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Legion of Big Bucks: Ravens spending $58 million on secondary

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Thomas’ present is a Baltimore secondary that lacks a catchy nickname but has been bestowed an investment unlike any other in the NFL.

The Ravens are spending $58 million on their top six defensive backs this year. Baltimore signed Thomas ($22 million with base salary and signing bonus combined), extended the contract of nickelback Tavon Young (a total of $11 million base salary and signing bonus), exercised the option for cornerback Brandon Carr ($6 million) and brought back Jimmy Smith ($9.5 million), Tony Jefferson ($8 million) and Marlon Humphrey ($1.542 million).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In terms of salary cap, the Ravens’ secondary has combined for a league-high $56.7 million salary-cap figure, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System. That accounts for 30 percent of Baltimore’s entire cap.

Given this price tag, the Ravens are expecting this defensive backfield to be among the league’s best. Baltimore is essentially returning last season’s fifth-ranked pass defense but with what many believe is an upgrade at free safety. When healthy, Thomas has shown more range and playmaking ability than Eric Weddle.10

The Ravens’ schedule explains why first-year general manager Eric DeCosta has opened up the wallet for the secondary. Baltimore is facing four of the top seven quarterbacks in passing yards (Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Tom Brady) as well as Russell Wilson (third-highest passer rating), Deshaun Watson (coming off first Pro Bowl) and Baker Mayfield (27 touchdown passes).cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Ravens will need Smith to quiet Odell Beckham Jr. like he has done in the past. They’ll want Humphrey to go stride for stride with A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins. They’ll look for Thomas to cover the middle of the field when Tyreek Hill goes deep.

This is as deep, talented and physical as any secondary under coach John Harbaugh, who has envisioned this for a long time. There were too many playoff games against Brady and Peyton Manning in which the Ravens started Frank Walker or Rashaan Melvin at cornerback because of injuries and went with Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill at safety because of cap limitations.

There will be additional pressure on the secondary to stick with receivers to help the pass rush get to quarterbacks. The Ravens lost 15.5 sacks when Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith signed elsewhere in free agency. Baltimore is expected to add a veteran pass-rusher in free agency, and the Ravens can go from a bigger (but more expensive) splash with Kansas City’s Justin Houston to a cheaper alternative in Green Bay’s Nick Perry.

In an age when teams are throwing the ball more than ever before, the Ravens have prided themselves at being among the best in slowing down the big-play passing attacks. Since Harbaugh became coach in 2008, Baltimore leads the NFL in lowest passer rating allowed (79.3).

Odell Beckham Jr. trade signifies a complete Giants rebuild

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The once-proud Giants are now the team with eight wins in two years and a roster that indicates it’s not going to get much better in the immediate future. They are in a position quite familiar to the Browns — desperately in need of a savior quarterback and a complete rebuild.

If this trade did anything for the Giants, it made them pick a side. There is no more straddling the line of restocking on the fly or trying to compete. They saw what happened last season (5-11) when they chose the latter. The Giants are now rebuilding, even if it’s a year too late.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

It raises so many questions, such as: Why didn’t they go in this direction last year with a new head coach, new general manager, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and a 37-year-old quarterback coming off a 3-13 season? Why didn’t they trade Beckham before signing him to a then-record deal for a wide receiver? Now, the Giants wasted a year and will incur a $16 million dead money hit this season adding to their already substantial total. They also paid Beckham $21.5 million for 12 games last season. And, finally, is GM Dave Gettleman really the right man to be tasked with this massive overhaul?9

Gettleman and the Giants surely had their reasons. Beckham butted heads with management on several occasions last year, once when he participated in an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson and Lil Wayne, and again when he talked too much publicly about his quad injury. And maybe there was more. But Beckham was a player loved in the locker room and with an unquestioned work ethic. He was a difference-maker when he was on the field. Now, he’s gone and the masses don’t seem pleased. The reaction to their franchise isn’t going to be an easy one for ownership to stomach.

Gettleman received a first-round pick (No. 17 overall), third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers in return for Beckham. Peppers was a key. The Giants insisted he should be part of the deal, according to a source. He was a first-round pick two years ago and they viewed him as such. It helped them close this often controversial chapter in their history, which was filled with more noise than victories.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But the snap-response to it all was not so positive for Gettleman and the Giants. Sources around the league texted me reactions such as “Maybe if the [first-round pick] was higher” and “Seriously?” and “That is nothing.” They didn’t see the tremendous value for such a special talent.

