NFL

Seahawks quarterback news

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Seahawks quarterback news

Written by Julian Rogers 

Up until Tuesday, your Seattle Seahawks were one blown contract negotiation away from initiating the R.J. Archer era of Seahawks quarterbacking. Fortunately for Seahawks fans, the organization (finally) re-secured erstwhile and once-again veteran backup Tarvaris Jackson to solidify the quarterback position group.

Of course, there’s still the nagging issue of what to do about the present and long-term future of starter Russell Wilson. The much-anticipated long-term contract for Wilson has yet to materialize. The angst among the 12s grows with each passing month. More on that later.

The other guys

For those of you holding tickets to the B.J. Daniels experience, you no longer need to wait in line outside the quarterbacks room. Apparently, the Seahawks have concluded that experiment. If you act fast, you can look for Daniels in the special teams and receivers rooms — at least until cuts are made.

The Seahawks, amidst their arms-length approach to securing the best quarterback in the franchise’s history, were down to just two quarterbacks on their roster for the past three months or so: Wunderkind Wilson and WhoDat? Archer. For reasons still unknown as Jackson was finally welcomed back into the fold, the Seahawks felt totally comfortable letting Jackson explore other options for several months while simultaneously giving up on the quarterbacking future of Daniels. Talk about indifference.

Wilson, whose threats (via his agent Mark Rodgers) to play out his fourth year of his contract at $1.542 million (and then hit the 2016 market in some form of free agency), is starting to become believable. They’ve made a believer out of me. Just a few months ago, I thought it preposterous that Wilson and the Seahawks would let negotiations go this route. Now, I think it’s likely in Wilson’s best interests to do so.

As has been chronicled multiple times by just about every sports-related publisher, Wilson’s three seasons that include two Super Bowl appearances and one championship, while being paid out at near-minimum NFL wages, have become the Holy Grail of professional sports general managers — no one has ever gotten so much for so little, so early in a career. Unfortunately for Wilson, his previously low salary — that great gift to the Seahawks’ salary cap — works against him now as he vies for a market rate, long-term contract.

Double jeopardy

Wilson’s contract difficulty stem from what appears to be double jeopardy. He suffered at the beginning of his NFL career because the entirety of the league undervalued him from the outset. His third-round draft selection netted him a (famously) low rookie contract that paled in comparison to inferior, yet more highly drafted quarterbacks taken before him. It also locked him into a contract that could not be renegotiated until after he had completed his first three years in the league. That’s jeopardy #1.

Jeopardy #2 is that in order to fairly compensate Wilson for both his achievements and remaining potential, the new money he and his agent are angling for will be such a huge jump from his currently scheduled salary for his fourth NFL season (and last of his rookie contract) that it will require an inordinate amount of new (much of it guaranteed) money to meet the standard demanded of franchise quarterbacks: average $ per year.

Bear in mind two notable quarterback contracts: Cam Newton’s new deal and Aaron Rodgers’ contract —the current highest paid quarterback in the NFL on an average-per-year basis ($22 million). With one year to go on Wilson’s current deal, a huge — make that heeeeuuuuuuuge — amount of new money is required to bring Wilson’s new deal, which would be an addition to his current low fourth year salary, up to the standard of Rodgers’ or Newton’s current average (if Wilson and Mark Rodgers will even settle for that).

Cam Newton’s new deal ($103 million with $67 million guaranteed) averages just shy of $21 million per year. In a straightforward comparison, Wilson’s performance easily outpaces Newton’s. Any way you slice it, Wilson scores better than Newton in any quarterback statistic, including wins, during the past three years. Compared to Aaron Rodgers, Wilson comes up short. A fair starting point for Wilson’s new contract would seem to be somewhere between $21 million and $22 million per year.

Split the difference?

Let’s just land at $21.5 million per year for Wilson, for, say five years and we all go home happy, mmmmmkay? Not so fast.

Newton got to his average of almost $21 million per year by adding new money to his already high salary. A former first-round pick, Newton was entering the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which would have paid him $14.666 million in 2015. The pretty incredible amount of cash the Carolina Panthers decided to pay Newton in his rich new contract was helped along by the already high salary of the final year of his rookie deal.

No such happenstance for Wilson. To get to a deal equal to Newton’s (which Wilson and Mark Rodgers won’t settle for) the Seahawks will have to surpass the Panthers’ deal by many, many millions, to leap over Wilson’s paltry year four salary while making an attractive per-year average.

The Seahawks, in desperate need to hold to some semblance of fiscal responsibility, may be trying to dig in their heels at staying below the Aaron Rodgers line of average salary. Rumors abounded last month that the Seahawks wanted to offer a four-year, $80 million package to Wilson. Clearly, that wasn’t enough. We’re here, aren’t we?

