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An Easy Way To Predict Free Agent Destinations

Posted by Matt Terl on February 17, 2009 – 3:01 pm

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that your job is to predict the NFL future. Who’s going to win games, who’s going to get drafted where, what players are going to sign with which teams … all that good off-season stuff. It doesn’t really matter how often you’re right or spectacularly wrong, so long as your predictions have the indefinable air of believability.

Now, let’s say that it’s the time of year when big-name free agents are getting set to move around, and your employer — the TV station, or website, or magazine — has said to you, hey, use your keen insider knowledge and tell us where Guy X is going to wind up. How do you do it?

In some situations, you’ll have genuine information, of course. Whispers from agents, rumors, off-the-record comments … all of those things that you can stir together into informed speculation to reasonably predict what’s going to happen.

OR you can just point to the Redskins, maybe mention some lousy decisions from almost ten years ago, and head out to the mall to get your shopping done.

Either way.

We saw this with the Byron Leftwich thing a week or so ago, and here are a couple more recent examples of what I’m talking about.

Peter King engages in a little of it in his Monday Morning Quarterback Tuesday Edition, although he does spin it as a favorable commentary on ownership’s good intentions. In response to a question about what teams besides Dallas might take a chance on Michael Vick:

I’ll give you three: Oakland, Dallas and Washington. They all have owners with spines and owners who will view signing Vick in terms of how he can help the team and will worry about the consequences later.

(Yes, he suggests Dallas even though the initial question is specifically what teams OTHER than the Cowboys would do this. Whatever.) I’ve given my thoughts on a potential Vick signing before, and they haven’t changed: it’s a terrible PR move and a dreadful fit with Jim Zorn’s offense, two things the Redskins don’t need. But, hey, let’s throw their name in there anyhow! They signed Jeremiah Trotter in 2002.

Vic Carucci takes this phenomenon even farther at NFL.com. In the sidebar to a piece on Patriots’ quarterback Matt Cassel, Carucci examines “Matt Cassel’s possible suitors.” And down there on the list, after four legitimately quarterback-needy teams, are your Washington Redskins.

This could be the surprise. The Redskins haven’t given any indication that they’re shopping for a replacement for Jason Campbell, but Jim Zorn is a quarterback guru who could have a great future with Cassel.

Ooookay. So, in other words: hey, why not? They like to sign big names, let’s toss them right onto that list, even though there is admittedly “no indication” they’re interested.

Have I mentioned lately just how much I love this phase of the offseason?

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