All posts by rmaccallum

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant Threatens to Sit Out Games

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

With the deadline to sign a multiyear deal looming, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tried to heighten the stakes today, threatening to sit out training camp and regular season games if he and the Cowboys are unable to reach a long-term deal. Dez tweeted out today, “As much as I love football…on my beautiful babies… I apologize #cowboynation but I will not be there if no deal #fact” The tweet came after Bryant reportedly informed Stephen Jones, the son of Jerry Jones (who we all know is actually the one running the team and deserves a lot of credit for the Cowboys recent success) of this information. Stephen Jones denied that Dez had told him that.

The deadline for signing a multiyear franchise deal is 4 p.m. eastern on Wednesday, July 15. If Bryant doesn’t sign by then, he will receive a $12.8 million salary this upcoming season if he agrees to sign the one-year franchise tender. The Cowboys love Dez Bryant, and consider him their best offensive player. They’d like to lock him up long term, but they don’t want to overpay him. Much of the Cowboy’s success last season came from the league’s best offensive line, and they want to keep that group together for a long time. They signed left tackle Tyron Smith to a big contract last summer, and they want to lock up right guard Zack Martin in the upcoming years. In a salary cap league, they won’t be able to do that if they overpay for Dez.

The Cowboys believe Bryant’s threat to be a bluff. While Dez has had all kinds of off the field and on the field issues with his maturity, the one thing that can’t be denied is that Dez loves football, and he loves his team. Even during OTAs and minicamp, while Bryant was still negotiating with the team, he couldn’t keep himself away, participating in individual drills, and being on the sideline watching when his contract situation didn’t allow him to participate. Because of this, the Cowboys aren’t worried about Dez’s threat, and are confident number 88 will be on the field in uniform week 1 against the Giants.

Dez Bryant has established himself as one of the top receivers in football. He’s a part of an elite group that includes Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Jordy Nelson. However, Dez has now played in the league for five years, and it wasn’t until last year that he played in his first playoff game. While Bryant had an impressive season, the real secret to the Cowboy’s success in 2014 was due to their much-improved offensive line and their ability to get consistent quarterback play out of Tony Romo for the entire season. If you look at the receivers listed above, their production is based almost entirely on their quarterback’s effectiveness. Demariyus Thomas wasn’t a top tier receiver with Tim Tebow, but he is with Peyton Manning. A.J. Green is a lot better with regular season Andy Dalton than playoff Andy Dalton, who we all know are two different quarterbacks. In Super Bowl XLIX, the best wide receiver in the game was 5’10 college quarterback Julian Edelman. Yet, there were receivers on both teams making tremendous plays.

The point of all of this is that there are plenty of good wide receivers in the NFL, and the fact is a good quarterback will be good with just about any of them. Dez Bryant is incredible, but his value to the Cowboys is nowhere near enough to sacrifice their young offensive line down the road. However, deadlines always seem to make both sides think a little more reasonable, and it won’t surprise anyone if by time 4 pm passes on Wednesday, Dez Bryant will have a new long-term contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Giant’s Jason Pierre-Paul has Finger Amputated After Fireworks Accident

Image from gcobb.com
Image from gcobb.com

Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a severe hand injury over the weekend due to a fireworks accident. Pierre-Paul reportedly had a U-Haul truck filled completely with fireworks to set off with some friends in celebration of Independence Day. While lighting one of the fireworks himself, something went terribly wrong, and Pierre-Paul burned himself. While there have been all kinds of reports as to the extent of the injury, it has become clear that there were indeed injuries to both hands. At first, there were reports that Pierre-Paul could lose an entire hand, and that this could be a career-threatening injury.

After being hospitalized, these reports appear to be false. Details are still rolling in, but it seems as though Pierre-Paul (or JPP as he is sometimes referred to as) did indeed injure both hands, suffering severe burns on the palm of one hand and the tips of three fingers on the other. One finger is being tested for nerve damage. Other reports suggested at the very least JPP would need a few fingers amputated, but these reports also look to be an overreaction, as doctors believed there will be no permanent damage.

Not only does this injury not seem to be career threatening, on July 5, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that, “It may not be game or season threatening, either.” The Giant’s have some concern that the injuries could cause him to miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season, but everyone is still awaiting more medical answers.

There is another twist to this story, as Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to sign the $14.8 million franchise tender, and therefore is technically not under contract. The Giants and JPP have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract, but the Giants have said publicly that they would be okay allowing JPP to play out the 2015 season under the one-year tender and then letting him hit free agency next year.

