Tagged in: team

Atletico Madrid announce Luis Suarez will leave club at end of season

Luis Suarez will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the campaign, the club revealed on Sunday.

The 35-year-old has spent two years in the Spanish capital and Atletico confirmed his exit before their LaLiga home clash versus Sevilla.

“At the end of the game, the Wanda Metropolitano will pay tribute to Luis Suarez and Hector Herrera, who are saying goodbye to the Red & White family today,” the club posted on social media.

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Suarez moved to Atletico from LaLiga rivals Barcelona on a free transfer in 2020 and played a key role in helping Diego Simeone’s team side claim their first league title since 2014.

The striker scored 21 goals in all competitions during the 2020-21 campaign, including the winning goal in the final day triumph at Real Valladolid to clinch the title.

The Uruguay international has struggled to reproduce his fine form this season and has not enjoyed much playing time on the pitch.

Suarez has contributed 13 goals and three assists in all competitions this term but hasn’t been a first-team regular and only played eight minutes during Atletico’s Champions League knockout matches versus Manchester United and Manchester City.

He started Atletico’s final home game against Sevilla on Sunday and his last appearance for the club will come at Real Sociedad next week.

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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Carlos Sainz closing in on two-year Ferrari extension

Carlos Sainz and Ferrari are close to confirming a two-year contract extension, according to a report in Spanish publication AS.

Sainz is in the second year of his current Ferrari contract and has looked likely to stay beyond 2022 for a while, with the team showing little interest in shopping around for another driver.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said at the season’s opening race in March that a new deal for Sainz was close, although those negotiations appeared to slow down recently.

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The AS report says a two-year extension might be confirmed as early as this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, a home race for Ferrari as one of two races in Italy at a venue close to its fabled headquarters at Maranello.

Sainz’s teammate and runaway championship leader Charles Leclerc has a contract with Ferrari until 2024.

Even if Ferrari was interested in moving on from Sainz, many of the grid’s biggest names are tied down at their current teams for the foreseeable future.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen recently signed a huge deal keeping him at Red Bull until 2028, while Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes contract runs until the end of 2023.

Sainz’s former McLaren teammate Lando Norris recently signed an extension on his deal to keep him at the British team until 2025.

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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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Young, Hunter lead Hawks to 132-103 play-in rout of Hornets

For one night, at least, the Atlanta Hawks looked like the team that made a stunning run to the Eastern Conference final last summer.

Trae Young bounced back from a sluggish start to score 24 points and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge Wednesday that carried the Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in a play-in game.

“We’re definitely confident right now,” Hunter said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re not satisfied yet.”

The Hawks were a bit of a disappointment during the regular season, concluding ninth in the East after their surprising playoff success in 2021.

They’ve still got to win one more play-in game just to make the playoffs, heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night. The winner claims the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.

The season is over for the Hornets, who were overwhelmed in the 9-10 play-in game for the second year in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.

Still, coach James Borrego called it another step forward for a rebuilding team. “A lot of good things have happened for this franchise based on where we’re at today compared to where we were two or three years ago,” he stated.

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Miles Bridges was ejected in the fourth quarter and could be facing additional punishment from the league office after he appeared to strike a young fan with his mouthpiece.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. 

It was Hunter who came up big in the decisive third period, bursting out with 16 points after being held to 3 in the first half.

“I think I’m a big part of this team,” Hunter said. ”Me being aggressive, scoring and defending, helps this team a lot.”

Hunter ended with 22 points, while Danilo Gallinari added 18 and Clint Capela 15. Kevin Huerter and Bogdanovic chipped in with 13 apiece.

The Hornets closed the regular season strong and felt like they had a good opportunity to win a couple of play-in games on the road. But those hopes came crashing down versus their I-85 rival.

LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting.

The Hawks led by 13 in the first half before settling for a 60-52 advantage at the break. Charlotte had a bit of momentum in the closing minutes of the half, but it sure didn’t carry over to the third.

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 during that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.

With the Hornets doubling at every opportunity, Young made only 1 of 9 shots in the opening quarter and 3 of 13 in the first half.

But his teammates found plenty of open looks and made the Hornets pay dearly.

“It’s great for my team,'” said Young, who had 11 assists. “If you can make two guys guard you, it only opens up the floor for everybody else. I have to embrace it.”

Charlotte should’ve known what kind of night it would be on their way to State Farm Arena.

The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight train that stopped on a crossing near the downtown sports complex. The bus had to turn around and take a different route to the arena, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups. It didn’t get much better once the game tipped off.

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Nets’ Andre Drummond says final two regular-season outings are ‘must-win games’ for Brooklyn

As the Brooklyn Nets prepare for their final two regular-season games of the season, they do so in control of their own playoff destiny.

If the Nets — currently seeded eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 42-38 record — win their final two matches, they will lock up the seventh seed and would host the East’s first play-in game next Tuesday night.

Veteran center Andre Drummond left no doubt where his team’s mindset is heading into Friday’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers — the team that sits one slot ahead of the Nets.

“I think they’re must-win games for us,” Drummond said after Friday’s shootaround. “I think we know what’s ahead of us and we know what’s going to happen if we do win these two games. I think our sense of urgency is a little bit higher than what it was before, and I think we’re prepared to take that next step.”

The Nets, who have dealt with a range of injuries, a teamwide COVID-19 outbreak in December and Kyrie Irving’s part-time status from January to March because of his decision not to get the COVID vaccine, remain confident that they can still catch the rhythm they need to make a long run in the postseason.

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“If we’re playing well heading into the play-in game, then those two games take care of itself and we should win ’em,” guard Seth Curry said. “But if we’re not playing well, then we’re probably not going to get out of the play-in game anyways.

“So it’s just a matter of [playing] our style of play, having confidence and being in a good rhythm playing our best basketball.”

Both Drummond and Curry have been solid since being dealt, along with Ben Simmons and two future first round picks, to the Nets in a trade-deadline deal that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Despite the fact that Simmons still hasn’t played for the Nets because of a back injury — and a playoff return remains a very unclear possibility — Brooklyn remains steadfast in the belief that they can still win a title this year.

“I think it’s everybody’s mindset in the beginning of the year, is to try and win a championship,” Drummond said. “I think with this team we have a special group of guys here — anything is possible, it’s the NBA at the end of the day. Anything can happen.

“We just got to hang our hat, put our best foot forward … so we do have that mindset that we can win. I think everybody has that same mindset. For us, we’re just trying to stay within ourself and make things happen.”

For Curry, that means continuing to play through pain in his left ankle.

After missing the past two games, Curry scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 110-98 win over the New York Knicks. “It’s pretty much the same, man,” Curry said of his ankle injury.

“Just trying to manage it — and got through it and played through some pain. So it’s just an everyday managing thing, trying to get through end of the season into the playoffs, giving the team what I can. I feel like if Tiger can shoot 1 under at Augusta yesterday, I can play through a little bit of pain for the rest of the season.”

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LA Clippers’ Paul George practices with team for first time since December

Paul George participated in his first LA Clippers practice in more than three months Thursday as he tries to return prior to the start of the postseason.

The Clippers said George, who has not played since Dec. 22, is in the next phase of his rehab program as he recovers from a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He remains out for Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

George was cleared for practice after participating in a 4-on-4 drill with minimal contact against Clippers coaches on Sunday.

“He is doing good,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said prior to Thursday’s practice. “He hasn’t felt any pain so that is a positive thing. Just working on his conditioning and just making sure he can continue to go through the minimal contact without having any issue. So as of right now, it hasn’t been a problem.”

Around the All-Star break, George was seen shooting with his left hand from short range on the team’s practice court. Earlier this month, George was seen shooting with his right hand.

