There's good news for retired players looking to get treatment from the NFL for injuries suffered during their professional careers. The NFL and retired players have agreed to a renewed settlement in the ongoing concussion lawsuits. The initial settlement, which was turned down by the federal courts, put a cap on damages at $765 million dollars. That sounds like a lot of money, but when you take into account how expensive and intensive treatment for concussions and other head injuries can be, it wasn't really enough. The settlement was supposed to last for 65 years, and it seems highly doubtful that it would be enough money to cover every retired player for that long.
The Cleveland Browns finally finalized first-round quarterback Johnny Manziel’s contract, signing the ex-Texas A&M player to a four-year deal worth about $8.25 million, plus a fifth-year team option. With Manziel under contract, the rookie quarterback with the best chance of starting in 2014 is now fully ready to begin working out with the team. While the Browns management continues to insist Brian Hoyer will be the starting lineup, Manziel’s talent and the expectations of being a first-round pick, will likely see him behind center sooner rather than later.
This year, HBO's fantastic documentary series, Hard Knocks, will be coming to Atlanta to cover the attempted rebuilding effort for the Atlanta Falcons. There were rumors and scuttlebutt that the NFL would try to get the St. Louis Rams to be on the show to document Michael Sam's attempt to make an NFL roster. The thought was that the NFL cancelled Oprah's planned documentary in order to control the story themselves.
The San Francisco 49ers may have found a new model for future quarterback contracts. The 49ers recently re-signed Colin Kaepernick to a six-year contract extension worth $126 million dollars. That would make Kaepernick the highest-paid quarterback of all time, with an average salary just under that of Aaron Rodgers.
Duringthis offseason, Eric Decker was amongst the abundance amount of talent in the wide receiver free agency category. There were many big name WRs such as Eric Decker, Jeremy Maclin, AnquanBoldin, and Hakeem Nicks. These players did in fact "receive" a "wide" contract. However, ex-Bronco's wide receiver Eric Decker got the most attention when he parted ways with the Broncos Franchise.
How do you accidentally sue someone? A day after headlines trumpeted a new lawsuit against the NFL led by Dan Marino, it turns out that Marino had somehow seen his name accidentally added to the list of plaintiffs. He has since withdrawn. The lawsuit accuses the NFL of concealing information and misleading players as to the lasting effects of brain injuries, but Marino now claims he suffers no ill-effects from head injuries.
Less than 24 hours into the formal beginning of offseason training activities, we have our first major injury of the 2014 NFL season. According to ESPN, star linebacker Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys has torn his left ACL, the third ACL tear of his football career. Lee was injured in a non-contact practice, though "non-contact" is a bit of a misnomer: Lee was blocked to the ground on a screen pass by first-round pick Zack Martin. While we're still waiting the results of the MRI, it doesn't look good for the oft-injured linebacker.
Back in February NCAA All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, University of Missouri defensive lineman, and the NFL prospect Michael Sam announced publicly that he was gay. This past Saturday, Sam was selected 249th overall pick in the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. Making him the very first openly gay draft pick.
NFL draft coverage can be so negative. We're always talking about what teams don't have, where they're missing key players. We highlight and dwell over a team's shortcomings, all the while ignoring the strengths they have. With that in mind, and with apologies to Sports on Earth's Mike Tanier, let's try to construct a bizzaro-world, worst possible mock draft. We're giving each team players they frankly don't need—the worst pick they could make in each slot, while still taking first-round-caliber talent.
With the bulk of free agency over, it's time to look at which teams did the most to improve their squads, and which teams saw notable players leave during free agency. Contract values matter—overpaying for talent hurts you, while signing players for a value helps. In short, these are the teams that shopped wisely, finding bargains both big and small.
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