Tagged in: injuries

San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg retires from NFL, cites injuries

Almost three years ago, the San Francisco 49ers made Weston Richburg the highest-paid center in NFL history. On Wednesday, Richburg’s time with the Niners came to an end, as he declared his retirement from the NFL.

Richburg had an injury-plagued stint with the 49ers that culminated in his missing the entire 2020 season because of a lingering shoulder injury and his continued efforts to recover from a torn right patellar tendon suffered in Week 14 of the 2019 season.

“I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years,” Richburg said in a statement released by the 49ers.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I’ve reached a point where my body won’t allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports. From top to bottom, the 49ers organization is comprised of some of the best men, women and athletes I’ve ever been around. To be just a small part of an NFC Championship and Super Bowl run is something I will never forget.”

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As it turned out, that Week 14 contest versus the New Orleans Saints was the final game of Richburg’s 49ers tenure.

Richburg, who turns 30 on July 9, also recently had hip surgery. In three seasons in San Francisco, Richburg started 28 games.

After four years with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the 49ers in the opening days of 2018 free agency. The Niners reworked that deal during the 2019 season to save some cap space, leaving Richburg with a scheduled cap charge of almost $11.5 million in 2021.

Since Richburg retired after June 1, the Niners can spread out the $7 million in remaining dead money evenly over the cap in 2021 and 2022. They will save $1.075 million in cap space for 2021 upon Richburg’s retirement.

“Weston was someone who made not only our offense, but our entire team better,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in the statement. “He led by example through his detailed approach and the toughness in which he played the game. He was a tremendous player for our organization and will be missed both on the field and in the locker room.”

The 49ers signed Alex Mack in free agency to take over the starting center duties.

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Cubs’ Trevor Williams Out Indefinitely After Emergency Appendectomy

Cubs hurler Trevor Williams will be out indefinitely after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, per Jared Wyllus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Williams was initially slated to start Monday’s game versus the Padres. It’s looking like Keegan Thompson will step in for a spot start.

The 26-year-old made his first career start in the second game of a doubleheader against the vaunted Dodgers back on May the 4th, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Thompson has yet to surrender an earned run in his young career with 15 scoreless innings over his first nine appearances.

He’s done a tremendous job of keeping the ball on the ground so far with a 58.3 percent groundball rate, though that’s not a tendency he displayed as a minor leaguer.

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Despite a rash of injuries, the Cubs won 12 of 16 heading into the series with San Diego.

Williams, Jason Heyward, Jake Marisnick, Nico Hoerner, Matt Duffy, Alec Mills and Justin Steele have gone on the IL since May 10.

“You want to cry uncle sometimes,” manager David Ross said with a chuckle. “But it is what we’re dealing with and guys have done a nice job of coming up and helping us win ballgames.”

As for Williams, the situation might seem more dire than it is, given the “indefinite” designation of his injury status. Likely, this is simply a matter of wait-and-see, assuming there were no further complications to the surgery.

They will need to replace his production in the meantime. Williams hasn’t exactly been a revelation since joining the rotation from the Pirates – 5.36 ERA/4.76 FIP while averaging less than five innings per start – but if nothing else, he’s striking out batters at a career-best rate of 24.9 percent. He’s also walking more batters than usual with a 10.2 percent walk rate.

To his credit, Williams has permitted two or less earned runs in seven of his ten starts, and he’s coming off his best outing of the year, a six-inning, one-earned-run effort against his former club in Pittsburgh.

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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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Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee retires after 11 seasons

After 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Sean Lee has decided to retire.

A second-round pick in 2010 out of Penn State, Lee was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2015, 2016) and the unquestioned leader of the defense for most of his career.

“It’s been a complete honor,” Lee told ESPN. “I’ve been blessed to play for the incredible Jones family, with such great coaches and teammates that I love like brothers. I loved every minute playing and tried to pour my heart and soul into winning and helping my teammates at all costs.

“To say the injuries were frustrating would be an understatement, but the support I received through them all was humbling and the lessons I learned battling adversity will last a lifetime. There are always regrets, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I leave this game grateful.”

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Injuries marked Lee’s time with the Cowboys, but when healthy he was one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

The 34-year-old led the Cowboys in tackles in 2011 and 2015-17, and he retains five of the top seven tackle games in team history, including a record 22 vs. the Giants in 2016.

He also had 14 career interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns; 5 fumble recoveries; 2 forced fumbles; 59 tackles for loss; and 4 sacks.

He was credited with 995 tackles for his career, good for eighth in team history. He averaged 8.4 tackles per game, the most among the top 10 tacklers in team history. Darren Woodson, who is the franchise leader with 1,350, averaged 7.6 tackles per game.

