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NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

February 14, 2014 in NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

As the NFL offseason starts up, teams are starting to shape their rosters meaning some players are being re-signed while others are being released.

Detroit Lions re-sign C Dominic Raiola

First off this week is the 35-year old Raiola who re-signed with the Lions after being set to become a free agent in a few weeks.

Signing a one-year deal with a pay increase from last season, he stays with the only team that he has ever played for. Last year, he took a pay cut to say with the team and now the Lions are rewarding him for this by giving him a raise over the veteran minimum that he earned last year.

Dominic Raiola

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Drafted out of Nebraska in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, he has started 188 games over his 13 seasons in Detroit. In his rookie year, he didn't start a single game, but he came back into his sophomore season strong and started all of the Lions games.

Ever since then, he has started every game that he has played in. From 2002-2008, he started 104-straight games before he missed four games in the middle of the 2008 season.

His current streak for consecutive starts is at 84-straight games and if he starts every game next season, his streak will reach 100. One streak of 100-consevative starts is impressive enough in the NFL, but two is almost unheard of.

Earlier this season, there was some controversy surrounding him due to an incident that occurred in Green Bay. In October at Lambeau Field he directed obscene and homophobic comments towards the University of Wisconsin marching band. A few days later, he apologized for his actions.

This was the only negative from his season as on the field, he played arguably his best season. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the second best center in the league this season ranking just behind Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The number one offseason priority for the Lions this offseason was to re-sign Raiola. This signing is good for them as he is the leader of their offensive line and a key veteran who is still playing well.

Minnesota Vikings release LB Erin Henderson

Staying in the NFL North, the Vikings parted ways with their starting middle linebacker from last season in Henderson.

A solid player, his downfall came due to incidents off the field. In early January, he was arrested for a DUI. This alone likely wouldn't have cost him his job, but add that to another DUI that came just two months earlier (along with possession of a controlled substance) and you see why the Vikings got rid of him.

This move clears $2.1 million in cap space for the Vikings so there is one positive that comes from this move for them.

Signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft, he made the team but was a backup for three seasons before making his first NFL start in 2011.

This season, he moved to inside linebacker after playing weakside linebacker last year. Making 12 starts and playing in 14 games, he finished second on the team in tackles with 112 tackles and added four sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.

His performance ranked him as the 18th best inside linebacker in the league this season according to Pro Football Focus. He was strong in run support finished in the top 10 there, but really struggled in pass coverage finishing in the bottom 10.

For the Vikings, this move makes sense as the Vikings have a new coaching staff and they are getting a point across by showing that the players will be held accountable for their actions off the field.

Expect him to draw interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency as their new defensive coordinator is Leslie Frasier, who was recently fired as the Vikings' head coach.

Other Moves:

The Detroit Lions cut S Louis Delmas.
The Detroit Lions release WR Nate Burleson.
The Green Bay Packers waive OL Greg Van Roten.
The Indianapolis Colts sign S David Sims.
The Indianapolis Colts cut G Justin Anderson.
The Kansas City Chiefs release CB Dunta Robinson.
The New Orleans Saints re-sign LB Keyunta Dawson.
The New Orleans Saints release S Roman Harper.
The New Orleans Saints release DE Will Smith.
The New Orleans Saints release CB Jabari Greer.
The Oakland Raiders re-sign G Lamar Mady.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign WR Joe Anderson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign QB Mike Kafka.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut OL Gabe Carimi.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut DT Derek Landri.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut QB Jordan Rodgers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut RB Michael Hill.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

October 11, 2013 in NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

Despite entering week six of the NFL regular season this week, there were two big quarterback moves this week along with a contract extension.

Oakland Raiders release QB Matt Flynn

For the second time this season, the Raiders have admitted defeat at the quarterback position. The first time came when they cut fourth round pick Tyler Wilson right before the season started and placed on their practice squad.

After acquiring Flynn for a 2014 fifth round pick and a conditional 2015 draft pick, the Raiders planned on starting him at quarterback but six months later, he is a free agent. In training camp, Flynn battled with Terrelle Pryor for the starting job and lost.

With Pryor injured in week four with a concussion, Flynn came in and started, leading the Raiders to a 24-14 loss against the Washington Redskins. He went 21-of-32 for 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception (which was returned for a touchdown) and had a QBR of 2.7 according to ESPN.

After leading LSU to a National Championship in his only season as the starting quarterback, Flynn was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. That season, he beat out second-round pick Brian Brohm for the backup job behind Aaron Rodgers.

In week 17 of the 2011 season, Flynn got to start for the Packers against the Detroit Lions as Rodgers was being rested for the playoffs. Flynn played an amazing game going 31-of-44 for 480 yards, six touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 136.4 while leading the Packers to a 45-41 victory. He threw a touchdown pass with 1:15 left in the game to seal the victory.

