Agent says Patriots considered trading up to No. 2 for Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield went to the Browns with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. But Mayfield’s agent says that if the Browns had chosen someone else, a massive trade that would have shaken up the entire NFL could have happened: The Patriots trading all the way up to No. 2 and taking Mayfield as Tom Brady‘s heir apparent.

Jack Mills, the agent for Mayfield, said on Andrew Brandt’s podcast that there was a real chance that the Patriots could have traded with the Giants for the second overall pick, and that the Patriots would have selected Mayfield.

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened if the Browns had chosen someone other than Mayfield. But it’s crazy to think about the fallout if he had ended up in New England.

The Rudolph pick wasn’t the only offensive move the Steelers made during the draft. They also made a change at wide receiver by trading Martavis Bryant to Oakland and drafting Rudolph’s Oklahoma State teammate James Washington in the second round.

“When I heard about Martavis, I was like ‘Oh, man.’ I really enjoyed playing with Martavis,” Roethlisberger said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think he was a great weapon, he helped our offense, did some great things by attracting attention and making plays for us. I was kind of caught off guard, but teams have reasons for doing things. I think part of it was him expressing trade things that we all heard so much about. I think he’s probably pretty happy. For him and his family, if you’re in a good happy place, then good for him.”

There’s only one way to harmonize these inconsistent messages: The penalty will be called routinely, but ejections will happen rarely. But that effort at harmony will serve only to introduce more uncertainty. If lowering the helmet to initiate contact is “one of the most dangerous techniques there is,” how can any instance of it result in something less than an ejection? And how will officials and/or 345 Park Avenue tell the difference between conduct that draws only a penalty and behavior that prompts an ejection?broncos_066_2329c462ed7b11a6-180x180

NFL’s West Coast teams want to limit early kickoff times in road games

NFL fans on the West Coast hate when their team travels east for a game that starts at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. But it’s even worse for players — traveling from west to east is always worse when it comes to jet lag.

So the 49ers, Chargers and Cardinals have proposed a new NFL bylaw that would limit the number of early kickoffs for West Coast teams on the road. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the bylaw would state, “No team will be scheduled to play more than three away games with a scheduled kickoff time prior to 1:00 p.m. in the time zone of their home stadium (w/o consent).”

Anderson got his 19th goal at 7:55 of the second, and Dubinsky pulled Columbus within 3-2 with a short-handed goal at 7:20 of the third.

“We played a pretty good game,” Dubinsky said. “Obviously, we gave a couple power-play goals to them there in the first, got down 3-0 to a really good team.”

Defenseman P.K. Subban played his 82nd game, the only player on the Nashville roster to play every game this season. … The Predators improved to 41-4-6 when scoring first and 23-4-4 when leading after one period. … The Predators sold out their 102nd straight game with a franchise record 17,594.

Philadelphia traded Torrey Smith to the Panthers earlier this month, so Wallace will likely move into a familiar role responsible for stretching the defense.

The Nuggets outscored Portland 35-20 afterward.

“Coaches are funny that way,” Devin Harris said. “I thought it was the right thing to do. Obviously, I thought Jamal got fouled. But he used it to kind of fire us up and we needed a little bit of an energy pick-up right there and I thought Coach gave it to us.”

NO HELP:

The teams ahead of Denver in the playoff race haven’t done the Nuggets any favors. A loss to Portland would have eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention because the Spurs, Timberwolves, Thunder and Pelicans all won Monday night.buccaneers_002

Aaron Donald training with knives to improve handwork

One of the big ways top NFL linemen can win at the line of scrimmage is to utilize precise, devastating handwork. Taking this to the extreme, three-time All-Pro Aaron Donald is literally training with knives to improve this aspect of his game.

Seriously.

Free-agent additions Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh should make the oft-maligned New York Giants offensive line a heck of a lot better in 2017, which could enable the Giants to return to playoff contention with better injury luck in 2018.

Quarterback Eli Manning has his limitations at this point in his career, but Solder and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. (assuming he isn’t traded) will make Manning’s life easier. Throw in talented young pass-catchers Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, as well as a potential rookie game-changer like Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb, and there could be a lot of hype suddenly surrounding Big Blue in the fall.

On the other side of the ball, Landon Collins and Damon Harrison are studs, and Dalvin Tomlinson has a bright future, so there’s hope for a defense that ranked 27th in points allowed last season.

