Month: November 2016

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Inglewood council approves NFL stadium plan

A plan to build an NFL stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack was approved unanimously by the Inglewood city council Tuesday night, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The stadium plan, spearheaded by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, was originally created in January and would create an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, a suburb just southwest of downtown Los Angeles. According to the L.A. Times, an economic impact report commissioned by the city estimated that the privately funded stadium would be the most expensive in U.S. history at about $1.86 billion.

With Kroenke leading the way on the project, the presumable tenant of the stadium would likely be the Rams, although there are still more hurdles to cross before any construction can start. No team has filed for relocation with the NFL and St. Louis is mounting an effort to keep the Rams with a stadium plan still in the preliminary stages.

The Broncos have approximately $26 million in cap space but are saddled with a litany of big-name free agents. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is all but certain to be hit with the franchise tag, adding a $12.9 million figure to the payroll. With the remaining money, Denver has six restricted free agents and a draft class to sign, along with Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, Will Montgomery, Mitch Unrein and Rahim Moore.

Denver needs to get this done with Manning before March 9, because on that date his 2015 salary becomes fully guaranteed. The following day is when free agency begins.

“I’m sorry for all of this, but I can’t excuse their refusal to be fair.”

Peterson appealed that decision through the league’s arbitration process, but Harold Henderson sided in favor of the league. The NFLPA filed suit in court to have the decision overturned. Doty’s ruling is expected to be appealed by the NFL, and the league can seek an injunction to keep Peterson from being reinstated while the appeals process is ongoing.


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A Viking gambit: The Sam Bradford trade isn’t aging well

Just when we think we have a handle on what’s going to happen with Minnesota Vikings, they prove us wrong. They were going to be a Super Bowl contender this year, but then they lost Teddy Bridgewater, so they traded for Sam Bradford. Then they were going to struggle without Adrian Peterson, but they kept winning and started the season 5-0. Once it was abundantly clear this team could overcome any obstacles placed in its way, the Vikings promptly collapsed — they’ve lost five of their six games since the bye, and after losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Lions on Thursday, they now have a 56.6 percent chance of making the postseason. A 5-0 lock has turned into a 6-5 coin flip.

Other WR targets:

Rookie Sterling Shepard has a touchdown catch in three straight games, and ESPN New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan expects him to continue producing down the stretch. The second-round draft pick made two of the Giants’ biggest plays last week — including a nasty double-move on his TD catch. “I think he killed the guy. I think the guy was still running the shallow route thinking that’s what he’s running,” Giants QB Eli Manning said. “He’s done a good job just understanding the offense, understanding the timing of certain routes, how to set up things. We’ve got to keep going with that.”

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker has been preaching cautious optimism with DeVante Parker, saying he needs to see it on a consistent basis, especially in Miami’s run-first offense. Well, he is starting to buy in after yet another impressive performance from the second-year receiver (13 catches, 182 yards and a touchdown during the last two weeks). Buy him for the upside, if nothing else.

“He’s obviously back from last year’s Achilles and this year’s ankle injuries,” Hensley said of Smith, who has 17 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns during the last three weeks. “And [quarterback Joe] Flacco looks at him more than any receiver on the team. He’s getting more targets than Dennis Pitta and Mike Wallace.”

In contrast, the Jets have recorded only 16 winning seasons — total! — since the merger. A loss, of course, would mean their fifth non-winning season in the past six years. Dark times, indeed.

He has caught only 48.9 percent of his targets, the worst among receivers whose average target is less than 14 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Obviously, the quarterback play has contributed to his struggles, but there’s more to it than that. It’ll be fascinating to see how he closes the season; he could be playing for a 2017 roster spot.


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Mike Iupati agrees to 5-year deal with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to a five-year deal with guard Mike Iupati. The contract is expected to be worth $40 million, with $22.5 million in guaranteed money, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The deal is the latest in a string of moves the Cardinals have made in recent years to bolster their offensive line. The team signed left tackle Jared Veldheer to a big contract last offseason. Iupati will now likely line up next to Veldheer, giving the Cardinals a completely remade — and very talented — left side.

Iupati was one of two offensive linemen the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, along with Anthony Davis. Iupati was the No. 17 overall selection and was immediately named a starter in his rookie season. He went on to start all 16 games in each of his first three years, but then missed five games total over the past two seasons due to injuries.

