Each year the NFL coaching carousel spins the day after the regular season ends and three months later, quarterback musical chairs begins.
Some teams look to free agency for a signal caller while others will trade a bevy of draft picks to move up the board to land the franchise quarterback, they hope.
During the process, egos sometimes get bruised. Namely, those of QBs already rostered by teams acquiring top prospects, and quarterbacks who aren't getting offered the money they think they deserve.
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We know how Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison feels about participation trophies for kids. How about professional athletes demanding a ticket out of town rather than compete for the starting spot?
1. Nick Foles -- Los Angeles Rams
At the end of the 2013 season, Foles' astonishing numbers (27 touchdowns against just two interceptions) and a Pro Bowl appearance told the story of a QB ascending into the ranks of (this is an "elite"-free zone here) no-doubt starting quarterbacks. But he regressed in 2014, got traded to the Rams in 2015 for Sam Bradford, and finished with 69.0 passer rating, second-worst in the league despite a league-lowest 6.09 yards per attempt.
Then the Rams mortgaged their future to move up the board and draft Jared Goff at No. 1 overall. Now Foles is skipping voluntary team workouts because the team drafted a quarterback, per an ESPN report.
Indeed the workouts are voluntary but this certainly won't ingratiate him to his teammates. It shows an unwillingness to embrace competition. Plus, Foles got benched down the stretch for Case Keenum in 2015. If he thought he was the presumptive starter, he wasn't paying attention and didn't watch his own game tape. With a solid performance during OTAs and training camp he could secure a spot as Goff's placeholder for half a season or more -- an audition for the next contract.
2. Sam Bradford -- Philadelphia Eagles
It's funny how Foles and Bradford traded places and then fell into the same bad trap of not knowing their value or role. After the Eagles followed the Rams with a leap up the board via a draft pick exchange, Philadelphia identified their quarterback of the future: North Dakota State product Carson Wentz. That didn't sit well with Bradford who had signed a two-year, $36 million extension with the Eagles (with $22 million guaranteed!). So Bradford and his agent requested a trade and vowed he wouldn't participate in team activities any longer. This cartoon from Rob Tornoe about sums it up:
Elsewhere, Bradford got some straight talk from Joe Theismann:
"The impression that I get is that this guy here doesn't want to compete. He's not interested in playing quarterback. He's not interested in competing at the quarterback position. He wants it handed to him on a silver platter. Well that's not the way life is. The Eagles owed him no explanation. If you think you're that good, you should be able to beat out a rookie who has no earthly idea of what the NFL looks like.
.... Strap your chin strap on, put your helmet on, put your jock on, and go out and compete like somebody who wants the job. Don't gripe about, 'Oh I'm not going to OTAs, I'm not going to do this.' How about doing something instead of not doing something? I am just so upset over this kind of bologna from young guys."
Now the the same applies to Foles. Bradford has since made an about face and returned to the team after realizing he didn't really have any other option.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick -- New York Jets
This is a strange situation. There's currently no market for Ryan Fitzpatrick's services, and the Jets have shown they aren't willing to negotiate against themselves. Both sides have dug in deep. Fitzpatrick and his agent see the unproven Brock Osweiler (we'll get to him) banking a four-year, $72 million contract deal while the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick, coming off a 31 passing touchdown campaign (a Jets record), hasn't sniffed anything near that in free agency.
He was so dissatisfied with the Jets' offer as of April 29 that he said he would "rather not play football" than play for the Jets at the offered salary.
Now the latest offer to Fitzpatrick has has leaked -- 3 years, $24 million with an unknown guarantee -- while Fitzpatrick reportedly is ready to end the stalemate with just a 1 year, $12 million pact. But the Jets may be unwilling to do that for salary cap considerations.
This soap opera is supposed to end with a kiss-and-make-up upon some mutually agreeable ground, yet the log of perplexed, outraged Jets fan callers to WFAN just keeps growing.
4. Brock Osweiler -- Houston Texans
First he got benched for a hobbled Peyton Manning in Week 17 last season after a C.J. Anderson fumble. Osweiler didn't outwardly show unhappiness over that and denied that it factored into his decision to leave for Houston. But in the two weeks before officially inking the deal, he cut off contact with Broncos coaches and some teammates. Then the Broncos delayed in negotiations with Osweiler while awaiting official word on Manning's retirement. Said Texans owner Bob McNair:
"I guess the thing that really helped us is that he does like our offense, and Coach [Bill] O'Brien gives the quarterback a little more leeway at the line of scrimmage and all quarterbacks like that. I think that helped. And then of course he had played behind Peyton Manning and John Elway there. Their shadows were quite large. He was still going to be under that and compared to them."
It also helped that Houston offered more money but the guy wanted a fresh start, somewhere he'd be appreciated more and yes, to get out of Elway's shadow.
Now, Osweiler is skipping the Denver Broncos' White House visit honoring the champions. "The Broncos graciously extended an invitation for me to join them at the White House on Monday, but due to a scheduled OTA in Houston," Osweiler said, "I feel it is important to be at practice with my new teammates."
No thanks, Obama.
5. Connor Cook -- Oakland Raiders
Here's a newcomer, drafted 100th overall by the Oakland Raiders, entering the league with hurt feelings. "Yeah, anytime you see another quarterback get drafted in front of you, it hurts," said the Michigan State product who was the seventh QB drafted this year. "I'm a competitor. It just motivates you. I'm going to go into this league with a chip on my shoulder and try to earn everything that I achieve."
Honorable tensions that began brewing long ago: The saga of Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, plus Robert Griffin III finally departing Washington with a telling locker room note. On to Cleveland...