Jets select QB Sam Darnold with No. 3 overall draft pick

Hoping to end their long search for a franchise-caliber quarterback, the New York Jets selected USC’s Sam Darnold with the third overall pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, signaling the start of a new era.

The Jets, who traded up three spots last month, chose Darnold over UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield went to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 pick. That Darnold went to the Jets was a surprise, as he was long projected as the likely top pick.

Darnold said he wasn’t discouraged that he wasn’t the No. 1 pick, claiming he knew it was a possibility from the outset. Fair or not, he’s perceived as the Jets’ savior.

Maccagnan said it wasn’t until Thursday that he first thought Darnold could fall to them. It’s believed he was the highest-rated quarterback on the Jets’ draft board. They held a secret private workout with him recently and later brought him to their facility for a visit.

On his visit, team officials took him to dinner and “maybe one or two of us ordered cocktails,” Maccagnan said. “Of course, Sam isn’t legal, so we were joking around with him a little.”

Darnold turns 21 on June 5.

“He’s very young,” Maccagnan said. “We feel he has a bright future.”

Backstrom was asked whether the Capitals enter this showdown as the underdog despite winning the Metro Division.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t really matter if we’re underdogs or not,” he said. “They won the Stanley Cup two years in a row. Good for them. We’re going to play in the second round against them. It’ll be fun.”

You Again?

Sidney Crosby has spent his career getting the best of Alex Ovechkin. Here’s how the two compare in their teams’ head-to-head matchups, which include three postseason series.

Pittsburgh and Washington have met in the playoffs 10 times in their respective franchise histories. The Penguins have won nine of those series, four of them in seven games. The Penguins have never won a Stanley Cup without beating the Capitals in the playoffs during their run, including all three Stanley Cups of the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin era.

In 2009, the Penguins won an epic seven-game series that featured the famous Game 2 that saw Alex Ovechkin and Crosby both tally hat tricks. The Penguins captured Game 7 in D.C., 6-2. In 2016, the Penguins ousted the Capitals in six games after losing Game 1 on the road in overtime. In 2017, the rivals went seven games again, with the Penguins winning Game 7 at Washington, 2-0.jets_281

Is 2018 a make-or-break year for Jason Garrett?

Jason Garrett became head coach of the Cowboys during the 2010 season. His ability to extend his tenure beyond 2018 could hinge on whether the team makes it to the playoffs in 2018.

Garrett’s ability to coexist with owner Jerry Jones, allowing Jones to have the spotlight while Garrett grinds away, has helped him survive for more than seven seasons despite making it to the playoffs only twice. That may not save Garrett if he fails to qualify for the postseason for the sixth time in eight seasons.

It appears San Francisco is giving pricey free-agent addition Jerick McKinnon his chance to be more of a feature back. Although McKinnon has some Tevin Coleman-like qualities, coach Kyle Shanahan is touting him as a Devonta Freeman-like lead back. But given this is the new, explosive 49ers offense led by Jimmy Garoppolo, their going for the gold of Barkley can’t be ruled out.

Acquiring Barkley probably would require a slight slide, but the Niners are equipped with a second-rounder and two third-rounders, giving them some flexibility to move up a little. Shanahan’s gushing, drooling and geeking out on McKinnon, though, would make this pick come out of left field.

Chris Simms selected the Patriots in last week’s PFT Live draft of ideal destinations for Beckham, and Belichick now has the draft capital to get Beckham, if Belichick wants him.

In one career regular-season game against New England, Beckham caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots beat the Giants, 27-26.

The bigger question is whether the Patriots would pay Beckham anything remotely close to what Beckham wants — and he supposedly wants something in the range of $20 million per year. Then there’s the question of whether Beckham would fit with the Patriot Way, which requires players to surrender most traces of individuality to a bigger picture that emphasizes team over self. Seven years ago, Chad Johnson never really meshed with the Patriots, possibly due to the fact that he felt compelled to be something other than who he is.bills_061

Odell Beckham Jr. Plans to Check In with Giants Monday Amid Contract Talks

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is planning to visit with the team Monday for the opening day of its offseason conditioning program.

Beckham told Josina Anderson of ESPN he’ll “check in, workout in the gym and meet with some people” and has a flight to leave later Sunday. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported there will also be a medical check, but that the wideout is then expected to depart for a “long while” until his contract situation is settled.

“I can’t answer that one way or the other,” he told reporters. “I mean we’re certainly not shopping him, if that’s what you’re asking (laughs). But when you’re coming off a season where you’re 3-13 and played as poorly as we played, I wouldn’t say anyone’s untouchable.”

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY called a trade “highly unlikely” based on all the information available as of Friday. He noted the San Francisco 49ers are one team that could make a push for a deal, though.

So, while the Giants will see Beckham on Monday, his next appearance with the team is a mystery.

“The Packers are aware of the matter involving Trevor Davis,” the team said in a statement to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “We are in the process of gathering more information and we will refrain from making any further comment as it is on ongoing legal matter.”

TMZ Sports first reported the news of Davis’ arrest. Davis’ agent did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday morning.

A fifth-round draft pick out of Cal in 2016, Davis played in all 16 games last season and caught 24 passes for 289 yards.

