New York Giants
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
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
Andre Williams wasn’t left out in the cold too long, thankfully. Even better, no one tried to pick him up!
Williams re-joined the Bolts Tuesday. He was waived this past Saturday when the team had to promote tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. The roster moves were necessary because Antonio Gates was not going to see the field against the Colts and there had to be another body out there in addition to Hunter Henry and Sean McGrath.
The third-year back was initially claimed off waivers by the Chargers earlier this month after being released by the New York Giants. That signing occurred after change-of-pace back Branden Oliver was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in the preseason game in Minnesota.
Williams (6-foot, 220 lbs) was a fourth-round pick of the Giants in the 2014 draft. With the Giants having the likes of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Bobby Rainey and a couple other guys on hand, Williams just didn’t make the final roster cut. This preseason he managed to gain only 91 yards on 25 carries in three games. He was one of 11 running backs on the depth chart in 2015, managing only 257 yards on 88 carries with a lone TD.
Since entering the league, Williams has played in 32 games. He has rushed for 978 yards on 305 carries and scored eight touchdowns — 41 of those carries went for first downs while five were over 20 yards and two were over 40. He also hauled in 19 passes for 137 yards.
Williams is a former Boston College standout. He set a BC school record in 2010 when he made 42 rushing attempts in a single game when the Eagles played Syracuse in that season’s final game. Williams was one of six finalists for the Heisman Trophy in 2013, finishing fourth. That same year he was named the recipient of the Doak Walker Award, an honor given to the nation’s best running back.
Since being in San Diego, Williams hasn’t been in the mix. Things may change this week.
We’ll all just have to play the wait-and-see game.
Thanks for reading!
The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.
To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.
What’s a front office to do?
The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.
Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?
We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.
Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.
Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.
That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.
Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.
In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.
If only more players would follow his example….
I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.
Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.
It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.
I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.
However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.
One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.
To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.
What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…
Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?
After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.
I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.
The Greg One
The Chargers have brought in some experience and knowledge to the coaching staff, adding former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan as the linebackers coach. He replaces Joe Barry who left San Diego to become the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
Nolan comes to the Bolts with a rich coaching background. Most recently, he spent the last three seasons at the defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2012, he was able to improve the defensive from a 21st overall ranked unit to 9th in the league all while making an impressive playoff run.
The veteran coach has also spent some time with the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, and Miami Dolphins. He spent three seasons as the linebackers coach in Denver from 1989 to 1992 which he coached Simon Fletcher and Karl Mecklenburg; respectively some of the best linebackers in Denver team history. Additionally, Nolan was Denver’s defensive coordinator in 2009 when Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator.
During his stint from 1997 to 1999 in Washington, he was able to improve the defense to an overall 2nd ranked unit. It’s safe to say that he has a niche for building stout defenses.
Nolan comes to San Diego already familiarized with the current 3-4 base defense; he ran the same scheme last year in Atlanta. The transition should be relatively easy for the young and talented linebacker unit that he will inherit.
The Chargers ended the 2014 season as a top 10 ranked defense. Now the team looks to top the NFL with an experienced coaching staff guiding a stealthy defensive unit.