Month: March 2018

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From 2012 to’16, Brees’ average pass traveled 7.8 yards in the air and resulted in 5.1 yards after the catch.

To be fair to Dipoto, the Mariners made a strong campaign to sign Shoehi Ohtani, who would have made an enormous impact on their rotation. Yet Dipoto now says that he doesn’t anticipate that he’ll sign another starting pitcher. There are still four good starters out on the market. Obviously someone like Yu Darvish would be an enormous boost, but even Lance Lynn could provide plenty of quality innings.

The Saints’ second-half leads and excellent defense allowed them to run the ball more frequently last season, taking some of the workload off Brees, who averaged fewer attempts per game than he has since 2005.

His rate statistics remained strong, including an NFL-record completion percentage of 72.0, but they masked some on-field slippage.

In 2017, Brees threw much shorter passes, averaging 6.4 yards in the air, with those throws generating 6.2 yards after the catch.

Drew Brees, 39, will remain in New Orleans for at least two more seasons.? AP Photo/Bill Feig Going back through 2005, the only starting quarterback to average more yards after the catch than air yards in a single season is Alex Smith, who did it in 2014 and 2015.

The most head-scratching move of 2018 NFL free agency involves a quarterback who Ravens safety Eric Weddle on Twitter proclaimed “has been paid more for nothing than anyone in (the) history of (the) NFL.”

It’s one thing for a media member to level such scathing criticism. It’s far more damning when a player gets publicly eviscerated by one of his own, especially a peer as accomplished and well-regarded as Weddle.

Yet the Cardinals not only are reportedly set to sign Bradford to a one-year, $20 million contract that includes $15 million guaranteed when it appears no other team had anywhere near as much interest. Arizona reportedly is doubling-down on the QB stiffs with the intention to also add Mike Glennon on a one-year deal.

Darvish also boasted a 27 percent strikeout rate and 7.6 percent walk rate last season, and the latter is especially appealing for a Cubs team that had the seventh-highest walk rate in the league in 2017. Even for all that he offers as an effective swingman, Montgomery simply cannot compete with that. His walk rate was a full three percentage points higher than Darvish’s last year.ravens_169

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Kirk Cousins officially joins Minnesota Vikings

It’s official: Kirk Cousins is the new starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Thursday.

Cousins met with team officials Wednesday night over dinner and toured the Vikings’ new facility on Thursday before agreeing to the richest guaranteed-money contract in NFL history. The three-year, $84 million deal, which is fully guaranteed, makes Cousins the highest-paid player ever, a source informed of the contract told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

The Trump administration on Thursday took its strongest action to date to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election, imposing fresh financial sanctions on Russian government hackers and spy agencies.

The administration also formally backed Britain’s claims that Moscow is almost certainly to blame for a chemical toxin attack against a former Russian spy living in England who was found comatose along with his daughter earlier this month.

Seferian-Jenkins, 25, resurrected his career with the Jets after being cut by the Buccaneers following a September 2016, arrest for drunk driving. The incident produced an embarrassing dash-cam video in which he made crude remarks while sitting in the backseat of a police cruiser.

Ultimately, he was suspended by the NFL for the first two games of 2017 season.

The Jets took a chance, claiming Seferian-Jenkins on waivers. After a non-descript 2016, he acknowledged a drinking problem and lost 30 pounds during the offseason.

“I expect to see additional sanctions in short order against specific Russian entities responsible for undermining our democracy,” he said in a statement. “The longer we wait, we know the Russian government will continue to shift resources to other propaganda factories that spew disinformation and lies.”ravens_011

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The only player with more was Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill.

Austin was set to carry a cap number of $8 million into 2018 — more than $6 million less than last season’s figure, per Over The Cap — but will instead redo his deal to preserve his standing with the Rams after his worst statistical season of his career.

The 2017 dropoff wasn’t all Austin’s doing. Rams GM Les Snead went out in the 2017 offseason and signed Robert Woods, drafted Cooper Kupp and then made an August trade for Watkins, creating a rather crowded position group that was incredibly thin just a year prior with Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. As a result, Austin’s chances were dramatically reduced as Sean McVay tried to find other ways to use his elite-level speed, evidenced by his spike in rushing attempts.

I am saddened to hear about Tom’s passing. Tom cared deeply about the game of football, the city of New Orleans and its fanbase. My thoughts and condolences are with his wife Gayle and the entire Saints organization during this difficult time.

Tom was a pillar of the National Football League for over 30 years and a champion of his beloved New Orleans his entire life. His impact on that community, the Saints franchise and our league will live on for years to come. On behalf of my family and the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, I extend our condolences to Tom’s wife Gayle, his family and many friends. Our teams have been fierce competitors on the field, but I will remember and be forever grateful for the respect and friendship we have shared over the years.