Lee missed time with hamstring, wrist, toe, neck, knee and core-muscle injuries as well as concussions. He missed the 2014 campaign due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He played in just nine matches last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in September but was feeling better at the end of the year and contemplated a return for a 12th season.

His impact off the field was just as great as it was on the field.

“As an individual he’s one of the most selfless people that I’ve ever been around,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch stated after the season.

“The dude just truly loves the game, and he is going to do what’s best for the game. He’s extremely intelligent, he understands it like nobody I’ve been around. He’s just a phenomenal individual — his character bleeds off and is contagious.

“He’s like an older brother to me, and I know he wants to see everyone around him succeed and that’s just what’s special about him. If other people are succeeding, [if] the team is succeeding? He’s just as happy as if he was out there doing it. I think it’s special to have a guy like him around. They don’t come around very often.”

Lee’s decision continues an offseason shift for the Cowboys in longevity and leadership as defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, a nine-year veteran, also elected to retire and the team moved on from 16-year long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

With Lee and Crawford not returning, DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, is the longest-tenured defensive player on the Cowboys. Randy Gregory, a second-rounder the next year, is the second.

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Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon throws no-hitter against Cleveland Indians

Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon came two outs away from a perfect game but threw the first no-hitter of his career in an 8-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

Rodon, 28, threw 114 pitches in the complete game, looking as strong at the end of the contest as he did at the beginning.

“I can’t believe it,” Rodon stated on the game telecast afterwards.

With one out in the ninth inning, Rodon hit Roberto Perez in the foot, ending his chance at perfection. But the lefty then got Yu Chang looking on strike three and Jordan Luplow grounded out to third base.

Josh Naylor had opened the ninth inning with a slow roller to first baseman Jose Abreu, who barely got to the bag before Naylor. The call on the field was ruled an out, which was upheld by video review.

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It’s the second White Sox no-hitter in as many seasons; Rodon’s teammate, Lucas Giolito, threw one last season on Aug. 25 versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft but injuries have plagued his career.

He was non-tendered by the White Sox this past December only to sign back with them on a 1-year deal for $3 million.

Tony La Russa is now the first manager to oversee two no-hitters in the American League and two in the National League, having been in the dugout Dave Stewart in 1990, Jose Jimenez in 1999 and Bud Smith in 2001.

Rodón was selected by Chicago with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 amateur draft. He has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but he won a spot in the rotation during spring training and pitched five innings in a 6-0 victory at Seattle in his first start of the season.

He was supposed to pitch on Monday versus Cleveland, but he was scratched because of an upset stomach.

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Green Bay Packers bring back Kevin King despite struggles in NFC title game

The Green Bay Packers are bringing back cornerback Kevin King on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

King, the Packers’ top pick in the 2017 draft, had been much maligned throughout his career for injuries and inconsistent play. He concluded his season by allowing Tom Brady’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Scott Miller with one second left in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, then was flagged for pass interference on the drive that permitted the Buccaneers to run out the clock.

King has never stayed healthy for an entire season. He missed five matches last season because of a quad injury. He has missed 23 of a possible 64 regular-season games over his four-year career. He missed more games (17) than he played in (15) during his first two NFL seasons.

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Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson traded back from No. 29 overall in the 2017 draft, passing on T.J. Watt, among others, and picked King at No. 33 overall.

King has six career interceptions, five of those coming in the 2019 season, when he played a career-high 15 matches.

His signing keeps intact the starting secondary from last season, including second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander along with safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

The Packers have a new defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. Former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s contract was not renewed following last season.

The Packers lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who joined the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year deal worth an average of $12.5 million per season.

The move reunites him with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left the Packers for the Chargers via free agency a year ago.

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Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks, is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Iupati revealed his decision in an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

The 33-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him 17th overall out of Idaho in 2010. He made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers and one in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He then played on consecutive one-year deals with the Seahawks, starting 25 matches.

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A model of toughness, Iupati played through multiple injuries in the latter portion of his career, most notably dealing with a chronic neck issue that started in 2015 and ultimately convinced him his time in football was over.

Iupati missed six games in 2020 while dealing with injuries to his knee, back and neck.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Iupati’s late-season neck injury as a stinger and said it was something he had dealt with earlier in his career. According to The Spokesman-Review, “a chronic neck condition convinced him he needed to give the game up.”

“I know I’m going to miss it,” Iupati told the newspaper about playing football. “But I’m kind of excited. I’ve got four boys and I’m taking care of them every day.”

