Report: Packers not expected to sign Dez Bryant

Jason Witten thinks Dez Bryant is going to sign with the Packers, but Witten was hired by ESPN to be an analyst, not a reporter.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers are not expected to sign Bryant.

The Packers did have some interest in Bryant when he was first released by the Cowboys, according to the report. But after the Packers drafted wide receiver J’Mon Moore in the fourth round, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth round and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth round, that interest waned.

“For me, I use the hell out of my Adidas merch because if everybody has their style — JC’s got his streetwear, Swish has got Supreme — if you had to describe mine in one word, it would be ‘comfort,'” Larry Nance Jr. said, comparing his usual clothing to that of teammates Jordan Clarkson and JR Smith.

After going 1-15 in 2016, Jackson promised to take the plunge if the Browns finished with the same record in 2017. Of course, the Browns notoriously went winless last season.

“It’s going to be a cleansing of the Cleveland Browns,” Jackson said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s what it will be.”

To sweeten the deal, Jackson vowed that, for every franchise employee who joins him in the water, he will donate $100 to his foundation that fights human trafficking.

Jackson’s jump will be held at a private location and be open to employees only.

“At the beginning of the year, we weren’t playing nearly as well as we are now because there was an adjustment period,” said Carlson.

It was a learning experience for both the veterans and the rookies.

A few years ago, the Steelers moved $4 million in wide receiver Antonio Brown’s salary from later contract years to earlier contract years in order to avoid a holdout. It did not change the fundamentals of the contract; it simply altered the pay schedule. Last year, the Patriots added incentives to tight end Rob Gronkowski’s contract and gave him a chance to earn an additional $5.5 million. This year, the Broncos did something similar for cornerback Chris Harris.ravens_006



Was Tom Brady’s “I plead the fifth” a joke?

Some have suggested in the wake of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s invocation of the Fifth Amendment when asked whether he feels appreciated by the Patriots that it was all a joke. And maybe it was. But here’s the real punchline to “I plead the fifth”: By resorting to humor, Brady avoided answering.

Eventually, he called it a “tough question,” before saying that everyone wants to be appreciated by their employer. So he didn’t say yes. And this is one of those situations in which anything other than yes necessarily means no.

If there’s anything to that, it’s fair for players like Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski to wonder whether Belichick deviated from his “do your job” mantra to allow something other than a laser-focused desire to win a Super Bowl to influence his thought processes. If the Patriots had won (and they nearly did), it wouldn’t have been an issue. They didn’t, and many think Butler’s absence from the game made the difference.

The loss has, for the second time in three years, put Butler in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover (bringing a much different fifth into play). Butler’s interception to clinch Super Bowl XLIX threw the Seahawks into disarray, and Butler’s presence on the sidelines has potentially knocked a dynasty off its axis.

During an interview on WFAN, the 37-year-old Manning said he tried to not let it overwhelm him.

“For the first time ever, I didn’t know what the future held,” he said, via the New York Daily News. “I tried not to overthink it and draw conclusions off information I didn’t know. Just had to say, ‘Hey, I have to be positive through the season, offseason, and just work out and be ready for whatever is thrown at me.’

“Obviously, I was very excited to hear news from Mr. Gettleman and Mr. Mara they wanted me back. I work extremely hard to keep my job and when you almost lose something it makes you appreciate it even more. That’s certainly the case here.”

Had the Giants invested in a quarterback with that pick, it would have started a clock that might have had a year or two, or perhaps much less time. But they made a conscious decision to build around him for the two years left on his contract, assembling what could be a very productive offense.broncos_065_bd10520178894a2b-180x180



Broncos will let Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly compete for No. 2 spot

So much for the Broncos’ plotting to move up to No. 2 to draft a quarterback. Not only did Denver not get a quarterback in the first round, it spent none of its 10 picks on one.

