Winston’s Quick Fall
Jameis Winston sat out the first three games of the season due to suspension, and was adequate for a few games upon his return to the starting role. But the wheels fell off quickly against Cincinnati in Week 8. Winston found himself on the bench, watching “FitzMagic” nearly bring the Bucs all the way back from the dead.
Financially speaking it seems nearly impossible that Tampa Bay allows Winston back next year on his $20.9M salary. They can release him prior to the start of the league in March with no cap or cash ramifications. This salary is guaranteed for injury right now however, meaning Tampa would be wise to tread lightly with Winston over the remaining 8 weeks of 2018. It’s possible he’s played his last snap there.
The Return of Andrew Luck
Speaking of coming back from the dead, Andrew Luck not only appears healthy, he looks as good as ever through the first 8 weeks of 2018. The 29-year-old has contract outs in his deal every spring going forward, but has posted 280 yards per game, 23 touchdowns, 8 INTs, and a 96 passer rating through the first half. He and the Colts are on a 2-game win streak and staying within reach of the first place Texans in the AFC South.
His comeback could have Jacoby Brissett on the trade block today. The 25-year-old would bring caps of $389,157, & $915,114 with him to a new team, leaving behind dead cap hits of $370,918 to the Colts in 2018.
The Surprising Seahawks
The Seahawks were on a path to nowhere to start this season, after another offseason of gutting their defense, turning over offensive weapons, and trying once again to fortify an offensive line in front of Russell Wilson.
The 4-3 Seahawks are a surprise team thus far, and stand safely in 2nd place behind the Goliath Rams in the NFC West, and the pressure might be on to be active at this trade deadline, and certainly come the offseason. With the end-game goal to convince Wilson they can rebuild this thing on the fly, and lock him in to a new deal. Wilson is set to enter a contract year in 2019.
Another Boston Championship
The Boston Red Sox secured their 9th World Series title last night against an under matched Los Angeles Dodgers team, putting a bow on an historic season from start to finish.
Boston became just the third team since the year 2000 to win the title while carrying the highest payroll in the league that year. The 2000 Yankees & 2009 Yankees were the only two others in the past 18 seasons.
Boston will have some decisions to make this winter, most notably in their bullpen, where Craig Kimbrel, & Joe Kelly are slated for free agency. Other notables include SP Nathan Eovaldi and World Series MVP Steven Pearce, while David Price holds a $31M player option, and Eduardo Nunez holds a $5M player option.
The Maple Leaf Still Unsigned
The Toronto Maple Leafs took a hit this weekend when young star Auston Matthews injured his shoulder and is expected to miss a month. Which puts a brighter spotlight on restricted free agent William Nylander, who’s yet to come to terms with the Leafs, opting to hold-out for now nearly an entire month.
Nylander wants a long-term deal to remain a well-paid part of the Leafs’ core, with a reportedly asking price of $8.5M per year. The Leafs already have 7 players with a contract of 5 years or longer, and John Tavares’ free agent deal worth $11M per year makes allocated dollars elsewhere a lot harder.
Toss in the fact that young defenseman Jake Gardiner will be an unrestricted free agent, and offensive stars Matthews & Mitchell Marner will be restricted free agents next spring, and Toronto has a log jam of contracts that need attention in the coming months.
Nylander has top-line talent both as a scorer and a playmaker, so it’s a loss to not have him dressed - especially now with the injury to Matthews. It’s tough to tell if they’ve been actively shopping the 22 year old, but all signs point to that being the end game here, based on the big offseason they’re facing in 2019 as noted above.
Worst case scenario for the Leafs & the NHL? Nylander and his camp (and possible his brother too, who currently plays in the Sabres’ organization) bail out completely and take their talents to the KHL, where the money will be plentiful and his role can be valued properly.