Browse Month by April 2018
Minnesota Vikings

Former Titans, Bears WR Kendall Wright signs with Vikings

Kendall Wright, the Bears’ leading receiver last season, is heading to Minnesota, the Vikings announced Friday.

With the addition of Wright, the Vikings will add more depth to the receiver position and will fill veteran Jarius Wright’s role after the team cut him earlier this month to make room in the salary cap.

The 28-year-old receiver will join Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, giving newly acquired quarterback Kirk Cousins another talented target.

Wright, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Bears a year ago, is coming off a strong season where he was Chicago’s only receiver to catch more than 50 passes. He hauled in 59 receptions for 614 yards and a score.

“I got a lot of lineouts,” he said. “I needed a few guys to bail me out today. That’s awesome. It’s a team game. But there’s definitely some things I could have done a little better.”

Dodgers: Los Angeles opens a two-game series at home against Oakland on Tuesday with Ryu (0-0) taking on Sean Manaea (1-1).

Giants: San Francisco opens a three-game home series against Arizona with Derek Holland (0-1) getting the start against Zack Godley (1-0).

Billionaire David Tepper, who has a 5 percent stake in the Steelers, is considered a front-runner to purchase the Panthers. Bedrock Industries LP CEO Alan Kestenbaum and Sherman Financial Group CEO Ben Navarro are also among the final bidders, per Bloomberg.

Jerry Richardson, 81, announced in December he would sell the team after several allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

The Panthers are expected to set an NFL record by fetching more than $2 billion after the Bills set the current record in 2014 when they sold for $1.4 billion to the Pegula family.

The Devils didn’t go all-out to try to move up in the standings, resting MVP front-runner Taylor Hall, first-line winger Kyle Palmieri, top-six center Travis Zajac, No. 1 defenseman Sami Vatanen and starting goaltender Keith Kinkaid with an eye toward the playoffs. Trade-deadline pickup Patrick Maroon had a goal and two assists, and rookie Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each scored for New Jersey.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Suspended NFL player Aldon Smith arrested again, report says

Suspended NFL player Aldon Smith was arrested Friday for violating a court order by contacting the alleged victim in a domestic violence incident earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Smith, 28, has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanors domestic violence, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, false imprisonment and vandalism stemming from the incident involving a woman believed to be his fiancee.

The alleged victim called police March 3, claiming Smith bit her on the wrists while intoxicated, then fled the scene.

James said Monday morning he hadn’t seen the billboard that went up near MSG urging him to play for the Knicks next season, though he was aware of it. Similar billboards had already gone up in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland and his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

Same reaction as I had to every last one of them this year, he said of the newest entry. I think it’s very humbling that cities and organizations want me to play for them, especially at this juncture of my career, so that’s it.

The Knicks will try to win in Cleveland for the second time this season, after a 114-95 victory on Oct. 29.

Golden State has limped a bit into the postseason compared to previous years. The Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak with a 117-100 win over Phoenix on Sunday behind 34 points from Klay Thompson. Overall, Golden State has lost nine of its last 16 games and defense has been a primary factor behind the slump.

The Warriors allowed 126 points in back-to-back losses to Indiana and New Orleans. Both opponents lit up Golden State from the field. The Pelicans shot 56 percent, while the Pacers shot 54 percent — including 52 percent from 3-point range.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr publicly criticized his team’s defensive effort after the loss to Indiana and reiterated on Sunday that defense needs to be an area of focus and improvement heading into the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings

Patriots fly Parkland students, families to D.C. for ‘March for Our Lives’

The Patriots have helped students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their families make their way from Parkland, Fla., to Washington in advance of Saturday’s March for Our Lives against gun violence.

Once in Washington, some visited a Wizards practice and met players John Wall and Bradley Beal and coach Scott Brooks.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport posted photos of the travel party boarding the airplane, and the group will return to South Florida on the team plane after the march.

I understand Gruden, wonderful on his TV gig, did some wonderful things as a coach, but he only won 53 percent of his games, Woodson said. Ten years, $100 million. I hope Mark Davis has an out. My question would be, how many Super Bowls do you have to win for $100 million? You give that deal to Bill Belichick. But to a Jon Gruden? It’s hard for me to understand.

