Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell upheld his four game suspension of New England Patriots Tom Brady for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal. There wasn’t a talking head on any network who thought Brady’s appeal of the initial ruling wouldn’t result in a reduction of games. In a move to be applauded, Gooddell forsook the man other NFL owners call the “assistant commish”, Robert Kraft, and stuck to his guns on his decision.
We’ve all been waiting to see if the league held its golden boy Brady to the same standard as all others when it comes to discipline. It’s ludicrous to think that Patriots equipment personnel deflate footballs of their own free will. The fact Brady destroyed the phone containing potentially damning evidence was all the Commish needed in upholding his suspension. No special treatment. No favors for his bestie Robert Kraft. Justice is served.
Of course, Brady will take the matter to federal court to try to clear his name and eliminate his four game ban. First, he has to get an injunction passed by a judge, putting the ban on hold until after the court process plays out. Of course he does. Instead of accepting defeat and taking his suspension like a man, he will surround himself with high priced lawyers and look for loopholes. Thankfully, getting an injunction isn’t as easy as it sounds. Brady has to prove he has a winnable case and the preceding adjudicator (Gooddell) missed key evidence that would’ve cleared his name. If he has such evidence, you’d think it would’ve been revealed by now.
The NFL is on solid footing. They have the Collective Bargaining Agreement, agreed to by the owners and players, giving the Commissioner the power to discipline and rule over these same cases. They have the Wells report, a 243-page investigation on the matter. Ted Wells is one of the nation’s best white collar trial lawyers and his findings were critical in the Richie Incognito bullying scandal of two years ago.
Karma is finally catching up with the Patriots but what does this have to do with the Chargers?
It has everything to do with the Chargers. San Diego will be looking to supplant the Denver Broncos and win the AFC West. If they can do so they will likely be competing with the Patriots for a potential first round bye. Even if the bolts don’t win the west, this season the team looks deeper than they have in years. If they can eliminate the distractions with contracts, relocation and keep injuries to a minimum they will post a double digit win total.
In their first four weeks, New England faces the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. Pittsburgh and Dallas are playoff-caliber teams and the Bills improved significantly over the offseason. That could be two losses that will be tough to make up for when fighting for a top seed in the playoffs.
San Diego faces the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in their first four games. That stretch of games could easily favor the Chargers given the advantage they have behind center. That leads to the question no one seems to be asking but everyone is wondering…
What if Brady’s replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, stinks out loud?
Garoppolo has thrown for 182 yards and one touchdown in his NFL career. His only playing time is when the game is out of hand and the opposition is already demoralized. Defenses are going to throw every disguise and Madden-esque blitz package they can think of at the second-year pro. What’s more, New England lost a lot of key components on defense. All-Pro cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandown Browner left for the Jets and Saints, respectively. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork found a new home with the Houston Texans. This is a team that will have to win by scoring lots of points because their defense will give up plenty of points.
Every team in the AFC East got better while the Patriots took a step back. Buffalo added one of the league’s leading rushers in trading for LeSean McCoy and signed wide receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Charles Clay and the aforementioned Richie Incognito to their offense. Miami signed the biggest name on the free agent market in nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins also added tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Greg Jennings to add punch to the offense.
Even the lowly New York Jets pulled Revis out of Belichick’s clutches, then added corners Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine. They signed Brandon Marshall, and running backs Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley to completely overhaul the offense. Offensive coordinator mastermind Chan Gailey will spearhead a revamped Jets attack who’s only glaring weakness is the quarterback.
The sledding was going to be rough for the Patriots if they had Brady for all 16 games. Now, the task becomes incrementally more daunting with a new quarterback for 25% of the season. Fending off the young guns is getting tougher by the year to the point where a team other than New England winning the AFC East isn’t laughable anymore. It’s closer to reality than we all think and my prediction is the Patriots will make the playoffs but as a wild card.
And that is a very good thing for the Chargers.
What do you think? Are the Patriots still the team to beat in the AFC or does time (and all the cheating) catch up to them this year? What do you think Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
Since late last week, the social media buzz has been ringing nonstop. Trades, re-signings, and various pick-ups have stunned the NFL and have given fans an entertaining start to free agency 2015. For Charger fans, the frenzy started when left tackle King Dunlap was re-signed. Since then, multiple players have also resigned and or joined the Bolts.
Entering the 2015 season, it was made very clear that the Tome Telesco had the most cap space available since taking over as general manager. The adjusted salary cap for this year is $142.98 million, leaving roughly $30 million of the cap unused.
So far, Telesco has locked up a total of 6 players: King Dunlap, Brandon Flowers, Orlando Franklin, Jacoby Jones, Trevor Robinson, and Ricardo Mathews. Knowing now who has already been secured, there seems to be a burning question as to how much cap space is left after recent contracts.
King Dunlap’s signing brought the cap space down to about $25 million. Brandon Flowers signed a 4-year, $36 million deal bringing the cap space now to a little more than $20 million. Now, Orlando Franklin was the heavy hitter signed from the Denver Broncos to a 5-year, $36 million dollar contract which brings the cap to roughly $16 million. Let’s not forget Jacoby Jones who signed a 2-year, $5.5 million dollar incentive which makes the cap space in the ball park of $14-15 million. That’s four impact players all locked up for 2015, with funds still available.
The last two players that were re-signed are backup center Trevor Robinson who signed a 2-year, $4.25 million and playing-time bonuses. Defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews signed a one-year deal estimating around $1 million.
We must not overlook that there have been some players released to free up some cap space. The Chargers cut guard Chad Rinehart, saving the team $3.25 million. Inside linebacker Reggie Walker was also released a few days ago, saving $1 million against the salary cap. With all these recent transactions, San Diego’s cap space should be approximately be in $16-17 million range.
