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What the Football with Suzy Shuster & Amy Trask: PFT's Mike Florio

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March 19, 2024 7:44 pm

What the Football with Suzy Shuster & Amy Trask: PFT's Mike Florio

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March 19, 2024 7:44 pm

PFT’s Mike Florio joins to discuss the fallout of the NFL’s free agency frenzy. With Justin Fields now in Pittsburgh, are the Bears 100% picking Caleb Williams #1 overall? Florio also breaks down how the Steelers plan on using both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, and could the NFL punish the Atlanta Falcons for illegal tampering for the Kirk Cousins’ signing.  

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See terms at discover.com slash credit card. Hey everybody, we've missed talking to you. Suzy Schuster and Amy Trask back here for What the Football.

Thrilled to be back here with you. Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports joins us. But as always, I'm going to start with game time because I'm hitting game time right after this show. It's brought to you by game time, the fast and easy way to buy tickets for all the sports, music, comedy and theater events near you. Game time's got killer last-minute deals all in prices.

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Lowest price guaranteed. Thrilled to be back here with you. And we're finishing up free agency and looking ahead at the owners meetings as well. But, you know, throughout this whole free agency conversation, Amy, I've just been thrown by how the Bears are regarded as how they treated Justin Fields, who's obviously now with the Steelers. And as we look ahead and wonder who they'll take with their first round pick sure looks like Caleb Williams. But I just kept saying that I didn't understand why they would settle by sending him to the Steelers for these other picks when they could have kept him later, when they could have held on to him, when he could have had potentially more value. 65 plus guys started a quarterback last year. We don't imagine that the injuries will go away. They could have also had two guys in the locker room and they could have had a former first rounder in Justin Fields be there to perhaps help Caleb Williams. Some naysayers would say, oh, who are you kidding, Susie? You can't have two different guys and it's gonna create a toxic environment in the locker room.

But, oh, by the way, the last time I checked, this was about competition. It might have been good for them to have these two guys in the locker room. You're looking at who's gonna start after them. They've got Brett Ripen in there. They could have had Tyson Bajans in there as their backup quarterback. Instead, they sent a potentially great player away. Now they've got the tools around him that they didn't have the last couple years. We know that their general manager didn't select him.

But it is kind of crazy. Mike's the right guy to ask about this as we look ahead. He is and you raise a lot of great points, Susie.

First of all, as to having two guys in the room to compete, you know, it is a competition. And, oh, by the way, did you see how gracious Russell Wilson was when the Steelers went and signed the quarterback and said, welcome in, we're gonna have a great locker room? But you raised some really good points. And the fact is, I don't know. Did they factor in what was best for Justin? Did they factor in wanting to clear it out before they draft a quarterback? Do they know that the quarterback that they want to draft isn't going to pull a John Elway?

I mean, there's so many unanswered questions, but you're absolutely right. They traded him for very, very, very low value and waiting could have driven that value up. Why they chose not to wait, I'm not sure. I don't think they cared at all about Justin Fields. I think if they'd cared more about Justin Fields, they would have taken better care with his mental wellness leading up into this. I mean, you can't break this kid down the way they did and take away any confidence that he might have had in himself or their confidence in him. So I have a hard time with anybody within the media or elsewhere saying, oh, they did what was best for him. They sent him to the Steelers.

They got what they got back from him after they realized that perhaps the value wasn't as high as they thought it was. Well, and as you noted, with all the quarterback injuries last year and as you noted, those injuries aren't gonna stop full stop. When a quarterback goes down and another team needs one quickly, they often are willing to pay a much higher price. And I can't wait to see what happens as regards to Russell Wilson.

What happens in Pittsburgh when he has a couple bad games? And are people gonna be clamoring for Justin Fields to take the field? And or are they gonna find a way to put them both on the field at the same time?

Are we going to see slash point two? I'm really excited to watch how that unfolds. And Mike Florio, as promised, joins us now.

Mike, thanks again for your time. Let's know who you think won free agency. Well, it's all to be determined, but one thing I look for is teams that need to build from the inside out. If they try to build from the outside in through free agency, that's a failure. If you've already built your team from the inside out, you've got a great offensive line, great defensive pass rush rotation, and you add pieces around that, and you've already got a quarterback, and you've got receivers, and you're just going luxury shopping like the Eagles did, it's hard not to think that they, particularly with the addition of Saquon Barkley, have put themselves in a position where they can rebound from whatever that mess was that caused them to fall from ten and one to losing six out of seven and getting bounced from the playoffs by the Buccaneers and addressing an area where it wasn't a glaring need, but it's a huge upgrade over what they had because I think Saquon Barkley is a guy that if you give him blocking, he can do a lot of things to help an offense get better. So I like what the Eagles did. I like that they got some guys a little bit cheaper. Getting Devin White, who was one of the unsung heroes of the Super Bowl run for the Buccaneers in 2020 when he was a rookie, that's a great deal for them.

It addresses an area of need. So I think the Eagles would be the first team that stands out to me as a team that spent their money, but they had it. They had a cap space, and they spent it wisely to try to take a good team slash great team and make it great slash elite. I think everyone's busy in a different direction opining on what the Bears did and trying to figure out, making sense of what they did, and we talked about this earlier on the podcast. What are your thoughts on how they treated Justin Fields? Your thoughts on looking ahead to the draft? Clearly it's like unless you're in another planet, they're going to take Caleb Williams, but I'm curious about your thoughts on this. I think they'd like to take Caleb Williams. I'm still waiting for a clear indication from Caleb Williams camp that he has no qualms about being taken by the Bears. Not that I have any reason to think that he has such qualms, but we have yet to get a clear, unconditional, unequivocal yes I'll play for them because they could still take Jayden Daniels and be in pretty good shape if it came down to that, but they're clearly gonna come out of the process with a quarterback after clearing out Justin Fields, and they can say, and they have said, that they basically were trying to do right by Justin Fields.

