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  • Rams focus on improved passing game
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams have multiple objectives as they begin OTAs. First and foremost is getting second-year quarterback Jared Goff onto a track that will result in a positive step forward from a disappointing rookie season.

    • Part and parcel to that is improving the infrastructure around him, specifically the offensive line and wide receiver positions.

      Wide receiver, in particular, will be a point of emphasis after the Rams walked away from leading receiver Kenny Britt and veteran Brian Quick during the offseason and replaced them with veteran free agent Robert Woods and a host of rookie and second-year players.

      Woods and Goff, who started seven games last year and completed 54.6 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and seven interceptions, have been working together since March.

      "He's been great. He's been more than I could have really expected, honestly," Goff said. "His work ethic and you can tell how much it means to him and how bad he wants it. He's just a competitor.

      "He's smart, he's fast, he's strong, and he competes every day. He wants to be the best he can be every day and you can tell that. It's really exciting for me to have a guy like that, multiple guys like that, but him in particular."

      If early impressions from OTAs are worth anything, the work seemed to be paying off.

      "We're just trying to get the timing down," Woods said. "We're connecting. The biggest thing is, we're talking in meetings and then we're coming out on the field and executing what we've been talking about."

      Competition for starting jobs alongside Woods and veteran Tavon Austin -- assuming Austin wins one spot -- will be fierce. Intriguing rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds and second-year wideouts Pharoh Cooper, Nelson Spruce and Mike Thomas are the leading candidates for playing time.

      Austin underwent wrist surgery in early May, which will knock him out of all OTAs. Not only does it delay his adjustment to the new offense under first-year head coach Sean McVay, it also interrupts chemistry-building with Goff.

      On the other hand, it will provide more opportunities for the youngsters to make an impact.

      Kupp, in particular, has a chance to make an early impression on coaches while forging workable chemistry with Goff, who desperately needs perimeter skill players he can have faith in.

      Kupp, like Woods, is a precision route runner with sure hands. He could be a tremendous help to a young quarterback simply by being in the right place at the right time and then holding onto the ball when targeted.

      Those were basic elements that no Rams quarterback could rely on with last year's wide receivers, who too often failed to run quality routes or dropped catchable balls to derail drives.

      Goff was keeping a watchful eye throughout the offseason as the Rams went about improving the team around him.

      "I was excited about it. From Robert to (LT Andrew) Whitworth to (C John) Sullivan, to all of the guys that we drafted. It's been really exciting to see," Goff said.

      "Exciting to see where their mentality is and, more than anything, I think they got some high character guys in here, especially those guys I named that we signed with Whitworth, and Sullivan, and Robert -- just some veteran guys that know what they're doing and can not only help me but can help everyone around them."

  • DT Donald misses first day of Rams' OTAs
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was a no-show at the Los Angeles Rams' first full-team organized team activities on Monday, but his absence was contract-related.

    • The Rams were aware in advance that Donald would not be there, and they appeared to be OK with it.

      Donald is in the fourth year of his five-year rookie contract, but Rams general manager Les Snead indicated the franchise and Donald are in the "serious stage" of renegotiating a new one.

      "I'm very hopeful about it," Snead said.

      Donald has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of his three NFL seasons. In 2017, he started all 16 games and recorded 47 tackles, eight sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

      The question now is how much he is worth.

      "It's a process," Snead said. "We like Aaron. There's no doubt he's a really good player. We want him to be a Ram. That's our goal. We think he wants to be a Ram. That's what we're working toward."

  • Beckham absent for Giants' first OTA
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    On the first day of organized team activities, Odell Beckham Jr. was a no-show for the New York Giants.

    • It was unknown why the wide receiver failed to attend the voluntary workout or when or if he might arrive. The team has nine more OTA sessions, with the next one on Tuesday and another on Thursday that is open to the media.

      Also unknown was how many voluntary works Beckham has attended during the five weeks of the Giants' offseason program. While the team can't force a player to attend the OTAs, coaches like to have as many players as possible on hand as they begin on install offensive and defensive schemes.

      Reports indicated that Beckham was an infrequent participant during the offseason and that he missed quarterback Eli Manning's informal workouts in early April at Duke University because of oral surgery.

      The three-time Pro Bowl receiver will make $1.8 million in the final year of his rookie contract. In April, the Giants picked up his fifth-year option, for 2018, for approximately $8.5 million.

      After that, he tweeted, "I'm more motivated now then I have ever been. Words are only that, so its time for action. To the LOYAL Giants fans out there. I'm lettin u kno now, this will be somethin uve never seen."

      Beckham's most recent game was the Giants' 38-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs in January. He infamously punched a hole in a wall outside the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field. The week before the game, Beckham and some of his teammates were photographed partying on a boat in Miami, a trek that caused a public backlash.

