Raiders are making noise in free agency with hopes of being a major competitor in 2016:

Photo credit: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Raiders had cap room to spend entering the offseason and it appears they are ready to spend it. Apparently from sources around the league the Raiders will sign former Seahawks line backer Bruce Irvin and stand out Ravens offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. Both additions will be finalized tomorrow when free agency officially begins and the team has to be happy about landing both players. Irvin will give the Raiders defense a talented linebacker that the team can pair next to Khalil Mack. Irvin is a talented pass rusher just like Mack is and the Raiders have to be upbeat about unleashing both those players on opposing offensive lineman. If the team can add a few more players defensively through the draft they will be in a great shape. Keep in the mind the Raiders still could sign other players defensively through this free agency period as well since they still have cap space available. On the other side of the ball the team signed Kelechi Osemele. Osemele was one of the best offensive lineman on the Baltimore Ravens last season and it appears the Raiders will make him one of the highest paid guards of all time. His contract is rumored to be around $10 million dollars a season and the rest about that contract will likely come out tomorrow. Osemele was a great addition for the Raiders because he bolsters their offensive line and gives starting quarterback Derek Carr some much needed protection. With Carr being the best quarterback the Raiders have had in a long time. Landing a marquee offensive lineman was a no brainer for this team. That is what the front office set out to do and they achieved their goal by landing Kelechi Osemele in the end. You have to believe that the Raiders are going to land a few other players before the season begins as well. Oakland is a happening place to play with Carr being there. That makes it a much more attractive destination for free agents.

Charity of the day: Action Against Hunger-USA

Go donate! www.actionagainsthunger.org

Jaguars land Malik Jackson and Chris Ivory in free agency:

Photo credit: Bob Levey

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the most cap space out of any team heading into free agency and they are already spending it on marquee players. The Jaguars land Malik Jackson and Chris Ivory and instantly become a contender in the AFC South. Jackson was part of the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos and was big part in why that defense was so successful. Jackson had 45 hurries and 5 sacks in 2015, showing that he has special skills when it comes to rushing the quarterback. Jackson will also make the Jaguars much better against the run as well and you have to applaud Jacksonville for understanding that the defensive front is key to success. Malik Jackson will reportedly agree to a 6 year $90 million dollar deal and that big payday was enough to lure him away from Denver. Chris Ivory is another big time play that will add to the Jaguars offensive efforts. Ivory was absolutely outstanding for the Jets in 2015. Rushing for 1,070 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in his final season in New York. Now he will help take the pressure off Blake Bortles by wearing down opposing defenses early and often. Chris Ivory runs extremely hard and is a guy the team can trust with the ball in his hands. When you consider that he will be paired along with Tj Yeldon in that Jacksonville backfield. You begin to realize that the Jaguars have a group of very talented running backs. If you had to grade these acquisitions, you’d have to give the Jaguars an A+ this far. Them and the Raiders have made the most noise in early free agency action. They still have a lot of cap room and could easily land a few more good players before the signing period ends. Things are certainly looking up in Jacksonville Florida.

Charity of the day: Children’s Cancer Fund of America

Go donate! www.ccfoa.org

Mario Williams signs a 2 year deal with the Miami Dolphins:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Miami Dolphins are once again doing all they can to make noise in free agency. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum decided today that the next big move for the team would be adding defensive end Mario Williams. Williams who had a rough 2015 season in Buffalo was out of sync with the Bills’ defensive scheme all season long. Rex Ryan and Williams clashed at times philosophically because of that, and the Bills decided at the end of the year it was just better to part ways. Williams who has amassed 96 sacks over the course of his career should be a good fit on the Dolphins defensive line next to Ndamukong Suh. Together the tandem will give the Dolphins a pass rush that should be able to cause frustration for opposing AFC East quarterbacks like Tom Brady, and Tyrod Taylor. With defense being the reason that so many teams are having big time success lately. It was clear to Tannebaum that he wanted to stack the Dolphins roster on the defensive side of the ball. He did this by bringing in not only Williams today, but also by bringing in Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell earlier this week as well. The Dolphins have been active the last two free agency periods and those efforts show the front office’s commitment to improving the team. Williams is a good pick up and it also takes away from an in division rival (Bills). Moves like this happen all the time in the NFL and you have to applaud Tannenbaum for pulling the trigger on the deal. Mario Williams is 31 years old and will make 8 million annually in Miami. The deal he signed was a two year deal and Williams who was drafted number 1 over Reggie Bush in the 2006 draft will look to finish his career how he started it, with a bang. This was a good pick up for Miami and it’s also good to see Mario Williams will be employed in 2016.