I think the next time a team truly does right by a player to their own detriment will be the first time. I think it's coincidental that giving Justin Fields a path out of Chicago that was workable for him meshed with what he wants and with what they want. They didn't want to keep him around as a potential distraction for whoever they bring in. There was and probably still will be in Chicago a fierce debate over whether or not they should keep Justin Fields.

They had yard signs in Chicago. Justin Fields is my quarterback, so they needed to end that before they could turn the page, and I get it, but I also look at what they got for Justin Fields, a sixth round pick in 2025. There's no way they're gonna get less later. Whether they wait until after the first round of the draft, if one of these teams that wants a quarterback doesn't get the guy that that team wants, or once they start playing games and guys get hurt. We saw it last year. Guys are gonna get hurt. Unless last year was a one-time aberration where every quarterback got hurt at some point.

I'm exaggerating, but not by much. At some point a starter is gonna go down, and they could have gotten a lot more than a sixth round pick in 2025 for Justin Fields, and if they just didn't want him around they could have said, hey we're gonna pay you. If you're fine with this just stay home. We'll cut you if we get to the end of the trade deadline and a material and a deal doesn't materialize, but I mean I don't know why they didn't do that. I think they just wanted to end this.

They didn't want to be distracted by it. They didn't want whatever hard feelings would be coming from Justin Fields, and at the end of the day they gave up a first round pick, a second first round pick to move up to get him. They had him for three years, and they get back a future sixth round pick. And what I always find interesting is when teams move on from players, because current team management was not team management when that player was either drafted or signed. So you know you just referenced Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, you know Sean Payton came to Denver after Russell was in Denver, and they've moved on.

Thoughts on that? I think this is one of the biggest disasters we've ever seen by way of trade, especially because it's got the potential for a third act that can make it even worse. Act one, trade for him and give up all that stuff. Act two, give him a huge contract when you have no reason to do so. He's under contract for two more years, and he's never played for you yet, but you give him this massive contract, and now that he's released and you're gonna pay him the balance of the difference between 39 million and 1.21 million, the league minimum that'll make in Pittsburgh. If he ends up being really good in Pittsburgh, that makes it even worse. That makes this trade even worse that he still had it and they just weren't able to bring it out. And I understand all the concerns about pre- snap delays and he wasn't getting the play in and there were difficulties in spotting what he needed to do. You know you see a lot of quarterbacks do many things before the snap where they're waving their arms and they're pointing and they're talking and Russell Wilson doesn't do a lot of that.

He can do great things once the ball's in his hands. That's one of the big reasons it fell apart in Denver. At some point you have to adjust, you have to adjust to that guy to get the most out of him. And if the Steelers can make him play like he did in Seattle, that just makes it even worse for Denver. I get what Sean Payton's doing because he's a believer. If you make a mistake, don't double down, move on. But if they move on and it turns out they could have gotten something out of Russell Wilson, that makes it even worse.

And that certainly is Sean's viewpoint, but all the easier because it wasn't his mistake. He wasn't there when the trade was made, he wasn't there when the new contract was entered, so you know easier for him to walk on, walk away. But you know look, people talk about cap, cap, cap, cap all the time. Let me tell you something from coming from a front office perspective, cash, cash, cash, cash really matters and they are spending a lot of money on someone no longer on the roster. All the cash is gone, the cap hit over two years is 85 million dollars and they've decided to take the bulk of it this year.

They could have taken 39.4 I believe, no 35.4. They could have taken 35.4 million this year. They chose to take 53 million this year, so if you're a Broncos fan, condolences in advance for what the season is going to look like.

But yeah, hey, they've got cash to burn. They've got the richest ownership group by far in the National Football League until Jeff Bezos jumps in, or jumps in, excuse me, this Walmart money that these folks have allows them to make these high-priced swings and misses as often as they want, as long as they can deal with the cap consequences on the back end. Before we go, I want to put a plug really quick on the Pittsburgh because we have a lot more to discuss with that. I want to go back to the Bears.

I'm just curious about your thoughts. You mentioned what I had said last week when I was sitting in for Rich when he was out of town, which is so many players are hurt. We're seeing so many quarterbacks out there. Why wouldn't they have held on to him longer?

And this whole BS about we're doing what's right for the kid, I think it's ridiculous. I think they mentally destroyed him in so many ways, and it'll be that much better to see how he plays in Pittsburgh should he be successful. But I mean, this is not about taking care of the quarterback. This is about, seems like more to me, about a GM who didn't really want him and about trying to figure out what the next step is and being afraid that they missed potentially one of the next best quarterbacks. But what's your reporting what happened in Chicago in the way that they divided this up and sent him playing? Like, why wouldn't they have kept him along longer just in case somebody else got hurt later on in the season, maybe in preseason, what have you, and had the value? And also, what about having a kid who potentially could be a good quarterback but who didn't have all the resources around him that the Bears have added now?

Well, and look, I'll start there and then move backward. What happened with Justin Fields in Chicago is the kind of thing that should cause Caleb Williams to take a serious objective look at whether or not he truly wants to join that organization. Short-term, boy, they got a lot of great players. They got a lot of great players. They just added Keenen Allen.

