Around the NFL: 10 Nuggets Heading into Free Agency
1. How about Roger Goodell pouring a big cup of antifreeze on everyone’s fun this past weekend? Due to a rule change that allowed teams to gauge the interest of prospective free agents, football fans hovered around Adam Schefter’s Twitter page thinking that free agency was essentially going to start at Midnight on Saturday morning. But Goodell’s memo to teams earlier that day killed everyone’s buzz. Here’s part of the memo, tweeted by Schefter that night: “Clubs are advised that prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year.” Deathly afraid of tampering, can you imagine how those conversations went on Friday night between teams and free agents? “Hi Mike Wallace, this is Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. I just wanted to call and see if you liked the color teal in combination with white and a splash of orange. Yeah, no, I’m not asking you if you want to be a member of the Dolphins. That would be tampering. I’m specifically asking you about color scheme. You do like that color scheme? How about Joe Philbin? Do you like Joe Philbin’s face? Maybe you’d like to see more of Philbin, say, on a daily basis in the fall? Grrrrrrrrreat. Do you also hate purple and the entire state of Minnesota like most reasonable human beings do? Excellent. I’ll see you and your agent at 4:00PM ET on Tuesday then…”
2. People are getting caught up in whether or not the Chiefs should draft Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick when they just placed their franchise tag on Branden Albert. While it would be unprecedented for a team to draft a right tackle with the first overall pick, it doesn’t mean that Kansas City will shy away from arguably the safest prospect in this year’s class. Albert was one of the best pass-blocking offensive tackles in the league last year, but he also missed three games due to a back injury and who knows if the Chiefs will be able to lock him up long term. They could draft Joeckel, play him at right tackle and then re-asses the situation a year from now. If Albert’s back once again becomes an issue or the two sides can’t agree on a long-term deal, then the Chiefs have their left tackle of the future in Joeckel. If they lock Albert up long-term, then at worst they have two book-end tackles for the next six-plus years. Considering defensive coordinators constantly move pass rushers around in effort to create mismatches, that’s not exactly a worst-case scenario. And with no true No. 1 overall talent in this year’s draft, there’s no reason to bypass Joeckel with the top pick just because he could wind up playing right tackle.
3. The best thing for both the Jets and Darrelle Revis is if the cornerback drops off the map and shows up to OTAs healthy and in shape. Owner Woody Johnson isn’t being cheap – he just can’t pay Revis what he wants long-term because his former GM put the team in cap hell by handing out ridiculous contracts to players like Mark Sanchez. And since the Jets can’t afford him, Revis could help himself by not destroying his own trade value. This includes avoiding telling the media that it would be “awesome” to play for the 49ers and reiterating how you want to be the highest paid defensive player in the league. Potential trade partners are already leery about Revis’ knee, parting with premium draft picks, and clearing the necessary cap space to sign him long term. He doesn’t need to provide teams with more reasons to tell the Jets ‘thanks but no thanks.’
4. Percy Harvin’s situation in Minnesota seems combustible, but GM Rick Spielman has wisely suggested that the disgruntled wide receiver isn’t going anywhere. Some fans have opined that Spielman should trade Harvin and then sign a free agent receiver like Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings. But the Vikings are on the rise and thus, parting ways with a playmaker makes little sense. He’s already under contract and the team could potentially line up next year with Harvin, Jennings, Jarius Wright, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph, as opposed to some combination of Peterson, Rudolph, Jennings, Wright and an unproven rookie. And maybe a veteran like Jennings could have a profound impact on Harvin, who has seemingly alienating himself from coaches and teammates. While the defense and offensive line proved to be underrated, the Vikings made the playoffs last year almost solely riding Peterson’s coattails. Unless the situation is so bad that the team needs to wash its hands completely of Harvin as soon as possible, addition is key – not subtraction.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Anquan Boldin, branden albert, Chicago Bears, Dannell Ellerbe, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Darrelle Revis trade, Greg Jennings, Jake Long, Kansas City Chiefs., Louis Delmas, Luke Joeckel, Mike Wallace, NFL column, NFL free agency, NFL Free agency 2013, Percy Harvin, Percy Harvin trade, Percy Harvin Vikings, Phil Emery, Reggie Bush, Roger Goodell, Steven Jackson, Steven Jackson Falcons, Wes Welker
Is pass defense still the Lions’ biggest concern?
Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the huge issues the Lions still have in their secondary.
A year ago, it was easy to spot the Lions’ biggest weakness, as their offensive line was an absolute mess. But after a productive 2009 campaign and a couple of offseason additions, Detroit’s O-line is no longer an issue.
Now the concern shifts to a secondary that received an offseason makeover, but remains the Lions’ biggest question mark after a dismal performance in 2009.
Last year, Detroit finished dead last in passing yards allowed, yielding 265.6 yards per game. The poor play of the defensive backfield contributed to the defensive unit giving up 30.9 points per content and over 6,000 total yards.
To address the issue, the Lions traded for former second round pick Chris Houston, whom Atlanta had given up on after signing big-money free agent Dunta Robinson. Houston has an impressive skill set and enough talent to make him a No. 1 corner, but he has yet to put it all together for an entire season.
