Friday, March 30, 2007

Brady Quinn

is coming to Redskin Park. It is pretty clear that the Redskins are not really sold on JC. If they were, there is no way that they would be wasting their time talking to JaMarcus and Q.

Brady Quinn = Heath Shuler = Rick Mirer

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Redskins Bringing in JaMarcus

The Redskins are going to be hosting JaMarcus Russell on April 10 at Redskin Park. Nice way to transition to the Campbell era. I am sure Campbell is just fine knowing that there is enough interest in JaMarcus to actually have him come in for an interview.

An Argument to Trade Briggs

Trib columnist Don Pierson's arguments are pretty convincing that the Bears should make the trade and get rid of Briggs. The Bears should ask for Rocky McIntosh to be thrown in - I'm sure the Redskins would do it. They don't have any need for the guy if the trade goes through.

I am now becoming increasingly convinced that the Bears should trade Briggs. Ship him off to the Redskins and let them worry about having a greedy bugger. The Bears could take a top-notch D-lineman or trade down and still get a solid linebacker, safety, or O- or D-lineman.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Iraqi Justice

Another example of "freedom on the march" and "progress" in Iraq. Shiite death squads which included policemen went on a killing rampage in Tal Afar. Apparently, the rampage which resulted in the executions of at least 70 Sunni men, stemmed from truck bombings which killed 80 folks.

Fan Satisfaction Rankings

ESPN asked fans to rank the teams in the four major team sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) on a variety of items.

The Bears finished with an overall ranking of 50 out of 122 teams. The Redskins were 108.

Of particular note, the affordability rankings were #95 for the Bears and #120 for the Redskins. But then, on the "bang for your buck" item the Bears were at #26 and the Redskins #100. The point is that the Redskins are just about the most expensive team and does not offer a very good product for the money it takes from the fans. The Bears are relatively expensive, but they put out a good product.

Is Drew Rosenhaus in the Redskin Front Office?

Just to follow up on the Sun-Times report that the Bears did get a formal trade offer from the Redskins for Briggs, ESPN also reported it. However, the Bears felt that the fact that Danny Boy and "No Comment" worked together and made the trade offer in the media was foolish.

Quoting from John Clayton's piece on the subject:

"They [the Bears] think it was unprofessional for the Redskins to team up with Briggs' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and try to make a public trade offer without talking to them first."

What else is new? The Redskins' front office is a joke.

McCain - Now Supports Gay Marriage

No not really. But, here is a good case for knowing what you are doing on the Internet before doing it. Apparently McCain wanted to "get hip" and put up a MySpace page. But what his web folks did was copy and paste (without attribution) another person's page. The page was pulling up images from this other page (again without attribution).

So, the original owner of the images decided to play a little prank on McCain. One of the images was changed to make it seem as if McCain was now in favor of gay marriage. So when McCain's page pulled up the image (without attribution), it showed up on McCain's MySpace page and made him look like an idiot.

Redskins Have Formally Made a Trade Offer

It seems hardly believable, but the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Redskins have made a formal trade offer to the Bears for Briggs. They will take Briggs and switch first round draft positions (#6 for #31). Apparently, they have whipped up $20M in guaranteed money in order to pacify Briggs.

The Bears are not in a hurry, so I would expect that nothing will get done until next week. They will wait to see if they can trade the #6 down for picks and players or if the Redskins will sweeten the deal.

I am completely dumbfounded by the foolishness of the Redskins front office. But, I guess I shouldn't be. They have continually made dumb decisions in the past. This would just be another one.

Eddie Griffin Can't Drive

The guy destroyed the $1 million Ferrari that he was driving on a race track. If you haven't seen the video go to CNN.com, MSNBC.com, or YouTube.com and you can see it for yourself.

The car's owner was pretty nonchalant, which I found amazing.

Bushie's Looming Choice

The House and the Senate are now both on record as supporting a timetable to the latest supplemental war funding bills. Congress will provide more than $100 billion, but will attach a March 2008 deadline for the removal of U.S. combat troops. Any U.S. military presence a year from now will be to provide training to Iraqi soldiers and for special ops that are trying to root out al Qaeda in Iraq. The overwhelming majority of troops will leave Iraq - finally.

Yesterday the Senate narrowly voted in favor of the timetable. Basically the Republican Senators have decided that if Bushie wants to veto the bill that is up to him, but they don't want to hold up legislation with a filibuster that would fund the troops and bring an end to the increasingly unpopular and unnecessary military commitment.

Bushie now has a choice - veto the bill and the funding for the troops. Or accept the bill and work with Congress to end his war in Iraq.

The bottom line is this: There are no good options for Iraq - Bushie has ensured this with his incompetence. Iraq is not a genuine democracy and will not be. The people and politicians in Iraq have to decide what they want their country to be. It cannot be decided by THE DECIDER or anyone else in Washington.

Rumors Are Floating

Good old Vinny. He says that the Redskins "don't comment on rumors." But it looks like there is some validity to the Briggs trade rumors - at least the two sides are communicating. Gibbs confirmed this.

The Bears are not in a hurry and don't have to do anything with Briggs. I am sure that the Bears are carefully considering options. They may be looking at who they would pick #6. They are probably on the phone trying to work out potential deals if they get the #6. If they get a deal that works for them, they will make the trade. It still seems unlikely, but who knows.

