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June 05, 2019

Random (mostly negative) notes from around the NFC

This is the time of year where there isn't much in the way of actual news that is positive. If there's a headline that gets national attention, it's usually for something negative. For example, while the Eagles' media contingent has (I think) unanimously praised the practice performances of Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson, the actual news is that Malcolm Jenkins wasn't in attendance for voluntary OTAs and may very well sit out mandatory minicamp next week as well.

And so, let's take a quick peek around the rest of the NFC, and see what some other teams are dealing with:


Trent Williams wants a new deal

Williams is Washington's best player, and he wants more money. He last signed a contract in 2015, when he got $66 million over a five-year extension that runs through 2020. His cap number in 2019 is $14,729,008. In 2020, it'll be $14,655,880. The actual money Williams will earn is $11,000,000 in salary in 2019, and $12,500,000 in 2020, with game day roster bonuses totaling up to $250,000 each season. 

In terms of average per year, Williams is the ninth-highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. When healthy, he's a lot better than most of the guys ahead of him on that list. However, he missed three games in 2018, six games in 2017, four games in 2016, and two games in 2015. He also turns 31 in July. Yikes.

Williams' absence puts Washington in a very difficult spot. Only seven teams presently have less money under the cap, and surely, they won't want to give an older, injury-risk player with nine seasons of wear and tear on his body some sort of contract worth what the top earners at offensive tackle are making (roughly $16 million per year).

At the same time, they are screwed if they call Williams' bluff, and he sits out, seeing as they already have thin tackle depth as it is, and the next man up would be second-year pro Geron Christian, who was shaky last year in a reserve role.


Todd Gurley won't be a 'bell cow' going forward

Four years into his NFL career, Todd Gurley, who is still only 24 years of age, has already racked up 1086 career rushing attempts and 195 receptions, for a total of 1281 touches. His left knee is barking at him, and the Rams are going to try to manage his usage going forward

Gurley was awesome during the last two regular seasons, carrying 535 times for 2556 yards and 30 TDs, while also catching 123 passes for 1368 yards and 10 TDs. He was a First-Team All-Pro each season, and won NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

In 2018, he was an early MVP candidate, when he had 800 rushing yards, 351 receiving yards, and 15 total TDs after the Rams' first eight games, putting him on pace for 1600 rushing yards and 30 total TDs. Down the stretch, however, he averaged just 13 carries per game, as his knee was clearly affecting him.

In the NFC Championship Game, Gurley ran four times for 10 yards. In the Super Bowl, he ran 10 times for 35 yards and the Rams scored 3 points in one of the most unwatchable games I've ever seen.

Gurley is yet another example of the pitfalls of drafting running backs early in the first round. Even when they hit (which is certainly no guarantee), it is simply a bad use of resources, for a lot of reasons, most notably that running backs have extraordinarily short shelf lives in the NFL.

Beyond the indisputable point about running backs having short shelf lives over the long haul, there's also a good argument that wear and tear affects running backs over the course of individual seasons, and Gurley is "Exhibit A" in that kind of case study. He was awesome early in 2018, not so much late, and Sean McVay was too late in figuring out that he should have been given more rest all along.

With Gurley playing a major role, the Rams' offense is explosive. Without him at full strength, they're forced to ask Jared Goff to win games for them, and we all saw the Super Bowl.


Panthers add Gerald McCoy

The Panthers signed Gerald McCoy after he was dumped by the Buccaneers. McCoy is still a good player who will join a Panthers defensive front that includes Bruce Irvin, Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Vernon Butler, and 2019 first-round speed rusher Brian Burns. Their secondary still stinks, but if they can consistently generate pressure, that defense, with Luke Keuchly still patrolling the middle at an elite level, could be dangerous. 


OK, so this is more of an opinion than it is news, but...

On a side note, this tweet prompted me to make sure 2018 fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta is still on the team. (He is.)

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