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April 3rd 2014 01:46

Arizona Cardinals – Will let second year RBs Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor battle for carries after the surprising early retirement of Rashard Mendenhall while veteran QB Carson Palmer may be able to restart newly acquired TE John Carlson’s career. Tackle Jared Veldheer will be a big boost to an offensive line who surrendered 41 sacks last year. They’ve lost leading tackler LB Karlos Dansby, which hurts, but gaining CB Antonio Cromartie will help give the defense a nice boost. WR Ted Ginn will improve the return game and help create space on offense.

Atlanta Falcons – Needed a huge overhaul on defense that started with acquiring DTs Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai. On the other side of the line, they picked up Jon Asamoah to hopefully improve on the 44 sacks given up last season. Devin Hester still has a lot left and will break the all-time return TDs record this season with his new team. FS Thomas DeCoud will likely be pried away, so they will have a hole to fill there. The biggest thing they’ll have in 2014 will be the return of WR Julio Jones.

Baltimore Ravens – Losing WR Anquan Boldin last offseason hurt the offense much more than they figured, so they’ve added veteran Panther WR Steve Smith to work the slot and move the chains. They’ll have TE Dennis Pitta back to help improve the offense from last year’s poor performance. They must be waiting for the draft to improve their dismal offensive line that surrendered 48 sacks and led to the Ravens ranking 29th in rushing yards.

Buffalo Bills – Their decision to let FS Jarius Byrd leave for the Saints will hurt them more than they realize. LBs Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes should improve a below-average run defense. As for offense, they will stand with what they have and will hope for a big step up in QB EJ Manuel’s second year.

Carolina Panthers – They’ve franchised DE Greg Hardy and will get him paid big if he starts out 2014 well. They’ll miss underrated FS Mike Mitchell but gaining SS Roman Harper will help ease that loss. With the loss of WRs Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr., the offense will take a huge step back in production at a position that could’ve used an upgrade. They won’t be in the playoffs next year.

Chicago Bears – They chose not to take a chance on promising DT Henry Melton (Dallas) which will come back to haunt them. They boosted their pass rush by signing DEs Lamarr Houston and the great Jared Allen which will be a net gain after Julius Peppers defected to Green Bay. They’ll miss the security that QB Josh McCown (Tampa Bay) provided given the injury history of Jay Cutler. It’ll be sad to see Devin Hester break the all time return TD record next year not in a Bears jersey.

Cincinnati Bengals – They decided not to re-sign DE Michael Johnson after a down year and he went to Tampa Bay. The only other free agency noise made out of Cincy is the loss of the solid Anthony Collins who will get his well-deserved chance as a regular starter, also for Tampa. The Bengals are deep at all positions and will survive the losses with relative ease.

Cleveland Browns – The Browns lost SS T.J. Ward (Broncos) but gained Donte Whitner to replace him, which should be a fairly even swap. Adding LB Karlos Dansby and RB Ben Tate will be shown as two of the most productive moves from this free agency round. Dansby will be able to match or exceed the numbers of the departed D’Qwell Jackson so an unusually busy Cleveland team stays pretty even in the moves.

Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys lost one of their all-time great players to the Denver Broncos in DeMarcus Ware and also gave up DT Jason Hatcher. They both combined for 17 sacks last season and Dallas will be hard pressed to replace that production via the draft if that’s what they had in mind. One good decision was to take a chance on DT Henry Melton after an Achilles injury ended his time in Chicago.

Denver Broncos – Out goes WR Eric Decker (Jets), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Giants) and LB Wesley Woodyard and in comes WR Emmanuel Sanders, CB Aqib Talib, SS T.J. Ward and DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware. Denver was a huge player in free agency and came away with a net gain for the AFC Champions who will again contend for the title in 2014. One misstep would be the overlooking of RB Knowshon Moreno (went to Miami) which they’ll realize next season.

Detroit Lions – The pickup of WR Golden Tate from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks is an overrated move. He’s more of a WR3 or WR4 and his diva nature should be shunned in the NFL. They would have been better served getting a receiver like Eric Decker or James Jones who can stretch the field and work within their role as downfield catchers. They should have brought in some defensive talent to work on the deficiencies there.

Green Bay Packers – They’ve resigned most of their guys and added DE Julius Peppers who should take some attention away from Clay Matthews. The loss of WR James Jones (Raiders) will hurt their depth and their best position and will have to be replaced for the Aaron Rodgers led machine to keep on running well.

Houston Texans – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will do very well as a transition from the Matt Schaub era to whatever rookie comes next (I say the Texans will trade down a little and grab Manziel, although Bortles is gaining ground). They’ve continued to lose players on a once great defense over the last three years and will have to rebuild from the ground up now, that won’t bode well for a rookie quarterback. With the loss of RB Ben Tate for depth is another deep cut that’ll usher in a prolonged period of rebuilding.

Indianapolis Colts – solid pickups C Phil Costa and LB D’Qwell Jackson will improve things right away and DE Arthur Jones and WR Hakeem Nicks could have big roles to play too. With excellent coaching and a solid sophomore season of progress from QB Andrew Luck, the Colts are steadily turning into a steady AFC contender.

Jacksonville Jaguars – surprising pickups G Zane Beadles, DE Chris Clemons, DEs Ziggy Hood & Red Bryant and RB Toby Gerhart will help Gus Bradley and his staff continue to slowly improve and contend in the AFC South. RB Maurice Jones-Drew has moved on to Oakland which will allow the Jaguars to re-invent themselves offensively, it’ll be interesting to see where they take things.

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs lost a good amount of depth on both sides of the ball especially along the lines. They’ll need to make some smart decisions in the draft to keep pace on top in the AFC West as the Raiders have unquestionably improved.

Miami Dolphins – LT Branden Albert will man Jake Long’s (left for Rams last season) old spot on the O line. In my opinion they’ve picked up the steal of the offseason in Knowshon Moreno as they work to improve their 25th ranked rushing attack.

Minnesota Vikings – They gave up DE Jared Allen and picked up DT Linval Joseph; passed on CB Chris Cook and acquired CB Captain Munnerlyn. So it’d be a downgrade for their free agency haul. With the embarrassing wasted acquisition of QB Josh Freeman past them, they still have to find out if Christian Ponder can beat out Matt Cassel as QB1 or if they need to cut him and draft another candidate.

New England Patriots – The Pats replaced the departed CB Aqib Talib with the legendary Darrelle Revis from Tampa Bay and the lanky star Brandon Browner from Seattle. Along with solid pickup WR Brandon LaFell to boost the receiver group, New England has indeed improved in the offseason. It’ll be interesting to see if backup QB Ryan Mallet will be traded for draft picks to try to find the heir apparent to Tom Brady, although he may play 3-4 more years.

New Orleans Saints – They lost two good safeties in Malcolm Jenkins (Philly) and Roman Harper (Carolina) but gained the best one available in free agency, FS Jarius Bryd. His playmaking ability will likely make it a net gain. They said goodbye to several long time fan favorites like WR Lance Moore (Steelers) and Darren Sproles which has made franchised star TE Jimmy Graham nervous, but I think by the time the playoffs arrive it will all be apparent that those decisions were best for the whole.

New York Giants – Eli Manning committed an astounding 29 turnovers last year. But it was likely due to their inability to rush the ball and Manning trying to do too much. Rashad Jennings will try to run the ball better after backing up the oft-injured Darren McFadden in Oakland. The defense was also porous but they’re hoping CB pickups Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond will help matters. They’ll have a little harder time generating a pass rush though without longtime Giant DE Justin Tuck (Raiders).

New York Jets – Newly acquired QB Mike Vick shouldn’t have any trouble beating out sophomore Geno Smith after he turned the ball over 25 times and was sacked 43. He should enhance an already solid rushing attack and with make much better use of the fellow free agent addition WR Eric Decker.

Oakland Raiders – Now that some of their past contract issues are over, the Raiders attracted a ton of free agents to try to stop their losing ways. QB Matt Schaub headlines things and will be on a redemption journey to show that last year’s terrible performance was an aberration. CB Carlos Rogers, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, OLB LaMarr Woodley, WR James Jones, CB Tarell Brown, T Donald Penn and DEs Justin Tuck & Antonio Smith all will greatly improve a team mired in mediocrity.

Philadelphia Eagles – After a very busy 2013 offseason, the Eagles have stood on what they already have on their roster and will add pieces in the draft that fit their systems perfectly to ensure a consistent future atop the NFC East. With the volatility of their East foes, that should be a fairly reachable goal.

Pittsburgh Steelers – They let go more than they added, but two guys in particular fit their team perfectly. Mike Mitchell will man the FS position after a very solid all-around season with the Panthers (4 sacks, 4 ints) and Lance Moore is the kind of brave blocker and fearless slot receiver that Pittsburgh covets.

San Diego Chargers – Once again there was not much action from a team that needs improvement, and although they very surprisingly made the playoffs last year they will have to and some impact players to beat back the other improved teams in the AFC to hope for a wild card spot.

San Francisco 49ers – They added SS Antoine Bethea and CB Chris Cook to replace Donte Whitner (Browns) and CB Tarell Brown (Raiders) respectively. Other than that the 49ers have stood on their own guys and will make yet another run at a championship.

Seattle Seahawks – As always, the Super Bowl winning team gets raided and Seattle was no exception to that rule. It will be very interesting to see if they can overcome the losses of CBs Brandon Browner & Walter Thurmond and solid contributors WR Golden Tate and DEs Chris Clemons and Red Bryant.

St. Louis Rams – They lost solid veterans CB Cortland Finnegan (Miami) and QB Kellen Clemens (San Diego) and didn’t add anything. They are likely waiting for the draft to make their moves toward improvement.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – One of the busiest teams in free agency landed big free agent targets (if not famous names) in DE Michael Johnson and CB Alterraun Verner after losing big name CB Darelle Revis. They also picked up a solid starter in T Anthony Collins as they lost some of their long-time offensive linemen (Donald Penn, Davin Joseph). The most intriguing get will be QB Josh McCown who turned excellent injury replacement for Jay Cutler in Chicago into a big contract and a late career chance to start in Tampa Bay.

Tennessee Titans – The Titans picked up some interesting prospects in LB Wesley Woodyard, WR Dexter McCluster and T Michael Oher. All have been highly touted on draft day but fell out of favor with their teams over the years. If they can relaunch their careers in Nashville, it’ll be a nice haul for the Titans and will make up for losing solid veteran backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and stud CB Alterraun Verner.

Washington Redskins – The Redskins overlooked the gang-related rumors about WR DeSean Jackson and picked him up from the rival Eagles. They also got DT Jason Hatcher to defect from Dallas and added solid players in CB Tracy Porter and WR Andre Roberts. They didn’t lose anyone of note and should continue to make waves in the draft.

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The Best and the Baffling Moves of 2014 NFL Free Agency Week 1

The Arms race wasn’t NFC v AFC, it was AFC v AFC. Aside from the Bears adding bodies and the Super Bowl champion Seahawks hemorrhaging them, most of the action in the first week of free agency was in the AFC.

The Best:

With the additions of DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, SS T.J. Ward and WR Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos and John Elway are winning free agency by a landslide

The Bills sign run-stopper Brandon Spikes to man the middle and free up star youngster Kiko Alonso to roam from the weakside linebacker spot

DT Jason Hatcher joined the rival Redskins from the Cowboys and coming off a great year

The Raiders get a pass-rush upgrade with DE Justin Tuck and OLB LaMarr Woodley

LB Wesley Woodyard had a phenomenal 2012 season and boosts an already solid LB core of Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy for the Titans

FS Jarius Byrd instantly improves an already improving defense in New Orleans

Adding DE Michael Johnson and CB Alterraun Verner along with some good role players and starting quality T Anthony Collins shows the rest of the league the Tampa Bay wants to improve and erase the bad mojo from last season

The Baffling:

The Bills make this list too with an odd $13.5 4-year deal for G Chris Williams who has been a big weakpoint on some terrible offensive lines in St. Louis and Chicago

Luckily OL Roger Safford’s failed physical gave the Raiders a second chance to nullify the terrible signing of the very average guard, but overpaid that money anyway to T Austin Howard

WR Golden Tate is nowhere near worth the 5 year $31 million contract it took the Lions to get him from Seattle

