Vikings agree to terms with LB Jordan Hicks

The Minnesota Vikings signed LB Jordan Hicks, the team announced Wednesday.

According to Adam Caplan, it’s a two-year deal worth $10 million with $6.5 million guaranteed.

Hicks, 29, spent the past three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals after signing a four-year, $36 million contract in 2019. 

He was released by the Cardinals last week.

Last season, the eight-year veteran started all 17 games for Arizona and recorded 116 tackles and four sacks.

Hicks, who has started 51 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak among all linebackers in the NFL, was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when they won Super Bowl LII.

He has played in 92 games (89 starts) in his career, totaling 638 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and nine fumble recoveries.

The eight-year veteran was originally entered the NFL in 2015 with the Philadelphia Eagles after being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft.

Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Saints, Buccaneers to play international games in 2022

The Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play international games during the 2022 season, the league announced Monday.

The Buccaneers, two-time Super Bowl champions, will play in the NFL’s inaugural regular-season game in Munich, Germany, while the Cardinals will play in Mexico City, where they hosted the league’s first-ever regular-season game outside the United States in 2005.

The Packers will make their first international trip, becoming the 32nd NFL team to play in London since 2007. The Saints will play in the UK for the third time, having won on two previous occasions. The Jaguars previously announced that they will play a home game at Wembley Stadium in 2022.

Last year, as part of the League’s expansion of the regular season to 17 games, it was determined that, beginning with the 2022 season, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams were eligible for a ninth regular-season home game would instead be designated to play a neutral-site international game each year.

Designated international teams in 2022:

Country (City)

Stadium

Team

Germany (Munich)

FC Bayern Munich Stadium

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mexico (Mexico City)

Estadio Azteca

Arizona Cardinals

United Kingdom (London)

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints

United Kingdom (London)

Wembley Stadium

Jacksonville Jaguars

As previously announced, Munich and Frankfurt were chosen to stage regular-season games in Germany over the next four years.  The first game will feature the Buccaneers.

The Packers will become the 32nd NFL team to play in London since 2007.

The Saints will return to London to play their first game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after having played at Wembley Stadium in 2008 and 2017.

The Jaguars, who played at Tottenham last season, will return to Wembley Stadium for the first time since 2019, having played there for seven straight seasons.

Giants trade Markus Golden to Cardinals

The Giants didn’t wait for the trade deadline to make their first in-season deal of the year.

Eleven days before the Nov. 3 deadline, the team announced today it has traded outside linebacker Markus Golden to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Golden returns to the team for which he played his first four NFL seasons before joining the Giants as a free agent in 2019. He led the Giants with 10.5 sacks last year.

Golden again became a free agent following the season and re-signed with the Giants on Aug. 4. He played in each of the team’s first seven games, including a start in the Giants’ only victory, last Sunday vs. Washington. He had 10 tackles (four solo), 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and one pass defensed.

In last night’s loss in Philadelphia, Golden played 27 defensive snaps and had one tackle – a five-yard sack of Carson Wentz. He was also credited with two quarterback hits.

The Giants’ outside linebacker corps has recently undergone several changes. Lorenzo Carter is out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon at Dallas on Oct. 11. Oshane Ximines is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury but is eligible to return when the Giants host Tampa Bay on Nov. 2. Last week, the Giants signed veteran defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who can also play linebacker.

Golden played in 46 regular-season games with 24 starts when he was with the Cardinals from 2015-18. He also started both postseason games in which he played. Golden totaled 142 tackles (100 solo), 19.0 sacks, three passes defensed, six forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery for the Cards. In the playoffs, he has 11 tackles (six solo).

The Giants are scheduled to host the Cardinals in MetLife Stadium on Dec. 13.

via: giants.com

Giants’ Jones: ‘I need to do a better job of getting rid of the ball’

The life of an NFL quarterback is never easy, and on Sunday against the Cardinals, Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones had a tough day. Jones threw one interception and lost two fumbles as New York fell to Arizona 27-21 at MetLife Stadium.

For most of the game, Jones(22/35, 223, 1 TD, 1 int) was under duress, and he was sacked eight times. But, according to Jones, he has to do a better job of getting the ball out of his hand quicker.

“Yeah, they did a good job upfront,” Jones said after the game. “They have some good pass rushers over there, and they did a good job. But I need to do a better job of getting rid of the ball, getting through my reads and getting the ball out. But yeah, they deserve some credit.”

While Jones did hold the ball a little longer than he should have at points in this game, New York’s offensive line needed to do a better job protecting the rookie, but no matter what happened today, Jones, who now has 12 turnovers in six games(five starts), knows he needs to continue to get better.

“I think I’m making progress in some areas, and still need to improve a lot in others,” Jones said. “Obviously, taking care of the ball is a big thing, and has been. To not do that today is disappointing. I have to get better there.”

At this point, the Giants are 2-5, and Sunday was an excellent opportunity for this football team to stay in striking distance of the top teams in the NFC East. However, Jones knows that the Giants have to move on.

“Yeah, we’re frustrated. Everyone is frustrated. But I don’t think we’re discouraged at all,” Jones said. “We’ll be back to work tomorrow. We’ll be looking forward to the opportunity against Detroit. We’re frustrated, but kind of rightfully so. We all know we can play better, and we’re determined to play better. So, back to work tomorrow.”

