– The Eagles have signed CB Nnamdi Asomugha to a 5-year/$6M contract. The deal includes $25M guaranteed. The Jets are expected to turn their sights back to CB Antonio Cromartie, and the Cowboys will apparently keep overpriced, aging CB Terence Newman. Philadelphia will now field arguably the best top-three cornerback depth chart in football along with Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
In an update, NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi reports that the Eagles are now willing to entertain trade offers for CB Asante Samuel. This contradicts a report from ESPN’s Ashley Fox, who after checking with sources, predicted Samuel would return to Philadelphia. Samuel has large base salaries ($5.9M in 2011) forthcoming, so he won’t be easy to trade. If the Eagles are going to make a Super Bowl run, they should keep him, then cut him when his salary jumps to $8.4M in 2012. He’s still a top-ten cornerback in terms of ball skills and off-man coverage.
– The Panthers have signed their No. 1 overall pick QB Cam Newton to a fully guaranteed 4-year/$22M contract. There’s also a 5th-year non-guaranteed option worth $14M. Rams’ QB Sam Bradford landed a 6-year/$78M deal with $50M in guarantees last year. The new CBA has taken all of the suspense out of first-round contracts and has shut down rookie holdouts. As of early July, the Charlotte Observer was convinced QB Jimmy Clausen would open the season as the Panthers starter. Barring a veteran addition such as Marc Bulger, Newton has a fair shot to take the reins even with a lost offseason.
– The Rams have signed WR Mike Sims-Walker to a 1-year/$3.7M contract. MSW has flashed playmaking ability with 14 touchdowns in 27 career starts and a 13.51 YPR average, but he developed a diva reputation without the production to back it up in Jacksonville. He’ll have to stay healthy and motivated lock up a roster spot.
– The Saints have re-signed SS Roman Harper to a 4-year/$28.5M contract with $16M in guarantees. A premier in-the-box safety, Harper, tallied 98 tackles, three sacks, an interception, and a career-high six forced fumbles last season. The Saints will return one of the best safety tandems in the NFL.
– Colts’ QB Peyton Manning made it clear to owner Jim Irsay and vice chairman Bill Polian that he does not need to be the highest-paid player in the league if the team invests that money in retaining core players. Manning wants action more than assurances, and he wants his contract done by the end of the weekend. “I’m willing to take less than they’ve offered if they are going to take that money to keep players we need to keep and go get other players. All I want is for them to have the cap and the cash to keep the players they want to keep and to sign other players.” Manning told Irsay and Polian his cap numbers can be “as low as they want them to be in being creative with the salary cap.”
– The Dolphins have signed ILB Kevin Burnett to a 4-year contract. Burnett landed $10M guaranteed, which was more than the Chargers were willing to pay. Burnett graded out very well in Pro Football Focus’ ratings the past two years in San Diego.
– Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier confirmed that QB Donovan McNabb will start over Christian Ponder, “barring unforeseen circumstances.” ”We’re signing him assuming he’s going to be our starting quarterback… There’s no doubt in my mind Donovan McNabb will perform at a high level in 2011.” Frazier has already sat down with Ponder and Joe Webb to explain the depth chart.
– Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports the Broncos potential trade with the Dolphins fell through due to QB Kyle Orton’s contract demands, not draft-pick compensation. The Miami Herald hears the Dolphins are not out of the “Orton chase” and the “final chapter hasn’t been written.” Orton has never had a shot at free agency, so it’s hard to blame him for trying to cash in on a potential trade. Perhaps the Dolphins can get him to come down enough to let the Broncos front office off the hook with a trade.
– The Raiders have signed OT Jared Gaither. Back woes have hampered Gaither badly, but he has shown the ability to be a franchise-caliber left tackle. Gaither will form an imposing booked with 6’9″ Jared Veldheer, who is expected to kick to right tackle now.
– Browns’ WR Mohamed Massaquoi was spotted with a cast or boot on his left foot/leg Saturday. A boot would likely mean some type of ankle sprain, while a cast would indicate a broken bone.
– The Seahawks have re-signed DT Brandon Mebane. He won’t be asked to rush the passer just like last year, but he’s still highly productive.
– The Phillies have acquired OF Hunter Pence and cash considerations from the Astros for 1B-OF Jonathan Singleton, RHPs Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid and a PTBNL. Pence is batting .309/.356/.471 with 11 homers, 62 RBI, seven stolen bases and an .828 OPS this season. He should see a decent boost in stats now that he’ll be batting fifth in a much better lineup. The 28-year-old outfielder is making $6.25M this season and remains under team control through 2013.
– Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that the Tigers are out on Rockies’ RHP Ubaldo Jimenez for now. The Tigers tried, even reportedly dangling top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, but the two sides just couldn’t agree to a deal. Knobler suggests Jimenez will be traded to the Red Sox or Yankees or just stay with Colorado.
– ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Tigers are “making progress” on a deal for the Mariners’ RHP Doug Fister. Fister boasts a 3.33 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 21 starts this season for the Mariners and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time over the winter.
– Nationals’ ace RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) could join the Nationals rotation as early as late August. There was concern as to whether he would make it back at all this season. Strasburg had a successful simulated game Thursday and should begin a rehab assignment soon. Manager Davey Johnson said, “I know it’s going to happen, and when it happens, he’ll be ready for it. It’s not going to be me saying to somebody down there, ‘Man, he’s throwing good, he’s ready’ — that ain’t happening. I imagine the latter part of August or early September he’ll be ready, maybe when we expand the roster.”
– ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Red Sox are “working hard” on a deal for Dodgers’ RHP Hiroki Kuroda for a minor league prospect. It’s been unclear whether Kuroda would be willing to accept a trade to the East Coast, but the general consensus is that he’d OK the deal since it would just be for a couple months. The Red Sox are looking for pitching help. Kuroda holds a 3.11 ERA through 21 starts this season, would be a nice fit.
– Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post was told by a source who has spoken with the Nationals that a swap involving RHP Drew Storen and Twins’ OF Denard Span isn’t happening. It’s not clear which side has backed off, though Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported Friday morning that the Twins were unhappy with the Nationals’ offer. It was a questionable trade for the Twinkies to begin with.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are still in on Padres’ RHP Heath Bell. That said, CBSSports.com’s Scott Miller hears that the Cardinals are only on the “fringe” of talks with the Padres and that the Rangers are still considered the favorites to land Bell.
– According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Astros’ OF Michael Bourn is now on the Braves’ radar. The Braves have a void in center field and at the top of their lineup. Bourn, 28, will be a free agent following the 2012 season. The Braves are also said to be considering Ryan Ludwick, B.J. Upton, Josh Willingham and Carlos Quentin among available outfield bats.
– Clarifying his comments from Thursday, Cubs’ 3B Aramis Ramirez told reporters Friday that he’s “not going anywhere.” Ramirez essentially echoed what was said by his agent earlier in the day, saying that his comments from Thursday were misinterpreted. He wants to remain with the Cubs and would only consider a deal if the team came to him. As of now, he isn’t on the market.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Reds are “focused” on Astros’ Bourn. The Reds obviously aren’t sold on OF Drew Stubbs being their center fielder and leadoff man. Bourn will be a free agent following the 2012 season.
– Indians’ OF Shin-Soo Choo (thumb) hopes to rejoin the Indians during a series against the White Sox from August 16-18. Choo reported no issues after beginning tee work Thursday and hitting again Friday. He hopes to begin a soft-toss program on Sunday and could resume taking regular batting practice with the team within 7-10 days. The Indians haven’t given an official timetable for his return.
– Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com reports that the D’Backs “appear to have some interest” in Dodgers’ SS Rafael Furcal. They’re on the lookout for some help with SS Stephen Drew out for the rest of the season following ankle surgery. Furcal is still owed roughly $4M for the rest of the season, so the Dodgers will surely have to cover a portion to facilitate a deal. The Cardinals and Brewers are among the other possible landing spots.
– Red Sox’ RHP Clay Buchholz (back) is slated to see back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday. Buchholz had a planned bullpen session scratched this week and will be examined before resuming his rehab. His relative lack of progress until this point will likely force Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to add a starting pitcher in advance of Sunday’s deadline.
– Cardinals’ 1B Albert Pujols reached 2,000 career hits in Friday’s win over the Cubs. Pujols got there with a double down the third base line in the bottom of the eighth inning. He’s the fifth Cardinal to reach 2,000 hits — joining Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Rogers Hornsby and Enos Slaughter — and the 12th fastest player in MLB history to reach the mark. He finished the night 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
– Padres’ LHP Clayton Richard (left shoulder) underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Friday. Richard hasn’t pitched since July 4 due to a strained left shoulder. He was playing catch as recently as a few days ago, but was apparently making little progress. The 27-year-old his season with a 3.88 ERA and 53/38 K/BB ratio over 99 2/3 innings.
– The Devils have re-signed F Zach Parise to a 1-year/$6M extension. Parise got a decent raise from the $5M he made last season, despite the fact that he missed most of the 2010-11 campaign due to a knee injury. That being said, he’s more than worth that salary if he can stay healthy in 2011-12. He recorded 94 and 82 points in 2008-09 and 2009-10 respectively. The two sides continue to work on a long-term extension.
– Although the agent for restricted free agent D Drew Doughty and Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi met Tuesday for the first time in a while, no major progress towards an agreement has been made. ”It’s safe to say we’re still having dialogue. Just keep trying to move forward. We’ll be talking again here shortly. … We’re still on track.” The Kings seem prepared to offer Doughty a lucrative long-term contract if the defenceman is willing to give up his first shot at unrestricted free agency. “If you get more free-agent years then I think you can be more flexible that way.” The two sides appear far apart in negotiations and are likely headed for salary arbitration August 2.
– The Kings have filed a formal grievance with the NHL over the health of F Colin Fraser. Fraser was required to undergo surgery this past week to repair an improperly healed ankle fracture, and the Kings maintain that the Oilers misrepresented the status of the injury. The Kings are not seeking to void the trade.
– Bucks’ F Ersan Ilyasova has reportedly agreed to a 3-year contract with the Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker, but he’s still under contract with the Bucks. Ilyasova has an unguaranteed team option for 2011-12, according to ShamSports.com, so if the Bucks are feeling nice they could simply release him from the deal.
– The Bobcats have not been granted clearance by FIBA to sign No. 7 draft pick F Bismack Biyombo, who is still under contract with a team in Spain. The Spanish team, Fuenlabrada, reportedly has Biyombo under contract for the next two seasons and expects a buyout of about $1.4M to release him to the Bobcats. NBA teams cannot contribute more than $500K to a player’s buyout, however, leaving Biyombo to scrape together $900K before playing a single game in the league. Charlotte was aware of this eventuality on draft day.
– The city of Columbus, Ohio dropped jaywalking and resisting arrest charges against former WWE talent Shad Gaspard. He was arrested at the Arnold Sports event earlier this year. Gaspard plead guilty to obstructing official business and was fined $500. Click here for more details on this story. Gaspard maintained his innocence and his wife went on Twitter while he was jailed and said that he was mistreated during his arrest.