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Week 3 In Review

September 24, 2014 in Baltimore Ravens, NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Personnel, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl

And then there were three. With three weeks in the book, only three teams remain unbeaten in the National Football League. The Cincinnati Bengals remain the lone AFC team without a loss while the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles sit atop their respective divisions in the NFC, with 3-0 marks. The chance to make the playoffs starting 3-0 are very good in the NFL. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 75.2 percent of teams (91 of 121) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason.

Of the three current unbeaten and despite finishing 10-6 last season, only the Cardinals missed the playoffs in 2013. Excluding the postseason and going back to last season the hottest team is the Philadelphia Eagles. Head Coach Chip Kelly and his high flying birds have won 10 of their past 11 regular season games.

Bengals & Dalton are No.1

Bengals & Dalton are No.1 in some power polls

The other birds in the mix, the Cardinals aren’t far off their ornithological foes, in terms of carrying over success from last season. Arizona has won 10 of their past 12 regular season games and done so competing in the tough NFC West. It is only the third time in the past 41 seasons (1974, 2012); the Cardinals have started a season 3-0. And with a bye this week, Arizona will finish the first month of the season with a perfect record, marking the third time since the 1970 merger that the franchise posted an undefeated record in September (1974, 2012). Philadelphia is 3-0 for the first time since 2004 when the Eagles last appeared in the Super Bowl. That season, the club finished 13-3, claimed the NFC East division title, earned the top seed in the conference, won the NFC Championship Game, and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX.

The Eagles have reached their undefeated mark in the most dramatic fashion of the three unbeaten. The Eagles have overcome deficits of at least 10 points in each of the team’s first three games and are the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 when trailing by at least 10 points in all three games. That includes wins in the club’s first two games when Philadelphia trailed by at least 14 points in the second half. The Eagles are the only team in league annals to start 2-0 after trailing by at least 14 points in the second half of each game. Philadelphia has scored 74 second-half points – the most in the league – and the club’s +50 point differential after halftime leads the NFL.

Philadelphia has scored 101 points (33.7 per game), the second-most in the league (Atlanta, 103), and is the only team in the NFL to score at least 30 points in all three games. They have the sixth best offense in the NFL and since Kelly took over as the head coach in 2013, the Eagles have scored at least 30 points in a game 11 times and are 9-2 (.818) in those contests.

While the Eagles are getting it done with offense, the Bengals and Cardinals are playing great on defense. Cincinnati (33) and Arizona (45 tied with Detroit) have allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season. For the third straight week, the Cardinals had a shutout in the fourth quarter. Arizona has now outscored its opponents 30-0 in the final 15 minutes.

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM:

Seven teams entered the week with an opportunity to remain winless. Three of the seven teams cashed in and enter week four 0-4. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Oakland Raiders remain the NFL’s only winless teams. Being winless after three weeks isn’t an enviable position if you entered the season with playoff aspirations. Coming back from an 0-3 start is a feat only five coaches in NFL history have managed to accomplish: Bobby Ross (Chargers, 1992), Walt Michaels (Jets, 1981), John McKay (Buccaneers, 1982), Wayne Fontes (Lions, 1995) and Wade Phillips (Bills, 1998). One of those seasons was a strike year, and obviously, no one has done it since 2000.

THE NOT SO SUNSHINE STATE

nfl-fan-map-floridaNotorious for its football talent, the state of Florida is currently home to the reigning national champions of college football and No.1 team in the country in the Florida State Seminoles. The Florida Gators have stumbled in the mighty SEC the past two seasons but not so long ago won two (2008 &2006) BCS National Championships. In fact, Florida college teams won five of the 16 BCS crystal footballs. Most of that talent was recruited from Florida High Schools.

However, the NFL in the state of Florida is another story altogether. The Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars are a combined 1-8 and have been outscored 147-297 (-150). Combined, they are averaging 16 points per contest while allowing 33 points.

Poor play and injuries on offense has led to change at the QB position in two of the three cities. In Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh McCown has a sprained right thumb and is expected to miss at least one game. With McCown expected to sit out Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, second-year pro Mike Glennon is expected to get the start. In a strange way, that’s a good thing for new head coach Lovie Smith. For better or worse, the coach is going to find out what he has in Glennon. Smith previously has called Glennon the quarterback of the future. That time period might be coming faster than Smith wanted, but he has no choice.

In Jacksonville, head coach Gus Bradley stated that the No.3 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft would sit the bench and develop and then step onto the field as the team’s starting quarterback in 2015. Many considered the strategy a smart approach, especially with the struggles that emerged along the offensive line and the three rookie receivers that made double-digit mental mistakes. By the end of third quarter in Jacksonville’s Week 2 loss to the Redskins, QB Chad Henne had eight completions and had been sacked eight times. This past Sunday and after a lackluster first half in which the offense gained only 55 yards, generated two first downs, and scored zero points, Bradley benched Henne and handed the job to Bortles. The Jags QB of the future starting in 2015 took the field for good just 10 quarters into the 2014 season.

tannehillBortles completed 14 of 24 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He started 1-for-5 on his first drive and went 13-for-19 the rest of the half. He also threw a pair of interceptions, including one on a terrible throw across his body that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. But in the end, the standout at Central Florida, who passed for 7,598 yards and 56 touchdowns in his career there, breathed life into the Jags offense and that’s all it took. Following the game Bradley announced Bortles would start this week vs. San Diego.

