Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jets land Plaxico Burress

On Saturday the Jets announced that they had no intention of bringing back Braylon Edwards to the team; instead, Number 17 will be worn by former Giant Plaxico Burress.

Burress signed with the New York Jets in a one year $3 million deal to become the team's deep threat wide receiver this season.

Burress, who finished a 21 month sentence for shooting himself in a New York nightclub back in 2008, returns to New York as a Jet.

Burress met with Giants coach Tom Coughlin on Friday, and it was reported that it was a good meeting between the two.

However, Burress always felt uncomfortable around Coughlin, not taking well to the coach's disciplinary ways, harboring a strong desire to rebel against him: he was always late to meetings, and, at times, he lacked a strong work ethic on the field and in practice.

While some in Giants circles wanted Burress back, some didn't, especially Eli Manning who never called Burress to recruit him back to the Giants, and, when asked about it, Manning would discount Burress' possible return.

Now Burress will team up with fellow ex-Steeler Santonio Holmes to give the Jets an intriguing tandem at wide receiver. While he is older than Edwards, Burress is virtually the same player. A tall, lanky receiver with the ability to stretch the field. While Edwards made some clutch catches last season, he was never a sure bet to do so consistently, whereas Burress has a history of clutch catches, including a game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.

Whoa; the Jets now possess two receivers who each won a Super Bowl. Pretty, pretty good.

Burress only got a one year deal, considering he is 34 years old and no sure bet to reclaim his old prowess, but if Burress does resemble the guy who lit it up earlier in his career, the Jets will probably extend his contract.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nnamdi Asomugha signs with Eagles

BREAKING NEWS:

Prized free agent corner back Nnamdi Asomugha has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. This was the team that many thought that would sign him when the lockout was in place.

The Eagles hid in the weeds, as it was speculated that the Jets and Cowboys were the favorites to land him.

Now the Eagles have a sick secondary with Asomugha, Dominic Rogers Cromartie, and Asante Samuel. Wow.

Jets out of Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes

The Jets are no longer in the sweepstakes for Nnamdi Asomugha according to NFL Network.

The former Raiders cornerback dragged the Jets along all week long, to the point that Gang Green was risking the possibility of losing out on its most important free agent pursuits --- its own players.

The Dallas Cowboys have heard two things. One they heard that they are the team, and they have also heard that they are out of the Asomugha sweepstakes as well.

The Jets have to focus on their own players. They must sign Braylon Edwards, have to re-sign Antonio Cromartie, a defensive end and even a back-up quarterback. The Jets have bigger fish to fry. They really didn't need Asomugha. They had the top corner in the NFL in Revis, and all they needed to do was bring back Cromartie or a comparable cornerback.

Some Jet fans will be disappointed that they won't have the dynamic duo of Revis and Asomugha in their secondary, but fact is, banking $30 million in two players who play the same position would have crippled the Jets and the future plans. The Jets should consider themselves lucky that they are out of this thing, they should never have gotten into it to begin with.

Wide receiver and defensive end are bigger needs for Gang Green, and they have to fill out those spots immediately.

Jets vs. Cowboys for bid on Asomugha

A month and a half before they play each other on opening day, the Jets and Cowboys are going at in a bidding war for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

After the Houston Texans fell out of the bidding for Asomugha last night when the signed former Bengal Jonathan Joesph, it was assumed that the Jets and 49ers were the favorites for Asomugha's services.

Now it appears that San Francisco is out of the bidding, and in their stead the Dallas Cowboys have swooped in.

For the Jets, this situation couldn't get worse. Gang Green has made it their mission this week to sign Asomugha, even negotiating with him on Wednesday, and they have yet to hear back from him.

That is not a good sign for the Jets, considering the team has pushed its more valuable chips in Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie to the side to get this done.

It was stunning to say the least that the Jets decided to go so hard for Asomugha. They didn't have the money to make him the top corner in the NFL, and all indications were before free agency began Monday that the Jets would focus primarily on their own free agents.

They re-signed Holmes. Lost Brad Smith to the Bills, and could easily lose Braylon Edwards soon as well.

With the Cowboys now in the mix, you would have to think they would be the favorites to get Asomugha. Why? Because they are the Cowboys. They are Jerry Jones and his limitless amounts of cash, fame and fortune. They are America's Team. They are the star on the helmet. They are Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Jimmy Johnson and Tom Landrey. The Cowboys are tradition.

The Jets want to be America's team. Rex Ryan has tried so hard to make the Jets into that image the last two years, but alas they are the Jets for a reason.

If the Jets lose Asomugha, and lose Edwards, coupled with the loss of Brad Smith this off-season will quickly turn into a total PR disaster.

The Jets didn't need Asomugha. They have a shut down corner in Darrell Revis. They could have, and still can, resign Antonio Cromartie, who is a solid football player. They had other pressing needs like wide receiver, outside linebacker and defensive end. The Jets had only 32 sacks last year, not good enough for a team that is supposed to live on blitzing the quarterback.

Analysts have described all week how a tandem of Asomugha and Revis would allow the Jets to blitz more, and hit the quarterback more often. That remains to be seen.

The Jets put all their chips to the center for this guy, and now they have no choice but the land Asomugha.

It won't be hard for the Cowboys to sell Asomugha on coming to Dallas. The Cowboys can pay Asomugha what he wants, and they can provide him with a winning football team.

Asomugha is reported to make a decision later today, and it would be stunning if he is not wearing the silver star on the side of his helmet this season.

Jets lose Brad Smith to Bills

The worst case scenario for the New York Jets has played out with regard to wide receiver/kick-returner/quarterback Brad Smith.

The versatile football player will return to the AFC East this year, but not with the Jets. He will play for the rival Buffalo Bills this season, after growing tired of waiting for the Jets to come to him with a contract offer.

The Bills offered Smith three years for $15 million, and he will serve in various capacities for the Bills, from a return man to wide receiver and quarterback.

