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NFL Free Agency: Early Winners and Losers

We’re only five days into free agency, but already there has been tons of action.

The lack of a new CBA has had no effect on the opening wave of free agency.

Players were quickly scooped up by teams right after midnight of this past Friday.

There has been many surprises thus far, but the one that sticks out the most is the frugal approach taken by the Washington Redskins.

In an uncapped year many expected the Redskins to throw big money at the top free agents, but rather they have kept a low profile and have not signed any new free agents and actually cut a handful of overpriced veterans.

Perhaps the new regime in Washington may work out after all.

Anyway, here is a look at the top winners and losers of free agency thus far:

Winners

Detroit Lions

It’s not often you hear Lions and winners together, but I have to give the Lions some props for what they’ve done so far.  Sure they overpaid for Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burelson, but that’s the only way they were going to come to Detroit.  When you have been as bad as the Lions have been you need to overspend once in a while.

They also added defensive tackle Corey Williams via trade from Cleveland and corner Chris Houston via trade from Atlanta, both at low prices.  With Vanden Bosch and Williams, the Lions suddenly have a good defensive line and if they add Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy it will be even better.

Burelson may not be an elite reciever, but he is a good number two target.  He’s certainly better than Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt.  His presence will also benefit Calvin Johnson as he won’t be getting double and triple teamed nearly as much.

Chicago Bears

While I’m not in love with all the moves the Bears made it’s hard to say the Bears aren’t a much better football team than they were last week at this time.

With no draft picks in the first two rounds the Bears had to make a splash in free agency.  Also add in the fact that this is a make or break year from the coaching staff and front office and it’s hard to fault the Bears.

Joe Flacco Continue reading

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Chad Ochocinco Naked?

Fresh of the announcement of his participation in Dancing with the Stars, Chad Ochocino is back in the news.

Once again it has nothing to do with football.

We’ve come to expect the unexpected with Chad, but even this seems ridiculous.

The short video has Chad Ochocinco running in a park, only he is completely naked.

However, he is wearing some Reebok kicks and there’s speculation that it’s part of a viral marketing campaign for Reebok.

NFL Free Agency Preview

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Today marks the eve of NFL free agency.

Usually, the first day of free agency is a frenzy with countless players changing teams.

However, this year will be quieter than those of years past.

The reason being the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement.

This requires players to have six years of service in the league in order to be a unrestricted free agent instead of the usual three or four.

The result is that around 200 players that would have been unrestricted free agents are now restricted free agents, which has left the free agency rather bare.

Still, there are some big names on the market and without a salary cap there will be teams willing to pay top dollar.

Top Unrestricted Free Agents:

Julius Peppers, DE

The prize of this year’s free agent class, Peppers will command a huge contract on the open market.  Though his effort can be questioned at times, there is no denying his ability to get the opposing quarterback (81 sacks in 8 years).

Signs with: Bears

Karlos Dansby, LB

After being franchised two years in a row, Dansby was too rich for Arizona’s blood and should have no problem landing a big pay day in free agency.  He is versatile enough to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

Signs with: Dolphins

Dunta Robinson, CB

Robinson’s production has never quite matched his talent, but as the top corner in an ultra thin corner market the man will overpaid.  I wouldn’t give $20 million guaranteed to a corner that didn’t have an interception last season.

Signs with: Redskins

Thomas Jones, RB

Jones ran for over 1,400 yards last season and has five 1,000 yard seasons in a row, yet he was released by the Jets in order to clear the way for Shonn Greene.  The key number with Jones is 32, his age before the start of next season. Continue reading

NFL to Change Overtime?

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The worst rule in football may be finally be getting a much-needed makeover.

An NFL spokesman said that the league will discuss changing the league’s overtime format at a competition committee meeting next month.

The new format would call for both teams to get the ball at least once unless the first team scores a touchdown.

The proposal will be discussed and then a vote would take place, with two-thirds of teams needing to approve of the changes for them to be implemented.

The overtime discussion has been one of much debate among fans, but has never been given serious consideration from the league.  According to the AP report, the debate steamed form this year’s NFC championship game, where the Vikings lost to the Saints 31-28 in overtime while the Vikings never touched the ball in overtime.

It’s good the league is discussing changes now before we see a coin toss in overtime decide a Super Bowl.  We were close the past two years, but Santonio Holmes and Tracy Porter ended any possibility of that.