In south Florida, the Ryan Tannehill era began at the start of the 2012 season and it appears to be in danger of ending sooner than later. The former Texas A&M Aggie is under fire in Miami. Following Sundays’ 34-15 loss at home to the Chiefs, many believe Tannehill has not made the proper strides thus far in an important third year, and fans in Miami are tired of waiting. Tannehill’s passer rating has gone down each week. He had an 80.0 rating in Week 1, a 73.6 rating in Week 2 and 70.4 rating in Week 3. At least statistically, Tannehill has regressed in Miami’s new offense under Bill Lazor. There is talk and “no talk” that a quarterback change could soon be in the works. During his Monday presser, Philbin, on four separate occasions, declined to answer whether Tannehill be the starter for this week.

In all fairness, Tannehill isn’t getting much support. According to Pro Football Focus research, the Dolphins are second in the NFL with 11 drops after three games. Only the Baltimore Ravens (12) have more dropped passes. Miami had three drops in Sunday's 34-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was sacked and NFL high 58 times last season and so far this season, has been sacked nine times, which is tied for third most through weeks and on pace for 48 total in 2014.

SPEAKING OF ROOKIE QB’s:

downloadFive quarterbacks, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (3), Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel (22), Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (32), Oakland’s Derek Carr (36), and the Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo (62), were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in May. Only Carr has started for his team, as he beat out veteran Matt Schaub during the preseason. Carr has performed like a rookie on a bad team. His completion percentage is nearly 63 percent but he’s averaging less than 200 yards passing per game with three TD’s and three INT’s. Only Garoppolo has yet to see any game time—in one form or another.

The Browns are creating packages for Manziel where he shows up for a play or two and then exits the game. Manziel lost out to Brian Hoyer in Cleveland and is 0-1 passing this year. But he was involved in some illegal trickery Sunday vs. the Ravens. After replacing starter Brian Hoyer and handing off on a running play, Manziel appeared to be leaving the field when he ran toward the sideline. He stopped a little short of the sideline, and with his back to the action, pretended to have an animated conversation with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when the ball was snapped. Shanahan, who was keeping an eye on what was going on behind Manziel, told him”, ‘Go”, and the former Heisman Trophy winner took off.

Manziel caught a short pass from Hoyer and sprinted down Cleveland's sideline before he was shoved out of bounds at the Baltimore 23. The play worked to perfection but Browns rookie running back Terrance West was called for an illegal shift, negating Manziel's 39-yard pickup. However, the play was illegal because the NFL ruled on Monday that a player who lines up less than five yards from the sidelines cannot do so between the 32 and the 32 yard line—this is the area the teams are allowed to stand on the sidelines.

Teddy Bridgewater debuted in Minnesota this past week after starter Matt Cassel left the game with a foot injury. Bridgewater hit 12 of his 20 passes for 150 yards and ran six times for 27 yards. He was impressive versus Rob Ryan’s blitz packages as well. When New Orleans brought extra pressure, though, Bridgewater was poised, which is what many NFL teams like about him last spring. He went 6-for-9 against the blitz, throwing for 70 yards, and scrambling once for another 15. Bridgewater also completed four of his five passes that traveled at least 10 yards in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and gained 69 yards on those throws. He connected with Greg Jennings on a 30-yard corner route — on a play where Cordarrelle Patterson was also wide open in the vicinity of the throw.

Cassel is expected to miss significant time with broken bones in his left foot. Along with the Bortles era starting in Jacksonville this week, it’s likely so is Bridgewater’s. It’s worth pointing out the Patriots currently have the NFL’s 26th ranked offense and Tom Brady is struggling to get the offense moving—could Garoppolo see some snaps in his future—not likely!.

Other news & Notes from around the NFL Week 3

With a little Luck:

The Colts avoided a disastrous 0-3 start with a 370-yard, four-touchdown day from quarterback Andrew Luck (31-39-4-0). In doing so, Luck became the first Colts quarterback with 350+ yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 75+ completion percentage in a game since Johnny Unitas did so in 1967. Luck completed eight passes for 20 yards or more, one short of his personal high, and he became only the second player in Colts history to throw four TD passes of less than 10 yards in one game. The first was Jack Trudeau against the Dolphins in 1989

Those Browns:

In losing for the 12th time is their past 13 games against the Ravens, the Cleveland Browns once again figured out how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But losing may start to become a thing of the past as their young players continue to develop and find the end zone. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West both scored in the Browns' 23-21 loss to Baltimore. That marked the first time since 1990 that a pair of rookie running backs both scored a rushing TD in the same game for the same team this early in a season. The last rookie RB teammates to do so in Week 3 or earlier were Johnny Johnson and Anthony Thompson of the Cardinals in 1990.

Staying with the Browns & Ravens—with a 101-yard receiving game Steve Smith now has 25 career 100-yard receiving games on the road. Only Jerry Rice (39) and Marvin Harrison (26) have more since 1960. Smith passed Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin, and Terrell Owens. The five catches for 101 yards pushed Smith to 290 yards for the season, the most by a player in the first three games with the franchise since Anquan Boldin's 287. Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk caught a nine yard TD pass from Joe Flacco and is the first player from Harvard with a receiving TD since Pat McInally on Dec. 21, 1980. McInally was the Bengals punter from 1976 to 1985, and also was a wide receiver during the first half of his career. In that game, the Harvard grad scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 24 against—you guessed it—the Cleveland Browns. The Browns actually won that game, 27-24, when Don Cockroft booted the 22 yard game winner. `

Americas Comeback:

The Dallas Cowboys erased a 21-0 deficit to defeat St. Louis 34-31. This marked the fourth time this season a team has overcome a deficit of at least 17 points to win, tied for the most through the first three weeks of a season since the 1970 merger (2011). This is the first time each of the first three weeks of a season has had at least one 17+ point comeback win since 1982.

Super Rematch:

download (6)The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 26-20 in overtime. The game was the sixth Super Bowl rematch in the following regular season and the first since 1997 (Green Bay vs. New England). The defending Super Bowl champion has now won four of the six meetings in the rematch.

