Tagged in: career

Seattle Seahawks’ Uchenna Nwosu wants bigger role than at Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu cited the desire to take on a more prominent role in an NFL team as a reason for leaving the Los Angeles Chargers for his new team.

Nwosu spent four seasons with the Chargers, with his last being the most productive. The 25-year-old registered a career-high five sacks in 2021, featuring in 17 matches last season.

However, he considers he can play an even bigger role at the Seahawks, who are expected to deploy a 3-4 defensive scheme, similar to the one which finally brought out his best abilities in his last season with the Chargers.

Facing the media alongside Houston Texans defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo at an NFL FanZone event in Accra on Sunday, Nwosu said: “Sometimes, everybody’s situation is different, but some people might want to take on a bigger role, and to do that, you might have to switch teams.

“The best opportunity was presented to us [himself and Okoronkwo, who recently joined the Texans from the Los Angeles Rams], and we took it and thought it was the best decision for us.”

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Nwosu has been assisting the NFL with training prospects in Ghana, with a pool of 49 African players, scouted predominantly by New York Giants legend Osi Umenyiora, congregating at the Right to Dream Academy’s soccer venue.

Nigeria has been the most prominent African country in NFL history, with 92 players in the league currently, and Nwosu, who was born in Carson, California, expressed pride in his heritage.

“We [Nigerians] work hard. We always want to finish first. We never give up and always represent and carry the name well, with respect, and just carry ourselves to a higher standard,” Nwosu said.

Commenting on what sets Nigeria apart as a producer of NFL talent, he added: “I wouldn’t say it’s because of our size or because we’re bigger or better or anything like that. I just feel like we just … play. It’s a good question.

“Don’t get us wrong; there’s a lot of Ghanaians and other African countries in the NFL too.”

Okoronkwo added that it was a circular process.

“I think it’s more of a perception thing,” he said. “When Nigerians started coming into the league, they started doing well, so more Nigerians were getting opportunities because Nigerians were doing well.”

The pair pledged to work together in Nigeria in the near future, with Okoronkwo saying: “We both plan on, at some point — maybe next offseason — going to Nigeria and doing some things there.”

As Nwosu added, “Whether that be a camp or just helping out in the community, the sky is the limit, so we look forward to doing that.”

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Milwaukee Brewers designate outfielder Lorenzo Cain, 36, for assignment after ‘a great career’

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain was designated for assignment on Saturday, the team revealed before its game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Cain, 36, was hitting .179 in 145 at-bats while the Brewers’ offense struggled throughout June. The veteran was 4-for-26 this month with no walks and seven strikeouts. As a team, the Brewers rank 14th in OPS in the National League in June while falling out of first place after a strong start.

Cain broke in with the Brewers in 2010, then spent the next seven seasons in Kansas City before returning to Milwaukee as a free agent in 2018. He’s in the final season of a five-year, $80 million deal. The move comes on the same date that Cain reached 10 years of major league service.

“It just got to a point where it’s probably time,” Cain said in Cincinnati. “I haven’t been performing like I would’ve liked, but the situation is what it is. I’ve had a great career. I can’t really be upset about anything, but, yeah, it’s time. I wish all my teammates the best, coaches, trainers, everybody that I’ve played with or met throughout my entire career, I wish them nothing but the best. It’s been a really fun ride for me for sure.”

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Cain is a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner.

He also concluded in the top 10 in MVP voting twice in his career.

“No doubt, he did his part,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “At the end, it was time for this. It was just time.”

Cain was replaced in the roster by journeyman outfielder Jonathan Davis, who was called up from Triple-A Nashville.

“I would say it was mutual to part ways,” he said. “We have a really good team. I don’t think I was contributing the way I would’ve liked. I feel like they definitely had to make a move. I definitely would’ve liked to play a lot better — contribute to the team a little bit more — but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this year.

“At the end of the day, it’s been fun. I think that team can go really far. They’re really well-coached, well-managed. Those guys play their hearts out. I’m definitely going to miss them. It’s been a fun ride for sure.”

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Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe undergoes second hip surgery this year

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe announced Monday that he underwent his second hip surgery of the year, which is the latest setback in his injury-filled career.

Wolfe, 32, missed all of past season with hip and back injuries. He had his first hip surgery in January and then had another one five months later.

“Feeling pretty good,” Wolfe said in an Instagram video that he recorded from his hospital bed. “We’re going to get a full recovery here and try to live a normal life.”

Wolfe’s $2 million salary this season is fully guaranteed, and his $3.8 salary cap figure ranks 13th on the Ravens. Baltimore re-signed Wolfe to a three-year, $12 million contract (including $5.4 million signing bonus) in March 2021, and he has yet to play a match since then.

