Welcome to the NFL offseason. The time of year where speculation and rumors run rampant, and fans get frustrated. One minute, a player is destined to join one team, the next he's headed somewhere else, and the third he's never going to hit free agency in the first place. Today, your favorite team will draft one player, tomorrow another, and next week, it will be someone you've never even seen play.
Welcome to the NFL offseason.
Yet, reading comments around the internet, from here on The Phinsider to every other football site, fans seem to have forgotten that this is the time of year where smokescreens and "leaks" work for the teams. Of course the Miami Dolphins are going to sign Greg Jennings, who Joe Philbin may not like, after the Green Bay Packers franchise tag him. Yes, the Dolphins have the salary cap space to sign Mike Wallace and won't allow anyone to out bid them, except maybe the Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals, who have more cap space than the Dolphins.
Those same Packers were done with Jermichael Finley in December. In February, they may keep him.
The San Francisco 49ers have worked out a trade to send Alex Smith somewhere. But every team that is leaked to be in discussions, denies any discussion. So, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't getting Alex Smith. The Kansas City Chiefs aren't getting Alex Smith. In fact, the 49ers may be trading him to...well...nowhere.
Fans all over the place are frustrated and screaming to "stop" the rumors and speculation, for someone to just make a decision and execute. But, that's not something that happens in February. That's a March and April event. In February, everything is about talk - true or false.
Last year, the Dolphins at some point or another lead the sweepstakes for Peyton Manning, Jeff Fisher, Matt Flynn, and Alex Smith. Then they didn't. Now, a year later, none of those players (or coach) are in Miami, and, for most of them, that's a good thing. But, here we are again in the offseason, dying with every rumor that bubbles up to the top. We are latching on to 40-yard dash times, things a player's sister said, and ties between coaches and players. We want everything that helps the Dolphins to be true, while those that hurt them to be false.
We want a perfect offseason. But, unfortunately, that's not the way the NFL works. General Managers and coaches talk in circles, saying a lot without saying anything at all. Teams don't confirm rumors, but neither do they deny them. Agents set asking prices in a vacuum, while teams don't have a say on what the real deal could be worth. Players love their current team, but want to go somewhere where the grass (and money) may be greener.
Through all of the double speak, no comments, and silence, fans react to what they want to believe is true. But, that doesn't make any of it true. If it's driving you crazy already, just wait - it's going to get so much worse. Between now and March 8, rumors about re-signings and franchise tags will be rampant. From March 9-12, speculation about contract offers and meetings with agents will take center stage. And it won't stop until players start putting ink on paper, deciding on a team. Of course, then the speculation over who "made an offer" and who simply talked with an agent will surface.
Oh, then there's the NFL Draft, which doesn't kick off until the end of April. Between now and then, teams will be locked into drafting just about every first round prospect - and some second rounders - on the draft board.
Welcome to the NFL offseason - where nothing you hear is real, but it sure sounds like it is.