Wednesday Ramblings – March 11, 2015: NFL Free Agent Frenzy, Another Jay Bites the Dust and Raptors….ummm…

It has been a while. I’ve been waiting for something positive to write about but the way things are going in Toronto these days, that could be years. Let’s start off with the craziness that is the NFL.

It was hard to swallow as the Soup Nazi told us Lions fans “No Suh for you!” after the Miami Dolphins offered him a 6-year $114-million deal, the richest in NFL history for a defensive player. He pulled a complete Lebron and took his talents to South Beach but it’s hard to blame him. He goes to a nicer city (as in a better party city), a bigger market and warm weather all year round. Those factors plus the crazy money, he couldn’t turn it down. Obviously, those things will trump winning because Miami is not close to winning anything but 99% of players in his situation take that deal.

The Lions wasted no time filling his spot trading two mid-round picks to Baltimore for Haloti Ngata keeping consistent the difficult pronunciation of their starting DT. This is a great trade and with Ngata a free agent after the season, they have an out if it doesn’t work and if it does, a year to figure out some salary cap relief. I would imagine that Nick Fairley will be resigned as the back-up unless the Bengals offer him $100-million to start for them. Can’t see that happening though stranger things have happened. Lions also resign K Jay Prater to a 3-year deal solidifying a position that had been a huge issue for two years since Jason Hanson retired.

More crazy NFL trades as the Rams and Eagles swap starting QBs (Sam Bradford to Philly and Nick Foles to St. Louis) but I see this as more of a fresh start/salary cap relief situation for both. Bradford is making a lot of money this season and Foles is not. Both teams have underachieved so time for a change and with Philly resigning Mark Sanchez, they might have an actual QB competition for the starting job. Philly also traded Lesean McCoy to the Bills so not really sure what they are trying to do on offense. The biggest shock came out of New Orleans when they traded TE Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. As if Seattle needs more firepower, they now have a beast at the one position they might have been lacking. Not sure why they would trade him within the conference, especially when they might play in Seattle this season and will host Seattle in 2016. A day after getting released by the Pats, Darelle Revis is going back to the Jets, who also released Percy Harvin after acquiring Brandon Marshall from the Bears. Outside of losing Suh, it has been mostly good news for Detroit so far. None of the other teams in the division have improved. Packers resigned Cobb and Bulaga but released AJ Hawk. The Bears have amazingly gotten worse on paper by trading their best WR in Marshall and announcing that Cutler is their starter in 2015. Gotta love Da Bears. Minnesota has not made a decision on Adrian Peterson but they have signed the best backup QB in the league in Shaun Hill so…another last place finish is likely.

Moving on to Toronto…first the Jays lose Michael Saunders to a freak accident but things seem better when they announce he’ll only miss a couple of weeks in April. Follow that with the news that Marcus Stroman blew out his ACL and is out for the season and you have to wonder…is this team cursed? The big trades with Miami and the Mets in 2012 had everyone from Paul Beeston to Sports Illustrated picking the Jays to take the AL East. They missed…badly. Last season, Izturis hurt slipping in the dugout, Lawrie hurt on his first play back from injury, the bullpen falls apart and we go from 1st place in June to 3rd place as Baltimore runs the table. After a crazy offseason with promise, two starters suffer big injuries in Spring Training. Now we need HUGE seasons from everyone and our margin for error is almost nil. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but history has a habit of repeating itself.

The Raptors…I just don’t know what to think. They have lost 9 of 10, including getting beaten by the Knicks! (man that Andrea Bargnani is a beast!) and the only win coming against the lowly 76ers and even then they allowed 103 points. I really hope last night was a turning point. They were down 26 to the Spurs in the 3rd quarter and went on a run cutting the lead to 6 points in the 4th. The D was outstanding in the 2nd half and they played tough basketball like they did early in the season. Their slide started in the 3rd quarter in Portland just after Christmas so maybe the turnaround comes in the 3rd quarter in San Antonio. The slide has been epic and they need to right the ship as they head into the playoffs. 50 wins is no longer a likely option and neither is the 2nd seed with Cleveland on a roll. The good news is that even if they slide to 5th, there is no one from 4th-8th that is scary in a 7-game series. With that said, we need to fix this shit in a hurry.

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