Browns are the big winner after trading down the 2nd overall pick:

Photo credit: Peter G. Aiken

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cleveland Browns entered the 2016 NFL draft with the 2nd overall pick and now they will be picking 8th overall. The Browns moved down six spots in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles and in return the Browns land 5 draft picks that will help Cleveland build in the future. Cleveland is the big winner in this trade because six spots isn’t that much to give up for what they got in return.The Browns obtained the 8th overall pick, a 3rd round pick, and a 4th round pick in this draft. Along with a 1st round pick next year, and a 2nd round pick in 2018 from the Eagles. Clearly Philly thinks they are making a good move because they will get one of the drafts top quarterbacks. However the Eagles gave up way too much in this trade and will pay the price for years to come. That letdown for the Eagles, is a celebration for the Cleveland Browns. The Browns load up on picks all of which can used to build the roster to new head coach Hue Jackson’s vision. Which means the Cleveland Browns will have the brightest future that the team has had in a long time. When the front office sets the tone by making positive moves for the better, it has a trickle down effect throughout the organization. When you combine that with a more talented roster, which the Browns will have after this trade. It’s easy to see good things are coming for the Cleveland Browns and I’d bet the house that they will be much better than 3-13. Their leadership has greatly improved from 2015 to 2016 and that is why we see trades like this happening for the Browns. It was a great move for the team and you have to beat upbeat about this organization’s future.

Charity of the day: Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Go donate! www.daref.org

The Carolina Panthers pulled Josh Norman’s franchise tag offer:

Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Josh Norman was one of the top cornerbacks in the National Football League last year while playing for the Carolina Panthers. Norman finished the 2015 season with 4 interceptions and did a great job of shutting down the most elite receivers the league has to offer. This off-season the Panthers and Norman were trying to strike a deal that would keep Norman in Carolina for the long haul, however the Panthers seemed reluctant to finalize that deal. Finally the Panthers decided to franchise tag Norman to at least keep him around for the 2016 season. Yet when it came time to sign the contract, Norman opted not to sign and effectively began a mini-holdout from Carolina. That must not have sat well with upper management in Carolina because the team has rescinded their franchise tag offer. That move made Josh Norman a free agent at around 2:30 P.M today and he has the choice to sign with any team in the league that he chooses. Rumors around the league are Norman would like to play in California, and we’ll see shortly what teams emerge as the likely candidate to land Josh Norman. You’d have to think Norman is somewhat happy with the decision because he will sign the big contract that he desires. The downside of the situation is the fact that Norman now will be leaving the Panthers and a team he helped guide to the Super Bowl last season. The departure is a surprise but the NFL is a business and the show must go on. Some team out there will get an excellent player and a guy who can come in and cut off half of the field in the passing game. Carolina will now have to look at filling that defensive back spot at some point in the draft, and right now Carolina is a worse football team defensively than they were a day ago.

Charity of the day: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America

Go donate! www.bbbs.org

The Philadelphia Eagles are the latest team to overpay for an early draft pick:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Philadelphia Eagles followed the Los Angeles Rams path today and traded up for the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft. Like the Rams, the Eagles had to give up several picks just to move up six spots in the draft and obtain the rights to draft either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. While some fans in Philadelphia are likely happy that one of the best two quarterbacks in the draft are coming to the Eagles. The move handcuffs the team for years to come and it will be hard for them to have success later on because of this trade. The Eagles gave up the their first round pick, third round pick, and fourth round pick in the 2016 draft. As well as their first round pick in the 2017 draft, and their second round pick in the 2018 draft. That is five picks total that the Eagles gave up to acquire a talent which has never played a down in the National Football league. Those five picks could have went a long way in making new head coach Doug Pederson’s job much easier, but the team felt like the gamble was worth the risk when it was all said and done. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman seemed to be extremely upbeat about the move, but that excitement now will eventually turn into disappointment later. The Eagles already paid two quarterbacks a large amount of money this offseason (Bradford, Daniels). So why would they move up to draft a quarterback? Maybe the team feels like they can move one of those other quarterbacks before the season starts? Maybe the plan is to have either Wentz or Goff sit and learn the game from the sidelines? Regardless when it comes to winning football games in 2016, drafting another quarterback doesn’t seem like the best answer. The team could of added another talented player to the mix who could of been on the field this upcoming season. That move would of made the Eagles a better team in 2016 and it would also saved their future from being depleted of draft picks. Roseman might feel like the big winner today, but we will see how he feels next year when he doesn’t have a draft pick in the first round. All the glamour and glitz will be gone at that point. This was a bad move for the Eagles.

