Thursday, August 6, 2009

Analyzing Eli's big deal

Eli Manning is about to become a very rich -- and very happy -- man. The New York Giants are awfully pleased as well.

Still, the six-year, $97.5 million mega-extension that the Giants and Manning have reportedly agreed to terms on has likely drawn a mixed reaction among the NFL quarterback fraternity, as well as plenty of confusion among insiders and pundits alike.

Counting the $9.4 million he's due to receive this season in the final year of his rookie pact, Manning will average $15.2 million yearly over the life of the deal, will make the 2004 No. 1 overall pick the highest paid player in league history with a multi-year contract. That's more than older brother Peyton, a three-time NFL MVP, will make over the course of the seven-year, $99.2 million deal he signed in 2004 (although Peyton has more guaranted money). It's also greater than the eight-year, $102 million contract the Pittsburgh Steelers handed out to Ben Roethlisberger, a player drafted the same year as Eli who owns one more Super Bowl ring and has been a statistically superior player than his counterpart over their respective careers.

While it's possible Big Ben could be feeling a little bit slighted right now, the news of Eli Manning's new agreement was probably met with hoots and hollers from Philip Rivers and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, as well as concerned scowels on the faces of San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos and GM Alex Smith. The other member of the standout quarterback class of 2004, Rivers will enter unrestricted free agency in an as-of-now uncapped year in 2010 with numbers that even trump those of Roethlisberger, although he's the only member of the trio yet to lead his team to a world championship.

Here's the tale of the tape (note that these are regular-season stats):

Rivers: 62.3 completion pct., 78 TD/36 INT (2.2 ratio), 92.9 career QB rating
Roethlisberger: 62.4 completion pct., 101 TD/69 INT (1.4 ratio), 89.4 career QB rating
E. Manning: 55.9 completion pct., 98 TD/74 INT (1.3 ratio), 76.1 career QB rating

Keep in mind that unlike both Roethlisberger and Manning, Rivers wasn't thrown immediately into the fire as a rookie, which benefits his overall numbers to a degree, and his career playoff stats (3-3 record, 7/7 TD-INT ratio, 56.6 completion pct.) aren't overly impressive. However, if he's able to build upon that postseason resume' and turn in another Pro Bowl season in 2009, odds are we'll be discussing whether or Philip Rivers deserves to carry the mantle of the NFL's richest player at this time a year from now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Eagles' Bradley tears ACL, out for year

Bad news out of the Philadelphia Eagles camp this morning, as it appears middle linebacker Stewart Bradley will miss the upcoming 2009 season after tearing the ACL in one of his knees during an open practice session held at Lincoln Financial Field last night.

The Eagles have yet to comment on the severity of the injury, but the Philadelphia Daily News confirmed through Bradley's agent, Eric Metz, that the third-year pro will be undergoing season-ending surgery in the near future.

Tough break for the Eagles, a leading preseason pick to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl after reaching the conference title game back in January. The team does have an experienced alternative in Omar Gaither, who started 16 games in the middle during Bradley's rookie season in 2007, although he possesses less athleticism and big-play ability than his injured counterpart.

Bradley led Philadelphia with 108 tackles (86 solo) in his first season as a starter and played a key role in the Eagles finishing 2008 as the NFL's fourth-ranked rushing defense.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jason Smith signs, Crabtree nowhere close

St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Jason Smith made good on his pre-draft promise that he wouldn't hold out, as this year's No. 2 overall pick agreed to terms on a six-year contract Thursday afternoon. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Smith's deal has a max value of just under $62 million with $33 million guaranteed, which is slighty above what fellow tackle Jake Long got from the Dolphins as the draft's top selection last year (Long received $57.5 million over 5 years with $30 million guaranteed).

Smith is the second top 10 choice to sign today, joining Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, and the fourth among the first seven picks. As you may recall, the Detroit Lions inked Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford to a landmark six-year, $72 million contract (with over 41 million guaranteed) on the eve of the draft and the Jets locked up USC signal-caller Mark Sanchez with a five-year, $50.5 million pact in June.

Only 10 of the 32 first-round picks have signed so far, with center Alex Mack (No. 21, Cleveland), offensive tackle Michael Oher (No. 23, Baltimore), defensive tackle Peria Jerry (No. 24, Atlanta), linebacker Clay Matthews (No. 26, Green Bay), offensive guard Eric Wood (No. 27, Buffalo) and defensive lineman Ziggy Hood (No. 32, Pittsburgh) all having come to terms in the past week.

