Tagged in: franchise

Outfielder Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros finalize new six-year, $115 million deal

Yordan Álvarez already has brought so much to the Houston Astros.

On the day he and the team concluded a $115 million, six-year contract, general manager James Click spoke about how much more they expect the slugger to do for this franchise.

“A cornerstone player,” Click said. “It allows us to build the roster around him, build a lineup around him. And that sort of security, both for him and for us as we continue to try to compete for World Series championships is huge, knowing that we’re going to have a player of that caliber anchoring our lineup for the foreseeable future.”

The contract covers 2023 through 2028. The 24-year-old has a one-year deal for 2022 calling for $764,600 while in the major leagues and $304,500 should he be assigned to the minors.

“There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into it and seeing the fruits of the labor really means a lot,” Álvarez stated in Spanish through an interpreter.

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His deal announced Monday calls for a $5 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of the contract’s approval by Major League Baseball and salaries of $7 million next year, $10 million in 2024 and $15 million in 2025, covering his three years of arbitration eligibility.

Álvarez, who obtained AL Rookie of the Year in 2019 and was the MVP of last year’s American League Championship Series, receives $26 million annually from 2026 through 2028, when he would have been eligible for free agency.

He said he thought about waiting until free agency to test the market, but in the end he and his agent decided, “it was the right decision to be here.”

His salary can escalate from 2024 to ’27 based on his finish in MVP voting: $1.5 million for first, $750,000 for second and $750,000 for third. The increment would apply to all subsequent seasons.

For 2027 and ’28, Álvarez gets a limited no-trade provision allowing him to list 10 teams he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

After seeing star pitcher Gerrit Cole and shortstop Carlos Correa leave as free agents, veteran second baseman Jose Altuve stated he is relieved to know Álvarez is staying.

“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Altuve said. “And just the fact that he’s going to be here, that most time means that the team is trying to win for six years. And obviously with a guy like him in your lineup, you’re going to win many games.”

Álvarez hit .277 last year and set career highs with 33 homers and 104 RBIs. He entered Monday’s series opener against Seattle with a .295 average, 16 homers and 34 RBIs, all team highs.

While he already has proved to be one of the best young hitters in the game, Álvarez is sure he can do much more.

Manager Dusty Baker agreed and stated that Álvarez is only “scratching the surface” of how good he can be. Álvarez has played just one full major league season after being called up in June 2019 and missing all but two games of the 2020 season after surgery on both knees.

“That’s why you sign a guy to multi years, because you realize the fact that he is only going to get better,” Baker said. “And all he has to do now is to stay healthy and the sky’s the limit.”

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Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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Joe Judge returns to New England Patriots as offensive assistant

Former New England Patriots special-teams coordinator Joe Judge — who was fired after two seasons as head coach of the New York Giants — is returning to the franchise as an offensive assistant, it was revealed Tuesday.

Judge coached with New England from 2012 to 2019 before becoming the Giants’ head coach.

In his final season working under Bill Belichick, the 40-year-old Judge served as wide receivers coach in addition to his longtime role coordinating special teams.

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Judge was then hired for his first NFL head-coaching job, going 10-23 in two seasons with the Giants.

He had been set to become the head coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, before the Giants offered him the job.

In Judge’s final season in New England, Belichick had said that he “could probably coach any position on the field,” crediting his teaching ability and knack for thinking quickly.

The Patriots are undergoing a significant change on their offensive coaching staff. They don’t have an offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels was named head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree is joining McDaniels, and it’s possible other assistants could follow. In addition, veteran running backs coach Ivan Fears is anticipated to retire.

In past years, Belichick hasn’t always given out titles at the outset when filling out his coaching staff. Judge’s role, assuming there are no unexpected holdups, could depend on other additions to the staff.

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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton stepping away after 16 years with franchise

Sean Payton revealed his decision to step away Tuesday, 16 years after he was hired as the New Orleans Saints’ coach, though he stressed multiple times that “retirement is not the right word.”

Payton, 58, said he doesn’t plan to coach another team in 2022, adding, “That’s not where my heart is right now.” And since he has three years left on his contract, the Saints would have to agree to trade compensation if he wanted to coach another team.

However, Payton didn’t rule out a return to coaching in the future. And he said he is interested in pursuing a TV analyst job, though he insisted that neither he nor his agent Don Yee have talked with any media outlets yet.

