James Jones and Dwight Freeney have both found homes:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Today two notable free agents signed contracts for the 2016 season and those players are James Jones and Dwight Freeney. Jones signed with the San Diego Chargers and the former Packers receiver could come in and essentially be the 3rd receiver in this offense behind Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen. Jones finished last season with 890 yards and 8 touchdowns so he can still give the Chargers a little bit of production. It will be up to quarterback Philip Rivers to develop a bond with Jones and those two will both benefit from good cohesion. Jones is 32 years old so if he does play well with the Chargers this season it’s definitely an opportunity to prove his worth when it comes to a contract in 2017. So right now the best course of action for Jones is to get in the best shape of his life and make sure he puts a specific focus on his athleticism. If Jones can get a step quicker and go the extra mile to prepare his body physically that’s when you will see him excel in this role. That should be Jones main objective and hopefully he has been taking his training serious this off-season. As far Dwight Freeney goes, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Freeney had 8 sacks last season with the Arizona Cardinals and now is hoping to have a similar impact with the Falcons. Atlanta gets an aging pass rusher who is still quite productive, but the biggest thing is Freeney mentoring the younger players on this roster. Including Vic Beasley who would benefit greatly from learning the Dwight Freeney spin move. So this a good move for the Falcons talent wise and we are lucky as football fans to get another season of Dwight Freeney. This guy has been an absolute competitor his entire career and he will give it one more go in 2016. Congratulations to both player.

Charity of the day: Homes for Our Troops

Go donate! www.hfotusa.org

Hard work earns Tyrann Mathieu a 62 million dollar contract extension:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Tyrann Mathieu has walked the walk ever since becoming a pro back in 2013 and now the Arizona Cardinals are compensating the fourth year player handsomely. News out of Arizona is the Cardinals signed a contract extension with Mathieu that will pay him $62 million dollars over the course of 5 seasons. That is top dollar for a safety and it will also make Mathieu the highest paid safety in the league. The Cardinals gave Mathieu this contract even as he is recovering from an ACL tear. However Mathieu has bounced back from numerous injuries in the past and he just keeps getting better and better. There is a reason Tyrann Mathieu is the highest paid player in the league, it’s because the guy flat out works his ass off. You don’t bounce back from these major injuries unless you are dedicated to rehabilitation and we all should praise Mathieu’s focus. This is one of the best stories in the National Football League right now. A player who has gone through challenges in life just like any other person. Except Mathieu always bounces back when faced with adversity. He is putting together a legacy that is going to certainly put a lot of dollars in the Arizona Cardinals pocket and that is why it was a no brainer to reward this guy with a big contract. Mathieu will be the face of this franchise for years to come and he is also transitioning from a young player into a savvy veteran. That is bad news for opposing offenses and the legend of the honey badger lives on. He should embrace that moniker because it’s a symbol of how triumphant he truly has been and we wish Tyrann Mathieu nothing but success in the future.

Charity of the day: Homes for Our Troops

Go donate! www.hfotusa.org

Michael Thomas continues to impress at Saints camp:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Former Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Michael Thomas has continued to look stellar at Saints practices and that is great news for New Orleans. The Saints drafted Michael Thomas in the second round hoping he could provide an impact for this offense. So far Michael Thomas has been hands down the best player at Saints camp and he seems to be outperforming expectations up to this point. Thomas is a 6 foot 3 212 pound receiver who has a knack for making plays. One things Thomas told the media he takes pride in is his ball skills and being able to make grabs despite being closely covered. It’s those skills that made him such a productive receiver for Ohio State and now he will team up with Drew Brees looking to continue his dominance. The NFL defensive backs Thomas faces will be much more talented but he is no slouch himself. This is player who could come in and produce 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie. Not many players are capable of doing that but he is definitely a rare specimen and that works in his favor. The hype Michael Thomas has been receiving is a result of his cumulative hard work and many NFL execs believe his game will translate over to the regular season. That could make Thomas a steal for your fantasy football team and you could get him later on in the draft making him a great value pick. Not a bad option for a guy on your bench and if he does produce in the regular season you could easily move him to the starting line up. Right now it’s about waiting and seeing if Thomas can be the same player when the official games start. So far he has given us no reason to doubt that he will be. Mike Thomas appears to be the real deal thus far.

