PFT Mailbag, take two

A week ago, we spent some time on Saturday night banging out our first-ever PFT Mailbag, a collection of well thought-out questions from you, and shoot-from-the-hip answers from us.

I learned two things from the experience.  One, most of you seemed to like it.  Two, I need a better Saturday night hobby.

Since I’ve yet to find one, let’s try this again.  For Rumor Mill space purposes, it’s after the jump.


Who are the toughest teams in the NFL to get information from?  Cen49760.

Few
teams are forthcoming with sensitive information about their own
organization, unless they have a strategic reason to leak an intriguing
nugget.  When it comes to non-sensitive, routine information, the worst
team, by far, is the Raiders.  They rarely send out e-mails announcing
roster moves.  (When we first asked to be placed on the e-mail list, we
were told that the Raiders don’t have one.)  So the media has to park on
the Raiders website, pull up the transactions page, and periodically
hit the F5 button in order to find out things that the rest of the teams
already know.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Eagles.
They promptly send out information about roster moves and player
injuries via e-mail and text message.

With more teams
adding different offensive formations like the Wildcat, do you think
that the third string quarterback rule needs to change or be gotten rid
of entirely?  Philip S
.

No, because the Wildcat as best
utilized relies on the element of surprise that comes from a
non-quarterback exiting the huddle and lining up to receive the snap.
Teams that hope to use a change-of-pace quarterback do so with the
understanding that, if the starting quarterback is injured, the Pat
White or Mike Vick alternative may have to play until the fourth
quarter, at which time the “emergency” quarterback can enter the game
without the other two quarterbacks being barred from returning.

If/when
(when) the regular season grows to 18 games, look for the inevitable
roster expansion to include permitting teams to have three active
quarterbacks and to dress a fourth quarterback on game days.

Adding two games is fine, but how will the NFL make sure the games are meaningful at the end of the year?  Nicholas W.

Great
question.  With more games, teams could clinch their divisions and,
most importantly, home-field advantage in the playoffs even earlier.  As
much as Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t like preseason games, he
hates regular-season games that operate like preseason games for the
postseason.

The NFL’s first step in fixing the problem comes from
playing intradivision games only during the last two weeks of the
regular season.  But as we pointed out when the league announced its
intention to close the campaign with division rivalries, the Colts still would have quit trying if they played the Titans and Texans instead of the Jets and Bills to close out the 2009 season.

And as we pointed out at pages 56 and 57 of the PFT Season Preview
magazine, the only way to make meaningless late-season games meaningful
is to find a way to make them genuinely meaningful.  “One possibility
would be to determine playoff qualification based on the full-season
record but to seed the six teams based on their performances in the
final four weeks,” a certain Internet hack suggested in said magazine.

We
also generally like the idea of using an external voting process aimed
at ranking the playoff teams based on their level of play down the
stretch.  But then we think about the manner in which the Associated Press
voters bungled the Brian Cushing hCG Mulligan, and we tend to agree
with those who believe that entrusting the task to members of the media
potentially would result in a cluster of something other than fudge.

Do
you think all the Brett Favre, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin drama will
motivate Adrian Peterson to return to Purple Jesus form?  Jeff M.

I
think Peterson’s desire to win a Super Bowl and to secure a long-term
contract will motivate him to try to put up career numbers.  But while
the passing game overshadowed and a fumbling problem undermined his
performance in 2009, Peterson still gained 1,383 yards rushing.  Though
it represented a reduction of nearly 400 yards from 2008, when he racked
up 1,760, a 311-yard uptick in receiving yards put him only 66 behind
his 2008 yards-from-scrimmage total.

Here’s another interesting stat — Peterson fumbled two fewer times in 2009 than he did in 2008.

So he’ll be back in 2010.  The truth is that he never left.

Is it because we are entering an uncapped year that the Jets seem to be able to sign people to these large contracts?  Karen A.

