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We’re months past the winter holidays and sellers have a great chance to think about what we’ve learned, now that the dust has settled. Each holiday shopping season is an intense, focused study in what motivates customers to buy and brings many opportunities for improvement. Looking back, it would be too easy to think that […]


Still unsigned, Willie Snead attending start of Saints offseason workouts: source

Some New Orleans Saints players have shared on social media their excitement for the start of offseason workouts this week.

But, one player whose attendance remained a question was wide receiver Willie Snead. A restricted free agent, the Saints offered Snead the lowest tender with a $1.907 million contract for next season, but he has yet to sign it.

The organization opened itself up to this possibility when it released veteran left guard Josh Sitton. Nelson can slide into the spot with the potential to provide Pro Bowl and All-Pro performances for the next decade.

Micah Kiser’s numbers are eye-popping and highlight a player who routinely tracks the ball and makes plays when it matters. He has a relentless motor that keeps him active in all phases and will endear him with NFL coaches who love toughness and hustle. A limited athletic skill set makes specific matchups worrisome, but Kiser’s thumping attitude is built for the NFL.

Two bad right knee injuries cannot be overlooked by NFL teams. Shaun Dion Hamilton has not been able to test for teams and needed to show his range and athleticism. Fundamentally, Hamilton is very solid and well-coached. An instinctual player who can drop into coverage and play in traffic. Despite not being the best prospect at the position, Hamilton has been able to earn playing time in a star-studded defense throughout his career at Alabama. Teams will fall in love with his IQ and leadership skills.

Josey Jewell is an ode to the throwback linebacker in playing style despite a frame that doesn’t quite match. He lives near the ball and racks up tackle after tackle, an encouraging sign that highlights his instincts and competitiveness. Jewell will struggle when isolated against above-average athletes in space and will have to rely on tape study to compensate.

Fitzpatrick is most comfortable covering the slot, and Washington traded last year’s nickel corner, Kendall Fuller, to the Kansas City Chiefs as part of the Alex Smith deal. The 21-year-old former Alabama defender can be an interchangeable piece as a safety, cornerback or nickel linebacker.  

A prospect’s role doesn’t need to be defined if he can do a little bit of everything.steelers_001

DeShawn Shead visiting Lions, then 49ers

The Seahawks indicated a desire to keep cornerback Deshawn Shead when they cut him this week. But Shead isn’t sitting around waiting.

Per multiple reports, quarterback Kirk Cousins will sign a three-year, $84 million deal with the Vikings. That’s an average of $28 million per year, $500,000 per year more than Jimmy Garoppolo will earn per year.

And while some may say Cousins should have opted for another year or two of security, it would have been a mirage if it weren’t fully guaranteed. Most teams insist on a couple of non-guaranteed back-end years that inevitable fail to reflect fair value. Cousins avoided giving the Vikings the ability to squat on him at a lower number.

As to the possibility that Cousins won’t be attractive in three years based on his performance over the next three, a couple of non-guaranteed years wouldn’t have mattered, because the Vikings would have cut him.

Shead’s contract tolled into 2018, or rolled over for another season under the same terms, after he ed only two games in 2017 in his return from a torn ACL. But Seattle General Manager John Schneider already had assured Shead he would become a free agent, so the Seahawks did right by the er in allowing him to test the market.

Shead, 28, ed all five positions in the Seattle secondary after the team signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He made 22 starts in six seasons, with 15 of those coming in 2016.

We finally know Dez caught the ball, but here are other rules the NFL must fix More Never forget that March Madness is not confined to the college basketball world.

Professors were, uh, grading on a curve.

“I’m 18, 19. I would literally walk into the store for a sandwich and a bag of chips, and I’d put my money out to pay for it, and I didn’t have to pay for it,” he says. “I had all these things given to me. And I had teachers, they’d give me things if I signed an autograph, signed a football. I didn’t know how to handle this, man. I was a rock star. I was the president of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He in 10 games last year, with his season cut short by a shoulder injury which required surgery.Dion Lewis expected to sign with Titans

It looks like Malcolm Butler won’t be the only er leaving New England for Nashville in 2018.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that running back Dion Lewis will join Butler in making the move to the Titans when free agency opens on Wednesday. It’s reportedly a four-year deal.

Lewis, who was No. 32 on our list of the top free agents, saw the biggest workload of his professional career in 2017 and he made the most of the chance. He ran 180 times for 896 yards and six touchdowns while also catching 32 passes out of the backfield for the Patriots.49ers_220

Colts general manager Chris Ballard said the teams had been discussing a potential trade since early in the week.

Syracuse University graduate Follow on Twitter Facebook Twitter Facebook Messenger Pinterest Email print comment The New York Jets shook up the top of the NFL draft on Saturday morning, completing a blockbuster trade with the Indianapolis Colts that will put them in better position to select a potential franchise quarterback.

They had an interest to move up to (No.) 3 and kind of went back and forth for the last four or five days, Ballard said in a video posted on the Colts’ website.

But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long.

But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love.

First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible.

He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way.

All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school.

Scandrick reportedly requested his release from Dallas earlier in the week.

A fifth-round draft pick in 2008, Scandrick had a productive career as a slot corner, accumulating eight interceptions, eight forced fumbles, and 11.5 sacks in 125 career games.

He was Dallas’ longest-tenured defensive player and started 11 games in 2017, with 38 tackles and three passes defended.

But the odds of that happening are low. The Browns pick first and fourth and need a quarterback. With the Jets moving up to No. 3, Cleveland knows the options will be limited by the time the fourth pick comes around. And even if the Browns don’t pick Darnold at No. 1, it’s hard to imagine him falling to No. 3.

Pistons make big gamble with Blake Griffin trade, but it’s unlikely to pay off

In sports, desperate acts rarely work out for the best. What Pistons coach and front office honcho Stan Van Gundy agreed to do on Monday, 10 days ahead of the February trade deadline, amounts to utter desperation, and it’s hard to see how this works out for the best in Detroit.

Not that there is no reason for desperation. The Pistons have dropped eight straight, including losses to the Hornets, Bulls, Nets and Jazz, none of whom are remotely close to postseason contention. Things have gone sideways in Detroit, quickly, and it is no secret in NBA circles that this collapse could cost Van Gundy his job.

By shipping away Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, spare parts and a potential lottery pick to acquire Griffin, the Pistons have committed a king’s ransom — five years (including this one) and $173 million — to a player who is three years removed from last ranking among the elites. Griffin posts good numbers, certainly. No one would complain about 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

Vegas F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare returned after missing seven games with a hand injury. … Atkinson has 15 points in his last 19 games after missing 11 games with a fractured foot suffered in late December.

“He’s the Milli Vanilli of coaching,” Ball said. “What I mean is, you can go stand in the same spot like Luke Walton did and win 20-something games when you’ve got the right horses just running. Sometimes less coaching is the best coaching, but some of these guys like to act like they’ve really coached some guys that know how to play.

“How do you coach KD [Kevin Durant], Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson? You know how you coach them? You don’t. Turn your back and let them do what they do. As soon as they win the championship, everybody is like ‘Oh, he’s a great coach.’ That team was put together by Mark Jackson. And now he jumped up and (is) trying to take all the credit. That’s why I’m calling him Milli Vanilli of coaching.”

If Bridges develops as a creator, he can be a star. Both Kawhi Leonard and Gordon Hayward fit the above criteria in 2016-17 — they are obviously absent from the 2017-18 data due to injuries — and while they’re not necessarily good direct comparisons, they do provide a template for the type of two-way player Bridges could become at his ceiling.

Streaking Ducks offer Coyotes true test of improvement

The Anaheim Ducks dealt Arizona two of the Coyotes’ most impactful losses during a dreadful first half of the season. That’s a trend the showing-some-improvement Coyotes want to halt Saturday night.