WR Taylor Gabriel, Bears Grade: C I would not peg the 2016 Browns as bastions of talent evaluation, but when Cleveland cut Gabriel in 2016, half of the league’s teams — including Ryan Pace’s Chicago Bears — passed on adding Gabriel as a waiver claim before the Falcons added him.

Gabriel had an anonymous few weeks with the Falcons and suffered a concussion, but he suddenly turned into a big-play machine when he came back.

Gabriel scored six times in nine games, including four touchdowns of 35 yards or more.

It seemed likely Gabriel would regress toward the mean, and that’s what happened.

The guy who scored just one touchdown in two seasons with the Browns scored one in 16 games with the Falcons.

The 27-year-old Gabriel averaged a modest 11.5 yards per catch, with just two plays of 35 yards or more all season, let alone touchdowns.

In 2016, Gabriel caught 7 of the 13 deep passes (traveling 16-plus yards in the air) Matt Ryan threw to him.canucks_010

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Derek Jeter knows why Marlins fans are angry.

The former Yankees star and current Marlins CEO told fans Wednesday to be patient because there is a “long-term strategic plan to make this organization sustainable over time.”

“The only way to do that is to invest in our minor league system, player development and scouting,” Jeter told a few hundred people who attended a 30-minute question-and-answer session at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Trustee Luncheon, via the Associated Press. “The only way you can be sustainable is you have to have a pipeline of players that are coming up through the organization.

“From my initial press conference, I mentioned that there were going to be some unpopular decisions that are going to be made, but just know that every decision that we make is for the betterment of this organization. I played for 20-plus years and, trust me, when I was a player I didn’t have a lot of patience. It was pretty simple. You either win or you lose. And it’s the same thing now in an ownership position, is you win or you lose.

Jimmy Graham, TE* Headed to: Green Bay Packers | Age: 31 News: Packers to sign Graham to three-year deal Demovsky: Graham needs Jordy Nelson-like connection with Aaron Rodgers Although he never matched his early-career production after the 2015 trade to the Seahawks — in part because of a serious patellar tendon injury that season — Graham remains a major weapon in the red zone.

His 10 touchdown receptions (on only 95 targets) in 2017 were tied for second in the league.

Ndamukong Suh, DT 2017 team: Miami Dolphins | Age: 31 Suh can still be an elite-level interior player, even if he doesn’t produce eye-popping sack numbers.

He keeps himself in excellent shape and, when invested, requires the attention of multiple blockers.

Any honest appraisal of him must note his inconsistent effort level, but overall, he is one of the few potential difference-makers available on the market. packers_111

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Kyle Williams back with Bills after getting advice from close pal Andrew Whitworth

Was there something in the water when Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams and Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth were growing up just 12 miles apart?

Nah. Try something else.

“We joke around that there’s something about this red dirt of North Central Louisiana,” Williams said with a laugh. “It grows them a little bit differently in this part of the world.”

“Obviously, he’s one of my closest confidants.”

A five-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s top tackler among interior defensive linemen since 2006 with 574 credited stops, Williams has spent more time with the Bills than any player on the roster by a wide margin. Thus, Williams endured more seasons without a playoff appearance until Buffalo broke its 17-year drought last season.

Williams said the positive direction he believes the team is headed under head coach Sean McDermott played a role in his return.

“When it comes down to it, I haven’t really exhausted myself in the pursuit of my dream: That’s being a champion,” said Williams, who turns 35 in June. “Obviously I love being a Buffalo Bill and wearing those colors every Sunday. I’ve done it for so long.

“The place means so much to me. I don’t want to do it anywhere else.”

Gossage played with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire when the young bash brothers took over baseball in the early 1990’s and he knew something was going on then, but he didn’t know what to do.

However, he knows now he can certainly join the charge of those opposing putting suspected steroid users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into of the Hall of Fame.

“Bonds, let me tell you, he may have been a Hall of Famer before, but he broke the most sacred record of all, (Hank Aaron’s) home-run records,” Gossage said. “(Ken) Griffey (Jr.) was supposed to break that record, the guy that everybody speculated was going to break it anyway. He didn’t do steroids, but he didn’t make it to the end of the race to break it. Here’s a guy in Bonds that had some of his greatest years at the end of his career, which doesn’t happen in baseball.

“That’s why Congress got involved, when baseball wasn’t doing anything in-house to clean the mess up. Until Congress got involved, we didn’t have anybody looking at it that closely. They were just kind of letting it go.”packers_136

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It’s difficult to imagine Brees and the Saints parting ways, especially with the team again competitive and without his heir on the roster.

