March 11th, 2014. The official start of the NFL’s New Year, and the start of NFL free agency. Because of those two reasons, it also happens to be one of my favorite days of the year, as far as sports are concerned. And today, definitely did not disappoint. Right when the clock struck one pm, Pacific Standard Time, the names of players and contract details started to roll in. One by one. Within the very first ninety minutes, twenty six un-restricted free agents moved to different teams.
Arguably the best free agent left, even after those first ninety minutes, was Jarius Byrd. But it did not stay that way for long, the rumors stared to fly around 3:30 PST that Byrd was on his way to New Orleans for a visit. And only three hours after those reports, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted that the Saints and Byrd agreed on a six year deal worth a staggering 54 million dollars, 28 million of which is guaranteed. Byrds signing gives the Saints some versatility at the strong safety position, who were fourth in total defensive yards allowed last year, only behind the Seahawks, 49ers and Panthers. And being only 27, Byrd is in the prime of his career. Byrd will be playing alongside the sophomore free safety Kenny Vaccaro, who the Saints took in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Saints were not the only team to make waves today, one of the dumbest moves in a while, was made by the 49ers. What move you ask? Well, they traded two sixth round picks, one being conditional, for Blaine Gabbert…speechless? Yeah, I was too. Gabbert is set to make over two million dollars this year and will account for 3.82 million dollars against the CAP in total. Gabbert was drafted tenth overall in the 2011 NFL draft, now why is that significant? Well, Colin Kaepernick was also drafted that year, in the second round.
Do you remember hearing about how Harbaugh and Baalke not getting along, only speaking though emails and texts? That was only a couple of weeks ago, but it all supposedly started back in 2011, when Harbaugh and Baalke went at it over which quarterback to draft, but until today, no one has ever mentioned which QB Baalke wanted to take. Apparently that was Blaine Gabbert. We know that cause a short time after the trade, Baalke issued a statement:
"We thought highly of Blaine as an early entry into the 2011 NFL Draft," Baalke said in a statement. "He is a high-character individual that will be given every opportunity to develop within our system and we are looking forward to working with him."
And as of right now, Gabbert will be making more than twice as much as the current starter, Kaepernick. Before this happened Kaepernick had mentioned he was willing to play out his rookie contract, which is up in 2014. Now will Kaepernick come out and say that I want to be making more than a back-up? Probably not. That’s what he has an agent for. But if I were to bet on it, I would say that they are going to ink Kaepernick to a new deal before the start of the 2014 season. Even though the 49ers already started to try and work out a long term deal with Kaepernick just about a week ago. However it felt like there was no urgency to get something done before opening day, and now I feel like it’s the exact opposite from that. Only time will tell though, and we have plenty of that from in between now and the start of the 2014 NFL season.
Even though today is mostly over, I’m sure there are still teams and agents chatting back forth, fighting over millions of dollars. One of those teams, could be the team that you follow. And maybe they sign someone that you actually wanted, maybe not. But even if they don’t, enjoy the ride, I know I will.
Written By Trent Davis
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