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Friday, February 27, 2009

Washington Redskins and his $100 Million Dollar Man

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The Washington Redskins have made a big signing in free agency. This should come as no surprise as the Redskins love to build through free agency. Shortly before 7 eastern on Friday, February 27, 2009, it was reported that Albert Haynesworth, the star defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans had signed a deal with the Redskins. According to Adam Schefter of the NFL Network, Haynesworth signed a seven year contract worth about $100 million. It is reported that the contract Haynesworth signed guarantees $41 million in the first three years.

Albert has been a good performer that last couple of years recording 271 tackles and 24 sacks for Tennessee. He has really performed the last two years, but in the prior 5 seasons he was marked as being lazy and underperforming. In fact, the biggest impact he made in his first 5 years, according to Wikipedia, was on the face of a Dallas Cowboys lineman Andre Gurode. Haynesworth lost his temper as the Cowboys scored and ripped off Gurode's helmet and stomped on the down lineman's head with his cleats in a move that could have caused serious damage and merited a 5 game suspension.Haynesworth has also had altercations with teammates over his career.

The Redskins are notorious for trying to build a team through free agency often signing big name free agents who turn into busts. Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins is widely known for signing big names just hours after midnight on signing day. So far, Snyder has managed to avoid charges of tampering, but this year was accused of meeting with Haynesworth and his agent earlier this week. They may have overspent being near the league salary cap already before signing Haynesworth and cornerback DeAngelo Hall who signed a $54 to $56 million dollar deal earlier this week. In addition, some people feel like now that he has his big money, Haynesworth will return to lazy habits. It remains to be seen if he is worth this hefty price tag.

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The Washington Redskins have made a big signing in free agency. This should come as no surprise as the Redskins love to build through free agency. Shortly before 7 eastern on Friday, February 27, 2009, it was reported that Albert Haynesworth, the star defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans had signed a deal with the Redskins. According to Adam Schefter of the NFL Network, Haynesworth signed a seven year contract worth about $100 million. It is reported that the contract Haynesworth signed guarantees $41 million in the first three years.

Albert has been a good performer that last couple of years recording 271 tackles and 24 sacks for Tennessee. He has really performed the last two years, but in the prior 5 seasons he was marked as being lazy and underperforming. In fact, the biggest impact he made in his first 5 years, according to Wikipedia, was on the face of a Dallas Cowboys lineman Andre Gurode. Haynesworth lost his temper as the Cowboys scored and ripped off Gurode's helmet and stomped on the down lineman's head with his cleats in a move that could have caused serious damage and merited a 5 game suspension. Haynesworth has also had altercations with teammates over his career.

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The Redskins are notorious for trying to build a team through free agency often signing big name free agents who turn into busts. Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins is widely known for signing big names just hours after midnight on signing day. So far, Snyder has managed to avoid charges of tampering, but this year was accused of meeting with Haynesworth and his agent earlier this week. They may have overspent being near the league salary cap already before signing Haynesworth and cornerback DeAngelo Hall who signed a $54 to $56 million dollar deal earlier this week. In addition, some people feel like now that he has his big money, Haynesworth will return to lazy habits. It remains to be seen if he is worth this hefty price tag.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Famous NFL players release 2009

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Several big name NFL players have been released from their teams in the last week or so. Marvin Harrison probably being the biggest one to be cut from a team since he is a possible NFL candidate. Harrison asked for and got his release from the Indianapolis Colts. This article will name some notable NFL players released and discuss a few of them as well. For the entire list of player transactions go to NFL.com. Keep in mind some of these players will resign later with their original team at a reduced salary.
Marvin Harrison was not the only big name NFL player released recently however. Deuce McAlister the running back from the New Orleans Saints was cut. Long time Jacksonville Jaguar RB Fred Taylor was released as well. The Chiefs cut Patrick Surtain and the Falcons let Lawyer Milloy go. The Raiders released safety Gibril Wilson and are considering letting receiver Javon Walker go. These are just a few of the big name NFL players who have been or will be released. Fred Taylor is already being rumored to go to the New England Patriots.
The Houston Texans released Safety Will Demps to clear some salary cap space for 2009. The Texans also parted ways with offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam and defensive end Anthony Weaver, both long time NFL veterans.
Tampa Bay has let go 2 time Buccaneer running back Warrick Dunn, wide receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hillard. Tampa Bay also released their best player ever in my opinion when they cut linebacker Derrick Brooks. Linebacker Cato June was released along with Derrick Brooks. I think of this list Cato June, Derrick Brooks and Joey Galloway have the best chance of catching on with a new team in 2009. I really was a little surprised to see Brooks and Dunn get cut, sorry couldn't help the country music angle.
The Chiefs cut quarterback Damon Huard and two time Chief, linebacker Donnie Edwards in addition to Surtain. I think Surtain will be the only one of these men to play on a new team in 09.
The Carolina Panthers released running back and special team's player Nick Goings who had been a popular player in the past. Wide receiver D.J. Hackett and offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges were also released. Hackett kept getting injured and Bridges had some off the field issues that the Panthers addressed by sending him packing.