In current system, 158 games have gone into overtime since the NFL changed the kickoff line from the 35 to the 30 yard line in 1994.  In those 158 games the winner of the coin toss has won 96 of those games, or 61%, giving them an alarming advantage over the loser of the coin toss.

While it’s clear that this proposal is better than the current one, it still isn’t perfect. Continue reading

LaDainian Tomlinson: Time to Retire?

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Yesterday marked the end of an era in San Diego, when the Chargers released LaDainian Tomlinson.  The move was expected and frankly a year overdue.

The L.T. that we saw last year was a shadow of his former self.  He failed to reach the century mark in any game and finished the season with a paltry 3.3 yards per carry average.

The culmination was a 12 carry, 24-yard effort in the Chargers loss to the Jets in Divisional Round in yet another playoff disappointment for the Bolts.  He was outgained by Darren Sproles, who had only three carries the entire game.

Now L.T. is will be 31 before the starts of the 2010 season, but claims he still has something left in the tank and wants to continuing playing.

If I were consulting L.T. I’d tell him to just hang them up. Continue reading

Return of the Poison Pill?

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The free agency class this year will be rather bare compared to that of season’s past.

This is because of 2010 being an uncapped year, which requires that players need six years of service instead of four to qualify for unrestricted free agency.

This has prevented players such as Brandon Marshall, DeMeco Ryans, Braylon Edwards, Elvis Dumervil, Shawne Merriman, and a host of other players from being unrestricted free agents.

With few big name free agents on the market teams will have to get creative to fill their needs.

This brings up the possibility of the poison pill being brought back.

Back in 2006 the Minnesota Vikings signed Steve Hutchinson to a seven year $49 contract with $16 guaranteed.  While that seems fair, they also included a clause that would have guaranteed his entire contract if he was the highest paid lineman on his team.  At that time, the Seahawks had Walter Jones, whose salary was higher and thus could not sign Hutchinson without guaranteeing his entire contract.

The Seahawks file a grievance, but the arbitrator ruled in favor of the Vikings.

The Seahawks got back at the Vikings by signing Nate Burelson to an offer sheet including a stipulation that would have guaranteed his entire contract if he played five or more games in the state of Minnesota in one season.

Now, since that off season no team has attempted to sign someone with a poison pill included, but that may change very soon.

If some team tries to get cute and offers a low tender to one of their restricted free agents don’t be surprised if a team employs the poison pill to ensure they sign him.

Even if they are tendered with a first and third rounder, some team may be willing to pay the price.  It wouldn’t be out of the question to see a team like Miami, Baltimore, or any receiver needy team go after a wide receiver like Marshall, Vincent Jackson, or Miles Austin.

Remember it was not even two years ago when the Cowboys traded a first, third, and sixth round pick for Roy Williams and these receivers are actually established number one targets.

NFL Offseason Storylines

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There may not be any meaningful football until September, but the NFL never takes a break.

The combine is just a week away and free agency starts soon after that.

Let’s take a look at the five key storylines that we’ll be focused on this offseason.

5. Tim Tebow

The most decorated collegiate athlete of recent memory is already the most heavily debated and scrutinized prospect of all time.  Will the home town Jaguars take a chance on him early or will he slip into the later rounds?  Get ready for a heavy dose of Tebow coverage next week at the combine where his throwing motion will be torn apart like  and the scouts will doubt his ability to play quarterback at the next level.  However, it only takes one team to take a chance on him, so I don’t think he makes it out of round two.

4. Brett Favre

The old gunslinger may be 40, but he can still play.  Coming off his best statistical season in years, it would be hard to see Favre walk away especially when the Vikings were so close to the Super Bowl.  He’ll likely stretch the process out as long as possible so get ready to see Rachel Nicholls camped out on Favre’s ranch in Mississippi all summer long.  In the end, I think we’ll be seeing number four come September.

3. Eagles QB Situation

Many teams struggle to find one decent quarterback.  The Eagles have three and now they have some tough decisions upcoming.  Do they trade Michael Vick?  Extend Kevin Kolb? Trade Kevin Kolb?  Do they trade McNabb?  With a bevy of options at hand, it will be intriguing to see how the Eagles handle this.  I don’t think Kolb is going anywhere so that leaves McNabb and Vick.  Vick is more likely to get traded with a $5.25 million bonus upcoming, but if a team, possibly the Cardinals or Vikings (if Favre’s gone), offers a first round pick it may be tough to turn down with Kolb waiting in the wings.  Continue reading