Month: March 2018

Minnesota had Kyle Rudolph as a safety valve and red zone weapon for Keenum.

The majority of McCarron’s passes in the NFL so far came over his three starts at the end of the 2015 season. Over that stretch, the Bengals beat the 49ers and Ravens, each of whom finished 5-11, and lost in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Broncos.

McCarron completed 54 of his 83 passes (65.1 percent) over that stretch with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That may look impressive and was good enough for a 100.1 passer rating as a starter, but the problem was that the Bengals’ offense slowed to a crawl.

There’s probably still at least one more piece to be added to make life easier for Keenum.

Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was able to piece together a division-winning offense in Minnesota with Christian Ponder, but that was with an MVP-caliber season from Adrian Peterson.

(Musgrave then went to the Raiders, where the offense fell apart immediately after he left, so there’s that.) If the Broncos can keep Keenum in situations in which he is facing third-and-manageable and can pick apart zone coverages, he’s going to do just fine.

There’s no worse nightmare for a Super Bowl contender than losing the starting quarterback toward the tail end of the season. That’s why Foles was arguably the biggest addition in retrospect. Foles is a good reminder that even those backup signings that are easy to dismiss could be hugely important down the road.

Foles completed 72.6 percent of his passes in the postseason, averaging over 323 yards per game. He threw three touchdown passes against the top-ranked Vikings’ defense in the NFC Championship, and threw for three more and added a receiving score against the Patriots in his Super Bowl 52 MVP performance.

Smith also chipped in with a few drops, which didn’t help matters.

The Panthers needed wideout help alongside Devin Funchess, but it’s hard to figure that they were really bidding against other teams who wanted to assume Smith’s contact for 2018 and trade an asset in the process.

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Bengals To Re-Sign Tyler Eifert

Tyler Eifert will not be leaving Cincinnati. Instead, the Bengals will hang onto him via one-year deal, Adam Schefter of tweets.

Injuries have limited Eifert for much of his career, but when he’s been available, he’s been one of the NFL’s top red zone threats. The Bengals appear to be keen on seeing if their former first-round pick can stay healthy.

The move:?Former Detroit Lions DT Haloti Ngata agrees to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.

Analysis:?As if the defending champions’ line wasn’t scary enough, how about adding a 335-pound five-time Pro Bowl selection? Ngata is 34, but he can be used in limited capacity behind Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan, with newly acquired defensive end Michael Bennett also occasionally crashing in on the inside.?

“Absolutely,” Mayfield said. “I feel like I’ve put myself in a good spot here to be considered the best quarterback in the draft, no matter the height question or if people question the character. I think all these meetings have been great for me. I put myself in a good spot. It’s kind of interesting to think about: Before the season they had me at a third- or fourth-round grade, and now it’s improved a little bit.”

The two-year, $36 million question is simple: Will Keenum be the guy the league valued as something close to a replacement-level passer last offseason, or the quarterback who finished fourth in passer rating and second in Total QBR ? Answering it is much more complicated.

When I wrote about Keenum’s breakout campaign, I wondered how much of what we saw was Keenum taking a step forward, and how much was being placed in a favorable situation for success.

Superficially, the Broncos and Vikings have some offensive similarities, but Denver shades a tick worse across the board. ravens_011

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Jordy Nelson said his goodbyes to Green Bay less than 48 hours ago, and now he has his new team.

As for the Patriots, they’re suddenly in the tackle market.

They might make a renewed effort to sign LaAdrian Waddle and move either him or Marcus Cannon to left tackle, but that would be a downgrade at a key position.

After recording a career-best 559 yards on 54 receptions in 2016, the former Iowa star earned a $22 million extension with $10.1 million in guarantees at the end of training camp last summer. He will finish his four-year NFL career with 89 catches for 881 yards and six scores.

Fiedorowicz wasn’t the only Houston tight end beset by head injuries last season. Backup Stephen Anderson missed time with a concussion in September, while No. 2 tight end Ryan Griffin’s season ended in November due to a concussion of his own.

Needless to say, the Texans will be in the market for help at the position this offseason.

The Titans are about to make a mammoth offer to Taylor Lewan, who (like all offensive tackles) owes Nate Solder a thank-you card, but Kline was a useful run-blocking guard for the Titans over the past couple of years.

It’s no surprise that the Tennessee braintrust wanted to keep another ex-Patriots player around, but it didn’t have to break the bank to re-sign Kline.

His four-year, $26 million deal contains $12 million in guarantees, which is midtier starting guard money.

The No. 65 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Fiedorowicz is hanging up his spikes after suffering four concussions — including two that resulted in separate trips to injured reserve last season — from December of 2016 to December of 2017.

Here are their numbers with and without Lee in the lineup: Split Yds/Carry Run First Down% Pass Rating Opposing QBR Lee on field 3.5 22.9% 86.6 48.2 Lee off field 4.9 25.0% 106.8 65.3 Seems pretty straightforward.

The Cowboys were a disaster with their best defensive player on the sidelines.

Makes sense.

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Graham finished the 2017 season with the second-most receptions from Wilson, racking up 520 yards on 57 targets.

Graham’s true value to the Seahawks last year was seen in the team-best 10 touchdowns he hauled in. The 2017 season was the first time since he was traded to the Seahawks in 2015 that he’s been healthy enough to play in all 16 games. But it’s that production the Packers are banking on with the signing.

The Packers have long been on the hunt for a tight end to add a new dynamic to the team’s offense. That’s what Green Bay hoped it would get a year ago when it added Martellus Bennett on a three-year deal. But the tight end played just seven games before he was released due to concerns about a shoulder injury the Packers say he didn’t disclose.

Graham was the highest-paid tight end in the league, and that likely won’t change this season. He would have made more money if Seattle had tagged him, but his future would have been a big ol’ question mark beyond this season. Now he’s got some job security past this year with the Packers.

Sheldon Richardson, DT 2017 team: Seattle Seahawks | Age: 27 A preseason trade from the Jets to Seattle, if nothing else, gave Richardson tape in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

The Seahawks, who gave up a second-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse to get Richardson, might want him as a younger replacement for Michael Bennett.

Richardson made a few splashy plays in Seattle, but he probably wasn’t dominant enough to spark a frenzied bidding war.

Tyrann Mathieu, S 2017 team: Arizona Cardinals | Age: 26 Although he has been slowed at times by knee injuries, Mathieu started all 16 games last season and is as young as anyone on the free agent market.

Safeties are critical to current defensive schemes and he should find many suitors. packers_122

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The Bills are angling to trade for a top QB in the 2018 NFL Draft but will any team bite?

Indianapolis’ willingness to move down in the draft will depend on how healthy the team believes Andrew Luck is. If the Colts think he’s ready to go, if they don’t see a need to invest in a new passer or see Jacoby Brissett as a better-than-expected option behind center in another emergency it makes sense to collect the kind of assets to overhaul a depleted roster.

Drafting Allen, or Darnold, or Mayfield, or Rosen is a risk. There’s no slam-dunk top prospect in this year’s draft like Luck in 2012 or Cam Newton in 2011, but a deep class should provide Buffalo some comfort. Even if No. 3 is the highest they can shoot for, there’s still a chance the player the Bills take there winds up developing into the best quarterback of his class.

At least, until the Buffalo curse takes over and turns him into J.P. Losman Jr.

The following is a team-by-team tracker of notable moves signings, trades, cuts, tags, etc. made by all 32 teams in 2018. Some have been more busy than others, but the start of free agency should open the floodgates.

Bell has joked about big deals with other teams, but it would be surprising to see the game’s most versatile and still-young feature back leave Pittsburgh. He should get the long-term deal he wants.

The Cowboys never planned to let the breakout pass-rusher, coming off a 15-sack season, get close to the market. They fell back on the franchise tag before hammering out the contract both sides know needs to get done.

Alex Smith is set to replace Cousins in Washington, and the rumors of the Redskins tagging and trading him won’t become reality. Consider the Vikings as Cousins’ top team, with the Broncos and Jets tied for a distant, fading second. He would be a great mental and physical fit in Minnesota.packers_155

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Nate Solder has spent his entire NFL career with the New England Patriots.