In the days following the accident, Giants team officials went down to South Florida, where Pierre-Paul lives, looking to see him and diagnose the injuries to his hands themselves. However, with JPP not currently under contract, he doesn’t have to let them see him, and he has avoided them since the accident. The Giants have yet to see Pierre-Paul’s hands, and the public has yet to be made aware of the extent of the injury as of Tuesday. JPP may end up as a free agent, not playing a snap for the Giants this year.

On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out a medical report that revealed JPP indeed had his right index finger amputated. It has been reported that Pierre-Paul should be able to play, “sooner than you think.” JPP reportedly chose to have the finger amputated because it would allow him to come back sooner.

JPP is certainly an important part of the Giants defense. Considered the team’s top pass rusher, the two-time Pro Bowler led the Giants in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits. The former first round-pick also recorded 76 tackles (third on the team), which was second only to J.J. Watt among defensive lineman in 2014.

If Pierre-Paul were to miss any time, let alone extensive time, it will certainly hurt a Giants team that has high expectations. Odell Beckham Jr. emerged as a star last year, they will get Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings back from injury, they’ve improved the offensive line, and Eli Manning is a 2-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Despite recent struggles, it isn’t inconceivable to think of the Giants as playoff contenders in 2015, but missing a top tier pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul could really put a damper on those playoff hopes. It certainly leads one to wonder about the six-week dead period the NFL has between OTAs and the start of training camp, and they will likely think about shortening the time period where the players go unsupervised, or perhaps, allowing more contact in order to supervise them during the six week offseason.

Seattle Seahawks: Wilson’s Contract at a Stalemate?

Image from: nflbreakdown.com
Image from: nflbreakdown.com

With the ball on the one-yard line, less than a minute remaining on the clock, and a four-point deficit, Russell Wilson dropped back to throw a Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass. Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass and the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XLVIX. Russell Wilson was that one pass away from winning his second Super Bowl, in just his third year as a starter. Now, entering the final year of his rookie contract, both the Seahawks and Wilson want Russell to sign an extension. However, the two camps are on different sides on what the money should look like. It was reported recently that Wilson is looking to become the highest paid player in the NFL.

Russell Wilson was a part of a recent wave of young talent into the NFL at the quarterback position, a group that includes Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick. Tannehill, Dalton, Newton, and Kaepernick have recently signed lucrative extensions. Newton and Kaepernick’s contracts are each worth over $100 million (though Kaepernick’s is incentive laden), Dalton’s is worth $96 million, and Tannehill’s is worth $77 million. The four-year deal Wilson received as a rookie is worth under $3 million. Currently, Aaron Rodgers is the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, with an average yearly salary of $22 million. That’s the number Wilson and his agent are using to negotiate.

The Seahawks have gotten off easy with Wilson the past three years. They essentially had a free quarterback, able to funnel a lot more money into their defense and easily stay within the salary cap requirements. Pete Carroll’s NFL head coaching resume before Russell Wilson was: fired, fired, 7-9, 7-9. Then in his third year with Seattle, he names rookie Russell Wilson his starting quarterback. All of a sudden he wins a playoff game, wins the Super Bowl the next year and comes one play away from repeating last year. Is Russell Wilson the best player in the National Football League? No. Is he the best quarterback in the National Football League? No. But right now, that’s irrelevant.

In today’s NFL, finding an elite quarterback that can win a Super Bowl is becoming harder and harder. Wilson, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger have won 13 of the last 14 Super Bowls. It’s possible to win games with average quarterback play, but it is impossible to win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback in today’s NFL. It’s not that quarterbacks have gotten worse, they’ve actually gotten much better, but the responsibility of playing quarterback has gotten much more difficult. With the introduction of the no-huddle offense, quarterbacks not only have more responsibility at the line of scrimmage, they also have an extra 20-30 plays a game with the ball in their hands. The debate over Russell Wilson’s contract isn’t a debate over how he ranks in comparison to other quarterbacks in the league; it’s a debate over how valuable he is to the Seahawks. There’s a reason average quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill just got big contracts. Even at the level they’re at ability-wise, they’re extremely hard to replace. When all these things are considered, the Seahawks have no choice but to pay him.

This contract doesn’t have to get done immediately. Wilson is still under contract for the upcoming year, and he has no intention of holding out. Next year, if Wilson remains unsigned, the Seahawks will have the ability to franchise him, and Wilson has said he would be willing to play under the franchise tag. This would either mean him playing for one year, or the two sides hashing out a long-term deal. Either way, it doesn’t seem likely that Wilson will hit the open market. The only plausible questions that remain are when he signs, how long he signs for, and how much he signs for.

By: Rory MacCallum