The biggest issue with the former Arkansas product is that he always seems to put himself in position to make the play, but rarely does. He has great speed and is a physical corner, but he’s at his worst when the ball is in the air. He fell out of favor last season in Atlanta because he had major trouble locating the ball when it was in the air and making a play on it. In fact, 66% of the passes thrown his way were completed, which is a staggering number to say the least. That said, if he ever lives up to his potential he’s going to be a solid player.
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Cardinals survive Detroit, could clinch NFC West
The Cardinals played down to their competition on Sunday, but lucky for them their competition was the Lions and they managed to secure a 31-24 victory. With the win, Arizona can clinch the NFC West for the second consecutive season if the 49ers lose to the Eagles.
These past two games have shown that the Cardinals have some issues to iron out before the playoffs start. They turned the ball over seven times in a loss to the 49ers on Monday and have had problems protecting Kurt Warner. Arizona’s run defense, which has been so dominant this season, also allowed Frank Gore and Maurice Morris to go over the 100-yard rushing mark.
That said, the Cardinals had issues heading into the playoffs last year and they reached the Super Bowl. Even though they allowed an inferior opponent to hang around today, their passing attack was still there when they needed it (Anquan Boldin had a nice day) and Beanie Wells had a solid game while rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
For Detroit, rookie safety Louis Delmas looks like a special player. With the Lions down 17-0 nothing in the second half, Delmas intercepted Warner and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. He became the first rookie in NFL history to record a safety this season, as well as interception and fumble returns for touchdowns. He turned the game around for the Lions with the pick today and at least made things interesting.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Posted in: NFL
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Cardinals Lions recap, Cardinals NFC West champions, Cardinals vs. Lions, Cardinals win NFC West, Detroit Lions, Frank Gore, Kurt Warner, Louis Delmas, Louis Delmas nfl rookie record, Maurice Morris
2009 NFL Preview: #32 Detroit Lions
Check out all of our 2009 NFL team previews.
Offseason Additions: Julian Peterson (LB); Larry Foote (LB); Phillip Buchanon (CB); Grady Jackson (DT); Bryant Johnson (WR).
Offseason Losses: Leigh Bodden (CB); Shaun McDonald (WR); Mike Fuerry (WR); Shaun Cody (DT); Paris Lenon (LB); George Foster (OT); Dan Orlovsky (QB).
Player to Watch: Louis Delmas, S.
Delmas, the Lions’ second round pick this year, immediately started turning heads in OTAs and continued to impress coaches with his aggressiveness and tenacity throughout training camp (although he did miss time due to a swollen knee). The former Western Michigan product is already drawing comparisons to the Colts’ Bob Sanders, which is quite a compliment considering how accomplished Sanders is. Delmas isn’t afraid of contact and flies to the football. While he needs to develop his pass coverage skills, he might lead the Lions in tackles this season.
Team Strength: There isn’t one positional unit on this team that can be deemed a strength, although wide receiver Calvin Johnson is so good that he can probably carry the moniker on his own. Johnson is a phenomenal athlete and gives the Lions’ offense a dynamic playmaker at receiver. Opposing teams try to blanket him in coverage and he still finds ways to get open and come away with the ball. As long as he stays healthy (he missed two weeks of training camp with a sprained thumb), CJ is in store for another monster season, no matter whom the Lions wind up starting at quarterback.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: 2009 NFL Predictions, 2009 NFL Preview, Brandon Pettigrew, Bryant Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Daunte Culpepper, Detroit Lions, Detroit Lions 2009 Season Preview, Dewayne White, Grady Jackson, Gunther Cunningham, Jim Schwartz, Julian Peterson, Larry Foote, Lions Season Preview, Louis Delmas, Martin Mayhew, Matthew Stafford, NFL Preview 2009, Phillip Buchanon
Will Stafford start for Lions in Week 1?
There have been mixed reports the past couple days on whether or not rookie Matthew Stafford will start under center for the Lions in Week 1 of the 2009 season.
ESPN’s John Clayton says no chance:
It would take an incredible preseason for rookie Matthew Stafford to beat out Daunte Culpepper in Detroit, but Stafford does have an incredible arm.
Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski says he might:
The reality is Stafford, the first overall pick in the draft, is on the fast track to become the Lions’ starting quarterback when the season opens Sept. 13 in New Orleans. So far, Stafford has passed every test with flying colors and cleared every hurdle with plenty of room to spare.
I should note that Kowalski stressed that the Lions are going to proceed with extreme caution with Stafford and that fans should exercise some patience when it comes to the former No. 1 overall pick starting this season. But it is interesting to see two members of the national media come to two different takes on this subject. And before anyone discredits Kowalski (especially when compared to Clayton’s take), keep in mind that he spends more time at Allen Park than Clayton does.
Personally, I think the Lions should park Stafford on the sidelines until GM Martin Mayhew is able to build a more talented roster. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a stud, running back Kevin Smith is a developing player, and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew could emerge as a quality playmaker as well. But Detroit’s offensive line is brutal and there’s no need for Stafford to get trampled on with Daunte Culpepper willing and waiting to serve as a beating post for opposing defenders. Plus, the defense might show a little bit of improvement this year with the additions of Larry Foote, Phillip Buchanon, Grady Jackson and Louis Delmas, but chances are the Lions are still going to be playing from behind a lot this season, which is never a good situation for a rookie quarterback trying to learn on the job.
Detroit should let Culpepper play rag doll this season and give Mayhew at least one more offseason to acquire more talent. Then maybe next year Stafford can become the full-time starter.