The NFL Draft is still far away -- in May now, thanks to changes made by the league this year -- but the news cycle hasn't slowed down just yet. Wednesday was plenty active for free agents and for the NFL in general.
Quarterback Michael Vick is the top signal caller to hit the market this offseason, but there's been little reported interest in acquiring his services. Teams aren't going to find their franchise quarterback in free agency, but Vick carries a lot of experience and can easily push for a starting gig for a year or two. On Wednesday, we finally got some news about an official visit with a team.
That team is the New York Jets, which makes a ton of sense for both parties. For Vick, the Jets offer an opportunity to compete for a starting job. For the Jets, they have someone who can either push second-year quarterback Geno Smith to improve or simply confirm for the team that Smith is not the franchise quarterback of the future.
Smith struggled in his rookie campaign, throwing 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions, and is definitely far from a sure-thing. Vick did struggle at times last year, but he was relegated to the bench more due to Nick Foles' emergence than anything else. Getting active and making visits is a great first step for Vick, and the Jets are a prime candidate to start with.
DeSean Jackson is being shopped ... or released ... or perhaps he's unhappy ... or maybe the Philadelphia Eagles are unhappy ... or maybe we have no idea what's going on. What's known right now is that the Eagles have explored parting ways with Jackson more than once -- last season and now this offseason, apparently.
Philadelphia is listening to offers on Jackson, though they are reportedly not actively shopping him. Naturally, teams are interested, with the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots among those teams listed. It's not necessarily odd that the Eagles are apparently only after a third-round pick for Jackson, it's just odd that this is happening at all.
Sure, Jackson has a high cap hit of $12.75 million in 2014, and $12 million hits in both 2015 and 2016, but with 1,332 yards under Chip Kelly last season, he's worth every penny. Maybe the Eagles don't want to pay that or maybe there's more to it than we know, but the situation is both confusing and messy. Will he play elsewhere this year? Nobody is quite sure, but one thing is certain: Philadelphia is a better team when Jackson is on the field.
Rule changes are not inherently a bad thing, but the NFL continues to discuss some potential changes that have a profound impact on one aspect of the game: special teams. Not so long ago, kickoffs were moved up to the 35 yard-line to reduce injuries on returns, and it's done a lot to eliminate excitement from potential returns. There's more touchbacks than ever these days.
And now the NFL is considering moving them up even further, to the 40-yard line, at the request of the Washington Redskins. That would all but guarantee a touchback for just about every kicker in the league at this point. Sure, they can kick it in such a way as to try and entice returners to bring it out of the endzone, but if this kind of thing gets passed, that aspect of the game is basically done for.
Obviously, something needed to be done about the injuries, but the five yards now simply results in more touchbacks, it doesn't stop players from hitting full speed and running into other players -- that kind of thing can be achieved in a very short distance and is not exclusive to kick returns. If this new rule ends up going through then, they may as well just eliminate kickoffs altogether.
Then again, it's not all bad -- there are some interesting rules being discussed, namely those regarding the potential reviewing of personal foul penalties, given that NFL referees seem completely inept when it comes to keeping up with what is and what is not a helmet-to-helmet hits without the aid of replay.
This isn't something that specifically happened on Wednesday, but it is when we -- specifically, Louis Bien -- elected to take a look at it. The running back position is in a weird transition phase, and the free agent market being particularly pitiful hasn't helped that along at all. Players are getting signed, but they're not getting much money, and there's still a lot of players looking for help. It looks as though rookie backs are becoming the preference in today's NFL.