Is it just me, or does it seem like NFL teams can just end contracts whenever they want? I almost titled this article “restructure or you’re cut” due to all these players getting blown off by teams they’ve played years for. Something about these contracts doesn’t seem right, if my boss came up to me and said “take a pay cut or you’re fired”, I’d probably be irate too. But that’s why guaranteed money in contracts is so big. Putting my amateur agent analysis aside, this has been one of the more active off seasons for big-time players signing extensions, moving teams, or getting cut. Some teams came up winners, and some weren’t so lucky. Let’s hand out some grades.
New York Giants: B-*
This Giants grade comes with a “potentially caught for cheating” asterisk, because they will go from a B- to an F if they don’t lock up Victor Cruz. That’s how much he means to their free agency. What’s holding up the deal? The Giants have offered him $7 million a year, for an unknown amount of years. Apparently, either the number of years isn’t enough or the dollar figures too low, because he remains unsigned. The Giants know they need him this season, and he has a great relationship with Eli. It seems like this it’s only a matter of time, because no other team has offered Cruz a contract.
On other fronts, the Giants let Osi Umenyiora, Will Beatty, Kenny Phillips, Martellus Bennett, and Chase Blackburn walk away unrestricted free agents.
Of this crew, they’ll miss Umenyiora the most. Without Umenyiora, they’ll still have Tuck and Pierre-Paul on the edges, but they won’t be able to rotate in (losing rest time), or rush all three (on long third downs).
Cutting Ahmad Bradshaw puts the onus on David Wilson to be the guy for Big Blue. He’s had fumble problems, but if he can secure those, should be up to the challenge.
New England Patriots: B-
Bringing back Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib were huge for this team. They have struggled in pass defense for years now, and realize this is a place that they couldn’t let the talent walk. They let safety Patrick Chung go but they upgraded the position by bringing in Adrian Wilson, who will shine in New England.
Another upgrade was at the back-up running back position. Stevan Ridley will be the starter next year, and deserves it. But they’ve always used multiple backs, and Leon Washington is an upgrade from Danny Woodhead. He has great hands for the pass game, and blazing speed.
The interesting situation in New England is at wide receiver. The Pats let Welker bolt to Denver, cut Brandon Lloyd, and (currently) have let Donte’ Stallworth, Julian Edelman, and Deion Branch walk away free agents. This leaves Kamar Aiken as Brady’s ranking veteran receiver… seriously. Danny Amendola will come in and be a solid replacement for Welker (if he can stay healthy), but that’s years and years of chemistry out the window. At least they have Gronk and Hernandez; otherwise the Pats would get a C.
Baltimore Ravens: D-
Ozzie Newsome has probably shed more tears in joy and pain these last few months than Lindsey Lohan. The Super Bowl win was total elation, followed by the moment when he sat down at his desk and realized what he was about to lose. After not figuring out a long-term deal with Joe Flacco last offseason, they had to erase their cap space for a monster $20.1 million a year deal because of the way he played. This handcuffed the Ravens, who had to let a laundry list of people go. I haven’t seen a team unload people like this since the Florida Marlins “Fire Sale” in 1997.
Losses include: Ray Lewis (retirement), Anquan Boldin (traded for a 6th rounder…really?), Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Dannelle Ellerbe, Bryant McKinnie, Paul Kruger, and Cary Williams.
Note that six of these key losses are on defense. Chris Canty and Michael Huff won’t plug that hole. Unless Flacco plays like Aaron Rodgers, I expect this team to miss the playoffs this year.
Denver Broncos: B+
The Broncos came in and snatched Welker when it seemed like he would be a Pat for life. A monster free agent snag. They franchised Ryan Clady, who has been an absolute rock at offensive tackle. They’ve also brought on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Terrance Knighton to sure up their defense. This team was one bad play away from the AFC Championship. They’re amazingly solid, and this offseason just made them a big more so. The only reason they’re not at an A+ is because of the Elvis Dumervil debacle.
New York Jets: Can I even grade this?
I cannot for the life of me figure out what this team is doing, other than just pretending they’re an expansion team, selling house, and starting over.
They’ve downgraded at guard by losing Brandon Moore and picking up Willie Colon. Their other losses include: Bart Scott, LaRon Landry, Dustin Keller, Yeremiah Bell, Calvin Pace, Sione Pouha, Aaron Maybin, and Matt Slauson.
Oh, and for some reason they’re still holding on to Tim Tebow. If anyone knows what’s going on here, please enlighten me.
You know that sinking feeling when you realize you’ve lost something? Well, last Saturday, I had the unfortunate experience (not my first) of losing my cell phone. I had just used it in a cab to make a call – two minutes later when I arrived at my destination and got out of the cab, I grabbed my pocket, and felt nothing. My heart dropped, I turned around and watched the taxi turn the corner…with my phone. Tragic, I know. After a few unsuccessful days of trying to track down my poor baby, I gave up. I finally coughed up the couple hundred bucks to upgrade to the iPhone 5.
