Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ron Burgundy Recaps Free Agency Part II

Don't worry, Ron's got plenty more to say.
Ron Burgundy and the Channel Four News Team return today to finish up their recap of the 2011 NFL Free Agent season! In case you missed it, here's what they had to say yesterday.

"Smells like a turd covered in burnt hair!"

This isn't a big move or anything, but I found it funny that former #1 overall pick David Carr was cut, yet again. The funny part isn't necessarily that the 49ers cut him, it's that they cut him only half a season removed from an incident where the entire stadium chanted "WE WANT CARR!" That's when you know you have QB problems! Honestly, I feel really bad that Carr's career turned out the way it did. He never should have been annointed as 'The Next (fill in the blank),' but he definitely should have turned out to be a decent, middle of the road starter. Unfortunately, after being sacked 249 times in 5 seasons with the Texans, I'm pretty sure he has a hard enough time remembering his name, much less a gameplan.

"We need you. Heck, I need you. I'm a mess without you. I miss you so darn much! I miss being with you. I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent. I miss your musk...and when all this gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!"

In 2008, his 2nd season in the NFL, Steve Breaston broke out with a huge 77REC 1006YDS performance. As a lowly 5th round pick, Breaston was drafted solely for his special teams acumen, but OC Todd Haley figured out the right way to utilize the super speedy WR from Michigan. Fast forward to a week ago, when Kansas City locked up Breaston's services for a paltry $9MIL guaranteed. The bigger picture on this signing is, of course, the reunion of Todd Haley and Steve Breaston. Since his 2008 performance, coincidentally in Haley's last year in Arizona, Breaston has yet to exceed 55 catches or 718 yards in a season. Some of that can be attributed to injury, and some to Skelterson (combo of Derek Anderson and John Skelton!). Whether or not Todd Haley had anything to do with it is yet to be seen, but I think the Chiefs got a massive bargain. Pundits have questioned this signing, pointing to the drafting of Jon Baldwin to pair with Dwyane Bowe. Come on guys! Do we really want to throw our hat in the ring with a rookie WR? Who is significantly set back in his early development due to the lockout? Really? Anyone who watched the Chiefs horrible showing in the playoffs last season can attest to the need for an improved passing game. They've invested a lot in Matt Cassell, so giving him help is a priority. With Jamaal Charles and Dwyane Bowe already on board, Breaston could give them the other consistent perimeter threat that they need to take the offense to the next level. And at only $9MIL guaranteed, how can you question it? He's a proven commodity at both receiver and on special teams...Ron Burgundy approves!

"What, you guys can't say one thing? Even the guy that can't think said something. You guys just stand there? Come on."

By my calculations, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were approximately $120MIL under the league's $120MIL salary cap. So yeah, they had money to spend. And what did they do with it? Well...just about nothing actually. I know it sounds slightly hypocritical for me to rip on one team for spending (Eagles) and another for not spending (Bucs, Bengals, others), but it really does make sense. I'm ripping on Philly for spending their money stupidly...and also I'm bitter. Also, Philly didn't have anywhere near the cap room that Tampa Bay has! Seriously, they were about $60MIL under! What has to be most frustrating to Bucs fans is that this team is already good. They didn't need to sign guys to rebuild the team, they actually had an opportunity to put some finishing touches on a contending team. For example, why wouldn't Tampa Bay overspend a bit to give Josh Freeman a stud target like Sidney Rice? Couldn't they give him a 5YR $55MIL deal with $25MIL up front? After that, the contract is reasonable. I'll admit, I'm no expert on the inner workings of the NFL salary cap, but I do know you can front load the contracts if it benefits you. That's exactly what Washington did with Haynesworth's massive deal...and that's why New England is paying pennies for his services. If that is the case then, why wouldn't Tampa make a couple splashy signings?

