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



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



I’ve always thought of Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis as one of the NFL’s true good guys.

A lot of people around the league do. And he is.

He’s a leader both on the Panthers and in the community. He’s a seven-time team captain and is one of the best linebackers of his generation. Three years ago, he won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award—one of the most prestigious honors an NFL player can earn—which is named after one of the classiest athletes ever.

“I mean, just being here tonight is something that’s positive for me,” Davis said while accepting the award. “Just knowing where all I’ve come from. Sitting there looking at the video, seeing my hometown and seeing all the stuff that I’ve been able to overcome throughout my career. I’m just excited to stand before you guys tonight.”

“I’ve taken the same supplements for the last seven or eight years and never had any issues. Been tested numerous times over the years while taking the same stuff. And you know, unfortunately, these are some of the things that happen when you take supplements. I’ve never tested positive for a steroid or HGH—it’s not one of those situations. It ended up being an estrogen blocker that triggered a positive test for me.

“I just want you guys to know that in no way would I ever do anything, like I said, to cheat this game or to try to create a competitive advantage over anybody.”

The problem is, we’ve heard these explanations before. And we know that most of the time, the users win the battle against the NFL. But on occasion, the testers do. And when they do, it’s significant.

“It depends on how they view Eli Manning in the building,” NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks said. “(General manager) Dave Gettleman and (head coach) Pat Shurmur have said they believe Eli has a couple of good years (left). If during those few remaining years he has, they play at a high level, they go to a Super Bowl, I think it’s well worth the trade off.”

With former Pro Bowlers or All-Pros Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon on the roster, the Giants have more talent than expected of a team coming off a 3-13 season.

“Now that you’ve made the decision that Eli is going to be your guy, how can you support him and elevate him?” Brooks said. “Much like Saints were able to keep Drew Brees playing at a high level by surrounding him with talented players, in New York it is about trying to find the right weapons to allow Eli to play at a high level while his skills are beginning to diminish.”rams_003



Yankees call up Billy McKinney: What you need to know about the prospect

Here’s what you need to know about Billy McKinney, the newest member of the Yankees.

Scouting report: From MLB.com, which ranks McKinney No. 19 in the Yankees’ farm system: McKinney’s best attributes are his smooth left-handed swing, bat speed and hand-eye coordination. He demonstrated a disciplined approach at lower levels of the Minors but his Triple-A hot streak came when he got more aggressive at the plate. Scouts who believe his late-season surge is for real see his upside as a.280 hitter with 20 homers per year, though he attained that average just once while topping out at 16 homers in his first four full seasons.

Drafted: First round, 24th overall, by the Athletics. He worked out for the Yankees before the draft.

There was times when I was on the sideline, I just wanted to go up and say to Belichick or Matt Patricia, and just say, ‘This how we’re gonna end this ’ said Butler, who signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent this spring. I grew up in the Patriots system, you know, and I’m a man of God. I respect my authority and I just couldn’t ask them for something they didn’t want to do. I just was doing my job.

I was close to going up there and saying what I wanted to say to Matt or Belichick, but I just stayed in my lane and just did my job. And I really wanted to go ask him, but I didn’t.

Butler had played 97 percent of New England’s defensive snaps prior to the Super Bowl, and nearly two months later, the reason for his benching is still a mystery.patriots_087-223x223



Malcolm Butler finally weighs in about Super Bowl benching

Now, Butler felt it was time to speak on the Super Bowl he barely played in.
Now that Malcolm Butler is no longer with the Patriots, he’s no longer obliged to stay quiet about why he was forced to miss out on the action in Super Bowl LII.

Butler played only one snap in the game — on special teams — and there was a lot of rumors swirling as to why. Well, now that he’s a member of the Titans, he was able to explain why he thought he was benched during the game. The veteran cornerback did take the high road for the most part, though, and said that he was feeling ill in the days leading up to the game.

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 NFL offseason has provided no shortage of excitement. Teams have released old players and agreed to contracts with new ones. Several players have been traded.

His focus turned to putting the ball on the ground after then-manager Dusty Baker noticed he was popping out too often, and it paid off for those two months. Difo does not make a lot of hard contact and his home run/fly ball percentage is not great, so the change probably better suits him. He has a good plate approach otherwise and keeps his strikeout rate low, so Difo has a lot of the right skills to be a boon to the Nationals lineup.

The biggest question is simply whether he will ever get sufficient or consistent enough playing time, but perhaps even if he doesn’t, Difo has already demonstrated that he can be successful as the super-utility player.

The Astros boasted a sterling bullpen on their way to becoming World Series champions, and though he struggled in the postseason Devenski was a key member of Houston’s reliever corps. His 24 regular season holds were good enough to put him among the top late-inning relievers in the league last year, and Devenski stepped in for four saves as well.

