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Money game: Antonio Brown working system for new deal

Rumblings began to surface that Antonio Brown took note of the new money hitting the receiver market and would want to get in on it soon enough. Brown had just signed a five-year, $72.7 million extension a year earlier, but there was a vision.

Brown would cash in again.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Less than seven months later, Brown was posting pictures of agents Drew and Jason Rosenhaus working at a table at Brown’s home as the Steelers were inching closer to trading the All-Pro receiver. Drew Rosenhaus and Brown can hammer out parameters for a new deal with his new team — despite having three years left on his contract.6

To be sure, the notion that Brown sought a trade and publicly criticized his team solely over a new deal is misguided. Brown’s issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers mushroomed throughout the season, and Brown — tired of feeling like a scapegoat for the Steelers’ problems — sought a chance to remind people that he’s a transcendent talent, not a Steelers creation.

But the parallel of Brown’s impending uniform change and the lack of guaranteed money on his three remaining contract years is hard to ignore.

Brown, who calls himself an entrepreneur, used the turmoil as a contractual springboard.

He’s working the system.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The merits of Brown’s unpredictability over the past few months can be debated, but through the prism of NFL business, Brown is attempting to pull off something quite difficult — treating himself like a free agent in the middle of a long-term extension.

And he seems to be getting away with it. He made himself untenable in Pittsburgh, and he has made himself untenable elsewhere without new money.

Grading the Antonio Brown trade from Steelers to Raiders: Who won?

The Antonio Brown trade, at its core, is about money. It’s about a lot of other things — power, respect, aging and double standards all come to mind — but at the end of the day, this is a trade about money, which is why I didn’t think it was going to happen. I’m not sure there’s been a swap like this in recent memory, in which a superstar player on a veteran deal was dealt away in the prime of his career without offering his team any sort of salary-cap savings.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In making this trade now, the Steelers are passing up the opportunity to keep one of the five best wideouts in football on their roster for $22.2 million of cap space for the opportunity to eat $21.1 million in dead money on their 2019 cap and let that guy play for somebody else. Organizations only eat that sort of dead money when they have a player commit some serious off-field discretion (Junior Galette, Ray Rice), or if they’re rebuilding and dumping underwater contracts from the previous regime (Marcell Dareus), and that’s usually over two seasons.4

As a 30-year-old receiver who led the league in touchdowns last season, Brown is none of those things. For a team regularly in contention with an aging quarterback to willingly turn 11 percent of its salary cap into dead money requires a very specific, strange set of circumstances to go wrong. To make that decision and net a pair of midround picks is potentially unprecedented.

When it only appeared the Steelers were cranky about Brown, I assumed both sides would eventually work toward a resolution, mostly because it didn’t make financial sense for the team to tie up its cap space to let Brown go somewhere else. The point where things shifted was when Brown went onto social media and indicated that he also wanted a change of scenery. It wasn’t quite Terrell Owens doing sit-ups in his driveway, but Brown’s decision to go onto Twitter and call out Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do his situation any favors.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

In the process of trying to push his way out of Pittsburgh, Brown eroded the organization’s leverage. The Steelers spent the past two months publicly flailing, alternately leaking stories that suggested a trade hinged on getting a first-round pick, then suggesting it wouldn’t. They set a final offer deadline for Friday and then let that deadline come and go. After news conferences and statements from various levels of the organization seemingly contradicting each other, they were forced to settle for third- and fifth-round picks from the only team that seemed seriously interested in bidding for Brown throughout the entire process.

Imagine going 12 months back in time to tell the biggest Steelers fan you know that Pittsburgh traded Brown for two midround draft picks. Heck, imagine going back six months ago and telling the biggest Steelers fan you know that they would get worked in a deal by the Raiders.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proves at PSG he’s the only choice for Man United manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted recently that he wanted to “give the best job interview I could ever do” during his supposedly temporary spell as Manchester United manager. The Norwegian had already done that before his team stunned Paris Saint-Germain to qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals, but this historic victory must surely now be followed by confirmation that he really is the man to take the job on a permanent basis.

Solskjaer really can do no more to earn the right to become Jose Mourinho’s full-time successor at Old Trafford after this, but with the result — a 3-1 win — and performance being played out in front of club owner Avram Glazer, former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Old Trafford icon Eric Cantona, it was a night that felt like a coronation.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

The next time United make a public announcement, it should be to tell the world that Solskjaer, currently on loan from Norwegian club Molde, is their new manager. If not, United supporters might just storm Old Trafford in protest, and honestly who could blame them.

