As soon as someone gets hurt in training camp, fans are ready to sign whatever recognizable names are out there at the position of injury.
It’s not illogical – a guy is hurt so sign someone to replace him – but it reeks of fantasy football and misses a lot of the realities of the game.
Let’s take the hot topic of signing Navarro Bowman to replace Jake Ryan (though fans seem just as anxious to sign Eric Reid to replace Kentrell Brice, even though Brice doesn’t appear to have a serious injury). Here’s some things most fans don’t seem to be considering:
- If a guy is unsigned this late into the offseason, when teams are installing their schemes, it means that no GM in the NFL thinks they are worth bringing in. In many cases these guys are injury concerns.
- Building off the idea of a GM thinking they are “worth” bringing in… a lot of times fans casually throw around phrases like “bringing him in on a cheap one year deal.” Well, what if – and I know this will sound ludicrous – but what if the player doesn’t want to sign a cheap deal? What if they are one of those rare exceptions that wants to make money?
- “Just pay him whatever he wants!” No, stupid, there’s a salary cap and some vet who hasn’t been picked up by training camp isn’t going to be the missing link to a Lombardi that you pay through the teeth for.
- What if this guy isn’t as good as he was when you learned his name?
- What if this name player, who played very well on another team, wouldn’t fare as well playing in your scheme with your players at an advanced age?
- There may be a cheaper alternative already on the roster. Guys like Jake Ryan and Kentrell Brice were unheralded guys who emerged and developed. There may be guys like that on the roster. The team may want to wait and see if someone like that emerges.
- After those topics have been exhausted, we get to the place where some people have it all figured out. “Sign him for whatever he wants, then if he gets beaten out by a younger, cheaper player in camp, just cut him.” Sure, all reward, no risk, right? That has to work. Well, it might work once, but here’s where it gets hairy. Let’s say the Packers sign Navarro Bowman for $3M (what he made last year, which would make him the 7th highest paid defender on the team – though I’m sure that wouldn’t make anyone on the team feel slighted) and then some undrafted free agent outplays him (or his ACL, MCL, achilles, or one of his other old injuries flares up and limits his effectiveness). Then you cut him. That worked out, right? Sure, this time. But the next time you go looking for a free agent, every registered player agent is going to remember. Player agents get paid when players get paid. They don’t want to steer their clients to teams that pull that sh!t. Believe it or not, they want to get paid, too. Actually, that’s all they want – agents don’t get rings. This is bad business.
This isn’t fantasy football and the guys making the decisions, while not by any means infallible, understand this business better than us. There’s a lot of reasons to not sign a guy. At this point in the season, it’s in everyone’s best interests to get through a couple preseason games and see how the young guys are developing. Then, if it still looks like a dire issue, start feeling out guys like Bowman and Reid.
For now, just chill. Graham and MoWil should be enough excitement for you.