The smell of fresh-cut grass and newly painted lines, the ushering in of hundreds of dedicated fans and media, and the distinct feeling of hope and potential are all upon us, which can only mean one thing: OTAs and a new NFL season. The players are ready, the initial rosters are (relatively) set, and if ever there were a time in which the NFL was calm, now would be it. But there is no such time. Which means the rumor mill and the news cycle is as rampant as ever, so let’s get to it:
Rumor: Marshawn Lynch to retire? (NFL Network)
This may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
Lynch has been holding out of Seahawks OTAs on a mission to get paid. While, yes, this has “negotiation tactic” written all over it, Beast Mode is serious about getting a new contract. But is he serious enough to retire? NFL Network is reporting that he is, and has had internal conversations about just that possibility. This situation could easily end the way most holdouts do: with the two sides compromising on a contract, but this situation has a different feel.
Conventional wisdom says paying the man who has collected over 1200 yards each of the past three season and helped lead you to a superbowl in 2013 makes sense. But retirement, if Lynch is truly willing to go that far, may be the logical destination for Lynch and the Seahawks. Hear me out, angry Seahawks fans. Lynch is on the wrong side of his career with over 1700 career carries and will turn 29 in April. That proverbial brick wall at 30 years old looms large for the man whose game is predicated on physicality. Not to mention that the position of running back has been devalued around the league, with none going in the first round of the NFL draft this year. And Christine Michael, the Seahawks backup, has the combination of explosiveness and power (and a cheap contract), which teams covet. I do not expect the Seahawks to budge a bit on Lynch’s desires, and who knows, he may just end up retiring.
Sean Lee (Cowboys) tears meniscus, Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons) ruptures Achilles tendon. Both are out for the season.
The loss of two integral cogs of struggling defenses has both the Cowboys and Falcons scrambling for help. Lee has had to deal with injuries his entire career, beginning in 2008 when he tore his ACL at Penn State. Unfortunately, Lee, and Weatherspoon for that matter, has been labeled with the dreaded “fragile” tag. Lee, who was handed a 6 year, $42 million contract in 2013, has been the team’s surest-tackler when healthy. Lee has missed 18 games since 2010 and has yet to play a full season as a Cowboy. Look for Devonte Holloman, a second-year linebacker out of South Carolina to have an expanded role in 2014.
For the Falcons, the void of leadership, instincts, and talent left by Sean Weatherspoon are irreplaceable. NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport reported that the Falcons are “taking a hard look at Jonathan Vilma” to replace Weatherspoon – and they very well may go that route – but look for the Falcons to test out the four rookie linebackers they drafted before making external moves. Prince Shembo, fourth rounder from Notre Dame, could earn a role with a good showing in training camp and the preseason. In his only fully healthy season in 2011, Weatherspoon tallied 86 tackles and four sacks. Simply, he makes this team much better when he is healthy, but he just cannot stay on the field. Some other external names being thrown around for Atlanta (and for Dallas) include: Pat Angerer, Nick Barnett, and Tim Dobbins.
Rumor: NFL draft on the move to Chicago?
When Roger Goodell calls out the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft nearly a year from now, it will not be in New York at Radio City Music Hall. NFL.com’s Gil Brandt believes that Chicago will be one of the favorites for the gig. Brandt says the draft will be more of a superbowl-like event. There is potential for the draft to be moved back up to April (as it has been in past years before 2014) and there are rumblings of the draft becoming a four-day event. Have no doubt that the NFL will do everything they can to maximize revenue and fan fare for this key event. Other candidates to unseat New York as the location of the draft include: Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and others. Regardless, major overhaul is being discussed for the most important, highest-profile event in the NFL offseason calendar.
Lions release cornerback Chris Houston, Chiefs release cornerback Brandon Flowers.
Both top cornerbacks on their teams in the midst of long-term deals, these moves go to show the fragility and expendability of most NFL players. The release of Houston is puzzling to say the least. After an average season in 2013 and offseason surgery, the Lions decided to part ways with 29-year-old. In just the second year of a five-year deal, Houston’s release leaves second-year cornerback Darius Slay as the top man, with veteran Rashean Mathis as the other projected starter. In the receiver-heavy NFC North, Detroit cannot be too pleased with that duo.
Just hours later, the Chiefs shockingly decided to cut pro-bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers. Coming off of a season that was spent mostly in the slot, much to Flowers’s chagrin, the Chiefs decided to move on from the six-year starter. Rappaport, via Twitter, dubbed the Atlanta Falcons as a team to watch on Flowers, saying that “[the Falcons] have been monitoring the situation,” in anticipation of the release. Note that Scott Pioli, Assistant General Manager of the Falcons, was previously the general manager of the Chiefs. He has already signed former Chiefs Tyson Jackson and Javier Arenas this offseason. Other teams with rumored hopes of attaining Flowers include the Texans, Redskins, and Vikings.