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Saturday, April 16, 2011
NFC North weekend mailbag

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

No fanfare.

No quotes.

No song lyrics.

(We had our fun a few hours ago.)

Just some hardcore mailbagging.

Access is granted via the mailbag, Facebook and Twitter.

Zac of Sidelionreport.com writes: Interesting factoid I realized today that I don't remember coming up: Matthew Stafford is about the same age as current draft prospects Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton. Hard to argue that his first two years in the NFL have been wastes considering he will go through next season as just a 23-year-old.

Kevin Seifert: Indeed, as Zac noted in his accompanying blog post, Stafford turned 23 on Feb. 7. He's 15 months older than Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, four months older than Arkansas' Mallett, 18 days older than Florida State's Ponder and is actually younger than TCU's Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

Stafford didn't redshirt at Georgia and left after his junior year, making him barely 21 when the Lions drafted him April 2009. His first two seasons have been most notable for the number of injuries he's suffered, but it's comforting to know that his early entrance to the NFL has paid at least one dividend. He's two years ahead in exposure to the NFL game and way of life than he would have been had had spent the maximum five years at Georgia instead of three.

On the other side of the spectrum -- and yes, leave it to me to find a pocket of cynicism -- Stafford is behind some of the quarterbacks he entered the league with as well as some that came after him. If for no other reason than their health, Mark Sanchez (New York Jets), Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams) have made more of their NFL careers thus far.


Craig of Braintree notes our coverage of the NFL's potential rookie wage scale and writes: I'm for allowing teams to lock rookies in for five years but the pay should be flexible each year. A judge should decide between a team's offer and the player's offer like baseball.

Kevin Seifert: Craig is proposing arbitration for the NFL. Generally speaking, players with at least three accrued seasons (and fewer than six) can file for arbitration by proposing their salary for the following season. The team also proposes a salary. An arbitrator listens to arguments and chooses a "winner" if the sides can't compromise first.

According to the NFL's proposal, only rookies drafted in the first round would be locked in for five years. The league has circulated information suggesting the average career span of a first-round pick is 9.3 years.

But I think Craig's point is a valid one. Traditionally, a player's most lucrative contract is his second. It comes when he still has the projected physical capacity to perform at a high level for several years to come, and generally it comes no later than the fourth year of his career. Locking players in to five years of a rookie deal could diminish the value of their second contracts.

Ultimately, I hope that five-year number is negotiable. I'd prefer to see it lower rather than go to an arbitration system. In baseball, arbitration is an awkward and confrontational process dreaded by both sides.


Daniel of New Mexico notes my request for suggestions should Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson be matched up in the finals of ESPN.com's tournament to determine the cover of 'Madden 12.' Daniel writes: "The "Epicenter of Inanity" has a better ring to it."

Kevin Seifert: NOTHING is inane in a lockout. See for yourself.


Via Twitter, Jdub300C asks if a completely canceled season would push back the expiration of the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome.

Kevin Seifert: The last time I checked on this issue, I was flatly told no. The lease is set to expire on Feb. 1, 2012, whether or not the Vikings play their full slate of games this season. I suppose that an enterprising government attorney could go back and scour the lease for loopholes, but as of now none has been found.


Roy of Hampton, Va., writes: Kevin, as a Packer fan I have been seeing Danny Watkins and Brooks Reed pop up on the radar. The odd thing is that I am seeing them in round 1 and round 2 mocks. Some have them going as high as 25 and as low as 64 for the Pack. Do you see these prospects as round 1 picks or will the be available in round 2.Theve projected all over and I need the official word!

Kevin Seifert: Watkins is a guard from Baylor, while Reed is a defensive end/linebacker from Arizona. For what it's worth, Scouts Inc. has given each player a grade of 89, which by definition is a late first-round grade. Slides occur every year, but if the Packers want to draft either player, they'll need to take him at No. 32 or trade up in the second round. It would seem unlikely either Watkins or Reed would be available at No. 64.


Via Twitter, Packers linebacker Nick Barnett notes the mini-story that emerged when Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen said he was kicked off a high school practice field this week. Writes Barnett: Whats big deal about Greg olsen getting Locked out of a school If that was my kids school I would want the same Don't want no grown man dere.

Kevin Seifert: Yikes. We could go in plenty of directions after that one. But let's just agree that, indeed, this story wasn't that big of a deal.