Ryan Fitzpatrick will reportedly sign a 1 year contract worth $12 million with the Jets

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been negotiating a contract for far longer than either side would have liked to. After 4 months of contact talks lingering over the New York Jets football team, sources around the league have learned that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be open to signing a 1 year contract for $12 million dollars. That one year contract would give Fitzpatrick the best option in terms of maximizing payout from the Jets and even though Fitz deserve a little more it still is the most he was going to get out of New York. The good news is Fitzpatrick will be able to test free agency again in 2017 and if he has a good season that could mean a chance at another big payday. The bad news for the Jets is he could very well bail on the team after having a big year and they won’t have him for the long duration like they would of if they just paid the guy what he deserved. At the same time though if Fitzpatrick busts in 2016 on the field, the Jets won’t have to be tied into a contract that they weren’t comfortable with signing to begin with. So the situation has a lot of different angles and variables, which is the main reason New York took their time to think out the process. Truthfully the team should be rushing to sign Fitzpatrick for $12 million because they will significantly drop off if he isn’t on the team’s roster. Geno Smith or Christian Hackenberg are no where ready to lead yet and the Jets got really lucky that Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t sign elsewhere. If this deal does materialize it will be great news for Jets fans and gang green will have their best chance of success since the early Rex Ryan days. Now it’s all about putting the ink on the bottom line and actually making it happen!

Charity of the day: Scholarship America

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The Jimmy Graham experiment didn’t go as well as expected for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks got a heck of a football player when they traded for Jimmy Graham. Graham is a big time tight end and he was supposed to pair along nicely with quarterback Russell Wilson. While Graham showed signs of promise by hauling in 605 receiving yards, his 2 touchdown receptions were much less than expected. Now in year 2 Graham will try to grow within his role the team and optimize his production. He will do that by staying healthy and working on that chemistry with Russell Wilson. If the two can establish a rhythm in the passing game that would go a long way in the teams NFC West efforts. Graham can work the middle of the field well but Wilson works better extending plays. Both Wilson and Graham will have to understand how each other react to certain situations. After a year of playing together you have to think that a lot of those wrinkles are worked out. We will see if that results in a spike of Jimmy Graham’s offensive output and it will certainly help that he is more comfortable in Seattle now. Compared to how he was when he was first traded to Seattle and had to meet all the new faces in the locker room. Now with Marshawn Lynch gone the Seahawks might have to rely more on the passing game and that also could be a good sign for Graham. This team depends on Russell Wilson’s legs to make plays for them in their offensive passing game. So that is going to be a big portion of the offense. That means more targets for Graham and ultimately more results for the Seahawks tight end. While Jimmy Graham didn’t do as well as everyone expected in 2015, it’s clear the days ahead are much brighter and he will only get better in this upcoming season for Seattle.

Charity of the day: Scholarship America

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Gerald McCoy is about as tough as it gets when it comes to interior defensive lineman:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

That Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense all starts upfront with Gerald McCoy. McCoy is a defensive tackle who overwhelms opposing offensive lineman on every single snap. In fact McCoy was so good in 2015 that he earned the ranking of 63rd best player in the league in the NFL’s Top 100 poll which measures the leagues best 100 players. McCoy had 8.5 sacks in 2015 and those are big numbers from a player that is an interior defensive lineman. McCoy showed an unusually quick burst and was constantly in the offensive backfield. Those abilities make him such a key piece to the Bucs defensive efforts and it always helps when you win in the trenches. Gerald McCoy makes that possible for Tampa Bay and outside of quarterbacks, defensive line is the most important position on the field. When you have a great defensive line it allows you take away the opposing team’s running game. You also consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks which drastically improves the defensive team’s chances of winning. McCoy is the foundation of those things for Tampa and he makes everyone else’s job on that defense easier. Buccaneers defensive backs don’t have to cover as long when Gerald Mccoy is on the field and the linebackers are better protected when Mccoy is going as well. That is because McCoy is constantly drawing double teams and that leaves one other player on Tampa’s defense unaccounted for. So you can see just how many ways Gerald McCoy has an impact and keep an eye on whether or not he can improve his 63rd ranking by having a big year. If that happens the Buccaneers chances for success will greatly increase and we will see if they can gain some ground in the NFC South. The team will improve with Winston’s growth and McCoy has to handle things on the opposite side of the ball. Expect him to continue to do so and the Buccaneers are certainly trending upward right now.

Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Fund

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NaVorro Bowman is still playing at a high level in the National Football League:

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Author: Getty Images Sport

San Francisco linebacker Navorro Bowman is still getting the job done at inside linebacker for the 49ers. Bowman is entering his 7th season of professional action and will look to keep playing at a high level which he has done his entire career. Last year Bowman recorded 116 career tackles and that was coming off an injury that sidelined him for all of 2014. That just goes to show that not only is Bowman a tremendous player, but he also has the toughness and grit to battle back from adversity. The 49ers got a great leader when they drafted Novorro Bowman in the 3rd round of the 2010 Draft and he has given the team a lot of production over those 6 years. You have to remember this is guy who is 242 pounds and runs a 4.59 40 yard dash. That allows him to flow from sideline to sideline and make a lot of big plays for this defense. He can bench press 225 pounds 26 times as well. So if a blocker does get their hands on Bowman he is usually able to use his strength to disengage the blocker and finish the play. When you combine all those skill sets together his speed, tenacity, and ability to read plays you begin to see why NaVarro Bowman is one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Now with Chip Kelly at the helm for the 49ers it will be up to Bowman to set the tone for Kelly’s defense. DeForest Buckner will certainly help add to that group and together all of these talented players will be tasked with getting the job done for the Niners. With the Cardinals winning the division last year they are the team setting the bar in the NFC West. It will be up to the newly led Chip Kelly 49ers and Navarro Bowman to eliminate that gap. We will see how they do when the season roll around.

Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Fund

Go donate! www.breastcancerfund.org

The Navy made the right move by allowing Keenan Reynolds to play in the NFL:

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Photo credit: Jon Kuzma

Former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th round of 2016 NFL Draft. However in order to play in the National Football League the former Midshipmen quarterback first had to get approval from the Naval Academy to defer his service. In the past we have seen the Army deny Caleb Campbell a former Detroit Lions draft pick a chance to play in 2008. The Navy at end of the day though made the right move and allowed Reynolds the chance to play and he will look to be on the Ravens roster when week 1 rolls along. That won’t be easy considering that Reynolds will have to go through a position change moving from quarterback to wide receiver in the pros. Yet the Ravens saw enough in Reynolds to draft him and that is a good sign of his athletic ability. There has even been some discussions about putting Reynolds at kick-returner and letting him make a play for the team that way. Reynolds ran a 4.57 40 yard dash so he isn’t slow by any means and when the season rolls around we will see if he can put it altogether and be a complete player. This guy overachieved big time at Navy rushing for 3 straight seasons of over 1,000 yards. Now the Ravens are hoping those skills translate over to the pro level and if they do the Ravens are getting a heck of a football player with a late round pick. Ozzie Newsome is getting a lot of value with this pick and look for the Ravens to incorporate this guy into the mix a few different ways. Maybe even throwing a pass on a reverse or something along those lines. The Navy also made the right move letting Reynolds play because it shows other prospects coming out of the Navy that they will get that same opportunity. That makes the Navy a more desirable location for future players and their program might get a boost from this move. Keep an eye on Keenan Reynolds in 2016.

Charity of the day: Arbor Day Foundation

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Cowboys will rely on their stable of running backs to keep Tony Romo healthy:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Tony Romo is coming off two shoulder injuries in 2015 and in order to keep Romo healthy the Cowboys want to rely on their running game to take the pressure off their quarterback. With Darren McFadden, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alfred Morris all on the Cowboys roster that should be enough offensive firepower to become a “run first” football team. Not to mention the Cowboys have been praised for their offensive line efforts over the last couple seasons and when you combine that group with this strong running back group you understand why the Cowboys could soon become a ground and pound type of team. That formula worked well for the Denver Broncos last season with Cj Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, The Cowboys backfield could be even better with two former first round draft picks in McFadden and Elliot. Truthfully Alfred Morris is no slouch either so those are three very dynamic players that can mow you down by committee. The Cowboys coaching staff have said out the gate the starting job will be McFadden’s but with the team drafting Elliot in the 1st round he will be expected to have a big role sooner rather than later. Expect Elliot to eventually seize the position and the Cowboys will be in great shape spelling Morris or McFadden when Elliot gets tired. McFadden did have a 1,000 yards rushing last season, so maybe Elliot doesn’t take his job right away. However at the end of the day the best player will be on the field because the team ultimately wants to win. We will see who that is in the season opener and the high level of competition should yield great results for the Cowboys running game. The bar is set very high and all three guys want to win this job. Those three players will keep the ball on ground often and that means less chances for Romo to get hit.

Charity of the day:  Arbor Day Foundation

Go donate! www.arborday.org

Earl Thomas is as good as ever heading into his 7th season of action:

Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks have a special player in free safety Earl Thomas. Thomas is such a dynamic playmaker in the Seahawks defense and plays a huge role in the team’s defensive success. Thomas is usually used in over the top coverage allowing him to play in deep halves or deep thirds coverage. That allows him to read the play and react quicker than most players in the league. Thomas had 5 interceptions in 2015 and those are big time numbers for a safety. Recently Thomas dropped in the NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking from 21st to 66th which rates the best players in the NFL. However that drop only came because the Seahawks have regressed as a team. Earl Thomas is still playing at a very high level and when you are coming off a 5 interception season your rating should never go down. Not to mention Earl Thomas has 21 interceptions over the course of his 6 season career. So this is a guy who gets it done year in and year out and has the ability to change games for his defense. He does that by consistently getting his hands on the football and creating turnovers for his team. Nobody is better at the tip drill than Earl Thomas either. Anytime a football gets tipped in the air you can almost guarantee Earl Thomas is going to come down with it. When you watch his tape you are amazed by how many times a teammate tipped it up and Earl Thomas snatched it out of the air to finish the play for the Seahawks’ defense. That just goes to show the awareness that Thomas has and he would be a big time player on any team in this league. The Seahawks have a player in Earl Thomas who cleans up a lot of mistakes made by the players in front of him and he was crucial during the Seahawks Super Bowl run. If Seattle wants to keep that defensive edge they’ve had for so long they need Earl Thomas to be at his best and you know he prepares himself better than most. That would lead you to believe he will continue to play at a high level for at least 3 more seasons and expect Thomas to be an x-factor again in 2016.

