*29 teams have started training camp and we were busy keeping up with them on Friday. Four stories stuck out as ones that will resonate all season long: *
1. Seahawks window is wide open
The dumbest hot take of the day: The bill is coming due for the Seahawks because they have so many young players signed to monster deals. As if getting a young franchise quarterback to sign a team-friendly deal could be a bad thing.
Russell Wilson is under contract for the next five years for "just" over $89 million. He got the $31 million signing bonus he wanted, while the Seahawks got him to sign a contract considerably more reasonable than Joe Flacco's six-year, $120 million contract. Wilson can hit free agency again when he's 30 years old. And the Seahawks are in position to compete for titles until then.
The Seahawks have the following players under contract for at least the next three years: Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Marshawn Lynch. That is a ridiculous core of players. Don't be surprised if linebacker Bobby Wagner is the next to get a long-term deal before the season, even if he didn't sound thrilled on Friday.
The Seahawks have a plan to pay all these players as stars, and to keep them together for years. That requires the team keep drafting and developing players like no other team so they can maximize the value of rookie contracts. It will also require the Seahawks to make some tough decisions and possibly say goodbye to players like tackle Russell Okung and linebacker Bruce Irvin. Success breeds greed, and guys like Bennett and Chancellor already want new deals. But this is a great problem to have.
Barring injury catastrophe, Seattle should be among the favorites to win the Super Bowl for at least the next three seasons. That is about as big a window as you can possibly get for dominance in the NFL, and this is from a team that has already been among the league's top for the past three seasons.
The bill isn't coming due for the Seahawks. It's the rest of the league that should be worried. The salary cap is going to continue to grow because of the TV money washing over the sport. Paying players is easy in the NFL. Finding players is hard.
No team has been better at finding those players in the NFL than the Seahawks, and they make sure the good ones don't get away.
2. This Tom Brady story is mercifully going to end
The multiple legal filings regarding Brady on Friday created one big takeaway: This case is on the fast track. The NFL and NFLPA can't agree on anything, but they agreed to expedite this case so that we can have a resolution before Week 1. On the same day that the Patriots continued to hammer the NFL online, New York Judge Richard Berman implored the two sides to continue negotiating an agreement.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Brady will be required to attend a conference on Aug. 12 that is open to the public. Assuming no resolution happens in the meantime, they will be back in a New York courtroom on Aug. 19 for potential oral arguments. Judge Berman made it clear this week in his filings that he wants this matter resolved as fast as possible. It would be stunning if this never-ending story isn't over well before the Patriots' opener on September 10. NFL fans can thank Berman for helping to end the insanity as soon as possible.
3. Sheldon Richardson got some very good news
One day after the world and the New York Jets learned about Richardson's July 14 arrest, we learned that Richardson won't face any felony charges. St. Charles (Missouri) County prosecuting attorney Tim Lohmar told NFL Media on Friday his office decided not to pursue a more serious charge of child endangerment, citing the difficulty in proving the felony beyond a reasonable doubt.
Richardson will still face misdemeanor charges related to resisting arrest and traffic violations, but he will not face any drug or child endangerment charges. That doesn't mean he's out of hot water, of course. Richardson is suspended for the first four games of the season, and the NFL will be looking into these new charges. A longer suspension is certainly on the table, but the doomsday scenarios in the wake of Richardson's arrest were overwrought.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said he has "no idea" if Richardson will play for the Jets in 2015, and that the team will be prepared to play without him. That's what he has to say; he doesn't know. Bowles said that he certainly "lost trust" in Richardson but also sounded a reconciliatory tone, calling him a "good guy."
The Jets had Richardson meet the media Friday again to apologize. That's not what you do with a player that you want to get rid of. That's what you do with a talented player who you want to rebuild his public image. Richardson said that he didn't think the arrest would change his future with the Jets, and he might just be right.
4. Galette finds a home
As Galette showed this week, there is a sliding scale for justice in the NFL. Talent trumps all.
The Redskinssigned Galette to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum, NFL Media's Albert Breer reported. It's a remarkable contract because it gives the Redskins a right of first refusal in 2016, essentially allowing them to match any offer he gets elsewhere. You rarely, if ever, see a contract like that with a veteran.
Then again, you rarely see a player light his career on fire like Galette has done in the last
week month year.
"I'm just thankful to be with such a functional organization," Galette said Friday.
On one hand, this is a ridiculous statement to make about a team beset by drama that has finished dead last in the NFC East in six of the last seven years. On the other hand, the Saints gave Galette $18 million over the last 10 months. That's not what a smart organization would do.
Putting the off-field problems and the ridiculous quotes aside, and the Redskins got a starting pass rusher at a low price. They just shouldn't be surprised when they get a handful of drama to go with all those quarterback hits.