As another week passes in the NFL, fans are now starting to realize that the season is coming to a close. Unfortunately, after getting accustomed the biggest NFL news story I’ve heard over the past two weeks has been the state of Dwight Freeney’s ankle. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that the season is over and my Sundays will now consist of 4 hours of Madden and the occasional NBA game. The silver lining is that there’s more football news during the week in the offseason. The first few days of free agency are a wild collection of rumors and half-truths, while draft day is one of my favorite days of the year. Since Kurt Warner’s retirement just shortened the gap between the Cardinals and other NFC West teams, it’s important to know what’s going on with them. After all, it was the great philosopher Sun-Tzu (or was it Amare Stoudemire?) who said, "keep your friends closer and your enemies closer."
San Francisco 49ers: The big news out of Niners camp has nothing to do with next year’s team. Jerry Rice, one of the best receivers in the history of the NFL and one of the Niners’ biggest stars was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rice ended his career with a record 208 touchdowns (197 receiving), almost 23,000 yards, and over 1500 receptions, records which are likely to never be broken (hopefully Fitz will get close though). Rice reminds Niners fans of a better time in their history, when they didn’t have a QB situation. Nobody really knows how Alex Smith will play next year, and it’s hard to tell if he can be a good QB. He does have a few good things going for him, including a very talented receiving core and Jimmy Raye’s continuation as offensive coordinator. The Niners could address the quarterback position in this season’s draft, where they hold 2 first round picks. Sports’ Illustrated Peter King says he believed Mike Singletary would fall in love with Tim Tebow after meeting him. If the Niners do pick Tebow, it would be with the knowledge that he won’t be ready for a few years. They would also be replacing an Urban Meyer system quarterback with questions about his throwing motion with an Urban Meyer system quarterback with questions about this throwing motion. I’m hoping like no other that Singletary wants Tebow. Trying to make him their quarterback and failing would put the Niners back at least 3 years. Luckily for Niners fans, and unluckily for Cardinals fans, most mock drafts have the Niners picking some combination of an offensive tackle and running back CJ Spiller in the first round.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have spent much of the last few weeks filling in the coaching staff around Pete Carroll. Carroll has surrounded himself with great assistants, including Jeremy Bates, who was the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator in Mike Shanahan’s last year, and Alex Gibbs, who was Houston’s assistant head coach a year ago, as a running game architect. In personnel news, many people think all-pro offensive tackle Walter Jones has retired. Jones has had a very injury plagued two years and announced on Twitter that he is retiring. It’s still unsure whether this is true however, as Jones has poked fun at his retirement decision on Twitter before and once commented that he would not be announcing his retirement on Twitter. Regardless of whether he is retiring or not, the Seahawks owe him a $1 million bonus next month and almost $8 million total next year. It’s very unlikely the team will want to spend that kind of money on an injury prone left tackle and his contract will have to be restructured. In terms of the draft, many experts believe Pete Carroll is seriously considering Jimmy Clausen as a first round pick. Carroll and his former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian both recruited hard for Clausen, who ended up playing at Notre Dame for Charlie Weiss. Field Gulls explores whether Clausen is the one that got away for Carroll here. Seattle, like the rest of the NFC West, is very unsettled at QB. Unless Matt Hassellbeck pulls a Kurt Warner or Brett Favre, it’s unlikely he has more than 1 or 2 good years left, the perfect amount of time needed to groom a young quarterback. Either way, this year’s draft will go a long way to determining Pete Carroll’s legacy and he has to be careful if he wants a quarterback in the first round.
St. Louis Rams: The biggest news out of the Rams camp so far this offseason is the team’s impending sale. There are three offers on the table so far, and only Dave Checketts (backed by former president Gerald Ford) has clearly stated his desire to stay in St. Louis. There are some reports that Checketts offer is a little on the low side and since the Rams have hired Goldman Sachs to preside over the sale, the only thing that matters is money. Obviously the Rams and their managing ownership partner Chris Rosenbloom want to keep the team in St. Louis, but if Checketts offer is significantly lower than the others, it is unlikely that they will agree. In other Rams news, their former head coach and architect of the "Greatest Show on Turf" Mike Martz has signed on as the offensive coordinator for the Bears. This is the first time Martz has been paired with an elite level QB since Kurt Warner, although the QBs decision making is the key component in being successful in Martz’s offense, and this is the least developed part of Jay Cutler’s game. We’ll see how that partnership works next year.
In terms of personnel, there have been rumors about Michael Vick going to the Rams but it is all talk for right now. Vick claims he is a top ten quarterback but since he’s thrown fewer passes than Matt Leinart in the last two years, it’s hard to believe him.
That’s it. Not a lot of news right now, but things should pick up now that the Superbowl is over. On that topic, it was great seeing the Saints win for the first time, but it brought tears to my eyes remembering the end of last year’s game. Watching Drew Brees hoist up the MVP trophy just made me sad that Kurt Warner didn’t hoist it up last year. Hopefully this offseason is the continuation of the Cardinals reaching their goal to win the Superbowl. With Whiz as our leader, I’m confident we’ll make the playoffs again next year.