Scramble for the Ball: The Final Bow

by Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky

Bill: The temperature in New England today is roughly -5 degrees, once you account for the wind chill. It's funny -- I expected hell freezing over to be a bit colder. Fortunately, I had this delicious crow chowder for lunch. Toasty.

In all seriousness, congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts and their fans. Your thoughts on the game, Ian?

Ian: My thoughts are that Chicago had every chance to win the game, but poor game management did them in. I just can't understand why they went away from the run in the second half, when it was working so well. A lot of teams feel pressured to make big plays against the Colts, since their offense is so good. The Bears defense was bending a lot, but it was still forcing a fair number of field goals to keep the game in range. Their offense, however, refused to put together good drives. It was bombs away, in an environment where Grossman simply couldn't throw an accurate deep ball. I thought Thomas Jones looked excellent, and was disappointed he didn't get the ball more down the stretch.

The Bears defense, meanwhile, also seemed to be playing the game rather strangely. They were good about getting the Colts into third down situations, but then kept playing a soft zone that made it simple for Manning to dump the ball off to a back for first down yardage. If they had been more aggressive in third down situations, they may have occasionally given up bigger chunks of yardage, but they certainly would've forced more punts and kept Vinatieri off the field.

Prop Bet Extravaganza Results

Ian: In case you didn't read last week's Scramble, Bill and I wagered an imaginary $100 on almost all of the proposition bets a person could make. The lesson we learned: Don't do it. Bill did better than I did by "only" losing $2,050*. I managed to lose $2,225. Amazingly, one of the Outsiders' staff managed to finish with positive money -- none other than Aaron Schatz. Thanks to predicting the total points would be in the 43-49 range, predicting the highest scoring quarter would be the first, and mostly by predicting the first score of the game would be a "Chicago Other Touchdown," he managed to finish up 820 bucks. No one else was a close second.

*Since the Grammys don't happen until this weekend, the results of Marvin Harrison receptions versus Mary J Blige Grammy wins hasn't been factored in yet. I know you're riveted.

Free Agent Finale

Bill: Time to go through our picks for the 4th Annual Football Outsiders Off-season Contest. We list a bunch of players who are free agents or potential salary cap casualties here. You pick where they're likely to go. Whoever gets the most wins a copy of Pro Football Prospectus and our fantasy projections. Whoever finishes second or third gets t-shirts. I wear mine at the gym and I get all kinds of looks while I'm on the treadmill. That might be because I wear the Baby Doll one, but what can I say? The regular ones effectively hide my thunder. I am also protesting the new contest rules that you can't pick a player to remain with his current team by picking players to remain with their current teams about half the time. Ian and I provide our thoughts on these potential moves below.

Football Outsiders Favorites

Nate Clements, Buffalo

Bill: Remember, he can't be franchised for 2007 as per his agreement with Buffalo. Of course, Marv Levy could just claim that he forgot because, you know, he's 81 and all. Wikipedia tells us, "There are Rumours that Nate Clements will sign with the Washington Redskins, this not being surprising since Dan Snyder has a reputation for going after big name Free Agents in the offseason every year." Why is rumors capitalized and British? Was Stevie Nicks editing Nate Clements' Wikipedia page? She must know something. I'll say Redskins. Vinny Cerrato will find a way.

Ian: The Giants defensive backs just haven't been getting it done. Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia all have talented wideouts, and failing to match up well there was a key contributor to their late season fade. Look for them to make a splash to improve their secondary, and signing Nate Clements would be a good start.

Bobby Engram, Seattle

Bill: Engram's still a good player (as a 16.1% DVOA can attest), but he was virus-stricken for most of the season and is fifth on Seattle's depth chart. At 34, he's not getting any younger and is probably looking to go for a ring. Where's a good fit? Philadelphia, which runs the same offensive scheme and values a similar style of receiver.

Ian: I'll take a random stab at this one, and guess that Arizona looks to provide another threat for Matt Leinart to throw to, while stealing from a division rival.

Ken Hamlin, Seattle

Bill: I actually have no idea why Hamlin is a Football Outsiders favorite, to be honest.* With that being said, it's not as if Seattle's safety play was anything to write home about this year. I think Hamlin resigns with Seattle.

Ian: New Orleans is another team that seriously needs to reshape its secondary. Look for them to acquire some leadership for their defensive backfield, and bringing in Hamlin would be a great way to do it.

(*Ed. note: He's better than Jordan Babineaux and Michael Boulware, but I don't quite remember why he ended up in the Favorites category either... there was a reason, I swear. -- Aaron)

Kris Jenkins, Carolina (possible cap cut)

Bill: Jenkins has the Pro Bowl defensive tackle cachet around him. He also missed half of 2004 and all of 2005 with injuries, and when he came back this season, Carolina's defense was 9th in the league against the run. It's worth noting, though, that they were second in stopping power runs and third in stuffing opponents, both of which Jenkins would have a lot to do with. I think he's too important to the team and that Carolina holds onto him.

Ian: I see you're copping out on most of choices and just picking the players to stay put, which isn't even allowed in the real contest. I will do no such thing, and boldly predict wrong outcomes like no sportswriter has done before.

Mario Williams performed pretty well in his rookie season, but the rest of the defensive line there isn't exactly helping him tear holes in the O-line. Kris Jenkins would look mighty nice lined up alongside him in Houston.

Adrian Peterson, Chicago

Bill: It's only a rumor that we're trying to get Peterson an honorary degree from Brown. Peterson always seems to be doing things to help his team win -- his fantastic DVOA in 2005, his special teams performance this year. You keep hearing about underappreciated guys who help a team win. Jeff Saturday? Tommie Harris? Not really underappreciated anymore, no matter what Jim Nantz tells you. Peterson? In two months, he's not even going to be the most famous NFL player named "Adrian Peterson." Peterson will have a job next season, but it's hard to say where that will be. I'll assume Chicago watches their own film enough and Peterson stays at home.

Ian: Oh man, Bill, you're killing me with all these stay home predictions. I say he surprisingly ends up with New York Giants, where he takes third downs and the occasional series from incumbent starter Brandon Jacobs. The Giants will look to spend on their defense, while finding bargains to help out the offense.

Asante Samuel, New England

Bill: Let the drama begin. Samuel's bitter because the Patriots are yet to make him an offer he could even consider justifying. His response? To play out of his mind in the playoffs, jumping routes and picking passes off seemingly at will. I think he even yelled "User Pick!" after a couple of them, too. While the Patriots' notion of value led them to pass on Deion Branch in favor of the Florida Gator Parade, it's hard to envision them feeling that Samuel is as replaceable as his former colleague. I'll say Patriots via the Franchise tag. That is, assuming they don't use it on Ken Walter.

Ian: [shaking head] Thanks again to Bill "Out On a Limb" Barnwell for his dramatic predictions. Look for Asante Samuel to bolt for big money, and where better for him to end up than in Denver, where there is sadly a vacancy in the secondary.

