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New York Jets DE Carl Lawson expects to be ready for training camp after tearing Achilles last year

Nine months removed from Achilles surgery, New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson won’t participate in OTA practices later this month, but he expects to be on the field for training camp in late July.

“I think I’ll be good to go, but it’s up to the organization and how they want to play it, what they want me doing and stuff like that,” Lawson said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters, his first interview since December.

“I’ll be ready to go when my number is called. Even when I was on one leg, I was ready to go.” Lawson is sprinting, according to coach Robert Saleh, but he’s still in the latter stages of his rehab.

The team will be cautious with Lawson, their marquee free-agent signing in 2021, which means there could be a ramp-up period once camp starts.

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The Jets had big expectations for Lawson after signing him to a three-year, $45 million contract, but he tore his Achilles last Aug. 20 in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers.

He was finished before the season got started.

The defense struggled without him, finishing 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in scoring and 26th in sacks.

This is a difficult injury for any player, let alone a pass-rusher who relies on first-step quickness, but Lawson is confident he can regain his old form.

“I’ve had major injuries before and I came back better,” said Lawson, who has rebounded from two ACL injuries. “This is different, but I don’t plan on not being better than I was. … But if I don’t, who knows? But I plan on being better than I was.”

Lawson dominated training camp before the injury, and he’s planning to go to school on that film. That, he believes, will provide a baseline for when he’s back on the field.

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New York Giants release James Bradberry after failing to find trade partner for CB

The New York Giants released cornerback James Bradberry on Monday to save about $10.1 million against the salary cap this season.

New general manager Joe Schoen was seeking to trade Bradberry since before free agency in March but couldn’t find anything that worked for all parties involved. Schoen acknowledged last week he was surprised there wasn’t more interest in the team’s No. 1 cornerback.

“Yeah, I was,” he stated Wednesday on WFAN Sports Radio. “I thought there would be more interest. There were some teams that showed interest pre-draft, and we had a couple different times there were compensation in place and the contract never worked out. Being the fact that we did have good talks with the other teams and their agents had good talks with teams, sometimes if you’re going to renegotiate a contract and couldn’t come to an agreement, it is what it is.”

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The move for the Giants was more about the money than an indictment on the player.

Bradberry, 28, was set to make $13.5 million this season and would have counted as $21.9 million on the team’s salary cap. His release leaves the Giants thin at cornerback, where the oft-injured Adoree’ Jackson is the only veteran with significant starting experience.

The Giants needed the savings to sign their draft class and operate throughout the season. They were just $6 million under the cap as of last week, according to the Roster Management System.

Bradberry had $2 million of his $13.4 million base salary guaranteed at the start of the league year.

“Listen, he’s a starting corner in the league,” Schoen told WFAN last week. “It’s just where we are financially. We still got to sign our draft picks, be able to sign our practice squad and have replacement costs for during the season.”

Despite the move, the Giants still have to eat almost $10 million in dead money against the cap. That leaves them with close to $30 million in dead money for this upcoming season, fifth-most in the NFL.

The Giants also lost one of their most productive players. Bradberry was one of just five players on the roster to make a Pro Bowl in their career. He was their top cornerback last season and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with the Giants in 2020, when he had a career-best 79.8 Pro Football Focus grade.

He has been in the 60s in every other year of his career. The veteran cornerback had a career high with four interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles this past campaign.

Bradberry, who went to Samford, spent the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers. The Giants signed him as a free agent in the 2020 offseason to a deal worth $43.5 million over three years.

He was entering the final year of that deal, which made it more difficult to trade him as a one-year rental, unless there was a new deal worked out. He has played in 92 career games (91 starts) for the Giants and Panthers.

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Torres HR in 9th lifts Yanks over Rangers 2-1 in DH opener

Gleyber Torres hit a game-ending homer to lead off the ninth inning and the New York Yankees defeated the Texas Rangers 2-1 Sunday in the opener of a doubleheader.

Torres gave the Yankees their third walk-off triumph of the season when he lifted a 3-1 sinker from John King (1-1) into the short porch in right field. His fourth homer this year propelled New York to its 12th win in 13 matches.

Torres also had a game-ending single April 23 against Cleveland and now has seven career walk-off hits, including two homers.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth after Rangers starter Dane Dunning lost his no-hit bid on an infield single by Aaron Judge to open the inning. Kole Calhoun homered on Yankees starter Gerrit Cole’s final pitch, but the Rangers committed three errors and ended a four-game winning streak.

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Cole allowed a run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

He struck out 10, walked one and threw a season-high 114 pitches, reaching 100.6 mph on the radar gun.

