Wild opening week for NFL teams
Newly acquired Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Matthews smiles at a reporter’s question during a news conference at the team’s NFL football practice facility.(Photo: AP)Chip Kelly made one stunning move after another. The normally free spending Cowboys let DeMarco Murray, the league’s top offensive player, walk to Kelly and division rival Philadelphia.
Three players retired in their primes. The Colts loaded up on veterans, a clear message they believe 2015 is their year to make super things happen.
Then the Jets brought back the two key players from their outstanding secondary under Rex Ryan. But wait, Ryan is now in Buffalo, remaking the Bills’ roster. And the Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh. All three teams want to mount some sort of challenge to the Patriots.
Things should slow down now, although who really knows given the frantic nature of this week?
"This is a process that goes all the way through until the trading deadline stops, and (then) there’s no moves until the season’s over," says Broncos boss John Elway. "It’s a process. It just slows down. Now you get out of the frenzy of everything, and you can get back to reality and try to find some good football players."
Some observations on all that frenzied action:
Playing all his chips: Giving Kelly the keys to the kingdom in Philly after he won his power struggle with GM Howie Roseman led to the kind of bartering rarely seen in the NFL. Kelly fully believes in the offensive system he brought from Oregon and has gone 20 12 in his two regular seasons with the Eagles. His vision of the players he wants is undeterred by cost QB Sam Bradford brings a $16.58 million cap hit; RB Murray will get $42 million over five years.
Not only is Kelly changing the face of his franchise by moving around so many pieces, he might be altering the way teams look at making trades. As the salary cap continues to rise through the remaining six years of the labor agreement and all 32 clubs have more spending power, bold steps (leaps really) could become less frightening throughout the NFL.
All in in Indy: The Colts have a budding superstar quarterback in Andrew Luck. They have a strong coaching staff led by Chuck Pagano and have systematically rebuilt the roster since Peyton Manning left.
After making the playoffs the last three years and advancing one step further each time, they believe a Super Bowl trip is their 2015 destiny. So GM Ryan Grigson has surrounded Luck and some of his younger regulars with a slew of veterans.
Luck gets a Hall of Fame caliber receiver in Andre Johnson, and a workhouse runner in Frank Gore. Both bring solid leadership to the clubhouse.
They also brought in safety Mike Adams, linebacker Trent Cole, defensive end Kendall Langford and guard Todd Herremans.
Super Bowl or bust? Could be for Indy.
Out of here: With all this money being thrown around, it was somewhat surprising that three players nowhere near the end of their productive football years called it quits.
Perennial Pro Bowl LB Patrick Willis left millions on the table in departing the 49ers after a borderline Hall of Fame quality eight pro seasons. Steelers free agent LB Jason Worilds likely would have gotten a very nice contract somewhere. And Jake Locker’s upside at age 26 was enchanting in a quarterback driven sport.
Each of them felt they either weren’t healthy enough or passionate enough to keep going.
How ‘bout them non spending Cowboys?: Maybe the most puzzling approach to free agency came out of Dallas. Owner Jerry Jones has never met a talented, high priced free agent he wasn’t enamored of. Yet, in great part due to the clear headed persuasiveness of his son, team COO Stephen Jones, the Cowboys have been quiet. They kept All Pro WR Dez Bryant, their top priority, but that deal and previous contracts put them in salary cap purgatory. Stephen Jones seems determined to get the Cowboys out of it.
Division races: With months of free agency to come, and the draft on April 30 May 2, there are plenty of off field machinations ahead. But so far, it appears the three pretenders in the AFC East have closed in a bit on New England. The balance of power in the NFC East might have gone with Murray from Dallas to Philly.
Green Bay got its most important business done by keeping WR KR Randall Cobb and still is the NFC North power. No team in the NFC South particularly stepped up.
Seattle, winner of the last two conference crowns and 1 1 in Super Bowls, should be even stronger on offense with the addition of star TE Jimmy Graham and the retention of RB Marshawn Lynch. The rough NFC West remains the Seahawks’ kingdom.
Kansas City could actually have a receiver who can score touchdowns in Jeremy Maclin, and it held on to sackmaster LB Justin Houston. Still, it doesn’t look like anyone in the AFC West made big strides to catch Denver.
Same in the AFC South, with Houston far in Indy’s review mirror. The most impactful move in the AFC North could be RB Justin Forsett returning to Baltimore.
Defensive back Ron Parker proved his versatility for the Chiefs last season. On Saturday, he was rewarded for it. The Chiefs and Parker agreed on a five year, $30 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Chiefs, who do not disclose contract terms, had not announced the signing.
The Buffalo Bills have agreed to terms with defensive end Jarius Wynn. The team announced the deal Saturday. In 11 games, Wynn had 17 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery in his first season with the Bills. The Green Bay Packers’ sixth round draft pick out of Georgia in 2009, Wynn also played for the Tennessee Titans (2012), San Diego Chargers (2013) and Dallas Cowboys (2013).