QB Russell Wilson was a big reason why legendary QB Peyton Manning didn’t complete his comeback. Wilson was at his best with his legs in overtime Sunday. Five of Wilson's six pass attempts during the game-winning drive came from outside the pocket, and he completed three of them for first downs. Wilson also rushed four times for 21 yards on the drive, earning two first downs via scrambles. Wilson is a now a combined 6-0 vs. Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

Despite the game tying drive and subsequent two-point conversion to help his team force overtime, Peyton Manning threw a costly pick in the fourth quarter deep in Seahawks territory. Since the start of the 2013 season, six of Manning’s 11 interceptions have come in the 4th quarter.

ACCORDING TO THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:

Eight touchdown passes in three games for Cutler

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes in Chicago's 27-19 win against the Jets on Monday night. Cutler has thrown eight TD passes in the Bears first three games this season, which breaks the old franchise record of seven in the team's first three games, set by Sid Luckman in 1946.

Foles and Cousins put on a show

Norm Snead vs. Sonny Jurgensen in 1967, Joe Theismann vs. Ron Jaworski in 1982, and yesterday, Nick Foles vs. Kirk Cousins. The Eagles and Redskins have faced each other in 158 regular-season games, but only those three quarterback matchups produced a pair of 300-yard passing performances. And among those three games, only yesterday's shootout, which resulted in the 37-34 Eagles, featured three or more TD passes by both QBs.

Murray sets all-time rushing mark vs. Rams

DeMarco Murray gained 100 yards on 24 carries in the Cowboys' 34-31 victory at St. Louis. Murray, who rushed for 253 and 175 yards in his two previous games against the Rams, set an all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a player's first three games against one team. Murray's total of 528 rushing yards versus St. Louis exceeded Eric Dickerson's three-game total against the St. Louis Cardinals by 3 yards.

Seattle's long OT drive denies Denver, ties record

The Seahawks drove 80 yards in 13 plays to deny the Broncos possession in overtime and win the rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, 26-20. Seattle made a total of only five Touchdown drives of 13 or more plays over the past four seasons (2010-13), and added another in its opening-day win over Green Bay two weeks ago. But of greater historical importance, the Seahawks tied the NFL record for the longest overtime touchdown drive, as measured by the number of plays, in a regular-season game. Two other teams drove 13 plays to an OT TD: Denver at Kansas City in 1978, and the Giants at Philadelphia in 2006.

Sanu & Dalton reverse roles

Andy Dalton didn't throw a touchdown pass in the Bengals' 33-7 win over the Titans. But wide receiver Mohamed Sanu did, to Dalton himself. Sanu is now 4-for-4 as a passer in his three seasons in the NFL, and his 18-yarder to Dalton was the shortest of those four completions. He previously connected with A.J. Green (a 73-yard TD), Giovani Bernard (25 yards), and Brandon Tate (50 yards last week). Over the last 30 seasons, only one other player completed each of his first four passes in the NFL, each for more than 10 yards, and he wasn't a quarterback either. Frank Wycheck, a tight end, did it for the Titans (1999-2001).

 

AFC Sunday Recap

September 15, 2014 in NFL, NFL Preview

Week 2 still has the Monday night affair between the Colts and Eagles but 15 of the 16 contests have been completed. Ironically, seven teams remain unbeaten while seven teams remain winless. The 12 playoff teams from a season ago are a combined 12-10 (6-5 in each conference). The biggest stat that seemed to be most prevalent heading into the week pertained to teams that were in danger of falling to 0-2 on the short season. History has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982): Of the 523 teams which won opener, 274 went to the playoffs and 164 won division titles. Of the 524 teams which lost the opener, 124 went to the playoffs with 70 winning the division.

At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2. Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 playoff teams (59.7 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five of the eight division champions in 2013 – Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East).  A look at how playoff clubs in 2012 and 2013 began their seasons:

Here are some key stats from today’s AFC winners:

Bills (2-0) 29 Dolphins (1-1) 10:

The Dolphins offense had no answer for the Bills defense in the first half. The unit had three sacks and didn't allow the Dolphins to cross the 50-yard line. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and tossed one INT.  Bills starter, EJ Manuel, who missed both games against Miami last injury due to injury was an efficient 16 for 26 for 202 yards and one touchdown.

Last week Bills RB Fred Jackson made the big play with a 38-yard run in overtime to set up the winner, today it was CJ Spiller. Following a Caleb Sturgis field goal which cut the Bills lead to six points, Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest of his career. His only other kickoff return touchdown came in Week 3 of his rookie season in 2010 against the New England Patriots.

Patriots (1-1) 30 Vikings (1-1) 7

The Vikings started strong without their deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson but the Patriots, who had been outscored 30-0 over the last two and a half quarters going back to last week woke up and scored 30 unanswered points to salvage a 1-1 start to the 2014 season. QB Tom Brady was average at best but his defense was outstanding. The Pats registered six sacks, four interceptions of Matt Cassel and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. The win was the 200th for HC Bill Belichick.

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

RB Matt Asiata had only 36 yards on 13 carries in place of Peterson, who was deactivated after being charged with child abuse Friday in Texas. The Patriots let Miami rush for 191 yards last week in a season-opening loss, but they held the Vikings to 54 yards on 19 attempts without Peterson.

The pass-run ratio last week for the Patriots was 60-20 in a shaky loss at Miami, but they established a much better balance here. Stevan Ridley carried 25 times for 101 yards, and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes wasn't able to keep up with Julian Edelman, who finished six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The Patriots revamped secondary held the speed of the Vikings receivers in check. Matt Cassel was 0-for-8 with three interceptions on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Cassel only attempted three throws deeper than 10 yards downfield (1-3, 18 yards) in Week 1. Cassel is the first quarterback in ESPN Stats & Info's data set (since 2006) to start Week 1 and 2 without completing multiple attempts deeper than 10 yards downfield.