Rosenhaus is now saying that Briggs won't sit out the whole year. He will come back and play in week 11. That way he can play the last 6 games of the year and get credit for playing a season under the franchise tag. Gee thanks. I am sure Briggs will be appreciated by his teammates. Trib columnist Rick Morrissey has a column today that probably captures the feelings of many Bears fans. Basically, he says let Briggs rot.

I cannot believe the Redskins are not just turning and running. Briggs will be an expensive malcontent. I am hoping more and more he ends as Washington's problem.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NFL Draft Point System

The NFL has a point system that they use to rate all draft picks to establish the value of each pick. All teams reference this chart when it comes to deciding on trades for picks.

As an example of how the NFL uses the chart, let's take the rumored Briggs trade to the Redskins that would include a swap of first round picks.

The #6 pick in the draft has a point value of 1600. The #31 pick has a point value of 600. Thus, if one uses the point system, the 1000 points is what Briggs is worth. Basically, that means he is worth the #16 pick in the draft straight up. Seems about right to me.

I am sure the point system is based on crunching numbers for years of data of how the various picks have performed in the NFL. That said, it is not perfect because in reality, there are always gems that emerge from later rounds and I don't like to part with picks.

My hope is that the Redskins will be so keen on making a splash with the signing of Briggs that they will be willing to give up more. For example, if they were to accept the Bears third round pick, they would be giving up 1600 points for 1120 points (assuming Briggs is worth the 16th pick). Obviously that would be better for the Bears. Let's see what happens.

Briggs to Redskins?

In a meeting between Jerry Angelo and disgruntled linebacker Lance Briggs, the Bears offered to remove the franchise tag after this year if Briggs would agree to provide full commitment to the team this year and take the $7.2M. He refused.

Briggs' agent, "No Comment," claimed that the Redskins were willing to trade the #6 pick for Briggs and the #31 pick.

It is not a bad trade because the #6 pick would likely result in a very good starting player, and it gives them some value for a player who won't be around next year. Still, in my opinion, the Bears shouldn't do the deal - at least not yet. They should squeeze Snyder and try to negotiate a straight up trade - Briggs for the #6 pick. The Redskins would get a young, productive Pro Bowl player and they could try to find a way to pay the man. The Bears would get a younger, unproven stud prospect. If the Bears do need to package up a pick to make it work, then they should negotiate sending their third round pick.

I like Briggs, but I firmly believe he is a good system linebacker that benefits from playing next to Urlacher. I'd love to see him try to become "The Man" in Redskins Nation. It would be interesting to see how good he is on his own. I would also love to see how much the Redskins would tie up with Briggs - especially given that they just guaranteed $10.5M to Fletcher-Baker.

Personally, I don't understand why the Redskins are even considering the trade given that they have no D-line, signed Fletcher-Baker, and traded up last year to draft Rocky. Unless Rocky is a bust and they think they wasted their 2nd round pick last year (which wouldn't surprise me), it really doesn't make any sense.

I do hope they work something out - but want to see the Bears take advantage of a stupid, stupid Danny Boy who has shown in the past that he is willing to give up too much. Briggs could successfully whine himself out of Chicago and find himself on a bad team in Washington - but at least he would be paid. It certainly would make the Bears-Redskins game this year just a bit more interesting.

Monday, March 26, 2007

NCAA Bracket Busted (Again)

So my picks for this year's Final Four and Championship game flew out the window this weekend. The first weekend was great for my picks, but this weekend was a disaster.

It looks like Florida is the strongest team left, but Georgetown plays the "Princeton offense" and gets tons of layups. Ohio State has had some bad stretches in games and has had to fight its way back in several games. To be honest, I don't know enough about UCLA to really comment.

I have never been any good at picking winners in the NCAAs. I have only beaten my wife with my picks one time in the 13 years we have been married. This year was the second year that my 7 year old daughter filled out a bracket on her own and she did better than me.

Bears' Player Signings

Couple of nice personnel moves over the weekend.

Bears re-signed Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown for 1 year.

They also signed defensive tackle Anthony Adams and safety Tyrone Carter. These guys just add a bit of depth.

Foreclosures on Rise

As I have been saying on this blog from time to time, interest rates are set to rise given the enormous debt that we have to finance through foreign investors. All of the folks who overextended themselves and used ARMs are no seeing the effects of rising rates on their home mortgages. They cannot keep up and trouble is looming.

In my neighborhood, I can see that there has been a decline in home values of about $100,000 from just over a year ago. That will further compound the problem because people who face the threat of losing their homes, will not be able to sell their homes for enough to cover their loans.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Briggs and Arch in Chicago

Looks like Briggs and his super agent, "No Comment" Rosenhaus, are making even bigger fools of themselves. "No Comment" was out and about saying that Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco were all interested in Briggs. Seattle and Washington explicitly denied those comments. It is possible that San Francisco is interested, but seems unlikely given their spending so far. Briggs got slapped down by Rod Woodson in an interview on NFL Network for even thinking about sitting out the year and giving up the guaranteed $7.2M. Look, I say he is entitled to ask for whatever he wants. But the bottom line is that the Bears hold all the cards and with him making a big stink he is not helping the situation, the Bears, or himself.

