UPDATE: Leroy Hill gets the franchise tag anyway. Nice try, though.
Leroy Hill was arrested on January 24th in Atlanta for misdemeanor marijuana possession. On the surface the arrest would appear to come at a terrible time for the free agent to be.
But could it have been a calculated move by Hill to avoid a franchise tag from the notoriously character conscious Seahawk GM Tim Ruskell? The arrest could free up Hill to negotiate a long term contract with any team, rather than be held up for another year in the shadow of Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu.
From Danny O’Neil’s PI blog:
Hill was the only one in the car, which was a 1975 Buick Electra.
The deputy asked to search Hill’s car, Hill consented to a search. The deputy found two bags of marijuana in a bookbag on the passenger seat. Hill was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession because the amount is less than an ounce.
He also was charged with a traffic violation and an equipment violation because a brakelight was out.
Really. I’m supposed to believe that Leroy Hill drives a 1975 Buick Electra?
I’m supposed to believe that a dude as rich as Leroy Hill is rolling around with less than an ounce of weed? Two bags and less than an ounce?
And the taillight? Honestly, it’s like his agent took a baseball bat to the car he bought for $1700 from the junkyard. “Let’s just make sure you get pulled over.”
Hold up. The weed was in a BOOKBAG!? Suuuuuuure.
You can imagine Hill driving around for hours without being pulled over, before calling his agent saying he’s just going home to go to bed.
Hill: “Good plan, but it’s just not happening tonight.”
Agent: “Wait, sleep in the car.”
Hill: “Well, I guess. I’ll just pull over.”
Agent: “No! Just park the fucker in the middle of the street. They’ll have to arrest you.”
Hill: “You are a mad genius.”
Leroy Hill sat out the final four games of last season with a pinched nerve in his neck. I promise you in the NFL there is a shot you can get for that. Hill could rightfully be tired of getting third billing on a Seahawks linebacking corps that he is an integral part of. Also, Hill could simply want to play for an NFL team closer to the south, where he grew up and went to college (read: anywhere but Seattle).
Julian Peterson’s cap number was $7.31 million last year. Lofa Tatupu’s was $2.74 million (no doubt adjusted, he makes more than that). Leroy Hill’s was a relatively paltry $1.07 million. For comparison, Niko Koutouvides pocketed $1.28 million.
NFL Linebacker Salaries (USA Today)
Marijuana offenses are not high on the NFL’s list of transgressions. Santonio Holmes was arrested in October of this past season for misdemeanor possession and admitting to smoking blunts in his SUV. The Super Bowl MVP (indeed) missed a grand total of one game.
Leroy Hill would make $8.3 million if he receives the Franchise Tag in 2009. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, sure. But if he could get some long term security, garner a higher profile, and play closer to his family would that be worth faking a misdemeanor weed arrest?
To be blunt, yes.