Dan Hanzus takes questions from you, the readers, in his latest mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. You will be spared.
For the uninitiated, the Graybeards are a fake team I put together each spring that's made up entirely of veteran players without a job. Here are the Graybeards players who remain unemployed as of Wednesday:
QB Jay Cutler
QB Colin Kaepernick
QB Mark Sanchez
RB Adrian Peterson
FB John Kuhn
WR Jeremy Maclin
WR Jordan Matthews
TE Antonio Gates
TE Julius Thomas
OT Luke Joeckel
G Jahri Evans
DE Junior Galette
DE Robert Ayers
DT Johnathan Hankins
DT Nick Fairley
LB NaVorro Bowman
LB Brian Cushing
CB Bashaud Breeland
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
CB Adam Jones
S Eric Reid
Taking out retirements, 21 of the 37 Graybeards remain unemployed as training camps break. Who's the most surprising name on that list? I think a lot of people thought Peterson would catch on somewhere, but interest appears scant. Matthews actually signed with the Patriots, but he hit the street again after injuring his hamstring. He could get a look once healthy. Cutler is a reality TV superstar now, but he has yet to file retirement papers. Rodgers-Cromartie worked out for the Seahawks and might be on the Redskins' radar. Breeland worked out for the Dolphins. The Chargers and Gates have been in touch after the Hunter Henry injury. The continued unemployment of Kaepernick and Reid goes beyond football. Consider it fitting that Sanchez's NFL career might be over in the same year Sam Darnold, another shining son from USC, inherits the savior role from the Jets.
Ice Cube was a guest this week on the Around The NFL Podcast, and I was impressed/relieved by his nuanced knowledge of the Raiders and their uncertain standing in the AFC. Cube is one of the most famous Raiders fans in the country; it would've been a bummer if he was exposed as a fugazi fan on our show. For the record, Cube questioned the decision to let offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave walk after the 2016 season and expressed concern over Derek Carr's throwing mechanics. He also pounded the table for Browns coach Hue Jackson. Cube wishes Jackson never left Oakland. Now that's a spicy take! Here's my host takeaway: You'd be surprised how quickly you get uncomfortable repeatedly uttering "Ice Cube" in conversation. Eventually I shifted to "Cube" and just hoped he didn't call me out for being overly colloquial.
Oooh, this is interesting. Honestly, I'm not sure the Canadian Football League signs up for a scenario where they acknowledge themselves as an inferior product to the more prominent organization to the south. It's like how Chad already knows Rob is the more conventionally attractive Lowe brother; we try to spare him the indignity of having to publicly admit it. Then again, there's no doubt that inserting an NFL team -- even a crummy one -- into Canada's orbit would give the league a bigger platform while also making it an official business partner of the NFL, which, one assumes, surely has its benefits.
One thought: I'd feel badly for the Grey Cup winner in this scenario. Going from proud league champion to the hammer end of weekly blowouts is no way to defend a title. (This is where the CFL stans jump in and contend that the best CFL team could hang in the NFL, to which I say, puhleeze.)
Anyway, fun idea that will never, ever, ever happen.
Perhaps I have a soft spot for the city since it was the first place I lived after college, but I'll always be partial to Kenny Brittgetting arrested at a Hoboken car wash after allegedly crushing a cigar that contained weed. Just a funny image, though I imagine it was a less humorous scenario for the former Rutgers star.
Honestly, it's not the worst thing that could happen. Your single-minded objective is to win your league, and when someone leaves it to the bots to select their team, they're basically waving a white flag that reads, "I'M A SUCKER WHO LIKES TO GIVE AWAY MY MONEY." You will benefit from it, not to mention the auto-draft function always ends up doing dumb stuff like drafting dudes with shredded ACLs in the third round. Bots are not as intelligent as they think. Stupid robots.
Does it have to be "to the death"? Let's tweak it so it's like a professional wrestling battle royale -- i.e., 30 guys in a ring wailing on each other until only one remains. Anyway, I'd go with Cam Newton. The man is just such an incredible athletic specimen -- 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds of muscle. Then again, does Cam have -- to borrow a Gorilla Monsoon-ism -- the "testicular fortitude" to survive in that environment? Why does it feel like every Cam debate circles back to the same place? I also kind of like the new-and-improved Andrew Luck. Post-shoulder-woes Luck is jacked and hungry, and, like Cam, he possesses the athleticism necessary to evade, then pounce. Sam Bradford would spontaneously combust in this scenario. Aaron Rodgers would be the "babyface" who's not above dirty tactics, and the crowd loves him for it. Drew Brees would be the crafty, Bret Hart-like tactician. Brock Osweiler would be the Obligatory Tall Guy who gets pounded mercilessly. Tom Brady would either be the first guy out or the last man standing.
Yeah, this is getting weird. The Browns haven't had a quarterback worth a damn since they returned to the league in 1999. The Jets have had a rotating door at the game's most important situation since Joe Namath left. Cleveland's quarterback situation has been sad; Gang Green -- which once employed Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow simultaneously -- has trafficked in tragicomedy.
And yet, here we are. In Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, the Browns and Jets have the type of prospects that can change their organization forever. And the kids arrive at the exact moment both teams appeared to have found stability at the position. Tyrod Taylor is a perfectly respectable starting quarterback. The Jets actually have two guys: Josh McCown, the unflappable vet, and Teddy Bridgewater, the tantalizing reclamation project.
It's a strange scenario, but ultimately it's all about the kids. If they can play, everything else is just noise.
You have to think we'll have movement here sooner rather than later. The Seahawks are a defense and organization in transition, and Earl Thomas feels more and more a part of the team's past rather than its present or future. The Cowboys make the most practical sense, but there has to be a host of teams -- yes, Tampa Bay included -- that should be ringing Seahawks general manager John Schneider. I imagine they are. Thomas is too good a player to be sitting on a couch over a contract dispute in Week 1. Somebody do something.
Until next time ...