Iupati told the newspaper his goal was to play 10 NFL seasons. Spotrac.com lists him with more than $50.75 million in on-field earnings over his career. Iupati and center Ethan Pocic were Seattle’s two starting offensive linemen from 2020 who were planned to become unrestricted free agents.

Earlier this month, quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated his desire for the Seahawks to improve their pass protection.

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Carolina Panthers release DT Kawann Short

Kawann Short has been around the NFL long enough to realize what happens to guys as they age, stack up injuries, and get expensive.

Tuesday, it happened.

The Panthers released the veteran defensive tackle Tuesday, starting the process of clearing up some cap space.

They’ll save $8.6 million worth of room with the move, which will come in handy. With the salary cap for 2021 dropping from $198.2 million to $175 million (though it could rise slightly in the coming weeks), every dollar is going to count this offseason.

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This was a predictable move, and Short seemed to realize it

Explaining at the end of the season that he knew his combination of age, recent injuries, and finances made this likely.

“We’re all grown here. So you know what it is,” Short said the day after the season. “This is a ‘what can you do for me now’ business, so for me to have injuries back to back, it definitely put that in your head, whether the team wants you or not.”

The 32-year-old Short has played in just five games the last two seasons because of shoulder problems and had the second-highest cap number on the roster for 2021, making the move inevitable.

When healthy, he was a steady producer for the Panthers with 32.5 sacks in his first six seasons. And they’ll clearly need to find someone who can do what he did when well, as coaches have identified adding a three-technique defensive tackle spot as a priority.

Converted defensive end Efe Obada was useful there last season, second on the team with 5.5 sacks, but they’d like to find a productive starter to continue to use him as a reserve.

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Ravens sign veteran CB Tramon Williams

The Ravens have added a veteran cornerback to fortify a position hit hard by injuries. Tramon Williams, who has spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers, has been signed to the 53-man roster.

Williams substitutes cornerback Khalil Dorsey (shoulder), who has been placed on injured reserve.

The 37-year-old Williams has 34 career interceptions, but has not played this campaign after his second stint with the Packers ended in 2019. An undrafted free agent in 2006 from Louisiana Tech, Williams had his best years with the Packers, where he played from 2006-14 and acquired a Super Bowl in 2010.

In his second stint with Green Bay that started in 2018, Williams started 23 games, including seven games last season. Though he has primarily been a cornerback, Williams also played some safety for the Packers last season.

Williams has also played for the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.

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Williams will add depth to the cornerback rotation that includes Pro Bowlers Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, veteran Jimmy Smith and second-year pro Terrell Bonds. Humphrey (COVID-19) is expected to return this week after missing Sunday’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Dorsey, who dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s game in Indianapolis, joins a lengthy list of injured cornerbacks from Baltimore. Tavon Young and Iman Marshall are out for the season with knee injuries and Anthony Averett (shoulder) is on injured reserve, though he could return later this year.

Dorsey will be out at least the next three matches. The Ravens have also signed two players to the practice squad – defensive back Nate Brooks and offensive tackle R.J. Prince. Prince was on the Ravens’ practice squad last season and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brooks was an undrafted free agent from North Texas in 2019 who has been with the Cardinals, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

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San Francisco 49ers trade LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints continued their aggressive approach toward the 2020 season by obtaining linebacker Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

Both linebackers are on the mend from injuries. Alexander missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain but returned to practice last week. Alonso, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after tearing his ACL in January. But he also returned to practice last month.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent from Tampa Bay last campaign. But Alexander, 26, was limited last year by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run.

This was a way for the 49ers to shed salary because they like their depth at the position — specifically second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has started in Alexander’s place whenever he has been injured.

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The Saints, meanwhile, have one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

But the athletic 6-foot-1, 227-pounder should help their pass coverage while playing alongside All-Pro Demario Davis. Both players are Mike/Will linebacker hybrids.

Coach Sean Payton stated Monday the Saints envision Alexander as a Will linebacker, where he will compete for playing time with current starter Alex Anzalone while Davis plays more of the Mike linebacker role.

Payton said it would be difficult for Alexander to play Sunday night at Tampa Bay because of the five-day onboarding process that is required. But Payton said the “goal” is for Alexander to be able to suit up in Week 10 — versus the 49ers of all teams in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints can easily afford Alexander’s deal for the rest of this season, as he is due less than $1 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses over their final nine matches. However, they will have a decision to make next year before Alexander is due an additional $13.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Only $2 million is guaranteed for injury-only. Alexander is due another $13.5 million in 2022, none of which is guaranteed.

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