He’s making a lot of moves, I understand. But those two moves. … Crabtree was the glue to that offense. He gave them a backbone. He gave them toughness. Jordy Nelson is not going to give them that. Derek Carr is not going to give them that. Now Marshawn Lynch, he could give them that, if he’s there, if he’s playing, I don’t know what’s with that.

Current Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin didn’t appreciate the negative commentary, and he chimed in Friday morning with some tweets aimed at Woodson. The best part is he didn’t even have to call out Woodson by name.

This is our first year together. This is Year 1 for this group, he said. We’ve got a chance to win it all, but realistically it takes time for things to build and chemistry to mesh. Just for everybody to be on the same page. So this wasn’t a championship or bust coming into this for me. It was just an opportunity to see what it’s like being here and just to naturally fall in love with it. And it’s been that. It’s been a lot of love here.

The Thunder started the season 8-12, but they got rolling after taking some time to define roles and responsibilities, going 21-8 before starting shooting guard Andre Roberson was lost for the season with a knee injury. Since then, the Thunder are 16-14. George said Roberson’s injury, and the impact it’s had on the Thunder’s season, will factor in to his decision when projecting what next season’s team could be.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gil Brandt: Mike McGlinchey will go in the top 10 (updated)

There’s a chance that 40 percent of the Notre Dame starting offensive line in 2017 will be among the first 10 players picked in the 2018 NFL draft.

Asked to identify the biggest surprise in the top 10 by Peter King of, Gil Brandt of picks Irish tackle Mike McGlinchey.

“He’ll go in the top 10,” Brandt said.

But Gettleman strikes me as an old-school GM who doesn’t want to put up with Beckham’s nonsense. Mara probably has had his fill of Beckham, too. And Shurmur would love to see more depth added to the roster with a few extra draft picks.

The Giants also are tight against the cap after recent investments on free-agent signings such as Nate Solder on offense. They’ve spent even more on the defense, with huge contracts for Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul. They also recently traded for a $10 million-per-year linebacker in Alec Ogletree.

Here are the teams that have improved the most, plus those that will enter the 2018 season on the decline.

As a young team already coming off a division title, the Rams appear to be the big winner for “Madden NFL 19,” which will be released in August. While they have brought in personalities that have the potential for disruption and conflict, those concerns don’t transition to a game that doesn’t factor in off-field turmoil, suspensions or locker-room conflict. Considering the talent they’ve acquired, the Rams will be a force in the video game.

The signing of Ndamukong Suh gives Los Angeles the highest-rated pair of defensive teammates in the league. Suh and his rating of 93 Overall joins Aaron Donald, 99 Overall, on the line. In Suh, the Rams are getting the player deemed by “Madden” the strongest in the league. Suh also ranks as the second-highest player in Hit Power.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alshon Jeffery remains in a sling but expects to return for the preseason

Alshon Jeffery injured his right shoulder in a hard fall July 30. The Eagles called the injury a shoulder strain.

The MRI results, though, put immediate surgery on the table as an option.

“I was like, ‘No, there’s no way you’re gonna do that. We gotta figure out another situation,’” Jeffery said, via Les Bowen of

The receiver, who had signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, wasn’t about to miss the season. Jeffery played through the pain, participating in 82 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season and 89 percent in the postseason.

As he should be. Not only will Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system play to his strengths, but Melvin can earn an additional $1 million through incentives.

Plus, the 28-year-old Melvin is set to get another crack at free agency in 2019. And if his goals are reached, Melvin’s market value should jump even higher by proving to teams his strong play in Indianapolis wasn’t a fluke.

“I’m just excited for this upcoming season to really broadcast that the excuses will run out and they can’t last forever,” Melvin said. “I’m ready to take advantage of that.”

The Vikings selected Adams in the fifth round (170th overall) of the 2017 draft out of South Florida.

Brooklyn hit 18 3-pointers in its first game since falling one shy of the NBA record with 24 in a rout of Chicago on Saturday.

Crabbe celebrated his 26th birthday by going 8 of 11 from deep Monday. He scored 14 straight points during his first quarter outburst and finished the first half with 29 points, including 6 of 6 from deep. The Nets led 62-55 at the break.

During his last three games, Crabbe has made 18 3-pointers and averaged 28.7 points.