Fantasy Baseball Draft 2009

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Each year there are fantasy baseball busts. This is an axiomatic part of life, and most owners seem to accept the fate that befalls them. The key fact, often excluded, is that these disappointments are completely preventable. For every single fantasy bust in history,
from Ben Grieve to Dontrelle Willis, warning signs from the previous season have foretold of the demise. As a public service, I am going to name the top five players you musn't draft this season.
Just so you don't stop reading here, I will fill you in on my credentials. I am a college student who has been involved with fantasy baseball in some capacity since 1998. In 2005 I founded the Yahoo! PLUS league Juicers' Roid Barn, and have won the championship in every season since inception. I also participate in a competitive AL-only 5 x 5 keeper league, wherein I am now heavily favorited after overcoming an expansioniary handicap. While I may lack an official reputation, I expect these prognostications to vindicate me. All statistics used are courtesy of www.FANGRAPHS.com.
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS - SP) - From first glance, Dice-K looks like a putative ace. He was one of only three starting pitchers in the American League with a qualifying ERA under 3.0 (2.90). His eighteen wins were equally as impressive, and for leagues that count losses as a demerit stat, he kept the damage to a minimum. Here's the problem: Dice-K's greatness is a mirage. The man with his own eponymous generation actually regressed in skill from 2007 to 2008, unbeknownst to those fantasy owners who were bedazzled by his ERA. The most glaring warning sign was Matsuzaka's strikeout to walk ratio of 1.64. As a general rule, pitchers are considered acceptable if their K:BB rate eclipses the 2.0 threshold. Only extreme groundball pitchers are permitted to live below the 2.0 benchmark. Since Dice-K yielded grounders on only 39% of batted balls in 2008, he is pitching on borrowed time. The quality of his stuff remains strong (8.27 strikeouts per nine innings), but Dice-K's control problems have hit critical mass. His 94 walks allowed were the most in the American league, and eventually he will forfeit the ability to strand runners. The phenom's day of reckoning has arrived. Stay far, far away.
2. Michael Bourn (HOU - OF) - He may be "Bourn to Run", but this one-dimensional liability should be considered undraftable. He is still pegged as a starter for the Astros, who refuse to give up on Bourn after squandering Brad Lidge to get him in 2007. No one is doubting his speed (11.4 ab/sb in '08) but Bourn is simply too inept in the other categories to qualify as a net-plus for fantasy owners. Bourn's batting average in 2008 was .229, second lowest among all major league centerfielders. His OPS, .588, was lower than the slugging percentages of Albert Pujols, Ryan Ludwick and Manny Ramirez respectively. While I don't tend to err on the side of those chintzy baseball purists, I think the old adage rings true: You have to get on the bases first, before you can steal one. May I be the first official member of the "Ignorn Bourn" bandwagon.
3. Milton Bradley (CHC - OF) - Last year I took Bradley 387th overall and won my league handily. At the time, a myriad of injuries had diminished his value and knocked him off all but the savviest draft radars. Things have changed, and quickly. Bradley's .999 OPS has been dutifully rewarded by the doleful Chicago Cubs with a two-year, $20 million contract. The deal includes a third year option which vests if the Godfather of board games can keep his DL time to a minimum. Based on prior history, his odds of surviving the entire 2009 season injury-free are tenuous at best. Since 2002, he has landed on the DL eleven times, including a torn in ACL in 2007 that was excruciatingly painful for both the man himself and his owners. Bradley's Average Draft Position, according to early Yahoo! action, is 174th overall. His value has risen significantly since last year, even though he found a sporadic way to miss 36 games while playing with Texas. Injuries might be the major concern, but others exist as well. Bradley is moving from a park with one of the highest home run park differentials in baseball (1.229) to Wrigley Field, where confines remain friendly but not as friendly. (1.163) Tread carefully here, and avoid if possible.
4. Carlos Zambrano (CHC - SP) - Recurring theme here? Hey, at least they still have Hard-, nevermind. I have no medical evidence to corroborate this claim, but I am confident that Big Z's arm is falling off. Nothing else explains his dwindling strikeout ratio; Zambrano the innings-eater is finally fatigued. His strikeouts-per-nine innings are trending down toward Chien-Ming Wang territory (8.8 in '06, 7.4 in '07, 6.2 in '08), without a concomitant rise in ground-ball yield (47% 06-08). Unlike in the case of Dice-K above, Zambrano is showing higher ERAs backed up by skill erosion. His 3.95 mark in 2007 was a career high, and a .04 improvement in 2008 is not enough to rebuild drafter confidence. Zambrano, one of the most durable pitchers in baseball, finally saw DL time last year with shoulder inflammation. It is not unreasonable for one to ask if Zambrano has jumped the shark. He has logged over 1400 major league innings before age 28, and is now a different pitcher from the man who had ERAs under 3.3 in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 92.8 in 2005 to 91.3 in 2008. He is also throwing fewer fastballs, period. In 2005, Zambrano relied on the fastball 72.9% of the time. Now, it accounts for only 66.1% of his pitches. The raw data for this workhorse is not pretty, and that never augurs well for fantasy owners.
5. Adam LaRoche (PIT - 1B) - So what do we know about LaRoche? First, he has A.D.D. Second, he is Mexican. Who knew? None of this is relevant. LaRoche's spotty performance, however, is very germane to the discussion. His aggregate stats are very close to the mean numbers for first basemen, but LaRoche is simply hapless before the All-Star break. He has found a way to be consistently inconsistent. His career OPS after the break is .907, a very respectable mark that we would come to expect from a slugging corner infielder. As for his first-half numbers, let's just say they were possibly the inspiration for Edvard Munch's The_Scream. LaRoche has averaged a .771 OPS in first-half play, making him unownable until July. Drafting LaRoche is a senseless mistake, unless your league is ocean-deep. I'm serious, you better be finding Radiolarian ooze down there if you plan on drafting LaRoche. The better play is to let one of your ill-informed colleagues draft him, get dissatisfied quickly and send him to you for a lowball offer before he turns on the proverbial jets. Make it happen.
I hope I have provided you with useful analysis here. In formulating these evaluations I have used the same tried and true methods that have delivered a Victory Bobblehead to my doorstep every October. Good luck, and don't forget: don't chase saves, buy low, sell high, never draft Jeff Francoeur and any other cliched crap I didn't mention. Most importantly, have fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tiger Wood is back in Arizona