Browns (1-1) 26 Saints (0-2) 24:

The Browns (1-2) broke an eight-game losing streak in home openers, while the Saints (0-2) lost their first two game for the first time since the 2012 "bounty" season in which coach Sean Payton was suspended.

Drew Brees must not like playing against the Browns. The Browns upset the Saints 30-17 the last time the two teams met in Week 7 of 2010. In that game, Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for TD. While he wasn’t that bad today, he wasn’t good enough to outduel Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer, who was very good today, especially at crunch time. The numbers won’t dazzle but he was marvelous in the clutch, moving the Browns from their own 4 to the New Orleans 11, allowing Billy Cundiff to hit the 29-yard game winner with .03 seconds to play. Hoyer completed several big passes on the final drive, including one on fourth down to tight end Gary Barnidge and a 28-yarder to Andrew Hawkins with 13 seconds to go. In all, he was 8 of 11 for 78 yards on the last drive and finished 24 of 40 for 204 yards and a TD. He came out for a few plays as Manziel, the hyped rookie, handed the ball off twice and had one incompletion.

With starting tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate both inactive, Cleveland's backups at tight end and running back stepped up on Sunday. Terrence West had 90 yards from scrimmage Sunday, the first running back with at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in 2008. Hoyer consistently got production from his backs and tight ends in the passing game as well.

Drew Brees finished 10-of-13 for 118 yards, two touchdowns and an interception targeting Jimmy Graham. Five other Saints had three catches in the game, but no one had more than that. Drew Brees' interception was returned 62 yards by Tashaun Gipson for a touchdown. It was his first pick-six since Week 2 of last season against the Buccaneers. Brees has had 10 interceptions returned for TDs in the last five seasons, three of which came in two games against the Browns.

Bengals (2-0) 24 Falcons (1-1) 10:

460xThe Cincinnati Bengals took care of business at home on Sunday, with a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati's 24-10 win over Atlanta marks the third-time (2005, 2006) that the Bengals have started the season 2-0 during the Marvin Lewis era.

A week after shredding the Saints, Matt Ryan, and the Falcons passing game was shut down by the Bengals secondary. Ryan finished 4-of-9 for 79 yards and two interceptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield, his first game with multiple interceptions on deep throws since Week 8 of last season. Ryan was 5-of-12 for 45 yards and an interception against at least five pass rushers Sunday (3.8 yards per attempt). Ryan averaged 7.2 yards per attempt last week against the Saints (7-of-12, 86 yds. TD).

A.J. Green left in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. Sunday marks the 1st time Green's been active and didn't record a catch. However, the Cincy rushing attack picked up the slack. Led by Giovani Bernard, who ran 27 times for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. He also caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 79 yards, including a 46-yard catch-and-run when Dalton flipped the ball to him as he was getting hit. The Bengals wound up with 472 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per play. Rookie Jeremy Hill ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, and the Bengals rushed for 170 overall. The inability to stop Cincy's running game should be particularly concerning for Atlanta, as its beefed up defensive line looked like the feeble group from 2013.

The Falcons were very excited about beating New Orleans last week at home. The Saints are now 0-2 while Atlanta has to have concerns about its defense. The Falcons have given up 450+ yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of the 2010 season.

Chargers (1-1) 30 Seahawks (1-1)  21:

Check the calendar, the San Diego Chargers played perhaps their best game today under coach Mike McCoy, who was visibly excited following his teams nine point victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Normally a performance the Chargers give with their season on the line in December, they were the better team for 60 minutes on Sunday—in September.

Not many offenses have been able to come up with an answer for the Seahawks tough hard hitting secondary known as the Legion of Boom but Chargers QB Philip River and Future Hall of tight end Antonio Gates sure did. The 34-year-old Gates scored TD’s on catches of eight—eight and 21 yards. Rivers, who passed for 284 yards and no INT’s, is the first QB with 3 TD passes against the Seahawks since Week 8 in 2012, when Matthew Stafford did it. Those are the only two players to throw 3 TD passes against Seattle with Richard Sherman on the field. The three touchdown receptions tied Gates' career high.

Seattle’s vaunted defense allowed 377 total yards to the Chargers but it was SD’s defense that played better on the day. They held the Russell Wilson and Seahawks to less than 300 total yards, including just 36 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch. The six carries today tied for Lynch’s fewest since joining Seattle.

The Chargers (1-1) dominated time of possession and wore out the Seahawks' vaunted defense on a hot day in southern California. San Diego had the ball for 42:15 compared to 17:45 for Seattle, and gained 26 first downs to 14 for the Seahawks. The Seahawks loss was their first by more than 7 points since Week 9 of 2011 against the Cowboys

Texans (2-0) 30 Raiders (0-2) 14

The Texans have now starred 2-0 for five straight seasons. However, they are hoping that starting 2-0 this season yields much different results than when they did so last year. After starting unbeaten through two games in 2013, the Texans dropped 14 straight games to finish the season with the No.1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. Houston is the first team to start 2-0 in five straight seasons since 1994-1999 Dolphins.

