Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Patriots' Big Trade Bait, NFL's Athletic Freaks

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 22, 2017

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi trophy during the Super Bowl victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Football, lies and videotape...

1. Jimmy Garoppolo and the Dak Prescott Phenomenon

Remember one thing about the combine and NFL draft: Around this time, almost everyone in football lies.

All the time. Every second. Lie upon lie upon lie. Teams do it as a sort of misinformation campaign, hoping some sucker club falls for a lie. So as you read information about the combine and draft, remember this fact.

Yet there are some truth-tellers who never lie (at least I don't think they do). What those executives are telling me—three of them, two from the NFC—is they believe some team is going to make the New England Patriots an offer for Jimmy Garoppolo they cannot refuse. 

I want to be clear about what I'm being told: They believe several teams are preparing to make blockbuster offers for Garoppolo. I'm not saying it will happen. I'm saying this is the belief of some around football. They think a draft shakeup is coming and that it will involve Garoppolo.

The increasingly popular view among some in the league is that Garoppolo can transform a franchise almost overnight and is worth a first-round pick.

There's a desperation that's sweeping the league when it comes to finding a quarterback, greater than I've seen in a long time. One front-office executive called it the Dak Prescott Phenomenon.

Prescott was a big reason the Cowboys transformed their franchise, and some people in football think Garoppolo can do the same. This is a massive assumption, but, again, teams may think it's worth the risk and the high price it would take.

There's evidence Garoppolo could be effective. He completed 71.2 percent of his passes in two games against Arizona and Miami. He threw for 496 yards and four scores combined.

The Patriots have become the best franchise in football, and one reason is the way they have accumulated draft picks and then drafted smartly. They have been far from perfect, but pretty good. Trading Garoppolo would fit into what the Patriots have done under Bill Belichick.

Yes, everyone lies.

But I do think the Garoppolo talk is heating up, and I'm not sure it's going away soon.

2. How Long Will Bill Belichick Coach?

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 09:  Bill Belichick hits his tee shot on the 3rd hole during Round One of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 9, 2017 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

We're spending a lot of time focusing on Garoppolo, but what is Belichick's future with the Patriots?

Every indication I hear from inside the Patriots is that Belichick plans to stay on as coach of the team for at least five more years.

These people also say Belichick wants to coach after Brady retires. They think Belichick wants to prove he can win without the best quarterback of all time.

3. A Young Randy Moss

Alex @alexcomer_

Jason Williams and Randy Moss kicking valley's ass https://t.co/oXJPMT01hF

We know how good Randy Moss was. He's a Hall of Famer.

What's often lost is how good he could have been at basketball. He was a star in high school, and had he decided to play beyond that, who knows how good he could have been?

I saw the above video on Twitter, and it reminded me of what could have been for Moss. That's it. That's all. I like dreaming of alternate universes.

4. Jen Welter in the News

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 01:  Intern linebacker coach Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals on the field during the team training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Jen Welter took an assistant position with the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 preseason, she became the first female assistant in NFL history.

Gridiron Australia just announced Welter will lead the Australian Outback Women's National Team (that's a mouthful). She will lead Team Australia at the 2017 IFAF Women's World Championship (another mouthful).

The question now becomes: Will Welter coach in the NFL again?

5. Jack Del Rio Gets Understandably Nervous

First, you have to marvel at 330-pound Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele doing a backflip off what he said was "the highest swing in the world." The fact a dude that big can do something that athletic is amazing.

He also went whitewater rafting in New Zealand. I love this dude (NSFW video).

Kelechi Osemele @KOseven0

It got real out there!!! Category 4 Rapids #NewZealand https://t.co/YNe0mJYbZs

So does Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, and why not. Osemele is a Pro Bowler and was a big reason why the Raiders were a surprise team last season.

Del Rio saw the video and, safe to say, almost pooped himself.

Jack Del Rio @coachdelrio

Anxiety level went up a bit thinking of my BIG pro bowl LG on the rapids!!😨#ReturnToWork 😎 https://t.co/8IV0P8PoLy

Coaches have always worried about players in the offseason. The main concern is always staying out of trouble with the law. The secondary concern is always players doing wild stuff like whitewater rafting.

Many contracts prevent guys from skydiving and similar acts. In general, teams want their players to go to the gym, then go home and watch a Star Trek marathon on Netflix.

But these are NFL players. They thrive on challenge and adrenaline. They can't just shut it off because the season is over. They need that rush, and this is one way some guys will try to get it.

6. Does Ezekiel Elliott Run Like Adrian Peterson?

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Penn
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I always thought something about Elliott's running style was familiar, but I could never quite place it. Then I read a story by Jesse Borek on FanRag Sports about a Cowboys sports radio show with Dallas Morning News reporters Brandon George and Jon Machota in which they discuss how Elliott can improve dramatically as a runner and receiver from where he is now. Which is scary.

The part that intrigued me most was an interview with former NFL QB Gus Frerotte in which Frerotte compares Elliott's running style to Adrian Peterson's. (Frerotte was Elliott's high school coach, and he was a teammate of Peterson's.)

What made Peterson so good was his patience in finding an opening, then exploding through it at warp speed. There are maybe two or three backs today who can do that at a Pro Bowl level (Le'Veon Bell is one of them). Elliott is another.

This is why the Cowboys will be a massive threat next year and beyond. Elliott's style of running fits perfectly with how that line blocks. Combine that with how the offense also has a legitimate passing game, and this is why teams have expressed fear of how Dallas could be a dynasty for the next decade.

7. Alabama Tight End O.J. Howard Is a Freak

FOX Sports: PROcast @PROcast

BEAST! 💪🏾🔥😱 .@TheRealOjHoward demonstrates why he's the top TE prospect in the 2017 #NFLDraft! Tag the @NFL team that should draft OJ. https://t.co/UbtCzYOLdQ

This video doesn't mean O.J. Howard is going to be a good player. It just means what he's doing is freaking incredible. That's all. That's it.

Go try it. I did with a 25-pound weight and almost broke a hip.

8. A Troubled Life Continues

INDIANAOPLIS, IN - OCTOBER 7: Cedric Benson #32 of the Green Bay Packers is carted off of the field after suffering an injury against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Packers 3
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I knew Cedric Benson, the former Texas and NFL running back. Not well, but I interviewed him several times. Through the years, he's been involved in various legal entanglements. Now, he's been accused of driving while intoxicated.

Benson is another example of how some players—and it's not a small number—have found it challenging adjusting to post-NFL life. There's no need to get into other names who've had troubles, but this has been an issue for some time.

The NFL has programs in place to help players deal with life after football, but it seems they are proving only partially effective.

9. Deshaun Watson Might Be Combine Star

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 8: Deshaun Watson of the Clemson Tigers attends the game between the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings on February 8, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

And that isn't meant as a backhanded compliment.

Stephen Hawkins of the Associated Press reports Watson will do everything at the combine, including running and throwing. I know scouts who believe Watson will have one of the best combine performances of any quarterback in recent years. We'll see.

The fact (so far at least) that Watson plans on doing everything at the combine, when many star quarterbacks skip significant parts of it, will make a lot of teams happy.

10. Could DeSean Jackson Sign with Patriots?

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 13: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with wide receiver DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles on August 13, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Mar
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

One scout believes Jackson will end up in either New England or Dallas, with the Patriots being the more likely choice.

This is just the scout's belief. The Patriots keep secrets better than the CIA, so no one really knows, but it could work. Belichick took a gamble on veteran receiving threats like Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco in the past.

My guess: He ends up in Jacksonville.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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