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Chiefs waive running back George Atkinson

It wasn’t clumsy or circuitous, and now the wisdom of it will be determined on the field. The need remains the same, regardless of who’s cursing them out, picketing or boycotting games.

The Ravens need a reliable backup, just in case. And they need Flacco to make sure they never need to call on the backup.

The Seahawks released the backup quarterback Tuesday, hours after he was accused of domestic violence by his longtime girlfriend, Shabrika Bailey.

Dallas’ WFAA-TV reported that Bailey said he choked her to the point of blacking out last week and that her mouth had to be wired shut after he broke her jaw in two places.

Per the police release:

“On March 21, 2018 Mansfield Police Officers were called by Parkland Hospital staff in Dallas, Texas regarding an alleged assault which was said to have occurred in the city of Mansfield, Texas. Officers responded and met with the victim who provided a statement about an assault that occurred in 2300 block of Richmond Circle in Mansfield.”

Bailey, who said the pair have been in a relationship since they were in high school, told WFAA an argument began at his home in Mansfield, Texas, after she wouldn’t let him see a text message.

In addition to sharing your thoughts, cast a ballot via the PFT Twitter page as to who won. Unless you plan to vote for Simms.

“That is pretty special,” the Oilers captain said. “That is some pretty good company to be a part of. It definitely means a lot, and I have my teammates to thank for everything. They helped me a lot down the stretch and did everything they could.”

Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte scored for the Canucks (31-40-11), who won five of their final seven games to close out a playoff-missing campaign of their own. The Sedins were held scoreless in their final game.

McDavid helped start the scoring six minutes into play by feeding it across to Draisaitl, who beat Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson for his 25th of the season.

Jokinen got a piece of a Brendan Leipsic shot and it caromed past Edmonton starter Cam Talbot as Vancouver tied it 1-1 with two minutes left in the first.

Motte fished out a puck during a scramble out front and beat Talbot up high to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.texans_077

Austin Howard visited Saints

Prince has been a bright spot in a long season. He has given Atlanta a legitimate 3-point shooting threat. He made 7 of 8 3-pointers on Sunday and scored 33 points.

The second-year player has improved his numbers from his rookie year in almost every category. His scoring average has gone from 5.7 to 14 and his 3-point percentage from 32.4 to 38.7 percent. He has scored 30 points in five games.

The 76ers have won two previous meetings with the Hawks, both by 10 points. Philadelphia prevailed in its first visit to Atlanta on Nov. 1, then won March 30 in Philadelphia.

This will be the season finale for Atlanta. Philadelphia plays its last game on Wednesday at home against Milwaukee, which could be the 76ers’ first-round playoff opponent.

The Giants have only a small handful of options. They can trade him. They can sign him to a long-term contract. Or they can kick the can through the final year of his contract, making a tag-and-sign, tag-and-trade, or tag-and-keep-for-2019 decision after the season. (They also could do it again in 2020, the last year he’d be tagged at non-quarterback money.)

The problem is that Beckham may be committed to staying away from all activities — voluntary and involuntary — until he gets a long-term contract that he deems appropriate. That would mean, at a minimum, no participation in the offseason program (which opens next week). Then the question becomes whether he’d boycott the mandatory minicamp and/or training camp.

King won’t wear No. 7 in Denver, obviously, and he will retire the bucking Bronco celebration.

“Now it’s time to find a new celebration, because that’s when I was trying to troll y’all,” he said.

King, 29, can’t wait to punt in Denver. He calls it a “punter’s paradise” because of the altitude, and then there’s the Broncos’ organization itself.

“The cool thing about the Broncos is the people that work at the Broncos encourage you to be yourself,” King said. “That is real cool. Players play a lot better when they can let their hair down and be themselves. It’s cool. They encourage it. But no, I don’t think that’s what the reason was [for his departure from Oakland]. Everybody has their own way of doing things. Maybe that is how they felt they wanted to do things. More power to them.”cardinals_007

Markus Golden on possible move to defensive end: Football is football

Cardinals pass-rusher Markus Golden began running again this week, six months after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

“You’ve got teammates depending on you, family back home, your kids,” Golden said. “You can feel sorry for yourself a little bit, but then you have to get back to work.”