Tiger Woods is on the tee, or he will be at 2:02 p.m Eastern time today in Arizona. Tiger Woods has had a bunch of tee times, but few as heavily anticipated as his tee time today at the Accenture World Match Play Championship. Because it is Tiger Woods' first tee time Tiger Woods Tee Time Not a Minute Too Soon for PGA in eight months, and with it comes the rebirth of the PGA after dragging on without Tiger for nearly a year.

Tiger Woods last had a tee time at the U.S. Open playoff in June, playing with a wobbly knee and having to walk on it for 90 holes over five days. Woods still beat upstart Rocco Mediate in a now legendary playoff, winning his 14'th major and turning himself into a semi-God in the process, if he wasn't thought of as one already.

But the God-king Woods had to fall after getting surgery for that wounded knee, and having to miss the rest of the season. The rest of the PGA tried to take advantage, but golf itself had far less luck going on without Woods.

Now, PGA's king is back in action, as Woods announced last week that the Accenture World Match Play Championship would be his first event back. Woods has won the event three times in his career, so he is returning to familiar territory. But he has only made it to the final weekend one other time in his seven other appearances.

The golfing world mostly wants Woods not to mess up in his first few events back, so he can arrive at the Masters at full strength in April. The records for major championships and Masters wins are getting closer and closer to being taken by Woods, so the countdown to those days may only be a few years away.

Woods tees off with a match against Australian supporting player Brendan Jones, the last of the 64 seeded players at the Match Play Championship. If Woods was to get all the way to the finals, he would be playing 104 holes this weekend to test his newly restructured knee. But match-play contests are extremely unpredictable, even for players like Woods.

Woods has perhaps not faced so much attention and anticipation for an opening tee time - even by his ridiculously high standards - since his first matches on the Tour over a decade ago. When Woods made his debut on the tour, he was projected as the PGA's savior and largely delivered. Now Tiger Woods Tee Time Not a Minute Too Soon for PGA he has to do it again, after golf faced eight months of low ratings and attention without him.

Woods would face either Tim Clark or Retief Goosen in the next round if he moved on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 NFL MOCK Draft

This is my updated 2009 NFL Mock Draft. This article contains the 1st round of the 2009 NFL mock draft, and it is the 3rd time I have tweaked this round. The first round of this mock is being written on February 23rd 2009 and after some reports from the  scouting combine. You can see my last 1st round mock by clicking here. My profile also contains links to other rounds and other football articles please leave comments if you check them out.
1 Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
I had Andre Smith going here but his antics at the 2009 NFL draft combine have dropped him. Stafford will sit the pine and learn the game while Culpepper gets hammered behind this weak offensive line.
2 St. Louis Rams- Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
At 6ft 5 and a half, weighing 310 pounds Monroe has a little room to pick up even more bulk. He has had some injury problems but will be able to replace Orlando Pace at that important left tackle spot.
3 Kansas City Chiefs- Jason Smith OT Baylor
Some predict the Chiefs grabbing a quarterback, but new general manger Scott Pioli comes from the Patriots, where two guys named Brady and Cassel did ok as non first round draft picks. Jason Smith does possibly have some injury concerns but I think the Chiefs will take him here
4 Seattle Seahawks- Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
I had Crabtree here but I think his stock falls with the injury. Maclin will help a devastated wide receiver group for the Seattle Seahawks.
5 Cleveland Browns- Aaron Curry LB- Wake Forrest
I had Curry ranked lower than this which was probably a mistake. I had Knowshon Moreno here but his stock fell with a slow 40 time at the combine. Curry will add some pop to a lackluster Browns defense/
6 Cincinnati Bengals- Michael Oher OT Ole Miss
In my previous 2009 Mock Draft, I had Mark Sanchez here, my adoring fans have corrected that notion. Michael Oher will help a weak offensive line to protect Carson Palmer.
7 Oakland Raiders- Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
The Raiders need a wide receiver and will snatch up Crabtree despite the injury. Terrell Owens had a similar injury and did ok afterwards. Crabtree is well worth a pick at this point due to his vast potential.
8 Jacksonville Jaguars- Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State
Michael Jenkins can help a Jaguars secondary by playing either safety or corner.
9 Green Bay Packers- Aaron Maybin LB Penn State
Maybin could play defensive end or linebacker and Green Bay is running a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Aaron Maybin would be a good fit and you never have enough pass rushers.
Mark Sanchez will give San Francisco a quarterback of the future and maybe some fans in the seats.
11 Buffalo Bills- Brian Orakpo DE Texas
Orakpo gives the Bills a much needed pass rusher, look for their tight end needs to be addressed later in this 2009 NFL mock draft.