Charity of the day: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America

Go donate! www.bbbs.org

Saints defensive woes must be addressed in the 2016 draft:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New Orleans Saints are heading into the 2016 NFL Draft with one of the worst defenses in all of football. The Saints finished the 2015 season ranked 31st overall in total yards surrendered. The team gave up 413 yards per game and really struggled to keep their team in football games. On the opposite side of the ball it was a totally different story. The passing offense was the best in the league and in order to bring balance to their football team. The Saints must do everything they can to add defensive playmakers, which can help the team get stops when the game is on the line. Now the Saints have a very good player in Cameron Jordan. Jordan contributes about 10 sacks a year for this team, however the Saints need to put other talented pieces around him to not only take pressure off of Jordan but also to elevate the rest of Saints defense as well. A good player who would go a long way in the Saints system would be a guy like Sheldon Rankins or A’Shawn Robinson. Either guy could come in and really hold down the defensive trenches for the gold and black. Either guy would also help in improving both the run defense and pass defense. Opposed to taking a defensive back early on who would only help the pass defensive. The defensive tackle spot is so crucial in plugging up running lanes and getting penetration on pass plays, that really it’s a no brainer for New Orleans. They need to start their draft off with one of those two guys or have a serious plan that addresses a number of holes on the defensive side of the ball. Drew Brees and Sean Payton only have so much time to bring another championship back to NOLA. Loading up on talented defenders would certainly give them the best shot. It will be up to the front office to execute that plan of action when the time comes in Chicago at the Draft. We’ll see if they get it right.

Charity of the day: Center for Reproductive Rights

Go donate! www.reproductiverights.org

Adam Gase will be the face of the Miami Dolphins moving forward:

Photo credit: Ron Elkman / Sports Imagery

Author: Jon Kuzma

Few people realize how many responsibilities a head football coaching job entails. You have to oversee a whole organization and lead that team both on and off of the field. Coaching football is a grueling job that requires an absurd amount of commitment and the ability to manage people. When Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hired Adam Gase as the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins it was because he expects Gase to handle those commitments, and the managing of people gracefully. Gase has earned a great reputation around the league as an effective offensive coordinator. Now Gase will have his role increased and he will now be front and center for the Dolphins organization. One thing Stephen Ross did say was “After three years, if we haven’t made the playoffs, we’re looking for a new coach.” While clearly Ross believes in Adam Gase or he wouldn’t have hired him. He put the pressure on his new coach to perform and within the three year window. Ross believes the NFL trend states that you have to win, and you have to win right now. Insinuating that the high turnover of coaches is due to lack of fan support. Ross is right, when morale starts to drop ticket sales plummet. That makes the whole process of running a football team much more costly. Ross hiring Gase is a business move and he believes the team will be in good hands under the first year coach’s vision. The Dolphins owner even stated that Gase could be as good as Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells proving his confidence in the Dolphins big offseason hire. Now with the the NFL Draft coming up look for the Dolphins to address their offensive needs. With Gase being an offensive minded coach, he’ll be looking to build the team around his personal philosophies. You’d have to think that means he’ll take an offensive player early which will allow him to call plays more effectively. Truthfully don’t be surprised if the Dolphins go offensive for a few picks early on. The team’s defense has some playmakers on it already and all the signs just point to improving the offense. Especially since Adam Gase is the man in charge these days down in Miami. It’ll be up to the coach to lead Miami back into the light.

