Ertz has missed four games over the past two years, and in those four games, Burton has produced 14 catches for 180 yards and four touchdowns.

The Nationals and Astros both made the postseason in 2017, but they finished in very different ways. These two teams already have the core roster elements necessary to make return trips, but they will also have to ride the success of the likes of Wilmer Difo and Chris Devenski, who both stepped into larger roles in 2017 and hope to keep those this year.

It’s a remarkable leap and seems to be a bizarre fit for an offense with Alex Smith under center, given that even the 2017 version of Smith wasn’t exactly chucking it downfield on a frequent basis.

Washington’s offense is littered with injury risks, and while players like Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson offer significant upside when healthy, it’s not clear that’s the case with Richardson.

TE Trey Burton, Bears Grade: C Last seen famously throwing a touchdown pass to Nick Foles, Burton has been too useful of a player to stick around as a secondary tight end behind Zach Ertz in Philadelphia.

Burton is not going to score 16 touchdowns as a starter, and he’s not the blocker Ertz is, but the 26-year-old’s upside is as a legitimate No. 1 tight end up and down the field.

It wasn’t just free agency, either. Philadelphia also had success building through the draft and through key trades. It can be seen in players like Wentz, who led the team to an 11-2 record before his injury, and Jay Ajayi, who helped the Eagles finish third in the league for rushing yards last year.

It’s funny to look back now and see the impact the Eagles’ free agency acquisitions had on their Super Bowl odds, which was none whatsoever. Bovada had the Eagles at 50/1 before free agency and the draft, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Eagles’ efforts didn’t move the needle at all.

In the Super Bowl five years ago, Colin Kaepernick threw a fourth-and-goal pass to Crabtree late in the fourth quarter that fell incomplete.

Crabtree has long contended it was pass interference by Jimmy Smith on the critical play that led to the Ravens’ 34-31 championship triumph.

He has dominated the Ravens in the three meetings to follow, catching five touchdown passes (the most against Baltimore over that span).ravens_145

McCourty joins twin brother on Patriots after being traded from Browns

He’s expected to draw a strong market for his services. He’ll now join his brother, who has played for New England his entire career since being drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft.

“This latest action by Russia fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit Western democratic institutions and processes,” Sanders said in one of the administration’s most comprehensive critiques to date. “The United States is working together with our allies and partners to ensure that this kind of abhorrent attack does not happen again.”

The United States and two major European allies on Thursday called the toxin attack the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II.

The joint statement from the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and Britain signaled a further ratcheting of international pressure on Russia that has been mounting since former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found comatose on March 4.

Lynch has spent the first four seasons of his career with the 49ers, who picked him in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of South Florida. He missed just two games through his first two years, collecting a combined 12.5 sacks. The 25-year-old has made just three starts while collecting 2.5 sacks over the last two seasons, compared to 16 starts through his first two seasons.

The Bears have been busy since the opening of free agency and Lynch is their third addition to the defensive side of the ball, along with the re-signing of linebacker Sam Acho and cornerback Prince Amukamara. They’ve also added wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, tight end Trey Burton, kicker Cody Parkey and quarterback Chase Daniel.

We watched Mayfield tape with Darrell Bevell, Wilson’s former offensive coordinator in Seattle, to learn how the undersized QBs stack up. Mayfield went into the throwing sessions wanting to prove a handful of things: (1) That he could throw from under center after taking three- and five-step drops; (2) That he could throw the deep balls and out-breaking routes more accurately than he did at the combine; and (3) That he could do it all while winded.ravens_070

Report: Crabtree’s 1st free-agent visit will be Ravens

After being released by the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, wide receiver Michael Crabtree is scheduled for his first free-agent visit with the Baltimore Ravens on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Ravens have put an emphasis on the receiver position this offseason, already adding John Brown and Ryan Grant and releasing veteran Jeremy Maclin. Crabtree, 30, showed he could still be a productive player in his ninth season, catching 58 passes for 618 yards and eight touchdowns through 14 games as the Raiders had a down year in 2017.

