On Tuesday the Philadelphia Eagles released running back Ryan Mathews. The oft-injured back finally passed his physical and was able to return to play after a herniated disc injury to his neck suffered in the season finale against the New York Giants. By waiting until he was healthy enough to play then cutting him, the Eagles saved the injury settlement they would’ve had to pay if they had cut him before he was healthy. Releasing Mathews will free over four million in cap space. This would have been the final year of his three-year/$11 million deal.
Last season Mathews had 661 yards rushing with eight touchdowns and 115 yards receiving in 13 games. Injuries proved to be his downfall in Philadelphia as they had with his previous team, San Diego. The Fresno State product has suffered a litany of injuries in his seven years in the NFL and derailed what could have been a promising career.
With Mathews out of the picture, former New England Patriots running back Legarrette Blount will take over the role of lead running back in Philadelphia. Those of you who have followed my work know I have never been a fan of Mathews due to the fact that he underachieved on the field and spent too much time on the trainers table off the field. Aside from the 2013 season (in which he accumulated 1,255 yards and received a Pro Bowl nod) he hasn’t played a full sixteen games; including his stint in Philadelphia. Looks like I was right about this one.
Buyer beware when considering this man…
The Greg One
Free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III worked out with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, igniting talk throughout the league, TV and social media. That visit came and went with little fanfare. The most that was reported was that the visit went ‘well’ and was ‘positive’. Not exactly ringing endorsements.
On Wednesday, the news broke that the Chargers have traded a conditional late round draft pick (7th) to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in the 2016 NFL Draft. This could be a game-changing move for the second team to move into Los Angeles in as many years.
Unless you watched the last game of the Buffalo Bills 2016 season, (I thought not), the last time we saw Jones he was holding up the first NCAA National Championship playoffs trophy as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the first season the NCAA went to a playoff system in the 2014-2015 season, Jones led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win over Alabama and defeated a Marcus Mariota-led Oregon Ducks team to win the championship.
In the 2015-16 season he was named a co-starter with J.T. Barrett. That season he had almost as many rushing attempts (153) as passing attempts (167). Ohio State won all 11 games in which Jones had a role in quarterbacking the team.
Jones was literally the last man up in what was an Ohio State quarterback carousel and he led the Buckeyes through the final three games of the season, including the NCAA playoffs. Playing behind J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, Jones led OSU to a 59-0 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers leading into the playoffs. Take a look at the clip below for a refresher of how that season culminated.
Jones is the epitome of a ‘raw’ talent. At 6’5″-inches tall and 250 pounds he is a dynamic playmaker who can throw the ball a mile and move the ball with his legs. At the combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds, impressive for a man his size. He ran the ball 153 times for 617 yards and passed for 2,323 yards on 167 completions out of 270 attempts.
What led to his acquisition by the Los Angeles Chargers is his familiarity with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Last season, Lynn was the man calling the plays as the interim head coach in the Bills’ season finale. The Bills had fired head coach Rex Ryan the week before. That was the one game Jones played as a Bills quarterback, playing the final quarter after starter E.J. Manuel was benched due to poor performance. In the game. Jones went 6-11 for 96 yards and an interception.
Lynn thought highly enough of Jones from watching his scout team reps and practice habits to convince the front office to trade for him. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jones cried tears of joy upon being informed he had been traded. The Bills signed a free agent quarterback and drafted a quarterback this offseason, most likely leaving Jones as the odd man out. In L.A., he will get meaningful reps and could land as high as the number two quarterback on the depth chart if he plays to expectations.
Excited for the new start, can’t wait to get to work @Chargers ⚡️
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) July 26, 2017
Jones will be joining former teammates Joshua Perry and Joey Bosa. Undoubtedly they will be excited to welcome Jones to the Chargers. What do you think? Do you like this signing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Late Monday afternoon, an interesting pair of tweets came through the Twitter timeline of ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter regarding the Los Angeles Chargers and a certain woebegone quarterback.
