Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Feb 2014

MMQB: Sam, Schneider

This week, PK lets anonymous general managers say things about Michael Sam, tells the tale of John Schneider building the Seahawks roster, and offers a new concussion study for digestion.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 10 Feb 2014

36 comments, Last at 13 Feb 2014, 3:25pm by Theo


by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 2:04am

Since the Michael Sam thing will be covered adequately elsewhere, I'd like to pose who do you think should be the Seahawks 2014 NFL Opening Game opponent. PK suggests Denver. The Seahawks home schedule:

Arizona, San Francisco, St. Louis, Dallas, NY Giants, Denver, Oakland, Green Bay

I think the NFL would prefer to keep the SF game until later in the season as it could determine the division winner. Would they schedule Green Bay when the Fail Mary discussion might distract from the game? Dallas and NYG could be interesting too. I agree with PK that most people, including me, would prefer Denver. Even if I'm worried it may turn into another blowout.

by mrt1212 :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 3:07am

My feeling is the NFL would want to avoid the potential pile on in such close proximity.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:04pm

I sure as hell would prefer that the Broncos open up with a non-Seattle opponent. I'd like to get the Seattle game out of the way early before midseason,certainly, but I would be very sad to watch these two teams play again after waiting a whole offseason for a meaningful football game. I think it would be less of a bloodbath than the Super Bowl, but that game sure did show me how far the Broncos are away from being seated at the grownups table in a league that contains the NFC West.

by Bruce Lamon :: Wed, 02/12/2014 - 5:26pm

San Francisco! A rematch of "the real Super Bowl". The one team that wants to play in Seattle. Then there'd still be a titanic game in San Francisco, possibly for the NFC West and #1 seed, and the only one of the year for which (as of now) Seattle rightfully would be the underdog.

Even though the Super Bowl was just one game, we all expect Denver to get massacred in the opener; interest would be much less than in the middle of the season when Denver will have its mojo back. Nobody will want to revisit Super Bowl highlights, but the NFC Championship was so re-playable, with bonus bad blood, home cooking, a gruesome injury and a scary interview.

Second prize would be Arizona, the only team to beat (and beat up) Seattle at home, despite 4 Palmer INTs. Confidence v. revenge.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:01am

Well, this is a first. MMQB, the safest of safe columns, is blocked by my work's content filter.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 1:53pm

Your office probably just doesn't want you to waste time reading 10,000 words of rambling drivel.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 11:06am

Wait, Vernon Davis is sponsoring the U.S. Curling team in Sochi?

*brain splode*

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:16pm

He did it for years ago too, he's an honorary team captain as well. So your brains could have been splattered all over the place for four years.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 5:58pm

I've charted a lot of Saints games. Jimmy Graham probably spends 70 to 80 percent of his time on the field in the slot or out wide. He is a wide receiver, no matter what his height, weight, or arbitrary listing on a roster sheet says.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 6:08pm

I thought Peter King seemed oddly incensed about Jimmy Graham's temerity in asking to be treated as a WR. Like he should be happy to leave $5 million on the table.

There ought to be some way to market test the franchise tag. On the open market I'm pretty sure Graham could command more than $11 million per year in salary. The franchise tag isn't supposed to be giving the team a huge bargain.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 10:35pm

Why are we assuming that the job of a TE is restricted to lining up tight to the tackle? I think the notion that part of a tight end's job in the modern NFL is to line up in multiple places is a salient one.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:43am

We're assuming that because WRs get paid more than TEs, so it wouldn't make sense to pay a guy less because he's able to do more things.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 10:35pm

Why are we assuming that the job of a TE is restricted to lining up tight to the tackle? I think the notion that part of a tight end's job in the modern NFL is to line up in multiple places is a salient one.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 11:35pm

The proof should be a negative one. In the modern NFL tight ends (and backs) line up all over the place but receivers very, very rarely line up tight in a three point stance on the line of scrimmage. If you are used as a tight end, you're a tight end.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 11:40pm

I disagree. If a player spends the majority of his time lined up not as a tight end, he is not a tight end.

A lot of tight ends around the league will occasionally line up as fullbacks, but receivers almost never do. Should the Saints be able to tag Graham with the fullback franchise tag if he did that on 5% of his snaps?

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 9:22am

Sure. And a Running back who throws a couple of halfback option passes should get the QB franchise tag.

If we can return to the non-absurd, I think there is a legitimate basis of Graham being classified as a TE if Sean Payton says "In my offense, the Tight End is required to do x, y, and z." I guess the litmus test there would be if guys like Dave Thomas and Benjamin Watson also frequently lined up wide.

I'm not saying I would rule that way if I were an arbitrator, but I accept it as a valid argument. There are other factors in play here. Which routes does he run? Who does he usually draw coverage from? Does he practice with the WR group? etc.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:25pm

I reject that because it gives total power to the team.

"In my offense, a fullback lines up at the far edges of the offense and runs routes, so I should be able to tag Jerry Rice as a fullback"

by RickD :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 2:10pm

Our fullback takes snaps and occasionally* throws an option pass.

We don't use a quarterback in our offense.

We're going to tag Cam Newton as a fullback. You can tell he's a fullback because he's big and strong and does all the short yardage runs.

