A leap toward contention

Sports editor Kendall Peterson.New photo w/hoodie.Kendall’s Fastball

The NFL season may be over, but in the past few months teams have been working hard to improve and lock down the main pieces to their rosters. This offseason, four teams have really stood out and have shown that they are taking the next leap toward a championship: the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Ravens secured their Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco with a six-year, $120.6 million contract, making Flacco the highest-paid player in NFL history. The contract may have been a lot for a quarterback, but he earned it. He has led the Ravens to the playoffs ever since he was drafted in 2008. It was a good move by the Ravens because it secures their star quarterback for many years to come.

The 49ers traded their ex-starter Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs because they felt that Colin Kaepernick, who took over Smith after 10 games, was a better option. The trade was good for both teams. The Chiefs get an excellent starter in Smith and the 49ers get to keep Kaepernick who is younger and more athletic. For the Chiefs, they finally got a starter that can come in and be a leader.

The trade by the Chiefs and the 49ers really works out for both teams because Kaepernick and Smith had similar stats last season. Smith completed 153 passes for 1,737 yards and had 13 touchdowns. Kaepernick completed 136 passes for 1,814 yards and had 10 touchdowns. The Chiefs can finally be a threat in the NFL with a quarterback that can throw to their talented receivers.

Tom Brady signed a three-year, $27 million contract extension with the Patriots and will be with New England through the 2017 season. Brady may not have signed a huge contract like Flacco, but taking less money helped the Patriots free up $15 million worth of salary-cap space to sign players. That was a smart veteran move by Brady and now the team can add pieces to help him get back to the Super Bowl.

These four teams have made a splash in the offseason and are a step closer to Super Bowl contention. They have secured core pieces to their teams and the results have made them better. Football is a “win now” kind of league and it looks like we will see these teams in the playoffs.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/66304/joe-flacco-earned-his-history-making-deal

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