Friday, March 6, 2015

NFL OFFSEASON MOVES: WEEK OF 3/6/2015.

By: Connor Glowacki

     The NFL offseason began just over a month ago as the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49. But with just four days left until the beginning of free agency, teams throughout the league have already started making moves to try and improve their rosters for the upcoming 2015-2016 season.
   
      Let's take a look at some of the big moves that were made in just the past week:

*Chicago Bears trade wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.
     Marshall trade rumors had been brewing for the past few days, but it was made official today (March 6) as the Chicago Bears traded their star wide receiver to the New York Jets.
     Marshall, a nine year veteran and a five time Pro Bowler, struggled through nagging injuries in 2014 and had just 721 receiving yards with eight touchdowns. In the previous seven seasons, Marshall had racked up at least 1,000 yards receiving in each consecutive season. While the Jets will pair Marshall with wide receivers Eric Decker and Percy Harvin in New York, the Chicago Bears will most likely receive a 2015 late round draft pick in return.
     Marshall was scheduled to make $7.5 million this season and the Bears are preparing to give wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey a larger contract at the end of next season. Chicago is in the midst of both a new era with new head coach John Fox and questions surrounding the future of embattled quarterback Jay Cutler, who is in the middle of a seven year/$126.7 million deal.
 
*Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots will not resign wide receiver Reggie Wayne and nose tackle Vince Wilfork, respectively. Both are now free agents. 

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
     Two NFL veterans will now test out the free agent market. The Colts announced this week that they will not re-sign Reggie Wayne after 14 seasons with the team. Wayne is the Colts' franchise leader in regular season games played (211) and wins (143). He also ranks second in receptions (1,070), receiving yards (14,345) and receiving touchdowns (80).
     Wayne is currently sixth on the NFL's all-time receptions list, but he struggled last season as he dealt with injuries and only had 779 yards and two touchdowns. He is still deciding between retiring and playing next season.
Nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
Photo courtesy of CBSSports.com.
     News came out about Vince Wilfork's release from the Patriots on Thursday (March 5) and the move will save New England over eight million dollars in cap space.
     Wilfork returned from a torn achilles injury in 2014 and played in 73.4 percent of defensive snaps, anchoring an improved Patriots defense as the team's nose tackle. He has won two Super Bowls and is a five time Pro Bowler throughout his 11 seasons in New England.

*Philadelphia Eagles trade running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Running Back Lesean McCoy
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.
     This was a trade that came out of nowhere and shocked many people in the sports world. McCoy ran for over 1,300 yards in 2014, but also just five touchdowns. And there were only four games last season where McCoy ran for over 100 yards.
     With the length of a running back's career in the NFL dwindling each and every year, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly might have believed that McCoy, age 26, had already past his NFL prime.  
     Alonso missed the entire 2014 season due to injury, but registered a whopping 159 tackles in 2013. And since he's a former Oregon Duck, the same school that Kelly coached for, Alonso should be a solid fit for the Eagles defensive schemes. McCoy can only help a Buffalo Bills rushing attack that ranked 25th in the league last season.

*Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew retires after nine seasons in the NFL.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Photo courtesy of ESPN.
     Jones-Drew, known for his small stature at 5-foot-7 and 210 pounds, ran for 8,167 yards and 68 touchdowns in his career.
     After eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones-Drew played for the Oakland Raiders in 2014. However, he broke his hand in the first game and couldn't reclaim his spot on the depth chart.
     He announced his retirement on Twitter stating, "All good things must come to an end!".

*New York Jets resign linebacker David Harris to three year deal, San Diego Chargers sign wide receiver Jacoby Jones to a two year deal.

Linebacker David Harris.
Photo courtesy of silive.com.
     The Jets re-signed Harris today (March 6), four days before he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.  His new contract will be three years for $21 million. Harris has spent his entire career with the New York Jets, since the organization drafted him in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft.
     Harris led the Jets with 124 tackles and also contributed six sacks in 2014. He also played in a whopping 99.4 percent of all defensive snaps last season.
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones.
Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun.
     Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers signed former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones to a two year deal.
     Jones struggled in 2014 and quickly lost his spot on the depth chart as a receiver. He finished the year with just nine catches for 131 yards.
     Keep in mind that just two years ago, Jones caught a 56 yard touchdown pass and scored on a 198 yard kickoff return in the Ravens' victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 47.

Have any thoughts on these offseason transactions? Anything I missed that you would like to add?

Leave a comment below or tweet me your comment on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

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