We’ve focused mostly on the QB and WR positions during the past few days, but you can be sure teams across the League have a broader focus than that. So let’s expand our horizons a bit and take a look at the current market for offensive linemen.
The Vikings have all five starters returning to the offensive line in 2011, but when you’re coming off a 6-10 season you know that all positions will be scrutinized; the Vikings offensive line will not be an exception.
Below you’ll see a list of names and a brief explanation behind each player. Which player(s) on the list do you like? Is there a name not on the list who should be considered by the Vikings? Let us know what you think in the comments section below this entry.
OT Matt Light (New England) – Odds are the Patriots will bring him back, but he’s currently on the market and is arguably the best OT remaining. The Vikings don’t need a starter at OT, so we’ll move on down the list for the next option.
RG Davin Joseph (Re-signed by Tampa Bay) – Standing at 6-3, 313 pounds, Joseph has good size for an interior lineman and he’s also got the athleticism to accompany it. He was actually recruited as a defensive lineman and he was also standout high school wrestler. Joseph is a five-year veteran and is just 27 years old, so he’s still on the upward arc of his career path. Tampa chose him in the first round of the 2006 draft out of Oklahoma and he’s been an important part of the team’s surge the past two years. Joseph has been described to me as a power blocker who excels in the running game. He did fracture his foot in November, but he’s also played all 16 games twice and 12 games another time.
OG Justin Blalock (Atlanta) – A versatile player, Blalock would fit best with the Vikings as a RG. He’s just 27 years old, has 3 seasons of experience and has never missed a game or start due to injury. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is familiar with Blalock from his time as the team’s offensive coordinator and you wonder if Musgrave has any interest. A second-round pick in 2007, he represents a good long-term starting option for teams looking to infuse their depth chart with competition and depth. He’s also a good fit in Minnesota because he has the size and athleticism to backup both OTs.
OT Jared Gaither (Reportedly signed with Raiders) –A mammoth OT at 6-9, 340 pounds, Gaither is a great option for a team looking for that franchise-caliber LT. But as of this moment, that’s not the Vikings. Let’s move on.
RT Tyson Clabo (Re-signed by Atlanta) –A six-year veteran with Denver and Atlanta, Clabo has prototypical size at 6-6, 331 pounds and he’s a durable player. I’m guessing he’ll re-sign in Atlanta, plus he’s another starting-caliber OT. We’ll move down the list.
RG Harvey Dahl (Atlanta) –Another guy with whom Musgrave is familiar from their time together in Atlanta, Dahl plays OG and stands at 6-5, 305 pounds. He’s 30 years old and is a six-year veteran. Dahl played in all 16 games in 2010 and 2008, but an ankle kept him out of five games in 2009. He’s a more likely signing than Clabo and Blalock, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Vikings in the mix for any of the three. Dahl would compete with Anthony Herrera for playing time and if not a starter he’d be a primary backup all along the offensive line.
OT Jammal Brown (Washington) – At two-time Pro Bowler who has been with the New Orleans Saints and most recently the Washington Redskins, Brown stands at 6-6, 313 pounds and plays RT. Again, not a position of need for the Vikings.
Already off the market: OL Daryn Colledge, OT Jermon Bushrod, OG Marshall Yanda, OT Doug Free and OG Robert Gallery
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I know Vikings fans are disappointed to lose WR Sidney Rice to Seattle. And believe me, the Vikings are disappointed, too. He came to the club as a second-round pick and developed into a play-making WR and fan-favorite. Rice has the potential to be a #1 WR in the NFL for a long time and he has a skill set that makes life easier for QBs and much harder on defenses.
But let’s also not overreact to his departure.
I value interacting with fans, and from that interaction I know that the prospect of losing Rice AND keeping Bernard Berrian has many of you up in arms. Before you panic, though, let’s take a look at something and let me make a case.
Here is a comparison between Berrian and Rice during their careers in Minnesota:
Berrian: 131 receptions for 1,834 yards (14.0 average) with 11 TDs in 46 games
Rice: 146 receptions for 2,129 yards (14.6 average) with 18 TDs in 48 games
Yes, Rice’s numbers are better. But are they that much better? Also consider that as great a season as Rice had in 2009 (83 receptions for 1,312 yards and 8 TDs), he had three ordinary years around that one great year. Outside of 2009, Rice has never had more than 31 receptions, 396 yards or 4 TDs in a season. Those are below average numbers. Granted, Rice’s career arc is on the way up. He could be a tremendous threat for the Seahawks for the next decade. But what about his hip? Can he stay on the field? And will Seattle have a QB capable of getting him the ball, as Brett Favre did so well in 2009?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Rice and I think he’s a good player. I also appreciate the way Seattle is building their roster and turning the franchise around; the Seahawks are going in the right direction. But I don’t think Rice is irreplaceable. As quickly as Rice left the Vikings in free agency, the Vikings could turn around and look at the market to find another player who can come in here and help the passing game excel.
Let’s take a look a few WRs who are on the market. Let us know what you think about them by leaving a comment in the comments section below this entry.
Plaxico Burress – A big end zone, red zone and 3rd-down target, Burress was a Top 5 NFL WR when he was forced out of the league for two seasons. He’s a resurrection project in that he’s coming back to the NFL after being away for a while, but he has the fortune of Tony Dungy as a mentor. And we all know by now the close relationship Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier shares with Dungy.
Malcom Floyd – At 6-5, 225 pounds, Floyd has the body frame and skill set to be the type of physical receiver that Rice was for the Vikings. He’s also 29 years old and entering his seventh year in the NFL, so he’s still on the upswing in terms of his career arc. Floyd could be a flourishing player if given the chance to be a top target.
Braylon Edwards – Another WR with good size at 6-3, 214 pounds. In 2007 with the Cleveland Browns, Edwards had 16 TDs. So we know he can get to the endzone. Also, he’s another guy who would come in here with a chip on his shoulder because he appears to be a castoff from the NY Jets. There’s no denying Edwards’ talent and another sneaky-good part of his game is his ability to run after the catch and break tackles.
Terrell Owens – A future Hall of Famer, Owens is on his last legs but he also has a chip on his shoulder. He’s looking to win a Super Bowl and in Minnesota he could be reunited with QB Donovan McNabb, if the Vikings complete a deal with Washington for the six-time Pro Bowl QB. In addition, Owens would also be reunited with Vikings WRs coach George Stewart, one of the best position coaches in the NFL and a coach who has worked and succeeded with Owens in the past.
James Jones – Packers QB Aaron Rodgers went on record as saying that retaining Jones should be his teams “#1 priority” in free agency. That’s nearly reason enough to go and get him. But also consider that James has good speed and is a Rick Spielman-type of free agent in that he’s coming off his rookie contract and his career arc is on the uptick.
Steve Smith (Giants) – Not sure how good a fit he’d be in Minnesota because he’s primarily a slot receiver. The Vikings have a tremendous slot receiver in Percy Harvin. But if there’s mutual interest between the Vikings and Smith, I’m sure we could find room on the field for a reliable, possession receiver with tons of experience.
Roy Williams – He underperformed in Detroit, was traded to Dallas for a high price, then underperformed in Dallas. So why is he on this list, you ask? Because I don’t want to discount the fact that now he has something to prove and he also has something that the Vikings lost when Rice went out the door – the body frame to be a good target in the end zone.
Others: Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason, Lance Moore, Randy Moss and Mike Sims-Walker
Also keep in mind: Chad Ochocinco has had a tumultuous past few seasons in Cincinnati. Is he on the way out? If so, the Vikings could consider him. He’s not a spring chicken anymore, but he’s been a productive WR for his entire career and I’m betting he’s got plenty left in the tank to be a top target for the Vikings.
Tags: Bernard Berrian, George Stewart, Leslie Frazier, Rick Spielman
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It took a few hours, but the NFL news cycle eventually picked up steam late on Tuesday afternoon and into the evening. This is a QB-driven league and so far since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was ratified it’s been the QBs who’ve dominated the headlines.
