Photo credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins could be heading in separate directions. Rumors out of the D.C area are Cousins is very upset with the Redskins and reportedly wants to play elsewhere next season. Truthfully you can’t blame Cousins because he has done more than prove his worth to this football team. Cousins has thrown for over 25 passing touchdowns the last 2 seasons in Washington. Not only that but he also won the NFC East for the Redskins in 2015 and threw for nearly 5,000 yards this past season (he finished with 4,917 passing yards). Those accomplishments would be enough for any other quarterback to get a contract but it appears that “the noise” swirling around that locker room has leaked over to the front office. If you don’t remember early on in the season there were rumors coming out of Washington D.C that the other players on the Redskins roster didn’t like Kirk Cousins. Now whether that’s because Cousins thinks he is better than everyone else or because Cousins conducts himself in a bad way, we’re not too sure. All we know is there is some friction between Kirk Cousins and the other Redskins players. Maybe that was a red flag for this front office and they could want a player who meshes well with the other guys in that locker room. Regardless though Kirk Cousins produces and any other quarterback in the league would have been taken care of by now. Washington really botched this situation because now Cousins wants to leave and insiders are suggesting that the 49ers are the most likely candidate to acquire the Washington signal caller. Blending Cousins’ starting experience with Kyle Shanahan’s brilliant play calling would be a match made in heaven and you know who will be the big loser if that trade goes down? That’s right the Washington Redskins because they will have squandered their best chance for success in a long time.
Charity of the day: United Cancer Support Foundation
Go donate! www.unitedcsf.org
Photo credit: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
With free agency slated to begin on March 9th the Los Angeles Rams finally get to turn the page on their disastrous first season in Los Angeles. After relocating from St. Louis the Rams never found their stride in L.A and they started to lose their fan base’s interest. There is some positive things going for the Rams though, one is the fact that Los Angeles is an ideal place to live. With Southern California being a hub for entertainment and with the great weather they have out there. Most players would prefer to live and play in Los Angeles rather than a cold weather city. That’s going to help the Rams greatly when it comes time to recruit free agents and there has already been rumors that Desean Jackson is reuniting with Sean McVay. McVay was Jackson’s offensive coordinator in Washington last season and he will instantly be an upgrade over any receiver the Rams currently have on their roster. If the Rams could sign Jackson and retain Kenny Britt who went over the 1,000 yards receiving mark last season, then this team would have a much better chance to compete in 2017. The other thing that has to happen is the Rams have to land a minimum of 2 offensive line in free agency. T.J Lang and Russell Okung are 2 great candidates for those 2 spots and would greatly improve the Rams upfront. Okung started every single game last year for Denver but the Broncos might have to move on from Okung due to cap reasons. If that does indeed happen the Rams should do everything they can to bring Okung over so this team can handle a pass rush. Finally luring Lang away from Green Bay would give the Rams a guy with great versatility on that offensive front. Lang can be plugged in at guard or tackle and has been a starter in this league for a long time. Lang knows how to win and he could mentor the younger players on that line as well. If the Rams land all of these free agents and then bring a few players in on the defensive side of the ball through the draft. Look out because the Rams could have a whole new mentality under McVay just like the Dolphins did last year under Adam Gase.
Charity of the day: PCI-Media Impact
Go donate! www.mediaimpact.org
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire
Author: Jon Kuzma
The New England Patriots had a great season, they were the best team in all football record wise and they won the Super Bowl. However even though the Patriots brought another Lombardi Trophy back to the Boston area that doesn’t mean they won’t have personnel turnover in the off-season. In fact it’s already been rumored that Martellus Bennett is going to test free agency and try to cash in on the biggest payday possible. With Rob Gronkowski still on the roster it doesn’t look like New England is going to be able to shell out that kind of money to retain the tight end so expect Martellus Bennett to play only 1 season in Foxborough. Bennett hauled in 701 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns while playing for coach Belichick. Those are pretty good numbers for a tight end but it would be tough for Bennett to maintain that production with Gronkowksi coming back. The Patriots would also have to pay more than the $5 million dollars they spent on Bennett this year, so the pay raise and the chance of a down year will ultimately sway the Patriots away from re-signing Martellus Bennett. Remember Belichick believes in getting the most talented players for the cheapest price available and that’s why New England’s head coach was okay with shipping out Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins for guys like Chris Long and Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots believe in maintaining cap space more than most teams do and that’s why they sell high on players in trades and it’s also why they don’t overspend on high priced free agents. The good news for the Patriots is Legarrette Blount has indicated that he wants to stay with New England. Blount had a terrific year scoring the most rushing touchdowns in all of football (18) and if you seen the way he celebrated closely with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady after the Super Bowl win. You just knew that Legarrette Blount wanted to be a New England Patriot for a very long time. Blount has seen a lot of players leave Foxborough to cash in on big paydays only to play for losing teams. He didn’t want to be another player who fell victim to that circumstance and it’s very likely Lagarrette Blount will be back with this team next season. So don’t expect the Patriots running game to skip a beat in 2017.