The impending offseason, Flynn was a free agent and turned this performance against the Lions into a three-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks worth a maximum of $26 million with $10 million guaranteed. Expected to be the starter, Flynn was beat out in training camp by rookie Russell WIlson so Flynn spent the season as the backup and was traded to the Raiders in the offseason.

For a total of one start, the Seahawks and Raiders paid Flynn $14.5 million ($8 million from the Seahawks and $6.5 million from the Raiders).

Flynn might be able to find a job as a backup quarterback somewhere, though it could be tough to find a spot after getting demoted to  third-string with the Raiders before getting released.

Minnesota Vikings sign QB Josh Freeman

Last week, Freeman was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a strenuous few weeks. After a few days as a free agent, he decided to sign with the Vikings over the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills.

Josh Freeman

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Freeman opted to sign only a one-year contract so he can hit the open market again in March. This one-year contract is worth $3 million and when you combine that with the $6.2 million left on his contract from the Buccaneers, Freeman will make $9.2 million for the rest of the season.

Currently, the Vikings have Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel at quarterback so Freeman will be put right in the mix. Ponder has started three games so far this season but missed week four with a rib injury so Cassel got the start. Cassel led the Vikings to their only victory of the season and his performance was better than any of Ponder's so far this season. Last week, the Vikings had a bye keeping the uncertainty going as nobody has been named the starter yet for this week.

Freeman's best season came in 2010 where he threw for 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 95.9. At this point in his career, it looked like he would be the quarterback for the Buccaneers for a long time but his play has regressed ever since.

Fitting into the Vikings' offense won't be a problem for him as it is a good fit. Freeman's best attribute is his strong arm and having all-world running back Adrien Peterson lining up behind him will allow for more single coverage deep.

Once you know how interested the Vikings were in Freeman in the 2009 NFL Draft, it comes as no surprise that they tried to sign him. The Vikings planned on taking Freeman with the 22nd overall pick, but the Buccaneers beat them to it at 17th overall. After losing out on Freeman, the Vikings settled for wide receiver Percy Harvin who has become one of the best playmakers in the league and was traded to the Seattle Seahawks last offseason.

Head coach Leslie Frazier has already said that Freeman won't start this week against the Carolina Panthers since he will need time to learn the playbook.

For the Vikings this is a good move as Ponder has shown nothing to prove that he is the long-term answer at quarterback and Cassel is nothing more than a good veteran backup at this point in his career. There is no long term financial commitment to Freeman so it is a one-year rental to see what he can do with them.

Minnesota Vikings re-sign DE Brian Robison

Finishing off an active week for the Vikings, they signed the 30-year old Robison to a contract extension.

The extension is for four years and will be worth a maximum of $28.3 million with $13.1 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $5 million. Each season, there is $550,000 available in incentives which are playing 80 percent of the defensive snaps, recording eight sacks, and recording 14 sacks.

Playing his college football at Texas, the Vikings drafted Robison in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. His first season as a full-time starter came in 2011 where recorded 44 tackles, eight sacks, and three forced fumbles. This was a breakout year for Robison as prior to this season, he had averaged just over three sacks a season and had only seven starts in four seasons.

He followed this season with another good year recording 37 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles and batted down seven passes after batting down one in his previous five seasons.

So far this season, Robison has 10 tackles and one sack so he is on pace to finish the season with 40 tackles and four sacks.

By locking Robison up, the Vikings have signed one of their two starting defensive ends that are set to hit free agency this offseason. The other is Jared Allen and currently seems unlikely that he will re-sign. If this occurs, then Everson Griffen would be in line to start but he is also a free agent this offseason.

