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|Pat Kirwan will visit 14 training camps this year, including a visit with Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.|
By Sunday, all 32 teams will be in camp and I will be out on my annual training camp tour. This year, I will hit 14 camps, plus the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.
Here are some issues I'm looking at this week as camps begin to get underway.
80-man rosters already threatened
The Washington Redskins go out for one practice and two defensive linemen go down with season-ending injuries. Granted the Skins were able to quickly trade for former Dolphins pass-rusher Jason Taylor, but can you imagine if the Redskins were not in the Hall of Fame game and started practice a week later and incurred those same two injuries? Jason Taylor may have already been dealt to another team. The small pool of available players is going to dry up fast this summer with the 80-man roster.
It is no wonder that free agents Takeo Spikes (LB) and Greg Wesley (S) are already getting serious action from teams around the league. As I said last week, with the limited camp roster size teams are not going to hesitate to place players on injured reserve a little quicker than in years past in order to get fresh bodies into camp.
In the long run it may cost teams more to go with an 80-man camp roster rather than a 90-man roster like the Buccaneers proposed. In the case of the Redskins, there was no avoiding the salary cap hit for Phillip Daniels ($2 million) because it was a torn ACL, but the $7.5 million charge for Jason Taylor is a big hit.
Head coaching records
It might surprise you to know that only 15 of the 32 current head coaches have winning career records. Of course, four of the head coaches have no experience and it remains to be seen if they are on the winning side of the ledger after their first season. That leaves 13 head coaches in the NFL with losing career records.
Maybe the league owners have been turning head coaches over at such a rate that there just aren't enough guys with winning records to go around any more. Bill Cowher is going to look real good to a few owners at the end of this season.
Rookie money (guaranteed)
It sounds like veteran players are starting to realize that the rookie contracts are out of line with what veterans are making. Wait until they see what it looks like when all 31 players selected in the first round of last April's draft have completed their deals.
Back in 2006, first-round draft picks averaged $10.3 million in guaranteed money. In 2007, it was close to $11 million per first-round player. I ran out some projections on 2008 based on the top four rookies already being signed and the Joe Flacco (No. 18 overall pick) deal. It's conceivable that the top 10 draft picks will average $22-25 million in guaranteed money. The top 20 players could easily average $16-18 million in guaranteed money and the first round should average close to $13 million in guaranteed money.
No one can really believe 31 unproven college kids deserve close to $400 million in guaranteed money or that there isn't a better way of rewarding talent.
Have a football-related question for Pat that you would like answered in a future column? Email him at email@example.com. "Movin' the Chains," Pat's SIRIUS NFL Radio show with co-host Tim Ryan, can be heard weekdays from 3-7 p.m. ET.