I could never be an NFL general manager. I lack the patience, among many things. For two days I have waited to find out which way the Saints will go in their match-or-no-match decision with running back Mike Bell, and now I -- and you -- will have to wait until Wednesday to find out. The Saints are playing it coy and not announcing their intention, and instead could very well send an overnight delivery to the league office, which will then notify the Eagles, who will then notify you.
On Wednesday morning.
(Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter says the Saints aren't going to match the offer sheet. And a reporter told me that Andy Reid confirmed by giving a "thumbs up" to reporters who asked him to give them an idea which way it would go as Saints head coach Sean Payton approached Reid at a party at the NFL Owners meetings on Tuesday night.)
It all seems to be ridiculous drama, but that's the way it is. The Saints are playing by the rules, no matter how obscure they are. New Orleans has/had (depending when you read this) until 11:59 on Tuesday night to make their decision on whether to match the one-year offer sheet Bell signed with the Eagles last week when he visited the NovaCare Complex. I've literally been waiting since Monday to find out -- ever since word spilled out, incorrectly as it turned out, that the deadline was actually 11:59 p.m. on Monday -- what the Saints are going to do.
Will the Saints match an offer that is reportedly worth $1.7 million, with incentives that could drive the deal to more than $2 million and that includes -- reportedly, of course -- a no-trade clause for a player who would be third on their depth chart behind Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas? Maybe. Maybe not. New Orleans isn't saying a thing.
And the Eagles are wondering what comes next.
Ah, the wait. It's tough. The Eagles have other business to attend to, of course, with the top brass in Orlando, FL at the NFL's Owners Meetings. Certainly, the team has a Plan B should the Saints match the offer sheet, but what that is and which domino would fall next is unknown.
Really, the entire process has been a long pause and it calls into question the entire process. Why did the Eagles, you want to know, provide the league its intention *not *to match the offer sheet signed by defensive end in Tennessee? Because, as I understand it, the right of first refusal was a clause the Eagles included in Babin's contract when they signed him last summer. Babin then became an unrestricted free agent, attracted some attention in free agency and ultimately signed with Tennessee. The Eagles had until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to announce they were not going to match the offer sheet, but they did it early, as was their right, saving everyone a long night of waiting around.
In Bell's case, the rules are different. He is a restricted free agent and under the rules, the Saints aren't permitted to make an announcement of their intention until the full seven days are exhausted. I thought they might call the Eagles at 11:59 tonight and let them know what they planned to do. I don't think that is the case, however. Sounds to me like the Saints will let the NFL offices know via the overnight delivery.
Which means the plans I had to stay up until the wee hours on the East Coast writing about Bell and him becoming an Eagle/not joining the team are dashed. I don't want a good night's sleep. I want some news.
Maybe the league could have addressed this issue in Orlando. They changed the overtime rule, and they talked about a whole lot of other things to make the game better. But doesn't narrowing a seven-day window make the game better, too? Why draw these things out? Why not capitalize on the slam-bang moves and give a team three or four days to match or not match move on? Does it really take a full week to figure it out?
We'll find out what the Saints decided to do sometime on Wednesday morning after the league office opens the envelope and goes through the official paperwork (I'm guessing how this works because, honestly, nobody really seems to know) and then makes a phone call (even in 2010?) to the Eagles and lets them know and then they'll let me know and I'll let you know.
Unless, of course, someone along the way intercepts the communication and leaks the story and, well, let's not let this nightmare continue.
I need more patience. I have no choice. I really think Mike Bell would add a lot to this football team, but I have to prepare myself for the fact that he might not be an Eagle. For another night, a needless extra night, I have to think of Bell as an Eagle, and I have to wonder where else the team would go if the Saints match the offer sheet.