in sometime as a mostly starting option, the Rams made the move to find Foles’ replacement or future replacement in this year’s draft. Los Angeles drafted Jared Goff after some maneuvering up to the number one pick. There were rumors that Case Keenum was favored to start over Foles before Goff even arrived on scene.

Now Foles appears to be pouting about his situation. He skipped voluntary workouts for the team in protest of Goff’s selection. Rumor has it that the Rams are looking to trade him now. The Cardinals, Jets and 49ers have all been linked as potential trade partners.

Sam Bradford
Bradford had the 3rd-worst Total QBR in the league last season. (Wikimedia Commons)

While Foles is clearly unhappy and looking for a change of scenery, he has been as openly frustrated as Bradford. The two quarterbacks are somewhat linked after a trade last offseason saw them swap teams. Bradford seemed to be Chip Kelly’s passer of choice in Philly, but now Kelly is in California while Bradford remains in eastern Pennsylvania.

Bradford still seems to have his job as well, and is scheduled to make $35 million over the next two seasons. He really has nothing to whine about, but that hasn’t stopped him so far.

Before, I mentioned the Jets as a potential trade partner to land Foles and that is because they have a disgruntled quarterback of their own. Well kind of. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t currently under contract with New York, but they seem to be his only real suitors. The Jets know that they likely cannot find much success this season with Geno Smith as the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick knows that too. However, Fitzpatrick knows that the league doesn’t seem interested in paying a soon to be 34-year old journeyman quarterback a competitive salary. The Jets know that too. Hence the ridiculous stalemate.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick threw a career-best 31 touchdowns in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

It seems like New York is willing to give him a reasonable contract, but Fitzpatrick is interested in getting top dollar for his services. He continues to holdout for a better deal and has voiced his discontent to his former teammates. He even has gone as far as to say that he would consider retirement if he could not find an acceptable offer.

For all three of these quarterbacks, it’s time for them to suck it up and realize that the NFL is a business. Now I know that I cannot speak from a player’s perspective on these issues, but they are being paid a lot of money to play this game and their satisfaction with every decision the franchise makes is not part of the contract. To me, these three signal callers demonstrate an unfortunate trend with professional athletes who think that their needs trump those of all others. They are so focused on themselves that they are not willing to think of the well-being of the team.

Those are the kinds of players that, as a coach, a general manager or a fan, I don’t want on my team. Their selfishness shows that they are not willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team and weak mental makeup shows that they are not what you are looking for in the form of a quarterback.

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This Rose is Perfect for the Garden

They don’t have a pick in tonight’s draft, currently on ESPN, but the Knicks made a major move to land Derrick Rose in a trade with Chicago.

I’ve heard a lot of different reactions to the deal so far and I wanted to weigh in on the deal. It makes way too much sense for New York. And here’s why.

Derrick Rose
Rose averages 19.7 points per game in his career. (Wikipedia Commons)

First of all, they really didn’t give up very much to bring Rose over. The Knicks sent an aging backup point guard, a future sixth man and a solid center to the Bulls in exchange for a former MVP with the potential to change the whole team. Jose Calderon is dead weight, Jerian Grant is a tossup with less potential and Robin Lopez is not exactly a superstar.

Rose has a ton potential. He has a well-documented injury history, but when healthy, the point guard has been sensational. He won the MVP award in 2010. He has a history of being great. Grant, Calderon and Lopez all do not. That right there makes this trade worthwhile.

Considering how bad the Knicks have been the past few years, it would be hard for this deal to make them much worse. There is essentially no risk in making this deal and there is a whole lot of potential reward.

That reward goes beyond just Rose’s contributions for 2016. His very presence in New York could attract some bigger free agents. The possibilities are endless. Obviously, the biggest grab would be Kevin Durant, but even some other options like Al Horford, Roy Hibbert, J.R. Smith and more now will find the Knicks a much more desirable team to join. Not to mention, if Rose has a big year and decides to stay on with the Knicks, they look very attractive to future free agents as well.

Phil Jackson also brings in someone who knows how to win and has a history of winning. That could be part of the culture change many figured he would bring the Big Apple when he was hired as general manager and team president.

Russell Westbrook
Westbrook will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017. (Wikipedia Commons)

The biggest thing that this deal gives New York though is cap flexibility. In 2017, the salary cap is going to rise to about $110 million. Rose’s nearly $21 million also comes off the books at the end of the 2016-17 season. That should give Jackson nearly $50 million in cap space to work with next offseason.

New York would love to land Russell Westbrook next year in free agency and rumor has it that the interest is mutual. That’s really what this move is all about. It gives the Knicks a wealth of options going forward, because if Rose does not work out, he leaves after the season is over, and New York gets to take their pick at who they throw money at.

To recap, the Knicks can really only get better and have primed themselves for the future. If you don’t like that deal, you don’t understand how the NBA works.