They have DJ Moore. The defense is on the way up. They found a way to keep Jalen Johnson, who was a franchise-tagged defensive back. The defense is good. They finished strong last year. You could come in and be a great quarterback with a great team and, right, that's short-term. Long-term, it's still the same organization that's been there forever, and I've been following football for 50 years, but for the 85 Bears and a little blip when they somehow stumbled their way into a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at quarterback, this team has been mired in dysfunction.

They've been the team that the other franchises in the NFC North and before that the NFC Central would just look at and say, we don't have to worry about the Bears. Is Caleb Williams going to change all that single-handedly? Longer term, what's going to happen? You've got a defensive head coach, an offensive coordinator who will get a head coaching job if Caleb Williams plays well.

We know how that goes. Then in comes a new offensive coordinator, and it's lather, rinse, repeat. Guys keep leaving. Caleb Williams doesn't have the kind of continuity he could have, so you look at what happened with Justin Fields, and you ask, how much of that is going to splash on to me? And then with the Fields exit, no one's going to come out and tell us the truth now.

Maybe it trickles out later. Maybe it's a week one Sunday splash report from all the National Insiders, but one thing that I haven't really pulled the thread on that I'm curious about. Did the Bears worry that they were going to have a problem with the agency that represents Justin Fields? Athletes first has Justin Fields.

David Mulugeta has Justin Fields, and he's very influential. He's got a lot of clients, and if we make this guy upset with us and he's not happy with this outcome, do we have a broader problem with other players on our team now or in the future? I wonder whether that was part of it, because they just didn't do it. They didn't do it out of the goodness of their heart, because we know they never do it out of the goodness of their heart. Amy Trask is the only NFL executive who ever did anything out of the goodness of her heart, and even then she was probably stonewalled time and again when she tried to do it, because it's always the best interest of the team, not the best interest of the player.

It's interesting that you said that, because we talked about that as well. I mean, anybody who says they're doing something for the player, they're doing it because it affects their pocket. They're not doing it for PR, and they're doing it because they want to win. This BS about how we sent him to Tomlin because we knew that's where he wanted to go, you've got to be kidding me. I mean, I hate the narrative. It's coincidental with what they're trying to do.

It's a coincidence, and they can say, hey, we're trying to help the kid. Hey, we were great guys here, but yeah, they want to help themselves, and oh, by the way, they got him out of the conference, too. They don't want to have to face him. Minnesota could have used him. They don't want to deal with him.

Yep, and boy, that's a great point. When you're doing something like the Bears did, you don't want him in your division. You don't want him in your conference.

It's going to be less of a headache. Imagine the narrative if he performs well, and you're facing him twice a season or even just facing him within your conference. That's another point I always make about young quarterbacks who get taken first in the draft.

They're 21, 22 years old. There's already enough pressure on them from being the first overall pick in the draft. The circumstance can add more pressure, and I don't think teams really take that into account when we're talking about the human aspects of this.

It's all pieces on a chessboard. It's all lottery tickets we're going to scratch off and see if we get a winner with that first-round pick, but when you ship out Justin Fields, who's still going to be in the league, who's still going to be playing, and people are going to be looking at what he does and comparing it to Caleb Williams or Jayden Daniels or whoever ends up being quarterback out of this draft class of the Chicago Bears, that adds more pressure just like last year. It's one thing for Bryce Young to be the first overall pick. It's another thing for him to be the guy that the Panthers gave up so much to move from nine to one to get including the pick that would have been and will be the first overall pick this year. It's more pressure on a player who's already dealing with the burden of being the first pick competing with CJ Stroud. It just makes it harder for the guy to reach his potential, and it's not like the NFL gives these players a long ramp to get to their maximum ceiling, whatever their ceiling is.

You get a couple of years and they'll just give up on you. Look at all the players from the 2021 draft class, three seasons in, and you got three of the guys traded for fourth-round pick, sixth-round pick, sixth-round pick, and Zach Wilson can't even be traded because the Jets won't get anything for him. Do you think there's any chance that Caleb pulls an Elway, pulls an Eli, and says, I'm not going to Chicago?

I'm not ready to rule it out. I think it's a very sensitive issue because it happens so rarely. If it would happen, most people in the media would be mad about it, and it would be the kids' fault, and how dare he push back against the honor and the privilege that it is to be told by the NFL machine where you're going to live, where you're going to work, even if it derails your career and you end up in a spot where they trade you for a sixth-round pick three years from now. So there's going to be a lot of pushback the next time it happens, but I think we're getting close to the point where it's going to happen because the one thing that Caleb Williams and next year's first overall pick and next year's first overall pick after that will have the guys in the past didn't have is a bunch of money in the bank from their NIL deals, and I think that's going to embolden someone at some point. If it's not Caleb Williams, it's going to be somebody else who's going to launch a pushback, and I think the first step is to do it discreetly and privately. Back in 2012, Robert Griffin III didn't want to change the Colts' mind about taking Andrew Luck. He wanted to go to Washington. Now, ultimately, it didn't work out long-term for either of them, but when it was time for the Colts to invite him to come to Indianapolis or do a private workout, one of the two, he just declined, and once you decline, you, okay, well, we're not going to second-guess whether or not Andrew Luck's our guy.

Maybe we would have changed our mind. We're not going to do it, and I think if Caleb Williams would start to give indications subtly and privately that maybe he's not thrilled with the Bears, that would be more effective because then the Bears figure it out on their own. The Bears decide that, for them, the best player is someone else. They start hyping that guy up, and they go in that direction. I haven't heard anything to suggest it's going to go that way, but that's the right way to do it if you're Caleb Williams. You don't want it to look like you made a power play.

