Jul 29, 2010

Upon Further Review: NFC South

Day 271

It has been reported that the first pick in the draft, Sam Bradford, will sign a deal that is expected to be between $45 million and $50 million, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter last week. Last year, the Detroit Lions gave No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford a six-year deal that included $41.7 million in guaranteed money.

Does that sound insane to anyone? You are giving a player that has NO NFL experience that much money regardless of how he performs? So essentially this player can do the bare minimum and still make enough money so he doesn't have to do anything else. As long as he behaves and shows up to practices and games he will be paid that asinine amount. How can a coach motivate his players? I don't know what kind of player I would be if I was paid that much money. I can say that if I had the body and skill set I would love to play professional football. But I also want to make sure that I am financially secure, I want to be able to take care of my family and live comfortably for the rest of my life. How would knowing that I have the money affect my play? Would I be more careful? Would I care more about playing or care less?

Now I have no problem giving out a lot of money guaranteed to a player that has proven his worth. Players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady deserve guaranteed money since they have already proven their worth.

I would love it if the NFL adopted what the NBA does for its rookies. In the NBA, 1st-round draft choices are assigned salaries according to their draft position. The first overall pick receives more than the second pick, the second more than the third, and so on. Each contract is for two years, with a team option for the third and fourth seasons (the previous CBA provided for three year contracts with an option for the fourth season), with built-in raises every year to compensate for increases in the average salary. And they are capped so there is no extreme amount of money being thrown around.

I hope that Sam Bradford is worth the amount of money that the Rams hope he is. But I have a hard time betting on it. No offense to Bradford, he is very talented and looks like he could be a big player in the NFL (even though he is also coming off a shoulder injury). Just like the Raiders thought with Jamarcus Russel and his $31.5 million in guaranteed money.

How would you feel if you were a great Pro Bowl player and some rookie comes in and will make more money than you ever will and he hasn't even played one down? Disheartening. Something has got to give.


1) New Orleans Saints

What I Like:
They are the defending SuperBowl Champs! And that same SuperBowl team is pretty much intact for this season which means the Saints will go deep into the playoffs. Even if the Saints lost some key players as long as they have HC Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees they will be contenders. They have one of the best home fields in the NFL and will still be riding the SuperBowl high of last year.

What I Don't Like:
One of the hardest things to do in the NFL is to be a repeat champion. This year the Saints cannot sneak up on anyone, they have the biggest bullseye painted clearly on their backs. Everyone will be gunning for them. I also wonder how long the Saints can ride on the magic of last season. They are bound to come down to Earth eventually. This season will be a lot more difficult for the Saints but I still cannot imagine them not repeating as NFC South Division Champions.

2) Atlanta Falcons

What I Like:
Look out Saints! The Falcons will be breathing down your necks. While the Falcons failed to make the post-season last year they still have one of the better teams in the league. This year the team will be healthy and if they can keep healthy (unlike last year) they could easily be challenging for the division title. They added CB Duante Robinson which will help the defense considerably. Offensively they have the firepower to keep up with the Saints.

What I Don't Like:
The Defensive line is another year older and is the team's weakest spot. But they are still very solid but I don't think they will be able to produce like in years past. The Falcons do not have much that I don't like. I don't know if their defense can make enough plays against their rivals the Saints to keep their offense off the field.

3) Carolina Panthers

What I Like:
The Panthers running game is one that frightens every divisional opponent. Even when the opponent is going to run, they still will be hard pressed to stop tandem running backs, Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Defensively, the Panthers should be able to stop the pass but will have difficulty stopping the run. If some of the young players step up the Panthers will be in good shape.

What I Don't Like:
The winds of change are blowing in Carolina. Mainstays QB Jake Delhomme and DE Julius Peppers are gone leaving the Panthers without some valuable leadership on both sides of the ball. New QB Matt Moore does look like he has the talent and big arm to make plays but will be on a short leash with rookie Jimmy Clauson on his back. With the lack of explosive talent in the passing game (except for WR Steve Smith who will be blanketed by double teams) opponents will make the Panthers one dimensional by loading the box with extra defenders to stop the run.

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(sorry Buc fans...  I couldn't find a recent logo that was compatible with the rest)

What I Like:
The worst is over Buc fans, it can only get better in Tampa Bay. The team is filled with youth and the organization has done an excellent job of rebuilding this franchise. I also think that QB Josh Freeman has a tremendous upside and will see huge improvements this year.

What I Don't Like:
While the worst may be over, the rebuilding will continue and the Bucs will have some growing pains and some big holes to fill before they can challenge the rest of the NFC South for the division. Patience is the big key here, it will take some patience and some years before the Bucs catch up. If you lack patience, you may not want to watch the Bucs play.

NEXT WEEK:  The trip down south continues as I look at the AFC South division which just might be the most competitive. And since I will be looking at the Indianapolis Colts, I will make a remark or two at the NFL's new schedule change concerning "phoning it in" at the end of the season.

If you have questions, concerns or just want to set me straight on my picks feel free to comment. I will try to defend myself later on in a separate blog.

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