Source: Bell plans to join Jets for 4 years, $52.5 million

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Bell, who shocked the NFL by sitting out the entire 2018 season on the franchise tag after failing to agree on a new contract last summer, officially became a free agent when Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert opted not to place a franchise or transition tag on him for the 2019 season.

After gaining nearly 2,000 total yards during the 2017 season, Bell opted to eschew the $14.5 million franchise tag in 2018 — forgoing about $855,000 per game — so he could preserve his long-term viability for a big contract in free agency this offseason.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Several other teams were said to be interested in Bell, including the San Francisco 49ers, who made a strong offer and were engaged in a wild tug-of-war with the Jets over the past few hours, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

But the Jets emerged as the front-runner late Tuesday. Not wanting to bid against themselves, they held firm on their offer, a source told ESPN’s Rich Cimini.11

Bell, a two-time All-Pro, had used social media to engage with potential suitors, using emojis to make indirect contact with the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, among others. The Ravens never made him an offer, a source told Schefter.

Bell’s average salary per year with the Jets, $13.25 million, would rank him second among running backs in the NFL, behind Todd Gurley’s $14.37 million average.

In finishing 4-12 last season, which resulted in coach Todd Bowles’ ouster, the Jets produced only two 100-yard rushing days, both by Isaiah Crowell. Crowell set the franchise single-game record with 219 yards in an October home game against the Denver Broncos but disappeared for the remainder of the season.

Crowell is likely to be released before Friday, when $2 million of his $4 million base salary becomes guaranteed. The backfield will consist of Bell, Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Jets haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Chris Ivory in 2015. They haven’t had a runner with Bell’s skill set since Curtis Martin, a big free-agent signing from 1998 to 2005. Bell has said that Martin, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, was his idol as a kid.

Sources: Morse going to Bills for 4 years, $44.5M

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Former Kansas City Chiefs center Mitch Morse intends to sign what is expected to be a four-year, $44.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Morse, 26, joined the Kansas City Chiefs as a second-round draft pick (49th overall) from Missouri in 2015. He immediately became a starter and opened each of the 52 games, regular season and playoffs, he played in for Kansas City.9

Morse started 15 games as a rookie but wasn’t available for either of the Chiefs’ two playoff games that year because of a concussion. He was limited to seven games in 2017 and 11 in 2018, plus two in the playoffs, because of injuries.

During last season, the Chiefs re-signed two interior offensive linemen, Cam Erving and Austin Reiter, in case they lost Morse in free agency. Reiter started four games during Morse’s absence last season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Source: Bennett reunion with Patriots possible

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There could be a Bennett brothers reunion in New England, with Michael set to join the team via trade and Martellus contemplating a return to football.

The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Friday. With that trade set to be finalized, tight end Martellus Bennett is interested in coming out of retirement to join his brother in New England, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Eagles would receive a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft and send Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots, a league source told Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.10

Bennett played in 16 games (10 starts) last season and totaled nine sacks. He has 63 sacks over his 10-year career.

He told NFL Network earlier Friday that he was looking for a pay raise. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $6.2 million in 2019 with a $1 million roster bonus.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Michael Bennett could have a quick reunion with the Eagles, as they are set to host the Patriots next season.

By acquiring Bennett, it could soften the blow if the Patriots lose defensive end Trey Flowers, who led New England in sacks each of the past three seasons, in free agency. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Bennett had 51 total pressures last season to tie for 13th in the NFL. Flowers led the Patriots with 45 pressures.

Bennett, 33, told Anderson that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been fond of his game.

Locked in at a reasonable salary for the upcoming season, the Eagles recognized there could be a market for Bennett given the lack of quality pass-rushers in free agency.

What matters when evaluating QBs today? Not height and arm strength

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The secret sauce remains elusive to those trying to find the perfect formula for scouting college quarterbacks. It’s quite possible the code will never be cracked. There will always be hits and misses as the search for the next Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady ensues. There is no perfect process.

Different evaluators concentrate on different traits. Some might be physical and easy to spot, others like trying to find a foul stench in the wind.

The answers received around NFL combine week about top priorities for a quarterback prospect ranged from instincts to leadership to functional intelligence to decision-making to production. One thing became certain roaming Indianapolis: Height isn’t at the top of the list.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

This is especially relevant with Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, all 5-foot-10 1/8 of him, in this year’s NFL draft. It seemed as if all the talk out of Indianapolis — from those working for teams to those close to Murray — was he would be the No. 1 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.8
The decision could depend on what the Giants see in each prospect. General manager Dave Gettleman is looking for a quarterback who can make all — or most — of the throws. He wants a quarterback who is athletic, but pass-first, not run-first. It’s the subtle pocket movements that matter most to the evaluator who has watched Jim Kelly, John Elway, Manning and Cam Newton most of his career.nfl cheap jerseys nike

This could play a large part in the Giants’ decision. Haskins’ pocket presence and ability to navigate around pressure might be the biggest question about his game. Can he move enough?