If
anything, the uncapped year is keeping the Jets from structuring
contract extensions in a way that would make the deals more palatable to
the players.  Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson inked a team-friendly
deal that pushes most guaranteed money into 2011 and beyond.  Center
Nick Mangold’s contract represents a big one for a center, but it’s
hardly a bank-breaker.

As to the new players added in the
offseason (cornerback Antonio Cromartie, receiver Santonio Holmes,
running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and linebacker Jason Taylor), the Jets
acquired each at a relatively small financial investment.

If
a player retired with multiple years remaining on his contract and the
franchise put the player on the reserve/retired list, would that
player’s contract continue to run for its duration without paying the
player until the contract was up?  Vik A.

If a player
retires with time left on his deal, the contract freezes in place.  So
if a player retires with two years left on his contract and then
unretires two years later, the player remains under contract with his
former team for two more years.

When a player unretires, the team
must decide whether to welcome him back or release him.  Two years ago,
Brett Favre tried to force the Packers to cut him by abruptly
unretiring.  But the Packers wanted to keep him from joining the Vikings
and they had the cap space to carry his eight-figure base salary while
they worked out a trade.

Each year, a specific deadline applies
for a retired player to unretire.  This year, any retired player must
unretire by December 3.

There’s one more wrinkle to keep in
mind.  If a player unretires after the trading deadline in the hopes of
playing for a new team, he would have to pass through waivers before
becoming a free agent.  In 2002, the Redskins released Deion Sanders
from the reserve/retired list, at a time when it was believed that he
wanted to play for the Raiders.  The Chargers blocked the move, claiming
Sanders’ rights via waivers.

Why the Chargers?  Their coach,
Marty Schottenheimer, had coached the Redskins in 2001, when Sanders
agreed in exchange for getting to keep his signing bonus that he would
retire from football.  Schottenheimer’s move ensured that, at least for
the latter stages of the 2002 season, Deion would honor his commitment.

How likely is it that the Vikings move out of Minnesota for a new stadium?  John, NJ.

It’s
still too early to tell.  Earlier this year, the Vikings tried to push
through the Legislature a bill that would have partially funded a new
stadium; it was believed that the positive buzz from the opening of the
Twins’ new stadium would fuel the process.  The effort ultimately
failed, and the 2011 session provides the last chance for getting
something done before the Vikings become geographic free agents.

Whether
they’d pick up and move after the 2011 season remains to be seen.  Our
guess is that they’d try one more time to get a deal done for a new
stadium in 2012, and that if successful they’d stay in the Metrodome
while the construction proceeds.

At some point, the folks in
Minnesota need to take this seriously, or the Vikings will move to a
city that realizes the broad base of advantages that flow from having an
NFL team.  If it gets to that point, look for Zygi Wilf to sell the
franchise to interests that would move the team to L.A.

Are
the owners in agreement on what is a successfully negotiated labor
agreement?  Why hasn’t  Roger Goodell gotten the owners together to
decide on what the goal of the negotiations are from the owners’
perspective?  It seems like it will be hard enough to get the players
and the owners to agree, but it seems even harder if the owners are not
on the same page with what they want other than reduction of the 60
percent the players get.  Mike B.

The owners are as
united as any group of owners ever have been on the key issue in the
negotiations — the amount of money the players will get.  Everything
else is negotiable, and the owners have delegated to its bargaining team
the authority to shape the contours of the collateral issues.

The
big issues are simple:  money, a rookie wage scale, and expansion of
the season to 18 games.  With quarterly ownership meetings and
continuous communication from the league office, the owners know where
the league stands.  Even if some of them disagree they are all committed
to projecting a united front.

For now.

Do you think
the league should look at considering lifetime bans for those involved
in repeated criminal activity or for those who commit more serious
crimes?  Will S.

The Personal Conduct Policy already
provides for possible banishment from the league.  To date, no one has
done enough to justify being banished without also being suspended
indefinitely, as a practical matter, via extended incarceration.

