Six biggest ‘What just happened?’ moments of the NFL offseason (so far)

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Football, New entries
Tags: , , , , ,

6. Tennessee drafts OT Taylor Lewan in the first round 

The Titans have a high caliber starting left tackle in Michael Roos. The Titans also recently signed former Raven Michael Oher to presumably become their new right tackle. Tennessee awarded Oher with a 4-year, $20 million dollar contract with $9.5 million guaranteed. This setup is what made the drafting of Taylor Lewan in the first round so puzzling. As a standalone selection Taylor Lewan looks very solid and could probably become a starting tackle from week one if Tennessee wanted him to be. If that was the plan all along, why spend big money on Oher? Perhaps Titans GM Rusty Webster realized he’d made a monumental error in signing the underperforming Oher (especially to such a big contract) and drafted Lewan to correct his recent error. Whatever the thinking, the signing of Oher makes the drafting of Lewan superfluous for 2014.

5. Carolina doesn’t draft (or sign) a single Offensive Tackle 

Carolina has a gaping hole at starting left tackle after the retirement of Jordan Gross in late February. This gave Carolina plenty of time to pursue any of the big name tackles in free agency or to draft a tackle. But they didn’t do either. The Panthers only have three OT’s on their roster right now, with starting Right Tackle Byron Bell being the only one with more than three games’ experience. The Panthers opted to draft Kelvin Benjamin, a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. The second round, a prime opportunity for the Panthers to draft an OT, saw Carolina taking a falling DE Kony Ealy. Ealy made sense as a value pick, but only if Carolina would eventually draft a tackle. Which they did not do. They did draft an O-lineman with their third selection, but it was a Guard, LSU’s Trai Turner. Guards don’t come to the NFL and switch over to Tackle. Tackles come to the NFL and switch to Guard. The Panthers seem to have a massive hole at one of the team’s most important starting position. Perhaps Panthers head coach Ron Rivera plans to suit up and play on the offensive line. They certainly need it.

4. Philadelphia stretches out, reaches for OLB/DE Marcus Smith in the first round

Marcus Smith had great production at Louisville last season. But his measurables didn’t blow anyone away. And most importantly Smith rated out as a 3rd round/BORDERLINE second round prospect coming out of College. Smith would have EASILY been available by the time Philadelphia drafted again. At worst they could have drafted a first round prospect (Marqise Lee/Kony Ealy/Ra’Shede Hageman) and traded up to get Smith in the second if they were really worried he’d be drafted by the time Philadelphia drafted again. If Smith has a productive season (9 sacks or more ish) then the pick will make more sense than it does now. Either way, Smith is a huge reach for Philly in the most important round of the Draft.

3. San Diego State RB Adam Muema decides to leave the combine halfway through and live in an airport

No that is not a headline from The Onion. That really happened. Prior to the surreal turn of events, Muema actually had a very productive season as an Aztec in 2013 with a bright future ahead of him. But things took a bizarre, downward spiral after the season. Muema left the draft early because “God told him to” and is now apparently in Mexico preparing for the end of the world. The whole story is genuinely bizarre and I recommend you go read some actual good sportswriting via Sports Illustrated to get the whole scoop. I’m a generally Christian guy (in that I believe in generally Christian principles, not that I am always a perfect Christian person) and I do believe it’s possible that God could talk to a human being. But (I think) that’s not happening here. Mental illness is a serious thing and I don’t encourage making light of Muema’s plight. But someone should probably conduct an intervention before Muema joins the wrong cult.

2. Oakland lets beastly Left Tackle Jared Veldheer walk

This is Jared Veldheer. He is one of the league’s top blindside tackles with monstrous size and strength. Arizona signed him in free agency after Oakland let him stroll out the door to a five-year, $37.5 million dollar contract. This would have been a perfectly reasonable price for Oakland with their salary cap available and considering how talented Veldheer is. They instead signed former Jets right tackle Austin Howard to a five-year, $30 million dollar contract. Absolutely it saves Oakland some money but Howard will never be the player Veldheer is. In week seven Veldheer returns to Oakland when the Raiders host the Cardinals. Hopefully Oakland’s bargain roster can compete in with Arizona in that game and for the rest of 2014. The decision to let Veldheer walk is one of the most questionable ones of the offseason.

1. Philadelphia cuts Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson

Why did Philadelphia really cut DeSean Jackson? Was it the gang ties alluded to by nj.com? Was he really a locker room cancer as SI suggests? Did he really not fit in with the offense, or buy into it? The outside world may never know why Kelly wanted him off the team. We do know the Eagles either couldn’t or wouldn’t trade Jackson for fear of giving themselves a bad reputation to teams they want to remain on good terms with. Jackson had a career year in 2013 as the centerpiece of Kelly’s high profile passing attack. The drafting of Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt suggests Jackson’s already been replaced in Philly, though it remains unlikely the Eagles will have another receiver of Jackson’s pure speed and receiving talent for a very long time.

Jackson opted to sign with NFC East foe Washington. He and Robert Griffin III will have plenty of opportunities to burn the Eagle’s very soft defense for years to come.

Looking ahead

There’s still plenty of time for teams to humiliate themselves with poor roster moves. Intense pressure to “win now” can lead to moves like the Bills decision to give up a first round pick in exchange for Sammy Watkins over a player like Odell Beckham because coaches are constantly coaching for their jobs. Calling moves like these questionable is easy to do now but will be truly tested during the regular season. September cannot get here soon enough.

 

 

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