Rounding out a busy week around here …
- The proposed Illinois workers comp law that could limit the payout for injured professional athletes is coming up again this week, as the Players Association briefed agents on the law (Sun-Times), and told them to consider other states for their players if contract offers are close. What’s not clear is whether the proposed law (for which there is no scheduled vote, and uncertain overall support) will actual impact free agent decisions. In a year where the Bears have significant needs and significant resources, and thus figure to be aggressive in free agency, this issue remains something to keep a close eye on. That said, other states do have similar provisions in their workers compensation law already, and it does seem a little strange to have a system where someone is paid out as though they would still be a professional athlete at age 66 if only they hadn’t been injured. I skew player-friendly in just about all things professional sports, but this one … I’m not so sure.
- Sources tell Tony Pauline that the 49ers will be among the teams “going hard” after Alshon Jeffery, who yesterday said he was ready to move on into free agency.
- From one could-soon-be-former Bears wide receiver to a former-and-probably-staying-former Bears wide receiver: the Jets are releasing Brandon Marshall, who was set to make $7.5 million in 2017, the final year of his contract. Turning 33 later this month, Marshall was largely ineffective for the team in 2016 after a record-breaking season in 2015. The Bears traded Marshall to the Jets before 2015 for a fifth round draft pick. Marshall’s presence on the free agent market (and he might be joined by teammate Eric Decker) could boost the wide receiver corps at a time when the Bears may need to do some value shopping there.
- Meanwhile, at the Combine, the most talked about quarterback … is not actually eligible to be drafted this year. It’s USC’s Sam Darnold, who is apparently already getting execs excited about the 2018 draft. (So, which of the Browns, Bears, 49ers to give 2017 another serious tank job? I mostly joke, but I actually kinda wonder about those Jets, who are tearing down aggressively, and need a franchise quarterback. Maybe they wouldn’t tank specifically for Darnold, but we’ll see if they’re involved substantially in free agency, or if they decide it’s going to be a rebuilding year.)
- After a season in which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became far better known for kneeling during the National Anthem than for his quarterback play (which actually wasn’t bad last year), the 29-year-old says he will now stand for the anthem going forward after seeing positive change.
- And something totally and completely unrelated:
QB Colin Kaepernick officially is opting out of his contract today, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 3, 2017
- (I don’t mean to be entirely sarcastic there, but I don’t think anyone can deny a relationship between Kaepernick trying to secure a new contract and the unease that some teams will feel about making him the face of their franchise. Whether you agree with Kaepernick’s demonstration or outspokenness (for my part, I appreciate that he opened a conversation, if nothing else), there is no denying that some portion of every fan base is going to have an issue with him being the guy under center. Perhaps stating now, at the outset of free agency, that he’ll begin standing for the anthem again is a small part of reducing impediments to a signing. His market will be interesting to follow for a number of reasons.)
- If you’re hoping to check out the Combine today:
Day 1 of the #NFLCombine starts NOW!
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2017