NFL free agency: T.J. Lang signs three-year deal with Lions, per report

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford just got a serious upgrade to his offensive line, and from a division rival to boot.

Former Packers guard T.J. Lang, according to ESPN, has signed a three-year deal with the Lions. Further details have not yet been released.

Lang, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Eastern Michigan, was one of the anchors of Green Bay’s offensive line, helping the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2011 and earning Pro Bowl honors in 2016. He gave up 2.5 sacks over the last two years.

He will join a Lions offense that ranked 30th in the league last season in rushing yards per game (79.9), tied for 22nd in sacks (37) and 13th with 79 quarterback hits.

Say what? Nothing on WTBS lasted four hours unless the Braves went into extra innings or had a rain delay.

I kind of gulped a little bit thinking, Wow, that’s going to be a long special. But yeah, I’m sure we can do it,’ Hanson said.

I kind of wanted it so that any fan of any baseball team could tune in and get a real idea of what their team was also doing, Hanson said.
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If nothing else, the Braves had a new vibe in 1982, with Turner hiring the charismatic and sometimes fiery Joe Torre as manager to help further develop young players such as Dale Murphy and Bob Horner, who seemed on the cusp of becoming superstars.

There was perhaps a flicker of optimism, but it would take a lot to shake the Braves’ long-established reputation.

Elite Kids Sean Lee Jersey The Braves weren’t high on the list as far as anybody’s favorite team, longtime ace Phil Niekro said.

Ryan Fitzpatrick posted 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2014

If blank Hall of Fame ballots are a problem, don’t allow blank Hall of Fame ballots
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Baseball Twitter blew a gasket Sunday after blogger, J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner and annual Hall of Fame troll Murray Chass revealed he had submitted a blank ballot, selecting nobody for election to Cooperstown, despite multiple worthy candidates for the 2017 class.

All Romo has to do is be better than Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota in the regular season, and the Texans have done that anyway. They did that last year with quarterbacks who combined for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
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Romo could thrive with O’Brien, too. Ryan Fitzpatrick posted 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2014, and Hoyer had 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2015. O’Brien has posted three straight 9-7 seasons while starting eight different quarterbacks in that stretch. He deserves something more, and Romo provides that.

It’s going to cost a lot, but that’s the chance you take in bringing this franchise something more than 9-7. Romo will make a lot of headlines — he always does — and that’s an oft-injured quarterback who turns 37 in April and is 2-4 in the postseason. Dallas also likely will ask for in-state overpayment if this move comes via trade.

It’s still a chance Houston should take. It could be the difference in who has the best chance to compete with New England and Pittsburgh in 2017, and perhaps beyond. If they don’t do it, Denver might. They did that with Peyton Manning. Will Houston sit and watch the Broncos do it again?

Washington will pay on field, in front office for smear of Scot McCloughan

Authentic Paul Stastny Jersey Whenever some crass, crude bridge-burning takes place between a team and a vital member, it raises the question of why anyone decent, talented and with options would ever work there. Think Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert after LeBron James signed with the Heat, for example, or what James Dolan said about Charles Oakley last month.

Or think Washington’s NFL team, since that’s what they face today.

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Eventually, memories fade, realities take precedence, everybody remembers that there are only so many jobs in the world’s best football league … and then a Scot McCloughan gets every thread of his dirty laundry tossed out in the street for the world to see. If it’s actually his dirty laundry, which, if it’s not, would be just as bad.

Also practically speaking, vast cap space and abundant draft picks usually are better in theory than in reality. Hence, the aforementioned reference to Hinkie and his experiment with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Teams always have to keep an eye out for the old trap John Wooden once described: mistaking activity for achievement.

Talking about having a lot of money to spend isn’t the same as spending it wisely. For instance, the Browns just spent some of their $100 million-plus cap space to get Osweiler.

And having lots of draft picks matters only if you use them wisely.

NFL Draft 2017: Steelers take Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt, J.J.’s little brother

There is another Watt in the AFC.

The Steelers selected Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday. Watt is the younger brother of Texans defensive end T.J. Watt and Chargers fullback Derek Watt.

Cutler follows in the footsteps of Tony Romo, who recently replaced Phil Simms at CBS. Interestingly enough, Cutler will also be replacing a former football player in the booth as he takes John Lynch’s old role.

The 34-year-old Cutler was released by the Bears this offseason, and apparently didn’t get much interest from teams. Multiple reports claimed the quarterback was really considering retirement unless he received an ideal scenario, or in other words, a guaranteed starting job.

There may have been interest in Cutler as a veteran backup, but he wasn’t interested in that. Instead, he’ll join Fox Sports despite not having previous experience as an announcer. Many on social media wonder if Cutler has the personality for announcing, while others seem confident in his abilities.

On his own, Marques Ogden was practically a poster child for players using their careers as springboards to off-field business success. A guard from Division I-AA (now FBS) Howard University in his hometown, he was drafted by the Jaguars in 2003 and also played with the Bills and Titans before back problems ended his career in 2007. A successful CEO in his late-20s, he had handled his football earnings wisely and put his education and connections to ideal use.

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Astros top Rangers after benches clear on Lance McCullers’ pitch behind Mike Napoli

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The battle for Texas heated up Monday as the Lone Star rivalry renewed at Minute Maid Park.

Trailing by a run in the top of the sixth inning, Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. threw behind Mike Napoli, prompting both benches and bullpens to clear as tensions rose. Napoli took a few steps to the mound but seemed to remain calm while his teammate Shin-Soo Choo jumped from the dugout and escalated the incident.

Choo pointed at McCullers and needed to be held back as the two teams came face to face in front of the mound.

Before the fracas, two Astros players were hit with inside pitches and Napoli hit a solo homer, only adding to the speculation of the intention of McCullers’ pitch. No punches were thrown, but expect tensions to remain high between the teams the rest of the four-game series, especially with Alex Bregman?’s bulletin board-worthy tweet from Sunday night.

Mike James Jersey The 6-6, 310-pound Ramcyzk looked like he belonged from the start. The 2016 Badgers averaged 203.1 rushing yards a game, and Ramczyk allowed just one sack, per Pro Football Focus.

Schwartz, an offensive lineman for eight NFL seasons before retiring in February, believes Ramczyk and Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson will be the first two linemen drafted.

The two used to be a lot different personalities as younger QBs. Kaepernick was Kaepernicking, and Wilson was Go Hawksing. Kaepernick has gone from his shoes to issues, while Wilson has traded bland for bold. Meeting in the middle, they could mesh well on the same depth chart.

NFL free agency: Julius Peppers appears headed back to Panthers

Not content to try and recapture the glory of their most recent Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers are trying to turn back the clock to their first shot at the big game.

Julius Peppers is headed home to Carolina, his agent Carl Carey tweeted Friday afternoon. The apparent announcement of a deal via social media came shortly after the Charlotte Observer reported the team was trying to finalize a contract with Peppers.

Authentic Mens Yasiel Puig Jersey As I watched the video of the news conference and heard Scully spin those tales, I couldn’t help but think, Goodness, Vin still has it. He could still go up to the booth, armed with his voluminous notes, and do nine innings.

Yeah, it’s totally different, so don’t even compare me here, Gossage said. Chapman’s great. Mo (Rivera) was great … for one inning.

So right there, Gossage dissed two of this generation’s premier closers. It got even better 鈥?or worse, depending on your perspective 鈥?with colorful exchanges such as this:

Authentic Mens Frank Kaminsky Jersey Reporter: You mention Mo, but I think he was the one guy who at least was used in the eighth at times by Joe Torre.

The drama began almost immediately in spring training. I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year.

It was all about him in the spring. 鈥?Bobby was in his own bubble, and I just wanted to get him out of it and tell him, F— you.

Pagan, 35, was hampered by a hamstring injury last season, but he managed to play in 129 games (.750 OPS, 12 home runs) and performed in the National League playoffs. There was surprisingly little interest in him during the offseason; now he’ll get a chance to impress teams (including the Nationals, who reportedly are looking at him) as he suits up for Puerto Rico.

Kizer’s path to the draft winds more than usual for a quarterback.

Roy Miller Limited Jersey Look back at the majority of the aforementioned names — most are on defense. The offense has added talent, too, but that defense has gotten beefed up the last two offseasons.

Ersan Ilyasova Limited Jersey The list of seemingly wise moves in every area of personnel is long. The production on the field — often individually, definitely collectively — has been short. Bortles has been an easy (and deserving) target. It’s not just him, though.

For example, Fournette is there to take the job of the two backs who were supposed to be an unbeatable tandem: T.J. Yeldon from the 2015 draft and Chris Ivory from the 2016 free-agency class. Robinson is being brought in to be what 2013 second overall pick Luke Joeckel never was. The big additions on defense … well, despite the spending and supposedly clever drafting, they needed them.

