Fantasy Football News

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Impact of Mike Tolbert Signing on Carolina's Offense

Last July the Carolina Panthers handed running back DeAngelo Williams a five-year, $43 million contract extension in order to keep him in a Panther uniform. The deal included $20 million in guaranteed money.
Williams, 28, along with teammate Jonathan Stewart, 24, have created one of the most dangerous running back duos in the National Football League. Over the last two seasons, both backs have been battling injury yet they have still combined for an average of 1,832 yards and 15 TDs per season since Stewart broke in to the league as a rookie in '08.
But just yesterday the team made an interesting move by signing former San Diego Charger running back Mike Tolbert.
Tolbert, 26, has run for 1,410 yards and 20 TDs in his four seasons while backing up Ladainian Tomlinson and Ryan Mathews in San Diego. The deal was reported as a four-year deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.
Now, I clearly don’t have any inside connections with the Carolina Panthers organization, but I believe it’s rather obvious why the front office made a move on Tolbert: they would like to deal either Williams or Stewart.
As scary as a Williams/Stewart/Tolbert RB trio sounds, there’s no way they start the 2012 campaign off with all three on the roster. There’s just too much talent and not enough room on the football field.
Considering Williams just signed the five-year extension last offseason, and Tolbert was just brought in yesterday, it looks like the speedy Jonathan Stewart will be the odd man out in this situation.
Luckily for Carolina, Stewart is entering the final season on his rookie contract, so teams will be willing to deal for him since it will not cost them too much money. The only questions remaining to be answered are where and when?
Carolina's offense, led by Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, is looking scarier by the minute and I would not be surprised in any way if they gave New Orleans and Atlanta a run for their money in the NFC South this coming season. A more matured Newton in 2012 could spell disaster for opposing defenses.
Carolina adding Tolbert could be one of the most underrated signings of the Free Agency Period this off-season. Not only can he be productive as a third-down back (likely behind Williams), but he can also catch passes out of the backfield and play special teams. He even broke in to the league as Ladainian Tomlinson's fullback in 2008.


The durable Tolbert is excited to be playing for head coach Ron Rivera and the flashy Newton, as well. Seems like a match made in heaven, if you ask me.
Photo credit
Tolbert: Harry How/Getty Images

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 Free Agency Update: Wide Receivers-galore and other UFA signings

Today marks day No. 2 of the National Football League's new calendar year, which also means day No. 2 of the 2012 free agency period.

Less than 24 hours after free agents were allowed to sign with teams we have witnessed more wide receivers signing contracts than every other position. In fact, six of the position's most coveted free agents have already signed new contracts.

They haven't all switched teams for 2012––Indianapolis' All Pro Reggie Wayne signed a three-year deal to stay with the Colts and New Orleans' leading receiver Marques Colston signed a five-year deal to stay with Drew Brees and the Saints. The rest, well lets just say they will be donning new uniforms once Training Camp rolls around this summer.

After tying a career-high with nine touchdown receptions with the San Diego Chargers this past season, 29-year old Vincent Jackson landed a five-year, $55.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The one-time Pro Bowl wideout will team up with one of the youngest offensive units in the league, alongside 24-year old quarterback Josh Freeman, fellow receivers Mike Williams (24) and Arrelious Benn (23) and running back LeGarrette Blount (25).

Luckily for Charger quarterback Philip Rivers, General Manager A.J. Smith immediately went out and bought himself a V-Jack replacement with a 4-year, $25.5 million deal according to ESPN's John Clayton.
The receiver talk doesn't end there. On Monday, the 49ers added a deep threat by giving future Hall of Famer Randy Moss a one-year deal after his announcement to un-retire following a year out of football. The Niners can void his contract before the season starts without penalty, if Moss starts acting up or they change their minds. That makes this a very solid and affordable signing on San Francisco's part.

Pierre Garcon announced yesterday, before the news broke, that he would be signing with the Washington Redskins. Just days after owner Dan Snyder spent three first round picks and a second round pick on this year's sought-after second overall pick in April's NFL draft, Snyder dropped $42.5 million ($21.5 million guaranteed) on the 25-year old Garcon, wrapping him up for the next five years.

The move also comes one day after learning the Redskins, and Cowboys, will be penalized by Commissioner Roger Goodell for pushing salary cap into an uncapped season.

This clearly didn't worry the Skins' organization too much, as they also signed WRs Eddie Royal (two-years, $12 million) and Josh Morgan (two-years, $6 million) shortly afterwards, adding targets for soon-to-be quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Update on other WRs:

*Brandon Lloyd (STL) is set to visit the 49ers.
*Mike Wallace (PIT restricted free agent) can still sign with another team. The Steelers have signed an offer sheet, but other teams are allowed to counter that offer. Personally, I see him landing elsewhere because I'm just not sure the Steelers have the money to retain Wallace.
*The Detroit Lions and Calvin "Megatron" Johnson have made history. The All-Pro wideout wasn't set to become a free agent, but he did however sign a mega contract extension from the Lions, worth $132 million. The $132 million over the next eight years makes Johnson (96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TDs in 2011) the highest-paid wide receiver in league history, surpassing Larry Fitzgerald's $120 million contract from a year ago.

