NFL News & Notes: Free Agent Moves, Trades & Head Scratchers

~ The NFL is not only in full swing now that the lockout has come to an end it is on full tilt and it’s the fast and furious. Moves, moves, and more moves have dominated the headlines as teams are scrambling to fit all of their needs into the new salary cap that is one of the results of the lockout.

 It’s an exciting time right now to be a free agent in the league and it’s an even more exciting time for the fans to see what moves their respective teams are willing to make to get the best possible chance to win.  It’s impossible to breakdown every move that has been made recently and there are still more moves to be made. However here are some notable moves that have been the talk of the town so far with the league where they pay to play … Read more of this post

The Lockout Is Over … Football Talk Can Now REALLY Begin

~ The NFL will have football and that is music to the ears of myself and many fans around the nation. The lockout has reportedly been lifted and football will be played in the fall of 2011.

 Football is back, well it never really left. No regular season games are going to be missed and only 1 pre-season game had to be cancelled. (The Hall of Fame game between Chicago and Houston)

 The lockout offically being lifted gives the teams, players, and the fans back the spotlight on the actual game that’s played on the field.

 What Comes Along With The Lifting of The Lockout? 

 The deal is a 10-year deal with no opt-out which means no talk of a lockout anytime soon. 

 The salary cap will now be at $120 million. The teams can now focus on how this will impact their rosters going into the regular season. Over 400 NFL players are currently free agents and more than quite a few high profile players may have to find new teams to play for because of the possibilities of them being cut because of the cap.

 Money, Money, and if All Else Fails … More Money

 The threat of games actually being cancelled because of the lockout proved to be the game-changer in the negotiations. This is logical because the bottom line is and will always be that this is a league where they pay to play.

 Both sides (Owners & Players) needed to figure out the best way to split all of the money that was coming in from annual league revenue. $9 billion is a lot of pie to divide and both sides held firm in their gameplans. That’s where reality came in and started bnging on the door.

 The closer the NFL began to get to the start of the regular season, the more realistic the threat of games being cancelled became. No games being played means no money being made.

 It’s great that both sides came to this agreement and even better that the fans don’t lose out on the start of the regular season. However, this league simply was not going to risk regular season games being cancelled and losing even more money than they have already. Money is always what leads you to the bargaining table and it normally is what gets you away from it.

 It’s now time to get ready for the craziest free-agency peroid in recent memory. If this is going to be chaos, at least it’s going to be organized chaos. Time for some football!

NFL Lockout > Owners APPROVE Proposed Labor Agreement, Now Up To The Players

~ The NFL has taken another big step towards ending the lockout which is now at 128 days. Mark down July 21st, 2011 as the day that the wheels offically were put in motion to end the work stoppage.The owners have approved the proposed 10-year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and now the spotlight will shift to the players as they will now have to vote.

 This is clearly big news and from the way things are shaping up, the NFL may only end up losing one game off of their schedule. Training camps would most likely open by August 1st. The commissioner has announced that the Hall of Fame game (Chicago vs St.Louis) scheduled for August 7th will have to be cancelled.

 Communication can go a long way when the threat of games and additional money being lost. The players are going to carefully review the agreement before voting. However, they still must reform the union they decertified months ago.

 According to ESPN, Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith have been in constant contact with each other to come to an agreement where if the players are prepared to vote to approve the proposed deal, they would work to recertify the union in time for the start of training camps.

 More news is expected to come fast and furiously on what the players are going to do. Any projected schedules that are being put in place can’t become official until they do their part. Football fans at least can feel comfortable knowing that football is as close to returning as it’s been throughout these 128 days.

The Potential Impact Of The New NFL Salary Cap

~ As the NFL gets closer and closer to the end of the lockout, teams are getting closer to the madness that will come once free agency starts. How the teams pick and choose through their list of free agents will be largely impacted by how much flexibility they’ll have with the 2011 salary cap of $120 million. There are quite a few teams who are presently over the cap or not too far under it. This means only one thing, there is going to be quite a few big name cap casualties.

According to John Clayton of ESPN, quite a few high profile names are going to be up for discussion when it’s time for teams to decide who stays and who leaves.

The New Orleans Saints are actually $11.7 million under the cap. They also have a high profile running back on their team named Reggie Bush who is scheduled to make $11.8 million this year. Bush might be saying all the right things lately to help assure himself of staying in New Orleans however he could very well be on his way out the door.