This is important to Gettleman, but not necessarily the most important quality being sought.

“A non-negotiable for me is instincts. It really is,” Gettleman said. “There are guys that are big, great arm, great athletes. They can’t figure it out. I don’t think people talk about it enough. Instincts are critical. You turn around at every position — people will fall in love with the height, weight, speed, defensive tackle, but you put his hand in the dirt, he can’t find the ball, he doesn’t understand blocking schemes — so all this great height, weight, speed, whatever he’s got, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Packers focus resources to improve on special teams

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And it’s no surprise that Gutekunst, the Packers general manager, and Murphy, the team president, want things to change.

It was in Week 2 last season, when the Titans, playing without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, came up with a fake-punt touchdown pass and a game-winning field goal in the last minute to beat the Texans.

And it was most of last season when Gutekunst and Murphy watched the Packers stumble to a dead-last ranking in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings under former coordinator Ron Zook.

To say special teams has been a problem for the Packers is to say Lambeau Field gets a tad chilly in December.

“It has,” Murphy said when asked if he views special teams as recurring problem.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

So Murphy approved an added position on LaFleur’s coaching staff. He not only has a special teams coordinator in Shawn Mennenga, who came from the college ranks (Vanderbilt) to take his first NFL coordinator job, and returning assistant Maurice Drayton, but there’s a third coach dedicated to special teams, quality control assistant Rayna Stewart (who assisted Mennenga at Vandy last year).

“It was an added position, and we’ve struggled on special teams,” Murphy said. “So hopefully one more person could be helpful there.”

So could players specifically pegged for special teams.10

Not since the days of Sean Richardson (in 2015) and Jarrett Bush (in 2014) have the Packers kept veteran players on second contracts whose primary role is on special teams. Yes, Richardson and Bush played some in the secondary, but their main roles were as veteran cover men and blockers.

In 2016, the Packers cut backup safety Chris Banjo with an injury settlement. A year earlier, he led the Packers in special teams tackles and was elected as a playoff captain following the 2015 regular season.

Banjo joined the Saints in 2016 and was named as a Pro Bowl alternate as a special teams player for the 2017 season. That year, he made just $1.05 million. He turned 29 last month but still played in every game for the NFC’s top-seeded Saints, who paid him just $1.55 million.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Last season, four of the Packers’ top-five special teams tacklers were rookies.

“I think it’s kind of the philosophy,” Murphy said. “Some teams keep players just for special teams. We’ve been one of the younger teams. Part of that is getting players that are going to be able to perform on special teams.”

After combine, Broncos still have to decide if they see QB of future in this draft

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But in the weeks to come, they still have to decide if quarterback is still high on their list of draft priorities, and whether they think any of the quarterbacks in this draft can help them fill out what is still an unfinished long-term plan at the position.

“I think that being 6-10, you evaluate every position,” Elway said at the combine. And as for this year’s draft class behind center, Elway added: “We’re still in the process of studying them. We’ll keep looking at them. I think that there are a lot of people excited about next year’s class. But we’re going to spend the time on this year’s class and see where we come out on that. I think there’s some good players in this draft too.”nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Broncos have the framework of a trade in place for Joe Flacco to be their starting quarterback. That deal, for what is expected to be one of their two fourth-round draft picks in exchange for Flacco, 34, will become official on or shortly after March 13 when the new league year begins.9

Elway has also said his “preference” would be that last year’s starter — Case Keenum — stays (if Keenum is willing to take a pay cut) to be Flacco’s backup. Keenum is set to earn an $18 million base salary at the moment and is guaranteed, whether he’s on a roster or not, $7 million of that base salary.

Making Flacco the Broncos’ starter and trying to keep Keenum might well say everything about what Elway really thinks about this year’s draft class of quarterbacks, and what he thinks about the ability of any of those quarterbacks to move into the lineup quickly.

It was clear as the combine drew to a close that, no matter how optimistic the league’s talent evaluators are about Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins — the top two quarterbacks in this draft — most in the league do not think either player is as NFL ready as Baker Mayfield, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, was a year ago.

