DeAngelo Hall retires from the NFL

A 14-year veteran, DeAngelo Hall has decided to retire from the NFL on Monday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

He will now look to work in a front office or on TV according to John Keim of ESPN.

Hall started his career off with the Atlanta Falcons for three years, before moving on to the Raiders for half of one season in 2008. For the past 10 seasons, he has called Washington D.C. his home, playing for the Redskins.

The former ball-hawk has missed games due to a torn ACL, which occurred in 2016.

Hall was a three-time Pro Bowler and did not win a Super Bowl in his career.

 

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Carson Wentz Week 1 start

Carson Wentz is very confident he will play Week 1

Carson Wentz went down with an ACL and LCL tear on Dec. 10, 2017. After a few days, the news broke that the injury was an ACL tear.

Immediately after the announcement, everyone proclaimed that the Philadelphia Eagles were done for the year. They also said that Wentz was unlikely to be able to start the beginning of next season for the Eagles. Looks like both of those statements just might turn out to be wrong.

The standard recovery time of 9-12 months puts him back on the field Sept. 10 at the earliest and Dec. 10 in the near worst case. This time, expectations may be exceeded. Wentz says that he expects to be back for the season opener on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Could Wentz really be ready for Week 1?

Carson Wentz Week 1 start

Carson Wentz (Photo by Eric Hartline USA TODAY Sports)

Many times, athletes can be overly optimistic about their recoveries from injury. Just last year, the Indianapolis Colts brass and even Reggie Wayne stated that they believed Andrew Luck would be ready for Week 1. However, as the season drug on for the Colts, Luck did not play one game.

Sometimes, an athlete can be a special circumstance and recover much more quickly or effectively. For example, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL in December of 2011. However, he was able to come back and rush for over 2,000 yards in 2012.

In the end, Peterson fell eight yards short of the single season rushing record with 2,097. It is truly remarkable that he was able to get even close to breaking the record in a season where many thought he would not even be able to start Week 1.

That shows that quick recoveries are possible with dedicated rehab, a smart recovery plan and good genetics. This case is especially impressive at the position of running back as they take the most abuse of any player on the field. Wentz is a quarterback, which should help his odds of making it back.

Will Carson Wentz be one of these success stories? Maybe. We probably will not know until we are closer to the season opener.

It sure sounds like he thinks he will be ready though, and if anyone can do it, Wentz can. Wentz was asked on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football about the possibility of starting Week 1 and said this in response.

“I’m very confident,” he said. “It’s a fluid process, so you never know how it’s going to go, but where we’re at, just trying to do what the doctors say and just take it step by step. There are times when you feel great and want to push it more, but you’ve got to stay the course with what the doctors are saying. I feel really good and really confident for Week 1.”

In addition to his confidence, Ian Rapoport recently tweeted some promising news for Eagles fans.

What if Wentz is not ready for the season opener?

It is very likely that Wentz will be back for Week 1. However, at the same time, it would not be surprising if the Eagles held him out just a little longer to make sure that their franchise quarterback stays healthy.

Luckily for the Eagles, that is a very minimal problem for them. Philadelphia has a strong backup in Nick Foles, who just led the team to a Super Bowl victory. After all, Wentz would likely not have much of a problem with not playing immediately if it was in his best interest. Wentz has been very vocal in saying that he will listen to doctors and not risk his health to rush the recovery process.

Wentz also talked on Good Morning Football about how good of a relationship he has with Foles. He stated that there is no “ruffled feathers” between them and that they are “friends first and foremost before teammates.”

How will Wentz prevent injuries in the future?

Carson Wentz Week 1 start

(Photo by Sports Illustrated)

Much has been said about Wentz struggling with injuries over the last few years. He has suffered broken ribs and now a torn ACL and LCL in his first two seasons in the NFL. Therefore, Wentz was recently asked if he would change his playing style to avoid being injured in the future. Wentz responded by saying that he will always learn from injuries and other lessons he learns while playing. For example, when he watches game tape and realizes that he could have avoided a big hit on a play and only sacrificed a couple yards by sliding.

However, he also stated that he will never change his aggressive mentality because that is just who he is. As uneasy as it can make the fans, his competitive nature is part of what makes him such a great quarterback. He will learn to protect himself more as he gains experience in the NFL.

The full interview of Carson Wentz

Featured image from Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Matt Ryan extension

Matt Ryan signs five-year, $150 million extension

The Atlanta Falcons have their franchise quarterback locked up.

Matt Ryan signed a massive five-year, $150 million extension with the team on Thursday, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. The deal also includes $100 million in guarantees, also an NFL record.

The Matt Ryan extension comes just weeks after Kirk Cousins’ whopping $28 million-per-year contract with the Vikings. With Ryan now slated to make $30 million per year, the bar is now set for other soon-to-be free agent quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady all have their contracts expire in 2020. All three could potentially blow Ryan’s new contract out of the water in a matter of years.

What the Falcons are getting

Matt Ryan extension

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Photo from nfl.com

One year removed from an MVP-winning season, Matt Ryan regressed slightly in 2017. With offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan taking the 49ers’ head coaching position, the Falcons’ offense took a step back. Ryan threw only 20 touchdowns last season, with 12 interceptions. This is far from his 38:7 ratio from 2016.

However, Ryan remains as the Falcons’ most valuable player. Since entering the league in 2008, Ryan has only missed two games. He has quietly been one of the league’s most efficient passers in that span, completing nearly 65% of his passes. He has also thrown for over 4,000 yards for seven straight seasons.

If the Atlanta Falcons wish to remain in the playoff hunt, they will need to retain their all-time leading passer. They did just that, handing him the richest contract in NFL history along the way.

