The NFL has released a statement saying that beginning at 8 a.m. ET, Friday:
-Players will be permitted to use club facilities for physical examinations, rehabilitation and medical treatment.
-Clubs will be allowed to distributed playbooks, game film and other similar materials to the players.
-Coaches may meet with players for the purpose of discussing offseason workout program, its schedule of mini-camps, OTAs and other similar matters.
-Voluntary off-season workout programs including OTAs and classroom instruction may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXV of the 2006 CBA and Appendix L. Participating players will be paid $130/day, provided the player fulfills the club’s reasonable off-season workout requirements. Those will count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract.
-On days in which no official off-season workout or OTAs players that show up to the club may not be prevented from permitting any player to use the club facility to work out on his own terms in a voluntary, unpaid basis during normal business hours or such other hours as may be set up the club. They players will also not be allowed to participate under the supervision of any coach, trainer or other club personnel during the non-official meeting.
Those are just a majority of the important things touched on in the statement. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that free agency could start Monday.
Trades will be allowed during the first-round draft, but only for picks. Players will not be involved in any trades, but it’s possible the NFL may lift that tomorrow- no confirmation to that speculation.
The NFL Draft kicks-off tonight at 8 p.m., on ESPN. Seattle has the 25th pick and could be a candidate to trade their pick if someone’s not on their board.
NFL doors are opened and players are allowed into team facilities, but are unable to do any conditioning or weight-lifting- except two NFL teams.
The Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills remain locking their players out of their buildings.
Seahawks RB Justin Forsett tweeted: “Just tried getting in the facility #Fail“.
WR Deon Butler and CB Roy Lewis also were not allowed past the parking lot in Seattle.
Currently the NFL is appealing the ruling of Judge Nelson’s in regards of lifting the lockout which came, Monday.
The NFL Draft kicks-off 8 p.m., Thursday, April 28 on ESPN and NFL Network.
Judge Nelson ruled today that the NFL Owners need to lift the Lockout and allow business to continue. This is a big win for Players and fans in the short term. The NFL will likely appeal the ruling.
If it holds up it gives the players a bit of power in the new CBA negotiations. This could be bad for both players and fans long term. How can it be bad for players to make more money you ask?
If the new CBA creates an economic atmosphere that fails to produce adequate profit margins for the owners they will invest their money elsewhere. Yes, they make a lot of money. But it’s important to remember how much money they have tied up in these franchises and the financial risks involved with having nearly 1 Billion Dollars invested in a single endeavor. There are a few owners like Jerry Jones for whom football is everything, but for the most part these are business men who have made billions making smart investments. If they are unable to make enough profit to make it viable as an honest investment, many will simply sell their franchise.
New ownership groups will be hard to find because even though players like to say they are the product, and they are irreplaceable, imagine how hard it will be to find people willing to invest a large fortune in an organization where they can’t turn a meaningful profit. What you will end up with will be the equivalent of slum lords who buy teams at a wholesale price and run them into the ground. New facility construction will halt, and overall conditions will decline. With that revenue will decrease, and ultimately that will lead to the players getting a larger percentage of a much smaller pie.
The first week of pre-season football will host a nationally televised game for the defending NFC West Division Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks will travel to San Diego where they meet-up with the Chargers on Thursday, Aug. 11th.
With the lockout still being resolved there very well may not be a pre-season, but if there it is it could be a match-up of Charlie Whiterhust taking on the team that traded him to Seattle.
Matt Hasselbeck is currently a free agent as well as 3rd-string quarterback JP Losman. Nate Davis was signed back in January, but shortly was released. With those moves currently Whitehurst is the only quarterback on the Seahawks roster.
Remaining of the Seahawks Pre-Season Schedule:
Thurs. Aug. 11- at San Diego Chargers (ESPN)
Sat. Aug. 20- vs. Minnesota Vikings (a team that could be interested in Hasselbeck once free agency starts)
Sat. Aug. 27- at Denver Broncos
Thurs. Sept. 1- vs. Oakland Raiders (Tom Cable returns to Oakland since being fired after the 2010 season)
The regular season schedule most likely will be released the week of the NFL Draft.
The Mariners farm system had a terrific year last year, and it was actually the best year by the Mariners minor league affiliates in Franchise history. Only one affiliate did not make it to the postseason and two of the affiliates, the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) and the Everett Aqua Sox (Short Season), each won their league’s title. This year’s minor league teams have some big shoes to fill but there is still a lot of great talent remaining and even more has been added to the system.
The reigning Pacific Coast League Champions kick of their season on the road against the Sacramento River Cats. Luke French will be pitching for the Rainiers tomorrow. The Rainiers don’t make their home opener until Friday, the 15th in the brand new Cheney Stadium. The biggest name to watch for on this team is Dustin Ackley who shouldn’t stick around at AAA for long. Once June comes around, Mr. Ackley should be manning second base on the big league roster.
