The Ravens emerge as the front-runner to sign Nick Mangold:

Photo credit: George Gojkovich / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Baltimore Ravens General Manger Ozzie Newsome has recently announced that it’s a “high probability” the Ravens will sign Nick Mangold. After losing Ricky Wagner in free agency and trading away Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens need to sign someone to keep this team competitive on the offensive line. Apparently Baltimore’s front office is working overtime to strike a deal with Mangold and bringing in a 7x Pro Bowler will definitely put the Ravens in a better situation offensively. Mangold can come in and help mentor the younger players on the roster and he will give the Ravens a little bit of nastiness upfront. That will not only help Joe Flacco significantly but it will also help the Ravens run the ball more effectively which will help the offense as a collective unit. Nick Mangold is 33 years old so he is definitely entering the twilight of his playing career. Keep in mind though guys like Bruce Matthews and Jackie Slater were able to play past 40 years old on the offensive line and Mangold has a chance to go down a similar path if he desires. That’s becoming less and less common in today’s era with more awareness about football injuries. Still Mangold is certainly talented enough to play that long and he will have to weigh his options when the time comes. You would think that the Ravens would offer Mangold a 2 year deal if they do sign him, just to make some kind of commitment to the veteran center. Maybe the Ravens go for an even shorter duration though and try to sign Mangold to a 1 year deal. All of these assumptions are just speculation right now but don’t be surprised if a deal materializes shortly. We know the Ravens are putting their efforts toward signing Nick Mangold, now we have to get a feel for what Mangold is thinking? Mangold’s mindset is likely weighing all his options but if the money is good enough expect to see Mangold back on the field shortly.

Charity of the day: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Go donate! www.lls.org

Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement and expect him to join the Oakland Raiders shortly:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Marshawn Lynch recently met with Jack Del Rio and shortly after that meeting Lynch decided that he will indeed come out of retirement. That should tell you all you need to know about how that meeting went and the rumors of Marshawn Lynch unretiring were true in the end. Lynch is 30 years old so it’s very possible he can churn out a couple of successful seasons but keep in mind most running backs slow down at the 30 year old mark. It will be interesting to see if Lynch can handle being older than 30 and if anyone can do it it’s Marshawn Lynch. This guy was one of the best running backs in all of football before sitting out the 2016 season. Lynch is a 5 time Pro Bowler and has 74 career rushing touchdowns. If the Raiders wants a guy that can take pressure off of Derek Carr and help replace Latavius Murray Marshawn Lynch is certainly that guy and this will be a great addition for Oakland. Seattle seemed to alienate Lynch somehow and that was clear in Lynch’s abrupt retirement. However the opportunity of playing for his hometown Raiders was too good of an opportunity for Lynch to pass up on. Lynch only had 417 yards and 3 touchdowns in his last season of action. Keep in mind though Lynch was hurt for most of that year with a sports hernia and a hamstring injury. Some time away from the game should have allowed Lynch’s body to heal a little bit and that means beast mode has a chance to come back fresh. A well rested Marshawn Lynch who isn’t fatigued in any way has the potential to be a dangerous player for the Raiders. That’s because Marshawn Lynch has had to time to relax not only physically but mentally as well. Putting your mind at ease will allow you to recharge your batteries and Marshawn Lynch has a chance to really do something special in Oakland. To be honest his situation is one of the best “hometown hero” stories in sports right now.

The Timmy Jernigan trade is more proof that NFL general managers just don’t get it:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