When I was in the Verizon store getting my new phone, I felt like a 5-year-old kid in a candy store…so many gadgets to play with, yet no money to buy them. So with that, I give you, the top five most awesome gadgets I want to own, but can’t (yet):
Google Glass ($400)
Expected to be on the market by the end of 2013, Google Glass allows you to view things you would normally see on a smart phone — through a pair of glasses. Confused? Here, just watch:
Nike+ Fuelband ($150)
This hi-tech wristband encourages users to stay active by measuring daily exercises through a unique point system called Fuel points. Sensors measure intensity of movement, step count and calorie intake. And of course, it syncs right to your iPhone.
GoPro Hero3 Black Edition ($400)
The new GoPro action sports camera delivers amazing image quality unmatched by its rivals. I want this camera for when my dream of becoming a world class surfer comes true.
Samsung 85-inch Floating TV ($38,000)
The world’s largest Ultra High-Definition TV, which can be adjusted like an easel to make it feel as if it’s floating. Can you imagine watching the game on this thing and playing Spogo? Yes, please.
MarketBot Replicator 2 ($2,200)
I really have no idea what I’d use a 3D printer for; I just know that I want one.
At no time in my life can I ever remember the NCAA Tournament being this up for grabs. Someone could say the St. Louis Billikens (I looked up what a Billiken is, it’s a charm doll… seriously?) were going to win the tourney, and probably come up with legitimate points. The number one team has had a tenure of six days for the past who-cares-to-remember number of weeks. What’s worse, this year, if you start playing the they-beat-Ohio State-who-beat-Indiana-who-beat-Michigan-State game, you can end up with a picture that is so confounded it might as well be a work by Jackson Pollock.
How does one make sense of all this commotion and fill out a bracket?
Follow these rules:
Keep it simple, stupid.
“With all these losses at the top, I’m picking Duke to lose first round!” Just stop. Don’t even. Just because no one has shown they can hold the poll position for more than six days doesn’t mean you go and hack your bracket up like you’re Freddy Kruger. We all know there are going to be upsets. It’s a given. But just because Terry in accounting said he’s high on Nichols St., doesn’t mean you take them over Kansas. Picking a few solidly researched upsets will always be better than swinging for the home run. You’re not Barry Bonds.
Hot is hot, not is not.
Teams that are hot in their conference tournaments are often just as flammable in the big dance. The Kemba-led UConn team from 2011 is a prime example of this science in action. They stormed through the Big East tournament as a #9 seed, playing five games in as many days. They beat four top 25 teams on their way to winning the Big East tournament. They ended up winning a total of 11 straight postseason games on their way to an NCAA Championship. When in doubt, ride the team on the hot streak.
If one thing can always be counted on, it’s good coaching over mediocre coaching. Guys like Bill Self, Roy Williams, or Mike Krzyzewski will know how to get their teams prepared for the big stage because they’ve been there every year since I was in diapers. They know when to keep their players loose, and when to crack the whip. Like this clip of Kansas Head Coach Bill Self participating in the team’s Harlem Shake video.
This trickles down to the players, guys who have been to the dance before will know how to handle it. Betting on experience is always a solid option. The coaches from schools like LIU – Brooklyn, while clearly capable of getting their team to the dance, just won’t be as prepared for all that comes along with a stage of this magnitude.
This may seem like a grandpa’s guide to filling out an NCAA bracket, but the way this season is going, we all need some basic principles to follow. If you want to go on believing your mad scientist approach to your bracket will pay off, I’m not stopping you. But if you want to shove crisp $100 bills in Terry’s face by the water cooler after the championship game, these rules might just make the difference.
Free stuff and basketball, that’s what Spogo does.
Is your bracket so bad that you threw it in the trash last week? Are you tired of all of your friends making fun of your picks? Fear not, friend, here is your shot at redemption.
Here’s how it works:
If you can tell us (via any of these platforms) the NCAA National Championship match-up, winner of that match-up, and (as a tiebreaker) the total points of the national championship game, you will be entered in a contest for a $25 AMEX gift card and a free Spogo t-shirt (size of your choice).
The person who can guess the winner, runner up and is closest to the total points in the championship game will be the winner.
Ex. Louisville v. Syracuse, Louisville wins, 110 total points
The contest deadline will be tip of the first Final Four game (6:09 PM ET, Saturday, April 6th).
While Spogo is working hard to create a better, faster, stronger Spogo application, we couldn’t deny our fans a bit of a gambling buzz.
Good luck to all.