The Next Season in the NFL – One of Misdirection

As free agency winds down, we enter the “silly season”

A common mantra around the NFL is to not trust anyone.  That sentiment is further reinforced this time of year, as we inch closer to the upcoming draft (in just under seven weeks).  There will be articles, whispers, and rumors swirling about franchise X and player Y.  For the Browns, they should use coach Pettine’s line and assume that all is just “noise” and to dismiss it and keep working hard in Berea.  Let’s delve into the outlets for all this misinformation.

Front offices are looking to play games with their opponents

Knowing that his franchise needs a quarterback, it may be strategic for a general manager (or owner) of an NFL team to speak out stating they prefer a non-quarterback.  This could be done for a myriad of reasons.  The first is that it might elevate those players’ values and subsequently push down signal callers – allowing the quarterback to fall to them.  Additionally, if that quarterback is chosen before that franchise is on the clock – it appears that they can get the guy they always wanted.  Finally, it could entice other NFL teams to trade ahead and get a certain player – which would once again leave their front office in a good spot.  They either watch the quarterback now become available or still get a tremendous athlete (if the team who traded up selected a quarterback).

Media outlets work with the information provided to them

Multiple television networks, radio programs, and beat reporters extensively cover the National Football League.  In doing so, they listen to expansive amounts of news regarding players and franchises.  While doing their job, the media will report about team X and which players they are leaning towards drafting.  They will also report whether a prospect is doing exceptionally or poorly in their training regiments.  In a perfect world, this journalism will not affect front offices – although fans might easily be swayed.  Some perceptions of athletes will be spot on, while other facts many not be completely accurate.  This information, and the perceived rising and falling of prospects further adds to the madness during the offseason.

Agents working for (soon-to-be) rookies want larger bank accounts

It’s no secret that in a capitalistic environment, those who can make more money will strive to do so.  In the NFL landscape, agents representing athletes could spread positive information that garners interest in his client.  Stating that a team early in the draft is “in love” with that player might cause other franchises to trade up and secure the athlete.  It may also influence other teams’ decision making; would they now go in a different direction?  Will agents affect draft boards that much?  It’s unlikely, but that will not stop them from trying.

Conclusion:  As a fan, there is ample time to change your mind about what you think your team will do in the May draft.  There are also articles, blogs, and spoken words about each team’s strategies and whether a player will be drafted earlier or later than anticipated.  My advice is to sit back and refrain from overreacting about an athlete’s pro-Day, combine, or any other workout.  Teams (specifically the Browns) will do their homework and likely have their targets already in mind.

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