It’s that time again. The time of year that signals the start of the new football season. An opportunity to bring in fresh faces, wave goodbye to old ones and start the campaign for the Lombardi Trophy. I am, of course, talking about Free Agency.
The first 48 hours were chaos. Deals here, deals there, deals absolutely everywhere. Now that the dust has settled a little bit, we can take a look at the bigger picture and see which teams have improved/weakened their rosters through their Free Agency movements.
In - Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Terrance Knighton
Out - Elvis Dumervil
Denver are in win now mode (It’s not surprising given their franchise QB is 36 years old). They already have a strong offense but the additions of Welker and Vasquez will certainly improve it. Manning has a history of working well with slot receivers and Welker fits in perfectly to their no huddle offense. On the other side of the ball, they have addressed their two biggest needs with good talent that can make an instant impact. Rodgers-Cromartie hasn’t played great the last two seasons but the ability is still there and veteran CB, Champ Bailey, can help to regain his earlier form. However, the loss of Elvis Dumervil was not what they were looking for. A fax related mishap means that the Broncos now need to replace a player that gets 10+ sacks a year.
Kansas City Chiefs
In - Alex Smith, Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Anthony Fasano, Mike DeVito, Donnie Avery, Geoff Schwartz
Out - Matt Cassel, Glenn Dorsey, Eric Winston
Despite having the number 1 pick in the draft, the Chiefs have been acting like a team on the verge of the playoffs. Every player is solid, reliable and will contribute to a better locker room atmosphere. They aren’t looking for that flashy marquee player, but have made some shrewd moves in acquiring proven talent. Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson will instantly upgrade their secondary (with Robinson likely to move to Safety) which already has some good pieces. DeVito is a gritty player that does the dirty work and will replace Glenn Dorsey. On offense, they have given their new QB, Alex Smith, a two-way Tight End - Fasano - and a deep threat receiver that gives them a different dimension - Avery. Offensive Guard, Schwartz, is a very capable starter if given the chance.
In - Percy Harvin, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril
Out - Jason Jones, Leon Washington
Seattle boast one of the deepest and best rosters in the league. The two main areas of concern were WR and DE. Both have been addressed in Free Agency which allows them to sign the best player available in the draft (RT may need an upgrade though). Harvin is a dynamic playmaker to go along with current offensive playmakers Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. He can play in the slot, screen game, as a deep threat and can make an impact on kick/punt returns. With Chris Clemons out for most of the 2013 season and Bruce Irvin unproven in a starting role, Avril and Bennett solidify their front seven. Bennett can be utilised outside or inside against both the run or pass. Avril is a pure edge pass rusher who will be looking to bounce back from a poor 2012.
In - Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Elvis Dumervil
Out - Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Anquan Boldin
After the Super Bowl win, the Ravens have been hit hard - the defense in particular which has lost 6 players that started the Super Bowl. Paul Kruger was the Ravens sack leader in 2012, Ellerbe and Lewis’ departures have left them weak at ILB and both Safety’s have left including locker room leader Ed Reed. On the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco would have been sad to see Boldin go. Boldin created plays out of nothing and was a jump ball specialist for those deep throws Flacco loves so much. Suddenly, WR is a big need for Baltimore. The loss of Williams won’t be too great since Lardarius Webb will return from injury. Despite all this, the Ravens are one of the best run franchises in the league and I have no qualms that they can reach the playoffs again. The addition of Elvis Dumervil after he completed his medical helps the team somewhat, but they have lost proven starters and depth as well as some great leaders.
In - Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava, Kevin Burnett, Alex Barron
Out - Brandon Myers, Matt Shaughnessy, Phillip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff, Mike Goodson, Cooper Carlisle, Shane Lechler
The Raiders are rebuilding their team after a 4 win season. 3 of their best players on defense are no longer on the roster (Wheeler, Bryant and Seymour) plus starters Shaughnessy and Huff. They have also parted ways with their best receiving option, Brandon Myers, and key starters at WR and OG, Heyward-Bey and Carlisle. However, they have signed Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett to start at OLB and a good run stopping LB in Maiava. That’s a lot of holes to fill and they weren't a fantastically talented team to start with. It will be a long few years for the Raiders until they can be legitimate playoff contenders again, but on the bright side, they can look forward to the 3rd overall pick in the draft where they hope to draft a franchise player.
New York Jets
In - David Garrard, Mike Goodson, Antonio Garay, Willie Colon, Antwan Barnes
Out - Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Dustin Keller, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Sione Pouha, Bryan Thomas, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson, Dustin Keller
The Jets are another team in total rebuild mode. They have let go of 7 starters on defense, both starting Offensive Guards, their biggest receiving threat (Dustin Keller) and Shonn Greene. They now have even more holes to fill in the draft. The biggest losses will be to both starting Saftey’s (Landry and Bell). Both contributed to the Jets 2nd best pass defense and Landry made the Pro Bowl. The signings they have made are encouraging though with the little cap space new GM, John Idzik, had to play with. Garrard, Goodson, Garay and Colon all have starting potential if they can stay healthy. Antwan Barnes is a great situational pass rusher - something they lacked in 2012. So not all doom and gloom, but certainly a lot of holes to fill before the start of the season.
There is still a long way to go until Week 1 kicks off however. Rosters can still be completely turned over as Free Agency carries on and the NFL Draft welcomes a new year of rookie players hoping to burst onto the scene. As always, Super Bowl's aren't won and lost in the first week of Free Agency, but it certainly helps to improve your team like the Broncos, Chiefs and Seahawks have done.
After a terrible season that saw the Chiefs go 2-14, there has been plenty of movement for us fans to get excited about since the off season began. In this article I will look at the Alex Smith trade and the effect it has had on other decisions the organisation has made. Accompanying my viewpoint will be Colan's article looking at the trade from the 49ers side of the fence.
There has been lots of reasons for optimism for Chiefs fans recently. The new management group of John Dorsey as GM and Andy Reid as Head Coach has given a disgruntled fan base a new lease of life. At least it did until the news started to filter through that the Chiefs had traded for Alex Smith. It wasn't the fact they traded for him that had the fans shocked, it was the price that we gave up for him. A second round pick this year, with potentially as high as a second next year seems alot to pay for a Quarterback that has only started to show alot of promise the last 2 seasons. Just when everyone was starting to get excited about the future of the franchise this seemed a bit of a kick in the teeth.
Looking at it now, as high a price as we seemed to have paid, I have no doubt that it was the best way to move this franchise forward. At least in the short term. When you look at the other options in free agency and the draft, you start to build a picture that trading for Smith was the best possible scenario for this year. He will get paid roughly the same amount that Cassel was due this year and next (around $7.5 Million per year). The problem I, along with most Chiefs fans is the idea that he could be offered an extension past the 2 years that he is contracted to. A poll on Arrowhead Pride conducted soon after the trade for Smith was announced showed that 70% of the fans were against it.
The other options in the trade market are Matt Flynn and Nick Foles. By opting instead for Smith, Dorsey and Reid seen the advantage of experience over the unknown. I must admit that before the trade was announced I was hoping that a trade could be initiated for Foles. With the links he has with Reid who drafted him last year, I was hopeful that we could possibly get him for a 3rd. Flynn also has ties to Dorsey from the time that they spent together in Green Bay. Maybe the fact they decided on Smith over both Flynn and Foles speaks volumes for their trust in Smith. Or maybe it shows no faith in the other two.
The Quarterback draft class is the worst it has been for some years. There is no stand out prospects like Luck and RGIII last year. The main Quarterbacks being talked about the appear to be Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib. The timing of the news that we traded for Alex Smith was no coincidence, the news broke not long after the combine had wrapped up. Both Dorsey and Reid were present for alot of the the combine, neither saw anything to make them think of taking one of the Quarterbacks with the 1st overall pick. Alex Smith was seen as the best way to go.
The anger at the center of the Chiefs fan base wasn't so much aimed at the trade, but more for the price that was given up to acquire Smith. There was alot of thought before the trade moved forward that if no one was willing to offer up anything, the likelihood was the 49ers would release him into free agency anyway. There was talk that maybe the price could have been a 3rd or 4th rounder. Personally, I would've been happier if it was a 3rd but I can live with what it is. At the end of the day, I think the price of acquiring a decent Quarterback has gone up, and in the NFL there is the haves and have nots. It boiled down to the Chiefs not having, and the 49ers having 2 starting caliber Quarterbacks.
I find it extremely unlikely that Matt Cassel is back with the team in any capacity next season, be it as a back up or a 3rd stringer. There's no way this regime is going to pay him $7.5 million to sit on the sidelines with a headset. The biggest problem on the Chiefs last season was the amount of turnovers. This was seen as one of Cassels strengths up until last season. On the flip side, Alex Smith only got intercepted 5 times the whole of last season with a completion rate of 70.2%. I realise that he only started 7 games, but its still a far cry better than Cassels 12 interceptions and a completion percentage of 58.1. The intriguing thing about Smith is whenever he has been asked to throw the ball more than 35 times a game he's lost. This could be vital as Reid is likely to employ a scheme which relies heavily on being able to pass freely.
Recently, Bowe signed a new deal, 5 years $50 million, with $26 million guaranteed. Branden Albert was placed under the franchise tag and our punter Dustin Colquitt was also wrapped up long term. Tyson Jackson also restructured his deal which will see his cap hit number this season reduced from around $17 million to $7 million. This gives us cap space and a bit of flexibility in free agency. Albert Breer reported that he knows for a fact that the Chiefs are active in the cornerback market in free agency. Since then we have signed Dunta Robinson formally of the Falcons. This probably eliminates the chances of Dee Milliner being the first round pick.
News also filtered through Thursday that Eric Winston was released. Last season wasn't Winstons best year, however he was still rated as the 9th best Right Tackle in the league come the end. The troubles that he goes through come in the pass game. He is a great run blocker but not so good at stopping rushers getting after the Quarterback in the pocket. The release of Winston solidifies the belief that Reid will rely heavily on Alex Smith to throw the ball alot more next season.
There is going to be alot of attention of the number 1 pick and what we should now do with it now the Quarterback appears to have been addressed. I think in an ideal world you would trade down and pick up the extra picks. Dorsey was quoted on 810 sports radio in KC that the Chiefs are in 'ongoing discussions' about trading the 1st pick. With this being a deep class, but not one containing a stand out can't miss prospect, I have a hard time imagining someone sees the need to trade up to bag their man. There are a few possibilities albeit unlikely. The Raiders have been rumored to be interested in Geno Smith. If this be the case then they may feel the need to trade up to avoid anybody else being able to jump in front and steal Geno before they draft at number 3. Its also possible that someone see's Luke Joeckel as number 1 on their big board and they think that the Eagles will pick him before they get on the board. A team like Arizona possibly. In any scenario I wouldn't be happy with the thought of trading out of the top 10.
With all these outcomes very unlikely I think we go with who Dorsey believes is the best player on the board at either Offensive or Defensive Line. Dorsey was also quoted on 810 saying that they are looking at 6 to 8 players that they could possibly take with the 1st pick. My money would be on one Luke Joeckel at Offensive Tackle with outside chances on Shariff Floyd and Star Lotulelei on the Defensive line. Floyd can possibly play outside, opposite Jackson at End, or Lotulelei could become the Nose Tackle and Dontari Poe shift across to the End position. I think that its fair to suggest that we could go Quarterback later in the draft, possibly the 4th or 5th round. We'll need a back up and a project as I can't see Cassel or Quinn on the opening day roster.
Going forward, I fully trust Dorsey and Reid have made the right decisions thus far. I think that Alex Smith was the right way to go baring in mind the projected rookie QB class. Until a move this brain trust has made gets proved to be a mistake I see no reason not to be optimistic. There is potentially a very stable period ahead for KC and I'm truly looking forward to challenging for a play off spot next season. Denver are possibly out of reach, but there is a real chance that if everything clicks, this franchise could make the play offs as a wild card. Have faith KC, have faith!