The only problem is, after meeting a succession of teams on losing streaks while they won four in a row and five of seven, the Coyotes now face a team that’s surging as the NHL playoff stretch drive nears.

The Coyotes were trying to stick with what they had going, but coach Rick Tocchet said they came out “sluggish” following a four-day layoff and it showed as they went 0-for-5 on the power play against Calgary.

“You’ve got to flush this one down and get ready for the weekend,” said Coyotes center Derek Stepan, who has two goals and six assists in his last eight games. “That’s the good thing about three (games) in four (days), you get to play right away.”

This will be the fourth game of a seven-game home stand for the Coyotes, who play the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena on Sunday night. Arizona is 2-1 so far. Miller (8-4) is expected to match up with Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who had won four in a row until the Flames opened up a 5-1 lead in winning easily Thursday night.

Lillard can make some franchise history on two fronts in Phoenix on Saturday. He made two three-pointers against the Jazz and has made at least one three in 41 straight games, tied with Cliff Robinson for the longest streak in franchise. Lillard set the record, 42, last season.

He has made his last 54 free throws, the longest of his career and three short of Damon Stoudamire’s franchise record set in 2004-05.

Lillard is sixth in the league with a 26.0 scoring average and McCollum is 23rd at 21.9. They are the highest-scoring guard tandem in the league, and the only backcourt teammates averaging at least 21 points a game.

“They’re playing high-level and they just beat Utah, which was playing the best basketball of the season,” Suns guard Devin Booker said.

DeRozan cut it to one with a dunk but Terry answered with a pair of free throws in the final second. DeRozan’s long inbounds pass to C.J. Miles was knocked away at the buzzer to give the Bucks the win.jaguars_120-223x223

Adding to the haze is Chase Field is already one of the more inconsistent venues.

Trout, who grew up in New Jersey as an Eagles fan, said that when he realized he could get tickets to the Super Bowl, he figured, They have a good chance of winning, so he told his wife, We should probably be a part of it.

I was fortunate enough to get a few extra tickets and make it happen, he said.

Recalling this is based on a 25-50 percent range in home run loss and 5 percent fewer hits, seeing what happens with best- and worst-case scenarios provides a range of likely outcomes. Applying the maximum home run effect along with increasing strikeouts while shaving off some walks results in a factor of 95, a moderate pitchers’ park. Using the minimum influence with a smaller decrease in hits while leaving strikeouts and walks the same results in an index of 105. Admittedly, this is a large range, adding another layer of risk-reward to drafting Diamondbacks pitchers.

Beginning with last season’s index, the factors for the past five seasons are 120, 122, 106, 116 and 97. The standard deviation for Chase Field’s run index is one of the largest in MLB.

It’s obviously cool, Trout said of such prospects. But I go out there and play. I don’t think about any of that stuff. We brought in a bunch of new guys and we’re trying to compete for a championship.

I’m out here just to play baseball. The other things will take care of themselves later.

Newly signed Chris Young has the inside track to be the Angels’ fourth outfielder. Young, 34, appeared in 90 games last season for Boston, hitting .235 with seven homers and 25 RBIs. Chris obviously has a veteran’s presence, but he’s still athletic like he was in his younger days, Scioscia said. He matches up really well against left-handed pitching. He can play all three outfield positions. Young, an All-Star with Arizona in 2010, has a career average of .237 with 185 home runs. This is an opportunity to be on a winning ballclub. That’s what I was looking for, he said. … Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, met with Scioscia on Monday to discuss pace-of-play issues.bears_002

He was raised in that environment, coming up with Tony La Russa teams.

He’s right in the thick of that competition, manager Andy Green said of Renfroe, adding, we didn’t have to have a (roster) move to cause that to happen.

Green mentioned Alex Dickerson, Franchy Cordero, Travis Jankowski, Matt Szczur and Joel Pirela as others in the outfield competition, noting that Pirela also could spend time in the infield.

