Speaking of which…

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    (attempts to sound excited)

    With a wealth of prospective free agent information having been added to most draftnik websites and a smattering of mock drafts popping up, it appears the NFL offseason is officially in full swing.  Lots of formerly locked-down (in some cases legendary) players are suddenly without teams, so determining their direction right now is little more than a bumbling guessing game.  This year’s free agency period begins March 18, so we’re pretty clearly deep into “silly season” mode, where unfounded and unreliable player movement rumors dominate social media and the airwaves. Check your team’s local websites; if there’s no mention of “pending free agents” or “team free agent wish list”, your team is sorely lacking in media presence and needs to keep up.  Besides, there’s other important stuff going on that your team should be aware of.  Speaking of which…

    The decennial ugliness of the NFL’s CBA negotiations is in full effect, with proposals being bandied about by both sides.  A resolution and new agreement is tentatively expected to be in place by the start of the league year, so fortunately, a work stoppage on labor grounds appears to not be a possibility for the next decade.  The new agreement has introduced some pretty significant changes to the NFL’s game schedule, including removing one preseason game in favor of a 17-game regular season, and expanding the playoff field by one team for each conference.  The players appear slightly willing to trade their extra labor for higher minimum salaries and a bigger share of league revenues, both conditions that should go into effect this year if approved by the NFLPA.  The extra game and playoff expansion may not happen until 2023 if at all, but as the players have seemingly decided it might be worth it, it seems likely to happen sooner, possibly by 2021.  Keep an eye on the proceedings – things tend to change rapidly during these negotiations, so it’s entirely possible none of this will happen.  On to local stuff…

    The Browns had already decided to let free agent LT Greg Robinson walk away before his incredibly stupid arrest at the southern US/Mexico border Tuesday, where he allegedly was in possession of 157 pounds of marijuana.  These circumstances rang a little too familiar to me until I remembered the case of Nate “The Kitchen” Newton, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, who, befitting his nickname, was arrested with a whopping 213 pounds of marijuana in his car in late 2001.  Newton, at age 40, was well past his playing career at the time of his infraction, so his prison sentence of 30 months (he served roughly 20) probably impacted his life very differently than it will the 27 year-old Robinson, who could’ve easily continued his NFL career uninterrupted if not for this incident.  The odds of his returning to the NFL in any capacity now look very, very long.  Speaking of which…

    Ravens swingman Bradley Bozeman apparently loves his chow, as evidenced by his apparent domination of a “Food Challenge” at a Texas steakhouse.  Bozeman, who started 14 games for the Ravens as a fill-in for deposed LG Alex Lewis, played well in 2019 and remains in the running for the crucial RG job should aging stalwart Marshal Yanda choose to retire.  Yanda hasn’t given any recent indications of his 2020 disposition, but the general organizational thinking is leaning towards establishing contingency plans for his departure anyway.  Yanda, at age 35, is still on his game enough to have garnered a Pro Bowl berth in 2019, but age is a fickle, slippery thing in the NFL, especially when it requires an offensive lineman to maintain a weight of over 300 pounds while simultaneously maintaining the strength to support it.  Bozeman might not be the ideal Yanda replacement, but he’s the obvious choice to be next in line.  Besides, it took a few years for Yanda to develop; perhaps Bozeman’s just coming into his own.  Besides, he’s cheap.  Speaking of which…

    It’s not good news for the Steelers on the salary cap front.  While they’re sure to engage in their annual rite of restructures and payouts, the proverbial “bill” may finally be due this season, which usually manifests itself by stripping roster depth.  The Steelers are currently sporting a scant $1.5 million in cap space, and in looking at the linked table, it’s tough to see where any veteran cuts would produce the savings they sorely need.  Curiously, the obvious exception appears to be QB Ben Roethlisberger, who’s easily the most indispensable player on the roster.  My guess is the team approaches poor old Stephon Tuitt to again change the terms of his agreement, and possibly MLB Vince Williams, who’s also a potential cut based on his cap number.  The Steelers usually undergo these sorts of contortions every year, but there’s usually more maneuvering room.  Still, it’s a long way until camps open – my guess is they may shed a key player or two and still be viable.  Speaking of which…

    The Bengals’ oft-discussed path to viability is to draft highly-touted LSU QB Joe Burrow, but their probable acquisition of him has brought an undue exterior amount of criticism of the Bengals in general.  Burrow is surely aware that good teams don’t generally pick #1 overall and the Bengals have been mired in a three-decade playoff win slump, but the implication is obvious – bad teams don’t become good without those #1 picks either.  Those reading this are aware of the Bengals’ various draft gaffes over the years; Burrow would appear to be very far from a mistake of that sort.  Let’s hope he’s got a bit more team loyalty in him than the Bengals’ last first-round QB selection.

    Enjoy the week!

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    Ravenous128

    All stories by: Ravenous128

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