J.J. Watt

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

The Texans didn't have to range too far outside to beat the Raiders Sunday… – The Texans rushed 36 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in between the tackles Sunday. Arian Foster gained 123 of his 136 yards on those rushes. – Ryan Fitzpatrick was 11-of-13 for 111 yards and a touchdown when passing between the painted field numbers. He attempted only 6 passes outside the numbers. The march up the middle allowed the Texans to cruise to a 30-14 victory. The Texans last pass attempt came at 4:02 of the third quarter, and was followed by 17 rushes…

The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the year, JJ Watt, didn’t have his usual day on defense, registering just a lone QB hit but he added to his athletic resume regardless. On second-and-goal at the one, the Texans first scoring drive of the game, Watt lined up at tight end and was wide open in the end zone when two Oakland defenders covered RB Arian Foster. Watt caught his first pass since his days as a tight end at Central Michigan in 2007 to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.

Rookie Derek Carr continued to play like a rookie. Playing against the team that drafted his big brother David first overall in 2002, Derek Carr went 27 for 42 for 263 yards with a late TD pass to James Jones and two interceptions. The Raiders committed four turnovers, all in scoring territory.

Broncos (2-0) 24 Chiefs (0-2) 17:

The Broncos did just enough to eke out a win over division rival Kansas City on Sunday. KC outgained the high octane offense of the Broncos and if you looked at the stats alone, may have figured the Chiefs won the game. The Chiefs (0-2), without All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles for much of the game due to an ankle injury, converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall. They just couldn't capitalize in the biggest moments as the Broncos mustered two goal-line stands for the second straight week.manningnew

The Broncos (2-0) didn't think it would come down to another goal-line stand. But Aqib Talib's pick-6 earlier in the drive was negated by Quanterus Smith's offside penalty. Then, Nate Irving's fumble recovery following DeMarcus Ware's sack and strip was changed to an incomplete pass after a review. The Chiefs ninth life was expunged when Terrance Knighton deflected Alex Smith's fourth-and-goal pass from the two- to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left. He was engaged with center Rodney Hudson when he reached up and felt the football smack into his right arm.

Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs with no interceptions, but spent most of the game on the sideline. The Broncos had the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half. Manning was also 6-of-6 for 122 yards and a touchdown on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Manning has a league-high 19 touchdowns on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield since the start of last season, but passed even his own standard in Sunday's win. – Manning is the only quarterback to open 2014 with three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back weeks. This is the 47th game of Manning's career with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. All three touchdowns came against standard pressure.

Emmanuel Sanders led the Broncos with eight catches for 108 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. Demaryius Thomas had an 80-yard TD catch negated when right tackle Chris Clark was whistled for being downfield. Denver will head to Seattle next week in a rematch of Super Bowl XLXIII. The result may not be much different, as Seattle will be looking to get back on track after losing to the AFC West Chargers today.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

September 12, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

The NFL season finally started and the week one games didn't disappoint. On top of that the week saw a bunch of moves including two contract extensions and one high profile release. These three moves are discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Baltimore Ravens release RB Ray Rice

Due to all the extensive coverage of Rice over the last few days, I won't cover him much here, but it does deserve notice.

Ray Rice

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

A two-time All-Pro, the Baltimore Ravens decided to release him due his domestic abuse charge that happened this offseason. Originally he was only suspended two games by the NFL for the offense, but a new video of the event surfaced this week which changed everything.

Previously nobody had seen the actual video of the event, only the aftermath. With this new video out, there was a public outcry and the Ravens quickly released him. Soon after the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

Without Rice the Ravens running game is going to suffer as nobody on the roster has as much skill as Rice.

However, the Ravens made the right move here to release him. They just couldn't keep him on the roster and it is highly likely that his NFL career is over.

Minnesota Vikings re-sign G Brandon Fusco

One of two contract extensions that happened before the season, the Vikings locked up their 26-year old starting guard to a five-year contract extension.

Worth $24.25 million over the five years, the average value of $4.85 million per season doesn't pay him as one of the best guards in the league. There is only $6 million guaranteed including a $4 million signing bonus and $2 million of his 2015 base salary.

Drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Slippery Rock, he played in only two games as a rookie, but became a starter in 2012.

In his first year as a starter, he was the ninth worst guard in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

Starting 15 games at right guard last year for Minnesota, Pro Football Focus graded him as the eighth best guard in the league. His run blocking grade was the fifth best of all guards in the NFL. In his 920 snaps last year, he gave up only two sacks.

After this outstanding season last year, it is a bit surprising to see him get only $4.85 million per season. This is a very team friendly contract especially with only $6 million guaranteed.

If he had waited for the season to end, he could have been payed much more if he had another season like last year. This makes it very surprising to see Fusco sign a contract like this when he could have earned even more money.

This is a great contract for the Vikings as they keep one of the better guards in the league for a contract that doesn't pay him as one. If for some reason he regresses, there is only $6 million in guaranteed money so they can easily get rid of him.

Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign CB Cortez Allen

Less than 24 hours before the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off the regular season, they signed cornerback Cortez Allen to a new five-year contract extension.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year old Allen is set to earn $1.431 million this season as he reached a contract escalator. Instead of a four-year contract extension on top of the last year left on his old contract, the Steelers have torn up the old deal and given him a brand new five-year deal. This five-year deal is worth a total of $26 million, an average of $5.2 million.

Earning $6.5 million per season in new money, he is now the 21st highest paid cornerback in the NFL in terms of average value per season.

Drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he has started 11 games over three seasons and has appeared in 44 of a possible 48 games.

Last season he recorded 51 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions in eight starts. One of these interceptions was returned 40 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the Steelers second best cornerback last season––behind William Gay. As a whole Allen was ranked as the 36th best in the NFL out of 110.

Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 88.1 when throwing to a receiver covered by Allen last season.

In 2012 Allen only started three games, but recorded 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 17th best cornerback in the league. Quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 68.5 when throwing against him.

In terms of monetary value, Allen isn't the 21st best cornerback in the NFL right now. He has shown the ability to be a good cornerback in the NFL, but he hasn't been on the field enough.

