Let's just dive right in today.
Houston Texans News
Who? Greg Jooones.
The Texans signed former Jacksonville Jaguars fullback Greg Jones to a one-year contract on Wednesday, handing the 10th year player a total package worth $1 million, when factoring in his signing bonus. He will follow the trail blazed from Jacksonville to Houston by Chronicle Texans beat writer Tania Ganguli, who probably makes only slightly less than him.
A million dollars is a lot, but I've heard of punters that make more, and for far less effort, with far fewer consequences to their long-term health. For all of you out there who love to say that Andre Johnson is injury-prone, it could be much worse. He could be like Greg Jones, who has torn two ACLs in his career. (Editor's note: Owen Daniels laughs at only two torn ACLs.)
Jones will be the team's fourth starting fullback in four years. He fills the void left by James Casey's departure, just as Casey filled the void left by Lawrence Vickers' departure in 2012, and as Vickers did the same when Vonta Leach departed the year before that. Let's take a quick peek at how much all four of these guys are due to make in 2013, and what their respective cap hits will be, to see who got the the biggest value:
* - Casey is the only one of the four who is not in the last year of his current contract. He is also not really a "fullback" per se, now that he is in line to be Chip Kelly's NFL Wunderkind.
Given the team's track record at the position, it's quite possible that Jones' stint in Houston will last only a year. That depends on how well the bruising run-blocker opens up the seams for Arian Foster in 2013. Play poor, be shown the door; play too well, though, and Foster may be forced to rejoin Twitter solely to try and outdo Maurice Jones-Drew in the excessive-vowels-and-exclamation-points-cry-of-distress.
"@adamschefter: Jaguars FB Greg Jones is visiting the Texans today." Noooooooo!!!!!!— Maurice Jones-Drew (@Jones_Drew32) March 26, 2013
Bill Barnwell, take note: MJD is coming for Jim Irsay in this category.
Jones has languished in relative obscurity in the sticks of northern Florida for the duration of his nine-year NFL career. Many claim Jones would have already made a Pro Bowl by now had he only been on another team. Perhaps that is true. He certainly passes the eye test in the Jesus-Christ-that-dude-is-jacked department and has since his days at Florida State.
Greg Jones (via atmymercy41)
This is one back that clearly can make do in light of the new NFL rule that prohibits leading with the crown of your helmet.
If you think Jones looks good with pads on, you should see the man take his shirt off. It's like our own bigfatdrunk, only much stronger and leaner as well.
Watch the two videos down below. The first is from his time as a Seminole. The other is from last year. Observe the evolution of his eating habits, and then try and see whether or not it really made any difference. Don't you get the sense that the man could eat a bucket of lard every morning and still look like a background dancer at a Salt-N-Peppa show?
1) Greg Jones as college student, when his Wendy's M.O. was to actively seek out the greasiest possible thing on menu:
2) Greg Jones as seasoned NFL veteran, who now bores his wife with his daily routine of baked chicken, baked chicken and some more baked chicken:
ESPN The Body Issue - ESPN The Magazine- Greg Jones Body Shot (via ESPN)
One more random factoid about Greg Jones before we move on: he is somehow related to boxing legend Joe "Down Goes" Frazier. Whether their parents are siblings or merely "distant" relatives, I don't know, as we're all aware that the word "cousin" has a different definition in certain segments of American society versus others. I don't know what the relations between Jones and Frazier are, but if there's blood, it goes a long way towards explaining the genetic freak show that is Greg Jones.
Chad Johnson, you should probably have done some more research on who you were challenging to a fight back in the day. You are really lucky that never went down.
Around the NFL
A quick look at the cap
Here is an excellent chart that shows the amount of cap room all 32 NFL teams have remaining as of March 26. The Texans have $4,912,260 of cap space according to these figures, but that probably did not reflect the addition of Greg Jones.
Laces are OUT, Dan. And so is the classic Dolphins logo.
The Miami Dolphins are finally trying to move past the Ray Finkle era, engaging in a "total rebranding" of the team that will feature a new logo, a new color on their face masks, and a return to the original aqua that reminds South Floridians of a simpler time in their franchise's history. A time before the "laces out" game.