Charity of the day: Cancer Research Institute

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Blake Bortles will transition into a flat out superstar in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a great leader in quarterback Blake Bortles and he will only continue to get better in 2016. Bortles was tremendous last year throwing for 4,428 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. That kind of production is already big time and when Bortles comes out and plays even better in 2016, the transition to full out superstar will begin for Blake Bortles. Next will be the endorsement deals, and the commercials but remember Bortles is receiving those opportunities because he is that good of a football player. The Jaguars knew Bortles was a special player and that is why they selected him with the 3rd pick overall in the 2014 Draft. However Bortes might even exceed the expectations the Jaguars had selecting him that high. Last year this guy was as good as anyone in the Nation Football League. Now coming into his 3rd season of action Bortles will be even more aware and will also have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in this league. When you add in that Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will have another year of experience under their belt as well, you begin to see why things are looking up for the Jags. In order for the team to make the postseason they will have to beat out the 2015 division champs in the Houston Texans and the team will have to outperform the up and coming Tennessee Titans. Not to mention Andrew Luck is back healthy next year but if the Jaguars come together and all their pieces pan out. The future is bright for the Jacksonville Jaguars and a lot of that has to do with Blake Bortles. He is the cornerstone of the franchise and all this good momentum started with him. Expect him to have a stand out season this year.

Charity of the day: Firefighters Charitable Foundation

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Rob Ryan and Sean Payton are still at odds with each other:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

It appears the bond between Rob Ryan and Sean Payton has been severed forever. Rob Ryan recently had an interview with Monday Morning Quarterback’s Jenny Vrentas where he went off on a tangent about the the Saints’ defensive woes the past two seasons. Apparently Ryan felt that the Saints defense was put in place to emulate the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. Ryan didn’t agree with that approach but rather than undermine the head coach, he decided to go with it. That resulted in the Saints finishing last in the league the last two years. Ryan stated that while he was disappointed with the results “that wasn’t his defense.” Also stating that he should of stepped up and voiced his concern with the scheme rather than going along with it. Ryan even blamed himself for not stepping up and saying what needed to be said. That lack of action certainly hurt the Saints and eventually led to Rob Ryan’s departure from New Orleans. Now that Rob Ryan has signed with his brother in Buffalo he also has talked about what went bad personnel wise in Louisiana. Ryan said that when the Saints signed free agent Jairus Byrd they wanted to put him in the deep middle of the defense. Similar to how the Seahawks use Earl Thomas in the deep middle third of their defense. That has resulted in 1 interception from Byrd over the last two seasons and really wasted his talents as a playmaker in that particular defense. Byrd had 9 interceptions in his two seasons before heading to New Orleans so you can see how that was a huge regression. So it’s clear Ryan and Payton never seen eye to eye during their time in the Big Easy and now they have bad blood between the two. Coaching is all about incorporating everyone’s views and philosophies into the mix to build a better team culture. These two instead butted heads time and time again and now they will be rivals forever it appears.

Charity of the day: Operation Homefront

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Upgrades all across the board have the Saints looking much improved:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New Orleans Saints struggled in 2015 but they had a great off-season and look much better talent wise heading into the 2016 season. After finishing 7-9 last year the Saints knew they had to shake things up a bit in order to be competitive. That meant letting go of the team’s all time receiving leader in Marques Colston and moving forward with a plan for the future. That plan included signing Coby Fleener away from the Indianapolis Colts and drafting Mike Thomas in the second round out of Ohio State. Fleener recorded 491 yards and 3 touchdowns last season and should pair nicely with Drew Brees. While Thomas was one of the better receivers in all of college football recording 9 touchdown receptions. He will also be a huge boost to Brees and the passing game and offensively you have to like some of the moves that New Orleans has made. On the defensive side of the ball the team drafted Sheldon Rankings with their first round pick to solidify their defense. Rankins was outstanding for the Louisville Cardinals and he finished his collegiate career with 18 sacks. The Saints believe that Rankins can be disruptive force upfront for their team and they hope those skills that made him so good in college translate over to the professional level. In order to add more depth to that defensive front the Saints also drafted David Onyemata in the 4th round of the draft and signed Nick Fairley in free agency. Those moves are supposed to provide depth to the Saints defensive line and it’s clear they wanted to improve their defensive trenches. The roster upgrades bode well for the Saints future and we will see if they can make some improvement in the tough NFC South. At the end of the day though you have to like that this team is taking steps in the right direction. They need to keep building on the good momentum.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

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