– The Seahawks have signed WR Sidney Rice to a 5-year/$41M contract. The deal comes with $18M in guarantees and is pending a physical. Rice follows OC Darrell Bevell and QB Tarvaris Jackson from Minnesota. Rice will immediately step in as the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver. The Vikings are now expected to turn to WRs Braylon Edwards and Malcom Floyd.
– The Philadelphia Inquirer reports a QB Kevin Kolb trade to Arizona is expected to be completed by the end of the day. The Cardinals have made “substantial” progress on a new contract for Kolb, according to NFL insider Adam Caplan on 97.5 the Fanatic in Philadelphia. The Eagles will be receiving CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in return, though the exact draft pick compensation is still unclear.
– The Chiefs have signed WR Steve Breaston to a 5-year contract with $9M guaranteed. Breaston’s right knee injury became so problematic down the stretch last season that he essentially lost his starting job. Breaston is a fairly young receiver (28) who when healthy can stretch the field.
– Panthers’ Steve Smith will not be traded and will be at Panthers camp Friday, according to NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi. GM Marty Hurney met with Smith Wednesday night and convinced Smith to stay through Carolina’s rebuilding process. It’s big news for QB Cam Newton, who begged for Smith to stay and now has his veteran target. Newton figures to be brought along slowly as the Panthers utilize a run-heavy scheme.
– The Texans have “moved into the lead” for free agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha, according to NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi. Lombardi says that Asomugha’s money will be in the $12-$14M per year range, which is more than the Texans were expected to offer. This could be a ploy from Asomugha’s camp to drive the Jets’ offer up.
– The Dolphins have acquired RB Reggie Bush from the Saints for an undisclosed late-round draft pick. Bush also gets a new 2-year/$10M deal. He’ll likely see more rushing attempts than he got over the last couple of years in New Orleans. RB Daniel Thomas is the unquestioned feature back and will push for 250 carries.
– Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel hears free agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw has “exited the Dolphins’ price range.” Kelly expects Bradshaw to return to the Giants unless his asking price comes down. The earlier report suggesting Miami as the new favorite was likely agent driven. Re-signing with the Giants has been Bradshaw’s most likely scenario all along.
– Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that the 49ers have not yet cut ties with CB Nate Clements. Maiocco admits that he’s “back-pedaling” after initially reporting Clements had been informed of his release. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora and ESPN’s Adam Schefter both report Clements remains on the 49ers’ roster and has not been told otherwise. Clements’ $15M in salary and bonuses is still extremely hefty for a cornerback whose performance is no longer elite.
– The Redskins have signed CB Josh Wilson to a 3-year/$13.5M contract. Wilson will receive $6M in guarantees. He excelled in Baltimore last season, grading out Pro Football Focus’ fifth-ranked cornerback.
– The Giants have signed DE/OLB Mathias Kiwanuka to a 2-year contract. Kiwi is a high-risk investment because of his neck injuries, but his versatility and pass-rushing ability also made him one of the most intriguing defenders on the market.
– The Eagles have signed DE Jason Babin to a 5-year/$28M contract. The deal includes between $5-6M in guarantees. Babin had 17.5 sacks in his first six seasons and then busted out for 13 last year at age 30.
– Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson’s holdout is officially underway as he did not report to Eagles training camp Thursday morning. He’s represented by Drew Rosenhaus and clearly has no intention of playing for $565K in the final year of his rookie deal. He’ll get his raise, but it’ll be interesting to see how long the extension is for.
– The Patriots have acquired DL Albert Haynesworth from the Redskins for a 5th-round pick in 2013. Haynesworth refused to play nose tackle in Washington’s 3-4 defense, but the Pats have NT Vince Wilfork in that position. Haynesworth should be an instant impact interior pass rusher in the nickel defence. It’s a solid low cost, high reward deal for the Pats.
– Agent Drew Rosenhaus reportedly sent a mass email to all 32 teams Wednesday night announcing the Bears were making TE Greg Olsen available for trade. ”The Bears have granted me permission to seek a trade for Greg Olsen. Please let me know if interested. Sounds like the Bears will be very reasonable on the compensation in return for Greg.” Ten minutes later, Rosenhaus sent a follow-up email asking teams to disregard the original text. Olsen is known to be seeking an extension. GM Jerry Angelo shopped Olsen as recently as the 2010 draft.
– The Titans have signed QB Matt Hasselbeck to a 3-year contract. No. 8 overall pick QB Jake Locker has been deemed not ready yet by the front office and Hasselbeck will serve as a capable bridge for at least one year. Although he’ll be 36 in September and is coming off a 12-touchdown, 17-interception year in Seattle, Hasselbeck can still run a short passing game well. He’ll also be an excellent mentor and teacher to Locker.