The Texans could cut or trade him this year and have a dead money hit of $6 million with cap savings of $9 million. Next year, the dead money drops to just $2 million with cap savings of $13 million if they release or trade him. The Texans will weigh these numbers against Watt’s production, leadership and popularity.

Watt currently is completing rehab on the broken leg he suffered in Week 5 of last season. He had 15 tackles and no sacks in those five games following a 2016 season in which he played in only three games due to back surgery to repair a herniated disk. It was his second back surgery in a two-month period after he missed training camp following the first surgery.

O’Brien recently said Watt is ahead of schedule in his rehab, and Watt has said he won’t rush back for OTAs if he’s not ready but expects to be fully recovered and on the field at training camp.

Ochi’s departure leaves the Titans with Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Kevin Dodd, Aaron Wallace and Josh Carraway at outside linebacker.

The Cubs will be without All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday. Rizzo has missed three straight games with soreness in his lower back. Rizzo was not in Monday’s lineup as utility man Ben Zobrist was scheduled to start at first before the game was postponed. Rizzo was to have been re-evaluated Tuesday morning before the Cubs determined it best to place him on the DL.

Tuesday’s scheduled off-day would have provided Rizzo with an extra day of rest before potentially returning Wednesday. But Maddon told reporters he is uncertain whether Rizzo will be ready to play Tuesday when the Cubs look to win for the fourth time in their past five games.

The Pirates look to extend what has been an impressive start after a series victory over the Cincinnati Reds, whom Pittsburgh beat 5-0 on Sunday behind Jameson Taillon’s 1-hitter.

Marquette King is fired up about playing at altitude

NewRaiders coach Jon Gruden apparently put a low premium on punters, but Marquette King‘s likely to be very happy at high altitude.

Via Peter King of SI.com, the new Broncos punter has flourished in games in Denver, with his already strong leg having even more pop there.

In five games in Denver, his 39 punts have averaged 50.03 gross and 45.51 net yards. In 75 games anywhere else, his gross average was 46.48 and his net was 40.68.

So basically, King’s five yards better per kick at elevation.

For Gettleman to find a trade partner, it will take a willing team with enough cap room and more than enough patience. A fit could be a team such as the Rams, who let Sammy Watkins leave in free agency and might want to add some Hollywood-type sizzle as they approach the opening of their new stadium in 2020.

But will they or another team be willing to pay the double whammy of a high price in trade compensation and the big-money contract? There will need to be an extension in place before a team gives up high draft picks for Beckham, as it won’t want to risk him hitting free agency in 2019 or have to deal with the acrimony of the franchise tag. It’s not going to be easy to pull it all together and move Beckham.

The good news for the Giants is there always are NFL GMs and coaches who believe they can keep a player like OBJ productive on the field and under control off the field.

If I’m Gettleman, I’m hoping that’s the case.

Before we begin, the usual-and-necessary caveat: Eleven days’ numbers, on only six of which Ohtani actually played (four as a hitter, two as a pitcher), is a perilously small sample from which to draw seasonal conclusions. In Ohtani’s case, however, those 11 days represent the first 11 from which we have any “data that counts” from him in the U.S. game. They were our first look at this critical fantasy contributor, and they include actionable findings.

Starting with his pitching exploits, Ohtani’s 27 consecutive batters retired spanning his two starts — he retired the final eight Oakland Athletics he faced on April 1, then the first 19 Athletics he faced on Sunday — were the headline. Digging deeper, he’s fourth in the majors with a 40 percent strikeout rate, fueled by a major league-leading 24 percent swinging-strike rate, and his 43 swings and missed trail only Cole Hamels’ 46 (but remember that Hamels has made three starts to Ohtani’s two).patriots_107-223x223

‘Sad and depressed’ Texans star J.J. Watt optimistic about 2018 comeback

J.J. Watt is optimistic about returning to the football field this season but admits that injuries which limited the three-time defensive player of the year the past two seasons took a toll.

I was depressed, Watt, the Houston Texans all-pro defensive end, said at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Watt, who helped raise more than $37 million for the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort in the Houston area, said he drew hope from flood victims who overcome their own adversity.

