The first week of the “new” NFL league year has left the league in turned upside down. This has been one of the more exciting starts to an off-season in quite some time. Teams are trading their star players left and right, players are returning to their previous franchises’ and of course millions of dollars are being thrown like monopoly money.
Certain teams have used this off-season to show the rest of the league they are ready to throw everything on the table to win the Lombardi right now (like the Bills, Chiefs and Eagles),while some try to make do with what they have and build towards the future at the moment.
This is something the Baltimore Ravens have been doing for years under General Manager Ozzie Newsome and its been working. This off-season has been no different…
For the Ravens, this off-season has been a little bit smoother than the last year’s. The team lost the “original raven” in Ray Lewis to retirement, they traded away the play-off warrior founded in Anquan Boldin, they were coming off an 8-8 record, missed the playoffs for the first time under John Harbaugh, the Ray Rice scandal was all the nation was taking about and it seemed the team, as a whole, took a few step backwards. Of course the move to acquire Steve Smith from the Carolina Panthers really saved what had been a terrible off-season.
This year, things weren’t as crazy, but the drama was still pretty present after loss to the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoff. The team thought they were keeping Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, but he pulled the Ol’ Baltimore Colts/Mayflower stunt and headed to ELWAYLAND up in Denver (no hard feelings Gary). Then, we realized that we still have a good bit of dead money to deal with after cutting Rice during the season, which meant we had little cap space to make any moves (which was huge) and we might not be able to keep, possible any of the unrestricted free agents that were going to hit the market. Then, POOF…it’s March, and free agency is quickly approaching and a lot of money i needed, well that normal means cuts (i.e. Jacoby Jones,Terrance Cody and Chris Canty). Then we lose Torrey Smith to the 49ers (blow to the wide receiving core), then Pernell McPhee to the Bears (blow to the linebackers),then Owen Daniels to the Broncos (blow to an already weaken TE core), then as soon as the Free Agency doors open up…BOOM, Haloti Ngata is traded away to the Detroit Lions (huge blow to the D-Line and the defense altogether).
Obviously, something need to be done to make space for the team’s need and with some of those guys gone means there’s money to be spent:
- RB Justin Forsett (Three year deal/ $9 million)
- S Kendrick Lewis (Three year deal)
- CB Anthony Levine (Two year deal/ $2.2 million)
But that Ngata trade still kinda stings, but Ozzie knows what he is doing.
But, even with guys like NT Brandon Williams and DT Timmy Jernigan being very capable replacements for Ngata, they can’t truly replace a player like that, he is a one of a kind, though he was declining due to age and injury, we saw how much of an impact he was during the playoffs after being suspended for four games. Now fans want to know what the priority is now heading into the draft. Is the secondary still number (ranked 31st against the pass in 2014), is replacing Torrey Smith for a bigger wideout our biggest concern or is replacing that big hole left by Ngata now more important than anything else?
Let’s not forget, there are still plenty of qualified free agents out there right now to help replace some of the needs the Ravens now have (and the list keeps piling up), but how much money is Ozzie planning to use?
I don’t have the answers to a lot of these questions, it seems the mock draft for us keeps bouncing around from WR being our top concern to DL to DB. All I can say is IN OZZIE WE TRUST!
Well, now that dust has settled, it’s time for a Day 2 recap of the NFL carousel known as free agency.
Let’s start with the Philadelphia Eagles, shall we…
Well, it started off with head coach Chip Kelly breaking down what the organization’s free agency moves up to this point. Everything from why he traded his best RB in LeSean McCoy, to all the release of some of his star players, to the Nick Foles/Sam Bradford trade. But of course, everyone really wanted to know if Kelly would take a chance at acquiring Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in this year’s draft. Obviously, everyone, including Kelly, believe the Mariota is possible the best QB in the draft, and placing a player like him in Kelly’s offense would spell trouble for the NFC East teams and pretty much the rest of the league. But, for now, Kelly has other plans in mind stating, “. I think Marcus is a the best QB in the draft, but we’ll never mortgage our future.” So, it looks like, for now, Bradford will probably be the starter come September for the team, but that Kelly did mention he was offered a 1st round pick for Bradford, so never say never.
