It was the second day of practice for both the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl teams at the 2020 Pro Bowl. It was a typical Pro Bowl practice, lots of dancing, goofing off, and defensive players playing offensive positions. It’s a time for players to relax, enjoy time with fellow NFL players, spend some quality time with their families, and interact with fans.
But if you ever are able to come to the Pro Bowl and watch these practices, what you notice most is the fun the players are having on the field. It looks like one giant backyard game, where rules are loosely applied and roles are interchangeable.
Ahh yes. It’s mid July. I’m back from family’s annual trip to the beach, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for football to kick into gear. Training camps, preseason, and everyone’s favorite, the hold outs.
It brings back fond memories of last season when then Steelers running back LeVeon Bell held out the entire season looking for a payday and ended up getting picked up by the Jets and taking less money. We saw what happened with then Seattle Seahawk safety Earl Thomas holding out, coming to play and then getting injured.
But we’re looking to see if history could repeat itself in the form of Chargers RB Melvin Gordon who is asking for more money, and if he can’t get it, demanding a trade.
On Thursday the Seattle Seahawks lost two iconic players, wide receiver Doug Baldwin and strong safety Kam Chancellor. While fans had the last year to get used to the idea of life after Bam Bam Kam, losing ABD (Angry Doug Baldwin) on the same day was a double punch to the gut.
I feel like I have written a lot of these articles lately. My first was my article about cornerback Richard Sherman leaving Seattle. Truly one of the hardest articles I’ve ever had to write. I’ve written about free safety Earl Thomas also leaving the team and what that meant going forward. But this one is different. These aren’t players that decided to chase a dollar amount, which I totally support so don’t come at me, but the game taking such a toll that injuries require them to move on. Men, who by all accounts, are young and in their primes.
Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens benched quarterback Joe Flacco and began the new era of Lamar Jackson football. Can Jackson keep being the leading rusher for this team and avoid injury?
The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.
Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”
Safety is a position that has always had its superstars. Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Rodney Harrison, so many great athletes have played safety. When looking at this season’s free agent safeties, you can easily find one future Hall of Famer, with a possibility of a few more. These are impact players, and teams should be sending armored trucks full of cash to their houses, but there is a good chance that won’t happen.
I asked NFL columnist Mike Freeman what his thoughts on the market for safeties would be this year. He wasn’t optimistic. “It may be a while before we see a thriving safety market. I could be wrong but despite defenses dominating the Super Bowl, we’re still seeing teams devalue the position.”
He’s not alone. Many analysts and members of the media agree that the market will probably not be what many players hope it will be. Case in point, Eric Reid.
The Seattle Seahawks had a lot of what could have been distractions the days prior to their week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys. However, once on the field, they were completely focused and ready to get their first win.
To be totally honest, I waited a little longer than normal to write this article. In fact, this is the second time in a week I’ve paused my writing “just in case”. That “just in case” would be Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
It has been well documented that Thomas is unhappy with his contract, including a holdout during the preseason. However once he arrived at the facility, ready to play week 1, most fans thought that would be the end of the drama. How little did we know.
Let me just say straight from the start, any questions that surround Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas have nothing to do with him as a player. He is, without question, a once in a generation safety. The only questions around Thomas have to do with his contract and his team.
With that out of the way…
I am a firm believer that once you have a player that absolutely dominates in his position within the NFL, you hold on to him. When a player has the term “Future Hall of Famer” attached to him, you keep him. You pay him. Of course, every player starts to decline at some point, but until that point (or even just slightly past), you keep him on your roster. In this reporter’s opinion, this is the case with Earl Thomas.
It has been several weeks since the Seahawks have made any news. At that time, the notable changes came by way of coaching personnel, but since then it has been quiet.
After this season was over, there was a lot of questions about key player decisions. Looking at the needs of the roster and the amount of cap room ($14,123,861 per overthecap.com), clearing up some cap space is needed. But where will it come from?
One of the options, strong safety Kam Chancellor’s future with the team, was answered already. The Seahawks allowed the Feb 9th roster deadline to come and go thereby guaranteeing his contract extension for 2018. The 3-year extension was signed in August 2017 before the regular season began. It included an injury clause that guaranteed his base salary.
Unless he chooses to retire, which it seems he plans to play, the Seahawks will have to pay his base salary of $5.2 million which will go against the cap space. At the time it was signed many critics thought it would hamstring the organization. In hindsight, that may have occurred.
Looking over the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks injury reports, the first thing you notice is the number of players listed. Starting Wednesday, there were 36 players between the two. For both teams, that’s a tough way to start the week.
For Seattle, the defense seems to be the most beat up, causing panic in the fan base. The 3 premiere members of the Legion of Boom, corner back Richard Sherman, and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, were all listed. Sherman practiced this week and will play, with Chancellor questionable for Sunday but expected to play. Thomas was ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner is listed with a hamstring injury and is questionable for Sunday. Defensive end Michael Bennett seems to still be fighting his foot injury but will play, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has an oblique injury, and is considered questionable for the game. Wagner and Richardson will both be game time decisions.