Jules From The Gridiron 4-9-13

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JULES FROM THE GRIDIRON 4-9-13

The Oakland Raiders are turning into the New Orleans Saints Lite (minus the quarterback, receiving corp, tight end, defensive line, or Super Bowl ring, but close huh…) thanks to the latest free agent acquisition from Tuesday. Oakland signed safety Usama Young, entering his 7th year in the league, he spent the last two seasons in Cleveland, but won a Super Bowl ring with the Saints in 2009, having spent the first 4 years in the NFL as a reserve for Payton and family. He is reunited in Oakland with Tracy Porter, a key to the Saints Super Bowl win as another piece to a puzzle Reggie McKenzie is busily putting together…

The Raiders are building their roster 1 1-year deal at a time, thanks largely in part to a serious issue with dead cap money. They added former 1st rounder Mike Jenkins with a 1-year deal and resigned Andre Carter (started 12 games in 2012 for the team) through the 2013 season.

It’s hard for me to ignore the Raiders are smartly adding pieces that could offer some production on the field and more importantly, leadership in the locker room.

From Matt Flynn, Tracy Porter, Michael Jenkins, now Young… none of the names jump off a page, but with leadership and solidarity, it’s amazing what a TEAM of football players can accomplish. I’m not saying the Raiders are a playoff team, or even close, but when you look at the process of rebuilding a team, and laying a foundation for franchise culture, it’s clear that McKenzie is willing to napalm the past and start with clean slate. This year is difficult because of the finances, but 2014, the Raiders will be significant players in free agency, and see some true results of the new regime.

That’s the first and likely LAST time I start Jules From the Gridiron with Raiders news—especially given the incredible news about the 49ers…

For the first time since 1979, the Niners led the league -not only in being the greatest team and the beat behind my heart (that’s been since 1981)-- but also in merchandising. They are the only team outside the Eastern Time Zone in the top 5. Also rounding out that list is some team that replaced the Colts in Baltimore (I might still be hurting about the game in New Orleans this past February), Giants, Redskins, Steelers and Patriots.

And setting a new ALL-TIME record in jersey sales is the man with the most famous 3 letters in sports… RG3 – ok, so there’s a number in there too… How about another famous 3 letters? Like, ACL? More specifically: his.  There’s still questions about his return despite Dr. James Andrews saying his recovery has been ‘super human’- he’s saying he’s not coming back until he’s ready. Can’t argue with the man after seeing that sad playoff game against Seattle. Redskins fans are still hurting over that, I’m sure.

Also on the list of jersey sales- Tim Tebow beat out Russell Wilson, but JJ Watt represents for the Texans and coming in second behind RG3 is PFM- Manning, the elder son. Eli comes in 9th.

Here’s the list- thanks to NFL.com

Top-selling NFL player jerseys

Rank

Player

1

Robert Griffin III

2

Peyton Manning

3

Ray Lewis

4

Colin Kaepernick

5

Tom Brady

6

Andrew Luck

7

Aaron Rodgers

8

Victor Cruz

9

Eli Manning

10

Patrick Willis

11

Rob Gronkowski

12

J.J. Watt

13

Tim Tebow

14

Russell Wilson

15

Marshawn Lynch

Bad news for Charger fans is good news for Cowboy fans. Free agent right tackle Eric Winston is done talking with San Diego, for now, anyway. The Cowboys were also in the mix and while it’d be good to have Winston, a workhorse and great locker room guy, in San Diego, I think Cowboy fans would love a reason to let Doug Free find a job selling cars and let Winston be their right tackle.

Ever busted a leg? Think throwing a band-aid on that thing would help at all? Well, Doug Marrone isn’t thinking the Bills signing Kevin Kolb is much of a help either. Good backup? Yes. Franchise guy that shifts draft priority? Not a chance. "I do not think it really is going to change the philosophy on the draft," Marrone said, via the team's official site. "I think that when the position comes, whatever is best for our team to get better, I think we will go ahead and choose that player -- whoever it may be.” Smart call coach.

Ok, I’m off to scoop free ice cream for EVERYONE at Ben and Jerry’s to help raise money for Guide Dogs of the Desert and eat the extra stuff. And by extra stuff, I mean, everything I can get my hands on.