Speaking of which, pre-draft things…

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    By now, you’ve settled into your offseason routine.

    You’ve started to review various mock drafts, probably while chuckling at the fact the inimitable Mel Kiper’s few months in the spotlight are still considered by non die-hards to be the sport’s most in-tune draft analysis.  Today, you’re balancing time between this place, ProFootballFocus, WalterFootball, Twitter, SpoTrac, NFL.com and a host of others in the midst of the presidential election’s Super Tuesday analysis (football is clearly more important).  You’re drinking more coffee, and you’re not sure why.  You probably tuned into a few minutes of the XFL this weekend, only to change the channel a few minutes later out of frustration.  You’re diving into Combine coverage, because it’s there, albeit astoundingly boring to watch.  It hasn’t been a month since the Super Bowl ended, yet you’re pining away for football…REAL football.  Speaking of which…

    The aforementioned XFL has posted declining ratings each week of its brief existence, leading it towards the brink of a very predictable collapse.  As I’ve opined here, start-up pro football leagues aren’t capable of producing quality football with any consistency; the talent differential with the NFL is simply too great, and fans of the game have little interest in an inferior product.  The NFL has a direct pipeline to the NCAA that no other league can possibly dent under the current corporate structure, not to mention the assurance of vast amounts of team money allocated for draftees.  This will not change under the prospective new CBA (currently submitted for NFLPA approval), which allows for modest annual increases in the rookie pay scale.  So, as anticipated…bye, XFL.  We hardly knew ye.  Speaking of which…

    Bye bye, Bengals LT Cordy Glenn.  In typical stupefying fashion, the Bengals announced their intent to release their malcontent LT if terms for a trade can’t be worked out.  Although we see this sort of announcement more often these days, the question bears asking:  WHY?  Stating an intent to release obliterates any motivation a potential trade suitor could possibly have.  Glenn is still relatively young (30) and has a history of starting in the NFL, so he’ll pretty clearly work again regardless of how he departs from the Bengals, but the Bengals seem determined to sabotage their own draft returns.  Glenn probably wouldn’t have brought much in trade – figure a fourth rounder at the absolute best – but it would’ve been something, which is clearly more than they’ll get now.  No wonder suicide rates spike in Cincinnati during football season every year.  Speaking of which…

    The Browns’ poor defense last season has already led to some significant roster changes, most notably the release of several veterans including former Pro Bowl LB Joe Schobert, LB Adarius Taylor, DE Chris Smith and CB T.J. Carrie, with starting LB Christian Kirksey possibly departing as well.  This signals the Browns are ready to use their draft assets to stock some fresh talent between DE Myles Garrett and CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams.  New defensive coordinator Joe Woods has said little beyond affirming the team’s decision to stay with a 4-3 defensive alignment, but these moves indicate clear purpose; look for the Browns to strongly consider drafting Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray with the tenth overall pick.  While the Browns have other pressing needs along the offensive line, fattening up their defensive front seven may be their biggest priority.  Speaking of which…

    This isn’t exactly news, but the Ravens need pass rushers.  At every level.  As of this writing, no progress had been made in securing a new deal with their only consistent pass rushing threat, hybrid DE/LB Matt Judon.  Rumors persist of the team applying the franchise tag to him as a precursor to a trade, which would apply a price tag of roughly $18 million to Judon for one year’s work.  While young pass rushers are in demand, I can’t see teams trading solely for the franchise payout; it’s assumed a long term deal would have to be negotiated with Judon by whomever deals for him.  Otherwise, the Ravens stand to decimate half their newfound salary cap room for just Judon, with no guarantees they won’t be forced into the same dance in 2021.  Fading hopes still maintain the two sides may yet reach a long term agreement, but it’s becoming more and more apparent Judon will be playing elsewhere as soon as 2020.  Stay tuned for more veteran releases and cap maneuvers to potentially free up more negotiating space.  Speaking of which…

    The Steelers are in a holding pattern with OLB Alvin “Bud” Dupree, with recent reports indicating the team’s intent to use the franchise tag to retain him.  The Steelers’ salary cap, however, isn’t currently able to support a franchise deal at OLB (roughly $17 million annually) beyond March 18 when the new league year officially opens, so any cuts/negotiations to that end would have to be resolved prior to then to accommodate one.  To date, the Steelers haven’t released anyone of note, although LB Mark Barron appears to be a lock to be released, given his price tag and the success of last season’s addition of standout ILB Devin Bush.  GM Kevin Colbert is no stranger to annual restructures, but as noted here previously, there’s only so much that can be done this season.  Expect some near-term cuts and trades, some possibly painful.  As a result, the Steelers’ excellent defense in 2019 may be hard put to reproduce those efforts in 2020 without a strong draft showing.  Good luck, fellas.

     

    Enjoy the week!

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    Ravenous128

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