Mick Shots: A Little History, Free Agency And An Inspiring Olympic Performance

FRISCO, Texas –Ran into a little bit of Dallas Cowboys history while doing a couple of interviews on Tuesday. Laminated *Dallas Times Herald *sports pages from September of 1972 were there on a table, and staring right back at me were the column mugs of two writers, colleagues I revered:

Longtime Dallas-Fort Worth sports writers Blackie Sherrod and Frank Luksa. When I got to the Times Herald many moons ago, Blackie was like the pope. Had this glassed-in office I’d peek into while empty late at night. Frank became a mentor and dear friend. Was one of the guys who taught me the ropes of covering the Dallas Cowboys. Believe me “Uncle Frank” knew the ropes. Had covered the Cowboys since their inception.

         So Shots out to those guys, Frank passing away in 2012 and Blackie hanging on for 96 years before passing away in 2016.

  • Closer to home, teams have entered the two-week period open to place franchise or transition tags on players eligible for unrestricted free agency. The Cowboys will certainly use the franchise tag if a long-term deal is not completed for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence by the March 6 tagging deadline. Some think the Cowboys should franchise the four-year veteran to see if he can duplicate his 2017 season, finishing second in the league with 14.5 sacks. Some think it’s time to sign him to the long term. Saw an interesting contract that Jacksonville signed free agent defensive end Calais Campbell to last year. Campbell signed a four-year, $60 million deal, averaging $15 million a year, slightly less than this year’s projected franchise tag for defensive ends of $17.5 million. But here was the Jags safety net: The $30 million guaranteed came in the first two years of the deal: A $6 million signing bonus and his first two base salaries totaling $24 million. Jacksonville had beaucoups of cap space, so guaranteed Campbell a $9 million base in 2017 and a $15 million base in 2018. If he failed to produce, they were out of the contract in two years, with just $3 million in dead money left over. Just a thought.
  • Was asked on Tuesday how much would you pay for potential unrestricted free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Said it was a moot point, because there is no way Miami was going to let him walk away. They didn’t, franchising him immediately for the one-year, $16 million guaranteed cost. Now, I understand Landry led the league with 112 catches this past season, but his average per catch? A modest 8.8 yards. That’s some long handoffs.
  • Just so everyone understands the price of doing business in free agency a little bit better. The Eagles were lauded for signing free-agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey last year to that one-year deal. Paid him $9.5 million, with $8.75 guaranteed. I get it, he was darn good during the playoffs. But the $9.5 million got the Eagles 57 catches, meaning 47 guys had more receptions in the NFL last year.
  • If the Cowboys have to tag Lawrence, and he decides to sign the one-year guarantee, that would eat up a whole lot of the Cowboys’ available salary cap space. That then would not bode well for the Cowboys’ ability to even attempt to re-sign versatile linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Especially since Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus has become the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis. “Flus” loved him some “Hitch,” and see where the Colts’ projected top-51 cap space is just under $80 million. That’s a whole lot to go gambling with, since the Cowboys’ projection at this point is just under $20 million.
  • Wonder how much four-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton has left in the tank? Bears released the 31-year-old on Tuesday after an injury-plagued 2017 season. Sitton was owed an $8 million option if still on the 53-man roster March 9. Sitton became a full-time starter in 2009 for the Packers, and has started 137 of the 147 games he’s played in his career. Was last a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016 for the Bears. Just a thought, if he isn’t looking to break the bank at this point in his career since if signed he’ll be on his third team in four seasons.

Lastly, 30 years ago was in Calgary for the 1988 Winter Olympics, complete with Alberto Tomba, Eddie The Eagle and the first Jamaican bobsled team. The darling of those Olympics, though, was Katerina Witt, the two-time gold medal winner in women’s figure skating from East Germany. But tell you what, after watching the inspiring, record-breaking performance by Canada’s ice dancing pair of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to win their second Olympic gold the other day, they just might have been even more talented and captivating.

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