NFL Free Agency: Best of the Rest

NFL free agency started with a splash in early March but the process has slowed down quite a bit. With many players already finding new homes, there are not all too many desirable players left to be had. Here is at some of the best talent still available.

CB Tarell Brown – Brown spent 2014 with the Oakland Raiders after spending the previous 7 with the San Francisco 49ers. With the Raiders, Brown had no interceptions and just 4 passes defensed in 14 games. He did manage to make 55 total tackles showing he can still take people down from the corner position. At age 30, he should catch on somewhere for a 1 year deal.

Will Selva - Stevie BrownS Stevie Brown – Brown spent last season with the New York Giants but it wasn’t his best year. He recorded 8 interceptions back in 2012 and Giant fans were excited for Brown’s follow up season but Brown tore his ACL during the preseason of 2013 and missed the whole season. Brown at times this year seemed rusty but teams are hoping he can return to 2012 form. The Giants are favored to bring him back.

G Dan Connolly – Connolly has been a staple in the New England Patriots offensive line since 2010. Now at age 32, he’s looking for work elsewhere. Connolly can play both center and guard and is a Super Bowl Champion. Connolly should find work elsewhere but he may not be looking at multi-year options.

TE Jermaine Gresham – Gresham was a 1st round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, where he has played all 5 of his seasons in the NFL. The Bengals recently spent a 1st round pick on TE Tyler Eifert making Gresham expendable. While he is not a great blocking TE, Gresham figures to be a good receiving option. He’s still just 26 years old and should catch on with another team.

Good News, You Can Stream the Super Bowl this Year

Don’t worry about paying for cable this month just to watch the Super Bowl. According to a report from Tech Crunch, NBC will provide an 11-hour video stream of the game on its website. You can tune in for the pre-game coverage and  the half-time show all from your laptop or tablet, but don’ try watching on your iphone… NFL has given the rights to live-stream on smartphones to Verizon Wireless solely. For you young city dwellers who have cancelled their cable subscriptions, this means you won’t need to camp out at your friend’s apartment or a loud bar to enjoy the game. You can begin streaming around noon on game day and finish watching at 10pm.

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NBC’s effort to live stream the event corresponds with an ongoing attempt to encourage widespread support for “TV Everywhere” in the industry. NBC seems to be in the forefront of this campaign with the Super Bowl stream. The network is working on live streaming content across the NBC stations. For the network, offering a live stream of the Super Bowl is one way to promote and advertise this new feature on a large scale. The reach here will be enormous.

But let’s talk more about the actual Super Bowl. This year, we will witness the Patriots play against the Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots have been to the Superbowl 7 times and the Seahawks have made two Super Bowl appearances so far.  A few basic facts about these two teams…

Patriots 

Head Coach: Bill Belichick

Owner: Robert Kraft

Home Base: Greater Boston Area

Super Bowl Championships: 2001 (XXXVI), 2003 (XXXVIII), 2004 (XXXIX)

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Seahawks 

Head Coach: Pete Carroll

Owner: Paul Allen

Home Base: Seattle

Super Bowl Championships: 2013 (XLVIII)


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Manziel Went To Vegas, So What?

So this is how it’s going to go, huh? Wait, I’m answering my own question. That would be a resounding YES. Yes, this is how it’s going to be with Johnny Manziel whose every move, frivolous or not, is getting the ultimate Tebow treatment. Did I mention that we’re barely into OTA’s? You may have heard he went to Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. Imagine that. A 21 year-old who wants to go to Sin City. Ah, but it’s not just any 21 year-old. It’s Johnny Football who’s living in his own sphere which doubles as a fish bowl.

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Maybe Manziel was on to something when he was asked about being drafted by the Cowboys, “I don’t know if the world could have handled that, honestly.” He’s absolutely 100% spot-on. If he was in Dallas or New York, we would’ve been absorbed in an armageddon scenario. All city municipalities would be shut down. Meteors would crash into the Earth. Computers would malfunction. As is, he’s the Browns quarterback and that’s causing almost as much chaos. Almost. Who cares if he went to Vegas? Really. There’s reports he even sat in the middle seat on a Southwest Airlines flight.

You see, he’s slumming it like the rest of us. Of all the people, he’s put it into perspective by saying he hasn’t done anything yet to even create a buzz. Right again, Johnny! If and when his off-field antics become a distraction, then and only then, should we process his choice in pool parties he attends, but until we reach that point, let him, as he says, “live life to the fullest.” Browns head coach Mike Pettine says Manziel is studying the playbook. That’s all you can ask for right now. For what it’s worth, he took reps with both the first and second teams. Last week, he worked exclusively with the third team, so he’s making strides on the field. Let’s ease up on the Tebow-like fascination and put this in perspective. At least Manziel is.

