Reuben Foster reinstated by 49ers after case dismissed; NFL still investigating

Linebacker Reuben Foster has been reinstated by the 49ers after a judge dismissed the domestic violence charges against him in California.

“The organization is aware domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today,” the 49ers said in a statement Wednesday. “As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow. It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned.”

General manager John Lynch said the team will continue to monitor the misdemeanor gun charge which has not been ruled upon as of yet.

Here’s a doozy, Judge Klippen on physical evidence: “There is not one photo consistent with the complaining witness’ account to suggest she was punched in the face 10 times. No broken bones, no bruises. In fact, (Ennis’) abrasions were more consistent with the fight in the video”

Manziel opted to played now, even if it meant committing to the CFL through the conclusion of its 2019 season. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Manziel signed the standard CFL deal, which gives the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a one-year commitment and an option for a second.

This doesn’t mean the two-year rule won’t change. It also doesn’t mean it will, but the possibility lingers that the CFL will react to the emerging American developmental leagues (the Spring League, the Alliance of American Football, and the XFL) by providing greater roster flexibility in the hopes of getting players to choose to play in Canada.

Even if Manziel were to secure the ability to leave the CFL after one year, it doesn’t mean he would. If the choice comes down to playing in Canada or simply being on a roster in the NFL, Manziel possibly would decide to continue to stay in the league where he gets to actually play the game. (He also could choose, if he ends up with the ability to exit the CFL after one year, to spend 2018 in Canada and early 2019 with the AAF.)
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Rams trade Tavon Austin to Cowboys

Tavon Austin‘s days with the Rams have come to an end.

Austin, the receiver/runner/returner who has played his entire five-year career with the Rams, was traded to the Cowboys today.

The Rams traded up to the eighth overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft to select Austin, but today all they got for him was a sixth-round draft pick, No. 192 overall, from Dallas.

Although Austin has the speed and elusiveness to make big plays, he hasn’t made enough of those big plays. Last season he managed just 59 carries for 270 yards and 13 catches for 47 yards.

Richardson lasted two years with the Colts and then disappeared, becoming the first player in history to be a first-round bust for two teams.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that this is where GM Ryan Grigson most screwed the pooch, but much of the NFL was smitten with Richardson when he entered the league in 201Grigson, whose Colts were arguably just a tailback away from Super Bowl contention, bet that a change of scenery and a backfield shared with Andrew Luck would flip Richardson’s switch.

Fast-forward to 2017 and the schematic designs put forth by Sean McVay, Fisher’s replacement. McVay not only gave the Rams a new and much-needed face of the team, but he also gave Goff a playbook that was both more complex and easier to digest. McVay presented the second-year quarterback with an easy first read on every play. As he got comfortable and confident, the coach helped him thrive in route concepts that opened the entire field up for him to see.

Goff’s touchdown rate went from 2.4 percent to 5.9 percent. His yards per attempt went from 5.3 to 8.0. He threw seven interceptions in both seasons, but he had just five touchdowns in his rookie campaign compared to 28 in his second.

It was one of the most impressive turnarounds by a quarterback in NFL history, and it should provide hope to Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who is heading into his second season. Trubisky was the second overall pick of the 2017 draft. In his rookie year, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes and threw seven touchdowns to seven picks in 12 games—not too different from Goff’s first NFL season.sabres_072

Tony Gonzalez: Jason Witten is a first-ballot Hall of Famer

Recent news that Jason Witten was considering retirement came as a shock. Now that it’s official, it’s time to reflect and line him up for future recognition.

The greatest tight end to play the game (don’t @ me), Tony Gonzalez, came strong with a very possible prediction: Witten is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Because this is unpredictable, never-desperate New England, it could blow up that plan and go defense back-to-back with its two first-rounders.

At linebacker, based on where the Pats are picking, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans will present appeal. At cornerback, based on another Belichick college connection, Iowa’s Josh Jackson will get consideration should he remain available, with UCF’s Mike Hughes as another reasonable option.

Should the Patriots go offensive line in Round 1, the idea of taking Miller could go out the window if Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey is available at No. 23. At defensive line, Ohio State end Sam Hubbard is their type of guy they could take at No. 31. At wide receiver, SMU’s Courtland Sutton would be preferred over Maryland’s D.J. Moore.

The Patriots of late have not gotten much of an impact from the draft, as they haven’t had the necessary picks to manipulate the board exactly how Belichick would like. They wield that great power now, and everyone knows it comes with great responsibility. Don’t expect anything less than amazing when we look back on this transition class for New England five years or so later.

Mike McGlinchey is a good pick in theory. The 49ers need help on their offensive line to protect Jimmy G, and McGlinchey is a good enough player. But we are talking about value here and not many expected McGlinchey to be a top-10 pick (he went ninth).

From Luke Easterling at Draft Wire: “It’s understandable for the 49ers to want to protect their investment in Jimmy Garoppolo, but this feels like a huge reach. … there were so many better options on the board here. The 49ers could have gotten much better value at multiple positions on both sides of the ball here.”

Tight end Hayden Hurst went 25th overall to the Ravens, and PFF had him ranked 95th. That makes him a third-round grade selected in the first round.
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Why Gleyber Torres is a must-add in fantasy leagues

Gleyber Torres is the winner. In the race to the majors, Torres beat fellow top prospects Ronald Acuna, Nick Senzel and others to the show. The No. 2 prospect on my preseason top-50 list was called up to the big leagues on Sunday and could stay there for a while … if not indefinitely.

Torres, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, originally signed with the Chicago Cubs for $1.7 million as an amateur free agent in 2013. He immediately became one of the Cubs’ top farmhands and was the centerpiece of the Aroldis Chapman trade in July of 2016. The trade worked out for both teams: Chapman aided the Cubs in winning their first title in over a century, and the Yankees picked up a blue-chip prospect in Torres and re-signed Chapman in the winter.

“If you watched any of his film, it’s obvious he can extend plays with his legs and he can make all the throws,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the uncertainty about Patterson’s eligibility for the coming season didn’t affect how the team practiced this spring.

Lewis also hit his career high last season with 26 points in his eighth full campaign for Los Angeles.

The Kings were swept by Vegas in the first round of the playoffs.

A steady rain began to fall in the fifth inning, and that’s when Tampa Bay began pelting Cobb with hits to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead. C.J. Cron doubled in two runs , Brad Miller delivered a sacrifice fly and Wendle added an RBI single.

Sisco connected off starter Jake Faria in the bottom half, but Hechavarria restored the two-run cushion with a solo shot in the sixth.

Rookie Andrew Kittredge (1-2) got two outs in the fifth to earn his first major league win.

Baltimore’s Anthony Santander snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a second-inning double. … Wendle had his sixth multihit game of the year, including three in a row. … Adam Jones hit two doubles and now has 556 extra-base hits as an Oriole, one short of tying Boog Powell for fifth place on the team list.
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Regrading and re-drafting Round 1 of the 2017 NHL draft

It hasn’t even been a year since names were called during the 2017 NHL draft, but seasons are wrapping up everywhere. That gives us a chance to look back and see how some of the first-rounders performed in their “draft-plus-1” season.

Chris Peters ranks and evaluates the top 50 prospects in hockey in terms of long-term impact at the next level. Elias Pettersson, a 2017 first-round pick for the Vancouver Canucks, tops the board, but who follows?

Here’s a look at the 2017 draft with hindsight grades for how teams did and what a way-too-early re-draft might look like, taking into consideration a player’s entire body of work, including this season.

The Jets lead the Wild 3-1, with Game 5 scheduled for Friday in Winnipeg.

In a scoreless Game 4 late in the first period Tuesday, and with the Wild on a power play, Morrissey attempted to defend Staal in the slot in front of the Jets’ goal. In doing so, his stick caught Staal on the neck with significant force. There was no penalty on the play, but the NHL decided that the play was worthy of a suspension after a hearing Tuesday afternoon, and it announced the decision that night.

The NHL noted in its ruling that the front of the net is a place of “constant battle,” and sticks are frequently used by defensive players to establish position. To that end, they agreed with Morrissey’s argument that the contact wasn’t intentional, with an intent to injure. However, they said the height of his stick made this a “reckless strike to an opponent’s neck, with sufficient force to merit supplemental discipline.”

This is the first time Morrissey has been suspended or fined in his NHL career.

Following Lynch’s retirement after Super Bowl 50, he sat out a season and then signed with the Oakland Raiders. He reportedly accepted a $500,000 pay cut to remain with the team in 2018.

As Lynch sat out the 2016 season, the Seahawks finished 10-5-1 atop the NFC West, but lost in the divisional round to the Falcons. Last season, Seattle missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and have blown up a significant part of the roster in the offseason.jets_014

The NFL rulebook will now take a page out of the college book and be expanded to protect players further from helmet-to-helmet contact.

Among the examples from McKay of a newly illegal hit was the attempted tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier that ended his season in 2017.

Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb, who didn’t sign with the team until March 21, will pitch Wednesday in extended spring training in Florida. Manager Buck Showalter said the team will make a decision after that on whether he’ll join the rotation or wait another turn.

Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel was placed on the disabled list after the game. Gurriel, who had surgery on his left hand in February, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi in a few days. When Gurriel is healthy, he’ll serve a five-game suspension for a racially insensitive gesture he made toward Yu Darvish during the 2017 World Series.

The owners also approved closing an overtime loophole that could have been embarrassing had it ever occurred. Now, if the team that gets the ball first scores a field goal, then the opponent loses possession by an interception or fumble on its first series, the down will be permitted to run to its conclusion, including awarding points scored by either team during the down. Previously, the turnover ended the game regardless – even though the team getting the takeaway conceivably could itself turn over the ball on that play and see it returned for a score by the opponent.

Houston’s players, coaches and staff have plenty of company when it comes to World Series rings. The Astros are handing out 1,332 rings to various front-office members, medical staff, Hall of Famers, broadcasters and even seasonal associates. There are four tiers of rings, but the team wouldn’t say how much any of the versions cost.

The players’ rings are encrusted with 112 diamonds and also include blue and orange sapphires. Each ring has the phrase Houston Strong, which the team adopted in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and the inside of the rings display the results of each series in Houston’s playoff run.
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Super Bowl 2018 ratings: Overnight rating down 3 percent compared to Super Bowl 51

Despite the NFL’s declining ratings in recent years, the Super Bowl is consistently the biggest draw in American professional sports. Sunday night’s game was no exception, with the Philadelphia Eagles’ dramatic win over the New England Patriots getting a 47.7 overnight rating on NBC. The game peaked in the fourth quarter with a 52.2 rating.

Pink succeeded Luke Bryan as the most recent national anthem singer. Bryan sang the anthem before last year’s Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl in Houston.

For the Patriots, their game plan is to score points and make Foles beat them. Philadelphia wants to run the ball to control the clock. Look for New England to take away Philadelphia’s powerful rushing attack. Foles and Brady will play huge roles in this game.

We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went, Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview over All-Star weekend.

[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: ‘You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.’

This is the part that bit Bryant. When the ball hits the ground, it starts to shift around.

If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

Bryant did not regain control before the ball touched the ground. That was enough for officials to rule that this one wasn’t a catch.

In this case, there was a lot of ball movement when Bryant hit the ground. But it’s completely at an official’s discretion to decide how much movement is too much and when a player actually gains possession. Because of that, this rule will be controversial until the league finds a way to improve it.

“His first reaction was, `I’m OK, I’ll be OK,” Wolves forward Taj Gibson said. “But he was smiling. That was a big thing and it was a huge relief for everybody in this locker room. He’s a warrior so we’ve just got to hold it down for him.”jays_956_78942825b723dbc5-180x180

Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney has been put on paid leave after his ex-wife Jeanne filed for a protective order against him last week.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Hurney and his wife divorced in 2014, but she is alleging Carolina’s interim GM has been harassing her for years. She claims Hurney or his friends broke into her home and/or classroom and put post-it notes in one of her books with words such as “victim” or “terrorize.”

Nick Foles just threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns — and caught another score — to help the Eagles win Super Bowl 52 as game MVP. A quarterback who does something like that in the NFL’s biggest game, as Foles did in Sunday’s 41-33 victory over the Patriots, typically would be locked in as his team’s starter for the following season.

But most quarterbacks who do something like that are not viewed as a pure backup to a young franchise QB.

The Eagles don’t have to do anything with Foles soon, as he’s under contract for another year with a bargain $7 million coming his way. But as they get closer to the 2018 season and learn more about Carson Wentz’s recovery timetable from a knee injury, the Eagles’ good QB problem will get tougher.

Ballard offered no forgiveness or breaks to McDaniels — he simply said what he felt Wednesday and he kept it short and sweet.

“Let me make this clear, I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach (who) wants to be all in,” he said. “We’ve got work to do, I’m not … we have work to do and I want somebody (who’s) 100 percent committed to partnering with us and getting that work done.”

The Colts have a long way to go as an organization. Ballard has had one year at the helm as the team’s GM, franchise quarterback Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury, and the team was 31st in total offense and 30th in total defense.

A head coach may not have changed their fates immediately, but they thought they had their man and are understandably miffed at McDaniels for backing out of a contract both parties had agreed upon.

“I got a call Tuesday evening that he had changed his mind and was going in a different direction,” Ballard said. “And at that point I informed our owner, we informed y’all about where we were going and we’ll keep moving forward.”nike-youth-cardinals-021

The Thunder have a more legit chance.

And now there is Jones’s very public opposition to Goodell’s extension, which has persisted to the point that an attorney for the NFL wrote to Jones’s lawyer, David Boies, in a letter: “Your client’s antics, whatever their motivation, are damaging the League and reflect conduct detrimental to the League’s best interests.”

Jones told owners on the compensation committee, which is negotiating Goodell’s contract extension, that he’d hired Boies and was contemplating a lawsuit. In a letter written by a Cowboys attorney, Jones accused Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the chairman of the compensation committee, of misleading owners about the negotiations with Goodell.

Windhorst: I don’t know. So much will depend on how this season ends. There are plenty of people who operate in the league who swear he’s headed to L.A. However, that would buck a pretty significant historical trend. Top free agents don’t typically downgrade chances to win a title. The Lakers are very far from a title contender even if they add him.

Once again, Auburn president Steven Leath insinuated that Pearl was being less than forthcoming with the school’s internal investigation. ESPN reported in November that Pearl’s refusal to cooperate with Auburn’s internal investigation into his program could put his job in jeopardy.

“Bruce and his staff are doing a great job on the court,” Leath said last week, according to AL.com. “Clearly, Bruce knows that my expectation is that sooner or later he’s going to have to come in and talk to me and others on campus about what’s going on in the program, and we’re moving toward a solution on that, but that is an expectation.”

I’ll put that in your lap.’ There will be other ownership groups where there’s a family background or circumstances in their own beliefs where they will tell the GM and the head coach, ‘Hey, I don’t want us to take on Joe Mixon into our organization because I don’t want to have to answer the questions of why we took a player that did something as bad as he did when he struck the young lady there at Oklahoma.’ So to me, this is all about ownership, the relationship there and what they feel compelled to do.
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The Cardinals can look to the draft.

red_wings_015They’re slated to pick 15th overall this year. They’ll have plenty of competition, but they could also throw their hat in the ring for a high-priced free agent like Kirk Cousins.

Whoever does take over for Palmer in Arizona may do so without the man who’s been the heart and soul of that offense for the past 14 seasons. With Arians and Palmer gone, it won’t be a surprise if Larry Fitzgerald also opts to let the sun set on his NFL career.

“I’m really happy we were able to get this done prior to the start of the season,” Quinn said. “We never put a deadline on it, but this allows us to concentrate on the season with no distractions. These types of deals are not easy to do, but it came together pretty quickly in the end, and it took a lot of work on both sides. Happy to have our quarterback here through 2022.”

Quinn, of course, saw the benefit of quarterback stability during all those years he spent in New England. He knows you can’t put a price on it.

And maybe Stafford’s not Tom Brady, which makes him a lot like pretty much every other good quarterback in the NFL—needing the right mix of coaches and players and system to succeed. The good news is, with this piece of business out of the way, it’ll be easier for the Lions to get going in earnest at building that for him.

It’ll feel a bit strange to not hear Gruden’s voice on MNF next year, but we can rest assured that he’ll be in Oakland, coaching up Derek Carr and Khalil Mack on the art of the turkey hole.

The headline coming out of this week’s meetings was that the NFL would not consider changes to its policy on the anthem, and that the current rules language—that players should stand for the anthem—will remain in place. But the further-reaching result of the players’ meeting with owners and NFL execs might be that the group found its voice and forum in the room, and is now in position to continue to be heard.

Several players, in fact, communicated to the owners how much they enjoyed the conversation and that they wanted more players to have an open line of communication to the league’s highest levels. And I think what we learned is: mutual interest can be a powerful agent for change.