MLB Preview: Will Anyone Be Dominate This Year?

This coming baseball season looks like it could be a classic.  No one is truly dominate.  There are lots of good teams.  But that’s just good.  Good teams get the Wild Card.  You don’t have to be dominate to win your division, but you have to be the best of five teams.

Perhaps the only sure bet for possible dominance this year is the Washington Nationals.  And even that has questions to it.  Washington’s pitching staff looks un-hittable.  The rotation is ridiculous, and has six guys who all have excellent arms.  As I said Friday, it’s a great mix of youth and vets.

The roster overall is stacked, and the defense looks like it’ll be, with the pitching the best part of this team.  With Bryce Harper in right field, he’s accompanied by Denard Span and Jayson Werth.  However, the two both have injuries, and will miss Opening Day.  That puts Tony Gywnn Jr. in left field, who’s a promising young outfielder, but isn’t quite ready yet.  The field time he’ll get in the early part of year will help develop him faster.

The Nats infield is fantastic, and anyone will have trouble getting a ball past them.  Ian Desmond is great player, on offense and defense, and has a nice arm.  Ryan Zimmerman continues to have health problems, when he’s not hurt, he’s very effective.

While Washington looks banged up, the pitching should carry this team early until their guys return.  The staff is just too good, nothing will stop them.

The Nats are the best team in the NL East, but the division got a lot better this offseason.  The Marlins spent a ton of money, and look to contend.  The Mets are the biggest question, being a team that could go two completely different ways.

If Washington gets healthy on schedule, they’ll win this division.  If setbacks occur, and Miami gets hot, the Nats will have serious competition.  Miami is no one to screw around with.  Giancarlo Stanton is locked up, the team acquired Dee Gordon and Mat Latos.  Latos is a big boost to the rotation down there.  He’s a great pitcher, and the Marlins need a good year to keep after the season, as he’s an expiring.  Miami’s infield is the biggest question.  It’s full of young guys who need to step up.  It could be their biggest problem or biggest break.

Washington is my pick for this division.  They’re just too good.  Too many things have to go right for other teams to challenge them.

Based on other divisions, I don’t see anyone else who is just going to run away.  There are other good teams, but none that really stand out.  However, just in case, let’s list some contenders, if there are anymore.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • St.Louis Cardinals

Again, these are possibilities.  The Dodgers play in the NL West, one that features the defending champion San Francisco Giants.  As said in the Big Questions column, the Dodgers were busy in the offseason, adding depth and trading away injury-riddled players.  Their pitching staff is full of talent.  The lineup is super powerful, but has aging stars who are hurt most the year.  Los Angeles has always had so much potential, but injuries and postseason collapses plague them.

Their window is closing though.  The Padres, for once, look very competitive, and will easily challenge the Dodgers and San Francisco.  I love the padres this year, and if the Dodgers fall back, they’ll be right there.

South of Chavez Ravine is the Angels, who again, seem to be dominate in their division every year, yet can’t produce in the playoffs.  The Angels won the division last year, as Mike Trout had another MVP season.  Trout is one the best players in the league, and he has all the skills you want.  Though, the offense hasn’t been helped out by anyone over the years.  The pitching is a tad lackluster, and it’s killed the Angels.  Now, Garrett Richards is hurt, and will miss at least one start.  While it’s not that big of a deal, LA has to hope for no set backs.

The case against the Angels lies in Seattle’s hands.  The Mariners look destined for a big season, and at least a playoffs run.  They finally have a good lineup full of power, and the rotation is at it’s peak.  The Mariners owners are spending money, getting fans excited.

Oakland is going to be one long, wait and see.  The front office knows what they’re doing, yet, they know that this team isn’t last year’s.  They tore it apart in the offseason, and it seems everyone is gone.  However, the bright side is that the A’s have way more depth than usual, and has solid backups for injuries.  While it won’t carry them to the playoffs, it’ll save them a couple losses.

St.Louis is very similar to both LA teams.  They’ve been playing in a great division, yet no one can catch them for the crown.  Now, another team has snuck into the picture and the Cubs.  They went all in in the Winter.  It should, or let’s say better work.  Joe Maddon is one of the best managers in the game.  He’ll make it happen, and will definitely challenge St.Louis.  The Cardinals added some pop acquiring Jason Heyward, while filling an outfield hole left by the late Oscar Taveras.  Hayward’s bat, when hot, is a huge addition.  The question is whether he can stay consistent.  The Cardinals have a great rotation and bullpen.  The defense is the only question mark with this team.

Dominance this year looks scarce.  No one, except Washington, totally stands out.  In my opinion, this is a good thing, and it’ll set one heck of a finale at the end of season.

MLB Preview: Six Big Questions

I hear baseball is boring a lot.  It comes from people who mostly enjoy football or basketball.

Pace of game has to change in baseball if that statement is never to be heard again.  It’s one of the things  new commissioner Rob Manfred needs to tackle.  Sure, it’s a long term thing, but the quest starts now, with this new season.  This brand spankin’ new season.

So, whoever thinks baseball is boring, should just try it.  See how baseball is played.  This is the season to do it.

Last year’s playoffs were ridiculous.  We had insane games filled with excitement and heartbreak.  The World Series was a blast.  The Trade Deadline was ridiculous (like the NBA’s in February).  Heck, I was in a VIP box for the All-Star Game at Target Field.  Last year was one of my favorite baseball seasons ever.

With the new season here, there are questions to answer.  Let’s do that!

Can the Rangers succeed if they are healthy?

Texas was annihilated by injuries last year. Prince Fielder, Shin Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar (Do I hear something? Wait? He’s hurt again?  What a shocker!), and Mitch Morland were just some of the names that were on last year’s DL.

With manager Ron Washington stepping down in the offseason, the beginning to the Winter wasn’t great.  They didn’t do much in the offseason, but did acquire Yovani Gallardo, a very nice starting pitcher who’ll add an arm to the rotation.  The trade only looks better after the devastating news about Yu Darvish.  Darvish was their ace, and was predicted to have a great season.

Texas, this year, has to stay healthy.  Without Darvish, the pitching overall takes a hit.  Their lineup is full of power guys, a very balanced group.  The offense will be there.  The defense is fine, but could use improvement after last season.  The Rangers’ biggest worry this year is the pitching staff, and whether without Darvish, they can pitch effectively enough.

The AL West is tough, adding to the rough-looking chances.  Texas finished behind Houston last year.  That doesn’t sound fun.  No one can predict injuries.  The Rangers just have to hope that those have a minimal impact on their season.

How will the Nationals rotation play out?

There was lots of talk in the Winter, after signing Max Scherzer, which pitcher the Nationals were gonna trade.  I wrote about it.  I for sure thought that Jordan Zimmerman would have been traded by now.

It still could happen, but trades at this time are rare.  Perhaps Washington waits until the Trade Deadline, sees who’s struggling, and deals one of their guys somewhere else.

There’s not a lot that can go wrong with the Nats rotation this season.  It’s stacked.  Absolutely stacked.  It has a great mix of young guys full of potential and veterans who’ve been pitching for awhile, and on good teams.

In my opinion, there really isn’t a an ace on this team.  Yea yea, I know Max Scherzer is considered it.  But really.  Everyone on this staff is so good.  There’s no reason to not like it.  A couple injuries or two is the only thing that could derail it.