Teams that dropped significantly last year like the Ravens, Texans and Falcons weren’t nearly as active as they should have been in this market. The Texans’ depth has been eroded so far and it looks like they are in rebuilding mode already from their measly 2011-2012 WildCard playoff wins…

Follow on Twitter @chatnfl

Top 2014 NFL Free Agents - Offense

March 5th 2014 02:03
Top 2014 NFL Free Agents - Offense

Here are the top free agents per position:


Josh McCown – he had great receivers subbing in for the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago last year, but he still had to have the ability for there not to be a bit of a drop-off at QB1

Mike Vick – most teams would rather groom that young future starter, but he’s still Mike Vick and would be an upgrade for a great many teams without skill at QB

Matt Cassel – played well enough in a mess of a Vikings passing offense to garner a spot to compete for a starting position for the many QB poor teams of today’s NFL


Knowshon Moreno – still underrated after a breakout 2013 campaign, he has the ability and will to carry an offense as a complete 3-down back

Ben Tate – has shown flashes over the years as Arian Foster’s backup in Houston but hasn’t quite earned that starter’s money yet – a new team may bring that out of him

Darren McFadden – injuries have been the only thing holding McFadden back as he has been electrifying in the games in which he was fully healthy


Vonta Leach – this position is a lost art and that’s tragic to me, Leach is the best available by far


Eric Decker – his production has exploded with Peyton Manning throwing to him, but he was no slouch in the Tim Tebow run-oriented 2011 season (612 yards and 8 TDs) in his 2nd year

Hakeem Nicks – after a couple of injury-plagued years, he’ll be a steal for someone if he can regain his top form

Golden Tate – he may develop into a consistent starting contributor if he can get knocked down a few pegs ego-wise and work harder


Julian Edelman – if New England doesn’t resign him (I’d say that’s unlikely) he deserves his shot to prove he’s not just a wacky system guy conjured up by Bill Belichick


Brandon Pettigrew – takes the top spot by default with Jermichael Finley’s career still questionable after his unfortunate neck injury


Eugene Monroe – Will be highly sought after due to a shallow pool, and the Ravens would be very wise to use their franchise tag on him since they’ve just locked up TE Dennis Pitta

Branden Albert – Will likely get away this year from the Chiefs and have a good productive 3-5 years with a lucky team that needs a QB protector

Anthony Collins – part of a high quality and deep offensive line in Cincy who will shine in a starting role


Roger Saffold – his constant injuries make him a liability at tackle, but can still be a solid piece if he can stay on the field


Alex Mack – Cleveland would be wise to pull out all the stops to keep him if they’re interested in winning in the next 5 years. He's been tagged as a transitional player, which means they can match the offer of any suitor

Chris Spencer – did well for the Titans last year and should earn some good money in a down market supply of experienced centers

Follow on Twitter @chatnfl

Top 2014 NFL Free Agents - Defense

March 4th 2014 02:28
Top 2014 NFL Free Agents - Defense

Here are the top free agents per position:
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February 28th 2014 02:25

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A New Era in Pro Football

February 12th 2014 02:10
A New Era in Pro Football

SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year University of Missouri DE Michael Sam will be the first openly gay athlete drafted in the NFL. It turns out his college teammates and coaches all knew back in August and had a successful, supportive season together. Aside from locker room respect and protocols, this shouldn’t be a big deal in 2014. If crazy college kids can be mature enough to handle the situation, any team in the NFL should be able to too. But it will be new and it won’t be automatic

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Seattle 43, Denver 8

February 3rd 2014 04:19
Seattle 43, Denver 8

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Super Sunday

February 2nd 2014 16:27

The Folly of Prediction in the NFL

February 1st 2014 23:50
The Folly of Prediction in the NFL

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my Super Bowl pick – Houston versus Atlanta

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The Case for the Broncos

February 1st 2014 08:53
The Case for the Broncos

Peyton Manning can practically win this game on his own. His record-breaking season has led the record-breaking offense to heights never imaged when he was signed as a free agent by Denver before the 2012 season. They knew they were getting Peyton Manning, but with his very serious neck injuries and surgeries, they couldn’t have reasonably expected an insanely productive season such as this. This is what makes QBs fan favorites and legends. Manning is a legend in his own time

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