The Eagles can still find a quarterback in the draft this year, just not the most obvious connection. Maybe Kelly sees Brett Hundley and thinks it’s a guy he can mold. Remember when everyone thought USC safety Taylor Mays to Pete Carroll’s Seahawks was a lock, and then Seattle took Earl Thomas instead? How’d that work out for Seattle?

Consider your goalposts warned! Trading away a player like that is always a stunner, but the Saints need draft picks to get the next wave of young talent and prevent salary cap purgatory from turning into salary cap hell. Seattle gets the kind of playmaker they’ve been trying to get for awhile now. No more throwing to Ricardo Lockette on the most important play of the year!

There’s nothing wrong with that.

Revis has a ring, so don’t listen to hotheads talking about his legacy. (Do you really think Skip Bayless is going to take a pay cut because ESPN asks him to choose whatever kind of shitty legacy a debate show host has instead of a raise?) Revis will be 30 when the season starts. Get it while you can.


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J.J. Watt says ‘Hell no’ he’s not retiring

JJ Watt’s 2015 season was brutal. He suffered injury after injury, including torn abdominal muscles and a herniated disc, and he landed on injured reserve again in 2016 when the same disc became herniated again and it required another surgery to repair. All of these injuries forced him away from football and made him reconsider his future in the NFL, but Watt wrote on “The Players’ Tribune” that, “Hell no,” he’s not done with football.

The laundry list of injuries Watt has dealt with over the past two seasons is staggering. In addition to the twice-herniated disc and the torn abdominal and adductor muscles that required surgery, Watt had a broken hand and a staph infection that was so serious that he could have lost his leg if Houston Texans’ medical personnel hadn’t acted swiftly.

Petty was named the starter for the Jets in their 9-3 loss against the Los Angeles Rams. He threw for a 163 yards and a touchdown but threw a game-clinching interception to linebacker Alec Ogletree.

After the defeat, Bowles did not comment on who would be the team’s starter after their bye week. “We’re still evaluating everybody because we’ve got the bye week,” he said.

The Jets have had three quarterbacks take snaps from under center. One of the quarterbacks, Geno Smith, is on IR due to a torn ACL he suffered in the Jets’ 24-16 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

Even though he has played in fewer games than many other starting quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick still leads the NFL with 13 interceptions. New England has a high-octane offense, and Fitzpatrick cannot afford to turnover the ball.

If the Jets want to come away with an upset victory, they must keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on the sidelines. New York must run the ball effectively, score points, and avoid committing back-breaking mistakes.

The Jets (3-7) host the AFC East-leading Patriots (8-2) on Sunday.


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Why MLB’s 2016 postseason was a game-changer

The most significant postseason of modern times didn’t just crown a champion, bust a curse and leave millions of Americans wondering what they could do to get that “Go Cubs Go” song out of their heads.

More than that, it opened a window — a window into where the sport of baseball has evolved and where it is going. So if you looked through that window, what did you see?

You saw a sneak preview of the stars of the future on parade, for one thing. If you don’t believe that players such as Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Julio Urias, Roberto Osuna and those young Cubs studs are going to leave a major impression on this game, you were clearly paying way too much attention to your fantasy football lineup.

But beyond those bright young faces, there was much more to see through that window. So let’s hone in now on two of those sights. One could have a gigantic impact on this sport off the field. The other could signal a profound change on the field. Here’s what we mean:

Could the Cubs be the Warriors of baseball?

More than 40 million people watched the baseball game that decided the World Series — the most in a quarter-century. An estimated 5 million people showed up at the Cubs’ World Series parade — the largest gathering of human beings for any reason in the recorded history of the Western Hemisphere.

So … get the impression that there’s a little interest in this team?

Oh, maybe it will turn out that the Cubs are just trending because they did something that hadn’t exactly been the specialty of their house for the previous century. But inside Major League Baseball, it feels like more than that.

This sport has been waiting for years for a team like this to come along. A team that moves the needle in a way that other champs don’t. A team that transcends its city, its market or any sort of traditional geographic blip on the radar screen.

Well, if baseball can’t turn this team into That Team, then it might be time to conclude it can’t be done. Not in this sport, at least.