|Forte and Rice are the big winners from the deadline deals. (US Presswire)|
The deadline to sign players who received the franchise tag (4 p.m. ET on Monday) has passed. It would be easy to lump the guys who got deals into one category (winners) and those that didn't into another (losers), but it's not that simple.
Well, it's close to that simple, but not entirely. After all, it's hard to get a big old pile of winners when you only have three signings. Anyway, let's make knee-jerk reactions:
Ray Rice: Rice got paid handsomely. The Ravens' running back will make $24 million in guaranteed money, which isn't "AP money" but should be just enough to squeak by on for the rest of your life. Rice would've landed more money on the open market, but he's also got plenty of miles on his odometer for a guy who's just 25. The Ravens and Rice have to love the fact that he'll get paid through age 29, which provides Rice a shot at landing another deal on the market and doesn't overcommit the Ravens.
Chicago Bears: The Matt Forte contract -- four years, $32 million with $18 million guaranteed -- is a win all around for the Bears organization. They get their most valuable offensive piece from 2011, they show the locker room that they will reward a player's strong performance and are more loyal than you might think, they didn't shell out an insane amount of money for a running back and they can focus their energy on locking up Jay Cutler, who's a free agent after the 2013 season.
The Patriot Way: Just when you think the Patriots might show some loyalty ... you're wrong again. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the Pats did the wrong thing by not giving Wes Welker more guaranteed money. It simply means that they did the business-like thing with Welker by not giving him more guaranteed money. New England has a long history of not handing out big contracts to older veterans, and it's served them well. If Welker has a big season in 2012 -- or perhaps a "normal" 110-catch, 1,200-yard, six-touchdown season if you prefer -- he's as good as gone.
Josh Scobee: He's a kicker. And he just locked down a deal that will pay him multiple millions of dollars each year for the next four years. Anytime a kicker gets a big deal, it's a huge win for them. And a loss for Mrs. Brinson, who's terrified that whenever we have kids, I'll force them to learn how to kick.
Vonta Leach: Leach didn't just get his running back into the fold. He also happened to break the news. It's a testament to the world we live in that someone's teammate can be the only person talking about a deal, and then have that deal happen at the very last second. It was a cool, dramatic close to the franchise-tag deadline.
Joe Flacco: Flacco's coming up on his contract year and he's probably itching to prove he deserves a big, brand new extension worth a lot of money. But the Ravens, by signing Rice, took away leverage from Flacco for next offseason. That's because they can use their franchise tag next offseason on Flacco, instead of having to make a choice on their quarterback and running back.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Now that the Jags have invested in Josh Scobee, surely they'll turn their attention to MJD, right? Well ... maybe. MoJo signed a five-year, $31 million deal in 2009 with $17.5 million guaranteed. Although that is certainly less than what Forte and Rice got Monday, it's not that much less. The good news for MJD is that he and Scobee share an agent. The bad news is that even if Ken Harris can get more money for the running back, he won't be getting that much extra.
Cliff Avril: No, I'm not putting him here because he didn't get a deal done. Well, okay, yes I am, but I'm really putting him here because he reportedly turned down a three-year deal worth $30 million that featured $20 million in guaranteed money. As a reasonable comparison, Charles Johnson hit the free-agent market, and the Panthers signed him to a six-year, $76 million deal with $32 million guaranteed. That's a difference of $12 million, of course, but Avril would be a free agent at age 28, and he's passing up about an additional $10 million dollars in guaranteed financial security. That is a bold move, and I'm not sure I like it.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Look, I don't hate some -- or, really, a lot -- of the Jaguars decisions this offseason. They brought back some key defensive parts, and they finally got some real weapons for Blaine Gabbert to throw to. But they also drafted a punter in the third round of the draft and signed a kicker to a long-term extension. If the highlights of your offseason involve a punter and a kicker, you're not going to win a lot of games in the upcoming year. Period. End of story.
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