NFL Free Agency; Legal Tampering?

Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace
With the free agency period hours away, we can assume Mike Wallace's agent has already had talks with several teams.

The term ‘tampering’ has really only one meaning but it is often used in a number of different ways and one of those of course is when it comes to free agency in professional sports. This Tuesday begins the free agency period in the National Football League and this past Saturday began what the NFL calls ‘legal tampering.’

This is where teams who covet certain free agents can start talking to them without fear of repurcussion. In other words, this is what amounts to what I called  earlier ‘legal tampering.’ The problem is, are we really supposed to believe this is the only time when tampering occurs?

Cliff Avril
There are already reports that Avril has heard from the Colts.

Pre-free agency talks are basically the NFL’s version of ‘covert affairs.’ Some of the top free agent players like Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and Detroit’s Cliff Avril are expected to be courted by several different teams in an effort to secure their services. While these particular teams may not have necessarily spoken directly to Wallace and Avril, you can bet your bottom dollar their agents were working phones better than Labor Day Telethon celebrity.

The disturbing part about this is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acts as though this tampering doesn’t happen. He clearly believes that by allowing the ‘legal tampering’ period three days prior to the actual signing period that agents and teams would never break this rule. This is one of many disturbing problems Goodell avoids dealing with. He often reminds me of the one kid in the pool playing ‘Marco Polo’ who doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of finding any other kids simply because he just doesn’t stop and think.

Why else do the Adam Schefters and Chris Mortenson’s of the world consistently know what player is being contacted by what team?

Oh sure you can put two and two together and assume that a team that desperately needs a pass rushing defenseive end would likely seek a guy like Avril but no always. Therefore reporters rely on agents and publicity guys to let them know absolutely what is going on with the free agent moves.

I guarantee that even before Tuesday’s deadline is passed you’ll hear about who has a tentative deal with who and so on. What you as a bettor of the game of football can take from all of the free agency is actually a lot. Sometimes football futures look awfully appetizing even as early as May or June and knowing where free agents land can help you decide just where to lay your money down.

Obviously you’re going to know where a Mike Wallace or a Cliff Avril land in free agency, but sometimes knowing where the solid back-ups and the more obscure offensive or defensive lineman. While free agents signings don’t always pay dividends immediately in terms of titles they can certainly do that in the long run.

The biggest reason I suggest, hint-hint,  that teams are tampering illegally prior to the ‘legal tampering period’ is money. With the hard cap the National Football League has for its’ 32 teams, that means each organization must meet cap limits at certain points during the off-season. When a team is looking at specific free agents, it must plan for the potential salary for that player. For teams like the Cleveland Browns for example who have a lot of cap space available, this doesn’t mean quite as much. They’ll have some wiggle room much more so than say a team like Dallas that is right against the cap.

This is why tampering happens whether it’s legal or not and if you think it doesn’t then man, do I have a deal for you!

2013 Pro Bowl Preview

Since the Pro Bowl is the least competitive of even pro sports’s all-star games, it can be frustrating at times to put money down on a team that doesn’t really care. However, with talk surfacing recently that this could be the last Pro Bowl, many of you may want to get those wagers in because this might be your last chance to get action on the game. You can also treat it like a little warm-up before the big one–the Super Bowl–which is of course, a week from today.

Since the Pro Bowl is just for fun and is always high scoring, one easy bet for you to win is the over/under, which has been set at 80 points by Bovada. I don’t think there’s any doubt the teams will go over, as the AFC and NFC has combined for around 100 points several times in recent years. Last year the AFC beat the NFC 59-41.

The spread, though, is pretty much a toss up. Bovada is giving a one-point edge to the AFC today, even though Tom Brady has pulled out of the game due to injury, giving way for Andrew Luck to make an appearance in his rookie season. One thing that’s true about the Pro Bowl is that QBs and receivers usually have a field day against defensive backs who aren’t playing tight coverage in the secondary. So, quarterbacks that can throw the deep ball and have good communication with their targets will rack up big stats and big points for their teams. I’d have to give the QB edge to the NFC, which has Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson Eli Manning.

Of course, both teams are stacked at every position, but in the backfield, it looks like the NFC’s got the edge again with Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin against the AFC’s Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller. Since Ray Rice is a Super Bowl participant, he will not be suiting up.

