Friday, March 10, 2017

Quick Hits: NFL Free Agency and other thoughts

With the early NFL free agent frenzy mostly behind us and college basketball conference tournaments making us yearn for March Madness, here's some quick thoughts from around the sports world:




  • The Cleveland Browns are the longest running joke in professional sports, but it's really great to see that organization finally being run by very smart people. I truly mean that. Their recent trade for Brock Osweiler has some people scratching their heads, suggesting they essentially spent $16 million for a second round pick next season, in a roundabout way. Bill Barnwell's analysis for ESPN.com is far better than I could, so please be sure to go check it out. 
  • All I would add to his piece is that the NFL has a salary cap floor, in which teams must meet a salary minimum or payout the difference to the NFLPA, which would then almost certainly distribute it fairly in one way or another. Because the Browns are going to be so far under the salary cap for the next few seasons, if not longer, adding Osweiler's salary doesn't actually cost the team $16 million because it's money they needed to spend but were unlikely to do so anyway. They basically took on Osweiler's salary instead of giving that money to the NFLPA in a few years, and get a 2nd round pick out of the deal. Browns executive Paul DePodesta's baseball background undoubtedly played a large part in this kind of trade materializing, and I love that.
  • The Houston Texans have to have a deal in place to trade for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, right? Why else would they be so willing to give up a draft pick for 2017 cap space unless they plan to spend that somewhere? They likely need to get Romo to agree to reduce his salary a small amount, and his agent is likely negotiating with the Texans while using the Broncos as leverage. I would think Romo would prefer Houston as well, as it's much closer to home.
  • The Chicago Bears signing Mike Glennon for 3 years and $43.5 million was mocked by some, but I think it's a smart move. He has the most upside of any free agent quarterback, and the money is reasonable. Even if the team decided to draft someone like Mitchell Trubisky, they'd be spending less than $20 million a year on the quarterback position for the next 3 seasons. I would expect the team to draft the best remaining quarterback in round 2, however, and letting Glennon play until he shows he isn't the answer.
  • Brandon Marshall to the New York Giants for $6 million a year is a nice low-risk (money-wise) signing for the Giants. Putting someone with Marshall's history and ability to wear out his welcome with an emotional train wreck like Odell Beckham could play out much worse than most people seem to realize, but he's a very talented player. If he can show he still has something left in the tank, the Giants receiving core is scary good.
  • There hasn't been a more surprising team in college basketball this season than the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and they'll try to beat Michigan State for the first time this season this afternoon. They could make a surprising tournament run if they can get the right draw, as I think the Gophers more than almost anyone match up very well or very poorly with certain teams. Selection Sunday is going to be interesting, and it's nice that it's for a seed ranking and not if the team is in the tournament. Hopefully Richard Pitino doesn't leave after the season.
  • Barring the NCAA committee doing something wacky, the Northwestern Wildcats are poised for their first ever NCAA tournament bid. That's a great moment for one of the few schools in the country that truly does put academics ahead of sports.