The Vikings clearly have some decisions to make at defensive end this year and signing Robison is the start of it all. I think they overpaid a little for him but they couldn't afford to lose both Allen and Robison the same year. Now that Robison is signed, it seems even more unlikely that Allen will stay with the Vikings.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals release WR Kerry Taylor.
The Arizona Cardinals sign WR Brittan Golden.
The Atlanta Falcons sign WR Brian Robiskie.
The Baltimore Ravens cut WR Brandon Stokley.
The Baltimore Ravens sign TE Billy Bajema.
The Baltimore Ravens sign WR Brandon Stokley.
The Baltimore Ravens cut TE Billy Bajema.
The Baltimore Ravens cut RB Shaun Draughn.
The Baltimore Ravens sign TE Billy Bajema.
The Buffalo Bills release P Shawn Powell.
The Buffalo Bills sign P Brian Moorman.
The Buffalo Bills sign QB Thaddeus Lewis.
The Buffalo Bills release OT Sam Young.
The Buffalo Bills sign CB Brandon Smith.
The Buffalo Bills sign LB Ty Powell.
The Buffalo Bills cut LB Marcus Dowtin.
The Buffalo Bills cut CB Johnny Adams.
The Carolina Panthers sign LB Ben Jacobs.
The Carolina Panthers waive LB Ben Jacobs.
The Carolina Panthers release WR Armanti Edwards.
The Carolina Panthers sign C Brian Folkerts.
The Carolina Panthers sign WR Marvin McNutt.
The Chicago Bears sign DT Christian Tupou.
The Dallas Cowboys cut S Will Allen.
The Green Bay Packers sign CB James Nixon.
The Houston Texans sign TE Jake Byrne.
The Indianapolis Colts cut DE Lawrence Guy.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB Andy Studebaker.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Daniel Herron.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut G Jacques McClendon.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut WR Jeremy Ebert.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign G Jacques McClendon.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign OT DeMarcus Love.
The Miami Dolphins sign S Jordan Kovacs.
The Minnesota Vikings cut QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
The Minnesota Vikings cut DE George Johnson.
The Minnesota Vikings sign DE Justin Trattou.
The New England Patriots release CB Marquice Cole.
The New England Patriots sign LB Ja’Gared Davis.
The New England Patriots sign S Kanorris Davis.
The New England Patriots waive LB Ja'Gared Davis.
The New England Patriots waive S Kanorris Davis.
The New England Patriots sign CB Marquice Cole.
The New England Patriots sign DT Andre Neblett.
The New Orleans Saints cut LB Jay Richardson.
The New Orleans Saints sign DL Keyunta Dawson.
The New York Giants waive C Dallas Reynolds.
The New York Giants sign RB Da'Rel Scott.
The New York Jets release LB Scott Solomon.
The New York Jets sign WR Michael Campbell.
The New York Jets cut WR Ryan Spadola.
The New York Jets cut LB Ricky Sapp.
The New York Jets sign LB Ricky Sapp.
The Oakland Raiders sign OT Jack Cornell.
The Oakland Raiders waive G Antoine McClain.
The Oakland Raiders sign WR Andre Holmes.
The Oakland Raiders waive OT Jack Cornell.
The Oakland Raiders sign DT Daniel Muir.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign LB Stevenson Sylvester.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cut LB Kion Wilson.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign S Will Allen.
The San Diego Chargers cut DE Jarius Wynn.
The San Francisco 49ers cut QB John Skelton.
The Seattle Seahawks release WR Stephen Williams.
The Tennessee Titans sign QB Rusty Smith.
The Tennessee Titans waive DE Keyunta Dawson.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

June 28, 2013 in NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

This week has very few total moves, but includes two important moves and one major move.

Minnesota Vikings sign LB Desmond Bishop

Last week, the Green Bay Packers cut Bishop but now, he has found a new team, with one of the Packers biggest divisional rivals.

After considering offers from the Vikings, Giants, and Chiefs, Bishop decided to sign with the Vikings.  His contract is for one year and is worth $1.35 million.

Bishop missed all of last season with a torn hamstring.  The previous two year, 2010 and 2011, Bishop was one of the Packers starting inside linebackers in their 3-4 defense.

After his breakout performance in 2010, the Packers signed him to 4-year contract worth $19 million.  In 2010, Bishop became a starter in week four after an injury to Nick Barnett.  Bishop then recorded 103 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.  That year, the Packers made it to Super Bowl XLV where Bishop had 8 tackles and recovered a key fumble.  The following season, 2011, Bishop had 115 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

With the Vikings, Bishop is expected to be the starting middle linebacker in their 4-3 defense.  Bishop doesn't have much experience in a 4-3 defense but the transition from 3-4 middle linebacker to a 4-3 one isn't considered to be very difficult.  The rest of the Vikings linebacker corps will be Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson at outside linebacker.  This forms a very good linebacker corps for the Vikings as they try and return to the playoffs this season.

New England Patriots release TE Aaron Hernandez

In wake of being arrested, and eventually charged with murder, the Patriots cut their ties with the talented Hernandez.

Over the last week or so, Hernandez has been connected with the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.  On Wednesday, he was arrested for the murder of Lloyd and for a couple of gun charges.  Shortly after, the Patriots decided that releasing Hernandez would be the best move.

"At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do," read part of the Patriots statement on the release of Hernandez.

Aaron Hernandez

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Last season, Hernandez was playing under a new 7-year contract worth $39.5 million with a signing bonus of $12.5 million.  As it stands right now, the Patriots will have a cap hit of $5.092 million this season and a cap hit of $7.5 million next season due to Hernandez's signing bonus and other guaranteed money they owe him.

However, because of the circumstances of the move, the Patriots are expected to try and recover some of this money and get some of it off of their salary cap.  In a normal release, this isn't allowed but because Hernandez is facing serious criminal charges the Patriots are expected to have a good case to get at least part of their money back.

In the 2010 NFL Draft, Hernandez fell to the 4th round due to off-the-field issues.  The Patriots eventually took him with the 113th overall pick.  Some teams probably had Hernandez off of their draft boards due to concerns over drugs and other things.

With the Patriots, Hernandez formed a dynamic tight end duo with fellow 2010 draft pick Rob Gronkowski. In his three seasons,  Hernandez had 175 catches for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns while missing 10 games in the regular season.

