Free agency can be a tough time for NFL fans. It’s never easy seeing a beloved player head to another team for more money. It’s even harder when that player heads to a hated division rival (more on that later). Earlier this week, Eagles fans watched LeSean McCoy get traded to Buffalo, but were able to celebrate when their team signed last year’s rushing champion DeMarco Murray on Thursday afternoon. As you can see, some enterprising young individuals are already making the most of this shift in the backfield by creating “custom” (and I use that term lightly) Murray jerseys:

Already have my @DeMarcoMurray jersey ready for this season! pic.twitter.com/qaBjN3eH8j

Lou-Tang Clan (@LouisPlatt13) March 12, 2015

Proud to be the first owner of a Demarco Murray jersey pic.twitter.com/0gZYzwzaNZ

MarkyMark (@mrbear0610) March 12, 2015
 
On the flip side, the Dallas Cowboy fans had to watch their running back trade in his star for a pair of wings. Needless to say, they took the news a weeeeee bit harder than their NFC East counterparts.

Anyone wanna help me burn my @DeMarcoMurray jersey when he signs with the eagles today?

Kevin Pringle (@kingpring25) March 12, 2015

@DeMarcoMurray What a bad christmas gift pic.twitter.com/j3mST9HhcB

Kevin Keogh (@KevinJKeogh) March 12, 2015

IM JUST MAD CAUSE ASHLEY SPENT GOOD MONEY ON YOUR JERSEY AND NOW I HAVE TO BURN IT @DeMarcoMurray

Jeremy Rogers (@JLRogers21) March 12, 2015
 
I sure hope he clears the burning of that jersey with Ashley first. She might not be too pleased to see her gift turned into a pile of ashes.

Speaking of, as the expression goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” I guess that even applies to the ceremony of burning a beloved players’ jersey after he leaves for another team.

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Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey is many things entering the 2013 season: the nation’s leading rusher, a first-team All-Pac-12 honoree and consensus All-American, one of the favorites to win the Doak Walker Award, a viable NFL Draft prospect and in striking distance of several Arizona career records.

Carey will not, however, be the face of the Wildcats in one significant respect, as the school has decided against selling his No. 25 jersey this season. Instead, coaches and athletic department officials made the decision to highlight the No. 33 worn by senior linebacker Jake Fischer, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported.

It shouldn’t be a surprise considering Carey was involved in two headline-grabbing incidents in the offseason. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct last December, though the city of Tucson decided last month not to prosecute. Carey was also ejected from a Wildcats basketball game in January after getting into a verbal altercation with campus police.

It does serve as just another reminder of the lasting impact off-field conduct can have, even trickling down to what fans in the stands will wear.

INDIANAPOLIS — Asked what separates him from other NFL hopefuls in this draft class, former Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa first cited his mental toughness.

Although Longa lived in Cameroon until he was 12, he attributed much of his toughness to growing up in New Jersey and playing football at Rutgers.

“There’s something about being a Jersey guy that makes you tough,” the Saddle Brook product said on Saturday at a press conference during the NFL Scouting Combine. “Then, going to Rutgers, there’s just a tradition over there. Only tough people make it out of there. We might not be the most talented guys going into college, we might not be the guys that got recruited from the big-time schools, but there’s something about Rutgers guys. When they make it to the league, they stay.”

Longa, who recorded 100-plus tackles in each of his three seasons at Rutgers, said he has had a formal meeting with the Minnesota Vikings and informal meetings with 28 other NFL teams this week. The only teams that Longa hasn’t met with are the Giants, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.

It’s interesting that Longa hasn’t met with the Patriots considering the team currently has five Rutgers alums on its roster.

“There’s a reason why they draft Rutgers guys,” Longa said. “There’s a reason why Logan Ryan is playing there, there’s a reason why Duron (Harmon) is there, there’s a reason why Devin (McCourty) is there – because they’re smart and they love football and they play hard. That came from where? Rutgers.”

Including the five former Scarlet Knights with the Patriots, 20 Rutgers alums finished the season on active NFL rosters. Longa already feels welcomed into that fraternity.

“I met Devin about two years ago and he knew my name. He knew a whole about me and I was very surprised,” Longa said. “I was like, ‘You know about me? I look up to you, I know everything about you and you know about me? I feel special.’ It’s just a family, man. Even though you think somebody might not know who you are when they came out of Rutgers or they’re in the league and you just got there, they know you.”

Former Rutgers women’s basketball star Cappie Pondexter made an excellent point last week when her number No. 25 was the sixth earmarked for the rafters at Rutgers Athletics Center, home of men’s and women’s basketball.

No. 27 Ray Rice, Football

He had 25 games of 100-rushing yards or more — only one other player in school history has even half that many.Rice is Rutgers’ all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns scored despite entering the 2008 NFL Draft after his junior season.

No. 30 Eddie Jordan, Men’s basketball

At a time when it wasn’t easy for Rutgers football players to gain nation-wide recognition, Battaglia was a First-Team All-American as a senior in 1995. He led the nation’s tight ends with 69 receptions for 84 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007 and occupies a fundraising position at his alma mater in Athletics Development.

No. 23 Brian Leonard, Football

Like Pondexter, Leonard was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Leonard ranks No. 2 in program history with 207 catches and No. 5 with 2,775 rushing yards and is in the Top 10 in both rushing and receiving touchdowns, with a total of 5. He won the Draddy Trophy.

No. 81 Marco Battaglia, Football

Webber, who is No. 4 in minutes played despite playing at least nine fewer career games than those in the top three, later coached at Rutgers.He led Rutgers to a 71-15-8 record with two Final Four appearances during his time on the Banks, which started in 1988 and ended with his graduation in May 2014 after taking 14 classes in 10 months.

Heather Jones, Field hockey/Women’s lacrosse

Before he earned 96 caps with the U.S. National Team from 1991-98, Lalas was a three-time All-American and the consensus 1991 National Player of the Year. Jordan is the program’s career leader with 585 assists and 220 steals, though his three-year stint as head coach of an undermanned program is still a fresh memory.

No. 10 Peter Vermes, Men’s soccer

Vermes finished as a First-Team All-American and the runner-up for 1987 National Player of the Year honors. He later played in the 1988 Olympics and 1990 World Cup and still ranks No. 4 in school history in points.

GK Saskia Webber, Women’s soccer

Other than Carli Lloyd, Webber is the only Scarlet Knight to make it to the U.S. National Team.

Two of his teammates on the 1976 team already hang in the rafters and Jordan should be the next to go up, though she since has been bumped to No. 2 in the latter category. She returned to her alma mater for eight seasons as an assistant coach. The First-Team All-American was a wall in the net from 1989-92, making a program-best 522 saves while recording the second-most shutouts (34) in history.

No. 21 Alexi Lalas, Men’s soccer

Pick a sport to honor Jones, who concluded her two-sport career from 1990-95 as Rutgers all-time leading scorer in both field hockey and women’s lacrosse. She was a seven-time All-American between the two sports, including a First-Teamer in field hockey in 1993. Rutgers wasted no time inducting her into the Athletics Hall of Fame as shown in this photo from 1999.

A concentrated look at recent juice on the Broncos.

We hope you’re enjoying this lovely day! The players have the day off today and will be back Wednesday morning to begin preparation for Oakland. In the meantime, here are a couple things to get caught up on, starting with the defense:

1. Broncos reinforce position as top defense

Don’t let anyone tell you any different: The Broncos have the best defense in the NFL.

Well, according to Pro Football Focus, who crowned them with the prestigious title last week, they do.

But then the Broncos went out and held Philip Rivers and the Chargers to just three points and it definitely became *official*.

To give you an idea of how good this performance was from the Broncos, only two players that recorded a defensive snap posted a “red” overall grade (below -1.0). In fact, eight players earned “green” grades (above +1.0), with Malik Jackson and Von Miller playing up to their extremely high season-levels.

Four of the five top performers for the Broncos came from the defense: DE Malik Jackson (+8.4), OLB Von Miller (+7.9), DE Derek Wolfe (+5.4) and S Darian Stewart (+3.4).

To put that in perspective, the Chargers’ top performer, safety Eric Weddle, only earned a +4.4 grade.