First Randy Moss got traded for a 4th round pick when he was clearly a 1st round talent. Then Brock Osweiler got signed to a $72 million dollar contract. Then Kony Ealy got dealt in a bad trade by the Panthers and now Timmy Jernigan is being shipped to Philadelphia so the Ravens can move up 25 spots in the 3rd round. What do all of these acquisitions have in common? The fact that these NFL general managers are mostly suits who know nothing about the game of football or at least nothing about assessing NFL talent. Every year we see a bone headed move like the Rams made last year when they gave up their whole future to draft Jared Goff. Which proves to football fans time and time again that these NFL G.M’s are overpaid and under-producing individuals. In Ozzie Newsome’s defense he is one of the better general managers in the league but unfortunately this was one of his worst deals. While Jernigan was expected to leave after the 2017 season, trading Jernigan to move up 25 spots in the 3rd round is a lackluster trade. Jernigan could have helped the Ravens defense this upcoming season and Baltimore had one of the better defenses in the NFL last year (The Ravens ranked 7th in total defense). Losing Jernigan will hurt that ranking especially since he recorded 5 sacks last year playing an interior defensive lineman position. The Ravens will end up missing that pressure next season more than they realize and it would have been better to ride Jernigan’s contract out. The fans of Baltimore deserve a winning product on the football field and the Ravens hurt their chances of achieving that goal when they traded away Timmy Jernigan. Baltimore has some other young players on that defensive front that they can plug in to make up for the loss but make no mistake about it none of them have produced like Jernigan. The good news is if you’re an Eagles fan you just robbed the Ravens blind. Not only did you land Jernigan you also got a 3rd round pick in the trade. Which essentially means Philadelphia bolsters their defensive line with Timmy Jernigan and they still have a 3rd round pick which can be used to draft a player. Not a bad deal at all and the Eagles front office deserves credit for swindling the Ravens.

Charity of the day: CARE USA

Go donate! www.care.org

 

Whether you like Jay Cutler or not, he definitely deserves to be on an NFL roster:

Photo credit: Cliff McBride / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With Jay Cutler still unsigned it’s become overwhelming clear that NFL teams are reluctant to sign players if they’re unlikable. Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned because he decided to voice his frustrations with America and Jay Cutler is unsigned because the consensus has decided that Cutler is an unpleasant guy. Here is the catch though, even if you don’t like Jay Cutler he still deserves to be on an NFL roster. Cutler has thrown 208 touchdowns passes and and over 32,000 yards during the course of his NFL career. To blackball Cutler now because the world has conformed to a false preconceived notion just shows how lackadaisical humanity has became when it’s comes to independent thinking. Why determine Cutler’s worth for yourself when you can just follow the status quo and their perceived worth of Jay Cutler? The answer why you shouldn’t just go with the flow and write Jay Cutler off is the fact that Cutler still has an opportunity to produce. A new team and a new system could revitalize Jay Cutler’s spirits and that would likely mean much more production from the 33 year old quarterback. When you also factor in that Cutler never truly had that good of weapons receiver wise in Chicago, you can begin to see how a new home would greatly benefit Cutler. The days of not having a receiver that can go over the 1,000 yards receiving mark should be in the rear view mirror for Cutler and the Houston Texans should go out and get this guy right now. If you don’t think Cutler will put up better production than Brock Osweiler you’re sadly mistaken. Not only that but Tom Savage isn’t going to win you very many games in this league. So if you’re Houston’s front office it’s a no brainer you should sign Cutler and imagine how well the veteran quarterback would do with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Both of those receivers can work the vertical passing game and Jay Cutler has enough arm strength to beat the defense over top. That would be a match made in heaven and it won’t cost the Texans $72 million dollars to make the deal happen. Cutler deserves that opportunity and it will be because of ignorance if he doesn’t get the chance

Charity of the day: CARE USA

Go donate! www.care.org

Tony Romo announces he will retire from pro football after 13 seasons with the Cowboys:

Photo credit: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tony Romo era is officially coming to an end. Romo has told the media that he plans on retiring from pro football to pursue a career in sports media. It’s been reported that Romo has been exploring contract options with CBS and Fox, meaning you will most likely see Tony Romo on some kind of NFL pre game show next season. While Romo never won a Super Bowl as a player there were still some bright moments for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Romo was exceptional in the regular season and his best year came in 2014 when he threw for 34 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. When Tony Romo was playing like that he was a quarterback to be feared and opposing NFC East teams will be happy they don’t have to face number 9 anymore. Tony Romo is 36 years old right now so it’s the perfect time to walk away from the NFL. After going through a number of injuries which include a broken back and shoulder, there really wasn’t much left in the tank for Romo. All off-season NFL insiders have speculated that Romo would sign with either the Denver Broncos or Houston Texans but eventually both of those teams withdrew interest in the veteran quarterback. That left very few options for Tony Romo and now we know that the 13 year signal caller anticipates moving on from his playing days. Romo is likely bummed out that he has played his last football game but this gives him a chance to re-evaluate life and find out what the next chapter brings. The sports media route could suit Romo well, who has always been a very likeable person. That gig will also be much more relaxed than the pressure Romo faced while commanding the Cowboys offense. Overall It’s been a great run and we all should take the time to celebrate Tony Romo’s career. He was a first class player.