Instead, the Broncos will continue to develop Lynch, the 26th overall choice in 2016, and Kelly, a seventh-round pick in 2017 who missed his rookie season while rehabbing.

Pat Shurmur’s not a fan of the termbuy in. It implies a reluctance on the part of the buyer, which is why the new Giants coach wants his staff, in their first months here, to establish something the players can believe in, rather than trying to get some half-hearted signing off on what’s happening. So to use Shurmur’s term, in doing what he and GM Dave Gettleman did two weeks ago at the draft, they implicitly showed the football world they believe in Eli Manning.

For the first time since 2009, the Cowboys don’t have Bryant as their No. 1 receiver. The Cowboys’ new receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, convinced the Cowboys to sign one of his former players, Deonte Thompson. Dallas also signed Allen Hurns, who Jacksonville cut after he missed 11 games with injuries the past two seasons.

They have Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley returning.

Tavon Austin, whom the Cowboys traded for on the final day of the draft, is listed as a receiver, though the Cowboys will use him in multiple roles as their web back. They drafted Colorado State’s Michael Gallup in the third round.

I don’t think the Giants were out on the 2018 quarterback class. My sense has been that they liked USC’s Sam Darnold quite a bit, and weren’t totally opposed to the idea of using the second overall pick on the position. They had their shot at it, just like they did in 2004, when the franchise took its big swing in moving up to get Manning. But there was a player there they loved: Saquon Barkley. And the freedom the Giants felt to take him, and pass on that shot, shows the rest of us there’s a lot of truth in what the Giants have been saying for most of the offseason: This remains Eli’s team. If there was doubt?broncos_131_a52cec69b93f017c-180x180



Aaron Judge reminded Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez that he’s more than just a big bat.

The Yankees slugger showed off his arm strength and accuracy when he unleashed a pinpoint throw from the right-field corner to cut down Vazquez while attempting to turn a single into a double on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Will Yankees-Red Sox in London break the NFL’s UK stranglehold?

Russell Wilson expects Seahawks to franchise tag him in 2020 More As more and more quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo are signing massive contracts, the Seattle Seahawks are reminded of an important deadline extending their own franchise signal caller. Quarterback Russell Wilson has two years remaining on his contract he signed in early 2015. However, Wilson and his camp are not expecting a long-term extension once the deal expires in 2019. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Wilson expects to be franchise tagged by the Seahawks, similar to former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in Washington.

I would say that it’s right for him to be bothered by that; we were bothered by that, Glasgow said. It’s frustrating in a lot of ways for us. I mean we were our own harshest critics, and I think that is something that we took very personally and we tried to get that worked out and I think that that’s something we will also improve this year.

Where Glasgow lines up his third season remains undefined. The Lions have touted his positional flexibility since drafting him in the third round out of Michigan two years ago, but the outside-looking-in assumption projected a full-time move to center once Travis Swanson’s contract expired.

I think I’m an interior offensive lineman, he said. I’ll play left guard, I’ll play center, I’ll play whatever they ask me to do.

The Lions added Frank Ragnow in the first round of this year’s draft. He is coming off back-to-back dominant seasons snapping the ball for Arkansas, and was considered by most analysts as the best center in the draft. Plus, his experience at guard was on the right side, where T.J. Lang is firmly entrenched.

Reading the tea leaves, it seems likely the rookie will play center and Glasgow will stick at guard.sharks-003



Snell strikes out 9, Rays top Red Sox for 7th straight win

Blake Snell worked into the eighth inning and struck out nine, and the Tampa Bay Rays held off the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Friday night for their seventh consecutive victory.

Wilson Ramos hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Rays, who handed the Red Sox just their second loss in 10 home games and spoiled Xander Bogaerts’ return to Boston’s lineup. Rob Refsnyder and Daniel Robertson also homered for Tampa Bay.

Bogaerts had Boston’s first hit off Snell (4-1), a leadoff single in the fifth. He went 3-for-4 in his first action since missing 15 games with a broken bone in his left ankle.