Cole allowed three of his hits in the first two innings, when he threw 47 pitches. After allowing his only walk, Cole retired 14 of 15 hitters before Calhoun connected.

Dunning allowed one run and two hits in six innings. He struck out five, walked three and did not throw any of his 100 pitches over 90.8 mph.

Calhoun ended Cole’s bid for a third consecutive scoreless start when he lined a full count 97.6 mph fastball to the right field seats and just inside the foul line with one out in the seventh. It was the only fastball Cole threw in the seventh.

Dunning lost his no-bid on his 86th pitch when Judge hit an infield single to third baseman Brad Miller and easily beat the throw. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single that moved Judge to third, and Stanton’s fly ball to left gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Jonathan Loáisiga followed Cole with 1 2/3 innings. Clay Holmes (3-0) worked around Mitch Garver’s double in the ninth.

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New York Giants won’t exercise fifth-year option on QB Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have elected to decline the fifth-year option on quarterback Daniel Jones’ rookie contract, a source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini. It would have guaranteed the team’s starting quarterback $22.39 million next season.

The Giants did opt to pick up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, the team revealed. The 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft is now guaranteed $10.8 million for the 2023 season.

Jones, 24, was the sixth overall selection in the 2019 draft out of Duke. But while the Giants still think he can be their quarterback into the future, he hasn’t yet shown it consistently on the field. Jones has missed matches because of injury each of his first three professional seasons and has thrown just 21 touchdown passes in the past two seasons combined.

Jones’ 24 touchdown passes as a rookie remains a career high.

That made the decision on the young quarterback rather obvious. The Giants didn’t want to guarantee Jones more than $20 million before they saw him perform consistently at a level where there was no doubt that he was a franchise quarterback. They might have high hopes, but it hasn’t happened in the first three seasons playing under three different offensive coordinators.

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General manager Joe Schoen mentioned the cautionary tale of the Carolina Panthers and Sam Darnold not long after he was hired. Darnold is guaranteed $18.9 million this season after the Panthers traded for him and picked up his fifth-year option before he ever played a game for the team. Meanwhile, Carolina spent this offseason trying to land an upgrade at quarterback and are stuck with Darnold on their books.

Cleveland, which ultimately landed Deshaun Watson, is in an alike position with Baker Mayfield, who also had his fifth-year option picked up last year.

It’s not that the Giants don’t have confidence and high hopes for Jones; they do. But if he performs as they expect — under the new regime led by coach Brian Daboll — they can always use the franchise tag next year at around $30 million or sign Jones to a long-term deal. They don’t feel the need to make any commitments at this point.

Jones will remain the Giants’ starter to start this season, and the organization has high expectations despite signing veteran Tyrod Taylor to a two-year deal this offseason.

“We do feel Daniel can play,” co-owner John Mara said earlier this year. “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.”

Mara added later this offseason that either you have your quarterback or you don’t, and he considered the Giants had theirs. In the meantime, Taylor is signed for $5.5 million next year and could potentially serve as a relatively inexpensive bridge option should Jones not pan out.

Lawrence, 24, has been a three-year starter in the middle of the Giants’ defense. He had 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.

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Carolina Panthers OC Ben McAdoo says QB Sam Darnold is the team’s starter

New Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo emphatically stated “yes” on Tuesday when asked whether Sam Darnold was his starting quarterback and added that the third pick of the 2018 draft was one reason he took this job.

Seconds later, the former New York Giants head coach tempered his yes by adding that coach Matt Rhule has a say over the decision but that “the way it is in the building right now, Sam is our starting quarterback.”

Darnold and P.J. Walker are the only quarterbacks under contract for 2022, and the Panthers are vetting quarterbacks as candidates for the No. 6 pick in the draft.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is being better talking to you people [media], so announcing the starting quarterback here I just put my foot in my mouth,” said McAdoo, who was fired by the Giants after the 2017 season.

“That wasn’t something I should have said.”

But McAdoo has liked parts of Darnold’s game since the New York Jets drafted him No. 3 out of USC.

He told the New York Post in 2018 that Darnold had a “lot of magic in his game,” although he wondered aloud whether Darnold ever would be the franchise-saver the Jets needed him to be. At the time, he couldn’t get past the flaws in Darnold’s throwing mechanics and ball security.

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“I think he’s special,” McAdoo told the Post. “He’s obviously a talented guy, he can make plays with his feet. I’d just have a hard time drafting a guy in the first round where you don’t necessarily like the way he throws.

“He can overcome it, guys have, but that’s something that’s a challenge for me. I’m gonna be looking at that, trying to fix it, because it’s a fundamental flaw, and I believe in the fundamentals. The quarterback, his No. 1 job is to pass the football. If I don’t like the way he throws the ball, I have a hard time picking him, right?”

But in a sense McAdoo picked Darnold when choosing to come to Carolina after spending last campaign as a consultant for the Dallas Cowboys.

“Sam does have some magic in his game,” McAdoo said in his first interview since being hired on Jan. 24. “He’s got some athleticism to him. I’m excited to work with Sam. We’ve been working the last few days here to get up to speed on offense, and he’s shown flashes of being a good player in this league.”

That doesn’t mean the Panthers are more likely to take a left tackle than a quarterback at No. 6. They’ve spent the past few months evaluating quarterbacks and used seven of their 30 official visits on the position.

The Panthers have had visits with — Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe and Nevada’s Carson Strong.

Willis, Pickett and Corral, according to draft analysts, are the most likely to go in the first round, with Pickett considered best prepared to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

McAdoo doesn’t put a lot of stock in being game ready.

McAdoo appears open to Darnold being his starter despite reports the Panthers are interested in trading for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. League sources told ESPN that the team simply has been doing due diligence on the position and that if such a trade occurred, it would be after the draft.

McAdoo said in the 2018 Post article that Mayfield had an “edge” about him but that he didn’t see “a lot of pro-style football in his tape.”

McAdoo declined to talk about Mayfield on Tuesday. “I’d love to comment on your question, but this isn’t my first rodeo,” McAdoo said. “I’m going to keep the comments to players on our roster right now.”

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Los Angeles Dodgers add reliever Dellin Betances on minor league deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to deepen their pitching staff with low-risk, high-reward signings, have agreed to a minor league contract with four-time All-Star Dellin Betances, a source confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

Betances, 34, can earn a prorated portion of a $2.75 million base salary if he reaches the major leagues, with an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses, according to the New York Post.

Betances was one of the sport’s most dominant relievers while with the New York Yankees from 2014 to 2018, posting a 2.22 ERA with 607 strikeouts in 373⅓ innings. But the 6-foot-8, 265-pound right-hander has made only 17 appearances over the past three years, and there’s no set timetable for his return to the major leagues.

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Betances has been off a mound this offseason, but the Dodgers need a longer look to determine how far he is from tapping back into some of his prime form.

Betances spent the first 5½ months of the 2019 campaign rehabbing a right shoulder impingement and a strained lat, then returned on Sept. 15 and tore his left Achilles tendon on his eighth pitch, ending his season for good.

He then struggled through a 7.71 ERA in 11⅔ innings with the New York Mets during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and made only one major league appearance in 2021, opting for season-ending shoulder surgery at the end of June.

Betances joins a handful of rehabbing pitchers who might evolve into major contributors in the Dodgers’ bullpen later this season, involving Danny Duffy and Dustin May, traditional starting pitchers who probably won’t be stretched out enough to reenter the rotation in 2022.

The Dodgers also employ Tommy Kahnle, who is nearing his return from Tommy John surgery, and have re-signed Jimmy Nelson, who will spend most of this campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery but could factor into the mix in 2023.

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Aaron Judge to receive extension offer from New York Yankees, ‘pencils down’ by Opening Day, GM Brian Cashman says

New York Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge will soon get a proposal for a long-term contract extension, general manager Brian Cashman stated Saturday.

“Between now and opening day we’ll make an offer and he’ll obviously receive an offer and all the conversions will have taken place and will either resolve into a multiyear deal or it won’t,” Cashman said.

“We’re committed. We’ll make an offer and hear what he has to say in response and then it will be pencils down before opening day,” he said.

The Yankees open on April 7 at home versus the Boston Red Sox.

Judge said Saturday he was “pretty sure” he doesn’t want to negotiate a new contract during the regular season. The outfielder, who turns 30 next month, is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.

“We haven’t decided yet, but for right now that’s what we’ve got,” Judge said. “I want to be here. Get a chance to play here for quite a few more years, that would be great. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not too worried.”

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The Yankees and Judge so far have failed to reach a deal for 2022, which could result in the two sides heading into arbitration during the season. He asked for a raise from $10,175,000 to $21 million, and the Yankees offered $17 million.

“Our position has always been, we wind up only in a hearing if we’re dragged there,” Cashman said. “We only go when forced to go. We’re not afraid of going. Our history shows that we stay out of that arena unless we’re compelled to get there. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Judge, who hit .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBI in 148 games last season, hopes an agreement can be reached to avoid arbitration.

“Go back and forth until we, maybe, can settle on something before the court date and if not, we’ll see each other in court,” Judge said.

Judge said the contract talk isn’t a distraction. “Not really, I’m a baseball player,” he said.

“I’m going to come out and do my usual on the field. I’ve got people that are going to worry about the other stuff for me and put me in the right position and give me the right answers. If I take care of what I’ve got to do on the field, everything is going to workout.”

