Gang, remember the mailbag. Yes, that one.
From the "Talks too much" studios, it's good to be the King. Ask Richard Petty.
Dalton cashes in
The future of NFL franchises, rightly or wrongly center on their ability to find quarterbacks and cash in while said quarterbacks are relatively affordable.
Once quarterbacks land that second contract, the chunk of the salary cap devoted to the hot shot sitting on the hot spot in the most important position in team sports is crazy. And it can be crippling.
So when the Bengals gave Andy Dalton a six-year, $115-million extension, the thoughts ranged from "What, they gave the guy from Roadhouse nine figures?" to "Well, who else is out there that will be available is better?" to "Maybe he could be a franchise guy?"
The truth is, the Bengals have been to the playoffs three straight seasons, a fact that is not a regular commodity in Cincinnati and can be credited in part to Dalton, who has 30 wins in three seasons as a starter.
The truth also is, the Bengals are 0-3 in the playoffs, a fact that is directly credited to Dalton's awful postseason performances.
So, is a guy that really is no better than in the mid-pack of NFL quarterbacks worth a deal that averages out to be worth a little more than $19 million a year?
Yes and no. Dalton's contract is only guaranteed for the next two years, and like all NFL deals, the only thing that matters down the road on contracts is the cap hit. So the Bengals made a pledge to Dalton, but the pledge was not without its escape clauses.
Still, if we were to rank NFL quarterbacks in tiers, it's scary to think someone as middle the road as Dalton would land a monster deal — on paper anyway — in a cap-driven NFL.
Let's review the levels of quarterbacks:
Elite: Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees
The next elite guy: Andrew Luck
Guys every team but the ones the guys above play for would love to have: Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger
Good but not that good: Romo, Cutler, Stafford, Flacco
Young guys that are about to cash in/cashed in whether they deserve it or not: Kaepernick, Wilson, RGIII, Dalton, Cam
Former No. 1 picks who will get paid by Oakland or Jacksonville or another bottom feeder who needs a QB: Bradford, Alex Smith
And that bottom category, as much as anything drives the fact that teams like the Bengals are willing to make a pledge to an Andy Dalton.
Greatest college football seasons ever
In an effort to fill the August excitement of college football on the horizon, the good folks at ESPN have an interesting bracket.
It ranks the top 16 individual seasons by a player in college football history.
Barry Sanders, who went for 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns in 11 games, was the No. 1 seed. Marcus Allen, who went for 2,342 and 22 touchdowns in 11 games in '81, was the No. 2 seed.
Maybe we're a touch biased, but the No. 4 seed, one Cam Newton, gets our vote.
Man, the tough times get tougher for the Braves, who have lost six straight and get the chance to face King Felix tonight in Seattle.
Atlanta is in a perilous stretch here.
Losers of six in a row and down 3 games in the NL East standings, Atlanta wraps this West Coast swing in Seattle.
Then they return home for 10 games against three division leaders.
Expectations have flat-lined. The offense has become a collection of isolationists. The pitching has become as ill-timed as a toot in an elevator. The pressure has escalated.
Basically, they are dealing with a lot of stuff.
So, with the final two in Seattle and the balance of a difficult home stand on the horizon, we freely admit that the season is long and filled with ups, downs and crookeds.
But anything less than a split in Seattle and standing even in the home stretch could leave a spiraling team without a future and staring at an impossible hole.
This and that
— Dan Uggla was cut by the Giants. It's hard to see someone getting a third chance after going 0-for-11 with six Ks and three errors in four games with San Francisco. Man, talk about a fall from excellence. Uggla was arguably the best second baseman in the NL five years ago and today, he's the worst player in baseball.
— Tough break for the Pirates, who lost best player and team leader Andrew McCutchen after a beanball affair with the Diamondbacks.
— New York Giants running back David Wilson has been advised to give up football because of neck injuries. There's no way to go against the doctors on this one.
Happy 52 birthday to Patrick Ewing. We had severel Rushmore's involving Ewing's Hall of Fame career — best players to never win a title (he narrowly misses that one of Marino, Sanders, Teddy Williams and Chuck Barkley) and biggest upsets in sports history (Nova over Ewing's Hoyas likely makes that one with US Hockey over USSR in '80 — ironically Herb Brooks would have been 77 today — Valvano's Wolfpack and Namath's Jets) — but we'll offer this one that is less clear:
What's our Rushmore of biggest sports conspiracy theories? We always loved the one that the NBA draft lottery was rigged in 1985 — they allegedly put the Knicks' card in the freezer so David Stern could pull out a cold card — to get a superstar in New York.
Feel free to sing along with any of the above.
And remember the mailbag.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...