With more columns coming, the Nats will be featured a lot.  If there’s one team that can dominate the NL (in October), this is it.

Is the AL Central too good for the Tigers to repeat as division champions?

Man.  There are so many good divisions this year.  This is one of them.  The AL Central has an interesting mix of great, bad, and on the edge teams.  Two, or even three teams, have no clue how they’re going to do this year.

In baseball, teams know whether they want to compete or not this year.  Something tells me that the Indians, Royals, and White Sox are going to be those teams.  They’ll have decisions at the deadline.  Buy or sell.  Compete or not.

The safest pick is the Tigers, for now.  They have the names, the power, the pitching.  However, they took hits like everyone else too.  Scherzer left, Rick Porcello is in Boston.  The Tigers re-did their outfield.  Yoenis Cespesdes came over from Boston, after being the human pinball last year.  Austin Jackson is in Seattle, which is probably a good thing.

Detroit’s pitching this coming year is their strength and weakness.  The rotation is still very good, even though Justin Verlander is a question mark.  They have new additions in the rotiation though, with promising young Shane Green and Alfredo Simon coming over.

The Tigers’ bullpen was just a disaster last year.  I mean, there’s no way else to put it.  Their average ERA last year was 4.01.  They haven’t added anyone.  Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus always says that bullpens don’t typically have good back to back years.  And usually don’t improve too much.  This is the dilemma Detroit faces.  Though the stat wasn’t available, the WAR for this bullpen must have been horrendous.  And it won’t improve.

So yeah, it seems like I’m picking Detroit in this division.  You’ll have to wait and see in the prediction column.  I’m not ruling out anyone, and who I eventually pick, probably won’t win it.

Will the Twins and Diamondbacks win 70 games?

Chances look slim here.  For some reason, the projection systems really like the Twins this year. Not sure why, nor is anyone else.

I’ve been making fun of Minnesota since the beginning of the month.  The team stinks, and whenever it starts to look better, management screws it up.  The Twins, like Arizona, have a new manager, in Paul Moliter.  Moliter’s a hall of famer.  I think he’s very qualified for the job.  The Twins roster has lots of young guys who are still developing, with older veterans who are probably declining.  The Twins offseason was a little odd, which included the Ervin Santana signing.

Minnesota’s pitching looks like it’s gonna be awful again.  There’s really no other way to put it.  When Phil Hughes is your Opening Day starter, I’m not sure there’s a worse way to start the year.  The rotation is worse than the bullpen is, which means they’ll be playing catchup in most of their games.

If the Twins hit 70 games this year, it’ll be because the loaded farm system they have that gets called up.  It’s time.  Minnesota can’t go another season without one of these guys getting called up.  The have about six very good prospects, including Byron Buxton, one of the best prospects in the league.

Management has screwed this team up in the past.  It’s time for the new era for the fans.  Call up the prospects.  Please.

As a Diamondbacks fan, I’ve pretty much realized that this won’t be a good year.  We’re in rebuilding mode, and with Tony LaRussa in charge, I feel pretty good about it.

Last year’s fall was caused by one of two things:  1) Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez got hurt. Those were two of our best pitchers, with Corbin being hyped a ton.  With them back, at some point, that should give us a couple wins, or at least hope.

Paul Goldschmidt is the best offensive player the DBacks have, and that’s not a bad thing, whatsoever.  Goldschmidt is great; he’s my favorite player in the league.  His bat is huge, and Arizona’s gonna need it this year.

The only way this team is gonna hit 70 games this year, is well, IN TONY WE TRUST.

Can the Dodgers have another dominate regular season?

Notice the italicized regular season.  Man, after last year’s playoffs, I wouldn’t feel 100% confident in this team.  The pitching fell apart in October.  The bats were cold.  It was a mess.

Yet, it’s the Dodgers.  They have money.  They have good players still.  I still hate them.

Look, the Dodgers made moves in the offseason.  Dee Gordon went to Miami, while they also traded Matt Kemp to San Diego.  Jimmy Rollins turned into a Dodger along with Brandon McCarthy.

*Scans through roster again*

*Realizes they’re still really good*

*Kinda takes back what’s said above*

Yeah.  I mean, it’s gonna be hard to beat this team this year before October.  The outfield is loaded, and even a little crowed.  The rotation has phenomenal pitchers within it, including the $32 million man Clayton Kershaw (talk about a hefty salary).  They have two solid (at least) catches, A.J. Ellis and Yasmani Grandal.  Oh yeah, and did I mention they have a really good prospect in Joc Pederson?  Watch out for that kid.

The Padres are the newcomers in the NL West.  It’s likely they’ll challenge Los Angeles and San Francisco in the division.  However, for now, the Dodgers look like the best team here.  Until October hits….

Is Seattle the favorite in the AL West?

I have a friend in California who is Mariners fan.  Well, sort of.  He’s just fascinated by the idea that Nintendo owns the team, but doesn’t know they’re only goal out of the ownership is to make money.

The money earned this year should be a little more than in the past.  Seattle fans, get excited.  This is a really good team in front of us.  Robinson Cano has a great bat, which will slam at least 20 HRs this year (bold prediction) and challenge the Angels.  The rotation is probably this team’s greatest strength.  Felix Hernandez, is, well, better than great, and newcomer J.A. Happ has a fresh start in a great pitching staff.

Defense is a possible concern for this team, mostly within the infield.  Cano’s defense is average, and Kyle Seager is a tad bit of a liability.  They did add Nelson Cruz in the outfield, but his main contribution will be on the offensive  side.

There’s nothing to not like with this team.  They’re going to challenge the Angels this year.  Possibly into October.  So congrats Nintendo, you finally have a money making machine.

More MLB Preview to come…..

Is Oklahoma City Done? Plus, The 8th Seed Races

When Kevin Durant broke his foot in early October, the original timetable was mid to late January for his return.  He beat that, and came back December 2nd.  Durant suffered a Jones Fracture in his foot, an injury notorious for rushing back to early.  It’s also plagued the NBA this season (C.J. McCollum, Brook Lopez, Julius Randle).

Durant came back, and has played 27 games.  That’s it.  Setbacks have plagued him.  He came back to early.  There’s no other explanation.  Yet, it seems no one wants to admit it.  Yeah, we all feel bad for him.  He’s the reigning MVP and has an expiring coming up next year, one that’s receiving much attention.

With Durant’s presence not there, Russell Westbrook has taken over and entered the MVP race. Westbrook’s run has been unbelievable.  He pulled off four straight triple doubles, including six out of eight games.  He’s still been incredible since, logging his 10th triple double of the season.

Now, Durant’s had yet another setback, and the Thunder have no timetable for him.  None.  They could shut him down or bring him back for the playoffs.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Say Durant is done for the regular season, and comes back at like 80% percent for the playoffs.  Basically, the same situation as Derrick Rose.  With this scenario, the Thunder have New Orleans to worry about, who is being carried by Anthony Davis.

Davis has been phenomenal this season.  He averaging 24.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, and is shooting a ridiculous 54%.  However, he’s carrying that team.  He doesn’t have a lot of help, and, if the Pelicans make the playoffs, he enters the MVP race.  The Pelicans have Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and yeah, guys like them.  It’s not great, and it’s quite astonishing they’re in it.  The coach doesn’t help; Monty Williams is a little delusional when it comes to VERY MANAGEABLE basketball decisions.