Don't be surprised to see Smith under center more often in Buffalo. The Bills quarterback situation is quite muddled with Tyler Thigpen and Ryan Fitzpatrick ahead of Smith on the depth chart. Smith has a big time arm, and his scrambling ability will make him a dangerous weapon.

While Smith had his moments with the Jets, he was underutilized with them. The Jets had a hard time finding the right schemes and packages to use Smith, and now under the tutelage of Chan Gailey, an offensive mind in Buffalo, Smith could really flourish.

Not signing Smith could be a recurring nightmare for Gang Green this year.

Giants retain Kiwanuka, Umenyiora to hold out


Mathias Kiwanuka will return to the Giants this season.

Big Blue and the defensive end agreed to brand two year contract, even though the deal is incentive laden, considering Kiwanuka's injury history.

Last fall Kiwanuka missed most of the year with a herniated disc in his neck, but is healthy now.
The Giants need Kiwanuka even more now, especially with Osi Umenyiora holding out once again because of his contract.

Umenyiora will hold out of camp this year until he gets a new contract. He did this once before, until ultimately getting a restructured deal. Perhaps it is time for the Giants to move on without Osi; Big Blue is usually laden with outside linebacker/defensive end talent, and they don't need this crybaby on the team.

Meanwhile New York continues to negotiate with Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith. They are all free agents, and it appears more and more likely that they will return.

If they do, this has been a fantastic job by Giants GM Jerry Reese. The Giants had 18 free agents, most of whom were key cogs to last year's team. Continuity will be a big part of who succeeds in this post-lockout NFL season, and the Giants are getting off to the right start.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mets near deal to trade Carolos Beltan

The Carlos Beltran era is almost over in New York, as the Mets are on the cusp of completing a deal to send the right fielder to the San Francisco Giants for Zach Wheeler and other prospects to be named.

Beltran has been the jewel of the Giants eyes for weeks now, which were heightened around the All Star break when Beltran was wined and dined by Bruce Bochey and the Giants, when Beltran traveled with the Giants contingent to Arizona.

The Giants need Beltran's bat in the middle of their lineup, they have one of MLB's worst offenses.

With Beltran in town, the Giants will be a huge favorite to return to the World Series. Beltran has solid postseason numbers. He is a lifetime .366 hitter in October with 11 homers and 19 RBI with a .485 OBP.

Beltran had a huge postseason for the Astros in 2004, carrying that team to the brink of the World Series that season. However in 2006 with the Mets, Beltran was best remembered for striking out looking against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in game 7 of the NLCS.

Beltran was underappreciated by the fans during his time in New York. A guy who came to the Mets with great expectations did a fine job in centerfield for the Mets, before injuries in 2009 and 2010.

Jets sign Santonio Holmes to five year deal


It is now official, the Jets will retain Santonio Holmes long term, after both sides agreed to a five year contract extension. Details of the deal are not available, but the Jets can rest easy knowing they have their number one receiver locked up.

Holmes became a crucial part to the Jets success last season, hauling in clutch catches and game winning scores like it was going out of style.

The former Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers, was the jewel of the Jets free agency plans all off-season.

Now the Jets are looking to re-sign the likes of Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards, and maybe maybe Nnamdi Asomugha, free agent cornerback of the Raiders.

Great job by the Jets for getting the deal done. There were concerns that the Redskins would nab Holmes, but when Washington re-signed Santana Moss, it was clear that Holmes' chances of remaining a Jet were very high.

Report: Jets talking to Holmes & Asomugha

Multiple sources are saying this morning that the New York Jets are busy talking to two of the NFL's biggest free agents.

First, and more importantly one of them is their own free agent in Santonio Holmes. ESPN reports that Gang Green is busy working with Holmes in contract talks. There is nothing imminent. Holmes was on the Redskins wire as their top free agent target, but Washington re-signed Santana Moss last night to a mega deal, which could put a damper on them signing Holmes too. We shall see, especially with Dan Snyder's pockets.

Meanwhile the Star Ledger is reporting that the Jets are in negotiations with Nnamdi Asomugha, the talented cornerback from the Oakland Raiders. Asomugha is considered the second best corner in the NFL behind Darrell Revis, and the Jets want to pair both of them together long term.

Asomugha is looking for a deal over $11 million per year, which is what Revis is making; the Jets probably don't want to exceed that much, especially considering how many more players they have to sign.

Still it is believed that Asomugha wants to play in New York, likes Rex Ryan and is a friend of Revis. Asomugha told an ESPN reporter that he wants to be an actor, and would love to play out his career in the Big Apple.

The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans will likely pay Asomugha a kings ransom, but money doesn't always buy happiness, does it?

It's hard to believe that the Jets can fit both Holmes and Asomugha under the cap. They will have to get really creative to do so. Mark Sanchez said he would be willing to renegotiate his contract to free up salary cap space, but who knows if that will be enough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Giants cut loose O'Hara and Seubert

In a move to get younger on the offensive line, the New York Giants released both Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert in the first of many moves by Big Blue today.

Both Seubert and O'Hara were mainstays on the Giants offensive line for the past decade, but last season dealt with various leg injuries that caused them to miss significant time.

The Giants are $6.1 million over the salary cap, according to ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton. O'Hara was due $3.45 million in base salary for this season. Seubert was scheduled to make $2.25 million in base salary. It is uncertain whether the Giants may bring one or both back at less money.

There is the chance that both players could return once the Giants get under the cap, however, getting younger is going to be very important for big blue. The Giants drafted only one offensive lineman in the draft, and the Giants will have to look around in free agency if they want to fill those key spots.

Seubert was huge for the Giants last year. He filled in at center when O'Hara went down, and did admirably. The Giants should look to bring him back, he's only 32. However the big concern here is whether he, or O'Hara would even be ready for opening day in Washington on September 11.