“I don’t know what’s next — and it kind of feels good,” Payton said during an emotional 90-minute news conference at the team’s practice facility. “But, man, I felt like it was time. … But not with any regret. There’s some excitement, like, ‘All right, what’s next?'”

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Payton explained that he had been considering this departure all the way back to training camp before confirming how he felt over the past two weeks. He said owner Gayle Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and team president Dennis Lauscha all tried to talk him out of it. And he thanked Benson for encouraging him to go on vacation for the past two weeks before making a final decision.

The Saints are now the ninth NFL team with a head coaching vacancy.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. are two obvious candidates for a possible promotion, considering the Saints just posted their fifth consecutive winning season and aren’t necessarily looking for an overhaul.

Payton mentioned Allen by name while explaining that he and the Saints never discussed any sort of arrangement where he might possibly come back after a one-year hiatus.

Payton admitted that he searched the internet Monday night for tips on how to avoid crying during a news conference.

He started by singling out Benson, Loomis and Lauscha individually, calling Loomis “one of my best friends.” And he presented Benson with a piece of king cake — a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras dessert — saying it was his version of TV character Ted Lasso’s biscuit tradition.

Payton made his mark as the winningest coach in Saints history and one of the NFL’s all-time great offensive minds. The Saints signed Brees two months after Payton was hired in 2006, and they led New Orleans to the first Super Bowl triumph in franchise history in 2009.

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Ben Roethlisberger expects this to be his last season with Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger privately has told former teammates and some within the organization that he believes this to be his final season playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, league sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Roethlisberger has not made any such public proclamations, and likely won’t, since he doesn’t want the latter part of the season to be about him as Pittsburgh tries to make a playoff push.

But sources say he and those within the organization are now operating as if he is entering the final five matches of his Hall of Fame career, with two of them fittingly coming versus the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh’s opponent Sunday and in the final regular-season game.

Roethlisberger is in the final year of his contract. He is 39 years old, turns 40 in March and has seen all of his quarterback draft classmates, such as Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, move on to the next chapters of their lives. Roethlisberger’s 18 seasons with one team is the most by a quarterback in NFL history.

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Roethlisberger has told many that he never would want to play anywhere other than Pittsburgh.

It doesn’t mean he couldn’t surface next season in another NFL city, but that is “highly unlikely,” according to one source.

That would mean that this year is expected to cap the career of one of the Steelers’ all-time greatest players. Roethlisberger will leave the franchise with more victories, touchdown passes and passing yards than any quarterback in Steelers history.

His 410 career touchdown passes entering Sunday’s game are eighth most in NFL history. His 62,870 passing yards are sixth in NFL history. His 161 career wins are fifth in NFL history.

The fact that this is expected to be the final NFL season for the six-time Pro Bowler does not come as a surprise to many around the organization.

They felt that last season could have been Roethlisberger’s last and, in a way, the team even seemed to prepare for that, turning over much of its roster on offense this season and transitioning to the future there.

The Steelers have, on average, the youngest offensive roster in the league, with rookies manning the center and left tackle positions and playing at running back and tight end.

Though the Steelers have quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on their roster, there are questions about whether either will succeed Roethlisberger.

The Steelers’ home finale is Week 17 versus the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 3, a game that will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh closes out the regular season in Baltimore on Jan. 9.

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RB Mark Ingram traded by Houston Texans, reuniting him with New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have reunited their dynamic running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram by getting Ingram in a trade with the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal contains a swap of late-round picks, the source said. NFL Network first reported the trade, the second in two months between the Saints and Texans after New Orleans acquired veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in Week 1.

The Saints desperately needed running back depth after releasing veteran Latavius Murray in September and losing backup Tony Jones Jr. to injury. So they turned to one of the most popular and productive backs in franchise history.

Ingram, 31, spent his first eight campaigns in New Orleans after being drafted in the first round in 2011, tallying 6,007 rushing yards, 1,598 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns before the Saints let him leave as a free agent in 2019. Ingram is just 89 rushing yards behind Deuce McAllister for New Orleans’ franchise record.

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At their peak, Ingram and Kamara were one of the best running back duos in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Boom and Zoom,” they became the first duo ever to both surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season in 2017, and the first in more than 40 years to both make the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Murray proved to be an excellent replacement from 2019 to 2020, while Ingram had success with the Baltimore Ravens. But the Saints missed both veterans this year while relying more than ever on Kamara as a one-man show.