With new GM Dave Gettleman coming over from a Panthers organization that built its defense around Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, it’s no surprise that he might want to address inside linebacker this offseason. ravens_023



Jimmy Graham chooses to join the Packers over a reunion with the Saints

The exact framework of the deal hasn’t been released yet, but there was competition for Graham and he presumably got more than the $8 million per average the Chicago Bears plan to give Trey Burton.

Graham is 6’7 and 265 pounds, which makes him virtually impossible for most defenders to effectively cover, especially in the close quarters of a red zone situation. As long as he stays healthy, he should be a weapon for the Packers in the end zone this season.

Luke Willson is a free agent. The Seahawks have two younger tight ends on the roster, Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes. Vannett was a third-round pick out of Ohio State in 2016. Swoopes was a quarterback at Texas who went undrafted in 2017 and converted to tight end. Vannett had 15 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown last season. Swoopes started on the practice squad and landed on the active roster in late December, but didn’t play.

But that $15-plus million a year it would have cost to keep him was impossible for the Seahawks to justify with their limited cap space and sweeping changes on defense. Now Graham will try to make a difference for Green Bay.

Incognito has had some run-ins with other players and the league.

He was investigated in 2014 by the NFL for harassing former teammate Jonathan Martin when both were with the Miami Dolphins.

The NFL launched another investigation this postseason when Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue alleged that Incognito directed racist slurs at him during the wild card matchup between the Bills and Jaguars.

But the league will not punish Incognito for that inciden t, and it didn’t impact Incognito’s standing with the Bills.

He’s been reliable for them and his play hasn’t declined with age.

Replacing one veteran offensive lineman, with the unexpected retirement of center Eric Wood due to health concerns surrounding a neck injury, is enough for the team to manage this offseason. packers_100



Beckham was in Spain on Friday visiting with soccer superstar and fellow Nike endorser Cristiano Ronaldo.

The new Giants brass — coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman — have been open-minded about the top playmaker since their arrivals.

“It’s a clean slate,” Gettleman said last week at the NFL scouting combine. “I’m not worrying about what happened in the past. You want to know the why. You always have to get to the why. Eventually we’ll get to that. If you don’t get to the why, you can’t figure it out. You can’t fix it. So we’ll get to the why, and we’ll move forward.”

Requests for comment from Beckham’s camp have not been returned as of Saturday afternoon.

The video comes at an inopportune time for Beckham, who is looking for a lucrative long-term contract this offseason. He is set to play on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal worth $8.5 million.

On the acquisition of Landry, Thomas said: “This is really going to be one of the feathers in the cap of the offseason that John Dorsey’s having so far. To be able to acquire the top receiver who could be out there and available — and I think he did it for a fourth-round pick this year and they’re giving him like a seventh-round pick in 2019 — this is peanuts, baby.”

The Giants still want to see that Beckham has fully recovered from a broken ankle that ruined his 2017 season and were hoping he was past some of the incidents that marred the early part of his career. The enigmatic wide receiver was suspended for an on-field incident with cornerback Josh Norman in 2015 and has been fined numerous times by the league for his actions and behavior.

Mara said publicly that he was “unhappy” with Beckham after he pretended to urinate on the field like a dog after scoring a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Beckham kept a low profile after that Week 3 incident.

With Chancellor’s football future in jeopardy because of a career-threatening neck injury, the Seahawks have approached Shead about possibly playing strong safety next season.buccaneers_091



Reliever Andrew Bailey, 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, retires at 33

Andrew Bailey is calling it a career.

The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year on Monday took to Instagram to announce his retirement from MLB at age 33.

“Thank you to the fans for always cheering and demanding the best out of me. Thank you to my wife and family for the unwavering support over the last 12 years! I am looking forward to new challenges, new memories and hopefully many championships as I am excited to announce I will be joining the Los Angeles Angels MLB staff.”

Bailey had stints with the Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and Angels before a recurring shoulder issue kept him sidelined for much of the 2017 season and limited him to just four games for Los Angeles. He finishes his eight-season career with 95 saves, a 3.12 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 274 1/3 innings over 265 games.

The right-hander struck out the first and the last batter he faced in the first inning, but labored in between. He fell behind leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar, 3-1, who then smashed a line drive to deep center that bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double.

After striking out the next batter, Nate Orf, on a splitter, Ohtani walked Ji-Man Choi. With clean-up batter Manny Pi?a up, Ohtani threw a wild pitch in the dirt. Catcher Martín Maldonado’s wild throw to second in a bid to catch the advancing Choi allowed a run to score.

Pi?a fouled out, and Ohtani then struck out Brett Phillips on four pitches to end the inning with 26 pitches. After lead-off hitter Keon Broxton homered off Ohtani to begin the second inning, the pitcher retired Nick Franklin on a fly out before getting the hook.buccaneers_025