Reports: Justin Ellis agrees to 3-year deal with Raiders to avoid free agency

The Oakland Raiders have agreed to a three-year contract worth more than $15 million to keep defensive tackle Justin Ellis off the free-agent market, according to multiple reports.

Ellis will be guaranteed at least $6 million, according to the reports.

The Rams appeared to enter the offseason with serious question marks at cornerback, but in a matter of two weeks, they’ve pieced together what might be the best cornerback duo in football. After trading for Marcus Peters, the Rams added another playmaking veteran on the outside by dealing a fifth-round pick to the Broncos for Talib, whose departure from Denver had been rumored since the end of the regular season.

Denver had clearly made the decision to promote fifth-year corner Bradley Roby into an every-down role at the expense of Talib, who failed to pick off more than one pass for the first time in his professional career last season. Given that decision, John Elway did well to create a market and pick up a fifth-round pick for a player the Broncos seemed likely to release. With Roby and Chris Harris Jr., the Broncos should still be set at cornerback for years to come, and Denver can put the $11 million they owed Talib toward a new deal for Roby and/or their bid for Kirk Cousins.

When the season ended, Kizer lamented the fact he would be remembered as the quarterback of an 0-16 team. After the season, Jackson said Kizer would be back and would compete for the starting spot. His trade is a bit of a surprise in that the Browns never gave any indication they were eager to move him.

Even after Friday’s deals, the Browns still have the Nos. 1, 4, 33, 35 and 64 picks in this year’s draft. The Bills now own two picks in each of the first three rounds: Nos. 21, 22, 53, 56, 65 and 96.

The stockpiling-draft-picks era of the Cleveland Browns has come to a close. With Sashi Brown fired and replaced by traditionalist general manager John Dorsey, it’s no surprise that the Browns put some of their record-setting draft capital to work by trading for a trio of veterans on Friday afternoon. In three separate deals, the Browns sent out midround selections in the 2018 and 2019 drafts along with former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer for three veterans who should help the team win in the short term. It’s not difficult to understand why the Browns made these trades, but it’s a sign that they’re stuck paying what amounts to a competitiveness tax.

In the case of their trades for Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, the Browns sent out draft picks to acquire a veteran they likely would not have been able to woo in free agency unless their markets totally failed to materialize.buccaneers_095

Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner: ‘People are concerned about us’

“That’s a big contract, a lot of money, and we already have a few outfielders,” Steinbrenner said. “But I was very interested in the idea because if you have chance to get a player like him, you’ve got to look at it.”

“David Kaval has had a huge positive impact on the A’s. What’s your take on that? I’m in Virginia and will stay up late to watch A’s games.” — @pol_4_infinite8

That’s tough. It would be tempting to say Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb to add a frontline starter who could anchor a young rotation (Jake Arrieta would be too expensive), but I’d make a move strictly with 2018 in mind. One thing the Braves definitely need this season is pop in the lineup. Apart from Freddie Freeman, there doesn’t look to be a consistent home run source — unless/until Ronald Acu?a becomes an everyday player.

J.D. Martinez is gone to the Red Sox and with him the 29 home runs in just 62 games with the Diamondbacks last season (after coming over from Detroit in July).

But the Diamondbacks hardly missed a beat, announcing Monday that they had agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with Jarrod Dyson shortly after the Red Sox announced a five-year, $110 million contract with Martinez, clearly out of Arizona’s price range, then reportedly acquiring Steven Souza from the Rays on Tuesday in a three-team deal.

“To the extent that we see what we think are upwards of a third of the league,” Clark said. “Some of which have voiced their interest, or lack thereof, publicly in regards to the value of winning, or the value of competing day in and day out, that’s where our concern comes from.”

Clark, the head of the MLBPA, was particularly miffed with the changes Manfred made in regards to pace of play and limiting mound visits to six per game per team.

“There was no agreement on what was put in place,” Clark told reporters at Pirates’ camp Thursday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “As a matter of fact, I’ll go so far as to suggest there were fundamental disagreements over what makes the most sense moving forward.”

While the players and union may not like the rules put in place, the way the changes were made were what bothered one Pirates pitcher.seahawks_123_09e47cbf345250a6-180x180

After receiving the franchise tag, Landry is due to make more than $16 million in 2018.

Landry , 25, has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers in his four seasons in the NFL with 400 receptions for 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receptions in 2017 with 112 and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for a third consecutive season.

But now he’ll bring that to Cleveland, where the Browns are trying to rebuild an offense of a team that went 0-16 in 2017. Shortly after trading for Landry, the Browns also traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor .

With the leverage on his side, and three consecutive Pro Bowls under his belt, the Dolphins were going to be forced to make Landry one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL if they aimed to keep him for the long-term.

That just wasn’t a price tag the Dolphins — a team that is near the bottom of the league in cap space — wanted to pay.

