Welcome every. Good to be back for my weekly chat. Ad you the the refs kept me busy this week. I'm happy to talk about how it happened as we getting ready for Week 4. Fire away!
With the labor and officials CBAs under control, does the NFL now have to face the concussion issue head on?
Now that there's labor peace with the two major groups for a long time - the NFL players under contract for 10 years and the refs for eight years - all is peaceful. There are over 3,000 plaintiffs circling the NFL in a Philadelphia court. The issue for the NFL right now isn't so much dealing with this in court as it will take years for that to happen, but dealing the PR from former players suffering from mental and physical injuries they say they've received from playing in the NFL. I don't think these cases will go far for the plaintiffs due to player's assumption of risk and collectively bargained agreement. But once the case gets to court, you never know and the NFL will have some issues with the discovery request as well. As you know, there is no rest for the NFL even though the ref's labor dispute was resolved this week.
What did you think of Gene Steratore & his Crew Officiating the Browns-Ravens Game on Thursday Night?
I think they stepped into he most advantageous situation for refs in the history of football. Whatever crew was going to officiate that game was going to receive a hero's welcome and was going to look like the best refs in America after three weeks of replacement refs. I'm no expert in that field but I think they did a great job last night. As I said in writing and on TV this week, the replacement refs backfired on the NFL. They clearly thought that using replacements, the league would show refs are expendable and easily replaced. Obviously that wasn't true. I thought the dispute was intruding and the fact that the regular refs had other jobs gave them leverage to sit out and wait for another deal.
How long do you think the good will toward the refs will last? Perhaps the first close call to someone's favorite team on Sunday?
Until the first controversial call. No seriously, I think there is and will continue to be an appreciation of the ref perhaps unlike there ever has been. What the regular officials said has turned out to be true. They said replacements wouldn't be about to handle the speed and the nuances of the NFL and as you saw they couldn't.
Are both Ray Rice and Joe Flaco on their last year? If so how as a Front office person do you handle that during the year? You know you can't franchise both.
Ray Rice signed a new contract this summer and Flacco is in the last year of his contract. Teams try to stagger their bigger players in contact negations and that's what the Ravens have tried to do here. The Flacco negations have been ongoing for quite a while and I believe the two sides disagree as to his value and where he fits. Of course the Ravens have the weapon of next year's franchise tag should they choose to use it and that is a valuable weapon. Ray Rice was signed off a franchise tenure last summer. The Flacco situation is true worth watching.
When should the Packers start talking extension with Rodgers, Matthews, Raji and Jennings?
This is like the previous question in terms of staggering negations. As you note, the Packers have some serious staggering to do. Jennings is the most pressing as his contract is up this year but there doesn't seem to be movement in those talks. My thoughts are the Packers will talk with Rodgers before next season and Matthews and Raji over the next couple of seasons. The Packers have these problems because they selected very good players which is a good thing.
The Patriots seem to be trying to phase out Wes Welker. Would you say that is to lower the interest from other teams after this year, so the Pats could re-sign him, or would it be to prove that they don't need him after this season? By the way, it looks like they need him.
I did see that Welker had a big game the other day so I'm not sure about the phase out. On the other hand he's playing on a one-year franchise tag as he and the team were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal. When I see that, I don't see the Pats agreeing on a long-term deal with another year of wear and tear under Welker's belt. From the outside, I don't see the Pats signing him to a deal but that depends on what Welker's demands are.
Thanks again for all the great questions. Feel free to check out my two new columns on the NFL page. I'll be tweeting regularly about all this stuff so follow me - @ADBrandt. See you same time, same place next week.