Bradford wants out of Philly

The Eagles are shocked that after trading up for the second overall pick to take a quarterback, signing Chase Daniel to a reasonably large contract for his stature and failing to pay him, Sam Bradford would like to leave Philadelphia.

Sam Bradford
Bradford threw 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2015.

Chip Kelly brought Bradford to the City of Brotherly love and now that Kelly is in San Francisco, the Eagles want to head in a different direction. Bradford is injury prone and did not have a great season last year. Yet for some reason they resigned him. Now he is demanding a trade.

For Bradford, this makes sense. He has no desire to be a back up or have a time clock set on how much longer he could stay with the team. He clearly doesn’t like the idea of having his replacement waiting in the wings. It doesn’t reflect very well on his personality, but you have to understand him wanting to skip town.

Let’s break down the teams that could try to negotiate a trade for Bradford.

New York Jets
Probability: High
Bradford is probably a step backwards from having Ryan Fitzpatrick, with the latter having played in the system last year and knowing the team, but Bradford would fill a need. If the Jets are unsuccessful in signing Fitzpatrick, trading for Bradford might be the next best option. Bradford would have the chance to compete with Geno Smith for the starting role. Bradford’s short contract also allows the Jets to move on from him fairly quickly. The likelihood is Bradford is no one’s long term solution at quarterback.

Chip_Kelly
The Eagles fired Kelly back in December.

San Francisco 49ers
Probability: Medium
Well, as I mentioned before, Bradford does have some ties to new San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers currently have a couple of quarterbacks on their roster, but rumor has it that Colin Kaepernick wants a change in scenery and Blaine Gabbert likely isn’t the quarterback San Francisco wants to invest its future in. Bringing in Bradford would give someone for Gabbert to compete with and allow the 49ers to move on from Kaepernick. Again, it does not solve the long term quarterback issue, but it certainly makes the present a bit better.

Denver Broncos
Probability: High

John Elway already traded for one Eagles quarterback this offseason, why not another? This trade probably won’t happen if only because Denver does not have the money or doesn’t want another Philly castoff, but from the standpoint of filling a need, it makes a lot of sense. Bradford could fit well into a run-heavy scheme and he would not be required to put up huge numbers with the defense he would have in Denver. The Broncos are a team that has a championship-caliber roster, minus the quarterback. Bradford might be just good enough to keep Denver’s hopes of repeating alive.

Drew_Brees
Brees’ cap hit for 2016 is $30 million, which is the largest of any player.

New Orleans Saints
Probability: Low
This one might sound a little bizarre, but hear me out. The Saints have Drew Brees under contract through this season and then he becomes a free agent. His cap figure is currently the highest in the NFL, so New Orleans would probably like to find a cheaper option. Enter Bradford in 2017. He spends a year on the bench, learning the system and the personnel before taking over as the starter. The Saints do have last year’s third round pick Garrett Grayson on the roster still, but if New Orleans isn’t sold on him, Bradford would be a good option. He would need to take a pay cut this year to make it work, but long term, this might be a good solution for Bradford.

Buffalo Bills
Probability: Low
These two teams already have a good relationship after working out a major deal last year to swap Kiko Alonso and LeSean McCoy. Maybe they will pull off another deal. No one is sure if Tyrod Taylor is the long term answer at quarterback. He and E.J Manuel are set to be free agents after next season. That could open the door again for a situation similar to what could happen in New Orleans. Bradford would be able to learn the system and compete with Taylor for the starting job. If he doesn’t get it, then he could take over the following season.

The Jets need to Resign Fitzpatrick

It’s time to give up the act and end the stalemate. The New York Jets need to suck up their pride and find a way to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a better offer than the one that they have laid out before him right now.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick played for the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans and Texans before joining the Jets.

Now it doesn’t need to be much more than what they have already offered, which is reportedly around $8 million a year for the next three years. Bumping up the offer to more of a middle ground number is something New York has to do.

There are a number of reason why. First and foremost, this guy just had one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. Fitzmagic broke the single season record for passing touchdowns and came close to the yardage record as well ranking second all in team history.

Fitz has his drawbacks for sure, in the number of interceptions he’s thrown, his rep as a journey man and his inability to come up big when the team needed him to in Week 17 against Buffalo last year, but the Jets have to look past all of that.

For the first time in a long time, Gang Green has a positive locker room vibe going. There is a lot of chemistry among this group of guys. That includes Fitzpatrick even though he isn’t officially under contract. Just Tuesday night, a video surfaced on Instagram of the bearded signal caller hanging out with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and Bryce Petty at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers and Penguins playoff game. That kind of comradery is not something that gets formed overnight.

In Fitz, the Jets would get a guy who clearly likes the talent he has around him and has a great relationship with his potential replacement in Petty. He has shown signs of wanting to mentor the former Baylor quarterback.