Landry, meanwhile, heads to Cleveland following a four-year stint with Miami in which he was targeted 563 times (sixth-most in the NFL) while catching 400 passes (No. 3 in the league). Primarily a short-area asset, Landry’s career 6.3 average depth of target is higher than only Cole Beasley (6.2) and Adam Humphries (6.2) among wide receivers with 100-plus targets since he entered the league in 2014. His conservative role was more than offset by the heavy volume, allowing Landry to post a top-14 fantasy campaign in each of the past three seasons, including a career-best No. 5 WR ranking in 2017. that effort was fueled by nine touchdown receptions. He had entered the season with only 13.

Brees himself has said he doesn’t anticipate testing the open market, but it’ll be a little tricky. Brees’ contract did not allow the Saints to use the franchise tag, so they’ll have to meet his price for a standard contract before a March 14 deadline that would accelerate $18 million in salary-cap space. The situation provides an opening for Brees to test the market if he changes his mind.

You can’t make decisions just for yourself, and I think that’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older: There is collateral effects to every decision that I make,” Brady said, per “I have a wife [Gisele Bundchen] that aspires to be a lot of things, and she travels a lot. My oldest son lives here in New York, three kids, and you’re just always trying to juggle and you want to be there for them, and you want to be there for the hockey games and the soccer games. But you also realize the level of commitment it takes to give as much as you can to the team that needs you.” Brady has talked openly about playing into his mid-40s. The immediate task, though, is shifting gears away from February’s Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia and toward his 19th NFL campaign.

Mike Zimmer cautioned that the Vikings shouldn’t “go crazy” when signing a quarterback in free agency. It might appear that they’re not heeding that advice on the front end of Cousins’ deal, but after the guaranteed money is paid out, Cousins’ concession to the Vikings for all the guarantees would be those final two years of his contract where Minnesota has the upper hand. — Courtney Cronin, ESPN Vikings reporter

What if the Vikings can’t get Cousins? They have contingency plans. The first of those plans centers on their three free-agent quarterbacks: Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Even with more than $54 million in cap space, I’m not certain the Vikings will want to make a long-term investment in Keenum for upward of $20 million.buccaneers_081

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Hold on a second, did the Mets just win the offseason?

Laugh it up, Sandy. It’s a cold day in Port St. Lucie.

On paper, that’s a pretty good lineup. There’s lots of power between Frazier (111 career OPS+), Cespedes (125 career OPS+) and Bruce (110 career OPS+). Should Conforto rebound from his shoulder injury (he will return in May, according to reports), he adds more bop to the lineup (145 OPS+ in 109 games in 2017).

The lineup is also sprinkled with a fair amount of prove-it guys: Can Rosario and Smith prove they belong at the major-league level? Can Cespedes prove he can stay healthy? Can Mr. Met prove he’s a family-friendly mascot once again?

Obviously, the Mets aren’t without those question marks. To take it a bit further: Adrian Gonzalez is far from a guarantee to return to previous All-Star form and the front office doesn’t seem sold on Dominic Smith. Their bench could use some depth, as well. But there are a few different reasons why the Mets have handled this offseason — shockingly — expertly.

“He’s at that point now (that) to get those 500 to 600 plate appearances, (he needs to) organize (his) strike zone, accept walks and use the whole field,” Maddon said Wednesday, via the Chicago Tribune. “That would be the next level for him.”

Maddon would like to get Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell more days off, but that hinges on Baez getting control of the strike zone.

The Cubs signed starting pitcher Yu Darvish earlier this month to help solidify an already strong rotation. But Chicago struggled to hit in key moments last season. An improved Baez could help the Cubs rejoin the game’s elite and see them contend for another World Series.

Another thing that doesn’t matter: that the Rays traded franchise icon Evan Longoria to San Francisco this offseason, or that they dealt starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi to Minnesota or that they dispatched 57 home runs worth of production when they traded Steven Souza Jr. (30 homers in 2017) to Arizona and Corey Dickerson (27 homers) to Pittsburgh. And it doesn’t matter that, barring a baseball miracle, the Rays are not going to be competitive in 2018.buccaneers_011

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Shohei Ohtani perfect at plate in first spring training game as Angels’ DH

If first impressions are any indication, Shohei Ohtani will indeed be able to contribute to the Angels at the plate as well as on the mound — or better.

The two-way superstar from Japan reached base in all three plate appearances Monday in his spring training debut as a hitter.

Obviously, I couldn’t directly communicate with my teammates, but it wasn’t something that was entirely necessary. Once you get on the field, it’s baseball. We all play baseball and that’s a universal language. It’s not like we need to be talking to each other, per se. Fortunately, I was surrounded by great teammates and great coaching staffs. Communication wasn’t really an issue.

