I am starting a new series predicting what will happen during the offseason, with some story-telling licence and accompanying background music thrown in to boot. Hopefully they will be both, usefully analytical, and creatively interesting. I will follow up with some bonus features in a later post, like alternative endings, bloopers etc.
To get the full experience, please click the music links denoted by ♫ ♪, courtesy of NCS, and they will open in a new tab, serenading you with mood matching music, or a horrible mess if you open more than one at once. This does mean you may well need to be at home or a chilled workplace, with some speakers or headphones handy, to get the best out of this product. So sit back, pop this in your DVD player and enjoy the show.
Pre Free Agency Opening
Before FA opens, ♫ ♪ during the calm before the storm ♫ ♪, and while Patriots everywhere, are slowly moving on from another 'so close, but yet so far' season. There comes fresh cheer and hope, with news that the team has agreed terms with stud RT Sebastian Vollmer, on a four year $24m contract, with a $10m signing bonus, eclipsing the deal Eric Winston received last year, despite ongoing concerns over his back. The looming spectre of the Bears or Cardinals offering him LT money are gone, replaced by the looming spectre of his back and knee problems re-emerging.
Next news filters down that Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and Dane Fletcher (I started this before he resigned, so I currently have a 100% success rate: Woo!) all agree to short term, low value deals with the club, keeping up fierce competition at TE, and providing some extra depth in the linebacker core, particularly against the pernicious problem of this modern passing game. Meanwhile Coaches and Defensive Co-ordinators around the league, ponder how they plan to stop the Pats pending 4 TE sets. Line up with Hooman and Gronk on the right, Ballard and Hernandez on the left, and Vereen/Lloyd in the backfield/out wide. Then there can be motion with TEs overloading one side, or Hernandez entering the backfield, or Vereen leaving it. This pondering, turns the Harbaughs' cross cropped locks into a 50 Rexy shades of grey, and leaves Rob Ryan with a Brad Childress like hair-do, and hands full of long greasy fibres.
Then there follows a ♫ ♪ couple of weeks of silence, filled only by the white noise ♫ ♪ of contradictory media speculation, about Welker, Talib and the franchise tag. Once February the 18th comes, we await the news, but nothing is coming. Various different football deities, are petitioned.
"Dear Football (God / Jesus / Buddha / Unfeeling Universe),
Please let (Jairus Byrd / Henry Melton / Dashon Goldson / Michael Johnson / All the above) hit the market.
I (Have been good / Have faith / Don't really care about this, it's just physical / Can't help asking),
so I am looking forward to you (Rewarding me / Showing me grace and mercy / Granting me Nirvana / Obeying the laws of physics, as per uzh).
(Amen / Amen / Hummmm / Peace out atoms!)"
Spoiler Alert! Whatever the undeniable power of the various football deities, none of the above hit the market, all being tagged or signing lucrative extensions. Then March the 4th rolls round, and it becomes clear that the Patriots will keep their Franchise Tag in its sparkly box for the year, and compete on the open market for the guys they want.
The tension ♫ ♪ builds to a crescendo ♫ ♪, as the media pumps out more recycled guff, worthy of getting expulsion for plagiarism. What will become of Brady's BFF, his little binky Wes? Will Talib go, and if so will we be able to ever stop another pass again? These are the big questions facing the country at this point in time. This truly causes the ♫ ♪ doom to descend, and despair rises among the fan base, but then the hopeless optimists arrive ♫ ♪, bringing a wave of fanciful enthusiasm, like a warm front has just passed by. Maybe we will keep Wes and Talib, and we'll get Ed Reed, and maybe Charles Woodson too, then probably Dwayne Bowe to give us an outside threat, or if he goes elsewhere then we'll at least get Mike Wallace, and maybe Brian Hartline too. We must be favourites for Desmond Bryant, and should be able to squeeze Dwight Freeney in. If we could also bring back Richard Seymour, our team could be boss!
Productivity slows to a crawl across the country, as fans check the rumours of who is talking to who, in the days leading up to the deadline, and it grinds to a halt as eager expectation for the clock to tick over kicks in.
