An icon has retired from the game, but not before adding to some of his all-time NFL records. Drew is currently the all-time passing yardage leader, at 80,358 yards. Tom Brady, however, needs only about 1,100 additional yards to surpass him. No one else has exceeded 72,000 yards. Peyton Manning is third (71,940), Favre is fouth (71,838), and Aaron Rodgers is in eleventh place, with 51, 205.
Drew is also tops in completions, with 7,142, versus Brady’s 6,778, so it would likely take a good and entire full season for Brady to pass him. Brett Favre is third, and Rodgers is tenth (4,285). Brees is second to Brady in passing touchdowns, 581 to 571. Favre is fourth, with 508, and Rodgers is seventh, with 412.
By last season’s end, it was clear that Drew had lost his arm strength and throwing acceleration. I couldn’t help but notice that he had no more muscle definition in his throwing arm than I do. He’s obviously not a training room disciple, and that, I think more than age, shortened his career – if that term can be applied to a 20-year veteran. He leaves the game as one of the all-time greats, and one who has always conducted himself with class and humility.
What went wrong with King in 2020? I previously reviewed his combine marks from 2018, and they were excellent across the board, except for bench presses. By the playoffs last season, there was no way King could get within a tenth of a second of his former 4.43 dash time. His 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times of four years ago were each 95th percentile or above. After watching him in the postseason, however, he’s gone from superlative to having below average agility, burst, and change of direction ability. For a 25-year old, that’s extraordinary.
In 2020, King was NOT on the team’s weekly injury report only three times out of 18 weeks – in Weeks 1, 4, and 5. His injury descriptions included: “Achilles” six times, including the divisional playoff; “quadricep” six times (Weeks 6-11); “groin” four times (Weeks 14-17); and “back” in Week 3 and in the week of the conference championship. I suppose either a back, groin, quadriceps, or Achilles injury could greatly affect one’s mobility, but going into that ill-fated game against the Bucs, the only injury disclosed was to King’s back.
I can only hope that this drop off in essential traits needed by a DB has to do with injury or physical problems that are fixable. If not, the Packers were foolish to pay him up to $6 million (perhaps the realistic number he could receive is well less) in 2021 – and he’ll very quickly be relegated to being a backup cornerback.
According to Howard, due to it having four void years, King’s new contract “looks like a 5 million dollar contract for one year of service.”
One thing for sure: after that futile performance against the Bucs, he’ll be a target of opposing offensive game planners whenever he’s on the field in 2021.
Even when he seemingly still possessed good athleticism, King was no better than an average pass defender. In his rookie year Pro Football Focus rated him 123 out of 131 cornerbacks; in 2018, he was 88th out of 135, and in 2020 he finished at 98th out of 141. Only in 2019, when he was rated 69th out of 138, did he grade out as an average DB.
When one combines his physical decline with his terrible tackling techniques and injury history, Brian Gutekunst seems to be one of the few KK believers on the globe.
While I’m all for the concept of continuity – keeping veterans on the team rather than constantly exchanging them for players from other teams – the 37-year-old’s new contract seems excessive.
Along with a bunch of other aging tight ends, Lewis was rated unimpressively by Pro Football Focus last season, tying for 32nd best out of 71 by PFF; Jared Cook was 24th, Kyle Rudolph was tied for 32nd, Jimmy Graham was 36th, Greg Olsen was 45, and Jason Witten was 50th. PFF rated Lewis lowest at receiving, pretty fair at pass blocking, and seventh best at run blocking.
Maybe tight end is becoming a young man’s position. It certainly has become more receiver-conscious than blocker-conscious. Somehow, Evan Engram was ranked 51st, but was still voted into the Pro Bowl.
I’m starting to think that Lewis is so likable and admirable that Packer Nation – and the coaching staff too – overrates the Big Dog. Others think it’s due to being a pal of Rodgers, which is conceivable. His contract is listed at $8M for two years. In mid-February I went on record as thinking he should be offered from $1.5M to 1.75M. Hell, he only got $2.25M last season.
My thinking, then and now, is that Lewis is basically a role player – that role being blocking. In addition, he’s less than a half-time offensive player: he partook of only 40 percent of the offensive snaps last season – and a player’s pay should reflect how much usage he’s expected to get.
As I sat down to write this, I had no intention of slighting Big Dog, but the evidence suggests that his new pay plan is out of his proportion to his on-field contributions. What gives, Brian?
Salary Cap Repercussions
Can we all agree that the rules concerning the salary cap, and many other league regulations as well, have been stretched beyond their breaking point? You almost need to be a CPA to know and be able to apply all of the provisions, exceptions, and loopholes (e.g. voidable years) that exist concerning the cap. That entire set of rules needs to be revamped and simplified.
In addition to the salary cap, the provisions concerning restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents keep getting more and more complicated. You can also add the provisions relating to compensatory picks (for players who become free agents and sign up with another team).
For example, teams are awarded compensatory draft picks, between rounds 3 and 7, based upon a league formula that emerged from collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The criteria includes: average salary per year (APY), snap counts, and postseason awards. Further, to qualify teams must end up with more qualifying free agents lost than gained in a particular year. Also, the number of compensatory awards handed down prior to each season is limited to 32, and no team may receive more than four such draft choices.
Bottom line: the emphasis on NFL football needs to be returned to the excitement that transpires on the field, not the maneuvering that takes place among attorneys and accountants in conference rooms.