“I look forward to playing here,” Cousins said during his introductory news conference Thursday. “As [general manager Rick [Spielman] said yesterday, this is a lifetime deal. That’s the goal. Yes, it’s a three-year deal but the expectation is from both sides that we’d raise our kids here and if everything goes as planned that I’d be here a long, long time.”

Entering his seventh season, Cousins has ranked as one of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks since 2015, measuring third in completion percentage and game-winning drives. This and more played a big role in pushing him to the very top of NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents of 2018.

But this day was about Smith, not Cousins, who becomes a part of the franchise’s history.

“We’re not looking in the rearview mirror,” said Williams, the Redskins’ senior vice president of player personnel. “We’re going forward, and that’s where we are today. Everything is going forward, nothing behind us.”

The Redskins wanted it to be a special occasion. Williams used the word “historic” to describe the day to a packed auditorium, and the news conference was timed to be televised live on local TV.

Robinson and Watkins got paid most, but Richardson (five years, $40 million from the Redskins) and Wilson (three years, $24 million from the Dolphins) can’t complain about averaging $8 million in annual salary coming off limited production.canucks_003

Sam Bradford has made so much money in his NFL career, holy crap

Sam Bradford is set to make up to $20 million this year as the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. That will bring his lifetime earnings to over $134 million. That’s absolutely astonishing when you think about the path he’s taken and that he has never taken his team to the playoffs or even made the Pro Bowl.

Bradford was drafted first overall by the Rams in 2010. Although his career has been marred by injury, he’s still been paid like a top pick throughout it. That’s not changing with his latest deal in Arizona, either. Let’s look at Bradford’s career and compensation by the numbers.

His first deal signed before the current CBA put a rookie wage scale into effect was the priciest ever for a rookie. The $78 million deal carried $50 million in guarantees and had escalators that could have maxed it out at $86 million. The early returns were promising: Bradford broke Peyton Manning’s record for the most completed passes by a rookie and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Rams didn’t end up paying out that much, though. Spotrac shows that Bradford earned over $65 million with the Rams, which is still a whole damn lot, especially when you consider the following:

Bradford was on the field for all but one game in his first season with the Vikings. He played well, finishing with 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and five picks. His second season started strong, with a 346-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Saints in Week 1. But wear and tear on his knee cost him most of the rest of the 2017 season.

The Vikings went 9-8 with Bradford as the starter. That’s over $1.47 million per start and $2.78 million per win.
He made $5,876 per passing yard and $1.088 million per touchdown.
Quarterback salaries have skyrocketed, and teams have no choice but to throw outrageous amounts of money at players they think can be viable starters. If we were to break down any quarterback’s pay per win or touchdown or any other key stat, the numbers would be astronomical. That’s the nature of the position right now.

When Bradford has been healthy, he’s generally played well. And it’s not like he tricked teams into giving him these deals. None of this is Bradford’s fault.

But injuries have kept him from reaching his potential and turned him into a bit of a journeyman. He’s never started a playoff game with any team and he hasn’t finished with a winning record as a starter in even one of his eight seasons. That’s why it is staggering to look at the fact that the Cardinals are handing him another $20 million for the 2018 season with an option to hold on to him for $20 million more in 2019. Ravens safety Eric Weddle agrees.

But the Cardinals need a quarterback, so they’re willing to gamble on Bradford. And who knows? If he stays healthy and plays up to his first overall pick potential, he’ll be worth every penny.packers_096

MLB 2018: Mets must add to habitually unhealthy rotation to reach contender status

It may not seem like it after a 92-loss season that was preceded by similar sentiments, but if all goes well this team can at least make a run at a wild card.

Of course, the Mets have a history of things not going well, especially on the injury front. It’s why 2017 went from hopeful to tragic in the blink of an eye. It’s why sticking with the rotation they have now, one filled with talented but often-hurt pitchers, would be a disappointing waste to what has otherwise been a quietly successful offseason.

Kyle Fuller, CB 2017 team: Chicago Bears | Age: 26 The Bears declined Fuller’s fifth-year option for 2018 based on his 2016 knee injury, but on Tuesday they decided to use the transition tag to maintain some control over his movement.