Charity of the day: Yosemite Conservancy

Go donate! www.yosemiteconservancy.org

The Redskins got a hell of a player when they signed Zach Brown today:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Washington Redskins got a terrific player when they signed former Bills Linebacker Zach Brown today. Brown is one of the better linebackers in the league and he finished last year with 149 tackles, 4 sacks, and 1 interception. The Bills should have done everything they could to retain Brown but Buffalo’s loss is now the Redskins treasure. Zach Brown is only 27 years old so he should have at least 5 years left in the tank. Brown only signed a 1 year $4.65 million dollar contract with the Redskins which means Brown will have to earn a contract extension if he wants to stay in Washington. Based on Brown’s past play you have to expect that will likely happen because Zach Brown is a pure football player when it comes down to it. Brown was a Pro Bowler last season so it seemed like he should have received a multiple year contract. However the Redskins believed a 1 year contract would allow the team to assess Brown’s skill set and see how well he can fit into Greg Manusky’s defense. Brown has an exceptional presence in the middle of the field and he is a strong leader in the locker room, which should help the Redskins improve on their 28th overall defensive ranking. The idea is Zach Brown will come in and clamp down between the tackles while Josh Norman and the rest of the defense will handle everything else. The Redskins needed this move to gain a little ground in the NFC East especially after the Giants, and Eagles had a great off-season. Dallas also has the leading rusher in the NFL, so Brown should help in Washington’s goal to contain Ezekiel Elliott. Overall this is a huge deal and Jay Gruden improves his roster quite significantly.

Charity of the day: Yosemite Conservancy

Go donate! www.yosemiteconservancy.org

Deion Jones was a big reason the Atlanta Falcons had such a good season last year:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Image Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Atlanta Falcons selected Deion Jones with their 2nd round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and Jones had a tremendous impact as a rookie. Deion Jones recorded 108 tackles, 3 interceptions, and scored 2 defensive touchdowns for the Falcons defense. While most rookies struggle to get on the field in their first year of pro football action, Jones instead set the bar high and will be the blueprint for rookie linebackers for years to come. When you actually breakdown what makes Jones so good you immediately notice that he has exceptional speed for a linebacker. Jones can react quickly and fill a gap or he can flow side line to sideline and finish plays off. It’s Jones instincts combined with his fast twitch responses that allow him to be a great linebacker. That skill set has really elevated the Falcons defensively and they needed a player like Jones to set the tempo. Not only is Deion Jones making plays in the running game, he is also an extremely efficient pass defender as well. Jones’ speed allows him to break on those intermediate routes quickly and that’s why we seen Jones intercept 3 passes last year. The majority of defensive backs in the league didn’t record 3 interceptions so that tells you how talented Deion Jones is from a coverage perspective. Finally we have to praise Deion Jones’ big play capability. We talked about how Jones scored 2 defensive touchdowns and that’s 12 points that Atlanta got out of their middle linebacker. If the Falcons can get a few more players that can intercept passes or recover fumbles and take them to house, Atlanta will have a terrific scoring defense. The Falcons also should get a huge boost from signing Donatari Poe, a player that will help keep offensive lineman from blocking Jones. So the future is bright for the Falcons young linebacker and look for him to build upon the success he has had this up to this point. So far so good for Deion Jones.

Charity of the day: Cancer Research Institute

Go donate! www.cancerresearch.org

The resurgence of Kenny Britt was an interesting story line in 2016:

Photo credit: NurPhoto

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Los Angeles Rams had a completely dysfunctional offense during the 2016 season but Kenny Britt managed to somehow still be productive. Britt hauled in 1,002 receiving yards and believe it or not that was the first time in Britt’s career that he went over the 1,000 yards receiving mark in a season. Kenny Britt is entering his 9th season so he has had plenty of time to achieve that feat but never was able to do so until last year with the Rams. Kenny Britt actually signed with the Cleveland Browns during the off-season and now the veteran receiver will focus on making plays in Hue Jackson’s offense. With Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt the Browns have two outside receivers that can deliver results near the sidelines. Which means the Browns have a chance to at least threaten opposing defenses through the air in 2017. Losing Terrelle Pryor certainly hurts this receiving core and it would have been nice to have Coleman, Pryor, and Britt for trips sets. However the Brown still have the NFL Draft to improve their roster and we know Hue Jackson is an offensive minded coach. Even though the Browns are going to draft Myles Garrett number 1 overall, they still could take a few offensive players in the draft to solidify that side of the ball. Overall though It’s a good fit for Kenny Britt because Jackson will get the most out of Britt. That could eventually extend Britt’s career and that makes it a good business move for the newly acquired receiver. When you have your best NFL season 8 years into your career you want to capitalize on that success and focus on longevity. Kenny Britt’s agent is definitely thinking that if Kenny Britt isn’t and expect to see this guy in the fold for at least the next 4 years. That’s because Britt signed a 4 year $32.5 million dollar contract with Cleveland and so it’s safe to say he will be in Ohio for the foreseeable future.

Charity of the day: Cancer Research Institute

Go donate! www.cancerresearch.org

Gold Standard: Markus Golden put together a remarkable 2016 season

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Arizona Cardinals struggled in 2016 but Markus Golden sure did shine individually. The Arizona outside linebacker had a terrific year recording 51 tackles, 12 and a half sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. That’s a huge amount of production for the 3rd year linebacker out of the University of Missouri and the Cardinals have to be pleased with Golden this far. After showing glimpses of success in 2015 with 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, Golden made huge strides in 2016. Those are marquee player stats that Golden recorded and now we have to respect Markus Golden as one of the top tier linebackers in the National Football League. One big season like that means Golden has arrived at the party, now Golden has to build upon his legacy. You do that in the National Football League by consistently putting up big numbers (seasons of at least 10 sacks if you’re a pass rusher) and now that should be the mark each year for Markus Golden. With the National Football League full of talented quarterbacks Golden is exactly what the Cardinals needs to keep those QB’s on their heels. When you watch tape on Markus Golden you immediately notice that he plays with a tenacity and the other players around him feed off that energy. Golden gives maximum effort on every play and his motor never shuts off as a defender. Those are some of the best things you can say about a defensive player and you can definitely win some games with this guy on your roster. When one defender gives you 12 sacks on the year it makes life so much easier for that defensive unit as a whole. Golden consistently brought a wicked pass rush in 2016 and now we have to look out for Markus Golden like we do with the Von Millers, Khalil Macks, and JJ Watts of the league. One more big season and Golden could emerge into that class and that’s high praise when you consider how good those players truly are. It’s safe to say the Cardinals have an outstanding player in Markus Golden.

Charity of the day: Union of Concerned Scientists

Go donate! www.ucsusa.org

Now that Case Keenum has signed with the Vikings, Jared Goff will be front and center in his second NFL season:

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news breaking today that Case Keenum has signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Vikings, that means Jared Goff will be front and center in his second NFL season. If you don’t remember the Rams drafted Goff number 1 overall in the 2016 Draft and then Keenum beat out Goff for the starting job. Eventually Jared Goff dethroned Case Keenum at the end of the season and it appears now there is no looking back for Goff. With Keenum in Minnesota Goff will be the day one starter in Los Angeles and it’s about making strides if your second year quarterback. Goff struggled in his first year of professional football lacking awareness and often looking out of sync. This second season will be a great opportunity for Goff to prove his worth and shake off those rookie season jitters. That means Jared Goff has to first and foremost do a better job with his execution. If you don’t remember Goff struggled taking snaps under center and didn’t grasp the pro style offense very well. In Goff’s defense he has always operated out of spread formations but that can’t be an excuse when you’re expected to be the leader of this football team. Jared Goff also struggled with his overall production throwing only 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The Rams are going to need a lot more than that out of Goff in 2017 because there is no Case Keenum to relieve the young QB if he struggles. The Rams tried to bring in as many free agents as they possible could in free agency but the moves weren’t enough to put Jared Goff in a “good situation.” If Los Angeles has any shot at competing in 2017 it will be because of Goff’s progression and the sophomore signal caller has to be the polar opposite of what he was last season. It’s officially Jared Goff’s time for better or worse in Los Angeles.

Charity of the day: Make A Wish

Go donate! www.wish.org

 

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