Wilson’s camp probably has a strong argument for a salary better than Rodgers’, even though he doesn’t have statistics that surpass Rodgers’. For one, Rodgers’ deal is now two years old. Quarterback salaries go up every year, as do salary caps. Second, the current salary cap is now about $20 million more than it was when Rodgers signed his league-leading deal. It will only go up more in 2016 and beyond. A per-year average salary equal to Aaron Rodgers for Wilson would come out to a lower overall percentage of the Seahawks team cap number than Rodgers percentage of the Green Bay Packers’ team cap number.

Not so long ago, it seemed crazy that Wilson might actually play out the final year of his contract. If he follows through on that intent — refusing to accept a below-market deal from the Seahawks now — thus forgoing future millions down the line, and instead plays 2015 for $1.5 million and becomes eligible for free agency in 2016, the Seahawks will almost certainly put the franchise tag on him (guaranteed salary; average of top five salaries at his position). That will guarantee him a 2016 salary of approximately $20 to 25 million (based on current salary averages) and probably more, if/when quarterback salaries are recalculated and are actually higher, like they are every year. Hold onto your Seahawks navy blue hats: After his one-year franchise deal in 2016, the Seahawks could franchise him again, but it would cost them 120 percent of his 2016 salary (fully guaranteed) to do it again.

If the Seahawks are backed into this plan, they will pay little this year, for the rights to pay a ton for a disgruntled player in 2016 for one year only, plus the scenario of paying an impossible-to-justify sum for another one-year deal for the same previously disgruntled player. They’re looking at about $25 million in guaranteed (or as good-as-guaranteed) salary for Wilson through 2016 at the very least. And then they have to negotiate an even heftier long-term deal all over again, while Wilson’s leverage has only gotten stronger.

No, a long-term deal now is what the blue birds would prefer. Many believe the Seahawks won’t pay more than the Aaron Rodgers’ deal to lock up Wilson. I think they just may, for the reasons above. They just might even do it before this season, but Wilson may wait them out. Barring injury, they will certainly pay more than Rodgers’ deal starting in 2016.

The risk to Wilson, of course, is that he suffers a debilitating injury in his low-wage 2015 season. Naturally, Wilson will take out (if he hasn’t already) a Lloyds of London or similar insurance policy that will protect him from catastrophic injury before he can cash in with the long-term largesse of Seahawks owner Paul Allen.

Keeping it going

The Seahawks did manage to make some quarterback news by bringing back Tarvaris Jackson. It looks like another season of holding the clipboard for Jackson as Wilson coyly plays out his final contract year. At least the Seahawks won’t have to try to sell tickets to R.J. Archer’s aerial circus.

NFL News and Rumors: If you could ask Tony Romo one question about your future...

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NFL News and Rumors: If you could ask Tony Romo one question about your future...

Perhaps you are still recovering emotionally from the NFL weekend. Both road teams winning, controversial calls or rather controversial no-calls, and only two teams remain as the Super Bowl 53 stage is set. 

But there was a certain someone not named Tom Brady that stole the show late Sunday evening, and his name is Tony Romo. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and now CBS broadcaster was an abolsute gem to listen to throughout the game solely by the fact that he called the play, actually several, before it even happened…

Whether it’s a high football I.Q. or a complete guess, fans, professional athletes, and other commentators are taking notice. Some are even reaching out to Romo for information regarding their futures:

And with CBS airing the Super Bowl, one can expect Romo to be on the call.

Would you be surprised if the New England Patriots win in Kansas City on Sunday?

Would you be surprised if the New England Patriots win in Kansas City on Sunday?

Who do you take: rookie, MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes or arguably the G.O.A.T of the NFL, Tom Brady? Will the New England Patriots reign of terror on the AFC finally come to an end this Sunday in the AFC Championship game? Get your popcorn ready and claim your spot on the couch soon, because this will be a good one between the visiting Patriots at the Chiefs.

Only time will tell… Rob Parker of Fox Sports 1 joins the Brian Noe Show to discuss the upcoming AFC Championship matchup between the Patriots and the Chiefs. 

“I would be very surprised because the Patriots have lost their last three AFC Championship games on the road,” says Parker. “They do not perform when they have go on the road and get it done…”

Kickoff time set for 3:40 PM (PT) at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri. 

Carolina Panthers running back Kenjon Barner lit up by a punter Matt Bosher

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Carolina Panthers running back Kenjon Barner lit up by a punter Matt Bosher

Rule No. 1 during a kick return: do not let the kicker tackle you. 