Charity of the day: HIAS
Go donate! www.hias.org
Photo credit: Rey Del Rio / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins have agreed to a trade. The Miami Dolphins will get Julius Thomas and a late round pick, the Jaguars on the other hand will receive Branden Albert and a late round pick. Truthfully on paper it feels like the Jaguars got the better end of this deal because Albert was a Pro Bowler in 2015 while Thomas hasn’t had a good year since his Denver Broncos days. The other reason it feels like the Jaguars got the better outcome in this trade is because they improved their offensive line. Football is all about winning in the trenches and now the Jaguars have a big time offensive lineman who can protect Blake Bortles. It feels like the Dolphins have severely undervalued Albert’s worth and that could come back and bite Miami in the backside next season. In the NFL the pass rush is so disruptive that you need as many elite offensive lineman as you can have on your roster. Letting Albert walk regardless if it saves Miami cap space or not, is a bad move. We know Adam Gase can call plays better than most in the league and we know he is great at the x’s and o’s. However you have to wonder if Gase understands how to acquire and retain talent? Which is a skill in itself. You have to also keep in mind when a new coach takes over a team you get all of the good qualities that particular coach brings to the table. As things go on though you start to get a better understanding of that same coaches weaknesses. Letting Albert walk is a bad move and it has to fall on Chris Grier, Adam Gase, and the rest of the Dolphins offense. The Dolphins letdown is the Jaguars success however and you have to give credit to Jacksonville’s General Manager David Caldwell. He swiped a under performing Thomas for a Branden Albert who can come in and keep Blake Bortles off his backside. This is hands down a win for Jacksonville.
Charity of the day: Oxfam-America
Go donate! www.oxfamamerica.org
Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The National Football League is a quarterback driven league. Quarterbacks get the most press coverage and they also make the most money. You won’t find many elite quarterbacks making less than $20 million dollars a year and that’s why it’s strange that not one running back is making over $20 million a year. Running backs sometimes carry the ball 25 attempts per game and that’s such a huge focal point of any team’s offense. If you have a dynamic running game, it makes life so much easier for that team and it’s about time we have a running back that raises the bar pay wise in the National Football League. Marshawn Lynch should have been around the $20 million mark when he was playing. The Seahawks decided to follow the traditional model of making the quarterback the top paid player on the team and that really frustrated Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was clearly the best player for the Seahawks and if they would have paid him what he deserves maybe Lynch would still be in Seattle. The Seahawks wouldn’t have regressed so much either if Lynch was still in the fold for that football team. The other player who is leading the way for running backs pay wise is Adrian Peterson. Peterson is scheduled to make $14 million dollars in 2017 and that is 3 times as much as most other running backs in the league. LeSean McCoy is bringing in $8 million dollars per year but keep in mind these are players that bring a lot of plays to the table for their respective teams. To not reward them with a proper pay day is unfair and sometimes it has a lot of setbacks (like in the Seattle case mentioned above). Now the argument against paying running backs is the fact that the position takes a huge beating injury wise. For example Tiki Barber played for 10 seasons while his brother Ronde Barber (a cornerback) played for 16 seasons. Tiki and Ronde had the same exact D.N.A but because Ronde chose to be a defensive back, he was able to preserve his body for 6 season longer than Tiki. That shows firsthand how much abuse running backs take and that’s why team’s don’t want to pay them. The Vikings lost Adrian Peterson this last season to injury and that really hurt Minnesota because they had so much cap space tied up in Peterson. Due to that Minnesota will likely move on from the highest paid running back in football and not many teams want to find themselves in that same predicament. There is one running back who could be worth the massive payday though. Ezekiel Elliott will have a shot at a lucrative contract if he can maintain his output. Elliott revamped the Dallas Cowboys and could find himself as the league’s highest paid running back soon. It will be up to Elliott to put up 3 more big seasons during his current contract so that the Cowboys are convinced he is worth the mega offer. If Elliott plays like he did this past year though it is a real possibility he will top Adrian Peterson’s paycheck of $14 million a year. Regardless though some team’s need to go against the grain pay wise and reward their running backs for the efforts.
