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Friday, April 19, 2019

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Golden Tate cracks funny joke about what number he’ll wear with Giants

Golden Tate Lions

Golden Tate has worn several different jersey numbers throughout his NFL career, and he will be making a change once again now that he has signed with the New York Giants. But don’t worry, the veteran wide receiver is sensitive to some of the issues the team has dealt with this offseason.

Tate wore No. 15 with the Detroit Lions before changing to No. 19 last year when he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. He told reporters on Thursday that he will be going back to No. 15 in New York, and he knows No. 13 would probably not be a popular choice.

Of course, 13 is the number Odell Beckham Jr. wore while making highlight-reel catches for the Giants over the past five seasons. He has now been traded to the Cleveland Browns, so Tate wisely does not want fans in New York being reminded of OBJ or holding Tate to those standards.

Tate has made it clear he has high expectations for the Giants this season, but he certainly doesn’t expect to take over for Beckham. Going back to his old jersey number is probably a smart choice.

Median price of Browns tickets has more than doubled in a year

Baker Mayfield

No team will enter the 2019 season with more buzz surrounding it than the Cleveland Browns, and that is reflected in the prices fans are playing to secure tickets to watch them play.

After the NFL released its full regular-season schedule on Wednesday, ticket broker Vivid Seats told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the median price of a Browns ticket is $131. On the day the schedule was released last year, the median price was less than half of that at $62.

It seems almost surreal that a franchise as tortured as the Browns would have fans this excited, but the ticket prices aren’t a surprise to anyone who has followed their offseason.

The Browns already appear to have a franchise quarterback in place in Baker Mayfield, and they have now added a dynamic wide receiver for him to throw to in Odell Beckham Jr. They also acquired former New York Giants pass-rusher Olivier Vernon and talented running back Kareem Hunt, though he won’t join the team until he serves an eight-game suspension.

Expectations are at their highest in years in Cleveland, and that has been reflected not only in ticket prices but also with how Las Vegas gamblers are backing the Browns. Anything less than a playoff appearance would be a disappointment for them.

NFL schedule-maker admits Buccaneers have right to be unhappy

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The NFL released its full schedule this week, and it was met with the usual complaints about which teams have it easy and which got a tough draw. While the league can’t do anything about the fact that the New England Patriots get to play everyone in the AFC East twice again, the way the season is mapped out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seems downright cruel.

And at least one league official knows it.

Mike North, the NFL’s senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling, said on Sirius XM NFL Radio’s “Late Hits” Thursday that the Buccaneers and their fans have a right to be angry about the schedule, which has the Bucs on the road for seven straight weeks.

“If we had to do-over, if we had a redo, I’d love to take another shot at that Tampa Bay schedule,” North admitted. “I’m not sure that’s really fair to their fans. I’m hopeful that we didn’t do something to the Buccaneers that they feel like was really unfair.”

The Bucs have a home game against the New York Giants in Week 3 on Sept. 22. From there, they travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams, New Orleans to face the Saints, and then all the way to London to take on the Carolina Panthers. They have their bye week after the London game, but they then have back-to-back road games against the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks in Week 8 and Week 9.

That is too much travel, and it should not have happened.

“I know we’re not allowed to root for anybody,” North said. “But I’m kind of rooting for the Buccaneers through October.”

North said teams typically don’t complain publicly about schedules because they don’t want to sound like they’re making excuses, but no one would blame the Buccaneers for being upset. While we may not have listed them as taking part in any of the best revenge games of the upcoming season, the Bucs could be playing with plenty of anger in the middle part of the year.

Saquon Barkley has great quote about Giants drafting him over QB

Saquon Barkley Giants

The New York Giants made it clear that they believe Saquon Barkley can be a huge part of their franchise going forward when they spent the second overall pick in the draft on him last year, but some fans would have liked to see the team use the pick on Eli Manning’s eventual successor. Barkley thinks the Giants chose wisely, and he has a pretty good reason to back that up.

A reporter asked Barkley on Thursday if he gets why people say New York should have drafted a quarterback at No. 2. The former Penn State star had a great response.

Barkley had more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 14 touchdowns last season, so it’s hard to criticize the Giants for the pick. They did, however, win just five games. The argument against taking Barkley at No. 2 would be more about the importance of the running back position versus the quarterback position, not how good of a player Barkley is.

The Giants obviously need to find their next quarterback sooner rather than later, and all signs point to them trying to do that in this year’s draft. Perhaps they simply didn’t like the class of QBs enough to use a high pick on the position last year.

Dallas Keuchel could reportedly sign with Brewers, Phillies

Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel seems to be willing to take far less money now than he was seeking during the winter, and the left-hander could be inching closer to signing with a team.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported over the weekend that Keuchel is willing to sign a one-year deal, and Jon Heyman of Fancred has heard the same. Heyman lists the Brewers, Phillies, Padres and Astros among the teams to watch.

As Heyman noted, the Brewers are one of the teams that has been most frequently linked to Craig Kimbrel, so they may have money they are willing to spend. They also might decide to pass on Kimbrel if reliever Jeremy Jeffress proves he is healthy and can still pitch effectively.

The Astros have supposedly made multiple offers to bring Keuchel back, but it is unclear if those are still on the table. The Phillies were also said to be interested over the winter and found the price to be way too high, so it remains to be seen how far it has come down.

David Price offers vague reason for why he won’t visit White House

David Price

Several Boston Red Sox players have said they will not attend the White House next month when the team visits to be honored for winning the World Series, and David Price is the latest. The reason behind his decision, however, is a bit unclear.

Price, who finally proved his worth to Red Sox fans in the playoffs last year, told Jon Heyman that he is not joining the team in the nation’s capital on May 9. When asked why, he simply said because “it’s baseball season.”

Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr., have all said they won’t go to Washington, either. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has openly questioned Donald Trump’s handling of the recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, but he has not said whether or not he will attend the White House visit.

Players from all major sports have decided to pass on visiting the White House since Trump was elected president, and that will likely continue as long as he is in office.

Patrick Mahomes signs endorsement deal with Oakley

Patrick Mahomes

The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to make Patrick Mahomes a very, very rich man at some point in the near future, and the star quarterback is cashing in on his breakout season in other ways in the meantime.

As Ian Rapoport of NFL Media noted on Thursday, Mahomes has landed an endorsement deal with Oakley. He was featured in a recent ad spot with New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and others.

Mahomes will be eligible to sign a contract extension with the Chiefs after the 2019 season, and we have already heard some insane figures thrown around for what they might pay him. His agent also said recently that the 23-year-old intentionally avoided the spotlight before he became a superstar, so it makes sense that he is now capitalizing on his opportunities.

Report: Craig Kimbrel open to three-year deal

Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel appears to be adjusting his salary expectations now that the MLB season is well underway and he remains a free agent.

At one point during the offseason, Kimbrel was reportedly seeking a five-year contract and as much as $100 million. While he’s one of the best closers in MLB history and has a career 1.91 ERA, Kimbrel never stood a chance of getting anywhere close to that much money. According to Jon Heyman of Facred, the 30-year-old is now open to signing a three-year contract.

Heyman believes the Atlanta Braves are the best fit for Kimbrel, as they have a need in the back of their bullpen and Kimbrel pitched the first five seasons of his MLB career there.

The Milwaukee Brewers are another team that has been consistently linked to Kimbrel, though their level of interest likely depends on how healthy Jeremy Jeffress is.

Kimbrel is not the only talented pitcher remaining on the free agent market, and he and the others are probably losing money by the day. It makes sense that he is no longer taking such a hard stance.