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NFL free agency starts in earnest Saturday when teams can start contacting players. By Tuesday, they can even start signing them.
What does it all mean? Well, it means a lot of money is about to change hands. And SI.com thinks those who buy on a couple of guys with local connections could regret it.
The site lists former Gophers WR Eric Decker as the No. 1 potential offensive "bust."
It lists Vikings DE Jared Allen as the No. 2 potential defensive "bust."
Eric Decker: Perhaps the most obvious candidate of all, really through no fault of his own. Decker is coming off a career-best 87-catch season, which sets him up to break the bank and claim No. 1 receiver money. The problem, of course, is that he’s not really a true No. 1 receiver — Seattle wiped him off the mat in the Super Bowl and even Decker recently admitted that (former?) teammate Demaryius Thomas is on another level by comparison. Decker will be the top WR available, assuming he does not re-sign with the Broncos. And that status coupled with his 24 TD catches over the past two seasons might encourage some team to deem him their go-to guy. His game may not be built for such responsibility.
Jared Allen: Allen has played every game since 2008 and averaged 14.25 sacks per season in that timeframe. In other words, he’s durable and still can wreak havoc in the backfield. His “bust” potential will grow exponentially, though, if a team asks him to take on more of a role than that of a pass-rusher. Allen, 32 next month, should not be counted on as an every-down force anymore.
Neither of those assessments is overly harsh, but we also see both players as remaining productive years into the future. So busts? Probably not.
That worked great in the NFL, of course, so why wouldn't it be fine in soccer?
On a conference call earlier this week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed confidence that things will be A-OK. That sentiment was echoed on Friday.
MLS said it will start its season on Saturday with replacement referees after an impasse between the league's referees and their employer, the Professional Referees Organization, forced a lockout.
MLS and PRO said the lockout of referees belonging to the Professional Soccer Referees Association took effect at 11 a.m. on Friday, according to Steve Taylor, the union’s vice president.
"Although it is regrettable that the Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected PRO’s offer to continue with the current referees while negotiations continue, we have great confidence in the plan for replacement referees that PRO has put in place," said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner.
The replacement referees come from a group that includes FIFA referees who have moved to North America from overseas, retired MLS referees, and referees from other professional leagues in the United States. In preparation, PRO said that the replacement referees attended a training camp last week.
Name: Rondell White
Claim to Fame, Minnesota: a member of your 2006 and 2007 Minnesota Twins. Like your Craig Monroes and Phil Nevins, White was the budget veteran acquisition who the Twins really hoped would add some pop to the lineup. He did not. In his two years with the hometown nine, he tallied a mere 11 jack jobs. If the Mitchell Report is to be believed, that averages out to $318/dinger for the check he wrote for steroids and HGH in 2005, three months before landing in Minnesota.
Has the Real Rondell White Finally Arrived: no, Minnesota Public Radio, he has not.
Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: spent the non-journeyman portion of his career with the Montreal Expos (RIP) organization, where he toiled 10 years before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs in 2000. After that, he went everywhere, man: stints with the Yankees, Padres, Royals and Tigers followed, before his final stop here.
Where He Is Now: per Wiki, he lives in Gray, Georgia, near his birthplace of Milledgeville.
Why Have I Heard of Milledgeville Before: because Ben Roethlisberger was there once.
Is He on Twitter: no.
Has He Ever Been in a Twitter Feud with Patrick Reusse: no.
Glorious Randomness: he is Jerry Manuel’s son-in-law.
As if Wednesday's home loss to the Knicks wasn't damaging enough for the Wolves, a halftime interview over on the New York side added another layer of insult to the plot.
Tyson Chandler, interviewed by a sideline reporter in one of those seemingly harmless scenarios where players usually say absolutely nothing, took it upon himself to say that Kevin Love, "Can't play D" (video above).
That's the familiar old rap on Love. At times, it still very much rings true. But ...
A look inside the numbers shows that Love actually has improved quite a bit on that end of the floor. Offense will always be his number one contribution, but right now he has 3.1 defensive win shares -- 18th in the entire NBA and seventh among power forwards. He has the seventh-highest defensive rebounding percentage in the league (30.6). Both of those numbers are better than Chandler.
His defensive rating of 102 is not great, but it's not terrible. And again, it's better than Chandler's (105).
Sure, Chandler should not be anyone's defensive benchmark. But as critical as we all have been of Love's defense at times, it is legitimately better than it has been this year.
All it really takes these days to start a news cycle is a well-timed 140-characters.
Adrian Peterson provided that with this tweet:
@MikeVick would intently make the vikings a playoff team!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 6, 2014
Did he mean "instantly?" Maybe. Regardless, it's out there. And now we're thinking about it. On the surface, it doesn't seem to make a ton of sense. The Vikings figure to be in the market more for a veteran QB who can help groom a draft pick, not a guy with off-field baggage and injury history. Vick, meanwhile, is probably looking for a place where he is guaranteed to be a starter and where he has a chance to win. The Vikings have weapons, but their 5-10-1 record from a year ago doesn't exactly put them in elite territory even if we think they will be improved.
So the fit is wrong ... except when you consider past Vikings history. Their two best seasons of the past generation have come with castoff veteran QBs who had something to prove (Randall Cunningham in 1998, Brett Favre in 2009) .In both of those cases, of course, the Vikings were coming off playoff seasons the previous year.
The most intriguing thing in all of this will be to watch the Vikings' rebuilding effort and see how it matches up with the win-quick mentality of Peterson, who will be 29 in two weeks. We're not sure Vick makes the Vikings a playoff team, instantly or intently. But it could be important, at least, that Peterson believes it.
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