Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 2

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Turn On The Jets Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly breaks it down with Part 2 of his NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale. In case you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out Here, for a full explanation of each category. Also, make sure you are following Mike on twitter: @TheMikeDonnelly, along with the rest of the TOJ Staff. - CG

Magnitude: 6 – 6.9 – “Strong” (Can be destructive)

6.0 – Salary Cap Violations against Redskins and Cowboys- This was a pretty important story that kind of got swept under the rug, but these two teams were hit hard for supposedly cheating the system during the uncapped season. The Redskins were docked a whopping $36 million in cap space (spread over two seasons), while the Cowboys were docked $10 million. For two teams that play in the same division as Super Bowl champion New York Giants, that’s a major disadvantage. At least last time Mike Shanahan cheated the salary cap, he got two rings out of it. This time? Not so lucky.

6.6 – Calvin Johnson signs 7 year / $132 million extension with $60m guaranteed- Megatron wasn’t a free agent who could have left Detroit or anything, but any time a player shatters the previous record for highest contract ever, it certainly can cause damage around the league. Not only will Calvin be playing to prove he’s worthy of it and continue to dominate defenses on the field, but now off the field every player is going to try to surpass this deal when their time comes. Could be big trouble.

6.7 – Mario Williams signs with the Bills- The only reason Mario’s 6 year / $100 million contract with $50m guaranteed is rated slightly higher than Calvin’s is because Mario was actually a free agent, welcome to sign with any team he chose. And for some reason, he chose to live in Buffalo for the next 6 years.

On the field, this gives them a potentially dynamic defense with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Nick Barnett, and rookie Stephon Gilmore. Oh, and yes, the Jets are planning on blocking him with Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. Should be fine.

Magnitude: 7 – 7.9 – “Major” (Can cause serious damage)

7.0 – NFL suspends 4 Saints players for roles in “Bountygate” – (To be clear, this is JUST the impact of the player suspensions, not the bounty scandal as a whole). Jonathan Vilma (1 year), Anthony Hargrove (8 games), Will Smith (4 games), and Scott Fujita (3 games) all had the hammer dropped on them by Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the bounty scandal, where they intentionally tried to injure opposing offensive players. Vilma got the harshest penalty, because he was found to be the one offering up cash rewards for injury inducing hits. Such harsh punishments show that Goodell means business and there is now a precedent set for future infractions. This is a big deal. In terms of this season’s impact on the field, it’s pretty big, but not Vince Wilfork big. Vilma is a shell of the player he used to be, Hargrove is now a backup for Green Bay, and Fujita was never that great to begin with. Smith’s absence will hurt the Saints, but they’ll get by.

7.2 – Tim Tebow traded to the Jets – While I was publicly against this trade, it is undeniable how big of an impact this move will have. Had this been graded strictly on his play on the field, it would be in the 5.0 range (or a -1.5 if based only on his passing), but there is so much more when it comes to Tim Tebow. The media attention, the scrutiny, his impact in the locker room and on Mark Sanchez, the off the field nonsense, and the fact that the possible Messiah will now be in the world’s greatest city is all enough to push this into the 7’s. If he runs in more than a few touchdowns and helps the Jets win a lot of games, this can easily register an even greater impact.

7.3 – Terrell Suggs tears Achilles tendon – Yikes. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year and unquestionably the most important player on the league’s most imposing defense tears his Achilles in May, likely knocking him out for the season. That’s a pretty major deal. Suggs claims he’ll be back in October, but logic seems to dictate otherwise. If Suggs is out for the season, or even severely limited upon his return, a Super Bowl contender takes a major step back. Unless of course Joe Flacco actually plays like the league’s best quarterback, which he hilariously claimed to be this offseason. (You read that right. He really said that.)

Magnitude: 8 – 9.9 – “Great” (Can be devastating) 

8.0 – Redskins trade three 1st-Round picks, one 2nd round pick for Robert Griffin III – If you’re saying that’s an awful lot to trade, give yourself a prize, because you are correct. The Redskins have been desperate for a franchise quarterback for a very long time now, and after the Shanahans (Mike and Kyle) hilariously thought they could make chicken soup out of chicken sh– err, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, they needed to make a splash and get one of the best QB prospects to come out in years. Redskins fans finally have some hope as the RG3 era begins. Rarely do you see a player carry the entire weight of a franchise on his shoulders, but that’s what RG3 is doing here. Tough situation to be in.