Michael Turner, San Diego (restricted)

Bill: Turner, who followed Peterson in the list of running backs who led the league in DVOA, will probably be tendered the highest qualifying offer possible. That would force teams interested in him to pony up a first- and third-round pick for his services, a tall order for any running back. Furthermore, if Turner remains with the Chargers and does not get a contract extension, he'll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2007 season. Fearing a repeat of the Drew Brees situation, the Chargers might sign Turner to an offer sheet and then attempt to trade him for compensation more palatable to one of Turner's suitors. A potential landing spot? I'll say Minnesota, who should have some salary cap space and might even be able to offer the Chargers a player they can use in return: Fred Smoot.

Ian: Finally, Bill, a prediction of a change of scenery! The sad thing is, Minnesota is a horrible choice. They're committed to Chester Taylor, so they're not going to give up what it takes to get Turner. I think he ends up with Buffalo, who seem to have soured on Willis McGahee for reasons beyond me.

Football Outsiders Whipping Boys

Kevan Barlow, New York Jets (possible cap casualty)

Bill: Any excuse works if you want to get rid of Kevan Barlow. A -15.0% DVOA simply isn't something you want to devote salary cap space to. Because Barlow was acquired via trade, though, the Jets aren't paying any of his bonus -- as a result, his salary is more palatable than it was for, say, the 49ers. That would seem to point toward his remaining a Jet in 2007.

Ian: I think he could be brought in as a veteran to help keep the seat warm for a rookie import. The likeliest destination for a rookie running back is Cleveland, so that's where I think Barlow ends up to help ease in Adrian Peterson, or whoever it is Cleveland drafts to be their back of the future.

DeShaun Foster, Carolina (possible cap casualty)

Bill: The original whipping boy: Accept no substitutes. I made a remark at some point this season that someone should tear DeShaun Foster's ACL, so that he could "suffer" the same side effects as Deuce McAllister (i.e. a style change that turns a talented athlete into an effective football player). This season, Foster was 30th in DPAR, 36th in DVOA, and did absolutely nothing to push the Panthers toward a championship. With DeAngelo Williams behind him, it's about time for Foster to get kicked out the door. Where will he land? I'll say Cleveland, which needs a running back and has the cap space to give Foster a nice signing bonus.

Ian: Why would anyone want to bring in Foster? There's none I can think of; a rookie draft pick would be just as interesting to carry on a roster. As will be the case for every player that I can't think of a reasonable home for, I'm going to predict Washington. They're experts at signing the wrong free agents.

Dhani Jones, Philadelphia (possible cap casualty

Bill: I don't know what Dhani Jones ever did to us, either.* Maybe it's some sort of Page 2 rivalry? Philadelphia's never in cap trouble, but they might choose to get rid of Jones to open up his spot for ... well, we'll talk about him later. I could see Jones leaving and getting on the shuttle bus of linebackers back to the Giants, who collect all their former linebackers at one point or another.

Ian: Jacksonville could use a boost behind that defensive line, so I could see them making a play for some mid-tier free agents. Does Dhani count as a "mid-tier" free agent though? It doesn't matter what Football Outsiders thinks, some team will think he does, and the Jaguars might as well be that team.

(*Ed. note: Clearly, these gentlemen have never received one of Mike Tanier's anti-Dhani e-mails. -- Aaron)

Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (possible cap casualty)

Bill: I think this would be, without question, an excellent move for Baltimore if they were to cut Lewis. Do I think they will? Not for a second. He's too entrenched in the locker room for the Ravens to get rid of him. He'd make a great Bengal...

Ian: What, no love for Rudi? Jamal could keep the seat warm in Detroit until Kevin Jones is healthy again, then provide a goal line presence when K-J does return. If Kevin's injury lingers, at least Detroit has a proven workhorse back.

Michael Lewis, Philadelphia

Bill: Lewis had the anti-Samuel season, losing his job after a couple seasons of decline. It's hard to see him out of the league at 27, though. I could see a bitter Lewis turning to a team that needs a safety and will allow him to take out his frustrations on Andy Reid's team: Dallas.

Ian: Umm ... Yeah. Michael Lewis? He's headed to Washington.

Football Outsiders Has No Strong Opinion About Me

Ahman Green, Green Bay

Bill: The Wesley Clark of this year's running back crop. Green Bay isn't exactly building for the future if Brett Favre is coming back. If Favre returns, Green will stay with him.

Ian: Yeah, staying with Green Bay seems extremely likely (especially since Favre is, indeed, returning), but in an effort to predict something interesting I'm gonna guess that if the Jets can't get their hands on Michael Turner, perhaps Batman will end up wearing green.

Break Up the Colts

Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis

Bill: Well, I can only imagine how much the Redskins want Freeney. He might be too rich for their blood, though. It's hard to find a good fit for Freeney because he's going to want an arm and a leg, but the teams who have tons of cap space are too smart to actually sign him. My guess? Cincinnati, which will slot him to replace Justin Smith.

Ian: The NFC West is full of teams that love to pass, so I can easily see one of them paying what it takes to get Freeney. I'm going to predict he ends up in San Francisco, where he'll team up with Bryant Young to put serious fear into opposing quarterbacks.

Nick Harper, Indianapolis

Bill: What would you actually want a Nick Harper for? Sure, he's mediocre, but mediocre corners aren't hard to find. Of course, he also might blind an owner by shining his ring in their eye. A good spot for him? New Orleans, where he will join all other carbon-based life forms in actually being an improvement on Fred Thomas.

Ian: I'll predict another cornerback to head to the Giants, who need serious help at the position, and always look for opportunities in the free agent market.

Cato June, Indianapolis

Bill: Thank god Cato June finally got the ring he deserved. God, he sucks. I would say out of football if it were an option, but since it's not, he'll resign with Indy.

Ian: After the tackling display he showed against Jacksonville's rushing attack? Oh yeah, he's headed to Washington.

Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis

Bill: Indianapolis letting an offensive player go? Are you kidding? Not a chance. Rhodes stays in Indiana.

Ian: Rhodes made quite a name for himself in the playoffs this season, where he was clearly playing for a free agent contract, since he knew Addai would be The Man next season regardless of what he did. He earned it, and will probably take DeShaun Foster's place in Carolina. He'll be exactly where he was last season, keeping the seat warm for a youngster -- in this case, DeAngelo Williams.

He Can't Be Worse than Aaron Brooks

Drew Bledsoe, Dallas (possible cap casualty)

Bill: Think Dallas could use him as a holder? Retirement is an option for Bledsoe, according to our chart, but I think he's going to head back to the Pacific Northwest and finish up in Seattle. Hey, they never say how fast the three step drop actually has to be...

