It's vacation time around the NFL, with many mini-camps already over and the rest concluding shortly. And, frankly, I'm about to join the legion of coaches, players and executives shutting it down, by using a few weeks of vacation time while I still can, and before training camps get cracking in late July.
(Heck, some might even make the case that my vacation started already, by mailing in this final column. Perhaps I would muster a mild rebuttal in that case. Then again, maybe not.)
Anywho, with that in mind, and with NFL rosters basically set at this point -- save for the odd potential impact free agent still out there like an Arian Foster, coming off injury -- I figured this was as good a time as any to take stock of the league and send each team off to the beach with a wish list of sorts. Kinda like my version of what each franchise should do now and/or its fans should hope for, during this down time, to best prepare for the launch of the 2016 preseason. Because it'll be here before you know it.
And, well, with this being me and all, I have to have a little fun with it and get a little cheeky. This isn't going to be a checklist of each team's lingering needs, although some of that sort of stuff will be addressed in it as I touch on each team in the league. Here goes nothing:
New England Patriots
Demand that Ted Wells gets another crack at Deflategate in court. Pray he is eventually called in as some kind of an "expert" witness. Just find a way to get his fingerprints back all over this thing, and Tom Brady's chances of full exoneration via appeal could only increase.
With any luck, Rex Ryan ends up renting a beach house next to a classically trained actor/performance coach/hypnotist. Anyone who could ratchet down the bombast and the rhetoric and someone to keep his mouth from writing a check his team can't cash.
New York Jets
Arrange for couple's therapy/joint mediation between the front office, agent Jimmy Sexton and disgruntled, unsigned quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even if it means sacrificing a day or two of fun and sun. I'm picturing Chan Gailey in the role of Dr. Melfi from The Sopranos, or something like that.
Send quarterback Ryan Tannehill home with mandatory homework -- repeating this mantra to himself at least 1,000 times a day: I can throw the deep ball. I can thrown the deep ball. We will make plays downfield. I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, offensive coordinators like me. Maybe Al Franken has some free time and he can channel Stuart Smalley for the QB.
New York Giants
In all seriousness with this one, Jason Pierre-Paul himself has talked candidly about being smart over the break. Everyone has to learn from his mistakes over this 4th of July, especially on this roster. No backyard fireworks. Don't even think about it.
Keep Dan Snyder in hiding. This seems like it's been a pretty good offseason for them coming off a playoff appearance. So just lay low, man. Stay out of your own way. No comments about the team's nickname. No cutting down any trees. Don't fire anybody. Just chill, bruh.
Somebody hide Jeffrey Lurie's checkbook. Cancel his credit cards. Dude has spent like $200 million real dollars (not cap funny money) in like 14 months. Cut him off. The splurge must end with Fletcher Cox.
Come up with a contract offer for Von Miller that has over $65 million in guaranteed money in the first three years of the deal prior to the July 15 cutoff for talks on a long-term deal. John Elway has won a lot of negotiations but this ain't Derek Wolfe. Miller will and should break the bank.
Would love to see civic leaders come up with a clear path to a downtown stadium by the time training camp starts. Maybe that's the impossible dream for this franchise with Las Vegas luring Mark Davis. But with the league in essence shut down, the work toward a stadium there must go on.
Kansas City Chiefs
Get a shaman, a psychic healer and a voodoo priestess to perform any ritual possible to get Justin Houston as close to healthy as close to the first few weeks of the season as possible. With him goes any shot of another postseason victory. Oh, and rush that weasel Yordano Ventura to a shrink while you're at it.
San Diego Chargers
Call up Cher and get her to sing "If I Could Turn Back Time," or get Bon Jovi to do a DVR commercial featuring the Chargers or something. Because otherwise you might as well go ahead and start billing this as the final training camp in San Diego -- again. Getting something done in the downtown area is going to be difficult, and each day that passes brings your owner closer to D-day on deciding whether to join the Rams in LA.
Tell yourselves there is no Ciara jinx. Because there is no Ciara jinx. Right?
San Francisco 49ers
Find some sort of button to fast forward to 2017, or start trying to petition to restricting air space over the practice facility and stadium now. There will be (more) banners. I'm not sure Jed York has much good will left with this fan base. Maybe Chip Kelly has the emotional intelligence to build bridges.
Find a way to convince Carson Palmer that the NFL actually has a 20-game regular season now. They just passed an initiative to expand the schedule through January. Make him believe it. You have a few weeks.
Los Angeles Rams
Put Jared Goff through extensive MMA training during his time off, including serving as a human heavy bag at times, to prepare him for the Rocky-esque beating he may take this season. There will be blood.
No motorcycles. No motorcycles. No motorcycles.
Pray that the new grass field you are putting down at the stadium will in fact curb the heinous run of injuries to star players from the past season. Because the depth still is not there to overcome anything close to that again.
I got nothing. You'll be lucky to win four games. Just keep watching the Cavs parade on an endless loop from August through the NFL Draft, and hope the Browns' super computers don't botch the first-overall pick.
Green Bay Packers
So, anytime I've ever had construction done on a house -- new kitchen, bathroom work, whatever -- some dude with a clipboard comes in a week before it's supposed to be done to tell me how they need two more weeks now because of the weather, or a death in the family, or whatever. So, like, that can't happen with a stadium, right?
Get a jump start and get your support group/prayer circle going early just in case Brock Osweiler is in fact a highly-pedestrian quarterback guaranteed $38 million over the next two years. At least identify like-minded potential friends/cohorts/peers now; that way by Week 4, if need be, you'll have already a head start on everyone else.
Hey, it's a loooong break for the owners, too. At least in some NFL cities. Say a novena that nothing like this winds up happening again.
Keep signing running backs. Sign all the running backs. You can never have too many.
Wait for a sale on bathing suits in late summer, pick out something fancy and get ready to crowd your way into that infinity pool thingy this winter, because the Jags are back, baby! That's all I hear. If/when they win the division like so many are suggesting, I say the folks at CBSSports.com mandate Pete Prisco covers their home playoff game(s) from the pool.
New Orleans Saints
Create a long video clip of all of the montages of Drew Brees in the community, post-Katrina. add in photos of his kids growing up in The Big Easy, highlights from the Super Bowl, the night U2 opening things up at the Superdome. Then force him to watch it, A Clockwork Orange-style, during the entirety of his vacation.
Find out where Matt Ryan is going to be having a few cocktails. Get a few pops in Kyle Shanahan, too. Maybe throw in a beer pong table between them. See if they can find their inner bro together and establish some peace and tranquility.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Get that kicker you drafted in the second round on any legal supplements you can get your hands on. Homeboy better bulk up. Hitting inside 49 yards is great and all, but that ain't how you make your coin up here, and getting picked that high pretty much puts a target on every kick he attempts.
Repeat after me: There is a replacement for Josh Norman on this roster, I just know it. There is a replacement for Josh Norman on this roster, I just know it. There is a replacement for Josh Norman on this roster, I just know it. If you say it enough times, maybe someone on the field at training camp will believe it.