A few significant deals were struck in free agency today:

Photo credit: John Leyba / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

The most notable deal struck today was the Denver Broncos and their decision to match the Dolphins offer and retain CJ Anderson’s services. Anderson was instrumental to the Broncos success in the postseason and the stand out running back was also a big reason the Broncos were able to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy last season. Anderson sets the tone for the Broncos in the running game and losing him would of put a lot of pressure on Mark Sanchez should he emerge as the team’s starter. By keeping Anderson in Denver the Broncos will be able to maintain their ground and pound style of play. This was the right move for the team and you have to give credit to Elway for keeping his top rusher on the roster.

The next deal on the list is the Baltimore Ravens and their acquisition of Mike Wallace. Wallace heads to Baltimore after a season in Minnesota and it appears Wallace is not too happy about the time he spent in Viking land stating that “he had to play with a proven QB”. That comment is a subtle slight against Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and we’ll see if Wallace’s insight pays off for him in 2016, now that he is paired with Joe Flacco.

The Patriots traded Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a second round draft pick. The Pats then turned around and signed Chris Long to a 1 year deal too help limit the loss of Jones. Chris long has recorded 54.5 career sacks over his 8 year career. He will definitely come in and help upgrade that Patriots defense. The team also gets stronger on the offensive line and adds another pick to the mix. A good move since the team got docked their first round draft pick this year because of Deflategate. With maneuvering like this it’s been another great offseason for New England.

Charity of the day: Mental Health America

Go donate! www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Mark Sanchez is front and center in Denver:

Photo credit: RJ Sangosti / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos landed Mark Sanchez in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles and it’s looking more and more apparent that Sanchez will be the Broncos starter in week 1 of the regular season. The Broncos who were all in last season financially, found themselves strapped for cap space this offseason and they had to make some tough roster moves. Moves that included franchise tagging Von Miller and letting Brock Osweiler leave for the Houston Texans. That left a huge void at the quarterback position for the Broncos especially since Peyton Manning has decided to retire. Now Sanchez who is on his third professional team will step in and try to fill those shoes that are left behind by arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time. Sanchez hasn’t been very Manning like over the course of his career. In fact his career stats are 15,126 passing yards for 86 touchdowns and 84 interceptions. Showing why for the most part he has been a back up quarterback in the National Football League. Still their is potential for growth there and maybe Sanchez can learn how to win in the league similar to how Ryan Fitzpatrick did in his later years. Sanchez has been around the game long enough to understand what it takes to succeed at the professional level. He has just had problems putting it all together on the football field. If Sanchez can find a way to cut down on turnovers and make the throws when the teams asks him to. Maybe he can have some success like he did in his first few years with the Jets. He will be in a similar situation with Denver’s outstanding defense, but keep in mind even the Broncos mighty defense might regress with the losses of Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan. On top of that Sanchez won’t be getting any help on the offensive side of the ball if the team does indeed lose C.J Anderson. Lets be honest the Denver Broncos are no where near the team they were in 2015 and Sanchez will be a second tier band-aid compared to the team’s quarterbacks last season. Elway earned his money with last season’s run, but he will find himself in a much more criticized position in 2016. The product the Broncos are putting on the field is far inferior and Mark Sanchez very well could cave to the pressure when it’s all said and done. The Broncos aren’t fooling anyone with this desperate move to put a functional football team together. They are reaching a little bit by asking Sanchez to maintain the level of excellence Manning and Osweiler set in 2015.

Charity of the day: Mental Health America

Go donate! www.mentalhealthamerica.net

B.J Raji is stepping away from the game for all the right reasons:

Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With rumors coming out of Green Bay that B.J Raji is taking a break from NFL football, it’s easy to get frustrated with Raji and his early departure. That is until you hear the full story of why Raji is actually taking a hiatus away from pro football. Raji announced that he is taking some personal time away from football due to family reasons. He went on to state that his mother is on dialysis with diabetes and his aunt is battling breast cancer. With two of the most influential women in his life really starting to struggle with their health just after the 2015 season. It was a no brainer for Raji to step away from the game and spend some time with the people who mean the most to him. What is so honorable about Raji’s choice is the fact that he could easily play this season and probably make around $1.5 million dollars (he made $1.75 million in 2015 but is a free agent with no contract at the moment). Instead of hitting the open market and seeing what kind of payday he can net, Raji will instead head back home to spend time with his family and cherish something that money can’t buy. The memories and time spent with your loved ones and building back upon those relationships. We live in a world where we get so caught up on chasing the wrong things that we lose perspective on the things that are most important. BJ Raji has shown his growth as human being with this decision and sometimes that is something more important than being a football player. You have to applaud the courageous decision to leave that kind of money on the table and for making the right choice, despite a lot of financial advisors telling him other wise. At the end of the day BJ Raji walks away from the game of football a Super Bowl champion and more importantly a winner in life.