In the end, the Broncos are in need of solution that goes beyond Flacco and Keenum. They do not have a quarterback on their current roster they selected in the draft, as none of the five Elway has selected since being hired in 2011 remains with the team. But to use a premium pick on a quarterback the organization isn’t totally sold on, or isn’t up to the challenge, is no solution either.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“We’re going to do everything we can, at every position, to get back to playing the way we need to play,” Elway said. “That includes quarterback and every other position on the field.”

Seahawks ride rebuilt roster to NFC wild-card berth

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It will be the Seahawks’ seventh playoff appearance in coach Pete Carroll’s nine seasons in Seattle. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only the New England Patriots have more in that span, with nine. The Seahawks made the playoffs only 10 times in the 34 seasons before Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived in 2010.

The victory Sunday capped another comeback from an 0-2 start. Since the NFL expanded its playoff format to 12 participants in 1990, only 28 teams through 2017 had reached the postseason after starting 0-2. One of those teams was the 2015 Seahawks.

“There’s an emotion to it that’s deep, and it’s because there wasn’t very many people that thought we could do this,” Carroll said, sharing a sentiment that was repeated in some form by several players in the locker room. “Most everybody thought we didn’t have a chance.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The win that put the 2018 Seahawks in the playoffs was arguably their most impressive of the season. The Chiefs, who still own the AFC’s best record, opened as a 2.5-point road favorite and came to Seattle averaging a league-best 35.6 points per game.

Seattle’s defense, with one starter in free safety Tedric Thompson missing and several more banged up, held MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes & Co. in check through two quarters. The Seahawks took a 14-10 halftime lead with the help of two takeaways, both forced fumbles that Seattle recovered. The first set up Wilson’s go-ahead touchdown throw to tight end Nick Vannett, and the second thwarted a Chiefs scoring opportunity at the end of the second quarter.10

Carson gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead on their first possession with a 4-yard touchdown run. He finished with 116 yards on 27 carries to become Seattle’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Marshawn Lynch in 2014. That capped his comeback from the leg injury that ended his promising rookie season after four games last year.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“If you remember, I told you guys he was the most well-conditioned guy that showed up when we returned in April,” Carroll said of Carson. “There was nobody that was more fit, nobody was more ready for the work. I don’t know how he did it, but he’s just unbelievable, and that commitment that he has, it carried through the whole season.”

The deterioration of the Seahawks’ post-Lynch running game was among the leading reasons they finished 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. They had finished between first and fourth in rushing from 2012 through 2015 before they dropped to 25th and 23rd the past two seasons.

The Seahawks, back atop the league in the category this season, produced 210 yards on the ground (including two kneel-downs for minus-2 yards) and an average of 4.9 yards per carry Sunday night. They were without right tackle Germain Ifedi because of a groin injury and lost left guard J.R. Sweezy to what Carroll called a sprained ankle in the first half. That forced D.J. Fluker and his not completely healed hamstring into the game and moved Ethan Pocic from right guard to left guard.

Fractured hip lands Seahawks safety Delano Hill on injured reserve

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The Seattle Seahawks have placed strong safety Delano Hill on injured reserve because of a fracture in his hip.

Coach Pete Carroll announced the move Tuesday and called it a non-displaced fracture that Hill suffered in Sunday’s game.

Hill started the past two games while Tedric Thompson was sidelined by chest and ankle injuries. With Thompson out, Seattle had moved Bradley McDougald to free safety with Hill playing strong safety.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“He was playing great ball. The hopes for him coming back next time around and being a big factor for all the playing time and competing and all that, it’s there. He was playing his best game,” Carroll said of Hill on Tuesday. “He played really well — hits, running, tackling, all kinds of good stuff, pressuring. So very, very bright future for him and this will set him back for a while, but it’s not something he can’t recover from.”9

On his 710 ESPN Seattle radio show on Monday, Carroll praised the way Hill played and didn’t dismiss the possibility of keeping him in the starting lineup for Seattle’s wild-card game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, even though Thompson is expected to be back this week.

The statuses of left guard J.R. Sweezy and cornerback Shaquill Griffin remain uncertain. Carroll said Tuesday that Sweezy is moving around well without a limp or a boot on his sprained foot, but he’ll be a game-day decision. Griffin sprained his ankle Sunday and will try to practice later in the week, Carroll said.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Akeem King stepped in at left cornerback for Griffin on Sunday and would start in his place if needed against Dallas, Carroll said.

The Seahawks re-signed receiver Malik Turner from their practice squad to fill Hill’s roster spot.