Do
you think the Colts and Pats could possibly be delaying the presumably
record-breaking Peyton Manning and Tom Brady contract extensions until
late in the season as a P.R. move geared toward giving the owners’
leverage?  Justin, Cincinnati.

Having Manning and Brady
unsigned does not give the league any specific leverage when it comes to
the labor negotiations.  In fact, if the new contracts aren’t finalized
before the end of the season, there’s a chance that the union could try
to drive a wedge between Colts owner Jim Irsay, Patriots owner Robert
Kraft, and other owners by pushing hard for a new CBA that omits the
franchise tag.

If the union makes a sufficiently compelling offer
to the league but hinges it on the removal of the franchise tag, Irsay
and Kraft will be conflicted.  The NFL could get a good deal, but Irsay
and Kraft would have to risk seeing their franchise quarterbacks hit the
open market.

In the end, it’s unlikely that the union will push
very hard to get rid of the franchise tag, because it affects only a
small percentage of the players.  In a capped environment, the
non-franchised players typically don’t object when one man is prevented
from gobbling up too much of the money that they all have to find a way
to divvy up.

Peyton Manning made a point about the UFA not
having a chance to make the roster if the preseason shrinks.  He used
Jeff Saturday as a example.  My question to you is:  What can they do to
allow the UFA to have the time needed to show their talent, with only
two preseason games?  Mary S.

For starters, not every
veteran player will complain about undrafted players not having an
extended chance to make the roster.  For each undrafted player who wins a
job, someone else has to go.  And given a minimum-salary structure
that’s based on tenure, older players become vulnerable when a younger
(and cheaper) guy shows that he can get the job done.

With a
shortened preseason, the NFL would have an incentive to invest in an
in-season developmental league, like the UFL.  Young players who weren’t
able to stick on an NFL roster can get game experience via a true minor
league, where players could be called up and sent down, like in
baseball.

Will you please explain again why front-loaded
contracts aren’t favored?  I would have thought that for veterans,
front-loaded contracts would be preferred because they get the bulk of
the money while they’re still “good”/”young” enough to earn it — as
opposed to the bulk of the money tied up several years down the road
with a strong likelihood that the team will cut the veteran so the team
doesn’t have to pay the money.  Shelley O.

With
non-guaranteed salaries in most NFL contracts, front-loaded deals are
favored by the players.  The problem comes from getting each player to
understand that his signing bonus wasn’t a lottery prize, but advance
compensation for future services.  All too often, a player who has
progressed four or five years into his deal will look at his current
base salary, compare it to the base salaries paid to younger and
inferior players, and complain that he needs a raise.

If the
league were to replace the system of signing bonuses and front-loaded
deals with guaranteed salaries, teams could feel compelled to keep
certain players around, since they’d be paid whether they’re on the team
or not.  This ultimately costs other players a chance at winning a job.

Finally,
it’s important to remember that a team doesn’t enter into a long-term
deal with the intention of cutting the player in a future year.  But the
current structure gives teams the option to do so.  That’s why most
contracts in a capped environment are valued based on the payout over
the first three years; it’s widely assumed that teams won’t take the cap
hit resulting from cutting a player within the first three years of a
new long-term deal.  After that, the team can choose to sever ties if
the player’s performance doesn’t justify the continued financial
commitment.

If Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson continue to
disappoint as 3-4 defensive ends, is there a possibility they’re traded
for any value to a team that runs the 4-3?  Keith
.

Dorsey
was drafted by a coaching staff that was using a 4-3 defense.  Last
year, there was chatter that the Falcons, who were torn between Dorsey
and quarterback Matt Ryan with the third pick in the 2008 draft, were
considering a deal for Dorsey.  A trade to Atlanta or elsewhere wouldn’t
be a shock.

Jackson was drafted by the current regime, and
they’ll likely give him some more time to develop, given the significant
financial investment that was made.

