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Thursday, May 25, 2017

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Sheldon Richardson takes a shot at Brandon Marshall

Sheldon Richardson

Sheldon Richardson is pretty thrilled to have a locker room absent Brandon Marshall.

After the Jets’ first OTA on Tuesday, Richardson said New York’s locker room is much easier to get along with. He then revealed why.

That was a shot from Richardson at Marshall, who wore jersey No. 15 for the Jets before being released and signing with the Giants.

The two had tension all last season. Richardson and Marshall had a locker room altercation after a Week 3 loss to the Chiefs. They then traded barbs at the end of the season.

The Jets may have a healthier locker room entering the season.

Report: Chris Bosh, Heat close to resolving situation

Chris Bosh

The long-standing conflict between the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh reportedly is close to being resolved.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman reports that the Heat, NBA and NBAPA are working on a deal that would allow Bosh to receive the full payout of the remaining $53.1 million he is owed on his current contract with the Heat without having the money count against Miami’s salary cap.

Bosh was signed to a max deal in 2014, but blood clots caused him to miss the second half of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. He then failed his physical for the Heat prior to the current season and ended up not playing the whole year.

The sides have been at odds because Bosh has shown an interest in playing, while the Heat didn’t want him to play because they didn’t want his salary to count against their salary cap. A new deal would bridge parts of the previous CBA with the new one, per Winderman.

If such a deal is to be reached between the sides, it would theoretically make Miami more of a player in free agency and help accelerate their rebuilding process. The Heat have $93 million committed for next season, with Bosh’s salary accounting for over $25 million of that amount. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are taking up about $40 million next season as well.

As recently as April, Bosh said he wanted to continue his NBA career. He turned 33 years old in March.

Teddy Bridgewater back on field for Vikings at OTAs

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater was back on the field during OTAs for the Minnesota Vikings, which is a great sign.

Bridgewater missed all of last season after severely tearing his ACL during a practice before the season. There has been a lot of concern about whether the quarterback would be ready to play in the upcoming season, so what happened on Tuesday was a step forward.

Here’s video shared by the Vikings of Bridgewater dropping back and throwing some passes:

Bridgewater can bee seen with a long brace on his left leg.

There are no guarantees that the 2014 first-round pick will be ready in time for the season, but having Bridgewater throwing passes at OTAs is uplifting. There is a chance the Vikings have the QB open up the season on the PUP list.

Report: Odell Beckham Jr. signs richest shoe deal ever for NFL player

Odell Beckham

Nike apparently is putting in a lot of stock into Odell Beckham Jr.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Nike has signed ODB to a 5-year deal that he calls the “most lucrative” shoe deal ever for an NFL player.

Rapoport says that Nike had to match an offer from Adidas in order to get the deal with the Giants receiver done. The deal reportedly could turn into an 8-year pact.

Beckham was a first-round pick of the Giants in 2014. He has been an incredible playmaker since then, posting at least 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his three seasons. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons.

Beckham has been criticized for some of his on and off-field behavior, but there is little doubt that he is a superstar.

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

Rob Gronkowski

The New England Patriots will give Rob Gronkowski the opportunity to become the highest-paid tight end in the NFL in the upcoming season.

Gronk and the Pats agreed to restructure the tight end’s contract, giving him the chance to raise his pay from $5.25 million this season to potentially $10.75 million.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gronk’s salary will be boosted if he reaches one of three tiers in 2017. The tiers are dependent upon statistics and playing time achieved.

Here is what Gronk would need to do to reach any of the tiers, per Schefter:

‪1st tier ($10.75M) – Either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1,200 receiving yards or All Pro.

‪2nd tier ($8.75M) – 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1,000 receiving yards or 12 TDs.‬

‪3rd tier ($6.75M) – 70 percent play time, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.‬

Gronk could obviously trigger a pay raise quite easily if he plays how he has in many of his fine seasons. The Patriots would probably only be too happy to pay, because that means Gronk is playing for them and doing well.

Justin Tuck believes Jason Pierre-Paul is better player without 10 fingers

Jason Pierre-Paul has had to make some major adjustments since he mangled his hand in a fireworks accident nearly two years ago, and one of his former teammates feels the star defensive end has made them and then some.

Justin Tuck, who won a Super Bowl with Pierre-Paul when the two were teammates with the New York Giants, told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY that he feels Pierre-Paul is a better player now than he was three seasons ago.

“What I love about Jason is adversity hit with the accident and everybody kind of wrote him off,” Tuck said Monday. “I think he’s actually a better player now. And I say that from the perspective of he’s learning how to utilize all of his abilities. Whereas before I think he was more of a … one-trick pony is not the right word. I think he was relying on the one or two things that he did really, really well. I think now he’s become more of a complete player.”

Pierre-Paul recorded 16.5 sacks during the 2011 season, and he has not come close to that number since he lost his entire right index finger, a portion of his thumb and a portion of his middle finger. However, he did show a lot of promise last season with seven sacks in just 12 games. He was also one of the best in the game at pressuring the quarterback.