Betts doubled again in the eighth off Chaz Roe and scored on a single by Martinez.

Rays: Activated 3B Matt Duffy (strained right hamstring) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham.

Red Sox: Activated Bogaerts and placed IF/OF Brock Holt on the 10-day DL because of a strained left hamstring.

Rays: RHP Yonny Chirinos (0-1, 2.92 ERA) went 4 2/3 innings Sunday while allowing two runs on four hits in his first appearance as the Rays’ fourth starter.

Red Sox: LHP David Price (2-2) gets his third start in the first month of the season against his former club. Price pitched seven scoreless innnings in each of the first two starts against the Rays.

That’s according to Fanatics, which runs the official NFL online shop and is the world’s largest online seller of licensed sports merchandise.

The private company won’t divulge specific numbers, but a Fanatics official told ESPN that Barkley sold more jerseys on draft night than any other player in its history.

All drafts aren’t exactly equal, as marketing speed gets quicker each year. On Thursday night, for example, Fanatics started selling jerseys within minutes of a player being drafted.

The previous best-seller for Fanatics on draft night was Johnny Manziel in 2014. Because Manziel was drafted 20 picks behind Barkley, the Giants’ newest pick had a jump start of a couple of hours.dolphins_003



Ryan Shazier walks on AT&T Stadium stage, announces Steelers’ pick

Ryan Shazier was a showstopper yet again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker produced the moment of the NFL draft Thursday night when he walked onto the AT&T Stadium stage in Dallas to announce his team’s first-round pick — safety Terrell Edmunds — at No. 28 overall.

Teammates have privately lauded Shazier for his ability to walk on his own, though Shazier has been private about his process.

This offseason, Shazier told teammate Roosevelt Nix on a podcast that he plans to resume playing at a high level. Shazier is under contract for $8.718 million but will not play this season.

Shazier has spent most days at the Steelers’ facility working out or helping in the scouting department. The Steelers see improvement all the time.

“He’s taken some very inspirational steps,” Colbert said. “That’s a huge lift not only for him but for us. To see where he’s come from to where he is and knowing where he might be able to go, it’s just beyond inspirational.”

The matchup initially is about rust vs. rest — the Lightning got a full week off after eliminating the New Jersey Devils in five games, allowing them time off while the Bruins needed a full seven games to advance past the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I think the guys are excited,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You always say you want time off, and we’ve had six days. The guys want to get back into it. There’s a lot of ‘Let’s get this going.'”

Boston won the first three meetings in the regular season by a combined score of 10-4, so the Bruins can have confidence going into the matchup, regardless of seeding and home-ice advantage.

The Bruins are a well-rounded playoff team, ranking in the NHL’s top six in scoring, goals allowed, power play and penalty kill.

The Lightning are a tiny bit better in scoring, leading the league with 3.5 goals per game, and barely better on the power play, converting 23.9 percent of their opportunities.

Tampa Bay’s special teams were a strength in the series against New Jersey — their penalty kill, once a liability, killed off 16 of 19 Devils power plays, and the Lightning went 5 of 9 on power plays in the first three games before an 0-of-10 drought in the final two, both Tampa Bay wins.sl_cardinals_045



Martavis Bryant calls trade to Raiders ‘a blessing and an honor’

Calling it a “clean slate and a fresh start for me,” Martavis Bryant said he was embracing the trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders.

Patterson transferred to Michigan in December after two seasons at Ole Miss. He asked the NCAA to waive its usual rule that keeps transfers on the sideline for one year because he says his former coaches at Ole Miss led him to believe the scope and possible punishment related to an ongoing investigation into rules violations at the school was smaller than it actually was.

Patterson is one of several former Rebels who left the school as underclassmen this offseason after the NCAA banned Ole Miss from playing in a bowl at the conclusion of the 2018 season. At least six of the other recently departed players are also petitioning or plan to petition for immediate eligibility.