You want to make it look like the team decided to go in a different direction. And you have to wonder if the Bears are looking at Jaden Daniels as well, thinking, hmm, this could be a good fit too. Yeah, absolutely, and hey, not that he's as good as Caleb Williams, but the thing about it is it's just a crapshoot.

Look at 2021. Five quarterbacks taken in the top 15, and one of them's worked out, and who knows what Trevor Lawrence is going to be? It looked like he was on franchise quarterback trajectory, and then last year, I don't know what happened, so the jury's still out on whether he's going to be a top five guy. Everybody wants that top five quarterback, and the only way you have a chance to get him is through the draft because nobody knows what those guys are going to be, but a lot of them aren't going to be good, and look at how many teams this year are desperate. The Vikings, they've already got two first-round picks ready to go. They are going to make their jump up into the top four, five, six, wherever to get a quarterback, and they're going to take their chances, and they're going to hope it works out, and maybe it will, maybe it won't.

If it doesn't, they'll be back there again taking another shot, but it may be a different coach and a different GM when they do. Mike, you are of course absolutely unequivocally entirely correct. The draft is not a science. There's no Rosetta Stone.

There's no Enigma code, and you pointed perfectly to 2021 as an example of that. A couple other things you said really resonated with me. As you well know better than most, there is a wide, wide gap in revenues between the highest revenue clubs and the lowest revenue clubs, and yes, all teams have a lot of revenues, but there are some teams that would not be willing to do what the Broncos did given their either lack of money in a comparative sense, or even if they have that much, their unwillingness to work walk away from it, and I know that that you're well aware of that revenue disparity. The other thing you said to me, and I won't bother sharing this story because I've shared it before, but Jamarcus Russell is an obvious example of a quarterback that didn't work out, and the point that you referenced that these are young, young kids. Jamarcus had something tremendously traumatic between his rookie and second years, and that contributed dramatically, and I love the fact that you always reference that.

These are kids, and yes, they are phenomenally well paid, but things can happen that upset the apple cart. I mean, we view them as superheroes, and we can't relate to them because they put their NFL uniforms on, and they transform into something bigger and better than what we can comprehend. We go to the scouting combine every year, and we talk to 20, 25, 30 of these kids, all wearing the same gear, all looking the same, not in pads, not in cleats, not in helmets. They're just kids, and I think it's something that teams need to be sensitive to, and most teams aren't.

It's just one interchangeable part after another in a giant football machine, and if this one doesn't work out, we throw it aside and we find a new one. Let's go back to the Russell Wilson conversation. Clearly, Kenny Pickett wasn't happy. He was reading the tea leaves that he was going to be sitting behind Russell Wilson. Now with Justin Fields coming in, what's your reporting on what's happening in this locker room, because why wouldn't they want to make this into a competition now? Well, I think it was not a coincidence that within hours after the news broke of the Justin Fields trade, and it was literally more like minutes or within one hour, Jerry Dulock of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Steelers intend to sign Russell Wilson to a longer-term deal after the season, so they're trying to create the impression now that Wilson is the guy.

When the report came out that when he met with the Giants, he wanted some sort of a guarantee about playing time, and he didn't get it, and that ended up not being a successful meeting. I think the Steelers have made him the commitment that he's QB1, but once you start playing the games, everything can change, and if he struggles, it will change, and even though they've set this up, as Wilson won in Fields 2, and I firmly believe, and I have done a little digging here, I think the new offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Arthur Smith, is already drawing up some plays where you have both guys on the field at the same time, and it conjures memories of Cordell Stewart's rookie year in 1995 when they used him and Neil O'Donnell at the same time, so I think that, yes, it's Russell Wilson, but he's got to live up to that, and if he fails, if he falters, if he stumbles at all, there's gonna be a ton of pressure. I mean, Russell Wilson wanted to be in Pittsburgh, and as long as you're playing well in Pittsburgh, they love you. The minute you struggle, especially if you've got a number two who's there, and we don't know what he can be, and the season is slipping away one loss at a time, there's gonna be a ton of noise.

There was so much noise last year about offensive coordinator Matt Canada until he was fired. Russell Wilson, yeah, hey, it's all positive now when you're 0-0. Once they start playing, if he doesn't play like he did in Seattle, it's just one of those things where nature takes its course, and it all unfolds, and we see it every year.

Once you get into one game after another after another, if it's not going well, it's not gonna go well for Russell Wilson. More with Mike Florio in just a second, but you know how hard it is to find those tickets with a game of the concert you've been dying to see. With game time, you don't have to worry anymore. This app is so easy, and even like a tech idiot like I can can figure out these tickets, it's easy to navigate. You see where your seats are gonna be when you take your kids as often as I take my kids. Being able to see ahead of time is the most important thing, almost as important as not getting screwed on the pricing. They let you know right up front what it's gonna cost with all-in pricing. It's the perfect solution to finding tickets to satisfy everyone, and I also love the fact they've got deals on tickets right up until the start of the event, and even in LA where everybody is late, it's even an hour after it starts.

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Limitations apply. See terms at discover.com slash credit card. Named one of the best personal finance podcasts, The Stacking Benjamin Show with Joe and his friends makes financial literacy fun. I got an email today from the LenPenzo.com HR department. I find it really interesting. I'm an employee of one at this company, but somebody from the HR department sent me an email telling me that I had a raise.

If I just open the attachment, I could see how much my raise was. Make sure you click on the links that are in there, too. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I can't wait. I'm excited.