At the moment this contract pays him too much money. However, Pittsburgh is paying him for how they believe he will perform––which is at a high level. This is the third similar contract from the Steelers this offseason. The other two went to center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

Since Allen has only 11 career starts, it may seem strange for the Steelers to reward him with a contract that pays him $5.2 million per season. However, he has been a consistent performer in the secondary for Pittsburgh. Stability is needed at the cornerback position in Pittsburgh and Allen is clearly the best cornerback on the roster.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals release LB Desmond Bishop.
The Arizona Cardinals sign P Drew Butler.
The Arizona Cardinals sign LB Marcus Benard.
The Baltimore Ravens cut CB Derek Cox.
The Baltimore Ravens sign RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The Baltimore Ravens claim DT Christo Bilukidi off waivers.
The Baltimore Ravens cut RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The Buffalo Bills cut DE Jacquies Smith.
The Chicago Bears sign S Ahmad Dixon.
The Chicago Bears cut CB Demontre Hurst.
The Chicago Bears OL Eben Britton.
The Chicago Bears cut WR Michael Spurlock.
The Cincinnati Bengals waived DT Christo Bilukidi.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign CB Onterio McCalebb.
The Cincinnati Bengals waive CB Onterio McCalebb.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign DT Devon Still.
The Cleveland Browns cut OL Ryan Seymour.
The Cleveland Browns cut CB Aaron Berry.
The Cleveland Browns sign TE Gerell Robinson.
The Denver Broncos sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Denver Broncos waive WR Nathan Palmer.
The Detroit Lions sign G Garrett Reynolds.
Free agent CB Jabari Greer has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Dion Lewis.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB Chris Carter.
The Indianapolis Colts waive RB Zurlon Tipton.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign DT Kevin Vickerson.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign LB Jerry Franklin.
The Kansas City Chiefs cut S Daniel Sorensen.
The Miami Dolphins sign LB Kelvin Sheppard.
The New York Jets waive CB Leon McFadden.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign G Wade Smith.
The San Diego Chargers sign OL Doug Legursky.
The San Francisco 49ers release WR Kassim Osgood.
The San Francisco 49ers cut RB LaMichael James.
The San Francisco 49ers sign WR Kassim Osgood.
The Seattle Seahawks cut WR Phil Bates.
The Seattle Seahawks sign OT Andrew McDonald.
The Seattle Seahawks sign CB Josh Thomas.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release CB Quinton Pointer.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release WR Louis Murphy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Brandon Dixon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign WR Solomon Patton.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DE Larry English.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claim DE Jacquies Smith off waivers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut LB Scott Solomon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Crezdon Butler.
The Washington Redskins sign S Akeem Davis.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

August 1, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

Last week saw two major contract extensions for offensive players, and this week there was even more action. Four contracts extensions are discussed in depth below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Green Bay Packers re-sign WR Jordy Nelson

After wide receiver Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons received a contract extension last week, the Green Bay Packers have rewarded their number one receiver with a four-year contract extension.

Set to become a free agent at the end of the season––like White––the 29-year old Nelson will now be with the Packers through the 2018 season. Worth $39 million over the four years, he will average $9.75 million per year which makes him the eighth highest-paid wide receiver in the league. There is $14.2 million guaranteed in the contract, much of which comes from a signing bonus of $11.5 million.

Jordy Nelson

Courtesy of ICON SMI

One of the most underrated wide receivers in the league, he isn't a top-tier receiver, but he is solidly in the second tier––which is what he is being paid as.

Drafted by Packers with the 36th overall pick in the 2008 draft, he has played his entire career in Green Bay. When this contract expires, he will be 34-years old by the time the next season comes around, so it is likely this is his last big payday.

Last season he caught 85 passes for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns on 126 targets, all while quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed seven games due to a broken collarbone. This was only Nelson's second 1,000-yard season, but now that he is the featured receiver in the Packers' offense, he should continue to put up similar numbers.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the second best wide receiver this past season. If it wasn't for Brandon Marshall's absurd run blocking grade, then Nelson would have been first. Nelson's receiving grade was the third best in the league.

It was recently reported that Nelson was looking for $10 million per year on a new contract. While he didn't hit this benchmark––only seven wide receivers earn $10 million or more per year––he came in just under at $9.75 million. Over the four years on the contract, he comes up only $1 million short of this benchmark so he didn't lose out much. It was obvious he wanted to stay in Green Bay throughout the process.

Some may say that he is a product of the Green Bay system which can makes receivers look better then they actually are, but Nelson is one of the better receivers in the league and has a rapport with Rodgers that allows him to produce well.

Overall this is a good move for both sides. Nelson gets his big payday after being severely underpaid and the Packers get to keep their number one receiver through the 2018 season.

Minnesota Vikings re-sign TE Kyle Rudolph

Staying in the NFC North, the Vikings signed their starting tight end to a five-year contract extension as he was set to hit free agency at the end of the season.

The 24-year old will receive $36.5 million over the five years of the contract, an average of $7.3 million per season. This makes him the fifth highest-paid tight end in the NFL. There is $19.4 million in guaranteed money and incentives can push the value of the contract all the way up to $40 million.

Drafted by the Vikings with the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, his rookie contract was set to expire and Minnesota wanted to keep one of their offensive building blocks.

Playing in only eight games last season, he caught 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Over a full season this equates to 60 catches for 626 yards and six touchdowns. In 2012, he posted similar numbers to that, catching 53 passes for 493 yards and nine touchdowns.

For the 2012 season––I'm not looking at 2013 as he missed half the season––Pro Football Focus graded him as the 12th best tight end in the league. He graded positively in receiving, pass blocking and run blocking, making him a complete tight end. In fact, his highest grade was in run blocking.

