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Magic Carl's NFL Crystal Ball!

By Danny Radical

Sports On The Go 1's resident football expert Magic Carl has offered his opinions in this week as a guest writer in this football friendly, draft aware post for you to enjoy!

Date: February 4th, 2018

Location: Super Bowl LII, U.S. Bank Stadium. Minneapolis, Minnesota

New England Patriots VS. Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles - 41

Patriots - 33

It's safe to say many people could’ve predicted the outcome given the QB matchup of this magnitude. Tom Brady, arguably the greatest QB to ever play the game, versus the almost forgotten Nick Foles.

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Just a year ago Brady engineered the most shocking, and greatest comeback in NFL Super Bowl history. Atlanta had a comfortable lead in the 3rd Quarter leading 28 to 3 over the Patriots. In the 4th Quarter with 5:53 seconds remaining, Atlanta still had a 99.0% Win Probability by some metrics. But Brady did what Brady does. He stayed cool under pressure, came back to force overtime, and won it all again. He once again proved teams need an ice-water-in-his-veins QB to win a franchise a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The 2018 Eagles had the right gameplan. Carson Wentz was well on his way to earning a league MVP in his sophomore stint until he tore his ACL and LCL Week 14 @ L.A. Rams. All of Eagles nation held their collective breath when the news hit Wentz would be out the remainder of the season. All you kept hearing out of the city of Brotherly Love was “This is our year”. “This is a special group.” Turns out they all were right. Turns out Nick Foles was just the man to lead this “special group” to a Super Bowl title. But it was also the way that this group was assembled.

I wonder in this copycat league how many teams will try to imitate the 2017 Eagles. The Eagles built through Free Agency, which is a rarity. We have been lead to believe you build through the draft. Assemble young talent, and shape those prospect in your image. That is usually not a luxury free agents offer to teams. They are usually older, money hungry, and require some time to assimilate to your philosophy and scheme. Credit HC Doug Pederson, OC Frank Reich, and DC Jim Schwartz for molding that group into a Super Bowl winner.

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Having an inexpensive QB allows GM’s to build rosters to make a Super Bowl push. A great example of this is with the Seahawks. They found a gem in the 3rd round in Russell Wilson. At a cheap price, this allowed them to build an elite Defense, lock up long-term impact players., & have spending flexibility in free agency. Now, the Seahawks are making noticeable tough cap casualties to ensure they can pay their franchise player Wilson the money he deserves. That is the cruel reality of the NFL. Former Head Coach Jerry Glanville said it best many years ago. “…you know what N-F-L stands for ? Not For Long.”

Does this mean change is coming for the 2018 NFL Season ? Will the copycat NFL look to bolster their rosters with impact free agents and shift gears to the “win now” mindset ? Does the “all or nothing” approach to building a team have sustainability following the Eagles championship run ? Only time will tell. It looks like the L.A. Rams are the next candidate. Their list of 2018 Free Agent additions is a sickening sight for most of the NFC Conference; Pro Bowl CB Aqib Talib. Pro Bowl CB Marcus Peters. Pro Bowl DT Ndamukong Suh. Pro Bowl WR Brandin Cooks. CB Sam Shields.

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Draft Value has been the new buzz word around the media commentary. But organizations have been cognizant of the operating space of adding draft round assets and impact players. Even with a $177.2 Million yearly salary cap, team executives are arming themselves with creative ways to make beneficial trades. They must acquire draft assets to entice teams to part ways with established veteran players via trade, or eventually move up the draft board to land that coveted prospects.

The lowly Cleveland Browns have had many years sharpening their draft map acumen. In 2018 they may have finally positioned themselves to draft impact players to make those forgotten dawgs a contender. I stand with my original position stating the Browns should not select RB Saquon Barkley #1 Overall. They need a QB and should select Josh Allen from Wyoming in my opinion. I will also say there is a real concern regarding Allen’s throwing accuracy.

Conversely, selecting Barkley #1 overall does position them to take a viable QB with the #4 selection, or, this could allow teams to offer up many assets for that #4 overall pick. Allowing the Browns to fall back and still acquire 1 of 2 possible Heisman Trophy winning QB’s later in the 1st. There I say, it’s good to be the Browns ?

MR. COUSINS LEAVES WASHINGTON, AND MAKES HISTORY:

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Kirk Cousins bet on himself, and boy was that the right move. Cousins is a patient man, and it paid off to the tune of a 3 year deal worth $84 M with the Vikings. Unprecedented in that it is the 1st FULLY GUARANTEED NFL contract (nice work agent Mike McCartney). Seahawks veteran WR Doug Baldwin commented on Cousins’ contract quote, “[HE] is a hero for all the young players that will follow after him.” Baldwin added, “Now we need more young players to bet on themselves until fully-guaranteed contracts are the norm and not the exception.” At this moment, every agent is very happy this happened… and most front office executives and GM’s are clutching their pepto bismol. What is the likelihood another will sign a fully guaranteed contract,I’d say not many. This will likely be exclusive to QB’s given the position.But it is one more headache teams will have to endure when negotiating contracts.

The art of negotiation is shooting past what you deserve, to finally get what you want. Players will likely not get a fully guaranteed contract, but if you can guarantee a large portion of your salary, player and agent will make out happy. In fairness, Cousins capitalized on a favorable situation with the Vikings. The Vikings are a real contender for a Super Bowl appearance, and are only a top tier QB away from that. Given their history of failed 1st round QB’s that have passed through their turnstile, the Vikings needed a big splash any way they could get it.

