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Found 7 results

  1. In NFL free agency, the biggest moves rarely prove to be worth the price The Jacksonville Jaguars signed quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract worth $88 million. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) By John Clayton March 16 at 8:00 AM NFL fans love free agency. You can hear it on sports-talk radio all the time. Whenever a big-name player becomes available, fans imagine how they would fit with their favorite teams. They applaud the aggressiveness of major signings and feel as though they are adding Pro Bowl players who will take their team closer to the Super Bowl. But as exciting as things may be right now for fans of big spenders such as the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, there often is a big price to becoming a “winner” in free agency. And it’s rare that the cost actually is worth it. To be clear, sometimes the high-priced approach has worked. After the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks following the 2013 season, John Elway hit free agency hard and two years later delivered a Super Bowl victory. Just last season, the Chicago Bears got to 12-4 after spending nearly $125 million in free agency. ] But in most cases, free agency turns out to be a costly fling. Consider the following: Of the 49 highest-paid players in 2016 free agency, only 14 remain on the teams that signed them. Of the 60 highest-paid players in 2017 free agency, only 22 remain. Of players from the 2018 free agent class who received $5 million per year or more, 14 are already no longer with the teams that signed them. In fact, the entire 2018 unrestricted free agent class produced just two Pro Bowlers last season, and neither was a starter — special teamers Andre Roberts (Jets, now with the Bills) and Michael Thomas (Giants). Colts tight end Eric Ebron and Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey also made it, but they were street free agents, not unrestricted. As the first wave of free agency heated up this year, so did the casualty list of past free agent classes. The Carolina Panthers cut left tackle Matt Kalil, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in 2017. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who signed a three-year, $35 million contract in 2017. Running back Isaiah Crowell (New York Jets) and defensive end Adrian Clayborn (New England Patriots) were 2018 free agent signings who were released late this week. The Giants and Browns — before agreeing on the Odell Beckham Jr. mega-trade — swapped the second-highest-paid free agent of 2016 (Olivier Vernon) for the sixth-highest-paid free agent of 2017 (Kevin Zeitler). What’s behind the lack of success for most big-name signings? For starters, the pool of young players becoming eligible for free agency has shrunk over the past several years. With teams more likely than in the past to cut or trade a player who is still on his rookie deal, fewer are making it to free agency at the end of their first contracts. The 2016 free agency class had 66 draft choices whose four-year deals have expired. That was 61 in 2017 and 62 in 2018 before dropping to 51 this year. That, combined with teams being far more reluctant to give players other than quarterbacks or offensive linemen third contracts, due to the injury risk, led to a free agency class this year that most considered to be below-average. A smaller supply of quality free agents drives up the price on the best available options, which is why within the last week we’ve seen record-setting deals, such as the Raiders giving Trent Brown the biggest offensive line contract in history at $16.5 million per year, and the Jets making C.J. Mosley the highest-paid inside linebacker at $17.5 million per year. Deals of that size raise both stakes and expectations, and make it more likely teams will move on if things don’t go well. General managers have also gotten better about limiting guarantees to the first two years, allowing teams an out before Year 3 if a player doesn’t meet expectations. But perhaps the most fascinating thing about these megadeals is that they’re all done over the phone. This year, the majority of agreements took place before free agency officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Think about it: There are no player visits. There are no physicals until the player signs the contract. In many cases, teams are dishing out $10 million plus per year for players they’ve never met with. There are still some very good players among this year’s free agents, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for guys such as Jets running back Le’Veon Bell and Ravens safety Earl Thomas to become Pro Bowl picks this season. Certainly, at least some teams will see a boost from their high-priced acquisitions. But every GM who dished out a big contract this week needs to beware: In NFL free agency, there are more failures than successes.
  2. In NFL free agency, the biggest moves rarely prove to be worth the price The Jacksonville Jaguars signed quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract worth $88 million. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) By John Clayton March 16 at 8:00 AM NFL fans love free agency. You can hear it on sports-talk radio all the time. Whenever a big-name player becomes available, fans imagine how they would fit with their favorite teams. They applaud the aggressiveness of major signings and feel as though they are adding Pro Bowl players who will take their team closer to the Super Bowl. But as exciting as things may be right now for fans of big spenders such as the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, there often is a big price to becoming a “winner” in free agency. And it’s rare that the cost actually is worth it. To be clear, sometimes the high-priced approach has worked. After the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks following the 2013 season, John Elway hit free agency hard and two years later delivered a Super Bowl victory. Just last season, the Chicago Bears got to 12-4 after spending nearly $125 million in free agency. ] But in most cases, free agency turns out to be a costly fling. Consider the following: Of the 49 highest-paid players in 2016 free agency, only 14 remain on the teams that signed them. Of the 60 highest-paid players in 2017 free agency, only 22 remain. Of players from the 2018 free agent class who received $5 million per year or more, 14 are already no longer with the teams that signed them. In fact, the entire 2018 unrestricted free agent class produced just two Pro Bowlers last season, and neither was a starter — special teamers Andre Roberts (Jets, now with the Bills) and Michael Thomas (Giants). Colts tight end Eric Ebron and Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey also made it, but they were street free agents, not unrestricted. As the first wave of free agency heated up this year, so did the casualty list of past free agent classes. The Carolina Panthers cut left tackle Matt Kalil, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in 2017. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who signed a three-year, $35 million contract in 2017. Running back Isaiah Crowell (New York Jets) and defensive end Adrian Clayborn (New England Patriots) were 2018 free agent signings who were released late this week. The Giants and Browns — before agreeing on the Odell Beckham Jr. mega-trade — swapped the second-highest-paid free agent of 2016 (Olivier Vernon) for the sixth-highest-paid free agent of 2017 (Kevin Zeitler). What’s behind the lack of success for most big-name signings? For starters, the pool of young players becoming eligible for free agency has shrunk over the past several years. With teams more likely than in the past to cut or trade a player who is still on his rookie deal, fewer are making it to free agency at the end of their first contracts. The 2016 free agency class had 66 draft choices whose four-year deals have expired. That was 61 in 2017 and 62 in 2018 before dropping to 51 this year. That, combined with teams being far more reluctant to give players other than quarterbacks or offensive linemen third contracts, due to the injury risk, led to a free agency class this year that most considered to be below-average. A smaller supply of quality free agents drives up the price on the best available options, which is why within the last week we’ve seen record-setting deals, such as the Raiders giving Trent Brown the biggest offensive line contract in history at $16.5 million per year, and the Jets making C.J. Mosley the highest-paid inside linebacker at $17.5 million per year. Deals of that size raise both stakes and expectations, and make it more likely teams will move on if things don’t go well. General managers have also gotten better about limiting guarantees to the first two years, allowing teams an out before Year 3 if a player doesn’t meet expectations. But perhaps the most fascinating thing about these megadeals is that they’re all done over the phone. This year, the majority of agreements took place before free agency officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Think about it: There are no player visits. There are no physicals until the player signs the contract. In many cases, teams are dishing out $10 million plus per year for players they’ve never met with. There are still some very good players among this year’s free agents, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for guys such as Jets running back Le’Veon Bell and Ravens safety Earl Thomas to become Pro Bowl picks this season. Certainly, at least some teams will see a boost from their high-priced acquisitions. But every GM who dished out a big contract this week needs to beware: In NFL free agency, there are more failures than successes.
  3. In NFL free agency, the biggest moves rarely prove to be worth the price The Jacksonville Jaguars signed quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract worth $88 million. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) By John Clayton March 16 at 8:00 AM NFL fans love free agency. You can hear it on sports-talk radio all the time. Whenever a big-name player becomes available, fans imagine how they would fit with their favorite teams. They applaud the aggressiveness of major signings and feel as though they are adding Pro Bowl players who will take their team closer to the Super Bowl. But as exciting as things may be right now for fans of big spenders such as the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, there often is a big price to becoming a “winner” in free agency. And it’s rare that the cost actually is worth it. To be clear, sometimes the high-priced approach has worked. After the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks following the 2013 season, John Elway hit free agency hard and two years later delivered a Super Bowl victory. Just last season, the Chicago Bears got to 12-4 after spending nearly $125 million in free agency. ] But in most cases, free agency turns out to be a costly fling. Consider the following: Of the 49 highest-paid players in 2016 free agency, only 14 remain on the teams that signed them. Of the 60 highest-paid players in 2017 free agency, only 22 remain. Of players from the 2018 free agent class who received $5 million per year or more, 14 are already no longer with the teams that signed them. In fact, the entire 2018 unrestricted free agent class produced just two Pro Bowlers last season, and neither was a starter — special teamers Andre Roberts (Jets, now with the Bills) and Michael Thomas (Giants). Colts tight end Eric Ebron and Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey also made it, but they were street free agents, not unrestricted. As the first wave of free agency heated up this year, so did the casualty list of past free agent classes. The Carolina Panthers cut left tackle Matt Kalil, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in 2017. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded wide receiver
  4. Every day she walked in, caked in chicken grease and exhaustion, and headed right back into the kitchen. Her name is Queen Marvin, and her two sons watched this ritual for years: nine hours working the fryer or the drive-thru, a mother so worn out that she was almost constantly sick, a woman so determined to provide for her boys that she returned to their home not to rest but instead to prepare them a proper supper. “You’d be so tired,” Marvin recalled recently. “But I don’t care how tired I was; I made sure I’d give them a meal every day.” She didn’t realize it at the time, but her younger son, Julio Jones, was paying attention. Long before he was the Atlanta Falcons’ best receiver — maybe the NFL’s best — he got used to sitting back and absorbing, compiling mental files, stashing a belief he would deploy later: that a hard day’s work is an expectation. It is one reason why, according to several individuals involved in Jones’s rise, the 27-year-old is seen as the emotional nerve center of a team headed to the Super Bowl, as well as a quiet assassin. After some of the most dazzling catches — such as a sideline touchdown grab in the NFC championship game — Jones avoids choreography and over-the-top celebration and instead calmly hands the ball to an official. It’s the way he’s always done it. “Never was he overdramatic or beating on his chest or pointing at the cameras,” said Todd Watson, who coached Jones’s high school team in Foley, Ala. “It was always: ‘Okay, I scored; let’s go do it again.’ ” [The Patriots’ big difference that’s fueling their Super Bowl run] Lance Thompson, who recruited Jones to play for Coach Nick Saban at Alabama, puts it a bit more colorfully. “He ain’t one of them guys you’re going to see creating drama, trying to bring attention to themselves,” Thompson said. “He’s rare in today’s athlete, today’s players. He’s a saber-toothed tiger, and they’re Persian cats; this [guy] will gobble them all up.” Years ago in Foley, a small town not far from the Gulf Coast, Jones didn’t say much. He was so quiet that some visitors thought that, as Marvin put it, her son was “different.” He kept mostly to himself, was content to go the movies with his mother and brother, was thankful to eat her lemon pepper chicken and macaroni after Marvin’s shift ended at the fried-chicken chain down the road. He came into the restaurant after school sometimes to say hello to his mother, watching her run from here to there, almost never able to sit. She turned the visits into lessons; aim higher than this, she told him, and settle for only the best. Jones promised his mother that someday she wouldn’t have to do this. In time, he told her, he would be able to buy her a house, a car — whatever she wanted. When college recruiters came to Foley High, a frenzy arising over an athlete whom Rivals ranked as the nation’s top receiver and No. 4 overall prospect, Jones barely spoke. After the visits, Watson said, coaches would call him and ask whether Jones had any interest in their programs at all. If he did, he sure wasn’t showing it. “He might not have said much back,” Watson said, “but he’s taking in every word you say.” He signed with the home-state Crimson Tide, and almost immediately Jones made an impression on coaches with his work ethic. He played through injuries, was early to team meetings, combined aptitude with talent and eventually finished in the top five all-time in every meaningful receiving category at Alabama. [More than 50,000 people want Lady Gaga replaced at Super Bowl halftime show. It’s not happening.] He stayed late after practice to catch extra passes, rarely had to be reminded to block until the whistle, almost always got up after being tackled and sprinted to the end zone — because his idol, Jerry Rice, used to do the same. If Jones dropped a pass or was off on his timing, nobody had to remind him to run the route 15 or so times after practice. In games, if the offense or Alabama’s quarterback somehow missed Jones for a while, he didn’t blow up at coaches or stalk the sideline. His receivers coach, Curt Cignetti, said Jones would just sit quietly on the bench — waiting to catch his eye. “Just a very, very subtle, like: ‘I’m ready,’ ” said Cignetti, who is now the head coach at Elon University. “He wouldn’t say it. He wouldn’t even try to imply it. But I could see it in his body, like: ‘This guy is ready; we’ve got to get him the ball.’ ” Cignetti and several of Jones’s other former coaches said the young receiver was the ideal pupil: He worked hard, kept quiet, seemed never to be satisfied. Which is perhaps why the Falcons went all in on Jones before the 2011 NFL draft, trading five picks to Cleveland to move up 21 spots and select the receiver at No. 6 overall. It was called bold, an overreaction, a move that can get NFL executives fired. Then it worked: Jones has averaged at least 100 receiving yards per game in each of the past four seasons, and he is a major reason why quarterback Matt Ryan will likely be crowned most valuable player this week. [Ranking the watchability of every Super Bowl ever played] More than that, his drive, study habits and refusal to be sidelined by nagging foot and toe injuries helped propel the Falcons past Green Bay last week and into their first Super Bowl in 18 years with nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. All eyes will be on Houston this weekend, and on Friday a mother will join the party. “I ain’t never been to a Super Bowl before,” Marvin said. “My friends have been there, and they told me everything is big. I said I want to see for myself.” She’ll leave the three-bedroom house Jones bought for her in 2011, kitchen equipped with granite counters and custom cabinets, and drive her Cadillac — another gift from her younger son — to the Pensacola airport. Eventually, she’ll arrive in Houston, where this time it will be Jones who takes care of dinner.
