The 5 o’clock club is published from time to time during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Let me say right at the top that I love reading Pro Football Talk, the website that is created pretty much in its entirety by Mike Florio. I read the website every day, and I learn new things from Florio, who is intelligent and creative.
Florio is 57 years old, so I consider him to be in ‘my generation’. He went to Catholic school, another thing that he and I have in common. He writes about football, as do I, although he has become successful and famous doing so, while I do it as a hobby.
Aside from these three things, in my mind at least, he and I are quite different. Florio graduated with, if I understand correctly, two undergaduate degrees — one in metallurgical engineering and another in engineering and public policy — before going on to study law at West Virginia University.
His law degree has served him well as a sportswriter. He often applies his relatively deep knowledge of law to sports and contracts, providing insight into contract negotiations, the business of running the NFL, and so on.
But more importantly, lawyers — and here I’m talking about corporate and contract lawyers — think a certain way; they think about contingencies, possibilities and connections that don’t necessarily occur to the typical non-legally-trained individual. Florio, then, often chases these possibilities down a rabbit hole of hypotheticals, conjecture, and logic-strings to reach some unique observations.
During the football season, the reporting cycle moves so fast, that this sort of ‘what-if-ism’ practiced by Florio doesn’t go very far, but ProFootballTalk is a 365-day-a-year business, and it is all Florio. He needs to maintain traffic year-round to pay his bills, and in the offseason, if he pulls at a string and he thinks he’s found something to talk about, no one I’ve ever seen is better than Mike Florio at squeezing every last drop of juice out of the resulting story, whether there’s anything there or not.
Back on March 9th, Mike Florio wrote an article titled, “Will Commanders make a play for Lamar Jackson?”
Despite the fact that any fan who follows the Commanders knew that it was a non-starter of an idea, Florio put together one of his lawyer-like logic strings:
Coach Ron Rivera admitted during a Super Bowl-week interview with PFT Live that Sam Howell was QB1. Rivera made it clear that, one year after the Commanders literally called every other team to see if they had a quarterback available in trade, the Commanders won’t be looking for a veteran starter.
Of course, that was before the Ravens gave Jackson a qualified shot at the open market, via the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Obviously, Lamar is a better option than Howell, from a football standpoint. Jackson would be far more expensive, and the question would become whether the investment makes sense to the team, from an overall roster construction and cap/cash allocation standpoint. From a football standpoint, he clearly would make the Commanders better.
And if owner Daniel Snyder is selling (or if he ultimately isn’t), adding Jackson would be the perfect bright, shiny object to distract from the ongoing controversies. If it makes the team better, attitudes toward Snyder would change, whether he’s still there or not.
If he sells and if the team improves under new management, people could be inclined to credit the new owner. But if Snyder adds Jackson before Snyder exits, it will be impossible to not give Snyder credit for making the move.
Giving Jackson a fully-guaranteed deal (which the Ravens likely wouldn’t match) also would stick new ownership with the bulk of the bill. And it likely wouldn’t affect the purchase price. Anyone who owns the team will have cap and cash obligations. Jackson will simply be part of the player payroll for the new owner.
Then there’s the most fascinating point. With fully-guaranteed contracts for veteran players currently frowned upon, Snyder could give his soon-to-be-former partners a gigantic middle finger as he rides his superyacht into the sunset.
So, yes, it makes sense for Snyder to explore it, on multiple levels. It frankly makes too much sense to not pursue the possibility.
Like any good lawyer, Florio makes multiple arguments, some of them in conflict with each other, to support his suggestion that it would be a good idea for the Commanders to pursue Jackson, despite the fact that the head coach had said specifically they would not be doing it; to wit:
- Signing Jackson makes the team better
- Signing Jackson would distract people from things Snyder doesn’t want discussed (like the Mary Jo White investigation)
- Signing Jackson before he sells the team would be ‘credited’ to Snyder, enhancing his tarnished legacy
- Because he is selling the team, Snyder wouldn’t be faced with the task of paying for the Jackson contract
- Giving Jackson a fully guaranteed contract in the mold of the Deshaun Watson deal could be a middle-finger to the other owners on his way out the door.
Florio continued to discuss the possibility of Jackson to the Commanders in the following days, and pretty soon sports writers and talking heads from around the nation were pushing the narrative to keep their own page clicks going in mid-March.
