Tagged in: free agent

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley ‘doing well’ in ACL rehab, unsure of status for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the beginning of the new season.

The Giants open the regular season versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced.

“It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”

This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.

The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting. “Looks good,” one of the sources said.

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Barkley was also positive about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.

“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the campaign.

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.

So for now and likely most of this summer, he will just have to envision how he fits into the offense alongside newcomers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and several others.

Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.

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New England Patriots re-sign quarterback Brian Hoyer

Brian Hoyer has a new contract with the New England Patriots, according to his agent, who says the team has re-signed the veteran quarterback.

For the Patriots, quarterback is a crowded position headlined by Cam Newton, 2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones and third-year veteran Jarrett Stidham.

Hoyer, who had taken a free-agent visit with the New York Jets earlier this offseason as a possible backup to No. 2 pick Zach Wilson, opened last season as the Patriots’ top backup before slipping to the No. 3 spot behind Stidham after the fourth week.

Hoyer, 35, provides backup quarterback insurance as a potential starting competition unfolds ahead of him. Coach Bill Belichick has stated Newton the top option at this time, while leaving the door open for Jones — and possibly Stidham — to challenge him for the starting role.

“Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does,” Belichick said on April 29.

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The return of Hoyer, who has played for the team in three separate stints (2009-2011, 2017-2018 and 2020), provides the Patriots with flexibility and insurance, depending on how a starting competition plays out.

In training camp last year, Hoyer had arguably the most consistent performance among Patriots quarterbacks.

That helped him initially beat out Stidham, who had been the No. 2 option in 2019.

Hoyer was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role a few days before the Patriots’ Week 4 road game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, as a result of Newton testing positive for COVID-19 the night before the team was scheduled to travel.

The Patriots lost 26-10 in a contest that was pushed back one day, with the team traveling on the morning of the game. Hoyer went 15-of-24 for 130 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, and he had a notable breakdown at the end of the first half in taking a sack when the Patriots were out of timeouts, costing them a chance at a field goal attempt.

Hoyer also lost a fumble on a strip sack, which was his final play before Belichick replaced him with Stidham. From that point, Hoyer served as the Patriots’ third quarterback the rest of the year.

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New England Patriots set to re-sign quarterback Brian Hoyer

Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer is set to re-sign with the New England Patriots, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

He joins a crowded position headlined by Cam Newton, 2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones and third-year veteran Jarrett Stidham.

Hoyer, who had taken a free-agent visit with the New York Jets earlier this offseason as a potential backup to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, opened last season as the Patriots’ top backup, before slipping to the No. 3 spot behind Stidham after the fourth week.

Hoyer, 35, provides backup quarterback insurance as a potential starting competition unfolds ahead of him. Coach Bill Belichick has declared Newton the top option at this time, while leaving the door open for Jones — and possibly Stidham — to challenge him for the starting role.

“Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does,” Belichick stated on April 29.

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The return of Hoyer, who previously played for the team in three different stints (2009-2011, 2017-2018 and 2020), provides the Patriots flexibility and insurance depending on how a starting competition plays out.

In training camp last year, Hoyer had arguably the most consistent performance among Patriots quarterbacks. That helped him initially beat out Stidham, who had been the No. 2 option in 2019.

Hoyer was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role a few days before the Patriots’ Week 4 road game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, as a result of Newton testing positive for COVID-19 the night before the team was scheduled to travel.

The Patriots lost 26-10 in a contest that was pushed back one day, with the team traveling on the morning of the game.

Hoyer went 15-of-24 for 130 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, and had a notable breakdown at the end of the first half in taking a sack when the Patriots were out of timeouts, costing them a chance at a field-goal attempt.

He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack, which was his final play before Belichick replaced him with Stidham. From that point, Hoyer served as the Patriots’ third quarterback the rest of the year.

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Kansas City Chiefs acquire CB Mike Hughes from Minnesota Vikings

The Kansas City Chiefs obtained cornerback Mike Hughes in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

The Chiefs traded a 2022 sixth-round pick to Minnesota while the Vikings sent a 2022 seventh-round pick to Kansas City in the deal.

Hughes was drafted by the Vikings in the first round (30th overall) of the 2018 NFL draft. The Vikings declined to exercise the fifth-year option in Hughes’ rookie contract, meaning he will be a free agent after this campaign.

Hughes will be given the opportunity to compete for playing time with the Chiefs immediately. One starter from last season, Bashaud Breeland, is a free agent and remains unsigned.

Hughes will join a group of cornerbacks that contains Charvarius Ward, a starter the past two seasons, and L’Jarius Sneed, a fourth-round draft pick last year who played well as the third cornerback.

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The Chiefs last year acquired another former No. 1 draft pick, DeAndre Baker, after he was released by the New York Giants. Baker broke his left leg in the final regular-season game last season.

Hughes was limited to just four games last season because of a neck injury that resulted in him being placed on injured reserve in October.

Multiple injuries, including a torn ACL his rookie season and neck injury that ended Hughes’ season on injured reserve in 2020, limited the cornerback to 24 games with seven starts over the first three years of his career.

Hughes recorded 80 tackles, had 13 passes defended and two interceptions — returning one for a touchdown — in his three seasons with Minnesota, predominantly playing in the slot in the Vikings’ nickel defense.

With 2020 first-round pick Jeff Gladneyin the legal process after an alleged domestic assault in April, it is possible the Vikings will turn to newly re-signed cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who spent the first four seasons (2016-19) of his career in Minnesota, to play the nickel corner position.

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Cleveland Browns sign Malik McDowell, ex-Seattle Seahawks 2nd-round pick yet to play in NFL

The Cleveland Browns have signed free-agent defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who is attempting an NFL comeback following a series of injuries and off-field issues.