Really, the Thunder have Anthony Davis to worry about.  They’ll have to do it without Durant, for at least the regular season.

If the Thunder sneak in at the 8th seed, a first round matchup with the Warriors would be fascinating, even without Durant.  The Pelicans would be destroyed by the Warriors, not having the defense on the perimeter to defend the Splash Brothers.

Oklahoma City is gonna face a tough test getting in, but beating out one guy on a decent team ain’t hard.  The Thunder will have to stay healthy.  That’s key number one.  Two, Russell Westbrook doesn’t have to be triple-double every other night Russell Westbrook, but he has to carry this team.  They have solid guys in the rotation, but without a good Westbrook, the Thunder aren’t charged for the playoffs.

To add to the problem, Serge Ibaka is hurt, and won’t be back for the beginning of the playoffs.  That’s a killer blow to the paint game for the Thunder.  Ibaka can do dirty work while also providing elbow shooting.  He’s a great defense player too.

I believe OKC will get the 8th seed in the Western Conference.  Russell Westbrook has been unstoppable, and the team is racking up solid wins against good teams.  The Pelicans will definitely challenge them, but Davis needs more help down South, and probably a new coach.  OKC is prone for a playoff run, but they must be healthy.  I can’t say they’d get out of the first round without KD.

Let’s touch on the race for the 8th seed in the dreadful Eastern Conference….

This is just one big bummer.  This isn’t fun to write about.  Currently, Miami sits at No.7, Boston at No.8, the Hornets at No.9, and the Pacers at No.10 in the Eastern Conference.  I fully expect Miami to remain at seven.  Even with Chris Bosh out for the year, the Goran Dragic trade was helpful to the Heat.  He’s another scorer and takes some command.  They probably won’t get out of the first round, especially with a possible matchup with Cleveland looming (* Lebron licks lips*).

We should just blame everything on Boston.  With the Bruins collapse (league shift), the Ottawa Senators 😦 now sit in the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.  In the NBA, the Celtics, who aren’t very good, not even at 35 wins…. sit at No.8, and are looking at a matchup with the Hawks in the first round.

Boston, like other teams, has risen since the trade deadline.  Acquiring Isaiah Thomas from Phoenix gave them scoring, and a very solid point guard who can take over the game when needed.  Thomas has flaws, like shot decisions and guarding other smaller positions (mostly due to his size), but he’s fit perfectly into the Celtics system.

Boston can also give credit to Brad Stevens, their super smart and good thinking coach.  Stevens is a perfectionist on the court.  He loves to correct every mistake, and that makes him great, especially for a young team.  He, and the team, aren’t tanking, as that was confirmed at the deadline.

The Celtics, if they end up in the playoffs, won’t go far, at all, but will provide excitement and perhaps a little chaos to the Hawks.  Though, the Celtics have teams behind them.

 

Charlotte isn’t the team I’m referencing above, but they remain in the race after a treacherous start to the year.  They’re definitely under-achieveing, as the chemistry has been shaky.  Lance Stephenson’s fit has been rocky, as he’s struggled to play with Kemba Walker. Al Jefferson’s been healthy, but has lacked on the defensive end this year.  His rebound totals are down, and isn’t grabbing the boards that he used too.

The Hornets though, do have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who’s game has taken off this year.  The guy is a defensive wizard.  I’ve loved MKG since he’s been drafted, and this year, he’s making me happy.  While MKG is only averaging 11.7 points per game, he’s grabbing 7.5 RPG, and is shutting down everyone on the perimeter on defense.  His perimeter defensive game is where he excels.  He’s stated his ambitions about being excellent on defense.  MKG’s on his way there.

The Hornets can make the playoffs.  They have the talent to do that.  Perhaps they can ride MKG and a healthy Al Jefferson into the postseason.

Ahhh, now the team that, even though last in the order of teams, is gonna gear up for a run: The Indiana Pacers.

This is what I’ve been waiting for all year.  I want the Pacers in the playoffs.  Why?  Because Paul George is coming back.  And I don’t really care what he said about their chemistry.  They need him if they want to make the playoffs.  Indiana sits at No.10  right now.  They’re in reach.

My theory on this.. is that, with a 80% Paul George, and a couple good games by the rest of their team, they’re in.

George Hill has been quite good this year, and Rodney Stuckey has came out of nowhere, averaging close to 13 PPG.  There’s no starry names on this team right now.  They’re simply playing well together.  The Pacers have chemistry, are sharing minutes and shots, and playing much better on defense then they were last year at this time (cough, Lance Stephenson, cough).

Until George comes back, which was supposed to be 10 days ago, the Pacers just have to keep doing what they’re doing, and let George kinda take over late.  Again, he’s gonna be 80%.  Not perfect.

Quick hits:

  • I can’t stand to write about the Nets
  • Poor Pistons, that team looked really good at the deadline
  • The West is just ridiculous.  There’s a good game every night between teams in the top eight.  It makes great basketball.
  • Also, in the West playoffs, nothing will be considered an upset in the first round.  A No.8 over a No.1 won’t shock me.
  • MVP race: 1. James Harden: Means more to team 2. Stephen Curry: I want Curry to win, as a Warriors fan.  His stats are incredible and he’s on a better team. 3. Lebron James: The Cavaliers suck with Kevin Love on the court, so he (Lebron) makes up for it.  4. Russell Westbrook: Even with his incredible run, he’s gonna have to the Thunder to the Finals without KD to win it.  A loss in the first round won’t cut it.

More Than A Point Guard

Being born in Phoenix, and spending most of my early childhood there, I was around the Phoenix Suns quite a bit.  They’re my favorite team, as they should be.

During this period in my life, the Suns went on an incredible seven year run, with a point guard named Steve Nash leading the team.  In the seven years, they made the playoffs six times, and missed the Finals by one series three times.

Steve Nash announced his retirement Saturday.  It wasn’t a shock, as we knew it was coming sometime this season.  I wasn’t shocked.  However, when the news was officially released, it made me really look back on him, and those teams I watched growing up.  It was kinda surreal, and I was pretty emotional about it.

Nash was the first basketball player I ever knew of.  With basketball being my Dad’s favorite sport, he had me introduced to the sport at a young age.  I’ve been watching basketball since.

What made me fall in love with basketball was those Suns teams from 2003-2010.  The perfection of offense that featured Nash, and coach Mike D’Antoni.  D’Antoni takes a lot of crap nowadays.  People make fun of him quite a bit.  What some don’t realize is, D’Antoni revolutionized basketball with Nash.  The fast paced, fly up and down the court offense, with one big guy and a bunch of shooters.  Shooters who made their shots.  And a point guard who commanded the game, then took over when needed.  That’s how those teams were ran.  And they worked, and were a ton of fun to watch.

Perhaps the most important trait about Nash was his toughness.  I can’t count how many times I saw him on T.V. with a bloody face, nose, eye, etc, in the playoffs.  And he played through it.  That’s toughness, and it taught me what toughness was at that age.

Nash’s game will always be remembered.  He’s one of the most unique players the NBA has ever seen.  A guy who could shoot, pass, play excellent defense, and take over when needed.  And at his size, it’s pretty impressive.

