Kick-off – The US football newspaper of the week

Edition of the week of September 5, 2022

The NFL is back and the weekly newspaper follows. For this first kick-off edition of the season, we take stock of the latest contractual information, injuries and even retirements.

No agreement between Lamar Jackson and the Ravens

The negotiations between the QBs and their franchises are definitely at the heart of the news. After the Kyler Murray episode, which was finally resolved a few weeks ago, it is Lamar Jackson who is at the center of the debates.

Last week’s feedback from Baltimore wasn’t exactly encouraging, as no deal was « imminent ». The main obstacle put forward then was the amount of money guaranteed in the new contract, because Jackson wants to support the risk of taking so many blows. Not ideal a few days before the end of the negotiation period.

And the deadlock was confirmed since the two parties failed to reach an agreement. This means that Lamar Jackson has refused the latest offers from the Ravens. Note that he has no agent and that he represents himself.

The quarterback is therefore entering his last year of contract, and if he wants more money, he will have to put out a big season. And if Baltimore fails to extend it by March 7, 2023, the only solution to be sure to keep it will be to place the Franchise Tag on it.

Eric DeCosta, the GM, and John Harbaugh, the coach, were still optimistic about the future of Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. Discussions will resume after the season.

Zach Wilson absent at least 1 month. Joe Flacco holder.

A few days ago, Robert Saleh seemed happy with the progress of his quarterback, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered during the last pre-season game. Zach Wilson had surgery on August 16, with a recovery time announced between 2 and 4 weeks.

But the latest news is less encouraging, since the QB will finally miss the first 4 days of the regular season, at least. He had already been absent for 4 games during his rookie season.

Suddenly, the Jets named Joe Flacco starter for the start of the season. At 37, the former Ravens QB will start his 14th season against his former team. In New York for 2 years, he played 7 games – including 5 starts – and threw for 1,202 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Mitch Trubisky named Steelers starter

It was one of the battles to watch of the offseason, and one player won it. Mitchell Trubisky was not only named No. 1 QB, but he was also voted captain. He will therefore be the holder for the Steelers on Sunday against Cincinnati. Rookie Kenny Pickett is listed number 2 and Mason Rudolph number 3.

Former number 2 in the Draft, in 2016, Trubisky had ended up tiring of the Bears after 4 seasons without progression. Last year, he was in Buffalo as an understudy for Josh Allen, and he signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason. At 28, he gets a second chance.

The underside of the divorce Russell Wilson – Seahawks

Transferred to Denver during the offseason, Russell Wilson is already preparing to return to the Seahawks on Monday night for his first game of the season. Little by little, we begin to have information on the underside of this departure and on the deteriorated relations of the quarterback with his franchise for several years.

Wilson recently revealed that the Seahawks had tried to transfer him several times before, and even since 2018. Attempts that had injured the quarterback. The following year, it was disagreements over the team’s offensive play that were at the heart of the tensions. In the race for the MVP trophy that year, he was finally beaten by Lamar Jackson. For him, the Seahawks’ ground game orientation cost him the trophy. Wilson had extended to Seattle anyway, but « divorce had become inevitable » in the words of WR Doug Baldwin. Another point of tension also emerged, as Wilson was upset when his franchise inquired about Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in 2017 and 2018.

Russell Wilson & Pete Carroll
Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll at the Seahawks (Photo: ESPN)

The Rams bet on continuity

Defending champions, the Rams logically want to be part of continuity. The franchise has therefore decided to extend two of its strong men, coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead, until 2026. This dates from August but it was only official at the beginning of September.

The youngest NFL coach when he was recruited by the Rams in 2017, McVay has already participated in 2 Super Bowls, and he won the last one. He has a record of 55 wins for 26 losses in 5 seasons in Los Angeles.

Snead joined the franchise in 2012, and he has an 86-74-1 record in 10 years at the club. Very active on the transfer market, he has brought in several stars in recent seasons, such as Matthew Stafford, Von Miller or Odell Beckham Jr.

Several players sign new contracts

If Stefon Diggs or Gabriel Davis are the leaders of the Bills aerial game, Josh Allen also likes to rely on his TE Dawson Know. Good news for him, he has just extended for 4 years. And with 53.6 million dollars, including 31 guaranteed, he even becomes one of the highest paid players in the position. Selected at 3th round of the 2019 Draft, Knox has 101 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 3 years. But he remains on his personal best season in 2021, with 49 receptions, 587 yards and 9 touchdowns. He thus became one of Josh Allen’s favorite targets in the redzone.

Still in the tight-end position, it was Darren Waller who finally reached an agreement with the Raiders. The excellent TE has thus extended for 3 years, up to 51 million dollars. An extension that binds Waller to his franchise for another 5 seasons. At 30, he is one of the references to the position and notably signed two campaigns at more than 1,000 yards in 2019 and 2020. Last year, he only played 11 games because of injuries, but has everything likewise totaled 665 yards.

Finally, good news for the Colts, who ensure the presence of one of the best Guard in the league for the future. Quenton Nelson has accepted a 4-year extension, for a total of 80 million dollars of which 60 are guaranteed. He thus becomes the highest paid player in his position, which seems quite logical for a 4-time Pro Bowler player in 4 seasons in the elite.

Emmanuel Sanders retires

 » I gave everything. Every repetition, every action, I tried to give 100% of what I could”. It is with these words that Emmanuel Sanders announced his retirement this week, after 12 seasons in the NFL.

Selected at 3th round of the 2010 Draft by the Steelers, Sanders gradually became a quality number 2 WR in contrast to Antonio Brown. During his last year there, he posted 67 receptions, 740 yards and 6 touchdowns. But it is by leaving for Denver that he becomes a real threat, within the attack led by Peyton Manning. He thus signed 3 seasons at more than 1,000 yards, was Pro Bowler twice, and won Super Bowl 50. He participated in another Super Bowl with the 49ers then and ended his career with brief stints in New Orleans and Buffalo.

But it was logically with the Broncos that Sanders decided to retire, in the franchise where he played his best football. In total, the WR will have played 172 games in the NFL, with 704 receptions, 9,245 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Aaron Donald almost quit

On the field Thursday, and already in good shape, Aaron Donald almost ended his career after the Super Bowl won last February. There had then been rumors about this possibility several times during the offseason, and they were founded.

His agent had thus sent a letter to the Rams, informing that Donald had made the decision to retire… A letter ultimately never sent to the NFL and to which the defender returned. And a few weeks later, he signed a lucrative extension to continue the adventure in Los Angeles.

We will never know if Donald was really serious about retiring, or if he wanted to put the pressure on for negotiations… But the main thing is to see him back on the pitch.

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