Charity of the day: Center for Reproductive Rights

Go donate! www.reproductiverights.org

The Denver Broncos kept their ground game intact by retaining Ronnie Hillman:

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos did two things great during their 2015 Super Bowl run, and that was run the ball effectively and play outstanding defense. Broncos General Manager John Elway did everything he could this off-season to keep that formula intact. After retaining as many people as he could on the defensive side of the ball. Elway then started focusing on the offense by making sure that CJ Anderson doesn’t skip town for Miami and now Elway has struck a deal with Anderson’s backfield partner Ronnie Hillman. Anderson and Hillman were the primary options in Denver’s offense a season ago and having that one two punch backfield in the mix for 2016 should make life on Mark Sanchez much easier. Ronnie Hillman rushed for 863 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2015 and that was just too big of a chunk of production to let walk out the door for Broncos. Hillman signed a one year deal for roughly $2 million dollars, and having him back in the fold will give Denver a huge competitive edge in their rushing attack. The best part is both Anderson and Hillman can play at a high level, so as soon as Hillman gets tired you can just spell him with Anderson and vice versa. That allows the Broncos to essentially run wild on opposing defenses and establishing the run is one of the most basic fundamentals in football. During the Elway Super Bowl runs in Denver, the team had Terrell Davis to rely on. Having a player that talented must of left an impression on Elway because he made sure neither of his talented running backs departed this off-season. It was hard to understand the team’s vision early on when Osweiler, and Jackson were moving on. Now it’s clear the Broncos are doing everything they can to use the same recipe they used last year to get to the Super Bowl. That is let the defense suffocate opposing offenses and control the tempo of the game by running the football. Last year that formula ended in a Lombardi Trophy, we’ll see how it pans out in 2016?

harity of the day: World Resources Institute

Go donate! www.wri.org

What’s happening around the league? Off-season edition 3.0

Photo credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Trent Richardson is back in the league:

Trent Richardson will get another crack at establishing himself as a successful professional player. Richardson signed a deal to play for the Baltimore Ravens and will look to rewrite his past NFL letdowns. After being drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Richardson never lived up to expectations he set at the University of Alabama by running for 35 career touchdowns. That prompted the Browns to trade Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, where Richardson soon began to fizzle out. Now Richardson heads to Baltimore with a refreshed mindset looking to embark on a new path. Hopefully he learned a lot from those trying times and will be able to rise to the occasion this time around.

Brian Hoyer is released by the Houston Texans:

Brian Hoyer has been released from the Houston Texans and while the move might be somewhat of a surprise. The team did just add Brock Osweiler to their roster and that is ultimately why Hoyer was let go. Head Coach Bill O’Brien gave Brian Hoyer a lot of praise during the 2015 season, so you figured that O’Brien would keep Hoyer in a back up role. However that playoff game against the Chiefs likely swayed O’Brien away from Hoyer since he threw 4 interceptions and looked completely incompetent. The Jets expressed interest in Hoyer and we will see where the former Michigan State quarterback ends up next.

Brandon Browner heading back to Seattle:

The Seattle Seahawks are getting the band back together. The team announced that they are re-signing former Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner to a 1 year deal. Browner struggled last year with the Saints and is hoping that returning back to Pete Carroll’s system will spike his personal performance on the field. Browner recorded 10 interceptions during his time with the Seahawks, but only managed to make 2 interceptions in his time away from Seattle. One of those seasons was with the New England Patriots and the other was with the New Orleans Saints. Now Browner will look continue right where he left off with Seattle, and the Seahawks are hoping Browner will bring back that physical element the team has lacked since his departure. It should be a good fit for both parties.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

Go donate!  www.wri.org

Richard Rodgers is the Packers latest weapon to emerge:

Photo credit: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Green Bay Packers are known for their strong football tradition, so when you have a player that stands out playing there. It’s only a matter of time before that player gains significant recognition. For the Packers that player right now is Tight End Richard Rodgers. Rodgers has proven that he is a valuable piece to the Packers’ puzzle with his big time receiver capabilities. Rodgers was so good during the 2015 season that he finished the year with 8 touchdowns and 510 receiving yards. Eight touchdowns is a significant amount of production from the Tight End position and you have to imagine Rodgers’ role increasing as time moves forward. Aaron Rodgers is one of the better quarterbacks in the league and when you pair those talents with Richard Rodgers. A guy who can work the seam, and finish plays for this offense. It just bodes well for the Packers offense in 2016. On top of that you’d have to expect that Richard Rodgers and Aaron Rodgers connection will get better with time as well. The more repetitions that they put in developing that receiver / quarterback chemistry should also mean better results for Richard Rodgers receiving stats next season as well. It’s clear, the Packers made the right choice when they drafted Richard Rodgers in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. The guy has grown into the player that Ted Thompson envisioned when he drafted Rodgers out of the University of California. Now Richard Rodgers will wreak havoc on NFL defenses for years to come.