      The 24-year-old finished last season with 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games. That brought his career totals to 388 receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns in three seasons.

      Meanwhile, the Giants' other top wideouts, including Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, attended the first OTA workout on Monday.

      The Giants' first mandatory offseason workout is a three-day minicamp from June 13-15.

  • Jets release WR Devin Smith
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The New York Jets waived former second-round pick Devin Smith on Monday.

    • The wide receiver, who was the 37th overall pick of the 2015 draft, was waived with an injury designation. Smith tore his ACL for the second time in just under a year-and-a-half while participating in offseason workouts last month.

      "It's bad luck and bad timing because the kid worked so hard to get back," coach Todd Bowles told the team's website. "He has to persevere and adversity will help him get stronger.

      "But unfortunately in this game, over my course of time playing and coaching, you see these types of things. Some of the best athletes get hurt and don't get a chance to get on the field and it's just bad timing, bad luck."

      Smith caught nine passes for 115 yards and one touchdown in 10 games before an ACL tear in December ended his rookie season. The former Ohio State player reeled in just one pass for 20 yards while playing in four games in 2016.

  • Patriots add DeAndrew White to WR group
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The New England Patriots signed wide receiver DeAndrew White to a contract on Monday.

    • White, who spent last season on the team's practice squad, will join a deep wide receiver depth chart that includes Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola.

      The 25-year-old initially was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent out of Alabama in 2015.

      White reeled in two receptions for 18 yards in four career games with the 49ers. The 6-foot, 192-pounder also returned six kicks for 142 yards and one punt for four yards before being released Sept. 3.

  • NFL notebook: Vikings' Zimmer to take time off
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will miss OTAs to take a "few weeks" away from the team after undergoing an eighth eye surgery last week.

    • General manager Rick Spielman announced Monday that Zimmer will take the time to focus on his health while organized team activities begin this week.

      Zimmer, 60, has undergone eight procedures since scratching his right eye in a game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31. He plans to remain in contact with his assistants throughout OTAs and the coaches will sendi him practice videos to review every day.

      --The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed tight end O.J. Howard, the team's first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

      Howard, the 19th overall pick out Alabama, signed a four-year rookie contract with a fifth-year club option. Terms of the deal were not released but it is projected to be worth $11.2 million with about $6.2 million to sign, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Howard, 22, was the first of six players chosen by Tampa Bay in last month's draft.

      The Bucs also officially announced the signing of free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who agreed to a deal on Friday worth a reported $3 million that includes incentives to take the base salary higher. He is expected to back up Jameis Winston.

      --The Chicago Bears are considering moving versatile Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long for the third straight season.

      The Bears may shift Long to left guard -- a position he hasn't played since college -- and flip veteran Josh Sitton to right guard, sources told the Chicago Tribune. In 2015, the Bears moved Long to right tackle but then moved him back to right guard.

      Long, 28, is still rehabbing a right ankle injury suffered Nov. 13 against Tampa Bay. Sitton started his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers at right guard.

  • Buccaneers sign top pick Howard, QB Fitzpatrick
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed tight end O.J. Howard, the team's first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    • Howard, the 19th overall pick out Alabama, signed a four-year rookie contract with a fifth-year club option. Terms of the deal were not released but it is projected to be worth $11.2 million with about $6.2 million to sign, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

      Howard, 22, was the first of six players chosen by Tampa Bay in last month's draft.

      The Bucs also officially announced Monday the signing of free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who agreed to a deal last Friday worth a reported $3 million that includes incentives to take the base salary higher. He is expected to serve as the backup to Jameis Winston.

      The 6-foot-6, 251-pound Howard started 37 of 57 career games played at Alabama, including 28 of the final 30 in his collegiate career.

      Howard, who has 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, recorded 114 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns as a member of the Crimson Tide. In two College Football Playoff National Championship Games against Clemson, Howard totaled nine receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns, winning the MVP award for his efforts in the 2015 contest.

      As a senior in 2016, Howard was named an All-American and was a finalist for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's best tight end.

      The 6-2, 223-pound Fitzpatrick joins the Buccaneers after spending the past two seasons with the New York Jets. In his 12-year career, the 34-year old has started 116 of 127 games played, throwing for 25,888 yards and 166 touchdowns.

      In 2015, Fitzpatrick recorded the second-most passing yards in Jets history (3,905), while throwing for a franchise-record 31 touchdowns -- both of which were career highs.

      Fitzpatrick originally entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in the 2005 draft. During his career, the Harvard product has played for the Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Jets. He is the only quarterback in league history to throw four touchdowns in a game with four different franchises (Buffalo, Houston, New York and Tennessee).

      The Bucs also waived quarterback Sean Renfree, who joined the team this offseason, and announced defensive end Jacquies Smith signed his restricted free agent tender.

      The 6-2, 260-pound Smith came to the Bucs after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills in 2014. During the past three seasons with Tampa Bay, Smith started 18 of 28 contests he has played in, totaling 39 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries (one for touchdown) and three passes defensed.

  • Vikings' Zimmer to miss OTAs after eighth eye surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will miss OTAs to take a "few weeks" away from the team after undergoing an eighth eye surgery last week.

    • General manager Rick Spielman announced Monday that Zimmer will take the time to focus on his health while organized team activities begin this week.

      "As the Vikings begin OTA practices, Coach Zimmer will be taking time away from the team to dedicate to recovering from eye surgery and restoring his health," Spielman said in a statement. "We all agree Mike's health is the priority and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term. We anticipate Mike back on the field in a few weeks."

      Zimmer, 60, later talked about his medical leave during an interview on KFAN-FM in Minneapolis.

      "The doctors all got together and we had a long meeting about what's the best for my recuperation of this eye and they are saying I need to spend the next couple weeks working on my recovery," Zimmer said Monday. "I just left the doctor's office, had really good news -- the redness looks great, the pressure in my eye is really good. At this point now, we just need to take it easy and make sure it continues to heal in the right way.

      "I'll be back hopefully shortly. They felt like it would be better for me to get away for a little bit and just relax."

      Zimmer has undergone eight procedures since scratching his right eye in a game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31.

      "It's so complicated, but they took the silicone ... out," Zimmer told reporters Saturday of his latest surgery. "They put the gas bubble in. ... Hopefully we're done. I thought that before. We'll see."

      Zimmer had the first surgery, for a torn retina, early in November. He underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina in his right eye last Nov. 30 and missed the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 1. He returned to coach the next game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 11 while wearing a patch over his right eye and switching between reading glasses and sunglasses.

      Zimmer, who had two surgeries in April, can't fly in an airplane for six weeks after the latest surgery. He plans to remain in contact with his assistants throughout OTAs and the coaches will be sending him practice videos to review every day.

      Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano are two of the assistants with previous head coaching experience.

      "It's unfortunate timing but it's more important to do it now than during the season," Zimmer said in the interview with KFAN.

  • Bears may move versatile OL Long again
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The Chicago Bears are considering moving versatile Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long for the third straight season.

    • The Bears may shift Long to left guard -- a position he hasn't played since college -- for the 2017 season and flip veteran Josh Sitton to the right guard spot, sources told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

      In 2015, the Bears moved Long to right tackle but last season the team moved him back to right guard.

      The 28-year-old Long is still rehabbing a right ankle injury suffered Nov. 13 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

      Sitton started his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers at right guard.

      Long took to Twitter about another possible position switch.

      "I'll be mixin the Gatorade and washing towels soon too," Long wrote in response to a fan's tweet, "So, another new position on the O this year, huh? What are they thinking of NOW? Fullback?"

  • NFL notebook: Vikings' Zimmer undergoes eighth eye surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer met with the media on Saturday and revealed he underwent another eye operation last week.

    • That's the eighth procedure for Zimmer since Halloween.

      Zimmer underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina in his right eye on Nov. 30 and missed the Vikings' game against the Dallas Cowboys in early December.

      "It's so complicated, but they took the silicone ... out," Zimmer told reporters. "They put the gas bubble in. ... Hopefully, we're done. I thought that before. We'll see."

      Zimmer scratched his eye during the Vikings' game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31 and had the first surgery, for a torn retina, in early November. He didn't miss a game for that one, but wore an eye patch on the sideline.

      "It's probably a good thing that I scratched my eye during the game, otherwise I may not have caught it in time," Zimmer said at the time. "But hopefully everything will be all right."

      Zimmer, who said he had two surgeries in April, can't fly in an airplane for six weeks after the latest surgery.

      --Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman underwent recent surgery to repair an injured core muscle and will be out until the start of training camp.

      The Chargers' second-leading receiver in 2016 is expected to be out six weeks and miss the rest of the offseason work, according to multiple reports Saturday.

      Inman signed a one-year, $2.7 million restricted free agent tender this offseason. He will become an unrestricted free agent next year.

      The 28-year-old Inman started all 16 games last season and had career highs with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns.

      --Wayne Walker, an All-Pro linebacker who spent 15 years with the Detroit Lions and was later a broadcaster for 20 years, has died at age 80.

      The Lions announced Walker died Friday. In 2015, Walker said he had Parkinson's disease.

      "Wayne was one of our finest players from the decade of the 60s and will not only be remembered for his career accomplishments as a Lion, but also for his great success as a broadcaster after his playing days were over," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said in a team statement.

      Walker died in Boise, Idaho, which is his hometown and where he lived after his retirement from broadcasting.

      Walker was a center and middle linebacker at the University of Idaho and was chosen by the Lions in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named first-team All-Pro in 1965. He was also the Lions' place-kicker and his 200 career games played were a franchise record until that mark was broken by kicker Jason Hanson.

  • Vikings coach Zimmer has eighth eye surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer met with the media on Saturday and revealed he underwent another eye operation last week.

    • That's the eighth procedure for Zimmer since last Halloween.

      Zimmer underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina in his right eye last Nov. 30 and missed the Vikings' game against the Dallas Cowboys early in December.

      "It's so complicated, but they took the silicone ... out," Zimmer told reporters. "They put the gas bubble in. ... Hopefully we're done. I thought that before. We'll see."

      Zimmer scratched his eye during the Vikings' game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31 and had the first surgery, for a torn retina, early in November.

      He didn't miss a game for that one, but wore an eye patch on the sideline.

      "It's probably a good thing that I scratched my eye during the game, otherwise I may not have caught it in time," Zimmer said at the time. "But hopefully everything will be all right."

      Zimmer, who said he had two surgeries in April, can't fly in an airplane for six weeks after the latest surgery.

  • Chargers WR Inman undergoes core muscle surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman underwent recent surgery to repair an injured core muscle and will be out until the start of training camp.

    • The Chargers' second-leading receiver in 2016 is expected to be out six weeks and miss the rest of the offseason work, according to multiple reports Saturday.

      Inman signed a one-year, $2.7 million restricted free agent tender this offseason. He will become an unrestricted free agent next year.

      The 28-year-old Inman started all 16 games last season and recorded career-highs with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Former Lions LB Wayne Walker dies at 80
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Wayne Walker, an All-Pro linebacker who spent 15 years with the Detroit Lions and was later a broadcaster for 20 years, has died at age 80.

    • The Lions announced Walker died Friday. In 2015, Walker said he had Parkinson's disease.

      "Wayne was one of our finest players from the decade of the 60s and will not only be remembered for his career accomplishments as a Lion, but also for his great success as a broadcaster after his playing days were over," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said in a team statement.

      Walker died in Boise, Idaho, which is his hometown and where he lived after his retirement from broadcasting.

      Walker was a center and middle linebacker at the University of Idaho and was chosen by the Lions in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft.

      He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named first-team All-Pro in 1965. He was also the Lions' place-kicker and his 200 career games played were a franchise record until that mark was broken by kicker Jason Hanson.

      After Walker retired from football, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked in broadcasting. He covered the 49ers and the Oakland Athletics.

      "He was the best," 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He did things the right way that allowed him to get answers and trust from players that no one else could."

      Walker was sports director of San Francisco TV station KPIX from 1979 to 1994.

  • NFL notebook: Brady's agent denies concussion
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The agent for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Friday his client did not suffer a concussion in 2016.

    • "Tom was not diagnosed with a concussion last year," agent Don Yee said in a statement to ESPN, NFL Network and other media outlets. "Many of the protocols and safeguards still are evolving, and it's obviously a good thing the organization and everyone close to him is vigilant and always looking out for his health."

      The statement came two days after Brady's wife, Gisele Bundchen, appeared on "CBS This Morning" and said her husband "had a concussion last year" and alluded to more concussions during his career.

      The supermodel was asked by CBS' Charlie Rose of her thoughts on Brady's plans to play into his mid-40s and whether she wants him to retire from football.

      "I just have to say, as a wife, as you know (the NFL) is not the most, let's say, unaggressive sport. Football, he had a concussion last year," she said in the interview. "He has concussions pretty much every -- I mean we don't talk about it.

      "But he has concussions and I don't really think it's a healthy thing for your body to go through. You know, that kind of aggression all the time, that cannot be healthy for you. I'm planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things when we're like 100 I hope."

      --Brady signed a multiyear endorsement deal with British luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin to pitch a model that starts at $211,995.

      The 104-year-old handmade car company announced that Brady will be driving and pitching the DB11 model.

      "I'm no James Bond but ... Proud to announce my new partnership with (Aston Martin)!" Brady wrote on his Instagram page to confirm the deal, posting photos of himself with the car.

      In addition, Aston Martin said Brady will "curate" his own version of the company's new Vanquish S -- a 580-horsepower coupe with a base price of more than $300,000. Only 12 of those cars will be made and sold to the public.

      --Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, the top overall pick of the 2017 draft, signed his four-year rookie contract.

      The deal is worth an estimated $30.4 million with a $20.25 million signing bonus. The contract comes with a team option for the fifth season in 2021.

      The Browns posted a video on Twitter of Garrett filling out the contract while Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" played in the background.

      Garrett collected 141 tackles (47 for loss), 31 sacks and forced seven fumbles during his three-year career at Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4 1/2, 272-pound Aggies standout was held to 8 1/2 sacks last season while he dealt with a high-ankle sprain.

      --The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached an agreement with free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as the backup to Jameis Winston.

      The deal is for one year and worth a reported $3 million that includes incentives to take the base salary higher.

      The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick has started 116 games over his 12 seasons in the NFL, including 27 the past two years with the New York Jets. He made $12 million last season.

      --The Oakland Raiders took an important step toward having a Las Vegas stadium ready for the 2020 season when the Las Vegas Stadium Authority unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the team, multiple media outlets reported.

      It was important to get the approval this week because Raiders president Marc Badain had said recently that appearing at the NFL owners meetings, which begin Monday in Chicago, without a lease could delay the team's move to Las Vegas by a year.

      The next opportunity to present a lease would not be until the following owners meeting in October.

      -- The Arizona Cardinals signed guard Dorian Johnson to a four-year rookie contract. Johnson was the team's fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh in last month's NFL Draft.

      Johnson was seen as a second-round pick who slid to the fourth because of a medical recheck that revealed a health condition related to his liver. It's producing enzymes at a rate five times higher than normal, but the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Johnson said he has had the condition his entire life and it is being controlled through medication.

      Johnson started 40 consecutive games to finish his college career and became the first Panthers offensive lineman to earn first-team All-American honors since Ruben Brown in 1994.

      -- The Indianapolis Colts signed outside linebacker Tarell Basham.

      Basham, who was a third-round pick in last month's draft, recorded 158 tackles, a school-record 29.5 sacks and five forced fumbles during his 51-game career at Ohio University.

      The 6-foot-4, 262-pounder was named the 2016 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 11.5 sacks last season.

  • Cardinals sign fourth-round pick G Johnson
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Arizona Cardinals signed guard Dorian Johnson to a four-year rookie contract on Friday.

    • Johnson was the team's fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh in last month's NFL Draft.

      Johnson was seen as a second-round pick who slid to the fourth because of a medical recheck that revealed a health condition related to his liver. It's producing enzymes at a rate five times higher than normal, but the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Johnson said he has had the condition his entire life and it is being controlled through medication.

      Johnson started 40 consecutive games to finish his college career and became the first Panthers offensive lineman to earn first-team All-American honors since Ruben Brown in 1994.

  • Colts sign third-round pick Basham
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Indianapolis Colts signed outside linebacker Tarell Basham on Friday.

    • Basham, who was a third-round pick in last month's draft, recorded 158 tackles, a school-record 29.5 sacks and five forced fumbles during his 51-game career at Ohio University.

      The 6-foot-4, 262-pounder was named the 2016 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 11.5 sacks last season.

      With the signing of Basham, the Colts have all eight of their picks from the 2017 draft under contract.

  • Browns ink No. 1 overall pick Garrett
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, the top overall pick of the 2017 draft, signed his four-year rookie contract on Friday.

    • The deal is worth an estimated $30.4 million with a $20.25 million signing bonus. The contract comes with a team option for the fifth season in 2021.

      The Browns posted a video on Twitter of Garrett filling out the contract while Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" played in the background.

      Garrett collected 141 tackles (47 for loss), 31 sacks and forced seven fumbles during his three-year career at Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4 1/2, 272-pound Aggies standout was held to 8 1/2 sacks last season while he dealt with a high-ankle sprain.

      Garrett caused a stir shortly after being drafted by saying he was targeting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his first sack. The Browns open the 2017 season against the AFC North rival Steelers.

      With Garrett in the fold, Cleveland has signed six of the 10 players it drafted last month.

  • Brady's agent denies QB had concussion
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The agent for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Friday his client did not suffer a concussion in 2016.

    • "Tom was not diagnosed with a concussion last year," agent Don Yee said in a statement to ESPN, NFL Network and other media outlets. "Many of the protocols and safeguards still are evolving, and it's obviously a good thing the organization and everyone close to him is vigilant and always looking out for his health."

      The statement came two days after Brady's wife, Gisele Bundchen, appeared on "CBS This Morning" and said her husband "had a concussion last year" and alluded to more concussions during his career.

      The supermodel was asked by CBS' Charlie Rose of her thoughts on Brady's plans to play into his mid-40s and whether she wants him to retire from football.

      "I just have to say, as a wife, as you know (the NFL) is not the most, let's say, unaggressive sport. Football, he had a concussion last year," she said in the interview. "He has concussions pretty much every -- I mean we don't talk about it.