It’s important to keep in mind the Giants were a playoff team in 2016. Manning and Co. could fall on their face with or without Beckham in 2018, but there’s also a chance the Giants bounce back.

I think it does, because the center runs the show, Bowles said. He’s the one that lines everybody up and makes all the calls. He’s a little bigger and heavier than what we had in the past [with Johnson]. Hopefully, that solidifies a lot of things and makes everybody else better.

Long is 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds. Johnson is 6-foot-5 and 297 pounds.

The Jets opted for Long over free agent centers Weston Richburg and Ryan Jensen. Richburg got $28.5 million guaranteed ($16.5 million fully guaranteed) from the 49ers. Jensen got $22 million guaranteed from the Buccaneers. The Jets gave Long $6 million fully guaranteed, in acontract that is effectively a one-year deal, because the Jets hold the option for 2019.

Bowles expects Long to be limited during spring practices, coming off surgery, but is hopeful he will be ready to fully participate when training camp begins in late July. Long can also play guard, if the Jets need him there.

We were looking for a guy with versatility, Bowles said.patriots_154-223x223

Predicting surprise: Young players who could shine for Dodgers, Indians in 2018

Why he could break out: Don’t let Mejia’s paltry performance with the bat last September fool you: He has the unmistakable ability to hit, and hit well. As a minor leaguer, Mejia has a .293 career average, and it’s worth noting that during his major league tenure Mejia was penciled into the lineup as a starter only once. That means that 10 of his 14 at-bats came as a pinch hitter, an unenviable position for a 22-year-old still fresh out of the Eastern League.

As a top-10 pick, Evans was entitled to a far bigger fifth-year option, as the Bucs were on the hook for $13.3 million before signing him to an extension.

With that in mind, it’s a surprise that Evans was able to make only a modest leap over the maximum value of Hopkins’ deal, with his contract coming in at five years and $82.5 million.

The trade-off is in the money early in the deal.

Spotrac reports that Evans will make $54 million over the first three years of the deal, which would be the most of any wideout in history.

Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle, played in every snap for the Browns from when he was drafted in 2007 until he suffered a triceps injury in October 2017. That amounted to 10,363 snaps, a record the team plans to enshrine in its 2018 Ring of Honor.

“From the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could never fully describe. I am proud to call Cleveland home,” Thomas said. “The loyalty and passion of the fans is unmatched and it was an honor to play in front of them from the past 11 years. I would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and everyone who has shown me support throughout my career. Even though I will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown.”

Though his career was marked by his excellence and endurance, he also was part of an era of unrivaled quarterback ineptitude. In his career, he protected a seemingly endless parade of starting QBs.

“Joe means so much to me both personally and professionally,” Jackson said. “Joe has been not just a tremendous Cleveland Brown, but one of the best to ever play in the National Football League. I appreciate everything he has done for this organization and not just on the field, his leadership and what he brought to the locker room, as a coach you couldn’t ask for a better captain than Joe Thomas.packers_003

The Giants and owner John Mara have said on multiple occasions that Beckham would be a Giant for life and that it was only a matter of when he received a long-term deal.

It’s unclear at this time whether the videos could factor into the equation.

Marijuana remains banned by the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Beckham is not known to have ever failed a test or to have at any point entered the league’s substance abuse program.

“He’s such a versatile player, he’s played both for us,” coach Pete Carroll said last week at the scouting combine. “We’ll see what happens. We know he can play corner, and we like the way he plays at corner, but everything is open. I have not talked directly to him about that, but we have mentioned it to him.”

Cornerback has suddenly become a position of need for Seattle following Sherman’s release and that of Lane, which had been expected for some time. Byron Maxwell, who was brought back following Sherman’s season-ending Achilles injury, is also a free agent. Of the four cornerbacks the Seahawks have under contract for 2018, only one — 2017 rookie Shaquill Griffin — has started for Seattle.

Beckham has spent most of the offseason rehabbing and working with his trainer in Los Angeles.

“In my mind now, it’s going to come down to, ‘Do I feel like health-wise I can survive another NFL season’?” he told WKYC.

Thomas seemed most pleased about the addition of Taylor at quarterback. On a previous edition of the podcast, he had said Taylor was his favorite QB on the market.