Him and Gronkowski were the two most important players in the Patriots offense, not counting quarterback Tom Brady.  The Patriots ran two tight ends sets all the time and had Hernandez and Gronkowski line up in the slot to create mismatches.  Now, Hernandez is no longer with the team and Gronkowski has had numerous arm and back surgeries this offseason and nobody knows when he will be able to play.

If convicted, Hernandez's playing career will be over as he will be in jail for a long time.  If he is proven innocent, he will have lost at least a year of training and he will have a stigma against him as he still will have been accused of murder.  At this point, it is a very complicated situation but, it doesn't look good for Hernandez.

Detroit Lions sign DE Israel Idonije

In another case of a player changing teams in the NFC North, Idonije has signed a one-year deal with the Lions after spending nine seasons with the Chicago Bears.  The terms of Idonije's contract are unknown at this time.

Born in Nigeria, Idonije moved to Canada when he was four and ended up playing college football at the University of Manitoba.  He went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft but was signed by the Cleveland Browns and made their practice squad.  However, they waived him halfway through the season.

The Chicago Bears then signed Idonije and kept him on their practice squad for the rest of the season.  In 2004, he made the Bears active roster and played in 15 games, mainly on special teams.  He finally cracked the starting lineup for good in 2010 and provided instant results recording 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.  The following two seasons, Idonije had 12.5 sacks and forced 2 more fumbles.

Known for his versatility, Idonije, 32-years old, can play either defensive end or defensive tackle.  However, end is his main position and he mainly plays tackle in passing situations.  Idonije is also a good run defender.

Like the Bears, the Lions play a 4-3 defense so the transition between the two won't be hard.  Since the Lions have two of the league's best defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, Idonije will play a lot more at defensive end than tackle.  At defensive end, the Lions now have Idonije, Willie Young, Jason Jones, and this year's first round pick Ezekiel Ansah.  They will rotate these players through at end keeping them fresh.  Jones, like Idonije can play defensive tackle, so the Lions could create some interesting line schemes.

Other Moves:

The Cleveland Browns cut LB Ausar Walcott.
The Dallas Cowboys sign DE Jerome Long.
The Detroit Lions sign S Chris Hope.
The Detroit Lions release WR Brian Robiskie.
The Detroit Lions release DE Freddie Bishop.
The Minnesota Vikings release LB Stanford Keglar.
The Oakland Raiders cut LB Mario Kurn.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

May 10, 2013 in NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

The lull between the NFL draft and the start of training camp has started so there will be fewer moves in the upcoming weeks.

Miami Dolphins sign OT Tyson Clabo

Surprise!  The Dolphins have made the most notable signing of the week in free agency.

After spending the most money in free agency already, the Dolphins continue to add to their offseason haul by signing right tackle Tyson Clabo.

Last season, Clabo played in all eighteen of the Falcons games (two in the playoffs).  He started at right tackle for them and was cut in early April for salary cap reasons.  Pro Football Focus graded Clabo as the 5th best right tackle in the NFL last season.

Like almost ever veteran on the free agent market this year, Clabo received a one year deal, his worth $3.5 million with $1.5 million guaranteed.

For the Dolphins this signing makes sense but doesn't completely fill the need that the had at tackle.  Clabo will be the day one starter at right tackle and should stay there all year.  They drafted G/OT Dallas Thomas in the 3rd round of the draft but this signing will allow Thomas to develop a little or move inside to guard.

In last year's draft, the Dolphins drafted Jonathan Martin in the 2nd round to play right tackle and potentially become the left tackle of the future if Jake Long left in free agency this year (which he did).  Martin will now go to left tackle with this signing.  He struggled for most of the season last year as a rookie while playing right tackle so this move could be a problem.

Lastly, this signing officially puts the end to the Dolphins potentially trading for Kansas City Chiefs OT Branden Albert.

Overall, this is a solid signing value wise as Clabo is a good right tackle.  However, the Dolphins needed a left tackle more than a right tackle, hence the interest in Albert.

DB Ronde Barber Retires

Free agent defensive back Ronde Barber has announced his retirement from the NFL after sixteen seasons.

Coming into the league out of Virginia with his twin brother, Tiki, Ronde was drafted in the 3rd round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  By the 1999 season, Barber had one of the Buccaneers starting cornerbacks and he never looked back.

During the 2002 season, Barber was part of one of the best defenses in history of the league.  The Buccaneers defense ranked first in total defense that season and carried the team all the way to Super Bowl XXXVII.  There they faced a team that was the exact opposite of them, the Oakland Raiders, led by their offense.  In the Super Bowl, Barber had 5 tackles.  More importantly though, was a play he made in the NFC Championship Game two weeks prior.  Barber intercepted a pass late in the 4th quarter and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown.  This play sealed the Buccaneers 27-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and sent them to the Super Bowl.

Ronde Barber

After 16 seasons, Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber has retired from the NFL.