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12 Denver Broncos- Everette Brown DE Florida State
Denver's defense got Mike Shanahan fired and it will be addressed here with Brown who will help out their defensive line.
Snider takes chances on players and he will take one on Andre Smith despite his antics at the 2009 NFL draft combine.
14 New Orleans Saints- Vontae Davis CB Illinois
Davis will fill a need for the Saints whose pass defense was pretty bad at times in 2008. However if Knowshon Marino falls this far the Saints may bite. Reggie Bush is injured often, Aaron Stecker is a free agent and the thought is that Deuce McAllister won't be with the team next season.
15 Houston Texans- B.J. Raji DT Boston College
Raji would make a great addition to Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye in what could be a great young D line rotation. Raji is a wide body at 6'1' and 325 pounds and will be a good run stopper in the NFL.
16 San Diego Chargers- Rey MaualugaLB USC
You can never have enough linebackers in the 3-4 defense and Maualuga will be a good fit with Merriman or as a replacement for him if he does not come back from injury.
Jackson will bring some youth to the defensive line and can play end in the Jets 3-4 defense under new coach Rex Ryan.
18 Chicago Bears- Percy Harvin WR Florida
The Bears have other needs but Harvin showing a clean bill of health at the combine raises his stock. Going into the season with Devon Hester as the number 1 wideout is unacceptable.
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Josh Freeman QB Kansas State
Taking Freeman here does two things. He gives Tampa Bay a 6 ft 6 249 pound quarterback to groom and keeps him from falling to the Vikes who will be looking for a QB.
20 Detroit Lions (From Dallas) - Duke Robinson G Oklahoma
The Lions add the best guard on most draft lists as they start to work on that offensive line.
21 Philadelphia Eagles- Eben Britton OT Arizona
The Eagles made it known they are looking for offensive linemen in free agency and the draft. Britton really has the size at 6-6 and over 300 pounds to be a good offensive lineman. His play improved when he was switched to left tackle at Arizona.
22 Minnesota Vikings- Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech
Since a top tier quarterback is no longer available in my 2009 NFL Mock draft the Vikings pick defense. Adding a 6-7 guy who can gain weight to an already stellar defensive line makes sense here.
23 New England Patriots- Knowshon Moreno RB Georgia
Moreno's stock fell with a slow 40 time but the Patriots tend to go by on the field play. Moreno adds some depth to a backfield that needs it, and could end up starting for the Pats.
Atlanta Falcons- Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State
The Falcons will remember how much Michael Vick loved Algie Crumpler in his prime. Matt Ryan will love throwing to the best tight end in the 2009 NFL draft. Ignore Pettigrew's slow 40 time at the combine he can play the game.
25 Miami Dolphins- Clint Sintim LB Virginia
Sintim could play linebacker or end for the Dolphins and can really get to the passer. I wouldn't be shocked however to see the Dolphins go offensive line or receiver here.
26 Baltimore Ravens- Brian Cushing LB USC
The Ravens will need to fill spots on that awesome defense. It is unlikely that Terrell Suggs and or Ray Lewis will be back next season. Cushing has played several positions in his college career and should flourish in Baltimore.
27 Indianapolis Colts- Peria Jerry DT Ole Miss
Peria Jerry is 6ft 1 and weighs just under 300 pounds and runs a sub 5.0 40 yard dash. He could help shore up bad Colts defensive line.
28 Philadelphia Eagles (From Carolina) - William Moore S Missouri
Brian Dawkins may be gone and they will need a replacement. Moore is a good tackler and can also pick off passes from the safety position.
29 New York Giants- Kenny Britt WR Rutgers
Right there in the Giants backyard at Rutgers will be their possible replacement for Plaxico Burress. Kenny Britt is big at 6-4 and 215 pounds, he should be able to block as well as act as a possession wide receiver.
30 Tennessee Titans- Ron Brace DT Boston College
With Albert Haynesworth probably leaving as a free agent, DT becomes a need for the Tennessee Titans. Brace is big enough to plug holes and athletic enough to get the occasional sack.
31 Arizona Cardinals- LaSean McCoy RB Pittsburgh.
With Edgerrin James probably gone and Hightower possibly not the answer, look for Arizona to add another running back to the mix. McCoy is a solid back who can also catch the ball which is needed in this offense.
32 Pittsburgh Steelers- Phil Loadholt ( I bet Chris Berman can't wait to announce this name) OT Oklahoma
6ft 8 inches tall and weighing 343 pounds he is made for the Steelers offensive line. Off the field problems may prevent them taking him. But I think they will go O line for sure and he makes sense.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Ray Lewis A cowboy

This year was a disappointment for the Cowboys. At times the Cowboy defense looked like the best defense in the league and at others they looked undisciplined and poorly coached. The Tank Johnson and Adam Jones experiment did not work out as planned. Terrance Newman battled injuries as did Free Safety Roy Williams which left the Cowboy secondary depleted. By the end of the year, it became clear that a few more additions would be needed if this team would be able to compete in a division with so many prolific offenses.

Enter Ray Lewis.

The Baltimore Ravens have 4 key free agents to sign this offseason. Ray Lewis is among them and it looks like the Cowboys are the frontrunners for one of the best linebackers in the league. In fact, according to Michael Lewis on ESPN, he does not believe that the Ravens will be able to sign the charismatic linebacker and expects to see him in Dallas next season. While Ray Lewis is past his prime, he is still one of the best linebackers in the game. He brings experience, consistency and solid leadership which is sorely needed in Dallas. There are still a few holes to fill this offseason and Ray Lewis alone will not be enough, but it is a step in the right direction for this defense.