What’s next?

With the Matt Ryan extension fetching $30 million per year, it’s likely that this will be seen as the new standard for quarterback megadeals. Aaron Rodgers is the most likely to break Ryan’s record, with his current deal expiring in 2020. Rodgers has been invaluable to the Green Bay Packers, and will be 36 at the time of the new deal.

As for the Falcons, they can begin to look ahead at extensions for defensive stars Vic Beasley and Deion Jones. Both players will be unrestricted free agents following the 2019 regular season.

Featured image by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Matt Ryan signs extension with Falcons for $30 million per year

The Atlanta Falcons have signed Matt Ryan to a five year extension that will make him the first quarterback ever to make $30 million dollars per year according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Ryan will make $100 million in guaranteed money through the life of the five-year deal. He was entering into the last year of his previous five-year deal. With incentives, the contract is worth $150 million over five seasons.

Atlanta’s GM, Thomas Dimitroff, made it a priority to sign Ryan before the old contract was up. The 2016 season helped propel Ryan into earning this deal with his MVP award and leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl.

The Falcons selected Ryan with the third overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Since being drafted, Ryan has led the Falcons to six playoff appearances, including each of the past two seasons. Two seasons ago Ryan seemingly reached his full potential with the MVP award.

Along with the MVP, he has one All-Pro selection and four Pro Bowl selections. He also has a 96-63 regular season record.

Through his 10 seasons in the NFL he has 41,796 passing yards, 260 passing touchdowns and has completed 64.9% of his passes. He currently ranks 16th in NFL history for passing yards.

 

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Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is under two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft profile

Julio Jone (Photo by thefalcoholic.com)

After their Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, the Falcons won 10 games last year. They were bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round by the eventual champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their defense stepped up last season, ranking eighth in points allowed per game. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t get going like in previous years and they ranked 15th in point per game. The Falcons were able to move the ball decently but failed to reach the end zone on a lot of drives.

A lot of the blame has been placed on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, as he failed to get wide receiver Julio Jones involved in the offense near the goal line. Jones finished the season with just three receiving touchdowns, which severely limited the Falcons’ offense.

Sarkisian and most players from the Falcons’ offense return for next season, so they will have to figure out how to get the most out of the talent on their roster. Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Austin Hooper are the playmakers on offense. Atlanta should be pretty set with that but may need some more depth at some of those positions heading into next season.

The offensive line was solid for Atlanta last season, but this might be a place where they try to use a draft pick for depth or to enhance one of their weaker positions.

On the defensive side of the ball, the unit was improved, but Adrian Clayborne left via free agency. Takkarist McKinley will be tasked with stepping up on the opposite side of the field of Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley only had five sacks in 14 games and will also need to improve for next season. Grady Jarrett is solid at the defensive tackle position, but more will be needed.

Their linebackers are young and talented, leaving little to be addressed at the position. The Falcons have made a concerted effort to improve their secondary through the draft the last couple of years and have built a good secondary, which allows the 13th fewest passing yards per game in the league.

Atlanta still has a solid roster and with a good draft, can put themselves right back in the Super Bowl next season.

Picks and Needs

The Falcons have seven picks in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Bills and received a compensatory pick in the seventh round to reach that number.

First Round (1 pick): 26

Second Round (1): 58

Third Round (1): 90

Fourth Round (1): 126

Fifth Round (0): 

Sixth Round (1): 200

Seventh Round (2): 244, 256

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver- Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu are a good start to a receiving core, but there isn’t much behind them. They can take a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft, who should be able to give them more depth at the position.

Offensive line depth- Brandon Fusco was signed to play guard, but a few more players to fill out the roster could be added in the draft.

Backup quarterback- Matt Ryan is here to stay, but if he goes down with an injury, the Falcons aren’t looking too great. Matt Schaub and Garrett Grayson are the other quarterbacks on the roster, but Atlanta could take a project quarterback to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan.

Defensive needs:

Defensive tackle- Jarrett is good, but after Dontari Poe left in free agency a replacement is needed. They gave up the ninth fewest rushing yards in the league last season and will want to keep that up.

Defensive end depth- Brooks Reed and McKinley will help fill the void left by Clayborne, but more pass rushers will be needed in to bolster their depth chart.  

Targets

Atlanta Falcons 2018 NFL Draft profile

Taven Bryan (Photo by draftblasters.com)

First round: 

Pick No. 26: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida 

The Falcons can likely get a replacement for Poe in round one. With a few talented defensive tackles in the class, one could fall to number 26. Bryan is athletic for a defensive tackle and can start from day one if needed. He is most known for stopping the run, but can also help out the pass rush, as he had four sacks last season for the Gators.

Second round: 

Pick No. 58: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

In order to find another viable option at the receiver position, the Falcons can select Anthony Miller. He has the versatility to play in the slot or on the outside and made tons of highlight reel catches in college. He does have inconsistent hands and isn’t the biggest, but he makes plays. With him, Sanu, Jones and Hooper on the field, the Falcons should be able to return to offensive prominence.

Third round:

Pick No. 90: Austin Corbett, G/C, Nevada

Atlanta will see how Fusco does at right guard but may want to have a backup plan in case things don’t go well. Corbett has drawn comparisons to the Browns’ Joel Bitonio because they both played at Nevada and will move from tackle to the inside of the line. If he can figure out the nuances of playing guard at the NFL level, he could take the job from Fusco.

Conclusion

There isn’t much separating this team from another shot at the Super Bowl. If Sarkisian calls the right plays, this team has the talent to do a lot of damage. If they can fill their few needs in the draft, they will be ready to roll for the start of the 2018 season.

