February 10, 2013
NFL Free Agency: Joe Flacco, Reggie Bush and Latest Gridiron Buzz
Now that we’ve all gotten over the post-Super Bowl hangover as well as the heartburn caused by an overdose of chicken wings, it’s time to start focusing on the NFL free-agent market. There aren’t a ton of big names available this offseason, but there should be plenty of drama to tide everyone over until the start of the regular season.
The biggest story is easily out of Baltimore, where there is little time left for celebration. As great as the Ravens winning the Super Bowl was, GM Ozzie Newsome has some big decisions to make about both key defensive players and star quarterback Joe Flacco, whose rookie contract is set to expire.
Then we head down to sunny South Florida, where Reggie Bush and the Miami Dolphins appear to be engaged in a standoff regarding contract negotiations. The former USC Trojan had another solid season, but is he worthy of a new contract from team GM Jeff Ireland?
Oh, and what’s the latest on a certain wide receiver and viral sensation*?
There’s a lot of gridiron news to share, so let’s dive right in and see what there is to dish about at the water cooler on Monday.
Franchise Tag for Flacco?
Joe Flacco’s rookie contract is about to expire, and his guiding Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory and also taking home the game’s MVP award has his value sky high. Given how many teams in the league need to fill a hole at quarterback, he’s sure to receive plenty of lucrative offers if he hits the open market.
However, if what Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports is true, then Ravens fans should be quite happy for years to come. According to Wilson, the Ravens will almost definitely use a franchise tag on Flacco. It’s just a matter of deciding which one.
First, there’s the “exclusive” tag, which would give Flacco a salary of $20.5 million next season. He can also negotiate only with the Ravens.
The non-exclusive tag, on the other hand, would let the Ravens pay him $14.6 million and allow him to talk to other teams. This tag is essentially like restricted free agency in other sports. Another team can make Flacco an offer, but Baltimore can keep him if they match it.
Should they choose to let Flacco walk, the Ravens would receive two first-round picks in return.
Granted, some fans may view team management franchise-tagging Flacco as an excuse to put off giving him the long-term deal he deserves, but that’s not the case this year. Ozzie Newsome has a lot of key players set to hit the open market this season, most notably linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, and the contract of veteran safety Ed Reed must be assessed as well.
It may not be an ideal situation, but getting either of the two franchise tags will be the best situation for Flacco. He wants to be a Raven for life, and this is just another step towards that happening.
Bush and Dolphins Make Little Progress
Reggie Bush wants a new contract. In fact, he wants another one from the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, the team has done little to try to keep him aboard.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have yet to make Bush an offer. I hate to say it, but it doesn’t look like the man will be back in teal and orange next season.
It may not be an ideal situation, but it’s hard to not see why Miami has yet to give Bush a new contract, let alone make an offer. He only rushed for 986 yards last season, 100 less than in 2011, and had just six rushing touchdowns. On the receiving end, he had just 35 catches for 292 yards.
Granted, the decrease in production could have had something to do with the fact that the Dolphins had a first-year head coach in Joe Philbin, but Bush has been in the league long enough that he should be able to adjust to different philosophies.
The sad truth is that Bush is more of a combo back, and the Dolphins need a pure runner going forward. Lamar Miller could fill this role, but that all depends on the direction in which team management decides to go.
This means that Bush has two options. He can either continue to play the waiting game with Miami, or start pursuing other opportunities. Based on how things have gone down thus far, the choice seems obvious.
Greg Jennings Headed South?
Back in January, ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde speculated that wide receiver and impending free agent Greg Jennings would not return to Green Bay in 2013. Today, the likelihood of that has skyrocketed.
Not only has Jennings put his Green Bay home up for sale, but one team has reportedly shown interest in his services. Ever since Jennings made a playful appearance on the team-owned webseries “The Finsiders,” he has been linked to the Miami Dolphins.
After the appearance, Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post speculated that Jennings’ positive relationship with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, his offensive coordinator in Green Bay for five years, could be reason enough for the two-time Pro Bowler to come to Miami.
Jennings certainly has the skill set to be a top option for the Dolphins. A groin injury and torn abdominal muscle limited him to eight games this past season, and he caught only 36 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
Granted, he is fully recovered now, but he should think about more than just his relationship with Philbin when it comes to picking Miami or not.
Keep in mind that Jennings had a top quarterback in Aaron Rodgers throwing to him in Green Bay, and he’ll have a far more inexperienced arm in Ryan Tannehill in Miami. Tannehill was not terrible in his rookie season, but it’s definitely something Jennings should consider.
The fact of the matter is that a good number of teams are going to want Jennings to sign with them, and he should not limit his options just because of past history. He needs to not only think about what’s best for his family, but also his career.
When push comes to shove, he’ll surely make the right call to the delight of his new team’s fans.
*WARNING…VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT MAY BE NSFW
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