Kamara is on pace to break his career high for carries in a season by more than 100, and he reached 30 touches in a game for just the second time in his career in Monday night’s 13-10 victory at Seattle. Kamara was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“Aye @markingramII ….. we back,” Kamara tweeted in response to the reported trade.

Ingram was the Texans’ lead back this season, running for 294 yards and a touchdown on 92 carries on a team that ranks last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

With his trade to New Orleans, the Texans now have four running backs on their roster: veterans David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and second-year pro Scottie Phillips. Phillips has been inactive for all but one game this season, but just played on special teams.

Earlier in the month, the Texans moved on from veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who signed with the Green Bay Packers after he was released by the Texans. Mercilus, a first-round pick in 2012, was one of the longest-tenured Texans players on the roster.

Since Ingram signed in Houston, coach David Culley has spoken about the importance of the running back on the roster because of his leadership role in the locker room.

After the trade was reported Wednesday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks appeared to react to the move on Twitter, writing, “This is bulls—. Such a joke.”

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Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun announces retirement

Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP and franchise home run king for the Milwaukee Brewers, revealed his retirement Tuesday.

The six-time All-Star selection has not played this season after becoming a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I have weighed this decision for many months,” Braun, 37, said in a video posted to social media by the Brewers. “While I still love this game very much, the time is right for me to retire from my playing days.

“It’s difficult to describe my emotions today, but it starts with overwhelming gratitude to those who have shared this experience with me while offering their unconditional support at every turn. … I will forever appreciate the best fans in the game and the countless people who came out to the ballpark night after night, making Milwaukee the greatest city to play the game.”

In addition to his 352 home runs, Braun, who played all 14 of his MLB career with the Brewers, ranks second in franchise history in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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“I am so fortunate to have enjoyed a 14-year career wearing the jersey of one team, and even more grateful that team is the Milwaukee Brewers,” Braun said. “I am retiring today from Major League Baseball, but my love for all those who supported me continues to grow. I cherish great memories from my time with the Brewers and will continue to build on the many friendships made in this amazing city.”

Braun batted a career-low .233 in 2020 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 games while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Braun was one of baseball’s best hitters from 2007 to 2012, but was never the same after he was suspended midway through the 2013 season for using performance-enhancing drugs. He acknowledged that he took banned substances while rehabilitating an injury and apologized.

From 2014 on, Braun never played more than 144 matches in a season and reached the 30-homer mark once after topping 30 homers five times in his first six years, including an NL-leading 41 in 2012. Still, he remained a key contributor for the Brewers.

“I always thought that the way Ryan’s last six or seven years went, he should be incredibly proud with how those years went,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell stated. “He should be incredibly proud of that. At that point, he had a story to write. He didn’t know how it was going to go, and I think he wrote a great story and that he should be proud of that.”

Braun was teammates with Counsell early in his career before eventually playing for him.

“What I always tell Ryan is, I always joke with him that, ‘Maybe besides your mom and your dad, I have seen you play baseball probably more than anyone in the world.’ I was there for every game throughout his career,” Counsell said. “I got a close seat for a vast majority of them. Watching him play was definitely an honor.”

The Brewers selected Braun with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft out of Miami. He was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and ranked in the top 15 in the MVP voting every year from 2008 to 2012. He finished second in the MVP balloting in 2012 and third in 2008.

The Brewers will honor Braun with an on-field ceremony on Sept. 26.

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Clint Capela signs contract extension with Hawks reportedly worth $46 million over two years

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela has agreed to a two-year, $46 million contract extension, tying him to the franchise through the 2024-25 season, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Capela had two years left on his existing contract, and he now is set to make $82 million over the next four seasons with the Hawks.

His representatives at Wasserman completed the new deal with Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk ahead of an Oct. 18 deadline for the extension.

Capela, 27, played an immense role in the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals last season. He averaged 15.2 points and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds in the regular season and played well in postseason series triumphs over New York and Philadelphia.

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He played an immense role in improving the Hawks’ defense, finishing with a 4.98 defensive real plus-minus, according to ESPN’s Stats & Info. He trailed only Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the league’s defensive player of the year, in that category.

The Hawks signed Capela in a 2020 trade with Houston, where he had played his first six NBA seasons.

Capela is the third Atlanta starter to sign a contract extension this summer, joining All-Star guard Trae Young and forward John Collins. With Capela, Young and Collins all signed to new deals this summer, Atlanta has now locked in its core group of players until at least 2025, when Bogdan Bogdanovic is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The next deals that will have to be worked out are Kevin Huerter, who will be a restricted free agent next summer, and De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, who still have two more years of team control before they hit restricted free agency in 2024.

