Crowell ranked 40th in the same category the previous season.

Dipoto has gone for it, albeit in his own way. He has tried to make his team a winner. Regression and the injury bug came for the Mariners in 2017, as they always seem to do, and it may have been the penultimate nail in the coffin. Even if Dipoto did lure Darvish to the northwest, it would be difficult to see the team as better than the ones in Houston and Anaheim. But the team is on its last breaths, and signing a good starter could mean getting good prospects in a trade if things go south.

With Matt Forte retiring, the Jets responded to their perceived need at halfback alongside Bilal Powell by giving Crowell a three-year, $12 million deal with $5 million in guarantees.

It’s not a huge outlay, and the Jets could very easily be out of this deal by 2019, but there’s not much evidence Crowell is any better than the scads of running backs who are available in this market.

Behind one of the league’s most expensively assembled offensive lines, Crowell ranked 38th out of 47 backs in success rate last season.

The Vikings headed toward the 2018 offseason with Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater set to become unrestricted free agents. Spielman didn’t believe strongly enough that any of the three were the answer.

Not that he has led the Redskins into the promised land, either. Cousins doesn’t even have a winning record as a starter (26-30-1) let alone a playoff victory after the 2015 Redskins were smashed by the Packers in his lone postseason appearance.

Cousins, though, has consistently shown the potential to make a championship run during his three seasons at the helm in Washington. He also is the free-agent version of Moby Dick.

Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was an assistant with the Seahawks and Jaguars under Gus Bradley, so he should have no difficulty finding a familiar spot for Sherman along the sidelines.

The future Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate was able to sign a three-year, $39.2 million deal one day after being released by the Seahawks, who didn’t want to pay him an $11 million base salary in 2018. ravens_154

Bears reach agreement with Aaron Lynch

The Bears have agreed to a one-year deal with former 49ers defensive end Aaron Lynch, according to Ian Rapoport of The terms of Lynch’s deal have yet to be revealed.

So he took every snap from an under-center posture, threw a large share of deep passes and switched sides of the field with his receivers after each cycled through their routes, jogging each time. He missed on a handful of deep outs—in an interview with NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, he chalked up the gaffes to missing quality time with his receivers since the season ended.

He’s got a live arm, he’s extremely accurate on the run, he’s got touch, Mayock told The MMQB after the workout.

He missed a couple of throws on the sideline, but at the end of the day he’s very accurate and it seems like the thing he’s working on hardest is his footwork, which he needs.

“The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent,” Haley said, accusing Russia of violating international law.

“If we don’t take immediate concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used,” Haley said. “They could be used here in New York or in cities of any country that sits on this council.”

Haley has been among the administration’s toughest voices about Russia, especially over its actions in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but her criticism rarely seemed part of a concerted administration policy to address what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said was a deliberate Russian effort to expand its influence at U.S. expense.

Sanders also issued a pointed statement Wednesday that endorsed Britain’s expulsion of Russian diplomats.ravens_017

It’s official: Kirk Cousins is the new starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins met with team officials Wednesday night over dinner and toured the Vikings’ new facility on Thursday before agreeing to the richest contract in NFL history. The three-year, $84 million deal, which is fully guaranteed, makes Cousins the highest-paid player ever, a source informed of the contract told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

In Minnesota, Cousins will guide a Vikings attack flush with receiving talent and returning rookie running back Dalvin Cook to go along with one of the NFL’s deepest and grittiest defensive squads. Former Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian will serve as his backup.

Cousins netted roughly $44 million playing under the franchise tag in Washington the last two years. His new contract, which is the richest in NFL history, also brings sky-high expectations for the 29-year-old signal-caller in a market eagerly waiting for its first Super Bowl title.

A rugged run blocker with the athleticism to pass protect and play multiple positions, Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson might be an attractive option to give the front the edge it needs. While the Giants could take him outright at No. 2, especially if Barkley is off the board, they might be wise to trade back a few slots with a team vying to move up for a quarterback — perhaps even the cross-town Jets.