That’s helped motivate me to get back to where I am today, and I can’t wait to get back on the field,’’ said Watt, whose efforts earned him the NFL’s Walter Payton man of the year award in 2017.

It has consumed the airwaves everywhere, and especially in the tri-state area, former Giants center Shaun O’Hara said on NFL Network on Wednesday night. The Giants are not trading Odell, and nobody is giving up two first-round picks for the guy…. People in the front office of the Giants are just laughing at the commotion that this has caused, because I don’t think there’s any validity to it.

OK, but this is still the same league that saw Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre — among countless others — unexpectedly switch uniforms. With that in mind, here are six teams which seem like realistic destinations for Beckham this year and beyond:

Not only for myself but also for all those people who helped inspire me.broncos_004-500x500

Geno Smith visiting Seahawks

What position should he play That’s part of what made Thursday so interesting. He said teams have looked at him as a WILL – weak inside linebacker – and he’s been asked if he can cover in space. He said spinning is his favorite pass-rush move. I spin like three times a play, he joked. He’s a hybrid and a wildcard.

Los Angeles Rams: Perhaps there’s mutual interest, given the Rams’ willingness to take on big personalities and need for a deep threat to replace Sammy Watkins in conjunction with Beckham’s megawatt stardom and love of the limelight. The Rams also have a ton of cap space in 2019 to get a deal done, though it would be a challenge to pay Beckham, Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters and maybe even Ndamukong Suh beyond the upcoming campaign.

San Francisco 49ers: An ascendant flagship franchise that plays in a major market. A roster that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014. A general manager sitting on a pile of dough and unafraid to take risks. A coach with a brilliant offensive mind perhaps uniquely qualified to leverage Beckham’s estimable athletic gifts. And a blossoming star at quarterback who’s stabilizing the position all receivers are dependent upon. Maybe an ideal marriage.

New York Jets: They’ve got the money OBJ apparently desires. They’ve got an emerging star with LSU roots on defense (Jamal Adams), but no equivalent for an offense that will presumably soon feature a young stud at quarterback. And, of course, Beckham wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of moving. Still, unless the Giants became desperate to offload their biggest drawing card, tough to envision them stomaching the headlines that would come by dealing Beckham to their cross-town foes… unless the Jets offer a mint that would probably wind up stunting their own rebuild.

Oakland Raiders: Beckham and coach Jon Gruden could be a volatile mix. Beckham and Las Vegas could be a volatile mix. Yet those could also be compelling reasons to make a move if Gruden 2.0 still has the wherewithal to design an effective offense for a franchise that’s obviously willing to ante up for star power as it lays the groundwork for the impending move to Sin City.

Gregg Popovich: ‘It is a different position’ for Spurs this season

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ended an interview and spun around to reach for the door handle after uttering three words in response to a question about his team clinching a playoff berth for the 21st consecutive season.

“Aww, it’s wonderful,” he said.

News conference, over.

Current circumstances no longer allow for such a luxury.

“Sometimes you have got to adjust your goals relative to your potential and the way you have been playing, the way the season is going,” said Manu Ginobili, who contributed 17 points and five assists. “We have to be realistic. Maybe we are not the favorites this year, or it was not going to be a 60-win season like the previous ones. After what happened in February and early March, we had to shift our expectations, and we mentioned it many times. The goal was to make the playoffs. Once we clinched, then we could talk about standings. The way the West is this year, it’s crazy. Everything is so clogged, so tight that at this point, we are happy to have it clinched.”

Still, General Manager Mickey Loomis is confident the Saints can find some good players.

“It’s a different opportunity than we had a year ago, and obviously we’re excited about the players we got and excited about the contributions they made,” Loomis said, via Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune. “I’m just as excited about those guys improving in this upcoming season. So, our expectation for that group is high, and hopefully we can get some players that can have that level of contribution in this year’s draft.”

Loomis is fine with the Saints waiting their turn this year after having the 11th and 32nd overall picks in 2017.

“Well, I like sitting and waiting toward the end of the draft,” Loomis said, “because that means you had a better season the year before than maybe we’ve had the last few years. That’s the good side of that double-edged sword.”

