It’s been quite a day for the NFL. If I’d known it was going to be so busy, I probably would have stayed behind when my friends suggested the strip club last night.
To ease everyone’s brains, I thought I’d play the hero and write up a wrap sheet, to sum up the events of today in our favorite professional sports league.
The League Day: Trades, Cuts, Retirements, “The Weed”
The Giants Sent Vernon to the Browns
As reported by LWOS’s Juwan Holmes, the New York Giants finally made a roster move that alludes, somehow, to the idea that they actually DO have a plan this offseason. Linebacker Olivier Vernon will report to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for right guard Kevin Zeitler, who was announced as a casualty after his former team wished him a happy birthday just hours before. Is this a gift for Zeitler? Only time will tell. The Giants, however, are safe from the $19.5 million that it would have cost their salary cap by ridding themselves of the faithful Vernon, which will give them significantly more options once free agency opens up on March 13th, the date that this trade will become official.
Cleveland will acquire a weapon who will contribute to their already-valuable defense. The Giants will walk with more much-needed assistance on their offensive line, which proved not strong enough for inconsistent veteran quarterback Eli Manning in the recent season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, The Giants will also send a fourth round (132nd overall) pick to the Browns, in exchange for a fifth-rounder (155th overall). The Giants further solidified their o-line today by re-signing their center Jon Halapio, who was placed on IR after starting two games for the team last season.
Who won this trade? It’s too soon to tell, considering the number of holes that need to be filled on both rosters, but for now, it’s looking pretty even. The Giants could use that cash on their young talent and in free agency, and the Browns have acquired a former Pro-Bowler, who led the Giants in sacks and quarterback hits last year significantly.
The Patriots Trade the Eagles for Michael Bennett
In the words of Last Word on Pro Football’s David Latham, the New England Patriots have “outsmart(ted) everyone” once again. Rival Philadelphia Eagles will trade Michael Bennett, as well as a 2020 seventh-round draft pick, in exchange for a 2020 fifth-rounder.
With Trey Flowers set to test out free agency, the replacing of him with Michael Bennett is wise and fiscally responsible. It also opens up the opportunity for a family reunion. Martellus Bennett, his tight-end brother, spent ten seasons in the league before he was released by the Patriots last March. Martellus has already expressed interest in coming out of retirement and returning to the Patriots, fulfilling a long-time dream of playing with his brother. If this were to happen, they would be the second set of brothers on the Patriots roster, joining the squad which already includes twins Jason and Devin McCourty, provided Jason is resigned before entering unrestricted free agency.
Bennett is still facing felony charges of assault to the elderly after he shoved a 66-year-old paraplegic woman when pushing his way onto the field to celebrate his brother’s Super Bowl win in 2018.
Who won this trade? The Patriots, without a doubt, though the Eagles will avoid issues with snap distribution after they re-signed Brandon Graham last week, who will likely start opposite Derek Barnett, provided he is cleared to play after being placed on IR in October.
The Jaguars Do Some Spring Cleaning
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson will be free, saving the team about $11 million in cap space. His career year in 2017 did not prove continued fortuity in 2018. Still, Jackson shouldn’t have a hard time finding a new team (or perhaps he’ll head back to the Denver Broncos?).
Tashaun Gipson will also enter free agency, as the Jaguars attempt to rebuild the fierce secondary they had in 2017. Starting right tackle Jermey Parnell and running back Carlos Hyde were also released. Hyde had been acquired from the Browns mid-season of this past year, but failed to impress after failing to score a touchdown in Florida.
What should we take from this? If I’m going to be frank, all of these players are better off testing free agency waters. With the announcement of Nick Foles joining the troupes, it’s clear that the Jags are attempting to change up their game significantly, and these guys will get better looks from other teams than they will from the Jaguars in their clean-house rebuild. There are still many questions to be answered for this team, particularly regarding the future of quarterback Bortles, who was benched midway through the season for Cody Kessler, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see news on Bortles in the next week. For more on these recently released players, check out this news bite from LWOS’s Matt Harris.
David Irving Quits the NFL
After being suspended indefinitely on March 1st for his third failed substance abuse test, David Irving took to Instagram Live, a favorite platform of NFL Divas, to announce his retirement last night. And he did so while smoking a joint.
As rounded up by LWOS’s David Latham, the defensive tackle criticized the league in his video, suggesting that we, the audience, don’t see the whole picture. He slammed the NFL’s policy on marijuana, a policy that, while antiquated, is unlikely to change in the immediate future. “I love football. However, I don’t love the NFL. The NFL is not football…What you see us do, the game and [stuff], that’s, what, 20 percent of all the real [stuff] we’re doing.”
What’s the takeaway? Well, David Irving has a few options. He can stay off the weed and test out the free agency market. He can stay in shape and try his talents at another league sometime soon, say, the CFL or the AAF. Or (and I’d like to see this one play out, just for the record), he can use his platform while this news is still relevant to spearhead a movement in favor of legalizing marijuana use in the NFL as a form of medicine for the players, in accordance with state laws. Certainly, America has come far as of late in recognizing the “drug” as a means of medicinal support. The league would be smart to update their codes on weed as well.
Antonio Brown Was Traded, and Then He Wasn’t
Here’s the big one. On Thursday night, we were teased by reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that the Pittsburgh Steelers were “closing in on a deal” with the Buffalo Bills for Antonio Brown. Brown hopped on the Instagram machine shortly after, and called the report “fake news.”
Here’s where it gets catty, albeit interesting. Had this deal gone through, AB would not have been able to do anything about it, other than hold out. But as Brown likely would have done so, it would have been a tip-off to the Bills not to complete the trade. Brown has said that he wants to go to a team with a strong quarterback, and with Josh Allen leading that squad, that’s far from guaranteed in Buffalo. While the Bills definitely need a receiver, Brown would undoubtedly bring the team more problems than profit.
Bills’ general manager Branson Beane clarified early today that the team had “inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers. We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.” The story was allegedly dead on Wednesday, which means we all in the NFL media must be really bored, and really anxious, to have made such an ordeal of all of this in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Where are we now? Antonio’s doing his typical social media thing, and has alleged that he’ll likely be on a new team within the next 24-hours. His Instagram Live video also features a friend of his, who comments on his silver and black attire, alluding to what seems to be the expected ending to this saga – Antonio Brown will likely become an Oakland Raider.
This is a sensible outcome. The Raiders aren’t at a loss for cap space. Brown will have a strong veteran quarterback in Derek Carr to toss him the ball. The Raiders have a need for a star receiver like him. But what will this trade cost them?
Other News of the Past 24-Hours:
Case Keenum will be traded to the Washington Redskins in wake of Alex Smith’s horrific injury (which rounds out a shuffle of trades, in which Joe Flacco replaces Keenum, and all three of the aforementioned players have near identical stats from 2018 in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdown percentage, rendering a series of question marks).
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