Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson signed a 4-year extension late last night, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Wilson’s contract was set to expire at the end of 2019, but with the extension, he’ll be with Seattle until 2023.
Some of the details of the contract are 4 years, $140 million, a $65 million signing bonus (highest in NFL history), with a total of $107 million guaranteed. These numbers are not a surprise, as most agreed that Wilson would overtake QB Aaron Rodgers as the highest paid player in the league.
There was a lot of hand wringing from fans in Seattle as trade rumors swirled, New York Giants fans were campaigning and Seattle fans were panicking. Then came the deadline. It was announced that Wilson had imposed a deadline of April 15th for a new contract or else he was going to stop talks completely and simply play out the end of his contract.
It was announced that the NFLPA and the league were going to start talks about the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement. Yes, there are two years left on the current CBA. The fact they are starting now should give you an idea of how complicated this is going to be.
Let’s be real. I put the word possible in quotes because the probability of there being a full NFL season in 2021 is slim to none. The players are feeling their power, as they should, and many are already talking about the upcoming CBA negotiation. Owners, at the same time, are trying to hold on to their power, yet please the players. We know that probably won’t happen quickly. Therefore, we need to prepare ourselves for a lockout.
On April 1, the NFL had its “International Pro Day” for 2019. Eight players, from all over the world, worked out for NFL scouts.
The NFL implemented the International Pathway program in 2017 as a way for potential NFL players from around the globe to not only get a chance to compete to play in the NFL, but also for them to have a fair chance at making it. The program not only finds players with the skill to play in the NFL, it also allows them to acclimate to the game. Teams get an extra practice squad spot if they bring on a player in the program, and those players are guaranteed not to be cut that year. While these players aren’t allowed to be promoted to the active roster during that season, it allows them the time to adjust to the speed, complexity, and requirements of the game at the NFL level.
Last season, eight teams carried a player from overseas on their practice squad, and this year eight more players are hoping to make it on the a team this year. The 2019 International Pro Day was held at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers indoor facility. Players from Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, and Mexico participated, after spending the last 12 weeks training with IMG Academy to help them prepare. Let’s take a look at the players hoping to make it into the league.
Lets just all admit it. The minute we saw that John Gruden had been paid an insane amount of money to become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, we knew we were in for a wild ride. While his first season didn’t live up to the hype, it has been nothing but Must See TV ever since the season ended.
Lets quickly recap.
First, the disaster that was the 2018 season. With a record of 4-12, Gruden’s first season as head coach was underwhelming to say the least. In a year where the AFC West was a stand out division, the Raiders were the bottom dwellers. The tone of the season was set very early with the trade of linebacker Khalil Mack to Chicago, then later in the season the trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas. Gruden didn’t hide the fact he was completely overhauling the team and managed to get some great draft capital in the process. While fans weren’t happy, the value received was fantastic.
The NFL offseason often brings a lot of changes and excitement to teams and their fans. Additions to teams, beloved players or coaches leaving, hold outs, the draft, drama is always present in the offseason. However, when a player retires, the drama seems to subside, and nostalgia takes over.
We all know its coming. No one can play football forever. But when a player has made an impact on the league, it’s hard to imagine them not being on the field anymore. It feels like a loss for fans, but a loss that they understand and respect.
The start of the 2019 NFL year has had a number of notable retirements, and its only March. Here are a handful of newly retired players that will be missed by fans.
Julius Peppers. Defensive God. His name alone put fear in the hearts of offensive coordinators around the league. In his amazing 17 year career which included time playing for the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears, Peppers was a 6 time All Pro, with 9 Pro Bowl nods. It’s straight to Canton for Julius.
Kansas City and the KC Chiefs played host to this year’s NFL Regional Combine. 30 college football players from all over the country came to show their skills to NFL scouts. While it may not have had the flash as the one in Indianapolis, it had the same goal.
The Regional Combine is much the same as the main combine in Indianapolis. The same drills, tests, and measurements, just on a smaller scale with fewer players. The Regional Combine often showcases players from smaller colleges or players who may have been under the radar during the regular season.
Speaking with many of the players, the same sentiment was stated over and over. They felt lucky to have been invited, even though it wasn’t the large combine in Indianapolis. Fredrick Jones, DT from Florida state said “It’s an opportunity that God has given me to show what I have and to give it my all. I’m blessed to have the opportunity.”
He wasn’t alone in his feelings of being lucky. Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall also was excited to be in Kansas City. “It was exciting. Getting able to perform, because some scouts may not be at my Pro Day… That was big for me.”
Currently, there are hundreds of articles about the upcoming NFL Draft. Mock drafts, team’s draft needs, draft surprises, the topics are endless. Well, I’m here to add another one to the list! However, I’m not talking about this year’s draft. Today, I’m going to take you back twenty years to 1999.
The Denver Broncos, led by quarterback John Elway, had just beaten the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII 34-19. You may remember that was the year when everyone was buzzing about Elway confronting his former coach, Dan Reeves, about comments he had made stating new head coach Mike Shanahan and Elway had conspired to have Reeves fired. Oh, the drama!
But when the new season started, all eyes were on the 1999 draft. The NEW Cleveland Browns had the first pick. It marked the first year, since 1995, the city of Cleveland had a football team. It was no surprise they went with a quarterback, selecting Tim Couch.
While Couch did manage to take the Browns to the playoffs during his 5 injury ridden years on the team, it was other players picked in that draft who would go on to make huge impacts, not only for their teams but in the NFL.
Safety is a position that has always had its superstars. Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Rodney Harrison, so many great athletes have played safety. When looking at this season’s free agent safeties, you can easily find one future Hall of Famer, with a possibility of a few more. These are impact players, and teams should be sending armored trucks full of cash to their houses, but there is a good chance that won’t happen.
I asked NFL columnist Mike Freeman what his thoughts on the market for safeties would be this year. He wasn’t optimistic. “It may be a while before we see a thriving safety market. I could be wrong but despite defenses dominating the Super Bowl, we’re still seeing teams devalue the position.”
He’s not alone. Many analysts and members of the media agree that the market will probably not be what many players hope it will be. Case in point, Eric Reid.
With the success that the NFL’s youngest head coach, LA Rams HC Sean McVey, it was no surprise NFL owners wanted to try to find the same needle in a haystack. This offseason brought a fury of hirings of young head coaches. Smartly, those coaches are looking to veteran coordinators to fill out their coaching staff.
While teams like Tampa Bay decided to go with a veteran head coach in Bruce Arians, most other coach-needy teams decided to go young. Arizona, Green Bay, Miami, and Cincinnati have all hired coaches between the ages of 35 – 39.
Not that age has anything to do with coaching, but it does have to do with experience. Bringing in veteran coordinators and specialist not only is savvy, but it allows the HCs to be educated by some of the best.
There wasn’t a lot to say about the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Honestly, it was basically a throwaway season. However, with the Cards having a new coach and the first pick in the draft, can 2019 bring a turnaround?
After going 3-13, the Cardinals knew things had to change. They started with firing head coach Steve Wilks after just one season, and hiring college football coach, Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury started coaching in 2008 moving from the University of Houston, then on to Texas A&M, and finally to Texas Tech. He had been hired as the offensive coordinator at USC in December, but obviously, let that go to coach at the NFL level.
Reaction to the Kingsbury hire was, to say the least, cool from fans and media. However, he coached quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and Case Keenum. So there is reason to think his system could carry over to the NFL. Add to that the fact they brought in former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, this team has a completely fresh start in coaching.