How the Teddy Bridgewater trade affects the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets

Jay Asser 30/08/2018
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Teddy Bridgewater has revived his value this preseason, and now he could be the heir to Drew Brees in New Orleans.

The Saints traded for Bridgewater on Wednesday, sending a third-round pick to the New York Jets for the quarterback, while also receiving a sixth-rounder in return.

Brees will turn 40 in January, and although he’s still one of the elite signal-callers in the league, New Orleans may feel his end is coming sooner than his current ability suggests.

The veteran signed a two-year deal with the Saints in March, which means Bridgewater would have to wait for his chance to be a starter again.

Bridgewater played 29 games for the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 and 2015, but suffered a gruesome knee injury in 2016 that kept him out for the entire season. After making one appearance since the injury last season, he signed with the Jets in March.

New York went on to draft Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, leaving Bridgewater in a quarterback battle with the rookie and veteran Josh McCown.

Through three preseason games, Bridgewater performed the best of the trio as he completed 28-of-38 passes for 316 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 104.7.

A former first-round pick, Bridgewater has unquestioned talent and pedigree, but his injuries have stunted his development early in his career. If healthy and given the opportunity, he could be the franchise quarterback many viewed him as coming out of the draft in 2014.

Bridgewater will immediately assume the back-up role with the Saints, who have Tom Savage, Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett also on the depth chart.

The Jets signed Bridgewater to a one-year, $6 million deal in the offseason, so New Orleans would have to re-sign him after this season – likely without seeing him play significant snaps.

In trading a third-round pick, however, the Saints are all but making it clear their intention to keep hold of Bridgewater past this season.

For New York, this clears the path for Darnold to be the team’s starter from Week 1.

McCown, who was the starter last year, hasn’t played in the past two preseason games and offers the Jets little in the way of upside.

In three preseason appearances, Darnold has completed 64.4 per cent of his passes with two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 83.9.

He’s at times looked like a quarterback with immense talent, and at others looked like a rookie getting his feet wet.

Now, he’ll be in the spotlight from day one and have his chance to sink or swim.

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What Aaron Rodgers' record-breaking extension with the Green Bay Packers means

Jay Asser 29/08/2018
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Aaron Rodgers is once again the richest quarterback in the game.

Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers agreed on Wednesday to a record-breaking four-year, $134 million extension, which could be worth up to $180m and features $103m in guaranteed money, according to reports.

Aside from setting a record in terms of the total value of the contract, guaranteed money and annual salary ($33.5m), the deal is also set to keep Rodgers in Green Bay through the 2023 season, when he’ll turn 40.

The last time Rodgers was the highest-paid quarterback was in 2015, when he was still on his five-year, $100m extension. Since then, several quarterbacks have surpassed him, with Matt Ryan the latest to set a new benchmark with his five-year, $150m extension with the Atlanta Falcons back in May.

It’s appropriate that Rodgers, who is widely considered the best quarterback in the league, is once again at the top of the hierarchy. It’s unclear how long his run will last though.

Usually, when NFL stars ink record deals, it paves the way for another player to top the mark down the road. But when it’s players who are considered the best at their position signing those deals, they become harder to beat.

In terms of ability, no quarterback in the league has a leg to stand on when it comes to arguing they deserve more money than Rodgers. Age is the only factor working in favour of other quarterbacks, who can point to more years of service in contract negotiations. Still, it could be some time before anyone jumps Rodgers, especially with $3.5 million separating him and Ryan, allowing players to continue one-upping each other without dethroning the Packers star.

For Green Bay, the contract gives the franchise peace of mind as they know they have their leader locked in for several seasons to come. But it also comes with some risk due to Rodgers’ injury history and his age by the time the deal ends.

Rodgers has suffered two major injuries in his career, with the first coming in 2013 when he fractured his collarbone and missed seven games, and the other coming last year when he similarly broke his collarbone and sat out nine contests.

The risk with his injury history isn’t about how his previous ailments will affect him going forward, but rather how his playing style will age.