RGIII scheduled to work out Tuesday for LA Chargers, per league source. Been training in Florida with former Browns asst. Pep Hamilton.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
Tuesday’s workout with Chargers will be Robert Griffin III’s first team visit this off-season. Had another visit lined up but cancelled it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
With training camp only a couple weeks away, it looks like the Chargers are taking the time to look at upgrading their quarterback situation. On Tuesday, July 25, the Los Angeles Chargers will bring in former superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III in for a workout. Bringing Griffin in is a no-risk proposition. Right now, the Chargers backup quarterbacks are Kellen Clemens, 2016 undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici and 2017 undrafted free agent Eli Jenkins.
Griffin exploded onto the NFL scene as the number two overall selection of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Baylor. His electrifying play caused many sleepless nights for opposing defenses and defensive coordinators as he looked to be the second coming of Michael Vick. He had a rocket for an arm and scintillating speed for a quarterback.
Griffins’ play catapulted him to the 2012 Rookie of the Year award and led the Redskins into the playoffs. A right knee injury suffered in the playoffs ended the Redskins hopes and Griffins’ career went into freefall immediately thereafter. After reconstructive knee surgery, and multiple other injuries Griffin slowly lost grip on his starting role to present Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and was released at the end of the 2015 season.
The Cleveland Browns added Griffin to their roster on a two-year, $15 million deal. A shoulder injury landed the veteran on the injured reserve list after only five games. The Browns cut Griffin on March 10, 2017.
With all the talk of out-of-work quarterbacks centered on Colin Kaepernick, Griffin has been almost completely off the radar. This is the first signs of interest he Griffin has had aside from the aforementioned cancelled visit with an unnamed team. At this point, Griffin has no leverage and will have to exist onveteran minimum, one- or two-year ‘prove-it’ deals until he can show he can still play and last a season without getting injured.
What do you think of the Chargers bringing in Griffin for a workout? Should they sign him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman has always been generous with his thoughts whether we want him to be or not. The Stanford-educated All-Pro is back on his pulpit once again to encourage NFL players to go on strike. The reason: Money. Of course, it’s always money. This time the money they seek comes in the form of fully guaranteed contracts.
A bit of jealousy has emerged from NFL players after seeing the kind of money that has been doled out to NBA players during the current free agency signing period. Most notably, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors just became the first NBA player to cross the $200 million dollar mark when he signed a five-year deal worth $201 million dollars.
Listen to Shermans’ take on the subject in the clip below:
NBA players signed deals worth close to one billion dollars in the first 24 hours of the NBA free agent signing period. Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward recently signed a four-year/$128 million dollar deal with the Boston Celtics. Kevin Durant took less than maximum money so the Golden State Warriors could bring back free agents and he still fetched a two-year deal worth $53 million dollars. Point guard Kyle Lowry re-signed with the Toronto Raptors on a three-year/$100 million deal.
Deals like these have NFL players green with envy and Sherman isn’t the only one letting their jealousy air in social media.
All the players see are dollar signs. There are plenty of good reasons fully guaranteed contracts wouldn’t work in the NFL. The main reason is the physical pounding is not comparable on any level. The injury risk is infinitely higher in a full-contact sport like pro football compared to the NBA where even hand-checking a player is grounds for a foul. The NBA doesn’t have the violent collisions the NFL has on every play.
The next big reason is the sheer size of the leagues. In the 2016-17 NBA season had a total of 449 players on the opening day roster. There is a minimum 12 to a maximum of 15 total players on an NBA team. Compare that to the 53-man rosters (plus a five-man practice squad) of the 32 NFL teams and now you’re talking nearly 1,700 players, not counting the practice squad players. That’s literally four times the size of the NBA and now everybody gets a guaranteed contract?
If the NBA were the size of the NFL there wouldn’t be guaranteed contracts there either. Those guarantees would wreck the ability of a team to re-sign players or sign replacements when one of those high-dollar players get injured. Small-market teams would be forced to fold because large-market teams with huge bankrolls and multiple revenue streams could outbid them. The NFL would contract because the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans of the world would not be able to afford to stay in business.
