Three Things: A Blog From My Deathbed

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 - 

Every day there are three things. Here are those three things.

I'm not really on my deathbed, because I'm not really dying. But I have been shelved for most of the week, mainly confined to my bed with something that the guy who treated me at the Little Clinic described as "a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't fit into one diagnosis."

Lovely.

I feel better than yesterday, when I was coughing gunk that had a color to it that I've never seen before.  

Today, I discovered the world of Neti Pot, which I can't believe I'm late to the party on.  I don't have an addictive personality, but if there is such a place as a rehab center for people who overdo it on Neti Pot, I'm a likely candidate for admission.

Like yesterday, I'm not on air, because while a mucous-y, phlegm-y, voice might be an upgrade from what I usually broadcast with, it's probably best if I avoid contaminating my coworkers with a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't fit into one diagnosis. I'm also not going to be at the UC game tonight, reminding me that I once remarked that if a Bearcat home tilt is being played and I'm not present for it, I better be on my deathbed.

I have, however, mustered up the energy to bang out a Three Things today. Consider this the Flu Game of local sports blogging...

(As an aside, I recently had to explain a Flu Game reference to a coworker. It sucks getting old.) 

My hope is that tomorrow I'm A) alive B) able to sit in a chair and yammer about sports for a few hours before taking a pre-planned vacation day on Friday.

Only the streetcar has worked less in 2018 than I have...

1) I can save Mike Brown almost $15 million! The owner of the Cincinnati Bengals has recently done some interviews (here and here) that, come to think of it, might be the reason why I've felt like I have this week.

Anyway, he talked about his team's free agency strategy in relation to their current salary cap position...

Some of the teams that were especially successful last year in free agency, I think of Jacksonville, I think of the Rams, were teams that had an inordinate amount of cap room. They had been notably unsuccessful for years previous to this last season. And they went out, and to their credit, they made costly acquisitions, but helpful acquisitions. They were in a position to do it. Most teams aren’t. And we fall into the most teams aren’t category. We try to spend our cap money in ways that we think make sense. Our goal is to retain our own good players if we can. That’s the first order of business. And we can’t always do that with the cap room that we have. We do a lot of it. that is quickly overlooked whenever we do it. Oh, go do this, go do that. Well, the chips to do that have been spent. They’re gone. We look to do what we can within our cap room. We do every year, and we will this year. We will have to allocate the cap room that we have to a combination of our own players, and that will be first and foremost, and then it will be what else we can do to add the team.”

If your eyes didn't glaze over as you read that, that means you're still with me. Good. Now follow along as I offer some help.

Estimates have the Bengals currently sitting on anywhere from $36 to $38 million in cap space, which puts them right in the middle of the pack.  Not a bad. Not great. Fine.

But let's do some accounting, which we'll have to do by exercising some of the flexibility with player contracts that owners like Mike have worked so hard to earn.

We're gonna cut some guys.

Lets's start with Adam Jones.

Adam will be 35 years-old in late September, and last season he often played like a 34 year-old who's best years (which were quite good) are behind him before suffering a season-ending injury.  William Jackson is a star in the making, Darqueze Dennard played quite well last season, and they've invested a good chunk of money in Dre Kirkpatrick (who was disappointing). Adam is no longer the team's primary punt returner, and while there's probably still a place in the NFL for him, the more than $5.7 million they'd save by cutting him can best be spent elsewhere.  And if the Bengals really still want him back, then they'd have all the leverage to negotiate a cheaper deal with a player who's age and inability to, you know, stay off of TMZ, probably shrinks the pool of potential employers.

Money saved by cutting Adam Jones: $5,781,250.

Let's continue with the cuts with Michael Johnson.

You're going to tell me that they Bengals found new use for Michael Johnson, moving him to the inside where he finished fourth on the team with five sacks.  

I'm going to ask you how many of those sacks you actually remember, and how often you thought to yourself "man, that Michael Johnson sure is disruptive" as you watched the Bengals last season.