Briggs is a very good linebacker, and there is no doubt he is a tackling machine. But he is not really a game changer like Urlacher, and I suspect that if/when he plays without Urlacher his stats will dramatically drop.

Arch seemed supremely confident in his press conference yesterday, and there is no question that he is happier being reunited with Lovie and Bob Babich. If he is used properly, and he performs, the Bears defense will be greatly improved. Once the draft is done, the Bears will work on extending some of their guys, but at least right now, the Bears look like they will be in great shape to defend their NFC crown.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Arch's Contract

La Canfora wrote that it was actually 3 years at $7.1M. The extra million bucks can be earned in incentives. Pretty good deal for the Bears - little risk and good upside. Certainly, worth a 6th round pick.

Some Bear Bashing

Here Redskin fans, take heart, there is someone out there who thinks the Bears have had the worst offseason in the whole NFL (so far). Of course, when we win the NFC North and are playing in the NFC Championship game again, this won't matter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Help is on the Way Redskin Fans!

Omar Stoutmire's back! Super Bowl here we come!

The Redskins are paying $500,000 of Arch's bonus, so he is going to count $4.5M against this year's cap. As a 10-year vet who signed a vet minimum salary, Stoutmire is going to cost the Redskins something like $800,000 toward the cap. Is Stoutmire so much of an improvement over Arch? And, is it worth $5.3M of the cap this year (Arch would have counted $2.4M if they just kept him)?

The Redskins started about $9.3M under the cap before this change in safeties. Now they are going to be about $6.4M under the cap. It is getting a little tight, given they have the #6 pick in the draft and still have some significant needs.

Redskin fans, you want to know what is even better? Due to all of the restructurings that have pushed some of the cap problems to future years, currently, the 2008 cap figure stands at about $124M. So, yet again, no matter what happens this year, we can look forward to a lot of turnover in 2008. If you think this is a good way to build a winner, then you have fallen for Danny Boy's foolishness.

Danny Boy Bashing . . .

from La Canfora and the Redskin fans. Man, La Canfora really ripped into Danny Boy and the Redskins organization with his long blog entry today. The interesting thing is that it appears that the fans that posted comments are largely in agreement.

Archuleta is a Bear

Sure enough, the trade went through. Archuleta is now a Bear. It looks like he renegotiated his contract to facilitate the trade. I'm looking forward to seeing the details and the impacts to both the Bears' and Redskins' cap numbers - I am sure I will post more as I get the details.

The Bears get a guy they wanted last year, at a far cheaper price than they would have paid last year. The Bears will pay Arch $8.1M over 3 years with $5M guaranteed. I have no doubt that Lovie has a clear plan of how to use Arch that allows him to play to his strengths. He provides some depth at a position that has been thinned out by the losses of free agents Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell.

So, the Redskins got a 6th round pick in exchange for a guy they gave a a $35M contract to last year. Another disasterous player personnel error for the Redskins.

You can also compare the Smoot deal to Arch's deal in some ways. The Redskins have given Smoot $21M with $7M guaranteed, over 5 years. Both guys are coming off years in which they were benched. Obviously, the Bears have committed far less. We'll see which team gets a better value for their investment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Arch is Going to be a Bear

It looks like the Bears are going to trade a mid-round conditional pick for Arch. The Redskins have to fix his contract so that they can soften the enormous cap hit they are going to take. It will probably still end up with the Redskins taking a total of $9M in dead cap space, but they will spread it out.

Lovie knows how to use Arch and will resurrect his career in Chicago and Redskin fans will yet again see that their organization doesn't know what it is doing. They paid too much for the guy, and then they didn't even know how to use him. He was the highest paid safety in the history of the NFL when he signed the contract, but then because the Redskins couldn't use him on defense, he became the highest paid personal punt team protector in NFL history. The great part is that the way Arch's base salary is structured, it will only cost the Bears $600,000 against their cap this year - that is what his base salary is for 2007.

Growing Economic Power of China

The global economic power of China is astounding. They are holding $1 trillion in currency reserves and as I have mentioned in the past. Unlike the U.S. which is now operating under huge deficits (thank you Bushie and the former Republican Congress), China has established itself as a world superpower and enjoys enormous surpluses.

One of the main reasons we have maintained lower interest rates is because they have had a voracious appetite for buying up U.S. debt. They currently hold $354 billion in U.S. treasury notes. But, they have been indicating for some time that they want to cut their exposure to U.S. debt and are looking at other investments. When that happens and they choose not to fund our deficits and debt, interest rates will rise and the dollar will further devalue. There is no question that it will have a significant impact on the U.S. economy.

What Tank Does in Prison

If you are interested - the Sun-Times wrote up Tank Johnson's schedule in jail.

Redskins Front Office Turnover?

La Canfora threw out some of the rumors that are floating around Redskin Park about some potential changes in the front office. Could it be that Vinny and the Redskin scouts may be out of a job soon? Doesn't seem likely given the draft is only about a month away. If it doesn't happen soon (i.e., this week), there won't be any benefit toward this year's draft and the impact will be greatly diminished.

The reality is that Danny Boy is the GM and seems to have become the team's talent evaluator. Firing Vinny and/or some scouts won't serve any purpose without taking Danny Boy down and putting in someone who actually knows what the heck he/she is doing.