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Wolfe injured his back and hip during joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in training camp. He was designated to return off injured reserve in November, but he reverted back to IR after briefly appearing in one practice.

Earlier this offseason, Wolfe told a hunting podcast that he didn’t know whether his hip injury would force him to retire. But Wolfe later tweeted in March that he fully intended on coming back this season.

Justin Madubuike stepped into the starting lineup in place of Wolfe last campaign, making 36 tackles and two sacks. Baltimore also signed Brent Urban, a former fourth-round pick, to provide more depth at defensive end.

A second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2012, Wolfe has struggled to stay healthy. He has missed a total of 39 games over the last nine seasons.

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Aaron Rodgers: ‘Definitely’ will finish career with Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers stated Tuesday he doesn’t know how many more seasons he will play — admitting that the three-year, $150 million contract extension he signed in March shouldn’t be an indicator — but he knows where he will conclude his career.

A year after he skipped the Green Bay Packers’ mandatory minicamp as part of his offseason of discontent with the organization, he was asked whether he planned to finish his career with the only team he has ever played for in the NFL.

“Yes, definitely,” Rodgers said.

That was in doubt as recently as March, when everything from retirement to asking for a trade was on the table.

Rodgers put any of that doubt to rest on Tuesday after the first practice of the Packers’ mandatory minicamp. He had previously skipped most of the voluntary offseason program to instead work out in Southern California.

“I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” Rodgers said with a smile, channeling his inner Marshawn Lynch.

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He may have only been half joking. A source said that last June, after Rodgers skipped the mandatory minicamp, the team sent him a letter informing him that he would be fined for his absence.

Tuesday’s practice was his first opportunity to throw to newly acquired receivers.

Sammy Watkins (signed as a free agent) and 2022 draft picks Christian Watson (second round), Romeo Doubs (fourth round) and Samori Toure (seventh round).

The only key member of the Packers’ offense not in attendance was receiver Allen Lazard, who has not yet signed his restricted free-agent contract.

“I miss the guys,” Rodgers said, “I love being around the guys. It’s been a nice offseason. I appreciate my [training] team back in Southern California and the work we put in. But it’s good to be back out here with the guys. Good to meet Christian and Romeo and get reacclimated with some of the older guys. It’s just about timing and them feeling the cadence and the urgency and stuff, and just nice to be back in the building with these people.

“They’ve been great about me taking care of myself the way I best need to. Obviously it’s worked out the last couple years by my play, and I expect nothing less.”

Packers coach Matt LaFleur originally wasn’t sure how much work he would give Rodgers on Tuesday, but after seeing that the reigning MVP was in good shape, he allowed Rodgers to take part in almost every drill, including some 11-on-11s that were at a jog-through speed.

The Packers are coming off three straight 13-win seasons but failed to reach the Super Bowl in any of them, including two losses in the NFC Championship Game.

And now Rodgers has to deal with life after Davante Adams, the All-Pro receiver who wanted out of Green Bay and was traded this offseason to the Las Vegas Raiders.

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Longtime NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick announces retirement

Ryan Fitzpatrick, the enigmatic quarterback out of Harvard who brought his “FitzMagic” to the NFL for nine teams spanning 17 seasons, revealed his retirement Thursday, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Fitzpatrick, popular throughout his career with his teammates and known for his prolific beard, made the announcement in a text message to his former teammates.

Fitzpatrick, 39, suffered a season-ending hip subluxation in the second quarter of the Washington Commanders’ season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in September and had to undergo arthroscopic surgery.

He had signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Washington in March 2021. In 17 seasons, Fitzpatrick started 147 games, throwing for 34,990 yards and 223 touchdowns with 169 interceptions.

He started his career as a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2005, and he also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Washington during his career.

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He started games for all nine teams, which is an NFL record among quarterbacks.

Fitzpatrick, however, never made the playoffs during his career.

Fitzpatrick spent the most years of his career and started the most games in Buffalo, going 20-33 in 53 regular-season starts over four seasons with the Bills from 2009 to 2012. In 2010, despite not beginning the year as the starting quarterback, Fitzpatrick threw for 3,000 yards, becoming the first Bills quarterback to do that in a season since J.P. Losman in 2006.

He ultimately was unable to latch on as a long-term starter with the Bills, enduring a nine-year stretch of losing seasons. In his Bills career, he threw 80 touchdown passes and had 64 interceptions.

While his time in Buffalo is long gone, Fitzpatrick has persisted a favorite among Bills fans. He attended the team’s AFC wild-card playoff victory over the New England Patriots in January, watching from the stands and posing shirtless in freezing temperatures and strong wind.

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Baltimore Ravens re-sign DE Calais Campbell to 2-year, $12.5M contract

Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is coming back to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal, the team revealed Saturday.

Campbell’s contract is worth $12.5 million but could be as much as $16.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Campbell, 35, decided to return for his 15th NFL season after briefly contemplating retirement, saying he still has a desire to play after watching the Los Angeles Rams celebrate their championship.

He now will get to conclude his career in Baltimore after spending the past two seasons there and will try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring.

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Over the past two days, the Ravens addressed two areas of need while bolstering their leadership on defense, bringing back middle linebacker Josh Bynes on Friday and then keeping Campbell on Saturday.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Tony Jefferson II took to Twitter to share their reactions to Campbell’s return.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has long been known for his capacity to get to the quarterback.

But he was more of a run-stopper than a pass-rush force in his two seasons with Baltimore, where he managed 4.5 sacks, including 1.5 last season.

Durability has been a problem for Campbell with the Ravens. After his streak of 98 straight starts ended, Campbell missed six of his past 25 games with Baltimore.

He is one of four NFL defenders since 2000 to record at least 700 tackles and 85 sacks. Among all active players, his 93.5 career sacks rank 10th and his 773 career tackles are 12th. Campbell is still in search of that first Super Bowl championship after six trips to the playoffs.

He played nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Ravens in March 2020 for a fifth-round pick.

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Buffalo Bills, WR Stefon Diggs agree to four-year, $104M extension

Josh Allen will be working with his favorite weapon for years to come, as the Buffalo Bills have reached agreement with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a four-year, $104 million extension that involves $70 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With two years left on his existing deal, Diggs’ contract now runs through 2027 at a total value of $124.1 million. Both the Bills and Diggs would like him to retire in Buffalo, sources said.

“There was so much work put in to get to this point but I am beyond happy to know that I will be playing the rest of my career with BILLS MAFIA. Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now,” Diggs wrote in an Instagram post.

The agreement follows a wave of top wide receiver deals this offseason, making Diggs’ extension an inevitable conclusion for the Bills. New Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill received $72.2 million guaranteed, and Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams got $65 million guaranteed.

Allen’s contract extension signed last year ties him to the Bills through the 2028 season.

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The Bills obtained Diggs, 28, in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in March 2020 in exchange for four draft picks, including a first-rounder. Since that trade, Diggs has put together two of the best seasons of his career, including his first two Pro Bowl appearances.

In his two years with the Bills, Diggs has caught 230 passes for 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2020 season included career and league highs with 127 receptions, 1,535 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. In 2021, he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns during the NFL’s first 17-game season.

Since his trade to the Bills, Diggs has ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

The only players with more receptions than Diggs since the start of the 2020 season are Adams and Cooper Kupp, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Diggs’ receptions and receiving yards are the first and fourth most by any player in their first two seasons with a team in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Diggs and Brandon Marshall (with the Chicago Bears) are the only players with 200 catches and 2,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons with a team all time.

“I want to give all players their respect and a fair pay, whoever it is, and Stef’s no different,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently said of Diggs. “… I think the world of Stef. I think what he’s brought our team has been great. He’s been great for Josh. He’s been great for our offense, and his leadership has stepped up, and we want to see Stef in Buffalo for years to come.”

The move is likely to create more money for the Bills to operate with this offseason. The team entered the week with less than $1 million in available cap space.

Selected by the Vikings in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, Diggs spent the first five seasons of his career in Minnesota and signed a five-year extension with the team in 2018.

His time with the Vikings did not end on the best of terms, and Diggs has been vocal about enjoying being in Buffalo and his connection on and off the field with Allen.

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DeRozan scores 50, Bulls rally past Clippers 135-130 in OT

DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 50 points and the Chicago Bulls rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-130 in overtime Thursday night.

DeRozan finished two points shy of his career high. The five-time All-Star scored 17 in the fourth quarter, though he missed the go-ahead free throw in the closing seconds of regulation after making the first two attempts to tie it.

He then scored 10 in overtime, helping the Bulls come away with a win they sorely needed after falling behind by 16 in the third period.

Chicago, which led the Eastern Conference for a large portion of the season, moved a half-game ahead of sixth-place Toronto with five left. The Bulls are trying to stay in the top six in order to avoid the play-in round in the postseason.

Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 14 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 21 as the Bulls won for the third time in four matches.

Reggie Jackson led Los Angeles with 34 points.

Paul George scored 22 in his second game back after missing three months because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

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Marcus Morris Sr. added 20 points and Nicolas Batum scored 17. But the Clippers — eighth in the West — lost for the sixth time in seven matches.

Chicago led by four in overtime when Luke Kennard hit a 3 for Los Angeles with 1:12 left. 

Patrick Williams answered with one of his own to make it 129-125 with just under a minute remaining.

Jackson then hit two foul shots for the Clippers before DeRozan converted two to make it 131-127.

Williams rebounded a missed drive by Jackson, leading to two more free throws by DeRozan that made it a six-point game. Jackson nailed a 3 to cut it to 133-130 with five seconds left.

DeRozan caught the inbounds pass following a timeout by the Bulls and drove for a dunk, sealing a wild victory for Chicago.

The Clippers saw their lead shrink to four early in the fourth and got it back up to 11 with about five minutes remaining before the Bulls made another push.

Los Angeles was leading 118-115 with seven seconds left in regulation when Terance Mann got called for a foul away from the ball on an inbounds play following a timeout.

That led to a free throw for DeRozan that cut it to two and possession for Chicago. DeRozan then got fouled by George on a 3-point attempt with 3.5 seconds left. He hit the first two foul shots to tie it at 118 and missed the third, sending the game to overtime.

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Los Angeles Rams lock up QB Matthew Stafford with $160M extension

The Rams and Matthew Stafford have reached agreement on a four-year, $160 million extension that includes $135 million guaranteed and should allow the veteran quarterback to concluded his career in Los Angeles, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Stafford is cashing in on his spectacular debut season with the Rams after 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, who traded the 2009 No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles a year ago. Stafford would be 38 years old in the final season of the extension.

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Stafford is headed into the final year of his previous five-year, $135 million deal signed in Detroit, but he repeatedly stated he had no interest in going anywhere.

His new deal also is clearly calculated to allow the Rams to retain more of their championship core while adding new pieces, since Stafford almost certainly could have received more money at the top of the quarterback market. Aaron Rodgers’ new deal with the Packers is essentially a three-year, $150 million contract.

Stafford never won a playoff game in 12 seasons with the Lions, but he realized the enormous potential of winning a Super Bowl immediately after joining coach Sean McVay and a talented offense including Cooper Kupp, who became the NFL’s receiving leader in the first year of their partnership.

Stafford set a franchise record with 4,886 yards passing in the 17-game regular season, and he tied Kurt Warner’s team mark with 41 touchdown passes while leading the Rams to the NFC West title.

He then excelled in the first four playoff victories of his career, passing for 1,188 yards and nine touchdowns with just three interceptions. He led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of the Rams’ final three postseason games, including their Super Bowl victory over Cincinnati at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams also are working on a contract extension for All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Stafford’s deal will alter the amount of room under the salary cap for the Rams, who have already lost several free agents this month. But Los Angeles signed talented veteran receiver Allen Robinson this past week, and the team is hoping to keep Odell Beckham Jr. as well.

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James sits out loss to San Antonio Spurs with ‘significant’ knee soreness

LeBron James did not play Monday night versus the San Antonio Spurs, with Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel saying pregame that James had “significant” soreness in his left knee coming off his 56-point effort versus the Golden State Warriors.

James, 37, missed five games because of his knee from late January until early February, but had not missed any time because of it since.

“With the heavy load that he’s carrying for us this year, we know that it’s always a possibility,” Vogel said of James sitting out, before the Lakers’ 117-110 loss.

“I think that’s why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it’s responding over the 48 hours between games. And this is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out.”

Aside from James’ 39-minute workload versus Golden State, Los Angeles’ travel day on Sunday — when a mechanical issue caused the Lakers to sit on the runway for two hours before changing planes for the nearly three-hour flight to San Antonio — did not help with recovery time, sources told ESPN.

Vogel stated the Lakers are “hopeful” James will play Wednesday in Houston.

James’ performance against the Warriors was his highest-scoring game with the Lakers and tied for third-highest in his 19-year career, as Los Angeles rallied from a 14-point deficit to win 124-116.

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That triumph still only brought the Lakers’ record to 28-35, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference entering Monday’s games. The Spurs were No. 12 in the West, 4½ games behind the Lakers.

“His health takes precedence over any matchup, any individual one game, for sure,” Vogel said of the playoff implications of James resting.

Los Angeles also is dealing with the absence of Anthony Davis, who has been out for nearly three weeks with a midfoot sprain.

James is averaging 29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 36.8 minutes per game for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers started Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook against the Spurs, accounting for the 32nd different starting lineup of the season.

“No one player is going to have to try to pick up where he left off,” Vogel said. “Although I did tell Malik that he’s got to score 56 tonight since Bron’s out, he can try to have that mindset. And then I told him quickly that I was just kidding. Because he will actually go out and try to do that. But, it’s the next man up, but when it’s someone like LeBron, it has to be done by committee.”

Vogel was asked how he thinks James’ knee will be a factor down the stretch as the Lakers jostle for a spot in the play-in tournament over the final games of the regular season.

“I think the simplest way to put it is he’s going to plan on being in unless his knee tells him otherwise,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if we can really forecast any more clearly than that.”

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