This is significant for the Vikings because although the franchise’s QB of the future is likely already on the roster, there is a chance the Vikings consider bringing in a veteran passer to aide in the development of Rhett Bomar, Christian Ponder and Joe Webb and also perhaps even start games in the 2011 season until one of those youngsters is ready to take over.
Speaking of young Vikings QBs, a pair of former young Vikings QBs agreed to terms with new teams, as Tyler Thigpen landed in Buffalo and Tarvaris Jackson followed Darrell Bevell to Seattle. Jackson’s deal with Seattle set the stage early Wednesday morning for Matthew Hasselbeck to sign with the Tennessee Titans. While all of those players changed teams, Alex Smith has decided to stay put in San Francisco.
The carousel doesn’t stop there, though. A trio of other QBs appear to be on the trading block, with Philadelphia rumored to be in talks with the Arizona Cardinals to deal Kevin Kolb. In Denver, prevailing thought is Kyle Orton will be dealt, and the Cardinals might be a candidate for his services if a deal for Kolb falls through.
And we’d be remiss to not mention Donovan McNabb, who has clearly fallen out of favor in Washington. He’s on the trading block as well and the Vikings, who’ve been linked to McNabb in the past, are once again being talked about as a possible landing spot. We haven’t confirmed that possibility with the team, but a trio of high-profile NFL information men have been on the story, as Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Jason La Canfora of NFL Network and ESPN’s Adam Schefter have all linked the Vikings with McNabb.
Again, it’s unknown if the reports of the Vikings being in talks to acquire McNabb have any truth to them, but it’s something to follow and we’ll provide you with updates when appropriate. Stay tuned!
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There’s an adage that says “If you can’t beat them, join them.” But what about “If you can’t beat them, sign some of their free agents away from them.”
I’m not sure if that has the same ring to it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
The Green Bay Packers, coming off a great run to the Super Bowl, have several free agents who played important roles on the 2010 team. Would any of them fit well in Minnesota? That’s not for us to decide, but we can still have an opinion. For what it’s worth, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t sound like he’s willing to lose many of them.
Rodgers told espnmilwaukee.com that re-signing free agent WR James Jones should be the team’s #1 priority.
“James is extremely talented and he’s a guy that I think we have to bring back without a doubt,” Rodgers said. “He should be priority No. 1. And I mean that with all my heart. He really should be priority No. 1. We don’t win the Super Bowl without him. And we need him.”
As painful as it is to give a rival credit, the Packers and their GM, Ted Thompson, typically do an outstanding job of scouting young talent and then retaining those players when necessary. Is Jones the type of player the Packers will fight to keep? Only time will tell, but if Jones becomes available you’d think many teams across the NFL would be interested, perhaps even the Vikings.
Another name to consider is OG Daryn Colledge, who was not re-signed by Green Bay before the lockout and will now test the open market. Yet another name mentioned by the espnmilwaukee report is OT Mark Tauscher. The Vikings don’t have a need at OT with both Phil Loadholt and Bryant McKinnie returning in 2011, but you can never have enough help along the offensive line.
“He’s an overrated backgammon and cribbage player, but he’s a hell of a (football) player, too,” Rodgers said. “I hope we bring him back.”
I’m not suggesting the Vikings pilfer the Packers roster simply because they’re a rival. The players mentioned above are clearly players Rodgers values, but they could also become available to other teams if Green Bay chooses to pass up the opportunity to sign them.
So, Vikings fans, do any of those names interest you? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 39 Comments »
A fun position to watch during this year’s Verizon Vikings Training Camp will be left DE, where starter Ray Edwards is a free agent and there’s an impressive lineup behind Edwards to take his place should he decide to leave the Vikings.
Edwards has made no secret that he intends to test the free agent market and likely sign elsewhere. That leaves a starting opportunity for a few guys, most notably Brian Robison. The Vikings selected Robison in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Texas and he’s performed well, tallying 13.5 sacks in 4 seasons and earning a prominent spot in the Vikings DL rotation. He’s also played in all 16 games 3 times and 15 of 16 games once during his NFL career.