Charity of the day: Global Fund for Women

Go donate! www.globalfundforwomen.org

Chandler Jones has been receiving high praise from the Cardinals organization:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots made as a shocking move when they traded away Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals and now Jones appears to be making a splash in the desert. Cardinals players have been raving about Jones since he joined the team and Jones appears to be a huge piece to the Cardinals defense. Last year the team recorded 36 sacks and in order to bolster that production the team acquired Jones in exchange for Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round draft pick. Now Cardinals players believe Jones can be the x-factor for this defense as they head into the 2016 season. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu both believe Jones is a 20 sack player and if he plays at an optimal level he could easily be north of 12.5 sacks. Especially since he now plays in the NFC West and the teams in that conference aren’t known for their stellar offensive line play. So Chandler Jones has a great opportunity to be an elite football player for the Cardinals and he is also playing for his next contract. That means Jones will be hungrier than ever and that could be why the Patriots moved him. Jones will likely receive a mega-contract when he signs his next deal and maybe the Patriots wanted to avoid that financial commitment. Regardless though it was good move for the Cardinals to acquire Jones because at the end of the day he makes this roster much more talented. The Cardinals are the closest they’ve been in a long time to winning a Super Bowl. With the additions of Robert Nkemdiche and Chandler Jones the Cardinals will be in great shape to make a run. Now it’s about going out there and executing on the field. Chandler Jones will do everything he can to ensure that happens.

Charity of the day: Global Fund for Women

Go donate! www.globalfundforwomen.org

With NFL teams back to work it’s beginning to feel like football season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

It feels good getting updates from around the league about the events happening at NFL training camps and soon the 2016 season will be here. That means 32 teams will start with a clean slate hoping to achieve the greatest feat in sports, winning a Vince Lombardi trophy. While this year teams will compete to win Super Bowl 51, the love of football started along time ago for me personally. You have to go all the way back 1994 and the Pontiac Silverdome to understand where the inspiration to play, coach, and write about football came from. On that day my aunt and uncle had taken my cousin and I to a Detroit Lions football game and we witnessed one of the most dominant performances I’ve ever seen in live person. That performance was turned in by none other than Detroit legend Barry Sanders who rushed for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Lions defeat the Vikings 41-19 that day. From that moment on I always had a deep appreciation for the game of football and I was a life long Barry Sanders fan. Although Barry eventually walked away from the game, I still didn’t loose the admiration I had for the league itself. My very first book report in school was about Jerry Rice and how he was the most gifted wide receiver to ever live. My interest soon almost turned into an obsession when I researched past NFL greats and soaked up the games rich history. That led to knowledge on Hall of Famers like Ray Nitschke, Deacon Jones, and Jack Lambert. All players who helped pave the way for the NFL we see today, which has become the most commercialized sport in the world I might add. Without their contributions none of this happens here today in the present era. When is the last time you seen a new rookie defensive end say “ I want to be Deacon Jones great!” It doesn’t happen and it really should. Regardless though there is one moment along my football journey that stands out to me. That is when I watched on the NFL network how football was nearly outlawed back in the early 1900s and how Teddy Roosevelt stepped up and practically saved the sport. Apparently there were many players dying during participation and many newspapers were calling for the sport’s death penalty. Ultimately Roosevelt swayed us away from that decision to help us learn how to take on adversity. Roosevelt talked about how the game tested men’s character and prepared them for the hardships faced in life. Which led me to reflect on my own personal playing experience and coaching experience. Everything Roosevelt said was true, football did make you more responsible and structured. It did test you by making you face challenges and by teaching you to persevere through the tough times. So when we are starting a new football season and people say this sport is brutal and this sport needs to end. Remember football is built into America’s culture and helped us become the nation we are today. You can’t tell me that a league in which every single team is worth a billion dollars isn’t playing a major role in our economy and the value of the league as a whole is worth more than $60 billion dollars. The NFL is bigger than ever and it’s because of those past greats, it’s because this is a team game, and in the end it’s because it’s the greatest sport on earth. I wish all the 32 teams a safe road to the Lombardi trophy and lets have a great year as we enter the NFL’s 97th season. It truly is a blessing that we get to take part in this game.