Eighteen days after he had kicked them off, Mike Florio declared that the rumors weren’t true:
Commanders won't pursue Lamar Jackson. https://t.co/esrcFjxY8p— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 27, 2023
In Florio’s March 27th article, he wrote:
Despite the rumors, the Commanders never had interest in pursuing Lamar Jackson and won’t pursue Lamar Jackson. The quarterback seemed a good fit for the franchise, but if Jackson lands elsewhere, it will be a much farther move from Baltimore.
In the first sentence, Florio does some straight reporting. In the second sentence, with the words, “The quarterback seemed a good fit for the franchise,” Mike Florio is poking the bear with his reminder that it was Florio from the start who had said that Jackson-to-Washington was a logical match when everyone who was paying attention knew that it wasn’t.
Florio continued laughing up his sleeve with the second paragraph in his 27 March article:
“I’m not sure where it all comes from,” Commanders General Manager Martin Mayhew said Monday.... “From the very beginning, we’ve been very consistent with our message, and it continues to come up. . . . It’s coming from somewhere. It’s not coming from us.”
Florio knew very well where it had come from. It was Mike Florio, after all, who had initiated the entire idea to help drive traffic to his website in mid-March. I appreciated the whole effort because it gave us, here at Hogs Haven, something to talk about, and it helped drive traffic in March as well.
Keeping the pipeline full
As someone who is partly responsible for keeping an NFL blog filled with content in May, June and early July every year, let me assure you that it is not a simple task. This year, we have had some distracting news associated with the sale of the Commanders, but in any normal year, there is a dead period that starts after the teams announce their UDFA signings in the first week of May that lasts until training camps kick off in late July.
Filling a blog with content when there really isn’t much content around is a challenge. Mike Florio, whose entire business model relies on driving traffic through his site and to his daily talk show with Chris Simms (PFT Live), is a master at discovering or creating content.
For example, Chris Simms has, in recent days, been revealing his top-40 NFL QBs on the show. By putting Sam Howell’s name near the very bottom of the list, behind a a half-dozen or so backup QBs and several drafted rookies who haven’t even taken an NFL snap, Simms and Florio have provided grist for the mill. Once again, I have to thank them for that — it gives us another topic of conversation in the dog days here on Hogs Haven.
The Raiders, Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ian Rappaport, and Over the Cap
A couple of days ago, Florio put two things together to create a story similar to his Lamar Jackson to Washington Commanders “rumor” from March. In other words, it’s not reporting; it’s merely Florio’s own musings put to paper (or pixels on a digital screen, I guess).
With Jimmy Garoppolo recovering from foot surgery, some wonder whether Tom Brady would be an option for the Raiders. Buying a piece of the team will complicate that possibility. https://t.co/WtBTPvMhgq— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
With Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo recovering once again from yet another surgery, some are wondering whether Brady could eventually play for the team he’s poised to partially own.
[A] return to game action by Brady would require all 32 owners to consent. Otherwise, Brady would have to sell his piece of the team before playing.
Like the Jackson-to-Washington musings from Florio in March, there’s really nothing to this ‘story’. This is Mike Florio thinking out loud, and applying a bit of his law school training to a hypothetical question.
You do what you have to do to keep the lights on.
Growing the tree
What makes Mike Florio special is that he never writes one article if he can write a bunch of them. He likes to use one idea, like his speculation about Jackson to the Commanders or Brady un-retiring to play for the Raiders, as a foundation for more stories built on the the original story. Like a tree, the story may grow roots and branches that spread, sometimes, in unexpected directions.
This week, when Florio looked for a followup story to his Brady-returns musings, he actually hit on a fact that made for a good followup:
Remember when the Raiders delayed Jimmy Garoppolo's introductory press conference and everyone said there was nothing to see here? There was something to see. He failed his physical, and his contract was dramatically reworked because of it. https://t.co/qCbeI8OfMc— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
The key item in this story was this:
PFT has obtained Garoppolo’s contract. It contains a critical final clause — Addendum G — that addresses the foot injury Garoppolo suffered during the 2022 season, and for which he had surgery after signing with the Raiders.
Addendum G is a waiver and release.
The story goes on to detail the 5 clauses that comprise Addendum G, and when I read this story a couple of days ago, I found it to be an interesting and useful article.
Right after the PFT article about Addendum G appeared, Ian Rappaport put essentially the same report up on NFL Network.