Management of free agency crucial to Jets success

For months we have heard how important this free agent period would be for the New York Jets when the lockout was lifted.

Well with the lockout a thing of the past, NFL teams are now welcome to begin signing free agents, as training camps begin to open this week.

The Jets don't open training camp until Sunday, and by that time this team could have a drastically different feel to it.

The Jets have 17 free agents, most notably Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, Antonio Cromartie and David Harris.

While Harris has a franchise tag, and is likely to return to Gang Green this season, the others are not.

Speculation is rampant that Holmes, the Jets number one free agent priority, is heading to Washington to play for the Redskins. Even though Holmes' agent says the wide receiver would love to return to New York, Washington owner Dan Snyder is notorious for nabbing Jets wide receivers, and is not shy about spending big money.

Lossing Holmes would be a disaster for the Jets. When the Jets got Holmes last year in a trade with the Steelers, they knew they were getting a very special football player, who won a Super Bowl MVP three seasons ago.

Holmes proved his worth, winning three games by himself last year, highlighted by last second touchdowns against the Browns and Texans.

The Jets have to keep Holmes. If there is one player on this market that the Jets should break the bank for, this is the guy. He is Mark Sanchez's go to guy in the clutch, and with him Sanchez only got better last season.

Then there is Edwards, who has said numerous times he like to remain a Jet. Question is will the Jets want him back. Edwards pleaded guilty to that DWI charge from last fall. Even though he only has to pay a fine, do the Jets still want a guy with such a checkered past signed to a long term deal?

Edwards is a solid player. He had a great year for the Jets, with over 900 yards receiving, and made some clutch catches to help win games last year. Letting him go, if the Jets can't keep Holmes would be a mistake. If the Jets can keep both Holmes and Edwards they would be better for it.

Cromartie has already stated that he doesn't intend on signing with the Jets, and will test the free agent waters. If the Jets lose Cromartie it could open up the door for Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha told ESPN that he is interested in New York, and the bright lights that come with the town. He is even said to be interested in acting after he retires, and of course New York is the media capital of the world.

I find this hard to believe. Asomugha is asking for a deal over $16 million per season. The Jets already have a ton of money wrapped in Darrell Revis, and spending over $35 million a year on two players who play the same position makes little sense. Even though Jet fans would love to see the games top two corner's on their team, it's highly unlikely.

If the Jets lose Cromartie and don't sign Asomugha, it's up to second year player Kyle Wilson to take the huggies off and begin playing at a high level.

Oh, and then there is Brad Smith. Almost forgot. Will the Jets forget about Smith.

Smith is a dynamic special team's ace for the Jets. He had two kick returns for touchdowns last year, and had a big touchdown return against the Colts during the '09 regular season. Smith's speed changes field position from a special team's stand point, and his ability to play both wide receiver and quarterback makes him extremely versatile and valuable.

Teams like the Patriots and Dolphins, who love using gimmick plays like the wild cat would be smart to lure Smith away from the Jets. That fear, should force the Jets hand, one would think.

The Jets can ill afford to lose Smith. As true as it is that any team can find a guy with speed, it's very hard to find a guy with game breaking ability like Smith. The Jets had a guy like that in Leon Johnson years ago, and let him walk, their special teams weren't the same for years.

If the Jets lose any of these guys, players like Plaxico Burress, Santana Moss (the former Jet), and Steve Breaston become that much more desirable. Sure there are a lot of good players out there, but the Jets should lean toward keeping what worked for them the past two seasons; why break up a good thing?

With lockout over, how will Giants manage free agent landscape?

The New York Giants are entering a critical juncture in their 2011 season, and the league year is only a couple hours old.

Once the lockout was lifted late Monday, all training facilities and football operations were back in business Tuesday morning, and teams are now free to begin signing their own free agents.

Every team has a plethora of free agent talent waiting to be signed, but right now the Giants are in a tough spot. With 16 free agents, most of whom are key contibuters to the Giants chances, Big Blue has to find a way to keep their stars in place.

Ahmad Bradshaw, the talented running back, who burst open as a starter with over 1,200 yards rushing is a free agent. The Giants liked employing the two back strategy, using Bradshaw as its primary back, and Brandon Jacobs as the change of pace back.

Jacobs, although a malcontent is still with Big Blue, but that might not be the case with Bradshaw. Rumors swirled last week that Bradshaw would sign with the Miami Dolphins, which would cripple the Giants running game.

Other backs who will be on the market include DeAngelo Williams of Carolina, Cedric Benson of Cincinnati, and Cadillac Williams of Tampa Bay. The Giants could pursue one of those guys, but they are better off trying to sign Bradshaw, since he knows the team, and with training camp beginning on Friday, there is a need for players to report on time.

Other free agents for the G-Men include Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka was injured last year, and the Giants still managed one of the games top defenses without him. Losing him is not a big deal, but if they can bring him back on the cheap they should do it.

Steve Smith, although I am not a fan of his, was a big target for Eli Manning in 2009, when he hauled in 107 catches for 1220 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year, an injury riddled year for Smith, he had 48 catches for 529 yards and three TD's.

The Giants should be able to retain Smith, but with better wide receivers available in free agency, the Giants should consider shopping around for another big target for Manning to throw to. Mario Manningham and Domick Hixon are nice receivers, but the Giants could use that dominating down field presence. Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, and some former Giant named Plaxico Burress are out there.

Then there is Kevin Boss. The second most important free agent for the Giants this season. Boss is Manning's security blanket. Whenever the quarterback was in trouble, he always found Boss down the middle somewhere for huge chunks of yards.

Even though Boss's statistics are not of the level of Antonio Gates, Boss is still very important to the Giants success. Look for Big Blue to spend big on Boss.

Can the Giants keep there key guys? Let the fun begin.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brett Favre set to join the Eagles?

