2011 NFL Free Agency, Trade Rumors, News: Zach Miller, Umenyiora, Brown, Gore and More!

Since the 2011 NFL free agent signing period began, the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles have without a doubt been making NFL news. That trend continues. Former Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller has a new home in Seattle and Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown joins the Eagles backfield.

What is the hottest NFL news of the day? Latest 2011 free agent signings? NFL Rumors? The sportsbank.net has you covered without holding out for a better contract.

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2011 NFL Free Agent Signings, Trade Rumors, NFL News: Chris Johnson, Roethlisberger, Moss and More!

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NFL Training camps are in full swing. How is Ben Roethlisberger going the extra mile to help improve the Pittsburg Steelers? Is Chris Johnson the most underpaid running back in the NFL? Is Randy Moss’ retirement a hoax? What are the latest NFL Free Agent Signings? NFL Trade Rumors?

This hard hitting franchise tagged Sportsbank.net section has you covered.

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NFL News: Randy Moss Announces His Retirement

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Randy Moss is retiring from football. In what is sure to top any NFL free agent signing or trade rumor on the day, the 13-year pro and future Hall of Famer is calling it quits. After an off-season in which his agent said Moss was in the best shape of his life, he’s walking away from the game.

Why did Randy Moss decide to retire?

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Indianapolis Colts Achieve Normality through Abnormality

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And just like that, all is back to normal in the AFC South … kinda.

With their 34-24 win against Jacksonville on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts improved to 8-6 and moved into a tie for first place in the division they have dominated for much of the last decade. Indianapolis now controls its own destiny for a ninth consecutive playoff berth.

All seems normal. However, the way the Colts restored such normalcy was, well, abnormal.

How so? Check it out.

By Drew Allen

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Bigger Bust: Jamarcus Russell vs. Brady Quinn

Raiders Russell Football

By Mike Gallagher

This bust matchup is much like the 2007 Sugar Bowl these two QBs met in: one sided.

Brady Quinn and Jamarcus Russell went into the game as the first and second rated quarterbacks in the nation, and Jamarcus Russell had a huge game on the way to LSU’s 41-14 demolition of Notre Dame.

Unfortunately for Russell, this time he comes out on the wrong end of the one-sided affair, as he is clearly the bigger bust of the two quarterbacks.

Some will make the argument that Jamarcus Russell was never that good in the first place and that his credibility is only based off that one BCS bowl game.  Don’t be fooled, that game had been in the works his entire college career.

Looking at his stats, his freshman year was very pedestrian, while his sophomore year showed signs of improvement, but his junior year was when he burst off the page.  He was learning and building on his experiences in college, and it all came together that junior year, ESPECIALLY in the bowl game.

Let’s be clear though, Brady Quinn was the better college quarterback.  Throwing for almost 10,000 yards and 86 touchdowns in only three years dwarfs the college numbers of Jamarcus Russell.

When Russell was taken first overall, it was a clear statement of the potential he had, rather than the body of work he had accrued at LSU.  Scouts saw the pro ready body, big arm, and clear growth in college as signs that he was the next great thing at the QB position.

The accolades of being the #1 pick also brings great responsibility and pressure, things Quinn didn’t have to face right away.

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When drafted 22nd overall by the Browns that same year, Quinn did have the same instant pressure and expectations.  Derek Anderson assumed the starter’s role ahead of Quinn in his rookie year.  Quinn only had to throw eight passes the whole year; against San Francisco in garbage time of the season’s last game.

Since then, Russell has been the starting QB in 25 games for the Oakland Raiders.  In those games, the Raiders are 7-18.  Some may say that the Oakland Raiders are not exactly exploding with talent around Russell.  This is true, but number one overall picks are cursed with having to turn around bad teams, whether it’s with help, or all on their own.

On top of that, Quinn’s supporting cast isn’t any better.  Josh Cribbs, Chansi Stuckey, and arguably the best of the group, Mohamed Massaquoi, leave much to be desired from the WR position.

Brady Quinn has started 8 games for the Cleveland Browns since he came to the league, and is 1-7.  Cleveland hasn’t been the same since 2007 when Derek Anderson led the Browns to a 10-6 record.  Injuries decimated them in 2008, leaving Bruce Gradkowski as their starting QB, and their defense hasn’t kept them in many games.

The plain and simple truth of it is that Jamarcus Russell was the number one overall pick.  He was taken based on all the potential he had to be a superstar.  Whether it’s the coaching staff or the player’s fault, that potential has never come close to  fruition.  He has now had a season and a half worth of starts under his belt and that should be plenty of time to get acclimated to the NFL.

Instead, Russell is having his worst season.  He is second to last among starting QB’s in touchdowns, passer rating, average per pass, and 29th in yards.  He has been benched for the aforementioned Bruce Gradkowski, who pulled an upset of the much feared Bengals last week.

That should show that a lot of the blame, contrary to Russell’s opinion, falls on him.  It won’t be long until he’s in the category of Ryan Leaf and Akili Smith as biggest QB busts of all time.

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Personally, I don’t think you can call Brady Quinn a bust yet.  Eight starts is not that many, and he has shown flashes of being able to captain a pro football team.  His performance last week, albeit against the Lions, was impressive, and something that he can possibly build off of.

The real giveaway that it’s not Quinn’s fault in Cleveland is Derek Anderson.  He’s been the only person worse than Russell in the categories I mentioned earlier.  This shows that Quinn is doing everything he can with the tools around him, and can’t be blamed for the poor performance of the team.

Brady Quinn still has time to prove himself in the pros.  Jamarcus Russell’s time is running out.

MLB Road Trip: Oakland Athletics, White Sox West

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By Paul M. Banks

Thou shall not be a sports bigamist- that is one of the ten sports fan commandments. You got one team and you stick with them. But I often bend this rule. Sure, whenever my Chicago White Sox play anybody, the Sox are the good guys and the other team, they’re the bad guys. However, I’ve had moments when I’ve rooted for the Cubs (now is not currently one of them), and I have a soft spot for the Oakland Athletics. If there’s a legitimate chance to have a 2nd or 3rd favorite team, it’s probably the team in forest green and gold. And I have many legitimate reasons to feel that way, especially since they’re sort of White Sox West.

-When I last played organized baseball, at a level where a “fastball” would be clocked in the mid to high 60s, I was on the A’s, two years in a row. The early ‘90s A’s hat is the hat I wore when I lived “The Wonder Years” and experienced going through puberty. I’ll stop right there before this descends into T.M.I. territory.

-One of the first teams I wrote feature stories about, to build up my portfolio, is the Kane County Cougars, in Geneva, IL. They are the class A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Every time their fourth starter, Trevor Cahill takes the mound, it’s a bit more exciting for me than your average Major League game because as the cliché goes, “I knew him when.” I hope I can say the same when Jemile Weeks and/or downtown Corey Brown makes it to the show.oakland-as-gate

-I am the world’s biggest fan of personal economic thriftiness. Some may think I enjoy the free handouts and food from media events a bit too much. Or others might just call me cheap. I say I’m cost-effective and fiscally streamlined, like the A’s front office. I’m a huge fan of  “Moneyball,” how Athletics GM Billy Beane does more with less. You got to root for the small market team. They need you! I also like Beane. He is an openly gay individual who works in a traditionally homophobic industry. And he is a figure that almost everyone in baseball looks up to.

-The A’s are White Sox west for reasons other than the fact that their roster currently possesses Gio Gonzalez, Orlando Cabrera, and Ryan Sweeney. Until you’ve been to the Oakland Coliseum, you don’t fully appreciate the similarity. Taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) south through the city of Oakland, you’ll notice that the train stops quite a bit in the city; but when you get south, it only stops once while it travels for a long time through stretches of vast industrial and residential zones. Finally it stops for the ballpark (extremely reminiscent of taking the Red Line to U.S. Cellular Field.) I don’t need to say that the Coliseum is in a ghetto because the train station and pedestrian bridge to the park do it for me. They are covered in barbed wire. So are numerous parts of the ballpark which makes it bleak and depressing.

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Sox park is a much more fun and lively place than the A’s home, but the truth about these two franchises is the truth. My live-in girlfriend Lisa and I attended this game the night before a friend’s wedding in Napa. She had season tickets to the San Francisco Giants during the time she lived in the Bay Area. Most people have Giants tickets, not A’s tickets. It’s rather sad how low attendance was on the night we were there, or on pretty much any night for that matter. They almost never open the upper deck anymore. And there’s more than a multitude of empty seats in the lower decks too. Perhaps this will change when the team moves into Cisco Field in 2011 or 2012 or whenever, but will Fremont, CA be that much of an upgrade?oaklandathletics

The Giants are the 400lb gorilla in the baseball marketing room of NorCal. They’re just across town, play in a trendy and romanticized ballpark adjacent to yuppie bars that will feverishly buy tickets to the games no matter what the team’s record is. Sound familiar, Chicago baseball fans? Indeed the Giants are the Cubs, Napa, and the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The A’s are the White Sox, Sonoma, and the Big Island. They may be solid in their own right, but they’ll ALWAYS be overshadowed by their richer and more heavily promoted/marketed neighbors. I’ll always root for a team like this; why do you think I love Northwestern Men’s basketball? They need you.

Many decades ago Gertrude Stein penned the phrase “there is no there there” to describe Oakland, and today the phrase has stuck because no one seems to want to ever go to the East Bay, unless their heading towards Berkley or Oakland Hills. And it’s a shame because the A’s have a very rich history. Some of the biggest names of the steroid era- Canseco, McGwire, Tejada, Giambi etc. all came up through the Oakland system. The team has four world championships, which places them in the top sixth of MLB franchises. oakland

In the 70s, they were a dynasty on par with the more publicized “Big Red Machine” in Cincinnati. These teams were chronicled in the HBO Documentary “Rebels of Oakland” which highlighted the anti-establishment elements of the 70s Athletics teams. They dominated their respective leagues with a team of non-conformists. Stanley Burrell, you might know him as M.C. Hammer, was once a batboy for them.

And their Hall of Fame owner, Charlie O. Finley (not to be confused with former Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, the guy who married and was then beat up by Tawny Kitaen, the slag from the Whitesnake videos) set precedents that owners all around the league followed. Those BEAUTIFUL mustard yellow and forest green jerseys of yesteryear came when Finley decided to have some fun with the fact that MLB was now broadcasting their games in color television. Every other team started designing jerseys like they were tripping on acid, before eventually things settled into everyone wearing powder blue in the 1980s. Those were the days! And the franchise can also boast of the game’s best postseason player (Reggie Jackson), best base-stealer (Rickey Henderson) and manager (Connie Mack).

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Yet all this history still elicits poor attendance. I checked the website to see what the game started, and the site said, “what time can you get here?” Za-zing\! Hey-yo! Lisa thought it was hysterical when I said out loud, “Hey cotton candy guy, move. I can’t see how much they suck.” And yes it’s true, all that excessive foul territory on the field does lead to very poor sightlines. On this night the A’s were getting destroyed at home yet again. But I still genuinely like this team, especially when they’re down. Or when they would  seem to make the playoffs (and get eliminated in the first round) every other year in the late 90s/early 00s. And not just because they remind me of the White Sox. But because I have history with them, and more importantly so does Major League Baseball.

Bears should corner market on Asomugha

By Rikki Greenberg

The Bears have problems.

So many that it’s depressing to go into, but TSB informs no matter how disheartening the story may be. One of the problems the Bears face is a depleted and weak secondary. Every opponent the Bears defense faced this season knew they had a decent chance of putting up big numbers because the secondary failed to stop many of the people.
Looking at the Bears defensive league ranks last season is enough to make you stock up on the Kleenex for next season. The defense finished 30th against the pass (allowing 241.2 yards per game) and 23rd in first downs (314) allowed. Before your Mike Brown jersey becomes Fido’s next chew toy, I come with some good off season news. It’s rumored that the Chicago Bears are considering Oakland Raiders star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is up for free agency should he escape the franchise tag contract that he signed in 2008.   If Asomugha escapes the tag again this year, he would be a fantastic addition to the Bears roster for the following reasons:

1)      Decreased missed tackles

Numerous times throughout 08 (Tampa Bay week 3, Minnesota week 7, Houston week 17 to name a few) the Bears secondary had plenty of missed tackles. Many times we saw an opposing player get taken down 10-15 yards later then they should have. Of course, the cover 2 scheme is another reason for missed tackles in some situations. However, for this scheme Asomugha would be extremely valuable because he’s aggressive enough to go after the ball carrier and take him to the ground without the help of a second teammate. The Bears need that kind of added muscle in the secondary.

2)      Better coverage

The Bears secondary also had a nasty little habit of leaving a ridiculous amount of space between them and the opposing players. This becomes particularly destructive when an offensive threat such as Saints wide receiver Marques Colston can capitalize on this open opportunity with a 22 yard pass completion and a new set of downs for the Saints in the fourth quarter during Week 15 of the regular season. Former Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian and his 99-yard touchdown pass during Week 13 of the regular season is another example of what happens when a big-play receiver is left wide open.

If Asomugha were to suit up in a Bears uniform next season, he could help alleviate some of these space issues in the Bears secondary because of his recovery speed and closing speed. The first time 2009 Pro Bowl starter could teach other Bears defensive backs some things about decreasing space and increasing contact, if Lovie manipulates the scheme to let him.

The Bears secondary finished the season with veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher rookie Zackary Bowman and starting safety Mike Brown (is there ever a season, he’s not injured?) on the IR list. As a result, the Bears are in desperate need of an athletic, healthy cornerback to fill the holes in the secondary. The scrappy, fearless playing style of Asomugha is exactly what the Bears need, especially since Brown isn’t going to be available for the 2009 season. With Asomugha on the depth chart, the core of defensive backs will get a boost of leadership, experience and talent. Even though Asomugha only has an extra year of experience in comparison to Bears second season cornerbacks Corey Graham, Trumain McBride and Marcus Hamilton, he’s years ahead in football knowledge and skill.