COMMENTARY | In one of the more surprising and shocking trades of recent memory, the Indianapolis Colts made a blockbuster trade by acquiring Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft, for a 2014 first-round draft pick. The Colts acquired him just days before their Week 3 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, a team facing an early season turning point game after their blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week. ...
After some consideration, I couldn't bring myself to move Denver ahead of Seattle for the top spot in this week's power rankings. The Broncos have played well, but how can you deny the Seahawks the top spot after what they did to the 49ers on Sunday night? Many people freaked out about the Seahawks after they beat Carolina in Week 1, but it's tough to travel three time zones and win a NFL road game. Then they absolutely proved their worth by dismantling the 49ers 29-3 on Sunday night. That Seattle defense is nasty. The Seahawks are the best team in football right now. But the Broncos aren't far behind. Denver has dominated each of the last two Super Bowl champs, Baltimore and the Giants, the past two weeks. The Broncos look strong in all phases. Potentially losing left tackle Ryan Clady to a foot injury for a chunk of the season (maybe all of it) is a big blow, but right now this is clearly the class of the AFC. Seattle will have to continue to play at a very high level, as it did on Sunday night, to keep holding off the Broncos for that top spot.
The New York Giants were awarded linebacker Allen Bradford off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
Here is a close look at the Seattle Seahawks as they head into their season opener against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, 1 p.m. ET.
Sept 2 (The Sports Xchange) - Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that Robert Griffin III will start the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin, who has been held out of preseason action, was cleared to play last week by Dr. James Andrews. However, Shanahan said Andrews still had concerns. Shanahan spoke to Andrews to find out what those concerns were, but declined to provide details. "You'll have to trust us," he said. Andrews performed reconstructive knee surgery on Griffin in January, days after he was injured in a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. ...
The Seattle Seahawks hope to have wide receiver Percy Harvin back on the field this season, but head coach Pete Carroll said on Friday that there is no timetable for his return from hip surgery. Carroll did say that the surgeon who operated on Harvin was "thrilled" with how the $60 million wideout responded in the days after the procedure.
The preseason is in full swing and the NFL has informed several players of fines for infractions that took place in the first week of preseason action. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports, five players were fined $15,750 apiece for illegal hits during the first week of the preseason. That group of players includes Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who was flagged for a late hit on New York Giants quarterback David Carr in the second quarter of last Saturday's game at Heinz Field. Also on the list is San Diego Chargers guard Johnnie Troutman, who was flagged for an illegal peel-back block in the second quarter of a 31-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The "Shutdown Countdown" is down to the final two teams. In addition to previewing each team, Shutdown Corner will be taking a brief look at each team's salary cap situation heading into the 2013 season and beyond. We continue the series with the Seattle Seahawks. 2013 Adjusted Cap Number : $136.704 million (6th-highest in the NFL in 2013) 2013 Cap Room Remaining : $3.352 million (25th in the NFL, as of Aug. 2) [Related: Seahawks still elite despite Percy Harvin injury ] Best Bargains : There are quite a few bargains on the Seahawks, but the biggest is clearly quarterback Russell Wilson, who will earn $526,217 in base salary in 2013. In terms of cash, Wilson's base salary has him ranked 85th out of 120 active quarterback contracts in the NFL. Among likely starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season, only Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles ($520,000) is set to earn less cash on the field than Wilson. Wilson has plenty of company. Wide receiver Golden Tate caught 45 passes for 688 yards with seven touchdowns and was 18th among NFL wide receivers in Football Outsiders' receiving DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) last season. With Percy Harvin undergoing hip surgery, Tate should have a major role in the Seahawks' offense this season, which will have the 2010 second-round pick out of Notre Dame earning the league minimum base salary of $630,000. All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is also a steal with a $555,000 base salary and $600,606 cap charge in 2013. There are 110 cornerbacks in the NFL with base salaries larger than Sherman's, including two who will earn more per week than Sherman will make all season. One of those is Darrelle Revis, Sherman's social media sparring partner who'll take home $764,706 per week during the 2013 season. Staying in secondary, Earl Thomas is one of best safeties in the NFL and will earn a modest $2.15 million in base salary and workout bonuses with a $2.921 million cap number. Both numbers rank outside the Top 15 among current safety contracts. Potential Camp Cap Casualty : It's somewhat of a long shot now that Harvin is out until November/December, but wide receiver Sidney Rice and his $8.5 million base salary belong in the cap casualty discussion. Given his injury history coming when he was signed by Seattle, his five-year, $41 million contract has always been somewhat ridiculous. Rice's first season with the Seahawks was derailed by injuries, including a few concussions, but he rebounded to lead the 'Hawks in the three main receiving categories and was 14th among NFL receivers in FO's receiving DYAR metric last season. This week, Rice spent 25 hours (round-trip) on a plane to Switzerland for a 20-minute procedure to alleviate tendinitis in his knee. $3.5 million of Rice's base salary is guaranteed for injury, but the $5 million that is non-guaranteed and the Seahawks' willingness to make bold and surprising moves when trimming down to 53 players is what has Rice in this discussion. In Pete Carroll and John Schneider's first season in Seattle, they released wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and his fully guaranteed $7 million base salary before the start of the regular season. Last summer, they axed tight end Kellen Winslow, a decision the tight end has not gotten over . The difference is that Carroll and Schneider had nothing or little invested in Houshmandzadeh or Winslow, whereas Rice was a priority free agent signing after the 2011 lockout who has pocketed over $15 million from the team in the last 24 months. Other cap casualty candidates in Seattle include cornerback Antoine Winfield, whose $1 million in guaranteed money might not be enough to secure a spot in what is a deep secondary. The projected starters on the right side of Seattle's offensive line — guard Paul McQuistan and tackle Breno Giacomini — are also vulnerable. According to Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, Giacomini led all right tackles and was second among all offensive linemen in blown blocks. Giacomini was second in the league in penalties, including four for "unnecessary roughness". McQuistan tied for the league lead with 11 blown blocks on running plays. McQuistan and Giacomini are each due over $3 million in non-guaranteed base salaries in the final year of their contracts.
