So much for quarterback saying the right thing, doing the right thing — of being not just the marketing face of a team but the conservative voices of NFL franchises. Do you see the sea-change happening at sports’ most important position?
DeShaun Watson wants out.
Aaron Rodgers isn’t happy.
Russell Wilson makes it three.
That’s three of the game’s top six quarterbacks expressing displeasure with their teams. This is a revolution of sorts. And before anyone calls for the Miami Dolphins to call all these teams about a trade — but they should, as due diligence — let’s see what’s at work here.
Is it some NBA-styled demands coming to the NFL? Maybe.
Is it these quarterbacks seeing Tom Brady get out of New England, adding players he requested like Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, then winning another Super Bowl? Maybe, too. But Watson started his campaign before Brady won his first playoff game in Tampa Bay.
So let’s separate these quarterbacks a bit. Over here is Watson pounding the table loudly over something dysfunctional in Houston that others like receiving great Andre Johnson are supporting. And, over there, Rodgers and Wilson are almost cryptically saying they want something changed.
Rodgers said after losing to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game, “There’s lots of guys’ futures that are uncertain — myself included.” He since amended that to saying he “thinks” he’ll be back to Green Bay. And team president Mark Murphy said Rodgers would return because, “I’m not stupid.”
Nor is Seattle’s management dumb enough to trade Wilson. But there’s some muscle flexing going on. Wilson wants to be more involved in personnel decisions. “At the end of the day, it’s your legacy, your team’s legacy — it helps to be involved more,’' he said the third time radio host Dan Patrick asked him. “That dialogue should happen more.”
There was the sound of a set-up going on. Wilson, Patrick said, is on course to be the most-sacked quarterback, “in the history of the game … This doesn’t even count the number of times you were hit — 394 sacks, that’s quite a lot.”
That led to national reports of his being upset with his line, his supporting cast — and with the hiring of Seattle’s new offensive coordinator. There’s a larger point of why teams wouldn’t bring the quarterback who’s making 10 times what coaches are into their thinking on hiring the offensive strategist.
You can connect some dots and make this offseason quarterback story even bigger. Matthew Stafford wanted out of Detroit and was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. But that’s different. Detroit was on a rebuilding mission and didn’t see Stafford in it. Just as Philadelphia expects to trade Carson Wentz because of his deteriorated game.
There’s also this point about the Wilson and Rodgers situations: Ever since the Phoenicians invented money, there’s been a better way to feel appreciated. Here’s what Rodgers and Wilson see in the average pay for quarterbacks.
Patrick Mahomes, $45 million a year.
Watson, $39 million a year.
Wilson gets $35 million a year, but what’s that these days? Mediocre Jared Goff is getting $33.5 million — the same pay as Rodgers. Plus, Rodgers had to put up with an uncomfortable season after Green Bay drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round.
This is Rodgers’ chance to give some pushback for that Love pick. He’s giving it, too. He no doubt wants some money put on the table as well.
What Wilson and Rodgers won’t get is a plane ticket out of town. They’re too good. Watson might not be leaving Houston, either. But he could be a different story considering how direct and loud he’s been. And how defensive end J.J. Watt asked for and received his release Friday. And franchise-great Andre Johnson spoke out.
Folks, there’s a problem in Houston.
But remember this, too: We’re just hearing the one side of all these quarterback stories. It’s the quarterbacks’ side talking — the agents dishing to national reporters. And why? Well, there’s some legitimate reasons why franchise quarterbacks want more say in their careers.
You didn’t need Brady to show why. You don’t even need this era. Dan Marino was upset with the Dolphins and asked about a trade in 1989. The Dolphins weren’t about to trade their franchise arm — just as Green Bay and Seattle won’t, either. Just as any smart organization won’t.
That leaves Houston. Are they smart? Can they mend problems with Watson? That’s what teams like the Dolphins and New York Jets are waiting to see.
Bottom-line: There’s a lot of muscle flexing and money chasing by quarterbacks this offseason. Just don’t expect a lot of movement among the elite arms.
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