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Coach Mike Budenholzer signs 3-year extension with Milwaukee Bucks

After leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years, coach Mike Budenholzer has signed a multiyear contract extension with the team.

The deal, revealed Tuesday night, is for three years, sources told ESPN.

Budenholzer — who was entering the final year of his deal — now ties himself to the Bucks through the 2024-25 season. His extension punctuates three seasons that include a trip to the Eastern Conference finals and the championship victory over the Phoenix Suns in July.

“The appreciation I have for being a part of the Bucks organization is hard to express,” Budenholzer said in a statement. “The players make the success happen on and off the court.

We have the best players and to them I am grateful. They’ve grown and we’ve grown together during the last three campaigns.

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“We all can’t wait to get back to work and face the great challenge of competing again for an NBA Championship. … Let’s keep getting better and building great teams and doing great work on and off the court.”

A two-time NBA coach of the year, Budenholzer is 31-17 in the playoffs as Bucks coach, including the 2021 NBA title and trips to the conference finals and semifinals.

He’s 172-65 as Bucks coach in the regular season.

“Bud is a great coach and a fantastic partner to work with every day as we build a team that consistently competes for championships,” said Bucks general manager Jon Horst.

“We’re extremely grateful for the leadership Bud provides and we look forward to building on the success we’ve had over the last three years and congratulate Bud on this well-deserved extension.”

Before arriving in Milwaukee in 2018, Budenholzer led the Hawks to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in Atlanta. He had a 213-197 record with the Hawks.

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Everson Griffen signs with Minnesota Vikings, says he regrets leaving to sign elsewhere in 2020

Veteran free-agent pass-rusher Everson Griffen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team revealed Monday.

The terms of Griffen’s contract were not disclosed.

Griffen, 33, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent a decade with the Vikings. From 2010 to ’19, Griffen totaled 74.5 sacks, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He was named a Pro Bowler four times in Minnesota, including three consecutive seasons from 2015 to ’17.

In February 2020, Griffen opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August 2020 and was traded to the Detroit Lions two months later. In 14 matches last season, Griffen registered six sacks, 33 tackles (seven for loss) and 14 quarterback hits.

Griffen said he was waiting for the “right fit” as a free agent and noted how difficult last year was having to move his family from Minnesota to Dallas to Detroit in the middle of a pandemic. His familiarity with the Vikings’ scheme and close relationship with players like Danielle Hunter and defensive line coach Andre Patterson drew him back to Minnesota.

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“Honestly, I wanted to be here,” Griffen said. “I really wanted to be here. I felt like this was the best fit for me throughout the whole league. I really wanted to be here and I’m excited to be back. I’m just happy that things worked out the way they did and they welcomed me back with open arms.”

As Griffen reflected on why he left Minnesota instead of taking a pay cut after opting out of his previous deal, the defensive end expressed regret with his decision.

“I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest, and it wasn’t,” Griffen said. “Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn’t greener. I didn’t get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players and the grass wasn’t greener. I learned I’m back home and I’m happy to be home. “

One of Minnesota’s top position questions in training camp is determining who will start opposite Hunter at defensive end. 

Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been the front-runners throughout the preseason, but the team left the door open for more competition at that spot when it brought in Griffen for a workout last week.

Wearing an unfamiliar No. 58, which he noted was a “little bit” weird, Griffen was at practice Monday and participated in light individual work. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings plan to use Griffen as a “situational” pass-rusher. Griffen said he’ll play “wherever they want me.”

Griffen met with Vikings brass last week following his workout to confirm, “that my head was in it. That I’m in a good place.” The defensive end took a month-long hiatus during the 2018 season to focus on his health and wellbeing after the Vikings ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and two separate incidents involving police authorities led to him being hospitalized.

Griffen opened up about his struggles last year and told NFL Network that he lived in a sober house for three months starting in Oct. 2018.

Earlier this offseason, Griffen composed a handful of insulting tweets where he called Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins “ass” and claimed that Zimmer never wanted to sign the QB. The defensive end said he planned to speak to Cousins and apologize.

“I haven’t really talked to him yet but I’m going to get around to doing that,” Griffen said. “Apologize to him, apologize to Coach Zimmer, [general manager] Rick [Spielman] about what I said. I take full ownership in that. I’ve still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that.”

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