NFL OWNERS MEETING & DISCUSSION OF PLAYER NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTESTS:

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The annual NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando, FL came and went with no resolution to the players demonstrations during The National Anthem. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and Texans Owner Bob McNair have been the most outspoken about players NOT protesting during the national anthem.

McNair was quoted, "Our playing field is not the place for political statements, not the place for religious statements," McNair said. "It's the place for football."

He also went on to state, “There are fans that are upset about it. Fans are our customers. You can replace the owners and the league would survive. You can replace the players, although the game won’t be good. You can’t replace the fans. If you don’t have fans, you’re dead.”

We all know someone who has personally weighed in on how the kneeling during the national anthem makes them feel. Speaking for myself, as a fan, it has not affected me in any way. I on occasion tune into the national anthem. I am occupied talking with my friends, digesting all the up to the minute news on players, or updating my fantasy team last minute. Allow me to be clear in that protest, and demonstrations should not be held during the national anthem.

For the record, any and every opportunity to recognize and support our Armed Forces, past veterans, and our current servicemen and servicewomen should be done with respect, and the utmost dignity.

Hypothetically, speaking as an owner, kneeling during the national anthem has no place. The moment a fan turns the channel, or doesn’t decide to buy a seat at my stadium, I’m invested in their reason why. Lucrative corporate sponsors may find this demonstration distasteful and offensive. They may decide to terminate current agreement with franchises. As well, this could be a difficult negotiation point in the future if corporate sponsors are receiving letters from upset fans. If fans are the owner’s customers, then the customer are the owners bottom line.

The second NFL Owners Meeting will gather in Atlanta, GA in May. Outspoken owners like Robert Kraft have stated they are eager to reach a resolution to the protests at that meeting. Be prepared for both sides to be well armed for a heated battle. It is rumored some NFL Owners would like to adopt the NBA National Anthem Policy requiring all players to be present and properly recognize the anthem and the American Flag. It will be a difficult mine field to navigate when on one side the owners have the backing of a league policy players may one day have to adhere to, and the players exercising their Constitutional rights.

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And then there was Colin… yet to be signed to an NFL roster to date. QB Colin Kaepernick DID have a workout set with the Seahawks, but the offer was rescinded leading up to the workout because Kaepernick was not clear on what his protest/kneeling plans were going forward.

Let’s not be naive about this subject, Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL. Which is a shame because now more than ever his skill set is prime for the NFL’s new obsession with Run/Pass Option Offenses and QB’s. That is the same RPO scheme that shredded the GB’s defense for 181 rush yards and 2 TD’s in the 2012 NFC Divisional Playoff Round (combined 507 rush yards in only 6 career playoff games).

No owner, GM, or head coach will take a risk on the unwanted attention Kaepernick will carry with him. He does bring the media circus to town. No head coach will welcome that distraction. Currently, his window for starting for an NFL team has closed, but he is a viable backup with a unique athletic skill set, and has enough playoff experience. See the list below to get a firm grasp on how a league goes about blackballing a QB. These QB’s continue to find work on rosters while their resume’s bears no resemblance to that of Kaepernick’s:

QB TO SIGN/RE-SIGN THIS OFFEASON:

Austin Davis (Sea)

Matt Cassel (Det)

1 playoff app. LOSS

Joe Webb III (Hou)

Robert Griffin III (Bal)

1 playoff app. LOSS

Geno Smith (LAC)

Drew Stanton (Cle)

Brock Osweiler (Mia)

2 playoff app. 1-1 record. WIN came vs. back up Connor Cook vs Oak. It was Cook’s first Pro debut

Blaine Gabbert (Ten)

Matt McGloin (KC)

Brandon Weeden (Hou)

EJ Manuel (Oak) resign

Chad Henne (KC)

Tom Savage (NO)

Mike Glennon (Ari)

Sam Bradford (Ari)

Josh McCown (NYJ) resign

AJ McCarron (Buf)

1 playoff app. LOSS

Case Keenam (Den)

2 playoff app. 1-1 record. LOSS came to SB LII winners Eagles

Nearly 20 QB’s have been signed/resigned to NFL rosters in 2018. Combined, they total only 7 Playoff Appearances ( 2-5 record) Kaepernick has 6 Playoff Appearances with a 4-2 record.

NOTEWORTHY TO CARL:

S Eric Reid is yet to be signed by an NFL roster. Though he has been asked to visit with the Bengals on Mon, 4.9.18.

Titans hire 1st time head coach Mike Vrabel. To do so, they had to fire Mike Mularkey, a damn good coach. Before his firing, he brought the Titan their 1st playoff appearance since 2008. His team defeated the Chief in hostile Kansas City. They lost to Bill and the Brady Bunch in Foxborough. It is not a shame to lose to the Patriots in Foxborough during the playoffs, it’s a right of passage. I believe the Titans front office got this one so wrong. I predict Vrabel will have as many playoff wins as his predecessor. So was it worth it to hire a rookie head coach ? And historically, how many former Belichick disciples succeed as head coaches ?

Jon Gruden has returned to the coaching sidelines. Another good coach in Jack Del Rio was fired to make room for Gruden. Oakland under Del Rio’s tenure was poised to challenge the Patriots for the Lamar Hunt Trophy in the AFC. An injured Derek Carr thwarted all that. Oakland didn’t have a coaching problem, they had a personnel problem. They underperformed on the defensive side of the ball. I’m curious if Gruden and new DC Paul Guenther have the answers to fix their defensive woes.

Keep a very close eye on TE prospect Mike Gesicki out of Penn State. He compares himself to Eagles TE Zack Ertz. His Combine measurable’s are astounding. He is a match up nightmare. If he ends up in the right offensive system like New England, be afraid, be very afraid !