Ian: Argh! Drew Bledsoe! My head's gonna explode. He sucks! Sorry Drew, but you have the least useful cannon arm in NFL history. Sounds like a perfect one-year fit in Oakland, where he can teach JaMarcus Russell how to ... well, let's hope he doesn't teach him anything. A young stud player is a terrible thing to waste.

Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia

Bill: All of the people second-guessing Philadelphia's decision to give him a one-year deal are ridiculous. Philadelphia was the only competitive team that gave Garcia an offer. The fact that he succeeded in that year reinforces the decision being positive, not negative, especially when you consider that it's his first good season in three. Looking for a starting job, Garcia will get one in Minnesota, playing for Brad Childress in the West Coast Offense while Tarvaris Jackson tempts people on the bench.

Ian: Free Tarvaris Jackson! Minnesota won't bother bringing in someone else to keep the seat warm, he's ready. If Oakland doesn't make the huge mistake of bringing in Drew Bledsoe, it at least seems reasonable for them to bring in Garcia, whose fiery attitude would resonate well with the Oakland faithful.

Damon Huard, Kansas City

Bill: If you're Huard or his agent, what are you looking for? Do you want to start for a crummy team to end your career? Are you that confident about the Rich Gannon career path? Can you really rock a CBS blazer and look classy? It's not as easy as it seems. This is somewhat of a "please come to your senses" pick for me. I'm going to say Chicago, on a one-year deal. Will that hurt Rex Grossman's feelings? Yes. Does it matter? Only if that gets printed on the flag.

Ian: Cleveland really hasn't found an answer at quarterback yet, though they have some promising options. Perhaps they'll bring in Huard along with a promising rookie running back to jump start the offense, while their quarterback contenders battle it out for top backup status.

Brad Johnson, Minnesota (possible cap casualty)

Bill: I think Johnson's finished -- he may get an offer or two but I feel like he's retiring.

Ian: I think he has it in him to take a job holding a clipboard while mentoring a younger quarterback. Maybe he'll end up in Dallas as insurance in case something were to happen to Tony Romo.

Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (trade bait)

Bill: I would say that Leftwich has been treated shoddily, but geez -- even David Garrard got benched after half a season, and all that guy does is win! I think Jacksonville will apologize to their first-rounder and restore Leftwich to the starting lineup for 2007.

Ian: So do I, but still in the interest of coming up with alternate destinations, I'll take a guess that he ends up in Detroit to give Jon Kitna pressure to keep his starting job.

Jake Plummer, Denver (trade bait)

Bill: This isn't particularly appetizing bait, but whatever works. A good spot for Plummer could be Cleveland, where he'd be an upgrade on Charlie Frye and could keep the seat warm for a year or two more as a starter.

Ian: I really do think Plummer's going to end up in Houston, where David Carr has simply worn out his welcome.

A Good Year for Linebackers

Lance Briggs, Chicago

Bill: The hottest girl at the party just walked in. I had a thought in my head that he might win Super Bowl MVP and get a $800 million contract or something, but he had a pretty mediocre performance, all things considered. His move depends on what you think Chicago's doing this off-season. If it were me? I'd play to win it all in 2007. Sign Huard and franchise Briggs, thinking his stock is pretty much at an all-time high and knowing that it'll be virtually impossible to resign him in 2008.

Ian: While they usually aren't big players in free agency, New England needs to improve its linebacking corps, and from what I hear, their system is too complicated to plug in a rookie with any success. Look for them to make a splash at the position, and Lance Briggs would be an excellent pickup. Not wanting to play the 3-4 isn't something money can't fix.

Na'il Diggs, Carolina

Bill: Diggs is a useful linebacker, if not someone who stands out as a potential huge loss like Briggs or some of the other backers do. While Carolina will be up against the salary cap wall this season, they can't afford to lose Diggs after the departure of Will Witherspoon last season. Diggs stays.

Ian: Perhaps Diggs will end up in San Diego, who could always use more linebackers in their 3-4 defense. Besides, what free agent wouldn't want to go to San Diego?

Donnie Edwards, San Diego

Bill: I was practically howling for Edwards to head to the Patriots when he was the subject of trade speculation before the season began, and now that he's a free agent and the Patriots linebackers have been exposed, Edwards is an even better temporary fit.

Ian: From sunny California to freezing New England? I just don't see it. If he leaves the Chargers, it'll be for another warm weather team, and in this case I'm predicting Miami who already boast a talented defense.

London Fletcher-Baker, Buffalo

Bill: Fletcher-Baker did an excellent job stabilizing a young team in Buffalo. He'd have been even better if Buffalo had a run-stopper in front of him. I say he stays for another year.

Ian: Look for him to follow in the immortal steps of Peerless Price on his way from Buffalo to Atlanta. Hopefully, he'll have better results than Price did.

Kawika Mitchell, Kansas City

Bill: His agent must be calling the Patriots left and right. I think Mitchell stays with the Chiefs, who will be in it to win it next year and come up about ten wins short.

Ian: Why not also predict the Patriots here as a fallback plan in case they lose out on Briggs. Then again, they could use a lot of depth at linebacker, so perhaps they'd go after both.

Adalius Thomas, Baltimore

Bill: Thomas is going to make whatever defense picks him up very happy. He benefits from playing in the Ravens scheme, but I still think he's a player. When the Eagles realize they're not getting Briggs, I think they'll settle for Thomas, which won't be a bad backup plan whatsoever.

Ian: Oakland's defense performed much better than their offense last season. Don't expect them to stand pat and only look to improve on the offensive side of the ball -- I'm sensing a play for Adalius here, to play alongside Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison.

Not Such A Good Year For Lineman

Damion McIntosh, Miami

Bill: I am a big fan of McIntosh -- he was really solid at LT for Miami in 2005, and when they moved him back there in 2006, their line got better. Well, for a while, at least. I'll hope against hope and say the Giants get rid of the human false start, Luke Petitgout, and replace him with McIntosh.

Kris Dielman, San Diego

Bill: MDS wrote in the AFC West Four Downs that he thought Dielman would be a bigger loss for the Chargers than Michael Turner, and I'm inclined to agree. Building something out of nothing, as the Chargers did with their offensive line, is a great strategy until something realizes they are, in fact, something and want to get paid for it. Dielman's Wikipedia page actually notes that he was resigned to a multi-year deal on January 20th, which might have been a move employed to scare off the dumber teams of the league. I could see Matt Millen constantly editing his Wikipedia page to take out the bad stuff and then doing some due diligence on the free agents he wants...

Eric Steinbach, Cincinnati

Bill: We lost Ian somewhere around here. I think he saw a Cadillac Williams Starting Lineup whipping around in the wind and went to go save it from itself. Anyway, Steinbach is one of the Cincinnati Ten -- so Marvin Lewis might choose to let him move on to greener pastures as part of the image rehabilitation process for the league's most unlikable team. This one's actually really easy when you think about it: Oakland's the place to be for Steinbach.

