All Eyes on Cleveland After Series of HUGE Trades

The NFL offseason has been filled with significant trades and the trend continued on Friday as the Cleveland Browns stole the spotlight picking up Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall. Here’s how it happened:

– Cleveland traded 2018 4th round draft pick & 2019 7th round draft pick to Miami for Jarvis Landry

– Cleveland traded 2018 3rd round draft pick to Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor

– Cleveland traded Deshone Kizer to Green Bay for Damarious Randall and also swapped draft picks in the 4th and 5th rounds.

The Browns are showing the NFL and the rest of the sports world that they’re done messing around. Not only did they pick up these guys for little to nothing but the Browns still have 5 of the top 65 picks. Two of them in the top 5 and three in the 2nd round. Also these trades could just be the beginning as they are expected to make a push for Richard Sherman or Tyrann Mathieu.

By week 1 of the 2018 season, it’s very possible that we could see Tyrod Taylor, Saquon Barkley, Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon on the field starting for Cleveland. Holy moly. Although it’s a fun thought, the Browns could pass up on Barkley and draft a much-needed defensive back and snag Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’ll be very difficult for the Browns to find a way to screw up this draft, especially now with their current situation. Also don’t be surprised if the Browns use one of their top 5 picks on Quenton Nelson if Joe Thomas does end up retiring which seems like that will be the case. In the end, this is all speculation and will all depend on how Cleveland finishes in free agency.

The Browns took a big step in the right direction on Friday and expect them to keep reeling in serious talent as free agency continues.

– Collin Borron

Advertisements

Wade Phillips & Aqib Talib Reunite in Los Angeles

The talk about Aqib Talib potentially being traded has been going on for months now. As a Denver fan myself, I didn’t necessarily want to see him go but I also understood the idea of trading him. When I finally got the notification that he was officially done in Denver and headed to the Los Angeles Rams, it was a bittersweet moment. Talib was a key factor to Denver’s success over the previous few years and especially on the Super Bowl winning squad in 2015. Instead of me listing off his accomplishments here’s a tweet that sums up his time with the Broncos rather well.

 

With all of the rumors of Talib returning to New England, I was beyond relieved to see he was going to the Rams. I already wrote about how there is a storm brewing in Los Angeles after they picked up Marcus Peters and how the Rams were just a few pieces away from being capable of a Super Bowl. Adding Talib is a huge step in reaching that goal. Sure he’s reaching the end of his career but, he has proven that he still has a lot to offer and is still an elite corner back. Being paired with Marcus Peters, this has more than enough potential to be the next great cornerback duo in the NFL. Wade Phillips is going to have a lot of fun this offseason with Peters and Talib. Phillips was more than likely ecstatic to see that his former Super Bowl champion corner will be rejoining his squad.

Although it is sad to see him go, I’m happy for Aqib Talib and the Los Angeles Rams. It’s a win for both sides. I’m beyond excited to see what Wade Phillips puts together on defense during this offseason. With the addition of another star corner, the storm continues to grow in Los Angeles.

– Collin Borron

There’s A Storm Brewing in Los Angeles

Ever since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles, they have been one of the teams I’ve been really rooting for to become great again. In 2017, the Rams were the surprise team of the year and actually one of the most dominant in the entire league. They showed how a simple head coaching change can make the biggest difference. Winning AP coach of the year, Sean McVay turned around an organization that was thought to be completely lost. The talent had always been there. They’ve had the players, but had Jeff Fisher coaching them. Nonetheless, this past season was incredible for the Rams and the fan base. They are just a few pieces away from becoming the team to beat in the NFC. This past week, they found one of those missing pieces after acquiring star cornerback, Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs.

L.A. lacked in-depth in the corner back position over the past couple of seasons. Peters will come into Los Angeles as the No.1 cornerback, replacing Trumaine Johnson. Talk about an upgrade. Marcus Peters has taken the NFL by storm, having at least 5 interceptions in his first three seasons in the league. He was one of the Chiefs best defenders and was their best corner. Which made it that much more surprising to see them trade him away. It’s been assumed that he was traded for a handful of draft picks, but won’t be made official until the new league year begins on March 14th.

Los Angeles Times

Wade Phillips now has his first lock down corner since his time in Denver in 2015. You know, his Super Bowl winning defense. Also, with Aaron Donald about to receive a contract that will most likely have him become the highest paid defender in the NFL, the already solid Rams defense, got that much better.

Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and now Marcus Peters, are just some of the Rams young star talent. Last year was just a taste of the potential that this team has. All of these guys are only getting better. If you didn’t take the Rams seriously last season, you best be sure to in 2018. If they are even remotely similar on the offensive side of the ball from last year, I expect at the very least an NFC title.

“Do you really think ONE star corner back can make THAT BIG of a difference?”

YES! Absolutely. Look how far they made it, without a single star corner. Aaron Donald carried that defense all year-long and they still went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs in a BRUTAL NFC. Now he has help? Come on. How will there not be improvement? Having players like Donald and Peters, will motivate the rest of the defense and get them to start playing with a swagger. Look at the Jaguars this year and their “Sacksonville” defense. Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell set the tone for that entire defense and lead them all the way to their conference championship. If Donald and Peters can spark that same energy in the Rams defense, look out.

USA Today Sports

It’s time to respect the Los Angeles Rams and take them seriously. Especially you fans in Los Angeles. FILL THAT STADIUM. Home field advantage is a real thing and after going 4-4 at home last season, it’s clear the team needs you guys! Rams fans, you have a special group and there is a storm brewing in Los Angeles that I don’t think you are even aware of. GET EXCITED. The 2018 season is a ways away, but I’m excited for this Rams team and their potential. After picking up Marcus Peters, L.A. has me all in on them to win the NFC in 2018.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

6 Players That NEED A Ring Before They Retire

We all have those players that we love to see succeed, even if they don’t play for our favorite team. Some guys are just too likable not to cheer for. Players like Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss and Brian Dawkins are just a sliver of players I grew up watching and could never get enough of. These guys were all more than deserving to win a Super Bowl. So when I saw them retire without a ring I was a bit bothered to say the least. I mean come on football gods, how could you not give these guys the ultimate reward they so undoubtedly deserved? With all of that said, I decided to compile a list of the most deserving current NFL players that we need to witness win a Super Bowl before they retire. Let’s dive right in.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR – Just like the previous names I mentioned above, Larry Fitzgerald is a player I have been fortunate enough to grow up watching and personally I couldn’t be more thankful. He’s one of the most genuine people on and off the field I have ever seen. Co-winning the Man of the Year award with Eli Manning in 2017, Fitzgerald has made and continues to make an impeccable impact off the field. His off the field actions have translated flawlessly on the field, as he nears the end of a certain Hall of Fame career with the Arizona Cardinals. Don’t forget that Fitzgerald and the Cardinals were minutes away from bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Arizona before a miraculous Pittsburgh Steelers game winning drive in Super Bowl 43. To this day, I’ve never cheered so hard for a team that wasn’t my favorite than in that Super Bowl. The Kurt Warner-Larry Fitzgerald duo is one of my all time favorite quarterback-wide receiver duos. Fitzgerald is a once in a generation talent and seeing him get a Super Bowl ring before retirement would be the icing on the cake to a historic career. Arizona, please find this man a quarterback.

Antonio Gates, TE – One of the best tight ends in the league, Gates has dominated opposing defenses his entire time with the Chargers. Being a Denver Broncos fan, he’s been one of the most frustratingly good players to have my team go up against. Gates also has one of my favorite stories in the NFL, going from college basketball star to undrafted free agent in the NFL. 200+ NFL games later, Gates will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest tight end’s in history. He is the all time TD leader at the tight end position. He’s played great for far too long to not have a Super Bowl ring.

Joe Thomas, LT – Good ole, Joe Thomas. We all know of his unreal streak of playing 10,363 consecutive offensive snaps with the Cleveland Browns. That alone deserves a major award. Joe Thomas has played at such an elite level for an incredible amount of time all while playing for the worst franchise in the league. Making it to the Pro Bowl 10 times while his team continues to struggle. Lucky for the Browns, he’s a genuinely great guy that doesn’t let the losing affect how he plays or feels about his team. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible for Thomas to get a ring, but golly the man deserves one.