‘We want Carr, We want Carr!’ Going back to that day against the Philadelphia Eagles three years ago, it is incredible to think that Jim Harbaugh turned the much vaunted Alex Smith into a playoff quarterback; only to drop him for young sensation Colin Kaepernick and subsequently send him packing to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.
From the San Francisco 49ers perspective, it is a dream deal. Getting a near first round pick and a future pick for a quarterback who otherwise would be released for free is another example of the wheeling and dealing made famous by the entity known as ‘Harbaalke.’
Despite having possibly the most talented team in the NFL, people may not realise just how many needs the 49ers have. With safety, cornerback, nose tackle, wide receiver and defensive end all possible areas of improvement, the extra 2013 NFL Draft pick should prove effective in one of the deepest draft classes in years.
As well as offering a lot of opportunities to move around in the draft, the loss of Alex Smith also allows another Harbaugh protégé to show his metal. Scott Tolzien, formerly of the Wisconsin Badgers is known to be a favourite of the coaching staff and his couple of years learning the complex offensive system, combined with his snappy release means that he should be a more than capable backup.
But possibly the biggest advantage of dumping Smith is the money that will be saved. At the end of the day, the NFL is a business and so it was a wise decision not to keep hold of a backup who was due to make over $7m during the 2013 campaign. By avoiding taking that hit on the salary cap, many opportunities present themselves and help shape the direction of the team in the future. With big name free agents like Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker and Ricky Jean-Francois hitting the market, the extra money can be used to secure these guys as well as to pursue other targets.
But the person I’m most happy for is Alex Smith, he deserves a fresh start and he has shown enough potential to suggest he can be a playoff quarterback. Rewind past the multiple surgeries and coaching turnovers and you have a guy who was drafted ahead of Aaron Rodgers. He may not ever be ‘elite’ but he has the athletic ability and smarts to command an Andy Reid West Coast offense. I didn’t want him to going to the Cardinals or Browns after seeing him linked with them, as I don’t think they are going anywhere. Whereas with the Chiefs, he will have a top running back in Jamaal Charles and a number one wide receiver in Dwayne Bowe. And barring any draft day shocks, the release of tackle Eric Winston means that the Chiefs will use their number one pick on a tackle who can protect Smith’s blindside for years to come. Add to that, that they have a young defense featuring stars like Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry and Justin Houston and you can see why Smith has a chance to succeed.
And therein lies the problem, Tolzien will be promoted and a proven veteran like Smith will be gone. Tolzien did show flashes in preseason but it will be interesting if he is ever thrust into the starting line-up anytime soon. With Kaepernick, I feel like the 49ers can beat anyone. With Smith, I feel like the 49ers can beat anyone. With Tolzien I have no idea.
But rather than focus on the negatives of losing Smith, it may be worth noting how the deal could make the 49ers even more successful. With guys on the trade block like Percy Harvin and Darrelle Revis, that number 34 pick from the Chiefs could actually be used to obtain an elite player nevermind an unknown quantity via the draft.
If the draft is the way to go, there are a few players I think that pick will make more readily available. With a plethora of picks already, a high second rounder means the previous improbability of a trade up is in the past. Dee Milliner, Ezekial Ansah, Tavon Austin or any other top talent is now within reach even if they don’ t make pick 31.
Or the front office can stay put and hope Jonathan Cyprien, Jonathan Hankins or Datone Jones drops to the back end of the first round.
Ultimately I’m very sad to see Alex go; he was the perfect professional and was the perfect mentor for Kaepernick. How many guys dropped like he was would maintain a dignified silence and not throw their toys out the pram?
There are a few moments of greatness that Smith conjured up that I think any niner fan will struggle to forget. Namely his epic touchdown drive to down the Saints in the 2011 playoffs in which he threw and ran as if his life depended on it. I actually think it was that game against the Saints that forced people to take him seriously as an above average starting quarterback
It seems like advantage 49ers right now, especially if an impact player takes Smith’s place on the roster. But if Kaepernick gets rocked, giving up the best signal caller situation in the entire league might seem like an error in judgement.