Watching those Suns teams really taught me basketball, and how it’s truly played.  How it’s truly a team game.  While Nash was the best player on those teams, guys like Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Amare Stoudamire, Raja Bell, etc, helped him out.  Having chemistry is so important in basketball.  Those teams had it for so long.  It’s amazing they never won a title.  It’s amazing, that in 47 seasons, the Phoenix Suns have never won a championship.

With so many great players in their history, the Suns are perhaps the best franchise to have not won a title.  Too many players have came through Phoenix for that not to be the case.

Nash is undoubtedly a top three player in Suns history.  I’m not going to speculate about it now, and really, I don’t care.  There’s too many options.

Nash was more than a point guard.  He was an inspiration no matter what happened and no matter where he played.

The trade to the Lakers was devastating at the time, but really, we won that trade, and I’m allowing myself to admit that.  To me, Nash will always be a Sun.  His best days were here in the Valley.  Yes, he brokeout in Dallas, and became friends with Dirk Nowitski, but Nash had his success here, and that’s what matters.

Nash, as said above, was more than a point guard.  He was a inspiration, a role model, a beloved player, and my favorite player in basketball.  Ever.  And he always will be.

Column tomorrow on the NBA’s 8th seed races and Kevin Durant…..

Editor’s Note

Note from me….

I’ve been totally stoked about the growth of the site.  Since launch, I’ve gotten views from family, friends, and others.  I’ve also gotten international views, from countries like Germany, New Zealand, and Russia.  That’s really cool, and means a lot.

In case you’re getting worried, we aren’t shutting down.

I’m posting this column from the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  This week is my spring break from school, and me and my family are in Maui, Hawaii.   Because of the trip, no columns will be up this week.   The Twitter feed will also be inactive until I return home.  It’s simply a short hiatus.

Also, incase your wondering, and have noticed since the beginning of the season, I don’t cover college basketball.  I do watch it.  I watch everything.  It’s just, my passion for it has slipped a bit in the past year or so.  There’s lots of reasons for it, but the main one: These guys are getting great opportunities to play college basketball, and then leave after one year.  That’s where I’m leaving it.

With Selection Sunday being yesterday, I am filling out brackets from Maui.  I’m super excited for the NCAA Tournament, as I always am. Don’t expect a column on it though.  Don’t expect anything on Twitter about it either.

I like college basketball.  It’s not my favorite thing to watch.  Perhaps I watch it for the NBA Draft, and get a scoop on the prospects.

Thanks for the understanding.

Again, we aren’t shutting down.  Be back in a week or so!

Catching Up With Free Agency, And All The Other Madness

Even though free agency seemed to begin a week ago, and didn’t start till Tuesday, this column is going up now.  Why?  Well, because the NFL is ridiculous.  Stuff just happens.  And there’s nothing you can do about it.  Guys have gotten franchised tagged, signed, traded, and everything else.

I’m going to start with where we were a week ago, and make our way up to today.

Franchise Tags:

Justin Houston (Salary: $13.195 million):

The Chiefs decided to hold until next year to try and lock up Houston long term, which was a smart move by them.  Even with his huge season in 2014, the Chiefs want to see a year like that again out of him.  The reluctancy is understandable.  However, Houston wasn’t fond if it, and wanted big-time money this year.  It’s a common thing, but with Houston threatening to hold out, the Chiefs could find themselves in some trouble.

Houston is a ferocious defender.  Close to unblockable, he had 22 sacks last year.  He was the main part of the stout Kansas City defense, and should continue the fierce play this coming season.  He’ll have to prove himself though.

Demaryius Thomas (Salary: $12.823 million):

This was another tagging I was bothered by.  Now that Peyton Manning is officially coming back, why couldn’t you convince Thomas to stay long term, using Manning’s return as leverage?  Now, with this upcoming year most likely being Manning’s last, Thomas will probably leave due to it, no matter how this upcoming year pans out.

Thomas is a great receiver, and with a quarterback like Peyton Manning, his stats and effectiveness is even better.  He’s a consistent wide receiver too, and can go down the field and catch deep balls.  Thomas is a great red zone receiver, with 25 TD catches the past two years.  He’ll make a lot of money next offseason, but I have serious doubt that the money will be coming from the Broncos.

Dez Bryant (Salary: $12.823 million):

Now this one makes sense.  With the Cowboys not totally trusting Bryant yet, the tag kept him another year, giving him the opportunity to prove himself on the field again.  Where the Cowboys’ issues with Bryant come in is off the field, where reports have cops showing up at his house quite a bit.  His locker room spirit also seems to be in question by Dallas, giving the Cowboys more of a reason to tag him.

We know that Bryant is a pure talent on the field, and that’s he is one of the best receivers in the league.  This was all about the off the field questions that exist.  And in this day and age with the NFL, that’s probably pretty important.

Jason Pierre Paul (Salary: $14.823 million):

Yet another tag I don’t agree with.  First, that cap hit this year is crazy high.  I don’t think he’s worth that per year in a long term deal.  Yes, he had 16 sacks last year, but it hasn’t been consistent throughout his career.

Perhaps the Giants wanted one more solid year out of him before the lock him up long term.  He’s no doubt a great talent, and his best year’s are probably ahead of him, but the cap hit is huge, and I’m not sure he’d get that per year in along term deal.

Now, whatever he gets next offseason, he’ll make a ton of money.  But, it’ll be spread out through incentives and bonuses, rather than in a yearly sum.  I also expect the Giants to re-sign him.  They’ve prided themselves on having a good defensive line over the years.  Paul will make that a reality, as he has for the past couple years.

Stephen Gostkowski (Salary: $4.56 million):

This is hilarious to me.  Just pay the guy $3 million a year and be done with it!


 

Now we’re going to look at the bigger-named free agent signings.  The GMs throughout the league look kinda like this.

giphy
Yea.

Who?: Mark Ingram

Where to where?: Resigned with Saints

Contract: Four years, $16 million

With the Saints being the most cap strapped team in the league, locking up anyone would be a challenge.  Fortunately, the team was able to get Mark Ingram inked on a long term contract.  Ingram isn’t worth a ton a money, as he hasn’t had a ton of playing time, but his role will be expanded this coming season.  With Pierre Thomas gone, Ingram should see many more touches.  Ingram’s cap hit is small, but with an increase in production, he could rise it up further.

Who?: Randall Cobb

Where to where?: Resigned with Packers

Contract: Four years, $40 million

Randall Cobb is one of the better young wide receivers in the game, and boy, was he a hot commodity around the league.  Cobb reportedly turned down the Raiders’ offer, which was worth lots more than the offer he eventually took with Green Bay.  However, Cobb is smart, and wanted to win more than anything.  Though $40 million sounds like a lot for Cobb, he’s still developing, and will only get better.  He has one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing to him, and is surrounded by other weapons.  He and the Packers will be fine.

Who?: Devin McCourty

Where to where?: Re-signed with Patriots 

Contract: Five years, $47.5 million

Locking up McCourty was the Patriots No.1 priority this offseason, and they did just that.  McCourty, in my opinion, is one of the best safeties in the game, and he’s getting paid like one.  New England has had great secondaries in the past, and McCourty will solidify that for the next few years.  McCourty is also a veteran, and with young guys possibly coming in, his voice will be greatly appreciated.