The NFL season is approaching and Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams, counting down our power rankings with one team a day until No. 1 is unveiled on Aug. 4, when the preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. Go to our Facebook page after you read the preview for all airing of grievances; we’ll have a daily discussion there to go with each preview. A couple weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks were my pick to win the Super Bowl. I'm not so sure anymore. There have already been a lot of significant injuries during training camp, but the one that affects the Super Bowl picture most might be Percy Harvin's hip surgery . The Seahawks' offense was going to be really dynamic with Harvin lining up everywhere and presenting impossible matchup problems for the defense. That's why they traded a lot of picks to the Vikings for Harvin this offseason and gave him a $67 million deal. The Seahawks are still good without him – by the end of last season they were one of the strongest teams in the NFL, and they didn't have Harvin then – but nobody loses a player that talented without feeling it a little. Harvin could return late in the season, and that would be a big boost. That's if Harvin is at full speed and on the same page with the rest of the Seahawks' offense, which is hard to project. And keep in mind, the other team in the top two is competing with Seattle for a division title.
There was a point in the 2012 season where the New England Patriots found themselves with a 3-3 record and in a four-way tie for first place (or four-way tie for last, if you're a fan of The Minutemen, a seminal punk band from the 1980s) in the AFC East. If the Patriots had a sense that didn't belong in that tie, it would be justified by having their three losses come by a total of four points. First came a 20-18 loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals, a game the Patriots were in position to win before Stephen Gostkowski's fifth field goal attempt of the game sailed wide from 42 yards out. The following week, the Patriots had a nine-point lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter before Baltimore's offense gained 162 yards on 15 plays over two drives and scored 10 points, including a 27-yard field goal from rookie kicker Justin Tucker as time expired. [Related: Patriots' Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes playing for new contracts ] The third loss came in Week 6 to the Seattle Seahawks. Up 23-17 in the final two minutes, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson hit Sidney Rice for a 46-yard touchdown to give Seattle the lead. Tom Brady would throw two incomplete passes, take a sack and the swarming Seahawks defense would keep Wes Welker short of the sticks on a 4th-and-17 play to force a turnover on downs. After the game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would get in Brady's face to ask "U Mad, Bro?". Yes, Brady was mad. After the loss in Seattle, the Patriots would win seven straight games, with Brady passing for 1,692 yards with 19 touchdowns and one interception as New England outscored their opponents by an average of 21 points per game. The Patriots nearly ran their win streak to eight, completely erasing a 31-3 second-half deficit to the San Francisco 49ers before allowing 10 fourth-quarter points in a 41-34 loss. The Patriots would close out their season with back-to-back wins to finish 12-4, the 10th consecutive season the Patriots had won 10 or more games. In the playoffs, the Patriots trounced the Houston Texans to advance to the AFC championship game, but All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his left forearm for the second time in three months and was done for the season. In addition to losing Gronkowski, cornerback Aqib Talib, acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the season, injured his thigh in the first quarter of the AFC championship game against the Ravens. Without Talib, the Patriots struggled to cover wide receiver Anquan Boldin, whose 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns catapulted the Ravens into Super Bowl XLVII with a 28-13 win in Foxboro. 2013 has been a very eventful offseason for the Patriots. It started out great, as Brady signed a three-year, $57 million contract extension in February that gave the Patriots some cap room to work with in the offseason. Unfortunately, most of the news involving the Patriots has been controversial, bad and downright tragic. The Patriots were unable to re-sign Welker, who turned down New England's offer to to sign a similar deal with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. To replace Welker, the Patriots had signed Danny Amendola, who has been compared to Welker throughout his career, largely because they're both white wide receivers who entered the NFL as undrafted free agents after playing their college ball at Texas A&M. That's where the comparisons stop as Welker has been far more productive, and far more durable, than the slightly bigger and slightly more athletic Amendola has been during his career. Gronkowski, the best tight end in the NFL, underwent multiple surgeries on his forearm before having back surgery in June, which puts his availability for the first half of the season in jeopardy. While Gronkowski was getting frequent flier miles on the operating table, the Patriots invited the circus to town when they signed free agent Tim Tebow to replace Mike Kafka as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster. Rock bottom was struck when tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in June, prompting the Patriots to release a player who less than a year earlier had signed a five-year, $37.5 million extension with $16 million in guaranteed money. Around the same time, starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who slid to the seventh-round of the 2012 NFL draft because of off-field issues (assaulting a police officer), was arrested in Lincoln, Neb. on suspicion of DUI. The Patriots are turning the page, however, beginning with a "jersey exchange" at their Pro Shop that reportedly cost the team $250,000. In their comments at the start of training camp, owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and Brady have all referred to the team reemphasizing the "Patriot Way" in how they conduct themselves on and off the field. There are legitimate questions about how the passing offense will fare with so much turnover at wide receiver and tight end, but Josh McDaniels is a very smart offensive coordinator who will adjust and adapt his play-calling to fit the personnel. The defense should be solid and the Patriots should have little trouble winning the AFC East and securing one of the top two seeds in the AFC.

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