There’s been so much talk lately about ways to improve baseball, both on and off the field. Is there anything MLB could borrow from Nippon Professional Baseball that you think would work?

The New York Post reported Tebow could serve as the designated hitter in the Mets’ exhibition Monday vs. the Astros if X-rays on the ankle check out.

In case you were wondering, this injury won’t cost Tebow an opportunity to make the big club, even though Mets general manager Sandy Alderson predicted last week that Tebow will someday play in the major leagues. The plan has long been for the 30-year-old outfielder to begin the season with the Mets’ Double-A affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y.

That plan isn’t changing even though major-league outfielders Juan Lagares (hamstring), Jay Bruce (foot) and Michael Conforto (shoulder surgery) are also out. Conforto, in fact, is expected to miss the first month as his recovery drags.seahawks_128_113c5eed8dd9ea01-180x180

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In addition to Hyder, the Lions also re-signed long snapper Don Muhlbach .

Ian Rapoport reported earlier Saturday Sherman has an affinity for the West Coast, which makes plenty of sense and helps explain such a swift signing. The Southern California native is a Stanford graduate and is familiar with Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who was Seattle’s defensive quality control coach from 2011-2013, Sherman’s first three seasons in the NFL. He’ll stay in the NFC West while also avoiding having to learn a new scheme.

“It’s kind of like college again. You got an athlete coming to your school and you want to try your best to get them there. And that’s the same thing with us. We would really like to have Kirk. I think him and his personality and the things that he brings to the table fits in with Denver. But there are a lot of great teams out there with large pocket books. So we’ll have to just wait and see. But I’ll have to give him the ultimate spiel on why Denver is special to me.”

The Broncos join the Vikings, Cardinals and Jets as teams who are making a run at signing the veteran quarterback, but Miller is ready to give his pitch adding that other markets don’t have someone like him that will be there for Cousins for the rest of his career.

“That’s one thing that these other markets are just not going to have. They’re not going to have a guy like me on the other side that’s going to be with him for the duration of his career, so hopefully that will be enough. I know it won’t, but I’m here all in for the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes.”

Miller is up against some tough competition as Cardinals stars Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson have already lobbied for the veteran to go to Arizona earlier this week.

With 12-sack monster Ezekiel Ansahreturning on the franchise tag, the Lions ‘ pass rush under new coach Matt Patricia could cause plenty of problems for NFC North rivals in 2018.

Small-market teams have been making the playoffs more often lately, especially with the added wild-card spot in each league. But getting in year after year has proven more difficult. Minnesota has the 20th highest payroll in baseball, according to Sportrac, but with many offseason moves still yet to be made, the Twins will probably end up in the bottom 10.seahawks_094_c074a3d65b735726-180x180

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Draymond Green, Klay Thompson joke about consequences if not picked by All-Star captain Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry better be careful with his All-Star picks, or else a potential Warriors dynasty could fall apart — OK, not really.

The Thunder have rattled off seven wins in a row, and they are right behind the Timberwolves and Spurs in the Western Conference standings. OKC was coming together and showing signs it would be a tough out in the playoffs. That’s what makes Roberson’s injury so tough.

Wild card: Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks. Porzingis will benefit from the lack of talent in the East and get a spot on the team, beating out Beal, Ben Simmons and Hassan Whiteside. He is averaging 23.3 points and making 38.5 percent of his 3s, but he’s gotten worse as the season has gone on.

Snubs: Simmons is close, but his offense needs work; Whiteside has missed too many games; Beal’s Wizards have disappointed, and he is one-dimensional.

Backcourt: Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves. It was a rocky start for Minnesota, but they’ve recovered and are now on pace for 51 wins. Butler is averaging 21.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists, giving the Wolves just what they needed.

The odd thing is Windhorst was on the Warriors’ side. He wasn’t criticizing anyone, and said Durant has a target on his back from officials. So we’re not exactly sure why Green felt the need to go after him, but clearly he doesn’t want his name to be brought up.

After the Rockets-Mavericks game, ESPN went back into the studio to hype up the Celtics-Clippers game later in the night. When discussing All-Star snubs, Paul Pierce said Paul George was more deserving than Green, and Windhorst joked, “Now Draymond’s going to tweet at you.”

“It’s getting old,” coach Doug Weight said. “We should have won the game.”

“We’ve just got to find a way, a full 60 minutes to finish one out,” Tavares said. “We just haven’t seemed to finish games off. Whatever that is, whether it’s mental or just execution of a few plays, we’ve just got to find a way to do it. No one’s going to feel sorry for us or change the outcome. Obviously, this isn’t a whole lot of fun right now.”lions_016