Charity of the day: Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
Go donate! www.themmrf.org
Photo credit: Eric Espada / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Cameron Wake signed a 2 year contract extension today with the Miami Dolphins. Wake is 35 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down. The veteran pass rusher recorded 11.5 sacks this past season and the Dolphins couldn’t afford to lose that production. Wake will now be with Miami until 2018 so it’s good news Cameron Wake will be in the picture for the Dolphins foreseeable future. There weren’t many guys that Miami could bring in and match the level of effort Cameron Wake brings to this football team. That’s why it was a no brainer to retain Wake and make no mistake about it Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Adam Gase made the right move re-signing number 91. Gase has put this team in a position to compete x and o’s wise, now it’s about having players like Cameron Wake executing the game plan on the field. Suh and Wake instantly give the Dolphins an elite pass rush and that’s a big reason why Miami was able to go back to the postseason last year. Wake has come a long way from a player who once was in the Canadian football league. He now is making around $10 million dollars a year and this is just another case of the things you can accomplish when you work hard and give life everything you got. The Dolphins noticed that Wake was putting in the work day in and day out and that’s really the recipe to these big pay days. Everyone thinks it comes easy but keep in mind athletes have to bust their ass to be great just like any other profession. Wake has also been a class act as far as his integrity goes, so there was a lot of incentives for the Dolphins to keep Wake. In return the Dolphins put a million dollar bonus incentive in Wake’s contract to motivate him for which will likely be the rest of his pro football career. Bottom line though this is a good move for the Dolphins.
Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy
Go donate! www.abcbirds.org
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire
Author: Jon Kuzma
The NFL was just starting to clean their image up a little bit. There were no arrests for any players in the month of September of 2015 and over the course of both 2015 and 2016 arrests were way down among players. That trend seems to have come to a screeching halt though after news that Darrelle Revis has been charged with 4 felonies after an altercation in Pittsburgh. Revis was apparently being followed by somebody who was recording Revis on their cell phone. That caused Revis to become frustrated with that individual and Revis allegedly took that cameraman’s cell phone in hopes of deleting the video. Another individual eventually ran in to help the cameraman retrieve his phone from Darrelle Revis. Both those 2 individuals who were fighting against Revis were eventually knocked unconscious and now one of the best cornerbacks in pro football is in some serious trouble. Forget Revis’ playing future, his freedom is at stake now and if he gets convicted of 4 felonies he could see some serious jail time. This is the last thing football fans wanted to see but Revis isn’t the only player who is on thin ice integrity wise. Michael Floyd’s luck finally ran out as well. Floyd seemed to come out of a D.U.I unscathed after he was signed by the Patriots immediately after being released by Arizona. Floyd then went on to win a Super Bowl and he was also boasting about how much the Patriots loved him. Well the D.U.I penalty finally caught up to Michael Floyd and now the Patriots receiver will spend the next 4 months in a Arizona jail cell. Not a good look when you’re a professional athlete and Floyd will have plenty of time to think about his mistakes. Finally King Dunlap of the Los Angles Chargers was also recently arrested for violating a protective order. The incident involved a domestic disturbance and Dunlap failed to stay away from his girlfriend after she filed the order against him. This is the last thing the Chargers wanted looming over their franchise while heading to Los Angeles and this franchise can’t afford to lose starting offensive lineman to these type of mishaps. Rivers needs all the protection he can get and Dunlap will have to make smarter decisions. The NFL can’t be too happy about these new batch of arrests and expect the commissioner to discipline each of these players for their actions. Revis will likely get the worst punishment if those chargers stick but truthfully an NFL suspension is probably the last thing on his mind right now.