After grabbing the rebound of the blocked shot and calling a timeout, the Cavs inbounded the ball to James, who buried a 3-pointer to give the Cavs a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead.

Although that 3-pointer still would have been enough for a Cavs victory if goaltending had been called, the non-call still didn’t sit well with the Pacers.

“Give him credit where credit is due. The 3 was big-time. Definitely huge,” Oladipo said. “But who’s to say they even run that play? We don’t know what happens. It’s unfortunate. It really sucks that they missed that [goaltending call].”

“We can look at the replay,” Pacers forward Lance Stephenson said. “Clearly, clearly a goaltending.”

Running back Dalvin Cook, his promising rookie season cut painfully short at four games because of a torn ACL in his left knee , has passed the six-month mark in his rehabilitation and remains on track for full action when training camp begins.

He’ll be a limited participant in practices this spring and minicamp, head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said, and has impressed the team at each stage of his recovery. There’s no reason why he won’t be ready to play in the season opener on Sept. 9.sl_cardinals_002



Gonzales, Mariners edge sagging White Sox 1-0

The Chicago White Sox experimented with an unusual 4:10 p.m. start time Tuesday, and the early returns are in.

“I love it,” Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales said, “Talking to a couple hitters in the first inning, guys just said, `Anything that comes out looks like a fastball. You don’t know what it is.”

Seattle broke out on top against fill-in starter Chris Volstad (0-1) in the fourth when Kyle Seager doubled and scored on Haniger’s hard grounder up the middle, both with two outs.

“Definitely didn’t see the ball as good as yesterday, but it’s the same for both teams, so you got to get the job done any way you can,” said Haniger, whose streak of four straight games with a home run came to an end. “Just trying to hit the ball hard, and it squeaked through and got the run across.”

After Yoan Moncada’s leadoff double chased Gonzales in the seventh, reliever Dan Altavilla retired the next two batters before Marc Rzepczynski got the final out of the inning.

Juan Nicasio pitched the eighth and Edwin Diaz worked the ninth for his ninth save in as many tries.

Differences of opinion are to be expected, and the truth is that typically when a critic is laser-focused on one or two names that seem out of place to them, it means that they actually agree with most of the rest of the list. And there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s actually a feature of fantasy baseball, and not a flaw. If you were in a league with me and we had a distinct difference of opinion on one or two players, the end result could well be a trade in which we both think we’ve gotten away with a steal.

However, when we’re talking about rest-of-season rankings and it’s still April, there seems to be more of a disconnect in terms of why some players move up after a bad start or down after beginning the season on a tear. The reason for this counterintuitive player movement is because after such a small sample of at-bats, with very few exceptions, there’s no real reason to change our preseason view of what we expect players to accomplish.

By way of example, let’s compare Ian Happ and Javier Baez — a pair of Chicago teammates who were ranked within a round of each other heading into the season, with the following projected 2018 stat lines:

However, here’s the thing. We can’t suddenly assume that either of these players will produce at this pace the rest of the season. If we did, then we’d also have to assume that Jed Lowrie will be a .363 hitter when the season comes to a close, and I don’t think anybody out there — save for Lowrie and some family members, perhaps — believes that to be the case.jets_053



NFL Draft: The best chances from Down Under

Hopefuls from Australia and New Zealand are not foreign to the NFL Draft.

The first Australian ever drafted was defensive and tight end Colin Scotts, who was taken at Pick No. 70 by the St.Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals in 1987.

But history tells us the Kiwis got in first, with Christchurch-born USC linebacker Riki Ellison taken in the 1982 draft at Pick No. 111.

Punters almost never declare for the NFL Draft early – according to ESPN Stats & Information, only two punters who have left college early to enter the NFL draft having been selected: Bradley Pinion (drafted 165th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2015) and Chris Gardocki (No. 78 by the Chicago Bears in 1991).

