3-Wide is a weekly feature in which theScore’s NFL editors debate the hot topics around the league. Grab a cold towel and brace for hot takes.
What’s the most intriguing training camp battle?
Michael McClymont: The most intriguing battle comes from the least likely position. Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk will compete to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ full-time kicker. Aguayo, the most successful kicker in college football history, had an abysmal first season after the Bucs traded up to take him in the second round of last year’s draft. Tampa had to bring in a veteran presence and the competition will play out before our eyes on “Hard Knocks.” Get your popcorn ready.
Mitch Sanderson: Just the possibility of Brock Osweiler being the starting quarterback in Cleveland is fascinating to me. Everyone assumed Osweiler wouldn’t be on the team very long after he was traded, and now he, the most laughed-at quarterback of 2016, might start for the Browns, the most laughed-at team of the past 20 years. With youngsters Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer both also getting the chance to start, the Browns’ quarterback race will provide daily entertainment for anyone curious.
Arun Srinivasan: The battle between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch could cement the direction of the Denver Broncos for the foreseeable future and therefore, it’s by far the most intriguing battle. Siemian emerged victorious in last summer’s battle but the Broncos’ offense stalled under his guidance, missing the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl two years ago. If Siemian wins out again, the Broncos have effectively punted on a first-round pick in Lynch. It’s a compelling battle for a team that is built to win now, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Should the Panthers keep Marty Hurney as full-time GM?
Sanderson: No. It makes perfect sense why the Panthers would bring in Hurney with a week to go before training camp given his familiarity with the club, but once they have time to get someone acclimated, they should hire a new guy (or girl). Recently fired GMs Scot McCloughan and Jon Dorsey would be ideal replacements, and others may present themselves throughout the season. The timing of Dave Gettleman’s firing didn’t leave Carolina with many realistic options, so it would be logical practice to consider more candidates once the opportunity arises.
Srinivasan: It’s truly puzzling that the Panthers opted to bring back Hurney for a second stint, when Gettleman was credited with fixing the cap mess he created. Carolina already sported an in-house candidate in Brandon Beane, but elected to let him walk. Instead, the Panthers should use Hurney as a stop-gap before promoting Don Gregory, the team’s director of player personnel who is highly regarded in league circles.
McClymont: His resume is pretty impressive. Though he had only been on the job for one year before the Panthers made their first Super Bowl appearance, Hurney proved his worth by hiring Ron Rivera and drafting such Carolina mainstays as Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Greg Olsen. The fact that it’s been five years since he last held a GM role is concerning, but should the Panthers deem Hurney an ideal fit, they need only to add a salary cap expert to aid him with the numbers and allow their former GM of 10 years to handle the deal-making and evaluating.
How much should Le’Veon Bell earn?
Srinivasan: Bell hasn’t signed his franchise tender and, as a result, he doesn’t have to report to training camp. Under terms of the tender, Bell will be paid $12.1 million for the upcoming season, which makes him the highest-paid NFL running back by far. That amount ought to be enough for Bell, who feels otherwise. Bell is a superstar talent and is being paid handsomely for his efforts. It seems absurd he’s not happy about his $12.1-million salary but it’s the exact amount he deserves.
McClymont: By accepting the franchise tag, Bell has already accomplished his stated goal of resetting the market for running backs. LeSean McCoy had been the highest earner at the position, making an average of $8 million. Realistically, Bell is among the best overall players in the league. Julio Jones makes an average of $14 million and J.J. Watt makes $16.6 million on average. Bell should slot in right between them.
Sanderson: The NFL is stuck in this archaic way of thinking where players are only compared to other players at their positions. Given Bell’s unreal versatility and mission to change how running backs use patience, he should be valued at his overall value rather than comparing him to other rushers, especially when the running back market is so low. Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford each make $18 million a year and are definitely less effective than Bell. He’s never going to make that much, but if we’re in an ideal world, Bell should make at least $18 million.
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