Beyond Nelson, this draft seems to lack the top-tier offensive linemen needed to meet the league-wide demand. But after the Giants’ signing of Solder and the Bengals’ trade for Cordy Glenn, two of the teams that had been hungriest for a solution at left tackle are now satiated. The run on offensive linemen now might wait until late in the first round, with Buffalo perhaps springing first to replace Glenn with the 22nd selection.canucks_036

Tom Brady chugged a beer with Stephen Colbert, and there’s already a conspiracy theory

Downing a beer in one-gulp runs so counter to the Brady ethos that naturally Patriots fans lost it on Twitter. I’ll spare you the “that’s my quarterback” GIFs and “GOAT OF BEER DRINKING!” tweets, but they’re there — I promise.

Now, for most quarterbacks this would be a fun offseason moment that barely moved the needle, but because it’s Brady there are now hundreds of critiques of his form and yes — even some conspiracy theories.

He’s not wrong. The glasses were definitely switched just before the chug, with neither Brady nor Colbert drawing much attention to it. Was only one of these glasses beer? It’s possible — and it makes sense for either party to not want to down a beer during the show.

The would certainly explain why Brady is so adept at chugging. He has a chug history. Honestly, I got sidetracked on this whole “Did Tom drink beer?” thing because of this tweet.

The point is: We’re so caught up trying to find an angle and prove something is a grand conspiracy these days that we miss the whole point. Brady didn’t chug a beer on The Late Show not because of some weird glass switching scheme — but because it was actually Bruno Mars eating a Mars bar on Mars.

Kirk Cousins not only reset the bar as the highest-paid player in NFL history when he inked a three-year, $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, he also set a new precedent for veteran players by signing a fully guaranteed deal.

A contract of this magnitude — one that also contains another $6 million in incentives that could elevate the total value to $90 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter — was the focus of conversations with Cousins and his agent, Mike McCartney, for the past two and a half years.

While the deal is short-term in nature, it carries long-term importance in providing stability for the Vikings at the quarterback position and for the next chapter of Cousins’ career.

Editor’s Picks Ranking the QBs who won 2018 free agency With the major 2018 NFL offseason QB movement having run its course even before free agency officially began Wednesday, we consider which passers around the league stand to benefit from the initial wave of roster activity. packers_105

Powerful baseball agent: MLB players ‘outraged’ over slow market, may take action

A prominent baseball agent says players are “outraged” over a dormant free agent market and suggests “a fight is brewing,” perhaps starting with some players boycotting spring training in protest.

Brodie Van Wagenen, co-head of powerful agency CAA’s baseball group, wrote in an open letter posted on his Twitter account Friday that player unrest is growing as the offseason market remains stagnant with pitchers and catchers set to report to camp in less than two weeks.

“There is a rising tide among players for radical change,” he wrote. “A fight is brewing. And it may begin with one, maybe two, and perhaps 1,200 willing to follow. A boycott of spring training may be a starting point, if behavior doesn’t change.”

Yahoo Sports reported last month that a high-end free agent it didn’t identify had told a friend he was preparing for the possibility of sitting out until midseason given the lowball offers he had received this winter.

It’s unclear if critical mass might build behind the idea of players sitting out, but Van Wagenen’s letter certainly was a shot across MLB owners’ bow with spring training set to begin.

“Roller coaster,” Mayfield said. “Lot of traveling. It’s an interesting process, you know, people trying to evaluate your game, find your flaws, everything like that. But you only get to do it once. You’ve got to enjoy it. That’s the thing that I’ve heard from everybody that’s gone through it, is that you’ve got to be able to enjoy it. Not everybody gets to go through this, so have fun with it and go out there and show out.”

Mayfield reiterated that, while the Heisman and all his other college successes were great and the allure of a big NFL contract is enticing, he will continue to play the role of unwanted, undersized walk-on.

“Before all this, nobody really knew how I motivated myself,” he said. “And now the question is, ‘Am I too aggressive? Too much?’ I’m going to keep doing what’s gotten me here. Yeah, there’s some fine-tuning, some polishing up to do. But at the same time, if I don’t stay motivated, then what’s the point? You’ve got to improve. You’ve got to keep getting better.packers_128

The Bills signed Taylor to a five-year contract extension before the 2016 season that could have allowed him to earn $90 million.

After Taylor posted a losing record in 2016, he accepted a renegotiated contract last year that eliminated the final three seasons and included a significant pay cut.

