Monday, March 06, 2017

Weekly Bag Of Footballs - Mar 6

Today is the final day of the NFL Combine - reserved for the running of the defensive backs and Rich Eisen, so let's wish both parties our very best.

One thing I find valuable is having comparable information available when we watch guys run.  And, before I get into much of that, allow me to remind you that I am not sure why you would dedicate much of your day to watching this sort of thing unless you are just flat out bored.  The NFL Combine is great for nerds, but I really don't think it is very good television about 97% of the time.  Yet, I watch, because I find it enjoyable to actually cross this threshold of draft season and see that we are progressing down the track to draft weekend.  As it stands, we still have a good seven weeks and change.  
Regardless, since I am profiling the defensive backs right now on Fridays, I find it useful to have these following charts available to examine the 40 times as they roll in.  We should start with the most important thing from this information: There are no cases where 40 time has established much truth.  We know that there are lousy corners who run fast and great corners that don't run very fast.  It certainly helps -- like height in basketball -- but, it is not much more than a reference point.  If you are real fast, you can recover after a technique mistake.  But, it doesn't account for how many technique mistakes you are making.  And, of course, you never have to recover, if you are never making a mistake.  
Here are some times to compare with height always helpful, too.  And, if you need another cup of coffee right now, just know that 72 inches = 6 feet  LOL.
Obviously, there are quite a few safeties in here.  But, these are the guys who picked off quite a few passes last year and their corresponding 40-times.  Wow, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is both tall and fast.  He is quite a player.  
OK, above are the pro bowlers at corner from last season.  In most cases, 4.5 is the cut line, but again, Richard Sherman is doing fine.  
Next, here are the Cowboys from last season who played corner on this team:
Orlando Scandrick was a 5th round pick and Anthony Brown was a 6th rounder, by the way.  
Anyway, there are some reference points for you to consider.  It might make the combine marginally more meaningful to you.  Surely, I am not doing the right media-guy thing here by offering lukewarm reviews of the combine, but I gotta be me. 

I have another visual aid for you today as we enter free agency. You are one day from full contact negotiations opening between prospective unrestricted free agents  and teams who are flush with cash (not the Cowboys). By Thursday at dinner, the deals can become official, but I am sure we will see the first announcements of "done deals" by tomorrow night. The Cowboys have UFAs all over the place and judging from the wind blowing, many of them will have no addresses this week.
This season's Aikman project had me making charts like this for all of the teams in games we studied, so here is the latest Cowboys chart with the UFAs in Red:

Basically, we have talked about this free agent class with a fair amount of acceptance that most of those that get any sort of offer are likely gone. If Morris Claiborne, Terrance Williams, Terrell McClain, and Ron Leary get any sort of offers like we expect they will, they are all as good as gone. I can imagine scenarios where the rest are appealing at the right rate, but I expect the names in red will largely exit stage left.
It is because the Cowboys have no cap room. Again. They never have cap room. And I am surrounded by people that think that isn't odd. I suggest it might have a lot to do with how we are conditioned to accept the Cowboys ways of doing business and many of us have been covering this team since the 1990s. For me, this will be my 20th season covering the Cowboys, so yes, I am quite accustomed to the glitz, glamour, and unfortunately, the largely unsatisfying way each of the 19 seasons have ended around here.
Let me be clear. They appear to be evolving into a smart organization. They appear to be doing things now that a decade ago I was begging them to do and they - with new people making more important decisions - seem to have evolved. They grow their players. They speak of paying their own guys and not falling for free agency and not firing coaches every few years, but rather building a culture and a consistent environment. This is all good.
Now, there is one thing that I continue to be dissatisfied about, and that is the way they write their contracts. They do not write contracts that they intend to honor as written. They write contracts to allow them multiple restructures to accommodate other contracts that they have already restructured to make room for contracts that they wrote before that were restructured. And so on and so on and so on. There was some back and forth on this behavior this past week when Stephen Jones again defended the fine art of credit-card juggling.
They have so much dead money on Player A, that they must restructure Player B to free up the room. But, then, Player B cannot be cut because he isn't very good anymore, since the restructure guaranteed money for him in Year 3 of his deal (because of Player A's situation), so now we must restructure Player C's deal to accommodate Player B, who is only in his spot because of Player A. It is maddening. But, perhaps not as maddening as knowing we have all be desensitized to it as a poor way of doing business.
There are media folks who tell us "everyone does it", which is sort of true, but not. Yes, everyone you know uses credit cards. So, you can justify your credit card use by looking around the room and seeing everyone uses them. But, does everyone open up new credit cards to pay off the old ones? Does everyone max them out and have to sit out shopping because of the unpaid balances?
The Cowboys are doing better, but a sign that they are still in a weird spot is that they definitely need to retain some players, but in order to do so, they have to figure out how to restructure more deals to make even a little room.
The best example is the Romo deal. They signed his deal in 2013. Restructured in 2014. Restructured in 2015. And now have $20 million in dead money. It isn't uncommon to restructure a QB deal when you are in a pinch. But, hopefully, you can see the difference between an emergency restructure and a planned contract to do it every year because it is our way of "gaming the cap".
Now, in a year where they should likely at least consider walking away from Tyrone Crawford's deal, they are still upside down in his deal (meaning, it costs more to cut him than it does to keep him). There is no reason a defensive tackle should have a deal that is five years long and Year 3 is basically guaranteed again. Unless, you planned on it. Which, why would you ever fully guarantee Tyrone Crawford's deal? And look, Year 4 already has $7.3 million in dead money which might become fully "upside down" if they restructure him again this month - which they just might.
Heck, everyone loves Jason Witten, but should you really restructure his deal every single season? Because, they did in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Why? Because they had to.
And before you feed me the propaganda that they have never lost a player because of money and they always have a good team, let me stop you there. They started rookies Phil Costa and Bill Nagy in a season opener in 2011 because of money. They started George Selvie and Nick Hayden on NFL minimum deals off of their couches in 2013 because of money. They weren't half bad, but that isn't the point.
The point is that restructuring (like blitzing the quarterback) should be a weapon, not a necessity or a habit. This team not only restructures everyone with routine, but then acts like it is both normal and acceptable. It isn't. Try writing one deal that you plan to pay out as you wish. Write one deal where in Year 3 of a five-year deal, if you don't like the player's performance, you can walk away because you paid him every guaranteed penny when it was scheduled.
Then, you aren't scrambling every year at this time and watching everyone else participate in team building while you try to figure out how to "June 1st" your latest money mess.

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