Matthew Slater announces that he will be retiring from the NFL after 16 glorious seasons.
Since being drafted by the New England Patriots in 2008 out of UCLA, Matthew Slater has been a staple on special teams. So much so, that he holds the record for most All-Pro appearances for a special teamer with 10. Slater is the all-time tackle leader in franchise history.
Slater who is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, etch out his own mark on the league at his position. Patriots owner Robert Kraft proclaimed that Slater should be a Hall of Famer alongside his father. Slater was a team captain for 13 straight seasons and was counted on to be the teams locker room leader, especially with his inspiring postgame speeches.
He ranks second in games played (239) for the Patriots, behind only Tom Brady who’s at 285. Slater ranks 9th All-time on most playoff games played. Even former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said a few months back that Slater is the greatest special team player that he has ever coached. The Patriots are surely to miss the veteran and look to fill that void during the offseason.
Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley and Pass Rusher Josh Allen are pending free agents, whom the Jaguars want to keep in-house.
After a disappointing season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping to retain their top two free agents to make their bid back into the playoffs. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley had a decent return after sitting out the 2022 season for a gambling suspension. Ridley caught 76 passes for 1016 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Jaguars risk giving up a 2nd round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons due to trade conditions by re-signing Ridley. The risk is worth it to give quarterback Trevor Lawrence some continuity on offense.
Pass rusher Josh Allen broke the franchise record for sacks with 17.5 and ranking second in the league lead. Keeping the productive rusher should be a top priority for the Jaguars as the defense showed signs of weakness as the season progressed. Allen was one of the lone bright spots on the defensive side, keeping him will not be cheap as the Jaguars may need to apply the Franchise tag to keep Allen from hitting the market.
Calvin Ridley is 29 years old heading into the 2024 season, his connection with Lawrence should keep his fantasy value around the WR2 range. Ridley has the potential to be a WR1 as shown during his 2020 season with Atlanta. Keeping Ridley with Lawrence can help build that connection.
Power Running Back Mike Davis announces his retirement after 7 seasons in the NFL.
Quad-zilla Running Back Mike Davis is retiring after 7 seasons in the NFL. Originally drafted by San Francisco in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL draft, then playing for Seattle, Chicago, Carolina, Atlanta and Baltimore, the journey man back out of South Carolina had his best season stepping in for the injured Christian McCaffery with the Carolina Panthers. Davis started 12 games, ran for 642 yards and 6 TDs, adding 59 catches for 373 yards and 2 TDs.
While Big Mike Davis’s fantasy value was never higher than that season, he was a fan favorite of the massive thighs enthusiasts! (lots of money was lost by people who bought into the preseason picture of him in Atlanta following his season in Carolina.) His flash with the Panthers in 2020 was exciting for owners due to the previously mentioned McCaffery rarely giving up reps. Davis last played for Baltimore in 2022. Davis was the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2021.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been suspended for violating the league’s Substance Use Policy.
The time in Las Vegas for the most handsome man in the NFL has been tumultuous, to say the least. Jimmy Garoppolo signed a free agent deal with the Raiders in 2023 and has been on a roller coaster ride ever since. Garoppolo first spent time on the bench after injury, was outshined by rookie QB Aidan O’Connell, and had his job officially usurped by O’Connell after the ouster of Head Coach Josh McDaniels, who foolishly imagined Garoppolo could lead the Raiders.
Garoppolo’s latest stumble involves PEDs. The NFL has suspended Jimmy G for two games for “violation without a therapeutic exemption.” What that means is nebulous as far as the behavior and substance, but what it means for Garoppolo’s future with the Raiders is more clear. The likelihood of Garoppolo starting another game for the Raiders has now changed from mostly unlikely to incredibly unlikely. Garoppolo should not be owned in any format.
Kadarius Toney’s future with the Chiefs and the NFL is uncertain after being a healthy scratch at the Superbowl
Kadarius Toney’s future with the Chiefs and the NFL is uncertain after being a healthy scratch at the Superbowl. Toney, who didn’t play any snaps after week 15 went public prior to the AFC Championship game claiming he was no longer injured. Toney was then deemed a healthy scratch for the Superbowl.
Toney, the former Giants 2021 first round pick, came over to the Chiefs in mid-season acquisition back in 2022. There was a lot of buzz coming out of Chiefs training camp and the pre-season, touting Toney as the clear Chiefs #1 wide receiver headed into 2023, an injury riddled season fizzled that hope. In 13 games with the Chiefs in 2023, Toney finished with 27 receptions for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. The Chiefs will be looking to either trade or cut Toney this offseason. It is looking more and more like Kadarius Toney has taken his last NFL snap, unless there is a team desperate enough at wide receiver willing to take a shot on this high risk investment.
New Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach says he will emphasize the running game and would “love to have” Austin Ekeler.
Entering the free agency period of 2024, the LA Chargers running back room includes Jaret Patterson, Elijah Dotson, and Isaiah Spiller. Given the new coaching staff includes Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman, a more capable stable of RBs seems like it should be a priority. Both Harbaugh and Roman are long-time proponents of a heavy emphasis on establishing a run game.
Harbaugh expressed that sentiment in a press conference stating, “we’re going to have a huge emphasis on the run game.” One key piece of the run game puzzle is free agent Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is unrestricted and is coming off a down year, but he’s included in a FA class that boasts Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry, among others. Harbaugh says that Ekeler is “a tremendous back and we’d love to have him on the team next year.”
Coachspeak is a Harbaugh specialty and the Chargers/Ekeler relationship has been strained in recent years. Time will tell whether that was more attributable to ownership or former GM Tom Telesco, but given Ekeler’s struggles in 2023 and his intent to explore greener pastures, don’t expect Ekeler to be a Charger in 2024.