One likely explanation for that slow progress is the situation regarding former Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, taken 10th overall by San Francisco back in April. A blog entry from the Denver Post's Mike Klis on Monday stated that Crabtree's camp was seeking a contract commensurate with a top-three selection, which clearly would in turn affect the value of those players unsigned from picks 8-20. It's doubtful that the 49ers are going to blink, so an extended holdout could be on the horizon. The Niners hold their first training camp practice on Saturday.

This potentially troublesome scenario certainly won't help dissuade those rumors of a perceived "diva-like" attitude that Crabtree had displayed during his pre-draft visits.

Friday, July 24, 2009

training camp reporting dates

Here's a quick rundown on when teams will officially be opening their training camps -- the dates listed pertain to when veterans are required to report.

Most camps won't be beginning for about a week, but the Buffalo Bills will be getting an early start this coming weekend (I'm sure ESPN won't be paying any attention there, right?). Also keep on eye on Thursday, July 30th. That's the day Josh McDaniels' Denver Broncos will be breaking camp and when we'll find out if the odds-on favorite for a summer holdout -- Brandon Marshall -- will be showing up.

Saturday, July 25th
Buffalo (Pittsford, N.Y.)

Wednesday, July 29th
Arizona (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
Baltimore (Westminster, Md.)
Dallas (San Antonio)
New England (Foxboro, Mass.)
Oakland (Napa Valley, Calif.)
Philadelphia (Bethlehem, Pa.)
Washington (Ashburn, Va.)

Thursday, July 30th
Cincinnati (Georgetown, Ky.)
Denver (Englewood, Colo.)
Minnesota (Mankato, Minn.)
New Orleans (Metairie, La.)
New York Jets (Cortland, N.Y.)
San Francisco (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Tennessee (Nashville)

Friday, July 31st
Atlanta (Flowery Branch, Ga.)
Chicago (Bourbonnais, Ill.)

Cleveland (Berea, Ohio)
Detroit (Allen Park, Mich.)
Green Bay
Kansas City (River Falls, Wisc.)
Pittsburgh (Latrobe, Pa.)
San Diego
Seattle (Renton, Wash.)
St. Louis (Earth City, Mo.)
Tampa Bay

Saturday, August 1st
Miami (Davie, Fla.)

Sunday, August 2nd
Carolina (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Indianapolis (Terre Haute, Ind.)

Monday, August 3rd
New York Giants (Albany, N.Y.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just like Michael Vick...

...we have returned.

My apologies to those loyal followers of this blog (a very select group, I must admit) who have been waiting with baited breath for us to return from our two-month hibernation. In all honesty, there hasn't been a whole lot to write about since our last entry, but that's surely about to change. With training camps on the verge of starting up, Vick's possible return, Ben Roethlisberger's recent legal issues and the continued flirtation between the Minnesota Vikings and a certain retired quarterback, there won't be a lack of topics to cover in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, those in need of an immediate fix can check out the first wave of Tony Moss' training camp previews on our NFL news page.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Favre at it again?

Now that the draft has come and gone, looks like it's time once again to speculate as to whether or not Brett Favre will play football again this fall.

I happened to catch a very interesting article from New York Daily News NFL insider Gary Myers over the weekend, in which he speculated that Favre is ready to come out of retirement #2 (or is it three?) now that the legendary quarterback has been granted his official release from the Jets.

Logically, the team linked to Favre is the Minnesota Vikings, the ever-waffling one's preferred destination of choice when he forced the Green Bay Packers' hand with last summer's drama-filled return to the league just four months after supposedly calling it quits. As we all know, good 'ol No. 4 never got his wish and instead reluctantly agreed to be dealt to the Jets in August.

Myers quoted a league source as saying that Favre still harbors a great deal of resentment towards the Packers for not welcoming him back with open arms last summer, and is determined to make his former employers pay for his perceived mistreatment. And with Jay Cutler now in Chicago and the Lions just handing out $41 million to No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford, the quarterback-starved Vikings provide the best (and only viable) opportunity for Favre to achieve those goals.

"He wants to play Green Bay and say, 'I told you so'", the source said. I think he's calling Minnesota. I think Minnesota is talking about this as we speak. You haven't heard the end of Favre."

The Vikings haven't done anything to prevent the latest Favre rumors from spreading, either. Head coach Brad Childress admitted recently that the team would likely discuss the possibility of bringing Favre on board if the future Hall of Famer does indeed decide he still wants to play. Moreover, team owner Zygi Wilf offered a curious "no comment" when approached of the subject by the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the weekend, two months after emphatically denying the Vikes would have any interest in acquiring Favre.

Apparently, the lure of obtaining a soon-to-be 40-year-old with a torn biceps tendon in his throwing shoulder who led the NFL in interceptions last season is simply too hard to ignore.

Here we go again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Top 10

Before we talk about the Top 10, I need to point out that Sports Network Associate NFL Editor Scott Garbarini nailed Darrius Heyward-Bey to the Raiders at No. 7. Scroll down for proof. Wow, amazing call Scott. Got tonight's lottery numbers?


1. Lions - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia (6-2, 225)

The Lions took the big gamble after all, staking their future, and in all likelihood the Jim Schwartz coaching era, to Matthew Stafford. He looks the part, but will have a lot to prove to a Detroit fan base that would have preferred the pick be used on a defender like Wake Forest's Aaron Curry.

2. Rams - Jason Smith, T, Baylor (6-5, 309)

Those murmurs about the Rams selecting Mark Sanchez turned out to be unfounded, as the team instead filled its most glaring void and selected the left tackle Smith. If he's as consistent as Orlando Pace was before injuries begin to rear their ugly heads, the development of the St. Louis offense should follow.

3. Chiefs - Tyson Jackson, DL, LSU (6-4, 296)

The first shocker of the first round was pulled off by Kansas City, which selected Jackson, a player many had projected below the Top 10, at No. 3 overall. The hope is that Jackson can become a Richard Seymour-like lynch pin in the Chiefs' new 3-4 scheme, though he certainly needs some polish.

4. Seahawks - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest (6-2, 254)

The Seahawks brain trust of GM Tim Ruskell and head coach Jim Mora had to be doing cartwheels when the Chiefs passed up Curry at No. 3, as he fits an immediate need for a team that recently shipped Julian Peterson to Detroit. Many believed Curry was the best defensive player in the Draft.

5. Jets (from Browns) - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC (6-2, 227)

The Jets moved up from No. 17 to No. 5 in order to pick Sanchez, who will immediately be saddled with immense expectations. Sanchez, who had just 16 games of starting experience at USC, will not have a great number of first-rate weapons at his disposal if he plays in 2009.

6. Bengals - Andre Smith, T, Alabama (6-4, 325)

The Bengals had better hope Smith outplays Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe, who was widely evaluated to be more of a "sure thing" than the apparently immature Smith. Still, if he matures off the field and stays in shape on it, Smith should have opportunity to be a franchise left tackle.

7. Raiders - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland (6-2, 210)

For the second straight year, the first receiver taken was not the player predicted by anyone to fit into that role. Last year, Houston's Donnie Avery was that guy, selected by the Rams in the second round ahead of the likes of Devin Thomas, DeSean Jackson, and Malcolm Kelly. This year, the speedster Heyward-Bey, who scored just 13 touchdowns in his entire college career, was a shocking Top 10 pick. Raiders fans will be closely monitoring the production of not only Heyward-Bey, but also Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, and Percy Harvin, wideouts that Oakland passed over.

8. Jaguars - Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia (6-5, 309)

It was somewhat surprising that the Jaguars selected a tackle after ponying up free agent bucks for Tra Thomas earlier this offseason, but getting Monroe at No. 8 represented good value for Jacksonville. Whether Monroe orThomas starts at left tackle this year remains to be seen.

9. Packers - B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College (6-1, 337)

The Packers had several needs in moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensively, and pass rusher and lineman were prominent among them. Raji projects as a space-eating nose tackle, though he may initially line up at end next to incumbent Ryan Pickett.

10. 49ers - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech (6-1, 215)

Crabtree may have been the steal of the Draft, falling all the way to No. 10, presumably because of injury and/or character issues. The 49ers still don't know exactly who's going to be pulling the trigger this year, but whoever it is has a bona fide No. 1 receiver at his disposal. Will be interesting to watch Crabtree compete with Darrius Heyward-Bey across the Bay in Oakland.