– The Jets have signed WR Santonio Holmes to a 5-year contract. The best player available is now off the market.
– The Redskins have signed WR Santana Moss on a 3-year/$15M contract, including a $5Msigning bonus. Moss will receive $6M guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
– The Panthers have signed DE Charles Johnson to a 6-year/$76M contract, including a $30M signing bonus The deal has $32M in guarantees. Johnson was the best pass0rusher available on the market.
– The Chargers have signed FS Eric Weddle to a multi-year contract. The top safety available returns to San Diego. He’s arguably the best run-support free safety in football and not usually a liability in pass coverage. San Diego has an extremely good-looking secondary on paper with Weddle and Bob Sanders “inside,” and Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer on the corners.
– NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi hears that talks between the Jets and free agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha are “serious and I mean serious.” The Jets are currently the only team linked to Asomugha. He may be willing to take less to play in New York, and players such as QB Mark Sanchez are willing to restructure their deals to make it work. Could the two best corners in the NFL be soon lining up together?
NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi reports that the 49ers have jumped into the race to get Asomugha under contract. Lombardi calls the Niners the Jets “main competition,” and assures “they are in it strong.” San Francisco can clear a large amount of salary cap space by releasing Nate Clements, a move that would surely happen on Thursday if a deal with Asomugha was reached.
– Redskins’ QB Donovan McNabb is expected to work out a new contract with the Vikings on Wednesday, putting the finishing touches on a trade with the Redskins. NFL Network’s LaCanfora confirms McNabb “badly” wanted out of Washington and into Minnesota. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press hears coach Leslie Frazier “internally lobbied” for McNabb, perhaps against the front office’s better judgment. The Vikings still reportedly intend to “make a splash” at receiver if Sidney Rice follows Tarvaris Jackson to Seattle, though the McNabb trade may end up swaying Rice back to Minnesota. Either way, McNabb would still be at the helm of a potentially high-scoring offense. The ‘Skins will receive a 2012 6th-round pick.
– The Steelers have signed CB Ike Taylor to a 4-year contract. Taylor sticks with the team that drafted him back in 2003. He’s become their top corner and been a starter for the last six seasons — including both Super Bowl runs.
– The Rams have signed SS Quintin Mikell to a 4-year/$28M contract. Mikell played for Spags in Philly and will be able to pick up the system quickly. Mikell is going on age 31, but he’s topped Pro Football Focus’ coverage safety ratings several seasons running.
– The Ravens have signed RG Marshal Yanda to a multi-year contract. According to the National Post, the deal is in the 5-year/$32M range. One report stated that Yanda turned down an offer of $6.5M per season, so the Ravens came out better than expected. Yanda graded out as a top-five tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Ravens plan to kick him back inside at right guard to jumpstart a running game that struggled last season.
– The Cowboys have signed OT Doug Free to a 4-year/$32M deal. The deal includes $17M in guarantees. The Cowboys gambled by refusing to franchise Free at $11M for 2011. Free is tentatively expected to stay on Tony Romo’s blindside this season.
– The Redskins have signed WR Donte’ Stallworth to a 1-year deal. At age 30 and coming off a an injury-plagued season in Baltimore, he’ll provide depth behind Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong.
– Budget constraints “may preclude” the Broncos from signing free agent RB DeAngelo Williams, according to the Denver Post. The Broncos are making their defensive front a priority over the running game. The Post says the Broncos are interested in cheaper options at running back such as RBs Willis McGahee and Jason Snelling.
– The Texans have signed WR Jacoby Jones to 3-year/$10.5M contract, including $3M in guarantees. The front office will turn their attention to defence with the receiver position settled. Jones closed out the year averaging 5.5 receptions and 72 yards over the final month.
– The 49ers have signed QB Alex Smith to a 1-year/$5M contract. The 27-year-old should only be a “bridge” to 2nd-round pick QB Colin Kaepernick. Smith is getting overpaid, but at least the contract is only for one year.
– Eagles’ QB Kevin Kolb is still the Cardinals’ top choice, according to the Arizona Republic. The Cardinals also had trade discussions Tuesday with the Broncos about QB Kyle Orton and expressed interest in both QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger. The Republic says the Cardinals are “willing to part with starting CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the two sides apparently can’t agree on other parts of the deal.” The Eagles likely want a first- or second-round pick in addition to DRC.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms that the Seahawks are Minnesota’s primary competition for free agent WR Sidney Rice. NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora says both teams are “deep in talks” with Rice’s representatives. The Vikings aren’t going to let their downfield threat go without a strong fight, but the Seahawks are “pushing hard, pending a physical,” according to Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities.
– NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora and the Florida Times-Union report the Jaguars have agreed to terms with MLB Paul Posluszny on a 6-year contract. The Bills “fought hard” to keep Poz, but he wanted to get back to a 4-3 defense.
– Jaguars’ WR Marcedes Lewis might hold out of camp in the hopes of a securing a long-term contract, according to the Florida Times-Union. Lewis was slapped with the franchise tag prior to the lockout and quickly expressed his displeasure at playing on a 1-year tender even though it will be for at least $7M. GM Gene Smith is already on the record saying he wants to lock up Lewis to an extension.