Report: Ravens continue WR search by working out Snead, Floyd

The Baltimore Ravens have added two new receivers this offseason, but are still looking for reinforcements. The Ravens worked out receivers Michael Floyd and Willie Snead, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

Nobody wanted Townes.

It’s incredible to me that nobody in the high-major level gave him a chance, Baldwin said over the phone before his new team — the Portland Trailblazers — played a recent game.

Baldwin wasn’t lamenting how things turned out for his old pal. If anything, the way this story is unfolding is the perfect ending. Townes didn’t need to play for one of those big-time programs to reach the NCAA Tournament Final Four.

La Canfora included San Francisco alongside the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts on his list of contenders for landing Beckham in a trade with the New York Giants.

This comes after Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Giants want at least two first-round draft picks if they are going to trade the three-time Pro Bowler.

La Canfora noted they are having difficulty getting close to what they would deem fair value for Beckham and predicted teams will wait for some time before potential closure to the situation in late April.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Beckham will not set foot on a field without a new contract extension, and La Canfora suggested it would be better for the Giants to trade him than endure a prolonged holdout before the 2018 campaign.

Washington rolls the dice on Paul Richardson

Most free agents get paid based on a presumption that past production will continue. Some get paid based on a prediction that new levels of production will be realized.

Washington paid receiver Paul Richardson on the possibility that he’ll step up in 2018. (If not, they paid him way too much.)

That’s a great deal, given that Richardson’s best season in Seattle came last year, with 44 catches, 703 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. In three seasons before that, the former second-round pick had 51 catches for 599 yards and two touchdowns. Combined.

It remains to be seen what Richardson does in Washington. A year after the team signed Terrelle Pryor to a one-year deal based on the hope that he’d take off in their offense (and didn’t), Washington to rolling the dice with a much longer commitment, and a much bigger investment.

That event might have psychologically scarred Brady, because he was still talking about it this week. During a recent interview with NPR’s Wait Wait бн Don’t Tell Me!, we found out that Brady hates strawberries so much that it will make him cuss, and we also found out that he’ll sneak in a shot at NFL defensive coordinators whenever he can.

First, the strawberries.

During the NPR interview, Brady gave a full explanation fro why he hates strawberries.

It takes two sides to do a deal, like I always say, Quinn said. We did talk to LaGarrette last offseason, as well, just didn’t work out for whatever reason. But I think both of us are excited to get him here, kind of add a different element to the running game that we haven’t had and hopefully he has a lot of production.

With Blount in the fold, Quinn and Patricia are excited about the versatility they have in the backfield. And there will be an opportunity to add more in the draft, where a deep class of backs awaits teams in need of talent.jets_120

The Cardinals were also going to have a hard time making something work with Cousins because of their cap space.

They missed out, but didn’t take much time to sign Bradford to a one-year, $20 million deal on Tuesday.

Bradford played well when he was healthy at the beginning of the 2017 season. But he spent most of the year sidelined with what Vikings coach Mike Zimmer described as a degenerative condition in his knee. He’s undergone two ACL surgeries and has been hindered by injuries throughout his career. He’s not a long-term answer for Arizona, but at least they’ve got a starter for this season.

Brees himself has said he doesn’t anticipate testing the open market, but it’ll be a little tricky.

Brees’ contract did not allow the Saints to use the franchise tag, so they’ll have to meet his price for a standard contract before a March 14 deadline that would accelerate $18 million in salary-cap space.

The situation provides an opening for Brees to test the market if he changes his mind.

The Broncos took themselves out of the mix early, signing Keenum to a deal that’s expected to be two years and around $18 million per season. That fits much more easily with the Broncos’ current cap situation than Cousins’ big money would have.

Keenum was decent last season in Minnesota, and he’ll have the benefit of a great Broncos defense and talent like Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas around him. He needs to have a good year.

That’s why the Broncos haven’t ruled out drafting a quarterback in the first round this year, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

This is a case of Mo’ money and Mo’ problems. He wasn’t very good in 2017 in every aspect of his game and isn’t ideal to have around for a rebuilding team. At 28, he has played his last down for New York.