So much for that "quiet time" on the NFL calendar. In the past three weeks alone, the following has occurred:
A dead body was found at the home of Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and the player's brother has been charged with manslaughter. Adam "PacMan" Jones got into a fistfight in the middle of the Atlanta airport (he wasn't arrested and police said he was defending himself). Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim was charged with driving while intoxicated in Arizona.
Then, of course, came the explosive allegations of domestic, child and animal abuse made against Bills running back LeSean McCoy by a friend of his ex-girlfriend.
All of it is enough to make you want to take a shower. It's no wonder NFL coaches dread this period before the start of training camp. Let's get to this week's mailbag:
James W. Porter Jr. asks: Any chance we can sign A.J. Green? Since the Bengals have an overcrowded wide receiver group, I’ll pitch in on wings.
Jay: There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but this isn’t happening. It would be lunacy for the Bengals to trade Green, who has had at least 1,000 receiving yards in six of his seven pro seasons. Signing him wouldn’t be possible without the Bengals releasing him, but that would be even crazier than trading him – no matter how many wings James is willing to throw in.
A more realistic scenario would be targeting one of the Bengals’ younger receivers in a trade. We’ve seen the two franchises make one deal already this offseason, when Cordy Glenn was traded to Cincinnati as part of a deal for the Bills to move up in the first round. Cincinnati has ample depth at receiver behind Green and veteran Brandon LaFell. Maybe Tyler Boyd, the receiver who scored the touchdown that beat the Ravens and sent the Bills to the playoffs, could be an option. Of course, the Bills could also wait and see who gets squeezed off the roster at final cuts and try to make a waiver claim, thus not having to give up anything in a trade.
Dean Kindig asks: Does Marcus Murphy have a shot at making the running back room? We’re ancient in there.
Jay: Sure he does, and that was true even before the allegations against LeSean McCoy came out this week. Let’s assume for a second that McCoy will be available to play in 2018. He would account for one job in the backfield, with Chris Ivory serving as his backup. The question then becomes whether the Bills will keep three or four running backs on the 53-man roster. Murphy would be competing against Travaris Cadet, Taiwan Jones and undrafted rookie free agent Keith Ford for one or two spots. It’s entirely possible he wins one of those jobs.
I agree with Dean that the Bills need to get younger soon at running back. McCoy, Ivory and Jones are 30, while Cadet is 29. That makes Murphy, who’s 27, the youngest. Running back figures to be a draft priority next year, no matter what happens with McCoy.
Danny 5 asks: Did Shady do it?
Brendan Sweet asks: If allegations against McCoy are proven true, what are the chances the Bills cut him? If McCoy does get released or suspended for significant time, should we start looking at 2019 mock NFL drafts?
“Double Dough” asks: LeSean McCoy’s offseason troubles APPARENTLY don’t mesh with the culture the Bills are seeding the organization with? No matter which way this goes, do they outright cut him?
Jay: Let’s just put all the LeSean McCoy questions in one place. To start with Danny’s -- I don’t know. How’s that for a simple answer? Let’s let the police, then the NFL do their investigations and determine what the facts are. Certainly, if McCoy is found to be involved, his future with the Bills – and in the NFL – could be compromised. The details of the crime are terrible. If he’s found to have had no role in the incident, perhaps nothing happens.
This is a moment-of-truth moment for coach Sean McDermott, who is big on preaching the importance of character. If McCoy is found to have been involved, it’s hard to see how he could stay with the Bills. That would leave all of McDermott’s “character” talk as useless lip service. I’ve always found it convenient for coaches to talk about the importance of character. It’s funny how quick that can change based on the ability of a player. If it’s the 53rd man on the roster who screws up, it’s easy to make an example of him and say “character matters!” It’s a lot harder to do with a star.
I understand, given McCoy’s stature in the NFL, why there is such an extreme interest in the case. From a strictly on-the-field perspective, his absence figures to hurt the Bills’ offense. It’s simply too early to tell what the outcome will be.
Paul Catalano asks: Early prediction on win-loss record?
Jay: That’s tough right now because of the above answer. When the schedule came out in April, I predicted a 6-10 record. Without McCoy, I’d drop that down a game to 5-11. I do expect the team to be improved defensively, but there are simply way too many unknowns on offense to have high hopes for a repeat playoff appearance. Who’s going to be the starting quarterback? Will that guy be any good? Is there another legitimate receiver on the roster outside of Kelvin Benjamin? How much will the offensive line be hurt by the departure of three starters from last year’s season opener? All of those were concerns even before McCoy’s status became murky.
Mike Kickbush asks: Record this year? Who will start? How is the offensive line?
Jay: See above for the record. As for who will start, assuming you mean quarterback, I’m still picking A.J. McCarron until I see otherwise at training camp. It’s true that Nathan Peterman had a solid spring, but the competition is far from over. It’s also possible that the Bills decide that rookie Josh Allen is the best quarterback they have and ready for the job from Day One. As for the offensive line, I’m not quite as down on it as many others seem to be. There is no denying the loss of left guard Richie Incognito and center Eric Wood will be tough to overcome. But Ryan Groy is a capable NFL player and John Miller has had some good moments in his career before he lost his job to veteran Vlad Ducasse last year. If those two can hold their own at guard, the line has a chance to be ok. At left tackle, the team clearly believes Dion Dawkins is the future of the position after they traded away Glenn. My guess is the Bills do not look at that as a step back at all.
Dave McKinley asks: Don’t you think the uniforms worn by the Bills when they were really good in the early 1990s were the best ever?
Jay: First of all, I love when a Dave McKinley question makes the mailbag. Let’s start by agreeing that the worst uniform is the hideous costumes the team wore from 2002-10. The early 1990s are definitely sharp, but I’m partial to 1964, with the white standing buffalo helmet matched with white pants and a white jersey with blue numbers. It’s a classic look.
Rick McGuire asks: Do you think teams that open training camp earlier than others (not including teams that play in the Hall of Fame game) gain an advantage or are at a disadvantage?
Jay: Neither. How’s that for an ambiguous answer? Let’s start with the advantage, which is obviously more practice time. In theory, that should mean the team is sharper when the regular season rolls around, since it’s had more time together on the practice field. Of course, there is a down side to that, too. More practice time means more pulled groins, sprained ankles or any of the other bumps and bruises that are part of life in the NFL. It's an interesting question give that the Bills' Week 1 opponent, the Ravens, will play in this year's Hall of Fame game, giving them an extra week of practice. The reality is, though, that the outcome of that game likely won't have much to do with that.
Mike asks: Why is the NFL offseason so boring?
Jay: Sarcasm font alert! Thanks for all the questions this week.
Story topics: AJ McCarron/ Bills Mailbag/ Cordy Glenn/ Dion Dawkins/ Eric Wood/ John Miller/ Josh Allen/ Keith Ford/ Kelvin Benjamin/ LeSean McCoy/ Marcus Murphy/ Nathan Peterman/ Richie Incognito/ Ryan Groy/ Taiwan Jones/ Travaris Cadet/ Vlad Ducasse