We Were Real-Life First Round Picks

Leonard Davis, Arizona

Bill: Davis was even a top-five pick. Next time someone tells you an offensive lineman is a "safe" pick, feel free to stop listening to them. With Davis being from a big college and all, I could see him moving to Detroit and right tackle, where he'll be slightly less responsible for his team's failure.

Daniel Graham, New England

Bill: Has Graham been a bust? It's hard to say. His skill set is underappreciated -- he's a great blocker (particularly on the wham block), he's developed surer hands than he had previously, but he's not particularly fast or someone who's going to stretch the field. I'll say that the Jets, who have been seeking a tight end for three years now, stick one to their division rivals.

Charles Grant, New Orleans

Bill: Grant's Wikipedia page has this trivia bit: "Can be spotted all over the city talking with fans and having a good time." How can he leave that? New Orleans.

Vonnie Holliday, Miami

Bill: Holliday is another one of the elder statesmen in the Dolphins front seven. He has the option of going to a mediocre team and becoming a full-time starter, or staying with the mediocre team he's on and remaining a part-time player in a defense where everyone but Jason Taylor's part-time. I say he stays.

Ashley Lelie, Atlanta

Bill: Lelie's numbers were pretty solid going into last season, so he's a good fit for a team looking for a flier at wide receiver. San Diego will give him the opportunity to win the slot job when Keenan McCardell ... well, I'll get to that.

Justin Smith, Cincinnati

Bill: Well, I said Cincinnati would be signing Dwight Freeney before, so where does that leave Smith? Washington hasn't shown up too frequently in my picks, and they'll unquestionably make one or two signings. Smith fits in well there as a character guy.

Donte' Stallworth, Philadelphia

Bill: There was some talk early in the season about Stallworth having a breakout season; he didn't, but he was a pretty competent #2 according to DVOA and DPAR. I think he stays with Philadelphia, which has the cap space to retain him and the need for him to stretch the field across from Reggie Brown.

Jerramy Stevens, Seattle

Bill: If he does choose to leave Seattle, well, Seattle could officially move to the Run n' Shoot, which would undoubtedly be a positive thing. Let's see ... who likes picking up players from Seattle? Oh. Right. The team with Jermaine Wiggins at tight end. Minnesota, here's your new tight end.

Desperate for Receivers

Drew Bennett, Tennessee

Bill: Bennett was a nice story when he had his big year in 2004, but that's now his only season of real consequence in the NFL and he'll be 29 next season. He's no longer a breakout candidate, and Tennessee's smart enough to realize where they are on the success cycle and cut bait. I could see Bennett moving to Green Bay, where Greg Jennings went rapidly downhill after the first three weeks of the season and ended up with the third-worst DPAR among wideouts.

Kevin Curtis, St. Louis

Bill: Curtis is sort of an anachronism at this point in the St. Louis offense. A better fit for him? Detroit! Tiny white wide receivers will be buzzing around Ford Field so fast that people will think it's a termite infestation.

Joe Horn, New Orleans (possible cap casualty)

Bill: It would be a pretty big PR hit to get rid of Horn, who was the face of the team during Katrina. Horn has to stay.

Keenan McCardell, San Diego (possible cap casualty)

Bill: He of the preposterous career path might want to stick around one more year for a ring, but I think San Diego realizes that they can replace him with Eric Parker and Vincent Jackson and let the borderline Hall of Famer go. Where to go for that ring? Denver, where he'll replace a retiring Rod Smith.

Randy Moss, Oakland (trade bait)

Bill: Bait implies that he's something attractive that you would be lured toward. I'm not really sure if that's the case anymore. Moss was one of the worst wide receivers in football last year, and he hasn't been Randy Moss, really, since 2003. A good place for him to go? How about Jacksonville, where he could replace Reggie Williams and/or Ernest Wilford and could play with fellow Marshall alum Byron Leftwich?

Jerry Porter, Oakland (trade bait)

Bill: Porter's nonexistent 2006 leaves him at his lowest value in several seasons -- this is an excellent opportunity for a team to acquire a very talented WR at a price below market value. The problem is that not many teams need wide receivers, and of those who do, New England's probably not very interested in getting another Oakland castoff. Porter attended West Virginia and is from DC ... Washington!

When I Was A Lad, I Went To Yale

Eric Johnson, San Francisco

Bill: Johnson will leave because he wants to start. I see him replacing Jerramy Stevens on the H.M.S. Seattle.

Wheel of Kickers

Rian Lindell, Buffalo

Bill: Here's a typical sportswriter nonsense comment that might be true: If anyone knows the value of a good kicker, it's Marv Levy. I don't see any reason to think Lindell will go anywhere. He stays.

Josh Brown, Seattle

Bill: Likewise, Seattle values Brown pretty highly, from what I can tell. Brown might even end up getting franchised, but I think he'll re-sign before the free agent period begins.

Todd Sauerbrun, New England

Bill: Sauerbrun's hunting for Gramaticas! He smelled their scent in New England, but he was too late -- Indianapolis is next!

Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Playoff Fantasy Draft Results

Bill: It is my debatable pleasure to crown Alex Carnevale this year's FO Playoff Fantasy Champion, as he beat Russell Levine by one point and Tim Gerheim by four.

Said Alex of his victory, "I'd like to thank God and Satan. God was instrumental, as he is the omnipotent force behind Bill Polian and the Dungmeister, and Satan was key in spawning Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft. I hold up Reche Caldwell's bulging eyeballs as proof of the latter, and the Colts' magical defense improvement as proof of the former. Now I will wait quietly for the FO corporate jet to take me on my dream vacation to Hawaii. See you at the Pro Bowl, Beelzebub!"

Actually, Alex might want to get onto the bus.

2007 Football Outsiders Playoff Fantasy Teams
  JASON 133 RUSSELL 205 TIM 202
QB Garcia, PHI 28 Brees, NO 35 Rivers, SD 7
RB Tomlinson, SD 30 Lewis, BAL 7 Westbrook, PHI 44
RB Barber, NYG 14 Jones, CHI 54 Addai, IND 45
WR Harrison, IND 17 Muhammad, CHI 14 Colston, NO 15
WR Jackson, SD 4 Horn, NO 0 Stallworth, PHI 26
WR Berrian, CHI 33 Mason, BAL 1 Branch, SEA 8
TE Smith, PHI 2 Clark, IND 30 Heap, BAL 0
K Kaeding, SD 3 Vinatieri, IND 59 Gostkowski, NE 38
DEF Philadelphia 2 San Diego 5 New England 19
  AARON 87 ALEX 206 BILL 137
QB McNair, BAL 2 Manning, IND 52 Brady, NE 46
RB Dillon, NE 20 Alexander, SEA 29 Johnson, KC 5
RB McAllister, NO 31 Bush, NO 33 Maroney, NE 7
WR Owens, DAL 2 Wayne, IND 32 Clayton, BAL 7
WR Glenn, DAL 4 Brown, PHI 14 McCardell, SD 0
WR Henderson, NO 8 Caldwell, NE 23 Burress, NYG 20
TE Gates, SD 6 Stevens, SEA 20 Watson, NE 6
K Carney, NO 11 Stover, BAL 10 Gould, CHI 32
DEF Baltimore 3 New Orleans -7 Chicago 14

As for the Best of the Rest competition, full marks to FO reader fourth, who got his picks in with two hours to spare and blew away the competition with an impressive 156 points. The runners-up were Andrew (AB) with 122 and Sid, whose 107 was the only other score to break the 100-point mark. Excellent job, gentlemen.