With the Bears and Oakland Raiders in need to fill that position, expect Dickson to be a name called out early on Day 3 of the draft.

A professional athlete who stands over two meters tall and weighs more than 150kgs is rare. It’s even more rare if an athlete of that stature can run 5.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash with an arms measure of 90cm. Meet ex-South Sydney Rabbitohs player Jordan Mailata. Mailata is an enormous athlete aiming to make the transition from the NRL to the NFL.

The Pelicans went 1-3 against the Warriors this season, the win coming April 7 in a game in which Warriors guard Stephen Curry (knee) didn’t play. Curry remains questionable for Saturday’s game as he continues to recover from the same MCL sprain in his left knee.

But the Pelicans are riding high given just how dominant they performed in a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first round.

Their optimism is largely based upon just how dominant Davis was in that series. The 25 year-old All-Star averaged 33 points and 11.8 rebounds in the series, setting a tone that the rest of his teammates followed. When asked what he expected to see from Davis in this series, teammate Jrue Holiday responded with a confident answer.

“What happened last series,” Holiday said.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is trying to instill that confident belief within his team before the series begins. Like Davis, he believes that the young group is ready for prime time.

“I tell the guys all the time they should embrace this opportunity to compete against this team,” Gentry said. “Because what they’ve done the last four years has been phenomenal, really. An opportunity to win two championships and lose another that everyone thought that they may have an opportunity to win. It gives you a great gauge as to where your franchise is, and where your team is, and where you need to get to really.”jets_106



All you need to know about Yankees’ toughest stretch of 2018

The final weekend in April and the beginning of May will feel a whole lot like October for the New York Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers kick off a 13-game stretch Friday night in Anaheim that will see them play the four teams — the Angels and Astros on the road, followed by the Indians and Red Sox at home — they’re most likely to meet in the playoffs … if they get there, that is.

Will they survive relatively unscathed? Here’s what you need to know as the boys in pinstripes, riding a six-game winning streak, enter the toughest part of their regular-season schedule.

Another Bout with Trout: Mike Trout has performed very well in 34 career games against the Yankees. He’s a career .325 hitter against the Bronx Bombers, and his .627 slugging percentage against them is his highest against any AL team.

It’s a small sample size, but the Red Sox are one of the few teams Stanton has actually had success against this season. He went 7-for-12 (.583) in the three-game series against the Red Sox from April 10-12.

Judge also hit well against the Red Sox in that series (6-for-11 with a HR), but he hasn’t enjoyed the rivalry overall: He’s 17-for-84 (.202), with three home runs, 16 walks and 32 strikeouts.

After Bruce’s decisive drive to center field off former Mets farmhand Matt Bowman (0-1) with two outs, the Cardinals claimed he missed first base and challenged. A 56-second replay review confirmed Bruce touched the bag, and the NL East-leading Mets (15-6) closed it out for their 10th comeback victory of the season.

“We were all like, what’s going on? And Jay was like, why are they challenging that? I stepped right on the middle of the bag,” Callaway said. “So that was interesting.”

There was no doubt in Bruce’s mind that he touched them all.

“I’ve hit a few home runs in my career and I’ve never even gotten close to missing that base,” Bruce said. “That would be a new low for me.”

Cespedes also has been slumping — he started the night hitting .195. But his homer off starter Luke Weaver tied it 4-all in the fifth. The drive traveled an estimated 463 feet to left field, the third-longest by an opposing player in the history of Busch Stadium III.

“He was losing the strike zone with the fastball so I was focusing on catching the changeup,” Cespedes said through a translator. “I caught it and I hit it.”

Bruce’s eighth-inning single sent Todd Frazier from first to third before Adrian Gonzalez tied it at 5 with a sacrifice fly.

Mets starter Zack Wheeler lasted a season-low four innings and gave up four runs. Former ace Matt Harvey allowed a run over two innings in his first relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen.jets_142