The Bears can match any offer he might receive.

The tag itself is worth $12.97 million.

Wilson, who is expected to appear at the team’s Grapefruit League camp in Tampa later this month, took to Twitter to share the news and thank the Rangers for giving him the opportunity to play.

“I want to personally thank the Texas Rangers and (GM) Jon Daniels for drafting me and giving me the chance to experience professional baseball again,” Wilson said in a statement. “Growing up taking grounders, hitting BP, and throwing deep post routes in football early in the mornings at 6 am with my dad and brother is where my love of sports came from and those memories stick with me every morning I wake up. During my two springs with the Rangers, I was reminded just how much I love the game.

“While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today. I’ve learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing Quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to be a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman described the move as a “unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete.”packers_009

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

Phillies’ Will Middlebrooks taken to hospital after collision during game

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a leg injury during the Phillies’ spring training game against the Orioles Saturday and had to be taken to the hospital.

Middlebrooks, who is at the Phillies’ camp on a minor-league contract, slammed into left fielder Andrew Pullin as the two were trying to catch a fly ball. Middlebrook’s leg got tangled under Pullin and he appeared to be in a lot of pain.

The list isn’t very long, and the situations aren’t exactly like we’ve seen recently, but there are a couple instances in baseball history. Here are four examples (five, if you count a certain right-hander twice).

In the annals of American sports history, perhaps only Brett Favre rivals Roger Clemens when it comes to “will he or won’t he retire?” drama. He initially announced his intentions to retire after the 2003 season, but instead decided to sign with the Astros, and he won the 2004 NL Cy Young at 42 years old. He again hinted strongly at retirement that offseason but came back and was even better in 2005, posting a 1.87 ERA in 32 starts and helping the Astros reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

The Angels plan to use Ohtani, 23, as part of a six-man rotation in the regular season and then, depending on his workload, work him into the everyday lineup as a DH.

“He’s going to get the most looks as a pitcher,” Scioscia said when camp opened last week (via USA Today). “If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting. But that’s not to say he won’t have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too.”

Ohtani can touch 100 mph with his fastball, and he hit 22 home runs two years ago in Japan’s Pacific League.

Early in the offseason, Cobb seemed like a hot commodity almost being overvalued by teams. Now, as the calendar turns to March, Cobb remains unsigned and undervalued. The turn in events seemingly had little to do with Cobb, who went 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA last season. The former Rays starter looks like an ideal No. 3 on a contending team, capable of ace-like starts when healthy.buccaneers_030

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

Kevin Durant after ejection: Officials T’ing up players to get back at them

Warriors forward Kevin Durant said his ejection Tuesday was the result of official James Williams getting personal, something Durant believes is part of a trend in the NBA.

Durant told reporters after his team’s victory over the Knicks that Williams was looking to toss him “because he was still in his feelings” over Durant telling Williams in the first half he was wrong to call Durant for carrying.

Although Adebayo doesn’t have the upside of fellow rookies Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell, there’s no doubt he has a future in the NBA as a starting center. He’s a remarkable athlete and an elite defensive prospect who can do enough offensively at this stage of his development to stay on the floor. There is some skill overlap with Hassan Whiteside, but Adebayo has the potential to replace Whiteside when he becomes a free agent in 2020 — and possibly sooner if Whiteside turns down his player option following the 2018-2019 season, or if the Heat decide to trade him.

Thomas has been the focus of controversy this week as there were reports he led the charge against Love in a heated team meeting Monday. Then it came out a couple of days later that teammates were frustrated with their point guard.

Players apparently had grown tired of Thomas harping on the team’s defense and not practicing enough. They pointed out he wasn’t allowed to practice on back-to-back days or play on back-to-backs, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Despite those facts, Thomas once again complained about the team’s defense and deflected blame from himself Saturday.

“We’ve been a lowest five [rated] defensive team in the NBA the whole time [this season],” Thomas told reporters. “So when I come back, it’s my fault now. Which, life isn’t fair, but that’s not fair, bro. At all.”lions_020