I would love to see Danny Boy and Gibbsy's draft board and how they are putting it together. I would also love to know how many guys they actually know something about that is not in Mel Kiper's $26.95 draft book.

Monday, March 19, 2007

4 Years in Iraq

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. We are no longer at war - rather, we are occupying a Muslim country that does not want us there. Our soldiers are largely providing security services for an inept and corrupt fledgling Iraqi government that is more closely tied to Iranian interests than to U.S. interests.

For our troubles, there is no stability, we have committed over $400 billion and are spending about $2-$3 billion per week. Worst of all, we have lost 3,200 American soldiers.

Oh yeah, and to top it all off, Osama is laughing it up somewhere in the world. As of today, he has been free for 2015 days since 9/11. We are told he is sitting in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but we really don't know. He may be enjoying himself in a palace somewhere in the Middle East, or living in a condo in San Diego. We have no real idea.

Valerie Plame was a Covert Agent . . .

when she was outed by Bush Administration leaks.

I cannot believe there are still some right-wingers out there who do not believe she was a covert CIA agent. Plame testified before the House Commmittee on Oversight and Government Reform on Friday. From the transcript of the opening remarks , it is clear that she was covert.

CIA Director, Michael Hayden explicitly approved the following language used by Chairman Henry Waxman:

"During her employment at the CIA, Ms. Wilson was undercover. Her employment status with the CIA was classified information, prohibited from disclosure under Executive Order 12958.
At the time of the publication of Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, Ms. Wilson's CIA employment status was covert. This was classified information."

It really cannot be any more clear than that. But, if you want to believe that Waxman was lying about getting the approval of the CIA Director for the language, Plame's own words on the matter are crystal clear. In Plame's opening remarks she explicitly stated:

"Today, I can tell this committee even more. In the run-up to the war with Iraq I worked in the counter proliferation division of the CIA -- still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified."

Then you had Congressmen from both parties refer to her covert status throughout the hearing.

Plame would have to be the dumbest person in the world to go before a House panel and commit perjury. Especially knowing how much attention her appearance before the panel would be given that it was the first time giving sworn testimony about the whole messy affair.

NCAA Second Round

I ended up with 11 of 16 games correct in the second round. But, I have lost two Elite Eight teams (Virginia and Wisconsin), and one Final Four team (Wisconsin).

Virginia losing hurt - I had hoped they would make it to the Sweet 16 - but it was a very good year for a team that was predicted to go nowhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Archuleta Notes

The Redskins are trying to figure out what to do with Arch. They owe him $5M, whether they keep him or cut him. He gave them an extension on the roster bonus so that they could think more about what they should do with him. If they cut him they take a $9M cap hit. Even if they trade him (and no one will take him at his current salary), they would have to take a $6.4M cap hit. If they exercise roster bonus and keep him, he will "only" count $2.4M against the cap this year. The latter seems the most likely - even if they don't play him.

The Bears may be interested, and I would love to see him reunited with Lovie. The Bears will pay him a more reasonable salary and contrary to what many Redskin fans think, the guy can still play. He just has to be used properly.

NCAA First Round

Virginia is through. They rolled over Albany and now face Tennessee. Should be a good game tomorrow.

I got 27 of 33 games (counting the #64 vs. #65 play-in game) through the first round and I have all of my Sweet 16 picks still in place. Let's see what happens today.

Friday, March 16, 2007

NCAA Tournament Thoughts

No real upsets. The Duke loss wasn't really much of an upset - Duke sucked anyway.

I was 13-3 in my picks yesterday on my bracket and all of my Sweet 16 picks are still in place. I don't care if I go 1-15 today, as long as the 1 is Virginia.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Duke Goes Down



Not that they were going to make the Final Four this year, but any time Duke goes down in the first round, it is a surprise. VCU topped them.

Tank Gets Jail Time

Tank Johnson was sentenced to 120 days for violating probation. He can get up to 60 days off for good behavior. Overall seems fair.

No JaMarcus

La Canfora's blog entry today calls the rumors false. Looks like JaMarcus' agent just wanted to try to position his player in a better place to try to create a bigger market. The funny part is that agents are willing to use Danny Boy as their guy for creating rumors. They know he is an owner who would be stupid enough to consider such a foolish trade, so it becomes believable.

Danny Boy's Latest Wet Dream

It is being reported that Danny Boy wants to trade Jason Campbell, the #6 pick, and other picks/players to the Raiders so that he can get JaMarcus Russell to be the Redskins NEW franchise QB.

Knowing he is being used as trade bait should help young Campbell's confidence and overall development.

NCAA Picks

I went through my brackets this evening and ended up with some surprises. Here is how I see it:

Midwest: Wisconsin (#2) over Florida (#1)
West: Kansas (#1) over Pitt (#3)
East: North Carolina (#1) over Georgetown (#2)
South: Texas A&M (#3) over Virginia (#4) (I have Virginia knocking off Ohio State in the Sweet 16)

In the Final 4, I have:

Kansas over Wisconsin
North Carolina over Texas A&M

Then, I have Kansas over North Carolina as my 2007 National Champion. Coach Roy Williams cries in both pain and pleasure as his former team beats his current team.