When the 46-year-old arrived at Old Trafford last December, he was answering an SOS call from his former club, who were drifting badly off course in the Premier League under Mourinho.6

United were 11 points adrift of the top four, with senior players, most notably Pogba, at odds with the Portuguese boss and so badly out of form that a January clearout could not be ruled out.

Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, called on Solskjaer to steady the ship and try to salvage something from the season while the club searched for and appointed an experienced manager to repair the damage caused by Mourinho. Mauricio Pochettino was top of Woodward’s list. The Tottenham manager was the only serious name in the frame, but Solskjaer not only got on with the job, he repaired the broken dressing room, restored belief among the supporters and put a smile back on the club’s face.

The results came immediately and they haven’t stopped, with only PSG beating Solskjaer’s United — 2-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford — during an incredible run of 14 wins in 17 games.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

But nobody outside of the United dressing room really believed they had a chance of overcoming PSG in the Parc des Princes. Inspired by Kylian Mbappe, the French champions destroyed United at Old Trafford in a 2-0 victory last month.

Gerrard advises Liverpool to ‘believe in yourselves,’ admits title won’t close his personal ‘wound’

Jurgen Klopp’s current group of players now sit second in the table, a point behind City, after losing momentum since starting 2019 seven points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s men.

Gerrard, now managing in Scotland with Rangers, has been watching from afar as Liverpool’s title bid has faltered.

And with the club still looking to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, the former Liverpool captain admits he continues to be haunted by 2014.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“It doesn’t affect how I feel towards what I am looking in on now.

“I look at a squad of players, some of whom I am still friends with. I see a support that gave me absolutely everything from the terraces and around the world.5

“I just hope for their sake, and mine as a supporter, that come the end of the competition they are victorious. But it won’t make me or my wound feel any different.”

Gerrard won every major club honour except the Premier League during his illustrious Liverpool career, but while he insists that his other trophies help soften the blow of missing out on the title, the memory of falling short does not go away.

“I don’t just look back to that one game [Chelsea] or one campaign,” he said. “I don’t overthink and drive myself crazy over it.

“At the same time, I have been honest and open, it was such a big year. It was the trophy that eluded me, so of course I am always going to look back and wish it was different.

“If I had a choice of winning the Champions League or Premier League, I’d say the Champions League probably.

“But that doesn’t mean I didn’t crave a Premier League. It is such a big prize.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“But I don’t want to give the players a warning. Warnings seem critical or panicky.

“My advice, having been a player in that team and playing for those supporters for so long, would be don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it. Believe in yourselves.”

Extensions are MLB’s new normal. Are Bryant, other Cubs next?

Has there been a change in strategy around baseball? What used to be the goal of nearly every player — earning the right to choose which team he plays for — might now be less appealing. From Nolan Arenado to Aaron Hicks, young players are beginning to see the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. It means signing extensions with their current teams could be the norm more than the exception.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“Of course there’s some hesitation that goes along with it [free agency],” Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant said recently.

Pitcher Kyle Hendricks added: “We’re paying attention and taking note of what’s happening. Regardless of all of that, I’ve always said I would love to be in Chicago for my whole career. I know how tough that would be in this day and age.”6

The Cubs are an example of a team that has been unable to sign any of its young players. But it’s not for a lack of trying. Past discussions haven’t resulted in a single long-term deal for players such as Bryant, Hendricks, Javy Baez and Kyle Schwarber. Common thinking is players want to test the free-agent market, figuring they can’t do worse when all 30 teams can bid on them.

At least, that used to be the thinking. It still might be for stars such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but that leaves many others wondering about the free-agent landscape before the collective bargaining agreement expires in a little less than three years. After all, it’s March and there are plenty of players without jobs.

“We’re all watching what’s going on,” one agent for a second-tier type player said. “I wouldn’t say our strategy has changed. But it could. And it it’s different for every player.”

Union chief Tony Clark said the message from players is loud and clear: They want to see all 30 teams trying to win every year. If that were the case, the 30- to 32-year-old veteran might be more in demand.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“The value for players that can help teams win doesn’t seem to be what it should be,” Clark said last week after visiting with Cubs players. “It appears that there are a number of teams who are working toward and interested in being the last team that’s standing, and there are a number of teams that don’t appear to be quite interested in that.”

‘Cody’s gotta be our guy’: Bellinger ready for star turn in L.A.

Cody Bellinger got pitched to differently and struggled initially. The month of May was coming to an end, the batting average was down in the low .200s and anxiety began to set in. The swing changes became constant and the answers remained elusive. Along the way — throughout a season that was superior to most but disappointing for himself — Bellinger realized he spent most of his life hitting without purpose. The “how” came so easily that the “why” never mattered.

