The Buffalo Bills emerge as the front-runner to sign Jeremy Maclin:

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson

Author: Jon Kuzma

Jeremy Maclin was recently released by the Kansas City Chiefs and it appears Maclin is already being courted by at least one team. Buffalo Bills Running Back LeSean McCoy has told the media that he was one of the first people to contact and recruit Maclin after his release from the Chiefs. If you’re not familiar Maclin and McCoy spent time together while members of the Philadelphia Eagles. McCoy said he considers Maclin a friend and that could play a pivotal role in whether or not Jeremy Maclin does indeed sign with the Bills? Buffalo lost Robert Woods to the Los Angeles Rams this off-season and the Bills were already short on wide receivers. That means signing Jeremy Maclin could really help this football team and pairing Maclin along with Sammy Watkins could yield great results for Buffalo’s offense. One thing is for certain if the Bills do sign Maclin there offense from a receivers stand point will be better than it was a year ago. The Bills were ranked 31st in receiving yards during the 2016 season, that isn’t good enough to compete in this league and really it’s a no brainer to sign Maclin if you’re Buffalo’s front office. Even if Buffalo only signs Maclin to a one year contract, that would allow the Bills to evaluate Maclin for a season before they make a long term decision on the veteran receiver. Not only that but Maclin would come off the books in 2018 if the Bills didn’t like the value he was bringing to their team. That seems like the best course of action for the Bills and it will be interesting to see if they do make a push for the recently released pass catcher? This is a great opportunity for the Bills to get better and LeSean McCoy had the right idea when he reached out to Jeremy Maclin. You have to respect the Bills running back’s effort, Maclin would definitely make his team.

Charity of the day: Kars4Kids

Go donate! www.kars4kids.org

It’s kind of insincere that the Seahawks passed on Colin Kaepernick yet claim he is good enough to be a starter in the NFL:

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks have taken an interesting course of action when it comes to Colin Kaepernick. After the Seahawks were adamant about bringing Kaepernick in for an interview, the team ultimately decided that they weren’t going to sign the for former San Francisco quarterback. While teams often pass on players what was so surprising about Seattle was that they had such high praise for Kaepernick. Pete Carroll told the media that “Kaepernick is a starter in the NFL” and if that’s the case why didn’t the Seahawks sign Kaepernick as an insurance policy for Russell Wilson? It almost feels like Pete Carroll is being a little bit insincere because he is saying that Kaepernick is good enough to be an NFL starter but yet Carroll wouldn’t even sign Kaepernick to a back up role on his own team. If the Seawhawks truly believed Kaepernick was that much of an asset they would have signed the 29 year old quarterback immediately. This feels like a another case of Pete Carroll trying to be the nice guy like he has always been over the course of his coaching career. While being a nice guy isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s clear Carroll is loosing sight of the times when he should be nice and the times he should be focused on the bigger picture. You can’t pass on a player and then turn around and say he is a spectacular player. The Seahawks actions as a team have contradicted the words that are coming out of Pete Carroll’s mouth and it’s seems like Seattle is having a lot of political issues within their organization lately. Look, Pete Carroll is a tremendous football coach and we all know he can build a team into a contender. The challenge for Carroll is to be more sincere in his approach that way he avoids conflict in his own locker room. If there are errors happening for Carroll in the public spotlight, there’s undoubtedly political errors happening behind closed doors for the Seahawks as well. Carroll is far too good of a coach to let his need to be liked by everyone destroy his legacy. That’s the adjustment Pete Carroll has to make personally and if the Seattle coach does make that adjustment the Seahawks will be better off because of it.