Charity of the day: Action Against Hunger-USA

Go donate! www.actionagainsthunger.org

Demarco Murray is on his second team in the last two years:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Demarco Murray hasn’t been able to find his rhythm since leaving the Dallas Cowboys. Murray who was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2014 with 1,845 rushing yards. Only rushed for 702 rushing yards with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, the team he decided to sign with after leaving the Cowboys. Now rumors around the league today are Murray was traded to the Tennessee Titans for an undisclosed compensation. The Eagles are undergoing a regime change after Chip Kelly was fired and new head coach Doug Pederson didn’t see Murray as a part of his future vision. Maybe that was because Murray continuously voiced his opinion against Kelly during the 2015 season and Pederson wanted to avoid any insubordination during his first season as head coach. The other reason could be that Pederson wanted to avoid the big hit Murray would cost the Eagles on the books financially. Murray never fit well in Chip Kelly’s scheme and that was a big part of why Murray’s production was way down in 2015. The Titans are hoping that those woes are in Murray’s past and that he can help contribute alongside Marcus Mariota. It looks like a good move for Tennessee because they get better offensively but we still have to see what the Titans gave up to get him. As far as the Eagles go, they lose a guy who could of put up big numbers for the team in 2016. While the experiment didn’t work in year one, sometimes relationships and adjusting to a new team can take time. It’s hard to say if trading away Murray was the right move or not for the Eagles. Ultimately that will come down to whether or not the Eagles get a good return on that trade deal. You’d have to think Murray was traded for a 1st or 2nd rounder. If he was traded away for anything other than that, you’d have to think the Eagles got the short end of the stick. The cap space is nice but you need talent on your roster to win games now in the NFL. Other wise you risk having a terrible season and fading into the bad pro football team abyss. We’ve seen teams like the Raiders disappear for over a decade in that abyss. It’s a place no team wants to go to. If the Eagles aren’t careful that is where they might end up if they keep shipping away talented players.

Charity of the day: American Forests

Go donate! www.americanforests.org

One and done? Will the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick part ways?

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets had an outstanding season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback. The team finished the 2015 season with a 10-6 record and were just shy of making the playoffs. With all of the success that the Jets had with Fitzpatrick, the team wanted to do everything they could to get their starting quarterback to re-sign with them for the 2016 season. Also with Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick talking about their future together in 2016 it seemed like a sure lock that Fitzpatrick would be back. Now however it is not so certain. Apparently Fitzpatrick’s agent must of been in his ear. After throwing for 31 touchdowns and 3,905 passing yards in 2015. Fitzpatrick seems to want to be compensated like a starting quarterback. Truthfully who can blame him? Fitz is no longer an under talented journeyman like he was in his earlier days of his career. Now instead Fitzpatrick is a talented QB who can clearly come in and win football games for some team in the league. That seems to be the reason why Fitzpatrick is now reluctant to sign the cheaper offer that the Jets wanted him to commit too. The Jets wanted to save cap space and land Ryan Fitzpatrick for a bargain. That might be in the best interest for the team, it isn’t in the best interest for Fitzpatrick though. Quarterbacks in today’s league are worth what a team will pay for them. Clearly Fitzpatrick’s agent Jimmy Sexton understands this and with the Eagles paying Sam Bradford handsomely. Sexton most likely thought his client (Fitzpatrick) could do better than Bradford’s contract since Fitz out performed Bradford stats wise. Losing Fitzpatrick will spell disaster for the Jets and it will be hard to fill the shoes left by the former Harvard alum. There will be a number of teams that would be more than willing to have Fitzpatrick take the reps as their starting quarterback. Those teams will also largely compensate him to do so. The Jets really should do everything they can to retain Ryan Fitzpatrick before he hits the open market. Although that doesn’t seem like it will happen. Don’t be surprised if another team lures Fitzpatrick away.

