February has come and gone, and can you feel that in the air? For some it feels like baseball season is right around the corner. Of course, the reality is that it’s mock draft time!
This time of year, all the sites start turning out their first-round mocks, and some are bold enough to go two or three rounds deep. Then, if you want to get really deep into it, there are some sites that will give you the last four or five rounds if you subscribe to their content for the year. Because I’ve got to have one day on the weekends in the fall for doing chores, I’m not a big college football guy, so yes, I’m all over the seven-round mock drafts.
The mock drafts this early into the offseason don’t mean a whole lot, however, because what teams do in free agency can have an impact on any projected selection from the first round all the way to the seventh. Take, for example, the latest free agency signing that has sent ripples through NFL fan bases – J.J. Watt signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
On that note, before I lose one of my bullet-points, let’s get into it.
Three Things I Learned in Week #3 of the Offseason
1) Thank Goodness J.J. Watt Signed Somewhere
J.J. Watt is one of the poster-boys of the NFL for all of the right reasons. He trains hard and plays hard on the field, and he’s been super generous off the field, from spending extra time with fans to donating millions upon millions to the Houston community and beyond. Perhaps that’s why when he asked to be traded after the season, which then turned into him being released, that everyone was so enamoured by his decision to move on from the Texans.
pups first day in the city.
(this photo has been the most successful part of the experiment so far) pic.twitter.com/7t2E5vCpxT
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 20, 2021
It was a moment of shock that then drug on for two long weeks that became more absurd each day it went on. The amount of run that Watt got on social media and from the media would’ve made sense if this was four years ago, but the former all-pro defensive lineman is just that, a former all-pro. I understand it was his first free agency period of his career, but one week was more than enough to play the suspense game with everyone. Surely it didn’t take him the whole time to make his decision to sign with the Cardinals, right?
Like the media buzz he generated, the time warp must’ve affected Arizona too, since the team gave him a two-year deal worth $32 million with $23 million guaranteed. Again, J.J. is a great guy, a great leader, and he has been a great player, but at 31 years-old, he played all 16 games of the season for just the second time in the last five seasons. His numbers aren’t what they were, and there’s a good chance they won’t be. At the end of the day, the former Walter Payton Man of the Year will do great things in Arizona, likely off the field if not on it as well. Good for them, and good for him. Now we can move on.
2) There Are Big Hearts in the NFL
Speaking of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is given out to players who go above and beyond off the field, like J.J. Watt, have you ever noticed just how generous the NFL is?
From domestic abuse to CTE concerns, the league has a number of issues. Still, is there a league that gives to their fans and communities more than the National Football League? The state of Texas is still sorting itself out after Punxsutawney Phil gave winter permission to make another pass across the country, and it decided to pay the Lonestar State a visit.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 24, 2021
With a power grid not structured to handle the power demands for such a winter event, let alone the equipment not being designed to operate in those conditions, there was a declared state of emergency as millions lost power and water for multiple days. No power or water quickly created an inability for many to access food, let alone bathe or keep warm.
Coming out of a year in which so many athletes already gave so much to help their communities early in the COVID-19 pandemic, players and entire organizations rose up to help the state of Texas. I personally live in San Antonio, and daily there were tweets from current and former players that grew up in the region, sharing information on restaurants that they had partnered with to provide free meals for thousands in need. Then there’s what the AFC South division did, where the Colts, Titans and Jaguars organizations contributed $100,000 combined to help the Houston community.
Sure, the MLB has the Roberto Clemente Award that is presented annually to the player who is recognized for their community efforts off the field, as well as excellence on it. Since 2017, the NBA has had the Community Assist Award that monthly recognizes player contributions off the court. The players and teams within the NFL, outside of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award campaigns, just always seem to be at the front of taking care of communities.
3) Special Treatment Should Be Reserved For the Special
Not all NBA players are LeBron James, and not all QBs are Tom Brady. They are arguably the best to play their position and/or sport (hey, I said arguably). Players of that stratosphere are entitled to certain perks that not everyone is, and one of those perks is control. After defining success in their sport, they almost know how to manufacture it, and their teams will give them the materials they need to do it.
So why do guys who aren’t even in the GOAT conversation trying to act like they deserve similar treatment?
I’m looking directly at Russell Wilson here, who reportedly isn’t happy with the way Pete Carroll allows the offense to be called, and Wilson wants more say-so. Now there are even rumblings that a trade demand may be made, and there’s a short list of teams Russ would be willing to be traded to. Is the called decision to pass near the goal line against the New England Patriots at the root of this all and still rubbing him the wrong way with his coach?
Report: Russell Wilson thinks Pete Carroll and his sons answer to no one https://t.co/41DqScBvyq
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 27, 2021
So Russell wants control, and individually he’s shown that he’s a really great quarterback during his career. How much success has he had though? What smaller areas of decision-making beyond the audible can he point to and say he had a direct impact in making that more effective or efficient? Again, Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, but he’s not the best player in the league, let alone quarterback, and it’s not just Brady ahead of him.
If Wilson is trying to provide more input or ask for control and not feeling heard, he should take a lesson from the two in the GOAT conversation and play out his contract, then leave. He has an out next offseason if he wants to take it, but making a fuss now is a bad look.
These are the three things that I learned from around the NFL this last week. What stories had your eyes and ears? Do you think I took away the wrong lessons? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, @JarkClonas, and be sure to tag @110Sports.
Photo by: Karen / Flickr