Charity of the day: Kars4Kids

Go donate! www.kars4kids.org

It appears Tom Savage will start the season off as the starting quarterback of the Houston Texans:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans have started off OTAs with Tom Savage as the number 1 quarterback. Savage has taken almost all of the reps with the first unit and it appears Bill O’Brien is committed to the 27 year old quarterback out of the University of Pittsburgh. If you don’t remember Savage played in three games last season and actually took over the starting quarterback job briefly from Brock Osweiler. That short stint of NFL starting experience apparently held a lot of weight for Tom Savage and it’s clear the Texans want to take it slow with Deshaun Watson. Watson is said to be gaining momentum at Texans OTAs but if the games were played today it’s Tom Savage who would be taking the field for Houston. While it seems the coaching staff is adamant that Savage is their guy, keep in mind Savage has never thrown an NFL touchdown in his career. Savage did complete 63% of his passes last season though and that accuracy has to be what is working in his favor. Houston has been a legitimate playoff contender the last couple seasons but they haven’t gotten good enough quarterback play to raise the bar for this team. Tom Savage gets a chance to be that guy and we will see if he makes the most out of his opportunities? Keeping DeAndre Hopkins happy would definitely work in Savage’s favor and the other main thing the former 4th round pick has to do is take care of the football. By limiting turnovers Tom Savage can effectively play the role of game manager rather than being a guy who is a superstar quarterback. After Savage wins some games and gains some confidence that would be the perfect time to take off the shackles and really wing the ball. Bottom line though, you have to respect Savage’s ability to win over the confidence of his coaching staff. That’s a testament to the guy’s willing to learn and competitive nature. Now expect number 3 to be leading the charge as the Texans look to win their third straight AFC South title.

Charity of the day: Nature Conservancy

Go donate! www.nature.org

In a surprise move the Kansas City Chiefs have decided to release Jeremy Maclin

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Kansas City Chiefs have decided that they are better off without Jeremy Maclin this upcoming season. The Chiefs released Maclin and while Kansas City’s front office was thankful for Maclin’s contributions ultimately they felt the $10 million dollars in cap space they saved from releasing the 29 year old receiver was best for their franchise. That cap space will allow the Chiefs a little bit of leeway heading into the season and it’s always nice to have some room to maneuver financially. Maclin only recorded 536 receiving yards last season and had a career low when it came to offensive output. With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce being the focal point of the Kansas City passing game moving forward, the Chiefs believed it was better to prepare a younger player to go along with Hill and Kelce. Due to that Maclin is now officially a free agent and has an opportunity to sign with any team in the league. When looking for an ideal spot for Jeremy Maclin you have to assess all the teams that are thin at the wide receiver position. The Rams, Bills, and 49ers were the worst ranked teams when it came to receiving yards in 2016. Those teams should be the frontrunner to sign Jeremy Maclin and keep in mind this is a player who had back to back 1,000 yard seasons in 2014 and 2015. That proves that Maclin isn’t that far removed from NFL success and that’s exactly why some team is going to step up and sign this guy. There have been rumors that going back to Philadelphia could be in the cards for Maclin but after signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Another possibility could be the New York Jets especially since Brandon Marshall bolted for the Giants. That left a vacancy in New York’s receiving group and Maclin could help eliminate the loss of Marshall. Whoever does sign Jeremy Maclin will get a player with seven years of pro football experience, so it’s safe to say that team will be getting a solid football player when it’s all said and done. There’s no doubt Maclin can still play at a high level and he should be able to help a team out when the regular season rolls around.

Charity of the day: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Go donate! www.ocrfa.org

Adrian Peterson has been making a splash at New Orleans Saints OTAs:

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire

Author: Jon Kuzma

Organized team activities are in full swing for all the NFL teams and it appears the New Orleans Saints are raving about Running Back Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Drew Brees had especially high praise for Peterson stating “There’s something about handing the ball off to that guy and watching him run through the hole and take on anybody who tries to tackle him.” That statement lets you know the confidence that Brees has in the newly acquired Peterson and now the Saints will have one of the best running back tandems in all of football. In fact don’t be surprised if Adrian Peterson bounces back and eventually takes the lead role on the Saints running back depth chart. Mark Ingram had a great season last year for the Saints but a healthy Peterson should have the edge when the regular season rolls around. Peterson is a once in a generation running back that has dominated pro football since entering the league back in 2007. With 11,747 rushing yards and 97 total touchdowns Peterson has made opposing defenses pay for the better part of his career. That skills set of vision, power, and speed will definitely put a ton of production up for the Saints and the only thing Peterson has to do is avoid getting hurt. As long as Adrian Peterson is able to suit up and participate he will remain a weapon for New Orleans and it will be interesting to see how Peterson handles playing at 32 years old? Most running backs start to slow down around 30 years old however players like Adrian Peterson, and Marshawn Lynch are going to challenge that notion that aging players regress. One thing is for certain having those two guys healthy and playing is going to be great for the league. Which should make for a lot of action and entertainment this upcoming season.

Charity of the day: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Go donate! www.ocrfa.org

When it comes to Matthew Stafford the Detroit Lions should just close their eyes and write the check:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Detroit Lions have been trying to hash out a contract with Matthew Stafford but so far it seems like the deal is taking longer than it should. General Manager Bob Quinn acknowledged a month ago that the two sides are still in the “early stages” of negotiations but truthfully Quinn and the Lions don’t need to be so patient when inking Stafford to a long term deal. Detroit would significantly regress if they didn’t have Matthew Stafford at the helm and there isn’t any guy on the roster who could keep this team afloat if Stafford left. With that being said Detroit’s hands are handcuffed and they don’t have any other choice but to roll out the red carpet for Stafford and sign him to a mega-contract. To be honest paying Stafford a monstrous deal wouldn’t be a bad decision either, Stafford has earned his respect in the National Football League and he is even one of the five quarterbacks to throw for 5,000 yards in a single season. With Stafford currently making a shade over what Mike Glennon is making, a quarterback for the Chicago Bears who has practically no success in the NFL. It’s only right that Stafford should be compensated significantly more than Glennon and the Lions really should take note of that. Letting contract negotiations drag on could make Stafford question how much Detroit values his worth and ultimately that’s the last thing the Lions want to happen. There are plenty of organizations out there that would love to Matthew Stafford leading their football team and if Detroit isn’t careful that’s exactly what is going to end up happening. That’s why it’s imperative the Lions open the checkbook right now, forget about all the other circumstances, and sign Matthew Stafford to a long term deal. That’s ultimately the Lions only real chance of someday making it to the Super Bowl.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

Historically bad, Jacksonville has a tradition of performing poorly on the gridiron:

Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars became a franchise back in 1993 but didn’t play their first season until 1995. That year the Carolina Panthers and Jaguars both entered the NFL and since then Jacksonville has really struggled to find their identity on the football field. The Jaguars have compiled a 155-197 lifetime record for a win percentage of .440. That means Jacksonville has been under the .500 mark for the overall duration of their existence and it’s because no matter what happens the Jaguars find a way to let their good fortunes slip away. One example of this is Blake Bortles, Bortles has looked great at times but the Jaguars haven’t put their young quarterback in position to succeed. Jacksonville acquired Chris Ivory and T.J Yeldon to alleviate pressure off Bortles but both those running backs failed to meet expectations. That led Jacksonville to drafting Leonard Fournette in the draft this off-season and one has to wonder if Fournette will be washed away in the Jaguars abyss as well? Jacksonville is known for destroying player’s careers and if Fournette isn’t careful he could be the next elite talent to disappear in Northeast Florida. If there is any bright spots for Owner Shahid Kahn’s team it’s the fact that they hired Doug Marrone as their head coach. Gus Bradley struggled to lead the Jaguars for the last four seasons and Marrone should help improve Jacksonville’s overall leadership. Doug Marrone was a head coach at the University of Syracuse and for the Buffalo Bills before landing this opportunity with the Jags. Those past experiences will pave the way for the new coach and expect this franchise to significantly improve from having a more seasoned head coach at the helm. Regardless of all that though, once the regular season starts this team will be battling the past. The Jaguars will wrestle with the fact that they’ve been a doormat franchise for most of their lifetime and it will be up to Marrone, Bortles, and Fournette to overcome the odds and lead this team back into the light. That won’t be a very easy task to do and so many coaches and players have failed before them.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

 

Christian Kirksey signs a 4 year $38 million dollar contract extension with the Cleveland Browns:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cleveland Browns signed Outside Linebacker Christian Kirksey to a 4 year $38 million dollar contract extension. That deal makes Kirksey a lock at one of the Browns outside linebacker positions for the foreseeable future and this is a good move considering Kirksey has improved significantly over his three year career. Kirksey recorded 148 tackles, 52 assists, and 2.5 sacks in 2016. Those numbers were compelling enough for the Browns and now Cleveland is hoping Kirksey and Myles Garrett can add something special to the Browns defense in 2017. It’s not very often that Cleveland has the to potential to be this potent on defense and the Browns front office knew that signing Kirksey for the long term would send a strong message to this football team. Cleveland is in the process of weeding through their talent and trying to retain their best pieces to the defensive puzzle. Cleveland’s General Manager Sashi Brown saw something special in Christian Kirksey and now the 24 year old linebacker has earned the biggest pay day of his career. Kirksey’s initial contract was for 4 years and $3 million dollars when he entered the National Football League. Christian Kirksey will now get a $35 million dollar raise, so it’s certainly a huge reward for the former Iowa Hawkeye. It’s been a long road from being drafted in the third round in 2014 to now and Christian Kirksey has continued to raise the bar time and time again since becoming a pro athlete. Now it will be up to Kirksey to play a key role in new Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams’ defense. Kirksey has to keep his tackle count around the 100 a year mark while also raising his sack total to at least five per year. That would help Williams get the most out of his scheme and it will put the Browns in a position to succeed. Coincidentally it would also be the first step in fulfilling his new contract and don’t expect the Browns to just rollover like they did in 2016. This franchise will definitely improve on their one win that they had just a season ago. It’s because of good football moves like re-signing Christian Kirksey.

Charity of the day: Compassion International

Go donate! www.compassion.com

Cam Newton needs to get back on track after a very mediocre 2016 season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Carolina Panthers struggled in 2016 finishing the year with a 6-10 record and ranking dead last in the NFC South. Cam Newton might have been the best player in all of football in 2015 but the Panthers quarterback was extremely mediocre the follow season. Newton finished 2016 with a 52.9 completion percentage and the lowest quarterback rating of his career (75.8). Those numbers were a huge regression for Newton and if you don’t remember it seemed like the 28 year old quarterback was frustrated with a number of issues. First and most obvious was the fact that Newton felt the refs were treating him unfairly with roughing the pass calls or lack thereof. Newton is a bigger guy so many times the referees fail to protect him from illegal hits. Regardless though Cam Newton has to be able to keep his poise and not lose his composure on the field. Football is greatest sport in the world because it’s all about overcoming adversity. Part of playing the game at a high level is being able to persevere through anything that is thrown at you. In 2015 Cam Newton handled all of those challenges phenomenally, 2016 it was the exact opposite and it’s rare to see that drastic of a change in a player. Newton has to take those 2016 setbacks in stride and get back to the cool, calm, and collected Cam that was the Most Valuable Player in the whole league. If that happens the Carolina Panthers will once again be a forced to be reckoned with and keep in mind General Manager Dave Gettleman brought in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel to help Newton thrive. Those two young and explosive players will add a lot of speeds to the Panthers offense and Newton needs to bring as many plays as he can to the table for Carolina. If Newton can raise his own bar of success that will help the Panthers take a step in the right direction which is back towards winning football. If Newton can’t get back on track then the Panthers will find themselves likely battling the Saints for 3rd place in the NFC South.

Charity of the day: Proliteracy Worldwide

Go donate! www.proliteracy.org

It’s frightening to think the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots ended 2016 as Super Bowl Champions but one notable player was not on the field for Bill Belichick’s team. That player was Rob Gronkowski and it’s frightening to think that the Patriots were good enough to win it all wit out one of their best players. Gronkowski finished 2016 with only 540 yards and 3 touchdowns. While those numbers might look like a rookie player’s stat line, keep in mind that was a career low in production for the 28 year old Gronkowksi. Having a healthy Rob Gronkowski on the football field will make New England leaps and bounds more potent and it appears Gronkowski is making strides in his recovery. New England recently had organized team activities going on and Gronkowki’s talents were on full display. Everyone at the Patriots facility were raving about Rob Gronkowki’s skill set and that should let you know where number 87 is in his comeback efforts. Gronkowski’s best year came back in 2011 when he caught 1,327 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. When you have a single player that has 17 touchdown potential that impact typically propels a team and New England will be much better off with Rob Gronkowki back in their starting line up. With the Patriots making several significant roster upgrades this off-season (Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen) getting Gronkowski back will also add to that blend of new talent. Ultimately that will give the Patriots the best chance out of any team to win the Super Bowl in 2017 and don’t be surprised when this team repeats. There’s no football team on earth with the excellence that the New England Patriots possess, it’s because they execute better than any other franchise and they get the most out of their players. New England proved last season they can get the job done with less but in 2017 they will have all their weapons on the field ready to unleash on opposing teams. That makes New England the easily number 1 in the NFL power rankings.

Charity of the day: CJ First Candle

Go donate! www.cjfirstcandle.org

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