  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/atlanta-falcons-frustrated-with-replacement-referees/2012/09/26/36738777-ed1c-4a73-9159-aa9c088741db_video.html
  6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/falcons-qb-matt-ryan-to-match-his-no-huddle-prowess-against-broncos-peyton-manning/2012/09/15/d73bf19a-ff14-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html Falcons QB Matt Ryan to match his no-huddle prowess against Broncos’ Peyton Manning ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons have embraced the no-huddle offense, and Matt Ryan thinks the master of the up-tempo attack will be on the other sideline Monday night. Ryan says he has tried to pick up lessons on how to work the no-huddle by watching tapes of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning through his years with the Colts. “There’s really nobody better at it,” Ryan said. “He’s as good in the no-huddle really as anybody who has ever played. It’s fun to watch. I think any quarterback who has ever played has tried to turn on his tape and tried to pick up on some of the things that they’re doing. He’s one of the best.” Ryan said he has watched the way Manning operates the no-huddle. He said that doesn’t mean he tries to copy Manning’s moves. “I’ve certainly watched him a lot,” Ryan said. “As far as emulating him, I think you have to be your own player. But in terms of watching him at the line of scrimmage, what he’s done historically for a long time, you try to bring some of that into what we’ve done in the no-huddle. Certainly, I think everybody aspires to be where he is.” Manning also had praise for Ryan. “I think Matt is an excellent quarterback and I still go back to whether you huddle or you don’t huddle, it still comes down to if you have good players and they make plays,” Manning said. “And Matt has shown the ability to make plays throughout his career.” Manning called Ryan a “big, strong quarterback with a big-time arm.” Ryan set a Falcons record with 4,177 yards passing last season. Ryan’s detractors point to his 0-3 postseason record, including a 24-2 wild-card loss to the New York Giants last season. But he can look across the field Monday night for proof those three losses don’t have to define his career. Manning also lost his first three playoff games before he was voted MVP as the Colts won the Super Bowl after the 2006 season. “I think it’s one of those things you’ve got to use it as motivation in the right way,” Ryan said of his playoff losses. “That’s what I’ve tried to do. It’s certainly difficult, no question, but when you put it behind you and move on and start preparing for the next season, that’s the only way I’ve found you can approach it. You just have to get back to work and start working for the next goal.” Some observers thought Atlanta should have committed to the no-huddle earlier in Ryan’s career. Under former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, the Falcons went without a huddle only as a change of pace to disrupt defenses. Now, with first-year coordinator Dirk Koetter, the Falcons are leaning more on Ryan’s right arm and less on Michael Turner’s legs. Ryan passed for three touchdowns and Turner had only 32 yards rushing in the Falcons’ 40-24 win at Kansas City last Sunday. Now Ryan and the Falcons get a prime-time test against Manning and the Broncos. Ryan said he’s been watching Manning for a long time. How long? “I think he was drafted when I was in — I don’t want to make him sound too old — I think seventh or eighth grade,” Ryan said. “I remember watching him at Tennessee. Unbelievably talented. Then when he got into the NFL, he was carving people up and has been doing it for a long time. “It’s fun to play against the very best, and he’s obviously one of the best quarterbacks of all time and he’ll present a big challenge to our defense.” Falcons center Todd McClure said he doesn’t expect Ryan will worry about statistical comparisons with Manning. “To be honest, I don’t know if he really looks at it that way,” McClure said. “He’s such a focused guy. I don’t think he really looks at that matchup. He’s so focused on going out there and playing at a high level. He’s not too worried about the other quarterback and trying to outdo him. He’s just worried about himself and trying to score more points.” Ryan laughed when asked how he would defend Manning. “Not my job,” he said. “That’s the great part of playing quarterback. I don’t ever have to go on the field against him.”
  7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/new-orleans-saints-deserved-punishment-for-bounty-system-but-roger-goodell-and-nfl-havent-gone-far-enough/2012/03/21/gIQAn2bgSS_story.html
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