 

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NFL Draft

Redrafting the 2017 NFL Draft

With all this commotion about the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, it seems like the perfect time to look back at last year’s first round and see how much has changed.

1st Overall, Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson, QB 

Actual pick – Myles Garrett, DE

After an invigorating seven games where Deshaun Watson set the football world on fire he deserves to be the first quarterback taken. Leading the NFL in touchdowns with 19 through 7 games while playing as a rookie is no small feat, in fact, it’s almost unheard of.

2nd Overall, Chicago Bears – Myles Garrett, DE

Actual pick – Mitch Trubisky, QB

With no quarterbacks worthy of the second overall pick left, the Chicago Bears settle for the best player available and take the most talented player in the draft. Garrett was limited last year by injuries but when he was on the field he showed the special talent that made him first overall last year. He had seven sacks and a forced fumble in just 11 games played last season.

3rd Overall, San Francisco 49ers – Alvin Kamara, RB  

NFL Draft

Alvin Kamara splits two Green Bay defenders for a big gain. Photo by Sports Illustrated

 

Actual pick – Solomon Thomas

Sure, this is early for a running back, but with Alvin Kamara in the fold it opens up a lot of options for Kyle Shanahan to exploit in his offensive attack. Kamara had 1,500 yards from scrimmage while spliting time with Mark Ingram and as the year progressed he appeared to take the mantle of starter from Ingram as well.

4th Overall, Jacksonville Jaguars – Patrick Mahomes, QB

Actual pick – Leonard Fournette, RB

Yes, I know that Leonard Fournette had a great year and rushed for over 1000 yards. However, he was injured for three games and this seems like the perfect time for a team loaded with talent to grab a very talented quarterback to compete with and later replace Blake Bortles.

5th Overall, Tennessee Titans – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR

Actual pick – Corey Davis, WR

Worries about Juju Smith-Schuster’s long speed are no longer a problem after he was shown to be a blazer last season, even scoring a 97 yard touchdown where he outran the whole Lions’ defense. He would step in and make an immediate impact for the Titans.

6th Overall, New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB

Actual pick – Jamal Adams, S

The Jets get the best corner in the draft with the sixth pick, Lattimore, a lockdown corner who will help sure up the Jets defense for a long time. Lattimore was a big part of the reason the Saints defense jumped from 31st to 10th in scoring defense and 32nd to 15th in passing yards allowed. He could have a similar impact with the Jets.

7th Overall, Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, S

Actual pick –  Mike Williams, WR

The Chargers needed a safety and luckily the best one fell into their lap at 7th overall. Adams is a safety that you can keep single back or move him up into the box and either way he will make an impact.

8th Overall, Carolina Panthers – Dalvin Cook, RB

Actual pick – Christian McCaffrey, RB

Cook had a very promising rookie season for the Vikings until his season-ending injury. Cook looks to be the best running back left in this draft in terms of running and catching out of the backfield. Some would say that Kareem Hunt belongs here but I believe Dalvin Cook has a higher ceiling. He would provide the Panther’s offense with what they thought they were getting when they drafted Christian McCaffrey.

9th Overall, Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Ramczyk, OT

Actual pick – John Ross, WR

The Bengals deal with their biggest problem on offense by drafting a big guy to help them win in the trenches. Ramczyk would shore up a line that was terribly leaky last season which caused many of their offensive issues. They allowed 40 sacks last season and had the second worst rushing attack in all of football last season. With most of the issues coming from the offensive tackle position it makes this pick easy.

10th Overall, Kansas City Chiefs – Mitch Trubisky, QB

Actual pick – Patrick Mahomes, QB

The Chiefs wouldn’t have traded up for anything else, they still need a rookie to develop behind Alex Smith and they get theirs in Trubisky. He had some promising moments in his first year as a starter, but clearly still needs the right situation to thrive. Andy Reid is a play calling magician and a quarterback whisperer if he cant make Trubisky work, no one can.

11th Overall, New Orleans Saints – Tre’Davious White, CB

Actual pick – Marshon Lattimore, CB

The New Orleans Saints needed defensive help and with Lattimore off the board, they grab the next best corner in White. Rated by Pro Football Focus as the second best corner in the league last year, the Saints are getting some serious value.

12th Overall, Houston Texans – O.J. Howard, TE

Actual pick – DeShaun Watson, QB

With all the potential quarterbacks worthy of a first-round pick gone, the Houston Texans go with someone who will help out the running and the passing game in O.J. Howard.

13th Overall, Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR

Actual pick – Haason Reddick, LB

The Cardinals finally find someone to pair up with the great Larry Fitzgerald to create a truly dominant receiving duo. Davis struggled with injuries in year one but started to come on towards the end of the season. Year two will be a more accurate measure of where he is developmentally, he lands here with the Cardinals based on potential.

14th Overall, Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Barnett, DE 

NFL Draft

Derek Barnett sacks Dak Prescott. Photo by Hunter Martin

Actual pick – Derek Barnett, DE

Barnett was the right choice for this team. That, coupled with the fact that there are no glaring needs on Philadelphia’s roster make Barnett the perfect choice. Edge rushers are the second most important position on the team and with Barnett in line for an even bigger role in 2018 this pick seems like a huge success.

15th Overall, Indianapolis Colts – Cam Robinson, OT

Actual pick – Malik Hooker, S

The Colts are a team with many holes, none of them as poor as the offensive line, which is truly offensive to football fans. They draft Robinson and he can help keep whoever is quarterbacking the Colts (hopefully Andrew Luck) safe for years to come.

16th Overall, Baltimore Ravens – Cooper Kupp, WR

Actual pick – Marlon Humphrey, DB

It feels like the Ravens haven’t had a competent receiving corps in years, drafting Cooper Kupp to play with Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace might give them the firepower they need on offense. Kupp had 865 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie and really helped elevate the Rams recieving corps.