Who?: Mark Sanchez and Byron Maxwell

Where to where?: Sanchez: Resigned, Maxwell: From Seattle

Contracts: Sanchez: Two years, $16 million, Maxwell: Six years, $63 million

I walked into Geometry class on Monday, and had a friend immediately ask: “What the h@!! are the Eagles doing?”

Great question.  Some of it’s been answered, but I still have my doubts.

We’ll start at the quarterback position, which is the most important position in the league.  It’s quite clear that Mark Sanchez’s best days are behind him.  While with the Jets, he was very good before the team collapsed, which led to his own.  After playing a bit last year due to Nick Foles’ injury, the Eagles decided to give him $16 million, which turns out to be $8 million a year (!!!!).

That’s a ton of money for a backup.  Sorry, but at this point, Sanchez is a backup.  A desperate team would start him.  The money that Sanchez is earning is decent starter money.

See later for thoughts on the Sam Bradford trade.

The part of the Eagles’ so called “splash” (whatever) was signing Byron Maxwell.  Maxwell got a ton of money, with $25 million of it being guaranteed.

Though part of the Legion Of Boom in Seattle, Maxwell is no sure thing.  He’s had some great games, shutting down tight ends and bigger wide receivers.  Though, he was torched in the Super Bowl against New England, giving up multiple big plays.

Philadelphia definitely needed secondary help.  Maxwell is great fit, but I’m not totally sure he’ll be worth the money.

Who?: Ndamukong Suh

Where to where?: Detroit to Miami

Contract: Six years, $114 million

The biggest name in free agency went off the board Sunday morning.  This was honestly a shocker to me, though the move makes sense now.  The Dolphins weren’t one of the names we had heard floating around before the signing.  The Giants, Lions, Bears, and Raiders were the main teams that had been named in the chase.

The money is insane, but isn’t unexpected.  The contract is the largest ever given to a non-QB player.  The guaranteed money is ridiculous.  $60 million is a ton.  I think he’s worth it, but time will tell.

His fit in Miami is perfect.  The Dolphins already had a big-time pass rusher in Cameron Wake, and adding Suh will create havoc on an opposing offensive line.  Besides the line though, the defense is shaky, and needs more help.

The problem with the signing and the money is that Suh plays defensive tackle.  That’s not a huge impact position.  That’s why many people believe the Dolphins overpaid.   Suh will make  the defense overall better, but questions with this team remain on the other side.  Suh isn’t someone who will carry a team to the playoffs, due to his position.  Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes, but not enough for the Dolphins to lock him up.

Miami made a huge splash with this signing, but more questions linger with this team, not having to do with Suh.

Who?: Brandon Flowers

Where to where?: Resigned with San Diego

Contract: Four years, $36 million

Flowers has been through a lot the past couple seasons, and has finally caught his big break.  After having a decent season, the Chargers had to lock him up.  Why?  Because their secondary has been a disaster over the past couple years, and Flowers is one of the better cornerbacks they’ve ever had.

The money is a lot.  $9 million is hefty for a guy like Flowers.  He isn’t a bad player, but could certainly use some improvement.  Again, this was more about having someone even close to good in the secondary for San Diego, and they overpaid for it.  If Flowers had gone anywhere else, I’m not sure he would have even gotten close to that amount.

Who?: Pernell McPhee

Where to where?: Ravens to Bears

Contract: Five years, $40 million

It’s a tad concerning that a guy who I didn’t about till this year just got $40 million.  Not that McPhee is a bad player, but he hasn’t had the consistency I like to see.  2014 was his first big year of his career, and it came at the right time.

The Bears can use anyone on that defense, and perhaps that’s what led to the large amount of money.  It’s a lot, and McPhee has to prove to me he’s worth it.  He’s a very good pass rusher, but is limited when it comes to other defensive skills.

Who?: Orlando Franklin

Where to where?: Denver to San Diego

Contract: Five years, $36.5 million

This could be the most underrated signing so far.  Franklin is a great offensive guard, who’s run blocking is outstanding.  The man was going to earn money this offseason, as he was coming off of his rookie contract.

The Chargers, after having a couple guys retire on their line, need Franklin bad.  His run blocking, as said above, is great, and San Diego has had some good running games in the past.  It’s the biggest move no one is talking about.

Who?: Harry Douglas

Where to where?: Falcons to Titans

Contract: Three years, money total not released

Though the details haven’t been released, this shift for Douglas seems to be about money.  We don’t know how much the Titans offered him, but it had to be more than the Falcons, and he chased it.  Douglas was a good third option in Atlanta, but his role should be expanded with Tennessee.  Frustration will come as he’s moving to a young team, and he’s being thrown to by a  young quarterback, whoever that may be.

Who?: Cary Williams

Where to where?: Philadelphia to Seattle

Contract: Three years, $18 million

Williams was a disaster in Philly, and I’m surprised he even got this money.  He’s been known for his comments off the field, being very outspoken while not preforming on the field.  Seattle though, needed a guy to replace Byron Maxwell, and Williams, somewhat, fits the mold.  Cary can hit, like Maxwell, and is better in cover defense than in man.  Whether Seattle overpaid remains to be seen.

Who?: Ed Dickson

Where to where?: Resigned with Carolina

Contract: Undisclosed

With the money not available, it’s a little hard to judge this, but Dickson is a playmaker who can catch deep passes.  That’s what the Panthers like to do.  Given their limited receiving core, Cam Newton needs anyone he can to throw the ball to.

Who?: Bryan Bulaga

Where to where?: Resigned with Green Bay

Contract: Five years, $7 million a year (total money not available)

Bulaga is one of the best offensive lineman in the game, and the Packers resigning him is a huge key to their run game.  Green Bay, with Eddie Lacy in the backfield, needs interior lineman for him to succeed.  Bulaga does just that.  The money is well spent with this one.

Who?: Shane Vereen

Where to where?: New England to the Giants

Contract: Three years, $12.35 million

Vereen was a huge part of the Patriots offense last season, and is a dynamic running back, which is something the Giants have lacked for many years.  The signing effects the Patriots more than the Giants, as they lose their main guy.  Perhaps the draft can provide them a replacement.  Vereen should fit fine in New York.  Again, the Giants have lacked someone like him forever.

Who?: Frank Gore, Trent Cole

Where to where?: Gore: San Francisco to Indianapolis, Cole: Philadelphia to Indianapolis

Contract: Gore: Three years, $12 million Cole: Two years, $16 million

Oh, good lord Frank Gore.  Why?  Why did you have to sign with Philly first?  Why did you force me write and then delete 500 words about you, yourself, and your new team?

Frank Gore was supposed to be an Eagle, but then, with nothing being official, he backed out and went to the Colts instead.  The money is significantly less then what Philly had offered, which is quite interesting.

Indy needed a running back desperately, and while Gore is aging and struggles to stay healthy, he’s better than Trent Richardson, who’s now gone.  Remember that, Colts’ fans.

Trent Cole addresses another need at linebacker.  The Colts defense prided on it’s secondary last year, and struggled covering the middle of the field.  With Cole’s release from Philly, he’s a great pickup for the Colts.  Honestly, I thought they got him on a bargain.

