NFL Roundtable: 6/20 Edition!

Welcome to the RETURN of the NFL Roundtable! This week we talk Jimmy and the TAG, training camp battles, Andre Johnson and the toughest division in Football! For this week, we have newcomer Mariner joining EJ, Archie and David- lets get to the questions!


1. IF you were in charge, how would you handle the Jimmy Graham challenge?Jimmy Graham

EJ: Simple. You’re a tight end Jimmy. If we re-classify Jimmy Graham as a wide receiver, we’d have to reclassify all of these athletes playing tight end right now. It’s not worth opening that can of worms as far as I’m concerned. I understand Jimmy’s point of view, and I more than understand that as a wide receiver he’d make more money than as a tight end, but up till now Jimmy was a tight end, he called himself a tight end, the team called him a tight end, and damn it that is his position!

Mariner: The game is clearly evolving into one of being a pass first league. The days of a solid blocking TE are done. Teams now want the Vernon Davis types, the Rob Gronkowskis, the Jimmy Grahams. This is why Jason Witten’s stock has slid (besides his age). The TE position has transformed into a slot WR position in most instances. And if teams are going to run the football, it is generally done so that the RB runs up the middle, between the tackles.

With that said, he came into the league as a TE. Unless he asked for a position change, he is still a TE. To me, there is no gray area. You can have versatile RBs, ones that can block and catch as well as they run. But at the end of the day, they are RBs. Unless Jimmy Graham specifically asked and was granted a position switch, and unless he is listed on the depth chart and rosters as a WR, then he is a TE. Regardless of the evolution of the game.

Archie: Jimmy Graham was 15th among ALL receivers last season in yardage, 13th in total receptions and By God 1st in TDs. If that does not warrant WR franchise money then the league is totally screwed up. IF I were in charge I would tell New Orleans they either have to tag him as a WR or drop the tag.

David: I would think that he has to be classified as a WR/TE and split the difference. I think the position is too broad in today’s NFL. Its going to get to the point where guys are going to want to be paid top 5 for everything, I spent 56% of the time as the Mike Linebacker, but 13% as a LB passrusher 30% at Strongside and the rest at DT, so I need to get paid . .  its going to get stupid with agents trying to find a way to get arbitration for every client. Can you imagine Larry Centers trying to get his position changed to WR instead of Fullback?

2. Do you think we are going to see more challenges to the tag?Free Agent Tracker

EJ: Only if the door is opened and Jimmy wins his challenge. If Jimmy is re-classified as a receiver in order to earn more money, what’s next? Running backs wanting to be paid like receivers? Linebackers wanting to be paid like defensive ends? Safeties arguing that they are corners? Nope. It’s got to end. Draw the line in the sand.

Mariner: I think we will see more challenges to the tag, which will eventually require teams to more accurately update their rosters and depth charts. QBs are becoming more mobiles, WRs have more versatility as well. Even defensive players switching places is commonplace. Safeties often play cornerback and vice versa, and many linebackers line up as defensive ends (Ware did that a lot in Dallas). So I think we will see a lot more challenges to the tag, especially if Graham wins his challenge.

Archie: There are some tags that we will never see a challenge too basically because of the NFLPA agreement. However, when guys continue to stretch their versatility between OLB or DE, TE or WR, then yes, I think this will just open the door. OR, the players union and the NFL with create new tag descriptors. i.e. TE/WR tag $10.0 million

David: I think next time it comes around it goes away. I would much more prefer in free agency just a simple matching policy. Since the players are all about the cash- if they sign a potential free agent, his previous team should have the ability to match it. I think players are going to want to get rid of the tag ASAP.

 3. Where do you think Andre Johnson is going?

No More Manning? Whoo-Hoo! Our turn!
No More Manning?
Whoo-Hoo! Our turn!

EJ: I honestly believe that the Houston Texans are going to call Andre’s bluff, but for the sake of the question (and it’ll be boring if I don’t play along) I’ll say the New York Jets. The Jets have $22 million in cap space, and despite the fact they have 11 wide receivers on the roster, they really don’t have a legitimately proven option besides Eric Decker. By all accounts Geno Smith and Michael Vick have looked good so far this off season, but add one more proven receiver to that offense and the Jets might make the playoffs this season.

Mariner: It’s hard to tell. Clearly he wants out of Houston, and I don’t blame him. But what team would be willing to take him? Megatron has a monster contract, Dez is fixing to get a monster extension from Dallas, both of which will set the standards for what elite WRs will be paid. But, and this is a huge caveat, both Megatron (28) and Dez (26) are significantly younger than Andre Johnson (33). Now WRs tend to have a longer lifespan than most other positions, but would teams really be willing to shell out Megatron-like or Dez-like money for a guy who is 5 years closer to retirement than those two? I don’t really know. He will be picked up by someone wanting an elite WR, but he’d probably have to sacrifice some money, especially if he wants to win. I heard Cleveland is in the running for a receiver, and with Manziel being the talk of the NFL, that might be an appealing landing spot for Johnson. The Jets have also been known to take chances on high reward, high risk receivers, so they could make a push. And Andre Johnson would love NY. It’s a tough call, and even though he has potential suitors, I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll still be on Houston.

