- Dec 26, 2001
- Reaction score
With only nine days remaining before Draft Day, a lot of wheeling and dealing is going on behind the scenes. Much of it involves PFWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top-ranked quarterback.
PFW has learned that the Buccaneers have discussed a trade with the Dolphins and Browns. A team executive said the Dolphins have discussed a conditional trade with Tampa Bay Ã¢â‚¬â€ with the stipulation being that Alex Smith is available at the No. 2 spot Ã¢â‚¬â€ in which the Bucs would send a third-round pick and perhaps a player or an additional second-day draft pick to Miami in exchange for swapping first-round picks. With few teams looking to trade up, the Bucs hold more leverage in negotiations and are trying to play Cleveland and Miami against one another.
An assistant general manager, who classifed talk this week as very preliminary, said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Dolphins will get laughed out of the league if they accept anything less than a No. 2 pick. It wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen for a third-rounder.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The trade has a great chance of being circumvented by the 49ers, however, who are not expected to let Smith fall if they can agree to contract terms with SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agent, Tom Condon, in advance of the draft. Condon is scheduled to be in San Francisco today to meet with top team brass.
Last year, it was Condon who was believed to be at the center of the controversy regarding Eli ManningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s refusal to play for San Diego. The ChargersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ struggles as an organization were given as the reason for ManningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s snub of the organization, but some league sources believed the more logical reason was that another one of CondonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clients, Drew Brees, held the ChargersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ starting job and would be pushed by the wayside if the team drafted Manning.
As it turned out, both Brees and Manning appear to have benefited from their agentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hardball tactics. With Chargers rookie QB Philip Rivers holding out during training camp, Brees held on to the starting job and had a banner year, earning the franchise tag at the end of the season and pocketing $8 million for 2005. Manning, meanwhile, signed a lucrative six-year deal with $20 million in bonuses and is the starting quarterback for the Giants in the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest market.
This year, two team sources allege that Condon has been trying to pull a similar power play and manipulate the draft the way he did a year ago with Manning because he does not want Smith to play in San Francisco.
If Smith were somehow to slip past the Niners, despite their strong preference for him, expect contract demands to be cited as the primary reason why. Regardless, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rule out the clout of footballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most powerful agent in determining the shape of this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s draft. If Condon convinces Smith and his family that Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan or Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden provides a richer learning environment and a better chance for success than the 49ers do, there is some thought among teams that Condon could wind up bullying the NinersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ new staff into selecting Rodgers, especially given that RodgersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ agent, Michael Sullivan, is said to be much more flexible with contract demands than Condon, perhaps because Sullivan realizes that his client could slip as many as 10 spots if the Niners do not select him.
The other factor that could weigh into the decision is notoriously cheap 49ers owner John York, who after hiring Mike Nolan, said he was willing to do whatever it took to resurrect the franchise to the glory years under former owner Eddie DeBartolo. If York, who is said to charge employees for stamps on outgoing mail, is still pinching his pennies and the difference in contract demands between Smith and Rodgers is $10 million in total contract value, as one team executive said it could be, Rodgers could become the NinersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ guy.
This is only for the premium board.