Many seem to have forgotten the uncertainty of the NFL draft, as fans and analysts peg the Jets to take any one of a number of quarterbacks in the first two rounds. However, drafting a rookie is a huge unknown and New York doesn’t exactly have the best track record for drafting quarterbacks. There is no guarantee that Fitzpatrick will replicate his production from last season, but he is much more of a sure thing than any rookie the Jets could draft.

And then if they want to entertain the laughable notion of signing another quarterback via free agency, New York kind of has slim pickings. Brian Hoyer reportedly visited yesterday, but he is just as much of a journeyman and his playoff performance against Kansas City was less than reassuring. There is always Johnny Manziel, or of course Matt Flynn. How about Tim Tebow? Point is, there isn’t a great plan B.

In a league where guys as average as Joe Flacco get paid $22 million a year, I don’t see why the Jets are so concerned with paying a guy who put up comparable stats about half of that. Upping the offer to around $11 million shouldn’t break the bank.

If Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles about making the playoffs and competing at a high level this season, they need to have the quarterback position solved. Geno Smith is not the answer and Petty is nowhere near ready right now. Especially with a difficult schedule, bringing back Fitzpatrick is the only way the Jets can hope to stay afloat this season.

Is Joe Flacco Overpaid?

I’m back, and Ravens fans aren’t going to like me for this one.

I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t usually like to take down athletes because I know that I could never be doing what they are doing on the field each week, but this one continues to be mind-boggling to me.

Joe Flacco
Flacco signed a three-year, $66.4 million extension during the 2016 offseason.

Joe Flacco continues to get paid among the top-five quarterbacks in the league and I really cannot figure out why. He enters the 2016 season as the highest-paid quarterback on average per season at over $22 million a year, having just signed a contract extension this offseason.

Yes, I know he made that incredible run during the 2012 playoffs to win the Super Bowl. And I know he always makes it to the playoffs, but is that really because of Flacco?

I don’t think Joe Flacco is a bad quarterback. I just don’t think is very good either. He is just kind of average with help from some great running games and defenses.

For starters, Flacco has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a single season. He came very close in his last full season, 2014, where he came up just 14 yards shy of the 4,000 mark. Looking at that season though, there were 11 quarterbacks that did hit the 4,000 yard plateau. Throwing for at least 4,000 yards is common place in the league now and Flacco failing to hit that mark is not a result of him not throwing the ball enough. A better indicator of his struggles is lackluster yard per attempt average. He only finished 13th among quarterbacks that threw at least 400 passes in 2014 and for his career has an average under seven. If he cannot hit these benchmarks, then it is hard to justify paying him more than any other quarterback in the league.

Flacco doesn’t throw many touchdowns either. In fact, only twice in his career has the Delaware product thrown for 25 or more in a single season. He has never hit 30 either, with his career-high sitting at 27. In an age where quarterbacks regularly throw 30-plus touchdowns in a given season, Flacco’s numbers once again come across as average at best.

His lack of scores is not because he is an overly cautious player either. Flacco has thrown double digit interceptions in each of his eight NFL seasons. That includes 22 in the 2013 season and 12 during his injury-shortened 2015 campaign, where he only played 10 games. His completion percentage leaves a lot to be desired as well. Flacco completes roughly 61 percent of his passes, a pretty typical figure for middle of the road quarterbacks in the NFL.

It’s not like Flacco can complain about being constantly under pressure or knocked around either. He had a rough year in 2013, taking 48 sacks, but over the course of his last 26 games (the 2014 and 2015 seasons) Flacco has only been sacked 37 times. For some reference, there were 10 NFL quarterbacks sacked more than that in just 2015 alone.

Joe_Flacco
Flacco is under contract with the Ravens until he is 37 years old. 

Baltimore has always been good about giving its quarterback tons of help too. During his first four seasons in the NFL, Flacco had a top 10 scoring and yardage defense to rely on, often with that group ranking in the top three. He also can’t carry the team on his own. 2013 was Flacco’s worst statistical season and it was the only one where he played the whole year and did not have a ground game that ranked in the top half of the league.

On top of all of this is the fact that Flacco is coming off a torn ACL and MCL. That is a major knee injury at the age of 31 for a team to decide to invest in him long term. The Ravens have him locked up until 2022 despite the injury concerns.

Breaking Flacco down even further, over the course of his career, he has thrown for about 232 yards per game, while averaging about 1.4 touchdowns and 0.86 interceptions per game. Those numbers are very comparable to Ryan Tannehill, whom many view as the definition of an average quarterback. NFL franchises seem more than willing nowadays to pay top dollar for average quarterback play.

Joe Flacco has had a ton of success, including a Super Bowl ring. No one can take that away from him. However, he does not deserve to be one of the top paid players in the world of professional sports. If you ask me, he is just an average Joe.