The 2017 second-round pick out of Michigan State was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks but never played for the team after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident and was finally released. McDowell also was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty in 2019 to a series of crimes in Michigan.

He was charged with assault, resisting arrest and operating a vehicle while intoxicated after an incident in which he fought with two officers after a DUI stop. Then he was found in possession of a stolen truck, which led to a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property.

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As part of McDowell’s sentencing in Oakland County (Michigan), a judge ordered him to write four essays on finding meaning in life other than committing crimes, the importance of respecting the rule of law, the principles of the Declaration of Independence and how his behavior undermined them, and the importance of respecting property rights.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry stated the team did “extensive work” on McDowell before signing him.

“We are certainly aware of Malik’s past,” Berry said in a statement. “He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life. We believe Malik is in a good place, personally and medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, and has learned from his experiences.

Malik understands the expectations we have of him as he attempts to make our football team. He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself — both on and off the field — and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football.”

McDowell was an All-Big Ten performer for the Spartans.

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Seattle Seahawks talk to Richard Sherman, but no reunion imminent as DB mulls future

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that he’s been in communication with Richard Sherman, but stated a reunion with the former All-Pro cornerback isn’t currently in the works.

“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and getting another guy at that spot, but we’re going to keep looking,” Carroll said Saturday, after the Seahawks took Oklahoma CB Tre Brown with one of their three draft picks.

“We’re not going to stop looking and we’re going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that’s just one of them.”

The 33-year-old Sherman is a free agent after spending the past three campaigns with the San Francisco 49ers.

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Friday, he said a return to San Francisco isn’t out of the question and listed the Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders as other teams with which he’s had communication.

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“I’ve got to wait through this draft process,” he told Smith. “Obviously, the first round, a lot of teams got corners, some teams didn’t get the corners they wanted and I think once this draft process completes my phone will ring a little more with people who expected to get a guy and didn’t get the guy they wanted. I’m not as in control as I was. At 33, it’s just like, it doesn’t matter what you put on tape.”

Sherman suggested that his age is the reason he’s unsigned

“It doesn’t matter accolades you have, what you put on tape, the numbers — it’s just age sometimes. So I’ve just got to continue to stay in shape, continue to stay ready … I’m being patient and doing everything I can.”

Sherman made four Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro in three of his seven seasons with Seattle, rising from a fifth-round pick in 2011 to become a key member of the defense that led the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl championship and a close repeat the next year.

He suffered a torn Achilles in 2017 and was released that offseason with one year left on his contract. The 49ers then signed him to a three-year deal that just expired.

Sherman made his fifth career Pro Bowl in 2019 but missed 11 matches last year with a calf injury.

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CB Pierre Desir, Seattle Seahawks reach 1-year deal

Free-agent cornerback Pierre Desir has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, according to his agency.

EnterSports Management tweeted Wednesday that the deal is for one year.

Desir, who is 30, has started 44 matches over seven NFL seasons. The Seahawks are familiar with Desir, who has the size and length (6-1, 192 pounds) that coach Pete Carroll prefers in outside cornerbacks.

Desir spent part of the 2016 season on their practice squad and was with Seattle the next offseason before being waived during roster cutdowns.

He landed with the Indianapolis Colts, who gave him a three-year, $22.5 million extension in March 2019 but released him a year later.

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The New York Jets then signed Desir to a one-year, $4 million deal with the expectation that he would be their No. 1 cornerback, but they released him in November after benching him twice. He concluded the season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Desir had three interceptions — including a pick-six — in nine games for the Jets.

He has eight career interceptions and 42 passes defended in 73 games since entering the league as a fourth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014 out of Division II Lindenwood.

The Seahawks signed former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon last month after losing Shaquill Griffin in free agency. They also lost Quinton Dunbar after attempting to re-sign him. Seattle’s other options at outside cornerback include D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers and Damarious Randall.

The Seahawks re-signed Randall earlier this month and stated they plan to move him from safety to cornerback, where he played earlier in his career.

Desir is a two-time nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually to a player who exhibits leadership on the field and in the community.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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Ryan Braun, longtime Milwaukee Brewers slugger, leaning toward retirement

Ryan Braun stated he’s strongly leaning toward retirement, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ home run leader isn’t ready to make any decision regarding his future.

Braun visited the Brewers’ spring training site Monday and said he hasn’t picked up a bat since the end of the 2020 season. The 2011 NL MVP became a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I’m strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player,” the 37-year-old Braun said. “But I think you can always push that decision back.

I’m still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible.”

Braun has spent his entire major league career with the Brewers and said that “I can’t foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team.”

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Last campaign, Braun batted a career-low .233 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 matches 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.

“Once the regular season starts and I’m able to watch some games, I feel like that’s when I’ll actually miss the game itself,” Braun said.

“I’m kind of interested to see how I feel, what it feels like. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it before. Time will tell.”

Braun made his debut with Milwaukee in 2007. His 352 homers as a Brewer are the most of anyone in franchise history.

He ranks second among all Brewers 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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Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, the team revealed Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN.

Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said.

“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” owner Tom Gores said in a statement Friday. “His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success.

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“I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”

Finding a trade for Griffin — who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this campaign and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout — was an insurmountable challenge for the Pistons.

Detroit concluded a reduction in his remaining salary to gain free agency with Griffin’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, since the sides mutually agreed he would leave the active roster on Feb. 15 awaiting a trade or buyout.

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under first-year general manager Troy Weaver, and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedence for the Pistons.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Detroit this season.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the LA Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late January 2018.

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