Charity of the day: Orbis
Go donate! www.orbis.org
Photo credit: Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Miami Dolphins released Mario Williams and will trade Braden Albert with hopes of cutting down on their salary cap. Williams is an understandable move because cutting him saves the Dolphins $8 million dollars. However you have to wonder if moving on from Braden Albert is going to be a good move for this team? Last year the Dolphins played Albert next to Tunsil and that really was a nice little tandem on that offensive line. Even though the Dolphins are going to save $7 million dollars moving on from Albert, it’s not a good move because it’s drops the talent level on that offensive front. Yes Albert had a down year last year missing 4 games and struggling at times. However you have to think Albert would be motivated to bounce back from that bad year especially since the Dolphins situation has improved so much under Adam Gase. Now though it’s clear Miami plans on moving on from Albert and we will see the impact this move has on the team. Losing Williams won’t hurt the Dolphins that much because he is older and in a limited role. Albert on the other hand is a starter and a was a Pro Bowler in 2015. It might have been better for the Dolphins to just ride out Branden Alberts’ contract but apparently the front office felt like they could move over Laremy Tunsil to tackle and plug in other players upfront. One thing is for certain Gase is a quality coach so if anyone can minimize the loss of Albert it’s him. Still though the Dolphins can’t let too many talented players walk out the door or they will let their talent level drop too low. When that happens you can’t compete as well as the upper echelon teams and the Dolphins need to try to stick to the formula that got them to the playoffs this past season. As always though you have to expect their is a plan in place. Maybe the Dolphins will draft an offensive lineman in this upcoming draft. That could be the real thinking behind the Albert release. Still though it’s hard to believe a rookie lineman will have the impact Braden Albert has.
Charity of the day: ActionAid USA
Go donate! www.actionaidusa.org
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Atlanta Falcons lost the Super Bowl because of some misguided play calling down the stretch and former Falcon’s receiver Roddy White spoke about the team’s Super Bowl letdown. “I would have literally fought Shanahan over that play call” White told the press, also stating Atlanta is lucky he still isn’t on their roster. Clearly White is frustrated with how things panned out and truthfully you can’t blame him. If Atlanta would have ran the football late in the 4th quarter against the Patriots and kicked a field goal they win the football game. Instead the Falcons decided to pass the ball, they were sacked by the Patriots defense and got a holding call on the following play. That took Atlanta out of field goal range and Tom Brady’s heroics propelled New England to their 5th Super Bowl win. Shanahan made a terrible call on that series but you have to fault Dan Quinn as well. He has final say on all play calls and you owe your team better decision making than that. To be honest though bad play calling is some what expected in pro football. We’ve seen Seattle throw the ball on the 1 yard line and lose a Super Bowl. We see teams throw the ball on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 all the time. These types of calls are becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL and it’s because a lot of these coaches aren’t the real deal. Fundamentals win football games and that’s why Bill Belichick is leagues above everyone else. Still though, even Belichick has kicked the ball in overtime a few times (always a bad move) and it’s just a common thing to scratch your head after a lot of these play calls. Roddy White wasn’t the only one questioning the call either, several analysts fried the Falcons for their questionable play calls. Including Michael Wilbon who tweeted this immediately after Atlanta chose to put the ball in the air when they could of ran the ball and trusted Matt Bryant for the win.
Charity of the day: National Council on Aging
Go donate! www.ncoa.org
Photo credit: Rich Barnes /Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is celebrating his 57th birthday today and what a career Kelly had for the Bills. Kelly took Buffalo to 4 straight Super Bowls during the Marv Levy era but they actually lost all of those games. Still Kelly’s excellence can’t be denied, Kelly threw for 35,467 yards, and 237 touchdowns over the course of his career. He was a member of the Buffalo Bills for 11 seasons and also played for 2 years in the United States Football League for the Houston Gamblers. Before his professional career Kelly attended the University of Miami and was part of 2 9 win Hurricane teams. Jim Kelly was actually reluctant to go to Buffalo after being drafted by the Bills. He instead spent 2 seasons in Houston playing for the Houston Gamblers of the USFL like mentioned above. During his time in Houston Jim Kelly managed to win 23 football games. So it was definitely tough for Kelly to leave that situation and go to the Bills who traditionally struggled. When Kelly finally made the jump to the NFL, the Bills went 4-12 in their first year with Kelly on their roster. It wasn’t until 1988 and Kelly’s 3rd year that the team had a winning season. That eventually led up to the 1990-1993 Super Bowl appearances and Buffalo was flat a good football team in the early 90’s. Jim Kelly was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. The number 12 jersey is also retired by the Buffalo Bills to honor Kelly’s achievements with the franchise. After football Kelly faced struggles with his health. Kelly was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 however he actually beat the disease twice. Today Jim Kelly is still loved by the fans of Buffalo and football fans all around the world. He has also been a huge advocate of charities and different medical research. So it’s clear Jim Kelly was good man on and off the field and we wish him a happy birthday.
Charity of the day: Marine Mammal Center
Go donate! www.tmmc.org