That could change this offseason. The left tackle will become an unrestricted free agent March 14 and is expected to draw plenty of interest on the open market. From which teams, you ask? According to the MMQB’s Peter King, the Houston Texans may be leading the pack. “I bet Houston will be all over Solder,” King wrote Monday morning. “The Texans haven’t replaced a solid left tackle, Duane Brown, after dealing him to Seattle at the trade deadline last October, and don’t have a pick until 68th overall in the third round, and so will have to make some hay in free agency.”

Top draft needs: I keep hearing Denver is likely to get its starting quarterback in free agency, which means it can focus on other needs at pick No. 5. Denver’s offensive line has several areas of need, especially at guard and right tackle. The Broncos also could look at another cornerback after dealing Talib. — McShay

Mayfield could be another option; his leadership and energy would be tough to pass up. Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is the top offensive lineman in the draft and would be a significant upgrade at guard. Fitzpatrick also would make a lot of sense. — McShay

Denver Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis has been arrested for allegedly raping a woman in Georgia in 2013 while he was a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Gotsis of Lone Tree surrendered on March 7 at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on a charge of strong-arm rape, according to a Atlanta police incident report. He was released after he paid a $50,000 bond, said Tracy Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Fulton County Jail. Gotsis, who is 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 295 pounds, is accused of overcoming the will of a 25-year-old woman on March 9, 2013, in Atlanta. The woman, who is now 30, reported the alleged rape on Feb. 1, according to the police report.

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly interested in bringing in some new weapons for Aaron Rodgers, and that could spell bad news for his old ones. Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network Monday that the Packers are among the teams that have shown interest in Watkins, who was not franchise tagged by the Los Angeles Rams last week. Green Bay is also said to be keeping an eye on Allen Robinson, which seems to indicate they are in the market for a No. 1 wide receiver.

Best prospect fits: Versatile Alabama cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a great fit as New York’s No. 1 cornerback, as the Jets took safeties with their top two picks in 2017. But if NC State’s Bradley Chubb, the best edge rusher in this class, makes it to No. 6, Maccagnan & Co. should run to the podium to make the pick. If the Jets land Cousins and want to help protect him with pick No. 6, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is the draft’s best offensive lineman. — Kiper

Three-year payout: $45 million after Year 1, $68 million after Year 2, $91 million after Year 3.buccaneers_070

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Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, 80, in critical condition after ‘cardiac incident’

Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime Giants star Orlando Cepeda, 80, remained hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition following what the team describes as “a cardiac incident” Monday evening in the Bay Area.

Unlike Raines, the 36-year-old Alexander was a bit past his prime, but he was still a reliable starter (4.14 ERA in 34 starts in 1986). The Braves offered him a two-year deal at $2.3 million, but when he turned down the offer, no others existed. He re-signed with the Braves on May 5 for just $400,000 with an option and another potential $200,000 in incentives.

Alexander’s 1987 season isn’t memorable for the way he signed; he was traded to the Tigers in August and went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts, helping Detroit to 98 wins and the AL East pennant, surpassing the Blue Jays by two games.

The two teams, who played a two-game series in Japan to begin the 2012 MLB season, will open the 2019 season in Tokyo. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Wednesday the A’s are “eager” and “enthusiastic” about playing overseas.

“If we’re in the running, I’d be 100 percent all for it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters Wednesday, via the Chronicle. “Not only did we have a great time, it’s a life lesson as much as anything, but it significantly helped our team come together in 2012.”

The A’s also played the Red Sox in Tokyo in 2008 and veteran Brandon Moss was a member the Sox when the teams split a two-game set.

“I hit my first major-league home run, it was awesome!” Moss said, via the Chronicle. “I love Tokyo, I love Japan, I loved everything about it. I would go back in a heartbeat even without baseball.”buccaneers_001

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Why the Angels are poised for a playoff run in 2018

Almost a week into the exhibition games of spring training, some of the storylines of the upcoming season are gaining clarity, and among them is the case for which teams might surprise us by making the postseason after missing it in 2017.

In the National League, the Phillies have a strong case thanks to their youth, and in the American League, the addition of a few key veterans has the Angels poised to make their own surprise run at the postseason.