NFL Franchise Players 2009

The NFL has a unique form of free agency that allows for more parity than many other sports league. Combinedwith the salary cap it allows for the worst team in the league from one year to become a contender the next, like the 2007 (1-15) vs. the 2008 (11-5 and AFC East Champions Miami Dolphins. One feature that makes free agency work is the Franchise Tag.

The franchise tag allows each team to designate one unrestricted free agent as their franchise player. This tag is used on players who are very valuable to the team and would be hard, if not impossible, to replace. There are two types of the franchise tag. "Exclusive" franchise tags are an offer no less than the average of the top 5 salaries of players at that position in the league in April of that same year or a 20% raise, whichever is more. Say for example that a player was paid $10 million last year and the average of the top 5 players in the coming year will be $11.5 million, the player would have to be offered at least $12 million. "Exclusive" tags prevent the player from negotiating with any other team. The "Non-exclusive" tag is an offer of the average of the top 5 players at that position for the last year (this would be the top 5 player salaries from 2008) or a 20% raise, whichever is more. "Non-exclusive" players can negotiate with other team and if they sign an offer, their current team has the right to match or lose the player and get two first round draft picks from the team that the player signed with.

Many teams weigh the advantages and disadvantages of "tagging" a player. It can be very expensive. For example, a "non-exclusive" quarterback this year would cost $14.65 million. Teams sometimes use the tag to keep the player and then try to sign a long term deal. Others will tag a player and then try to negotiate a trade with another team. However, teams only have until February 19th to tag a player this year, so they have to decide soon. As of the writing of this article, only two players have been tagged: Matt Cassel, QB, New England Patriots and Michael Koenen, P, Atlanta Falcons. Last year 12 teams used their tag and here is a look at who each team would franchise and how likely they are to do so.

Arizona Cardinals - Last year they used their tag on Karlos Dansby. They may do so again as they would love to retain his services at a cost of $9.68 million. He wants a long term contract so with a little work, they might be able to lock him up.

Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons have already tagged Michael Koenen as their franchise player at a cost of $2.483 million.

Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens have a lot of talent that will be going on the market and they don't have a lot of cap room ($19 million). Center Jason Brown is a young player who is very talented and it would be hard on the Ravens if they lose him. In addition Terrell Suggs, their franchise player from last year will be a free agent along with Ray Lewis and Bart Scott meaning that their linebackers could be torn apart. Kicker Matt Stover and punter Sam Koch are both invaluable, too. Chances are very good that Suggs will be tagged again at a cost of $10.17 million.

Buffalo Bills - The Bills don't have any big name free agents this year. None of the players who enter free agency as unrestricted free agents will be worth the salary that they would have to shell out for them. Even though they won't use it, the most likely recipient would be Jabari Greer ($9.9) or one of their two centers, Melvin Fowler or Duke Preston ($8.451).

Carolina Panthers - The Panthers used their tag last year on tackle Jordan Gross. He is a free agent again this year, but Carolina's tag almost certainly will go to Julius Peppers, just so they can trade him to another team. Julius has said he wants out of Carolina so he will be tagged and then traded so the Panthers will get some value out of it.

Chicago Bears - The Bears have six free agents this season. Three of them were starters last year. Safety Mike Brown has been plagued by injuries. Tackle John St. Clair will be replaced by last year's number one choice, Chris Williams. Brandon Lloyd was very up and down last season. Overall, their best bet would be franchising Brown for $6.342 million, but with his injury history, they will most likely not use their tag.
Cincinnati Bengals - Last off season, the Bengals used their tag on Stacy Andrews. This year they have a number of free agents they need to address. Stacy will be a free agent again as will kicker Shayne Graham and star receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh. The Bengals would hate to see Housh go, but they don't want to tag him and he doesn't want to be tagged. The best chance at someone getting tagged is Cedric Benson, who had a strong finish to the year, who will cost them $6.62 million.

Cleveland Browns - Cleveland will have to decide if either MLB Andra Davis or safety Sean Jones is worth the tag. They will probably decide that neither player is worth the tag figure that they would demand and try to sign both to long term deals. However, the most worthy player is probably Jones who would cost $6.34 million.