Keep Choppin' Wood

Ian: The only debate in this Super Bowl is who deserved to finish second in the Keep Choppin Wood Award voting. The winner was obviously none other than Cedric Benson, whose fumble, then injury forced the Bears to throw more often than they would have liked.

Of course, I jest. Rex Grossman was terrible. I fault the coaching staff for continuing to have him heave the ball downfield when it obviously wasn't working, but he just didn't come to play on Sunday. Fumbled snaps, bad passes, and terrible game management at the end (what was with all the underneath passing inbounds with time ticking away in the fourth quarter?) clearly combined to earn Rex Grossman this Super Bowl's Keep Choppin Wood Award!

Bill: I think an honorable mention here has to go to Danieal Manning. Too often during the game, Manning seemed entirely overwhelmed and simply unable to keep up with ... his opposition Manning. The Reggie Wayne touchdown stands out, but Manning was arguably as a big of a defensive cipher as Rex Grossman was an offensive one. I'd also be tempted to push a little negative recognition Ron Rivera's way, but he seems to have escaped a lot of the criticism in lieu of a media slag off for the Cover-2. Why? It's not as if it was a bad scheme all season ... after all, it won the Super Bowl for the Colts.


Ian: I've done this before, so I'll keep it short, but I must announce that my on-and-off relationship with Scramble for the Ball will return to "off" next season. I'll be doing other things, but I certainly know I'm leaving the column in good hands -- Thanks Bill, it's been a pleasure. Thanks also to Aaron, the rest of the Outsiders, FOX Sports for sponsoring the column, and of course to all of you readers who make the site possible (even you, Wanker79). Gotta give a shout-out to Al Bogdan, who got this whole thing started with me back in the day. And what better parting words than these: "Drew Bledsoe sucks."

Bill: Ah, Scramble. Ian may tell you he loves you, but he just moves on when better things come along. I, on the other hand, appreciate you and buy you nice things. Unfortunately, I have nary an intention of leaving this post. Y'all are stuck with me for at least another season. Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, and to those people who sent us matchup question e-mails for their fantasy team each week, I hope the check's in the mail.

Oh, and who will be joining me next year? No idea yet.


78 comments, Last at 16 Feb 2007, 1:20am

#1 by Greg (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 4:12pm

Woot First!

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#2 by Andrew (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 4:24pm

Wait, Ahman Green is Batman? I thought that was another Packer, crappy cornerback Ahmad Carrol?

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#3 by cd6 (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 4:31pm

Scramble is one of my favorite columns, I'll miss it all summer :(

Ya'll are cheating by picking players to stay where they're at. Boo hiss

On a related note, does anybody know of a site listing expected salary cap room for each team during the offseason? All I know is the Redskins are over without even having their current players signed.

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#4 by Eddo (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 4:39pm

The Ron Rivera complaints aren't against the cover-2 defense, but rather the fact that even after the Colts proved they could keep getting first downs against the soft third-down zones, the Bears never adjusted.

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#5 by James C (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 4:58pm

Has no one else noticed that one of the 'FO outsiders favourite players' had his contract extended until 2009 during the season and hence wont be going anywhere?

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#6 by dbt (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:19pm

Yes, and I still highly doubt Adrian Peterson (obligatory human interest story from super bowl week: He has overcome a stuttering problem to ... play football!) could actually take the pounding commensurate with being a starting or platoon running back.

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#7 by pawnking (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:22pm

It's easy to criticize the losers, but I think it was clear that the Bears had no confidence in their CBs' abilities to play a press if they brought their safeties up on third downs. Had they gone away from their cover 2 deep, we'd have seen more points from the Colts.

Remember the game was really close until the Grossman INT. I think the Bears' thinking was that they'd give up the yards, but stiffen in the red zone, and have a good shot at winning with their running game in the fourth quarter. Not a bad game plan, and probably the only one with any real chance of suceeding.

Actually, they came pretty close. One blown coverage and one Pick 6 by bad rex goes differently, and we might be celebrating the best coaching job since Parcells slowed down the game against the Bills.

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#8 by db (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:26pm

Huard to the Browns does make some sense. There is history with Crennel and Huard from the Pats and I think that Romeo is coaching for his job this year. Also, had to laugh at that KC comment. 6-10 does look like the mark this coming year, but with Trent backed up by Croyle it could also be too high.

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#9 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:36pm

Unbelievable. Russell lost by a botched extra point.

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#10 by Podge (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:36pm

#3 - Go to one of the ....things... features on the main page, can't quite remember what they're called, but they say stuff like NFC West and that kinda thing. At the bottom of each of them is a link to some site or other that approximates salary caps for each team. I can't be bothered going to find it for you, although it probably would have been quicker than typing all this out.

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#11 by Glenn (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:37pm

Who knew Wikipedia was such a wellspring of incredible football information?

From Herm Edwards' page: "Edwards is known to love Fig Newtons, and usually has a package of them 'close by.'"

Let's find some more fun football facts, people!

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#12 by Podge (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:38pm

#9 - no he didn't, he lost because Vinatieri CHOSE not to strip the ball from Hester and take it back for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, as he was just saving himself. But he is clutch enough to do it.

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#13 by Sid (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:40pm

RE: 2

Yes, Batman is Ahmad Carroll. Ahman Green was merely named after Ahmad Rashad and is not Batman.

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#14 by Andrew (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:42pm

Michael Lewis has nobody but himself to blame for being on the way out in Philadelphia. He was offered a nice fat extension in Philadelphia in 2004 and rejected it. His play since then has done nothing to foster the idea that he deserved that.

Most amusing was how the drama played out just like the folks over at say about these type of moves - the locker room gets all up in arms because a black starter playing very poorly (Lewis) loses his job to some skinny white dude (Considine).

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#15 by Ian Dembsky (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:44pm

During a Monday night game way back in the day, there was a halftime feature on Ahman Green, and how he is OBSESSED with Batman. He has lifesize figurines at home, comic books, all the movies -- The works. I hadn't heard anything about Ahmad Carroll, but that feature is why I likened Green to Batman.