Charity of the day: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Go donate! www.pancan.org

The Kansas City Chiefs took a huge risk on Eric Fisher:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

With news coming out of Kansas City that the Chiefs signed offensive tackle Eric Fisher to a 4 year $48 million dollar contract one has to wonder if Fisher is worth this kind of deal? The former number 1 overall draft pick has stumbled at times since being drafted by the Chiefs and this deal certainly surprised a few around the league. The Chiefs are betting on Fisher and hoping he will emerge into a player worth this kind of contract. However right now at this moment Fisher is a little below those expectations. Fisher lost his starting job at one point last season and there has been rumors for some time that he wasn’t getting the job done for Andy Reid. Fisher has been no where near the level of what a first overall pick in the draft should be producing and at times it seemed like the two sides might part ways after Fisher’s initial contract. We know now that won’t be the case and now it will be about Fisher rising up to the challenge and becoming a staple of this offense line for the next 6 years. The good news for Eric Fisher is he is only 25 years old and still has plenty of time to become the player Andy Reid envisioned. Fisher will have to become much more aggressive to do so and he really has to unleash that bruiser mentality. Everyone knows coach Reid wants to run the ball and control the tempo. The Chiefs need Fisher to set the tone upfront and become a special player. Fisher will also be tasked with keeping defenders off quarterback Alex Smith. So there is a lot of responsibility that is falling on Fisher’s shoulders and we will see how he responds to the challenges. The first step for him will be starting every football game in 2016. Especially since the Chiefs paid him.

Charity of the day: Student Conservation Association

Go donate! www.thesca.org

Hold outs could affect two major players this upcoming season:

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Author: Jon Kuzmza

Everyone knows that the National Football League is a business and a lot of times those factors have an impact on the game. One example is with player contracts and how players go about negotiating with the teams they want to play for. Two particular hold outs that are coming up this season involve Joey Bosa and Deandre Hopkins. Bosa who was drafted by the Chargers has yet to sign his contract and the two sides seem very far apart. Bosa was a stand out defender at Ohio State last season but he has missed every single work out so far with the Chargers. That doesn’t send a good message to the San Diego Chargers organization and at some point Bosa has to accept that these decisions can have repercussions. On the opposite end of the argument Bosa obviously feels that he worth more than the Chargers have been willing to commit to and it will interesting to see how this thing plays out. Does Bosa not want to play for the Chargers at all? That is another question that could be asked but ultimately the Chargers have to find a way to reel him in. The Deandre Hopkins situation in Houston is another major hold out going on and Hopkins missed the first day of Texans training camp. The prolific receiver is looking to send a message to Texans brass that his contract is far below his value and he would like a new deal. Hopkins will make only $1 million dollars in 2016 and he was easily a top 5 receiver in the National Football League in 2015. Hopkins has 2 years left on his contract however the Texans can fine him $40,000 for each day missed. So this is situation that could easily end up bad and truthfully the Texans would be much better off just paying Hopkins now.

