After a 132-Day lockout, football is back in business. Players are now able to enter team facilities, and training camp has opened for all 32 NFL teams. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, it looks like football will not be interrupted for another 10 years.
For Brooklynites and the rest of New York, fans are anxious to see what their teams will look like in the 2011-2012 season. This past week was probably the most exciting free agent week in years. Prime-time players decided to stay with their respective teams, while others decided it was time for a new beginning.
Going into this season, both New York teams are going into the upcoming campaign filled with high expectations. Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez are blooming right before our eyes, as both quarterbacks seek redemption in what was a tale of two heartbreaking campaigns.
The New York Giants will try to recover from what was a sizzling start to the season that ended up an inauspicious ending. The Giants, for the most part, took care of certain players that were free agents this year. They re-signed the sensational running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been a consistent part of the Giants running game alongside “big man” Brandon Jacobs.
Big Blue also have themselves quite a receiving core with the signings of receiver Mark Clayton. Clayton joins a crowded unit of receivers such as Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon, Victor Cruz, Devin Thomas, and Rasmas Barden. Giants’ star receiver Steve Smith remains unsigned for now. Although Eli Manning has several weapons at the receiving position, the Giants come across a miniature headache on the defensive side of the ball.
Arguably their best defender, Osi Umenyiora has been unhappy with the Giants’ desire to grant him a new contract. Reports indicate that Umenyiora’s agent has gotten permission to seek a trade. However, there are still some big names and young linebackers that can produce for “Big Blue” this season.
My top standouts for the Giants this season are defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich. If Osi decides to go elsewhere via trade, Kiwanuka will be next in line to carry the load. The remarkable story of Mark Herzlich is still in blooming. Herzlich was a standout linebacker at Boston College until he missed the 2009 season after being diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. Herzlich beat cancer and made a comeback last year. After going undrafted and clearing waivers, Herzlich decided to sign with the Giants. He’s sure to be a great asset to the Giants linebacking corps.
As for the New York Jets, coach Rex Ryan was at it again at a recent press conference, stating that he guaranteed his Jets would win the Super Bowl this year. We’ve all heard his predictions in the past and not to shabby but Rex is 0 for 2 in his predictions.
The Jets made out well in the free agent pool, but the biggest priority was to re-sign receiver Santonio Holmes. The Jets rewarded him with a 5-year/$50 million dollar contract. Holmes is the Jets best receiver. After that, the Jets look towards boosting the cornerback core by adding the talented Nnamdi Aosmugha.
Asomugha and fellow Jets shutdown corner Darrelle Revis are probably the two best cornerbacks in the league. The Jets wanted to make their own version of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Out of nowhere, the Eagles scooped Nnamdi under the Jets’ nose and signed him to a 5- year/$ 60 Million dollar contract. After the Jets fell short of signing Asomugha, you would think current free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie felt a bit unwanted by the Jets.
However, the Jets front office made sure that their relationship with Cromartie was not tainted during their pursuit of Asomugha, as they gave Cromartie 32 million reasons why he should feel special. Cromartie signed a 4-year deal worth just that much.
The biggest surprise of the Jets off-season was their finding away to sign Plaxico Burress. Buress was released from prison completing a 20-month sentence following a gun charge. Burress signed a 1-year/$ 3 million dollar deal with “Gang Green.” There were many reports that Burress would re-sign with the Giants or Steelers. (The only two teams he has played for). Burress will be a big target for young Mark Sanchez and is excited to resume his career.
A reporter asked Burress about his age and whether he could perform like the Plaxico of old. Burress replied, “I may not be 25 anymore, but I feel good and I will look like I am 25 when I step on the field.” We are 4 weeks away from what will be the most anticipating season in a very long time. The Jets and Giants both have goals set out this year, let’s see if they can put it to work come week 1.
Sports Notes: (NBA Basketball) Day 34 of the NBA lockout. Players and owners met in New York with no resolution being solved. Players such as Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant have all expressed interest in playing overseas until the lockout is lifted. (Baseball) Yankees look to take over first place in the AL East as they prepare for a weekend series with the rival Boston Red Sox. Mets head back home to face their rival Atlanta Braves. (Football) The Eagles got Nnamdi along with other key free agents to battle with the Giants. The Jets will have their hands full as their rival Patriots added Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco.