Monthly Archives: March 2014

Lions signed James Ihedigbo to $3.1M, 2-year deal (The Associated Press)

James Ihedigbo’s hard work has paid off. The Detroit Lions signed Ihedigbo to a $3.1 million, two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Ihedigbo earned a spot in the NFL after being an undrafted free agent and a walk-on in college. The Lions plan to put him in the starting lineup next to safety Glover Quin to replace Louis Delmas, who they released last month.

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Who are the NFL’s pillar owners now? New team leadership must fill the void (Shutdown Corner)

In the past six months, the NFL has lost three giants — Bud Adams, William Clay Ford and, on Tuesday, Ralph Wilson — in franchise ownership.
Prior to that, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Lamar Hunt the Oakland Raiders’ Al Davis, two men whose names should appear in the first paragraph of the history of the league, died in the previous decade.
The current group of NFL owners have been a big part of the league’s success, with many of them helping navigate through the difficult lockout summer of 2011 and carry on with sports’ most successful endeavor. These are the salad days of football.
And yet there’s a legacy missing.
Yes, there are still members of the old guard who continue to represent the league after decades of service. Bill Bidwill became the sole owner of the Cardinals franchise in 1972, but the Bidwill family has controlled it back to the Chicago days, in 1932. The Rooney family has owned the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1933. Virginia McCaskey inherited the Chicago Bears in 1983 following the death of her father George Halas in 1983. Mike Brown and Jim Irsay inherited the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts, respectively, and are vital links to the league’s past.
Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos) and Alex Spanos (San Diego Chargers) are going on their 30th years owning their respective franchises, and the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones just celebrated his 25th year of ownership and has re-built an empire with his franchise.
But it’s clear we are in a new era of NFL ownership.
Bidwill has ceded daily control to his two sons. The Steelers have changed their ownership structure in recent years, and Dan Rooney, 81, is not as involved as he once was. McCaskey is seldom seen publicly these days. Bowlen and Spanos have been out of the spotlight in recent years. Irsay’s recent legal troubles cast some question on his daily involvement with the Colts while he seeks help.
Jones, the Patriots’ Robert Kraft, the Giants’ John Mara, the Eagles’ Jeffrey Lurie, the Falcons’ Arthur Blank, the Ravens’ Steve Bisciotti and a handful of owners who took control in the 1990s and 2000s have stepped up as NFL linchpins among the owners.
But there must be more influential new blood added, too. Not just another member of the Billionaire Boys Club hoping to cash in.
The timing of Wilson’s death — during the NFL owners meetings — allowed his fellow compatriots to pay the proper respect en masse. This was a man, too, who often swam upstream. He was not afraid to fight for his small-market team’s rights and go toe to toe with bigger and more influential owners. Wilson was one of two NFL owners to vote against the 2006 CBA because he “didn’t understand it.” And that was not because of a lack of intelligence — his keen sense, knowing it was a deal the owners later would regret signing, foreshadowed the lockout five years later.
The league needs its mavericks just as it needs its company men, so to speak, but there’s no question that there is a leadership question, symbolic or not. Will Jed York, Clark Hunt, Bisciotti and the other younger club owners be ready to fill the void? If not, there could be too few balancing forces to combat Jones and Daniel Snyder, who are viewed with some suspicion by fans at large.
The past few new owners approved by the membership have not put their best feet forward in their first few years in control of their respective clubs. The Miami Dolphins’ Stephen Ross has been saddled with losing and ugliness. The Cleveland Browns’ Jimmy Haslam has had both as well, and he has a possible indictment hanging over his head with the Flying J mess. Although the Jaguars’ Shad Khan is roundly respected, his team has been mired in losing in recent years, too.
The Bills have no clear successor to Wilson. Adams’ estate currently owns the Titans. The Panthers’ Jerry Richardson, 77, has endured health probems and has no clear successor lined up, having fired both of his sons a few years back. Neither do the New Orleans Saints for when Tom Benson passes away. Mark Davis appears to be rudderless in Oakland. The Chargers and Rams have pressing stadium issues and are relocation candidates. 
The NFL could be entering a period of serious ownership change over the next several years, and it’s clear the league already is in the midst of a transition period with several giants falling in recent seasons.
Here is a list of the current NFL franchise owners and the year they took over control of their respective teams:

NFL franchise
Owner(s)
Year taken over

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers, Inc.*
1923

Arizona Cardinals
Bill Bidwill
1972

Chicago Bears
Virginia (Halas) McCaskey
1983

Denver Broncos
Pat Bowlen
1984

San Diego Chargers
Alex Spanos
1984

Pittsburgh Steelers
Dan Rooney**
1988**

Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones
1989

Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Brown
1991

Carolina Panthers
Jerry Richardson
awarded franchise in 1993 (inaugural season was 1995)

New England Patriots
Robert Kraft
1994

Philadelphia Eagles
Jeffrey Lurie
1994

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Malcolm Glazer
1995

Indianapolis Colts
Jim Irsay***
1997***

Seattle Seahawks
Paul Allen
1997

Houston Texans
Bob McNair
awarded franchise 1999 (inaugural season 2002)

Washington Redskins
Daniel Snyder
1999

New York Jets
Woody Johnson
2000

Atlanta Falcons
Arthur Blank
2004

Baltimore Ravens
Steve Bisciotti
2004

Minnesota Vikings
Zygi Wilf
2005

New Yrok Giants
John Mara and Steve Tisch
2005

Kansas City Chiefs
Clark Hunt
2006

Miami Dolphins
Stephen Ross
2008

San Francisco 49ers
Jed York
2009

St. Louis Rams
Stan Kroenke
2010

Oakland Raiders
Mark Davis and Carol Davis
2011

Cleveland Browns
Jimmy Haslam
2012

Jacksonville Jaguars
Shad Khan
2012

Tennessee Titans
Estate of Bud Adams
2013

Detroit Lions
Martha Ford
2014

Buffalo Bills
unknown
2014

* The Packers have no primary owner but instead are run by a board of directors, led by president Mark Murphy ** Dan Rooney took over control of the Steelers when his father, Art Rooney, died. Dan and Art II own a majority share of the team of approximately 30 percent of the franchise after the Steelers ownership was restructured in 2009. *** The Colts’ day-to-day operations are currently being overseen by Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Jim Irsay’s daughter, while Irsay undergoes treatment following his arrest.
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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

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AP source: Lions and Ihedigbo agree to 2-year deal (The Associated Press)

A person familiar with negotiations says the Detroit Lions and safety James Ihedigbo (ee-HEAD-ee-bo) have agreed to a two-year contract. Ihedigbo made 99 tackles and had three interceptions for the Baltimore Ravens last year. He started 12 games in 2011 for the New England Patriots. Ihedigbo made his NFL debut with the New York Jets during the 2008 season.

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James Ihedigbo tweets he’s joining Detroit Lions (ProFootball Talk on NBC Sportsa)

It seemed all but a formality that safety James Ihedigbo would end up with the Detroit Lions after visiting the team earlier this month. The deal now is apparently done. Ihedigbo tweeted that he has agreed to a contract with the Lions. Per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, it’s a two-year deal for Ihedigbo.…

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Detroit Lions will not pay 2015 option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley (Shutdown Corner)

The Detroit Lions have told defensive tackle Nick Fairley they will not pick up his 2015 option, according to Mlive.com .
Lions GM Martin Mayhew said during the annual NFL owners meetings that  the move is meant to motivate Fairley to perform his best more consistently.
The former first-round pick Fairley held a $5.5 million option for 2015, but the team doesn’t view him currently as being worth that amount. That would make him a free agent after this coming season.
“I have to ask myself, is he a $5.5 million player right now?” Mayhew said. “There are some performances where he is, and some performances where he’s not.
 
 
“I think it’s going to be an incentive for him to have an outstanding season, and that’s what I want more than anything else.”
The Lions always can franchise Fairley if he plays well. The beauty of the NFL system: The team is protected on both ends, if the player does well or if he fails.
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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

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Eagles plot action with Jackson (The SportsXchange)

DeSean Jackson is unlikely to return to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson confirmed Monday his team should be counted among the suitors for the wide receiver. If a trade cannot be completed, the Eagles are prepared to release Jackson, according to a New York Daily News report. Scheduled to earn as much as $10.7 million next season — $10.5 million base salary and a $200,000 workout bonus — teams interested in Jackson might be willing to wait for the Eagles to release him to avoid picking up the final three years of the five-year, $47 million contract he signed in 2012. By comparison, Detroit Lions wide receiver All-Pro Calvin Johnson is scheduled to earn $5 million in 2014.

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