Destroyed, lit up, leveled, you name it. Atlanta Falcons kick-off specialist/punter Matt Bosher absolutely crushed Carolina Panthers running back and special teams player Kenjon Barner on a kick-off. 

Very rare, but when it happens, it is all too sweet. At least for the kicker. For the returner, it is embarrassing. Just read for yourself:

In his fifth year of his NFL career, Barner (former Oregon Ducks running back) finds himself back with the team that originally drafted him in Carolina. On Sunday, despite getting brutally tackled by Bosher, he had a nice game recording four punts for 109 yards and his longest of 37 yards. Unfortunately for Barner, that doesn't matter to the internet.

The Panthers (6-9) continue their downfall with their seventh loss in a row, this time to the Atlanta Falcons (6-9), 24-10 in Carolina. 

 

San Francisco 49ers' DEs DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead bright spots in disappointing season

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San Francisco 49ers' DEs DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead bright spots in disappointing season

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers' disappointing season, upended by the knee injury to budding star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, certainly has revealed areas of need that must be addressed in order for this team to ever contend in the NFC West division. 

Defensive end is not on that list because of the presence of two former Oregon Ducks. The previous regime in charge before John Lynch became the franchise's general manager in 2017 drafted well in that area when it selected Arik Armstead with the 17th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and followed up the next year by taking DeForest Buckner with the seventh pick of the first round. 

Their careers have contrasted since they helped lead the Ducks to the national championship game during the 2014 season. Buckner has blossomed quicker in the NFL while Armstead, held back by injuries, is just now starting to realize his potential. 

During their growth as professional players and transitioning from college kids to professional adults, they have always been able to lean on each other. Both arrived at Oregon in 2012 and since have not been teammates only once, in 2015. Their hope now is that they can continue to grow together and help lead the 49ers (4-10) back to respectability and achieve similar success to what they accomplished at Oregon where together they experienced only five losses in three seasons. 

“We’ve been playing together for seven years," Armstead said. "It’s been great. It’s a unique situation to be playing with somebody for so long and kind of grow together and always be there through the ups and downs. It’s been a pretty cool experience.”

--- Buckner emerges 

The 49ers' locker room at Levi's Stadium following Sunday's 26-23 overtime win over Seattle - just two weeks after losing 43-16 at CenturyLink Field - didn't feel like that of a losing team. In part, that was because everyone in that locker room knew how much that win meant to former Seahawks' superstar cornerback Richard Sherman. Also, the win snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Seahawks dating back to 2013. 

“We took it personally," Buckner said. "They flat-out embarrassed us two weeks ago."

Buckner, from Hawaii, had 11 tackles and two sacks in the game to reach 11 sacks for the season. Armstead, from Sacramento, Calif., added five tackles. He has three sacks on the year. For sure, Buckner is putting up the sexier numbers and was rewarded by being named as a Pro Bowl alternate. But Armstead's contributions can't be discounted. He is a strong run stuffer opposite Buckner and according to San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is starting to emerge as a pass rusher. 

"He does have that type of ability, so I think that's what people hope for," Shanahan told reporters last week. "But, that's not just something that you do. That takes a while, and it takes guys some time playing in this league, playing different positions, to really find their groove. I do see that chance for Arik."

First, Armstead must continue to remain healthy. He has been hindered by injuries off and on since landing at Oregon. After appearing in all 16 games as a rookie, Armstead missed eight his second year and 10 last season. This year has had played in all 14 games. 

"I don't want to jinx myself," Armstead said. "We have two more games. I'm just blessed to be healthy out there."

--- Adjusting to change

Last season San Francisco switched from the 3-4 defense, which the franchise ran when it selected Buckner and Armstead, to the 4-3 defense when Shanahan took over and hired defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. The change didn't impact Armstead and Buckner much given that each is well equipped to play either defense given their considerable athleticism especially given their size.

Both are the prototypical, large, two-gap, 3-4 defensive ends at 6-7, 300 pounds for Buckner and 6-7, 292 for Armstead. However, each is more athletic than your average man of that size. While most 4-3 defensive ends are smaller, it cannot be forgotten that hall of famer Reggie White racked up 198 sacks at 6-5, 291 and Carolina's Julius Peppers will likely make the hall of fame with 158 career sacks at 6-7, 295. Comparing Buckner and Armstead to the likes of the late White and Peppers is, of course, premature. However, both Buckner and Armstead certainly fit into the same breed of defensive end. Large. Strong. Athletic. 

Buckner has certainly shown flashes of being a potential future All-Pro with 20 sacks in three seasons thanks to 11 this year. 

