One Man's Opinion
This was a very good deal for the 49ers, who badly need to upgrade their offensive line to keep their quarterbacks healthy. Kwame Harris, a good run-blocker but weak on pass protection, can move to the right side, where he played in high school and college. At 27, Jennings should have many good years ahead.
SIGNING Lamont Jordan may have been a better move for the Raiders than the much more celebrated Randy Moss deal because Jordan gives the Raiders a legitimate running back, so the offense will have more consistency. That, in turn, will allow them to control the ball more and keep their old, fat defensive linemen off the field.
THE BEST part of the Moss deal was that, because the Raiders are picking up an existing contract, they don’t have to pay a signing bonus, which otherwise might be around $10 million.
It isn’t just the money. Signing bonuses are pro-rated for the length of the contract in figuring payroll under the salary cap, but if a player is released before his contract is up, the rest of the signing bonus is counted against a team’s cap the next year. If Moss is released early, the Raiders won’t take a salary cap hit.
ON THE OTHER HAND . . . The Raiders got snookered on the Charles Woodson contract; by designating him a franchise player, they have to pay him $10.5 million this season, which is about double what he’s worth. Hard to see another team taking on that contract with a trade, and if he’s signed as a free agent, a team has to give up its next two No. 1 draft picks. How do you justify that for an injury-prone player who has gone downhill since his second year and is a malcontent to boot?
RE-RUN TIME: Something seemed very familiar as I watched the Moss news conference. Then, I realized what it was: Moss’s words were virtually the same as those uttered by Warren Sapp at his press conference after signing with the Raiders last year.
Makes me wonder if the Raiders provide them with a script. For sure, they know how to plug in some key phrases. “Class A organization” and “Super Bowl rings” have to appear, and the player must express fealty to owner Al Davis.
Sapp, incidentally, is still with the team. You may not realize that because he rarely made a tackle last season. He hasn’t lost his knack for finding the open microphone, though.
NFL CONTRACTS are never what they’re reported because, unlike baseball and basketball contracts, they’re not guaranteed.
The Jonas Jennings contract, for instance, has been reported as seven years for $36 million, but it’s really a one-year contract with six years of club options. If the 49ers decide after three years that Jennings is a bust (or, if he suffers a career-ending injury), they can cut him.
By contrast, the Giants paid Robb Nen $9 million a year for each of the last two years though he didn’t throw a pitch.
HOW MUCH difference do steroids make? Jason Giambi will be a good test case this year.
Giambi, who has reportedly admitted taking steroids in testifying before a grand jury, went from 20 home runs in each of his first two season to averaging more than 40 home runs a season in a four-year stretch, 2000-2003; the one year he fell below 40 in that stretch, with 38 in 2001, he also hit 47 doubles.
Last year, when he appeared in spring training looking as if he’d lost 20-25 pounds, Giambi was apparently off steroids, but his season was ruined by a combination of a sprained right ankle, an intestinal parasite and a benign pituitary gland tumor.
Now, he’s healthy again, and seemingly still off steroids. If he falls back to the 25-homer level, that should tell us something. But if he once again hits 40 homers or close to it, well, that will tell us something entirely different.
YOUTH AND the Giants. Reliever Wayne Franklin gave up a grand slam to Steve Finley in the game that ended the Giants season last year, but general manager Brian Sabean said, “You’ve got to give the kid credit. He threw a strike.” Kid? Franklin will be 31 next month. That’s young only on the Giants.
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