The Jackson Generals, formerly the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, will be kicking off the season with a brand new name, logo, and everything else that comes with. Anthony Vasquez will be on the mound for the Generals as they start the season on the road against the Mississippi Braves. The Generals will be going up against one of the top pitching prospects in the league in Randall Delgado. Their first home game is on Wednesday, the 13th.
As we head down to the desert, the High A Desert Mavericks kick their season off on the road against the Lancaster Jethawks. The opening day starter has yet to be announced but I’m making a guess and saying that it will be right-hander Yoervis Medina. This league is known for its huge offensive numbers and we often see a lot of players really break out while playing here. Watch for the toolsy outfielder James Jones to really take off this year. The Mavericks first home game is Thursday, the 14th.
The Clinton Lumberkings won the Midwest League West division title, but they fell short of bringing home the MWL Championship Title as they lost in the final series to the Lake County Captains. Forrest Snow will be on the mound for the Lumberkings as they kick off the season at home against Burlington Bees. I did an interview with Snow this offseason and he is a great guy. http://www.swinginginseattle.com/2011/01/interview-with-forrest-snow.html
He spent last year as a reliever in which he was very dominant but he has been stretched out and will now be working as a starter. This is a talented group of players and they should compete again for the division and league championship.
Make sure you follow me on twitter @Mike_Schwartze for updates on all of the Mariners Minor League Affiliates throughout the season.
The wait is finally over! The Mariners kick off the 2011 Major League season against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 PT and we will see a great pitching matchup between the reining AL Cy Young Award Winner, Felix Hernandez, and right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill.
The active 25-man roster heading into the season look as follows:
Pitchers: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Brandon League, Chris Ray, Aaron Laffey, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke, Tom Wilhelmsen.
Catchers: Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore
Infielders: Justin Smoak, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Luis Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy
Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki, Milton Bradley, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders
Designated Hitters: Jack Cust
The rotation will be Hernandez, Vargas, Fister, Bedard, and Pineda.
Tomorrow’s opening day lineup will be as follows:
- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
- Chone Figgins, 3B
- Milton Bradley, LF
- Jack Cust, DH
- Justin Smoak, 1B
- Miguel Olivo, C
- Ryan Langerhans, CF
- Brendan Ryan, SS
- Jack Wilson, 2B
P. Felix Hernandez
Some more Opening Day Notes:
The Mariners have a few notable players starting the season on the DL, Franklin Gutierrez and David Aardsma. Both should be back by mid-April so we shouldn’t worry too much. Brandon League has been named the closer in Aardsma’s absence. Another thing to watch for is that Ichiro needs only 3 hits to tie Edgar Martinez for the franchise record in hits.
This is what we have all been waiting for, baseball season is finally here. Let us enjoy tomorrow’s game and hope for progress to be made this year.
Last year Seattle went after Charlie Whitehurst- the quarterback they felt would be the future when Matt Hasselbeck was ready to retire or leave in free agency.
Despite Whitehurst never having any true NFL experience the Seahawks gave up quite a bit in draft picks for the unproven Whitehurst. To acquire Whitehurst the Seahawks had to swap second-round picks and send the Chargers a 3rd-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Whitehurst would appear in six games for the Seahawks starting two- including a Week 17 match-up with the St. Louis Rams. Winner takes home the NFC West Division crown and would earn the chance to host a home play-off game against defending Super Bowl Champions the New Orleans Saints.
Whitehurst would go 22-for-36 with 192-yards and a touchdown defeating the Rams 16-6 and giving the Seahawks their seventh all-time division title and fifth in the past seven-years.
Despite Whitehurs’s success the Seahawks still have their doubts as to whether or not Whitehurst is their future at quarterback. In only six-years in the NFL he’s appeared in eight games- starting two of them completing 57 passes for 507-yards and two touchdowns.
Now the Philadelphia Eagles are shopping former 2nd-round pick Kevin Kolb and according to Sports Illustrated Don Banks the Seahawks could turn out to be the top suitor for Kolb.
Unlike Whitehurst, Kolb has proven himself he’s played in 19-games- starting seven of them and passed for 2,082-yards and 11 touchdowns, but has also thrown 14 interceptions.
If Seattle were to trade for Kolb they most likely would have to give up more to the Eagles than they did for Whitehurst- a 2nd-round pick in 2010 and a 3rd-round pick in 2011.
It might cost them a 1st-round pick in this year’s draft (25th overall) and a conditional pick in 2012, but is that worth it?
Kolb could be a product of a system and he has yet to truly show his potential with the Eagles. He lost the starting job to Michael Vick after an injury, but prior to the injury he had thrown for six touchdowns and only four interceptions. Maybe all Kolb needs is a chance to prove himself.