Eric Berry, DB – He’s probably not a name you expected to see on this list. Just try to work with me here. Since watching him dominate college football at Tennessee, Berry quickly turned into one of my favorite defenders in the NFL because of the his passion and fight on and off the field. In 2015, the Chiefs star was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease and immediately made his future in the NFL doubtful. Less than a year later he was informed he was cancer-free and went on to earn his 4th Pro Bowl selection. He’s definitely a story that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Berry still plays with the same intensity and heart that he played with in college. Nowadays that’s rare to find in players. The effort and skill he presents every Sunday is something that never get’s old to watch. Except for the two times my Broncos have to face him. Even then, I can’t help but to just respect the guy. I’d love to see Eric Berry raise the Lombardi in the near future.

Antonio Brown, WR – Do I really even have to make a case for this guy? He’s one of the best players in the NFL and is the best wide receiver in the league. The 28-year-old Pittsburgh star has caught 733 passes for 9,910 yards and 59 touchdowns so far in his career. He actually played in Super Bowl XLV vs Green Bay when he was just a rookie, but Rodgers and the Packers came out on top. Brown is so easy to root for because of how much fun he has playing football in general. It’s contagious and it’s just hard to not like a guy like that. His positivity and dominance in the game makes him an easy pick for this list. He’s on pace for a Hall of Fame career and by being on the Steelers, a Super Bowl victory is very realistic.

Julio Jones, WR – Just like Antonio Brown, he’s one of the most dominant players in his position and one of the best in the league. If you look up “savage” in the dictionary, Julio Jones’ picture will be there. I mean honestly this guy is vicious when he plays and I love it. The Falcons star plays with a nasty grit that I haven’t seen since Calvin Johnson. It doesn’t matter who covers him, there’s a pretty darn good chance that Julio will come down with a reception. Also like Antonio Brown, Jones is surrounded by Super Bowl worthy talent. Obviously. I’d be shocked if Julio Jones doesn’t get at least one ring before he calls it quits.

Some of the players listed obviously have a more realistic chance than other’s but I tried to base it off just the player and how deserving they really are. I would’ve easily added more, but that would make this post the length of a novel. Nonetheless, I’d love to see ALL of these guys snag a Super Bowl victory and end their career’s on top where they all 100% deserve.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

The Pain Remains in Minnesota

Heartbreak….
 We have all been there, one moment the world couldn’t hold more color, the sun couldn’t shine brighter and then suddenly it stops. Your days turn gray and the sun gets lost behind some clouds. If you’re a Viking fan, like me, you’ve seen many days like this come and go.
 The 2017-2018 season started like any other, a solid draft by Vikings GM Rick Spielman and his staff led by a solid off-season training program. Minnesota truly did seem like they were on the cusp of something special. Week one I was there, the home opener in US Bank Stadium, the loudest venue I have even been apart of (sorry KC fans I’ve been to two games in arrowhead and nothing gets louder than a SKOL chant on Sunday afternoon). Sam Bradford and the new look Vikings offense wage war on the New Orleans Saints led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. This game would set in place a season marked by loss and fortunate events. Sam Bradford lights it up his first game out 27 of 32 attempts found their mark for a staggering 346 yards and 3 touchdowns you throw in 22 carries and 127 yards for a solid 5.8 yards per carry from rookie Dalvin Cook its hard to think of anyone stopping the machine certainly while backed up by arguably the best defense in football.
The first fracture comes here Bradford goes down with a knee injury a bone bruise maybe it’s a torn ligament or scar tissue I don’t think anyone really knew. So this is it, like a free delicious sample at a store, just enough to show you how good it could be but not enough to satisfy your craving. In steps Case Keenum the best way I can say it is if Sam Bradford was your vintage Porsche that you’ve restored after some dents and scratches, then Case was like having to drive your old Geo Metro with a hubcap falling off, a crack across your windshield and you just had to crank the key just right to get it to start. That’s what Case was before Minnesota but Pat Shurmur the Offensive Coordinator and Kevin Stefanski the Quarterback Coach they were the fairy God Mother of the Vikings dreams. They turned the beat up broke down Geo Metro into a formula one car that came in the form of a gunslinger Minnesota hasn’t seen since Favre suited up in the purple and gold. After all he just needed to manage games with Dalvin tearing up defenses and let the defense win it for you…sounds familiar doesn’t it? Minnesota leans on a loaded defense and dominant run game to mask the short comings of their passing attack. Not so fast, not this year after all Minnesota had pro bowl Tight End Kyle Rudolph pro bowl Wide Outs in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen they even signed former pro bowler Latavius Murray who came from a spread it out offense in Oakland. The Vikings had the pieces, they just needed the glue or a beat down broken Metro.