Find out more by searching The Stacking Benjamin's podcast wherever you listen. What free agency story do you think is getting overlooked? Well, I don't know if it's getting overlooked. And we'll see how much the league overlooks it. You know, tampering is such a key part of the NFL. And it happens all the time. It starts at the scouting combine. And it's just kind of accepted.

That's what happens. Conversations occur when the agents and the representatives of the teams are face to face. But there's a certain element of discretion that gets applied where you don't just make it clear to the world that you've tampered with this guy. And the Falcons pursuit of Kirk Cousins, to me, doing this 23 years, it's the most blatant case of tampering I've ever seen. Where Kirk Cousins at his introductory press conference admits he spoke to and possibly met with. He might have blurted out that he met with the team's head athletic trainer during the 52-hour negotiating window where you're not supposed to talk to the player at all. And the Chiefs lost a third-round pick in 2016 for having direct communications with former Eagles receiver Jeremy Macklin before he signed with the team. And he talked to Ryan Pace, the director of player personnel, presumably during the 52-hour window. And someone enlisted him to recruit Darnell Mooney from the Bears. So you've got tampering within tampering.

We've got multiple levels of tampering. And he talked about it openly. Like they just didn't care. It was so blatant.

And he said, Kyle, Pitts was recruiting him weeks in advance. If he did that at the behest of the team or with the knowledge of the team, that's another tampering violation. I want to see how much juice Rich McKay has. Does he have enough juice to get the league to look the other way on this and just give them a slap on the wrist or do nothing at all? Because I've never seen tampering like this before. Mike, you certainly don't need me to tell you how right you are about the tampering. I will share with you that during my years with the Raiders, at one point, free agency started about 20 minutes after it started. And this was before the pre-free agency, not tampering, even though it's tampering.

But we're just gonna now start tampering earlier so we can tamper when we want to tamper, period. Free agency starts. I walk into the head of our football operations office maybe 10 minutes after it started. And there sits a player who had to fly five hours to get there.

And I just looked at him and I turned around and walked out. And Mike, I'm sharing this with you on this podcast because since you and I both have law degrees, we can stipulate that the statute of limitations has run. Yes, yes, it has expired.

All statutes of limitations have expired. But every year, once the negotiating period starts, you have multi-million dollar contracts negotiated from scratch in five or ten minutes. DeAndre Swift this year in Chicago, ten minutes in, three years, 24 million like that. An hour and a half, two and a half hours. Kirk Cousins, despite the torn Achilles, hundred million dollars fully guaranteed in two and a half hours.

They got to the comfort level and they were able to conclude these negotiations in literally two and a half hours. So again, the NFL isn't gonna do anything about it as long as you are not blatant. This year, they were so blatant they can't look the other way. I don't think they can look the other way.

We'll see if they do. How do you guarantee that much money for an older quarterback with an Achilles injury without being able to see him on the field? Well, we saw him on a tennis court doing half-speed drop backs and that's it. And he said last week he's passed the physical in all respects except for the Achilles.

Now I saw that and I was sitting on the set that day and I thought, are they insane? And you know Jimmy Garoppolo's contract last year with the Raiders had language in it that could have invalidated the entire contract if he wasn't able to pass a physical, a full physical, because he had that foot injury that needed surgery. He didn't have surgery on it when it happened in December. He delayed and then he failed the physical when he went to sign his contract with the Raiders and they rewrote the contract, delayed the press conference.

Everybody knew something was up. He had to pass a physical by the end of training camp week one, something like that, or they just could have said see you later. I don't know that there's language like that in Kirk Cousins contract. I have a feeling when you got a hundred million on the line there isn't going to be an easy way out for the Falcons.

I think they are committed to it but that makes it even crazier. And that's why I think the Vikings had a ceiling beyond which they weren't going to go. They had a structure, they had a number, and they were content to let Kirk Cousins go find something else with another team. Kevin O'Connell, the head coach of the Vikings, told us that in Indianapolis he said he wants him back 100% unequivocally but he kept saying he's earned the right to bet on himself in free agency. They were content to let him go out there and see if he could catch a bigger fish than the one that he had on the line in Minnesota. And they had no qualms about him walking away and now they activate their backup plan, which maybe their plan B was secretly their plan A all along.

We're gonna go get in the draft a guy who would potentially be our first franchise quarterback since the guy who lost to Amy's Raiders in Super Bowl 11, Fran Tarkenton. You know Mike, you point to the risk and you point to tampering and all of your points are spot-on. Of course if you're that team, you're not signing him without buying insurance. Whether you're buying TTD or STD, you're not signing him without insurance and it goes to your point.

Nobody's gonna insure him without doing either a physical or seeing the results of a recent physical done. So you know that may also factor into the tampering analysis. That was why I first started thinking about it Amy. I'm thinking wait a minute. This is the biggest contract we've ever seen given to a guy who's coming off of a major injury.

How did this happen so quickly? There's no way the Falcons got to a comfort level where Arthur Blank authorized the investment of 100 million dollars guaranteed in two and a half hours. There's no way they didn't have a head start on this and it all comes down to, and you know this very well Amy, how aggressively the league decides to pursue it. How creative they'll be in their requests for information. Will they just be checking boxes or will they be truly trying to get to the bottom of the rabbit hole?

Because there's gonna be some rabbits in there if they try to do it. And the other thing too that you know about this league, for some teams they'll do it, for some teams they won't. And there are other teams out there that if these same facts were at play, that team would be at risk of a much worse consequence than other teams. You don't say. Did Dallas do enough?

