NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly column featured on TJRsports.com during the NFL Season. Allen and The Ace are big time NFL junkies and are Falcon and Packer fans, respectively. Each week the guys will ask questions and talk about the NFL.
Ace: Greetings and salutations! Welcome to the final Free Agency Edition of our article. I know…I know…it’s quite emotional, but dry those tears and check out our opinions for the week. I’ll be putting up my final NFL Mock Draft in just a couple weeks and taking a brief hiatus until Allen and I get back together in June or July to start building up to the 2013 NFL Season. If anything newsworthy happens, I might pull a Brett Favre and return early, but with planning a wedding (September 28th, send gifts), my weekly radio show and daytime job, throw in defending a Bocce Ball Bar-League Championship, life will be a little hectic! I’ve got a nice answer/rant about one of Allen’s questions towards the end, but speaking of Allen, how are you, my friend?
Allen: That’s quite the life you got there. Anyway I’m pretty excited for the Osi Umenyiora deal to Atlanta. I’m sure will get into that in the article, but he’s a proven pass rusher. It’s nice to see the Falcons continuing to work on the flaws, while the Packers are carving cheese-heads and making stale commercials. This is the last free agency edition, with free agency pretty much simmering down. I know there are still some quality players out there, but it’s obvious that the majority of free agents have been signed. Anyway, I heard a talented hobo went to Houston and a guy that can’t get together proper documents went to Baltimore. Let’s get into it.
Ace: Ed Reed joined the Texans last week to help improve their secondary. New England is always a favorite and Denver is surely to be a favorite this coming year as well.
Does the addition of Reed make Houston a legitimate threat at the AFC crown or do they have other needs to address?
Allen: I’ve been saying this for weeks to people that Ed Reed is more of a name these days. He’s not the same player that he once was and that isn’t his fault. Players get old and it’s tough to have longevity at safety. A prime example of that is Troy Polamalu, who can’t stay healthy for more than two games. Ed Reed has been pretty durable for his career and you have to commend him on that. The issue with Reed is that he isn’t the same playmaker that he was three years ago. He’s gotten slower and has missed more tackles than usual based off of last season. I don’t see how this is an upgrade over Glover Quin, who they just let go without putting much effort in re-signing him. Quin is 27 years old and ready to hit the prime of his career, while Reed is 34 years old and doesn’t have much left. Houston doesn’t strike me as a legitimate contender at all. They need to add another wide receiver, which has been said for the past three years. Also, they could use more help in their front seven. J.J Watt could use some help when it comes to rushing the quarterback.
Allen: The Ravens have dealt with some serious blows to their defense, including the aforementioned Ed Reed, during this offseason. They’ve elected not to re-sign a few key young players in Paul Kruger and Darrell Ellerbe. They made a major free agency splash by signing Elvis Dumervil. There were hints of Baltimore making a run at him but it still surprises me that Dumervil was even cut in the first place. It was an awkward situation all around.
How much does Baltimore benefit from making this move?
Ace: He’s a very good pass rusher and player don’t get me wrong, but I think when you subtract so many key players on defense like Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Darrell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis, the addition of one guy doesn’t do a lot for me. So what if Dumervil can get the Ravens 17 or more sacks. Jared Allen almost broke Michael Strahan’s single season sack record and the Vikings finished 3-13 that same season. Dumervil doesn’t do a lot for me unless the Ravens can bring in some big defensive names in the draft and suddenly turn into a team that’s an offensive powerhouse that doesn’t rely on their defense, which hasn’t been in their mantra in the franchise’s 17 years of existence.
Allen: Baltimore has always had one of the best front offices in the league. Ozzie Newsome has done a great job in Baltimore and has earned the respect of being one of the top general managers in the league. Under the circumstances he was under, I applaud this move. Baltimore simply couldn’t resign a few players, but they are slowly starting to build back up. Dumervil has been overrated to me over the past few years in terms of top pass rusher rankings, but he’s still a proven pass rusher. He tends to fade away from games at times, which made him expendable in Denver but Baltimore had to make this move. They weren’t going to get Dwight Freeney or Osi Umenyiora or even John Abraham. Dumervil can come in and pair with Terrell Suggs to form a nasty pass rushing duo. They do benefit from this move in a big way, but their still some obvious holes that they’ll have to address.
The Atlanta Falcons resigned some key free agents; added Steven Jackson, Tony Gonzalez's retirement was put off and there’s talk that an Osi Umenyiora signing is imminent. On the downside, cornerback Brent Grimes doesn't look to be coming back.
The Falcons have been slated to draft a RB, DB or DE in the draft. Where do you see your favorite football club drafting 30th overall: Offense or Defense?
Allen: Obviously running back is out of the question. They have other holes to address and running back would be a waste that early. It’s not going to happen, especially with their depth at running back. The Brent Grimes situation has been weird and I’m not ruling out a return to him. People seem to call him a goner, which surprises me because he hasn’t gotten much interest. Many teams have backed off on Grimes due to the Achilles injury. If Grimes does leave, obviously cornerback becomes a priority but sadly will have to “wait and see”. Grimes has always been a favorite of mine being undrafted and coming up to be a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback. Hopefully, he stays because he has proven to be a shutdown corner during phases of 2010 and 2011. They’ll have to look at what’s on the draft board to decide what they want defensive end or cornerback or even defensive tackle. That’s another position that could use some youth as well. There is no question that the first round pick will go towards defense though, don’t think anyone can debate that.
