The Parcells factor
Bill Parcells is a decision maker. Some people talk about making the tough call, others make the call and don't look back. The Miami Dolphins have a former head coach in the top seat. Not a guy on the competition committee, not a guy with a law degree, not a guy worried about building a new stadium, but a nuts and bolts football guy who has torn down and rebuilt a number of NFL teams.
Parcells went to work the second he took over the Dolphins. On Monday we witnessed the first wave of personnel decisions as Trent Green and Marty Booker were two of nine players released by the Dolphins. Heck, Miami didn't even start its offseason conditioning program and players have already been shown the door.
The game tapes don't lie and I promise you Parcells locked himself in his office and studied every player under contract himself besides getting the opinion of the people he hired. There will be more to come in the way of player dismissals, and the size of the contract will have little to do with his decision.
Trent Green, L.J. Shelton, Joe Toledo, and Keith Traylor leave $2,835,043.00 of potential acceleration money in bonuses that will be charged against the 2008 cap. That kind of money never convinced Bill to keep a player. Now the remaining players on the roster know Parcells means business. There should be a few more players notified that Mr. Parcells would like them to restructure their deals shortly, and I don't mean converting salary to a signing bonus. I think the message will be loud and clear that a reduction in pay is a good idea if they want to stay on the Dolphins' roster. The third phase will come at the start of the offseason program. I feel bad for the first player who has an excuse for why he can't be there for the start of the program. He will be gone!
Free agency should see a swift injection of former Parcells players from his many stops along the way in the NFL. Parcells' first goal will be to strengthen special teams. A guy like Keith Davis of the Cowboys could be a prime target.
As the draft approaches, look for Parcells to get a few trade deals in the works. And don't be surprised if he goes after a restricted free agent with a high tender. When he came to the Jets it wasn't long before he had his sights set on Curtis Martin. If Derek Anderson gets to restricted free agency and Parcells believes he is a better option than the available draft talent, he will find a way to land him.
Imagine if Parcells pulled off a trade with the Cowboys and gave them the top pick in the draft for their late first-round picks and RB Marion Barber, which has been rumored. He could then turn around and offer one of the low first-round picks and a third round pick for Anderson. He would still have a first-round pick, the top pick in the second round and two great backs in Barber and Ronnie Brown for the Dan Henning power running game. It's all speculation at this point, but it's all possible with a football guy like Parcells running the Dolphins.
Is the class of '04 standing up to the class of '83?
For a long time the quarterback class of 1983 has been considered the best in NFL history. Three Hall of Fame signal callers in John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were taken that year. Also in that class were Tony Eason, who took the Patriots to a Super Bowl, Ken O'Brien of the Jets and Todd Blackledge. I thought it would be interesting to take a peak at what the top three from that famous class did in their first four seasons as compared to the top three of 2004, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.
The Hall of Fame threesome from 1983 combined to win a total of two Super Bowls in their illustrious careers. The class of 2004 pulled even with them after Eli Manning led the Giants to the crown two weeks ago. It's too early to proclaim this group better than the Class of '83, but they sure are on pace for greatness.
In their first four seasons, Elway, Kelly and Marino combined for 289 touchdown passes, 195 interceptions and were sacked 310 times. The 2004 trio have thrown 205 touchdowns, just 143 interceptions and have been sacked 292 times.
The other day a GM asked me, "Can you imagine what Elway, Kelly and Marino would be paid if they were playing in this era?" I said, "Yes! Exactly what Roethlisberger is about to make as Pittsburgh tries to figure out what a new deal should look like, and Manning and Rivers won't be far behind."
It's entirely probable that the three stars of the Class of '04 will see over $100 million combined of guaranteed money in their next deals, especially when a guy like last year's No. 1 pick, QB JaMarcus Russell, got such a big deal. The scariest fact remains that if Roethlisberger, Manning and Rivers keep winning at their present pace and last as long as Marino (17 seasons), Elway (16 seasons) and Kelly (11 seasons), the money will be out of sight. There is time for all three guys to land a big contract two more times before their careers are over. Spin ahead five years and we could see three QBs in their early thirties with four or five Super Bowl wins between them along with over 500 touchdown passes and close to $200 million in guaranteed money used to lock them up. Ouch!