Sherman says the only way to get guaranteed contracts is to strike. Players have to be willing to give up game checks to make it happen. Will the rookies be willing to pass up their prime years to get it? Would mid-level players who won’t break the bank be willing to do it? There is a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots in the NFL and fully guaranteed contracts won’t bridge that gap for them.
Enjoy the upcoming season, if we have one. If Richard Sherman gets his way, there will be a long, cold winter without football if players decide to unite on this matter.
What do you think? Ludicrous or long overdue?
The Greg One
The stalemate between the Pittsburgh Steelers and franchise running back Le’Veon Bell continues with no signs of progress. Bell has yet to sign his one-year franchise tender worth a cool $12.1 million dollars. From the looks of things, the mercurial all-purpose running back seems willing to bet on himself in hopes of securing a fat, long-term deal in free agency next summer.
According to numerous reports, the Steelers are willing to make the 25-year old Bell the richest running back in the league with a deal averaging $10 million per year. Bell wants more in the ballpark of what he’ll make this year, per year. Which side will budge first?
The answer will come by Monday, July 17. That date is the deadline for the Steelers to lock Bell into a long-term contract. If the deal does not get done, the franchise tender goes into effect and both sides would have to do this contract dance again next season. If the Steelers decide to franchise Bell for a second year, it would be at a 20% pay raise so Bell would make over $14 million. If not, he will enter the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Without a signed deal in place, Bell can wait until a few days before the start of the regular season to appear and still get paid in full. What player wouldn’t love the idea of skipping all of training camp knowing they won’t get fined? He has yet to appear at any team function while the contract game of chicken plays out.
From the Steelers standpoint, they have reason to be cautious. Bell has an injury history that can’t be ignored. He has only played a full 16 games only once in his four seasons. Ankle injuries have kept him off the field on numerous occasions. A groin injury occurred at the most inopportune time, in the midst of their playoff run, last season. The now surgically-repaired groin is reportedly back to full strength.
They are also taking note of the pounding he’s already taken. Bell has already logged 908 carries and 227 receptions in his short career. Given the shelf life for an NFL running back is averaging a paltry 3.1 years, could this be the beginning of Bells’ decline? Lest we forget he has had two violations of the NFL Substance Abuse policy, the latest indiscretion cost him the first three games of the 2016-17 season.
From Bells’ standpoint, the numbers don’t lie. Over 1100 touches have accounted for over 4,000 yards rushing and over 2,000 yards receiving and 31 touchdowns. Two-time Pro Bowler. Two-time All-Pro. He is clearly one of the top five running backs in the league and he deserves to be paid as such.
We’ll see who wins this tug-of-war soon enough but whose side are you on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
News out of the AFC West has seemed to dominate the NFL headlines this week. Part of it is due to the fact the league is at it’s quietest point of the entire year as this is the space in time between the end of OTA’s and the start of official training camp. Players and coaches are taking time away leaving only a light drizzle of news to satiate the football-hungry masses.
On Thursday, the Oakland Raiders announced the long-term deal of quarterback Derek Carr at 5-years/$125 million. Also on Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs announced they had extended Head Coach Andy Reid for five more years. (Terms undisclosed). Additionally, the Chiefs announced they had parted ways with General Manager John Dorsey.
In the opposite world that is Kansas City, the timing seems to be odd. The Chiefs are enjoying their best success in recent memory as they have made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and won the AFC West last season with a 12-4 record. Their Wild Card round playoff win over the Houston Texans last season was their first playoff win in 22 seasons.
Why let the GM, who has been the architect of that success, go now? Usually the Head Coach is shown the door before the GM or they are let go simultaneously so the new GM isn’t stuck with a coach he doesn’t like.
Whether Dorsey was fired or whether it was a mutual decision seems to be dependent on who you ask but the answer will be evident if Dorsey accepts another front office position within the next season or two. Regardless, his stamp on the team will resonate for many seasons hence as the young players he’s drafted mature.