Both of those injuries came when Rodgers was roaming outside the pocket, trying to make a play. Part of what makes Rodgers so dangerous is his mobility and ability to strike from anywhere on the field. That also puts him in the way of danger at times, which he’s so far mostly avoided, but could catch up on him as he ages.

Rodgers hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in his mid 30s, but quarterbacks have been known to fall off a cliff without notice.

In all likelihood, Rodgers should follow in the path of Tom Brady and Drew Brees as a quarterback who remains sharp in his old age.

His monster deal won’t make it any easier for the Packers to put the best pieces around him, but that’s a more than reasonable price to pay for a player who makes them Super Bowl contenders year in and year out.

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Odell Beckham is worth every bit of his record-breaking deal for the New York Giants

Jay Asser 28/08/2018
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One of the NFL’s most entertaining players is now also one of its highest paid.

Odell Beckham Jr and the New York Giants agreed to a reported five-year, $95 million deal – including $65m guaranteed – on Monday that makes the star wide receiver the top-earning player at his position.

Any way you slice it, Beckham’s contract puts him above every other receiver in the league, with his total value and guaranteed money eclipsing the mark set by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans ($82.5m and $55m), and his annual salary topping the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown ($17m).

Brown and Atlanta Falcons playmaker Julio Jones are, statistically speaking, the only two receivers in Beckham’s class, with the former having recorded at least 101 receptions, 1,284 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in five straight seasons, while the latter is the only player in NFL history with more receiving yards per game than Beckham’s 94.1 (95.3).

Beckham, meanwhile, had at least 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. Last year, he played in only four games due to an ankle fracture and finished with 25 catches, 302 yards and three scores. But if you extrapolate those numbers over a 16-game season, Beckham was on pace for 100 receptions, 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns.

No player in league history has ever reached 200 receptions and 3,000 yards quicker than Beckham, who needed 30 games to hit those benchmarks. He also became the fastest player to reach 100 career receptions, achieving the feat in the first 14 games of his rookie year.

At 25, Beckham is considerably younger than both Jones (29) and Brown (30), which means he has several more prime years to continue his assault on opposing defences and the record books.

His value to the Giants – since entering the league and going forward – can’t be overstated.

Since 2014, New York have averaged 22.7 points when Beckham has been on the field, compared to 16.9 without him.

The pressure he puts on secondaries is difficult to fully quantify because the attention he commands opens up the field for the Giants’ other skill players.

Whether he’s facing zone or man defence, Beckham has elite athleticism to create separation and the speed to turn ordinary catches into long touchdowns.

And as the world learned when he made that jaw-dropping one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys in his rookie season, Beckham has the kind of flair and big-play ability that is rare.

With Beckham, there’s almost nothing he can’t do as a player. The one flaw in his game of late has been dropped passes. He had nine drops in 2016, including the postseason, which was third-most in the NFL, and led the league with five drops at the time of his season-ending injury last year, according to ESPN.

But even those were arguably more mental than physical, and part of the demons Beckham has had to confront over the past three years when he’s dealt with controversy on and off the field.

Whether it’s been attacking kicking nets, throwing punches at defenders, or being the subject of social media chatter for the wrong reasons, Beckham has had an eventful career that has had few dull moments so far.

Heading into the new season, his presence will once again be crucial to the Giants’ success, especially with the team coming off their worst 16-game record in franchise history at 3-13.

New York used their second overall pick to select running back Saquon Barkley in the draft, while the rest of the offence features third-year receiver Sterling Shepard and second-year tight end Evan Engram.

And no one is more affected by Beckham more than Eli Manning, who is getting another shot as the starting quarterback this season after the Giants opted to pass on drafting his replacement.

Since 2014, Manning has a passer rating of 113.4 when targeting Beckham and a rating of 87.9 when throwing to all other receivers, according to Pro Football Focus.

For the Giants to turn around their fortunes in 2018, Beckham will be every bit as important as any other player on the roster, and as important as any non-quarterback in the league – something that is now reflected in his new contract.

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