Tagged in: franchise

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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Julio Jones, asked about future with Atlanta Falcons, says ‘I’m outta there’

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stated Monday he is planning on leaving the franchise during an interview on FS1.

“I’m outta there,” Jones said when reached by telephone by Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

Jones had been the subject of trade talks recently after general manager Terry Fontenot said the team would be taking calls about the former All-Pro receiver last month.

Jones, 32, demanded a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks.

The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told Schefter.

When Jones was asked by Sharpe where he would like to go play, he said he would like to play for a winner.

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“Right now I wanna win,” Jones said.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this campaign, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

Jones has played 10 seasons with the Falcons, who selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft, leading the NFL in receiving twice (1,871 yards in 2015 and 1,677 yards in 2018) and three times in yards per game (2015, 2016 and 2018).

He made seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2015 and 2016.

He became one of the faces of the Falcons, starting 134 of the 135 matches he played in and making 848 catches for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. He’s the Falcons’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and second to Roddy White in receiving touchdowns (63).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine games due to injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75% was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons did make one receiver move Monday, signing receiver Tajae Sharpe. The 26-year-old spent four seasons in Tennessee with Arthur Smith, now the Falcons’ head coach, from 2016 to 2019, where he caught 92 passes for 1,167 yards and eight touchdowns. He spent 2020 with Minnesota, where he played in four games with no catches.

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Jets trade QB Sam Darnold to Panthers for package of NFL draft picks

The New York Jets seem to have cleared the way for the franchise to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and turn the keys over to him on Day 1.

The Jets have traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second-round and fourth-round picks, the Panthers announced on Twitter.

The Jets traded up in 2018 to use the No. 3 pick on Darnold. But the USC product had anything but a smooth transition to the NFL, and much of it had to do with the constant state of turmoil that the Jets have found themselves in. Already, he has played for two head coaches in three campaigns. 

In 2019, the Jets replaced Mike Maccagnan, who drafted Darnold, with current general manager Joe Douglas. “I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets,” Douglas stated Monday in a statement. “He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet.

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While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him.

We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”

The Jets fired Todd Bowles following Darnold’s rookie year and this offseason dismissed Adam Gase after two turbulent seasons. Robert Saleh was hired as head coach, and Darnold faced an unclear future with the organization holding the second overall pick and positioned to take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

Jets brass, including Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, attended BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s impressive pro day two weeks ago.

It’s expected that the Panthers will exercise the fifth-year option on Darnold’s contract, giving him two seasons to work to reboot his career with Carolina.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who is considered one of the NFL’s bright, young minds, will be tasked with helping Darnold, who ranked 35th in the league in 2020 with a passer rating of 72.7, live up to the potential that he boasted coming out of college.

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Detroit Lions plan to release slot cornerback Justin Coleman

The Detroit Lions have informed slot cornerback Justin Coleman he will be released by the franchise, a source confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.

Coleman is the second Detroit defensive back to learn of his pending release this offseason, joining Desmond Trufant. Earlier this month, when head coach Dan Campbell was asked about Coleman’s and Trufant’s futures with the club, he stated those decisions would be coming. Now they have and both players will be elsewhere in 2021.

Coleman had been scheduled to count $11.029 million against the cap in 2021, and depending on how he’s designated upon his release, the Lions might save up to $9 million if he’s declared a post-June 1 release. If not, the Lions would save $6.971 million, according to Roster Management System.

Releasing Coleman now also keeps the Lions from having to guarantee $1.1 million of his $8.95 million base salary, which would have happened on the third day of the new league year, which starts March 17.

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The Lions will carry $4.058 million in dead money due to Coleman’s release, sending the team’s dead money total for 2021 well over $30 million — largely due to the $19 million from the Matthew Stafford trade that will be official when the new league year begins.

Detroit is now thin at corner with the Coleman and Trufant departures.

With just Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah and recently re-signed Mike Ford at the position with significant experience playing for Detroit last year.

The 27-year-old Coleman signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Lions during free agency in 2019, making him one of the league’s highest-paid slot corners at the time.

He started 16 matches — mostly in the slot — since his arrival in Detroit, breaking up 14 passes with one interception. He also had three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, all in 2019.

Coleman went undrafted out of Tennessee and has played two seasons each in New England, Seattle and Detroit, appearing in 79 games (29 starts) and breaking up 41 passes with four interceptions and two returned for touchdowns. He also has forced 4 fumbles, recovered 4 fumbles and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

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Denver Broncos placing franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons for the second successive season, it was announced Friday.

Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.

“Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal,” general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.”

NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player.

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Simmons, the Broncos’ third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million.

He concluded with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in run defense along the line of scrimmage with the versatility to match up on a variety of players in coverage.

The 27-year-old has the combination of on-field performance and off-field community engagement, given that he has played every defensive snap for each of the past three campaigns and was the Broncos’ nominee this past season for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

When Paton was hired in January, Broncos president of football operations John Elway said trying to re-sign Simmons was “one of the biggest things” Paton had on his to-do list.

Simmons has consistently been one of the most active players in the community and one of the team’s leading voices in social justice initiatives.

He has acquired the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award, given out by the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America each season to a Broncos player to recognize professionalism and depth in interactions with the media. Simmons is the only three-time winner of the award since it started in 2006.

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Tua Tagovailoa believes he’s Miami Dolphins’ franchise QB, but says he must ‘prove’ it

Tua Tagovailoa considers he can be the Miami Dolphins’ franchise quarterback but knows he has to prove it with better play in Year 2.

Tagovailoa is coming off a rookie season where he went 6-3 with a 64.1% completion rate, 14 total touchdowns and five interceptions. But the former Alabama star was substituted twice in the fourth quarter by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and struggled at times to throw the ball effectively downfield.

With the Dolphins in the thick of offseason quarterback speculation for the second straight year, Tagovailoa was asked whether he is convinced that Miami is all-in on him as the franchise quarterback.

“In my mind and in my heart, I would hope so,” Tagovailoa said Monday during an interview with Sirius Mad Dog Radio. “With the way things went last year, you always have to prove yourself to do better, and I want to do better.”

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Dolphins coach Brian Flores told ESPN last month that he’s “excited about the future with Tagovailoa,” and the Dolphins believe in him. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier also said last month that Tagovailoa is their starting quarterback and they are happy with his development.

This offseason will prove if the Dolphins’ strong public commitment to Tagovailoa matches their actions, with multiple options potentially available, including unhappy Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that Watson has requested a trade, while ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson has Miami high on his preferred trade destination list.

The Dolphins are one of the few teams with the draft capital to potentially entice a Watson trade.

Tagovailoa told Sirius Mad Dog Radio that he hadn’t heard the Watson trade rumors until his agent told him about them, but “that’s something that would be out of my control regardless.”

“That would be a decision of the Dolphins organization,” he said. “I have to control what I can control — work hard and do well next season.”

Tagovailoa was also honest in his evaluation of his 2020 season, saying he “would describe my rookie season as below average. This past season wasn’t up to the expectation that I have for myself.”

If the Dolphins do move forward with Tagovailoa, as is their existing plan, the focus would be on his Year 2 improvement. He told the Dan Patrick Show that there’s a “big difference” in his health this offseason compared to last year, when he was coming off serious hip surgery, and he can focus this year on improving mental elements of his game.

The Dolphins already have made it a focus to build around Tagovailoa early in the 2021 offseason, including hiring his former Elite 11 high school camp coach Charlie Frye as the their quarterbacks coach.

They also spent significant time at the Senior Bowl getting to know Alabama star receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris; both are fits for the Dolphins’ offensive needs, have a great relationship with Tagovailoa and could be options for Miami to select with each of their first-round draft picks (Nos. 3 and 18).

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Dallas Cowboys fire defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 campaign, the team revealed Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded 31st in the league in run defense. In the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, they allowed 23 points, including 20 in the first half, to an offense that had not scored more than 19 in five weeks.

The unit played better down the stretch with 12 takeaways in the final four matches after getting just 11 in the first 12 games, but that was aided in part by facing backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

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Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas at different times during the season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones lamented the jarring scheme switch — from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look — made by the Cowboys during an offseason in which the coaches could only meet virtually with the players.

Unable to get hands-on experience until the start of an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys defense struggled badly. They finished 23rd in yards per game (31st vs. the run, 11th vs. the pass) and 28th in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 plays of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the three other times the Cowboys allowed a franchise record in points, the organization either made a scheme modification or a coaching change.

After allowing 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named the full-time head coach after taking over for Wade Phillips at midseason, and he hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they allowed 432 points in Monte Kiffin’s first year as coordinator, and he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After giving up 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme but kept Mike Zimmer as his coordinator.

McCarthy and Nolan have a long background together.

In 2005, Nolan hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, which helped propel him to earning the Green Bay Packers head job a year later.

But the defense could not find its footing. While they suffered some injuries to Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Trysten Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot), they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys’ offense.

Their bigger free-agent pickups were either hurt in training camp (defensive lineman Gerald McCoy), did not make the team out of camp (safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), were traded (Everson Griffen) or were released because of poor play in the middle of the season (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys look in-house for a substitute, George Edwards spent the year as a senior defensive assistant. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.

But the first question that must be answered is what type of scheme the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy employed a 3-4 scheme for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look Nolan attempted to use, adding players to fit the scheme will be an offseason priority. In all but three years of his time in Green Bay, the Packers used a 3-4 scheme.

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