Eyes will be on the Chiefs to see if they can maintain their recent success without Dorsey and what will become of the Chiefs’ bold move to trade up (from slot 27 to 10) in the 2017 NFL Draft in order to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The end to quiet time could be coming to an end sooner than we think… Can the Chiefs maintain and stay at the top of the AFC West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
New York Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. plans on sitting out offseason training activities while waiting on a new contract. This season, Beckham is scheduled to make $1.8 million. The 12th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Beckham is finally able to talk money with the organization as he heads into his fourth season on the team. Under his current deal, he is the 64th highest paid receiver in football.
The problem for Beckham is the Giants have all the leverage in the situation. He is locked in to playing for $1.8 million this season. They will certainly pick up his fifth-year option since he was a first round pick. The fifth-year option will pay the average of the third though 25th players selected in his draft year (approximately $8.5 million). For the record, the wide receivers that fall into that category are Sammy Watkins (selected 4th), Mike Evans (7th) and Brandin Cooks (20th).
Beckham is, whether he likes it or not, locked in for the next two seasons at $10.3 million. Even after the next two seasons are over, the Giants could franchise tag their franchise player for two more seasons. The risk is having a player who is already at the top of the list when you think of NFL divas turning into a complete malcontent and disruption in the locker room.
In addition, players around the league will be watching this situation to see how the Giants’ front office conducts their business. For all the drama and hype Beckham brings, there is no question he is one of the first names you think of when you list the best wide receivers in the NFL today. If the Giants aren’t willing to pay a bona fide superstar what he’s worth, why would a free agent consider going there?
The only recourse Beckham has is to sacrifice his pocketbook. While reports indicate he will be present at mandatory training camp, if he is truly adamant in his desire to get a new long-term deal this year he must sit out indefinitely. The outcry from the fans and local media has worked in the past but what resonates more is when the absence affects wins and losses. If Beckham stays home after the season begins his absence will directly impact wins and losses. The more they lose, the more pressure the front office will feel to get him in house.
Despite his paltry NFL salary, Beckham won’t be hurting for money. He already is a well-known pitchman for Head & Shoulders, Foot Locker and Lenovo. In May, he signed a massive endorsement deal with Nike for five-years/$25 million with the potential to reach eight-years/$48 million if certain benchmarks are met.
In the end, the logical scenario if for the Giants to acquiesce and pay Beckham like the legitimate superstar he’s become. To draw out his big mulit-year payday will only hurt the franchise in the long- and short-term. Without a deal, Beckham will most likely feel extremely disrespected and that feeling is likely to manifest itself on the field.
To nickel-and-dime Beckham will reflect badly not only to potential free agents but to the players on the roster now. How will Sterling Shepherd feel when his time comes? How will the other leaders on the team feel when it is time to talk extension if the Beckham saga drags on for the next four seasons?
We all know how great a receiver Beckham is and so do the Giants. Keeping him on the cheap is good business until it hurts your business. The right thing to do (which is why it probably won’t happen) is to follow the iconic words of Teddy KGB from the movie Rounders and…
The Greg One
On Thursday, the New England Patriots officially extended the contract of wide receiver Julian Edelman. The nine-year veteran received a two-year, $11 million dollar deal with $9 million in guarantees, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. This season was the last of his current contract. Edelman would’ve been a free agent next offseason and possibly could have been able to earn more money on the open market.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) June 8, 2017
Adding to @RapSheet on Edelman: $5m signing bonus and $4m in reachable incentives. So two years, $15m max.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 8, 2017
The Patriots are loading up at wide receiver for another Super Bowl run. Add Edelman, 31, to new addition Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola and Tom Brady will have no shortage of playmakers out wide. By the way, Rob Gronkowski is fully healthy and participating in all team workouts.
The Evil Empire of the NFL is only getting better….