17th Overall, Washington Redskins – Kareem Hunt, RB

Actual pick – Jonathan Allen, DE

Hunt would add a new layer to the Redskins already multifaceted approach. He might just be the piece that could have made the Redskins’ offense elite. Hunt finished with almost 1800 yards from scrimmage on the season as the focal point of the Chiefs attack and earned the rushing title with 1327 yards in his rookie season.

18th Overall, Tennessee Titans – Rueben Foster, LB

Actual pick – Adoree’ Jackson, CB

A crazy athlete that also fills an important need in the Titans defense. Foster would step in and be an immediate starter in Tennessee’s defense. His range is his biggest asset and would help a Titans defense that struggled with its linebacking corps in 2017. His only downside has been off the field issues.

19th Overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Solomon Thomas, DL

Actual pick – O.J. Howard, TE

A slightly below than expected season performance from Thomas causes him to slip until here. That being said, the Buccaneers would run this pick up to the table. The talent and potential have made him a top-five prospect and he fills a need on Tampa’s desolate defensive line.

20th Overall, Denver Broncos – Malik Hooker, S

Actual pick – Garrett Bolles, OT

The Broncos look to keep their defense at the top of it’s game with this pick, which truly solidifies Denver’s defense. Hooker is a safety with incredible range, he has the ability to truly shut down the middle of a football field.

21st Overall, Detroit Lions – Christian McCaffrey, RB

Actual pick – Jarrad Davis, LB

The Lions need a running back. The last time a running back rushed for 100 yards on the Detroit Lions was Reggie Bush on Thanksgiving, in 2013! Lion’s fans know this after hearing it in pretty much every game last season. McCaffrey is a good pick at 21st overall and although he made less of an impact than expected in year one he still has the talent that made him the eighth overall pick last year.

22nd Overall, Miami Dolphins – Haason Reddick, LB 

Actual pick – Charles Harris, DE

Reddick is a really good player who would get some playing time almost immediately in Miami, they definitely need him. After playing defensive end in college he gained attention by showing that he can also be an inside linebacker in the NFL. He would be a great fit for the Dolphins with their need for both a pass rusher and a linebacker.

23rd Overall, New York Giants – Garrett Bolles, OT

Actual pick – Evan Engram, TE

The Giants take steps to help out Eli Manning by drafting an offensive lineman. Needs meet best player available again.

24th Overall, Oakland Raiders – Gareon Conley, CB

Actual pick – Gareon Conley, CB

The Oakland Raiders had a huge hole at cornerback, Conley is a over 6 feet tall and showed immense potential in his time at Ohio State. The Raiders wouldn’t let this opportunity slip by.

25th Overall, Cleveland Browns – John Ross, WR

Actual pick – Jabrill Peppers, S

Ross did not have a good first year in the NFL but he will surely develop in year two and his speed is a huge asset. After all he does have the fastest 40 yard dash at the combine ever. The Cleveland Browns seem like the team that would draft him here.

26th Overall, Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, DE

Actual pick – Takkarist McKinley, DE

The Falcons made the right pick as far as I’m concerned, McKinley looked good last year and seems to fit the scheme well.

27th Overall, Buffalo Bills – Jonathon Allen, DE

Actual pick – Tre’Davious White, CB

Jonathan Allen slipped on draft day because of health concerns, now he’s slipping again because of them. Jonathon Allen looked good last year but how long can he stay healthy? You can’t make an impact if you’re not on the field.

28th Overall, Dallas Cowboys – T.J. Watt, OLB

Actual pick – Taco Charlton

T.J. Watt showed explosion at times last year, I just don’t believe he was as consistent as I would have liked, but, despite that, and his size concerns, he rose two spots. The Cowboys were disappointed by Taco Charlton last year they wouldn’t be disappointed with this pick. I believe Watt could be an effective pass rusher for the Cowboys.

29th Overall, Cleveland Browns – Marlon Humphrey, DB

Actual pick – Deshone Kizer, QB

Marlon Humphrey is a big, fast, and strong corner. His biggest question mark was his ball skills but his two interceptions last season in Baltimore showed that it probably will not be too much of a problem.

30th Overall, Pittsburgh Steelers – Shaquill Griffin, DB

Actual pick – T.J. Watt, OLB

Shaquill Griffin showed off some real potential in his rookie season earning himself the corner spot opposite Richard Sherman. He would be a great asset for Pittsburgh to have as they reshape their defense.

31st Overall, San Francisco 49ers – Evan Engram, TE

Actual pick – Rueben Foster, LB

Engram is not the best at blocking, but he is a good reciever, with good hands and good speed for a tight end. Exactly the kind of player coach Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch would want to add to his team.

32nd Overall, New Orleans Saints – Marcus Williams, S 

NFL Draft

Marcus Williams misses a tackle in the NFC Championship game. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Actual pick – Ryan Ramczyk, OT

Williams has shown to be a great fit in the Saint’s defense, a good tackler who makes good decisions (except that one play in the NFC divisional round). Why not take the same guy since he worked out so well.

 

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Richard Sherman: A crusader? Or a clown?

This offseason has already seen the making of a memorable one for history. Big crazy trades and free agent signing has set an overcast in the journey to the upcoming NFL Draft. One signing, in particular, would be the San Francisco 49ers acquisition of Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman. Sherman, whose season was cut short after an Achilles injury in week 8, agreed to a contract worth up to $39.15 million dollars for three years, three days before free agency opened up. But there has been some controversy surrounding the deal itself and Sherman’s role in it. It is reported that Sherman himself handled the negotiations without the representation of an agent.

