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Saints re- sign QB Taysom Hill to deal through 2021

While the New Orleans Saints are closing in on a deal with quarterback Jameis Winston, they doubled down on their investment in current backup Taysom Hill.

The Saints and Hill agreed to a two-year deal, which will take the place of the one-year, $4.641 million tender they had already offered him as a restricted free agent.

The deal is worth $21 million, including $16 million fully guaranteed at signing, plus $1 million more in performance incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

“I’ve felt a lot of love from the organization and the fan base. … My wife and I always wanted to stay in New Orleans, so this worked out perfect,” Hill said on a conference call Sunday.

Hill said the idea of a two-year deal “made the most sense for everybody” because it gives him an opportunity to become Drew Brees’ successor if Brees retires in the next year or two — but also gives him freedom if that doesn’t happen.

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Hill posted a message on Instagram on Sunday, stating, “I’ve had this dream since I was a little kid of playing in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints made that dream a reality. … Thank you NOLA.”

Hill, 29, did not sign an offer sheet with any other NFL teams before last week’s deadline for restricted free agents, which gave the Saints exclusive negotiating rights. Depending on how they structure the new deal, they could create some extra salary-cap space to help make room for Winston.

Regardless of Winston’s pending arrival, Saints coach Sean Payton has made it clear he considers the versatile Hill could potentially succeed Brees as New Orleans’ starting quarterback.

Hill got a late start to his NFL career because he went on a two-year church mission to Australia after high school, then spent five years at BYU, where he suffered a total of four season-ending injuries. But he was impressive enough as a dual-threat QB at BYU to finish his career with 6,929 passing yards, 43 TD passes, 2,815 rushing yards and 32 rushing TDs.

He started his NFL career as an undrafted rookie with the Green Bay Packers in 2017 before the Saints claimed him off waivers on cut-down day.

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Kicker Mason Crosby, Packers reach 3 year deal

The Green Bay Packers and kicker Mason Crosby have reached to a new three-year deal, per his agent Mike McCartney

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the contract is worth $12.9 million.

Crosby enjoyed a career-high 91.7 percent field-goal success rate (22-of-24) last year. He was a perfect 14-of-14 from 39 or fewer yards.

The 35-year-old out of the University of Colorado will be entering his 14th campaign in the NFL next year, all with Green Bay.

Crosby won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in 2011, going 3-of-4 on field goals and hitting all 16 of his extra points in the postseason.

The signing does not come as a surprise considering that Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told Mike Spofford of Packers.com that he wanted Crosby back.

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“I think when you have a guy who has been through the fire like Mason has, for a guy in my position it makes us feel very comfortable,” Gutekunst said. “He obviously had an excellent year last year. He’s a big part of our team, a big part of what we’re trying to do here. I’m very hopeful that will reach the right ending.”

A veteran of 10 NFL postseasons, Crosby has shined when the lights are brightest, hitting 26 of 29 playoff field goals and all 65 of his extra points.

He notably drilled field goals of 56 and 51 yards in the final 1:33 of a 2017 NFC Divisional Round Game in a road upset over the Dallas Cowboys.

He’s also been a reliable source of points for 14 years as he hasn’t missed a match since the Pack picked him in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.

Crosby and the Packers will look to build off a 13-3 NFC North-winning campaign that saw the team reach the NFC Championship Game.

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Reliever Chris Martin back with Braves on 2 year deal

Pitcher Chris Martin and the Altanta Braves have agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract, a deal that brings back the right-hander after he closed 2019 with the club.

The 33-year-old Martin was acquired by Atlanta from the Texas Rangers for left-hander Kolby Allard at the July 31 trade deadline.

Martin was 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 20 games with the Braves. He had 22 strikeouts and one walk in 17 2/3 innings. It’s the third notable relief pickup of the past week for the Braves, who already snagged arguably the top reliever on the market last Thursday when signing Will Smith to a three-year, $40MM contract.

Atlanta also re-signed veteran righty Darren O’Day to a one-year, $2.25MM deal in the early stages of the offseason.

Between Smith, Martin, O’Day, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, the Atlanta bullpen will head into the 2020 campaing as both a much more established and much more expensive collective unit than it did in 2019.

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This past season, Martin posted a career-high 95.7 mph average fastball and logged career-high marks in swinging-strike rate (12.4 percent) and opponents’ chase rate (38.3 percent). The only pitcher in baseball (min. 50 innings pitched) who boasted a lower walk percentage than Martin’s 2.3 percent mark was Atlanta teammate Josh Tomlin (2.2 percent), but Martin’s 30.1 percent strikeout rate was nearly double that of Tomlin.

The extent to which he can replicate his enormous gains in swinging-strike, chase and walk rates will determine Martin’s success in his second stint with the Braves, but there’s little denying that he was among the most appealing arms available on the market this winter.

Early in the season the Braves will continue to deploy Melancon as the club’s closer, general manager Alex Anthopoulos recomended following the signing of Smith. That should lead to a primary setup corps of Smith, Martin, Greene and O’Day, with a number of the Braves’ young arms combining to round out the bullpen mixture. 

Luke Jackson, Grant Dayton, A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka and Jacob Webb will be among the names considered by the Atlanta brass, barring additional bullpen acquisitions and or roster moves that send some of those incumbent options elsewhere.

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