— Sidney Rice (@sidneyrice) April 16, 2014
Terms of the deal were not immediately available; Rice was cut earlier this off-season as a cap casualty that allowed the Seahawks to recover over $7 million in cap space. He missed 17 regular season games and was lost for the year in 2013 after injuring his ACL in October.
Rice was originally drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round (44th overall) of the 2007 NFL draft out of the University of South Carolina. After three seasons with the Vikings (and making the Pro Bowl in 2009), Rice was signed a five-year, $41 million contract with the Seahawks in 2011. His injury-prone history is well-documented and out of a possible 112 regular season games, he has missed 31. In his 81 games played, Rice has caught 243 receptions for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns. Rice holds the NFL record for most touchdowns in a playoff game with three.
Per the team’s website, the St Louis Rams are offering fans $100,000 if they correctly predict their schedule by 4:59PM Central Time on April 21, 2014. Entries must accurately predict every week’s opponent as well as the bye week. Although the odds of winning may not be as difficult as choosing a perfect NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket, it will still be exceptionally difficult to predict 17 weeks of football in the correct order.
The Rams Vice President of Marketing Brian Killingsworth had this to say about the contest:
In anticipation of the Rams 2014 regular season schedule release, we are excited to offer fans the unique opportunity to win $100,000. We challenge our fans to accurately predict all 17 weeks of the team’s regular season schedule and win the cash prize.
To win, fans must correctly predict, in order, each of the following opponents: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks twice, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The predictions also include predicting when the Rams will play home and away games against division opponents. All games must also be correctly picked on the day they are played on, i.e., Sunday, Monday, or Thursday.
Fans can enter the contest at http://www.stlouisrams.com/schedule/guess-our-games.html. Full contest rules can be found here.
Per a report from TMZ, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was allegedly arrested at LAX for indicating he had a bomb. According to the report, eyewitness accounts stated that Smith was involved in a argument with someone at the gate while attempting to board the plane. One of the witness further stated that Smith “did not appear to be out of control; just agitated.” This is not the first run in with the law for the talented NFL player. He was arrested in September 2013 for suspicion of DUI and possession of marijuana and was charged in October for three felony counts of possession of an assault weapon stemming from a 2012 stabbing incident.
The 49ers are having a rough off-season as it relates to staying out of trouble. Cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested and charged with two felony counts and a misdemeanor after a hit-and-run and bicyclist incident. Their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is fending off accusations of sexual assault, of which he has not been charged.
Originally drafted by the 49ers in the first round (7th overall) of the 2011 NFL draft out of Missouri, Smith has been a defensive stud for the team. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and All Pro teams as well as being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He is also the fastest NFL player to reach 30 sacks (27 games) and set the franchise records for sacks in a season (19.5) and rookie sack record (14). In 43 career regular season games, Smith has accumulated 137 tackles, 42 sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception.
UPDATE: Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, here is what Smith was booked for earlier today:
LAPD booked 49ers LB Aldon Smith for California Penal Code 148.1(a) – False report of a bomb threat.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 14, 2014
Every off-season, teams strive to find those missing pieces that will put them at the top of the NFL the upcoming year. Whether it is through the draft, trade, or free agency acquisitions, each plays an important part in the building of a Super Bowl winner. Conventional wisdom says championship teams are built through the draft, and there is no doubt it is the most critical of the three. The draft is where teams get young, hungry players and it is where the tone for the success or failure of a franchise is set. Although it is difficult to measure with any precise accuracy how much each category contributes to a roster’s prosperity, how important is the draft versus free agency when it comes to building a contender?
Examining the last decade of Super Bowl winners, each team has players they acquired through all three categories. Taking a look at each team’s final Super Bowl roster and breaking down how each of those 53 players were acquired, fans can get a better appreciation on how a team is really assembled. For the purpose of this article, only a team’s final Super Bowl roster was evaluated; there are players who either ended up on injured reserved, suspended, or were traded away that are not considered for this exercise. Role players are important components of a team, but the core of the team is what elevates the team to a championship. For example, over the last decade, the New Orleans Saints are the only team who signed their quarterback, Drew Brees, via free agency and the New York Giants are the only team that technically traded for their quarterback, trading quarterback Philip Rivers and three additional draft picks to the San Diego Chargers for Eli Manning.