This offseason was about changing that.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

It was about getting back to the mechanics that made him the National League Rookie of the Year in 2017, but also about understanding the elements that made all of it work so well.
“It’s an old Navy SEAL training technique,” Brant Brown, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ assistant hitting coach, said before a recent workout. “In times of stress, you don’t rise to the occasion — you revert back to your training.”5

Bellinger finished the 2018 season with 4.2 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement, a mark that was topped by only 30 position players. He reached base 34 percent of the time, displayed Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field and was among the game’s most effective baserunners. But his OPS dropped by 119 points, from .933 in 2017 to .814 in 2018. His slash line against lefties fell from .271/.335/.568 to .226/.305/.376, turning the left-handed-hitting Bellinger into a platoon player for the final two months of the season.

“Going forward,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “Cody’s gotta be our guy.”

Bellinger will return to an everyday role in 2019, spending most of his time in right field while also filling in at his more natural position of first base.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“That’s big,” he said, “but I also have to go out there and prove it.”

Brown initially pushed Bellinger away when he approached him about improving in 2019. The 2018 season had not yet concluded, and Brown wanted Bellinger to focus on finishing. Bellinger touched base again at the onset of the offseason, then took a month off and got to work in December, alternating his work with Brown in Arizona and new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc in Los Angeles.

They uncovered video of Bellinger’s plate appearances from the 2016 Arizona Fall League and throughout the 2017 season, then split-screened it with those from 2018 and analyzed the differences. They found that Bellinger was no longer applying enough pressure to the ground. He was standing too tall and straight-legged, making it difficult for him to halt momentum once his swing began. He also wasn’t efficient enough getting into his swing path. “Too elbowy,” as Brown put it.

Rocket climbers: Houston’s journey up the West standings

The Houston Rockets didn’t want to hear about the standings Tuesday night.

Sure, it was nice to get some help across the border as they pulled off another impressive win, fighting off a comeback bid and finishing strong in a 107-95 win over the Toronto Raptors. As the Rockets were running up a 38-point fourth quarter, the clock was ticking down on the two teams directly above them in the Western Conference standings, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers suffering losses to lottery-bound teams (adding to the theme of the night, the West-leading Golden State Warriors also fell).cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Right now, the Rockets are playing as well as any team in the NBA. The roster has been shuffled since the start of the season — goodbye Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams, etc., welcome Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, Iman Shumpert — but the Rockets are finally performing at the elite level that was expected all along for a franchise that roared through last regular season and was a hamstring away from a title, as they like to say in Houston.6

Since that 11-14 low point, when the dysfunctional Phoenix Suns were the lone team the Rockets looked down on in the West standings, Houston has the NBA’s second-best win percentage (28-11, .718). Only the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks have been better.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Houston’s success for much of that stretch can be explained simply: Reigning MVP James Harden went on a historic tear. But that sort of one-man show isn’t sustainable for a title contender, as noted by Kobe Bryant, who won five titles when he had All-Star teammates but failed to lift the Lakers to elite status as a lone star.

Harden continues to put up offensive numbers that stack up favorably with the best of all time, but he doesn’t have to carry as heavy of a burden with Paul and center Clint Capela healthy, and the Rockets’ supporting cast clicking, settling into a comfort zone and embracing their complementary roles.

The win over the Raptors was evidence of that. Harden was off for most of the night, but Houston’s second unit tore up Toronto with Paul orchestrating. That’s the group that built a big lead in the first half and re-established command in the fourth quarter after the Raptors rallied.

Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Don’t sleep on the Grizzlies

In his 750th career start, Memphis’ Mike Conley scored 40 points for the first time as a professional on Tuesday night in downing the Portland Trail Blazers in impressive fashion. The performance marked just the second 40-point game by a Grizzlies player in the past decade and the first since Marc Gasol in January of 2017.

Conley isn’t the only fun story on this lottery-bound Memphis team, as trading Gasol to Toronto, among some other smaller moves at the deadline, created real value for several members of Memphis’ rotation.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Chief among these rising assets is Avery Bradley, who posted a modest 14-point line last night but has slashed for 17.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, and 2.1 3PG in 10 games, all starts, with the Grizzlies. While Conley is universally owned in competitive fantasy leagues, Bradley is found in free agency in 90 percent of ESPN leagues.5

The free-agent fun continues in Memphis with Delon Wright, sent over from Toronto in the Gasol blockbuster, as he’s averaged 21 points and 9.5 combined assists and rebounds the past two outings and can be found for the price of a few clicks in 98 percent of ESPN leagues. Even Joakim Noah flirted with a triple-double on Tuesday evening and is rostered in fewer than 10 percent of leagues.

