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
When wide receiver Travis Benjamin was acquired during the 2016 free-agency period, Chargers fans everywhere were immediately excited.
Formerly with the Cleveland Browns, Benjamin displayed scorching speed and an ability to take the top off of opposing defenses, despite having a plethora of quarterbacks slinging him the rock.
His addition to the Chargers’ receiving corps was a coup, as the team already featured No. 1 wideout Keenan Allen, veteran Stevie Johnson, an up-and-comer in Tyrell Williams, a serviceable option in Dontrelle Inman and tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. The team also had Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield, along with Melvin Gordon, as well. (Woodhead has since moved on to the Baltimore Ravens while Johnson remains unsigned)
It goes without saying, the team made sure that the weapons surrounding veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers were plentiful, but then, well, you know what happened: the injury bug decided that it would make the Bolts’ last season in San Diego much like the last several, injury-riddled.
Allen went down in the first game of the regular season after making Marcus Peters look like a 38-year-old Booga Peters (I can’t cover the bread with jelly, much less an NFL receiver the caliber of No. 13). This put more pressure on the rest of the pass-catchers, including Benjamin.
The Chargers and general manager Tom Telesco were aggressive in securing the addition of the former Miami Hurricane during the 2016 offseason, signing him to a lucrative four-year, $24 million contract, with a $5 million signing bonus while $13 million was received in guaranteed money.
Well, 47 receptions with 677 receiving yards and four touchdowns later, and, why not, some injury issues, the speedy receiver finished the 2016 campaign with underwhelming numbers.
I have no doubt that Benjamin would agree with me on that.
Moving on to this offseason and preparations for 2017.
With the team’s 2017 first-round selection (former Clemson WR Mike WIlliams) possibly being placed on reserve-injured for the season, and the uncertainty of whether or not KA13 can stay healthy for an entire season, the Chargers’ offense needs Benjamin to be in tip-top shape.
According to his words on the team’s official website, he’s feeling good, and ready to get out there and display his full playmaking ability.
“It feels good to be myself,” Benjamin told Chargers.com. “This whole offseason I was being myself in the weight room. Being myself while rehabbing. Now I’m being myself on the field. I wanted to come back stronger and showcase my talent. Just make sure I’m the best I can be during training camp.”
If Benjamin is in fact healthy and himself, as he mentions above, he adds a dynamic element that the Bolts haven’t had for quite some time.
Do not forget, Benjamin tied for the league-lead in plays over 40 yards… with Tyrell Williams.
He is an electric runner with the ball in his hands, able to outrun most players in the NFL, and his route-running is criminally underrated.
Stat Prediction for Travis Benjamin in 2017:
64 receptions for 981 yards and six touchdowns
Should Benjamin live up to the contract he signed and the expectations of the organization and fans, we could all be witness to some of the most explosive, game-changing plays of the 2017 season.
Needless to say, there are quite a few folks who are hoping for just that; while others, not so much.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth USA Today
One of the biggest questions Chargers fans may have as the team heads into the 2017 season is who will be the team’s No. 1 tight end.
Will it be future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates or second-year phenom Hunter Henry?
The reality is that this isn’t truly a question.
The team which formerly called San Diego home (and trust me, I know how much that still upsets the fanbase) has two stellar men at that position.
Do they switch roles this year? Many anticipate that Henry will become quarterback Philip Rivers’ primary tight end entering the 2017 season.
Antonio Gates has been the stalwart, quintessential and reliable man at tight end who Rivers has been tossing the pigskin to for the last 13 years. Gates signed a two-year contract extension in the 2015 offseason and this year, 2017, may just be the final one in which we will be able to enjoy watching those No. 17-to-No. 85 lobs downfield.
After all, Gates turned 37 years old in June. At age 22, Henry is 15 years his junior and considerably more limber than Gatesy. Both give Rivers big targets in the open field, as Gates is 6’4″ and 255 pounds while Henry is a bit taller at 6’6″ though not as heavy at 248 pounds.
Gates was two years older than Henry when he began his rookie campaign in 2003. Henry started at age 21 and didn’t turn 22 until this past December.
Gates’ rookie stats per NFL.com: 15 games with 24 receptions for 389 yards — 19 of those catches went for first downs while two were touchdowns. He averaged 25.9 yards per game.
Here are Henry’s rookie stats, also per NFL.com: throughout the same number of games, there were 36 grabs totaling 478 yards with the majority of those (30) going for first downs. He tallied eight touchdowns and his average yards per game was 31.9.
Despite a solid rookie campaign filled with the flashes of greatness Henry displayed while at Arkansas, the youngster did have one negative play that we’re all sure he will use to help avoid it happening again: the fumble.
That fumble came late in the Bolts’ final 1:02 against the Indianapolis Colts last September, as Rivers and the offense were battling back from a four-point deficit. At 2nd-and-11 from the Chargers’ own 24-yard line, No.17 throws to No.86. As Henry approaches the 40-yard line the ball is popped out of his grasp by Colts safety Clayton Geathers and fellow safety Mike Adams recovers, ultimately sealing the loss for the Chargers.