NOTES: Undrafted free agents and players signed off other team’s practice squads are tabulated as free agents. Players who were traded for by the team but subsequently signed a long-term contract with the team were counted as trades. Thought process behind that concept is the player would not likely have signed long-term with that particular team without the trade. Special teams players are the punter, kicker, and long snapper.
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According to Ben Goessling of ESPN, one of the NFL’s top stars, running back Adrian Peterson, has come out publicly in support of college players getting paid to play. While on a conference call with reporters to endorse Hyperice, a device that cools and compresses injured body parts, Peterson offered another endorsement when he strongly advocated for universities to pay athletes who help the schools to make millions:
Johnny Manziel made Texas A&M so much money. When I was at Oklahoma, they made so much money.
Peterson also spoke out against NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s comments that basketball players should be required to stay in school for two years:
They’re trying to make basketball players go two years in college. Wow. I wonder why? Think about it — just imagine if LeBron James had been in college for two years. How much money would that college have made off LeBron James? They would have made so much money off LeBron James. It’s about the freedom to do as you want and make your own decisions.
Peterson also offered supporting points on why he thinks college athletes should be paid, citing requirements universities place on them while they are with the program:
Nobody wants to live in the dorms for four years. You see the guys who are older, and they have responsibilities. I feel like, as much money as universities make, some of that should come down to the players, as well.
Universities making obscene amounts of money off their programs, and while their athletes do get scholarship rides for their contributions, the evidence is clear that these players should get more compensation for their contributions. Although the vast majority of these students are single, there are plenty who are married and some who have kids, in addition to those whose families at home are struggling to make ends meet. It’s about time universities start sharing the wealth.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Carolina Panthers have signed wide receiver Jason Avant to a one-year contract:
The #Panthers announced they signed WR Jason Avant to a one-year contract
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 7, 2014
Terms of the deal were not immediately available. The Eagles had signed Avant to a five-year, $14.8 million contract in 2010, but released him this year after re-signing fellow receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.
Avant was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round (109th overall) of the 2006 NFL draft out of the University of Michigan. A sturdy player, he has played in 116 out of a possible 128 games, catching 297 receptions for 3,646 (12.3 yards per receptions) for 12 touchdowns. He has averaged just 31.4 yards and .1 touchdowns per game in his career.
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Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Chicago Bears worked out free agent quarterback Josh Freeman today:
Interesting… the #Bears worked out QB Josh Freeman today. Have not signed him yet. I believe that’s his first workout of free agency
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 7, 2014
The Bears could be in the market for a backup quarterback. Their backup in 2013, Josh McCown, was signed away by the Tampa Buccaneers as a free agent after playing spectacularly in relief for starter Jay Cutler. Jordan Palmer is the only quarterback listed on the depth chart behind Cutler, but they are carrying a third quarterback, Jerrod Johnson, on the roster.
Freeman was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round (17th overall) of the 2009 NFL draft out of Kansas State University. He posted a number of franchise quarterback records with the Buccaneers, including highest quarterback rating (95.9/2010), most passing touchdowns in a season (27/2012) and most passing yards (4,065/2012). After starting starting the majority of his first three seasons, Freeman was benched in 2013 after struggling for the first three games. With a deepening rift with head coach Greg Schiano and reports that Freeman was missing meetings, including the team photo, Freeman was released in October. Three days later, the Minnesota Vikings signed him, and it proved to be a disastrous decision. Freeman only played in one game, passing 53 times and only completing 20 (37.7%) for 190 yards and one interception with a 40.6 passer rating.
For his career, Freeman has played in 61 games, passing 2,020 times, completing 1,164 of them for 13,724 yards, 80 touchdowns and 67 interceptions with a 77.8 passer rating.