Archie: Nowhere. I think it is a Chris Johnson type situation where he will hold out until he gets what he wants.

David: He’s not wanting to rebuild, and the Texans just don’t have the stability he wants from the QB position. You know where I would have liked to seen him go? Carolina. I know I’m a Panthers fan, but he would have been going away the number 1 guy there, and had Carolina kept Steve Smith and still drafted Benjamin? Thats one scary three-headed monster. I think the NFC homes for him are fairly limited right now with established QBs, I look at the Giants, Saints and Falcons as the best homes- with Green Bay as a solid “WTF” candidate.


4. What training camp battle is the most interesting going in?Manzeil vs Hoyer

EJ: The Jets fan that I am wants to say Geno vs. Vick but that’s not really a battle. Geno is going to win the job because that’s what the organization wants. So, I’m going to go with Johnny Football vs. Brian Hoyer for the starting QB job in Cleveland. New head coach Mike Pettine, a former Jets assistant, doesn’t want to hand the job to Johnny and he doesn’t want a “Johnnymania” in Cleveland, but can the Browns really afford to sit Johnny if he outplays Hoyer in camp, or at least makes the battle close enough that you have to give him the week one shot?

Mariner: Obviously Brian Hoyer vs Johnny Manziel. We know Cleveland keeps saying that Manziel will be the backup, and maybe he starts that way, but I don’t see Manziel maintaining a backup role for long. If he doesn’t win the training camp battle or preseason battle, I think he is starting by Week 4. But hey, in the meantime, just the name Johnny Manziel will be enticing enough to make this the most intriguing training camp battle.

Archie: What training camp battle is the most interesting going in? Being a Steelers fan, I am most intrigued by the battle for 3rd Wide Out. It is
between rookie Markus Wheaton, Jerricho Cotchery and old man Plaxico Burress.
Burress is thought by many to be lucky to even be on the current roster.
Cotchery is getting no younger as well. And many believe Wheaton can be an immediate go to impact type of receiver. It will be interesting to see who wins out.

David: I’m with Mariner, its gotta be Hoyer and Manziel, but a close followup is in Texas- with Ryan Fitzpatrick being brought in and Case Keenum still there. I still have hopes for T.J. Yates as a former Tar-Heel. Considering all the talent there, and the new regime, I’m kind of stunned they didn’t make a call during the draft to San Deigo or even the Pats.

5. What is the toughest division in football?NFC WEST

EJ: The same division that has the defending Super Bowl Champions, a team that played in the Super Bowl the year before, and had a team that went 10-6 last season and didn’t make the playoffs. Yes, it’s the NFC West. The one team I didn’t mention, the St. Louis Rams, finished 7-9. The Seahawks, 49’ers, Cardinals, and Rams play in the toughest division in the land. While, I’m sure at least ONE of you is going to say the NFC South, I think we have to give credit where it’s due. The NFC West is full of some good football teams, led by some good coaches.

Mariner: The NFC West. Seattle will continue to play as if they have something to prove, as they try to become the next great sports dynasty (and they are young enough to do just that). The 49ers have a chip on their shoulders from making 3 consecutive NFC Championship game appearances, and not having a Super Bowl trophy to show for it. The Cardinals narrowly missed a playoff spot and were the only team to beat Seattle at The 12th Man last year. The Rams improved themselves immensely, as Jeff Fisher once again proved he is a drafting guru. If anyone in this division finishes worse than 8-8, it’ll be by only a hair. This will again be an exciting division to watch, both with the talent and favorable schedules. I wouldn’t be surprised if 3 teams from this division made the playoffs this year.

Archie: What is the toughest division in football? There is no doubt in my mind that right now, the NFC West is the toughest division to win this coming season. You have the returning SB champ Seahawks, the strong 49rs, the improved Cardinals and the expectedly improved Rams.

David: The NFC West might have the 2 best defenses in football, but in the NFL, most games are won and lost by the QB- and to be honest, the other half of that division isn’t entirely sure what to do from the QB position.
I’m going with what EJ was looking for, the NFC South. There is no division that can match the three headed monster of Brees, Ryan and Cam, and the Panthers have one of the best defenses in football, and the Bucs have one of the better DCs as a headcoach. The Saints also have a great defensive mind in Ryan as well. Lets keep in mind that Ron Rivera is the only coach in the division that doesn’t have a ring as a coach, and he got his as a player.


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  1. But I am curious to your opinion if the tag labels will have to be updated by the NFL/NFLPA to accomodate versatiliy among TE/WRs and such?

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