News and Notes as Draft Day Approaches

Contracts –  

Russell Wilson Demands

The request this week of Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson for a new contract surprised no one. He is entering the last year of his current deal and the time to exert leverage is now. Negotiating is all about timing, right? Seahawk fans should not be panicked by the request. Their franchise QB is not going anywhere. However, he is taking a public stand and showing he thinks “now is the time” to get his future security cemented. Making it public was/is probably the work of his agent. It’s his chance to bring attention and build national awareness to his client. Russell has proven to very much like the attention and spotlight being on him. By setting the fictitious deadline of April 15, he is no doubt trying to put public pressure on the Seahawks ASAP. Seahawk GM John Schneider and lead contract negotiator Matt Thomas are way too experienced for this to have any effect on their dealings.  I was, however, surprised by the tight deadline that he attached to his demands. The deadline really means nothing, but he used his participation in the offseason program as his reasoning. Flimsy, at best. Do we really think he’s going to turn down 30 mil a year if the offer comes in July and not before April 15? The offseason program for a player of his stature and experience level means very little. For example, see Tom Brady last year with the Patriots. He wasn’t there a single day for this voluntary work. How’d that work out, Super Bowl Champs? I would expect the Seahawks to yawn and Wilson’s people to keep driving the story home to the media and then…..come to an agreement at some point before training camp. It will happen, trust me. You want some drama- consider this fantasy. Too bad the Seahawks are in the same division as the Arizona Cardinals (who may or may not be shopping Josh Rosen) so this will never happen, but giving a late first round pick for the future star would probably quiet all public negotiating and posturing.  

Demarcus Lawrence New Deal

The Dallas Cowboys rewarded one of the top pass rushers in the NFL this week with a 5 year- 105 million dollar contract, once again saying that “getting the QB on the ground” is still one of the premium skills in the National Football League.  He had just nine sacks in his first 3 years but produced big years in 17’ and 18’. Once the Franchise tag was played on Lawrence, it was used as a gauge for both the team and player to negotiate a long-term deal. The “tag process” actually was used in the way it was designed: to protect the team and player while a longer-term deal was worked out. When it was rumored that the Philadelphia Eagles were going to tag Nick Foles and the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to “again” tag Le’veon Bell, the spirit of the franchise tag was being challenged. In those cases, the teams were just trying to preserve value in order to trade the player. This was never the purpose of the franchise tag and neither happened in actuality. In Lawrence’s case, it’s nice to see the tag work for both the player and the team, the way it was designed to work.

GM Mindset Changing as We Close in on Draft

As we fast approach D-day, NFL scouting staffs are gathering in their prospective buildings for a two-week push to align their boards with the information that coaches and scouts have been out gathering the last month at the combine in Indy and throughout the country at schools’ individual Pro Days. These final numbers will be calculated and the assistant coaches will be making their case for the players that they have just concluded evaluating. The scouts have already had their say, so now it’s the coaches turn to tweak and alter slightly the order at each position. It’s why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors, each of us has our favorites.

I have always found, as the GM and primary decision maker, that this was the time when my mindset changed from a bird’s eye view to a worm’s eye view. A biopic look with blinders on, to line up the board “exactly like we see it”, with zero account for outside noise or thoughts. The pureness of your process is at its peak this next two weeks. This was what we as GM’s and staff are paid to do. What players fit best in “our” schemes regardless of what the Todd McShay or Mel Kuipers of the world say. Others, outside our building, can evaluate and give their opinion, but only “we” know how they fit for us, and what’s best for “us”. The strategy for big-picture planning has got to take a back seat for these two weeks. If we are unable to get them lined up correctly,  none of that matters.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock | Melinda Nagy

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