I’m a strong believer in competition at the quarterback position and he would get that with Whitehurst, but is it worth giving up more picks to get him?
The biggest issue might be if no one is on the board come Seattle’s pick in the 2011 Draft than you make the trade, but if there is a player who will fill a hole or improve your team do you pull the trigger for Kolb?
It will be a question that will have to be answered fairly sooner than later, but two things are for sure- Kolb has proven himself and that is way more than Whitehurst had done when Seattle acquired him.
Finally Carroll is all about competition at any position and willing to take risks.
The uncertainty will be if Kolb is the next risk Carroll and GM John Schneider take on.
The NFL issued the compensatory picks and the Seattle Seahawks were awarded the 241st pick. That is a late seventh round pick and as it stands now will be the Seahawks final pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams considered to have a net loss during the previous seasons Free Agency period. No one knows the formula used to determine what a team will receive but after losing Nate Burelson in the opening hours of free agency last year most would have expected Seattle to receive a better pick.
Notable players drafted with the 241st pick since the 2000 draft are:
•Rob Meier DT Washington State drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2000. 215 Tackles 21.5 Sacks and played for them until being released in February of 2010
•Ken Dorsey QB drafted in 2003 by the 49ers was a backup for them 2003-2005 and then joined the Browns from 2006-2008. He threw 8TD’s 18INT for 2,082 yards and a 55.2 career passer rating.
•Sean McHugh TE Penn State drafted in 2004 by the Titans but was cut during training camp but signed with the Packers for the 04′ season. He then joined the Lions (2005-2007). After being released at the end of training camp 2008 he signed with the Steelers and was released before the Season started last year. 2007 was his best season with 17 receptions for 252 yards.
•Geoff Schwartz OT Oregon drafted by the Panthers in 2008 started all 16 games for the team last season.
We haven’t seen any stars develop from the 241st draft pick but there have been players who contribute and continue to contribute. The last two 241st picks are still in the league but there is insufficient data to make a decision on them yet.
One of the biggest questions heading into spring training was where Dustin Ackley would start the year. Many projected that he would begin the year at AAA Tacoma (including myself) so that he could fine tune his defense at second and avoid Super Two arbitration status. Well the decision is final as the Mariners assigned him to AAA today. This will be a great opportunity for fans to see Ackley at the brand new Cheney Stadium to open the year. He should make his major league debut sometime in June.
The Mariners made a lot more moves today regarding non-roster invitees.
The Mariners announced that Gabe Gross will be assigned to minor league camp. He has had a very rough spring, hitting .077 in 26 at-bats. He could end up at AAA Tacoma or possibly be released.
Ryan Langerhans has been hitting .333 in 36 at-bats and has earned the role of reserve outfielder on the opening day roster. He was brought in to compete with Gross, and Jody Gerut for the job.
The Mariners assigned catching prospect Steven Baron to minor league camp as well. Baron had zero chance of making the opening day roster but he was brought up to provide some catching depth and work with the veterans. Baron is great defensively but he will need to greatly improve his offensive game if he hopes to one day reach the majors.
Fabio Castro gave up 5 runs in 7 innings this spring which wasn’t enough to keep him around. The very small, 5’7” 185lb lefty should stick around at AAA for some left-handed relief depth.
Sean Kazmar came into camp with an outside shot to compete for a bench utility role. He hasn’t helped his cause, hitting .130 in 23 at-bats. He may end up in Tacoma to serve as a utility player but we will have to wait and see.
The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2011 Free Agency period with many needs. Unfortunately for Seattle, the only free agents they’ve had an opportunity to negotiate with have been their own.
Seattle did re-sign a few of their players, squeezing them in just under the wire before the labor issues began to be felt in earnest. The biggest move was giving return specialist and backup RB Leon Washington a new four-year deal.
Washington is slated to earn $12.5 million over the term of the contract, and could reach $16 million if he hit undisclosed incentives. The all-important guaranteed money is $3.5 million.
To be fair, when the deal was inked the last thing either side was concerned with was the guaranteed part of the contract. Washington is second only to Devin Hester as a kick returner, and offers some value as a change of pace RB.
But today the NFL owners approved a rule change that calls the value of Washington’s contract into question. The NFL will move kickoffs back up to the 35 Yard Line, following 15 years of being placed at the 30.
Washington might have just become a very expensive kickoff shag man, and Seattle fans might have reasons to wonder why Pete Carroll and John Schneider inked this kind of a deal for a return man with the rule changes that were on the table. To be fair, the recommendation wasn’t made until after Washington’s contract was signed, but there were signs that the NFL would make another change to kickoff rules (they adjusted what was a legal “wedge” on kick returns during the 2010 offseason).
The owners’ vote was 26-6 in favor of the change. Coaches didn’t seem to echo their employers’ feelings, and some players are very upset. While the owners do respect that there could be a change to the game (there will be), they claim they were more concerned with improving player safety (it WON’T be). Both of those assertions validate analysis, but this review won’t be discussing the impact on special teams in fantasy football leagues.
Changes in the Game
The NFL moved kicks from the 35 to the 30 in 1994 to liven up the game. Touchbacks were on the rise, and return yards were decreasing. The change worked. Touchbacks dropped, and average return yards and TDs both increased.
Most everyone agreed the change improved the game—kick returns are very exciting and can change momentum. Whereas touchbacks…they’re just boring.
As kickers became stronger, touchback percentages started to rise. In fact, they have increased each of the last 6 years—from 9.1% in 2005 to 16.4% in 2010. Billy Cundiff (K, Baltimore Ravens) punched over 70% of his kicks into the end zone in 2010, with 40 of 79 (52.6%) being downed for a touchback. With the move to the 35 his new goal may be to just split the uprights.
Not surprisingly, several return specialists and their coaches are speaking out against the change.
Bottom of Form
“I don’t like the rule,” Washington said on the Brock & Salk Show (710 ESPN Seattle). “And I’m sure Brad Smith and Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs and the rest of the guys that do a really good job of returning the ball don’t like the rule.”
Washington continued “It’s a part of the game that’s really exciting. I think fans look forward to it because it’s an instant momentum-changer.” Washington proved that time and again for Seattle in 2010, including two TDs vs. the Chargers that led to Seattle’s victory.
Cribbs didn’t let Washington down, stating via Twitter: “Essentially taking returners out of the game…injuries will still take place, then what move it up again, or eliminate it all together.”
Devin Hester’s coach also sounded off. Before the rule was passed, Lovie Smith said “You just wonder how did we get to this point? First off, I can’t believe we’re really talking about it, the most exciting play in football. You would think we would want to keep that in.
“We would work as hard as we could to try to make it safer, but to eliminate that to me is just kind of tearing up the fiber of the game a little bit. Yeah, we have a great returner. But that’s a big part of the game. Our fans are probably more interested in coming there to see Devin Hester running a ball back as opposed to seeing a kicker kick it out of the end zone with no action.”
Improvement to Player Safety
Concerns over player safety on kickoffs are important to consider, and is what reportedly prompted the change.
Bottom of Form
When asked about the six no votes, Atlanta Falcon’s president and competition committee chairman Rich McKay said: “The objections were, ’Hey, you’re affecting my team.’ Clearly, some teams have good kick returners and they said, ’What if there’s 10 percent less returns?’
However, some of those comments also stated that the change won’t improve safety. Aforementioned Chicago Bear head coach Lovie Smith noted that in two year, they have only seen one injury in the kicking game…a twisted ankle that would have happened anyway.
While anecdotal information is only a small part of the story, coaches had solid rationale that this is not a safety issue. When pushed on this point McKay added “We have no answer, but player safety will always trump any other consideration.”
When making a rule change such as this, it would seem prudent to have a better feel for what the current impact is. The NFL has speculation, and some data to support that kickoffs hold some added risk. However, they lack conviction on if the change will actually meet the desired end. It is almost as if there is something else at play (more on that in a moment).
One point the competition committee may have failed to give adequate consideration to is that player safety could actually be sacrificed with this change.
Kickers are more adept at reaching the end zone than they were in 1994, and members of the kicking team are certainly faster. Yes, the new rule requires them to be within five yards of the ball, but this will not make them any slower at the point of impact, and will only save a half-stride in them getting down the field.
Bottom of Form
Some kickers, such as Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals, thrive on obtaining hang time and dropping the ball in front of the goal line. Pay attention during the summer exhibition games, as kickers will be experimenting with dropping the ball inside the 10 and giving gunners an opportunity to stop returners in their tracks.
The ongoing labor issues can’t be ignored as this issue is discussed. The owners claim to be taking a stance in favor of player safety, and undoubtedly will use this in their bargaining positions. One thing that likely won’t get mentioned, though, is they just reduced a chunk of their payroll. There is no reason to pay a return man Washington’s money, and Hester’s current deal (worth between $5 and $10 million a year over four years) certainly wouldn’t have been signed.
This vote is quite likely all about the owners and labor negotiations. Once again, fans of the NFL are an afterthought and the players are being used as pawns.
On another note, a rule was also passed prohibiting teams from changing the color of their grass. McKay noted with a smile, “We don’t want any red fields like at Eastern Washington.” To that end, anyone associated with the Falcons has little room to talk about the aesthetic qualities of a football team. It should be noted…the Eagles won the FCS championship and are likely not at all concerned with McKay casting aspersions.