Charity of the day: American Forests

Go donate! www.americanforests.org

Peyton Manning will hang it up after 18 seasons of NFL action:

Photo credit: John Leyba / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Some would be quick to counter that Tom Brady is better and those arguments would be respectable. Yet there are many compelling points as to why Manning is the best as well. First off Manning is the all time leader in terms of passing yards. Manning passed for a record setting 71,940 passing yards over those 18 seasons. Looking unstoppable at times while also showing how the quarterback position is truly supposed to be played. That consistent play year in and year out led to Manning being crowned the leagues Most Valuable Player an impressive 5 different times (2003,2004,2008,2009,2013). With his quick defensive reads, strong presence in the pocket, and laser like throws Manning struck terror in NFL defenders hearts and minds. If your still not sure how much Manning means to a football team consider this. When he was out of action with a neck injury while playing for the Indianapolis Colts back in 2011, the Colts ended up finishing 2-14 which was dead last in the league. That was just a year after the team went 10-6 with a healthy Manning and everyone around the league got a look at just how valuable Manning was  to the Colts that following year when he wasn’t there. When Manning went to Denver he continued his dominance and had the best season a quarterback has ever had at the professional level. Manning was able to throw for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 passing yards in 2013. Proving that the neck injury wasn’t enough from keeping Manning from being the player that he once was in Indianapolis. Now that Peyton has finally won his second Lombardi Trophy it’s clear that he has a legitimate case for being the best quarterback to ever play the game. Now after he retires he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and could easily make the transition to successful General Manager or Coach. We will see what “the sheriff” does next in life, but you have to believe with his level of preparation and dedication he will certainly be effective in his next position in life.

Charity of the day: Global Green USA

Go donate! www.globalgreen.org

Broncos offer to Osweiler shows their commitment to the young quarterback:

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos seem to be planning for the future and life without Peyton Manning. The team offered part time starting quarterback Brock Osweiler a 3 year 45 million dollar deal. The contract clearly shows what the Broncos front office have in mind heading into 2016. That is to let Brock Osweiler be their starting quarterback and the face of their franchise. Osweiler played extremely well in his limited action at the quarterback position in 2015. He managed to lead the team to 5 wins this past season and that was something the Broncos couldn’t downplay this offseason. That is why Elway was so adamant about retaining Osweiler and ultimately why Osweiler has a contract right now sitting in front of him and Manning does not. With the Broncos defense being one of the best in the league the young signal caller will have a shot at competing for Super Bowls in his first full year as the team’s starter. Brock will have the ability to develop at a much calmer pace with the team being so well balanced. It’s not like he is starting for a team that is depleted of talent and it’s all on his shoulders. Instead players like Cj Anderson will give Osweiler the chance to rely on the running game and make the throws when he has to. Rather than Osweiler throwing 40 or 50 times a game which would put him in a situation where he could take a lot of hits. If Osweiler does have the success that the Broncos anticipate he will have. It’s because he is a 6 foot 7 quarterback who has a ton of throw power. He has great velocity on all of his passes and can stretch the field for the Broncos offense. That should be enough to keep the Broncos in the hunt as Super Bowl contenders. That is if the team can keep enough talent from leaving through free agency. Regardless this was a good move for the team, Manning’s best days are behind him. While Brock Osweiler will only get better as time goes on.

Charity of the day: Global Green USA

Go donate! www.globalgreen.org

The Packers are once again unappreciative of James Jones efforts:

Photo credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

James Jones had one of the craziest stories of 2015. After being let go by the Packers and then being cut by the Raiders and Giants Jones managed to return to the Packers after significant injuries to the Packers receiving core. It was a weird story of different twists and turns and in the end Jones ended up right where he started. Basically the Packers felt comfortable letting Jones go early on in the season. Then after the injuries started piling up the team decided what the heck, we’ll give Jones another shot. How did James Jones respond for the team? He had an outstanding year after almost no team around the league wanted him. Jones finished the 2015 season with 890 yards and 8 touchdowns and was almost a savior for the Packers offense. It was clear that the rhythm and timing that Jones and Rodgers have established over the course of their careers helped them gel nicely last season in Green Bay. Which is why now in the offseason it seems harsh that the Packers once again feel they are above James Jones and will let him walk via free agency. The move seems a little bit selfish on the Packers behalf, why wouldn’t they want to keep that 8 touchdown a season production on their roster? The guy clearly is willing to do anything that is asked of him to remain in the league and to be treated this unfairly is something as a football fan you hate to see. Jones is a smart guy though, he understands the NFL is a business and sometimes in business things can get ugly. That is just how things work in today’s age. Hopefully Jones will find a new team to continue his career, maybe then the Packers will realize what they lost if he has a season somewhere else like he did in 2015. It’s hard not to root for a guy like James Jones. The guy was wrote off by nearly everyone and managed to excel in 2015 because he believed in himself. It was truly one of the great feel good stories in all of football last season.

