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NFL News: Player News and Updates for 1/31/14

NFL Updates: Ellington, Forte, Important Off-Season Dates and More

January 31, 2014

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We’re getting tantalizingly close to the Super Bowl; There are just two days left until the big day. While we’re waiting around for the unofficial holiday, let’s take a closer look at some of the noteworthy players out there and see who’s making headlines today. Here’s the latest.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Yesterday, news emerged that said the Jaguars haven’t had any contract discussions with their veteran RB Jones-Drew. That little nugget of information led to some wild speculations that the team would be letting him walk out the door via free agency this off-season.
While that scenario remains a possibility, we’re not so quick to put an end to MJD’s Jacksonville tenure. The team is playing it smart: They’ll likely let him get hit with reality in the free-agent market, where he’s bound to receive offers lower than what he believes he’s worth. A Lisfranc injury in 2012 preceded a career-worst 3.43 YPC in 2013, and no one is going to overpay for a 29-year-old RB coming off that sort of a year, regardless of who it is. If Jones-Drew doesn’t settle for a “prove it” deal somewhere else, expect the Jags to swoop in with a realistic offer.

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NFL News: Player News and Updates for 1/31/14

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions: Bell’s off-season contract situation should be a very intriguing point of interest for Lions fans this season. He’s looking for a long-term deal, and may get it thanks to new head coach Jim Caldwell’s seemingly high opinion of him. Bell will be 28 before the 2014 campaign begins, however, so the team will want to tread cautiously before writing checks.
Bell had a productive year for Detroit, logging 650 rush yards with eight touchdowns and 547 more through the air. He’s a restricted free agent this off-season.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Let’s stick in the NFC North for a moment and check out Forte. He had a very busy 2013, and we’ll likely see more of the same next season. Last year, he accounted for 363 touches, which is the highest total since his inaugural NFL year in 2008. From that, he was able to rack up 1,933 total yards, which was a career-high.
Forte has been reported as saying he wants another heavy workload in 2014. Now that the Bears have a well-balanced and potent offensive attack on their side, he’ll likely get it.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Let’s close things out with another RB in Ellington, who was a frequent topic of conversation in this space during 2013. He’ll reportedly serve as the team’s every-down back in the upcoming season, with Rashard Mendenhall likely to depart via free agency this off-season.
Ellington will need to add some weight in the coming months to increase his durability (he’s listed at 199). If he can do that without losing any burst, he’ll be an effective weapon for the Cardinals. Ellington averaged 5.5 YPC in his rookie season last year.

NFL Playoffs and Key Dates: There’s just one more game left in the NFL season, and after that it’s back to anticipation mode for the 2014 campaign. Here’s a look at the remaining schedule, along with a few important upcoming dates we’ll be seeing soon.

Upcoming Games:

February 2, 2014:

Super Bowl XLVIII: 6:30 PM ET (FOX)
Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Important 2014 Dates:

February 3: Waiver System Starts (Teams can make transactions, cuts, etc.)
February 17-March 3: Franchise Tag Designation Period
February 19-25: NFL Combine (Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
March 8: Contract Negotiations for Unrestricted Free Agents Can Begin
March 11: League Year Officially Begins (4:00 PM ET)
March 23-28: Annual Owners Meeting (Orlando, FL)
May 8-10: NFL Draft
July 24: Training Camp Opens
September 4: First Game of the 2014 Season

For the latest article updates, follow Andrew on Twitter @SCPAndrew.


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