Here's what I would have done:

WR Sidney Rice 5YR $55MIL ($20MIL first year)
CB Johnathan Joseph 5YR $50MIL ($20MIL first year)
RT Tyson Clabo 5YR $30MIL ($12MIL first year)
LB Nick Barnett 4YR $16MIL ($7MIL first year)

There, you've spent $59MIL first year! After that, the contract are pretty reasonable, which allows you to retain your own players. Now, landing all four of those guys for those contracts is highly unlikely, but getting a couple of them is realistic. Why wouldn't they overpay a bit for Clabo? They needed help at RT, Clabo is young, and it hurts a division rival. Wins all around! And why not pursue a CB? Aqib Talib is closer to jail than the starting lineup at this point! Look, all I'm saying is, I don't understand why Tampa Bay has been sitting back. If you have an opportunity to win, you should do it. They can talk about a "plan" all they want, but I view this as a big miss.

"Panda Watch. The mood is tense. I have been on some serious, serious reports, but nothing quite like this. I uh...Ching...King is inside right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that, he's a live bear, he will literally rip your face off. Hey! You're making me look stupid! Get out here, Panda jerk!

The Carson Palmer saga is just plain silly at this point. Honestly, it kinda feels like a couple middle school girls who are mad at each other and won't talk, so they have to get their friends to send mean messages to each other. It's natural for us to want to take sides on this, but it certainly feels like there's plenty of blame to go around. On one hand, Palmer did the sign the contract. I find it hard to believe that Palmer didn't have at least a small inkling of what he was signing up for when he penned his name at the bottom. After all, it's the Bengals. There's 20 solid years of hard proof that stupid Mike Brown was going to be an incompetent cheapskate. If Palmer was totally ignorant of that, then that's on him. On the other hand, Mike Brown is an incompetent cheapskate. When Palmer signed the deal, things were looking up for Cincinnati. Just two seasons ago, the Bengals broke through and won the NFC North! Yet, despite all the fortune they accidentally fell into, Brown found ways to screw it up. He refuses to build an indoor practice facility, he refuses to hire a real scouting department, and he insists on building the ultimate prison team. If I were Palmer, I'd be frustrated too. In the end, they're both wrong. Brown should cede control of the team and Palmer should suit up. Unfortunately for us all, neither is going to happen...which sucks, because it opens up another starting QB spot for the John Beck's of the world. Hello Bruce Gradkowski!

"They've done studies you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.

One NFL staple that doesn't get criticized enough is the "we need to get a veteran QB" theory. This offseason, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Tarvaris Jackson, and Bruce Gradkowski were the lucky honorees into the "veteran bridge" role. I guess getting a veteran isn't a terrible idea, the problem is in what veteran you get. Personally, I'd rather just play the young guy and see what happens. I know there are a lot of traditional football people who believe in letting a guy sit back and learn for a season or two, but I don't share their thoughts. If a guy crumbles after a few rough outings, then he wasn't going to pan out anyways! Look at Peyton Manning. He threw 28 INT's his rookie year and the Colts lost 13 games. I'd say he turned out well. Now, not everyone (or anyone) is Peyton Manning, but the Bengals/Titans aren't going why not find out? Either way, Matt Hasselbeck and Bruce Gradkowski are not great options either!

"Guess what, I do. I know that one day Veronica and I are going to get married on top of a mountain, and there's going to be flutes playing, and trombones, and flowers, and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band, and we will tour the countryside...and you won't be invited!"

This is the first offseason in a long time that I can honestly say I like what the Cowboys did. We finally trimmed some of the fat (Roy Williams, Barber, Colombo, Davis) and didn't go crazy on washed up veterans. Not only that, but we landed Abram Elam, a solid safety, for a cheap one year deal. Sadly, I'm so cynical about this team now that I feel depressed about a good offseason. I actually feel like it's just setting me up for more heartbreak. Sometimes, I hate being a Cowboy fan...

"I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am. You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science."

Can you see Bill Belichik saying this to someone? Because I can. I just love how Belichik always gets the benefit of the doubt on a move. I'm not criticizing it, because he definitely deserves it at this point. I'm just saying it's funny to me. For example, if Cleveland had traded for Albert Haynesworth, everyone would be losing their minds over how irresponsible it is for the Browns to add such a malcontent. But when the Patriots do it....Again, I'm not criticizing, because I'm the same way. It's just humorous.

"Ribs. I had ribs for lunch. That's why I'm doing this"

You don't say Albert?

"Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen."

Did you hear? They've cancelled the season and just awarded the Super Bowl to the Eagles. Apparently overspending on a bunch of past-their-prime veterans is a sure fire way to win a championship. If only we had known this before! (Wait...if this is true, shouldn't the Redskins have about six more Super Bowls right now? I know, I know...I can't help myself.)

"What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole...wheel of cheese? How'd you do that? Heck, I'm not even mad; that's amazing. How 'bout we get you in your p.j.'s and we hit the hay?"

Hey New York Giants, I love what you're doing! Jettisoning key offensive linemen, depending on rookie defensive linemen, ignoring your most reliable possession receiver, and overpaying a glorified third down back is a great way to build a winner. Just keep doing what you're doing!

"I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if not, send it right back. I wanna be on you."

My only conclusion is that Kevin Kolb must be in possession of some very compromising photos of the Bidwell family. Honestly, that's the only logical reason they would be so in love with a 27 year old QB with an inverted TD-INT ratio. I don't even think Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie straight up for Kolb is a fair deal, much less Rodgers-Cromartie AND a #2! But's their team. They can make whatever dumb trades they want to. Just remember, this is the same organization that raved over Max Hall and assured us he would be a stud. Tons of credibility from that...

"I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

Did I mention that the Cowboys cut Roy Williams?

"The human torch was denied a bank loan."

There were a lot of good free agents that missed out on the early money grab. Barrett Ruud, Stephen Tulloch, Stewart Bradley, Richard Marshall, and Carlos Rogers are just a few examples of the bargains that could be had late into the process. It's hard to be certain of why those guys were had for so cheap, but I think a lot of teams missed the boat. Ruud and Rogers, in particular, are severely underrated. I'm very surprised Tampa Bay let Ruud walk without making any attempt to re-sign him. As for Rogers, how was he not able to capitalize on the CB market? Once Joseph and Asomugha were off the board, he stood alone as the best remaining option. With several teams still needing help, I'm surprised he didn't get more play.

"Milk was a bad choice,"

While I'm railing on the Eagles, let's concentrate on Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. Both players had career years last season and were clearly cashing in on that. The problem is, there's absolutely no reason to think they'll ever approach that level of performance again. Babin in particular stands out as a potential free agent bust. After being selected in the first round, Babin toiled for 6 teams in 7 season, registering just 17.5 sacks in his first 6 seasons. But, now that he's 31, he should be hitting his prime, right? Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. When will teams learn to stop wasting money on suddenly "good" pass rushers? Give me more than one good season and we'll talk, OK?

"Oh, I'm sorry Champ. I think I ate your chocolate squirrel."

Apparently the old saying is true. One man's trash really is another man's in, Marion Barber and Roy Williams are trash, but the Bears are stupid enough to think they're treasure. Heck, I hadn't even finished celebrating before the Bears scooped them up! Now, I'll admit that signing Roy Williams makes sense for them. He had a lot of succes with Mike Martz, and the Bears need a big possession guy. Fine. But the Marion Barber signing blows my mind! Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Lovie Smith could outrun him at this point!

"Where'd you get your clothes from?"

While I'm on the Bears, let me take a second to laud them for something. Both they, and the Colts, have decided to take chances on some former high draft picks. The Bears have signed former top 10's in DT Amobi Okoye and DE Vernon Gholston, and the Colts have signed former Pro Bowl DT Tommie Harris, former first round LB Ernie Sims, and former 1st round DE Jamaal Anderson. Personally, I love this strategy. Seriously, tell me what the downside is? You spend very little money on an obviously talented player in the hopes that he flourishes in a different system. Odds are they'll continue to suck, but every once in a while you strike gold. Of the two teams, I like the Bears prospects a bit better. Both are still extremely young, athletic, and raw; which gives them hope that DL coach Rod Marinelli can successfully work with them. Still, it's hard not to love the Tommie Harris signing. Injuries have robbed him of a potentially all time great career, but it's well worth a look to see if there's anything left. If so, he can provide a strong interior presence that the Colts sorely need.

"I love lamp."