Did they do anything? This whole all-in thing, and Suzy I've told Rich this before, I'm starting to think that Jerry Jones really isn't as obsessed with winning another Super Bowl as he acts like he is. That's what I asked Michael Irvin the other day when he was on with me the other day. I said does he want another trophy or not? Because you know I've been watching obviously the dynasty in an hour after hour and Robert Kraft wants another trophy. I don't know what he's not doing enough right now to get it, but I don't see that desperation in Jerry Jones. I would have thought he would have done more.

I would have thought he would even bring in you know bring in Belichick for a year. Right. We hear it in the words, but we don't see it in the actions. And he's run out of words to the point where he started spouting off I'm all-in, I'm all-in, I'm all-in. And all-in means whatever he wants it to mean. I don't know what he means when he says all-in.

What he's trying to do, and when you think about it, what's more impressive? Winning one Super Bowl in the course of a 30-year window or through 30 years of never progressing past the divisional round. Having a team that is still the biggest draw in all of American sports. You've got the Kansas City Chiefs who used to compete directly with the Cowboys in Dallas when they were the Dallas Texans and the Cowboys won and the Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. They are the current dynasty in the NFL. They've won three Super Bowls in five years.

They should be America's team. It's still the Cowboys. The Chiefs should be the ones who generate the biggest audience every time they play in a standalone window. It's still the Cowboys. And I think that Jerry Jones has become the expert carnival barker who's out there saying, come one, come all, step right up. And when people go under the big top, what's inside is a fleece circus that can't get out of its own way. That is more amazing to me that he's maintained that status for that team when he hasn't won anything beyond the divisional round since 1995.

The fact that there's still America's team with the past 30 years of failure to achieve at a high level is really impressive. Mike, we now get to turn to a topic I cannot wait to discuss with you. You have honed in on something that I am, well, I've got my eye on it because I think we're going to see a change. Ownership meetings are coming up. One of the topics is a change, perhaps, in ownership rules.

I think for all the reasons you have shared, we're going to see that change. Whether it's this week or soon thereafter, I'd love any additional thoughts you have on the prospect of a change in ownership requirements and anything else you have to offer about the league meetings. I was told right after it became clear that once the Supreme Court laid the foundation or opened the floodgates for state-by-state legalized wagering and the NFL decided to jump in, not throw its hands up and say, we still are going to resist this.

We still want nothing to do with it. When they decided it was a viable revenue stream where they make money from sponsorships, they make money from partnerships for their data, and this is the dirty little secret that they don't like to talk about. Owners are allowed to hold up to 5% equity in companies that maintain sportsbook operations, but don't ask them about that.

They don't want to tell you who doesn't who doesn't. There's big money to be made there. Once that happened, you look at NFL franchises, and I was told that the average run-of-the-mill franchise within a not-too-distant time period is going to be worth eight to ten billion dollars. The problem, Amy, as you know, when you've got a franchise worth that much money, and one of the things I love about the NFL, you've got these multi-billion dollar businesses that are basically mom-and-pop operations, and when pop dies, what are you going to do?

How are you going to pay the estate taxes? We've seen families like Joe Robby and Jack Kent Cooke who've had to sell because they couldn't pay the estate taxes. They're trying to come up with ways to make it easier to continue these family-owned food trucks that are generating billions of dollars in revenue every year without having to convert the model to something that would be more corporate in nature. I'm a proponent of making them all publicly held corporations. Wouldn't that be something if you could buy stock in the Steelers, that you could buy and sell stock in the Raiders, and we already can in the Packers, but we know that the stock's worthless. What if it was real value that was out there for people to buy and sell, and there was a board of directors, and there were proper committees, and decisions were made in the right channels, not just somebody rolls out of bed one day and says, I want to fire my coach. I think there's a lot of value in shaking up the current model. What they're going to be doing, starting with the ability of private equity funds to buy a piece of these teams, they're trying to find a way to keep the values of the teams going up, but still allow them to be held by mom and pop, and at some point, Amy, that's going to collapse. The value is going to be too much. There's not going to be any way for any mom-and-pop operation to continue to hold these teams.

They're going to be a victim of their own financial success. Welcome to Talkville, the Ultimate Smallville Rewatch Podcast. Title Transference aired October 27, 2004.

Director James Marshall, writers Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer. I really liked this episode, and I'm surprised that you don't like it as much as you thought you did. I actually respect your opinion more than I respect my own in general. When you say things are good and I check them out, they are. Jump in now or catch up on any of the past seasons of Talkville on YouTube or wherever you listen.

Hi there. Sorry for the interruption, but are you enjoying this show on Google Podcasts? You should know that the Google Podcasts app is going away this spring. That's right, going away, gone as in no longer available. You can still enjoy this show elsewhere, though. Try out Spotify or Amazon Music or maybe TuneIn is more your style.

Whatever app you switch to, be sure to follow so you never miss the next episode, and thanks for listening wherever you listen. Well, Mike, you know what I'm about to say, but I'm sharing it for those who are listening or watching who may not know this. The three strictest restrictions, if you will, the rules that are the hardest to accommodate for a prospective team sale. One, the limit on the number of owners who can have equity in a team. Two, the limit in debt that can sit on a team or on its controlling owner. And three, the requirement that there is a controlling owner who owns a significant percentage of the team. It is now 30% for those coming in now. Some were grandfathered at 20%, but that grandfathering period is over. So when you put all of that together, you're running out of people that can just walk in and buy a team, own the 30% without exceeding the debt limit, without exceeding the debt limit on the team, and without having more than the allowed numbers. And you're absolutely right, of course. It's an issue that comes up with respect to estates.

I handled the estate work for Al, but of course that was well before teams were worth what they are now. But it also happens just when someone wants to sell. Well, when you want to drive a car, you've got to take two tests. One written and one you got to get behind the wheel and prove you know how to drive the car.