Although it may be a hard one to call because both defenses will basically be allowing the other team to score, I have to like the NFC in this one. They have a better core of quarterbacks and running backs and I’m sure they will be a little hungrier since they are coming of a loss from last season. Look for the NFC to cover +1 and win outright today and don’t forget to take the over on 80 points. It’s going to be a shootout in Hawaii today.

 

 

 

Baseball and College Football Kick Start Exciting Weekend

 

Ahead of the weekend’s busy NCAA and NFL football schedules, Friday night provides bettors with some captivating matchups. We start with the race for the American League Wild Card, a contest that continues to get closer by the day, before heading to Vegas for a college football teaser.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

Tampa Bay's trip to New York this weekend could have huge implications in the races for both the AL East title and the vacant Wild Card places.

Tampa Bay (77-66, 39-32 road) arrives in New York on the back of Thursday afternoon’s 14-inning epic against Baltimore. The Rays came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, losing a third-straight against the Orioles. They now sit four games out of the second Wild Card place, behind Oakland, New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees (81-62, 40-34 home) arrive home from a 5-5 road trip that concluded with a 2-0 win in Boston last night. It was the first time in close to a month that the Yankees had recorded back-to-back wins. The win was enough to keep pace with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, after the Birds’ win earlier in the day.

Tampa has had New York’s number this season, winning 9 of 15. New York though has gone 4-2 against the Rays at the Stadium. Home advantage could well play a part not just tonight but throughout the weekend.

Both teams send their aces to the mound on Friday as David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA) faces C.C. Sabathia (13-5, 3.56). Sabathia took the win when he faced Price in New York on May 10. Price beat Sabathia, again in New York, on June 7.

Sabathia and New York start as favorites with the moneyline reading -130 (New York) and +110 (Tampa Bay). The over/under is set at 8 runs. Take New York, both to beat the spread and win straight up, whilst going with the under.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles @ Oakland Athletics

Baltimore's epic win over Tampa on Thursday could hinder any chances of defeating Oakland on Friday night.

Baltimore (81-62, 39-30 road) makes the long trip to the West Coast after Thursday afternoon’s marathon victory over the Rays. Oakland (82-61, 45-26 home) fell to the Angels Thursday and will be looking to bounce back from the rare defeat.

Baltimore has held its own in the race for the AL East and a Wild Card berth but Oakland has been otherworldly. The team is 56-26 (.683) since June 10, and has only lost 15 games since the All-Star break.

Both teams send LHPs to the mound. For Baltimore, former-D’Back Joe Saunders (8-11, 4.22) will start. He’s 2-1 since joining the Orioles with a 4.24 ERA. Tom milone (12-10, 3.90) goes for the A’s. He’s limited opponents to two runs or less in three of his last four starts.

The A’s are -1.5 favorites with a +145 to beat the spread and +145 to win straight up. It’s hard to see a tired Baltimore team that has traveled 3,000 miles with a beat-up bullpen getting much out of this one. Put your money on Oakland. The 7.5-point over/under could really go either way. If it goes over, it’ll be because of Oakland’s bats, not Baltimore’s. Let’s say a tentative over.

NCAAF: Washington State @ UNLV

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel is unlikely to start, but the Cougars are still 8-point favorites as they visit UNLV.

Away from baseball, get ready for NCAA football on Saturday by taking a look at this Friday night (9 PM ET) fixture.

Washington State (1-1, 0-1 road) heads to Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV (0-2, 0-2 home). UNLV has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking for a home win at the third time of asking. For the record, the Rebels open the season with four straight at home.

After being dismissed by a Brigham Young side on its way to the AP rankings, the Cougars notched a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. The Pac-12 side enters the game as 8-point favorites. Take the road team to beat the spread and win outright, while taking the under at 55.5 points.

 

That’s it. You’re all set. Friday’s night’s action should get you well and truly in the mood for Saturday’s full slate of college football and Sunday’s NFL action. Of course, Major League Baseball continues all weekend with some vital matchups.

If you’re looking for something interesting in each, go ahead and give these a try:

NCAAF:  (Saturday, 8 PM ET) #20 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 road) @ #10 Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 home)

NFL: (Sunday, 1 PM ET) Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 0-0 road) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 0-0 home)

MLB: (Friday – Sunday) St. Louis Cardinals (76-68, 33-39 road) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (74-70, 38-34 home)

Each of these fixtures is rife with importance and promises to be a close encounter worth testing oddsmakers’ lines over the weekend.