March the 12th, 00:00 AM: Free Agency Opens!
Shock Horror! The big money moves roll in early, and the Patriots haven't bought in anyone at way over market value! What's going on? Surely Bill knows that the best way to build a team is through expensive Free Agents, did he miss the Dan Snyder seminar again? Slowly, amid the fanfare, news creeps out about Welker. He is spotted walking his dog, sparking rumours he is on his way to Cleveland. Then he is seen watching Mrs Welker (think before clicking, not too hard to work out what is coming) test various bikinis for their suitability as horse-riding apparel, the obvious point that the media doesn't miss, is he's going to Denver, or is that Indianapolis? Then with a TMZ Exclusive! it turns out, that he is actually going to Philadelphia, after all he was seen cleaning bird poo off his car.
As for Talib, things seems a bit quieter. Scared by his off the field issues, and the Patriots lack of speed to sign him up, teams seem willing to wait it out, and see what the market offers him. This of course maybe down to the prevailing view that even Leon Sandcastle's Grandad, could look good, when compared to the rest of the Patriots backfield.
Then a few days later, with news of Wes Welker's FA tour taking him to Cincinnati, Edelman signs a two year prove it deal for $5m, with a $2m signing bonus. Ensuring we have a Wes Welker alternative available for roughly 15% of our games for the next two years. Position filled!
Unsurprisingly Belichick decides to load up on some old faces at WR. Both Deion Branch and Donté Stallworth return on camp contracts to compete. Fans mourn Belichick's continued desire to dress like a tramp, but run the wide receiver core like a retro-loving hipster; while Boston care homes celebrate.
Then some losses trickle in. First the bad news; Donald Thomas agrees to take his wares to the Arizona Cardinals signing a four year contract for $18m, with a $5m signing bonus. In his Presser he declares his love for Arizona ever since he was a child, growing up in Connecticut. As well as how relieved he is that after protecting a QB as old and slow as Brady, he can now protect some faster, younger guys, who aren't going to crumble when they get hit, because they're too old. That's swiftly followed by another blow as fan favourite (yes that's a u, remember what this language is called) Danny Woodhead, signs with the Denver Broncos for three years for $11m, with a $4m signing bonus. He does us proud by trolling his presser hard with this spectacular quote.
"Playing with Brady was great and all, but as a receiver you just don't get the credit you deserve. Everyone assumes it is easy to play with the best hurling you the rock. That's why I am looking forward to the chance to prove I am a difference maker, and help this old, weak armed QB. What's his name, Oh, you know, the one with the crooked neck and funny forehead. Last name begins with an M, ahh, I remember, Eli somebody"
Finally news comes out about Talib, after seeing a lukewarm market, he has committed his future to the Patriots, signing a 5 year, $36m contract. The total details are hard to come by, but it appears that he has been given $15m 'guaranteed', but if he gets another league suspension, he forfeits most of this, as it is a mix of signing bonus, and roster bonuses. There are also rumoured to be some healthy performance incentives included.
While this news brings much joy to a fan base, now slightly hopeful that we may be able to reliably stop teams on 3rd and 15, it does bring some serious cap cramping problems. The team looks to save some money by cutting Daniel Fells, and thinks about looking for priority UDFA kickers to see if they can make Gostkowski expendable.
Then there is the talk of contract restructuring, Mankins is approached, given that $10m for a guard is a lot, and an amount his recently injury lowered performances haven't warranted. Unlike a DT, facing a pre-injury Mankins, he won't budge. Brady though, agrees to an extension and restructure, essentially signing a cheap two year extension, while spinning his two big money years into it. It was rumoured that he was prepared to take even less, if a deal could have been done to keep Welker.
Alas, even with the cap relief, and an offer of a 3 year $20m contract on the table, Wes signs with the Bengals, for a 4 year, $34m contract, with $16m guaranteed. The Bengals are now just another good draft and some continued Andy Dalton improvement, from becoming a serious threat in the AFC.
