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State of the NFL Report: Business decisions, sexism in sports, and Peyton Manning’s statue

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Bill Belichick worked his magic, Frank Clark’s feelings were hurt, and Stephen A. Smith offers another blistering hot take

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Finding the descriptor that correctly captures the essence of Bill Belichick is a matter of perspective. Objectively, though, it can probably be claimed that Belichick possesses a keener understanding on the NFL rulebook than most folks around the league. That seems fair.

This was never more evident than on Wednesday, when it was reported that the New England Patriots made a May 9 offer to unrestricted free agent LeGarrette Blount. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains, this is a seldom-used device. I’ll spare you some of the complexities, but this tender gives the Patriots a significant amount of leverage over Blount. Basically, if Blount signs a contract with another team before July 22, the Patriots will receive a compensatory draft pick, much like what would occur if Blount was a restricted free-agent. If Blount doesn’t sign elsewhere by July 22, he will be forced either to sit out the entire regular season or re-sign with New England.

As you can probably deduce, the Patriots kind of screwed LeGarrette Blount.

Despite leading the NFL in touchdowns in 2016, Blount’s market probably wasn’t particularly lucrative, anyway. There is no doubt that Blount could’ve been productive somewhere (the Giants and Lions had reportedly inquired about Blount, but those talks were apparently very preliminary), but he turns 31 in December and really has only one dimension to his game. Nobody was beating down this dude’s door.

Therefore, it was always going to be difficult for Blount to locate gainful employment. The Patriots might have made it impossible.

At this point, Blount has three options: Wait it out and pray that another team signs him (and forfeits a comp pick in the process, which seems extraordinarily unlikely), sign the tender (and get 10 percent raise in the process, amounting to a one-year, $1.1 million contract), or hold out until Week 10 at the earliest, although it likely would have to be for the entire season unless he can convince another team that he’s game-ready in mid-November.

With all of that said, using this device on Blount seems a little bit. . .mean-spirited. Remember, the Patriots re-signed Super Bowl hero James White and brought in a pair of highly-coveted free agents in Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. Burkhead is set to make more than $3 million this season, while signing Gillislee cost New England a fifth-round draft pick which they shipped to Buffalo. They’re almost certainly going to want to see some return on their investment. It should also be noted that both Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden are also still on the roster.

It doesn’t make sense that the Patriots would have any legitimate interest in adding Blount to an already stacked backfield. Then again, it looks a lot like Bill Belichick sabotaged Blount’s market to a) keep Blount on the cheap or b) ensure that the Patriots were compensated in the unlikely event that Blount signed elsewhere.

Buy hey, that’s business. Next time you suggest a guy should “take a hometown discount” or that he “only cares about the money” keep in mind that this is how the NFL’s model franchise treats its players.

Frank Clark and his “emotions”

Natalie Weiner, a reporter for Bleacher Report, apparently hurt Frank Clark’s feelings when she posted a very timely, important and serious profile of Greg Hardy, along with a hyperlink to a 2015 story about Clark.

In a tweet (which has since been deleted), Clark said that “people like” Weiner “don’t have long careers” in journalism and that Weiner can have a job “cleaning his fishtank” when she loses her job. Clark later offered a decidedly lukewarm apology to “anyone who was offended by” his earlier tweet. He also offered a very confusing apology to Weiner in which he said he was sorry for letting “my emotions get the best of me about comments made towards my personal life and family.”

See, the issue with the second apology is that the “comments about Clark’s family” were included in an article in which Weiner discussed specifics of Clark’s domestic violence case. Clark was accused of striking his girlfriend in 2014, but ultimately accepted a plea deal and avoided a formal domestic violence charge.

Sure, maybe Clark’s emotions got the better of him. But in a male-dominated industry in which women already deal with sexism and misogyny on a seemingly daily basis (click this link if you want your day to be ruined), perhaps Clark should learn to count to ten.

Understandably, Clark simply wants to put an incredibly dark time behind him, move on and, in his words, continue to grow as a person. That’s fine and dandy. But as a professional athlete, please understand that fans have very long memories when it comes to off-field stuff.

Stephen A. Smith doesn’t think Peyton Manning deserves a statue

In a segment that aired on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith claimed that Peyton Manning doesn’t deserve a statue in his honor. His reasoning is that because Roger Staubach and Joe Montana don’t have statues, Peyton shouldn’t have one, either.

Now would be a good time to mention that ESPN recently announced more than 100 layoffs, and many of those furloughed are legitimate sports journalists with years of industry experience and connections.

Below is a less-than-comprehensive list of Manning’s career accolades:

-14 Pro Bowl selections

-5 NFL MVP Awards

-NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown; co-leader in career wins

-Single-season record holder for passing touchdowns and yardage

-Two Super Bowl wins

-Lead the Colts to seven consecutive 12-win seasons

-The Indianapolis Colts, who were expected to win their division with ease in 2011, went 2-14 when Manning suffered a season-ending neck injury.

-Manning is the only quarterback in the history who has been able to routinely defeat the New England Patriots.

My solution to Smith’s moral dilemma is to build Montana and Staubach their own statues, then go ahead and erect one in Manning’s honor as well. Should probably get started on Tom Brady’s bust, too.

Frank Gore’s Hall of Fame case

Discuss this one among yourselves: is Frank Gore a Hall of Famer? The dude has a legitimate shot to move up to fifth on the all-time rushing list this season.