Tagged in: free agent

Free agent Adam Wainwright uncertain of his future with St. Louis Cardinals

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals star and current free agent Adam Wainwright is in wait-and-see mode.

“I know the nature of the business of baseball with salaries, and not sure what the revenues will be like next year,” Wainwright told ESPN this week. “Or the fan situation.

“St. Louis is very dependent on their fan situation to bring in revenues to offset player costs. They said that, and I really believe them. They don’t have the billion, billion, billion dollar TV deals that some other teams do.”

Between 2013 and 2019, the Cardinals ranked second in the National League in attendance, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite playing in the 23rd-largest market in the country.

Like many teams, St. Louis is trying to thread the needle of putting a winning product on the field while being cognizant of revenue uncertainty, meaning the futures of both Wainwright and fellow longtime Cardinal Yadier Molina are up in the air.

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“They’re going to put a winning team on the field,” Wainwright stated. “It’s going to be interesting to see what they do, though. Yadier is a free agent too. We just don’t know what they’re going to be offering — or if they will offer.”

It’s the existing situation many free agents find themselves in, and they’re bound to have some company come Dec. 2, the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to be offered contracts for 2021.

Those who are non-tendered on or before Dec. 2 become free agents, meaning the market could be flooded with players who are in their peak years along with the older free agents like Wainwright. The expectation is teams will lighten their payroll obligations this offseason by letting go more players than ever.

“That’s what I’m expecting, yes,” Wainwright said. “There’s so much uncertainty among teams and players, it’s just going to be a wild ride. This is whole situation is different than anything we’ve ever faced.”

Wainwright broke in with the Cardinals in 2005, spending the entirety of his 15-year career with them. But that relationship is in jeopardy for the 39-year-old right-hander, who pitched well in 2020 despite all the difficulties, including a COVID-19 outbreak on his team.

“Every player has an expiration date,” Wainwright stated. “It’s just the nature of the game. You will never hear me say a bad word about the city of St. Louis or the Cardinals organization. They’ve done so much for me. They’re amazing people from top to bottom. I’ve been so blessed.”

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New York Jets continue roster shake-up, release veteran cornerback Pierre Desir

Veteran cornerback Pierre Desir, a free-agent disappointment who was benched for the final two series in the last game, was released Tuesday by the New York Jets.

The move, not unexpected, opens a starting position for rookie Bryce Hall, who substituted Desir in the Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots. The Jets (0-9) had a bye last weekend.

The Jets signed Desir in March, soon after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. They gave him a one-year, $4 million contract, including $3.25 million in guarantees, expecting him to be their No. 1 corner.

That never materialized. In fact, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams benched Desir in the first half of the first game.

After one week in a backup role, Desir returned to the starting lineup and remained there for the next seven matches. In the final minutes of the 30-27 loss to the Patriots, Desir permitted a 31-yard completion to wide receiver Damiere Byrd — a play in which Desir half-heartedly gave chase across the field. He was immediately pulled from the game and Hall finished the series and played the entire final drive.

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Desir’s only shining moment came in a Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, when he intercepted two passes, including one returned for a touchdown.

In nine matches, Desir recorded three interceptions, eight pass break-ups and one forced fumble.

Hall, a fifth-round pick from Virginia, has played only one match, as he spent the first eight games battling back from a serious ankle injury that occurred during his final campaign in college. He started the 2020 season on the non-football injury list and practiced only two weeks before making his debut versus the Patriots.

In rebuilding mode, the Jets have traded or released several veterans in recent weeks, including running back Le’Veon Bell, linebacker Avery Williamson and nose tackle Steve McLendon. The Jets also placed nickelback Brian Poole (knee/shoulder) on injured reserve.

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Trevor Bauer rejects Cincinnati Reds’ qualifying offer, but open to return

Free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer has rejected the Cincinnati Reds’ $18.9 million qualifying offer for the 2021 campaign, agent Rachel Luba revealed on Twitter.

Luba, however, said Bauer remains open to discussing a return to Cincinnati and “all other interested teams thru Free Agency.”