Apparently the Philadelphia Eagles want to become the latest team that becomes a breeding ground for the NFL's escaped convicts and total morons.

We have grown used to the Bengals, Raiders and Jets for this distinction, now the Eagles are set to join them, especially if they convince Brett Favre out of retirement.

Yes, the same guy who can never say never to playing football, and loves to take photos of...ummm...himself could be wearing Eagle green in a few weeks.

And yes, the dog boy wonder himself, Michael Vick is endorsing the move.

Favre who has been silent on a possible return, would fit into the Eagles plans as a back-up quarterback to Vick, should they trade Kevin Kolb.

This would be the stupidest move in the history of the NFL.

Why would the Eagles, who have a terrible offensive line to begin with, hinge their season on Brett Favre, should Michael Vick gets injured? And trust me, Vick will get hurt especially with all the hits he takes on a night in-night out basis.

Favre is finished, done, kaput. He had to be dragged off the field last year in Minnesota, and he would be a disaster with the Eagles. If he thought Jets fans were rude to him, wait till he meets the Philly fans who will burn him alive if he fouls up!

I hope this is just a rumor -- the last thing any of us need coming out of the lockout is "Favre Watch IV - the City of Brotherly Love."

There are other back-ups out there for Philly to get; in fact they have a decent one in Kolb, if they decide not to trade him, which is highly unlikely.

NFL players finally agree to end lockout

The NFL lockout is now a thing of the past...finally and officially!

The NFL owners and players struck a deal Sunday afternoon to end the four and a half month long lockout, now all that waits is the ratification of the document on Monday and training camps and free agency are free to begin this week.

Owners tentatively agreed to a players-recommended plan for the NFLPA to bring players into team facilities starting as early as Wednesday to physically vote on whether to recertify the current trade association as a union, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton.

The players' executive committee will meet in Washington on Monday, a move that, according to a high-ranking NFLPA official, was not communicated to the NFLPA executive committee until Saturday morning via phone.

Following that, a recommendation has to be made by the 32 player representatives, likely via conference call. As of late Saturday night, no time had been set for that vote, but it is expected to occur Monday after the executive committee votes to recommend approval, according to the high-ranking official.

The executive committee is also expected to vote to recommend recertifying itself as a union, according to the source. A recommendation also has to be made by the 32 player representatives on that count.

When the executive committee accepts the new CBA, players from certain teams will be granted permission to report to training camps Wednesday...(ESPN).

With the lockout now over, now begins the process of seeing where 500 free agents sign this summer. Once the league year begins Monday night free agency will begin. It is believed that teams will have 72 hours to negotiate with their own free agents in hopes they can strike deals with them as soon as possible.

After that, players will be free to sign wherever they want. The Jets and Giants both have dozens of free agents set to hit the market. Stay tuned to Cohen's Corner for more details.

Friday, July 22, 2011

NFLPA says NO to new NFL CBA

Hold your horses everyone, before you go out and start hunting for tickets to football games this fall, the NFL lockout is still very much in place for the foreseeable future.

The NFL Players Association refuses to vote on the new CBA that was passed by the owners last night, claiming that the owners had changed several things in the proposal without consulting the players first.

The players also claim that the owners are violating federal law by proposing a 10 year agreement to recertification of the union, which would shield the owners from anti-trust litigation for the next decade.

"The owners hoped that call would end in a ratification vote, but it ended instead with the players breathing fire about a perceived last-minute power play designed to rush them into a quick decision or risk the wrath of public opinion.

So much for the owners' hopes of lifting the lockout for player workouts as soon as tomorrow and starting a shortened free-agency period next Wednesday,"(New York Post).

The players are currently looking at the new proposals by the owners, but they are not planning to vote or speak on the documents for a while.

In short it could be a week before the players vote on this new CBA. The players refuse to vote until they feel they get a CBA that they deem fair to their needs. If that's the case we could be looking at the cancellation of the entire preseason.

It took four plus months just to get to this point, and still people are not happy. Right now the players are the one's who look like the bad guys in this deal. They are getting 47 % of all revenue, which is less than the 53 % they got before, but considering this is a $9.3 billion pie, the players make out just fine in the new CBA.

The players are forgetting about the fans, forgetting about their fellow teammates who just want to play football, and the families they need to take care of. Of course any union will want to get the best deal for their employees, but this is getting ridiculous.

It appears that DeMaurice Smith is comfortable with having the season lost, and if it is, the blood will be on his hands.

Already the NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams -- and more games are to follow if this keeps up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NFL owners ratify proposal to end lockout

The 2011 season is set to begin after the owners ratified the new collective bargaining agreement by a vote of 31-0, with only the Oakland Raiders abstaining.

It figures that the Raiders would be the one team to not vote, considering how badly Al Davis has been running that franchise, but it is kind of surprising that all the other teams voted in favor of the CBA, considering the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals were all against the initial drafting of the CBA last month.

Now it is up to the players to ratify the CBA and the lockout will end.

There are still some difficulties in the way. The players have to recertify as a union, then they have to get all of the plantiffs in the lawsuits to agree to drop their charges. Once that is done, the players union will vote on the CBA, and pass it.

If the players pass the 600 page agreement as soon as possible, then the NFL preseason, especially the Hall of Fame game on August 7 will be saved.

There is a loophole, the players could report to training camp without the players agreeing to a global settlement of all legal issues, if the union recertifies first.

This opens the door to a wild and wooly free agent period that will begin next week after certification.

Over 500 players are set to hit the open market, and teams will have only 72 hours to sign their own free agents. The entire process will be a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis, pressuring players to agree to new team contracts as soon as they can. In the meantime training camp should open up no later than August 1.

The CBA in itself is ten years in length, running through 2023, and the salary cap for this year is $120 million. Also franchise tags will remain in place, meaning that the likes of Peyton Manning, Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins are bound to their contracts with their respective franchises.

