Thanks to the lockout, all trades will take place in the course of a few days instead of the usual four and a half months
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin) discuss football's free agent frenzy.
NFL fans got a gargantuan gift this week when the league ended its lockout. Besides, of course, that we avoided the horrors of not playing the full preseason schedule.
But the league's millionaires and billionaires gave us a much greater gift—and it was totally unintentional on their part. NFL Free Agency—that semi-popular combination of cattle auction, game show, and crap shoot—traditionally proceeds methodically over four and a half months, dribbling just enough news to keep us interested. (Unless a Bret Favre comeback is involved, in which case the dribbling is more like water torture.)
Not this year. Free agency has gone from a drawn-out routine and background noise in the nation's sports consciousness to a mad scramble for talent. All four-plus months worth of negotiations, evaluations, and signings are getting crammed into just a few chaotic, and already entertaining days. As of this writing, something like one-third of the players remain without a contract, and the rush is on. It's like the football version of those wedding dress sales where brides-to-be-fight over gowns.
Just look at all the quarterback craziness—all the unfounded rumors and roster-hopping. Matt Hasselbeck wants out of Seattle. Matt Leinart is apparently on his way there. Tarvaris Jackson will likely leave the Vikings to join him, while Donovan McNabb is rumored to be bolting DC to take Jackson's place. Denver, all gung-ho for Tim Tebow, put Kyle Orton on the trading block. He might take his (cough, cough) talents to South Beach, while Carson Palmer has decided to retire rather than be a Bengal—that's got to make a Cincy fan feel good.
There is no question, though, about my favorite rumor in this frantic free agency. Just for old times sake, and because I'm a masochist, it's a joy to know that Brett Favre might be contemplating a comeback.
Jake, I'll bet you've got your eyes on the frenzy.