SBD/March 15, 2013/Franchises

NFL Free Agency Notes: High-Profile Signings Show Seahawks Becoming A Destination

The Seahawks have signed DEs Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett this week in addition to the trade for WR Percy Harvin, and in Seattle, Danny O'Neil writes the "lesson to be drawn" from the Seahawks' additions is that the organization has "established itself as a destination in today's NFL." Everyone "always talks about the difficulty of luring a free agent to Seattle, citing everything from the weather to the geography of the league's most isolated outpost." But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, "We're trying to really go places with our club and we're getting better and we're a young team that's on the rise" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/15). In Tacoma, Dave Boling wrote Seahawks GM John Schneider "is a shark looking for his next meal." The moves are "another example of Schneider’s aggressive guidance of this franchise." Boling: "The message is unmistakable to fans and everybody in the locker room: The Seahawks are making their big push right now. The competitive window is open and Schneider intends to capitalize now" (Tacoma NEWS JOURNAL, 3/14).

LIVE TO REGRET IT? SportsNet N.Y.’s Adam Schein called new Dolphins WR Mike Wallace a "knucklehead" and said there is a "reason why the classy Pittsburgh Steelers did not want to bring him back." Wallace's deal with the Dolphins makes him the third-highest paid WR in the NFL, but Schein said, "In no universe is he the third-best receiver in the NFL. He’ll be a cap casualty in two or three years. They overpaid for him.” Schein added the move is the latest example of Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross “being clueless as per usual” (“Loud Mouths,” SNY, 3/14). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said if Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland “gets fired after this year, his successor is going to be cursing him every day of 2014." The contracts of free agent signees Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe "have low cap numbers for 2013,” but those numbers "go up” in '14 (“PFT,” NBC Sports Network, 3/14).

THE AUTUMN WIND: In S.F., Ann Killion writes if there was "deep skepticism last season about the new direction of the Raiders, it has only amplified since." GM Reggie McKenzie seems "intent on tearing the team down to the studs, ripping up the floorboards and punching out any remaining sheetrock." The Raiders this week "let some big names go" but only signed "three second-tier free agents." The signings were a "far cry from the blockbuster free-agent moves the fans became accustomed to" when late Owner Al Davis was in charge. McKenzie is with an organization that "doesn't have much salary cap wiggle room" and his hands are "tied to a certain extent, by circumstance and his own proclivity." But that "doesn't satisfy the team's frustrated fans" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/15).

HOLD THAT THOUGHT: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell is doing "exactly what owner Shad Khan entrusted him to do: making decisive moves to alter the direction of a franchise that bottomed out in 2012." Frenette: "The Jaguars are in a different place. You don't start reconstruction, especially with an unresolved quarterback situation, by throwing big money at every roster hole." That is "not going to make this team a playoff contender in 2013." There will be "plenty of time to second-guess, criticize and stress over what the new gatekeepers are doing." Just "don't let the lack of a big splash in their first free agency period be that time" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 3/15).

SLEEPING GIANT? In Newark, Jenny Vrentas notes Giants WR Victor Cruz this week switched representation to CAA’s Tom Condon, which the Giants "hope could help progress toward a deal." Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch sees Cruz' hiring of Condon "as a positive." Tisch noted Condon represents QB Eli Manning and said, "We've had a great experience with Tom in terms of negotiating Eli’s deals. Tom is very familiar with our ownership, with the team, with (general manager) Jerry Reese, and I think it’s a win-win" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/15).

BEST PRACTICES: Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw noted in the first 48 hours of free agency, guys were "flying all over the place." He asked, "Why can’t baseball be like this? Why when baseball free agency starts do GMs sit around and talk to agents behind closed doors and it takes months.” Cowlishaw said fans "lose interest, they lose focus on the game." But everybody is "focused right now on the NFL and what’s going on with all these teams." Cowlishaw: "That’s the way to handle free agency. It’s one of the things the NFL gets right” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/14).
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