“Getting to double digits, I knew I was capable of it and to see my hard work get paid off, it’s definitely gratifying," he said. "I knew I could do it and I worked my tail off in the offseason to get there."

Saleh said Buckner last year had many pressures and QB knockdowns that could have been sacks with fine-tuning of his technique when disengaging from blockers and closing on quarterbacks. 

"We talked about him needing to find that extra half of step," Saleh told reporters this week. "He's really taken it to heart and he's found that step."

Sometimes, Saleh said, it takes a while for young defensive linemen to find their way. Armstead is no different. 

"Arik is probably having his best year," Saleh said. "It just takes time."

--- Remaining 49ers

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Armstead's rookie contract and Shanahan said they hope to resign him long-term. That's also the plan with Buckner. Armstead said he certainly wants to remain with the 49ers. 

"I love it here," he said. "I've been here my whole career. They drafted me and gave me an opportunity. I want to be here and help win games."

Armstead entered the NFL at age 21 and said he has grown a lot in four years. 

"Most, probably as a person," he said. "I'm 25. Getting kind of old. But maturing as a person. I'm out on my own now. I'm a professional. I've had a good experience."

Armstead has been very active doing charity work in his hometown of Sacramento, which he said is very important to him. 

"I feel like I've been blessed in my life with so many things and it's my responsibility to give back in any way that I came," he said. "A lot of my efforts are directed to people in Sacramento where I'm from and trying to impact my city in a positive way."

The Oregon duo of Buckner and Armstead is respected by teammates. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones said the two are often inseparable.

"You see one you see the other," he said. "They are the twin towers." 

Jones said teammates don't give the former Ducks too much grief for being bosom Ducks. 

"Both are phenomenal people off the field," Jones said. "On the field, they are just the same. I've learned so much from them."

Their NFL careers are in full swing and their futures appear to be strong. How long they remain teammates will be played out on the business end of the NFL pool. One thing for sure is that both have benefited from entering this world together as former Ducks tied at the hip and supporting each other. 

“It’s encouragement and helping each other," Armstead said. "Teaching each other things we’ve learned and passing it along. Having good communication out there from playing together so long. Definitely encouraging each other is the main thing.”

The AFC/NFC playoffs: who's in, who's in the hunt, who's spiraling

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The AFC/NFC playoffs: who's in, who's in the hunt, who's spiraling

First, let’s start with the AFC

Who is in:

There are only two teams that have clinched a playoff berth: the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) and the San Diego Chargers (11-3). The two teams had an epic battle under the Thursday Night Football lights that ended with a winning two-point conversion by the Chargers to win 29-28 over the Chiefs. Interestingly enough, these two teams are both in the AFC West division, have split the series between the two, but the Chiefs are the division leader while the Chargers lead the Wildcard race.

Division Leaders:

- AFC South: Houston Texas (10-4)

- AFC East: New England Patriots (9-5)

- AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1)

Notable games:

- New England loses on the road to Pittsburgh 17-10.

- Houston defeats the New York Jets, but clinching the division is still on hold with another Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans victory.

In the hunt:

- Don’t count out the Baltimore Ravens just yet. After taking it to the Chiefs last week, the Ravens (8-6) bounced back today with a 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Ravens lie one game behind the Steelers, who beat the Patriots today.

- The Indianapolis Colts (8-6) are 7-1 in the last eight games. After shutting out the visiting Dallas Cowboys today 23-0, next up for the Colts are the Giants and then at Tennessee.   

- The Tennessee Titans (8-6), also in the same division as the Colts, shut out the Giants 17-0 and are battling in a tight race for second and a potential Wildcard spot with the Colts. The two face up in the last week of the regular season.

- Miami (7-7) coming off a loss to the Vikings and Cleveland (6-7-1) are also still in the hunt.

 

Now, for the NFC

Who is in:

Three teams have clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs: the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Chicago Bears. 

Division Leaders:

- NFC South: New Orleans Saints (11-2)

- NFC West: Los Angeles Rams (11-3)

- NFC North: Chicago Bears (10-4)

- The only remaining division yet to be clinched is the NFC East, which the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) currently lead but were shut out by the Colts today. Riding their coattails are the Eagles (7-7), coming off a big win Sunday night, and the Washington Redskins (7-7) who won on a game-winning field goal 16-13 over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This division will come down to the wire. 

Notable games:

- The Seattle Seahawks (8-6) dropped to the San Francisco 49ers (4-10) in the Bay Area in what “should have” been a win to clinch a playoff spot is now on hold with Kansas City coming into Seattle next Sunday. 