I wanted to get your
opinion on the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback race.  To me it’s a no-brainer
to start Brian Brohm, if he disappoints, draft or trade for the
quarterback position.  Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards have proven
they’re not the answer.  Who do you believe should get the nod and why?
Garrett B
.

If Brohm had any discernible skill or
potential, the Packers wouldn’t have given up on him so quickly.  By all
appearances, Brohm has found the ceiling on his God-given football
abilities, and he hasn’t been able to bust through it.

Edwards
seems to be the lesser of three evils at this point, but I continue to
be intrigued by the decision of a new G.M. and new head coach not to
address the position in the offseason.  It seems as if the Bills are
willing to tread water at the position for 2010, and that they already
have a plan for 2011.

Given that assistant G.M. Doug Whaley spent
many years with the Steelers and in light of the success that coach
Chan Gailey once had 13 years ago in Pittsburgh with the fleet-footed
Kordell Stewart at quarterback, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that
the Bills quietly are targeting Dennis Dixon, who’ll be a restricted
free agent after the coming season.

15 responses to “PFT Mailbag, take two

  1. You’re slipping, Florio. You should’ve said that the Bills should be targeting Pat White next offseason!

  2. I think a lot of teams might be targeting Dixon after this season. Not sure if he is capable of running an NFL offense, hopefully a little bit of coaching is all he needs, guy looks rough around the edges but highly dangerous. Commentators questioned his ability to read zone defenses last year, really haven’t seen much this year. Kordell Stewart v 2.0 that can throw.

  3. To date, no one has done enough to justify being banished without also being suspended indefinitely, as a practical matter, via extended incarceration.
    ———–
    I still don’t get this.
    I don’t understand why they don’t have something along the lines of the illegal substance/PED’s abuse system where it’s 3 strikes and you’re out.
    There needs to be some leeway for the Commissioner to decide, but the Big Ben suspension shows how random it can be depending on who you are.

  4. Florio, Clearly the Jets and Miami have had much better offensive lines than the Buffalo Bills in recent years. Despite playing behind a much worse offensive line, Trent Edwards has outperformed both Chad Henne and Mark Sanchez, in terms of completion percentage, TD/interception ratio and QB rating. Since you do not understand why the Bills have failed to get a better QB, please explain your total shock over the fact that both the Jets and Miami have failed to replace their inferior QBs.

  5. I have a question for next time!
    @Mortreport on twitter reports that Replacement players are NOT an option for this upcoming lockout. I’m guessing, because it would be a LOCKOUT by the owners and not a STRIKE by the players, but I can’t find ANYTHING on this. Help me out! Goggle gives me NO answers!

  6. have you ever even seen AP with your actual eyes? If not, how can yu speculate on his “Peterson’s desire to win a Super Bowl and to secure a long-term contract “?????

  7. Some good questions/answers and some yawners too…Overall the good outweighs the yawners, which makes this a worthy weekly column to check in on.
    I like the line of thinking on Dixon/Buffalo/Gailey…that is well thought out, not to mention Dixon has a far better arm.

  8. good stuff florio, fyi…you forgot to mention the fact that the owners also have 5 billion reasons to lockout the players next year…that is a whole lot of dough.

  9. The entire nfl wants buffalo to start trent edwards. 11 years without the playoffs? Congrats buffalo. Couldn’t of happened to a better city

  10. Why not expand the playoffs? Let the losers go home – avoiding meaningless game. Give the winners, and the fans, and the networks, more games that matter.

  11. NCFinFan says:
    August 29, 2010 5:33 PM
    @bobinpuertorico
    If you think Edwards is better than Sanchez or Hennie you are crazy.
    Its true, the numbers don’t lie. Edwards is without a doubt a better QB than both Henne and Sanchez. If Edwards had half the O-line that those two have we would be talking playoffs, for sure.

  12. @ejtowne
    except they do lie, hes captain checkdown. he has that QB rating because freddy jackson made it happen.

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