If Edwards does indeed sign elsewhere, Robison will enter camp as the favorite to win the starting job. Also competing for time at that position will be 2nd-year player Everson Griffen and rookie Christian Ballard, in addition to any free agents the Vikings may choose to sign.
For his part, Robison is excited to get the season going. He was among the first Vikings to show up at Winter Park on Tuesday and said he was looking forward to reporting to training camp on Sunday.
“I’m ready to go and get after it,” he told me just outside of Winter Park. “I’m looking forward to training camp and the preseason and the regular season, just all of it. I’m ready to get going. We’re going to have a good season.”
Robison, who was in Washington D.C. recently with fellow Vikings Steve Hutchinson and Ben Leber as part of the negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA, said he’s spent a few days at Larry Fitzgerald’s organized workouts on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Tags: Brian Robison
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 96 Comments »
Yesterday was a great day for football fans in America and it was an especially busy day for the Vikings. Obviously the NFL and NFLPA ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), officially lifting the lockout, but even more than that the Vikings announced that training camp would return to Minnesota State University, Mankato and then later in the day Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held a press conference.
So what should we expect today?
It’s hard to know exactly what to expect in this unusual post-lockout climate, but there are a few things we can be almost certain about:
– NFL facilities, including Winter Park, will be open for players to stop in for conditioning, training and even any classroom work they might want to get done. So I won’t be surprised at all to see some Vikings players trickle into the facility. If that happens, we’ll be sure to catch up with them and provide you with updates via videos and written content.
– At 9:00 a.m. CT teams can begin the process of signing their draft picks and any undrafted free agents they’d like to bring to training camp. For the Vikings, this is an especially important task because there are 10 draft picks to sign and because VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman indicated on Monday that the team plans to take advantage of the 90-man roster rule (in a normal year teams are permitted only 80-man rosters), which means there will likely be several undrafted free agents the team will bring aboard.
– Also on Tuesday, the trading period begins. I don’t know of any trade rumors tied to the Vikings, but you never know what’s going on behind the scenes and you also never know which teams will call with an idea in mind.
– Finally on Tuesday, teams can begin negotiations with free agents of their own and with free agents from other teams. So watch for plenty of rumors to be flying around about which players will sign with which teams.
That’s about all I can guarantee for now, but I’ll be sure to chime in as today rolls on. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below this entry to let us know what you want to talk about.
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There is a ton of business for teams to take care of beginning tonight and continuing throughout the next several days. Basically an entire offseason’s worth of work – from signing draft picks, to re-signing free agents, to pursuing unrestricted free agents – must be done in just a few days before teams report to training camps.
The first item on the list is undrafted free agency, as teams are permitted to recruit and negotiate with undrafted players tonight and then sign those players beginning at 9:00 a.m. CT tomorrow. So, let’s take a look at a few undrafted free agents who will be on most teams radars but who also might be particularly good fits here in Minnesota.
CB Kendric Burney (UNC): On the football field, Burney was certainly deserving of selection in the draft. But he was one of several UNC players suspended this past season, that likely contributed to him being undrafted. He’s a bit undersized (5-9, 186 pounds) for the Vikings scheme and he’s also not a great press CB, so I’m not sure he’s a good fit in Minnesota. But he is a good athlete and made plays at UNC, so he’ll get plenty of attention on the open market.
LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College): I was really rooting for Herzlich to be drafted this year, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. He was at one time a 1st-round prospect, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. Herzlich won that battle and now he’ll work his way onto an NFL roster. My money is on him making a 53-man roster and having a productive NFL career in some capacity. This guy is a winner.
S DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson): An aggressive and big safety (6-0, 217 pounds), McDaniel looks the part of an NFL defender. His scouting report on NFL.com indicates he’ll be a good player against the run and as a blitzer from the line of scrimmage. But the report also says an off-field incident and problems in coverage may have caused him to slip a little bit. But he slipped out of the entire draft, and some team might get a good value by adding him to the roster and seeing if he can win a training camp battle.