Jackson earned the second-highest grade of all performers in Week 13, trailing just St. Louis’ DT Aaron Donald (+9.5).

2. Anderson reunites with former teammate

C.J. Anderson and Jason Verrett, swapped jerseys at the end of the Chargers-Broncos game on Sunday. Both Anderson and Verrett attended junior college in Northern California, with Anderson at Laney College and Verrett at Santa Rosa Junior College.  Even before college, Anderson and Verrett played each other in Pop Warner football.
 
Verrett went on to sign with TCU and Anderson left to play at Cal, but the pair hasn’t forgotten where they came from.

3. In case you missed it

Brock Osweiler stays starter as Manning prepares for throwing program 

AFC Playoff Picture: Osweiler, Dalton could duel 

Broncos’ Harris: ‘Only (QB) that didn’t cry was Andrew Luck’

“Wentzmania” continues to rise. 

According to Fanatics, the global leader for sports merchandise, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has the top selling jersey in the NFL since his debut this past Sunday, when he threw two touchdowns in his team’s 29-10 win. 

Coming in second? Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., just ahead of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. 

It has been a whirlwind two weeks for Wentz, who went from being likely inactive for the team’s season opener, to starting once the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford. 

The No. 2 overall pick did not disappoint despite having just a week to prepare to start, posting a quarterback rating of 101.0 and completing 22 of his 37 passes for 278 yards. 

“I mean, we’ll see what happens,” Wentz said of the increased spotlight. “Obviously, it’s kind of all part of it. At the end of the day for me, it’s still just about playing football. I’ve got to block out the noise — both good and bad — and just get back to work.”

Wentz was the first Eagles rookie quarterback to start a season opener since Davey O’Brien on 9/17/39 vs. Washington, and the first Eagles rookie quarterback to play for the team on opening day since Randall Cunningham in 1985.

His debut was one of the best ever from a rookie, as only three NFL rookie quarterbacks have posted 275+ passing yards, 2+ passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a season opener since 1960 — Wentz, Robert Griffin III in 2012 and Jim Kelly in 1986.

The strong showing has led him to become the topic of conversation in Philadelphia and nationally, and it should only increase, as he is set to make his second start this upcoming Monday night on ESPN against the Chicago Bears. 

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The NFL and Nike have teamed up to become the master of the tease, dangling every possible piece of apparel in front of fans and media types before unveiling the official jerseys.  The grayscale revealed a sleeker, more modern looking fit…y’know what, just have a look for yourself .

Nice to see that with shiny new uniforms, comes shiny new Brian Orakpo mannequins.  I’m told that we will have the actual, non-shiny Orakpo later for a photo shoot.

The new jerseys will also have a ventilation system, which should be a big help during preseason games, as well as games in Miami and Arizona.  Green Bay, not so much.

For those of you that like the current design and markings, this should be a huge relief to discover that the internet blueprints were a joke.  But for those of you that expected more, don’t be disappointed, folks.  This is much better than having a total overhaul of everything you’ve ever known.

Colin Kaepernick has never been more popular.

The suddenly controversial San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterback has been the talk of the sports world for over a week. With a spot on San Fran’s 53-man roster secure, don’t expect the Kaepernick conversation to go away any time soon.

Sooner or later, you might find yourself in a debate with someone showing the ultimate fan support for Kaepernick’s social justice crusade.

The reason? Kaepernick’s jersey sales have inexplicably skyrocketed on NFL.com over the past few weeks. While the former NFC champion signal caller was once a popular player and hot-selling jersey, the best of Kaepernick on the field never produced what the NFL is seeing now.

According to the NFL Shop website, Kaepernick’s jersey has risen to the No. 1 overall best seller in the league. No. 2? New Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz. Following those quarterbacks on the list? Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

To put that into perspective, the 49ers back-up quarterback is selling more jerseys than Cam Newton, Von Miller, J.J. Watt, the new big thing in football-crazy Philadelphia, the star back on America’s team and the best wide receiver in the NFL who happens to play in the biggest market in sports.

The red 49ers home Kaepernick jersey ranks No. 1. As for the white road version? No. 16 among all of the best sellers.