– According to the Denver Post, a QB Kyle Orton trade was no longer “imminent” as of late Wednesday night. Orton attended morning and evening meetings at Broncos headquarters, and the team expects him back for the first training camp workout Thursday. The Miami Herald is reporting that Orton’s camp is still in talks with multiple teams, including the Broncos, and that a trade would involve “many moving parts.” Orton will restructure his contract as part of a deal, and he could be waiting for the Cardinals situation to finalize.
– Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports “at least a dozen” teams are interested in free agent WR Plaxico Burress and consider him a “low-risk” bargain. ”It is stunning that team executives speak about Burress’ future with such certainty like they’ve stepped into a time machine.” Execs tell Freeman that Plax will “retain his athletic ability” and return to form “easier and quicker” than QB Michael Vick at a less demanding position. The entire report reads like it came straight from the desk of agent Drew Rosenhaus, through Freeman cites multiple front office sources. In addition to the Giants and Steelers, Freeman says the Redskins, Eagles, Jets, and another mystery team have emerged as the “top contenders” for Plax.
– The Steelers have informed LT Max Starks of his impending release. The move saves $5.14M in salary. The Steelers are picking up their pursuit of free agent RT Willie Colon, but the Starks move doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with that. The Steelers could bring Starks back later at a reduced rate, but he isn’t going to help anyone until he gets in shape.
– The Cowboys have signed their No. 9 overall pick OT Tyron Smith to a fully guaranteed 4-year/$12.5M contract. Smith was a two-year starter at right tackle for the Trojans, earning the Morris Trophy as the PAC 10′s top offensive lineman in 2010.
– According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, free agents RBs Jason Snelling and Jerome Harrison are emerging as candidates to back up Steven Jackson with the Rams.
– The Lions have signed LB Justin Durant to a 2-year contract. If Durant can stay healthy, he’s a key piece in the Lions’ revamped defence.
– The Giants have officially acquired OF Carlos Beltran and cash considerations from the Mets for RHP Zack Wheeler. Beltran is expected to be in the starting lineup Thursday night against the Phillies, batting third and playing right field. The 34-year-old is batting .289/.391/.513 with 15 homers, 30 doubles, 66 RBI and a .904 OPS over 419 plate appearances this season. He should provide a much-needed boost.
– SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Braves are the “last team in” on Astros’ OF Hunter Pence. According to Heyman, the Phillies have “all but given up” after their big offer (reportedly Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart and a third player) was rejected by the Astros.
– Brewers’ 2B Rickie Weeks (severely sprained left ankle) has been placed on the 15-day DL and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks. The good news is that no surgery is needed, but this is still a severe blow for a team trying to make the postseason. GM Doug Melvin is going to have to go out and get some help.
– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Indians have joined the hunt for Rockies’ RHP Ubaldo Jimenez. The Reds, Red Sox and Yankees have also been heavily involved, but the Rockies are asking for a major haul of young talent in return and have no real motive to deal Ubaldo at this year’s deadline. Jimenez, 27, has registered a 4.28 ERA and 116/47 K/BB ratio in 122 innings this season.
– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals may be willing to part with RHP Drew Storen in order to acquire OF Denard Span from the Twins. Storen, 23, has a 2.37 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 49 1/3 innings this season. Span has been on the DL for a while with a concussion, but is a .289 career hitter, plays quality defence in center field and remains under team control through at least 2014 at a reasonable rate.
– The Indians have acquired OF Kosuke Fukudome and cash considerations from the Cubs OF Abner Abreu and RHP Carlton Smith. The Tribe are responsible for just $775K of his remaining salary. Fukudome has struggled since his hot start, but still has a .273 batting average to go along with a .374 OBP.
Sticking with the Tribe, OF Shin-Soo Choo (thumb) is scheduled to hit balls off a tee for the first time Thursday. Choo underwent surgery in late June to repair a fractured left thumb and is not expected to return to the Indians until late August or early September. He has a disappointing .244/.33/.353 batting line, five home runs, 11 stolen bases and 28 RBI in 72 games before the injury.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Braves are “hot” for White Sox’ OF Carlos Quentin. Chicago is reportedly interested in pitching prospects for any potential Quentin trade.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Rangers are engaged in “substantive” talks for Padres’ RHP Heath Bell. President Nolan Ryan and manager Ron Washington both questioned the drive of closer Neftali Feliz on Wednesday, which is an indication that they could be on the lookout for an upgrade. SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported that Bell would “prefer” to wind up with the Cardinals. The 33-year-old closer is highly likely to be dealt somewhere before Sunday’s deadline.
– A source tells Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com that the Red Sox are “all over” Mariners’ LHP Erik Bedard. The Mariners had two scouts watching Boston’s Triple A affiliate on Wednesday night and one watching their Double-A squad. Bedard hasn’t pitched since June 27 due to a sprained left knee, but both the Red Sox and Yankees plan to send scouts for his return Friday night against the Rays. Bedard had a 3.00 ERA and 85/26 K/BB ratio over 15 starts before the injury.
– Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that multiple teams have shown interest in Dodgers’ SS Rafael Furcal. Olney doesn’t name any of the teams, but the Brewers could be in the mix. The Dodgers would likely have to cover the majority of the $4.8M left on Furcal’s contract to get a deal done. The veteran shortstop is batting just .195/.267/.241 over 147 plate appearances this season.
– FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report that the Yankees have “intensified” their pursuit of Dodgers’ RHP Hiroki Kuroda. The Tigers, who have had a longstanding interest in Kuroda, are also in the mix, along with the Red Sox, Rangers and Indians. There is a question about whether Kuroda will be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to an East Coast team, but recent indications are that he’d approve the move on a short-term basis.
– A source told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox are “very concerned” that RHP Clay Buchholz (back) is dealing with a structural issue in his back. Buchholz was originally scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, but plans were scrapped in order for him to have another visit with a specialist about his back. While the Red Sox are saying that he was pushed back for precautionary reasons, they apparently feel quite different about the situation in private. With his status in doubt for the foreseeable future, it’s very possible that they could add a pitcher before the deadline.
– According to Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there were actually six different scripts written for RAW – one of which would have resulted in Triple H laying out CM Punk with a pedigree. Although the obvious scenario would be for WWE to capitalize on CM Punk’s recent popularity and push him to the moon, most of the scenarios presented for Monday’s RAW were not to get Punk over, but to emphasize Triple H’s new role as Vince McMahon’s successor.
Prior to WWE settling on what we saw unfold on Monday night, the original plan for CM Punk’s return was for him to get attacked and pedigreed by Triple H. Alberto Del Rio then would have come out, cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase against John Cena at SummerSlam. While this would have certainly put Triple H over as a major heel and led to an eventual program with a babyface CM Punk cooler heads prevailed and the angle of Punk getting squashed on the night of his return was scrapped.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, over the past several months, there have been various reports claiming that Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank winner Alberto Del Rio has been slated to win the WWE championship a few times this year. Thus far, those plans changed each time and he has yet to capture WWE’s top prize. As noted in an earlier report, WWE’s original plan for Summerslam was for Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and challenge John Cena for the WWE title at SummerSlam. With SummerSlam taking place from Los Angeles, WWE saw dollar signs in their top heel Mexican star wrestling for the WWE title at a major pay-per-view in a strong hispanic market.
Additionally, WWE had discussed the idea of Del Rio holding the WWE championshpi heading into the company’s tour of Mexico in October. Plans for Del Rio at Summerslam changed when the decision was made to bring back CM Punk sooner than expected. According to Dave Meltzer, this is at least the 4th time Del Rio had been scheduled to win the WWE or World Title and it didn’t end up happening.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE officials went to great lengths to keep the arrivals of both CM Punk and Jim Ross a secret before they aired on Raw. Both talents were hidden from almost everyone in the organization. They were sent to different hotels from everyone else in fear that someone would see them and relay it online. Neither came into the Hampton Coliseum until they were given the cue to appear, both being sequestered somewhere on the premises. They were not even on the sixth and final script for the show and aside from those who had to directly interact with them on television, all performers weren’t aware of either of talent being in Hampton, Virginia. Ironically, the arena itself was advertising Punk for the event.
– Tyrone Evans (aka Michael Tarver), who was released last month from his contract with WWE following several months of inactivity, posted a bizarre diatribe on his Twitter account today accusing John Cena of feeling threatened by his talent and intentionally fracturing his arm with a chair during a PPV event last year to put him out of commission. The founding Nexus member also alleges that Cena laughed in his face afterwards. Here is his post in its entirety:
“Family im a baaad man YAHWEH NISSI ,, soooooooo stop me if you heard this one for starters I went from sleeping in a car to being on 2 Wrestlemanias fun fact there soooooo this guy has a dream job but an adv he meets his dream girl assn db on his dream job he was to be away From his kids so he makes it work while spendiing 3 years trying to get his daughter to tampa to live him away from addcict mother
“Now during this dream job he fights trains show crazy potential on the mic regarded as one the best ever in developmental so he moves on ,,,To nxt and raw where he is burried on tv treated like trash back stage to the point where a certain top superstar takes notice of this Guy building steam with his promos back stage and begins to feel threatend so one night on a ppv the champ purposely fractures this Persons arm with a chair and after.the match backstage laughs in his face about it and walks off you know im talking about you just cant see See him anyway he takes out threats to his throne back stage to the point where the even get released from their dream job and ironicaly This guys dream wife leaves him tthreatening to take everything from him a month later on the se day his daughter was to move in with With them now his daughter is hysterical beyond help and has to be sent back home after three years of fighting and one week there
“Hmmmmm makes you wonder is it worth it because in your opinions WHO DO YOU KNOW WHO IS BAD.ENOUGH TO SCARE A BILLION DOLLAR COMPANY So I saw to all things mention ME ,,,,,,,,IM THAT BAD MAN ,,,,,,,,,,,YAHWEH NISSI”
– The latest trailer has been released for WWE’s new WWE ’12 video game franchise – which is due out on November 22, two days after WWE’s Survivor Series PPV. The trailer features video footage and in-game footage of The Rock, who announced earlier this week that he’ll be appearing at Survivor Series to confront John Cena.