“Why wait for the QO to expire to state the obvious,” agent Rachel Luba tweeted Wednesday. She added that Bauer “believes the QO is a ridiculous process so let’s just put it to bed.”

Bauer, 29, who went 5-4 with a National League-leading 1.73 ERA in 11 starts last season and is a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award, was one of six players in Major League Baseball to receive the qualifying offer.

His salary in 2020 was $17.5 million. If Bauer signs with another team, the Reds will receive draft-pick compensation in the 2021 draft.

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Players have until Nov. 11 to decide whether to accept the qualifying offer.

In nine campaigns, Bauer is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA. Drafted No. 3 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, he was traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal in 2012 and spent seven seasons with the Indians before he was traded to the Reds in 2019.

Because of pandemic-related penny-pinching, Bauer is unlikely to land a contract on par with Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million). FanGraphs crowdsourcing projects a three-year deal worth $29 million per year for Bauer. I think five years is possible. If he indeed takes one year, it could come in as high as $35 million. Maybe more.

The Reds presently have approximately $103 million on the books for nine players next season, plus $21.2 million in projected arbitration salaries for another nine players.

Last year’s $166 million full season payroll would’ve been a franchise record, and with payrolls set to come down following the pandemic, it’s uncertain whether Cincinnati can afford to keep Bauer.

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Le’Veon Bell released by New York Jets

The New York Jets’ rocky relationship with Le’Veon Bell came to a sudden end on Tuesday when the Jets informed they had released the running back.

It ended a 19-month tenure that was filled with disappointment and broken promises. Bell, who arrived as a marquee free agent in 2019, never clicked with coach Adam Gase, who opposed the signing from the outset.

“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” the team said in a statement.

“The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”

As a vested veteran, Bell is not subject to waivers. He will be a free agent at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

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Frustrated by his lack of participation in the offense, Bell met with Gase and general manager Joe Douglas on Monday, a source said. They told Bell they would explore a trade, and they gave his agent authorization to speak with other teams.

The Jets contacted every team but found the contract was difficult to move.

They were willing to eat some of the $6 million remaining on his 2020 base salary, but the sticking point was an $8 million injury guarantee in 2021, a source said. No team wanted to take on that much risk, fearing a serious injury this campaign.

In the end, neither did the Jets. They could’ve continued to shop him until the Nov. 3 trading deadline, hoping to recoup a late-round pick, but they too were wary of the injury guarantee, knowing they were planning to cut him in the offseason.

The Jets are responsible for the remaining $6 million on Bell’s 2020 base pay, but there’s an offset clause that will defray it by the amount of the salary on a new contract with his next team.

Bell returned to the lineup on Sunday and carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards. He was targeted only once in the passing game.

On several occasions, Gase talked about getting Bell more involved as a receiver. On Sunday, rookie running back La’Mical Perine saw no action.

Bell’s departure should create playing time for Perine, who will share the workload with the 37-year-old Gore.

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Mike D’Antoni tells Houston Rockets he won’t return as coach

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has informed the franchise that he’s becoming a coaching free agent and won’t return to the Rockets next campaign, D’Antoni told ESPN on Sunday.

“It’s with tremendous sadness and gratitude that my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter,” D’Antoni told ESPN in a statement.

D’Antoni, whose contract expired with the end of Houston’s season in the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday, turned down extension offers prior to the season. He will be considered among a group of candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers coaching opening, sources tell ESPN.

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D’Antoni was 217-102 in his four campaigns as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals.

D’Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the last four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.

Only the Golden State Warriors (46), Boston Celtics (33), and Raptors (31) have more playoff triumphs than the Rockets (28) in D’Antoni’s four-year run in Houston.

The Athletic reported Sunday morning D’Antoni had not “completely ruled out the possibility of a return.” None of these answers or reports were definitive and the reports all season were that D’Antoni wasn’t likely to stay in Houston.

For the Rockets, it will be difficult to find a replacement that is on par with the impact that Mike D’Antoni provides. He has been key in James Harden emerging as a superstar and that’s why the former MVP expressed he wanted D’Antoni to be brought back.

It’s early in the process but the Rockets have been linked to Jeff Van Gundy as a potential candidate. He has been in the broadcast booth for years as he last coached in the NBA in 2007 when he was in Houston. There should be plenty of other candidates to enter the mix, too.

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Chargers considered signing Cam Newton

After the Chargers and Philip Rivers split ways, the search for a quarterback started in free agency.

Los Angeles was in the sweepstakes for Tom Brady, but they came up short after he decided to sign with the Buccaneers. Another free agent option was Cam Newton, who was released by the Panthers in March.

Newton was seen as an ideal target for L.A. because his presence would help sell tickets in their new season. However, they passed up on the opportunity to sign the former MVP.

Were the Chargers actually interested in signing Newton? Coach Anthony Lynn said that the team did contemplate it. “Absolutely, Cam is a tremendous quarterback,” Lynn said on a recent CBS Sports interview.

“He’s been MVP of this league, he’s led his team to the Super Bowl and he’s healthy now from what I hear. Cam is going to be on somebody’s roster and he’s going to help somebody win a few games, but yeah, we did take a look at that, sure.”

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Los Angeles ended up drafting former Oregon product Justin Herbert with the No. 6 overall selection in this year’s draft with the hopes of him being the long-term solution at the position.

Prior to Herbert being selected, Lynn was already confident with the quarterbacks that were already on the roster.

“I feel really good about the quarterback room that I have,” Lynn said. “With Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick — those are guys that a lot of people don’t talk about, but he was a Division I AA — he won like three national championships. He’s a hell of a leader, hell of a professional and I think he has a bright future in this league one day.”

While the Chargers quarterback room is set, Newton remains a free agent. Lynn trusts that he will be signed in 2020 by a team.

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Free-agent RB LeSean McCoy wants to play 2 more years

LeSean McCoy isn’t ready to retire despite his decline in production the past two campaigns. In fact, he believes he has multiple seasons left in the NFL.

“I really just want to play two more years,” McCoy said Friday in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I talked to Frank (Gore) about this. He always tells me, ‘never put a ceiling on your career. Hey, if you feel good and you do well, do another one year and vise versa. If it doesn’t go well, just let your body talk to you.’ My body feels fine.”

The 31-year-old free-agent running back, who finished his 11th NFL season in 2019, added: “My body feels good. So I will let my body speak for when I want to be done.”

McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, said he has “a couple teams that I’m looking at” as possible fits for himself.

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“I’m just waiting for the right moment. This stuff is tricky now, because there’s no visits. There’s no real activities with the teams as much as it used to be. The thing I can control is just making the right choice, going to an offense that fits. I want to go to a team that’s a winning franchise that has all the right pieces that’s waiting for me. That veteran running back to help the room out. To add a spark. The teams I’m looking at right now are those teams,” he said. “I won’t discuss who they are. I look forward to probably after the draft or right before the draft, signing on with a team.”

McCoy’s playing time with the Kansas City Chiefs diminished as last season went on and he was inactive for the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIV but that didn’t diminish his satisfaction at finally being on a Super Bowl winner and he said in the interview he was happy to cross that off his “bucket list.”

McCoy said he embraces his role as a veteran mentor just like Brian Westbrook did for him when he was a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009.

“If I could be that guy to help that young superstar to emerge into that superstar superstar, I would love to do that,” he stated.

After rushing for 465 yards last campaign, McCoy is ranked third among active players with 11,071 career rushing yards, behind only Gore and Adrian Peterson. Gore also is a free agent and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told NFL Network last month that his client plans to play in 2020.

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Eli Apple remains free agent after deal with Riders falls through

Eli Apple is back on the open market. Apple, who reportedly came to terms on a contract with the Raiders back on March 18, is once again a free agent after the two sides were “unable to finalize a contract,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

Before coming to terms with Apple, the Raiders reportedly had a two-year contract offer for former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., but ultimately determined to instead sign Apple, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Harris, a four-time Pro Bowler, has signed a two-year contract with the Chargers. 

The 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Apple, a boundary cornerback, began his career with the Giants before being traded to the Saints midway through the 2018 campaign.

