Cassel’s a Chief, Haynesworth is overpaid, and nobody wants Cutler

New England traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for a 2nd round pick this year.  Apparently a failed menage-a-trois with NE, KC and Tampa Bay went sour as Cassel would have gone to Denver and Cutler to the Bucs (did anyone even know that Cutler may actually leave Denver?), but Denver allegedly balked (you snooze, you lose) and the Chiefs snagged perhaps the greatest steal in free agency thus far.  I’m sure Vrabel will be ecstatic seeing the Chargers twice per year.  Also, wouldn’t it be funny if Tom Brady tanked or got hurt again early in the season?!  But the Patriots did acquire RB Fred Taylor from Jacksonville, so I suppose they really don’t need a QB.  And I hope this ends the ridiculous banter surrounding the remote “possibility” that LaDainian Tomlinson might adorn the red, white and blue next season.  Not a chance.

The Bucs did finagle a trade with Cleveland for Kellen Winslow Jr., but I’m not sure if that was a good thing for Tampa unless the young Winslow gets an attitude adjustment.  Oh wait, Jon Gruden is gone.  Never mind.

Now about the Cutler “thing” (and you all know how much I truly despise the Donkeys and love the rumor mill), apparently Cutler is aware the team is shopping him around.  To which he stated, “I’ve heard the rumors…I know what they’re trying to do. Even though I love Denver and I’d love to remain a Bronco, I know how this business works. If they want me to play somewhere else, so be it.”  Maybe it was the whole “I have a better arm than Elway” that got Denver’s panties in a wad?!!  Since Detroit traded John Kitna to Dallas, there has been talk of Cutler going to the Lions (sorry, LMAO!)

I won’t even mention the RIDICULOUS $100 million contract ex-Titan Albert Haynesworth received in Washington, complete with an uber-ridiculous history-making $41 million signing bonus.  Sounds like something Al Davis would do.


No news is good news…I think

With respect to LaDainian Tomlinson, anyway, that there hasn’t been any publicized progress, or lack thereof, in the whole contract negotiation thing seems to bode well for LT staying in San Diego; however, neither LT or AJ Smith are saying much.

Free Agency:

The Chargers were relatively quiet over the first day of free agency, but they have made some progress.  Both LB Anthony Waters and RB Eldra Buckley have been released.  Also, second-round tenders have been placed on restricted free agents Malcom Floyd and Cletis Gordon meaning that if the Chargers don’t care to match a contract from another team, they will get a second-round pick.  Jeromey Clary, currently the team’s only exclusive rights free agent, will be offered a contract.  The remaining 4 free agents have not been offered contracts:  Igor Olshansky, Mike Goff, Jeremy Newberry, and Marques Harris – so it remains to be seen where they will end up.  Frankly, I would hate to see any of them not in a Chargers uniform.

Injury update: 

Many players underwent surgery after the end of the season, with all expected to be fine by training camp: Marcus McNeill (neck), Jacob Hester (knee), Kassim Osgood (wrist), Jacques Cesaire (shoulder), Scott Mruczkowski (shoulders), Mike Scifres (knee), Charlie Whitehurst (shoulder ), Matt Wilhelm (shoulder), and Jamal Williams (knee/shoulder.)

Shawne Merriman is “on schedule” following his ACL/PCL surgery and should be ready for training camp.  It remains to be seen how potent Lights Out will be next season.  2009 will be the last year of his current contract, as he will be a free agent in 2010.  Merriman will make approx. $2.7 million for 2009.


YIPPPEEEEEE!!

Yeah, TRY to catch him!!

Yeah, TRY to catch him!!

Darren Sproles has been designated the Chargers Franchise Player for 2009, reports chargers.com.  His status is that of “non-exclusive” which means he can still negotiate with other teams, but the Chargers have the right to match the offer or trade him for 2 first round draft picks.

Due to this status, Sproles received a one-year contract that averages the salary of the top five RBs in the league (approx. $6 million).  While he has publicly stated he wants to remain in San Diego (and all of us fans hope he does) he wanted to test the free-agent market.


Will he stay or will he go?

According to Casey Pearce at chargers.com,

The status of running back and return specialist Darren Sproles is also on the front burner. Sproles is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in two weeks. The Chargers can apply the franchise tag to Sproles if they wish. Doing so would guarantee Sproles a one-year contract worth $6,621,000 in 2009.  
 
Under that situation, other teams would have the opportunity to negotiate with Sproles, but the Chargers would receive two first-round draft picks as compensation should another club reach an agreement with the 5-6 scat-back and the Chargers choose not to match that offer. If the Chargers franchise Sproles, they must do so by Feb. 19, which is next Thursday.
 
“Darren has said on the record that he will go to the free agent market,” Smith said. “Do the Chargers offer a contract along with the 31 other teams and find out where we go or do the Chargers consider the franchise tag? He can participate in the open market or receive the franchise tag. Stay tuned.”

Other players deserving of mention with the impending free agency period near are Mike Goff, Jeremy Newberry, Igor Olshansky, Jeromey Clary, Malcom Floyd, Cletus Gordon and Shawne Merriman.

The status of LaDainian Tomlinson is also front and center within the minds of Chargers’ fans and the front office.

A.J. Smith has reported that the plans for the Chargers’ offseason will be available by Thursday, Feb. 26th.

Stay tuned.


The AFC falls to the NFC in the Pro Bowl

AFC 21, NFC 30

Granted, I wasn’t extremely excited to watch this game for multiple reasons.  First, it marks the end of the NFL season and promotes a heavy air of sadness upon my entire being.  I hate basketball and baseball does not have the same, shall we say, stimulation that football induces in me.