As mentor to Henry, the wily veteran Gates shared these words with the then-rookie as spoken to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com:
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he told Henry. “You were making a play and trying to make a bigger play. You were trying. If you weren’t trying, I’d have a problem with that. You played a hell of a game. Don’t let that take anything away from the game that you had. You played a hell of a game.”
Personally, I don’t see that the continued presence of Antonio Gates hampers Hunter Henry in any way. So long as Gates is wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, the wisdom he can impart to Henry (and the other tight ends on the roster) can only be seen as a positive for all involved.
After all, who wouldn’t want to learn from a future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame player, a teammate on the cusp of breaking the all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end? Absorb all that knowledge, put those tricks to practice. Because before you know it, the season will be over and that source could possibly be hanging up his cleats.
Looking forward to your thoughts!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The answer to the question in the title is no.
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
On Thursday the news broke that the Oakland Raiders had made their quarterback, Derek Carr, the highest-paid player in NFL history. The new deal is for five years and $125 million, a cool $25 million dollars per season. Carr will receive $40 million guaranteed at signing and $69 million guaranteed over the first three years of the deal.
The deal is a huge leap of faith for the Raiders but they feel they finally have their franchise quarterback in the fold. Quarterback has been the most glaring weakness of this team for almost two decades. The last time they had anyone that could be considered franchise quarterback quality would have been the Rich Gannon years from 1999-2004.
Carr is coming off of a breakout season in 2016 in which Oakland went 12-4. In his three seasons as Raiders quarterback, Carr has a 22-26 win-loss record and is barely over a 2.5-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio with 81 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
Now the league will be watching to see if Clast season was a fluke or if he truly is ascending to the elite level of NFL quarterbacks. He is certainly paid as if he is elite. To their credit, the Raiders have built a championship-caliber defense. The offense is taking shape with Carr, standout wide receiver Amari Cooper, veteran wideout Michael Crabtree and blossoming tight end Clive Walford as an impressive assortment of weapons for Carr. Add the newest addition in legendary running back Marshawn Lynch to bolster the running attack and you have a scary unit, at least on paper.
While Carr is the richest player in the league at the moment, it won’t last long. Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers are all in line for raises next offseason. Skill position players such as Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham Jr. will also be looking for mega-millions sooner than later.
What do you think? Was the the right move for the Raiders? 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
On Sunday, June 11, the Chargers locked up a clutch piece of their young up-and-coming defense in Melvin Ingram.
The former Gamecock signed a big four-year, $66 million deal, ending what could have been an annoying contractual standoff, and Chargers got it done far before the mid-July deadline.
As mentioned from the Chargers’ front office, both sides were eager to get a deal done and wasted no time agreeing on numbers. This proves to be very big for the Chargers because this means Melvin will be there for all of mini-camp and training camp.
On February 27 2017, the Chargers placed the always nagging Franchise Tag on Ingram, thinking it would take an extended amount of time to come to terms, but doing so in four months is extremely beneficial for both parties and to the chemistry of the defense.
Ingram was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft and was supposed to be a impact player right away. The South Carolina product had a slow rookie year and the next two seasons after that he only played in 13 games out of 32.
However, he bounced back his last two seasons, playing in all 32 games notching 18.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections and seven forced fumbles. He proved that, when on the field, he can play at a high level. He developed an early reputation his first couple of years as an “almost” player; almost getting sacks, almost affecting plays. But he has shown the past two seasons that he’s more than learned how to impact games and get to the quarterback more efficiently.
The drafting of Joey Bosa last year has helped him because teams must worry about not one explosive motor but now they must gameplan for two pass-rushing freaks of nature. The two didn’t get a chance to play together in all of the games cause of Bosa’s contract issues. During the 12 games the duo did play together in ’16, they combined for 18.5 sacks.
It is going to be really interesting to see how they fare with an entire offseason and season together. It seems they both complement each other well and, in that, their numbers will only get better. Ingram also was tied for 6th in the league with QB hurries (29) and producing a team-high 23 QB hits. That is pretty damn good for an “Almost player.”
The Bolts adding Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator means a switch from 3-4 to 4-3, meaning Ingram will have plenty of chances to knock opposing signal callers on their asses.
As a fan, we hate seeing big money contracts given out, especially because injuries can happen at any given time. But Ingram has earned it. Now, let’s see him terrorize offenses for a full 16 games, thus leading the team formerly located in America’s finest city back to the postseason dance.
One more thing: can we possibly get Melvin to make a theme song for the Chargers going forward? I, for one, think it would be extremely dope! Maybe we can all ask him on twitter and get it going?!
There is a link below to one on Melvin’s tracks:
— Booga Peters (@BoogaPeters) June 1, 2017
Thanks for checking out my article. I appreciate all of y’all for doing so.