Renfroe slashed .231/.284/.457 with 26 homers last season but was optioned to Triple-A El Paso in mid-August to work on his ability to get on base. He drew 17 walks in his first 54 games but had only four walks in 130 plate appearances between June 29 and his demotion.

Renfroe, who made all of his 117 outfield starts in right, again showed power when he returned. He had six homers, including a three-homer game against Arizona on Sept. 20, but walked only once in 44 plate appearances.

Granted, Thompson was talking in a basketball context — and he might not have had to sacrifice on the court — but he may have to take less than expected to keep the Warriors together. That’ll be tough to do with other teams offering piping-hot max contracts when the clock strikes midnight on the eve of free agency.

Then again, Thompson also said he’d do anything to stay with the Warriors. Anything is probably, most certainly (possibly?) a nod at taking a slight pay cut. Who knows.

Maybe this is why players don’t talk about free agency. At the end of the day, we still have to wait it out.

Just like every young player, there is stuff to learn and continue to grow, he said.

New hitting coach Matt Stairs, assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and new first base coach Skip Schumaker should help in the development, Green said.

They are going to serve him very well, Green said. Skip Schumaker, the one thing I will tell you about him, he will be all over everybody to do it the way that is right.

The night’s final skater was China’s Jin Boyang, who used music from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He perfectly landed his quad lutz/triple toeloop combo to start, then breezed through the rest of the routine with no problems whatsoever. He got a 103.32 score to establish himself as one of the top contenders Friday night.royals_002

The second-year player was one of two people killed in a car accident, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Indiana State Police tell the Star they suspect Jackson was hit by a drunk driver.

“Jackson and 54-year-old Jeffrey Monroe of Avon were standing near a stopped vehicle when a black Ford F-150 pickup truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them both,” police said.

Jackson was signed to the Colts’ practice squad late in 2015 and played with the team in 2016, recording 66 tackles and playing in all 16 games. He was placed on injured reserve in 2017.

If the league is guilty of anything, it’s allowing Patriots paranoia to permeate each year. Last week, there was the accidental NFL Facebook post that showed the Patriots and Vikings in the Super Bowl. Concepts such as “rigged” and “WWE” have been attached to the Patriots; the NFL villain that just won’t die. Goodell hasn’t done anything to stop the controversy, and the more the NFL becomes like pro wrestling, the less popular it will be with its football-first fans.

I watched Sunday’s game looking for flags and came up with two conclusions. One, it’s no way to watch a football game. Two, other than a third-and-9 pass to Marcedes Lewis, on which the Pats might have gotten away with a defensive holding on a 50-50 call, there’s not enough to block out what really happened.

Butler was a fixture in the secondary of a Patriots defense that improved as the season progressed but still was vulnerable through the air. He didn’t play a defensive snap in New England’s 42-33 loss to the Eagles.

Pederson, the former longtime backup quarterback to Brett Favre in Green Bay, was the perfect mentor for Foles. The QB topped his 352-yard, three-TD performance against the Vikings with 373 yards and three touchdowns against the Pats, along with a TD catch on a daring fourth-and-2 call at the end of the first half. Pederson also showed his gutsy nature with the fourth-and-1 conversion on a Foles-to-Ertz pass from the Eagles’ 45 in the fourth quarter after the Patriots had pulled ahead 33-32.

Those fourth-down gambles are emblematic of Pederson’s fearlessness and creativity as a coach, qualities that make players want to play for him. Plus he’s a true players’ coach who is likable.bills_035

Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Doesn’t it seem like just five minutes ago that the analysts had considered the running back position all but dead in the NFL? Well, based on Week 1, not so fast. Big-play running backs who can control the games do not appear to be as extinct as previously thought.

Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook ran for 127 yards on 22 carries. Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries.

The Bears’ less-hyped Tarik Cohen got in on the action as well, with a combined 113 yards rushing and receiving, 66 coming on the ground.

18. Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Cowboys (NR): From his midriff-baring outfit at the draft to his ill-advised marijuana window-shopping in Seattle to his bulldozing of famed (and feared) NFL hitman Kam Chancellor, Elliott’s first few months in the league definitely have been eventful. There no doubt will be more where that came from, thankfully.

Why not sit them down, talk to them on camera. What do they remember about Wilson? That day? That night? The next day? The pregame locker room buzz? What was the fallout? How was the game plan, near zero-hour, altered? What was the measure of betrayal? Anger? Astonishment?

23. Mark Davis, owner, Raiders (NR): The son of Al Davis has a bowl haircut straight out of “The Three Stooges” — and that’s just the start of his odd quirks. Davis also is trying to move the Raiders to Las Vegas while landing the biggest taxpayer stadium handout ever ($750 million). Win or lose, Davis will step out of the shadows this year.

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Even though offensive guru Jon Gruden is in town, the Raiders should be targeting best defender available with this pick. The Raiders can save $14.5 million by cutting Sean Smith and David Amerson in the offseason, and if they can get T.J. Carrie re-signed after his standout year, having him, 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley and the speedy Ward at the cornerback position instantly makes the Raiders younger, cheaper and flat-out better at an area of need.

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Consider this more of a value play than filling an immediate need. Ferrell is coming off a great performance against Alabama that caps a season that included 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. With Cam Wake on the tail end of his career, Ferrell gives the Dolphins someone to pair with Charles Harris and provide pass rushing off the edge for the foreseeable future.

Given that the Winnipeg Jets don’t much come ’round here, MSG-Plus’ Jets-Islanders pregame Saturday focused on what the Jets try to do and whom they try to do it with. Smart with simple often makes good TV.

Reader Ken Meltsner suggests the Mets returning Omar Minaya at Christmas is a case of flagrant “re-gifting.”

Researchers at Boston University have been at the forefront of CTE research in recent years.

Still, for as many hurdles as Gruden will have to overcome to fully deliver on the Raiders’ hopes, this could still be the right move for Davis.

The Raiders are banking on two things from a coach with a career .540 winning percentage. One is that Gruden will maximize Derek Carr’s talent. Carr clearly regressed this season — his statistics in every category that matters were down from a sterling 2016 campaign — a decline hastened in part by injury and by Del Rio’s misguided decision to not bring back Bill Musgrave as the offensive coordinator. Carr was so good in 2016 that the Raiders entered this season as highly publicized Super Bowl contenders. Then they went 6-10. Getting Carr back to that level is right in Gruden’s wheelhouse and could make for a quick turnaround.

The study results released Thursday from Boston Unversity’s CTE Center also showed Hernandez suffered from early brain atrophy and had large perforations in his septum pellucidum, a major membrane in the brain associated with cognitive development.

According to a statement from the CTE Center, a second neuropathologist from VA Boston Healthcare System confirmed the diagnosis.

“Everyone, including and especially his family, is deeply troubled by this whole thing,” Baez told reporters at an afternoon news conference.

In a study published in July, researchers studied the brains of men who played football at all levels and found evidence of CTE in 177 of 202 — 87 percent — of them.

“It’s always been broader than that,” Bennett said. “It’s always been about justice and discrimination in America, police brutality, women’s rights, all these different issues — clean water; Flint, Michigan — issues that are pertaining to America that we all need to pay attention to because it’s not that it happens to one of us that [makes it] important. It’s important every single day regardless of what we’ve got going on.”

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders: Lynch owners have had to tangle with the enigma that he is all season: He’s produced double-digit scoring in just three games and has four games in which he finished with fewer than three points.

Since then, however, Martin’s numbers have been abysmal. He hasn’t reached double digits since Week 6 and seems to be regressing to the point that some pundits are recommending he isn’t worthy of a roster spot. If you are in the hunt for a playoff spot and find yourself relying on Martin, then don’t act surprised when he fails to deliver. The writing has been on the wall for weeks.cowboys_102