– The Buccaneers have signed their No. 20 overall pick DE Adrian Clayborn to a multi-year contract. Clayborn is expected to step right in as the starting right defensive end opposite second-rounder Da’Quan Bowers, upgrading a pass rush that ranked 30th in the NFL in sacks last season.
– Broncos’ QB Kyle Orton is on top of the Dolphins’ wish list of quarterbacks, a source tells the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Orton is reportedly looking for more than $6M per season on a long-term deal and the Dolphins may not be willing to make that significant of a commitment. Regardless, the Denver Post, NFL Network and Sun-Sentinel are all calling the Dolphins the favourites to land Orton.
– The Redskins have signed NT Barry Cofield to a 6-year contract. He will replace Ma’ake Kemoeatu as the starting nose tackle in Jim Haslett’s 3-4 scheme. Cofield bounced back nicely in 2010, grading out as a top-12 tackle in Pro Football Focus’ ratings and particularly excelling as a run defender.
– Bucs’ GM Mark Dominik expects troubled CB Aqib Talib to participate in training camp and play for the team in 2011. The St. Petersburg Times reported early in the offseason that Talib would be released, but that was never particularly credible. Talent remains the trump card, and Talib has been the Bucs’ top difference-marker on defense. Though Talib’s felony assault with a deadly weapon trial won’t take place until at least March, he remains a candidate for NFL suspension.
– According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles are “almost certain” to let all of their free agents walk, including LB Stewart Bradley. The full list includes S Quintin Mikell, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Dimitri Patterson, G/C Nick Cole, OG Max Jean-Gilles, and P Sav Rocca. Bradley is the biggest surprise, as beat writers have been penciling him as a starter all offseason. Promising second-year tackle machine Jamar Chaney should be locked in as the starting middle linebacker. The Eagles’ stance on their free agents suggest the team is gearing up for a big signing.
– The Blue Jays have acquired RHP Edwin Jackson and INF Mark Teahen from the White Sox for RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Zach Stewart. Teahen is set to make $5.5M in 2012 while Frasor has a $3.75M club option for next season. According to Rosenthal, the White Sox have also made LHP John Danks and LHP Gavin Floyd available.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a deal that will send OF Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays for RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Octavio Dotel and LHP Marc Rzepczynski is “imminent.” The Jays would also likely throw in some salary relief, but it’s still a bargain for the Jays. Jackson will certainly help in the short-term, as he is in a fine position to succeed under pitching coach Dave Duncan, but he will be a free agent following the season. That means that the Cardinals will likely have only Rzepczynski and a draft pick to show for Rasmus a few months from now.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Giants are “in position” to land Mets’ OF Carlos Beltran. The Rangers tried and the Phillies haven’t quite given up, but Heyman hears that a deal could get done soon. The Giants have been reluctant to give up top prospect RHP Zach Wheeler, but names like Gary Brown, Francisco Peguero and Charlie Culberson could be in the conversation. LHP Jonathan Sanchez’ name has been thrown around a lot too. Sanchez is making $4.8M this season and remains under team control through 2012. Under this scenario, the Mets could potentially keep the southpaw or flip him in another deal. Sanchez is currently on the DL with left biceps tendinitis, so a trade would be complicated.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com hears that the Rangers believe Beltran will be dealt to a NL team. The Rangers are “expressing surprise” that they are considered the front-runners. The Giants and Braves are expected to make offers.
MLB Network’s Peter Gammons reports that the Indians offered to pick up all of Beltran’s remaining salary, as well as give up a good player in return, but Beltran decided he didn’t want to go to Cleveland. Gammons doesn’t necessarily say there was a deal in place and Beltran nixed it, but it’s clear he wants to go to a team he thinks has a good chance to win a title, and he doesn’t think the Indians fit that bill. The veteran outfielder has a full no-trade clause.
– SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that Marlins’ ace RHP Josh Johnson is not expected to pitch again in 2011. JJ has yet to resume throwing since experiencing a setback in late June. Heyman hears Johnson has no serious damage with the shoulder and there is no expectation of surgery. He’ll rehab his shoulder and hope to return at 100% for spring training next season.
– CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler reports that if the Rockies decide to trade RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, the Yankees have the best chance to get him. The Bronx Bombers have the prospects to get a deal done, and it seems increasingly likely that the Rockies are receptive to dealing their ace right-hander. The Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Indians and Reds are also in the mix for Jimenez, with Knobler listing the Blue Jays as a “longshot.”
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Phillies are the “most aggressive” on Hunter Pence. The Red Sox have also inquired, but haven’t found a match. Meanwhile, the division-rival Braves are not currently involved in talks. It’s not clear who the Phillies would be willing to part with, but Pence would likely cost more than Caros Beltran since he’s under team control through 2012.
– USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Phillies have been scouting White Sox’ OF Carlos Quentin. It’s obvious at this point that the Phils are going to acquire a right-handed hitting outfielder before the deadline, it’s just a matter of who it winds up being. Quentin is making $5.05M this season and will enter his final year of arbitration over the winter.