Top UFA WRs Still available:

*Brandon Lloyd
*Mario Manningham
*Laurent Robinson
*Harry Douglas
*Deion Branch

Non-WR Free Agent Signings

Much to my surprise, the New Orleans Saints were unable to retain free agent guard Carl Nicks. The 26-year old Nicks was made the highest-paid guard in the league by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a contract signing of 5-years, $47.5 million. Nicks will be a welcome addition to the Bucs, who like I said previously, houses one of the youngest offensive attacks in the league.

The first and only quarterback to sign thus far has been former Raider Jason Campbell, who is on his way to Chicago to back up Pro Bowl signal caller Jay Cutler. He will join new-coming wide receiver Brandon Marshall (acquired from Miami for two 3rd round draft picks yesterday) after signing a one-year deal.

Despite losing top wideout Vincent Jackson, San Diego center Nick Hardwick has agreed to stay with the Chargers and signed a three-year contract. The Chargers, however, released left tackle Marcus McNeill at the same time, to save cap space.

Key Defensive Signings:

*So far, former Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan has signed the biggest defensive contract of the free agency period, agreeing to a five-year, $50 million mega-deal with the St. Louis Rams.
*Former Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions cornerback Eric Wright signs with Bucs on five-year, $37.5 million contract.
*Pro Bowl corner Carlos Rogers re-signs with the 49ers (four-year, $31 million) after his one-year contract expired.
*Cornerback Perrish Cox, former Bronco, signed a two-year deal with the 49ers despite his recent involvement with a sexual assault case. He was found not guilty in court on March 2.

The Biggest are yet to come:

Peyton Manning, one of the best free agents to ever hit the market in NFL history, has reportedly narrowed his possible destination list down to just four teams (Denver, Miami, Tennessee and Arizona) according to a Yahoo! Sports report I just recently read. As of 12:00 PM eastern time on Wednesday March 14, Manning's decision could come as early as today.

As for the best defensive free agent on the market, Houston Texans' defensive end/linebacker Mario Williams has met with the Buffalo Bills, and will reportedly meet with other teams as well. So don't get overly excited just yet, Buffalo fans.

Come back for more free agent signings and NFL off-season news! Or visit the All-Out Blitz tumblr page for faster updates: http://alloutblitzblog.tumblr.com/

Photo credit
Vincent Jackson: Harry How/Getty Images
Brandon Lloyd: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Cortland Finnegan: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Friday, March 9, 2012

RGIII is Washington-bound: Skins give up everything-but-the-kitchen-sink for STL's No. 2 pick

Brace yourself, the following information may put you in to a state of shock. If you're a Washington Redskins fan, you may even want to look away from the screen or possibly even grab your nearest trash can and prepare to puke out your sorrows.

The Washington Redskins have moved up four spots (No. 6 overall to No. 2 overall) in this year's NFL draft, exchanging first round picks with the St. Louis Rams. But, that is not all. Included in this trade package, which Washington will utilize to select Baylor's Heisman winning quarterback Robert Griffin III, is the Skins' second round pick in this year's draft as well as their 2013 and 2014 first round picks.

Now, let that thought sink in for a few moments. That means, that not only will the Redskins owner Dan Snyder–well known around the league for overpaying veteran players and signing questionable characters–have to pay a boatload of money to RGIII as the second overall pick, but they will also lose key picks that would have been used to acquire Griffin some weapons.

I have lost a tad bit more respect for the Redskins front office, to tell you the truth. They are, I'll admit it, in dire need of a franchise quarterback, which they should get from Griffin. But to give up all of that for a guy who isn't a sure thing? I think they would have been better off without drafting a quarterback this year at all and simply adding offensive weapons in this year's draft.

On the other side of things, however, I have to say I'm very impressed with the newly-hired Rams General Manager Les Snead. Just weeks after being hired for the position, Snead goes out and lands key draft picks to help bolster the offense under Sam Bradford, and the defense, for head coach Jeff Fisher. San Francisco will obviously be the favorite in the West, but I wouldn't sleep on this St. Louis team, Fisher knows what he's doing.

The fact that Snyder gave up so much to land the coveted No. 2 pick just puts that much more pressure on Griffin to perform right away. I'm a little worried that head coach Mike Shanahan will get a little too involved with the development in RGIII, which could put a damper on RGIII's performance. Without a dominant No. 1 receiver (unless Snyder signs a wideout via free agency) and a 25th-ranked rushing attack, I don't see Griffin making an immediate impact under center.