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#16 by Chip (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:49pm

5 / 6 - AP received a $1M SB in 06 and is signed through '09. No way Angelo parts with him. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones traded for picks and AP getting more carries.

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#17 by MET (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:52pm

According to a report on Lindell signed a five year extension in December so he'll be staying with the Bills for now

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#18 by DGL (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 5:56pm

So are you guys interviewing for the coveted Scramble Co-Writer position? Does FO have a Rooney Rule? C'mon, we can get a whole off-season's worth of rumors out of this!

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#19 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:01pm

#12: Um, no? Russell had Vinatieri, and lost by a point to Alex. Had that point after not been botched, they would've tied.

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#20 by MJK (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:04pm

Samuel to Denver? God, do you really want to contemplate a team lining up Samuel and Bailey at the same time? My condolences to a QB that faces that, especially if Denver mounts a pass rush as well.

There's been a lot of talk that on the LB front, NE might go after London Fletcher-Baker. Belichick has made comments many times in the past, some probably actually sincere, that he thinks LF-B is one of the best LB's in the league. Plus they'd be stealing from a division rival. I think that LF-B or Adalius Thomas are much more likely Patriots' targets than Briggs, given his stated aversion to the 3-4, and that they're really more in need of an ILB than an OLB (at OLB, Colvin is still very good and Banta-Cain and Vrabel are decent, but at ILB, Bruschi has lost a step and may retire, Seau probably isn't coming back, and is really old even if he does, and everyone else is special team or practice squad material).

On the other hand, if the Pats DID manage to score Briggs, don't count on them staying in the 3-4. The hallmark of Belichick's defensive system is not that he plays a 3-4, but rather that he plays whatever he has the best personnell for. For a long time that's been the 3-4, because so few teams ran it, so he could pick up good "tweeners" that fit it. But now more teams are running it and the pickings are slimmer, especially for ILB's.

If the Pats had Briggs, I imagine them lining up in a 4-3 a lot--they're stacked on the DL, and could put in Briggs opposite Colvin, and rotate Vrabel at MLB along with other players TBD. All of a sudden, the Pats front seven would start to look pretty fearsome.

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#21 by throughthelook… (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:18pm

I've read the first half of the article, and I'm wondering who DeMarcus Russell is. Now back to the article.

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#22 by throughthelook… (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:24pm

Wasn't McCardell on the 02 Bucs?
I'll definitely miss Scramble.

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#23 by David (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:41pm

Can you imagine if Asante Samuel actually went to the Broncos? Between him and Champ Bailey no one would even attempt to pass.

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#24 by MCS (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 6:44pm

Ian - You are right. Both are big fans of Batman (and use the name), but Green was first. I only heard of Carroll liking Batman last year. Ahman Green even styles his hair into a Widow's Peak.

Back in 1989 Ahman got the emblem of Batman carved into the back of his head for two years so the name just stuck with him.

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#25 by NF (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 7:01pm

22: Yes indeed. He was later traded in the middle of a season to the Chargers, and the next season he was the #1 WR on the team.

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#26 by Crushinator (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 7:26pm

I'm really hoping for Daniel Graham to wind up in Carolina. He's a younger player, the Panthers won't want any TE who can't block (and Graham can block well), and while he's not fast, he is always open.

Seriously, everytime I see a Patriots game, and Graham goes out for a pass, he's just wide open in the middle of the field. Teams just never seem to notice him.

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#27 by Jacob Stevens (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 8:03pm

L-O-Freakin-L at Ken Hamlin being one of the FO favorites and no one knowing exactly why. Did Doug take a street sign up side your skulls?

Hamlin is great at taking cheap shots on WRs going out of bounds. He wraps up and tackles rather well 2 times out of 5 and the other 3 are one-shouldered wood-laying attempts that just aren't often effective. He's not assignment correct, but not awful. He doesn't have remarkable ball skills.

But aside from the tackling, he doesn't have a big weakness. What he does have more than 85% or more of the safeties out there is RANGE. Could be a better SS, as a lot of Seahawk fans suggest, but his biggest skill is his range on the field. His return from skull fracture last year only emphasized the difference between that and his more known but lesser skill, hitting.

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#28 by Eddo (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 8:16pm

7: "Had they gone away from their cover 2 deep, we’d have seen more points from the Colts."
It's easy to assume the Colts would have scored more points that way, but how do you know? The only thing that was proven was that the Colts could move the ball consistently with short, underneath routes. The Bears coaching staff chose to never even make an effort to tighten up on the zones to prevent the short passing game. And in wet conditions, when the opposing quarterback has a thumb injury, maybe daring him to throw deep isn't such a bad idea?
And as a Bears fan this isn't the first time I've had to watch Rivera sit there idly while his defense gets beat. Last year's playoffs against Carolina being the best example, of course.

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#29 by Truman (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 8:57pm

Patrick Kerney - Any market out there for him at all?
I haven't seen his name mentioned anywhere and would love to have him back in Atlanta at a discount.

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#30 by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 9:23pm

I really can't see the Eagles keeping Donte Stallworth, even if it does seem like it's probably a good idea. Unless, of course, they can trade Greg Lewis for something reasonable, they must be thinking that Jeremy Bloom is going to be added to the roster next season, and I can't see them keeping six WRs. Also, it would probably force them to not dress either Lewis or Jason Avant most weeks, and while Stallworth is definitely better than either of those two, both are too good to be kept out of the action. Assuming Avant is as good as he looked in limited rookie action...

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#31 by Parker W (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 9:47pm

There seems to be one team left out of this entire discussion (except when discussing the ever dangerous Drew Bennett). The Titans have 35+ million in cap space and should end up spending very little on current players with expiring contracts. Chris Brown, Drew Bennett, Robaire Smith, and Rien Long are the only players in the category worth mentioning, barely worth mentioning...
It seems to me as though the Titans will make a play for Asante Samuel or Nate Clements; Pac Man is starting to come into his own and another solid corner could really shore up a young defense.

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#32 by Harris (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 9:57pm

The Eagles will re-sign Stallworth. THEY WILL. THEY WILL. THEY WILL. I have to believe. Why won't you let me believe?

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#33 by Doug Farrar // Feb 09, 2007 - 10:35pm

#27 - The Hamlin thing predated my official participation in FO. I think it had something to do with him having a great Stop Rate in 2005 before he was injured. Something like that.

Hamlin's got some real work to do - he needs to quit going for the kill shot all the time and wrap up once in a while. He's decent in coverage when his head's in the game, but I think there are some real timing and placement issues in that secondary. I'm very interested to see what sort of difference Mora will make, because I haven't been impressed with the job Larry Marmie's done at all.

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#34 by Gus (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 10:39pm

Wait, so in this game, you can't pick a player for going back to his current team? Um, maybe Lindell shouldn't even be on this list then...