And I love the Mike Sims-Walker signing. With guys like Sidney Rice and Santonio Holmes being grossly overpaid, it was a smart move to stay out of the fray and scoop up a potential steal in Sims-Walker. He's definitely got talent, but playing with David Garrard is enough to discourage even the best of them. In St. Louis though, Sims-Walker will have every oportunity to showcase his abilities. He's exactly the type of big, athletic target that Sam Bradford needs to take his game to the next level. They already have some great underneath threats, and now they finally have a big play guy. Also, his size should help increase their redzone efficiency. I'm not saying he's gonna make the Pro Bowl or anything, but he's easily better than anything else they have.

"You woke up the Bears! Why did you do that?!"

Teams have to be a bit worried that the Jets forever damaged the WR market after giving Santonio Holmes $24MIL guaranteed. In case you weren't aware, that's the second highest EVER for a WR. For Santonio Holmes. I think he's a good receiver and all, but 2nd highest ever? Really? He's not that good! This the type of free agent signing that can actually do long term damage in the market. 4 years ago, CB Nate Clements was stupidly given an 8YR $80MIL contract that bloated the CB market beyond repair. Now, look at what Nnamdi, Revis, and Joseph are getting? It just goes to show you that not even a salary cap or a CBA can save the owners from their own stupidity.

"Oh, uh, it's the pleats...the pleats in the pants. It's an optical illusion. I was just about to take them the pants store. Oh, this is embarrassing."

No! Don't try that Oakland! It's not an optical illusion! Your gross mishandling of your teams salary cost you a handful of your very best players. Today, after a breakout 2010 season, you no longer have your best defensive player, perhaps the best young TE in football, and one of your best offensive linemen. And to celebrate the penalty for your mismanagement, you severely overpay S Michael Huff! I would advise Oakland fans to take out Al Davis, but since he's already dead, I'm not sure what the point is.

"Oops, I almost forgot. I won't be able to make it fellas. Veronica and I are trying this new fad called, uh, jogging. I believe it's jogging or might be a soft j. I'm not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It's supposed to be wild.

Maybe the Bills didn't get the memo, but the whole Wildcat thing didn't exactly work out in the NFL. After the Dolphins took the NFL "by storm," it kinda faded out as defensive coordinators figured out how to stop it. Did that stop Buffalo from dishing out $15MIL for a below average player like Brad Smith? Nope...certainly didn't. Good luck with the Wildcat...or whatever you plan on doing with him.

"Where is the suit store? We've been walking for forty-five minutes."
"Brick, I thought you said this was a shortcut."
"Well, is it a shortcut or not?"

The cold hard truth of free agency is that most of these teams will look back and regret the signings they made. Eventually, we'll see most of these guys on a list of cap casualties, as their salary will quickly exceed their production. Perhaps someday, teams will learn that a vast majority of NFL players are way too expendable to throw big money at. Certain teams know this, and they are always at the top of the standings. At least the Cowboys didn't screw up this year...yet. Whammy!


  1. Its funny that teams don't take a page from the Steelers or Patriots. The Steelers have a system and bring players in who fit the system. The Patriots are able to mold their system to fit the players they bring in. But almost every other team in the league brings in free agents/draft picks and tries to mold the players into the system. This strategy fails almost every time and keeps the teams like Redskins/Browns/etc. from ever getting better.

  2. That's a really good point. Best example is Haynesworth, who was NEVER cut out to play nose tackle in a 3-4 system. Not letting fat Haynesworth off the hook for being a lazy piece of crap, but they really set him and themselves up for failure. If you're going to invest big money in a free agent (which is usually a bad idea) then at least be honest in your evaluation of whether he fits your system or not.

  3. "Sadly, I'm so cynical about this team now that I feel depressed about a good offseason. I actually feel like it's just setting me up for more heartbreak."

    Hey Jon, I know exactly how you feel! Of course, that is why I am so excited about this season - because my team had a very forgettable offseason! (Edwards being the exception, but we still lost a ton of players). Of course, somehow, I'm still hearing that we should win the division. Dang it! Seriously, how many stupid things does a 6-10 team have to do in an offseason in order to stop being the favorite in the NFC West?!?! (Please don't answer that question!)