Who?: Mike Iupati, LaMarr Woodley 

Where to where?: Iupati: San Francisco to Arizona, Woodley: Oakland to Arizona

Contract: Iupati: Five years, $40 million  Woodley: One year, $870k (minimum)

The signing of Mike Iupati for the Cardinals is huge.  Arizona missed on Jonathan Cooper in the draft two years ago, and now Iupati comes into to, replace him?

Maybe, that’s another conversation.  Iputai is one of the best guards in the league, and man, is he getting paid like one.  The money is hefty, but the Cardinals expect Iupati to preform.  He’s the lineman the Cardinals haven’t had in some time.

Woodley has fallen off a cliff since leaving Pittsburgh, but changes of scenery do help.  Woodley probably won’t start, but can come of the bench and provide a tackle or good play.  He’s a nice addition, and it adds depth to an already very good defense.

Who?: Eric Winston, A.J. Hawk

Where to where?: Winston: Re-signed, Hawk: Green Bay to Cincinnati

Contract: Winston: Undisclosed  Hawk: Two years, money not available.

These are two moves that kinda “wait-and-see” moves for Cincinnati.  Hawk’s release from the Packers was quite shocking, as he’s their career leader in tackles.  His performance though, fell last season, leading to the parting of ways.

Hawk comes in playing for a good defense.  Depending on whether he starts, he can still play a decent role.  He’s a run stopping linebacker, and the Bengals I’m sure would love to add another.  The money, which isn’t available, would give us more clues about his upcoming role.

Winston is solid tackle, and has bounced around quite a bit.  The money, whatever it may be, shouldn’t be a huge sum.  Winston is solid, but isn’t anything special.  With the Cardinals, he was quite sketchy at times, as was that whole offensive line.

Who?: Torrey Smith

Where to where?: Baltimore to San Francisco

Contract: Five years, $40 million

Torrey Smith has been one of my favorite players in the league since being drafted.  He’s big, speedy, and can go down the field. Joe Flacco couldn’t have been a better quarterback for him coming into the league, and transitioning to Colin Kaepernick will lead to the same.

The 49ers have lacked a guy like Smith for sometime now.  They’ve never had a deep threat, and with Michael Crabtree likely leaving, Smith suits as a nice replacement.

The money is a lot, but Smith should more than succeed in his offense.  He’s shown his potential before.   Smith’s game should only expand from here.

Who?: Owen Daniels

Where to where?: Baltimore to Denver

Contract: Three years, $12 million

This was a bargain in my book.  Daniels has been very effective everywhere he’s been.  He’s a great pass catcher who’s reliable in the red zone.  It adds another target for Peyton Manning to throw to, and he’ll replace Julius Thomas (more on that later).  The contract, as said above, is a bargain.  Daniels does everything you want.  It’s shame, due to his position, that he makes less than others.

Who?: Dan Williams

Where to where?: Arizona to Oakland

Contract: Undisclosed

Williams was one of the best defensive lineman on the market this year.  Arizona lost a key part of their defense with this signing.  With the contract undisclosed, it’s possible Williams chased the money.  Though, Williams is a solid defensive tackle.  He’s still young, and is a great run stuffer.

Who?: Ryan Matthews

Where to where?: San Diego to Philadelphia

Contract: Three years, $12 million

After having four solid season with San Diego, Matthews bolted for Philly, where he’ll trio with DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles.  Matthews is a speedy guy, who has great cuts.  He’s reliable near the end zone too.

Who? : Brian Hoyer

Where to where?: Cleveland to Houston

Contract: Two years, $10 million

We knew Hoyer was leaving Cleveland.  With their signing of Josh McCown, Hoyer was gone.  Now, he finds himself in another dire QB situation.  With Ryan Fitzpatrick gone, Houston will most likely have Hoyer be their starter.  Seeing them take a QB in the draft is likely, but not someone who is a franchise type guy.

The contract is cheap, and average for a backup.  That’s what Hoyer is.  But if you’re Houston, what else are you going to do?

Who?: Jeremy Maclin

Where to where?: Philadelphia to Kansas City

Contract: Five years, $55 million

As a Chiefs fan, I couldn’t be more stoked about this signing.  Maclin is exactly what we need, especially after last year’s horrendous preformance from our wide receivers.  Maclin has speed, can go downfield, and preforms in the red zone.  The Chiefs haven’t had someone like this in forever.

The thing that bugs me?  The money.  The contract is huge, and $11 million is a lot for Maclin, who has trouble staying healthy.  Though, he may be worth that much to a Chiefs team that has no receivers.  That’s why the total was so high.

Who?: Julius Thomas

Where to where?: Denver to Jacksonville

Contract: Five years, $46 million 

With the signing of Owen Daniels, Thomas was definitely out in Denver.  Many speculated that he would leave before.  Thomas is a great talent.  He’s big, and can out muscle guys at tight end.  He goes downfield and catches balls too.  Though, he won’t have Peyton Manning throwing to him anymore, and that’s where a possible production slip will occur.  Though, Blake Bortles is in development, and having targets will help him.  The money is worth it, especially for a team that had the money to spend.

Who?: Brandon Browner 

Where to where?: New England to New Orleans

Contract: Three years, $18 million.

Add the Saints to the list of teams that no one has any idea what they’re doing.  This team seemed to be a fire sale, but then signed Brandon Browner to a decent sized contract.  Browner’s career took a dip after being suspended for PEDs with the Seahawks.  He wasn’t a key contributor on the Patriots this past year, and certainly is getting over paid here.

It’s more about the total rather than the per year salary.  $6 million isn’t a ton, but for three years it is a tad risky for a guy who hasn’t totally proven himself.

Now, the Saints need desperate help in the secondary, so perhaps he’s worth that amount to them.  Again, this team seems to be headed toward the rebuilding stage.  They need to rack up anyone they can.

Who?: Antonio Cromartie

Where to where?: Cardinals to Jets. 

Contract: Four years, $32 million 

As a Cardinals fan, losing Cromartie sucks.  With a good year, we knew losing him would be a possibility after the season.  He had a good year, and went back home, like and with Darrelle Revis to New York.

The money is hefty, but the Jets seemed to be okay with reuniting their secondary and putting big bucks into it.  Cromartie, like Revis, is a veteran, and has many good years under him.  He’s still very effective, and provides great coverage.  The Jets have rebuilt their secondary in one season, after it being torn apart two years ago.

Who?: Justin Forsett

Where to where?: Re-signed with Baltimore

Contract: Three years, $9 million

Man, do I think Forsett got underpaid here.  Yes, he broke out last year, and it’s his only decent season under him.  It came at the right time, but after the ugly Ray Rice situation, the Ravens needed a running back.  Forsett has starting capability, as he’s shown.  He’s not getting paid like it, and that’s a little disheartening.  Though, the Ravens expect bigger things for Forsett.  Maybe and extension is in his future.

Who?: DeMarco Murray

Where to where?: Dallas to Philadelphia

Contract: Five year, $42 million 

As Will Brinson noted on Twitter, the Eagles running back situation has changed almost daily in the past week.  It went from LeSean McCoy, to Frank Gore, to Ryan Matthews, and now DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews.

This signing, in my opinion, was a no-brainer when Frank Gore pulled out of his deal.  I had been saying for weeks Murray was leaving Dallas, due to them low-balling him on an offer.  He basically said “Screw you.” and left.  This was weeks in the making.