Case Keenum didn’t break down, in fact, he posted a career year tallying 3,547 yard 22 tds and only 7 ints not bad for a falling off hubcap, but then week four, Dalvin Cook tears his ACL on a non contact football move and is gone for the season. The Vikings lose that game to the Lions 14-7 and that’s the season, it’s over, another year of what ifs. This is the second fracture of the campaign. The team rolls in to week five and limps out with a 20-17 win over Chicago, and then week six they catch fire. Anthony Barr injures Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota claims a 23-10 win and wouldn’t see another loss until week 13 against the Panthers losing 31-24, all the while quietly posting a historic season. Mckinnon and Murray silently post a 2nd place finish in regular season rushing for a running back tandem behind Jay Ajayi and Legarette Blount of Philadelphia. Case Keenum posts his remarkable year. The Vikings defense posts a 25.2 third down percentage the best the league has seen since 1991 when the Saints set the mark with 26.1 and in modern-day football that’s unheard of.

 So here we are the 2nd seed Carson Wentz is on a campaign to be the leagues MVP in Philly goes down with a knee injury. Teddy Bridgewater returns and plays in a game during garbage time and I feel the sun I see the colors and I think this could be it the pieces are falling into place perfectly. Then comes the divisional round. I see Philly and Atlanta play in a snooze fest and I figure well, if Minnesota can beat the Saints it just about books a trip home to the Super Bowl after all Philly was the weakest 1st seed ever…ha,  so naive. Minnesota would break out to an early lead against the Saints, it looked like a no contest early and then, Xavier Rhodes turns an ankle and the premier shutdown corner of the NFL is hobbled,  Michael Thomas and Drew Brees the duo, light up Minnesota like a Griswold family Christmas display and I see the clouds rolling in. Then it happens the Saints take a late lead and I realize it’s over, the seasons done, that magic flickered out, ha! so naive. I learned my lesson that night to never give up on your team, because with seconds to go Case Keenum would write his name into Viking lore forever, a high pass which hung in the air for what seemed like forever was rescued by Stefon Diggs and as he fell all I could think of was get out-of-bounds, please for the love of God get out of bounds, and then it happened, pandemonium. Marcus Williams makes one of the worst tackle attempts of all time taking out Crawley, Stefon Diggs does the best impression of an Olympic speed skater I’ve ever seen on grass, bending parallel to the ground catching himself with his hand turning and finding nothing but history. That run was in slow motion, go ahead, key up the titanic music and get some tissues because as I stood there eventually dropping to my knees I witnessed a miracle. My grandfather who has seen it all since 1961 and I hugged we watched the replay and we thought no way not this way these plays never play out for us. Example, Blair Walsh or Gary Anderson, maybe everyone recalls the greatest run by a QB in NFL history when Michael Vick turned into a human video game to win it in overtime for Atlanta. This was ours though and you couldn’t beat destiny you couldn’t halt fate.

 You can’t beat destiny, but you can break her heart. It still hurts….Minnesota rolled into Philadelphia the team of destiny. The first team to ever play a Superbowl in their home stadium, a historic defense, a miracle man in Case Keenum with enough offensive sidekicks to make the justice league jealous, it just seemed like a formality. The first drive the Vikings look like they are about to run rough shot over the Eagles and then, a bolt comes loose on the hubcap in tune of a pick six to tie it. Then another screw with a deep shot to Alshon Jeffrey…then the tire falls off the car goes crashing rolling flipping and diving and before you know it…its over. Heartbreak…it ends, and you’re numb, how could this team do what it did the week before and then have it come to this? Emotional hang over? Was Philly just that good? I say no to both. The Vikings just crumbled under the weight. In reality, they don’t go on that run and they shouldn’t have. In reality, as well I would know better than to let myself believe the hype, but in reality Minnesota is that pretty girl that you know is going to wreck your heart but you can’t help but go for it anyway. That’s the 2017-2018 campaign the records the memories and the miracles they’re all for nothing. What lasts is the hurt and the dark clouds the gray and lack of color. It’s mid February and I still can’t see an Eagle without being sick to my stomach, but that’s this game we play. I know this feeling all to well, being a Viking fan, but come April when Roger Goodell stands at that podium and he says with the 30th pick in the NFL Draft the Minnesota Vikings select. I will be there in my purple seeing all the colors soaking in the sun because no matter how many times I say I’m done I always come back for more. I’m not sure what 2018-2019 holds for Minnesota, hopefully a Superbowl birth. It will hold a few things I feel are guaranteed. The return of the prolific Dalvin Cook, an embarrassed elite defense looking to make a point with something to prove, another year in the west coast offense to see Rudolph, Diggs, and Thielen go off. Who gets them the ball? Will it be the restored Porsche? The Geo Metro missing a wheel, how about the Camaro salvage from wreckage rebuilt and left under the tarp. Whether its Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, or Teddy Bridgewater, or maybe a rookie, whoever it is I will love this team, because whats love without a little heartbreak in between?