There are a lot of quality Tight Ends that are establishing themselves in the league right now. Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce are just a few to mention. Right behind them though, you have to like Richard Rodgers and everything he brings to the table. He has a bright future in this league.

Charity of the day: Performing Animal Welfare Society

Go Donate! www.pawsweb.org

Why Jared Goff is undoubtedly the number 1 pick in the 2016 draft:

Photo credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With speculation building up about who will be the number pick in the draft later on this month. It must be noted that most analysts are suggesting that Carson Wentz should be the number 1 pick in the draft. While Wentz will likely be a phenomenal player in the NFL someday, It’s Goff who should get the number 1 selection April 28th in Chicago. Goff threw for 43 touchdowns and 4,719 passing yards in 2015 at the division 1 FBS level. When you compare that to Wentz’s 17 touchdowns and 1,651 passing yards at the Division 1 FCS level (formerly Division 1 double-AA) the true tale of the tape begins to unfold. Goff was playing against talented Pac 12 opponents, while Wentz was taking on less talented Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents. Goff still managed to put up double the production that Wentz put up and when you compare those factors you begin to see why the Los Angeles Rams should go with Jared Goff number 1 overall. Every spring we have a few players that blow us away at the combine beyond their actually skills on the football field. As good as Carson Wentz has looked at the combine, it just feels like when the pads are on and we’re actually playing contact football. Goff will be the guy who rises to the occasion and handles himself the best. The guy (Goff) has been a better quarterback than Wentz his entire football career if you go back and trace the steps. At the high school level, Jared Goff holds every single passing record that Marin Catholic high school has. Goff threw for 40 touchdowns his senior year of high school and was a stellar quarterback. Wentz didn’t finish his high school career with any school records, his brother Zach Wentz held all of those. So when you go back and you see that Goff was better in high school, and Goff was better in college. What makes you think that Carson Wentz would emerge and be better as a pro? It’s very unlikely that will happen and it’s really quite easy to see that Goff is the best quarterback on the board.

*Note- Wentz was injured last year and that lead to his poor 2015 stats. Still injuries are a part of the game and a scout should consider that another knock against Wentz.

Charity of the day: National Park Trust

Go donate! https://www.parktrust.org

Picking up the option on DeAndre Hopkins’ contract was a no brainer for the Texans:

Photo credit: Ronald C. Modra / Sports Imagery

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans decided that they would pick up the 5th year option on star receiver DeAndre Hopkins contract. The choice was a no brainer for the Texans because Hopkins was one of the most dynamic wide receivers in all of football in 2015. Hopkins finished last season with 1,521 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. That kind of production was something the Texans organization couldn’t afford to lose and that is why we seen the team make sure Hopkins is in a Texans uniform until at least 2017. Hopkins has made a routine out of catching fade route passes on opposing defenders and the former Clemson receiver has really evolved into one of the premier receivers in the National Football League. Now with Brock Osweiler coming to Houston, you’d have to think that Hopkins will be even better in 2016. The Texans alternated between Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden at the quarterback position last year and Osweiler will be an upgrade over both of those players. Solidifying the quarterback position means Hopkins will be even more versatile on the field because Osweiler can deliver the ball to Hopkins in wider variety of ways than Brian Hoyer can. That will be crucial in the postseason and now the Texans have the chance to take the next step and maybe knock off a few AFC teams later on in the year. The option to pick the tab up on Hopkins contract also helps the team avoid any distraction on whether or not Hopkins is going to leave the team after the season. It also bodes well for the Texans in retaining Hopkins when his contract does expire as well because the team has properly communicated to Hopkins that they appreciate his efforts and will do everything they can to keep him in the fold. There was really no question at all when it came to this decision, and give credit to the Texans for making it happen.

Charity of the day: World Concern

Go donate! www.worldconcern.org

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