*We use the option pass a lot

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 3:12pm

I guess a return to the non-absurd isn't in the cards for this discussion.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 6:47pm

I don't think there was a point where the discussion was non-absurd. We're talking about a team trying to cheap-out on a player by using a label that describes maybe 20-30% of what he does.

All we've done is take your argument it's logical extremes.

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 8:09pm

Jerry Rice was not a college fullback.
Jerry Rice was not drafted as a fullback.
Jerry Rice did not appear on his team's roster as a fullback every year in the league.
Jerry Rice did not make All Pro teams or Pro Bowls as a fullback.
Jerry Rice at no time was trying to break the single season record for touchdown receptions by a fullback.

I don't find it absurd for a player who has been classified by the University of Miami, the NCAA, the NFL, the New Orleans Saints, and other organizational bodies as a tight end for his entire career to be classified as a tight end at this point in time.

by Led :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 9:10pm

"Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus."

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 9:35pm

Devin Hester was once listed as an HB on the Bears roster and he was drafted as a DB.

It's also not my fault probowl voting is screwed up and has barely anything to do with franchise tags.

by dryheat :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 9:49pm

Nobody is suggesting anything is your fault. The fact is that he has always been classified as a tight end, including by himself in all likelihood, until it is no longer convenient. Which is fine by me. I'm just suggesting that the Saints have a defensible position should things get that far.

If the tight end tag number was higher than the wide receiver, would you be OK with the Saints trying to classify him as a WR based on the number of snaps he lined up detached from tackle?

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 11:29pm

I would, yes.

by MJK :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:30pm

And this brings up the issue with the franchise tag system. If a player is a TE by virtue of the fact that he's asked to do MORE than a WR, why does that earn him less money?

More generally, why do TE's get less money on average than WR's? The answer, of course, is that the majority of teams don't value their TE's as much as a small number of teams do. It's kind of the same deal that one of the Ravens(?) players had a couple of years ago...an outside "tweener" LB who wanted to get the franchise value as a DE, because he was essentially a DE.

If I was in charge, I would not break the franchise positions down so. I would have just six non-Special teams categories: QB, other backs (halfbacks, RB, FB), WR/TE (i.e. "Pass Catchers), offensive linemen, "in-the-box" or "rushing" defensive players, and defensive backs.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:47pm

Your system would be an improvement, but really Graham is a TE 90% in name only. See Vince's comments about charting. Also, teams move their receivers around a whole lot these days. Brandon Marshall lines up outside, in the slot, and tight to the line (though not with a hand in the ground).

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 11:36pm

The FB tag is the same as for RBs, and actually higher than the TE tag, so Graham would actually be better off as a FB.

by tuluse :: Wed, 02/12/2014 - 12:28am

I was not aware of that, but it really doesn't affect my point. Franchise tags shouldn't be based on labels the team is allowed to select. They should be based on what the player is actually doing.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 02/12/2014 - 10:10pm

You have a point, but the position labels are there, and they are fungible. It's a point of negotiation, and even then it probably doesn't matter. Position labels didn't prevent Polamalu the highest paid DB on the Steelers, or prevent Gronkowski from getting a bigger paycheck than any Patriots WR. I think the argument signals that Graham or his agent are trying to establish a hard line position and the only thing that matters is the franchise tag. Even the tag isn't absolute -- often it's just a negotiating ploy.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 2:30am

He's never in a three-pint stance, but I wouldn't be surprised if the final game charting showed that Brandon LaFell lined up tight more than Jimmy Graham did this year.

by serutan :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 6:38pm

One would hope he is only in a three-pint stance in a bar.
Was wr

by Led :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:45am

"Why are we assuming that the job of a TE is restricted to lining up tight to the tackle?"

I don't think anyone, certainly not Vince, is assuming that. No one is suggesting that a player who lines up wide or in the slot 10% of the time and 90% of the time next to a tackle is a WR. Just like no one would suggest that a player usually split out that lines up 10% of his snaps in the backfield is a RB. So let's stick to the actual argument. As I see it, the argument on the table is that when a player lines up in a traditional WR position (out wide or in the slot) on more than 75-80% of the snaps he is on the field, it is reasonable to characterize the player as a WR for purposes of calculating the franchise player salary. Classification problems like this are extremely common in philosophy and jurisprudence. One problem, which is presented here, is that many binary classifications are arbitrary; there is often a continuum. Jimmy Graham is actually a hybrid player -- neither fish nor fowl, as it were. So since he doesn't fit any category and the rules require us to put him in one or the other, the question is whether the way he is used closer to the prototypical (or, you could say, median) TE or to the prototypical (median) WR. Alternatively, you could say that if Graham is actually doing things on the field that WRs usually do, then he ought to be compensated as a WR regardless of what you call him. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 2:18pm

I think when a person leads the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yardage, he should be paid according to the position of "players who lead their teams in targets, receptions, and receiving yards".

Of course, this debate again highlights how the franchise tag is just a patently unfair restriction of trade, constructed entirely to allow each franchise to screw over exactly one player.

by Theo :: Thu, 02/13/2014 - 3:25pm

If it looks like a WR, quacks like a WR and walks like a WR; let's call it a WR.

by Alexander :: Tue, 02/11/2014 - 6:20pm

I just want him reclassified so that fantasy TE is not so screwed up next year.