Still More on Briggs

Good piece in the Chicago Tribune, yet again, about how foolish Briggs is being. Quoting:

". . . the NFL is a business, and money is how business keeps score. But business is also about doing business, not just the money. Briggs' going national with his complaining is making it more difficult for the Bears to do business with him, or for him, even if they wanted to do so. Thomas Jones found general manager Jerry Angelo to be a man of his word, working out a trade just the way Angelo said he would try to do, partly because Jones helped make the 2006 season work, like he told Angelo he would. Good business."

The Trib, also has a great companion piece about Al Harris who was the Bears starting outside linebacker in 1984, but who sat out the Super Bowl year in a contract dispute. In fact, the 1985 Bears had two defensive starters sit out in contract disputes - Harris and Pro Bowl safety Todd Bell. Harris was replaced by Wilbur Marshall who was drafted out of Florida and Bell was replaced by Dave Duerson, who became the starter in his second year. Both Marshall and Duerson became Pro Bowl players. The point is that no one is irreplacable.

Harris' thoughts on Briggs are that he is making a mistake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Danny Boy Loses Against Former Nanny

If you are into Danny Boy bashing (as I am), then here is a good story for you. His former nanny won her case against him and his wife for overtime pay. If the account is factual, it appears that Danny Boy and his wife are not the best of parents and took advantage of their nanny.

More Bushie Incompetence

After Hurricane Katrina, the levies were rebuilt and new pumps were installed to protect New Orleans. Turns out that a company with ties to Bushie provided the 34 pumps for $26.6 million, plus several million more in bonuses. The problem is that the pumps don't work and are going to have to be replaced. Ridiculous incompetence.

More Thoughts on Briggs

The Bears are taking a good stand on Briggs. They shouldn't back down.

From Briggs side, it doesn't make sense to sit out. He says he will take out a loan to cover his expenses. He would lose a year and more than $7M in guaranteed salary. Then, next year, the Bears could possibly franchise him again. If he sits out two years, he will be out $15M, he will be 2 years older, and he will never get that big contract.

From the Bears side, it doesn't make sense to lose Briggs for nothing. Players may not like the francise tag label, but it is hardly unfair. The Bears are playing by the rules and need to hold the line to send a message to players that they won't overpay. They have guys in contract years and if they give in to Briggs and allow him to leave for nothing, not only would it be stupid, but it would result in other guys trying to force the Bears hand.

Briggs is either going to play for the Bears, or the Bears are going to get significant value for him. They are not just going to let him go for nothing. Briggs can cry all he wants, but the Bears aren't doing anything to him that any other team wouldn't do if they could. He is a Pro Bowl linebacker who is basically crying about being disrespected. The fact is that the Bears are looking out for the Bears - which is what they should do.

Last year, before the season started, Briggs was given a fair-market-value offer of $33 million over six years, and he was warned that the Bears would likely franchise him if they did not come to an agreement. Briggs refused - which is his right - and the money that was saved was used to sign Ricky Manning Jr., and extend the contracts of Olin Kreutz, Adrian Peterson and Hunter Hillenmeyer. That was good use of the money. If Briggs does not sign, the money will be used to extend guys like Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher, and Charles Tillman.

Since Jerry Angelo took over control of the front office, he hired Lovie and the Bears have gone 5-11, 11-6, and 15-4 in the last three seasons. The Bears have become one of the most talented and deep teams in the NFL. He seems to know what he is doing, which is more than I can say for many other teams.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Latest on Lance Briggs

Briggs reiterated that he won't play for the Bears ever again.

I like Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom's column today, "Briggs sets new standard for Stupid-O-Meter." I think he hits it on the head about how foolish Briggs is being. The Bears hold all of the cards and he is killing any love that the fans had for him. When he says he wants to go somewhere to be "The Man" (like Urlacher is in Chicago), then he comes across as a selfish, money-grubbing idiot.

I think the Bears should just hold on to him and let him sit out the season if he is going to pout.

Monday, March 12, 2007

NCAA Tourney

The brackets are out and I will make my picks later in the week.

All that counts for me today is that Virginia (with the best back court in America) is a 4 seed. I have to say that I was somewhat surprised. I figured they would end up a #5 or a #6, but I am pleased.

The Yahoo! prediction is that they bow out in the second round. Virginia is sputtering, but if we can get to the Sweet 16 this year it would be a great accomplishment. To do that, we need to beat Albany (don't know anything about them) and then will likely play an up-and-down Tennessee.

This was a team that no one guessed would have ended as co-champs in the ACC regular season - many figured they were one of the worst team in the ACC. So they have nothing to lose and should hang loose.

Halliburton Moves to Dubai

So, American taxpayers have been gouged by Dick Cheney's former firm, the infamous Halliburton.

Now the company has decided to move and become a Dubai-firm. Nice. There is your support for America from the former Texas-based company that has profitted the greatest amount from the Iraq war. All those no-bid, billion dollar contracts have been, and will continue to be, paid for by American taxpayers.

Hopefully the Democratic Congress will find a way to end these contracts. Cannot be done overnight, but if Halliburton does not want to be an American firm, then I say it shouldn't be receiving American taxpayer money to service American troops.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

T.J. Duckett is a Lion

Well, it looks like the 3rd round pick that the Redskins frittered away on Duckett can officially be called a waste. He is no longer a Redskin. He had 38 carries for 138 yards and 2 TDs. At least the Redskins didn't tear up his contract last year and give him a new one.