“I shook his hand after the game and it was still hot, still cooking,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s really finishing the season the way we’re asking the team to finish, on a strong night.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eli Manning’s annual Duke workouts go on without Odell Beckham

The Giants officially start their offseason program on Monday, but some members of the team got off to an unofficial start at Duke University this week.

Quarterback Eli Manning has gathered offensive players in Durham, North Carolina for the last few years because his coach at Ole Miss David Cutcliffe now coaches the Blue Devils. Social media posts show that wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Roger Lewis and Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram and running back Wayne Gallman are on hand to start working before the whole team will gather next week.

The Patriots and Eagles were not able to agree to trade parameters involving players like Kansas City did for Smith, nor could they start sniffing around potential free-agent acquisitions without significant risk. If any word were to leak about upcoming roster decisions, the team chemistry built with current players would be altered and potentially destroyed.

Coaching changes are a different animal. It’s no secret now when an assistant from a Super Bowl team will be leaving for an opportunity elsewhere shortly after the confetti has fallen.

But changing the rules to allow an early contract signing is going one step too far.

The insurance companies want to obtain documents relevant to efforts to discredit the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu regarding CTE, along with paperwork reflecting communications regarding the deaths of Mike Webster, Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, and Andre Waters.

If the NFL is forced to hand over these materials to the insurance companies, that could trigger a settlement of the case; some believe the NFL’s primary goal will be to keep the media and, in turn, the public from learning the full extent of what the league knew about head trauma — and what the league may have done to cover it up.

Odell Beckham Jr. has proved difficult for the Giants to re-sign. That also makes it harder for New York to trade Beckham, as the team thinks it should ask for everything and the kitchen sink in return.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Odell Beckham Jr. trade at right price would solve Giants’ problem

It’s been an exceedingly active year already for NFL trades. But there’s one blockbuster deal that has not happened, and it should be on the Giants’ radar.

That would be a trade of the highly talented-but-equally problematic Odell Beckham Jr.

If I’m new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, I’m saying “no mas” to OBJ’s exorbitant contract demands and to his diva-like behavior. Before shelling out $17 million, $18 million or more per year for the star wide receiver, I’m putting out feelers to gauge his trade value.

Then there’s the most recent viral video, of Beckham lying in bed, appearing to hold a brown cigarette with a woman next to him with a white substance on a plate — cringe-worthy stuff for New York, including new coach Pat Shurmur, and for Beckham’s agent during the negotiating process.

Victor Oladipo had 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and Lance Stephenson, a former Hornet, had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight points for the Pacers, who have won seven of their last nine games.

Sabonis said he feels comfortable in the Pacers’ system, where he is playing more center than he did earlier in the season.

“I love it here,” Sabonis said. “It’s a great system. We have a great group of guys who believe in it and we all want to win so that’s been working for us.”

McMillan said Sabonis has been solid all season, whether it has been in a starting role or reserve, or playing the four or five position.

“He does a good job of getting the offense moving from side to side,” McMillan said. “He’s made good decisions out there when he’s played.”

There’s a clip against Iowa where he changes a protection. The [weakside] linebacker blitzes and everybody runs hot and Josh Allen does not move till his third step of the drop. What were you thinking? What was going on? And that shows up way too much for me. And again, that stuff is not fixable. You think Dick LeBeau is easier to do it against? When he’s got Star Wars on the back end going on? . . . When the ball is snapped it’s almost like, I don’t know what’s going on. . . .

Minnesota Vikings

Saints sign Zach Line to two-year deal

Fullback Zach Line is sticking with the Saints.

Agent Mike McCartney announced that his client has agreed to a new contract with the team. It’s a two-year deal for Line, who joined the Saints last season after four years with the Vikings.

Line was signed last August and released in September before returning to the Saints the next month. He had seven carries, two catches and a touchdown in 12 regular season games and scored another touchdown in their Wild Card round victory over the Panthers in January.

“I thought today we got better as the game went on and we really started playing our game, our style, our system and it showed on the scoreboard,” Bergeron said. “We’re in a position where we can win the conference. It’s a big feat.”