Charity of the day: American Rivers

Go donate! www.americanrivers.org

Eric Weddle finds a new home with the Baltimore Ravens:

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Diego Chargers were cruel to longtime Charger Eric Weddle at the end of his run with the team. They wouldn’t let Weddle travel with the team to an away game and also punished Weddle for staying out at halftime of a game to watch his daughter participate in a halftime show. Now it seems like Eric Weddle will get a little bit of justice. It was announced today that Eric Weddle has signed a 4 year $26 million dollar contract with the Baltimore Ravens. That contract will also involve $13 million dollars in guaranteed money and gives Weddle a much needed fresh start. After being a star in San Diego for 9 seasons which included 3 Pro Bowl births. It was just time for Weddle to move on, the disrespect he received from the Chargers was very unfortunate to see and if you were a football fan you were definitely rooting for Weddle in that situation. That is because Weddle had given the organization so much over the course of his career that you would hate to see it all end like that. In fact Weddle was so impressive with the Chargers that he managed to finish his time in San Diego with 851 tackles, 19 interceptions, and 3 defensive touchdowns. That is big production for the Chargers and it’s odd that they would just dis him after all those years together. The NFL is a business though and sometimes in business things can get ugly. The team clearly wanted to save a little cap room by moving on from Weddle and they also thought that Weddle’s best days were behind him. The Baltimore Ravens thought other wise and now we will be fortunate enough to get to watch Weddle perform for hopefully at least 4 more years with the Ravens. The move is a good move for Baltimore because they needed to bring playmakers in on defense this offseason. While the price might be a little high that is exactly what they did by getting Weddle. The Ravens hope that he will sure up the backend of the defense and keep points off the board for opponents. It will be awesome to watch the beard fly around in purple and black! This is a good pick up Ravens!

Charity of the day: American Rivers

Go donate! www.americanrivers.org

What’s happening around the league: offseason edition

Photo credit: Helen H. Richardson / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Martavis Bryant faces a year long suspension:

Martavis Bryant is facing yet another suspension from the league and this one appears will be a season long ban. Bryant who was suspended the first four games of the 2015 season for a marijuana suspension. Apparently has missed multiple drug tests and now the league is contemplating just how long they are going to keep Martavis Bryant out of action. Bryant is a tremendous receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers who has a knack for getting behind defenders. Those skills have led Bryant to 14 career touchdowns and a big role in Pittsburgh’s offense. Now unfortunately it seems like the Steelers will be without Martavis Bryant for the whole season. Which means Ben Rothlisberger will have to find other players to fill the void and production.

Denver Broncos trade for Mark Sanchez:

The Denver Broncos made a move to land a quarterback for the 2016 season and it appears Mark Sanchez is that guy. The Broncos were recovering from the retirement of Peyton Manning and the loss of Brock Osweiler in free agency to the Houston Texans. That caused General Manager John Elway to look to Sanchez to fill the vacancy. That is a big regression from Manning and Osweiler and it will be interesting to see how that whole scenario plays out in 2016. You’d have to think if Sanchez is the Broncos full time starter, there is little chance the Broncos repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Fitzpatrick sweepstakes:

Ryan Fitzpatrick still hasn’t signed with the New York Jets and it’s interesting to see how his situation will pan out. Fitzpatrick had a remarkable season last year with the New York Jets throwing for 31 touchdowns, and 3,905 passing yards. Fitzpatrick’s agent Jimmy Sexton is clearly trying to capitalize on Fitzpatrick’s 2015 performance and that is ultimately why Fitzpatrick has been reluctant to sign with the Jets. There have been rumors that the Broncos are interested in Ryan Fitzpatrick but you have to wonder what their interest level is after trading for Mark Sanchez. The Broncos would be a great location for Fitzpatrick but it feels like Denver’s time might have already came and gone. Truthfully the Jets will give Fitzpatrick the best chance to succeed. He understands the system, he has chemistry with all the receivers there, and he has Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker to help put up big plays. At the end of the day Fitz very well might end up back in a Jets uniforms for those exact reasons. Only time will tell what happens with the bearded quarterback.