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Head Rugby writer Hywel Davies takes a look at the WRU and the state of the regions with the Christmas derbies being played
Aren't people funny? During the festive period, and in a recession, on Wednesday the Liberty stadium will be full for the second time in 4 days. There was no hint of the Roger Lewis suggestion of knocking out one of the four regions at the time these tickets were sold. This may be the last time we see this game.
Sunday saw the mighty Man U take on the Swans in the Premier League. There was not an empty seat in the house. Early indications are that if there are any seats left to sell for the Ospreys v Scarlets they are few and far between. Fans who want to walk up on the day will be biting their nails, can forget sitting in groups, and will be behind the posts.
Which is great news for the RaboDirect Pro12, isn't it? The supposed drain of fans given the rise of Swansea and Cardiff in the football leagues hasn't materialised, yet?
20,000 people only turn out to watch the Ospreys at home once every two years on Boxing Day against the Scarlets and if Leicester are in town in the Heineken Cup.
Why should this match be the exception to the low attendances seen as a rule as far as the Welsh regions are concerned? Especially now. What is the psychology of it?
Well, the result will carry league points, but the fans couldn't care less about that to be frank. This is tribalism at it's most basic.
Despite claims of an 'Ospreylia', there is no neat and tidy border between these 'Regions'. Even the River Lougher is no longer a clear indicator of where an individual's loyalties may lie; not that there would be many Scarlets to the east of it, but there are now plenty of Ospreys to the west.
The setting up of the Regions was traumatic, but the edge many people believed that Llanelli (the most successful team in Wales) had in maintaining stand alone status was swiftly wiped out by the Liberty Stadium and the resurgence that fuelled in Swansea City FC.
Llanelli's answer was severely hamstrung by poor public relations management leading to a tortuous planning application for the redevelopment of Stradey, alienating a large section of the small town from which the Scarlets fans are drawn. Parc Y Scarlets was hugely subsidised by Carmarthenshire County Council. When they finally sorted it out the planning application for Stradey, the property bubble had burst.
In the meantime, dual season tickets for Football and Rugby in the Liberty, a new Stadium with family friendly facilities, and fantastic marketing, saw children in the traditional Scarlets strongholds such as the Gwendraeth Valley in Ospreys shirts.
It also helped that the Ospreys had the strongest team in Wales; although they have never managed to take Llanelli's old mantle as bankers for a Heineken Cup quarter final at least.
And there you have it. It is as ancient a tale as those in Kipling's Jungle Book. The law of the jungle is what gives this game it's fascination for the fans. The wise but weakened old dog can still teach the testosterone fuelled young whippersnapper the odd trick. The respective packs want to be there to see it.
There are other reasons of course, it's a tradition and it fuels work, friendly and even inter family rivalries. Crucially, there will be an atmosphere as the other side will bring plenty of fans. Those fans may now also face the spectre of an unification to make room for the Valleys or North Wales being the third region.
So, WRU and Pro12, the next time you are pondering how to improve attendance figures, think of the law of the jungle, think of the psychology of the thing. You must work out a way of tapping into that tribal instinct. If you get rid of another region without a total overhaul you will just alienate more Wales fans from Regional Rugby.
You can follow the v2 rugby twitter here @606v2rugby
, while Hywel tweets as @HywelV2 To discuss this article and see what other members think, visit the 606v2 forum
(c) Copyright 606v2 2012. Please do not reproduce without permission
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CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington is the venue for this weekend's Sunday Nigh Football encounter which can be viewed live on Channel 4 At 01:20 GMT.
This game is a pretty big deal, not only is it an NFC West divisional match up between two of the top defences in the league, but it also has big playoff implications.
San Francisco have already clinched at least a wild card berth after their victory last weekend against the Patriots but a win in this matchup would clinch the NFC West and if other results go their way (they need the Green Bay Packers to lose) the Niners could get a first round bye, assuming they win. The Seahawks could seal a playoff spot with victory and depending on other results.