Some questions now have surfaced to why Richard Sherman would go this route and the future of players handling their own affairs pertaining to contracts. Some see this as the future of the league while others see this as Richard Sherman’s ego getting in front of his talent once again. Sherman has been critical of how agents operate and encourages a path for players to be more proactive in these areas. However, the same can be said about the team he signed to minutes after he was released, comprised a deal that many have criticized.

The Contract

First, let’s talk about the contract. Richard Sherman has signed a deal that is worth $39.15 million dollars. The key word is “worth”. Most NFL contracts, like other sports and management positions, are worth a dollar amount. Most of the money to be earned is tied up in incentives, bonuses and allowances. Sherman’s deal includes $3 million dollars in full guarantees, $7 million in practical guarantees and up to $9 million in earnings baring injury during the 2018 season.

In an offseason where the value of individual prospects and a team’s desire to certain prospects have set an unprecedented amount of money for their acquisitions, this deal doesn’t seem to make much sense. This could be a fault towards Sherman who essentially worked out the deal himself. This contract is purely based on Sherman’s ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level.  However, this opens a door for other players. Sherman, who is also a Stanford grad, is a key player in the NFLPA and knows how the business works. If players are to take the same route, they too might be able to capture some control in the debating process.

Pros

Players ultimately have all the power. They decide whether to take deals or leave hem on the table. Agents look to give them the best deal possible. In return, this could leave the player losing the ability to play for a favorable destination. Not saying that players aren’t sitting at the negotiation table but what Richard Sherman did, extends the amount power a player has.

Because of this, the player is able to negotiate a deal that they might feel is good for them. Most agents meet with teams with a hardline offer and it doesn’t really dip or bend from there. Plus with the ability of players to sit out, this pretty much twists the hands of management into submission. Most teams now have tried to stay away from hardline offers as they have led to some of the worst deals. Kirk Cousins suffered from franchise tag-itis because of The Washington Redskins horrible deal with Albert Haynesworth. As other teams have been ultimately forced to give in to player demands. If players want to take slashes in their guaranteed money in favor of being placed with the team that they desire to be on, then they should have that power.

Negative

What makes this deal seem sour is the subject at hand, Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman anchored one of the best defenses in five years that led to two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title. With the right defense, Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the National Football League. With that being said he should be paid accordingly to his value. Looking at this contract, it seems that he is selling himself a bit short. For example, as an analogy, Richard Sherman believes he should get $10 million dollars a year. Team A is willing to give him $10 million dollars and Team B is willing to give him $15 million dollars.

Your value isn’t the price tag that you put on yourself but rather how much someone is willing to pay. Despite his wishes, Richard Sherman is worth $15 million dollars in actuality. In comparison to the deal made in reality, Sherman would never see those $15 million dollars. If he never talks to Team B, it would be impossible. The idea of him not talking to other teams is quite depressing. He would never fully exercise the potential of the deal. This could be a downside for players who really want to play for a particular team and might be blindsided by their “wants” when they should focus on what should be owed to them.

The Future

At the end of the day, Richard Sherman has to accept or decline a deal. This particular deal is what he wanted and it is what he got. Other players in the future may not be so lucky. Determining a players’ value really depends on a broad spectrum. It’s not a discussion with a team who only really seems to benefit themselves and not the player. Despite this, a lawyer never acts as a legal representation for himself and a doctor doesn’t examine herself.

Agents are there to work out a deal. They know more about the process and are able to twist numbers and squeeze out the best deal possible. If that means shelving off between 1.5% to 4% in earnings so be it, there is no such things as a free lunch. In the future, negotiations should be left to agents as most believe that one would never let Sherman walk away with that deal. Sherman’s deal isn’t bad at all for other cornerbacks.

However, for an all-pro player, that gravitates a brand presence and is arguably the best cornerback in the league, it’s a terrible one. This contract is a deal for players that are on the cusp of proving themselves. For Sherman, he doesn’t have to. Despite suffering an injury and turning 30 years old in a matter of days, Richard Sherman has already proved his worth. A contract suited for someone who hasn’t is deplorable in his situation.

Fortunately, Richard Sherman got the deal he wanted. He went to the team he wanted and is in the best situation for himself. He’s happy and everyone should. More than likely, the deal will mature to be a wise one. It also might open the doors for other players to follow. On the other hand, if it flops, it would be a disaster and cemented as “pulling a Richard Sherman”. Who knows? Only time will tell.

 

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Our year of football: 2017-2018 season

NFL Predicated  Standings

2017-2018 Season

1. New England Patriots
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Green Bay Packers
6. New York Giants
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Kansas City Chiefs
9. Arizona Cardinals
10. Oakland Raiders
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. Miami Dolphins
13. Tennessee Titans
14. New Orleans Saints
15. Carolina Panthers
16. Houston Texans
17. Cincinnati Bengals
18. Washington Redskins
19. Detroit Lions
20. Baltimore Ravens
21. Philadelphia Eagles
22. Denver Broncos
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Los Angeles Chargers
25. Los Angeles Rams
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Indianapolis Colts
28. Buffalo Bills
29. San Francisco 49ers
30. Chicago Bears
31. Cleveland Browns
32. New York Jets

The Season

The 2017-2018 NFL season was anything but ordinary. It shifted from stories permeating of the last season. With those stories that molded political arguments and orchestrated the foundation to likes of humanity. This season touched hearts of survivors of this years unprecedented natural disasters and also filled the Twitter mentions of our beloved president. This year was a year to talk about not only for the sport of football but also the moral fiber of our society.

Politics…?