Charity of the day: American Action Fund for Blind Children & Adults

Go donate! www.actionfund.org

It’s time for Tony Romo to hang it up due to medical reasons:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

With news coming out of Dallas today that Tony Romo is having a procedure done to have a plate put in his collarbone, it’s time we do the right thing and look out for Tony Romo. It’s time football insiders and fans start a movement and urge Tony Romo to retire from pro football. Yes we would all like to see Romo out there competing and maybe even fulfill his quest of someday hoisting a Lombardi Trophy for Jerry Jones. At this point though those ambitions are something that should honestly take a backseat to Romo’s long term health. Romo injured his collarbone twice last year. Once early on in the season initially and then once later on in the season when the Cowboys prematurely rushed him back (that is a whole other separate negligent issue). Romo who is 36 years old has endured a plethora of different injuries over his 13 seasons of NFL action. Serious injuries which include a broken back, broken ribs, and a broken collar bone. The long term effects of those injuries do not spell good news for Tony Romo and it’s very likely that at some point he will be in a wheel chair after his playing days are over. Especially when you talk about all the back issues Tony has had over the course of career. Those issues are a big problem that are slightly minimized by Romo’s younger age. When Romo gets up into 50’s and 60’s those injuries are going to become much more drastic and Romo at some point might even regret playing to his age he is now. That is why it’s in Romo’s best interest to walk away from the game of football, accept that he had a great run which most people can only dream of having and spend the rest of his life on a golf course. We all know the competitor in Tony won’t allow him to quit because he wants to get in the playoffs and win so badly. That is why it’s up to his advisers in his corner and the people who care about Tony to step up and urge him to retire immediately. This might not be the popular opinion and it certainly will rub a lot of Cowboys fans the wrong way. However it’s the right thing to do and anyone against this thinking wants Tony Romo to come back for their own selfish reasons.

Charity of the day:  Soldiers’ Angels

Go donate! soldiersangels.org

Ranking the top 3 defenders in the NFL:

Photo credit: Dustin Bradford

Author: Jon Kuzma

When you think of the best defender in the NFL what comes to your mind? Most likely you picture JJ Watt ripping past an offensive lineman and laying a massive hit on the opposing quarterback. Truthfully that would be an accurate vision, JJ Watt is clearly the best defender in the National Football League and it’s not even close. Watt has only registered less than 10 sacks once in his 5 year career. Single handedly providing the pass rushing efforts to elevate the Houston Texans. That is why Watt has been nominated the Defensive Player of the Year 3 different times. Since he has joined the league he has been simply unstoppable and clearly earns the ranking of the best defender in the NFL. So who is the second best defender in the NFL? Watt is easily the best, but giving the nod to the second best defender isn’t as easy. However we feel comfortable giving that award to Von Miller. Miller finished the 2015 regular season with 11 sacks but he saved his best football for the big stage. In the playoffs Miller really came alive and helped propel the Broncos to the Lombardi Trophy. Miller finished the postseason with 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception. Providing the necessary big play for the Broncos defense time and time again. Not to mention he played sideline to sideline and finished the playoffs with 13 tackles as well. Without Von Miller it’s very likely that the Broncos wouldn’t have won Super Bowl 50. They needed that extra firepower that Miller provides to get the job done. That is why the Broncos franchise tagged him and made sure he couldn’t leave the Denver area. The 3rd best defender in the National Football League right now finished 2nd in sacks during the 2015 season. He ended up being the most talented defender in the 2014 draft and his name is Khalil Mack. Mack has been absolutely stellar for the Oakland Raiders over the course of his 2 season career. He was a little timid as a rookie only registering 4 sacks, however he made huge strides in second season recording 15 sacks. At times Mack was completely unstoppable for the Raiders defense. With Derek Carr leading the Raiders offense, almost all of the Raiders defensive efforts fell upon Mack’s shoulders. Keep in mind he has managed to have all this success without that many talented players around him. At 25 years old Mack still has his best years ahead of him but he has already risen to become the 3rd best defender in the NFL. Keep an eye on these 3 players as they battle it out for the top spot in 2016. Anyone on this list could jump the other guys and become number 1. When it’s all said and done though it’s hard to bet against Watt. The bigger competition will be between Miller and Mack for the number 2 ranking. It’s been an absolute joy to watch these guys play.

Charity of the day: National 4-H Council

Go donate! www.4-H.org

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