Taylor began last season with a 5-4 record but was benched by first-year coach Sean McDermott after back-to-back losses to the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints in which the Bills were outscored 81-31.

Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of the Bills’ first game after Taylor was benched, leading McDermott to hand the starting job back to Taylor for the remainder of last season.

At the same time, Landry is a player the Browns would likely have had no prayer of attracting on the free market without paying a significant premium over a team like the Ravens, so it wouldn’t have been a shock if Cleveland had given Landry a huge deal in free agency or if they give him a massive deal to stick around. The Browns did the same thing after going against type and trading a pick to the Patriots for Jamie Collins in 2016 before giving him an extension that paid him $37.5 million over its first three years, nearly $3 million more than any other inside linebacker in football.

A Kirk Cousins-to-Denver path has lost some steam over the past week or so, and although nothing’s been decided yet, the Broncos appear to have multiple contingency plans. Having been linked to Case Keenum throughout the offseason, the Broncos may now have A.J. McCarron on their radar. McCarron could be a target for the Broncos if Cousins signs elsewhere, Ian Rapoport of notes (Twitter link). The obvious connection here would be McCarron and Vance Joseph, a former Bengals defensive backs coach during part of the quarterback’s time in Cincinnati.

The easiest way to do this is to give Cousins a boatload of cash up front and guarantee the money at the front of the contract. Of all Cousins’ suitors, Minnesota can argue it puts the quarterback in the best spot to win now and with a Super Bowl window that extends for two to three years. The Vikings might have to guarantee a lot to land Cousins, but they wouldn’t have to guarantee anything in the final two years of his contract — something the Jets, Broncos and Cardinals wouldn’t be able to avoid. The best deal here would be a five-year contract with the first three years guaranteed. If things go well during the early years of Cousins’ tenure, Minnesota can decide to hang onto him for the final two years of his deal.buccaneers_085

Stat To The Future: UZR, the DRS cousin you didn’t know that stats had

Think UZR and DRS as toddlers playing with Legos to build a helicopter: they both use the same materials and are attempting to accomplish the same goal, but they’re taking different paths to do so.

The reason that DRS and UZR function separately lies in the small differences between the two: some sabermetricians prefer the small differences of UZR to the differences of DRS, or vice versa. It’s not an objective measurement, where one metric is strictly better than the other, but a matter of preference.

This time, he was done. Except, he wasn’t. Clemens showed up at Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2007 and announced to the crowd that he was coming back again, this time to try and help the Yankees catch the Red Sox in the AL East standings. Clemens posted a 4.18 ERA in 18 games (17 starts), but the Yankees finished a couple games behind Boston, then were knocked out of the playoffs by Cleveland in the ALDS.

At 45 years old, Clemens failed to make it out of the third inning in his final MLB start, allowing four hits, three runs and two walks in 2 1/3 innings in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Stroman, 26, underwent an MRI on Sunday that revealed the inflammation.

“It’s just been a little tender,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said (via “It’s really nothing out of the norm for most guys. But he’s never had it, that I can remember. So, it’s just one of those things. Back him off, get rid of it, and he should be fine.”

Stroman told reporters he first felt discomfort in his shoulder in January but tried to work his way through it. Still, he insisted the MRI was “super clean” and he’s “not slightly worried about it.”

Stroman went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 2017 and has thrown more than 200 innings each of the last two years. While he was great last year, he is just one year removed from a career-worst 4.37 ERA.buccaneers_017

Indians agree to minor league deal with Mike Napoli, report says

The Indians are bringing back Mike Napoli.

The veteran first baseman will have a minor league deal with Cleveland and a spring invitation once he passes a physical, according to a report from

Napoli, 36, returns to Cleveland after spending a season with the Rangers, which served as his third stint in Texas on a one-year deal. He hit 29 home runs but also batted a career-low .193.

While previous reports said Ohtani preferred playing for a West Coast or small-market team, Balelo’s statement continued, “While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei’s decision, what mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels. He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals.”

In Ohtani, 23, the Angels get a player unlike one ever seen in modern baseball. As a right-handed pitcher, he throws a 100 mph fastball. As a left-handed batter, he hit 48 home runs with 166 RBIs, while slashing .286/.358/.500 during his five seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League.