Video game publisher THQ’s stock took a major beating this week – falling over 15% after the company slashed its annual earnings forecast for the year. THQ’s game sales were way below expectations for the first half of the year – which CEO Brian Ferrell called “Clearly, a disappointing performance.” During an investor conference calls this week – executives stressed the company would thrive in the third quarter, when it expects to generate the most revenue and earnings per share in the company’s history – with the new WWE ’12 game being a big part of that plan.
– Former WWE champion Mick Foley was backstage at Tuesday’s WWE SmackDown taping from Philadelphia – and we can now confirm that Foley is in negotiations to return to the company. Foley was asked today by a fan on Twitter whether he would consider working for WWE again. Foley responded:
“Sure, I would – I’m considering it right now.”
– Among those within WWE, the most notable thing about CM Punk’s return on Raw is that he got Vince McMahon to do what he’s had a policy in most cases against doing—pay royalty rights to use popular songs instead of WWE-created music.
– Former independent wrestler Devon Nicholson has filed a 6.5 million dollar lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Larry Shreve (a/k/a Abdullah the Butcher), a WWE Hall of Famer. The lawsuit stems from a 2007 match in Ottawa, Ontario, where Nicholson alleges that Shreve cut him with a razor blade without his permission. Nicholson alleges that Shreve’s blood mixed with his own and gave him Hepatitis C. Nicholson learned of his infection in mid-2009. That September, WWE rescinded their three-year contract offer to Nicholson, allegedly on the basis of his disease. According to Nicholson, his lawyer met with Shreve in September 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia, and agreed to provide blood work. Yet, the suit alleges, Shreve never provided the promised sample or result. Shreve posted this note on his Facebook page on July 17: “I received my medical reports; I have NO hepatitis, or AIDS and anything. My blood tests are ALL negatives then these fools will be prosecured in justice… Hannibal, Billy Graham and especially New Jack, the most vulgar Boy whom business knew!”
– Spike TV, the cable network that is home to TNA Wrestling’s flagship show Impact Wrestling, recently confirmed reports that the network will be re-branding itself in the coming months. Spike has catered its programming to young men since it launched back in 2003 – but after several years of declining ratings, the network is looking to broaden its appeal and will soon begin airing shows for men and women aged 18-49.
Spike is expecting to lose UFC programming and it’s being speculated that the new direction for Spike may hurt TNA and their Impact Wrestling show, despite Impact doing well for Spike’s demographic. During a recent investor conference call, Spike made no mention of TNA – and UFC was barely mentioned. If TNA were dropped from Spike, it would hurt the company big time unless they could secure another national TV deal. While Impact Wrestling getting dropped from Spike would be a devastating blow to TNA, that seems unlikely at this point – since Impact still doubles the network’s average rating and does not cost Spike much in TV rights fees.
– There were multiple reports released Wednesday confirming the owners and players will meet on Monday to resume collective bargaining talks. Whether or not the implied threat of decertification moved the ball forward here is unclear, but the mere evidence of a meeting puts talks ahead of the pace set in 1998-99 when a lockout resulted in a 50-game season. David Stern and Billy Hunter will both be in attendance, so even if we’re not expecting much, this could be the first sign that one or both parties want to avert a missed season.
– The Coyotes have more than 1,000 new season ticket holders. In addition to that, 90% of the Coyotes 2010-11 season ticket holders have decided to extend their commitment through the 2011-12 campaign. That’s good news for the Coyotes, especially seeing as their future is as cloudy as ever. Matthew Hulsizer recently withdrew his bid for the Coyotes and has instead turned his attention to buying the Blues. It remains to be seen if another viable party expresses an interest in buying the Coyotes and keeping them in Glendale.
– Predators’ F Francis Bouillon (concussion) is experiencing headaches again. GM David Poile said, ”Things were looking very good. He was exercising at a very high level and his confidence to be ready for training camp was very good. Then he had these headaches. So our medical staff has recommended he back off his workouts.” At this point, Bouillon should be considered questionable for the start of training camp. Stay tuned.
– The Devils have traded F Brian Rolston to the Islanders for F Trent Hunter. The Devils were probably looking to free up some cap space and the Islanders needed some help getting to the cap floor. Rolston will provide the young Islanders forwards with some veteran leadership.