Dallas Cowboys - Ken Hamlin, a strong safety, got the tag from the Cowboys last year. This year they have seven guys who will be free agents. The obvious choice for the tag among the Cowboys free agents is DE Chris Canty. The Cowboys will probably try to lock him up long term as he is a solid young player instead of tagging him to hold him for one year. If they end up giving him the tag, he will cost $8.99 million.

Denver Broncos - The Broncos are not known for using the tag and this year will be no exception. This year they don't have anyone who is probably worth the tag. If they did need to pick one player, MLB Nate Webster would be the best choice, but he isn't worth the $8.3 million.

Detroit Lions - Detroit has 16 guys who played for them last year that might not be coming back. Only one player among those 16 is worth considering and that is kicker Jason Hanson. Rumors out of Detroit are pointing to Hanson being tagged by the end of this week at a cost of $2.48 million.

Green Bay Packers - The Packers tagged defensive tackle Corey Williams last year only weeks before trading him to the Browns. This year they only have one player who merits a second look. Mark Tauscher, their offensive tackle, would be a big loss on their line, but he is probably not worth the $8.45 million he would earn if tagged.

Houston Texans - The Texans have one really big name guy that will be an unrestricted free agent, CB Dunta Robinson. Yes, I know Owen Daniels is a free agent, but he is restricted, so he won't be franchised. The Texans will try to work out a long term deal with Robinson, but if he is not signed by the 19th, they will place the tag on him to keep him around for a while at $9.9 million.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

NFL to go NBA like Draft lottery?

We can all agree that the hype, excitement, and unpredictability of the NFL Draft is far superior to any other professional sport. The worst team from the previous season picks first (as long as the pick has not been traded) and the picks go from there down to the winner of the Super Bowl having the last pick of the first round. Should this format change? The NBA has a lottery system that keeps the top picks unpredictable, which is an incentive for teams not to intentionally lose at the end of the season after all playoff hopes have gone down the toilet.

I had previously never questioned the format of the NFL Draft format. In a league where coaches and owners know that winning is important for fans, value of the franchise, player morale and satisfaction, television contracts and endorsements, would a team really lose of purpose? Watching the Lions this season, I saw an awful team, but not a team that gave up or intentionally lost games. I found one Canadian blogger by the name of Ryan Bolta who argues that the NFL should have a draft lottery to discourage bad teams to "determine their own fate".

Bolta writes:

The Detroit Lions shouldn't have been awarded the number one pick without winning a lottery.

Despite owning the first 0-16 season in NFL history, the right to draft the best pro prospect shouldn't be a given right. It allows for bad teams to control their own destiny in a negative fashion. Any team eliminated from playoff contention knows the future is what's important. Nothing is stopping a bad team from investing in the future by losing games as the regular season comes to a close.
Have you ever followed players that have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, more importantly the Lions early picks? Did Mike Williams, Charles Rogers, and Joey Harrington help the Lions future in any way, shape, or form? The NFL draft is a crap shoot. The bad teams in the NFL do have control over their own destiny, but that doesn't mean they are making the best decisions or even choosing the best available players. Look at the Patriots draft choices. They continually pick late or near last in every round of the NFL draft, does this hurt them? No, they have gotten better players than those teams that get to "control their own destiny".

If it was up to the Detroit Lions, they would be fine with not selecting first in the NFL Draft. The first pick comes with uncertainties and a very high price tag.

Bolta also thinks that instituting a lottery would make the final weeks of the NFL season more interesting:

"The Lions need the help, but it really is time to put a system in place that adds chance to the equation when deciding the draft order. It would most definitely make for some more exciting football in the final weeks of the season."

"It would most definitely make for some more exciting football in the final weeks of the season." WHAT? So you are saying that the Lions would try harder the last two weeks if there was a lottery system? Nothing would change. The Lions had the #1 pick locked up at the end of the season....and they didn't play any better, nor were their last few games any more exciting.