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1B Anthony Rizzo agrees to two-year, $32 million contract with New York Yankees

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who concluded last season with the Yankees after a trade from the Chicago Cubs, agreed to a multiyear contract Tuesday night to return to New York, pending a physical, a source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

The contract for is two years and $32 million with an opt-out clause after one season, a source said.

During his decade-long career with the Cubs, Rizzo was as reliable as anyone in the batter’s box and in the field. He was a consistent All-Star and Gold Glove winner and garnered MVP votes in five consecutive seasons. But his numbers dropped over the past two seasons, culminating in the trade to New York.

Rizzo got off to a hot start with his new team but a bout with COVID-19 interrupted his second half. He still managed 22 home runs split between the Cubs and Yankees but his .783 OPS was his lowest since 2013.

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Rizzo’s defense hasn’t suffered as he’s aged and a perennial back ailment hasn’t kept him out of the lineup for more than a few days at a time. He’s still a reliable left-handed bat but may never again be an MVP-caliber player.

Rizzo is just one of five left-handed hitters in the long history of the Cubs to hit 30 or more home runs in a season.

And he’s just one of two players to do it multiple times. He averaged 29 home runs over a seven-year span, helping the Cubs to the postseason from 2015 to 2018.

He was also the de facto leader of the team, signing a long-term contract with the Cubs in 2013. That ended last year after the Cubs picked up two team option years in 2020 and 2021.

The sides discussed another deal as recently as this past spring but after an agreement couldn’t be reached, Rizzo was traded to the Yankees the day before the trade deadline this past summer.

New York, after a slow start, rallied with Rizzo and Co. to make the postseason, where the Yankees were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox, another team that was mentioned prominently in trade rumors once Rizzo became available.

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New York Mets hire Elizabeth Benn as director of major league operations

The Mets have hired Elizabeth Benn as director of major league operations, making her the franchise’s highest-ranking female baseball operations employee ever.

Benn has worked for Major League Baseball since concluding a master’s degree in philosophy at Columbia in 2017.

She has had roles in youth programs, labor relations and baseball operations with the league. Several women hold prominent roles in front offices across the male-dominated sport, including Marlins general manager Kim Ng.

The crosstown Yankees have had two women serve as assistant general managers in Ng and Jean Afterman.

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The Mets are shaking up their front office for the second consecutive offseason, a series of moves that included the brief tenure of Jared Porter as general manager following the 2020 season.

Porter was fired over sexually explicit text messages he had sent to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Cubs.

Billy Eppler was hired as general manager in November. His front office now has women working in analytics, player performance and minor league operations, but none has held the director title given to Benn.

The Mets also hired Gretchen Aucoin as a minor league coach this offseason, making her the team’s first on-field female coach.

Benn has been an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College and is also a right-handed pitcher who was the first woman to play in the New York City Metro Baseball League, a weekend rec league that incorporates many former college players.

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New York Giants release tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker

The New York Giants have releasing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Devontae Booker, the team revealed Wednesday.

“Certainly not the year any of us expected, but a year we will never forget,” Rudolph wrote earlier Wednesday in social media posts. “… Thanks to everyone in the building who took in and helped this old guy who needed to relearn everything about a new organization.”

Rudolph texted ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he is not retiring and intends to play next season. Rudolph, 32, had just 26 catches for 257 yards with a touchdown in his only year with the Giants.

It was one of the least productive seasons of an accomplished career in which he made two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 and ’17.

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His release was a rather easy decision for the Giants and a new regime led by general manager Joe Schoen, who stated Tuesday the team would have to make “tough” decisions to reach his goal of cutting $40 million off the salary cap.

Rudolph was arranged to count $7.4 million against the cap this year. The Giants save $5 million with the move, even if it includes $2.4 million in dead money.

By releasing Booker, who averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, the Giants will save an additional $2 million.

New York will need to address the tight end position in free agency and/or the draft. Starter Evan Engram also is scheduled to be a free agent.

The signing of Rudolph was questionable from the start by former general manager Dave Gettleman. After agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth $12 million last offseason, it was discovered that Rudolph would need surgery on a foot injury that limited him the previous season.

The Giants, however, decided to honor the contract and Rudolph missed the entire spring and most of the summer. He never really hit his stride in New York as it appeared he lost a step while struggling to create separation — averaging just 2.9 yards per separation, per NextGen Stats. He averaged 4.0 yards and 3.4 yards of separation in the two previous seasons.

Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame, had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Vikings. Only his rookie season and 2014 — when he missed almost half the year with injuries — was he less productive than this past season.

He has 479 catches for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns in his professional career.

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