Simply, sports are not just sports. An argument appeared this year during the season. This year like the last, was highlighted by the many protests started by Colin Kaepernick. During a rally in Alabama, President Trump made some indecent remarks pertaining to the protest of players kneeling during the national anthem and flag. These comments created a dissolution among players and the leagues fans.

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Some backed up the president believing that the protest were disrespectful to our armed forces. Others felt that the players were standing up against injustices in this country that the anthem contradicts and are not true for every citizen. And even others took no position on either side but agreed that the protest were well within the rights of the players. In an attempt to preserve the notion of free speech, across the NFL, teams united in a protest by kneeling  or locking arms in unification before games or not attending the national anthem and flag bearing at all.

The Problem

While some saw the protest as an act of defiance, not only to the president of the United States but to our country as a whole, some even saw the protest as illegitimate and did not stand for what Kaepernick originally kneeled for. While Kaepernick was kneeling to bring awareness to police brutality and racial divisions, the players were kneeling for their right to protest and protection of their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the craze did lose its originality as the notion of Kaepernick’s arguments have yet to be discussed.

Many were critical of the NFL’s involvement in political fashions and wanted players to just play citing “football is just a sport”. The problem with that is football is not just a sport. Sports are never just seen as a collection of over sized men and women competing in gladiator like feats for a trophy. Sports have been able to bring people together. Football was never just a sport, not in America. Football itself has embodied the very grit and passion of what it is to be an American.

What football means

In the digital age, football has spread to consumers across the globe and in almost every house in our nation. Players now have platforms and are looked as icons, heroes, and even moral leaders. If you don’t believe it, ask JJ Watt. Ask Benjamin Watson. Or ask Greg Olsen about philanthropy.

Sports are part of the platform to give back, uplift individuals and inspire future generations. You want proof?  Remember when New Orleans natives watched their football time emerge from the ruins of their torn city and bring a title to avenge their will after Katrina. Or how an NBA championship can uplift a city after from a fifty year championship drought to embodied the strength of Cleveland. Or even this year, when Hurricane Harvey ravaged, displaced and destroyed lives in Texas, Houston natives were able to see their beloved baseball team bring home a championship and use the achievement as a beacon of hope.

Sports have been politicized since its very birth. The policies and rights bestowed upon each and everyone of us has given us the ability to watch, appreciate, and participate in sports and should never be questioned.

The Winner

There is no discussion that should over shadow the celebration of champions. The Philadelphia Eagles have now joined the list of 52 teams to have been able to label themselves as world champions. For a long time coming, this achievement gave the franchise its first world title and the city of Philadelphia its first championship since the 2008 World Series where the Phillies were crowned victorious.

The ups and downs in this season did not falter the Super Bowl champions even when starting quarterback Carson Wentz went out with an injury. Orchestrated by a swagger unlike any other team in the NFL, the squad welcomed Nick Foles in the starting lineup as he led them to a historic run in the playoffs. During the Super Bowl, with no surprise, the Eagles were seen as underdogs as they faced the defending Super Bowl champions. The New England Patriots, like many others, saw this matchup as a dynasty solidifying opportunity.

The Crowning

Thirteen years ago, the Patriots took the hearts of many Eagles fans as they beat them 24-21. A win that many saw to be spectacular, taking down a squad lead by Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. However, this team was not the 2004-2005 Eagles. This team was heralded by a forgotten star in Torrey Smith, a mid season pick up in Jay Ajayi, and a backup quarterback in Nick Foles. Pitted against a team that mirrored the leagues greatest teams assembled of all time, the Eagles never cowered from its opposition. After beating the the Patriots by a score of 41-33, the Eagles brought home their first championship in franchise history.

A team that no one predicted to even compete for a title this year, hoisted the Lombardi trophy on February 4. To spice up the pot even more, at center stage, a player that had been sidelined under the play of an MVP candidate, Nick Foles, held the Lombardi trophy in one hand and the game’s MVP in the other. Of course the Eagles are winners and truly earned it after an incredible season.

NFL Honors

AP Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints

Assistant Coach of the Year: Pat Shurmur, OC, Minnesota Vikings

Bridgestone Elite Performance Play of the Year: Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs “Minneapolis Miracle,” divisional round, Minnesota Vikings

FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year: Carson Wentz, QB,

Philadelphia Eagles and Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Deacon Jones Award: Chandler Jones, LB, Arizona Cardinals

Courtyard’s Greatness on the Road Award: Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Year: Philadelphia Eagles

Salute To Service Award: Andre Roberts, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers

The Losers

There is no hiding this. For the second year running, to no surprise, the Cleveland Browns are the biggest losers of the year. To be frank, 0-16 is down right deplorable. After a year prior that the team went 1-15, the make up of this season didn’t seem any better. Mid-season reports around the organization had suggested that the franchise was looking forward to upcoming draft and ending the season despite only being five games into the schedule. The Browns have a chance to change a few names and numbers on the jerseys this off season but don’t count on it holding any weight. There is no player that will magically turn the tide for the team. The culture is now stuck in conundrum that leaves their fan base with more questions of doubt than accolades to take pride in.

How the Browns are going down the road in the future, the next generation of Browns fans will be Bengals fans, not like that is any better. Changes have to be made from the top if players are going to rally and motivate themselves. Something is going to have to change in Cleveland if change for the good is to come. For a franchise that has lost so much it has to believe in something first to fight for.

