When we get close to the draft, we always admonish football fans not to fall prey to the red herrings, subterfuge and flat-out lies that are told by teams about their intent in the early stages of the draft. The standard mantra tells you, “Believe little of what you hear or read and only half of what you see with your own eyes.”
Lying and misdirection is part of the game.
But, as it pertains to the start of free agency, there is a similar line of deceit going on. For the most part, players and agents plant what we’ve learned in recent months and some it can become “fake news.” They create controversy by claiming teams are frontrunners to land the pending free agent, but it’s clear the news isn’t coming from the teams’ front office types. There’s no benefit to a team leaking news when it comes to what free agents they’re most interested in and ready to pounce on. If they’re leaking anything, it’s misinformation.
The combination of TV, radio, newspapers and websites are all trying to work sources and get the information they need to get the scoop on the competition.
On the first day of pre-free agency foreplay Tuesday, if you believed everything you read or head, you would be greatly confused.
Multiple reports said that Adrian Peterson is willing to take a low-ball deal from the Patriots in search of getting on the fast track to a Super Bowl ring. Other reports said his preferences are either in Seattle or Oakland – most saying one or the other, not just one. Another rumor has him landing in Tampa Bay. Still more say his best option is likely to come back to the Minnesota Vikings and end his career in purple and gold.
It didn’t stop there.
Reports out of Charlotte say that the Panthers are going to make a run to reunite the injured Kalil brothers – Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil and Panthers center Ryan Kalil. Other reports have the Vikings meeting with Kalil’s agent to make an offer to keep him. In that case, all may be true.
The rumor mill has it all but a done deal that Cordarrelle Patterson is going to end up in Chicago about the same time Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery are shown the door. In fact, some rumors have the Vikings making a run at Jeffery, despite the belief his next contract will require $10 million a year, which would raise the bar significantly when Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs come due for their next long-term contracts.
Speaking of Thielen, even restricted free agents aren’t immune from the rampant speculation. There has been a rumbling that has been picked up that, if the Vikings place a second-round tender on Thielen, Philadelphia might swoop in with a poison-pill style offer to snipe him. Seeing as they have the Vikings’ first-round pick, they have the ammunition to do it.
Very little of the Vikings’ true intentions have made news. There has been quiet chatter that they have met with the agents of Kalil and Terence Newman, but as far as real intentions with other unrestricted free agents – highlighted by Captain Munnerlyn – there hasn’t been a peep. Read into that what you will. Munnerlyn is asking for a lot; we don’t see the Vikings offering that much.
Starting tomorrow afternoon, when word starts to leak about contract signings that are legitimate, then the news can start to be believed.
Until then, unless you hear the phrase “an agreement has been reached in principle,” which would technically be illegal during this negotiating window, keep a wary eye on everything you hear and read today. Some will be legit stories that have merit. More times than not, they won’t. If there was legitimacy to all of them, Peterson would be playing Week 1 for the Patriots, Seahawks, Raiders, Buccaneers AND Vikings – we know that can’t happen.
All will become clear, as about $1 billion in contracts get thrown out in the next week, but until then, keep your free agency head on a swivel because not all is what it appears to be.