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#35 by Theo, Netherlands (not verified) // Feb 09, 2007 - 11:29pm

I don’t quite remember why he ended up in the Favorites category either… there was a reason, I swear. — Aaron

Pretty much the reason I like FO.
Thanks for all the years.

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#36 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 2:18am

#30: They'll keep 6 WRs so long as Bloom is PR and KR. If they need to keep a PR/KR elsewhere, they won't. They won't carry 4 RBs next year, in all likelihood.

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#37 by Podpeople (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 3:10am

re 32:
Amen to that. Even as much as I like Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett, I think the eagles will be better off with stallworth there.

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#38 by MJK (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 3:41am


Graham is probably one of the best blocking TE's in the league, and also a very athletic reciever, with a lot of good potential for YAC (there was a game last year against the Jets? where he took a screen pass to the house entirely on the merits of faking out would-be tacklers and breaking tackles). On top of that, he's a solid locker room presence and a team leader.

But his achilles heel is his hands (sorry for the mixed metaphor). Maybe part of the reason why he's always open is that given the choice between leaving a WR, Kevin Faulk, Ben Watson, or Daniel Graham open, defenses choose Graham because he has the highest probability of dropping the ball. He's complained about not having enough opportunity in the Pats passing game, but part of that is Brady only goes to him as a last resort, possibly because he had so many key drops in his first and second year. That's the reason why the Pats drafted Watson two years ago, and two more TE's last year...

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#39 by Paul (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 8:32am

Ian, Ian, Ian: As a devoted Skins fan, I find your predictions painfully hilarious. Seems like the tides wash most of the flotsam and jetsam towards fedex...

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#40 by Scott P. (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 10:56am

Ian: "I just can’t understand why they went away from the run in the second half, when it was working so well."

Take away the garbage time draw plays & only 6 of 15 Chicago rushing plays were successful. For a supposedly powerful running team going against a supposedly weak run D, getting stuffed on more than half of their attempts CANNOT be classify as "working so well". The Bears never converted a 3rd down by running the ball.

1Q Jones +1
Jones +52*
Jones +1
Jones +0
Benson -5 Fumble
Benson +4* (1st&10 play)
Jones +4 (came up short on 3rd&6)
2Q Jones +4* (1st&10)
Jones +0
Jones +2 (came up short on 3rd&3)
3Q Jones +8*
Jones +4* (2nd&2)
Jones +2
Jones +12 nullified by holding penalty
Jones +6* (1st&20)

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#41 by Scott P. (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 11:15am

Hey Bill, Cato June "sucks" & should be out of football? Sure, he stunk it up (they ALL did) at Jax but he led the team with 142 tackles, 96 solo. That was good enough to tie for 5th best in the entire league. Who was he tied with? Oh, only Donnie Edwards & some sucky player named Urlacher.

Freeney is going NOWHERE. Polian already stated that he would use the franchise tag, if necessary.

You might be right about Harper leaving because he will be looking for a big payday. Plus, Jackson & Hayden got some good experience at CB this season.

Colts trivia question for you-- the Colts D scored 2 TD's all season. Who scored them? Answer: Kelvin Hayden and Kelvin Hayden (vs Philly & Chicago).

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#42 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 12:30pm

#41: Read the TDZ on the Colts defense, as well as the EPC on the Colts defense. Tackle numbers mean nothing for judging a player's quality.

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#43 by NF (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 1:12pm

The Colts are nuts if they are going to put the franchise tag on an over-rated pass rush specialist who doesn't play the run when most of their problems on defense have nothing to do with the pass-rush and the team is on the precipice above cap hell.

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#44 by Crushinator (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 2:41pm

42: Depends on the player

Adrian Wilson leading his team in tackles last year was a pretty strong judgement of his front 7.

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#45 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 4:02pm

#43: Definitely. But I meant for comparing from team to team. Leading the league (or coming near to leading) in tackles doesn't mean much. Especially not when your team was near-last in the league in most defensive categories.

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#46 by Michael (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 4:37pm

i think the 49ers will be very actice they will probley get leonard davis, hoping to get A. Thomas, and maybe Drew bennett. The niners have a great chance to go to the playoffs next year.

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#47 by jimmo (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 5:18pm

Any way to track/access one's own picks in the FA game? Last year, I wrote them down as I went, but forgot to do that this time. And of course, after changing my mind a couple times while doing it, I've completely lost track of my choices.

In playing around with it after the fact, I'm a shoo-in now if everyone signs with Arizona (or in some cases, retires...)

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#48 by Tom (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 5:29pm

I don't think Adrian Peterson is a free agent, I remember reading that he signed a 3 year deal at the end of the 2005 season.

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#49 by Spoilt Victori… (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 6:02pm

From Herm Edwards’ page: “Edwards is known to love Fig Newtons, and usually has a package of them ‘close by.’�

Let’s find some more fun football facts, people!

It actually gets better: Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards has a nostalgic affixiation for Fig Newtons, and usually has "a package close by," but never eats them.

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#50 by Ineedawittyname (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 6:59pm

did anyone else think that they would have a good chance of winning the same faces new places contest by just saying that Oakland would sign everyone?

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#51 by Peter Libero (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 6:59pm

44: Doesn't someone have to make the stop? Obviously tackles can just mean your scorekeeper likes you, or you're awful in pass coverage, but generally speaking it has to be good that you tackled someone instead of not.

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#52 by Sid (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 7:52pm

woohoo! I beat Aaron in the playoff contest. I picked too many Jets to win. :(

Ian: From sunny California to freezing New England? I just don’t see it. If he leaves the Chargers, it’ll be for another warm weather team, and in this case I’m predicting Miami who already boast a talented defense.

The most well-known San Diego linebacker went from sunny California to sunny Miami to freezing New England. Remember Seau's career path?

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#53 by Frankly Bored (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 9:10pm

Does anyone know where the Probowl open discussion board is?

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#54 by dje (not verified) // Feb 10, 2007 - 10:49pm

43 - I don't think that Bill Polian shares your perspective on Freeney. The Colts defensive philosophy is built around speed and Freeney is probably the fastest DE in the game. That's why they drafted him earlier than most draft experts thought he should go. Expect the Colts to either work out a long term deal or franchise Freeney.

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#55 by Scott P. (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 3:34am

#43-Freeney was a Pro Bowler until this season. Now he's getting double teamed most of the time & his numbers are down. But he is still a very important part of the Colts D.

Haven't you noticed by now? Polian lets RB's (Faulk, Edge) & LB's (Peterson, Washington, Thornton) go when their price tag gets too high. But he will pay for DL's.

I'll bet anyone $1,000,000 that Freeney is still a Colt next season.

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#56 by Crushinator (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 1:08pm


Ballsy bet, considering the Colts have already said there's no way they're letting Freeney go and they'll franchise him if they can't get an extension.