8.5 – NFL Suspends Saints Coaches and Executives for roles in “Bountygate” – (As with the players section, this is strictly about the impact of the suspensions on the coaches and executives) A case could be made that no coach in the NFL has more of an impact on his team than Sean Payton does with the Saints. It’s as if he and Drew Brees share a brain out there. If Brees is the driver of the luxury automobile that is the Saints offense, then Payton is the engineer who specifically tailored every nook and cranny to fit Brees and the rest of the personnel to a T. Well, none of that will be happening in 2012, as Payton was given a full year suspension and is forbidden from contact with the team. Yikes.

Joining him on the couch this year is the new (and now former) St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was allegedly the mastermind of the whole bounty program. Williams was given an indefinite suspension and may never be allowed to return to the league. Good riddance. Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt was unable to escape punishment either, and was given a 6 game ban. General Manager Mickey Loomis was given 8 games. So if you’re scoring at home, the Saints decision maker (Loomis) is gone half the season, the Head Coach (Payton) is out for the entire season, and the guy replacing him (Vitt) is also missing 6 games. Yeah, this is going to have a pretty big impact on the Saints and the league in general.

9.0 – Junior Seau’s Suicide – In a truly sad story, legendary linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2nd. The motives are still currently unknown, but it very likely was the final call for help from the former player. This tale is sadly becoming all too prevalent amongst former players, and his death is hopefully going to be the wakeup call the league and players everywhere need. The sad truth is, many of these men are unprepared for life after football both physically and mentally. Things in the NFL are going to change in a big way going forward, and that’s why this gets such a high score.

Magnitude: 10+  “Massive” (Never recorded, widespread devastation)

10.0 – Colts cut Peyton Manning, draft Andrew Luck #1 overall - Never before has a team had a “once in a generation” player run their team for 14 years, then cut that player and be in a position to get the next “once in a generation player” that very same year. Think about this: Peyton Manning led this Colts team to the playoffs 9 consecutive seasons before he was knocked out of the entire 2011 season due to injury. In that time, he won a Super Bowl, played in another, won a whopping four MVP awards, and won at least 10 games in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter. Not only that, but without him in 2011 the team, with largely the same players, went from 10 wins in 2010 and a division title to 2 wins and the #1 overall draft pick. Wow. You can see why many consider him to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but if anybody can do it, it’s probably Andrew Luck. The Stanford product is considered to be the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since–you guessed it– Peyton Manning. Over the last 30 years only Manning, Troy Aikman, and John Elway were considered such sure-things. That’s some pretty excellent company for young Mr. Luck. He’ll take his lumps early in his career on this poor team, but before long he will make Colts fans realize they made the right decision by cutting the legend for the young buck. There’s a very good chance you’ll never see a scenario like this unfold again.

10.0 – Broncos sign legendary QB Peyton Manning, trade possible Messiah- I could have lumped this one in with the last one, but it deserves its own section. How many times are you going to see a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback, perhaps the best of all time, who likely still has a few seasons left, come available in free agency? The answer is never. But that’s exactly what we saw happen this year, and the Broncos were the lucky winners of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. That alone makes this worthy of a 10, but when you add the Tim Tebow factor, it really goes off the charts. When have we ever seen a player (who may or may not have magical powers) become so simultaneously beloved, hated, respected, worshipped, and criticized, lead a team to a playoff win, become a local hero, then get dumped by that team after his second year in the league because a legend like Peyton freakin’ Manning was signed to take his place? I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. This Peyton Manning thing has had major implications for three NFL teams: the Colts, Broncos, and Jets. It’s rare you see such a wild chain of events, but we did. And that’s why this gets a 10.

10.0 – Dolphins sign Jamaal Westerman – Just kidding.

10.0 – BountyGate – We’ve already covered the coaches and players getting suspended, but the “BountyGate” scandal is far bigger than any individual players or coaches. We are talking about one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, where players and coaches were rewarded with money bonuses for purposely injuring opposing players. That is reprehensible, and something we have never seen before (and hopefully never see again). This is the kind of thing that causes major changes in the league, and Roger Goodell has shown he isn’t taking this stuff lightly any longer. This was a major story, not just for the Saints, but for the NFL as a whole, and that’s why this gets a 10 spot.

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