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The Clippers, who are in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, could get some much-needed reinforcements for the play-in tournament.

Norman Powell, who has been limited to three games after being acquired before the trading deadline, has begun shooting on the court with the team this week. Powell, who had a fracture in a bone in his left foot, has yet to be cleared for contact practice, Lue said.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Clippers (36-38) hope to reduce the minutes for veterans Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum before the play-in tournament

Lue said his preference is to see any of his injured players return for at least one regular season game before the postseason begins. The coach also said Monday that if any of the injured Clippers are medically cleared to play in the postseason, they’ll play.

So while the Clippers have not provided an update on Kawhi Leonard, who continues to work his way back from a torn right ACL injury suffered last June, Lue is keeping the door open for Leonard, George and Powell even if they don’t return by the end of the regular season.

“Hell yeah, I keep it open,” Lue said Monday. “… To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough. But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them.”

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Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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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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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving drops 38 to beat Milwaukee Bucks, can see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving stated he can finally see “light at the end of the tunnel” after playing the best game of his truncated season in Saturday’s surprising 126-123 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Irving scored a season-high 38 points to lead his undermanned team down the stretch versus the defending NBA champions. Afterward, he acknowledged the possibility of New York City ending the vaccination mandate that has kept him off Brooklyn’s Barclays Center floor all season, saying he is looking forward to “turning the page.”

“I’m glad that things are kind of settling down and there’s light at the end of the tunnel here,” Irving said. “Hopefully, I can get back on that home floor playing in the Barclays and now we can finally have that conversation that you’ve been dying to have just about turning the page and moving forward beyond this.

“But like I said, I’m not the only one. I feel for everybody that’s either in my boat or a similar boat or have dealt with some type of trauma from this. And just wishing everybody well-wishes, always.”

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Irving’s comments are his first since New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters earlier in the week that he “can’t wait to get it done” while discussing phasing out vaccination restrictions like other cities across the country.

“I’m following it as much as you guys are,” Irving said. “So just remaining patient and just seeing where things end up in this next week or so, next two weeks, I’m not too sure, but I know as much as you do. And I want to say this — is that I’m very appreciative of all those that are pushing behind the scenes to make our world a better place.

“And with everything calming down with the COVID cases, the most important thing for me was just making sure everyone’s OK. I’ve been on record saying this that it’s not about me, that I don’t want to feel like it’s all on me, but the circumstances this year have not been ideal.”

Irving also stated he appreciated NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s recent comments on ESPN’s Get Up, where Silver defended Irving while noting that the mandate “doesn’t quite make sense to me,” given that unvaccinated players from opposing teams could still play in New York City.

“I know his job is not easy,” Irving said. “Standing in the fire, sometimes, on behalf of our league. So my respect level went to a whole new one for him, and I’m just grateful that he did that, and he really took one for the team. And I’m grateful for that. But like I said, we want to set a great example for the world in what we’re doing, and we try to stand for what’s right and respect everyone else’s decisions and their personal beliefs.”

On top of Irving’s status, what makes the Nets so hopeful with just 21 regular-season games left to play is that star forward Kevin Durant is expected to return this week from a sprained left MCL after missing a month and a half. New addition Ben Simmons also is expected to be available in the near future as he ramps up his conditioning after waiting to be traded from the Philadelphia 76ers, although Nets coach Steve Nash stated Saturday that Simmons was dealing with “a little soreness in his back.”

For Irving, he said the victory in Milwaukee was even more special given that he injured his right ankle in Game 4 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals versus the Bucks, prematurely ending his season.

“It was definitely emotional for me to prepare for this game,” Irving said.

“Just because — I haven’t been back in this building since then. I try my best not to wear my emotions on my face or on my shoulders, but sometimes, they can get the best of me. But it definitely felt like there was a weight lifted just being back here, being healthy, getting a win and knowing that there’s a possibility we could see them down the line again … there was nothing personal about this game, just about the team.”

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