In his last game against Denver on Nov. 27, LeBron scored 14 points, one more than he needs on Wednesday to move past Jordan for fourth on the all-time scoring list. The 14 points were a season-low at the time and are his second-fewest in a game this season. The only time James scored fewer against the Nuggets was on Nov. 5, 2003 — the fourth game of his NBA career.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Denver is looking to bounce back from a close loss to the Spurs, with passing maven Nikola Jokic poised as a top DFS play tonight, given the Lakers have been uniquely generous on defense since the All-Star break.

With Vikings not tagging Anthony Barr, what’s next?

The clock had been ticking on Anthony Barr’s time in Minnesota after last offseason came and went without the linebacker receiving a contract extension. Now that the franchise tag window has passed, both sides are set to go in separate directions with Barr headed toward free agency.

The Vikings’ decision to let their former first-round pick hit the open market is among the least surprising news ahead of the new league year. Minnesota’s financial situation is tenuous. According to ESPN’s Roster Management System, the Vikings currently sit with $5,263,899 in cap space. The fact there just isn’t enough money to fork up for the franchise tag (an estimated $15.8 million for outside linebackers) and later come to an agreement on a long-term deal wasn’t lost on Minnesota’s decision-makers.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Anthony was my number one pick as a head coach, right?” coach Mike Zimmer said at the NFL combine. “I love him as far as the things he does for the organization, the football team. It’s just really going to depend on where the numbers go. … But the way it is with the cap, we have to budget where we’re going. So if it goes to, if Barr gets paid $18 million, it probably ain’t going to happen, you know?”6

Depending upon where he lands in free agency and what his next role becomes, Barr’s market could command somewhere in the $12 million to $15 million range. His value in a 4-3 scheme as an outside linebacker might not be as high as it would be should he move back into a role where he primarily plays on the edge and rushes the passer, similar to the type of responsibilities he carried during his career at UCLA.

What we know is this: The Vikings need to find a replacement for one of their defensive staples. Despite an up-and-down season in 2018 hindered by a hamstring injury, Barr is a very good off-ball linebacker and situational edge rusher. He led all linebackers in pass-rushing productivity, according to Pro Football Focus, generating 23 pressures on 94 pass-rush snaps last season. He wrestled at times to emulate the 2015 version of himself where he rushed quarterbacks like a defensive end while covering the back end like a safety, and his coverage skills were often critiqued, but Barr played a critical role over five seasons in one of the NFL’s top defenses. During his time with the Vikings, Barr notched 13.5 sacks and 31 QB hits, forced seven fumbles and had an interception. His production is one thing, but the impact he had on this defense goes beyond tangible things like stats.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He has a really good grasp on what we’re doing defensively,” Zimmer said in December. “He has a good grasp on what the offense is doing. He can communicate to the defensive line and the other linebackers and I think that helps a lot to be able to do the things we are trying to do.”

Barr wasn’t necessarily a “scheme fit” when he was drafted in 2014, but he became what the Vikings needed him to be in Zimmer’s defense. Finding a player whose value can match the former first-round pick’s could come from a number of different places.

Healthy Bosa says going No. 1 would be ‘dream’

In one of his first significant public discussions since his college football career was prematurely ended by injury, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine that he is fully healthy and ready to be the top pick of the April draft.

“I’ve been talking myself up pretty good to [NFL teams],” Bosa said. “I’m ready to get on the field, get on the bench … and definitely leave no doubt.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Bosa said he will participate in a full workout Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium when the defensive linemen and linebackers will go through their on-field work. He added he will meet Sunday night with the Arizona Cardinals, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft. He said Friday he will meet with the other teams in the top eight of this year’s draft as well.5

Bosa’s junior season at Ohio State ended in September when he suffered a core muscle injury. He eventually withdrew from school in October to both rehab the injury and begin his preparation for the NFL draft in earnest.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native gave the most specific description of the injury to date Saturday, saying he suffered a “bilateral core muscle injury … it’s a groin, lower abdomen thing,” and noting that repairs were made to both sides of the injury. He said he knew immediately the severity of the injury.

“I felt it. I know what a serious injury is. I knew my season was in jeopardy,” he said.

He added that he has been training “at full speed” for about two months and that he felt 100 percent — “like myself” — for a few weeks.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Bosa suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Buckeyes’ Sept. 15 win over TCU and had surgery Sept. 20 to repair it. At the time, Bosa’s family had been given a recovery time of 12 weeks, so Bosa and his family made the decision to withdraw from school.