I have talked about both teams in the past few weeks, they are actually quite similar, both teams have inexperienced Quarterbacks, the Sophomore Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is growing as the weeks go by, he is developing a good relationship with his receivers and he is keeping his mistakes to a minimum, his victory against the Patriots last weekend was quite monumental, while the Patriots don't possess what you would call a stellar defence (they are actually relatively okay in terms of points allowed, ranking 18th overall) registering a victory in Foxborough is impressive, he didn't look too overawed by the occasion as so many young QBs do in front of the national spotlight.
They aren't many young QBs who could claim a victory over a guy like Tom Brady........(Continued here
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Welcome back to the v2 boxing podcast. This week Paul and Adam have a look back at the last fortnights action as well as being joined by the WBA Interim Super Bantam Weight Champion, Scott Quigg.
The team looks back over recent fights including Khan, Pacquiao, Groves and what the future could hold for these fighters.
This week our special guest is WBA Super Bantamweight Interim Champion Scott Quigg.
The questions we posed listeners this week were:
Who would you have in your British top ten pound for pound, and what three fights do you really want to see in 2013?
We would also like your opinions on the damage done by boxing gloves versus MMA gloves. If you have an opinion on any of these matters, then please get in touch via email@example.com
Feel free to drop us a line as to what you thought as well!
This Podcast needs a bigger audience so please make sure to tell others about it, as well as putting up links on facebook and twitter.
A big thank you to Scott for taking the time to talk with us and good look in future fights.
The question we posed listeners this week was do you believe Tyson Fury a bigger star than David Price because of his television deal? If you have any thoughts on this or anything else in the world of boxing contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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2012 has been an up and down year for boxing, some great knockouts but also some low moments with a couple of drug controversies. So what I want to do is take a look at my top five knockouts of 2012.To see the videos, click here5. Danny Garcia dethrowns King Khan.
This fight was supposed to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things for the Bolton fighter, at least that’s the way he was looking at things. Khan had started the fight fast, cutting Garcia who was starting to mark up badly. As the rounds continued Khan became more and more reckless as the American began looking to counter, and in round three he found the perfect left hook that all but ended the fight. Khan managed to rise to his feet but the end was near as Garcia turned up the heat and didn’t allow Khan to recover, eventually stopping him in the fourth.
4. Price is top Olympian.
David Price is still untested defensively but has one of the most exciting offensive skillset in the heavyweight division. The power he possess in his right hand is enough to put fear in to every heavyweight in the world today. Billed as the battle of the Olympians, Harrison had once again spoke about how he had regained his hunger and that he would show the British fans he wasn’t the deer scared in headlights we saw against David Haye. The reality was he didn’t get the chance to show any fear as Price had him out of there sooner than you could say Olympic gold medal winner.
3. Kell Brook stops Saldivia in three.
Brook had some big questions hanging over him after a laboured win over Carson Jones in July, people where genuinely concerned that Brook didn’t have the stamina for the very top level. While this fight didn’t really do a lot to answer those questions, it certainly showed that Brook has power in both hands and with the speed he possess he is going to certainly trouble Devon Alexander in their upcoming world title fight. Saldivia while over matched came to win, but left himself open for Brooks power shots and was eventually knocked out by a left hand in the third.
2. Haye gives Chisora the Hayemaker at Upton Park.
The brawl in Munich left a lot of fans calling for these two to get in the ring and settle their differences and when they did it was an event to remember. When ever there is a fight at a stadium like Upton Park the atmosphere is something to savour, and if you throw two heavyweights who want to tear each others heads off it is guaranteed to be an explosive occasion. Chisora pressured Haye for the majority of the fight but when the Hayemaker was able to plant his feet and throw hurtful punches he was able to show the power had carried up to the next division.
1. Marquez finally sets the record straight.
There could only ever be one winner in this. Nobody saw this coming, least of all Manny Pacquiao when he jumped face first in to Juan Marquez’s right hand. This result really did shock the boxing world, because while the Mexican may have outboxed his long time rival in previous fights, he had never had him in a real danger of being stopped. However if you decide to jump face first in to a powerful straight right hand then the outcome will probably be the same ten times out of ten, and by that I mean you lying face down on the ca