Ace Ventura: Ray Finkle's House (via littleurchin28)
The most obvious change will be the removal of the Rockne-era protective headgear worn by the dolphin that flies across the team's iconic helmets. The new dolphin eschews headgear altogether, a provocative gesture in the Concussion Era. This new dolphin definitely carries a more modern tint to its style, which is very Miami. The face mask will also be white this year, which is also very Miami. The change has spawned an excellent trivia question for the guy in your weekly group that owns the sports portfolio: What is the only other NFL team that has white face masks? (Answer at bottom of the story.)
If you're the type of person that immediately knew the answer to that question, you may already know this as well: the Miami Dolphins have apparently always been serial color changers when it comes to what shade of "aqua" their jerseys feature. The only question I have in light of these changes is why the hell the Carolina Panthers have never realized how terrible their Electric Blue threads are, and have always been.
At least he and Jordan will have each other
Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy apparently has nine lives in Cleveland Browns terms. Even after Tuesday's signing of Oakland-and-Chicago castoff Jason Campbell, Cleveland claims there are no immediate plans to release or trade the former third round pick. They simply plan to bury him on the bench as the third string option.
#Browns CEO Joe Banner told new flagship partner ESPNCleveland that Weeden will come to camp as the starter, but Campbell will compete.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 28, 2013
It's just really unfortunate. That Cleveland gets its own local ESPN flagship before Houston, and that yet another former Longhorn star is watching his pro career disintegrate after promising start. No one deserves to go from Heisman finalist to a third string option in Cleveland, Ohio.
It could be worse, I suppose. At least McCoy's not stuck in Detroit.
"Not stuck in Detroit!"
Santos told police she and Spievey, her live-in boyfriend, got into an argument about child support. She said he is the father of her 2-year-old daughter. At one point during the argument, Spievey put his hand around Santos' neck and pushed her, she told police. Police said they observed a small red mark on the front side of her neck.
In a later statement to police, Santos said Spievey was telling her daughter "not to be like your mother."
Spievey told police Santos grabbed his throat with her right hand and he had to push her hand away. He also told police she threw a "flurry of punches at his chest." Spievey allegedly told police he already gives Santos child support and that he will pay anything for his daughter, but he will not pay for Santos to "go shopping and pay off her student loans," according to police.
Looks like the free agent safety pool that was so deep heading into this offseason may soon be adding another member.
Huff, Huff, Pass...ed Over By The Texans
One member of that aforementioned free agent safety pool is now off the market. Former UT star Michael Huff, a man forever close to my heart after buying my breakfast - and the breakfast of every other patron at the Austin restaurant Juan in a Million one day back in 2011 - signed with Baltimore on Wednesday. The Ravens got Huff for $6 million over three years, a shockingly cheap rate for a player of his caliber. Huff, who is entering his eighth season in the NFL, has experience at cornerback as well as safety, but is expected to replace Ed Reed in the suddenly dangerous-looking, revamped Baltimore defense.
When news broke of how little Huff had agreed to sign for, all the #BattleReedWatch skeptics understandably groaned in unison. Both players are under contract for three years, but the one almost five years Huff's senior is making an average of $3 million more per season. Reed is clearly on the downslope of his career, and though Huff is also on the wrong side of 30, the long-time Raider is way more likely to still be playing at a high level when their respective contracts enter their third and final seasons. It's clearly a smarter football move to sign Michael Huff over Ed Reed, is the way this thinking goes.
But just take a look at Reed's contract, and see how it's structured. The whole point of the Reed experiment in Houston is to get the most out of him in year one, and to view years two and three as a potential bonus, should his body not begin to break down. Reed's contract leaves him pretty vulnerable after 2013, and especially so after 2014. If he starts to suck right off the bat in Houston, he could easily be gone by the start of next season. If he starts to suck in two years' time, he can be let loose for a dead money charge of only $666,668 following the 2014 campaign. Reed's deal is effectively a one-year contract with a team option for extending him in consecutive years after that. It's a win now proposition the Texans are making. The team's front office clearly views him as the better player than Huff at this moment in time, and thinks having Reed patrolling the defensive backfield this season gives them a better chance at that elusive Super Bowl appearance.
From this, logic would point to the draft as where the Texans plan to find that safety of the future that everyone assumed Glover Quin would be following the end of the 2012 season. To select a young player who could learn under Reed and another aging safety on the Texans roster, Danieal Manning, would be an ideal situation for mixing a streak of carpe diem in with the more traditional Smithiak philosophy of building through the draft. Something needs to be done to ensure that the Texans don't simply get taken to the woodshed every time they face Tom Brady (who wants to play until he's 90) and Aaron Rodgers (who, by the way, is about to become Joe Flacco rich and has plenty left in the tank).