DB Deunta Williams (UNC): To be honest I’m not sure what led to Williams going undrafted. From what I can glean, he’s got the size (6-2, 205 pounds) that many NFL teams like and his NFL.com scouting report says he “is a supremely confident safety who has the speed and cover skills to eventually develop into a starter at the next level. He puts in time in the film room and always appears to be in position to make a play in coverage.” Perhaps there are character or medical concerns with Williams. Or maybe NFL teams consider him to be a tweener. I’m not sure, but it looks like Williams has a chance to be pretty good.
DT Ian Williams (Notre Dame): There are a few things to concede in supporting Williams. First, he’s coming off an MCL injury this past season and he’s probably just a two-down player (running downs only). But, scouts say his compact body (6-1, 319 pounds) makes him a tough defender to block and move. His scouting report also credits him for his tireless motor and relentlessness in defending the run.
QB Ben Chappell (Indiana): Chappell was a part of our QB Collection and could be a good option for a team in search of a young QB. He completed 62.6% of his passes as a junior in 2009 and then 62.5% of his passes during his senior season in 2010; he also had a career 45-28 TD/INT ratio. I’m not sure if there will be room for him in Minnesota, but some team will give him a shot during training camp.
RB Noel Devine (West Virginia): A very productive player for West Virginia, Devine was hurt by his smaller frame (5-8, 179 pounds) and possibly by the fact that he absorbed so many touches throughout his 4-year career with the Mountaineers. But he’s quick as a whip and could be a great 3rd-down back for some team. He might even have return capabilities.
QB Pat Devlin (Delaware): Another guy in the QB Collection, Devlin played at the same school as Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco. I’m not sure why he went undrafted, perhaps it was the level of play he faced for most of his career. But consider this: Devlin was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year for the 2010 season as he led the nation in completion percentage (67.9%) while throwing for 3,032 yards and posting a TD/INT ratio of 22-3.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State): Here in Big 10 country, we got to see quite a bit of Sanzenbacher on TV, and I came away impressed after his career. He doesn’t have great size nor does he have excellent speed or quickness. But what he lacks in those areas I think he more than makes up for in competitiveness, catching ability and grit. He makes difficult catches look easy, he’s fundamentally sound and his NFL.com scouting report raves about his route-running ability and his ability to fool defensive backs with double-moves. He plays the same position as Percy Harvin (slot receiver), but why not give this guy a shot?
QB Adam Weber (Minnesota): Another guy who was a part of the QB Collection, Weber is actually a guy I’d like to see have a shot with the Vikings. I believe his true potential was masked because of the poor Gophers football program that existed during Weber’s time on campus, and I also believe Weber is a gritty athlete who loves to compete. Maybe my instincts are completely off on this one, but I think he deserves a shot somewhere and I think he’ll make the most of that shot.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 33 Comments »
Count Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe as one who is excited that the NFL’s work stoppage is over and the season is about to begin.
“Been a long process but finally things are worked out…can’t wait to see the guys and get back to work,” Shiancoe said via text message.
Shiancoe will be entering his 5th season with the Vikings after signing a free agent contract with the team prior to the 2007 season. The 6-4, 250-pound TE struggled to fit in with the Vikings offense during his first season here, but since then Shiancoe has become an integral part of the passing game. His best season was in 2009 when he had 56 receptions for 566 yards and 11 TDs.
Watch for Shiancoe to have another big year in 2011. The Vikings drafted TE Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd round of last April’s draft, leaving open the possibility for two TE sets and also indicating that new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave values pass-catching TEs. Remember, Musgrave comes from the Atlanta Falcons, where young QB Matt Ryan had a nice safety net in TE Tony Gonzalez.
Speaking of young QBs, the Vikings have a pair of youngsters who will compete for the starting QB job in 2011. For those young QBs – Christian Ponder and Joe Webb – a productive, pass-catching TE is a great weapon.