Bears Draft Picks

Interesting bit of info from Don Pierson at the Trib:

"The Bears now have the 31st and 37th picks. Last year they got Danieal Manning 42nd and Devin Hester 57th. The last six 31st picks: cornerback Kelly Jennings, defensive tackle Mike Patterson, wide receiver Rashaun Woods, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, linebacker Robert Thomas, tight end Todd Heap. The last six 37th picks: cornerback Jimmy Williams, defensive tackle Shaun Cody, linebacker Teddy Lehman, offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, center-guard
Andre Gurode, safety Idrees Bashir.

Only Woods was a total flop. All others became starters, with eight of the 12 starting for their original teams last year."

The article talks about the TJ trade. The point Pierson makes is that guys like TJ are a dime a dozen. I am not sure I totally agree with him, but at 29, with a two capable backups, the trade may work out very well. If the Bears get 1-2 starters from those picks, or trade up with those picks, they should greatly improve their team. This improvement would likely come at a far cheaper price than signing some big name free agents.

Finding Troops and Dem Strategy

The Pentagon is finding it harder and harder to find fresh troops to send to the grinder in Iraq.

I've read and heard chatter on both sides of the aisle about what the Dems should do to bring the war to an end. The bottom line is this - there aren't the votes to cut off funding. You could do it in the House, but the Senate requires 60 votes because Republicans could (and most certainly would) filibuster any such bill.

So the Dems are trying to codify an end to the war by putting in benchmarks that must be met by the Iraqi government. It seems prudent to ask the Iraqis to stand up for their own country. If the Iraqis don't provide their share of troops for their own security then the U.S. will stop funding the war. The latest plan that is being worked through the House puts in benchmarks that Bushie must certify have been accomplished in October. Giving the Iraqis 7 months to try to resolve their squabbling seems to make sense. If they don't, then we will withdraw our troops by the end of 2008.

Congress will give Bushie his $100 billion now, with conditions, and if those conditions are met, then when Bushie asks for $145 billion in October he'll get his money. Keep in mind, that because Bushie is requesting this $245 billion in emergency supplementals it does not count toward the deficit. It should also be noted that this money is coming from borrowed cash from mostly foreign governments. So we taxpayers will be paying back the Japanese, Chinese, etc. with interest for Bushie's foray in Iraq for decades.

Cavs Go Down

A weak effort by Singleterry and Reynolds doomed the Cavaliers. They were a combined 9-31 shooting (2-11 from the 3-point line). It makes it very tough to win when your two best players don't deliver.

They stumble into the NCAA tournament have lost their last 2 and 3 of their last 5. Those three losses came against Miami, Wake, and NC State. Not a good sign.

AG Alberto Gonzales is an Embarrassment

Bushie's friend, and our esteemed Attorney General is simply imcompetent. Yesterday he admitted that the FBI broke the law with its illegal use of National Security Letters.

This week, he was slapped down by the Senate Judiciary Committee and forced to back down from his efforts to put his incompetent cronies in charge of many U.S. Attorneys offices around the country without Senate approval. It was a blatant attempt to remove competent U.S. Attorneys who were not towing the President's/AG's line.

He doesn't believe in the writ of habeas corpus. This is astounding.

He has defended Bushie's warrantless wiretapping program which broke FISA laws.

He called the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and argued that terror suspects were not entitled to those protections which effectively authorized the President to allow torture of terror suspects.

Repeatedly he has broken the law, yet this is the guy who is our nation's top law enforcement official. He provides a shining example of why the AG should be an elected postion answerable to the people and not a political appointee who answers to the President.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Grant Wistrom is Available

Hey Danny Boy - Grant Wistrom is available. Give him a $10M signing bonus and he can be yours.

Ross Tucker signed with the 'Skins yesterday. I smell a Super Bowl now that the Dockery situation has been addressed!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A True "Jackass"

Any guy who would volunteer to have someone light his "family jewels" on fire is an idiot.

Vasher and Tillman

I looked up the contracts for Vasher and Tillman.

Vasher is set to make $850,000 this year, then he becomes a free agent in 2008.

Tillman is set to make $3.1M this year, then he becomes a free agent in 2008.

They are not getting ridiculously low salaries as JKD has written. The Bears will work this off-season to sign one or both of them to extensions and are likely to do what they did last year and draft another corner or safety early. Last year they got both Danieal Manning (70 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 7 passes defensed) and Devin Hester in the second round. That worked out pretty well for them.

How About This Trade?

Lance Briggs for Washington's first round pick (#6 overall), Shawn Springs, and a third round pick in the 2008 draft (assuming Washington still has one).

I like Briggs, but I would be willing to part with him for a good price.

The Bears would get some more picks and take Springs off your hands. Then Danny Boy could negotiate with his favorite agent - Rosenhaus.

How about it 'Skins fans?

Understanding the NFL Salary Cap

It is clear that there is a lot of confusion about how the salary cap works. Let me give a little explanation so that people can understand what is happening.