Charity of the day: Student Conservation Association

Go donate! www.thesca.org

Darius Slay inked a $48 million dollar contract extension with the Lions:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Detroit Lions feel like they have a special player in cornerback Darius Slay and that led the team to signing Slay to $48 million dollar contract extension. The deal will keep the Lions’ top cornerback in a Detroit uniform until at least 2020 and that is great news when you consider this team has traditionally struggled in the secondary. Slay has recorded 4 career interceptions in his first 3 seasons and he has really blossomed of late. He was excellent at shutting down opposing teams in the passing game and executives around league have really taken notice when it comes to Slay. If this deal hadn’t gotten done, Slay would have been entering his final season for Detroit and teams would of paid top dollar for his services. Now instead Slay will be a leader on the Detroit defense for years to come. Locking down a big time cover guy will certainly benefit this team and Detroit has put together a few solid moves this off-season defensively to guide them in right direction. That includes drafting A’Shawn Robinson, and now resigning Slay both moves that keep talent in the fold for the Lions for the long term. It will take a few more players to make Detroit a real competitor but they at least have some direction under Bob Quinn and Jim Caldwell. Now it’s about winning some football games and making Detroit a more desirable destination for free agents. If the Lions can start landing big time players in free agency that will help make life easier on the coaching staff and that is when you will really see Detroit soar. Until then it’s about taking it day by day and continuing to make the right moves. So far it seems like Bob Quinn has been able to do that.

Charity of the day: American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Go donate! www.afcaids.org

This upcoming season will be a great test for Russell Wilson:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks are the least talented they’ve been since entering the Pete Carroll era and that will put a lot of pressure on starting quarterback Russell Wilson. Gone is Marshawn Lynch who set the tone for the Seahawks and was the heart and soul of the offense. That means Wilson will be without the dominant presence of one of the leagues most feared running backs. On top of that the offensive line is almost depleted compared to two seasons ago when the team was riding high. So that also will put pressure on Wilson and his scrambling abilities will have to be at their best in order for this team to have success in 2016. Off the field it seems like Wilson is more distracted than ever as well. Wilson is frequently photographed by the paparazzi while vacationing with wife Ciara. If Wilson isn’t careful he could let his football career slip due to the fact that he is putting a preference on being a celebrity. It takes serious hard work to be an elite quarterback in the National Football League and many have had their doubts about Wilson ever since he threw an interception to lose Super Bowl XLIX. A truly great quarterback would have had the football IQ to call an audible and hand the ball off to Lynch but that didn’t happen and the rest is history. So there are certainly many factors why Russell Wilson could end up flopping in 2016 and if he does come out and exceed expectations. He will truly deserve the league’s respect and that will put all of the nay-sayers to rest. Success won’t come easy this season for Wilson, so he will have to be more focused than ever. Truthfully though it will be a great opportunity for Wilson to prove his worth. If he can lead this team to victory despite the difficult odds he will gain a whole lot of respect. It’s up to Wilson to go out and make it happen.

Charity of the day: Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

The Mike Zimmer extension lets you know the Vikings are closer than ever:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Minnesota Vikings announced that they signed Head Coach Mike Zimmer to a contract extension today and the move signifies the state of the Minnesota Vikings at the moment. The Vikings who are coming of a playoff appearance, are the closest they’ve been in a long time to winning a Super Bowl. Zimmer has took this team and elevated them ever since he landed in Minnesota and now the Vikings find themselves in rare circumstances. You have to remember the last 3 deep playoff runs for this team were with the Randy Moss, and Randall Cunningham days. The Brett Favre era when they came up just short of the Super Bowl against the Saints. Also in 2000 they were routed in the conference championship 41-0 by the Giants. Since those last 3 deep playoff runs the Vikings have never really been a contender. With Mike Zimmer they are very calculated and that has Minnesota looking better than they have in a long time. Adrian Peterson will carry the load for this team and truthfully he fits perfectly in Zimmer’s scheme. Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball and play outstanding defense. That formula bodes well for Peterson’s personal success and if they can get a few more plays out of Teddy Bridgewater. Good things will certainly happen for this football team. The team had a let down last year with the missed field against the Seahawks in a playoff game they should have won. Now it’s about moving past that and realizing they have another opportunity to do something special this year. Zimmer will have another year of experience under his belt, which means another layer of polish. So expect him to be coaching better than ever and the Vikings were smart to extend this guy’s contract. He is the best coach they’ve had since the late Denny Green and he gives the Vikings their best chance to be successful since 2013.

Charity of the day: Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

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