NFL free agency: Browns make history with Kevin Zeitler’s contract

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The Browns needed offensive line help heading into free agency, and they addressed the position right away. The biggest signing was reported about an hour before free agency began, and it was for guard Kevin Zeitler.

According to ESPN the deal was worth $60 million over five years, including $31.5 million of guaranteed cash. This deal makes him the highest-paid guard in NFL history, which proves the Browns are all in on protecting the quarterback.

Zeitler was a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2012 and the former Wisconsin standout started 71 games over five seasons. He wasn’t the only offensive line move the Browns made Thursday.

I took my first ground ball and I was like, 鈥極h, gosh! I’m way too stiff.’ Bell said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. All season long, (Pirates special instructor Kevin Young) was busting on me: 鈥業 told you to go to yoga. What, you say your hips are tight? I told you to go to yoga.’ So, the first day of (this past) offseason, I started going to yoga.

Bell reported to spring training at 248 pounds last year, but he’s down to a slender 225 pounds right now.

The weight drop should help him swing more feely and move laterally at first base.

You’re sweating bullets in there, Bell said of yoga. It’s (set up) mat to mat, so you have people right next to you. There are no mirrors and they turn the lights off. You’re up balancing, it’s dark and you’re sweating 鈥?someone in front of you moves and you’re trying to stay focused. It’s all internalized. I enjoy it, but it’s definitely a challenge.
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Bell oozes talent both offensively and defensively. After missing out on the postseason last year, Pittsburgh will be hoping he can help get them back in the fold.

Blue Jays ace Aaron Sanchez set to return Sunday vs. Rays

Kids Draymond Green Jersey That’s something White Sox fans have to enjoy hearing. Is team unity and a sense of being potentially part of something special the most important thing? Nah, of course not.

Talent rules. But these guys have the talent, they have the sense of purpose and they have the drive to improve. They know they’re the next wave 鈥?the most important wave 鈥?of what could be the next playoff team on the South Side, and they embrace the pressure.

To be even in the talk about being part of the rebuild is something that’s awesome, Burdi said. Being from Chicago, it’s a huge thing for me to be part of an organization from my hometown. … Something I hold pretty dearly to my heart. Just excited to see where it takes us, and get to grow with these guys.

White Sox fans are pretty excited about that, too. As they should be.

The Blue Jays are set to receive a boost this weekend in the form of ace pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

Wayne Chrebet Authentic Jersey According to MLB.com, Sanchez will return to the rotation Sunday to start against the Rays. The right-hander has been out since he underwent minor surgery April 18 to remove part of the nail on his right middle finger.

Sanchez, 24, has not pitched since April 14 when he allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Orioles. His injury was initially thought to be just a blister.

The Blue Jays have been ravaged by injuries so far this season. In addition to Sanchez, former AL MVP Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ and Troy Tulowitzki are on the disabled list.

Toronto fans obviously would like to see the full team take the diamond, but getting Sanchez (15-2 in 2016) back will be a good start.

Jay Cutler doesn’t care (and that’s a good thing), his TV partner says

To say Jay Cutler didn’t care when he was an NFL quarterback would be unfair, though he certainly never did anything to keep people from having that opinion of him.

But maybe, just maybe, his uncaring attitude will actually be an asset when he steps into the TV booth. At least that’s what his new broadcast partner thinks.

It turned out Watson would be the third QB to go behind Trubisky and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, whom the Chiefs traded up 17 spots to pick at No. 10 overall, a pick formerly owned by the Bills. Watson went 12th overall to the Texans, who moved up from No. 25 overall in a trade with the Browns.

All told, Watson did have a a point. Not only did he throw for over 4,100 yards in each of his last two seasons with the Tigers, he also won two ACC championship games, while Trubisky didn’t even reach the title game in his only year as a starter.

Success in college doesn’t always translate to the NFL, but Watson successfully ran a pro-style offense. Turnovers were an issue for Watson at times, but he threw 41 touchdowns to 17 interceptions last season. That is a ratio most NFL teams could live with.

Ever since the championship game, Trubisky has seen his stock rise and is now considered a serious threat to be picked No. 1 overall by the Browns.

From a production standpoint, Watson is absolutely correct in his claim. However, every year prospects rise exponentially during the draft process, and Trubisky was one of the fastest risers this year.

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NFL odds 2017: Patriots’ over/under win total huge; Cowboys undervalued?

Game Mens Phil Simms Jersey We have another set of NFL over/under win totals to ponder months before Week 1 of the 2017 season. Online sportsbook Bovada.lv has released its NFL O/U season totals. The main takeaway: The bar is set very high for the Super Bowl 51 champion Patriots.

