NFC West: Clayton Show

710ESPN Seattle audio: Clayton Show

July, 28, 2013
Good morning, NFC West. I've wrapped up a three-day stint at Seattle Seahawks camp and am en route to see the Arizona Cardinals for the same duration. Our first "Camp Confidential" piece of the 2013 season will focus on the Seahawks and run on the blog in the coming days. I've been gathering for that piece while in camp with Seattle. Here's a link to our equivalent pieces from last summer.

Before leaving Seattle, I joined ESPN's John Clayton for a 710ESPN Seattle discussion on subjects around the NFC West.

John asked whether the Tarell Brown situation in San Francisco would tick off 49ers players. Brown unknowingly forfeited a $2 million contract escalator when he failed to show for the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program. Since speaking with John, I asked a retired NFL player how he would feel in such a situation. He said he would have been ticked off at the team and especially with his agent. But he also said Brown shared responsibility for the miscue.

Clayton noted that a 49ers cornerback was losing money unnecessarily just as another cornerback from the division, Brandon Browner of Seattle, was accepting a raise. Browner, entering the final year of a deal that was set to pay him well below market for a starting corner, labeled the pay increase "a good gesture" by the team. Would such a contrast matter to 49ers players?

As Clayton and I discussed, the 49ers have done a good job rewarding key players. They have reached contract extensions with Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Vernon Davis, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and others when several of those players had time remaining on their previous deals. The 49ers have also decided against paying some players. Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker come to mind. And if the team lets Brown walk after pocketing the $2 million he was scheduled to receive, some might consider that unfortunate.

In the end, Brown and his agent were the ones ultimately responsible for knowing the requirements of his contract. Should the 49ers have tipped him off? It would have been a nice gesture, but that wasn't their obligation.
Most NFL teams lament injuries and personnel departures. The really good ones also welcome fresh opportunities for unestablished players to fill the voids.

The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are far enough along in their roster development to fall into that group. As disappointing as it must have been for the 49ers to lose top receiver Michael Crabtree, the injury created additional opportunities for younger players such as A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette. The 49ers are excited to see how those players perform. Jenkins was a first-round draft choice, after all. Patton was a fourth-rounder. Lockette counts as a project. The 49ers' current leadership and coaching staff acquired each of those three players. They're invested in those players' success.

The St. Louis Rams might have more question marks than any team in the NFC West simply because they have so many young players. In this case, the Rams would much prefer the unknown to the known, which in the past was too frequently a roster filled with players lacking in great potential.

For example, the wide receivers on the Rams' roster have combined for 110 career regular-season receptions. Austin Pettis leads the way with 57. Chris Givens has 42. Brian Quick has 11. None of the other wideouts on the roster has caught even one pass in a real game. And the Rams haven't been more excited about their prospects at the position in a long time.

So, when we see the glass half empty at some positions, that is fair. We should just remember that the teams might see something different entirely. I raised that point among others during a conversation with ESPN's John Clayton on 710ESPN Seattle. Thanks to producer Liz Mathews for posting the audio .