That's the logical analysis, of course. If only logically was the way it always worked.
Don't sleep on Jurgen K. Don't ever sleep, on Jurgen K.
Speaking of Baltimore's remarkable defensive turnaround - adding not only Huff but also Elvis Dumervil in less than one week's time - whose public perception has experienced a greater reversal in fortunes over that same time period: U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann or the Ravens organization as a whole?
What a huge
win scoreless tie at Mexico on Tuesday night, which only reaffirmed what we all already knew: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" is the greatest chant to come out of the Westphalian era.
I know there are plenty of soccer haters out there, and I understand your reasoning. After all, a 0-0 tie? Really? But you really need to give it a chance, and it needs to happen in time to fully enjoy the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. If neither the obscene national pride nor the excitement of the game itself is enough to sway you, perhaps you should think about it from a more primal point of view. If you're at all into hot Latin chicks*, soccer fandom has your name all over it. Especially if you speak any Spanish whatsoever. For our readers who reside in our great state capital, the place to be during a World Cup qualifier that invokes a Latin American nation is Cuatro's on W. 24th street.
This was the scene in the waning moments of U.S. Soccer's biggest moment since Algeria:
America, F Yeah! USMNT-Mexico, World Cup qualifier, 3/26/13 (via billyparsley)
The OKC fan you see at the end may have been a little overzealous in his thoughts on the nation of Mexico, but as the Mexican girl whose face you see reacting to his invective told me when I apologized on his behalf afterwards, "It's okay. We have our 'puta' and 'culero' chants, too."
(* - Of course, I am perfectly content with my lovely, non-Latin American girlfriend. Especially as she is a huge Texans fan.)
Barkley just positioning his balls well, all day every day
Former USC quarterback Matt Barkley threw for scouts at the Trojans' Pro Day Wednesday, the first time he's done so since injuring his shoulder late in his senior season. The potential first round pick's workout session has drawn some pretty solid reviews, none more glowing than the assessment delivered by fellow Trojan Robert Woods, the wide receiver many Texans watchers are hoping Houston can snag in the second round:
"He looked great," Woods said. "His balls were in great position."
Honey Badger DO care
Speaking of former D-I stars whose draft stock appears to be rising, Tyrann Mathieu also impressed in his Pro Day workout on Wednesday. I personally hope that Mathieu's off-field issues keep him in the third-to-fourth round range, so the Texans can take a risk on the undersized defensive back with minimal blowback should things not work out.
Lattimore pulling a McGahee
Feel good candidate of the draft award goes to Marcus Lattimore, who drew a standing ovation from NFL scouts that convened in Columbia to witness the former Gamecock work out during the South Carolina Pro Day. Lattimore has clearly made incredibly strides since the gruesome knee injury he suffered against Tennessee in October. Whether Steve Spurrier's comment that he believes Lattimroe may have worked his way into first round material is meant to reassure Jadeveon Clowney or not is a matter of opinion.
Osi in the ATL
Long-time New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora is now an Atlanta Falcon, having signed a two-year deal for $8.5 million on Wednesday. The maximum value of the deal is $12 million, with $5 million of it is reportedly guaranteed. The choice to move from the Meadowlands to the Dirty South seems like a good fit for the eleventh-year player, who maintains his offseason home in the ATL. Umenyiora will be filling the shoes left by former Falcon John Abraham, who is still a free agent. Something that surprised me to learn about Abraham was that he is the active career sack leader in the NFL. Umenyiora is tenth, with 75 in 10 seasons as a Giant, one of which he missed due to injury.
One category in which Abraham - or any other active player in the league for that matter - could never touch Umenyiora is the ratio of shoulder pad to body mass statistic. Sadly, no one keeps records like that, it seems, which sucks if you're Ed McCaffrey.
While We're All Here
This is a picture my dad took at last night's Rockets-Pacers game:
The Bob doesn't even care about the Rockets, and he somehow swings seats like this for free. He was two seats away from Harden - so close that you can even see how excited the guy was in the photo! Turns out it pays to be boys with the top priest at Strake Jesuit, who got the tickets from someone, presumably a wealthy Catholic, I don't know. All Jesuits take three vows when they enter the order: poverty, chastity and obedience. I could maybe handle the chastity and obedience if this is what the poverty looked like.
(Trivia answer: Kansas City Chiefs)