Former UC Bearcats standout Connor Barwin, an unrestricted free agent, is scheduled to visit this week with the Arizona Cardinals, according to a report via Twitter from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who cited a source.bills_001

Jim Irsay believes Andrew Luck has ‘turned the corner’ in rehab

The pace picked up again once facilitators Bledsoe and Middleton (18 points) re-entered the game, with Milwaukee taking a 45-42 lead at halftime.

Vucevic added 10 rebounds to pick up his 29th double-double of the season. … Biyombo was 6 of 7 from the field. … The Bucks with a regular season record of 668-536 in their 30 seasons at the Bradley Center.

The Cardinals lost to the Brewers, 5-4. The 32-year-old Holland tied for the National League lead with 41 saves for Colorado last season, then signed as a free agent with St. Louis on opening day. He pitched two games for Class A Palm Beach, with a scoreless relief appearance and a start in which he allowed one run on two hits in one inning.

To make room for Holland, St. Louis optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Mayers to Triple-A Memphis. Mayers appeared in two games this season, allowing one run in two innings.

Holland spent his first six seasons in the majors with Kansas City. He missed the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery, then returned with the Rockies last year and was an All-Star for the third time and tied the Colorado record for saves in a season. Holland waited all winter for the right deal. He eventually signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Cardinals.

Two prime targets of Patriots QB Tom Brady have left in this offseason – Brandin Cooks in a trade to the Rams, and Danny Amendola to free agency. The Patriots acquired wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson last month in a trade with the Raiders.

Matthews, 25, posted his worst season in 2017, with 25 catches for 282 yards and one touchdown. In his three previous years with the Eagles, he had 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Matthews played in only 10 games last season because of various injuries, including a knee injury that placed him on injured reserve late in the year.

Brock Holt replaced Bogaerts and had one of the game’s most memorable moments when he batted in the eighth inning.

With Boston trailing 7-2, Holt walked out to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” prompting a rolling cheer from the Fenway crowd. Holt said he thought he saw Tampa pitcher Matt Andriese laugh on the mound. Holt flied out for the inning’s second out.buccaneers_001

Houston is 29 and coming off an injury-riddled season.

Turning only 29 in August, Taylor has a few good years left as a versatile veteran stopgap. It just won’t be for Buffalo, which will move on to find a true franchise guy it totally trusts. Arizona and Denver are Taylor’s best fits elsewhere.

Yet he still played 15 games in 2017 and produced 9.5 sacks, his highest total since his 22-sack, monster 2014 season. The Chiefs want him on that defense. They need him on that defense. He’s not going anywhere.

Protecting him would be paramount to the team’s success, as last year’s 1-10/5-0 splits prove. Upgrading a unit Football Outsiders ranked as 18th-best in pass blocking will certainly be on Lynch’s to-do list. Left tackle Joe Staley put together a typical Pro Bowl season, but at age 33 his play could begin to decline next fall.

The rest of the line — Laken Tomlinson, Trenton Brown, Brandon Fusco, and Daniel Kilgore — was effective in the running game but below average when it came to protecting its quarterbacks. Fusco and Kilgore are each free agents this spring, and their departure could create space for upgrades in the middle of the line.

Now Carr has the chance to be the best quarterback that Gruden’s ever had, which seems like a perfect storm for getting the Raiders back into the postseason. There’s work to be done on defense, but if DC Paul Guenther is able to do as well has he did in Cincinnati, the Raiders could immediately look better in 2018.

During the fourth stage, the individual will try to out-fan those around them in peacock-like displays designed to show dominance. With inhibitions gone, the fan will risk life and limb to prove that their safety is nothing compared to an Eagles win.

Heady off a feeling of community, the individual will risk their safe-being believing their newfound friends will be there to catch them, should they fall off something very high. This faith is often rewarded, but sometime misplaced — leading to injury.patriots_025

Slumping Heat host Grizzlies

When the slumping Miami Heat play host to the woeful Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, it will be the Florida franchise’s first home game since Feb. 9.

The Heat, who lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 124-123 in overtime on Friday night, have lost eight of their past nine games, putting the franchise in danger of missing the playoffs.

Miami (30-29) is a defensive-minded team, ranking third in points allowed, although some of that has to do with their slow pace of play (28th out of 30 teams in that category).

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (heel) is gone for the season, having played only 12 games, and wing Chandler Parsons (knee) has been severely limited.

The Grizzlies, who will miss the playoffs after qualifying for seven consecutive years, have seen their 14 players miss a combined 175 games due to injury or illness this season.

That situation could be made worse by the time they arrive in Miami since guard Tyreke Evans left the Cleveland game midway through the fourth quarter due to a rib injury.

“We may have our shortcomings,” Grizzlies interim coach JB Bickerstaff said in a massive understatement told to the Commercial Appeal, “but our effort and competitive nature are still there.”

“I just think being the leader of this team, I don’t think he thinks he can take games off, because, you know, guys being hurt and going through a rough patch, and now new guys coming in,” Lue said before the Cavs’ 112-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “So, I think he’s trying to lead and lead by example … I think we still got to be smart about the situation, but [the training staff] say he feels good.”

Friday was the 58th game of the Cavs season and the 58th that James played in. He recorded a triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists) in 37 minutes of action.

Last season, James rested in the Cavs’ 11th game of the season and played in 74 games total.

Cleveland came into the season with eight new players, then went through a rotation shuffle in late December through early January when Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson were worked back onto the court after rehabbing injuries and are in the midst of more change since dealing away six players and adding four more in their place at the trade deadline.bears_093-223x223