The past 10 days or so have seen more NFL-style shotgun weddings and player movement than the league has experienced since the mass USFL exodus of 1986.
Too bad I missed all the excitement while goofing off in a small German village on vacation. After catching up on all the activity, I've been shocked by a few free-agency and personnel moves. Here are the biggest head-scratchers so far.
Jackson anointed in Seattle
Are you kiddin' me with Tarvaris Jackson? Are we talking about the same guy? What Pete Carroll sees in the former Viking is anyone's guess, because it sure can't be Fran Tarkenton. New and old teammate Sidney Rice thinks Jackson was never unleashed in Minnesota. Yes, that is correct. But it was only because Jackson couldn't make any of the throws. It wasn't anything major.
All I could think about was 2008, when former Vikings coach Brad Childress completely reined in his offense in an effort to not lose to the Eagles in the wild-card round. The Vikings took zero chances on offense, with no vertical strikes. T-Jax went 15 of 35. For everyone who thought Childress was asleep at the wheel, maybe it's because the car he was driving was a Ford Escort.
Miami's failure to land Orton
Make it happen, general manager Jeff Ireland. There's a reason those Dolphins fans with no jobs were chanting "we want Orton" at Monday's scrimmage. When I saw that the Kyle Orton trade was "dead," I was really surprised.
Chad Henne can't get the ball downfield. Leave the "no weapons" garbage at the door: He had as good of a supporting cast as Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, and look at what the latter did with a bunch of rookies. Fans are tired of three-and-outs in Miami, and although not the final solution, Orton would be a very nice bridge to landing a franchise quarterback in the interim.
Oh, and if the Johns (Elway and Fox) want Tim Tebow to play, they should deal Orton.
Brown is one stubborn dude
Many of my colleagues were certain Cincinnati would trade Carson Palmer. Why? If Mike Brown has gone this long without a real scouting department against every piece of sound logic in developing a winner, why would he blink regarding Palmer? Yet, I found myself surprised when I caught this bit of news (or non-news.)
Don't feel bad for Palmer. Maybe he doesn't want to play with the same set of problems in 2011. Yet, No. 9 was part of the problem in Cincinnati, compiling his third straight mediocre season. He hasn't had a passer rating over 90 since 2006.
Talib keeps getting chances
Something about Aqib Talib's brief career is very Pacman Jones-esque, no? When I read the Bucs welcomed him back to camp, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. Without rehashing Talib's transgressions and run-ins with law, at what point does a team say, "Enough is enough?" Talib is a far better player than Jones, allowing just 34 receptions while picking off six balls last season.
Bears have a plan, right?
Mike Martz's offense needed a big, possession receiver, so they signed … Roy Williams? What in his recent body of work made the front office hop up and say, "That's our guy!" Plaxico Burress, despite not playing the past two seasons, would have been the better move. Burress might have spent Thanksgiving in prison, but at least he wasn't fumbling away one of his only good plays of the season in Dallas.
Another former Cowboy, Marion Barber, was a curious acquisition. Not bad, just curious. Over the past couple of seasons, Marion the Barbarian resembled the second Conan movie (which wasn't good) more than the first. His 3.3 yards per carry average last season was the third-lowest in the NFL (minimum 100 attempts.) That said, Barber is outstanding in short yardage, which should help a more conservative Bears offense in 2011.