If things all work out, the players can report to camp on Saturday, with free agency beginning on July 27.

NFL owners set to approve CBA

The NFL owners are in Atlanta tonight and are prepared to vote on the new Collective Bargining Agreement and will send it to the players to vote on it either tonight or tomorrow.

On Wednesday the players were expected to vote on the CBA, but didn't do it. The players have some obstacles in the way before the ratify the piece of NFL legislation.

The players have to vote on clearing past all lawsuits and settlements, such as Brady et al. vs. the NFL, then they have to agree to recertify as a union.

The players decertified in March as a move to sue the NFL at the beginning of this fiasco.

At 8 pm tonight the players are expected to hold a conference call where a vote could take place.

Keep in mind that DeMaurice Smith TKO'd all momentum today, when he said that there would not be a major announcement, and that recertifiy as a union is a big issue that has to be resolved.

Once the players recertifiy, if they do it today, tomorrow, or Saturday, then they can vote on the CBA.

"...the proposal will go to the 10 plaintiffs involved in the Brady antitrust case only if the league meets certain conditions in settling that piece of litigation, and also the TV rights fees case, in which players accused owners of setting up a $4 billion lockout-insurance fund.

The players also empowered Smith, their legal counsel and the 13-man executive committee to work out the remaining issues, according to sources. One is the players' pursuit of $320 million in benefits lost as part of the 2010 uncapped-year rules, which were negotiated in the 2006 labor deal.

Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have stayed in close, regular contact throughout negotiations, even at times when the parties weren't meeting. Throughout this week, for instance, Smith and Goodell have held after-hours discussions about the remaining issues, trying to bridge the remaining gaps and forge a global settlement, numerous sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora.

The good news is that, outside of a few minor issues, the players are amenable to terms that would serve as a new labor deal, should the NFLPA re-certify as a union. The Brady plantiffs -- which include quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees -- also would have to sign off for any settlement to be reached.

New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, two of the 10 plaintiffs, are holding strong to their request for $10 million as part of the antitrust settlement, sources told Breer on Thursday. That's one of a number of issues that relate to the plaintiffs in that case." (NFL.com)

Mankins, Jackson and Manning want to get ride of the franchise tags that are keeping with their team without guaranteed contracts. While Manning wants a long term deal in Indianapolis, which he will likely get once the season resumes, Jackson and Mankins want out. They want to be free of their contracts and become free agents.

If the franchise tags are banned in the new CBA, players with the tag will become free agents. Jackson would then become the big free agent target at wide receiver, not Santonio Holmes of the Jets.

So there are still plenty of issues that have to be resolved before the day is over, but, yes, football will be back in a matter of days.

Jets could lose both Holmes & Cromartie

When free agency begins next week after the new CBA is ratified by the players union and owners, the Jets could come up snake eyes when it comes to re-signing their most important players.

Reports have surfaced this week that the Washington Redskins are hot on the trail of Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is no stranger to nabbing ex-Jets, he did so successfully with Lavernous Coles, John Hall, and Santana Moss over the years, and now it appears he is ready to make Holmes one of the games top paid players during this blitzkrieg off-season.

Snyder loves to throw money around, even if the results blow up in his face. With the salary cap around $123 million for 2011, Snyder will have the cap room to make big moves this season, especially if the Skins let go of malcontent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

Meanwhile, Antonio Cromartie said that he will not sign with the Jets, when he is given 72 hours to sign with them in a "take-it-or-leave-it" negotiation.

Cromartie told Sirius XM radio on Tuesday that he plans on hitting the free agent market with an open mind, and has listed the Cowboys, Raiders, Texans and Buccaneers as teams he's interested in playing for.

So much for the powers of Rex Ryan.

Lockout or no lockout, this year's free agent class was going to be huge for Gang Green. They put all of their eggs into one basket last season, and they came up short, now it appears they won't be able to keep these top talents on the roster anymore.

On the bright side, with 500 pending free agents the Jets will have plenty of players to pick from, so who knows, they could look bad if they stand to lose their players, but come up roses later in free agency.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Knicks to host LeBron James and Heat in 2011-2012 opener

While the NBA remains in complete lockdown over their players/owners lockout, the NBA revealed its schedule for the 2011-2012 season, and with it, both the Knicks and Nets have some intriguing matchups for the new season.

The Knicks were resurrected last year with the additions of Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Even though they finished 42-40 and got swept by the Celtics in the playoffs, it didn't do much to dim what was a promising step forward for the Knicks.

For the first time in years, the Knicks were a watchable basketball team, and it should get better if and when the NBA returns later this year. Of course there are the front office issues, as usual, with the Knicks especially after Donnie Walsh left the team without an extension. Is this the return year for Isiah Thomas? I sure hope not.

Anyhow, the Knicks open the season in grand style with a matchup at the Garden on November 2 against the (cough ... cough) Miami Heat, A.K.A. the Kings of the Choke. That's right LeBron-a-mania, D-Wade and Chris Bosh will come to New York to renew the rivalry at the get-go. The Knicks will also welcome Oklahoma City into the Garden on Nov. 8.

The Knicks then play a brutal seven game road trip, five of which will be out West, including a November 17 match-up with the Lakers.

The Knicks visit the Nets on November 25.

On Christmas Day, expect a "green out" at the Garden as the Knicks host the Boston Celtics. We know the Celtics wear green. Will the Knicks wear those God-awful green Christmas/St. Patrick's Day jerseys? BLEECH!

Access the Knicks schedule here.

As for the Nets: will Darren Williams seriously re-sign with the Nets? Really!? Whatever happens in the CBA could determine how soon Williams can hit the free agent market. Currently he has one year left on his deal. If the season is wiped out, he will be a free agent when basketball returns. Let's hope it doesn't get that far.