NFL Final Standings

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. New Orleans Saints
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Minnesota Vikings
8. Los Angeles Rams
9. Carolina Panthers
10. Green Bay Packers
11. Los Angeles Chargers
12. Houston Texans
13. Seattle Seahawks
14. San Francisco 49ers
15. Tennessee Titans
16. Kansas City Chiefs
17. Baltimore Ravens
18. Detroit Lions
19. Buffalo Bills
20. Dallas Cowboys
21. Oakland Raiders
22. Washington Redskins
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
24. Chicago Bears
25. Cincinnati Bengals
26. Miami Dolphins
27. New York Giants
28. Arizona Cardinals
29. Denver Broncos
30. New York Jets
31. Indianapolis Colts
32. Cleveland Browns

Class of 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees

Brian Urlacher

NFL

Ray Lewis

Terrell Owens

Randy Moss

Brian Dawkins

Robert Brazile

 

 

This year of football is in the history books. The off-season will guide us to a new year as questions mount for the future. What will come the NFL Draft? Will Colin Kaepernick play on a team next year? Will the NFL and NFLPA come to a solution to keep the league open? Fortunately, 2017 was all the glitz and glamour and also the grit and grime of our world. Despite records showing a drop in viewership for the league, those problems don’t come from the sport specifically. The NFL is a dynamic league that grows each and every year. A few policy changes and rule adjustments should get the NFL back in shape. Above all, for longtime dedicated fans, 2017 was a year to remember but also a foundation for what 2018 has to come.

 

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NFL divisional playoffs picks

NFL divisional playoffs preview and picks

We were fortunate enough to get four reasonably competitive games to kick off the NFL playoffs last week. You can check out last week’s picks here.

For this week’s divisional playoffs, games will be picked both straight up and against the spread. Outright upsets have an asterisk. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Postseason record- 3-1

Postseason record against the spread- 2-2

Saturday

Falcons at Eagles – For the first time since the NFL adopted its current playoff format, a sixth seed is favorite over a home standing top seed. This is not without merit though. Without Carson Wentz, the Eagles are just another average to below-average football team. In the final two games of the regular season, Philadelphia’s offense accounted for a grand total of 13 points, and the team as a whole was pushed around for long stretches by the non-playoff bound Cowboys and Raiders.

The above paragraph is not a good recipe for taking on the Falcons at the moment. Atlanta needed to win as much as humanly possible late in the regular season to keep its playoff hopes alive. The sudden death nature of the NFL playoffs changed nothing for them last week. They have been in that situation for almost 2 months.

Reigning MVP Matt Ryan and the offense are not quite the juggernaut they were last year, but they are still very good. What has sparked Atlanta’s late-season run as much as anything is defense. The Falcons have not surrendered more than 24 points in a game since Week 11. This includes holding the top-ranked scoring offense to just 13 points last week. If all the offense has to do is score in the high 20s, this team is tough to beat.

Apart from winning a shootout with the lowly Giants, the Eagles offense has not gotten anywhere close to the high 20s with backup quarterbacks since the injury to Wentz. Philadelphia’s defense is pretty good and has stood on its head in recent weeks to keep the Eagles in games. Thus, this will not be a blowout.

However, one of these teams is quarterbacked by Matt Ryan and the other by Nick Foles. Sometimes, it is just that simple.

Winner: Atlanta

Good bet: Falcons (-3) Atl 21 Phi 13

Titans at Patriots – Tennessee did a great job of making a few plays to pull off the big upset in Kansas City last week. However, that result had more to do with Kansas City’s collapse. If New England has a double-digit lead, whoever is playing running back will get the ball a lot more than 11 or 12 times.

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from USA Today

You can’t help but be impressed with the resilience and toughness of Tennessee. That roster is not good enough to get to this point on talent alone. Different guys have stepped up for them all year long. Last week, it was Marcus Mariota playing with his head on a swivel to complete a touchdown pass to himself and Derrick Henry rushing for 156 yards in the absence of backfield mate DeMarco Murray that made the difference.

However, the Titans lack the firepower to really make the Patriots nervous in a playoff game. At this point, nothing more can be said about the greatness of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They are 25-9 in playoff games. Moreover, only three of those nine losses have been at home. Tennessee will keep this close for a while with solid fundamental football, but New England will pull away late.

Winner: New England

Good bet: Patriots (-13) NE 34 Ten 20

Sunday

Jaguars at Steelers – Vegas is showing great restraint by making the Steelers only a seven-point favorite here. With the way the Jacksonville passing offense has looked for the last month, a double-digit spread would have been perfectly reasonable.

However, the Jacksonville defense has shut down some very good offenses this year. The Jaguars went in to Pittsburgh early in the year and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times in a route.

Also, there is more than one way to look at the performance of Blake Bortles last week. It is easy to say he threw for just 87 yards and therefore was completely awful, or you can commend him for his 88 rushing yards and ability to make enough plays for his team to win, even though he did not play very well.

Not very many people have subscribed to the second school of thought leading up to this game, but I am one of them. With a great supporting cast around him, Bortles is fine. Other than one or two games, Jacksonville has had no problem scoring points this year. Almost every offense is going to get shut down at least once or twice a year, no matter who the quarterback is.

Jacksonville is too good to get blown out. Any team that leads the league in rushing offense, as well as several defensive categories, is capable of going anywhere and beating anyone. However, Roethlisberger getting Antonio Brown back will be the difference in this one. Even if Brown is not fully healthy, his presence alone gives the vaunted Jacksonville defense another thing to worry about on a loaded Steelers offense.

Winner: Pittsburgh

Good Bet: Jaguars (+7) Pit 27 Jac 24

Saints at Vikings – No team was more impressive than New Orleans last week. All year, the Saints had done most of their damage by running the ball with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Carolina held that duo to under 50 combined rushing yards. The Saints still managed to win. Drew Brees showed us all why he is going to the Hall of Fame someday.

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from si.com

Unless there is a truly dominant team, whoever wins the Super Bowl has to find a way to win a game or two where its best stuff is not working. There is no dominant NFL team this year, and that is exactly what the Saints did last week.