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Apple has logged 48 career regular season starts in 55 games.

He has 233 career tackles, three interceptions, 33 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Last season, his only full season with the Saints, Apple tallied 53 tackles along with one forced fumble and four passes defensed in 15 games. 

Apple was set to join a Raiders team that had already signed former Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, former Rams linebacker Cory Littleton, former Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins, former Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, and former Buccaneers defensive end Carl Nassib during the first two weeks of free agency. 

With Apple off the table, the Raiders may decide to look into signing Dre Kirkpatrick, a veteran cornerback who was released by the Bengals earlier this week.

In 99 regular season matches with the Bengals, Kirkpatrick received 67 starts while recording 302 tackles, 10 interceptions, two interceptions returns for touchdowns, and 65 passes defensed. His play helped the Bengals move forward to the playoffs four consecutive years from 2012-15.

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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson working out with Antonio Brown

Last year, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson drew attention for his offseason work with teammates Willie Snead IV and Chris Moore.

On Wednesday, his company was a little more famous.

In an afternoon session in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — county seat of his native Broward County — the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player worked out alongside Ravens wide receiver and close pal Marquise “Hollywood” Brown; Alabama wide receiver and future first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, another Broward County native; and, most notably, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, a cousin of the Ravens’ Brown.

Responding to a tweet Wednesday showing Antonio Brown catching passes from Jackson, the Ravens star tagged the six-time All-Pro wide receiver and stated that they would do it again.

Brown, 31, a free agent, missed most of last campaign after two ugly departures.

The Oakland Raiders, who voided the guaranteed money in his contract after Brown missed nearly all of training camp, cut him in early September when he requested to be released.

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After quickly signing with the New England Patriots, Brown was named in a lawsuit by his former trainer, who alleged that he had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. Less than a week later, another woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

The Patriots cut Brown after just one game, and the NFL started an investigation into the allegations against him.

Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, Brown and Jackson have been active this week. On Tuesday, Brown appeared in social media posts alongside former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson and Antonio Brown at his cousin’s Florida gym. On Wednesday, both Brown cousins and Jackson worked out on a football field in what Jeudy told “The Rich Eisen Show” was Fort Lauderdale.

It could be their last public workout for a while. On Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The order will go into effect at midnight Thursday and last for at least 30 days.

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Falcons won’t offer DE Vic Beasley new deal

The Falcons announced Monday they will not pursue contract negotiations with the defensive end. Beasley is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18 when the new league year starts.

“As we continue to craft our 2020 roster, we’d like to thank Vic for five years of effort on behalf of our organization,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, per the Falcons’ official site.

The decision shouldn’t come as a surprise, though as the team is looking to upgrade its defense ahead of the 2020 campaign. Plus, the former 2015 first-round pick played the 2019 campaign on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

In addition to Beasley, Atlanta will need to make decisions on Adrian Clayborn and Jack Crawford, who are also set to become free agents this offseason.

The Falcons finished 31st in the league in sacks, despite Beasley’s eight on the year and the defense’s late-season resurgence.

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Beasley, who was coach Dan Quinn’s first draft pick in 2015, eighth overall, did not show consistency despite leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016 — the season the Falcons went to the Super Bowl.

Beasley made the Pro Bowl that year but managed just five sacks in each of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Although Beasley had eight sacks this past season, 6.5 of those came in the second half of the season.

The Falcons dangled Beasley for a trade before last season’s trade deadline with no takers. Beasley told ESPN the trade talk did not serve as motivation to play better in the second half of 2019.

Now that the Falcons have decided to move on, acquiring a pass-rusher via the draft or free agency becomes even more of a priority this offseason. The Falcons hope to get more production out of another former first-rounder, defensive end Takk McKinley, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

The Falcons need more pressure off the edges, particular with the Pro Bowler Jarrett creating havoc on the interior of the defensive line.

Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa are just a few of the draft prospects the Falcons might consider to help improve the rush. The Falcons have a new defensive coordinator for 2020 in Raheem Morris.

Beasley finished his time with the Falcons recording 37.5 sacks, 156 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.

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