As hard as it is to believe that Williams would even want to stay with a disaster as the Nets, or ... excusez moi ... Brooklyn New Yorkers as they are rumored to be named in two years, their schedule is now out.

The Nets visit Washington on opening night and host the Detroit Pistons on November 5 at Prudential Center. They will also welcome the World Champion Dallas Mavericks into Newark on November 9.

The Nets also go back to London next season; this time they will play the Orlando Magic in early March.

Access the Nets schedule here.

Devils name DeBoer new head coach

Peter DeBoer will be the latest person to call himself head coach of the New Jersey Devils, or at the very least, the latest to keep the seat warm until Lou Lamoriello changes his mind and fires him like he has done with just about everyone else.

DeBoer, 43, spent three years as head coach of the Florida Panthers, a team he never led to the playoffs. He hopes for a fresh start in New Jersey, taking over a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-1996 season.

It should be interesting to see how long DeBoer lasts, taking into consideration Lamoriello's impatient trigger finger. Case in point: they have had four different head coaches the last two years combined! In fact, the Devils have had only one head coach last more than three years: Pat Burns 2002-2005.

DeBoer shouldn't get too comfortable, if you know what I'm sayin'.

Friday, July 15, 2011

NFL Lockout could be over by next week

In a extremely fast turnaround, NFL owners and players have gone from canceling the entire pre-season to possibly ending the four month long lockout as soon as early next week.

Sources say today that both sides are moving closer to a completed deal that will take effect almost immediately, and bring football back. When the league announces that the deal has been struck, free agency will begin almost immediately, with training camp following.

The new CBA will be 7-10 years in length. Issues that could be holding things up are resolution in the Brady et al vs. NFL lawsuit.

On Thursday the two sides agreed to a new rookie wage scale. Another hurdle they agreed on was a $120 million salary cap for this up coming season.

ESPN reports that they will put together the paperwork over the next two days, and then head to Minnesota to work with the judges to end the litigation process that submerged this lockout into very bleak conditions.

By Thursday of next week , after the players and owners ratify the new deal the 2011 season could begin.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mets trade k-Rod to Brewers


The first chip has fallen for the New York Mets this evening.

While the NL was busy beating the AL in the All Star game 5-1, the Mets pulled off their first trade of this busy July 31 trade deadline, by shipping troubled closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named and cash.

Rodriguez will not close for the Brewers, but will instead set up for John Axford. Milwaukee was one of the destinations that K-Rod had no power to veto, making it easier for the Mets to get rid of him and his vesting $17.5 million option. This means that he will become a free agent after this season.

Rodriguez wore out his welcome in New York when he beat up his ex-girlfriend's father outside Citi Field, leading to his arrest.

He pitched well this year, but it was clear the Mets wanted him off the team.

Next up is Carlos Beltran and possibly Jose Reyes, who will be dealt this month as the Mets try to cut payroll because of their bankrupt ownership.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fan who caught Jeter's 3000 steps up to plate for Jeter

When Derek Jeter's 3000th hit landed in the stands, it was a question of who caught it, and what he would do with the ball. Would that person hold the ball up for big money? Would he try to keep it?

Thankfully, 23 year-old Christian Lopez didn't leave us hanging for long. Lopez did the right thing and willingly gave Jeter the baseball. He didn't want any money, didn't want any glory, he just wanted to reward Jeter for a career of hard work.

"He deserves this; he's worked hard for this . . . I'm not the type of person to take this away from him," Lopez told Michael Kay during the YES Network broadcast.

Lopez, who works for Verizon Wireless, got the magical game tickets from his girlfriend.

Lopez will get four passes to a suite for the rest of the regular season, including post season and World Series tickets. He will even get front row tickets to Sunday afternoon's contest in the Bronx.

Don't think the accolades will stop there. WFAN wanted to interview Lopez earlier this evening, so expect to see a lot of this young man in the coming days on radio and the morning show circuit. Maybe even a new career can come out of this; who knows?

Meanwhile, Jeter capped his grand day going 5-for-5 and now has 3,003 hits in his career. Oh, and the Yankees won 5-4.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mr. 3000, Derek Jeter joins prestigious club

Some players shrink under the pressure of a milestone, going on long hittless droughts before they finally get that magic hit. Whether it be 3,000 hits, 400 or 500 homeruns. Consistently we see players choke up on the bat as they approach that milestone.

Not Derek Jeter.

Not the man who made pressure situations look routine through the course of a 16 year major league career, that includes five World Series rings and a World Series MVP in 2000.

After singling in the first inning to capture 2,999, Jeter didn't let the sell out crowd at Yankee Stadium wait too long for that magic 3,000th hit.

With the Rays leading 1-0 in the third inning, Jeter cracked a no doubt-about-it homerun into the the left field bleachers to tie the game and capture his 3,000th hit.

Three men battled for the ball, and at this point it is unknown who has the ball, and whether or not Yankee Stadium security found that person to retrieve the ball for Jeter.

After crossing home plate, Jeter was mobbed by his Yankee teammates, then gave two curtain calls to the crowd after the blast. WATCH HERE!

In a way, the homer was the only way Jeter could get that hit. He has made a career for the dramatic, and for a guy who is not a power hitter, seems to always get the big hit for homeruns when it matters the most.

Jeter joins a select group of players that includes, Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey Henderson, Hank Aaron, Stan "The Man" Musial, and Roberto Clemente of players who have hit this incredible milestone.

In fact Jeter is the first player in a Yankee uniform to accomplish the feat. Even though Wade Boggs, and Henderson both played for the Yankees, neither got the mark in Yankee uniforms. Bogss got 3,000 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Henderson as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Someone buy that man a beer; congratulations to the Captain of the Yankees!

Derek Jeter one hit away

In the first at bat of today's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Derek Jeter lined a single to left center to capture his 2,999th career hit.

He is now just one hit away from 3,000.

Yankee Stadium stood up and cheered each pitch during the eight pitch at bat against Rays' ace David Price.