The NFL draft format should stay the way it is. One of the beautiful things about the NFL is that teams can turn around their fortune in a single year (Cardinals, Dolphins, Falcons). In the NBA we see the same teams dominate for long runs, which tend to drive support out of the cities that constantly have terrible teams. The Lions are bad enough with getting one of the top picks every year, let's not make it harder for teams like the Lions to build a decent team.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sports Investments

The sports industry is a powerful medium in advertising and sponsorship. The more proficient a sports team is envisaged, in terms of stature, success and fan base, the higher the attraction for a company or organization to appear connected with that team. US football is a front-runner in the American sports industry and conjures a huge audience in the path to Superbowl glory. The Epoch Times Local reported in their June 17-23 2005 issue that ''Industry sources have said NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., has agreed to pay $600 million a year for 16 regular-season Sunday night NFL games and the annual Thursday season opener. The six-year NBC package also includes two playoff games and three prime-time preseason games each year, as well as the 2009 and 2012 Super Bowl championship contests. By comparison, ESPN is said to be paying the NFL $1.1 billion a year over eight years to take over the "Monday Night Football" package.''
This clearly emphasizes the importance and net worth of American Football, and the potential capacity for financial growth and development for a corporation, and its subsequent performance in the stock market, if it can be identified as an affiliate with a successful team or sport, irrespective of the mainstream nature of the business. The NFL has thirty-two teams, each with their own official corporate sponsors. To be associated with an individual football team is more prolific than sponsoring a league, as fans identify with their personal preferences. If you support American Football and you are keen to invest in the stock market, combine both and invest in the NFL. Personal speculation is your own investment in your team. It must be clearly accepted that investing in stocks and shares can result in both an increase and decrease in value, according to current trends within the marketplace and the state of the economy. Any investment can yield a dividend and an increase in net worth, but you can also experience a decrease in the overall value of your investment.
Three leading corporate sponsors within the NFL that are continuing to record promising results for investors are General Electric (GE), Anheuser-Busch (BUD) and Verizon Communications (VZ) - Stock ticker symbol in parenthesis, for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). General Electric is a multinational conglomerate which is experiencing a continued growth in earnings, and believes in investing in the future. They operate in growing markets and report a total return of $25.4 billion to shareholders, via stock buyback and dividend payments. For 32 consecutive years the company has increased the dividend payout per share. (GE.com 2008) Anheuser-Busch is America's leading brewery with over 100 brands, including Budweiser beer and Michelob lager. For five years the company has been ranked No1 according to Fortune Magazines list of US beverage companies. Share prices have risen steadily in the last ten years, from $24.375 (09.02.98) to the current price of $68.030 (09.02.08), and a dividend increase of 12.1 percent was recently announced. (Anheuser-Busch.com 2008) Verizon Communications provides broadband, television and telecommunication services. In July 2008, the company reported that they had experienced an earnings growth into double figures, its key areas witnessed sales gains, and they have a strong operating cash flow. Current share prices are $35.70 (09.03.08), and the 52 week range has seen shares prices fluctuate between $33.15 - $46.24.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fantasy games

OK, I know this may be strange for many if not most of you, but some people don't know how fantasy sports work. I ran across a guy in my office just the other day, who is a huge sports fan, who was e mbarrassed when I asked him to join my fantasy football league because he didn't know how. If you can turn on a computer, you can play fantasy sports. The fist step is to get signed up with a site that provides fantasy sports, like Sportsline or ESPN. You go to one of these sites and go to the fantasy sports tab and pick a user name and a password, your ready to go. All sites with fantasy sports will have different categories which include different pay scales or free. Beginners should start out with free, it's less intimidating. You then join a league that suites your interest and follow the directions.

Now the fun begins, if you are a stats nut this is where you can really dig in and do some research on who you might want to pick in the draft. If your just playing for fun and know nothing about the sport you are playing just check out the research that is automatically given to you. There will be a draft, now you can enter a league with an auto draft or one with a live draft. The auto draft does it automatically, you don't even have to turn on your computer. The live draft requires you to actually enter a draft room and depending on the sport, go through several rounds actually picking players one at a time. The draft for most people is the funnest part, it's where your strategy for the season begins.

In the draft you have specific rules, which will be drawn out before the draft begins, and you follow the rules to pick certain positions and a specific number of starters and backup players. You pick players from all over the "real league" and those players from different teams make up your specific team. Take the NFL for example, you can draft Jay Cutler from the Broncos as your quarterback and Terrell Owens as your receiver from the Cowboys. It's a matter of taking the best players from different teams as soon in the draft as you can. The great thing about fantasy sports is there are thousands of different strategies to use.

So, for either the avid sports fan or the casual "I'll check the sports page once in a while" fantasy sports can be a fun way to get to know your favorite players better and get a little competition i n your life. The number one thing to remember is don't be intimidated, there is always going to be that Internet tough guy who will talk trash to you, just think of him or her as a 40 year old dork who lives with his/her mother. Just have fun with Russian singles