All teams pay their players well - there is little difference in total team salary. Where teams differ is how they spread out their money. Obviously star players get paid more, however some teams (i.e., the Redskins) love to give a handful of guys a more disproportionate share of the cap money, while other teams are far more equitable (i.e., the Bears). When you are disproportionate, it usually means that there are some depth problems, and we all know that injuries are a part of the game.

The NFL salary cap for this year is about $109M. This means that the top 51 paid guys on a team have to come in under $109M.

The confusion about how the salary cap works is pretty much tied to signing bonuses and roster bonuses. Signing bonuses are guaranteed money - roster bonuses may or may not be guaranteed depending on the wording of the contract. The latter are paid if a player makes the roster in subsequent years. However, these bonuses still count toward the cap, but they may be spread over the life of a contract.

For example, let's say that a player signs a 5 year, $30M contract. Let's further assume that this includes a $10M signing bonus. What happens is that the player receives $10M at the time he signs the contract, but that bonus is spread over the life of the contract. In addition, the team can set the salary levels for each year the way they want to. So, they could divide the remaining $20M evenly across the 5 years (i.e., $4M/year), or they could escalate the salary levels each year (i.e., $1M for year 1, $2M for year 2, $3M for year 3, $5M for year 4 and $9M for year 5). The latter is the way most teams do it. This allows them to pay for the signing bonus and then after year 3 the player can be cut without having to pay the bigger salaries.

In the case above, the signing bonus is spread evenly across the 5 years of the contract and only $2M counts toward the cap each year. However, when a player is cut before the contract is up, then the signing bonus gets counted immediately, or can be spread over a 2 year period if the player is cut after June 1. For example, let's say that in the example given above, the player is cut after 2 years. The team would save $17M in total salary and this money would not count against the cap. However, since only $4M of the signing bonus has been "accounted for," the remaining $6M would become "dead money" that would count against the cap.

When players are released after March 1, all of the unaccounted bonus money counts immediatly against the cap for that year. If a team waits until June 1 to release a player, then they can split the remaining bonus over this year and next year however they want to split it.

Let's look at Adam Archuleta - Last year he became the highest paid safety in the history of the NFL. He was given a 7 year, $35.2M contract which included $10M in bonuses (guaranteed), plus another $3M in roster bonuses (that I do not believe are guaranteed). For this year, his salary is $600,000, plus the Redskins are accounting for $1.8M of the bonuses. So his salary cap value for this year is under $2.5M. If the Redskins were to release him right now, they would be forced to take a $6M-$8M hit for this year. They could wait until June 1 and split the hit over this year and the next, but in either case they would have a lot of dead space to cover. THAT IS WHY HE IS NOT GOING TO BE RELEASED. He is likely to remain a Redskin for at least 2 more years, no matter what he does for them.

Chicago Bears Moves

The Chicago Bears have made some changes in their coaching staff and have traded away a very productive Thomas Jones which forces Cedric Benson to produce. We'll see if those moves are good or not. The Lance Briggs situation is not a big deal. He will play for the Bears next year. He will either play for one year at $7.2 million or he will sign a new deal. There is nothing Briggs can do about it.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing to worry about. The Bears are in great shape to repeat next year. If Briggs does not sign a long-term deal, his money will be set aside to sign other guys to long term deal (i.e., Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman).

In the draft, I would expect the Bears will draft for linebacker, D-line, O-line, and then secondary. They will likely pick up lower tier veterans in free agency for depth.

Until they show that they don't know what they are doing, I will support their moves. Angelo and Smith have done a great job managing the team and I don't see any reason to question their abilities and understanding of what is best for the team.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bad Week For Bushie

So the war escalation in Iraq is having mixed results. It is clear that violence is down, but that is not saying much given that so many people are still dying every day. It is also a fact that the Mehdi Army is lying low for a while.

Yesterday at least 130 Iraqis and 9 American soldiers were killed. And, that is considered progress.

Scooter Libby was found guilty of perjury. The underlying fact is that Libby covered up for Cheney, and probably Bushie, who were hell bent on undermining the credibility of Joseph Wilson who pointed out some of the faulty evidence that Bushie used to take the nation to war.

Then, we have the horror stories about how poorly injured American soldiers are being taken care of at Walter Reed and in the VA medical system more broadly. This is a moral failure at the highest levels. Incredibly, but not surprisingly, Bushie turned over maintenance at Walter Reed about a year ago to the company that failed to deliver ice in the botched aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. More corporate favoritism for friends, at the cost of American soldiers.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Smoot Got $8.5M Guaranteed

La Canfora was reporting it on his blog, but the details will be out in a day or two. Ridiculously overpaid at this point. We'll see how bad this looks in a year.

TJ Traded to Jets

TJ and the Bears second round pick (#64 overall) for the #37 pick. Turns out that the #37 pick is the Redskins second round pick that the Jets acquired. So Redskin fans, if the player who gets picked is a major contributor you will be able to see what you missed out on.

I have to say that I don't like the trade. TJ was coming up on a contract year and guys play well in contract years. I liked the TJ - Benson tandem. But, the Bears must have confidence in Benson and should get a player with the #37 pick.

Cannot Buy an NFL Championship

Good article by Don Pierson in the Chicago Tribune about the failings of free agency.