Florio immediately lashed out on Twitter, and later detailed his complaint in yet another article published on ProFootballTalk (Twitter doesn’t pay the bills):
I try not to let this crap bother me anymore, because it will never stop happening. But we dug up the only real news that anyone has reported this weekend -- a significant story all parties involved had hidden for weeks -- and https://t.co/uO7NjmGdq8 pretends their guy broke it. https://t.co/GnDIr83e3M— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
Others can report the transactions that are going to be announced anyway, often within minutes. Our goal will always be to find the stuff they don't want you to know.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
Once we reported on the existence of Addendum G, others chimed in with confirmation, or whatever. The story at NFL.com, an outlet owned and operated by the NFL, actually gave NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport for the story, even though the article at NFL.com clearly copied and pasted language from our story, because they also copied and pasted my failure to include the letter “i” in the word “medial.” (It’s the first time in 22 years that a typo has actually been a good thing for us.)
Although stuff like this has been going on for 22 years and will go on for at least 22 more, I called out NFL.com last night for creating the impression that they broke the news regarding the existence of Addendum G. More than 12 hours later, they haven’t changed it. (They also haven’t fixed the typo.)
To his credit, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com handled it the right way.
Eventually, the NFL Network story was updated to credit PFT as the source of Rappaport’s story, proving Florio right.
But wait...there’s more
For all his (legitimate) complaints about Rappaport not acknowledging that Florio was the first with the “breaking” story, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap immediately pointed out that the story wasn’t really ‘breaking’ at all; in fact, Jason had reported the contract essentials back in March, and they had been posted on the OTC website since the contract had been signed.
I talked about this a few months ago. This isnt new. https://t.co/TovCbgj6NO— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) May 28, 2023
Jason Fitzgerald, who also pays his bills by owning and managing a website about NFL football, but one which uses a very different business model than PFT, was pretty gracious in the follow up Twitter discussion:
Like me, Jason seems to appreciate the hard work that Mike Florio puts into his business. Florio is diligent and careful, as might be expected of a guy with legal training, and I think he brings a lot of value to the business of talking football year-round. But you can see the difference in level of aggression and treatment of a story between Florio and Fitzpatrick.
Milking the story
As I mentioned earlier, no one is better than Mike Florio at squeezing every last drop out of a story once he’s found it. He never writes one story if he can write six (or eight, or ten).
Are the Raiders gonna buy back all Jimmy G jerseys they've sold since signing him if he never actually plays for them? (Have they sold any?) pic.twitter.com/qW6lGl55XW— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
The key waiver in Jimmy Garoppolo's Raiders contract -- Addendum G -- somehow remained hidden for more than two months. https://t.co/2z2eB25TSi— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
Some in league circles are wondering why Jimmy Garoppolo didn't have foot surgery in December 2022, given that the Raiders refused to sign him without it in March 2023. https://t.co/xQDBVQtsap— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
The lingering Jimmy Garoppolo foot injury makes the Tom Brady angle in Las Vegas more viable, especially since the Raiders don't really have anyone else. https://t.co/CtNEJgVTbT— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
If Tom Brady officially becomes an owner of the Raiders and then tries to play for the team, other teams undoubtedly will object. https://t.co/Jqqww58eXT— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
Here's another potential problem arising from "owner" Tom Brady ever becoming the Raiders QB: How much would he be paid, and how would any payments he receives as an owner be handled? https://t.co/9c7jrBiIYe— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
Offshore sports book has Tom Brady as the 2-1 favorite to be the next QB of the Raiders, if it's not Jimmy Garoppolo. https://t.co/ptetAGE1YU— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
The recent concerns expressed by Davante Adams make a lot more sense, now that more has been revealed about the extent of the Jimmy G injury and its dramatic impact on his contract. https://t.co/tIDcHqc28J— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2023
And you can always count on Florio for a snarky remark or two when people out there criticize his approach to a story:
Here's a question, since I've never worked in the NFL and apparently haven't learned anything about it while covering it for the last 23 years: How often does a standard, no-big-deal injury waiver completely wipe out an eight-figure signing bonus?— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 29, 2023
What do you think of NFL media and blogs that ‘generate’ offseason content to keep fans engaged and to maintain views and clicks in the slow season when little is really happening?
This poll is closed
As a fan, I like having the year round content
I don’t like it
I really don’t care, but why did you write this long-ass article about Mike Florio instead of giving us some actual football content today?