Instead, Murray went to a running back needy team, who was willing to pay him his due.  Some think the contract is too much.  It’s hefty, but it averages to $8.4 million a year.  That’s respectable for Murray.  He needs to stay healthy, that’s his key.

The fit couldn’t be more perfect.  With Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles tripled with Murray, that team is going be to run orientated.  Maybe their QB situation won’t be that big of a deal.

The Eagles are making a tad more sense.  It’s still not completely 100% clear to me, but it’s getting there.  I really think we haven’t seen the end of it with this team.  Something more might be coming.

See below for Darrelle Revis and Andre Johnson, and more on the Eagles.


On Andre Johnson’s release from the Texans and signing with the Colts

This had been coming for days.  I mean, c’mon.  First, it was that he had been fed up over the pats couple years with the direction of the team.  Then, he had asked for a trade.  After the act of non-doing from the front office, Johnson asked for a release, and it was granted.

The Colts then signed Johnson to a three year, $21 million contract.  It fills a need for Indianapolis, and gives Andrew Luck a big time target.  The money came in right where I thought it would.  Something with a low money total due to age.  Johnson has gas in the tank left.  No question.  This is a great signing by Indy, and will probably be a tad underrated.


On Darrelle Revis’ declined option and his signing with the Jets…

It was clear that the Patriots would decline Revis’ option, as it was worth way more than what the Patriots would pay for.  With declining it though, they knew the risk of him being on the open market.

We know in the past that Revis chases money.  He always has.  We also know, as my Dad pointed out to me, that Revis is the best businessman in the NFL.  He’s really smart, and probably wouldn’t need an agent if the rules were different.

When the option was declined, rumored swirled about where Revis would end up.  The Jets were brought up a lot, and it eventually happened.  Tuesday night, the Jets and Revis agreed to a five year, $70 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed.

That’s a ton of money, and the Jets didn’t really seem opposed to it.  He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the game.  Whether he gets back Revis Island remains to be seen, but the Jets are paying him like.  Revis follows the latest trend of start athletes, as he’s “returning home”, following the LeBron James path.

There was no way that the Patriots would pay Revis that, especially after giving Devin McCourty his big deal.  Revis leaving definitely leaves New England with a hole, which will most likely be fixed in the upcoming draft.


 

On the retirement of Patrick Willis…. And all the other crazy early retirements…

The first official day of free agency was absolutely insane.  We had trades, retirements, and not a whole lot signings.  It was quite ridiculous, and it’s why this column has been postponed for a couple days.

As for the retirements, Patrick Willis, Cortland Finnegan, Jake Locker, and Jason Worilds all retirement.  All of those guys are under 32 years old.  32!

Willis’ retirement was the biggest shocker.  No one saw it coming, giving he was still in his prime.  Willis was one of the best linebackers in the league.  His play on the field and presence in the locker room was key to this 49ers team.  It only made their offseason worse.

As for his reasoning, injuries were his main reason, while a “religious awakening” was another cause.  In the 49ers case, you can’t tell him no that.  Willis made a decision for himself and the rest of his life, and you can’t punish or judge him for that.

Cortland Finnegan’s retirement was another big shocker, as he was a free agent.  He’s been around the league though, and wasn’t likely to get a monster contract.  Unfortunately, Finnegan’s probably going to know for his fight with Andre Johnson on the field in 2010.

Jason Worilds’ retirement was also crazily unexpected.  Being a free agent, Worilds was gonna get big money.  His situation is similar to Willis, as he’ll work for a religious group.  Again, if you’re a team, what are you going to do.  It’s not like you can tell him no.

Worilds has made a good amount of money in the league, but had he stayed, he would have racked in at least $9 million.

Jake Locker simply had had too many injuries and concussions throughout his early career.  It’s too bad for Locker, who was also a free agent.   He, most likely, would have ended up as backup for a team this coming year.


 

On all the ridiculous trades…..

I mean really?  Why did this have to happen when I wasn’t paying attention to the world of sports?  When LeSean McCoy and Kiko Alonso got swapped for each other, I was in the hot tub, and got a text from a friend asking me if I saw the trade.

This time, I was riding my bike due to the insanely and surprisingly warm weather at my house this past week.  The three trades I’m about to write about, happened in the 30 minutes I was gone on my bike ride.  Talk about timing,

The first trade was probably the most shocking of them all.

Seahawks get: Jimmy Graham, 4th round pick

Saints get: Max Unger, 1st round pick

I couldn’t believe the Saints traded Jimmy Graham.  If there’s one guy on that Saints roster that you wouldn’t think they would trade, it’d be him.  He was their only franchise player, giving Drew Brees’ aging.  While New Orleans didn’t have the greatest year last season, Graham was still their main piece.

Perhaps this is the start of a tear down for the Saints.  With a bad offensive line, they couldn’t run the ball too well.  Brees wasn’t playing well, and they didn’t have any real receivers to throw to.  Plus, the defense sucked.

Grabbing Max Unger is a huge boost to the offensive line.  Unger is one of the best centers in the league.  He’s a great blocker, especially in the pass.  Working with Russell Wilson the past three years gets you used to the passing game.

As they rebuild the line around Unger, you have to wonder what comes next.  Could the Saints cut Brees soon, perhaps as soon as after next season?  If he doesn’t preform, it’s very likely.

What’s above is crazy, but certainly possible.  Franchise player is gone, aging QB, salary cap is a mess (which is part of the reason they traded Graham), and an ownership fiasco that would have been the biggest story over Super Bowl Week if it wasn’t for DeflateGate.

The team is most likely going to be sold soon, which opens a whole new conversation for another time.

As for Seattle, this is a huge addition to that offense.  Russell Wilson made due with what he had last year, it wasn’t awful, but certainly wasn’t great.  Adding Graham gives them a down the field threat, while also opening up the middle of the field.  Wilson has never had a guy like Graham, and that’s scary, especially if you’re a fan of an NFC West rival (me).

Eagles get: Sam Bradford, 5th round pick

Rams get: Nick Foles, 4th round pick, 2nd round pick 

Then this happened right after the Graham trade.  Only adding to the madness.

It’s rare that we see starting QBs getting flipped for each other.  It’s happened (trying not to bring up the Kyle Orton-Jay Cutler swap).  But, with the two guys that got swapped in this one, it’s never happened.  Nothing this monumental with QBs.

Since being drafted No.1 overall and signing his huge rookie deal, Sam Bradford has had one good year as a starter, and two years he’s sat out with torn ACLs.  Not great for a guy the Rams paid $78 MILLION.

And now, he’s on a different team.  A team that’s gonna pay someone $12 or $8 million to sit on the bench.  That’s the dilemma the Eagles face.  Bradford and Sanchez have starting QB salaries, yet neither them you can trust as your starter.

What’s shaping up in Philly is a training camp battle for the starting job, and possibly a last chance effort for Sam Bradford to save his career.  So, if Chip Kelly thinks it’ll work, fine.  He can think that, but guys that have power get cocky.  Chip Kelly has power.

The Rams get Nick Foles, who I have loved since he came into the league.  He’s a great talent and has a great arm, but has accuracy issues over the middle of the field and has had injury concerns.  He’s still got time though, and hasn’t had the type of career-affecting injuries Bradford has had.

