Some team execs think RG3 will be a disaster, and more on Trent Richardson's leaching friends...
1. Across parts of the league, belief is that RG3 will be a disaster
I don't believe this to be true. At all. But I'm alone in some ways. Because some across football think Robert Griffin III will be a total disaster.
Again, not buying this, but three front-office executives and two scouts said they believe Hue Jackson is making one of worst decisions of his young head coaching career by starting Griffin.
"RG3 is going to bury Hue," one general manager said.
"Hue is going to find out that RG3 isn't coachable," another front-office executive said.
OK, last one:
"RG3 is going to drag Hue down with him," one scout said.
Yeah, that's harsh. I have no idea how widespread this belief is. These are different sources from the ones I spoke to months ago who thought RG3 would initiate a great deal of interest when he was a free agent, and that Jackson could turn his career around. So it's possible the opinions of executives across the sport vary greatly on RG3.
The main two beefs of those executives seem to be that RG3 isn't disciplined enough to be a franchise quarterback, and that his knee injury takes away his main threat: mobility.
My belief has long been that Jackson is a vastly underrated offensive coach who transformed Andy Dalton from good into really good, and that he'll rejuvenate Griffin. I know, I know. Griffin is the 25th Browns quarterback since 1999. The only thing that gets rejuvenated in Cleveland are jerseys with different quarterbacks' names.
I think Griffin learned his lesson from how he behaved in Washington, which at times was classless.
It's only a matter of time before we know who is correct. What's certain is there will be a lot of people watching.
2. NFL needs to do more for Hall of Fame fans
The NFL says it will refund the money fans paid for tickets to the Hall of Fame game debacle. The league needs to go a step further and reimburse fans for travel and hotel expenses.
That's likely the most expensive part of going to the game—the flight and lodging. In giving the refund, the NFL only made things half right. I know the NFL is worried about lawsuits, but those are coming anyway.
And there's one last thing: Why haven't we heard from Roger Goodell on this?
3. Falcons make one of best offseason signings with Dwight Freeney
Last season, Freeney had eight sacks in 11 games in Arizona. He was a solid force, and the Falcons will likely see the same Freeney. There's long been a specialness to Freeney, which a lot of teams failed to see this offseason when they passed on him.
One thing the Falcons are missing on defense—and have been missing for some time—is toughness. The defense often plays soft, especially in big spots. Freeney can help change that. He's a flashy pass-rusher, yes, but he's also a grounded fighter. The Falcons can use him.
4. The lesson of Trent Richardson
It was at some point in Richardson's Cleveland Browns career that at least one teammate gave the runner some advice.
"He was basically told that he's hanging with losers," one former Browns teammate said of Richardson.
"Trent would mention to some people that he had too many hangers-on around him," the player remembered. "He just didn't know how to get rid of them.
"He was told, 'Do what's best for you. Don't let people destroy your finances or your career.' Again, I think Trent wanted to make those tough choices, but he didn't know how."
Richardson is a classic case of what happens when you don't, as one NFL official told me, "trim that branch."
Richardson's friends ripped him off. There's no other way to say it. As he made clear in an E:60 interview, some of them took advantage of his good nature and his willingness to help friends and family.
Richardson was far from alone in facing this problem. It's been an issue across all of professional sports since there were professional sports. It's a problem that hasn't gone away and may never go away as long as human beings are human beings.
It's likely, as the former Browns teammate said, Richardson knew what was happening. But because he's a good human being who wanted to help friends and family, he did, and those friends and family took advantage of Richardson's instincts to help.
The NFL has had seminars and rookie symposiums to preach to its players that they need to "trim that branch," and that message sinks in. This week, I asked five current and two former players about the Richardson saga, and each told stories of players they knew who made the brutal and emotional decision to cut ties with family or friends who were draining the player's resources.
One player gave the example of a teammate who had to finally cut ties with a childhood friend who "borrowed" $60,000 for a supposed medical procedure, only to find out the friend purchased a luxury SUV with the cash.
There was another staggering story I heard. One player said a teammate had a best friend on a yearly salary. The salary? It was about $150,000. The friend was supposed to serve as the player's executive assistant. Mostly, however, the friend just played video games and did the grocery shopping.
Another story: A player for an NFC South team one day checked his debit-card statement and found that a friend had spent over $10,000 for pedicures and massages in just under a month. (It seems virtually impossible to spend that kind of money on manicures in a month unless they come with starship command and a yeoman.)