Statistically speaking, Barber's best season was the one prior to winning the Super Bowl, 2001.  In this season, Barber recorded an astounding 10 interceptions.  To put this in perspective, only five players have done this in the following eleven seasons, including none since the 2007 season.  No one has had more than 10 interceptions in a season since then either.  Along with 10 interceptions, Barber had a career high 24 pass deflections.

Due to his age, Barber transitioned to free safety last season.  He made this move because his one-on-one cover skills were declining and he wasn't as fast as before.  He had 92 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 13 pass deflections.

For his career, Barber played in 241 games.  The only time he missed games was his rookie season where he only played in one game.  That means that Barber played fifteen straight seasons without missing a game. This just adds to the legacy that Barber will leave behind in Tampa Bay after being probably their most known player for many years.

Barber's career stat line reads, 1,234 tackles, 28 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, 47 interceptions, 205 pass deflections, and 14 touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings cut P Chris Kluwe

In the least surprising move of the week, the Vikings released their punter from last year, Chris Kluwe.

During the draft a few weeks ago, the Vikings drafted P Jeff Locke with the 155th overall pick (5th round).  This was the writing on the wall for Kluwe as no team is going to use a 5th round pick on a punter and then keep the incumbent.

Kluwe, a eight year veteran, had arguably his best season of his career last season.  He had only 2.8% of his punts go for touchbacks and had a career high net average on his punts (39.7 yards) but still ranked 17th in the NFL.  Despite this though, only 18 of his 72 punts (25%) were downed inside the 20-yard line which is a career low and ranked 31st in the NFL.  This percentage was Kluwe's lowest since his rookie season (23.9%).  In 2011, Kluwe's percentage started to decline, going from 38.6% to 28.6%.

One of the main reasons that this move has been getting publicity is that Kluwe has been a very outspoken player.  Among the things that Kluwe has campaigned for are gay rights and getting punters into the Hall-of-Fame.  While this isn't the reason Kluwe was cut, the Vikings may have been getting tired of some of his headline attracting antics.

The main reasons that Kluwe was released was his decline in productivity, his salary ($1.4 million), and his age (31).  While his age of 31 doesn't look bad, especially for a punter, Vikings GM Rick Spielman has gotten rid of many players over the age of 30, leaving only three players over 30 years old on the Vikings roster.  Being outspoken isn't the reason that Kluwe is no longer a Viking, but it didn't help his chances of staying on the roster with all three of those other factors going against him.

Other Moves:

The Baltimore Ravens cut DT Swanson Miller.
The Baltimore Ravens trade a conditional 2014 draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for C A.Q. Shipley.
The Cleveland Browns sign OT Rashad Butler.
The Dallas Cowboys sign QB Aaron Corp.
The Dallas Cowboys release QB Aaron Corp.
The Dallas Cowboys waive/injured DT Brian Price.
Safety Gerald Sensabaugh has announced his retirement as a Dallas Cowboy.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut LB Greg Jones.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut CB Antwaun Molden.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign CB Marcus Trufant.
The Minnesota Vikings sign OT Brandon Keith.
The New England Patriots sign WR Lavelle Hawkins.
The New York Jets cut WR Emmanuel Arceneaux.
The New York Jets waive WR Thomas Mayo.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign OT Guy Whimper.
The San Francisco 49ers sign G Adam Snyder.
The Seattle Seahawks release TE Darren Fells.
The Tennessee Titans release RB Jamie Harper.
The Tennessee Titans sign RB Jalen Parmele.
The Washington Redskins sign C Kevin Matthews.

Three Teams that Could be Tim Tebow Landing Spots

April 29, 2013 in NFL Observations

1. San Francisco 49ers:

-The San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterbacks currently are Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and recently drafted B.J. Daniels. Now Colt McCoy will be the primary back-up, but Tim Tebow could fill in for Colin Kaepernick in a read option sense if needed on a limited basis. Tebow could also be an interesting option to play back there with Kaepernick in certain formations. The 49ers are a deep team and can afford to use a roster spot to get a little creative. Jim Harbaugh has shown a willingness to play to players strengths, and Tebow does have some that can possibly give the 49ers an edge. Overall Tebow would have to be more willing to play more of a FB/H-Back type of role, as his passes would be extremely limited.

2. Seattle Seahawks:

-Similar to their division rivals the Seahawks could be a landing spot for Tim Tebow. They run a pistol read-option attack, with a heavy run focus, and their quarterback depth chart is a mess. Behind Russell Wilson they have Brady Quinn, Josh Portis and Jerrod Johnson. If Wilson were to go down for any length of time, Tebow would be a far better option than those three. They also have a deep roster so if they do have to develop him at more of another position they can do so, without threatening their performance. Tebow could also be used with Wilson in some packages, and give Seattle another weapon as they try to win the arms (or in this case legs) race with the 49ers. Though the QB position is more open in Seattle it would still make sense for Tebow to look to fill multiple roles on the team.

