Things are generally quiet around the National Football League right now. It’s probably another week or so before many of the league’s movers and shakers head back to the office. They are at the beach, hitting the links, on the lake or in the case of the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, climbing Mount Rainier.
Sometime today, Goodell, Seattle coach Jim Mora and Seahawks executive Todd Leiweke along with two guides are expected to reach the snow-covered summit of Rainier, at more than 14,000 feet. It’s all being done for a Seattle area charity.
There aren’t many NFL types doing something as physically demanding. They are just glad to be away and getting a breather before the long season. They’ll start rolling back into the office over the next few weeks and activity will pick up around the league.
That’s when the signing season will really get serious, as clubs try to get all their draft choices and a few veterans under contract before the start of training camp.
Actually, this year NFL teams have really gotten a jump on getting the 256 selections from April’s 2009 Draft with deals.
As of Tuesday evening, more than 100 deals had been announced around the league.
That’s out of the ordinary this early in the signing season. Ordinarily it takes the deadline of training camp to get things done. Players cannot take part in camp without a signed contract. In the off-season they can practice without a deal, but once camp starts they must put their John Hancock to paper.
There are two teams that have already signed all their draft choices: Chicago and the New York Jets. Two other teams – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – have all but one of their draft choices already under contract.
On the other side, there are six teams that haven’t signed a choice yet, including Dallas with 12 choices. Others that have not announced a signing are Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, New Orleans and St. Louis.
The Chiefs have three of their eight picks signed: fifth-round OT Colin Brown and seventh round choices TE Jake O’Connell and K Ryan Succop.
As usual, the earliest picks have not yet agreed to terms. Only two first rounders (QBs Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez) and one second-round pick (RB LeSean McCoy) have signed contracts. That’s three of the first 64 players drafted, including the Chiefs first-round pick, DE Tyson Jackson.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes Jackson’s agent Eugene Parker to get a deal done with Scott Pioli because he’s one of three players sandwiched between the big deals given Stafford (six years/$72 million) and Sanchez (five years/$60 million). Jackson, OT Jason Smith in St. Louis and LB Aaron Curry in Seattle have those deals as bookends for their demands. But you can bet the Chiefs, Rams and Seahawks are unwilling to talk about money that would put those players in the same salary scale as the two quarterbacks.
Among the 23 choices in the third round that remain unsigned is a Chiefs pick, DE Alex Magee.
In the fourth-round there are 24 unsigned players including Chiefs choice, CB Donald Washington.
Only 16 fifth-rounders are without deals, and there are 15 players unsigned in the sixth-round, including Kansas City-bound WR Quinten Lawrence.
Only 13 of 47 choices in the seventh round are unsigned, including RB Javarris Williams, the first of the Chiefs three picks in the round.
Why Lawrence and Williams remain unsigned is hard to understand. The payouts to players on these deals generally fall into a slotting system, with the pick before making more and the pick after making less. The players drafted after Lawrence and Williams both have agreed to deals.
Of course, they could have already agreed to terms and are keeping the news on the down low. Generally teams won’t announce a signing until they have the player’s signature. Agents tend to make announcements once a deal is agreed upon.
There are no trophies and prizes for getting draft picks signed early. If there was, the Bears would be the defending champions; for the second year in a row, they have all their draft choices under contract before July.
Dallas with all 12 of its picks, New England with 11 of 12 and Denver with nine; those are the teams with the most contract work to get done before the start of camp.
THE BATTLE TO REACH THE SUMMER OF MOUNT RAINIER
Last December during an NFL meeting, Leiweke presented a challenge to the NFL Commish. “What is it?” Goodell wondered.
“I want you to climb Mount Rainier with us,” Leiweke said.
Goodell agreed, but later had second thoughts.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my. What did I just do?’” Goodell told the Seattle Times. “I really didn’t know what it entailed, frankly.”
The group got a practice session in on Monday and Goodell learned that climbing a mountain is as much mental as physical.
“There’s really a technique to climbing,” Goodell said. “It’s not just putting one foot in front of the other. There’s a technique to the way you move your foot and how your body posture is and how you can take more efficient steps. And I never really thought about that. It seems like such a simple thing just putting one foot in front of the other. Absolutely not!”
Again, the group expects to reach Rainier’s summit on Wednesday.
VIKINGS ALREADY TRYING TO LEVERAGE BRETT FAVRE
If you follow the NFC, you know that one of the best rivalries in the conference features the Packers against the Vikings.
Over the years, a lot of cheeseheads have gotten used to being able to get tickets for the Pack-Vikes game at the Metrodome. Lambeau Field is always sold out, so sometimes the trip to MSP is the only chance Packers fans get to see their favorite team in person. Minnesota hasn’t been in a consistent sell-out situation for years.
Thus, the Vikings are going to take advantage of the Packers fans lust, especially with Favre expected to join them in the next 10 days. Anybody that wants to buy tickets for the Green Bay-Minnesota game on Monday night October 5th must buy a ticket to the Aug. 21st pre-season game between the Vikings and Chiefs.
Many teams have used this tactic before and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chiefs did something similar this season. The club’s two most attractive games at Arrowhead feature Dallas and Pittsburgh. The Steelers followers are notorious for taking over opposing stadiums when tickets are available and there are tickets available. To get them, the Chiefs should attach one of their pre-season games to that purchase.
SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
BENGALS – signed seventh-round draft choice FB Fui Vakapuna.
BILLS – signed sixth-round draft choice DB Cary Harris and seventh-round DB Ellis Lankster.
GIANTS – The NFL suspended LB Michael Boley for one game for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
PACKERS – signed fourth-round draft choice G T.J. Lang.
TITANS – signed fourth-round OT Troy Kropog.