A change of scenery might actually do Bush some good. The Saints drafted him with high expectations after his electrifying college career at USC. That was six years ago though and the old saying goes that the real definition of the NFL is NOT FOR LONG.

 Bush has shown flashes of what he can do and he’s also been injury prone. The Saints went out and drafted running back Mark Ingram and that was an early sign that they maybe ready to withdraw from their investment in Bush.

 Bush is only 26 years old and quite a few teams could be in a position to add him and for the money that he may no longer be able to get in New Orleans.

 Bush should strongly consider moving on to another team. In this league with the way the salary cap is now going to be structured, players like Bush are going to have to maximize the best out of their long term contracts. He may only have one more left to get and it’s looking like it wont be in New Orleans.

 Where quarterback Vince Young ends up could depend on if he has matured any during his time away from the field. He couldn’t get on the same page with his former coach Jeff Fisher and that led to the  his placement on the potential cap casulaty list.

 If Young’s tenure with the Tennessee Titans is over (and all signs point to that being the case), it could clear up close to $12.8 million in cap room for the team. The Titans are currently $10.3 million under the cap.

 Young is in the same boat as Bush, he’s still young and came into the league with a lot of hype based off a succesful college career. He just has not been able to turn that hype into professional success yet. Young has shown flashes, now it’s time for him to show consistency.

 Just like in the case of Bush, there might not be room for another long term contract with the only pro team he’s played for. He’ll most likely have to do this with another team.

 

 There are some other interesting storylines to watch for that will result from teams who are already over the cap.

 The New York Jets have made the AFC championship game two seasons in a row. They’ve done well to surround their young quarterback Mark Sanchez with the right amount of pieces on offense. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Brad Smith played large roles in their passing attack and on special teams and all three of them are up for new contracts. That’s a problem for a team that is $1.2 million over the cap and also have other roster signings to make.

 Most likely one of those three are going to be making big plays for another team. Edwards and Holmes are going to want to test the market to see if they can land a big money offer from another team. Smith’s stock is rising because of his versatile skills set.

 With the season just around the corner from starting, the Jets will have to move quickly and move smart. Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress are looming as potential free agent targets who could replace either Edwards or Holmes at an affordable price.

 The team that shares the same stadium with the Jets are also going to be in a race to get under the cap. The New York Giants are $11.3 million over the cap and still have to decide what to do with their running back free agent to be Ahmad Bradshaw.

 Bradshaw is reportedly getting interest from the Miami Dolphins which also happens to be where his agent is based and where he’s been training. How quickly the Giants can execute their plans to get under the cap could impact what happens with Bradshaw.

 I couldn’t help notice the Tampa Bay Bucs when looking at the list of teams that are under the salary cap. Being under the cap by a good amount could lead to an exciting time for a team’s fanbase. The Bucs are $59.2 million UNDER the cap. The Bucs should be big time players in free agency once the lockout concludes.

Don’t Look Now: The NFL Lockout Could Almost Be Over.

~  The longest labor dispute in NFL history may finally be reaching it’s conclusion. Reports have been growing in numbers that the lockout that is over 125 days and counting may soon be over. It’s safe to start talking about football again, here is what we now know….

 According to ESPN, the Owners and Players are working are working very hard towards reaching a deal that could eventually be voted on by the players on Wednesday July 20th, 2011 and then voted on by the owners on Thursday July 21st, 2011. If all lights are green, an announcement that the lockout is over could be made by Friday July 22nd, 2011.

 These are of course projected dates and bumps in the road can still come about that may push things back. The players (NFLPA) still have to reform their union that they took apart at the start of the lockout, if the sides want to bargain collectively.

 The deal that is reportedly on the table would assure the players of 46% – 48% of the leagues total revenues, which now exceed $9 billion per year. This of course was the main reason that led to the lockout. The deal would be a 10-year agreement.

 One potential major bump along the way is the pending lawsuit that the players have against the owners. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are big name plaintiffs in that lawsuit. Will they want compensation in return for dropping the lawsuit and help clear the path towards ending the lockout? That remains to be seen. Compensation could reportedly come in the form of a lifetime exemption from a franchise-player tag. That’s a pretty heavy form of compensation to put on the table.

 What matters most right now is that a deal is close to becoming a reality for the players, owners, and the fans.

 The NFL does not want to risk losing more money (revenue) heading into their pre-season schedule. It’s important to keep in mind as well that the regular season starts September 11th which will mark 10 years since the tragic events of 9/11. It’s logical to think the league would want to play their games on that day for the fans instead of dealing with any backlash over them still trying reach a deal over money.

 So the question that is asked every year around this time looks like its safe  …

 Are You Ready For Some Football??? … Stay Tuned!

James Harrison … When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

~  James Harrison knows how to grab attention, I give him that much credit. He is doing a better job of that off the field than he did in the Super Bowl against Green Bay. Harrison has managed to find his way into the headlines again for all the wrong reasons. Besides insulting the NFL Commissioner again, Harrison decided to throw some teammates under the bus as well with a interview he gave for Men’s Journal that gives a new definition to the word rant.

  At some point a line has to be drawn where freedom of speech turns into wreckless abandonment of all common sense. This was more than a rant, Harrison unleashed an Ether attack that even Nas might not have given to Jay-Z back in 2001.

On Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner >

 “If that man was on fire and I had to p*ss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it, … I hate him and will never respect him.

 On Teammate Ben Roethlisberger >

 “Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”

 The interview has even more remarks just as strong as those and words just as harsh, maybe even harsher. Harrison has reportedly came out and stated that his words about Roethlisberger were twisted. I guess it will be up to the readers to make that determination for themselves.

 The question I have when it comes to this is when is enough going to be enough? I make sure that whenever I can in this blog, I refer to the players I write about as professionals. They are professional athletes getting paid to play a game. Baseball, Basketball, Football, it’s all still a game where they are paid to play and be professional about it.

 I understood Harrison when he first began to complain about being fined for the hits he was delivering on the field. I didn’t exactly agree with him, however I could see where it would frustrate a defensive player of the year to have to change his style of play all of a sudden.

 There is a line that every employee has to respect when it comes to criticizing those above them who are somewhat responsible for their paychecks. James Harrison has to realize sooner than later that freedom of speech does not change the fact that he is still an employee and not the employer.

 It seems that he’s more interested in getting his media exposure than he is about just playing the game and representing the Steelers. The game … ahhhh yes … the game that is currently struggling to get out from under an NFL lockout.

 With the lockout still in place, upper management of the Steelers has very limited options as to how to address the Harrison situation. Head coach Mike Tomlin can’t have contact with his players. If the lockout wasn’t here, the argument can be made that this Harrison interview that is about to hit newstands would have had a completely different tone to it.

Food for thought:

 James Harrison plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, an organization known for it’s classy upper manangement and ownership. They don’t have much of a tolerance level when it comes to their players repeatedly moving to their own beat, Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes are examples of that. Ben Roethlisberger even found himself at a crossroads in his career when his off the field issues drowned out his play on the field.

 Harrison is 33 years old now and the NFL will have a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) when the lockout ends that is going to impact every team’s approach to finances. If he’s not careful with his continued approach of publicly attacking everything and everyone he sees wrong with the NFL today, there may not be a tomorrow. At least not in a Steelers uniform.

NBA > NJ Nets Deron Williams Could Play Overseas If Lockout Continues

 ~ The NBA lockout of 2011 is full of sub-plots that could eventually steer the league towards a conclusion sooner or much later than the players, owners, and fans anticipate. Recently the option for the players to take their talents overseas during this lockout has come to the front of the line. Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets is reportedly very close to a deal to play in Turkey if a settlement has not been reached in the NBA Lockout by this fall.

 The option to go overseas to play should now begin to be looked as a serious threat now for both the owners and the union of the players. The possibility of this move could put pressure on the owners to reach a deal sooner than they want to. The league is already apparently losing major amounts of money as it is.

 As for the players, this could also work against them as well. It’s kind of hard to justify a united front at the bargaining table when some of the players are picking to go play (and get paid) elsewhere until it’s alright for them to resume making their money here.

 Williams isn’t the only player strongly considering the move. Kobe Bryant has been reported to be considering a similar move to play overseas.

This wouldn’t be a permanent relocation. Williams would almost certainly have a clause in his reported 1 year $5 million dollar contract to have an opt out as soon as the lockout ends.

 The risk Williams or any other NBA player would take with them is the chance of getting injured. Williams has guranteed money coming his way from New Jersey that would not be protected if he is injured overseas. In the case of Williams, he is headed into a potential contract year due to him being able to opt out of his deal in the summer of 2012. He’s also coming off a wrist injury that shut down his 2011 season.

 The bottom line out of all of this is that the players are looking to make sure they have cash flow coming in this fall in case the season does not start on time. At the end of the day, money talks. This could be the beginning of a whole new topic that impacts just how quickly this lockout finds a resolution.

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