3. Minnesota Vikings:

-I know Vikings fans are probably getting a Pavlovian response as they revert to visions of Joe Webb, but really there isn't a comparison. Sure both are running "QB's", and neither can really throw, but that is where the comparison ends. Tebow is a much more effective runner, and is smarter with the football. He actually has shown himself to be a true running threat which opens things up for the running back, in this case Adrian Peterson. Webb was not consistent enough as a threat. Christian Ponder's only real back-up is Matt Cassel. Tebow could thrive in a hybrid role in Minnesota as they are also thin at RB behind Peterson. It's not the most ideal situation, but Tebow could help the Vikings get more creative on offense.

NFL Mid Season Observations

November 12, 2012 in NFL Observations

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here some observations of NFL after Week 10, and little NCAA football.

Jason Campbell:

Campbell showed why he was never in Mike Shanahan's plans in DC last night.  Although I wish Campbell the best, he was horrible last night in relief of injured Jay Cutler.  Campbell reverted back to his Redskins days has he regularly checked down to tight ends and running backs all second half.  Brandon Marshall was starting to dominate but Campbell was unwilling to go down field to him.  The Bears are contenders but will need Jay Cutler back quick as they try to hold off the Packers.

Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature.  

I think he has locked down a place in the top 10 backs of all time and will continue to rise.  And its amazing how he is doing it coming off an ACL injury so quickly.  In ten years, ACL tears may be a 4-6 week injury at this rate, unless Goodell ends the NFL due to head injuries.  If the Vikings go from horrible in 2011 to the playoffs this season Peterson should be in the MVP consideration with Manning, Rodgers, etc.

Eagles Disaster:

So great to see Philadelphia lose its fifth in a row, although it came against Dallas.  Philly started great and even got to see their QB of the future Nick Foles debut for an injured Mike Vick.  Foles got them the lead but then the Dallas defense and special teams took over.  Was not impressed with Foles and it shows the difference between the preseason and the regular season.  The Eagles are almost at the point where they will want to see what they have in Foles.  Or does it really depend on what Gruden, Kelly or Cowher think at this point?

Jets Decision:

The New York Jets are going to have a huge decision at the end of the season, and I am not talking about Sanchez and Tebow.  Both of them should be sent packing btw.  Woody Johnson is going to have to decide if to clean house and fire both Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan.  Unless the team is able to make a run I think Tannenbaum is a goner.  As for Ryan, much tougher call.  His record says he should remain coach, but I could easily see New York saying see ya.  I have never been a real believer in Rex and can't see the BS he spews on a weekly basis.  The Ryan's are good as defensive assistants and reality TV and not running the show.

For my Baltimore friends:

Baltimore had no problem with Oakland yesterday, which was not surprising.  Joe Flacco was on yesterday and looked like a top elite quarterback.  Now he goes on the road to Pittsburgh next week and we will see how it turns out.  He was very good in both games against the Steelers last season and will need to continue that Sunday night.  Problem is the Ravens will have to turn around the offensive road woes of 2012.  And the Steelers seem to be coming together after a shaky start.  Its the best rivalry in football right now and should be a good one as always.  

And to finish with a few college tidbits:

The season continued its weekly edition of great games as Texas A&M defeated #1 Alabama on their home field.   Johnny Football is now a household name in the sports world and the BCS is still up the air.  I wouldn't count Alabama out of the national title picture yet.  They lost but they ran into a one man show who dominated them in the first half.  Oregon and Kansas State still have tough match-ups   

Notre Dame looked to have a tough one with USC but they have turned into a major disappointment.  And speaking of USC, Lane Kiffin is a clown.  Disaster with the Raiders, embarrassment at Tennessee and how he left and now struggling at USC.  Wonder if USC pulls the plug after this season?

Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks

November 2, 2012 in NFL

Heading into week 9, it is doubtful that many people predicted that the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks would have serious playoff implications, but that is very much the case as the 5-3 Vikings head to the 4-4 Seattle Seahawks. Though neither team leads their division, both are very much in the wild card race currently, and hope to improve their chances with a win this week. The Vikings may face an uphill climb as SportsBetting.ag has the Seahawks favored at -4.

Seattle is favored for good reason as they are 3-0 at home this season, with wins over the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers (kind of), and New England Patriots. The Seahawks are coming off a last second loss to the Detroit Lions, and have to be left with a bitter taste in their mouth given how that game ended. If they can get a win here they can improve to 5-4 and be in a fairly good spot for the playoffs with both the NFC East and South down this year. Seattle will look to move the ball by relying on the legs of Marshawn Lynch who is 2nd in the NFL in rushing. Seattle will also feature a strong defense (particularly against the run).that has at times looked dominant.