After the 2012 season he was named to the Pro Bowl team and his five catches for 122 yards and one touchdown was good enough to earn him MVP honors.

Having the ability to block and go out for passes makes him a threat to have on offense. Balanced tight ends can really help an offense as the same personnel groups can be used for a higher variety of plays than if a tight end is only good at catching passes or only good at run blocking. At 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, he has the requisite size to be a dominate tight end and he showed in 2012 that he can be a threat in the red zone by scoring nine touchdowns.

This offseason the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer to be their new head coach and he brought in Norv Turner to run the offense. Turner is known to be one of the best––if not the best––in the league for optimizing tight ends and getting great performances out of them.

Last year he turned Jordan Cameron into a Pro Bowl player with 80 catches and almost 1,000 yards despite having only 26 career catches beforehand. Before that, Turner turned Antonio Gates into the league's best tight end after not playing a single snap of football in college. Instead, he was a power forward in basketball.

While Rudolph hasn't put up top-five tight end numbers yet, Turner is the man who can turn Rudolph into a top-five tight end. By paying him as such, the Vikings are putting a lot of faith into Turner's ability.

I believe that Rudolph will develop into a better tight end and be a big contributor for the Vikings over the coming seasons, but I don't think he warrants top-five tight end money.

Arizona Cardinals re-sign CB Patrick Peterson

In the only contract extension that went to a defensive player this week, the Cardinals continued the trend of signing top-tier cornerbacks to long-term deals by giving Peterson a five-year extension.

With two-years left on his contract, a new contract wasn't needed per say, but he wanted a new deal and Arizona is keeping their best player happy with this new deal. The five-year extension is worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $15.3 million.

This contract makes him the highest paid cornerback in the league in terms of overall money and gives him the most guaranteed money at the cornerback position.

One of the two years left on his contract comes from a fifth-year option that the Cardinals exercised awhile ago. With these two years left and five new years, he is under contract through the 2020 season.

Last season he made 42 tackles while intercepting three passes and breaking up 13 passes. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14th best cornerback in the league. He spent the entire season shadowing opponent's best receivers and held his own.

Peterson is one of the top three cornerbacks in the league right now along with Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman. Once the specifics of the top three are debated, then it will be tough to get a consensus.

Of the three, Peterson has the most potential left as he is still only 24-years old. If he can cut down on some of his mistakes and become more consistent (he allowed seven touchdowns last season), then he has the talent to become the consensus number one cornerback in the league.

On top of being a great cornerback, he is also an electric returner and has spent some time at wide receiver to try and help spark the Cardinals' offense. He is one of the best athletes in the game, though this massive new contract may have Arizona limit some of his other chances to touch the ball.

Arizona didn't need to make this move due to the time remaining on his contract, but it makes sense to lockup Peterson for the long term as he probably is the best player on their roster and is still improving his game. He may not be the best cornerback in the NFL right now, but he already is in the top three and he is only going to get better.

Dallas Cowboys re-sign OT Tyron Smith

Wrapping up this week's Transaction Tracker, the Cowboys gave their 23-year old franchise left tackle an eight-year contract extension.

Already signed for two seasons before this new contract, he will be with Dallas through the 2023 season. The new eight years are worth $98 million with $40 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10 million. The average of $12.25 million per year in new money makes him the highest-paid left tackle in the entire NFL. When all 10 years are put together he will be earning around $110 million.

Like Peterson, Smith had two years left on his contract because Dallas had exercised their fifth-year option on him awhile ago. Peterson and Smith are the first two players from the 2011 draft class to sign long-term contract extensions with their teams. One of the reasons that it had taken so long for these contracts is the fifth-year options that the teams have. The first round picks who had their options exercised now all have two years left on their deal meaning that their team isn't in a rush to enter contract negotiations and sign the player long term.

An eight-year extension may seem long, especially with two years remaining on Smith's old deal, but remember that is his still only 23-years old and will turn 24 in December. This means that he will be in his early 30s when the contract expires. So, this is likely the only major contract that he receives during his playing career, but it is one major contract.

Last season he was named a Second-Team All-Pro and made his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Focus graded him as the seventh-best offensive tackle in the league, earning high grades in both run blocking and pass protection. After an average first half of the season, he came into his own during the second half, showing that he is one of the best tackles in the league.

With the improvements he has shown each season in the league, he is likely to keep improving his game and come in even higher in Pro Football Focus' ratings next season. He is one of the top young tackles in the league and now he is paid as the best left tackle in the game. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are obviously betting on him continuing his improvement.

While Smith is good, I don't think he is this good. He isn't the best offensive tackle in the league, and with the cap concerns that Dallas has had the last few seasons, they can't afford to be overpaying anybody right now. Keeping homegrown talent it great, but you can't overpay for it, especially with two years left on his contract.

Another negative effect from this deal is wide receiver Dez Bryant isn't happy that he wasn't the one to get a new deal meaning that a new deal for him is considered highly unlikely as he enters the final year of his contract. You would think the Cowboys would have made him the priority given that he had only one year left.