The Greg One
Earlier this offseason, the NFL decided to eliminate the middle roster cutdown from 90 players to 75 players. With only one mass cutdown from the 90-man roster to the 53-man squad that will kickoff the season, news of roster cuts will come fast and furious. Every year, players we thought would live on with their current teams get unexpectedly cut and this year is no different.
Last weekend, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin became the first big name player to get the June axe. Maclin had only finished the second season of the five-year/$55 million contract. The 29-year old Maclin is currently unsigned but has made visits to Buffalo and Batimore. So far, he hasn’t agreed to terms with either team.
Money is the key factor in Maclins’ case. How much will a team be willing to pay? This season, Maclin was set to make over $9 million with Kansas City and he may be looking for similar numbers. Last season he suffered from numerous injuries resulting in four games missed completely and a precipitous drop in stats from his first season in KC. His catches were halved (from 87 to 44), his yardage was halved (from 1,088 to 536) and touchdowns dropped 75% (from 8 to 2).
The New York Jets made news this week when they announced wide receiver Eric Decker would be traded or released. The move leaves the Jets receiving corps with no veteran presence as the longest-tenured Jets receiver award goes to Quincy Enunwa with a whopping two seasons of service.
Decker has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries. The Baltimore Ravens are again in the mix for Decker and reports indicate they are willing to work out a trade if Maclin opts to play elsewhere. Decker missed all but three games last season after going under the knife for two surgeries to repair a torn labrum in his hip and a torn rotator cuff.
While they were in the veteran cutting mood, the Jets also decided to cut locker room leader David Harris. The middle linebacker was the longest-tenured Jets player with ten seasons under his belt. He leaves New York as the second-most prolific tackler in Jets history with a whopping 1,260 tackles. He led the Jets in tackles for nine of his ten seasons in Kelly Green, including last season.
Harris also compiled 37 sacks, six interceptions, eleven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Originally drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris wants to keep playing but is considering retirement. The Jets will save over $13 million in salary and cap space once Harris and Decker are off the payroll.
On Wednesday, the Baltimore Ravens announced veteran tight end Dennis Pitta has been released. Per ESPN, Pitta is currently still hospitalized after suffering a dislocated hip during practice this past Friday. Per an injury waiver clause in Pitta’s most recent contract, the team does not owe him any more money. The hip injury is Pittas’ third since 2013.
These are the first pebbles to fall in what will soon become an avalanche of veteran free agent roster moves. Would you like to see any of these players on your favorite team? Who is next on the chopping block? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Finally, a rule change has come out of the NFL Owners meetings that we can all get behind. As of Tuesday, the league has removed the ‘no celebrations’ rule. With a few exceptions, players are allowed to once again celebrate their epic moments on the field with their best dance moves.
Not only can players do a choreographed bit, they can use the football as a prop and celebrate on the ground. Bring on breakdancing, moonwalking and the ‘Fun Bunch’ (for all the old school readers, google it millennials…) type of celebrations.
Gimme ALL of that…
It’s about damn time!
Perhaps it’s a mea culpa for the idiocy of shortening overtime but it will be fun to watch and see what players come up with because you know they’re probably already rehearsing new moves as you read this. There were 29 celebration penalties last season. In the end, their attempt speed up the game by filtering emotion from the game only slowed the game down to a crawl, drawing the ire of teams and fans in the process.
It isn’t going to be a complete free-for-all, however. There are still a few restrictions. These celebrations must be done in a timely fashion such as not to interfere with the flow of the game. No overtly suggestive or sexual celebrations will be allowed. Looking at you Antonio Brown (twerking) and Marshawn Lynch (midair crotch-grabbing). No celebrations can be directed at an opponent or a taunting penalty will ensue.
Oddly enough, this change in stance on celebrations may make the game better. What’s better to fire up a defense that has been sleepwalking through a game than seeing the other team dancing in their end zone? Any self-respecting defense will take that moneymaker-shaking as a personal affront and next series they would be more likely to play with their hair on fire, thus giving the fans a better game.
I love it! What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One