“Obviously, his ability to make plays with his feet — not only running, but also moving around when something breaks down and throwing the ball down the field — I think is going to be a huge asset for a team that has a lot of young talent but is starting to add some of these other positions. I think he’s a great fit,” Thomas said.

Strief, who was always a media darling in New Orleans, also injected plenty of humor into the 45-minute event, including self-deprecating comments about his unimpressive vertical and 40-yard dash times, plugs for the new brewery he co-owns, and lumping in his failed opportunity at a touchdown pass with his other most lasting memories.

Strief said he felt “indebted” to Payton and Loomis for giving him the opportunity. He added that he never seriously considered leaving for any other teams when he had the chance — even before he married a New Orleans native.buccaneers_090

MLB trade rumors: 10 potential destinations for Rays ace Chris Archer

Chris Archer is under contract for four more seasons.

That fact has to be the starting point for any discussion about the potential of Chris Archer being traded by the Tampa Bay Rays. It doesn’t matter whether the discussion is you and your friends talking about the hypothetical possibility or whether it’s an actual big-league GM calling actual Rays GM Erik Neander. Four years of control.

Samardzija got hit hard hard by the home run explosion of 2017, being one of 11 pitchers who surrendered 30 dingers last year. That ballooned his ERA to 4.42, but that spike could also be attributed to the defense behind him.

The 2016 Giants were the third best defensive team in baseball, accruing 58 defensive runs saved as a club. The 2017 Giants were the fifth worst, costing their team 44 runs. That’s a 102 run swing in the wrong direction. Samardzija pitched 207.2 innings last year, or roughly 15 percent of the team’s total innings pitched. If 15 runs are subtracted from his season total, his ERA is virtually identical to what it was in 2016 (3.78).

Kansas City lost Eric Hosmer to the Padres this offseason, so Duda should have a clear shot at first base duties as the team enters rebuilding mode.

Add Shohei Ohtani to the ever-growing list of batters to fall victim to Clayton Kershaw’s infamous curveball.

Ohtani led off in the third inning as the Angels’ DH against the Dodgers on Wednesday for his first matchup against the three-time Cy Young winner. Despite getting ahead in the count, the Japanese international went down looking on strike three as Kershaw’s curveball proved to be too much.

This strikeout was the only matchup between the two players, but it still managed to overshadow even the concept of a Trout vs. Kershaw face-off.

Ohtani, who went hitless in two at-bats Wednesday, could have a shot at redemption against Kershaw March 22 at Camelback Ranch, or perhaps during the exhibition Freeway Series from March 25-27. If neither of those come to fruition, the first Angels-Dodgers series of the regular season will be July 6-8.seahawks_117_327518212f9164ec-180x180

Seguin snaps scoreless tie in 3rd, Stars beat Kings 2-0

Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock could see the improved play in his Stars, but positive results had been elusive.

The Stars had lost consecutive games, been shut out in two of their last four and late Thursday night against the Kings were stuck in a scoreless game.

But then Tyler Seguin finally broke through with a goal with 8:27 remaining and Dallas beat Los Angeles 2-0 in a matchup of teams fighting for a Western Conference playoff spot.

But the second period brought a quick reversal, with Dallas putting constant pressure on goalie Jonathan Quick as Los Angeles’ offense all but disappeared.

Still, the game was scoreless as Seguin prepared to take a faceoff in the Kings end a little more than midway through the third.

“Right before the faceoff, Seguin came back to me and said, `Look for my stick if I get it to you,” Pateryn said. “He got it back to me and I basically looked him right in the eyes and shot it right for his stick.”

Connor made it 3-0 with a power play goal with 1:29 left in the first, chipping in a rebound off of a Wheeler shot. Connor has scored four goals in his last three games.

“We turned a couple of (pucks) over early and then one of our offensive lines got in the penalty box and he (Hellebuyck) made some saves on that PK that was good and gave us time to get our legs going,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.

Laine extended his goals streak to four games, beating Allen clean from the right circle at 6:04 of the second period.

“I thought we came out with good jump,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “We let in a couple of goals and dug ourselves a hole. I think we were a little spread out against a solid team. They play with good foundation to their game and we got extremely spread out at times during the game.”

Hellebuyck made several key saves early as the Blues had the first seven shots of the game. Hellebuyck also made tough saves on Brayden Schenn and Steen during a power play late in the second.jays_534_8ac3e064efceb7c4-180x180