Giants’ Golden: ‘I’m in a good groove’

Linebacker Markus Golden this year joined the Giants after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and on Sunday in MetLife Stadium, he will face his former team for the first time.

“It makes me excited,” Golden said. “I’m excited just to be able to go out there and compete against some of my old teammates.”

They should have no trouble recognizing him, because Golden is doing a terrific impersonation of when he was at his best with the Cardinals. He leads the Giants with 5.0 sacks and has registered at least a half-sack in each of the last five games. That matches the career-long streak he had in the first five games of the 2016 season when he tied for third in the NFL and led the Cardinals with a career-high 12.5 sacks (and 19 tackles for loss) His defensive coordinator then was James Bettcher, who is now in his second season in the same position with the Giants.

The following year, Golden started the first four games but did not record a sack before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in overtime of a victory against San Francisco. He returned in 2018 to play in a new system and had 2.5 sacks while starting all 11 games in which he played.

The Cardinals brought in a new coaching staff and declined to re-sign Golden, whom they selected in the second round (No. 58 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. When Golden re-joined Bettcher and signed with the Giants on March 15, he said, “I’m more motivated now to get out there and prove to everyone in New York I can still ball.”

So far, so good. Golden also leads the team with 11 quarterback hits (five more than runner-up Lorenzo Carter) and is tied for the lead with three tackles for loss. Last week, he scored his first career touchdown on a 42-yard fumble return vs. the Patriots. He has also impressed everyone with his upbeat attitude, relentless play and friendly demeanor off the field.

“He’s one of my favorite guys in a lot of ways because he’s so into it, he plays hard,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think he’s very disruptive. We are starting to see, well we sort of saw it, but I think people who don’t know Markus are starting to see what he did a couple years ago when he had a lot of impact sacking the quarterback. He’s doing a good job, he’s playing hard, and he’s a really valuable member of our team.”

Golden is asked often if he is again the dominant player he was in 2016. He’s not yet ready to go there.

“What I say is, I see myself working every day to get better,” he said. “Back then, that was the player I was. Before I got hurt, I could seriously say I worked every day to get better. Last year, I was kind of nervous about my leg, wearing a big brace every day, every game. It’s you getting better, but not as better as you can. I wasn’t able to zone in and really focus like I am now and focus on football and the game because I don’t have to worry about my knee.”

This year, he has shed the brace and become one of the Giants’ most important defenders.

“Anytime you’re on the field and you have a big brace on your leg, and then you get out there and you have nothing on there, you feel clear,” he said. “I feel good.”

Bettcher also said the 2019 Golden is not identical to the 2016 model, but…

“I think he is really close to being that same guy,” Bettcher said. “He is out here working to try and get better and he’s felt better and better with his health. I think that was obviously the first thing. Markus and I talked at the beginning of the year and the goal wasn’t to get back to that guy, it was to be better than that guy. I think if you have gotten to know Markus, you’ve gotten to see how he works, how he plays the game. I think if there is anybody that’s going to come off of an injury like he had and be able to become a better player, it’s this guy. He loves the game, he works tirelessly. A lot of the plays that he makes are just second-effort plays, are just beyond skills, talent. It’s just mindset and purpose. That’s one of the reasons I have always loved him.

“I remember his first game as a rookie, we are playing the Saints at our place. They are on the 15-yard line and he’s aligned to the field, they run a screen into the back in the boundary, he’s to the field and … he makes a tackle at the seven. I see that play and you see him work in practice and that’s just his identity, that’s who he is.”

Bettcher’s presence was a major factor in Golden choosing to relocate to New Jersey. Golden is also playing with three former Cardinals teammates. Linebacker Kareem Martin, currently on injured reserve, joined the Giants last year and safety Antoine Bethea and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre signed the same week this offseason that Golden did.

“Bettch was a big part of it,” Golden said of his move east. “Just knowing Bettch, talking with Kareem a lot, and him telling me there was great people up here and everything. So, that played a big part of it. Then, I know the defense and knew the defense a lot. Of course, I had to learn more when I got here. Really that, and then when I came here, I was glad that I made the decision. I’m excited because there are a lot of good people here that are here to help you.”

But it’s the 6-3, 259-pound Golden who is leading the Giants’ pass rush. The team did not have a sack in the season opener in Dallas but have had three in each of the five games since. Golden had a season-high 2.0 sacks at Tampa Bay in the Giants’ first victory, full sacks vs. Buffalo and Minnesota and half-sacks against Washington and New England. His 5.0 sacks leave him tied for eighth in the league.

“I’m in a good groove, I feel good, and I’m going to attack it,” Golden said. “You have to attack. I’ve been in attack mode every day, as far as taking care of my body, as far as going hard at practice, and doing everything I can do so that when game day comes, I don’t have anything in my head. I’m clear and I’m ready to go. That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing. Being able to be out there healthy, I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself each week watching film. So, that’s been helping, too. The mindset is to keep attacking.”

On Sunday, he will apply what he has learned against some of his closest friends, notably Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries.

“Me and him went at it (in practice),” Golden said. “He went first round and I went second, so we’ve been going at it since day one. It’s going to be exciting to get out there and go against him.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen