Andrew will be here in a few minutes to take your questions!
Good to be with everyone. Sorry about Friday, I had to do a SportsCenter question and answer regarding Peyton Manning, as I'm sure there will be questions here on the same topic. We had a great weekend of games. We have one more game and then it's all about the business of the NFL.
When you were working for an NFL team, how would the organization handle losing such tough games like the way the 49ers (a fumble) and Ravens (missed short field goal) did this past weekend?
These losses are so hard for fans and for the team itself. Having gone through it a couple of times as a Packer, you really realize later on how tough the loss really was, because you come to realize how fleeting these times are. No one knows with any level of certainty at all whether the Ravens or 49ers will get to this stage again. Even if they do, it's likely to be a completely different group of players. In my experience in Green Bay, we were at the doorstep one year at Philadelphia with the famous 4th and 26 play. And of course a couple of years ago when the Giants beat us at Lambeau with an OT field goal to go to the Super Bowl, just like yesterday. In the short term, the front offices of these teams will go to work and become immersed in decisions ahead for 2012. Long term, however, they'll look back at this time where they were so close, yet so far.
Manning's due all that money, there's no way he steps away from it, right? Despite what Rob Lowe says?
Despite our scoop reporter Rob Lowe, my sense is there are a lot of levels to this decision which will come out over the next 6 weeks. Again, to be as clear as I can, the Colts can exercise or not exercise the $28 million option on Manning in March. As it presently stands, if they do not, he will become a free agent. If they do, they will pay him for the option, plus 7.4 million for his 2012 salary, for 35.4 million for this year, to go along with the 26.4 million he made in 2011.
This will be a decision pulling at both the heart and head of Colts' owner Jim Irsay. To me, however, this decision seems clear, 1) the immense financial commitment to Manning; 2) the uncertain health of Manning, not a knee or shoulder, but the hard to evaluate neck adn 3) the extremely valuable talent in Andrew Luck. As hard as it is to part with the face of the franchise, these three circumstances would suggest that it's time to move forward.
The $35 million that the Colts would owe Manning is a lot of money, period. I would think even if he were healthy, they might try to re-work something with him, wouldn't they? That's a lot to pay a 35, 36 year old QB.
Yeah, I received a lot of questions about re-working the option, moving the option date, etc. But to me, it's hard to see why Manning, if asked, to move the date or re-structure the contract. He wants to know his future as soon as possible with the Colts. If it's not with the Colts, he would like to negotiate a new contract before teams make decisions about players for 2012. The contract was structured the way it is for a reason and it gives Manning leverage as far as timing, and I do not see why he would give that leverage away.
Andrew, it seems to me that the money involved in keeping Manning and drafting Luck is just way too much. Financially, I would think there is no way they can have both of these guys on the roster, right?
I would think it's unlikely and untenable. I get a lot of questions about the cap and cap numbers for these two players. Cap room can be massaged, as I know from my time in the NFL, and bonuses can be prorated. What can not be circumvented is cash. To pay Luck and Manning over $50 million puts enormous pressure on the rest of the roster. That's the cash aspect, not the cap aspect.
How do pro bowl bonuses work? Are they only to players initially selected or is it to all players?.....if it's to all players, are there teams that really hate having their players named as replacements, becuase they'll have to dole out the bonuses?
I'm not aware of any Pro Bowl bonuses for being replacements. In the contracts I've drafted, and I believe most teams draft, Pro Bowl bonuses are earned upon selection to the game on the "original ballot." In other words, Players do not receive such bonuses when they play in the game as alternates.
This does not mean those alternates don't get paid for playing in the game. They do. It's just that if they have incentives for the Pro Bowl, it's likely those incentives have language requiring original selection, rather than just playing.
Are teams able to negotiate with their own players right now or is there a window for that?
Teams are absolutely able to negotiate with their own players, as they're under contract until the end of February. I'm sure we'll see some extensions done as we approach the Super Bowl here in the next couple of weeks and in the next couple of weeks after that.
The Colts have one interesting QB situation, but I think another interesting situation is brewing in Green Bay with Matt Flynn....is there any way the Packers can get compensation for him, considering he's a free agent?
Besides Manning, this is a very intriguing situation with a lot of layers. Flynn will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning the only way the Packers can get any compensation is to sign him to an extension in the next 6 weeks or to franchise tag him. The tag would mean he gets $6 million more than Aaron Rodgers would be scheduled to make. I feel tagging him is unlikely. I don't see the Packers giving him the leverage of a one-year 14.5 million contract, which they would be stuck with if they were unable to work out a trade that works well for the team. My sense is that he will become a free agent. He will have a few teams bidding for his services and sign an impressive contract.
The rookie payscale is going to be the same no matter when these underclassmen come out, so wouldn't it make more sense for them to go back to school to try and improve their draft stock, so they can get more from their initial contract?
You can argue that both ways. We have had the most underclassmen declare for the draft in the last 10 years. You can also say players are perhaps coming into the NFL sooner because they know they have restricted earnings for their first four years and they want to get to that second contract at the youngest age that they can.
Andrew, how well will Joe Philbin be able to turn around the Dolphins? I can imagine that it is difficult for a new coach to just step in and have all of the players on board
I'm honestly biased. I worked with Joe for 5 years in Green Bay from 2003-08. He is a highly intelligent and highly skilled offensive coach. He will gain the respect of his players and he will be a solid leader for the Dolphins. Having said that, they have a lot of work to do. Most importantly, they have to solidify the QB position. There will certainly be rumors of Matt Flynn to Miami with his relationship with Joe. But we need to let all of that play out. A lot of people have called me asking me about Joe, including people in the NFL. I give him the highest recommendation.
With the rookie salary cap, and teams not doling out big $$ to high draft picks, do you think we could see the return of teams drafting QBs and letting them sit a year or two?
I think so. I think what you're saying is there is less pressure to put a player in when he's not making 30, 40, 50 million guaranteed. Having said that, I think every situation is different. Look at the immediate success of Andy Dalton, Cam Newton. That might lead to a different tact. Ultimately, a big part of coaching in the NFL now is getting young players ready to play. I think the days are gone of long apprenticeships. It's a young man's game and the rosters of the NFL are getting younger every year.
What teams are known for having the best capologists?
I certainly don't want to leave anyone out, because I respect everyone that does that unsung work. I do think Green Bay does a good job and I hope that I gave them a good foundation during the time I was there. Off the top of my head, teams like Philadelphia, New England, Chicago and San Diego do nice work.
Saw your tweet on how invisible Crabtree was yesterday. What would you say his upside is at this point, a #2 WR at best?
Thanks for noticing the Tweet. I was shaking my head at how this top 10 pick was largely invisible on the biggest stage yesterday. I remembered that 2009 draft when he was picked ahead of Jeremy Maclin, Hakeem Nicks, Percy Harvin, Kenny Britt. I also remember the long hold out he had. To whether he can be a top receiver, my sense is that Jim Harbaugh runs a tight ship out there and this is going to be a key offseason for Michael Crabtree. Not knowing the whole situation, there seems like there is no dedication that's needed there to realize his full potential.
Great questions, as always. The NFL is about to get very interesting, beyond the Super Bowl. I'll be back soon to answer more questions. You can always check out what I'm saying by following me on Twitter: @ADBrandt. See you next time.