He was okay, and while his off-field efforts earned him the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination, on the field he was, well, not worth more than $6 million.

Which is what his 2018 cap figure is. 

Again, there's probably a place for a 31 year-old Michael Johnson in the NFL next season. He's got versatility. He's a good locker room guy.  He can also be replaced.

Money saved by cutting Michael Johnson: $4,987,500

I know, I know this is harsh.  Adam Jones has been here a while, and for some reason, people here have a weird attachment to him.  And Michael Johnson, save for that odd season he spent in Tampa, has also been here for a long time too. 

Brandon LaFell hasn't.

And he hasn't been bad either, catching 116 balls for more than 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns while playing in a complementary role. He kept the offense from completing melting down when injuries took their toll in 2016, and he helped the team absorb the injury to Tyler Eifert and the complete lack of anything from John Ross in 2017.

There is most definitely a place in the NFL for Brandon LaFell next season.

But does it have to be here? 

Voiding LaFell's contract (which they can do) would be taking a leap of faith in wideouts that haven't proven much, but it'd also save $4 million. I'm not opposed to Brandon being on the team, and I don't think his 2018 salary is that unreasonable, but if we're looking for ways to create some cap space, he's expendable.

Money saved by moving on from Brandon LaFell: $14,768,750.

Is that the kind of money that can allow the Bengals to go wild on free agency the way I do when the UC bookstore has an apparel clearance? No. Does moving on from those three players create more uncertainty for a franchise that's already swimming in it?  Yes.

But if the Bengals do indeed want to make roster upgrades from the outside, and if their ability to do so is compromised by their relative lack of cap space, then these three cuts - which would give them, right now, something in the ballpark of the ninth most available money to spend - make sense.

Doing what I just outlined would mean the Bengals would have to be willing to bail on contracts before their expiration date, which their aversion to loyalty often keeps them from doing.

But if things are gonna be different, then the Bengals actually have to do some things that could be categorized as, uh, different.

I just gave them an ideas on how to be different. 

2) Wildcats win. Look miserable doing it.  UK avoided a three-game losing streak, winning last night at home over Mississippi State.  It wasn't the kind of win that will necessarily propel the Wildcats to a deep run in March, but hey, one-game winning streaks are better than three-game losing streaks.

From a pure basketball standpoint, my amateur analysis of Kentucky is like everyone else's.  They're an exceptionally young team with a low collective basketball IQ, they don't move the ball exceptionally well, they often defend the three poorly, they're not the toughest bunch, and no real crunch time go-to guy has emerged.

And yet, they have enough length, athleticism, and talent that you can see a path that leads them to multiple NCAA Tournament wins.

Something else stands out, though, when I watch them: They look miserable.

I can't diagnose the real reasons as to why, and I'll admit that I haven't seen every UK game, but every time I watch them, I see a bench full of players wearing dour looks on their faces.  I see players who often look reluctant to interact with each other on the court.  I see a team filled with players that might really, really like each other but seem uninterested in really playing with each other.

Maybe I'm trying to get at something that isn't really a problem. Maybe John Calipari will use the coming weeks to fix what I just outlined.  Maybe I wouldn't be writing about this if the Wildcats were winning more frequently.  

But this Kentucky team looks miserable.

3) Good win. Bad beat.  Last night's UD win over Davidson was this Flyers season in a nutshell. Periods of well-played, cohesive ball offset by moments when the Dayton players look as if they've just been introduced to both the game and each other.  They did find a way to win, which was great.

They found a way, favored by a point, to win by just one after leading by four in the final seconds.

Wide open three on a blown defensive assignment.

A missed Darrell Davis (87% from the stripe) free throw.

Horn.

Push.

What's worse than being deathly ill?

Being deathly ill and the gambling odds conspiring against you.

Recommended Link Of The Day:  The NBA continues to be our country's most progressive sports league. Adam Silver continues to be the best commissioner in sports. This latest development details why

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Mo Egger

Mo Egger

Mo Egger delivers his unique take on sports on Cincinnati's ESPN 1530! Read more

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