Senators D Erik Karlsson missed his third straight game, remaining at home with his wife after the couple’s first son was stillborn last month. … Bruins LW Tim Schaller and RW David Pastrnak are the only Boston players to have played in the first 81 games. … Bruins LW Rick Nash missed his 11th straight game with an upper-body injury. … After entering the season on a six-game winless streak against Ottawa, Boston swept all four games.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among thousands who filled the Humboldt Broncos’ home arena for a vigil on Sunday night honoring the junior hockey team involved in a tragic bus accident.

Broncos president Kevin Garinger choked up as he read the names of the 15 people killed, and family and friends cried and embraced.

“Not one of us is alone in our grief,” Garinger said, later encouraging the community to “continue to reach out. Reach out to one another for help and support. Across our province, our country and our globe, we will find strength in each other.”

Dallas Cowboys

Shohei Ohtani gives up 1 hit in 7 shutout innings in home debut

Shohei Ohtani seemed to be the only person in Angel Stadium who wasn’t incredibly impressed while he mowed down the Oakland Athletics’ first 19 batters in order.

But when Ohtani finally yielded a hit and then struck out Matt Olson with two runners on to end the seventh inning, he gave a fist pump and a celebratory scream at the ground while the crowd rose for a standing ovation.

Even the two-way Japanese sensation realized his first home pitching start was a thrilling moment in his increasingly incredible rookie season.

Ohtani threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball in his home debut on the mound, propelling the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 victory Sunday.

“He got off to a good start, the crowd got into it, [and] he got a little bit of a generous strike zone, all of that,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “But the bottom line is he pitched really well.”

Jed Lowrie drew a four-pitch walk after Semien’s single, but Ohtani ended the threat by inducing Khris Davis’ weak groundout before fanning Olson. He left the mound to the last of several standing ovations from his enthralled new fans in the sellout crowd — an unheard-of gathering at Angel Stadium in April.

“It’s a rare kind of talent to do it both ways, and it’s great to watch,” Angels second baseman Zack Cozart said. “It didn’t look like [the A’s] had a chance up there, the way he was throwing.”

Dallas has an opening on its line after Jonathan Cooper, who started 13 games at left guard, departed in free agency.

A big part of that beyond just who are the best is try to put them in the best place for them individually and the best place for them collectively. His versatility is going to help us. We have signed a couple of linemen. We’ll get them in the mix . . . and see where they fit in and get to work.”

Collins started 11 games at left guard as a rookie. He began 2016 as the starter there before injuring a toe in the third game, ending his season prematurely. A year ago, after left guard Ron Leary left in free agency and right tackle Doug Free retired, Collins moved to right tackle.

“I played against a lot of great players in my first year at right tackle,” Collins said. “For me, it only made me better as a player. Honestly, I never thought I could play multiple positions at the offensive line spot. Just being able to have played pretty much every position except center, it feels great. Going against those guys last year was a big stepping stone for me going into next year.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Garrett: Dak Prescott knows he’s got to get better

Really everything, Garrett said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. At the quarterback position — and maybe every position, but maybe most glaringly there — there’s so much to learn over the course of your career. That’s why the guys at that position play longer and it seems like they’re playing their best football well into their 30s.

A sophomore slump isn’t a new NFL phenomenon, with many young players — particularly quarterbacks — struggling once defenses get enough tape to break down tendencies.

Dak’s troubles in 2017 also didn’t come in a vacuum. He had to deal with a plethora of issues beyond his control: Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, Tyron Smith’s injuries, a struggling receiving corps.

The Cowboys attempted to address the final problem, adding Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency. Dallas also should look to add a receiver through the draft.

After watching the Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy with their backup quarterback, the Cowboys know they need improved play from their starter to close the gap in the NFC East.

The Steelers again placed the franchise tag on Bell for the upcoming season, meaning if things remain static, the all-purpose back will earn $14.54 million in 2018.

As it stands, a report last weekend indicated the Steelers have put negotiations with Bell on hold. While Bell has stated he won’t sit out the 2018 NFL season, he did hint at sitting out through training camp if the franchise tag is not rescinded and a long-term deal is hammered out, what Bell has desired for years.

Run back that replay, please.

Outlawing the helmet as a weapon and the technique of using it by lowering the head is a noble and progressive idea in this era of heightened awareness of the long-term risks of concussions and well, risks associated with deep-pocket liability.