It's April Fool's Day. The day many people will attempt a prank, often in the form of fake news. But sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. And there were plenty of happenings in the NFL this offseason that should one of these stories break today, you wouldn't believe it.
They agreed to part mutually, but really the 49ers fired Jim Harbaugh, who was one of the most successful coaches in their history, took the team to three-straight conference championship games, and is two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. And shortly after leaving the position, Harbaugh spurned any NFL interest - including strong interest from the Raiders - and returns to his alma mater at University of Michigan. If it weren't true, you wouldn't have believed it.
After owner Jed York, GM Trent Baalke, and Jim Harbaugh discover there's not enough room in Levi's Stadium for all three of their egos, they leapfrog coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio in favor of a golly gee wiz nice guy defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Who then has a trainwreck of an introductory press conference and the circus officially pulls into Santa Clara.
First it was 30-year-old All Pro middle linebacker Patrick Willis announcing his retirement and then it's his hopeful replacement, Chris Borland who follows him out the door. Just a year after Borland joined the NFL as a third round pick out of Wisconsin, he is hanging them up at the young age of 24 due to what he says are concerns about the health and safety of the game. He started half of last season and had better numbers than C.J. Mosley who was a runner up for Rookie of the Year. That circus tent in the South Bay is now on fire and the clowns can't get out of the tiny car fast enough to put out the blaze.
For the second offseason in a row, Chip Kelly gets rid of the Eagles' top offensive weapon. Last year it was Desean Jackson who was released. This year he shipped Shady McCoy to the Bills to acquire former Oregon Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso. He has made a lot of moves to bring his old college team back together. He drafted two Oregon Ducks in 2014 in Josh Huff (third round) and Taylor Hart (fifth round), traded for Alonso, then signed Duck DB Walter Thurmond III. In total he has eight former Oregon Ducks on his roster. Birds of a feather...
If there was one running back in the league who could be considered an upgrade from LeSean McCoy, it's DeMarco Murray. So just days after he shocked the sports world by trading away McCoy, he got Murray. And just when you thought this meant Ryan Mathews would go unsigned, wrong, he got him too.
There were some draft picks in this trade as well, but what matters here is the swapping of quarterbacks. Young, big armed Nick Foles heads to the Rams and the Eagles get former number one overall pick Bradford. Then Kelly says in his press conference that he was offered a first round pick the morning after acquiring Bradford. If there was an actual offer, rumors say it came from the Browns who have two first round picks in this draft. Some have speculated if given the opportunity, Chip Kelly could make that trade and then attempt to package the two first round picks to move up and take Marcus Mariota in the draft, further stockpiling Ducks. Making April fools out of all of us.
There is a strong possibility the top two picks in the NFL draft are Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State QB Jameis Winston. And both have announced they will not be attending the NFL draft in Chicago this year. So, it's possible the NFL's biggest non-game event of the year will not see a top prospect grace the stage until a half hour into the broadcast. Even if they aren't the first two taken, they will have to settle for seeing the top two quarterbacks and two highest profile players in the draft only via live feed from their respective homes instead of posing with their 1 jersey with the commissioner.
These two unlikely bedfellows have purchased a plot of land in Carson California and officially put the plans in motion to share a stadium. The Raiders once declined to share a stadium with cross-bay rival 49ers are now fully prepared to share a place with a division rival. All this is in response to Rams owner Stan Kroenke moving forward on his stadium plans in Inglewood. The Raiders and Chargers have to make sure they aren't left out of the race to LA so here we are. Plans are also moving forward in Oakland and San Diego to try to get stadium deals done there.
The Saints. With the worst defense in the NFL last season by many statistical measurements, has decided the best course of action is to get rid of their best offensive weapons. They traded All Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks for Max Unger (some draft picks were involved as well) and traded wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Dolphins for Dannell Ellerbe and a third round pick. They also sent offensive guard Ben Grubbs to the Chiefs for a fifth round pick. Drew Brees right about now is like ‘Da fuq?'
Every draft prospect knows they are going to be tested for pot and other substances at the scouting combine. So, popping positive for anything is just about the stupidest move any of them can make. Soon after the news broke, there were reports he used to be allowed to toke up before games at Nebraska to calm his nerves. Unless/until the league begins allowing players to smoke marijuana, this has to be incredibly concerning for any prospective team. Prior to this he was considered arguably the best pass rusher in this draft and a potential top 5 pick.
This is such a Patriots thing to do. They ensured they held onto kicker Stephen Gostkowski by placing the franchise tag on him. Of course, when it's the Patriots, NFL analysts will look for how this move is smarter than anyone else in the NFL. If it were most teams, it would inspire ridicule. Like, say, the Browns, Raiders, or Jaguars. Here's an idea, how ‘bout you just re-sign him? He's a kicker. It probably wouldn't be that difficult. Unless he simply wants to leave in which case you're just delaying the inevitable.
Coming into the offseason, the Raiders top three needs were wide receiver, defensive end, and offensive guard. After 10 free agents were added, their top three needs are now wide receiver, defensive end, and offensive guard. Didn't see that one comin' did ya?
The prize of this year's free agency was former Lions defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh. To make sure they ‘won' that race, the Dolphins signed him to a deal that has the third most guaranteed money ($60 million) in the league behind only Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Suh's $19 million per season average salary is behind only the top five NFL quarterback salaries of Rodgers ($22 mil), Ben Roethlisberger ($21.9mil), Matt Ryan ($20.8 mil), Joe Flacco ($20.1 mil), and Drew Brees ($20 ml). Suh's 6-year, $114 million contract is the richest defensive contract in NFL history.
Fresh off of being suspended for the firsts 10 games of last season, Josh Gordon doubled down and got himself suspended for at least the entirety of the 2015 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He previously had a DUI and tested positive for alcohol. The league will revisit his case next offseason to decide if/when they want to let him play again.
The always money hungry but never money deficient NFL decided to suspend the blackout rule for the 2015 season. That's the rule that states a team must be sold out (or 85% full depending on teams opting in) by Thursday at noon before a Sunday home game. You have to believe they found some evidence that suggests the move is in their financial best interest or they wouldn't do it. The NFL is well known for squeezing the red out of every cent.
After a two-year tour to the bottom in Tampa Bay, then the top in New England, Darrelle Revis has returned to the Jets, where it all began. He got paid big time in Tampa, got paid pretty well and got a ring in New England, and then got paid big time again to go back to where he first earned the nickname Revis Island. Genius.
No, seriously, there were several teams that wanted to sign Matt Schaub. And one of them signed him. Matty Pick Six joins the Ravens as backup to Joe Flacco. They better pray Flacco can continue to be ironman in Baltimore because the last couple years Schaub has shown teams they would be better off using a two back read option offense than putting him in the game.