There are a number of stories like this. They aren't science fiction.
Richardson's are equally incredible. He gave friends $10,000 a pop for cars and homes, according to the E:60 piece. There were charges on his Amazon account that he couldn't account for. He had 11 Netflix accounts and eight Hulu accounts. Damn, that's a lot of movies and shows. That's enough movies and shows for an entire football team.
"I finally just looked at my bank statements, and it was just, 'Where did this come from? Where did that come from?'" he told E:60 (as noted by For The Win). "And my guy was sitting there telling me, 'Man we was telling you.' And I know he was telling, but that's just like telling a kid to stop running the hall. They're going to still do it when they leave. ... It was one of those moments when I was just blinded by my heart, by loving everybody, thinking that everybody was for me. I know they love me, and I know they do care, but at the time, they took advantage of me."
Richardson added: "I don't even get on the internet like that. I don't even drink. Somebody had access, and ... I was at big fault to that because I gave them access. ... It's like, 'How are you all spending this much money? I spend $300 in two weeks. Y'all trying to live a lifestyle that I'm not even living.'"
Again, this is not unusual—in any way. Richardson trusted his friends, and they burned him.
Eventually, Richardson, who was waived by the Ravens on Aug. 2, heeded the advice of his then-teammates and dumped the people who took advantage of him. Yet, in many ways, it was too late. Richardson said there is missing money he still can't account for.
5. Source: Aqib Talib faces suspension
Talib wouldn't discuss the situation that led to him being shot in June. It remains under police investigation.
However, a high-ranking NFL source explained that the NFL can still suspend Talib no matter what police or prosecutors decide. Remember, the NFL now has its own investigative arm.
In fact, this same source said it's possible, if not likely, that Talib will be suspended for the opening game of the season, at least.
The possible suspension—emphasis on possible—would be because of the gun. The NFL, for decades, has emphasized to its players to not carry guns in public. The NFL actually doesn't want its players owning guns.
It's a right. The league can't stop players from doing so, but the league hates when players own them for just the alleged scenario that may have happened with Talib.
6. Don't be fooled: Mark Sanchez will likely start
Barring a series of six straight buttfumbles in preseason games, most in the league still expect Sanchez to start over Trevor Siemian, despite the Broncos designating them co-starters on the opening depth chart.
Starting Sanchez makes simple tactical sense. When he stinks out loud—er, if he does—the Broncos can then go to Siemian. There's no rush to play Siemian, and I don't think the Broncos will make that mistake.
7. Brandon Marshall is right. However...
Marshall believes the franchise tag and lack of guaranteed contracts are terribly unfair to NFL players, as Manish Mehta reported in the New York Daily News. That's, of course, correct. It's stupid that the union ever agreed to both. But it did.
Marshall wants to change both of those things and said in the next CBA negotiations he'd pound the table for that change. But that's far easier said than done.
Players have wanted guaranteed contracts for decades but haven't been able to get them because of the dire cost. That cost? It would take at least a season of striking. At least.
The owners would see it as worth losing a season in that fight and know that the players had a fraction of their resources. The owners can wait out the players. This is why players haven't fought for guaranteed contracts.
They should fight for them, but they likely won't in this CBA, or any other, because of the tremendous cost.
Besides, by the time of the next CBA, Marshall will be out of the league. He won't have anything to lose.
8. Tom Coughlin could coach next season
If he wants to, that is. Coughlin is working for the league office in its football operations department. Around the league, however, no one expects this to last. They believe it's only a matter of time before Coughlin gets one more shot to coach. They believe a team after this season will reach out to him. He'll be 70 then, but Coughlin could kick the ass of many men 40 years younger.
9. AFC scout on Eli Manning: He will have a monstrous season
This scout had some interesting things to say about Manning. The most pertinent: "I know him. He's happy and relaxed. He loved Coughlin; he really did. But I know he feels like this season could be special. I think he's right. I don't think it's outlandish to think he could reach the Super Bowl and then retire."
10. Tim Tebow's NFL career is really over
Now that Tebow, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is "actively pursuing a career in professional baseball"—where throwing curveballs is actually a benefit—this means that without question his pursuit of an NFL career is dead.
Team executives told me this week that they were unaware of any team interested in Tebow. Now that he's focusing on baseball, that lack of interest translates into negative interest.
This means that barring some type of miracle, like a genie granting Tebow a wish, one of the most polarizing NFL players in history won't be in the NFL. It's over.
See you on the Yankees, Tim.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.