Charity of the day: Food Bank for New York City

Go donate! www.foodbanknyc.org

RG3 interviewed with the Jets, while Manziel is cut by the Browns:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news reporting out of New York Jets camp that Robert Griffin the 3rd has met with the team. You have to wonder if the Jets are looking for their long term replacement for Ryan Fitzpatrick if he does indeed departure. RG3 was benched last year in Washington D.C for Kirk Cousins and his career has really stalled out since his early days in the league. Still with limited options at the quarterback position on the Jets roster, adding another signal caller will be the best move for New York moving forward. Whether that is adding Griffin or going another route has yet to be determined. Still the Jets interest in negotiating with Griffin shows that the team is open about him potentially joining on board. Keep an eye on whether or not the team and Griffin continue future talks and whether or not they can strike a deal. Don’t be surprised if the Jets take a chance on the 5th year quarterback, he has 40 touchdowns passes and 23 interceptions over the course of his career. Showing that in the right system he just might have a chance to succeed. Manziel on the other hand is facing an uphill battle. After what was a once a promising athletic career at the collegiate ranks. Johnny Manziel has been his own worst enemy on his personal path to destruction. He has had many run in’s with the law and has been a big distraction for the Cleveland Browns. In Manziel’s defense the Browns should of rolled out the red carpet from day 1 for Manziel. Instead of choosing to try to humble the young signal caller. That philosophy from the Browns actually helped play a role in Manziel’s regression because they essentially took away what he does best (play football). Manziel should of did his best to keep his hands clean, however it was clear at some point head coach Mike Pettine wasn’t going to let Manziel start for his team. This might be the best thing that ever happened to Manziel, and hopefully some team will give him a shot and give him a chance to be the player he was supposed to be.

Charity of the day: Food Bank for New York City

Go donate! www.foodbanknyc.org

Jags get even stronger by signing Prince Amukamara:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars continue their historic offseason by landing Prince Amukamara from the New York Giants. Amukamara is a cornerback who can come in and immediately contribute to the Jaguars defense. While Amukamara didn’t have the season he would of liked to in 2015. Largely due to the fact that he was battling a partially torn pec muscle and had to miss 5 games of action. He still is an upgrade to the Jaguars secondary and the team gets a step closer to putting a winning product on the field. It’s no secret that Jacksonville is a much more attractive location this offseason because of quarterback Blake Bortles’ progression. That makes players like Amukamara want to take a chance on Jacksonville and see if their contributions can be enough to get this team over the hump. Amukamara has recorded 4 interceptions over the last two seasons but if he can stay healthy he could get back to the player he once was coming out of Nebraska. Sometimes a fresh start with a new team can be great opportunity for a player. We’ve seen players like Sam Bradford go from being a player who was unwanted to a player that is coveted. The Jaguars will offer Amukamara a chance to have a similar turn around but ultimately it will come down to him staying on the football field and playing all 16 games. The Jaguars will also have a fresh new defensive  tackle in Malik Jackson to help pressure opposing quarterbacks. Hopefully that will make Prince Amukamara’s job easier on the backend and will result in big numbers from the newly acquired defensive back. At the end of the day you really have to give credit to the team’s front office for putting the Jaguars in a position to have all this free cap space. That will allow the team to put the most talented roster on the field since the Mark Brunnell days. It should be interesting to watch this team play in 2016.

Charity of the day: Project HOPE

Go donate! www.projecthope.org

Giants make a commitment to turning around their defense by signing 3 key players in FA:

Photo credit: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants had an awful defense in 2015. So bad that the team was ranked dead last in the entire league in terms of yards surrendered. In order to prevent that from happening again the Giants spent big money and brought in some good talent. One of the biggest additions the Giants made was landing cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins was rumored to be heading to Los Angeles to join the Rams in their relocation to southern California. However the Giants offer of 5 years $62.5 million dollars was enough to bring Jenkins to New York. Jenkins will help upgrade the back end of the Giants defense. He finished the last two seasons with 9 interceptions and is excellent in coverage vs big time receivers. The Giants are hoping that he can help keep opposing offenses in check but went a step further to ensure that happens. The G-Men also added Olivier Vernon to their pass rushing efforts to put pressure on other team’s quarterbacks. Vernon was one of the top defensive ends on the free agency market and New York gave him the biggest contract a defensive end has ever received. That deal was worth $85 million over 5 years with $52.5 million dollars of that contract being guaranteed money. Vernon finished the 2015 season with 61 tackles and 7.5 sacks, showing that he can provide a spark to the Giants when it comes to rushing the quarterback. Those efforts will be huge next to Jason Pierre Paul now that the Giants managed to retain the 6th year pass rusher. Getting JPP back puts the Giants in a great position to have success in 2016. Pierre-Paul has been with the team for some time now and it was a good move bringing the long time Giant back. General Manger Jerry Reese is doing everything he can to put Ben McAdoo in a position to succeed in his first season as Head Coach of the New York Football Giants. It should be noted Reese also added Damon Harrison to that defensive front as well. So clearly Reese believes McAdoo who is an offensive minded coach can handle the offense. Therefore it was in the teams best interest to stack the defense. That is exactly what New York did, and they look like a much better team on paper already.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

Why the Broncos won’t repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2016:

Photo credit: Timothy A. Clary

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos are quickly regressing from the team they were in 2015. First they lost Peyton Manning and while Manning was aging, he still provided leadership and established a tone for this football team. That wouldn’t have been a big problem if the team was able to replace Manning with standout back up QB Brock Osweiler. Except Osweiler decided to skip town for Houston to start his own legacy and collect on a huge payday. That led Broncos General Manger John Elway to release a statement that was somewhere along the lines of “we want to win with people who want to be here.” Which was clearly a statement made out of frustration due to the Osweiler departure. Losing Osweiler hurt but the Broncos could of landed another QB and survived, the real key was keeping as much of the defense together as they could. That dream came crashing down when Malik Jackon and Danny Trevathan decided to leave the team and start their careers somewhere else. So you have a team that already had significant losses and now there are reports that C.J Anderson has signed an offer sheet with the Miami Dolphins. Losing those two key defensive player sets the Broncos back significantly. Losing C.J Anderson would ultimately spell disaster for Denver. The philosophy all season long and for much of the postseason was let Anderson where you down and then let the defense come through and punch opposing team’s lights out. If the Broncos take a hit in both of the areas this team will 100% not repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Broncos have the option to match the Dolphins offer sheet on Anderson but keep in mind they’ve lost so many players up to this point because they are already strapped for cap space. It’s really not looking good for the Broncos and on top of that they are looking at Colin Kaepernick to potentially be their starting quarterback in 2016. A guy who wasn’t even good enough to start for his team (49ers) last season. It’s safe to say the Broncos will likely be a one and done team when it comes to winning Super Bowls during the Elway era. It’s better than never winning one at all though.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

Jets sign Matt Forte to replace departing Chris Ivory:

Photo credit: David Banks

Author: Jon Kuzma

Chris Ivory is official out and Matt Forte is officially in. The Jets signed Forte today and plug in a guy who can help limit the loss that Ivory would of left in his departure to Jacksonville. Forte at 30 years old can still get the job done. He accounted for nearly a 3rd of the Bears total offense in 2015. He can get it done on the ground as a runner where he managed to rush for 898 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Forte can also be an effective running back out the backfield in the passing game as well. In fact he has been one of the most productive pass catching running backs in the last decade. The Jets have to be extremely excited about that, and they aren’t the only ones. Brandon Marshall expressed his happiness over the Jets signing Forte in Tweet, and the two will be back together on the same offense for the first time since their old Bears days. Forte will certainly give the Jets a big boost on the ground but the team will struggle if they don’t find a quarterback to put next to Forte and to feed Marshall. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the ideal option but there hasn’t been any word on whether or not he is going to re-sign. Colin Kaepernick has expressed his interest in joining the Jets but he would be a step back from Fitzpatrick at this point in time. You’d have to think if Fitz does indeed come back he would be happy about the team pursuing Forte. Things were going to be rough with no running back to replace Ivory. With Forte in the mix the Jets won’t regress very much at all at the halfback position. Forte gets the fresh start they he very much deserves and don’t be surprised if he pumps out two or three successful seasons in New York.

Charity of the day: Arbor Day Foundation

Go donate! www.arborday.org

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