The Vikings head into Seattle at 5-3 after a humiliating home loss last week to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Vikings are 2-1 on the road this season, with their only loss coming against the Washington Redskins. The Vikings will be in for a tough test this week as they face Lynch, after allowing rookie Doug Martin run all over them. It may not be an easy task, but it is one that the Vikings can do, especially if they can limit rookie quarterback Russell Wilson (both through the air and on the ground). Minnesota will rely on their own star running back, Adrian Peterson to get them the win. Peterson, despite coming back from a horrific knee injury, leads the league in rushing so far this year. If the Vikings can steal this game in Seattle, they will have a huge 6-3 record that would put them in a great position to make the playoffs.

Though the Vikings might be the slightly better team, I like the Seattle Seahawks in this game. Stopping Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin may not be easy, but the Seattle defense may be up for the job. The Seahawks have been very stout this year, and has gotten a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Add in the fact that the Seahawks are at home and this looks like Seattle should win and perhaps even cover the spread. One thing is for sure, more people will be watching this game than pundits originally thought.

Minnesota Vikings Preseason Preview

August 27, 2012 in NFL

Minnesota Vikings:

2011 Record and Recap:

2011 Record- 3-13, 4th place in the NFC North
Recap-

The Vikings had a very poor season finishing with the 3rd worst record in the NFL last year. Their Donovan McNabb experiment worked about as well as it did for the Redskins the year before. That forced rookie Christian Ponder to the helm probably a bit earlier than the Vikings would have liked. That meant putting in a rookie to a situation with a poor offensive line and a weak receiving corps. It spelled disaster. Things were even worse due to the fact that star running back Adrian Peterson missed four games due to various injuries. Even without Peterson, Minnesota was able to maintain a strong rushing attack, but that was pretty much all it had going for them last year (with the notable exception of Jared Allen).

 Offseason Recap:

NFL Draft: OT Matt Kalil, SS Harrison Smith, CB Josh Robinson, WR Jarius Wright, FB/TE Rhett Ellison, WR Greg Childs, S Robert Blanton K Blair Walsh

Key Losses: QB Donovan McNabb, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, G Steve Hutchinson, G Anthony Herrera, DT Remi Ayodele, OLB Kenny Onatolu, ILB E.J. Henderson, CB Cedric Griffin, CB Benny Sapp, CB Asher Allen, S Jarrad Page, S Tyrell Johnson, S Husain Abdullah, K Ryan Longwell.

Key Additions: FB Lex Hilliard, WR Jerome Simpson, TE John Carlson, OT/G Geoff Schwartz, ILB Marvin Mitchell, CB Chris Carr

2012 Outlook:

Offense-

The Vikings offense revolves around Adrian Peterson, and while their star is a bit of a question mark after a late season knee injury, it appears that he will be ready for the start of the season. If not Toby Gerhart is more than capable of filling in. On most teams Gerhart would get a larger percentage of the workload (if not start), but with the Vikings he has mainly been an insurance policy. If Peterson can't go fully, the Vikings will have to count much more on Christian Ponder. The second-year quarterback played well at times last year, but finished slowly, with some calling for Joe Webb to step in as the starter. The reason for Ponder's decline was a hip injury, so he's closer to the 29-of-47, 381-yard, three-touchdown, two-interception quarterback (versus Denver) than the one who went 4-of-10 for 28 yards and a pick in the final week.

Ponder had poor protection last year, which was a recipe for disaster given how brittle he was at Florida State. That's why the Vikings did the right thing by choosing left tackle Matt Kalil over Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon in the 2012 NFL Draft. Kalil is a very athletic left tackle with perennial Pro Bowl potential. He was a no-brainer at No. 3 overall (or No. 4 after the Vikings moved down one spot). He'll shield Ponder's blind side much better than Charlie Johnson, who surrendered eight sacks.

Johnson will still start, but he'll move over to left guard to replace Steve Hutchinson. Losing Hutchinson will definitely hurt, as it will offset anything the Vikings gained out of obtaining Kalil. Another new player up front is right guard Geoff Schwartz, formerly of the Panthers. Schwartz was a reserve last year and didn't play, but he performed well in 2010. He'll be an upgrade over Anthony Herrera at right guard.

The rest of the offensive line is comprised of center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt. Sullivan struggled early in his career, but has emerged as a terrific blocker. Loadholt, meanwhile, was guilty of 10 penalties and nine sacks in 2011, but blasted open massive running lanes.

Elsewhere on offense, the Vikings made moderate upgrades to their receiving corps. They signed Jerome Simpson, a great athlete who has never lived up to his potential despite that insane, acrobatic touchdown last year. Minnesota spent two mid-round selections on Arkansas wideouts Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Both are pro-ready coming out of Bobby Petrino's offense. Tight end John Carlson was signed to a ridiculous $25 million deal, could be a decent 2nd receiving TE, but he's not much of a blocker.

Of course, Ponder will lean on Harvin most; the speedy receiver really stepped up in Peterson's absence. He caught at least six passes in six of his final eight games. It's also worth noting that Harvin played in every game last year, so his migraine issues are apparently resolved.