There were also reports that the organization was becoming increasingly frustrated with the receiver, who was described to the Miami Herald as a “pain” and “hard to reach.” That, however, may have been the Dolphins’ attempt to cut away at the value of Landry to get him at a more affordable price. Either way, Landry didn’t appreciate it.

Lawrence is the only one of the Cowboys’ recent additions who has developed into the pass rusher the team need. Losing him wasn’t an option.

“Our first goal is to sign him to a long-term deal, obviously,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the Senior Bowl, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . “To me, the only reason you use a franchise tag is to hopefully protect yourself if you can’t get a long-term deal signed that you like. That’s normally the route we like to go.

“Certainly, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and see if we can do something with DeMarcus without having a franchise tag.”

That did not come to fruition, but it doesn’t mean a multi-year deal won’t be in place soon. For now, the Cowboys did what was necessary to make sure one of the best pass rushers in the NFL stayed in Dallas at least for one more year and likely more.seahawks_121_94a49af8144fd5aa-180x180

Golf cart to bring in relief pitchers is reborn with Diamondbacks

The bullpen car is coming back after being gone for an entire generation of baseball fans.

The Arizona Diamondbacks will use a helmet-clad golf cart for the first time since the vehicle left Major League Baseball more than two decades ago.

“I think it wore out its welcome,” Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said. “There were these new stadiums, and the focus shifted to the guys running through gates and onto the mound. We think the time is right to bring it back.”

“Everyone was used to watching the carts with the hats on them as a kid,” said Diamondbacks bullpen coach Mike Fetters, who pitched for the 1995 Brewers. “I think what happened is that a couple guys who came in on it, got lit up and then it became a superstitious thing to stay off it.”

Within a few years, relievers started having entrance songs, including New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who adopted Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” in 1999.

Fetters said he thinks today’s pitchers will give the bullpen cart a try, though the Diamondbacks won’t tell the pitchers what to do.

“Whatever makes them comfortable,” he said. “We’re not going to force it.”

The Diamondbacks’ carts will come from the bullpens onto the warning track, head down the first- and third-base lines and stop at the dugout. The pitchers will then make their way to the mound.

MLB’s only rule regarding the bullpen cart is that it must be offered equally to both the home and visiting pitchers and that using the cart doesn’t grant the pitcher any extra warm-up time.

Leo Howell: As Eric mentions above, I have long been a fan of McCullers, and I think he has the most upside here. The first half of 2017 showed us his ceiling, and it’s backed up by some fantastic stuff in his arsenal.

You can’t use any one statistic without context, but even with his poor second half post-injury, McCullers finished with an FIP of 3.10 — right in line with his totals from the previous two seasons. Among pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched, that ranks No. 10 for 2017. He’s a special talent with all of the upside in the world, and as long as he’s not the first pitcher on my roster, he’s always the name I’ll select around this spot in the draft, happily taking the gamble on his health and consistency.

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The Titans aren’t the only team trying to replicate the Patriot Way.

Lions GM Bob Quinn, New England’s former director of player personnel, got his first chance to a hire a head coach and went after a Belichick disciple. Patricia had been the Patriots’ defensive coordinator since 2012, winning two Super Bowls and appearing in three.

Reeling in a top-flight pass rusher is an expensive prospect. Calais Campbell only left Arizona after securing $15 million per year and $30 million in guarantees from the Jaguars. In 2018, players like Ziggy Ansah and Demarcus Lawrence will fill that role as well-compensated defensive ends (though they both could end up getting the franchise tag).

Lynch doesn’t necessarily need to pay a prohibitively expensive quarterback crusher yet. Buckner and Thomas were both reliable pass rushers in college who still have time to develop as they head into their third and second years in the NFL, respectively. Lynch would still be smart to chase some veteran talent who can add more punch up front, even if it means overspending on short-term deals. Players who fit that bill include Adrian Clayborn, Alex Okafor, Connor Barwin, or Lamarr Houston.

You can only do so much, Jones said. These are grown men. I have a lot of confidence that Zeke has learned a lot. Hopefully he has. Because if he has and he changes his behavior and he’s able to stay on the field, we all know he can be one of the greatest to ever play the game, if he takes care of himself and takes care of his business off the field. I think Zeke wants that. He’s a competitor. I think he wants to be one of the best. He certainly knows that he’s got to take care of business, too.

We’ve had great players that have had to do better before. Michael [Irvin] will tell you that he had to learn valuable lessons, but he turned out to be a Hall of Famer. I think if Zeke will pay attention and do the right things off the field and be responsible then he can certainly have an amazing career.

Speaking of power-play quarterback roles, the Rangers aren’t guaranteed to get back Kevin Shattenkirk soon and there is talk of shipping out Ryan McDonagh. Skjei surprised with 39 points last season but has been under-utilized this season with Shattenkirk and McDonagh around. If he is the last defenseman standing after the deadline next week, the power play will be all his — at least until Shattenkirk is healed.patriots_033