The Twins have been focusing on their rotation most of the winter, adding Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi, but Morrison should be a solid pickup capable of providing another power bat in the Twins’ batting order.

After getting Upton last August, the Angels also added Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler during the offseason, both of whom will stabilize the infield while adding a reliable veteran presence to positions in the infield, where that was previously lacking.

Kinsler, who reached the World Series with the Rangers in 2010 and 2011, has a .291 batting average in the postseason, and he should lock down second base for the Angels in 2018 after that spot was something of a rotating door of Danny Espinosa, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Pennington last season. And even at 35, Kinsler was good for six defensive runs saved at second base for the Tigers in 2017, so he can be counted on to be a valuable bat in the lineup and a sturdy glove on defense.

On the other side of the infield, Cozart joined the Angels in December after seven seasons in Cincinnati, where he consistently hit well and provided extra pop for the Reds in 2017 with a career-high 24 home runs. In fact, last season was his best to date. Cozart finished with an OPS of .933, which was close to 200 points higher than his previous best in a full season.seahawks_121_94a49af8144fd5aa-180x180

The Los Angeles Chargers are locking up one of the league’s best corners.

Casey Hayward has agreed to a contract extension with the Chargers , the team announced on Sunday. Hayward’s new deal is for three-years and worth $36 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports. Additionally, Hayward receives $20 million fully guaranteed upon signing, per Rapoport.

The Redskins probably won’t be able to retain leading tackler Zach Brown in free agency . Smith can fly around the field against the run and also has strong instincts for coverage.

The Packers are likely to continue addressing their pass defense in some form, either by rebuilding at edge rusher or adding another versatile cover man to their promising young group that includes 2017 second-rounder Kevin King. Hughes is a good player for the hybrid coverage scheme of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Manning has decided that if he becomes an NFL TV analyst, it will be on Fox’s new Thursday night package and not on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” sources told The Post. He is still undecided if he will work for Fox or not.

Whoever is hired by ESPN as ‘Monday Night Football’ analyst will have a new partner announcer in the booth, with Joe Tessitore reportedly replacing Sean McDonough as play-by-play announcer for the network’s NFL flagship program.

Tessitore has worked at ESPN since 2002, and most recently called college football, college basketball and boxing for the family of networks.

McDonough was inked by ESPN to a multi-year contract extension and will shift to college football after two years in the MNF booth. As part of McDonough’s new deal he will call national games each week as well as one College Football Playoff semifinal.seahawks_100_12368ef9c9791c8a-180x180

Marcus Smart injury update: Celtics guard hurt taking a swipe at picture frame

This is basically a safety net to ensure that managers in your league won’t drop a star player who could affect the outcome of your league via collusion or tanking. Any player on our undroppable list can’t be released to waivers. Note that we take players off the list if they are injured or no longer warrant being on the list because of poor performance. If you genuinely trust all of your fellow managers to not mess with the integrity of the league, choose “No” to this setting. Generally speaking, though, it’s wise to just be safe and let ESPN declare players who should not be droppable.

The NBA, troubled by poor relations between NBA players and game officials this season, is taking action to remedy the situation.

On Friday, the league announced a five-step initiative to heal the working relationship that concerns league executives and the players and referees unions.

NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell announced the program, which will begin before the NBA All-Star break next month. It will be headed up by NBA Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle Johnson and Monty McCutchen, a former referee who recently became the NBA’s vice president of referee training and development.

It turns out Westbrook was last on the list because it was alphabetical, but his reaction certainly told James something.

“He’s crazy,” James joked to reporters Friday at the Cavaliers’ shoot-around, via ESPN.

As “crazy” as Westbrook may be, James still wasn’t afraid to joke around with him.

“The only thing I know for sure is that Russ went last,” he said.

The only seemingly verified fact about the draft is Warriors forward Kevin Durant went first to James. The Athletic reported Stephen Curry then took Giannis Antetokounmpo and James followed up by selecting Anthony Davis, but the Cavaliers forward won’t verify if it is true or not.

“At some point I’ll tell you all the draft, but it won’t be here,” he said.lions_027