And you're probably wondering where the hell I'm going with this. There's no test to own an NFL team. You just have to have enough money.

It doesn't matter where you earned it. You just have to have the money or you have to be related in the right spot at the right time when the person who owns the equity dies and it falls into your lap. No requirement to have any knowledge whatsoever how to run a team. That's one of the things I love about the NFL. You get a lot of owners who are unfit to own and operate NFL teams.

They just don't know what they're doing. And I don't know that it's in the best interest of the league to continue this model, but they clearly want to continue this model. And what happens is there's no guarantee you're gonna get somebody who owns your team who knows anything about football. There's no guarantee you're gonna get somebody who's gonna be a good person in the local community. There's no guarantee you're not getting somebody who's gonna look for the first opportunity to move the team.

There's no guarantee you're gonna get somebody who won't throw a drink on fans when he gets upset because his football team isn't winning. These are all the direct consequences of making it all about who's got the most money. And as you said Amy, there aren't many people out there who can show up and write the check for the 30% to have the cash on hand to buy 30% of the team. There aren't many people in the world who have those kinds of assets. Well Tom Brady's showing up with a check, so how does this affect what you're talking about?

I think he's trying to get there. I think there's a very quiet race between him and Peyton Manning to see which one can get to that number first. And Tom Brady tried to buy and is still trying to buy 5-10% of the Raiders. And initially Jim Irsay basically admitted it was a sweetheart deal, like a 70% discount on the value of that equity. But you see these businesses that both Manning and Brady have going away from football. And I think this Omaha Productions is going to be the thing that ultimately puts Peyton in a position where he's gonna have the assets to buy a team sooner than later.

Not relatively speaking, not five years, but somewhere between 10 and 20 years he's gonna have the money to do it if he wants to do it. But that's the problem. As these guys are compiling wealth, the value keeps going up. So as long as that 30% rule that Amy talked about is there, you're constantly chasing that car and you're never gonna catch it. So they're gonna have to make more changes.

I think that this private equity exception is just gonna be the first step, Amy, to allow them to continue to do it where it's one person who buys it with the money that he or she has made elsewhere and then it gets passed along inside the family once that person moves on to the great football field in the sky. Well, I think you're absolutely right. We are going to... Or elsewhere. Or otherwise.

Or the much warmer football field. I think you're absolutely right. We're going to see changes in the ownership rules. I don't know if it'll be at this league meeting or at one that comes up, but for the reasons we've just been discussing, you're running out of people that can, proverbially speaking, write the check and they're gonna have to adjust the ownership rules. But as specifically goes for Brady, do you think he will be able to get this sliver of a deal?

Do you think that too many people will say no? Maybe it comes from within Raiders. Maybe there's other owners within that don't want him to have a piece because of the value of it. There was reporting on Super Bowl Sunday, we were sitting in the press box at Allegiant Stadium and it was one of those things that got tucked into all the other stuff that was happening in the run-up to the game between the Chiefs and the 49ers that it's expected that Brady's bid will be voted on. I haven't seen anything since then.

It's been five weeks and a couple of days, but whatever defects were there, they were being addressed. At one point, and Mark Davis was the guy who spoke out most loudly against the rule that prohibits giving equity to employees, slamming the door on the possibility of a player getting a small slice of the team, a coach getting a small slice of the team. I believe that Mark Davis was going to help finance this deal for Brady's sake by having Brady work for the team and the equity was going to be part of his compensation, but they had to come up with something to bridge the gap between fair market value for the equity and whatever Tom Brady was going to pay because they just don't want the value of equity in any franchise to be downgraded by somebody doing a sweetheart deal with a Tom Brady. That's the one big issue that's kept it from getting done. From time to time, I will hear that they don't care about him working for Fox as the number one analyst on their NFL broadcast. Sometimes it is an issue that there's a clear conflict of interest there. He was one of the voters this year for the AP Awards, which to me, it's like this guy is in the process of acquiring equity interest in the Raiders. It would seem like that shouldn't be the case. Part of it is he's Tom Brady. Being Tom Brady carries a lot of sway when it's time for rules to be ignored, except when there isn't enough air in the footballs.

You know, Suze, you just raised something very, very, very interesting and very, very, very wise. I don't know what the movie was, but remember that quote, the call is coming from inside the house. Certainly there are owners around the league, throughout the league, who want to make sure that they're comfortable with the number at which the interest is pegged. And to sell the interest, there needs to be a vote of ownership. But Raider ownership, and I'm not talking about Mark Davis, the Raiders are a limited partnership, and limited partners in the team need to be comfortable with that as well.

So when you said the call may be coming from inside the house, you're absolutely right. Existing limited partners have to accept the number at which the amount is being offered, or they can exercise rights they have with respect to that potential sale. So I think a big difference will be, you know, if you sell them 1%, existing owners in the team might not exercise their rights, other owners might be okay. You start getting to a number like 5% or 10%, there might be other owners in that team who say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there. I just quoted Samuel L. Jackson.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there. We want to exercise our rights. That's a great point. And look, this is me saying, and I'll give the disclaimer in advance, this is not Amy Trask saying it, Mark Davis doesn't strike me like the kind of guy who's going to understand all those complexities and niceties, and he just, it seems like he just wants to have a buddy. He had a buddy in John Gruden, and that didn't work out, and he's looking for another buddy, and he wants Tom Brady to be his buddy, and he's willing to give him this great deal on equity so he and Tom Brady can be buddies.

