HOUSTON: They were going to have to part ways with the face of the franchise, DE JJ Watt. Releasing him this soon should not come as a surprise. It was couched as a mutual parting of the ways. My guess is Watt’s advisors have already chummed the waters and know what his market is, maybe even his landing spot. Watt would have cost the Texans $17.5 M on the cap for 2021 and was never going to happen based on his production this season. A big issue with the cap in every team situation is that you simply can’t pay players for their past performance. There are many well-known players around the league that will soon be a target with these big cap numbers. It’s happening around the NFL at the QB position as we speak. Watt is a situational/rotational guy, who has had his share of injuries in his career. The question in my mind all along has been how much of a pay cut would he have to take? I think the Pittsburgh Steelers, where his two brothers play, or in Green Bay, close to the University of Wisconsin where he played in college, come to mind as potential landing spots for the elder Watt. He carries value for his leadership and intangibles as that will make him sought after. It will be interesting to see what kind of money he can generate at this stage in his career. I still think QB Deshaun Watson will not be traded. I heard a report recently that the Texans are planning to make Watson sit out and not play. That’s the craziest misrepresentation of the facts that I have heard in quite some time. Watson can play, and get his money – every penny. However, it just has to be with Houston. His no trade clause is not a “must trade” clause. He gave up his rights to pick and choose where he plays when he signed that $100M contract. Dallas QB Dak Prescott has more leverage and options than Watson, and just might end up making more money in the long run by taking the Kurt Cousins approach. They are in different contract situations, but If I’m Prescott, I have to ask myself if I really think I can we win in Dallas long-term? In my 30 years of experience in the National Football League, I have never before seen a front office person who is not a football guy, not a coach and not an evaluator have as much influence and power as Houston’s Jack Esterby. This guy is the best manipulator of people since Jim Jones. It’s scary. Esterby’s tactics have completely drained their building of any independent thinking and many a good employee. He brings new meaning to the term, “putting all your eggs into one basket” and insiders around the league are shaking their heads with the same astonishment. I truly do not understand it nor why owner Cal McNair would put his business in this guys hands.
This is a situation that bares monitoring closely. New Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer wasted no time in showing exactly what I feared most when this hire was made last month. He clearly has not changed his way of doing business one iota from the way he operated at Ohio State or Florida. His mentality of “I know more than all of you” came right to the forefront this week with his hiring of controversial strength coach Chris Doyle. Doyle was released at the University of Iowa last fall for alleged racist remarks, bullying of student athletes, etc. Whether any of that is true or not is not my point. The “perception” is what matters. In college, what the head coach says, is seldom challenged. They are the unquestioned kings at their schools. Meyer is going to find out quickly that the professional game is much different. His decision will be challenged locally, nationally and even within his own building by every player (even some coaches) who don’t give a hoot about his winning track record in college. Coach Meyer’s history has been to be “tone deaf” to what others say. Google the off the field history here. He has shown a very thin skin for criticism as well which doesn’t bode well for him having much long-term status in the NFL.
I actually know Doyle and think he’s probably a good strength coach, but the message in this situation is wrong in my opinion. To say “I vetted him and I’ve known him for 20 years” sounds very much like Meyer’s past. He has no care in the world about what others might say in our world of domestic abuse, social injustice and racial strife. What he has done with the Doyle hire says to me that he’s the king in Jacksonville and drips with arrogance. Professional players are not college kids and what Coach Meyer will soon realize is that he has to prove himself with actions and results not by demanding he knows more than the rest of us.
Update: on Friday night Feb 12 it was announced by the Jaguars that newly hired strength coach Chris Doyle resigned. Even Chris saw and felt that this would not work. Nonetheless this was a hire by Urban Meyer that continued a concerning pattern of “being tone deaf” to others. It has also put him on notice with his own players- does he have our best interest at heart?, a clear strike one.
There is a distinct difference between QB’s who you can WIN WITH and QB’s you win BECAUSE OF. Right now, there are very few in the pot of the latter. This is the question that teams, now contemplating QB changes, have to ask. Here’s an example. There is talk in Cleveland of a long-term commitment for QB Baker Mayfield. For my money, he is a guy you can “win with” and not “because of”. Mayfield is a play-action, predetermined, target thrower who lacks the ability to extend plays or playmaking skills outside a system. He is not a true drop-back passer who can sit and process coverage in the drop back game. His arm is only average by NFL standards and is limited when it comes to making the necessary throws to all parts of the field. He is, however, an above-average ball handler who is accurate and can get the ball out/off quickly and has a high football IQ to get you in and out of the right plays, etc. Mayfield is also a very good leader who seems to be respected and well liked in the locker room. He is not a top 10 QB presently and may not ever be one. To pay him franchise money, which means the average of the top five at his position, would seem crazy at this stage of his career. However, that is what every agent/player in the same position will be looking for. The Browns not unlike some other teams, in my opinion, have a tough decision in the near future.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson has entered the “what about me?” fray of NFL quarterbacks as well this week. Wilson voiced his concerns about the number of hits he has taken recently on The Dan Patrick Show and going forward, he wants to be involved in selecting personnel for the team. Wilson’s comments on Patrick’s national radio show have gone over like a lead balloon in Seattle. He made these statements soon after expressing his desires of wanting to be involved in selecting the team’s new offensive coordinator. I feel there is an agenda at work here that nobody with the team can publicly address. It has the smell of BRANDING all over it and Wilson using both timing and media platforms for straight up ATTENTION. None of his demands have come with the disclaimer of “I didn’t play well the second half of the season”. It appears as if he has pointed the finger at others and has taken no accountability himself, in my opinion. My guess is this won’t sit well with teammates either. He does not have the cache of Aaron Rogers or Tom Brady’s skins on the wall to back him up. Some in the league would say his “self-anointing status” comes from people with separate agendas around him. I’ll let it go at that. Even if some of what he says has legs, this is not the way to message it. Sure, the Seahawks can draft better but who can’t? Sometimes we all over value ourselves and need to be chopped down a peg or two and remember the New England Patriots slogan — “just do your job” and I will add, let others do theirs.