- The Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) picked up a big win over the Miami Dolphins to remain in the Wildcard race.

- The Eagles (7-7) defeated the Los Angeles Rams on the road.

In the hunt:

- Washington got its prayers answered with a win over Jacksonville to remain in playoff contention at 7-7, also with a Dallas Cowboys loss. The NFC East is anyone’s division at this point.

- The Carolina Panthers (6-7) need to get back on track but face the Saints next on Monday Night Football.

 

 

Dallas Cowboys ran out of Luck in shutout loss

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Dallas Cowboys ran out of Luck in shutout loss

The Dallas COwboys ran out of, or rather into, Luck. Andrew Luck that is. 

When all was going in the right direction for "America's Team", today was a turn of the tides. The Cowboys (now 8-6) were riding a five-game win streak and in a good spot on top of the NFC East after beating division rival Philadelphia last Sunday now hit the road into Colts territory. But it did not look like the same Dallas team, on both sides of the ball, got off the plane. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot was limited to 87 yards on 18 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per carry. While counterpart quarterback Dak Prescott did throw for 206 yards, but had one interception and zero touchdowns on the day.

For the first time since 2003, the Cowboys were shutout in a 23-0 loss to the Colts (8-6).

Perhaps this recap should be more about Andrew Luck and the Colts offense because not only has this Cowboys defense been stellar the past two weeks, but Andrew Luck or rather this Colts offensive line got it done today making way for the ground game to put up 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Next up the Colts look to keep their playoff hopes alive hosting the New York Giants (5-9) on Sunday.

Marcus Mariota making a case for linebacker

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Marcus Mariota making a case for linebacker

It it not a scret that Marcus Mariota is a team player. It is a quality in his human nature, and it showed yet again this morning.

On a brisk day in New York against the Giants, the Tennessee Titans quarterback lined up as wide receiver in a wildcat formation, in perfect position for what was heading his way. As running back Derrick Henry made his run to Mariota's side, Mariota lead Henry with a monster block, sacrificing his own body for Henry to spring free. What his coaches may call ill-advised since Mariota has been dealing with some injuries, fans and teammates loved the effort.

Also just for reference, Mariota is 6' 4", 222 pounds. Alec Ogletree is 6' 2", 235 pounds.

The Titans are sitting in third of the AFC South at 7-6 and need this win over the New York Giants (5-8) to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Did someone put ice on the Oakland field?

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Did someone put ice on the Oakland field?

Was there a patch of ice on the Oakland Raiders field Sunday afternoon precisely at 4:48 PM (PT) on the 40-yard-line? We're only kidding, it was a sunny 57 degree day in Oakland, however, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell slipped on what would have been a game-tying field goal. Whoops.

The Oakland Raiders get their third win of the season with a 24-21 win over Pittsburgh. The Steelers drop their third game in a row and have a tough schedule coming up: host New England and at New Orleans before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals to finish the regular season. Other than a tough schedule ahead, Ben "Big Ben" Roethlisberger left this game early after taking a big hit but checked back into the game in the fourth quarter. 

Keep an eye out for this AFC North division featuring the Steelers at 7-5-1, Baltimore (7-6) who barely lost today at Kansas City, and the surging Cleveland Browns (it's been awhile since I've said that) at 5-7-1 who defeated Carolina today.

 

Kansas City Chiefs no-looking their way into the playoffs

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Kansas City Chiefs no-looking their way into the playoffs

When you think of a chess match in terms of NFL teams, Kansas City vs. Baltimore did not disappoint. Rookie quarterback vs. rookie quarterback.

Patrick Mahomes is breaking all the rules. Throwing late back across the field, holding the ball to losely in his hands while he is scrambling, no-look passes, but still proving he is scrapy and can build drives late in the fourth quarter when his team needs him most. 

Late in the fourth quarter, Mahomes and the Chiefs had a 4th & 9, down 24-17. Trying to build as much time as possible, Mahomes scrambled right and blades of grass before hitting the sideline white chalk, heaves a huge throw down the middle of the field right on target to speedy (and very much injured) Tyreek Hill, who battled through a leg injury late in this game. This set up a game-tying 24-24 touchdown with under a minute to go. 

Despite the Chiefs' defensive line coming up HUGE with a strip sack on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to set up a game-wining field goal that was missed right, overtime was more of Mahomes Time. 

Mahomes lead a 75-yard opening field-goal drive to go up 27-24 in overtime. In the end, it was more of the defense that stepped up for Mahomes and the Chiefs hanging onto the lead and clinching a playoff berth.

Next up the Chiefs (11-2) host the Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) on Thursday Night Football.