I say that half jokingly, but half seriously, and he just doesn't. And this is another reason why, what did he ever do to own an NFL team? He was the son of the guy who owned the team, and I just don't know that that's good for the league to have these franchises owned and operated by people who lack the objective qualifications.

By all appearances, there are multiple owners, and I could make a list very quickly, who seem to lack the objective qualifications to properly own and operate an NFL team. Well, I appreciate the disclaimer you put on that that came, and I'll offer my legal disclaimer. That which you just heard came from Mike Florio. It did not come from Amy Trask, but you know, I'll add to your comment about buddies. There's a link there, as between Tom and Mark. The individual who facilitated that relationship was Jim Gray, so it's buddy and buddy and buddy.

It's not just buddy and buddy. Is it, Amy, and I know you'll appreciate this, does Mark Davis think that if Tom Brady actually owns a piece of the Raiders, the tuck rule never happened? I've never looked at it from that perspective, and if you're trying to make me cry, you might succeed. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry. You know, Mike, Rich always says, like, there's a guy he doesn't want to be in a two-shot with, and it's Tom Brady. So, good luck, Mark Davis, because if he's a little sliver of an owner, and he's sitting next to him, like, by the way, that's a rough comparison, you know?

Absolutely. We've got plenty of pictures on our photo services at PFT, where it's Tom Brady and Mark Davis. Now, look, maybe Mark Davis just realizes, hell, with Tom Brady, it doesn't matter. I mean, I think, I'm not going to say it. I agree with what you said. I'll just leave it at that. I don't want to be in a two-shot with you. Be quiet. All right, before we go, for those of us who went to colleges without a math requirement, can you just explain your reporting on the Aaron Donald contract?

I find the whole thing somewhat fascinating and very confusing. Well, and I'll keep it simple, because I don't think it had anything to do with his decision. Two years ago, after they won the Super Bowl, and he had three years left on his contract, instead of doing an extension, he wanted the three years to be ripped up and replaced with three new years. And teams don't like to do that. They don't like to say, we're just going to forget about the contractual commitment you've already made and give you a brand new deal. They eventually did. And it was structured in a way to let him retire after two years if he chose to do so. We spotted that at the time.

We were told that at the time. This contract is specifically structured to let him walk away if he chooses to do so after two years and owe no money back to the team. So he made $65 million over two years.

He would have made $30 million this year. It was a three-year, $95 million deal. They took a $5 million payment that he was due this year with no forfeiture language involved. He got free $5 million this year, even if he doesn't play. They took it, and they turned it into a signing bonus to create cap space. There was another payment on the books that they used to create cap space. I suspect they will process his retirement after June 1. It was all just a way to create some cap space this year.

That's all it was. I'll be stunned if he comes back. Although, I mean, if somebody would call up the Rams and say, hey, are you willing to trade this guy? And if somebody would work the back channels to Aaron Daudle and say, hey, would you be willing to play for $40 million this year? I could see that change in his mind.

Because remember, he retired sort of two years ago. He created a retirement letter and sent it to the Rams to get them to finally give him the contract he wanted. So he's walking away from $30. Would he walk away from $40? If there was $40 in play, I don't know.

But the contract they did last week was all about just using an opportunity on the way out the door to create about $9 million in cap space for this year that they'll go use on other players to try to fill the void of Aaron Daudle not being there. All right, for those of you who are watching this podcast, he's got a great looking bar behind him. I mean, you've got upside down hanging glasses, and you've got a bottle of wine over your right shoulder. And I just have to know what it is. Now I'm curious.

So can you can fill us in? Although, you know what, I'm wearing shorts, but I'm gonna go get the bottle and I'll show you. At least you're wearing shorts. What's going on here? This is a bottle of Florio brand Marsala that a cousin of mine, whose parents came over from Italy and his dad died decades ago, and he was going through some of his dad's old things six, seven, eight years ago, and he found this in his dad's things. So this is really, really old. It probably has not aged well, but it's there for show. I love it. Fantastic. There's a Florio wine. There's a Florio wine company in Italy, and this is just a great bottle that I keep around.

It's there for sentimental reasons. Mike, thanks for your time. Really loved unpacking this all with you, and hope you'll come back another time. Great talking to you. Happy to do it.

Really loved having you. I mean, I have to say that you freaked me out for a second because you said STD. And I texted Don Boo, and I'm like, Oh, Jesus, did she say STD? Come on, insurance policies, TTD, PTD, STD, and it's not that kind of STD, Susie.

Can you explain for us, the whole audience here that's wondering what the hell you're talking about? TTD, total temporary disability, which by the way, sounds like an oxymoron, right? Total and temporary. PTD, partial temporary disability.

STD, season ending temporary disability. Yeah. Thanks so much. I guess it could have been SETD. I could have made that clear, but I'm kind of glad I freaked you out a little bit. I mean, I literally paused and thought, Oh, Jesus, does she know what she just said? So just thought I would go there. I almost did giggle a little bit when it came out. Nothing like legalese that has to do with sexually transmitted diseases. And by the way, here's to the fact that we can get as old as we want to get and we can still giggle.

Please, still got to make a poop joke. All right, guys, thanks for taking in this edition of What the Football. We will be back with you in a few weeks and we can't wait to see you the next time.

Take care. Movies, TV shows, books, podcasts, and more. It's what women binge with Melissa Joan Hart and her friend Amanda Lee. We have Lauren Bosworth with us. The Hills. So what is like your number one question from fans? The primary question I still get asked was what is it real? In 2024 to me is a surprising question to get because I feel like everybody has been through the reality TV gauntlet at this point. What women binge wherever you listen.
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