      "But he has concussions and I don't really think it's a healthy thing for your body to go through. You know, that kind of aggression all the time, that cannot be healthy for you. I'm planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things when we're like 100 I hope."

      Bundchen did not clarify when her husband suffered a concussion or whether it was medically diagnosed. She was not asked a follow-up question about her comments.

      Brady has never officially been listed with a concussion or head injury in his professional career.

      The Patriots did not list the 39-year-old Brady as having a concussion at any point in the 2016 season, but he sat out the first four games due to the Deflategate suspension given by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

      The Patriots declined to comment on the situation and the NFL issued a statement later Wednesday regarding Bundchen's comments and said it will look into the matter along with the NFL Players Association.

      "We have reviewed all reports relating to Tom Brady from the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants and certified athletic trainer spotters who worked at Patriots' home and away 2016 season games as well as club injury reports that were sent to the league office," the NFL statement read.

      "There are no records that indicate that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms. Today we have been in contact with the NFLPA and will work together to gather more information from the club's medical staff and Mr. Brady. The health and safety of our players is our foremost priority and we want to ensure that all our players have and continue to receive the best care possible."

      Brady, who has not missed a game due to injury since 2008 when he tore his ACL in a Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, was listed with thigh, knee and ankle injuries at various points in 2016.

      Brady, who turns 40 in August ahead of his 18th NFL season, is a five-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP and two-time league MVP. He collected his fifth ring in February when the Patriots overcome a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime of Super Bowl LI.

  • Ex-Jets QB Fitzpatrick lands with Bucs
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached an agreement with free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Friday to serve as the backup to Jameis Winston.

    • The deal is for one year and worth a reported $3 million that includes incentives to take the base salary higher.

      The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick has started 116 games over his 12 seasons in the NFL, including 27 the past two years with the New York Jets. He made $12 million last season.

      Fitzpatrick will be joining his seventh NFL team after playing for the St. Louis Rams (2005-06), Cincinnati Bengals (2007-08), Buffalo Bills (2009-12), Tennessee Titans (2013), Houston Texans (2014) and Jets (2015-16).

      Fitzpatrick had a career season in 2015, his first year with the Jets, leading the team to 10 wins and setting the franchise record with 31 touchdown passes.

      A contract impasse caused him to miss the next offseason program that may have contributed to a subpar 2016 when the Jets finished 5-11. He was benched twice last season and threw 17 interceptions and only 12 touchdowns, with a league-low passer rating of 69.6.

      Fitzpatrick entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2005 out of Harvard. He is 46-69-1 as a starter and for his carrer has thrown for 25,888 yards with 166 touchdown passes and 133 interceptions.

  • Brady signs deal to pitch $212K Aston Martin car
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signed a multiyear endorsement deal with British luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin to pitch a model that starts at $211,995.

    • The 104-year-old handmade car company announced Friday that Brady will be driving and pitching the DB11 model.

      "I'm no James Bond but ... Proud to announce my new partnership with (Aston Martin)!" Brady wrote on his Instagram page to confirm the deal, posting photos of himself with the car.

      In addition, Aston Martin said Brady will "curate" his own version of the company's new Vanquish S --- a 580 horsepower coupe with a base price of more than $300,000. Only 12 of those cars will be made and sold to the public.

      "We're looking for partnerships that make the brand resonate and to make sure people know who we are," Aston Martin's North American president Laura Schwab told ESPN. "Tom and Aston Martin are similarly aligned in their path to excellence.

      Aston Martin, which makes about 4,000 cars a year with less than 1,000 of them being sold in the United States, said Brady will appear in a new advertising series called "The Love of Beautiful" that will debut later this year.

      "As a long-time fan and driver, I am honored to join the Aston Martin team at this special moment in the company's history," Brady said in a statement.

      Brady, a five-time Super Bowl winner who turns 40 in August and wants to play into his mid-40s, already lends his name and face for other high-end products, including $100 Under Armour sleepwear, $5,300 Tag Heuer watches and $160 Ugg boots.

  • Las Vegas approves Raiders' lease deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Oakland Raiders took an important step toward having a Las Vegas stadium ready for the 2020 season when the Las Vegas Stadium Authority unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the team on Thursday, multiple media outlets reported.

    • It was important to get the approval this week because Raiders president Marc Badain had said recently that appearing at the NFL owners meetings, which begin Monday in Chicago, without a lease could delay the team's move to Las Vegas by a year.

      The next opportunity to present a lease would not be until the following owners meeting in October.

      The Raiders would like to begin construction of the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium this summer.

      "It means we go to the league meetings in Chicago with a lease and hopefully get it approved and stay on pace for a 2020 opening," Badain told ESPN.com.

