The NFL off-season is running at full speed as teams make moves to try to get themselves under the salary cap and sign free agents. Peyton Manning restructured his deal with the Denver Broncos to give them some salary cap space. Manning knocked $4 million off his 2015 salary, but don’t worry they added a couple of bonus clauses; so he can get that money back. He’ll earn $2 million if the Broncos go to the AFC title game and then another $2 million if Denver wins the Super Bowl. Brandon Marshall was traded for the 3rd time in his career as the Chicago Bears sent him to the New York Jets for a 5th round draft pick. On a side note; Marshall is the 4th player to be traded three times in his career since 1995. The others are Randy Moss, Glyn Milburn and Sage Rosenfels. The Jets would have an interesting trio of wide receivers if they hang on to them with Marshall, Eric Decker and Percy Harvin. Harvin is due a roster bonus soon and reports are the Jets may release him. When the Marshall rumors started I was wondering what his value might be. When the Bears traded for Marshall they the Miami Dolphins two draft picks; a 3rd round pick in 2012 and a 3rd round pick in 2013. Now we have to see who the Jets decide will be throwing the football to these receivers. Marshawn Lynch is staying with the Seattle Seahawks as he signed a two year deal worth a reported $24 million. There have been rumors of holdouts and retirements involving Lynch, but with this deal those rumors should disappear. There was one retirement announced as Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD) is ending his NFL career after 9 seasons; eight with the Jacksonville Jaquars and one injury plagued 2014 season with the Oakland Raiders. Jones-Drew rushed for a career 8167 yards and led the NFL in rushing with 1606 yards in 2011. The Jaquars drafted M.J.D. in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft. He was a three time Pro Bowl selection and was 1st team All-Pro one time. It is also being reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers will release Safety Troy Polamalu if he doesn’t choose to retire. Polamula has spent his entire 12 year career with Pittsburgh. Two other long time veteran players will be looking for new teams after in 2015 as their teams announced they’ll be moving on this week. After 14 seasons and more games played than any other Indianapolis Colts player it was announced that the team won’t try to re-sign wide receiver Reggie Wayne. The New England Patriots declined the contract option on defensive lineman Vince Wilfork after 11 seasons with the team. This may be the first set of moves by NFL teams as they get ready for the draft as well as being able to sign free agents starting March 10th.
Did the Atlanta Hawks make a statement last night? They beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-97 last night in what may have been an Eastern conference finals preview. Atlanta got out to a 17 point lead in the 1st quarter, but they had just a 2 point lead at 81-79 going into the 4th quarter. Atlanta outscored Cleveland 25-18 in the final quarter to seal the victory. Al Horford led Atlanta in scoring with 19 points and rebounds with 9. Mike Scott came off the Hawks bench and hit seven of nine shots scoring 14 points while Dennis Schroder added 15 points off the bench as well as leading the team in assists with 8 . Jeff Teague and Paul Milsap each scored 16 points. DeMarre Carroll drew the defensive assignment of guarding LeBron James and James struggled. James played a little over 40 minutes going 5-13 from the field including 1-4 from behind the 3-point line. James scored 18 points grabbed 6 rebounds and handed out 8 assists, but committed 9 turnovers in the game. The best part of James game was his free throw shooting was much better as he went 7-8 from the foul line. With James Struggling Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers in scoring with 20 points while Kevin Love had 14 points. The hawks improved to 49-12 for the season and have actually won 42 of their last 48 games. Cleveland’s record falls to 39-25. Maybe Atlanta drew some extra inspiration from Dominique Wilkins. The Hawks unveiled a statue of Wilkins outside Philips Arena, wore throwback jerseys from the Dominique era, and honored No. 21 at halftime with a painting and a framed jersey autographed by all the current Hawks players. Up next; the Cavaliers: return home to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday to complete a stretch of four games in five nights. While the Hawks travel to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on the 76ers.
Spring training is up and running and the defending champion San Francisco Giants lost one of their best players Hunter Pence for 6 to 8 weeks with a broken arm. While it’s very early in spring training; so Pence should be back in the line up by late April or early May. I guess if you must have an injury you’d like to have them early and get it out-of-the-way. Pence has played in every game for the Giants the last two seasons and isn’t going to be easy to replace. While the Giants aren’t a home run hitting team Pence was one of only two Giants with 20 or more home runs. Pence hit 20 home runs on the nose while Buster Posey led the team with 22 home runs. Pence was also 2nd on the team in RBI’s with 74. Posey was the team leader in this category as well with 89. Pence was also tied for the team lead in triples with Brandon Crawford; each had 10. Pence was 2nd on the team in doubles with 29. Michael Morse led the team with 32 doubles. Bruce Bochy may be the best manager in baseball at juggling his line up when needed. Look for the Giants to fill Pence’s spot with players like Gregor Blanco, Juan Perez or maybe Travis Ishikawa. Nori Aoki may move over from left field to fill in for Pence in right field on the defensive side. The Giants also have non-roster invitee Justin Maxwell in camp; so this may be his shot to make the team and fill this role until Pence comes back from injury. This is Maxwell’s 4th team after stops in Washington, Houston and 20 games last season with the Kansas City Royals. Let’s see who Bochy chooses to fill Pence’s spot to start the season.
We covered the National League West on the podcast last night as we had four team previews. No one from the Colorado Rockies wanted to come on and talk to us. Maybe that says something about how their season might go. Tony Fischer started the podcast off talking Arizona Diamondbacks with me. You can find Tony’s Diamondbacks coverage at HeatWaved.com We talked Los Angeles Dodgers next as Scott Andres from LasordsLair.com came on the podcast with me. I wrapped up the night with two of my favorite guest. First Mark O’Neill from www.AroundtheFoghorn.com join me to talk San Francisco Giants baseball and I wrapped up the podcast talking to Billy Brost about the San Diego Padres. While Billy has left the Site FriarsonBase.com that covers the Padres he is staying involved with writing about baseball. Look for Billy’s new venture BaseballMagazine.net starting soon. You can listen to any or all of these interviews in the Sports Time Radio podcast archives. Click on Sports Time Radio and you can pick and choose the podcast you’d like to listen to.
So how was your week?