Gannon, Smith talk overpaid NFL free agents

Former quarterback Rich Gannon, one of the best free-agent pickups anywhere, and former Chicago and Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith -- now the head coach at the University of Illinois -- are this week's guests on the Talk of Fame Network broadcast.

Miami Gardens, FL - The Miami Dolphins lose to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 28-13  at Sun Life Stadium on December 07, 2014. (Jose A Pineiro/Miami Dolphins)
Miami Gardens, FL - The Miami Dolphins lose to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 28-13 at Sun Life Stadium on December 07, 2014. (Jose A Pineiro/Miami Dolphins)

(Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins)

(Rich Gannon photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)

Talk of Fame Network

NFL free agents are the topic of discussion this week with free agency money still flowing wildly around the league.

The Talk of Fame Network explores what free agency means in today’s NFL with Rich Gannon, one of the most successful free agent signings in NFL history, and former Chicago Bears' and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith understands better than most NFL coaches how a growing sense of impatience among owners and fans can push a team to take financial gambles in free agency it knows may be unwise.

“You own a team, you can do what you want. But there are no quick fixes in life in general,’’ said Smith, who was surprisingly fired this winter after two seasons trying to rebuild the Bucs and is now head coach at the University of Illinois. “There’s not a lot of patience (in today’s NFL).’’

Smith also discusses being fired after winning 10 games with the Bears and experiencing the same thing only two seasons into his rebuilding project in Tampa.

“It’s hard to win 10 games in this league,’’ he said. “Most times you win 10 games, most organizations are pretty happy. (In Tampa) we didn’t win. I can see if you’re just going on the record … but I felt progress was made. I thought we had it headed in the right direction.’’

Gannon certainly got the Raiders headed in the right direction when he landed in Oakland in 1999. Four years later he led them to the Super Bowl. The former NFL Player of the Year is the last Raiders' quarterback to lead them to a winning season, a drought that has now gone on for over a decade, but he has his reservations about free agent frenzy.

“I think you have to be really careful,'' Gannon said of the spending. "I really believe you build a team by drafting and developing young players...and then keeping them. I think to overspend in free agency ... really has hurt some teams in the past.''

Our Talk of Fame hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, also debate the surprising decision of Brock Osweiler to leave the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos for Houston and where that leaves the defending champions a week after Peyton Manning retired.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the boys make their choices for best Irish player and team of all-time. But it isn’t just St. Patrick’s Day this week. It’s also the kickoff to March Madness. So to honor the start of the annual NCAA basketball tournament, they make their draft selections for the best players who chose the NFL over the NBA.

Clark argues the Hall-of-Fame case for Al Wistert, the two-way playing Philadelphia Eagles’ All-Pro tackle of the 1940s who sadly passed away earlier this month. He believes Wistert has been mistakenly passed over by the Hall of Fame and tells you why it’s an exclusion that needs to be corrected.

The guys go around the NFL to assess the early winners and losers in free agency and argue whether any of those high-cost signings have changed the league’s balance of power. They also visit with Hall-of-Fame voter Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune to ask if he believes former Pro Bowl pass rusher Simeon Rice should be on the Hall-of-Fame radar.

There’s the weekly two-minute drill, where Rick and Ron attack the questions of the day, as well as Dr. Data explaining that the Lions’ decision to pay Bengals’ No. 2 receiver Marvin Jones a five-year, $40-million contract with $20 million guaranteed to replace Calvin Johnson may have been unwise. According to the Doc, “There’s a history of No. 2 receivers on teams leaving in free agency to become No. 1 receivers elsewhere. And it’s not good.’’

There’s plenty more as well in the two-hour show. It can be found on 80 radio stations around the country or by going to the Talk of Fame podcast at iTunes or on the TuneIn app. The show can also be heard on TOF’s website,

Thanks for listening.