Adding to Foles’ possible success, the Rams have talent around him.   That’s a now good team the Rams have.  St. Louis may have to rely on the passing game a bit more, now that they have a good QB.  Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are both young studs, and finally have someone reliable at QB.  Kenny Britt is a veteran receiver, but has to keep himself in check off the field.

The Rams defense was one of the best in the league last year, and is only getting better by the day through the offseason.

The picks that were moved in this trade are probably the more interesting side of it.  St.Louis got a ton of picks, possibly to make up for the pick they used on Bradford in 2010.  His value in this trade seemed larger than Foles, which is odd to me.  Foles has the higher ceiling at this point, especially after what Bradford has been through.

Deciding the winner of a trade takes time, but for a immediate take on it, it looks as St.Louis has already won.  Time will tell, as it always does.

Lions get: Haloti Ngata

Ravens get: 4th, 5th round pick

This trade was part of a money dump for the Ravens.  Ngata had an $8.5 million cap hit this coming season, and the Ravens didn’t want to deal with it.  After losing Ngata for the final four games of last year’s regular season, due to a PED suspension, it seemed Ngata days were limited.

The Lions are the perfect fit for Ngata.  He’ll essentially replace Ndamukong Suh in that defense, being the big body in the middle of the line.  After losing Suh, Ngata will seal up the hole.

Ngata is a good run stuffer, and provides chaos in the middle of the line.  He’s not a sack master, but will stop the run and get tackles.

 5,550 word column.  Yea, my head almost exploded too.

The White/Green Flag Within The NHL

The trade deadline just passed, and teams are now gearing up for the homestrech, or at least the good teams.

The bad teams at this point are just waiting for the season to end.  Some teams have been wanting the season to end for months now. so they can blow it up and start over (cough, Toronto, San Jose, cough).

Toronto didn’t get the head start we’d imagined they would, but they did send Olli Jokinen to St. Louis and Korbinian Holzer to the Ducks.  Many expected Phil Kessel to get moved, and for some reason, Wild fans though that would happen (that’s a continuing theme throughout this column).

Dion Pharnuef was rumored to be headed to the Red Wings, but a major false report changed that.

Both players will likely get traded, but it will have to wait till Summer.

Calgary’s moves Monday were quite interesting at first, but a bit more sense when it was announced that captain Mark Giordano was going to miss the rest of the season with a torn bicep.  The news was heartbreaking for a team that was in the playoff race.

Honestly, I’d liked what they did help out other teams than what they did for themselves.  They sold Curtis Glencross to Washington, and sent Sven Baertschi to the Canucks.  The Flames had to know of Giordano’s injury before Monday, and what impacts it would have.

The Flames currently sit in 3rd in the Pacific Division, but you have to expect them to fall.  They might be toast, but I haven’t given up yet.  Los Angeles sits behind them, being one of three teams who are competeing for the last wild card spot.  It’s gonna be quite a task for the Flames if they want to make it to the postseason.

Boston and Arizona are two teams that are in completely different situations.  One team sucks, and racked in a ton of picks at thed eadline.  The other needed big time help and did absoluetly nothing.

Arizona sent Kieth Yandle, Zbneyk Michalek, and Mark Louis all out of town.  For a bad team, it wasn’t unexpected.  As high as prices were at the deadline, the Coyotes got a ton back, way more than expected.

I hated the Keith Yandle trade for the Rangers.  He’s a great player, and scores points.  However, he’s a hefty salary cap hit, and the exchange paid a hefty price.  New York sent Anthony DuClair, agruably their best prospect, to Arizona in return, plus a bunch of picks.

It’s more about the Rangers helping out the Coyotes here.  Arizona already has a surplus of really good prospects, and DuClair only adds to it.  Arizona also racked up more picks with this trade.

Now look, I get that Yandle is gonna help the Rangers.  He was the Coyotes leading point scorer.    I like Yandle; he’s a great talent.  I just wasn’t fond of what the Rangers had to give up for him.  Arizona has a bright future, and while it might take a couple years, they’re obviously getting started now.

Who’s Gearing Up?

West:

Wild: Minnesota got Chris Stewart and Jordan Leopold at the deadline, two moves that were a tad overrated, but will pan out.  Stewart is a good talent, and is only 27, but has been around the league quite a bit for his age.  While he was very promising, I’d hate to say it, but his best years might be behind him.  The fact he’s been around quite a bit could hint at something.

Jordan Leopold’s trade was overshadowed by his daughter’s sweet letter to the Wild, asking the team to bring him home.  They did, but he’s 34, and nearing the end of his career.  Leopold’s presence will be key on this young Minnesota team.  He’ll play a role in the defense, which is something the Wild could have used.  This seems though, more like a locker room move than a hockey move.

The Wild are now first in the Wild Card race, and have a couple teams lurking behind them.  I can’t say whether they’ll make the playoffs, but watching this team every night and going to school with Wild fans is making me lean towards the “Yes” side rather than the “No”.

Blackhawks: Patrick Kane’s injury was absolutely devastating for this team.  Chicago was my Stanley Cup pick before the injury, and with Kane out until the Western Conference Finals (if they make it there), it changed the way I thought about that team.

Though, they acquired Andrew Desjardins, Antoine Vermette, and Kimmo Timonen before Monday’s deadline.  The moves were big.  Those are some great names within hockey.  Now they have to work.

Timonen has been hurt all year, but has returned for Chicago.  He’ll retire after the season, but will play to try and make a deep playoff push with the Blackhawks.  This isn’t a team that needs a locker room presence, but Timonen can provide the small things.  Things the stats don’t show.  He’s kinda the chemistry guy for the rest of year.

Vermette is a huge addition for the Blackhawks, and the Coyotes were happy to deal him since 1) He would’ve gotten traded this Summer 2) They just get more picks!

Vermette is a great set up guy for Chicago.  He’s a face-off winner, which is huge for a team that will have trouble scoring and getting attacks going.  Chicago is going to have play well together if they still want to go deep in the playoffs.  That’s going to be their key.  They can do it, but it’s a team game, and they have to understand that.

East:

Penguins: Pittsburgh traded for Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy at Monday’s deadline.  The two moves were a little confusing at first, giving they traded away two of their best defensive players, but they simply re-upped on guys.

Cole is definitely the bigger name of the two, and they expect a lot from him.  He’s a very good defensemen, and his plus/minus is insane at +16.  It’s another player for Pittsburgh, which is something they definitely needed.

If this team wants to go deep in the playoffs, they will have to stay healthy, and play the team game rather than the individual game.  Chemistry is known for it’s importance in basketball, but it carries over in hockey too.  I like this Penguins team heading down the stretch, but the East is full of surprises, and they might end up on the wrong up of that.

Quick Hits:

  • The Stars aren’t ruling Tyler Seguin out for the year yet.  So…… 

    https://twitter.com/hippelsportshub/status/573916922334437377

  • Could Buffalo’s tank job be any more obvious?
  • I thought the Sharks were gonna blow it up at the deadline.  I guess they’re waiting a bit.
  • Wild fans think they’re winning the Cup.
  • Don’t rule out the Kings yet.  They’re the defending champions.
  • Colorado hung around, annnnddd then crashed and burned.
  • Cup pick (Subject to change): Ducks-Canadiens