– The Nationals have acquired OF Jonny Gomes and cash considerations from the Reds for OF Bill Rhinehart and LHP Chris Manno. Gomes, 30, is batting .211/.336/.399 with 11 homers and 31 RBI over 265 plate appearances this season. He will be a free agent following the season.
– Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals have expressed interest in Peter Bourjos. It would be surprising if the Angels gave up on someone who projects to be under team control though 2016. According to Ladson, the Nationals are also scouting Denard Span, Colby Rasmus, B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn.
– According to F4WO, Alberto Del Rio has once again been victimized by WWE’s haphazard booking as his long planned match with John Cena at SummerSlam was nixed hours before last night’s Raw telecast in Hampton, Virginia. Creative overhauled the match line-up for SummerSlam Monday afternoon after deeming their creative plans for CM Punk for the event as “awful.” Del Rio was effectively removed from the title picture as a result. WWE’s braintrust felt that had Punk not been slotted in the title match, his much talked about storyline would extinguish.
Though Del Rio had the rug pulled out from under him once again, creative has the 34-year-old pegged for a title run this fall. WWE announced today they will present a landmark tour across Mexico this October and a number of high ranking officials feel the countryman returning as a conquering hero will garner a great deal of media attention. Meanwhile, The Miz was at one point scheduled to reign supreme in the WWE Championship Tournament on Raw. Creative later changed their mind and the WWE Championship was awarded to Rey Mysterio, who got to hold the belt for approximately an hour and a half.
– The July 25 edition of WWE RAW drew 3.2 rating with 4.8 million people watching. A trend worth noting is that show opened with a 3.01 in the first hour and climbed to a 3.4 for the final hour. This week’s viewership was virtually even with last week’s post-Money in the Bank RAW.
– Kevin Nash is the latest WWE personality to give praise to CM Punk, offering the former WWE champion his protection services:
“Still up trying to unwind from todays shoot.2-3 days left on Rock of Ages. Enjoying Raw, Punk doing a great job. Punk if you want back up you got my number. Your worth me going back on the road full time. Offer stands understand if you want to go it alone.”
He added that he misses that rush he felt when he made a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble. Nash is currently filming the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway show Rock of Ages, which stars Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
– WWE diva Maryse Ouellet has filed for a permanent restraining order against an “extremely disturbing and delusional” fan who she claims is obsessed with her and has threatened to “take her to heaven” with him. According to a report on TMZ.com, the freakshow in question is 61-year-old Lee Silber, who Maryse claims has sent “numerous terrifying letters to my home and left more than 50 voicemails on my personal cell phone all of which are extremely disturbing and delusional.” Maryse tells the L.A. County Superior Court that she fears for her life and wants the stalker kept away from her at any cost. She’s due back in court on August 3rd to follow up on the restraint order request.
– Oilers’ G Nikolai Khabibulin dropped his DUI appeal and will consequently be sent to jail. Khabibulin was sentenced before the 2010-11 season, but he appealed the ruling. “Despite assurances by legal counsel regarding the strength of my appeals case, I have decided to withdraw my appeal and proceed with sentencing,” Khabibulin said. He’ll be forced to stay in jail for 15 days and spend an additional 15 days at home. He will probably serve the entirety of his sentence before the start of the Oilers’ training camp.
– The Penguins have signed F Jason Williams to a 1-year/2-way contract worth $600K at the NHL level.
– According to Steve Bartlett, Rangers’ F Ryan Callahan’s agent, has sent a contract proposal to the team, but the two sides haven’t made much progress. Callahan and the Rangers have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday, so the two sides are almost out of time. The Rangers went right down to the wire with F Brandon Dubinsky before signing him, so the same could happen here.
– The NBA will present evidence in defense of the players’ unfair labor practices claim being heard by the National Labor Relations Board, which will delay a decision by the board for up to a month. While we haven’t heard much talk of the possibility, should the NLRB rule in the players’ favor, the federal courts could issue an injunction to cancel the owners’ lockout. That said, there hasn’t been much stock put into this by anybody, though we expect speculation to rise as we approach the time when the court will rule.
– The NBA will present evidence in defense of the players’ unfair labor practices claim being heard by the National Labor Relations Board, which will delay a decision by the board for up to a month. While we haven’t heard much talk of the possibility, should the NLRB rule in the players’ favour, the federal courts could issue an injunction to cancel the owners’ lockout. That said, there hasn’t been much stock put into this by anybody, though we expect speculation to rise as we approach the time when the court will rule.
– According to Tom Ziller of SB Nation, the NBA player’s union and NBA are working out details to meet for the inaugural bargaining session of the NBA lockout within the first couple of weeks in August. The two sides supposedly weren’t planning on getting together at any point soon, but as Ziller notes, the NBPA recently expressed some consideration to look into a decertification process, and that could have prompted the league into a response. The conflict definitely won’t be resolved over night, but at least it appears that the parties will be talking in the not too distant future.