News that makes you go "meh" follows when it turns out that the injury prone and cover-averse Patrick Chung, has signed for his old boss at the Eagles, for a minimal deal. He is caught apologising to his Pats jersey wearing landlord, but all that is heard from the convo is a few of the landlords words, rumoured to be "don't", "door", "hit" and "out." This is followed by news, that makes you go "who", when Jamie Richard, joins the St Louis Rams for a couple of peanuts and a bag of crisps (translation - chips) and whatever change fell out of Rob Ryan's XXXXL trousers, as he briefly thumped down on the Rams' coaching sofa.
The ♫ ♪ bad news continues ♫ ♪, for many of the more vocal and perspective-challenged among the Patriots support, with news that Kyle Arrington could only find minimal demand for his services on the open market. So he has graciously decided to return to the Pats with a prove it deal of $3m for two years work, to try and show he can be a top slot corner. Of course in his mind, the question isn't in doubt; and it is top corner, none of this slot corner nonsense.
But although all Patriots fans still have a sad, they are boosted by news that Ed Reed has signed for 2 years, for $11m. Finally some experience in the secondary, and the fans and media laud the move, for a brief moment united in their excitement at the move. That isn't it for the media though, as at BBs presser, he is caught of guard by a question for the first time ever.
Reporter: "Bill, how does Linda Holliday feel about this move?
Bill: "Err, It is what it is, just doing our job, nothing else to share about that right now. Wait, what?!"
R: "I mean, does she trust you to stay faithful, despite your man crush for Ed Reed? I mean most women don't want to hear that you are up late 'watching
pr0nfilm' with the apple of your eye?"
BB: "Why you! I'll strangle you with the spare material that I keep having to cut off my hoodies! Don't you ever talk to me about my hot girlfriend again. What Ed and I have, is special, and what Ed and I do in the comfort of our own cut-off hoodies is up to us, we're consenting adults!"
After vowing to never speak to the media again, NFL bigwig, and chief busy body, Roger Goodell send him a memo reminding him of his contractually obligated media requirements. After no response, Goodell calls him to remind him that he really should follow league memos, and in this case the memo actually states the laws correctly.
Reluctantly Belichick steps back up to the mike, and his gruff, prickly demeanour is softened to just a soft monotone growl, when he gets to talk about his favourite subject. Special teams. After a brief 95 minute lecture, has cleared out all but the most stubborn reporters in the room, Bill finally addresses some questions. Admitting that while Niko Koutouvides, Derrick Martin and even Special Teams stand-out Tracy White signing with other teams has left the Patriots short on cover in the most important phase of the game. That resigning Marquice Cole and Will Allen for one year at the veteran minimum, means that the cupboard is not entirely bare. Not to mention three high picks, that could be used to add some more special teams stand-outs in the draft. Then another rare blip, as he gives up some team information, by lauding the particularly promising long snapper class.
That sees an end to the main flurry of activity, only broken up by a couple of veteran FAs signing minimum deals to compete in camp, and see if Belichick can revive their careers. And the tumbleweeds start to blow through the FA market ♫ ♪ to soothing chords, as all the attention and dramatic flair ♫ ♪, gets firmly fixed on the upcoming draft. It sadly becomes clear that for Myron Pryor and Josh Barrett, there will be no takers. They will wait eagerly by the phone all season, hoping for a call that will never come. While ruing the fact that they've conspired to make Ras-I Dowling look as tough and injury resistant as a titanium plated Wes Welker.
So what do you think? How realistic are the numbers and names, and is the story even vaguely interesting?
Director - Freemanator, Producer - Freemanator, Editor - Freemanator, Writer - Freemanator, Starring - Freemanator and some NFL luminaries, Based on the book by - Freemanator, Music Director - Freemanator, Visuals - Freemanator, Second Assistant to Freemanator - StudMuffin aka SMP, Chief Lackey #3 - Jack's Axe, Fact-checker (and therefore blame taker) - Marima, Back Up Grip - ISN, Tea Ladies Assistant - New Century Silver.
Special Thanks to everyone who contributed to the making of this show.