Offensive player to watch: TE Kyle Rudolph

-The Vikings are short on legitimate targets, which is where Rudolph could come in. He's got good hands and route running ability, and should become a favorite target of Ponder's especially inside the Red Zone. Rudolph should expect a big year in the Vikings offense that tries to feature the pass more.

Defense-

The Vikings have several Pro Bowl studs on defense. They also have numerous potential holes in their stop unit, occupied by unproven, young players. Minnesota's defense will depend on how these young players perform.

Two rookie safeties and one third-year cornerback could start in the secondary. The latter is Chris Cook, who played somewhat well last year before being suspended for felony domestic assault. He's been acquitted of the charges, so he was able to avoid suspension. Still, there's no telling if Cook will stay out of trouble, so Minnesota may need newly signed Chris Carr or third-round rookie corner Josh Robinson to step into the lineup without a moment's notice. Either one will be targeted often because Antonie Winfield is on the other side. Winfield still got it done at 34 when he played last year, but he has missed 17 games in the past three seasons.

The pair of rookie safeties are No. 30 overall pick Harrison Smith and fifth-rounder Robert Blanton. The smart and instinctive Smith has already been penciled into the lineup, while Blanton will push the second-year Mistral Raymond for the job. Raymond was an above-average player for the Vikings last year.

Minnesota will also have a pair of young players starting in the linebacking corps. Erin Henderson, slotted on the weak side, was on the field quite often last season, but was only asked to play two downs. He'll have a much bigger role in the wake of his brother, E.J., leaving without a contract. Jasper Brinkley, a 2009 fifth-rounder, will take E.J.'s spot. Brinkley has barely played since performing miserably in two starts as a rookie. He and Erin will be joined by stud strongside linebacker Chad Greenway, who signed a well-deserved 5-year, $41 million contract last September.

Of course, the Vikings' best defender is Jared Allen, who nearly broke Michael Strahan's single-season sack record last year. Allen tallied a whopping 22 sacks. His presence made things easier for left end Brian Robinson, who accumulated eight sacks of his own. Second-year Christian Ballard may push for playing time on early downs because he's really good in run support.

Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is another stud. He managed only five sacks in 2011, but constantly caused havoc in the interior. He's turning 32 in August, however, so he doesn't have many years left of top-level play. He'll once again start next to Letroy Guion, a marginal lineman who doesn't offer much in terms of a pass rush.

Defensive player to watch- S Harrison Smith

-The Vikings traded up for Smith to help stabilize their secondary. While overall it still has a ways to go, Smith could have a big impact, particularly if he can start shutting down some of the impressive pass catching TE's in the NFC North.   .

Overall:

The Vikings are rebuilding, but its going to be a long process and not an overnight fix. With Peterson likely not 100% to start the year, and serious questions throughout the Vikings receiver corps and secondary, it figures to be a rough year in Minnesota .The future is bright though and they just need to continue to develop around Christian Ponder on offense and shore up their back 7 on defense.    .

2012 Record Prediction: 4-12

Donovan McNabb is an Egomaniac, and In Other News The Sky Is Blue

July 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Redskins and Vikings have agreed to a trade of Donovan McNabb for the Vikings 6th round pick in 2012 and a conditional 6th rounder in 2013. The only thing that there seemed left to do was to restructure McNabb's insane contract. Which apparently was done this morning. So with the compensation worked out and the new contract in place, this deal is done right? Wrong…because Donovan McNabb needs to feel respected.

I wish I was making this up, but it appears to be 100% true. The report is that McNabb has some personal issues to workout with the Vikings brass, after reports came out that he was somewhat of a secondary option to Tyler Thigpen, who signed with the Bills. Now I realize that can be a rude awakening for McNabb, but really should it be? Thigpen is going to cost a lot less, zero draft picks and might actually be a good teammate to the first round QB (Christian Ponder) the Vikings brought in.

While I realize that Donovan McNabb has a relatively squeaky clean image around the league, I don't think this is groundbreaking to Philly fans who watched McNabb blame everyone but himself, and clash with other QB's on the team. And despite a number of Redskins fans expressing surprise, this really has been evident his entire time in Washington. Last year at the start of the season Donovan McNabb went on the radio and proclaimed himself to be an "Elite, elite" quarterback (whatever that means), in the same category of Brady, Manning and Brees. He went on to say that he deserved to be paid like one. Skins fans saw it later in the season when McNabb blew off OC Kyle Shanahan on the sideline after McNabb threw a pick six in the Bears game. Not to mention his actions after being benched twice (the saving grace for McNabb was that Mike Shanahan handled that situation worse).

McNabb needs to realize that he is no longer a great quarterback (if he ever truly was) and focus on being the best player he can to be. If he is so worried about respect, maybe he should stop playing so poorly, because I guarantee that will win him back favor. McNabb isn't in Philly anymore and he has done zero for the Vikings thus far, so the fact that they are leery about spending good money on him is understandable. Sit down and shut up, and play the game like it is meant to be played.