Even in the off-season, when other sports are at the pinnacle of their season, the NFL dominates the headlines with no football games. I'm not sure if it has ever been a more active first day of NFL Free Agency, and I don't say that because of the signings, it was trades and interesting retirements too. 

Before anything, the most interesting thing for me is the players that walked away from the game. Patrick Willis, age 30, Jake Locker, age 26, and Jason Worlids, age 27, all announced their retirement Tuesday. I can't think of a day where 3 players players this young retired from the league. Patirick Willis is the only player of the three in his 30s but I wouldn't call him old and beat down, in fact, I think he still in his prime.

I commend Patrick for his reason behind retiring because of his joy during his press conference. Worlids and Locker also seemed to be happy with their decision, but one thing I noticed, none of them said anything about injuries, all 3 seemed to have just loss the passion to play in the NFL. One thing that stuck out to me that Patirck said is that he don't know if he is happier now then when he was drafted, that says a lot. 

To me this is a sign of Mark Cuban's prophecy of the NFL imploding in ten years. When young players are this content with walking away from the game, it tells me the league isn't as great as we think it is, and you can't forget about Rashard Mendenhall who retired from the NFL at 26 in 2014. 

What was more difficult for me to grasp was the way that the business of entertainment had really shifted the game and the sport of football in the NFL. The culture of football now is very different from the one I grew up with. When I came up, teammates fought together for wins and got respect for the fight. The player who gave the ball to the referee after a touchdown was commended; the one who played through injury was tough; the role of the blocking tight end was acknowledged; running backs who picked up blitzing linebackers showed heart; and the story of the game was told through the tape, and not the stats alone. That was my model of football.
— Rashard Mendenhall via Huffington Post

The game has changed and it will continue to change, and for that reason I think that is why these players are walking away. Being traded or released to free agency is probably the worst thing for a pro athlete, that being if they didn't ask for it. You figure when you go through high school and college, those are the only teams you usually play for - which is changing in High School Basketball - so you build a bond with everything about that team, including the fans. 

In the last two years the Ravens have let go all of their fan favorites, Ngta and Smith being the latest. It will take fans awhile to get over all the off-season moves. (Bill Frakes/SI)

In the last two years the Ravens have let go all of their fan favorites, Ngta and Smith being the latest. It will take fans awhile to get over all the off-season moves. (Bill Frakes/SI)

Franchises like the Ravens, who usually keep their own, have released 10+ players from that 2013 Super Bowl winning team. Tuesday they traded Haloti Ngta to the Detroit Lions for a couple of late round picks. Ngta played 8 seasons with the Ravens and because he didn't agree to a pay cut to take off that $8.5 million cap hit, he had to go. A fan favorite, and Royal Farms spokesperson (Royal Farms is a very popular convenient store in Maryland) but none of that matters when a cap hit is involved. For an athlete like Ngta that invested his all into this city and the Ravens, I'm sure it's hard to deal with. 

Torrey Smith was also allowed to walked, and this is a very big lost for the city, more so off-field. Like Ray Rice, Torrey was very involved in the Baltimore community. I would see him and his wife at various high school games throughout the city, just watching the game and interacting with the people. People here in Baltimore really liked Torrey and they are upset that he will no longer wear the purple, black, and gold. 

What he will wear is the 49ers red and gold while making $40 million. I don't think Torrey is worth that but I guess that is what the market is for a receiver like Torrey. Here are the other big acquisition today.  

Torrey Smith was also allowed to walked, and this is a very big lost for the city, more so off-field. Like Ray Rice, Torrey was very involved in the Baltimore community. I would see him and his wife at various high school games throughout the city, just watching the game and interacting with the people. People here in Baltimore really liked Torrey and they are upset that he will no longer wear the purple, black, and gold. 

What he will wear is the 49ers red and gold while making $40 million. I don't think Torrey is worth that but I guess that is what the market is for a receiver like Torrey. Here are the other big acquisition today.  

This is the biggest news of the day. The Seahawks finally got a big time play-making route runner. We all remember the Graham and Saints squabble over his worth as a player last off-season but it seems to have extended into this season. He didn't do well last year, only catching 1 TD in the final 5 games of the season, which I think made this trade easier for the Saints. They will get two-time pro bowl center, Max Unger, plus a 1st and 4th round pick for Graham, not to mention getting rid of that $40 million contract. 


Chip Kelly is at it again. For some reason, he traded his starting QB he won 15 games in 24 starts for Chip, since that's how we define QBs now days, while Sam Bradford has torn his ACL twice since 2013. I have no clue why Chip did this except that he is really trying to destroy the Eagles franchise. I have seen people say that Chip is making some good moves and I don't understand how. He has given away 73 total TDs since 2013 and replaced it with nothing basically. When was giving away production considered making moves? As a Cowboy fan, I'm enjoying the Eagles off-season, keep it up Chip.

Darrelle Revis has taken full advantage of the free agency. For the last 3 seasons he has made $16 million in Tampa Bay, $12 milllion in New England, and now will receive $39 million guaranteed (5-year $70 million) from his first team, the New York Jets. Even though Revis is team hopping, you can't be mad at him. My favorite player Deion Sanders did the same thing back in the 90s, and made a lot of money doing it. I'm not really a fan of this method but I understand it. With Revis back on the Jets, it makes their defense better but the main question is who will be their quarterback? Ryan FItzpatrick was traded to the Jets today, joining Geno Smith and Michael Vick, but I'm not sure if he is enough to get the Jets to the promise land. 

Frank Gore was going to sign with the Eagles but for some reason he changed his mind at the last minute. Some rumors have said that it is because of how how Chip Kelley has dealt the team's production away but we'll never know. This is a big pickup for the Colts who has been in dire need of a running game. In his 10 seasons, Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards 8 times, and seems to still have some gas left in the tank, turning 32 in May. The Colts were 22nd in rushing last season and hasn't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007 when Joseph Addai rushed for 1,072 yards. 

It's all about the market now. What we think a players is worth is always different from what the markets depicts. Plus you have to give credit to these agents who somehow convince these teams to hand out these outlandish contracts. I actually like Maclin, who signed a 5-year $55 million contract with the Chiefs, $22.5 million guaranteed, but I'm not sure if he worth that much because of his inability to stay healthy. For the Chiefs though, they really needed someone like Maclin to help out their stagnant passing offense. 

Julius Thomas signed with the Jacksonville and will receive $9 million a season. I'm guessing Sharpe is speaking of the 12 catches, 119 yards, and 0 TDs Thomas accumulated in the last 5 games of the season. We're going to see how much Thomas is worth when he has to be the safety net for Blake Bortles and leader on the Jacksonville Jaguars, no longer being able to rely on Peyton Manning to make him look good. 

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