Bovada pegs the Pats’ O/U line at 12.5, meaning New England would have to win 13 games in the 2017 NFL season for the OVER to cash. To entice the betting public to take the OVER, Bovada has put 1:1 odds on the Pats winning at least 13 games. The UNDER is a 13:10 favorite, meaning bettors think the Patriots will win 12 or fewer would need to wager $13 to make a $10 profit.

Several other NFL teams have a double-digit over/under win total in Bovada’s list of props: The Steelers and Seahawks are at 10.5, while the Raiders and Packers are at 10.

The Cowboys’ O/U, interestingly, is 9.5 wins. Dallas finished 13-3 last season in winning the NFC East. The second-place Giants check in at 9 after an 11-win season in 2016.
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On the bottom end, the lowest O/U totals belong to the Browns (4.5), 49ers (4.5), Jets (5), Bears (5.5) and Rams (5.5). Value bettors will be studying those O/U numbers closely.

Las Vegas’ early over/under win total for the Patriots is a full win lower, at 11.5, but that number was bumped up after big public action on Pats at the South Point sports book, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Thunder didn’t have a single lineup without Westbrook

The Thunder were plus-3.3 points per 100 possessions with Westbrook on the floor during the regular season, and minus-8.9 without him. That’s not good, but it doesn’t explain their outrageous degree of terribleness without him against Houston.

The Thunder didn’t have a single lineup without Westbrook — not even one that played a minute or two — that finished in the net positive against the Rockets.

You can play around with various Thunder-Westbrook numbers on the NBA’s official website. None of them will do anything to hurt your argument for Westbrook as MVP.

A reporter asked Adams about the team’s inability to succeed without its star on the court, and Westbrook became furious. He said the reporter was trying to split up the Thunder. But the numbers make it clear that the reporter had a point.

Utah bounced back from a home loss in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers to win the series with a 104-91 victory in Game 7 in Los Angeles. The Jazz battled through injuries in the first round to come out on top, and may be dealing with another one on Tuesday with Derrick Favors listed as questionable with back soreness.

Utah is 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in its last five games on the road despite being an underdog in all five of those games.
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Limited Kids Reggie Ragland Jersey Tuesday night’s total is set at 206.5 points at online betting sites. The UNDER is 13-5 in Golden State’s last 18 games at home.

Golden State had the best offense in the NBA this season averaging 115.9 points per game and will face the best defense in the NBA in a Utah team that allowed only 96.8 points per game during the regular season. Something will have to give in this series, and according to the betting odds, it figures to be Utah’s defense.

LeBron James said Isaiah Thomas’ sister was ‘looking down on him’ during incredible 53-point performance

LeBron James watched on TV as Isaiah Thomas gave his all in the Boston Celtics’ Game 2 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. Thomas went for 53 points on the day his sister — who passed away in an automobile accident weeks ago — would have turned 23 years old.
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James talked to a group of reporters Wednesday morning about Thomas’ Herculean performance, which included 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and heaped praise on the Celtics’ guard who played the best game of his career under difficult circumstances.

It really wasn’t that intricate, Jones told ESPN. I don’t know what happened. All I said was, ‘You better not jump,’ and that got me the first tech. And then the second one, Norman walked up on me and said, ‘Don’t you do that s—!’
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And I said, ‘What are you doing to do?’ Like, ‘What you goin’ to do?’ And that’s two. So those are the exact words I said: ‘What are you going to do?’ No curse words.

A technical foul comes with a mandatory $3,000 fine. Jones signed with the Cavaliers on the final day of the regular season, and his contract was worth a tick north of $9,000, which is 1/82 of the veteran’s minimum salary.

James and Jones have crossed this path before.

In Game 3 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the veteran guard was suspended for hitting ex-Raptors big man Bismack Biyombo in the groin. A suspension does not come with a fine, but costs a player a game check. Jones made just $8,800 last season after signing with Cleveland on the final day of the regular season. He was fined $80.17, according to ESPN, equal to 1/110th of his salary.

Isaiah Thomas made every 3-point shot he took without a tooth

Isaiah Thomas shot poorly from three-point range in the Boston Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. He only hit nine out of 45 attempts.

That was because he had a full set of teeth.

There were several problems with Houston’s three-point shooting in these four games: This is all eye test. I’ll pull some numbers on this depending on what I see in game one, but expect San Antonio to feed LaMarcus Aldridge against Ryan Anderson.

Aldridge is the biggest guy in this series (miss you, Boban) and Anderson isn’t much of a banger who has a career-long reputation for suspect defense.