The Angels acquired Justin Upton at the waiver deadline last season, and he has been a steady power hitter for about a decade. Upton’s defense has always been a little wobbly, but with a career ISO of .210, he can more than make up for a weak glove with his bat. Upton was acquired to try to make a push for the wild card last season, but his greatest contribution to the Angels will come with what he can offer over a full season.

In Green Bay, Kizer will have time to develop and the Packers can attempt to mold him into the player the Browns thought they were getting when they took him at No. 52 overall.

Aaron Rodgers is still the starter, but the Packers saw very little to believe that Brett Hundley is a player worth developing much longer. Kizer can be that player and learn from one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks without the pressure that he had in Cleveland.

If pitchers and catchers could communicate with each other with actual words, with headsets or earpieces, the trips to the mound wouldn’t be necessary. Opposing teams can’t steal signs if there aren’t signs to steal, y’know? And if there are no signs to steal, there’s no need to be worried about stolen signs and far fewer reasons for time-consuming mound visits.

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In 1995, Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife and Goldman.

Two years later, Simpson was found liable?for their deaths in a civil trial and was ordered to pay over $33 million to the families of the victims.?

The special, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, features Simpson’s?sit-down interview with book?publisher Judith Regan, and will include a panel of analysts,?including Christopher Darden, one of Simpson’s prosecutors from his criminal trial.

Rodgers-Cromartie thanked the organization that?afternoon, saying “once a Giant, always a Giant.”

Rodgers-Cromartie?was entering the?final year of a five-year?contract worth?$35 million, though the team will save?$6.5 million in salary cap space by cutting?him.

On the mound, the Phillies are admittedly less intimidating. They were a middle-of-the-pack staff in 2017, and barring some additions to the group before the 2018 campaign begins this is not likely to change much. Rumors that the Phillies have been in talks with Jake Arrieta are intriguing, and adding him would bolster the rotation significantly. Even if they don’t reach an agreement with the 2015 Cy Young winner, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn remain available, so there are options aplenty.

Finally, the NL East is under the reign of the Nationals, and that is unlikely to change this year. However, the rest of the division is questionable at best, and the Marlins at worst. The Phillies will reap some benefit from their weak division while the Dodgers are engaged in the dogfight that will be the NL West and the Cubs are busy fending off the Brewers and Cardinals.

Colorado, of course, allows the recreational use of marijuana, and apparently that’s been a problem for Jeffcoat, a former pitcher who had a 10-year MLB career, six with the Rangers.

In an email to Gavin Bell, a baseball player at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colorado, Jeffcoat wrote from his university account, “Thanks for the interest in our program. Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on Student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of Luck wherever you decide to play.”seahawks_051_d37efff2d950c03f-180x180

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Celtics vs. Nuggets: Preview, time, TV channel, how to watch online

After coming up short against the Warriors, the Celtics look to close a four-game west coast trip with a victory when they visit the Nuggets on Monday night.

Despite holding the East’s No. 1 seed, the Celtics (35-15) have struggled throughout the month of January. Boston enters the Pepsi Center having lost five of its last six games. In the 109-105 loss to Golden State, All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford combined for 52 points, but the Celtics could not overcome 49 points from All-Star guard Stephen Curry.

“We just need to learn how to put two points together on the road,” Avalanche forward Tyson Jost said. “We have to regroup in Columbus.”

Semyon Varlamov started in goal in Chicago, but Jonathan Bernier could return Thursday night. He was responsible for the shutout against the Blue Jackets in January.

Colorado forward Sven Andrighetto is also close to returning after missing two months with a lower-body injury.

Nathan MacKinnon produced his 12th power-play goal of the season in the second period against the Blackhawks to extend his points streak to six games (seven goals, six assists). The Avalanche have scored a power-play goal in five consecutive games for the first time since 2015.

The Celtics (36-15) led by 11 after the first quarter, but Denver chipped away at the lead. Tied entering the final minute, the Celtics hit a couple clutch shots and stymied the Nuggets on defense.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The versatile center is averaging a double-double this season. Trey Lyles came off the bench to score 20 points, while Will Barton added 19 points.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points with 18 rebounds and six assists in a 107-95 win over the 76ers. He became just the fifth player with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in a game this season, joining DeMarcus Cousins (four times), Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook.lions_001

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