Moving on, news broke that former Charger Ryan Mathews would agree to a $11.5 million deal with the Eagles, which indicated he would be the starter next season. But, the this broke…
Murray ended up signing a five-year deal, worth $42 million deal with $21 million guaranteed. For most people, would think, well Mathews needs to start packing his things because it’s apparent who the team wants as their franchise RB…and it ain’t you. But,Kelly decided to move ahead with the deal, however, which pairs Mathews with last year’s rushing champion, which raises the question as to “what the heck is he going to do?” He won’t keep both RB on the squad, would he or is there a bigger plan in the works?
Then, the dismemberment of the New England Patriot’s secondary was completed when CB Brandon Browner decided to head to “The Bayou”, signing with the Saints with a three-year deal ,worth $15 million, including $10 million guaranteed. The physical play of Browner upgrades the Saints secondary, which was ranked at the bottom of league last season. But, as if thing couldn’t get worst for the Pats with both Browner leaving for the Saints and Revis leaving for New York, the Jets made a move that would make New England’s run for their fifth Super Bowl one of the hardest it’s been in a while. The Jets signed Antonio Cromartie to a four-year deal, worth $32 million, reuniting him with the New York and Revis, recreating the “Batman and Robin” duo that scared offensive from 2010 to 2012.
Their were a few other big name signings (J.Forsett re-signed with BAL, B.Orakpo signed with TEN, A.Johnson signed with IND, J.Cameron signed with MIA), but after the Murray signing, it was a pretty quiet day (compared to Day 1). Now tat most of the big name guys are off the board, the following days should be pretty normal for NF/l fans.
Um….What the heck just happened?
The NFL world was moving along all fine and dandy , then 4 o’clock comes around and…BOOM, the entire league blows up.
As of 4 p.m. Eastern Standard time Tuesday afternoon, the “new year” of the National Football League began, and boy did it kick off with a bang. As soon as the gates opened, we hear Saints TE Jimmy Graham, yes the same Jimmy Graham who has been one of the biggest pieces of the Saints offense, is traded away to the Seattle Seahawks (BOOM!) Then,maybe two minutes later, Ravens DT Haloti Ngata is traded away to the Lions (I’m a little salty about it), but the even bigger trade was Eagles QB Nick Foles for Rams QB Sam Bradford.
Now things get interesting….
Obviously, Foles wasn’t the long-term solution for the Eagles (or maybe wasn’t the long-term solution for Chip Kelly), but I don’t think Bradford is the answer either. It’s apparent Philly is trying to make some major moves, possible a big push for a certain QB from the Oregon?
You had former 1st round picks retire, some believe way too early. Jake Locker, age 26, never really got anything going in Tennessee, and figured he would call it a career with his head held high. Patrick Willis, age 30, has been banged up for a few season, but when he was healthy, had a decent career with the San Francisco 49ers, and at one point was consider the best inside linebacker in the game for a few year (this was while Ray Lewis was still in his prime btw). One is no doubt going into the Hall of Fame someday, while the other will be just be remembered as a bust (just like all the other QBs of that 2011 NFL Draft).
Then there’s Revis…
As the first day of free agencies came to a close, the New York Jets signed Darrelle Revis with a five-year deal, worth $70 million. The signing reunites the All-Pro corner with the ball club which he was with from 2007 to 2012.
Now that Day 1 is over, what does the aftermath look like?Who are the winners?
There’s plenty of top name guys out there for teams to shop around for, but the clear winner of the day, to me, our the Seattle Seahawks. This team is making it clear that they are trying to win NOW! Remember, they were a yard short from being back-to-back champs, but if they had to rewind that pass play and plug-in Jimmy Graham into that play, we might be talking about how Tom Brady lost three straight Super Bowls.
I also think the teams of the AFC East (besides the Pats) are winning this offseason at this point. With both Revis and Brandon Browner leaving the team, that Patriot secondary looks bare again. The Dolphins and Jets both get an upgrade with Suh ad Revis, respectfully. But, those Buffalo Bills pose the biggest threat to the division crown at this point. Give this team a decent QB and we’re look at an AFC team having to go up to Buffalo come January.
Oh, the story-lines are getting exciting and folks it’s only Day 1!!!!