The game is scoreless in the bottom of the first inning.

So much for the weekend; NFL Lockout meetings pushed back to Monday

Hence another example why optimistic rumors from this insane NFL Lockout should be taken with a grain of salt.

For the past week, the NFL spewed out information that the owners and players were very close to putting an end to the lockout and that discussions would continue through the entire weekend.

Well, late Friday word comes out that the discussions have become "frustrating" as "little to no progress has been made on the core issues," according to NFL.com. That means that the players still feel they are being cheated out by the owners when it comes to revenue, and that there are still owners who feel they aren't making enough money.

Now what appeared to be the end of the lockout will continue deep into next week, most likely, with talks now set to resume Monday morning.

Most of the owners have enforced a strict July 15 deadline to get a deal done. If a new CBA is not reached, then summer training camp and pre-season football will likely be canceled.

The NFL is now in total panic mode as they try to find common ground, but after four months of constant arguing over $9 billion, it would be stunning to say the least if both sides suddenly come to an agreement and save the summer.

If the summer schedule is lost, it will cost the league $1 billion in revenue, and both sides would have to start over again in negotiations if they want to save the regular season.

This is a total fiasco. It appears more and more likely that we are destined to have a fall without NFL football for the first time since 1982 when the league played only nine games that year. In 1987, the NFL used replacement players for a few weeks.

However a total wipe out of the NFL schedule from week 1 of pre-season to the Super Bowl would be unprecedented. The NFL has never had a year where they didn't have a season, and in a time when the league is more popular than ever...canceling the season would prove costly, and I don't mean just financially.

The NHL has never recovered from their lockout in 2004-2005. Hockey was the least popular sport to begin with before their lockout, now people don't even pay attention to it.

It took 10 years for the NBA to recover from their lockout in 1999, and now they are under lock down again.

Major League Baseball never truly recovered from the 1994 lockout that canceled the second half of the season. MLB was America's National Pastime, and since 1994, the NFL has replaced it as number one in American culture. Baseball used the steroid era to catapult it's way back into America's sub-consciousness.

If the NFL is willing to risk their popularity in this country, they will regret for years to come. With this lockout, and the ever present reality of Personal Seat Licenses, fans will stop coming to football games. Maybe then the owners and players will finally get it -- nobody wanted this lockout in the first place, except them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Court throws out injunction to end NFL lockout

Of what should be of no surprise the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out a ruling to lift the NFL Lockout, citing that the NFL conducted the appropriate measures in locking the players out of the league due to no new CBA.

Where does this leave the NFL, its players, owners, and fans?

Well, both sides have to continue to negotiate. That's it.

Both sides have been meeting as recently in New York City, and plan to meet through the weekend to hammer out a possible deal.

The huge point of contention has been revenue sharing. The owners initially agreed to share moneys 52-48 with players getting only 48 % of revenue. However, once the NFLPA calculated the funds they would receive, it came out to less than 45 % of actual revenue, causing the discussions to fall apart last week.

Both sides feel a ton of pressure to get this deal done. Rumors are that Tuesday or Wednesday of next week could be the final days to hammer out an agreement.

If the two sides don't have a deal in place by next week, training camp and pre-season are at risk of being lost, and with it, millions of dollars in possible revenue for both sides.

It appears that something will get done, although no details have been leaked out to the media, other than optimistic talk. Then again, we have heard optimistic talk for four months, and the lockout has been going on for 115 days.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mets' short stop Jose Reyes will hit the Disabled List

Only the Mets would do something this sneaky as a way to decrease the value of their superstar short stop.

When Jose Reyes strained his hamstring, Saturday night against the Yankees it was not a good sign, at least for the on-the-field play of the Mets. Reyes, who is hitting .354, is having the year of his life, and has been a catalyst in the Mets surprisingly good season thus far.

Even though the Mets haven't missed a beat over the past four days, winning the finale against the Yankees, and three in Los Angeles to climb to a season high three games over .500, they would love to have Reyes in the lineup.

The Met aren't ready to DL Reyes. Reports from ESPN state that the Mets will try to keep Reyes active, with the hope that he is ready for their season against Philadelphia after the All Star Break. In a way the injury comes at a good time, with teams set to break up for four days for the All Star festivities. Thus giving Reyes more time to rest and heal.

Still the injury is a growing concern. Reyes has a history of leg injuries, including an oblique injury that sidelined him for most of the second half last year.

With this injury Fred Wilpon looks like a big winner in this whole thing. With Reyes injured and with the team in slight contention, the team will not trade Reyes come July 31. When free agency starts in November, and depending on the severity of this injury, it could be a damper on Reyes' ability to snag upwards of $120 million as a free agent.

Teams get very wary of players with injuries, especially players who rely on their legs to make plays both offensively and defensively.

The longer the injury keeps Reyes sidelined the better it is for the Mets front office, and long term future. The odds that Reyes will get top money from somebody like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and, hell, even the Nationals decreases. That doesn't guarantee that Reyes will remain a Met past this season, but it give New York some bargaining power.

Fearing the worst, Reyes' agent has requested a second opinion on the hurt hammy -- he doesn't want to see his prized short stop lose out on making it big in free agency. The question is will the Mets DL Reyes and keep him there for three or four weeks, even if he is healthy, even in spite of what he can bring to the table now for a team six games out of the wild card, just to make sure it will make him cheaper come November?

Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brett Favre...you guessed it...ready for another return

Ahhh, what is a summer without the, now, annual Favre Watch.

Brett Favre might be getting that itch to make a return to the NFL, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.

Brandt believes that Favre is looking forward to the idea of another comeback, possibly with the Vikings, who drafted Christian Ponder in the draft, and still have Joe Webb, who impressed down the stretch last season.