Secondly, Kris Dielman was the only Charger at the game since Antonio Gates begged out due to injury.

On the bright side, however, Owen Daniels, Gates’ replacement, did manage to catch the ball twice, including a 9-yd TD pass from Kerry Collins in the 2nd quarter.  Yeah, Kerry Collins who, presumably, made the Pro Bowl as an alternate to Brett Favre’s alternate status (since Favre did not play to injury as well) because the Titans started the season 10-0.  Whoopeeeee.  Not Philip Rivers who led the league the entire year in passer rating and TDs.  Obviously Rivers wasn’t “elected” because the Chargers’ did not play up to snuff all year.  But shall I remind you that the Chargers did, in fact, win their division, unlike Denver, who sent both Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler to Honolulu.  I have no (significant) gripes against Marshall, despite his being #2 in the league in dropped passes this season, but Cutler, come on. (All right Donkey fans….bring it!)  Nice to see Cutler play to his ability, going 7/15, 48 yds, and 1 INT.  And he had the AFC’s elite to throw to.  Great job Jay.

Arizona’s stud WR Larry Fitzgerald was named Pro Bowl MVP (although the Cardinals should have won the Super Bowl and he should have earned MVP honors in that game) for his 5 catches, 81 yds, and 2 TDs.


Super Bowl Recap (aka “how the refs blew yet another important game”)

Cardinals 23, Steelers 27

Let me preface this by stating that the Cardinals are my “step-team” – a term coined by my ex-husband (a diehard Chargers fan as well) who is letting me use his ideas royalty-free.  Let me explain.  While I bleed blue and gold, having lived in AZ for over 5 years now, I have found I love my step-team as much as my “real” team.

That said, the Cardinals should be very proud of their performance.  Kurt Warner had another fabulous game, 377 yds and 2 TDs.  The three musketeers of Arizona receiving – Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston – combined for 21 catches, nearly 400 yds and 3 TDs.  The defense played equally well, intercepting Roethlisberger and sacking him twice.

In my opinion, the game was decided by the referees’ ineptness yet again.  After Ken Whisenhunt successfully challenged two horrible calls, one would logically think that any close plays would be looked at a bit closer.  Especially the final play, where Warner’s arm was OBVIOUSLY coming forward emulating a forward pass, and not a fumble as ruled.  But no, this would give Warner the opportunity for a long pass and a likely-TD by any one of the receivers and possibly the game – and we can’t have the Cardinals winning the Super Bowl now, can we?  Of course not, that would be, um, unAmerican. 

To continue my rant.  What the hell is “running over the holder?”  Oh please.  Or the “roughing the passer” call when Roethlisberger was legitimately tackled.  I don’t recall seeing an “excessive celebration” flag for Santonio Holmes’ TD (which was, by the way, a great catch.)  Really, the lengths to which the officials went to to give Pitt the game was truly astounding.  Mike Pereira should be so proud.

So, to conclude, congrats to the Arizona Cardinals who persisted and won crucial games despite all the naysayers.  They should be very proud and have next year to look forward to.


Houston’s TE Daniels to replace Gates in Pro Bowl

Texans’ TE Owen Daniels will be headed to his first Pro Bowl next month after Antonio Gates begged out of the game due to his ongoing injury. 

Those of you who read my blog know I am terribly infatuated with Daniels, and wish him a big Congratulations.  And for Gates, rehab that ankle so you are 100% for next year!!


A.J. and L.T. talk…part 2

After the media allegedly skewed comments made by Chargers GM A.J. Smith regarding LaDainian Tomlinson’s future with the organization, Smith called LT in Tampa this week in an attempt to clear up the confusion.  Stressing “misinformation and speculation”, it appears both sides are open-minded and positive … at least for now.

(Source: chargers.com)


All aboard the coaching carousel…

After an abysmal 6-26 in his past two seasons, Chiefs’ head coach Herm Edwards has been sacked (pun intended.)  Despite rumors that Shanahan may be off to Kansas City, apparently they are just that – rumors.  I’ve read articles attesting to the fact that the Chiefs organization hasn’t even contacted Shanahan to that he may be going to Dallas or Tampa Bay as an offensive coordinator.  I suppose only time will tell.  More bad news for Kansas City, long-time defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has gone to Detroit to be the Lions’ new defensive coordinator.  Add ex Rams head coach Scott Linehan who was fired in St. Louis as Detroit’s new offensive coordinator, and I’m willing to wager that the Lions will not go 0-16 next year.

Is it me, or does it seem that this year has seen an unprecendented number of coach firings?  From Eric Mangini to Mike Shanahan to Herm Edwards, Jon Gruden, Rod Marinelli, Romeo Crennel, etc. it seems as though the NFL is experiencing a large-scale renovation.  Sorry team owners, they can’t all be Don Shula, George Halas, Tom Landry, or the rest of the winningest coaches of all time.

At least the Chargers get to keep Norv Turner for another year.  Stay tuned for my comment on that should I come up with one that can be published; however, I really do like Ron Rivera.  And he signs autographs, unlike Turner.


Cardinals/Steelers in 2 weeks…

What a completely boring and sloppily-played game.  But, nevertheless, Pittsburgh emerged victorious and will meet the Cardinals in the Super Bowl in 2 weeks.

If the Steelers play like they just did, Arizona will have no problems at all.  Let’s just hope the referee crew calling the game is pre-aware of Pittsburgh’s predeliction to dirty plays and penalty-laden games.