The Spurs went to Aldridge against Anderson in the post each time they had two big men on the court. The double bigs forced Capela or Nene on to Gasol or Lee and left Anderson to deal with Aldridge.

It will be interesting to watch the teams tinker with matchups as Dewayne Dedmon was a non-factor in the first three games of the series and received limited minutes in game four. Nene is coming off a wildly spectacular playoff run, but the pressure will be on him as Capela can’t contain these Spurs bigs. They exploit his inexperience and often get him up in the air. The Rockets shouldn’t want this match up as badly as the Spurs do want it, but there’s limited versatility for the Rockets.

So it’s a change, it’s definitely a change. We’ll see how it goes.”

Larry Bird, who has never been shy to express his feelings, responded flippantly.

“Well, he don’t make the decisions around here. I’m not going to get in a battle with Paul George on where he wants to play. He’s a basketball player. He can play any position you put him out there.”
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Noah Brown is a big-play wide receiver the Cowboys could use on the roster

The Dallas Cowboys added a deep threat to their offense in the final moments of the 2017 NFL Draft. The team selected wide receiver Noah Brown out of Ohio State with the No. 239 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
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Brown was supposed to be a deep threat for the Buckeyes in 2015, working in tandem with wideout Michael Thomas, now of the New Orleans Saints. The duo would have made a dangerous combination downfield, but the plan was sidelined when Brown broke his leg in the spring, an injury that ultimately kept him out his entire sophomore season.

Motivated to come back better than ever, Brown started the 2016 season as the veteran within a young position group. His development led to a productive third year, despite the struggles of the offense as a whole.

Thomas is going to make an immediate impact on the defensive line. Rule of Tree said his best comparison in the NFL is the Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who can play multiple ways on the defensive line effectively.

Named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thomas led Stanford in tackles (62), tackles for loss (15), and sacks (eight) last season. Players who are able to pressure the quarterback, especially in today’s NFL, are quite valuable. It’s the reason why Thomas was the first non-quarterback from Stanford to be selected in the top five in the modern draft era.
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Thomas’ strength is just one of the traits that he brings to the field. He can play anywhere on the defensive line, and is one of the more athletic players in the draft.

The Saints used their two first-round picks on cornerback Marshon Lattimore and offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk

Boulware’s willingness to do whatever it takes to contribute, whether it’s making a big play on defense or stepping in at special teams to help his team, is valuable. Boulware’s toughness and instincts make him a surefire candidate to become a dominant special teamer in the makings of a Bryan Braman.

New England Patriots – The Pats traded away their first- and third-round selections for Brandin Cooks in a move many teams likely would’ve been ecstatic to make. Cooks is an established playmaker whose addition all but solidifies New England’s pass-catching corps as the best in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints – The Saints used their two first-round picks on cornerback Marshon Lattimore and offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. Lattimore is a physical corner who can shut down an entire side of a field. Ramczyk is a sold pass blocker and a mauler in the run game. He has the skills to keep Drew Brees upright.

New York Giants – Just when you though the Giants offense couldn’t get scarier, New York selected Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram at No. 23. Engram can line up on the perimeter and in the slot. He has a rare blend of size and speed.
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Not only do the Eagles still have Mixon — who was video taped punching a woman in 2014 — on their board, but they are very interested in him, have been doing extensive research into him off-the-field and would be willing to draft him.
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Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas also spoke very highly of Mixon last week.

A lot of people think that he is one of the top backs in this draft, Douglas said. So if you take character out of the equation, physically he is a very good player. But most teams aren’t doing that.

Gary Barnidge released by Browns 1 day after they draft TE David Njoku

After trading up to select tight end David Njoku on day one of the 2017 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns decided to cut ties with veteran Gary Barnidge.

Kids Heath Miller Jersey Follow the action with our 2017 NFL draft tracker with pick-by-pick results and analysis updating in real-time for all seven rounds.

Hyperbole aside, Blount could probably muster quality performances for another season or two. He hasnt garnered much interest on the open market, so the Giants should be able to land him at a team-friendly price.

And the Giants need help on the ground. Rashad Jennings, the teams leading rusher last year, only managed 593 yards and three touchdowns last season. The Giants moved on from him, and hes still on the market.

Shane Vereen, the teams highest-paid running back, played in just five games last year for the Giants, contributing 158 yards and one touchdown. Hes still rehabbing a tricep that he tore not once, but twice.
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New York has been linked to Christian McCaffrey, but its unlikely the Stanford product will be available when the Giants pick at No. 23. Blount isnt a long-term answer for the Giants at running back, but he could be a cost-effective stopgap to balance out the offense.