This week, the task is a little bit tougher as New Orleans goes on the road to face another very stout defensive unit in Minnesota. The vast majority of Minnesota’s success this year has come from backups, castoffs and other spare parts. Mike Zimmer and his staff have done an incredible job of getting the most out of Case Keenum. Keenum has nearly doubled his career touchdown passes this season. However, much like the other NFC matchup this weekend, it is foolish not to take the established star quarterback over the journeyman in playoff football.

Winner: New Orleans

Good Bet: *Saints (+ 5.5) NO 27 Min 20

 

Featured image from chiefs.com

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NFL Wild Card Weekend

NFL Wild Card weekend preview and picks

The NFL playoffs are here, and the road to Super Bowl LII kicks into overdrive this weekend. For the 12 teams who still have championship dreams, the slate is wiped clean and everyone is 0-0 again. The same goes for people like me who picked games throughout the regular season.

Throughout the playoffs, games will be picked against the spread as well as straight up. Outright upsets have an asterisk. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Saturday

Titans at Chiefs – Even though these are both playoff teams, they are trending in opposite directions. After a bizarre midseason slump, Kansas City finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak to claim their second straight division title. Andy Reid’s team put up at least 26 points in all of those games.

The Chiefs finished the regular season looking like the team that dominated the league in the first month of the season. Alex Smith may have limitations as a quarterback, but this is an offense that has done a great job taking care the football all year long and knows that getting the ball to playmakers like rushing champion Kareem Hunt is the winning formula.

NFL Wild Card Weekend

(Photo from faketeams.com)

The Titans did just enough to squeak into the playoffs despite losing three of their last four games with the offense accounting for 15 points or less in two of those games. Defense does tend to win football games this time of year, and Tennessee has a good one.

But the offense has to be at least average. The Titans offense hasn’t been anywhere near average since November. For that reason, there are reports that head coach Mike Mularkey may still be on the hot seat despite the playoff berth.

Arrowhead Stadium is a very tough place to play. However, Kansas City’s home playoff track record is worrisome. They have not won a home playoff game since the early 90s. In order to continue that trend, the Titans defense will have to play a nearly perfect game. Given the quality of opponent, that is a tall order.

Winner: Kansas City

Good bet: Chiefs (-8.5) KC 28 Ten 17

Falcons at Rams – The scene of a late afternoon/early evening playoff game in Los Angeles will be a beautiful backdrop as two high-powered offenses battle it out. The Rams have been the more consistent team all year long, but this is uncharted territory for this mostly young football team, including coaching sensation Sean McVay.

This team has been in such a good rhythm all year long. Thus, the decision to rest most starters last week is a risky one. A rusty first half this week likely means the end of a magical season for Los Angeles.

Additionally, the kicking unit has struggled a bit since the injury to kicker Greg Zuerlein. Things like that often have a way of rearing their head when it really matters.

Atlanta is one of few teams that can keep up with the Rams top ranked scoring offense. Additionally, the Falcons have been in must win situations for weeks. So, playoff pressure should not change much for them. Most of the Falcons’ main pieces were a part of last year’s playoff run, which was very good, other than the ending. The playoffs are a different animal and experience is invaluable.

Winner: Atlanta

Good bet: *Falcons (+6.5) Atl 34 LAR 31

Sunday

Bills at Jaguars – It has not always been pretty for these two teams, but they both deserve a ton of credit for getting here and breaking long playoff droughts. This is the simplest game of the week to size up.

As much heat as Blake Bortles gets, the Jacksonville offense ranks fifth in scoring. The scoreboard is all that matters. That is one of few offensive stats worth paying attention to. Make no mistake, Jacksonville’s identity is running the ball with Leonard Fournette and playing defense, but the quarterback is not a major liability.

As for Buffalo, they needed a huge assist from the lowly Bengals to reach the playoffs. Their best offensive weapon is running back LeSean McCoy. Even if the six-time Pro Bowler can somehow go from being carted off to playing in a playoff game in the span of a week, it is impossible for him to be 100 percent.

The Buffalo offense ranks 22nd in scoring with a healthy McCoy. How in the world can this team go on the road and compete against a defense that has been the best in football in several categories all year long? The short answer is that they probably can’t.

NFL Wild Card Weekend

(Photo from zambio.com)

Winner: Jacksonville

Good Bet: Jaguars (-8.5) Jac 24 Buf 10

Panthers at Saints – On a rare occasion, division rivals meet for the third time in one season in the playoffs. It is tough to predict a winner. These teams know each other so well, and there is nothing one team can do to surprise the other.

If quarterback play is as important as it is often made out to be, the Saints will reach the Super Bowl. Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the NFC playoffs by far. Brees is the future Hall of Famer. The fact that New Orleans found a legal two-headed monster at running back and a solid defense to pair up with him this year is almost unfair.

Carolina is similar to New Orleans. Cam Newton has been nowhere near his MVP form of two years ago, but he has played good complementary football to go with a versatile group of running backs and a good defense all year long.

It is very hard to beat the same NFL team three times in the same season. The opportunity does not present itself all that often. New Orleans has won both matchups with Carolina this year fairly convincingly. Even so, Carolina is here for a reason and this meeting will be much closer.

There is not much that separates these two teams. The defenses are both easily in the top half of the league in most categories. Also, although they accomplish it differently, both teams rely heavily on the ground game. The one thing that jumps out is that Brees has half the number of interceptions Newton does. Turnovers decide the vast majority of football games from preseason to the playoffs. Moreover, New Orleans has the most basic advantage of all, which is playing at home.

Winner: New Orleans

Good bet: Panthers (+6.5) NO 27 Car 24

 

Featured image from nflodysseyonline.com

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