      Owners can now vote on ratifying the lease at this month's meetings.

      The owners approved the team's proposed move to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote in March, although the owners still wanted to see a lease agreement, design plans and other approvals needed for construction on the 62-acre plot near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

      The Raiders will share the stadium with UNLV's football team.

      The Raiders have two one-year leases at the Oakland Coliseum and plan on playing there in 2017 and 2018.

      It remains uncertain where the team will play in 2019. Raiders owner Mark Davis does not want to move to Las Vegas until the dome is complete. He does not want to play a season at UNLV's 35,500-seat Sam Boyd Stadium.

  • Brees: Self-reporting concussions a 'gray area'
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was reluctant to say much regarding his reaction to Gisele Bundchen's recent comments about her husband, Tom Brady, and his unreported head injuries.

    • However, he did say on the Dan Patrick Show he probably wouldn't tell his own wife if he had a head injury. It wouldn't be because he would be afraid she might tell somebody, though.

      "I wouldn't want her to worry," Brees said.

      He did say that self-reporting head injuries is a "gray area." For one thing, players are often unaware of the severity of their head injury when it happens.

      Brees recalls the publicly reported concussion he sustained in 2004.

      "I knew that something was not right. I knew that I was concussed," Brees said. "But I didn't take myself out of the game. I mean, I stayed in the game and played as long as I could until finally a coach pulled me aside and was like, 'I'm looking out for you here, and you're not gonna play anymore.'

      "And that's why it's hard to change that mentality for guys. When you're in the heat of the moment, heat of the battle and it's competitive, you do not want to pull yourself out. That's why the concussion protocols are in place where you've got the independent neurological consultants and the trainers and the referees. Everybody's supposed to be looking."

      Brees, 38, is entering his 17th NFL season, but added he "absolutely" thinks he could play until he is 45.

  • NFL notebook Rainfall delays construction on new home for Rams and Chargers
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    Record rainfall delayed construction on the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, and the teams announced the complex including a multi-use stadium for the recently relocated NFL franchise will not be ready or play in 2019 as expected.

    • Rain deluged California from January to March and critical construction landmarks were missed along the way.

      "Our focus is always on the fan experience," Chargers president A.G. Spanos said in a statement. "Our future home will be the best stadium in the NFL and deliver a transformational experience for Chargers fans. If getting it right means pushing back the completion date, then I think the extra year is well worth it."

      The principal project developer told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that the record rains came in the critical "evacuation phase" and "knocked us for a loop." Water stood at depths of 12 to 15 feet in areas where excavation was planned.

      The $2.6 billion football facility is part of a multiple-phase project.

      The Chargers will play at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. through the 2019 season while the Rams will stay at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams played last season at the Coliseum after relocating from St. Louis before spring minicamp began.

      San Diego lost the Chargers to Los Angeles amidst a nearly decade-long stadium spat.

      In March, the Chargers announced season tickets sold out for the 30,000-seat StubHub Center, which is less than half the capacity of their San Diego home, Qualcomm Stadium.

      Owner Stan Kroenke and the Rams broke ground at the Inglewood complex in November 2016. The venue includes an "entertainment district" with restaurants and hotels, and studio space for the NFL Network.

      --Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said he can see the writing on the wall after the team moved up to select Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II in last month's draft.

      "I think (the Chiefs are) committed to me through this year," Smith said on Wednesday, via ESPN. "That's just the nature of it. If you don't go out there and perform, I mean, coach (Andy) Reid and (quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy) are very honest. You've got to go out there and do your deal. We all have to.

      "Whether or not we drafted Patrick, it doesn't change that, right? If you're not good enough and didn't get it done, you're not going to be around long. That's just our culture. I know it. That's the nature of the position."

      Kansas City traded away the 27th overall pick, its first-round selection in 2018 and a third-rounder this year to the Buffalo Bills in order to move up to 10th to take Mahomes.

      The scenario is a familiar one for Smith, who saw the San Francisco 49ers draft Colin Kaepernick in the second round in 2011. Midway through the following season, Kaepernick replaced Smith as the starter and the latter was traded to the Chiefs following the campaign.

      "I've been through it," the 33-year-old Smith said. "I'm in a different place than the last time I kind of dealt with something like this, (but) I get it, right? If any of us were the GM, this in my opinion might be the most important position in all of sports. You'd be crazy not to be stockpiling talent.

      "So I get it, going into Year 13. You understand it. At the same time, it doesn't change my focus, right? I still feel I've got a lot of years left in me. I still feel like I'm getting better, to be honest with you."

      Mahomes threw for 5,052 yards, with 41 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions, during his final season at Texas Tech.