The Redskins were particularly foolish in their spending for Smoot. They basically made him one of the highest paid corners in the NFL with what they gave him. Here is a somewhat dated list from 2005 of the top paid cornerbacks.

Bears vs. Redskins

There has been some chatter from JKD about the situation with Lance Briggs and the Bears, and Derrick Dockery and the Redskins. Without question, these are the two players each team most wanted to keep.

Briggs wants a contract bigger that Urlacher - not going to happen. But, because the Bears are $25 million under the cap, they were able to franchise Briggs. That means that he will get a one year contract for about $7.3 million. They are working on a longer-term deal, but the two sides are far apart. That said, the Bears are not going to lose Briggs. If they deal him - which seems unlikely - they will get something in return.

It came as no surprise that Dockery left and the Redskins got nothing for him. The Redskins are struggling to remain under the cap, so they didn't have any options but to let him go. They couldn't come anywhere close to franchising him or matching the open market offers that Dock was going to get.

Look, if you are going to live in Cap Hell, then you better at least be able to compete for a playoff spot and have some chance of making the Super Bowl. The Redskins are an old team, that has no depth, has no draft picks, and is capped out. What do you think is going to happen to Cooley next year? The same thing that happened to Dock this year. The Redskins won't have any room to offer Cooley money, so they will lose him to another team. Until the Redskins decide to change their foolish ways, the team will continue to struggle. That is not bashing - that is the truth.

Springs and Betts for Dre' Bly

Jason La Canfora has a blog entry about a potential trade that would send Shawn Springs and Ladell Betts to Denver for Bly.

If may not happen, but if they are actually considering it and if it happens, it will show just how bad the Redskins are. They will get rid of 2 "core" guys for a guy who wants a new contract. In addition, a bunch of guys restructured to free money for Betts and he signed for under market value to stay with the 'Skins. If he is traded, it will tell every guy in the locker room not to restructure and to hold out for every penny.

Probably not going to happen, but the Redskins are a second-rate operation, so let's see what happens.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Day 2000

Today marks the 2000th day since 9/11. Osama bin Forgotten is enjoying his freedom while Bushie has our military trying to hold back a civil war in Iraq. Makes sense - in Bizarro World.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Redskin Player Turnover

As I said, Dockery would sign elsewhere. The Bills have themselves a new 27 year old guard. So an offensive line that had no real depth is going to have to hope they stay healthy. Dock was going to be the only starting lineman under 30 this year.

But, the Redskins got London Fletcher. In my opinion, they overpaid for a 5-10, 32-year old linebacker. London Broil is going to be the next Arch Deluxe. However, if Rocky cannot play then they really needed to do something. But, they would be better off working on D-line and secondary help.

Speaking of secondary, they are going to try to sign Smoot, and given the cap implications, it seems fairly clear that they will cut Springs after June 1. So get ready 'Skins fans - Double Move and Captain Stubing will be your starting corners.

You want to know what is wrong with the Redskins, all you have to do is look at how they handled Brunell. Instead of cutting the stiff who had shoulder surgery to strengthen an already weak arm, they reworked his contract and gave him pretty substantial money. Look around the NFL and you will find much better QBs cut. The Redskins just kept Brunell on because they like him personally - I mean, really, the guy cannot play. The Redskins have no idea what they are doing. That is why they fail.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Top Free Agents

Here is the CBS Sportsline list of top free agents.

Dockery is #5 and London Fletcher shows up at #17.

Smoot is not on the list - the reason is that his skills are gone and you can probably find guys like him every year in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds of the draft.

LaVar is at #40.

But, I do like their stated Commandment when it comes to free agency - "Thou Shalt Not Overpay for Anyone Over 29." The Redskins would be a whole lot better if they actually lived by that principle.

Cavaliers #1 in ACC

Don't look now, but the Cavs are in sole possession of first in the ACC. If they beat Wake on the road this weekend (which they should do), they will win outright. At the very least they will be co-champs in the regular season.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bushie's Idea of Supporting the Troops

The Post exposed serious problems at Walter Reed last week. New Defense Secretary Gates thanked the Post for bringing the problem to light and called the conditions "unacceptable." Apparently, top officials have known about the poor conditions for years.

Of course there are some changes that are being made to address this embarrassment, but Walter Reed patients are having their first amendment rights cut down by superiors who are telling them to shut up. Injured soldiers are actually being punished for talking to the media.

Another case of willful incompetence on the part of our esteemed Commander-in-Chief who is constantly reminding us about how he is a war president and how he supports our troops. Right.

Redskin Thoughts

I read La Canfora's blog today and it was pretty interesting. He thinks the deal with London Fletcher-Baker gets done this weekend. Apparently Danny Boy loves dealing with Rosenhaus (no joke). That would be an upgrade.

Redskin fans take heart, he is still confident that Dockery will get a new deal to remain in Washington. My guess is that he will be leaving.

Springs is not restructuring - at least not yet. This may result in him being let go.

La Canfora also mentioned Dre Bly and Smoot coming to the Redskins. That would be an upgrade, but neither of those guys are particularly scary and would have a tough time covering the NFC East receivers.

At least the Redskins don't have to worry about coming up with money to pay for any second, third, fourth, or fifth round draft picks this year. Of course that won't help rebuild an aging team that is in dire need of depth.