The Bay Area is apparently the place to be for superstar athletes getting a fresh start in 2018 while recovering from major Achilles’ tendon injuries.
On the hardwood, the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors made the most surprising free-agency addition of this offseason by signing DeMarcus Cousins. The two-time All-NBA center suffered a torn left Achilles in January, missed the rest of the season, and is now aiming to prove he can still be an elite player in the league once he’s recovered.
On the gridiron, the San Francisco 49ers — far removed from their last Super Bowl championship but putting together the pieces to regain their past glory after three straight losing seasons — also pulled a free-agency surprise by signing Richard Sherman. Continue reading
It appears Kam Chancellor‘s pro football career is over.
The two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl strong safety announced this summer that he had to walk away from the game after eight seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, citing an injured neck.
The timing of his announcement, along with the unveiling of the NFL Network’s Top 100 list for 2018, made Chancellor the first retired player to earn a spot on the annual list, as he was voted No. 75 by a panel of NFL players. Continue reading
One of the most surprising moves of the NFL offseason was the Kansas City Chiefs trading cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams.
Peters has been one of the league’s best since the Chiefs drafted him three years ago. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and led the league with eight interceptions; he was first team All-Pro in 2016; and he led the league in interception return yardage in 2017, gaining 137 yards on five picks. Since entering the league, Peters’ 60.7 passer rating allowed is second-best to Jacksonville Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye.
Going into the 2018 season, Peters is slotted No. 79 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking, which is voted on by NFL players Continue reading
Thanks to today’s NFL media climate, in which Twitter beef can generate more attention than an All-Pro selection, Kevin Byard made as much of a name for himself online as he did on the field.
In his second pro season and his first as a full-time starter, Byard established himself as one of the best safeties in the league while being chosen as a Pro Bowler and first team All-Pro. He helped the Tennessee Titans make it to the playoffs and advance to the AFC divisional round, where they would lose to the New England Patriots.
Byard’s efforts were good enough to get him voted into the No. 80 slot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking for 2018, a list that is determined by NFL players. Continue reading
One sign that cornerbacks are getting more respect and recognition in the NFL these days is that, on the 2018 edition of the NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking, the 12 cornerbacks listed tied with defensive end for the most popular defensive position.
Another sign is that when Marshon Lattimore was voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this past season, he became the second cornerback in the last three years to win the award.
Before that, the last corner to earn DROY honors was Charles Woodson in 1998. Prior to Marcus Peters winning DROY for 2015 and Lattimore winning it for 2017, only five other cornerbacks had their names on the trophy. Continue reading
Chris Harris Jr.
Last season was another typically unimpressive one for Chris Harris Jr. in terms of statistics. But anyone who is familiar with his work knows that the Denver Broncos’ veteran cornerback is defined by the lack of numbers he puts up.
Harris recorded 40 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and one forced fumble in 2017.
Those numbers are what they are in large part because Harris is such an effective cover corner that quarterbacks often don’t throw in his direction. That means he doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to make tackles or get picks. Continue reading
If you were wondering how much team success or failure can impact an individual athlete’s reputation, look no further than New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and strong safety Landon Collins.
During the 2016 NFL season, when the Giants went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs, Manning was being talked about as a future Hall of Famer, and he won the NFL’s Man of the Year award. Collins received first team All-Pro honors, and he was heavy in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 2017, the Giants went 3-13 and finished with the second-worst record in the league. Continue reading
Malcolm Jenkins is apparently too good to get blackballed.
The two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro safety for the Philadelphia Eagles was right there on the front lines with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid in 2016 when those two former San Francisco 49er teammates began kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem, a move that sparked a movement of NFL players publicly protesting police brutality and racism in the United States.
Jenkins, who is widely recognized as the heart and soul of the Eagles, chose to protest by raising his fist during the anthem — similar to track and field icons John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics. His version of silent, yet powerful protest drew its share of headlines and support and criticism.
But while Kaepernick’s stand against injustice appears to have cost him his NFL career, and Reid has inexplicably (and blatantly) gone unsigned on this year’s free agent market — both players have filed grievances against the NFL, accusing team owners of collusion — Jenkins hasn’t gone anywhere. Continue reading
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Beginning in 2011, the NFL Network has surveyed NFL players to compile an annual ranking of the league’s top 100 players. The list is unveiled in a multi-part series during the offseason, with each episode profiling 10 players on the countdown to the No. 1 spot.
Because the ranking is decided by players and not the media or fans, those who often don’t get mainstream attention receive their just due: e.g., offensive linemen, linebackers who don’t get a lot of sacks, guys who standout on bad or small-market teams.
That’s good for defensive backs. Continue reading
Sorry if I’m not so sorry about the plight of the football player who slides a few picks lower than expected in the NFL Draft.
While there are some truly unfortunate bigger-picture areas of concern — e.g., would Heisman-winning QB Lamar Jackson have been chosen much higher than 32nd overall if he weren’t Black? — for the most part, a guy who had top-10 dreams but winds up at the end of the first round or going in the second round is still in very good shape for his pro career moving forward.
My sympathy lies more with the players who are still waiting for that life-changing phone call on Day 3 of the draft. The ones who weren’t picked in the first three rounds, who go into the final day of the draft having to confront the possibility that they may not get selected. Continue reading