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#57 by Michael Posner (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 3:59pm

The Eagles will not resign Stallworth because they will never match the likely inflated offers he will get from another team like Washington. Unlike previous years Eagles have less cap space due to smart signings of other players. I think that any fa this year for the Bords will be on the Defensive side of the ball.

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#58 by Trevor (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 6:06pm

if clements or samuel are available, the cards need to throw the bank at them. throwing at the RCB was like a money play in madden last year.

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#59 by Daniel (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 7:52pm

51 It also, other things being equal, means that the defense was out on the field for a larger number of plays - hence not doing their job particularly successfully. Of course, we don't know if the "other things" are equal, but that's one reason that individual tackles shouldn't be used to assess a defensive player's performance.

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#60 by Podpeople (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 7:54pm

RE 57
The Eagles defense is counting way too much on untested rookies and declining veterans to keep things going. How much longer can Brian Dawkins be the hero? Can we find linebackers that can tackle?

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#61 by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 8:07pm

Happy journey, Ian. Wherever it is you're going.

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#62 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 8:58pm

#57: Philly does not have less cap space than normal. Right now they have $12M in cap space, and $18M in roster bonuses. At their option, they can guarantee and prorate any/all of those bonuses.

If they don't spend money on free agency this year, it's because they believe the market is weaker. Not because they don't have the money.

The Eagles defense is counting way too much on untested rookies and declining veterans

What other kind of players are there?

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#63 by throughthelook… (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 10:54pm

The Eagles defense is counting way too much on untested rookies and declining veterans

What other kind of players are there?

There's also the big free agent who will lead your team to (pick one) respectability/the playoffs/the Super Bowl/all the way, baby. :)

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#64 by SJM (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 11:20pm

Re: 39

It may be time for us Skins fans to just go ahead and root for the team to make dumb decisions. It's easier that way.

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#65 by michael (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 11:35pm


no i think that honor will go to the 49ers because according to john clayton the 49ers will pursue samuel and clements heavily.

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#66 by Supdawg (not verified) // Feb 11, 2007 - 11:36pm

What the heck? The Titans are top 3 in available cap space for 07, but yet, all free agents are predicted to not go there? Seems to me this list was poorly thought out.

Tennessee... With the #32 ranked defense? Remember them? We need a new DT, DE, CB, MLB, and S... WTF?

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#67 by ReallyDrewBledsoe (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 12:02am

Argh! Drew Bledsoe! My head’s gonna explode. He sucks! Sorry Drew, but you have the least useful cannon arm in NFL history.

I'm sad that you said that because some people might not get the sarcasm. Or maybe you're saying that my arm wasn't a cannon (rifle, rocket, tank, cannon, gun, laser, really big strong arm -- maybe those are better and what you really mean.) It's pretty funny.

I mean, how could you possibly say that about a future hall of famer? I guess my 4 pro bowls say that I suck. Or maybe it's my 44611 passing yards or may 261 touchdowns. And did I mention that I finished a proud 8th for the 1992 Heisman Trophy (really, Gino Torretta??)

Did I mention that I'm 3rd all-time in pass attempts? I don't like to brag, I just thought you should know, so people don't get me confused with Jeff George or Ryan Leaf.

Any Pats fan should remember me fondly. I got New England to 2 super bowls, I say that because some people haven't been to even one. Or maybe you were happy with the Hugh Millen Era. You might say, "but Brady won the super bowls." and I might say, " you shut up! Or don't you remember my 102 passing yards against pittsburg. All done when I only had the strength of the 4 burgers I ate during halftime and the 2 I ate during commerical breaks."

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#68 by Andrew (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 10:44am

Pat #62:

#57: Philly does not have less cap space than normal. Right now they have $12M in cap space, and $18M in roster bonuses. At their option, they can guarantee and prorate any/all of those bonuses.

The Eagles can also free $1.9M in cap space by cutting/trading Dhani Jones, and $4.8M in cap space by cutting/trading William "Tra" Thomas. They will also free up another $0.6-0.7M by cutting/trading either Mike Bartrum or Jon Dorenbos. Lastly, its possible that a couple of veterans like Jeremiah Trotter and William "Tra" Thomas may be asked to take salary cuts, like John Runyan was last year.

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#69 by fourth (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 11:02am

Hooray! What do I win? :)

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#70 by Wanker79 (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 11:03am

I wrote this in the "Four Downs: AFC West" thread, but it's more fitting here.

I made two guesses in Old Faces in New Places that were just absolute Hope & a Prayer picks. One was for Philly to land Adalius Thomas. The other was for Al Davis to go after his typical "strong-armed veteran QB", and this year that's Drew Bledsoe. And seeing Bill and Ian suggest both of those things (respectively) makes me the kind of happy that isn't polite to talk about in public.

And Ian, I was thinking about thanking you for the shout-out, but I couldn't figure out if that was a compliment or an insult. So either (a)thanks alot and good luck with whatever you're moving on to, or (b)eat shit you douchebag. :-)

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#71 by schroeder (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 1:17pm

I hope the Bills keep Fletcher-Baker; all the guy did this year was make plays. It wasn't his fault there was no one in front of him to stop the run. And he's good veteran leadership.

As for McGahee, I think Marv Levy has a rule where, if you have more illegitimate children in a year (3) than 100-yard rushing games (2), you're off the team.

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#72 by Nate (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 2:38pm

Adrian Peterson is signed through 2009.

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#73 by Pat (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 5:08pm

#68: Most teams can generate cap space by cutting players, though. And the "Runyan pay cut" is silly to call it that. They almost certainly made that contract change with the understanding that Runyan was going to be resigned afterwards, which he was. It was likely just a stopgap to give them more negotiating time.

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#74 by Sid (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 6:45pm

re: 7

disagree. they were giving up repeated first downs on short passes. you have to at least challenge the offense to make a play in order to get a first down.

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#75 by Sid (not verified) // Feb 12, 2007 - 8:16pm

well Bill, Petitgout is gone. Same for Emmons and Arrington.

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#76 by Scott P. (not verified) // Feb 15, 2007 - 6:17pm


Do you think I'd bet a $1M if I didn't already KNOW the answer? It's so funny to read that these two goofballs have Freeney going to Cincy & San Fran when there is no frickin' way Polian is letting him go anywhere right now.

Did Bill & Ian hire a monkey to write this column? Because it sure seems like they did.

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#77 by Scott P. (not verified) // Feb 15, 2007 - 6:17pm


Do you think I'd bet a $1M if I didn't already KNOW the answer? It's so funny to read that these two goofballs have Freeney going to Cincy & San Fran when there is no frickin' way Polian is letting him go anywhere right now.

Did Bill & Ian hire a monkey to write this column? Because it sure seems like they did.

Points: 0

#78 by Bill Barnwell // Feb 16, 2007 - 1:20am

Sorry Scott. Actually, every "commenter" on the site but you is a monkey. Joke's on you, bud.

Points: 0

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