“What I love about him is just how his character has changed,” Tuck added. “How he’s focused, how he’s put things in perspective in his life. That bodes well for him. So yeah, I really feel confident in him being the leader going forward.”

The Giants feel Pierre-Paul can still be the same player he was pre-injury. They proved that when they signed the 28-year-old to a four-year, $62 million contract this offseason.

When you see the damage that Pierre-Paul suffered in the fireworks mishap, you’ll understand why it is so remarkable that he is still playing at a high level. Tuck is obviously impressed with that, as are many others.

Scott Van Pelt, Jay Mariotti get into animated Twitter beef

There is no love lost between Scott Van Pelt and his former ESPN colleague Jay Mariotti. For a little refresher on how much the two dislike each other, look no further than the heated social media exchange they had on Tuesday.

The latest spat began when Mariotti decided to call out Van Pelt for contributing to the issues ESPN is having. In Mariotti’s eyes, Van Pelt spends too much time trying to entertain millennials and be a part of “frat-house” culture. Let’s just say it was on from there.

Then came the grand finale. Mariotti got so angry that he literally told Van Pelt he is considering suing him and ESPN, and he believes the lawsuit would end with him taking ownership of the network. You can’t make this stuff up.

Here’s some context: Last September, Mariotti tweeted that Van Pelt is “embarrassing himself” with his on-air work at ESPN. He ended up deleting the tweet, but Van Pelt came back at him 100 times harder.

That is likely the “defamatory tweet” Mariotti was referring to. But rest assured, Mariotti is not going to own ESPN.

For starters, Mariotti is a public figure. It’s a lot harder to prove defamation of a public figure. Perhaps more importantly, Mariotti was arrested for domestic violence back in 2010. He ended up pleading no contest to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence in exchange for six other counts being dismissed. Pleading no contest isn’t the same as pleading guilty, but it would probably be enough to protect Van Pelt if there ever was a lawsuit.

Mariotti is known for saying idiotic things, and he is obviously desperate to stay relevant. While we don’t blame Van Pelt for firing back, he’s really just doing his unworthy adversary a favor.

Kevin Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

Kevin Durant Warriors

The 2017 NBA playoffs have not been all that competitive, and the dominance of the Golden State Warriors has a lot to do with that. When Kevin Durant was informed last week that fans have not been pleased about that, he told them to simply turn off their television sets.

On Monday, Durant backpedaled a bit from his “if you don’t like it, don’t watch” comments.

“I mean, life can be simple, man. If you don’t like the way the game is going, just turn it off. If you’re enjoying it, just keep it on. Life is simple,” Durant told Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. “I didn’t mean it to disrespect anybody, but if you felt disrespected, I’m sorry. But if you don’t enjoy the game, turn it off [and] turn something else on. If you do, enjoy the rest of it, man.”

The NBA certainly doesn’t want Durant encouraging fans to change the channel, but many of them have done just that. The Warriors have not lost a game yet this postseason, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have lost just one. Golden State advanced to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 win over the San Antonio Spurs Monday, and it would be a surprise if the Boston Celtics stole another game from the Cavs.

But there is good news. While much of the postseason has a been a snooze-fest, the payoff could be fantastic. A rematch between the Warriors and Cavs in the NBA Finals is as exciting as it gets — at least on paper. Add in the bulletin board material Warriors owner Joe Lacob provided this week and the series is even more interesting. The drama should be outstanding.

Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died at age 48.

TMZ confirmed with the Orlando Police Department that Kennedy has passed away, though the cause of his death is unknown. An investigation is ongoing, but police said there is “nothing suspicious” about Kennedy’s death.

Kennedy played his college ball at Miami and was drafted by the Seahawks with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. He went on to enjoy a fantastic career, making the NFC Pro Bowl roster in eight of his 11 NFL seasons. In 2012, Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had his No. 96 jersey retired by the Seahawks that same year.

Christian Hackenberg working with third-stringers at practice

If Christian Hackenberg is going to win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets this offseason, he is apparently going to have to climb his way up from the bottom of the depth chart.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Hackenberg spent all of practice on Tuesday working with the third-string offense.

While that probably means very little this early in the offseason, Vacchiano also noted that veteran Josh McCown looked very sharp and enthusiastic.

The Jets used the No. 51 overall pick on Hackenberg in last year’s draft, so they obviously envisioned him being their starting quarterback at some point. However, some of the reports we heard during his rookie season made it seem like the Jets had zero confidence in the former Penn State star. It could be that head coach Todd Bowles and new offensive coordinator John Morton want Hackenberg to work as hard as he can to earn the job, or perhaps Hackenberg still has yet to impress anyone.

Even one of the most beloved players in Jets history recently said he is rooting for Hackenberg to win the job. At the very least, it sounds like an uphill climb.

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