NFL season begins
No, sadly, we are still six months from actual games being played in the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL Football League.
But the season started Wednesday, and there was a bevy of action on the personnel front.
Here are some quick-hitting winners and losers:
Atlanta. Some folks who cover the team stated center was this team's second-biggest need. Enter Alex Mack, arguably the best center in the league, who left Cleveland for the Falcons on Wednesday. Well-played. Now impactful guys in front seven of a defense that needs an infusion of talent becomes the clear priority in the draft next month.
Oakland Raiders. The Raiders added the best offensive lineman on the market in Kelechi Osemele and a legit pass rusher in Bruce Irvin, who will get a lot of chances to make plays opposite Khalil Mack. The Raiders have a talented nucleus with Mack, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper and the No. 14 pick in the draft. Adding Irvin and Osmele gives the Raiders versatility next month. Think about this bunch adding a Laquan Treadwell or potentially an Ezekiel Elliot. Good times.
New York Giants. Quietly, the Giants have followed the Broncos blueprint: A Manning at quarterback, some dynamic guys on the perimeter and a shutdown defensive line. The Giants added Olivier Vernon and other parts up from defensively and look to be the class of the NFC East. Add in whatever addition they get with the No. 10 overall pick, and things look up in NYC. Yes, they spent a ton on Olivier with a guarantee of more than $52 million, but a team with a quarterback like Eli Manning, who has a limited number of years left to compete for a Super Bowl title, should be making big swings to win right now.
Cleveland. The Browns lost four players Wednesday, including two offensive linemen off the strongest position group on the team. Not good. To make matters worse, none of those four players was Johnny Manziel.
Miami. The Dolphins lost their best offensive player in running back Lamar Miller and their best pass rusher in Olivier Vernon. They also rolled the dice on two players with high-salaries (Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell) who have been unable to stay healthy.
Cincinnati. It was pretty clear the Bengals were going to lose a lot. They had 14 unrestricted free agents, after all. They lost their Nos. 2 and 3 receivers so the Bengals' need in the draft becomes crystal clear.
And some of each...
Houston. Well, apparently the Texans are trying to make the most of playing in a winnable division and staring at the looming closing window on JJ Watt's time as the game's best defender. Houston pushed huge chips into the middle of the table with Brock Osweiler (4 years, $72 million) and Lamar Miller (4 years, $26 million) in two of the biggest splash signings of Wednesday. Are the Texans a winner? If Osweiler answers the QB question, then absolutely. If not, the Texans are looking at a reboot sooner rather than later.
Speaking of the Super Bowl champs
OK, Denver had a tough day. They lost defensive end Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevatham, two key pieces to the key part of their Super Bowl championship.
And now they are without a quarterback.
The Broncos lost their gamble in the game of contract chicken with Osweiler and they are left picking the bottom of the barrel on a very week QB crop. (Plus, they have the last pick in round one, which means unless they move up, the draft likely would yield at best Paxton Lynch and more likely a Connor Cook or a Cardale Jones. Yes, it's that bad.)
If Denver tries to add a free agent, well, the names there are Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is asking for as much money as Osweiler just got, and retreads such as Colin Kaepernick and RGIII. How bad is this QB market? Well, Matt Flynn, the guy that turned one magical Monday night start into a three-year, $26-million contract, Tweeted that this QB contract stuff is crazy. (Flynn, for what it's worth, made more than $19 million in eight NFL seasons with seven career starts, so he knows of what he speaks.)
In truth, the Broncos lost this Osweiler gamble by mismanaging the Von Miller situation. Miller, the star defensive end, was going to be a free agent too. Instead of biting the bullet and giving Miller the long-term deal he's going to eventually get, the Broncos used their franchise tag on him. So they get some short-sighted savings on Miller.
If they had given Miller a six-year deal with options, they could have used the franchise tag on Osweiler, which would have meant a similar scenario as what is happening with Kirk Cousins in Washington.
The franchise tag for quarterbacks this year is $19-plus million for the 2016, which means that Cousins will make more money than any other quarterback this fall. But the Washington front office gets a full season to explore Cousins as the guy. That extended sample size is worth the high price.
It would have been the same for John Elway and Denver, too. Imagine getting a full year of seeing Osweiler without having to make a long-term commitment.
So there's that. Yes, the Broncos get to bask in the glow of winning the whole thing.
But the future looks as uncertain as ever. (Wonder if Elway and company have called to see if Peyton is interested?)
Running in wrong place
OK, this is now the second time this has happened, and it's bad.
The Chattanooga Marathon was actually about a quarter of a mile short of being a full marathon. Here's TFP outdoors ace David Cobb's story.
Man, this is not good.
Imagine you thought you had qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time that was your best and you actually were a few hundred yards short.
This and that
— Thought this was interesting. Apparently, Jennifer Lawrence and Leo DiCaprio are like the rest of us and are fans of the Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercial actor. This story — that the A-list stars wanted photos with MIMITW — combined with Chuck Norris having a birthday begs the question which is better, the most interesting man claims ("If opportunity knocks and he's not home, opportunity waits") or Norris jokes ("The bogeyman checks his closet for Chuck Norris")? Thoughts.
— The NASCAR broadcast crew at Fox is welcoming new roles, generated by the addition of Jeff Gordon to the booth. Here's Darrell Waltrip answers claims that he and Gordon are at odds.
— With a stat line that made him the first player in the league with more than 25 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds since Magic Johnson did it, Russell Westbrook went nuts last night. On the other side, Chris Paul apparently went nuts too, and allegedly hit Kevin Durant in the junk. Paul has a long history of targeting other players' private parts.
We mentioned the Most Interesting Man in the World earlier.
Well, word came this week that they are retiring that ad campaign. May we say well-done Dos Equis, well-done indeed
What's our Rushmore of all-time commercial characters?
Go, and remember the mailbag.