Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Winter Doldrums

This is the time of year that I really don't like the NFL - during the winter blues. Yes, there is the talk from the combine, the impending free agents, new coaching hires, potential trades and the like, but really, is any of this really ground-breaking news? Seriously, I went on vacation for 2 weeks, and when I came back, the only thing that had really changed related to the Lions was that they had decided to slap the franchise tag on On-his-Backus (more on this later). Outside of that, we've had a lot of non-news, innuendo and speculation that has formed the majority of the topics being discussed. Topics like...

Vince Young scores a 6 on his wonderlic? Or is that 16? Whoop-de-friggin-do. He still won't be there when the Lions pick, and if he was, they'd pass on him. They have more urgent needs, like a stud DE or a franchise LT... err...

Martz likes Joey? Stop the presses when he says he sees a lot of potential. Yawn. The only real news is that Martz is actually going to spend time coaching Joey, unlike Mooch. Wake me when training camp starts.

Is Millen putting words in Marinelli's mouth? Just what we need - another conspiracy theory. How many ways can we read between the lines and misinterpret everything that was said at the press conference is the real story.

The Lions came up with almost 12 million in additional cap money? Only Killer claims it's a non-story because he didn't break it this time, claiming he wrote about it 13 months ago. Then he goes on to say that it's insignificant because most of that money got eaten up by franchising Backus. Except it wasn't part of every other previous cap calculation, therefore, it is new money in the sense that they still have cash to spend.

Almost every other topic being discussed was talked about prior to my vacation. Even the one I've alluded to several times already - franchising Backus. For the life of me, I can't see the Lions spending 8.5 million on him next season - he's just not that good. My hunch is that this is strictly a move to make sure that when the musical chairs stop that they aren't left without a LT. I'm guessing their real aim is to draft a new LT in the first round. The problem is that there's only one (D'Brick) worth the #9 spot, and he'll likely be gone already. Trading up is problematic as they have a few more holes to fill, so trading down to get another pick makes more sense. In that case, if they make one of the sensible moves - like Denver's #22 and #29 for the #9 - they want to make sure that they still have a shot at McNeil, Justice, Winston or Scott. There's a lot of slots between 9 and 22, and it's possible that all 4 of the next level guys are gone. If that's the case, Backus is the hedge bet, they try to sign him to a cap-friendly 2-3 year deal instead of the franchise one year deal. If they get one of those 5 tackles, they remove the tag from Backus and let him walk. It's just my gut feeling, because I can't imagine that Millen, Marinelli and Martz haven't seen how much Backus struggles with speed rushers, especially when Marinelli 'goes to the tape' as he likes to say.

Outside of that one item, it's been a very slow February, Lions news-wise. Thank goodness that Free Agency is coming so that there is something to keep my interest up...

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