Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. There has been a lot of action already this offseason, although the Patriots have been quiet. Expect that to change. Similar to last year, when some were questioning why the team wasn’t more active early in the process, Bill Belichick and his staff have a plan and will strike it. It will help to get a set salary cap figure tomorrow. Free agency begins Tuesday.
2. Count me in the group that loved the Redskins/Rams trade for both teams. I don’t think the Redskins had a chance until they squared away the quarterback spot, and if they think Robert Griffin III is the guy, I like the aggressiveness to go for it. "No quarterback" means "no chance" in the NFL. As for the Rams, they already have their quarterback (Sam Bradford) and are now in position to control parts of the draft in each of the next three years. Impressive.
3. Thought the Peyton Manning/Jim Irsay news conference was terrific last Wednesday, with genuine emotion. As for the “where does Peyton play next?” sweepstakes, I’ll take Miami. Total hunch, but my theory is that he’ll find the most comfort with the Dolphins’ coaching staff, which worked with Brett Favre in Green Bay, and like the idea of Reggie Wayne possibly being there with him.
4. The Colts’ overhaul, with Irsay acknowledging the team is rebuilding and at least a few years away from contending, made me wonder how this is all being received by the team’s fans in Indianapolis. It’s honest and accurate, but why not try to maintain contender status while “transitioning” with some younger players? That’s where I think Bill Belichick has done some solid work in recent years. New England’s consistent success through that sometimes-rocky transition probably isn’t appreciated enough.
5. The Jets’ head-scratching decision to give Mark Sanchez a contract extension looks like a case of providing salary cap relief while also making a statement of commitment to their seemingly-in-need-of-confidence signal-caller. While the deal extends through 2016, Sanchez only is only assured a roster spot the next two years because of the guaranteed money owed to him over that time. While the extension is curious, the salary cap component makes it a little easier to understand.
6. The Patriots struck gold when signing an injured veteran from the Chargers in 2003 – Rodney Harrison. I think they’d be smart to think along the same lines this year, with eight-year veteran defensive lineman Luis Castillo. Help is needed up front.
7. In a draft where the tight end crop is considered lean, and the tight end needy New York Giants are picking 32nd, could the Patriots’ No. 31 pick have some trade value if top-rated tight end Coby Fleener is still on the board? That’s probably one of many scenarios the Patriots, never shy about moving a pick, have already projected. Maybe a team could come calling to leapfrog the Giants.
8. Teams will be tendering their restricted free agents by Tuesday, and the biggie for the Patriots is backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. Because Hoyer entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, another team could sign him without giving up compensation if he’s tendered at the lowest level ($1.26 million). So that could lead the Patriots to a second-round level tender, which will be about $1.9 million. Too rich? I don't think so for a solid insurance policy at the game's most important position.
9. Josh McDaniels’ brother, Ben, is back in the NFL as an offensive assistant coach with the Buccaneers. Ben McDaniels had served as quarterbacks coach in Denver when Josh McDaniels was head coach. First-year Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has spoken of his admiration for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and perhaps there was some tie-in there with the hire.
10. Free agency hasn’t started yet, but this has already been one of the greatest offseasons ever in terms of interest and compelling storylines. Another reason why the NFL is king. It truly is 365/24/7 and we love every minute of it.
EXTRA POINT: Congratulations to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald on a new job at NFL Network/NFL.com, which starts in April.