“This is going to be an exciting year,” Shiancoe says.
Tags: Bill Musgrave, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Visanthe Shiancoe
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There was a time when it looked as if Mankato-based training camp would fall victim to the NFL work stoppage. Fortunately, the NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time to save training camp for the Vikings.
The Vikings announced on Monday, just hours after the NFL and NFLPA reached agreement on a new CBA, that the team would head down to Minnesota State University, Mankato for training camp, marking the 46th consecutive year that Mankato has hosted training camp.
“Hosting the Vikings training camp is an integral part of our community,” said Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson. “For two weeks, our hotels, restaurants and bars are filled with thousands of Vikings fans. The citizens and businesses of Mankato welcome those fans back in 2011 and moving forward.”
According to the Greater Mankato Convention & Visitors Bureau, approximately 60,000 fans from 28 states, Canada, England and over 100 different Minnesota cities attended last year’s training camp. The annual event has an estimated $5 million economic impact on the Mankato community.
Credit goes to the city of Mankato and Minnesota State University, Mankato for their patience with the NFL’s labor process. Mankato and the University are great hosts each and every year. Credit also goes to Vikings ownership, the front office and head coach Leslie Frazier because they realized the value in having training camp in Mankato, both for the community there and for the organization.
“We wanted to prolong our decision as long as possible in an effort to maintain our training camp tradition of practicing in front of Vikings fans in Mankato” said Vikings Owner and President Mark Wilf. “The Vikings appreciate the patience and flexibility shown by Minnesota State University and the Mankato community in making this work, and we look forward to returning to our training camp home in August.”
Monday has been filled with a bunch of good news, and the announcement that the training camp tradition of practicing in front of fans in Mankato is perhaps the best news of all.
Tags: Mark Wilf
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Yes, we can finally say it; the lockout is over.
The NFL and the NFLPA held a joint press conference in Washington D.C. on Monday to announce that the 32 player representatives voted unanimously to approve the labor deal agreed to by both sides hours earlier, essentially ending a lockout that lasted over four months.
Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith led the joint press conference and they were joined by key members of the NFLPA and NFL ownership.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Goodell said. “Football is back and that’s the good news. I want to thank (Smith) and the players for their leadership…Having a 10-year agreement is extra great for our game, especially our fans. I think this agreement is going to make the game better. I’m grateful for all the work both parties did.”
NFL Network’s Albert Breer was on the scene and has a more detailed report of the press conference and of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Details about the new CBA and the ramifications it will have on the Vikings, training camp and the NFL world going forward will continue to trickle in today and throughout the week, so stay tuned to vikings.com for more information. For now, though, here are a few basics of the deal…
– The new CBA is a 10-year agreement that contains no opt-out clause for either the NFL or the NFLPA. The previous agreement, ratified in 2006, contained an opt-out clause that was exercised.
– The CBA expires after the 2020 season but the 2021 NFL Draft will also be included in the CBA, just as the 2011 NFL Draft was included in the previously expired CBA.
– A main issue in the negotiations was splitting the revenue. The two sides came to agreement on a new “all revenue” model and basically the players will average at least a 47% of all revenue over the life of the 10-year agreement.
– A new rookie wage scale is a part of the new CBA, meaning that guaranteed money paid to rookie draft choices will be dramatically decreased.
– The enhanced season – aka the 18-game regular season schedule – is not a part of the new CBA. Owners can try to negotiate more games into the schedule as soon as 2013.
– The salary cap is set for $120.375 million but because of a few provisions that will protect veterans from being dumped to save cap space the number is essentially $126.88 million for 2011. No word yet on where the Vikings stand in terms of their salary cap situation.
– There is also a salary floor which dictates that 99% of the salary cap be spent by the entire NFL between 2011-2012, then that number goes to 89% from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.
– Organized Team Activities (OTAs) have been reduced from 14 days to 10.
– The new CBA adds significant money to funds for retired players. More details on this will come out in the future.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more info…
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