This move was supposed to put Washington a step ahead for 2012, which is still possible, but in hindsight it will only put them a step behind in future seasons (2013, 2014).

In order for Washington to compete with the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys this year, we will need to see much more production and durability from the 21st-ranked defense.

Photo credit
RGIII: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Manning, Colts to Part Ways According to Sources

It's been reported, by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, that the Colts have made the decision to part ways with four-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning. The official announcement is expected to be made tomorrow, Wednesday March 7.

I, along with many others, have been expecting this move to be made before March 8 rolls around and his $28 million bonus is due to him. With Stanford's Andrew Luck entering the draft in April, this further proves that owner Jim Irsay would like to rebuild with Luck as the face of the franchise in 2012. So this really isn't exactly "breaking news," it's just finally becoming official.

Sources have also said he (Manning) would like to continue playing football, so he will not hang up his cleats and enter retirement just yet.

Manning, 35-going-on-36, has spent 14 years donning the blue and white horseshoe helmet, capturing four regular season MVP awards, nine playoff victories, 11 Pro Bowl selections, five First-Team All Pro selections, Super Bowl MVP and numerous passing records.
His list of accomplishments has him a first-ballot Hall of Fame upon his retirement, no matter what he accomplishes through the remainder of his career.

After four neck surgeries in the past year, teams do not seem to be too worried about Manning's health and well-being, and there's no doubt that he will find a team and turn around a cellar-dwelling franchise into a playoff contender football squad.

Unfortunately, this announcement involving Manning will not be quieting ESPN and their Manning talk any time soon (we all love Manning, but ESPN sure knows how to talk a subject to death). In fact, I think all this Manning talk is just beginning, and here I am contributing to it.

Oops.

I'll end my article with this: Luck will be a Colt, and Manning could end up almost anywhere in 2012, including teams such as Denver, Arizona, Washington, Miami, Cleveland, Jets, Chiefs, Seahawks, etc. Lets hope he signs with someone sooner rather than later, and ESPN, could you please tone down the Manning talk just a tad, maybe?

Photo credit
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Monday, March 5, 2012

Off-season Tracker: Signings, Franchise Taggings, Releases, etc.

The 2012 off-season is officially in full-swing, with players agreeing to new contracts and teams placing their franchise tags left and right.

To make things slightly easier to keep track of, I will be listing the off-season moves in one post.

Contract Signings

Stanford Routt, three-year deal w/ KC
Arian Foster, re-signed w/ HOU
Stevie Johnson, re-signed w/ BUF (pictured)
Marshawn Lynch, re-signed w/ SEA
Ahmad Brooks, re-signed w/ SF
D'Qwell Jackson, re-signed w/ CLE
Will Montgomery, re-signed w/ WAS
Jermichael Finley, re-signed w/ GB
Trent Edwards, one-year deal w/ PHI
Lavelle Hawkins, multi-year deal w/ TEN
Rian Lindell, re-signed w/ BUF
Domenik Hixon, re-signed w/ NYG
Mark Sanchez, signs contract extension w/ NYJ
Rashean Mathis, re-signs w/ JAC
Lofa Tatupu, signs w/ ATL

Franchise Tags (Deadline: March 5, 4 PM ET)

Arizona--Calais Campbell, DT
Atlanta--Brent Grimes, CB
Baltimore--Ray Rice, RB
Chicago--Matt Forte, RB
Cincinnati--Mike Nugent, K
Cleveland--Phil Dawson, K
Dallas--Anthony Spencer, LB
Denver--Matt Prater, K
Detroit--Cliff Avril, DE
Indianapolis--Robert Mathis, DE
Jacksonville--Josh Scobee, K
Kansas City--Dwayne Bowe, WR
New England--Wes Welker, WR
New Orleans--Drew Brees, QB
New York Giants--Steve Weatherford, P
Oakland--Tyvon Branch, SS
Philadelphia--DeSean Jackson, WR
San Francisco--Dashon Goldson, FS
Tampa Bay--Connor Barth, K
Tennessee--Michael Griffin, FS
Washington--Fred Davis, TE

Releases

Hines Ward
James Farrior
Aaron Smith
Albert Haynesworth
Lee Evans
Chris Carr
Chris Kemoeatu
Anthony Adams
Dallas Clark
Gary Brackett
Joseph Addai
Peyton Manning
Melvin Bullitt
Brandon Jacobs
Marcus Trufant
Cedric Griffin
Anthony Herrera
Steve Hutchinson

Retirements

Ricky Williams, BAL RB
Kris Dielman, SD G
Bill Muir, KC offensive coor.
Chris Hoke, PIT NT

Note: I will be adding on to this list as the transactions happen). Last updated on Saturday March 10.

Photo credit
Steve Johnson: Rick Stewart/Getty Images