It's hard to believe that any team would be interested in the 42 year old quarterback, who ended his iron man streak of consecutive starts last December because of a shoulder injury. Favre looked like a defeated old man, and any team that brings him in would risk hurting the development of any young quarterback.

Rumors have also spread that Carolina, Minnesota, and an NFC West team (think Arizona, or San Francisco) would be curious about Favre. I doubt Carolina will go for him, considering they drafted Auburn's Cam Newton. San Fran and Arizona would be the best places for Favre to go, especially the Cardinals who have a talented team, but need a QB to orchestrate the whole thing.

Plus, there is the lockout. With negotiations getting bleaker and bleaker by the day, it looks like pre-season will be get cut short, or canceled all together. We know Favre doesn't like training camp, but I don't think any team will try to squeeze him in in the last minute among the hectic schedule of a blitzkrieg off-season, if there is one.

I wouldn't count my chickens on this story -- probably just a rumor, but an interesting one at that, because with Favre -- never say never!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Six Yankees, two Mets qualify for All Star Game

Another annual addition of the idiotic MLB All Star Game has its rosters set, and to say the least the American League leans heavily toward the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are sending a league high six players to the Mid-Summer Classic. Derek Jeter, who is injured is scheduled to start at short for the AL, while Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano round out the All Star infield. Curtis Granderson who is having a monster season with 21 homers is the starting center fielder for the AL.

Mariano Rivera will make his annual return to the game as the league's closer. Russell Martin, who has play surprisingly well for the Yankees this year, will be the All Star reserve at catcher.

Meanwhile the Mets are sending only two players to the game, two players, ironically, who probably won't be on the team by the end of the month in Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Reyes who is first in the NL in most batting and on base categories has put together an MVP type year in the walk year of his contract.

Beltran, who is also a free agent, has 11 homers and 53 RBI in his first year after a knee injury sidelined his 2010 season.

Friday, July 1, 2011

REPORT: NFL negotiations are trending "backwards"

So much for all that good will and happiness that was supposidly going on in the NFL.

When the owners agreed to divey up a contract that would pay the players far less than what they were making the previous five seasons in the revenue stream, you had to figure that a quick resolution was too good to be true.

Well, as it turns out the players are upset yet again.

"Players calculate that under the owners' proposal, it would leave them with approximately with a 45 percent take on revenue, an "unacceptable" amount that one player source said "sets us back to March 11 ... before the lockout"(ESPN).

Apparently...

"Player sources contend the owners' terms changed when the two sides convened a day after owners met June 21 in Chicago. A source said the players went into Thursday's negotiating session with owners at the table, hoping to "get them back on track. They wouldn't move. It's disappointing"(ESPN).

So here we go again. While players and owners are supposed to meet yet again in Minneapolis today, chances are the self imposed deadline by some of the owners to have a deal in place by July 5 is looking pretty bleak.

The players feel they are being screwed by the owners and they certainly are. 48 percent of revenue, no matter how you slice was going to be a hit to the players bank books. Add on top of that the calculations by the owners (i.e. a tax) the players are making only 45 percent. That is a whopping eight percent less than they were making over a year ago.

Don't expect a resolution any time soon.

Mid to late July is now all we can hope for to have this CBA settled. It is comical in a way, considering the NFL has the longest off-season (seven months) of any sport in the country, and yet they can't come to terms on anything.

The first preseason game is a month away, and training camp is schedule to start in two and a half weeks! Say good bye to all of that if these two sides can't agree on a 50/50 split of the pie.

NBA joins the NFL as basketball locks out its players too

Well, now two major professional sports are on lockout mode.

The NBA joined the NFL in locking out its players from all team facilities for the foreseeable future after the NBA's collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight, July 1.

The NBA, which had its most successful season in years, maybe even in a decade since the last NBA lockout in 1999, is now in as much limbo as the NFL is right now.

"We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game. It just wasn't a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn't one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete."

While the owners and players, again, battle over the share of billions of dollars, fans, sponsors, businesses and the journalist professions, in general, all lose out.

Fans who have been paying big bucks to go to NBA and NFL games for years upon years have to sit and watch billionaires and millionaires duke it out to see who will make even more money. What hurts even more is the fact that the NFL is still in limbo.

Even though the NFL keeps sending out missives that an agreement is coming soon, their self-imposed "deadline" to have an agreement in place by July 5 is coming nearer and nearer by the day, and it is looking less and less likely that any agreement will come in the next week or two for football to resume.

Without the NFL and NBA, imagine what it will do this already fragile economy. Many NFL teams laid off hundreds of workers, and asked many more to take unpaid furloughs. NBA teams will likely do the same thing.

Sponsors like Budweiser, any car company you can think of, like GM, Ford, and Toyota bank on football and basketball to draw in big bucks for their commercial products. They are already on pins and needles with the NFL lockout, now they are on a bed of nails with this latest development for the NBA.

NBA free agency which was scheduled to begin July 1 has been put on hold. The NBA summer league has been canceled and preseason games haven't been scheduled.

Unlike the NFL which has a full seven month off-season, the NBA only has two and a half months to their off-season program. Basketball season usually begins in September when players return to gyms for training camp, with the opener usually starting in mid to late October. Now that's all in jeopardy too.

Roger Goodell and David Stern can tell you all they want that they care about their sports, and the fans, but let's face it they are pawns to the owners. The owners don't give two fiddle sticks about the fans and their feelings.

The NFL and NBA are businesses, and like any other business in a capitalist society, if the owners feel the need to lock out it's employees they have every right to do it. That is why the NFL players, who decertified are having a difficult time winning court battles with the Circuit Court of Appeals, because the owners haven't done anything illegal -- especially if the players (employees) can't agree on a new deal, and decertify themselves as a union.

It is not known at this point whether the NBA players union will decertify as well; negotiations will likely continue and be heated for about a month or so, before any rumors of decertifications come up, if it does at all. Hopefully it won't get that far.