      Over his three seasons in Lubbock, Mahomes played in 32 games, with 29 starts, and threw for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. That plus-64 difference definitely caught the Chiefs' attention, as did his career 63.5 completion percentage.

      Mahomes becomes the first quarterback selected by the Chiefs in the first round since 1983, when they picked Todd Blackledge at No. 7 as the second quarterback taken in that legendary draft with six first-round passers. Three went to the Hall of Fame: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

      --Disappointing tight end Ladarius Green was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

      The Steelers used a failed physical designation, which also has been used by the Miami Dolphins to release Dion Jordan and the Kansas City Chiefs to release Jamaal Charles this offseason.

      Pittsburgh signed Green to a four-year, $20 million contract last season and he earned about $6 million of the deal before being released. Parting ways with Green is expected to cost the Steelers $3.5 million in dead money.

      In his only season with the Steelers, Green missed 10 games and made two starts. He caught 18 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown while battling an ankle injury and a concussion.

      Before joining the Steelers, Green had a concussion history during four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He also underwent ankle surgery in March 2016.

      In five seasons since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2012, Green has 95 receptions for 1,391 yards and eight touchdowns in 53 games.

      By releasing Green, the remaining tight ends on Pittsburgh's roster are Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson.

      --One day after signing a four-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, rookie wide receiver Zay Jones suffered a knee injury and will be considered "week to week."

      The specifics of the injury were not shared by the Bills, but the No. 37 overall pick was hurt in Tuesday's organized team activity session and sat out the next two days. The team described the injury as a sprain.

      Jones set a school record at East Carolina with an NCAA-record 399 career catches. He had 4,279 yards and 23 touchdown catches with the Pirates and is considered a leading candidate to be the team's No. 2 receiver alongside oft-injured Sammy Watkins.

      Watkins was idle during the entire three-day session recovering from another foot surgery in January. The Bills declined the fifth-year option on Watkins for 2018.

      The Bills moved up in the second round to select Jones after trading out of their first-round spot -- No. 10 overall -- in a deal that landed the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.

      Jones played for one season under current Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan at ECU.

      --The Indianapolis Colts are two steps closer to signing their entire 2017 draft class.

      Indianapolis signed first-round safety Malik Hooker to a four-year rookie contract on Thursday and also inked fourth-round defensive tackle Grover Stewart to a deal.

      The Colts have signed seven of the eight members of the draft class, with only third-round pick Tarell Basham, a linebacker out of Ohio, yet to do so.

      Hooker, the 15th overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft, will receive a contract worth $12,850,988 that includes a signing bonus of $7,486,172, according to OverTheCap.com. The pact also includes a fifth-year option for the team in 2021.

      Hooker recorded 74 tackles, seven interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 13 games last season with Ohio State. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder played in 26 career contests with the Buckeyes.

      Hooker has yet to get on the field as he recovers from hip surgery in January.

      Stewart collected 141 tackles, 27 sacks and two forced fumbles in 39 career games at Albany State. Listed at 6-5, 334 pounds, Stewart had 37 tackles, 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble in nine games last season.

  • Steelers release TE Green
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    Disappointing tight end Ladarius Green was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

    • The Steelers used a failed physical designation, which also has been used by the Miami Dolphins to release Dion Jordan and the Kansas City Chiefs to release Jamaal Charles this offseason.

      Pittsburgh signed Green to a four-year, $20 million contract last season and he earned about $6 million of the deal before being released. Parting ways with Green is expected to cost the Steelers $3.5 million in dead money.

      In his only season with the Steelers, Green missed 10 games and made two starts. He caught 18 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown while battling an ankle injury and a concussion.

      Before joining the Steelers, Green had a concussion history during four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He also underwent ankle surgery in March 2016.

      In five seasons since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2012, Green has 95 receptions for 1,391 yards and eight touchdowns in 53 games.

      By releasing Green, the remaining tight ends on Pittsburgh's roster are Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson.

  • Bills rookie WR Jones idle with knee injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    One day after signing a four-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, rookie wide receiver Zay Jones suffered a knee injury and will be considered "week to week."

    • The specifics of the injury were not shared by the Bills, but the No. 37 overall pick was hurt in Tuesday's organized team activity session and sat out the next two days. The team described the injury as a sprain.

      Jones set a school record at East Carolina with an NCAA-record 399 career catches. He had 4,279 yards and 23 touchdown catches with the Pirates and is considered a leading candidate to be the team's No. 2 receiver alongside oft-injured Sammy Watkins.

      Watkins was idle during the entire three-day session recovering from another foot surgery in January. The Bills declined the fifth-year option on Watkins for 2018.

      The Bills moved up in the second round to select Jones after trading out of their first-round spot -- No. 10 overall -- in a deal that landed the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.

      Jones played for one season under current Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan at ECU.