(Youtube)

Michael Sam Still Faces Obstacles in NFL

The Dolphins fining safety Don Jones and excusing him from team activities for comments about Michael Sam on Twitter is a jolting reminder that the former Missouri defensive end enters a culture with certain archaic corners of it largely not accepting of him or his sexuality. Jones has since apologized for his response to Sam kissing his boyfriend after getting drafted. It obviously was jarring for many people like Jones, who were not ready for the public display of affection on national TV between two men. How do you explain this to your kids? Someone on Twitter nailed it perfectly and it was re-tweeted many times over. “You explain Michael Sam as a pass rushing specialist who plays on passing downs and tries to sack the QB.”

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He’s a football player folks. Look beyond his sexuality. It all makes his journey to get to this point all the more admirable considering what potentially lies ahead of him. Something tells me that insensitive tweets will likely be the tamer part of it. Wait until he gets to other stadiums, where the vitriol at times, can be toxic. However, he’s shown that he possesses the right attitude, downplaying the attention and reminding the world that he’s.. wait for it.. a football player! As well as he should.

He says this will only fuel him to be a better player and as it turns out, the Rams were the absolute right match for him. He’s nearby where he once starred in college, will be with a no-nonsense coach in Jeff Fisher and is part of a defense as a situational pass rusher. A very good defense we should add. He couldn’t have asked for a more ideal situation, although you have to wonder, now that we’re a few days removed from the draft, just how high he would have gone had he not announced he was gay. Roto World had him listed in the top 90 or so prospects before his announcement, but fell to 140 after it. You can blame it on his poor combine performance, his small stature at 6 foot 2 or his limited ability in coverage. All salable points that may prove to be stumbling blocks to a long and prosperous career. We’ll never know, but we know this. He’ll attack the quarterback just the way he’s attacked this whole thing.

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DIssecting Johnny Football

Current analyst and former quarterback Ron Jaworski should be expecting a large satchel of thank you cards on his doorstep from several TV and radio producers any day now. Since expressing an unpopular belief that Johnny Manziel shouldn’t be drafted in the first three rounds of this upcoming draft, his comments are providing plenty of fresh fodder for debate shows and sports radio across the country.

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By taking the contrarian stance, he opened himself up to being scrutinized, picked apart and second-guessed, much like Manziel himself. Jaworski is a self-proclaimed football junkie, pouring over hours and hours of tape, so there is some heft behind his credibility, although some would argue he lost some of it by saying Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Jaworski admits that he hasn’t seen a lot of Manziel, watching only five of his games at Texas A&M. At the moment, he’s the only analyst who’s taking the stance that Manziel is not a franchise quarterback. I still think Manziel is a transcendent talent that should be taken in the first round, but if I did have any doubts about Manziel, it would be over whether he can stay in the pocket, go through his progressions and complete a pass in the tightest of windows.

No matter if you’re Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, you can’t rely on your legs forever. At some point, you have to stand tall and make the throws. The read-option wasn’t as successful this year as it was the previous seasons because defenses caught on to it. Manziel is a master at ad-libbing, but he’s open to getting crushed as we saw with RG3. He would need to bulk up more to absorb hits and perhaps more importantly, be smart. That last part is key because he was able to slither out of sticky situations, but that was in college. In the NFL, everybody is bigger, stronger and faster. At least, we have some time to dissect him. Thanks Jaws.

Finally, Michael Sam

There will come a day when an athlete announcing he’s gay won’t make the needle on the wow-meter budge. Until that time arrives however, the news of Michael Sam coming out as gay to The New York Times is causing that very same needle to go bonkers.

His unprecedented, yet courageous step may result in him being the first active gay player in the NFL. What Sam did on Sunday night was not just open the door for other football players in his same position. He busted it wide open causing the hinges to come flying off. Turns out the secret he shared with the world wasn’t a secret at all at Missouri. It was well-known for quite some time, which speaks to an environment filled with humanity, sensitivity and understanding. His teammates clearly didn’t mind nor did they care, unless someone comes forward and says otherwise.

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Sam is a very good football player. So good, in fact, he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in arguably college football’s toughest conference, the SEC. Sam is projected to be a mid-round draft pick in April’s NFL draft. By making this announcement, Sam is sending a message of refreshing candor to talent evaluators and general managers around the league: This is who I am. I have nothing to hide.

Since absorbing the news, social media exploded with mostly encouraging words from other NFL players and fellow athletes. This is not to say that the journey will be easy for Michael Sam. No, not by a long shot. It will be a trek dotted by sign posts of intolerance in a testosterone driven environment. That’s the harsh reality. The feedback that Peter King of SI.com got from anonymous GMs serves as a reminder. Some supported Sam’s move, while others thought it would be too much of a distraction. Sam is not naive. He absolutely knows the implications that accompany his announcement. Sam will need to be drafted by a team appreciative of his talent, possessing strong, veteran leadership that won’t see this as a big deal. The day can’t come soon enough when this is nothing more than a footnote. An expected reality that is a total non-story.

(Youtube)