I like what Dallas did here keeping their young, franchise left tackle for years to come, but they overpaid and seem to have ended contract talks with Bryant by doing this. Neither of which are good things.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals sign WR Reggie Dunn.
The Atlanta Falcons waive WR Darius Johnson.
The Atlanta Falcons sign WR Jabin Sambrano.
Atlanta Falcons DT Peria Jerry has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens sign S Will Hill.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Marrio Norman.
The Baltimore Ravens cut WR Gerrard Sheppard.
The Buffalo Bills sign CB Bobby Felder.
The Buffalo Bills release DT Colby Way.
The Buffalo Bills sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Buffalo Bills cut OL Mark Asper.
The Buffalo Bills sign RB Fred Jackson to a one-year contract extension.
The Carolina Panthers cut DT Shaq Rowell.
The Carolina Panthers cut CB DeQuan Menzie (who announced his retirement soon after).
The Carolina Panthers sign DT Micanor Regis.
The Carolina Panthers sign S Tom Nelson.
The Carolina Panthers sign RB Fozzy Whittaker.
The Carolina Panthers waive-injured RB Tyler Gaffney.
The Chicago Bears sign OL Dylan Gandy.
The Chicago Bears waive DE Jamil Merrell.
The Chicago Bears cut G James Dunbar.
The Chicago Bears sign WR Dale Moss.
The Chicago Bears waive WR Terrence Toliver.
The Chicago Bears sign OL Graham Pocic.
The Chicago Bears sign OT Dennis Roland.
The Chicago Bears waive OT Cody Booth.
The Cincinnati Bengals waive OT Curtis Feigt.
The Cleveland Browns waive OT Chris Faulk.
The Cleveland Browns sign WR Marlon Moore.
The Cleveland Browns sign OL Ryan Lee.
The Cleveland Browns sign S Jim Leonhard.
The Denver Broncos cut OT Aslam Sterling.
The Denver Broncos sign DL Cody Larsen.
The Denver Broncos sign DL Will Pericak.
The Detroit Lions sign P Drew Butler.
The Detroit Lions waive S Gabe Lynn.
The Detroit Lions waive-injured DE Kalonji Kashama.
The Detroit Lions claim WR Quintin Payton off waivers.
The Detroit Lions sign DE Kris Redding.
The Detroit Lions waive-injured WR Cody Wilson.
Free agent G Travelle Wharton has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers claim WR Gerrard Sheppard off waivers.
The Houston Texans sign LB Quentin Groves.
The Houston Texans sign LB Lawrence Sidbury.
The Houston Texans waive OT Anthony Dima.
The Houston Texans waive-injured WR Alan Bonner.
The Houston Texans waive-injured G Cody White.
The Houston Texans sign RB Tim Cornett.
The Houston Texans sign OT Mike Farrell.
The Houston Texans cut LB Ricky Sapp.
The Houston Texans sign RB Tim Cornett.
The Houston Texans sign OT Mike Farrell.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Davin Meggett.
The Indianapolis Colts waive OT Jack Breckner.
The Indianapolis Colts sign OT Matt Hall.
The Indianapolis Colts waive RB Chris Rainey.
The Indianapolis Colts waive WR Aaron Burks.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Phillip Tanner.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB Jonathon Sharpe.
The Indianapolis Colts sign OT Eric Pike.
The Kansas City Chiefs waive G Rokevious Watkins.
The Kansas City Chiefs claim TE Adam Schiltz off waivers.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign CB Damond Smith.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign S Steve Gregory.
The Miami Dolphins sign OT Steven Baker.
The Miami Dolphins cut OL Michael Philipp.
The Miami Dolphins sign OT Tony Hills.
The Miami Dolphins waive WR Gerald Ford.
The Miami Dolphins sign TE Brett Brackett.
The Miami Dolphins sign QB Seth Lobato.
The Miami Dolphins sign DE D’Aundre Reed.
The Miami Dolphins cut QB Brock Jensen.
The Miami Dolphins cut LB Derrell Johnson.
The Miami Dolphins waive-injured G Davonte Wallace.
The Miami Dolphins sign TE Raymond Webber.
The Miami Dolphins cut TE Brett Brackett.
The Minnesota Vikings sign WR Ty Walker.
The Minnesota Vikings sign WR Andy Cruse.
The Minnesota Vikings waive OT Matt Hall.
The Minnesota Vikings waive WR Josh Cooper.
The New England Patriots cut TE Nate Byham.
The New England Patriots sign WR Brian Tyms.
The New England Patriots sign WR Cole Stanford.
The New England Patriots waive-injured WR Greg Orton.
The New England Patriots claim RB Tyler Gaffney off waivers.
The New England Patriots release LB Josh Hull.
The New York Giants claim OL Mark Asper off waivers.
The New York Giants waive-injured OT DeMarcus Love.
The Oakland Raiders sign S Jeremy Deering.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign RB Josh Harris.
The Pittsburgh Steelers waive-injured C David Snow.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign K Shuan Suisham to a four-year contract extension.
The St. Louis Rams sign DE Kourtnei Brown.
The St. Louis Rams waive-injured WR Jamaine Sherman.
The San Francisco 49ers sign LS Kyle Nelson.
The San Francisco 49ers sign RB Alfonso Smith.
The San Francisco 49ers cut QB Kory Faulkner.
The San Francisco 49ers waive-injured OT Fou Fonoti.
The San Francisco 49ers claim OT Michael Phillipp off waivers.
The Seattle Seahawks sign LB Brandon Denmark.
The Seattle Seahawks sign S Steven Terrell.
The Seattle Seahawks waive DT Dewayne Cherrington.
The Seattle Seahawks sign CB Terrell Thomas.
The Seattle Seahawks sign OT Eric Winston.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Randall Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks waive CB Chandler Fenner.
The Seattle Seahawks waive G Bronson Irwin.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Ronald Johnson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release G Carl Nicks.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Anthony Gaitor.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DT Jibreel Black.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut RB Brendan Bigelow.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut WR Quintin Payton.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Kip Edwards.
The Tennessee Titans sign G Kevin Danser.
The Tennessee Titans cut TE Adam Schiltz.
The Washington Redskins waive LB Brandon Jenkins.
The Washington Redskins sign DE Everette Brown.
The Washington Redskins waive-injured CB Courtney Bridget Jr.

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?