It’s hard to say, as always. Kizer’s path to the draft winds more than usual for a quarterback. He led Notre Dame to a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 2015, but guided a 4-8 team last season. He put up big numbers in that stretch: 5,805 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, with a 60.7 percent completion percentage to boot. The uncomfortable back-and-forth with Irish coach Brian Kelly about his NFL readiness brings those questions to light during the draft process.

We don’t know how good Kizer is or how ready he is for the NFL, but he’s a 6-4, 233-pound quarterback who has enough upside for us to think there’s a chance. If Kelly doesn’t think Kizer is ready, then how can Hue Jackson possibly think the same thing with a second-round pick? The Browns drafted Kessler with a third-round pick last season. Jackson enjoys molding quarterbacks, and this is another chance.

NFL Network gives Chad Kelly most awkward moniker ever

NFL Network probably should have done a little more research into Chad Kelly — aka Mr. Irrelevant — before heaping him with superlatives on Saturday.

After the Broncos took Kelly with the last pick of the draft, NFL Network posted a graphic of Kelly, using one of its bullet points to describe Kelly as a “fearless gunslinger.”

“I’m thinking he might say, ‘Oh, no, don’t say anything like that, that might get them too fired up, might cause a riot out there in that crowd.’ But to my surprise, he encouraged me to say that and to get the crowd even more riled up,” Pearson said of his conversation with Goodell.

Pearson, who was a four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XII champion after going unselected in the 1973 draft, made the pick “on behalf of the five-time world champions” to a chorus of boos. The louder the crowd got, the louder Pearson yelled.

Pearson spent his entire 10-year playing career in Dallas before taking on coaching roles and executive positions following his retirement.

Two small-school tight ends went back-to-back early in the second round — South Alabama’s Gerald Everett (No. 44 to Rams) and Ashland’s Adam Shaheen (No. 45 to the Bears). Then FIU’s Jonnu Smith (No. 100 to the Titans) was the only other tight end taken after O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and Davd Njoku went in Round 1.

It’s unfortunate the torn ACL has cost Butt so much, but he has the makings of a Day 3 steal now.

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Don’t ignore the key point Manny Machado made with his ‘threat’

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though. We’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
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Super Bowl LI – New England Patriots v Atlanta FalconsSuper Bowl LI – New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
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Talk about a fluke, regardless of the Hall of Famer leading the Patriots that night. Atlanta blew a 25-point lead! They gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter!

Womens Nicklas Backstrom Jersey Good grief. We started this exercise with one ‘Hawks fans worried the sweep didn’t prove what that team was truly capable of. I’m pretty sure the Falcons are capable of holding down that lead given a second chance.

And thanks to one bold, innovative Redditor, they can try again. Thanks for the internet.

But instead of focusing solely on the negative things to happen to this Penguins team, folks might want to start celebrating how lucky they are to still have superstar talent on the roster that’s both healthy and ready to avenge the heartbreaking OT loss in Game 3, especially after battling back in incredible fashion. I know I sound like a broken record, but this team, damaged as they are, is still more than capable of splitting the final four games of this series with the Capitals. It took losing Pittsburgh’s best player, and arguably the best player in the world, a playmaker in Sheary, and the addition of an extra 20 minute period after botching the 2-0 lead in the final minutes of the third for the Capitals to beat this battered team.

The Raptors haven’t won the first game of a playoff series since 2001

The Raptors lost Game 1 of their second-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. Even though they beat the Bucks in the first round, they lost the first game of that series too! In all, the Raptors have now lost 11 Game 1s in a row, dating all the way back to 2001. Back when Vince Carter, Charles Oakley, and Dell Curry were still on the team. You want to remember what else was going on the last time the Raptors won the first game of a playoff series?
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So, Toronto, it’s been a while since the Raptors have won the first game of a playoff series. If they can somehow get past the Cavs in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, maybe they can try and break this streak in the Eastern Conference Finals. Or maybe it will just have to wait until next year.

The Hawks got huge games from Jose Calderon, Dwight Howard, and Kent Bazemore. Yes, we said Jose Calderon. He was a +26 in his eight first half minutes as the Hawks took control of the game. He finished with 10 points, five assists, and a +29 on the game.
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Dwight Howard showed flashes of his old self and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. He was a presence of the defensive end as well.

With the Hawks role players stepping up, it was their rock, Paul Millsap pulling them through. The defining moment of the game was when Millsap grabbed this rebound late in the game with five Wizards players surrounding. He grabbed the board on one leg, put the shot back up and completed the three-point play.

The Wizards will have to prove they can show up when it matters and finish this Hawks team off quickly if they want to prove they are a top team in the Eastern Conference.