Free agency isn’t over yet. It’s actually far from it. Telesco is still actively searching for aptitude, not big numbered headliner players who eat up cap dollars. Remember, the culture has shifted to obtaining quality over quantity. Don’t expect names like Ndamukong Suh or Mike Iupati to wear a blue and gold uniform, but don’t hope for a player like Vince Wilfork. The biggest sore spot in 2014, the offensive, has already been tremendously been upgraded. Moving forward, Charger fans should not get discouraged for this is only the beginning. In addition to free agency mania, the NFL Draft will aid the team in fresh young talent. Due to the rookie wage scale, all draftees will not be detrimental to cap availability.
The Bolts still have some gaps to fill, but having available cap space is crucial to filling those voids. Tom Telesco and his back office staff are diligently, yet wisely playing a game of football chess. Carefully placing each pawn in the right place for the advantage to win in free agency. With roughly $17 million dollars left to play with, expect a lot more to come from the crafty general manager.
After 11 seasons and two Super Bowl winning seasons, the New England Patriots have decided against picking up the contract of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The 6’1” 325 pound beast posted this on his twitter account, @wilfork75, this morning:
A classy act by a mainstay in New England. Vince is 33 and has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons, however he continues to be a dominant force on a line that is so good at stopping the run. Wilfork was due to be paid 8.1 million this upcoming season, after he restructured his contract before the 2014 season. In fact, Vince was ready to walk away from the Patriots, however he had a change of heart and wanted to remain in a place and system he has known his whole career – beginning when he was the 21st overall pick of New England in 2004.
Of course here in sunny San Diego, the NT position is one that is in desperate need of fulfilling. With a big body in the middle, taking on double teams most of the time, Vince would be giving Corey Liuget something he’s been wanting for a while; a chance to go one-on-one with his guy. Allowing Corey to have this type of match-up, he will almost guarantee many hours spent in the opposing team’s backfield; disrupting passes, getting sacks, and getting the running back before he gets to the line. On top of that, with Wilfork’s dominance, he would be able to open up space for our linebackers, to come in hot; something this defense lacks. Remember Jamal Williams? How he created gaps for both Shawne and Shaun (Merriman and Phillips) to come in and do what they did best? Now, imagine Manti Te’o doing the same with Wilfork leading the way.
Vince will be looking for a similar payday as he was expecting this year in New England. Is a 33-year-old defensive lineman worth that? Without a doubt, he is worth it. Having Vince bring his veteran services to a young, up and coming defense is something that is priceless. He would not only help mentor the line, but as stated previously, he is still a major force to be dealt with.
Come out of the cold Vince. Bring your family to America’s finest city. Help bring San Diego to the next level and maybe, just maybe, win one more Super Bowl.
– Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
(Thanks to levelupfantasy.com and galleryhip.com for the pictures)
We’re two days away from Thursday’s NFL Draft. I’m looking forward to returning to New York City for a second year in a row with all intention of getting some great interviews, photos and coverage for you, loyal BoltBlitz readers.
We’re all looking forward to seeing what the Chargers will do in the draft and if GM Tom Telesco can have as successful a draft as he did last year. This is shaping up to be a very exciting draft, full of twists and turns. In my opinion, there will be far more wheeling and dealing than we saw last year. Here are some of my observations of what we will see over the draft’s three days.
Houston will take Johnny Manziel. The talk out of Houston is about everyone but Manziel, which usually means they’re most likely picking him. They will be smart and trade out of the number one spot with Atlanta or Oakland, adding an extra pick and taking Manziel at 5 or 6. Houston’s biggest weakness is the quarterback position and the most famous/best quarterback in the state of Texas is Manziel. A pick for Johnny Football will bring people back to the stadium, get cash registers ringing and sell season tickets at a nauseating rate. This is the perfect professional and financial fit for the Texans, and the buzz will make their fans forget all about Matt What’sHisName.
San Francisco will trade into the top ten. The 49ers have 11 picks in this draft and there is no way they use them all. Eleven picks would take up 20% of their opening day roster. San Francisco is desperate for a big-time wide receiver to play opposite Michael Crabtree. No to mention they’re looking for the heir apparent to Anquan Boldin, who is still productive but only has a year or two left in the tank at age 33, a geezer by NFL standards. Don’t be surprised if they package three of their picks to jump ahead of Tampa and claim Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans.
Picking at 25, my gut instinct says San Diego will pick Louis Nix III. The biggest hole on the team is at nose tackle where they only have one player who could play the position if they had to play a game today, Sean Lissemore. Nix is the most pure nose tackle in the draft, often compared to Vince Wilfork. If Nix is gone, I think the Chargers will trade out of the first round with a team that wants to re-enter the draft such as the quarterback-needy teams like Cleveland, Tampa Bay or Oakland.
Dallas will move out of their spot at 16 and overdraft a player they could have had in the second round. Such is life when Jerry Jones runs the war room. Dumb things happen.
At least two big name veteran players will be dealt during the draft.
Six quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round.
Five teams will not pick in their designated slot so that means at least five trades, three of them involving the top ten slots.
Last season, the Chargers had a groundbreaking draft and I can’t help but give myself some credit for bringing some good Chargers karma into the building. Remember the commercial about superstitious fans? That’s me. I’m going to try to find the same seat I was in last year!
I’m looking forward to bringing you live coverage, blogs and hopefully some great interviews. I will be live-tweeting as long as the battery on my iphone holds out. RCMH is a drafty, cavernous building that seems to sap the life out of cell phones with alarming speed. I will not be opposed to the NFL moving the draft to a different venue such as Honolulu or Las Vegas maybe….hmmm. Are you listening, Mr. Goodell?
Stay tuned, Chargers fans. Here’s hoping the Chargers war room yields results as good or better than last year!
The Greg One