– Matt Corum (Guest Writer)

49ers Go ALL IN On Jimmy Garoppolo

We all knew it was coming at some point this off-season. Today it finally happened. The San Francisco 49ers gave QB Jimmy Garoppolo a 5-year contract extension worth $137.5 million. Making it largest in league history in terms of “average per year”. The 49ers found their franchise quarterback and John Lynch made it official.

Garoppolo transformed one of the worst teams in the NFC to one of the hottest when he arrived in October. The Niners didn’t lose a game when he started, going 5-0 while looking seemingly unstoppable. Also keep in mind during his time in New England he never lost when he started, going 2-0. Jimmy G is 7-0 in the NFL as a starting QB. Has he done enough to earn this payday? In my opinion, absolutely.

The Patriots traded Garoppolo away to the Niners last October for a second-round pick in the 2018 draft. I can’t help to think that Belichick and New England just sort of gave him away. Then again, was he really worth anything more at the time? Either way, San Francisco found their guy for little to nothing.

Personally, I’m glad for Jimmy G and would really like to see him continue to thrive in San Francisco. The organization and fans certainly deserve to get back on the map and I have no doubt that the 49ers will see themselves back in the playoff talk in the 2018 season.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

Jacksonville & Minnesota Will Be Simply Average in 2018

The Jaguars and Vikings had two of the best defenses in the NFL this past season. They went on incredible runs deep into the playoffs. Both competing in their conference championship. It’s safe to say after their successful seasons, they will come back next year with a ton of momentum and continue their winning ways. Right? Actually, no.
Jacksonville was given a situation where it was almost impossible for them not to win their division. The Colts didn’t have Andrew Luck all year, Houston was on FIRE with Deshaun Watson but then he suffered a season ending injury, and Tennessee was their toughest competition. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Titans as I actually think they are brewing up something special with Mariota and that offense, but they are still a ways away from being a true threat. In the end, Jacksonville took full advantage of the very messy AFC South.
In the Playoffs, the Jaguars squeaked by the Bills in the Wild Card round, dominated Pittsburgh for half the game and upset the Steelers at Heinz Field in the Divisional Round and were minutes away from defeating the Patriots in the AFC Championship but couldn’t quite put the game away and came up short.
The Jaguars earned our respect, especially in the playoffs and I’m not trying to take anything away from their special season. It’s their success that will be their downfall.
The 2017 season and playoff run creates a tougher 2018 schedule. Both New England and Philadelphia are early opponents of the Jags next season. Also the AFC South will be at full strength. Indianapolis will have Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson will be back for the Texans and Mariota is only getting better. Jacksonville could very easily finish 3rd or 4th in their division next season and personally I expect at best a 9-7 record.
This same concept applies to the Vikings in the NFC North. The Bears were just plain out bad, Green Bay lost Aaron Rodgers to injury and the biggest competition was an ‘alright’ Detroit Lions squad. This created a dream scenario for the Vikings and they, like the Jaguars, took full advantage of it.
Minnesota’s 2018 schedule is ridiculously tough. Here’s a list of just some of their competition.
– New England Patriots (Duh)
– LA Rams (Best Offense in Football)
– Green Bay Packers TWICE (Healthy Rodgers)
– New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees)
– Philadelphia Eagles (Defending SB Champs)
– San Francisco (Jimmy Garoppolo)
– Seattle Seahawks (Always a challenge)
Those are just the toughest opponents. Don’t forget about having to face a solid Detroit team twice as well. Minnesota is in for quite the wake up call.

All in all, to me it looks highly unlikely that the Vikings and Jaguars will duplicate their success from a season ago. Opponents returning healthy, much tougher teams scheduled and both are without star QB’s. Not quite the recipe for success.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)