The NFL passed a rule saying that players can’t use the crown of their helmets. The rule is absolutely ridiculous and is crossing the line. I would love to know how anyone, including yourself can justify this rule.
Ace: I’ll be completely honest with you, as much as I love the NFL, it’s hands down my favorite sport, and these changes are inevitable. Roger Goodell has brought so many different player safety issues to the table and he’s not trying to change the game to alienate the fans. He’s putting these rules into play for the good and health of the players. Do I hate him because of that? Absolutely not. Yes, it does seem like they’re taking out a lot of the ‘football’ aspects to the game, but these safety issues won’t be going away anytime soon. You’ve got former guys like Eric Dickerson who are against this rule, but are suing the league because of concussion related issues and health issues. Until the NFL and NFLPA get together to develop some sort of agreement in a players contract that says something along the lines of ‘This is football. It is a contact game. It is hazardous to your health and by signing this contract where you will make MILLIONS of dollars, you agree that you will not seek legal action towards the NFL in the future if you experience health related issues.’ If cigarettes and alcohol have warnings on their labels, I think the NFL can throw a warning label on their player’s contracts. Think what you want, but we’re just going to keep seeing more and more rule changes, but the bottom line is until they put these guys in shorts with flags attached to their waist bands and eliminate any form of contact, this will continue to be the most popular sport and the most profitable sport in North America.
Allen: They will still be the most popular sport, but the fact is that this rule can’t be avoided by some running backs. Some running backs play off of running physical and smashing defensive players in the head. The game is violent and that won’t ever change. As Mike Mayock said, they are crossing the line with this rule and they can’t disallow something natural that running backs do. I’m looking forward to seeing how running backs like Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, and Trent Richardson take this rule. If the running backs can make it an incentive to fight this rule by not caring about it, then so be it. The refs are going to call three penalties in a row? This rule can easily go away like the replacement refs if the 15-yard penalties become overbearing. If you are 15 years old and want to become a football player, you have to realize the fact that you will get hurt. There is no way getting around it, there is going to be pain. They can make all the safety changes they want, but there is going to be pain. You can’t get rid of natural acts by players and this doesn’t even apply to running backs. We’ve seen tight ends use it, along with defensive players. I’m hoping this rule lasts as long as the replacement refs.
Allen: I did the most questionable free agency moves list last week, now I’ll do the best free agent moves based on how they fit in and how their contract is. This isn’t in numbered order, it’s just five players that I think fit in well and didn’t get completely overpaid.
1. Martellus Bennett- This was an excellent move by the Bears that nobody really saw coming. The Bears haven't used tight ends well in the past, but now seem committed to find someone for Jay Cutler to throw to when Brandon Marshall isn't open. Bennett is coming off a break out season and is starting to play up to his ability after underachieving in his first few years of his career. You compare Bennett to Jared Cook's contract and it shows that the Bears made a better move getting a proven tight end for a cheaper price.
2. Cliff Avril- He may be overrated by some standards, but Avril is a proven pass rusher. There are still questions about his motivation, so the Seahawks were wise to only give him a two year deal. He is only getting six million a year, so the Seahawks didn't overspend either. Seattle needed a boost for their front four and this was a wise move. Michael Bennett was a good pickup as well, but Avril has been more productive and explosive.
3. Wes Welker- Welker may be declining, but this is an excellent situation. Welker is in a great situation in Denver and was only signed for six million a year. I'm shocked that the Patriots weren't willing to spend that much. Welker may not get as open as he once was, but he was still very productive. He's going to be a great asset to Denver's offense and Peyton Manning will have another weapon to throw to.
4. Keenan Lewis- The Saints defense was absolutely deplorable last year. They needed to add some replacements on their defense, so this was a wise move. Lewis was one of the better cornerbacks last year for Pittsburgh and was one of the top cornerbacks on the market. He received a five year contract for 26 million, which is a good deal. They needed some serious help in their defense and Lewis should be an upgrade.
5. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- He may be immature and lacks focus, but his talent overlaps that. Rodgers-Cromartie always had a bad reputation, but still has loads of talent. It's clear that Philadelphia was an absolute disaster last year and many players quit on the team. Now that he's in Denver with just a one year contract, he's going to play as good as he did in 2009 and 2010. His "decline" seems to be far fetched because he was still rarely burnt last season. This is a great move by Denver and it could be a steal, especially if he ends up close to returning to his 2009 form.
Allen: Well once again, this is a long farewell. For those that don’t know, I’m not a college football fan. The fact that they don’t have a playoff system is absolutely pathetic and 70 bowl games doesn’t exactly interest me. I’m sure Ace will do his mock drafts and discuss the draft with others, but I’m really not interested in it. All I’m hoping is that my team fills some needs and I’ll see what other people think. Until then, I’ll still be writing about a college sport that does have a playoff system and it’s the best one ever invented known as college basketball. Other than that, it’s been a blast and I’ll be back writing about football this summer.
Ace: Great wrap up from Allen! Like Allen said, I’ll be back in a few weeks with my final NFL Mock Draft. It’s been another interesting free agency period and I’m intrigued to see some of these guys fit in with their new clubs.
Be sure to check out tonights edition of Macho Men Radio. C-Mac and I will be joined by Mike Ayers and Mike Durst of NCAA on TJR at 7pm and then we will join their show at 10pm/CT. I’m very much looking forward to some pro and college sports talk. Thanks for reading!