Per a report from Tim Evans and Mark Alesia of the Indianapolis Star, the questions surrounding the extent of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s drug use have become more complicated. Irsay’s arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and four counts of felony possession of a controlled substance come two weeks after a woman was found dead in a townhouse he had reportedly given her. Kimberly Wundrum, 42, was found dead March 1, 2014, in the townhouse, with an orange plate with a white powder, straw, and a razor inside. Although homicide detectives were called to the scene, the police and coroner’s office have not indicated whether the death is being investigated as a murder nor have they in any way indicated Irsay was connected to her death. The Star also indicated Irsay had known her since 2007 and she had lived in at least three homes with ties to Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts.
A source told the Star that the NFL was interested in a variety of questions surrounding Irsay’s drug use. The investigation into Wundrum’s death may help answer questions regarding how long he has been using the drugs, where he had been getting them, and who he had been using them with before his arrest. Many people are keenly watching to see how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handles Irsay’s arrest; Goodell has long been tough on incidents that “embarrass the Shield.” If he does not act tough on Irsay, the Commissioner will be widely criticized for hypocrisy and having a double standard for owners.
According to the Carmel Police Department report, Irsay was arrested on March 16, 2014. In excerpts from the report, the responding officer stated Irsay stopped twice on the street for no apparent reason and he could not stand on his when the officer conducted the field sobriety test. After the car was impounded, police officers conducted an inventory of the content of the car and discovered an assortment of pills and over $29,000 in cash.
Irsay has been the sole owner of the Colts since 1998.
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Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones was not well received in his own stadium where the NCAA Final Four games are being played. Jones attended the games today, and when he was shown on the enormous 160-foot long video screens, the stadium booed loudly. Though the only reason the Final Four is being played in the Dallas area is because the “House that Jerry Built” exists, he is not a popular figure among the strong Cowboys fan base that was obviously attending the games today. Unfortunately for them, as owner and president of the organization, there is no amount of booing that will get Jones replaced.
After winning three championships in the early days of his ownership, the franchise has largely floundered and a large number of critics point the finger at Jones, who has not been able to replicate the early magic he brought to the team. Before winning a Wild Card matchup versus the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, the last time the Cowboys won a playoff game was in 1996 and they have not advanced beyond the divisional round since their last Super Bowl victory in 1996. They have not posted a winning season since that 2009 playoff appearance and have gone 8-8 over their last three seasons. In an interview this year, Jones stated the Cowboys were “going to let free agency come to them and build through the draft” this year. What a novel concept.Want to interact with the Sports-Kings?
Per a report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell, top NFL prospect Johnny Manziel has directed his marketing team to file for more trademarks in addition to “Johnny Football.” The most recent one he has filed for is “The House That Johnny Built.” It’s a smart business move; other NFL players like Colin Kaepernick have sought to cash in on their image by trademarking related material. There could be a hiccup in Manziel’s plans though to cash in on the “Johnny” phrases: a former friend, Nate Fitch, was the first to file for the trademarks.
One of the Manziel attorneys, Gerald Fowler, stated that the family thought Fitch and Manziel were going to share the trademark as part of a business venture into athletic apparel. Fitch’s company filed a month before Manziel for both phrases, so it appears Fitch is getting a jump on the cash wagon just before Manziel. Per Rovell, Fitch’s move is a curious one because a trademark using a living person usually has to be approved by that person. Fitch would have a tough time winning the court case for the rights.
Right now just about everything Manziel touches turns to gold; he is one of the hottest names in football right now and he should make the most of his opportunity to cash in. The clothing he wore on his Pro Day is already being sold by Nike for $180.
Manziel’s patent signing was first reported by TMZ.
At Texas A&M, Manziel threw 863 passes, completing 595 of them (68.9%) for 7,820 yards and 63 touchdowns to go with just 22 interceptions. He averaged 9.1 yards per attempt and had an NCAA passer rating of 164.1. A threat on the ground with is legs, Manziel also rushed for 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards a carry.Want to interact with the Sports-Kings?