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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Report: Marcell Ozuna traded to Cardinals

Marcell Ozuna

The St. Louis Cardinals were unable to acquire Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with the Miami Marlins this offseason, but they have come away with a nice consolation prize.

According to multiple reports, the Cardinals and Marlins have agreed to a trade centered around outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

The Cardinals had gotten deep into discussions with the Marlins about a Stanton trade, and the only thing standing in the way of a completed deal was Stanton waiving his no-trade clause. St. Louis is loaded with prospects and the Marlins have been trying to unload any players with hefty salaries, so the trade is not a surprise.

Ozuna, who batted .312 with 37 home runs, 124 RBI and an OPS of .924. last season, made $3.5 million in arbitration in 2017 and will be in line for a much bigger salary in 2018 and 2019. He drew interest from some other teams, but ultimately the Cardinals and Marlins made the most sense after what happened with Stanton.

Cardinals, Marlins reportedly making progress on Marcell Ozuna trade

Marcell Ozuna

The St. Louis Cardinals got deep into discussions with the Miami Marlins about acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, but the NL MVP did not want to waive his no-trade clause to make the deal work. Perhaps the groundwork that was laid can now be used to facilitate a Marcell Ozuna deal.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cardinals and Marlins are making progress on a trade involving Ozuna.

The Cardinals had reportedly agreed to the framework of a deal with Miami for Stanton, so it makes sense that the two teams would still want to do business. St. Louis is loaded with prospects, and the Marlins are determined to unload some — if not all — of their players with big contracts.

Ozuna has been an All-Star two seasons in a row and is entering his second year of arbitration. He made $3.5 million in arbitration last season and should be in line for a much bigger salary in 2018 and 2019. The 27-year-old had a breakout season in 2017, batting .312 with 37 home runs, 124 RBI and an OPS of .924.

We have heard some other teams mentioned in trade talks with the Marlins for Ozuna, but the Cardinals may make the most sense after what happened with Stanton.

LiAngelo Ball says UCLA made him apologize to Donald Trump

LiAngelo Ball

LaVar Ball has been in an off-and-on public dispute with Donald Trump since Ball refused to thank the president for his role in helping his son LiAngelo avoid shoplifting charges in China. Heck, even LiAngelo thanked Trump when he gave a speech apologizing for his actions.

But apparently the younger Ball’s expression of gratitude was not exactly genuine. LiAngelo told “The Breakfast Club” on 105.1 FM Wednesday that he only thanked Trump because UCLA officials wanted him to.

“They wanted to hear that. And he tweeted about it before my speech, so I had to add him in there right before I gave it,” LiAngelo said. “I wrote my original speech and then I had to put his part in there right before. My school wanted to hear it. Before I went up there they were like, ‘You’ve gotta thank him.’ I just threw him in there real quick before I gave my speech.”

Ball was asked specifically if he would have apologized to Trump had he known he was eventually going to quit the team and leave UCLA.

“If they didn’t tell me to do it, it wouldn’t have been in there, to be honest,” he said.

It makes sense that LiAngelo doesn’t feel like Trump did a whole lot to help him, especially when you hear some of the things LaVar has said about the situation.

Reporter reveals inappropriate question she was asked in NFL Network interview

NFL Network is facing some extremely disturbing allegations in a sexual assault lawsuit that was filed by a former employee, and another woman who claims she was mistreated by someone at the network is now coming forward to share her story.

Lindsay McCormick, a broadcaster who has worked with NBC, CBS and ESPN, revealed on Instagram early Wednesday morning that she was asked an inappropriate question during an interview with NFL Network. McCormick said a male executive asked her if she would “get knocked up immediately” after being hired by the network.

“I’ve been quiet about this for too long,” McCormick wrote. “In my last interview with NFL Network a few years ago, the head of hiring talent said to me, ‘If we hire you, do you plan on getting knocked up immediately like the rest of them?’ ‘Them’ as in badass working women who deserve to have a family life as well? ‘Them’ as the women who work their tails off to be taken seriously in a man’s world? Or ‘them’ who bring you a new audience and a tremendous amount of viewership? Because while I don’t plan on ‘getting knocked up,’ I do plan on being like the rest of those brilliant women that our future daughters will one day look up to and see you can have it all. Kudos to NFL Network for eventually removing this man from his position and for the actions they’ve taken this week.”

McCormick mentioned that the man has been removed from his position, but it’s unclear when that occurred. If it happened immediately after the question McCormick was asked was brought to the attention of the higher-ups at NFL Network, it was handled properly.

NFL Network has suspended three employees — all former NFL players — who were accused of sexually harassing a former co-worker. Two other former NFL players have been suspended by ESPN because of the same lawsuit.

H/T Pro Football Talk

JuJu Smith-Schuster wants Antonio Brown to pay his fine for Vontaze Burfict hit

Juju Smith-Schuster Vontaze Burfict

JuJu Smith-Schuster served a one-game suspension and will have to pay a fine for his vicious hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Week 13, but the rookie wide receiver expects one of his teammates to help him cover the cost.

After the game in which Smith-Schuster was flagged for his crack-back block on Burfict, Brown applauded him and offered to pay the fine. Smith-Schuster told reporters on Wednesday that he is holding the All-Pro receiver to it.

Burfict, of course, has a long history of dishing out cheap shots — especially against the Steelers. He infamously knocked Brown out of a playoff game with a brutal blow to the head two years ago, so Brown obviously felt like the linebacker got what he deserved. After Pittsburgh’s game two weeks ago, Brown was all smiles in the locker room and made some vague comments about “karma.”

Players aren’t supposed to cover each other’s fines, but Brown and Smith-Schuster will probably work something out. After all, the rookie is making a base salary of less than $500,000 this season. Brown signed a five-year contract worth more than $70 million with the Steelers this past offseason. He can afford it.

Report: Tyrod Taylor expected to start in Week 15

Tyrod Taylor

The Buffalo Bills were able to grind out a win in blizzard conditions against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, and as a result they remain squarely in the playoff hunt. It sounds like it will be up to Tyrod Taylor to keep them there.

Taylor missed last Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the veteran is expected to start against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Bills head coach Sean McDermott reiterated on Wednesday that Taylor remains the team’s starter when healthy.

Rookie Nathan Peterman played well in Week 14 all things considered, but he left the game with a concussion and remains in the concussion protocol. In the event that neither Taylor nor Peterman can play, the Bills would be forced to start Joe Webb in an important divisional game.

Report: Marcus Mariota could need ankle surgery during offseason

Marcus Mariota Titans

Marcus Mariota has battled through a number of injuries in 2017, and one of them is serious enough that the Tennessee Titans quarterback may require offseason surgery.

According to Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, Mariota continues to be bothered by a hamstring injury he originally suffered in Tennessee’s Oct. 1 game against the Houston Texans. The problem has been made worse by some lingering discomfort in his surgically-repaired ankle/leg. Mariota underwent offseason surgery last year on his lower leg after he broke his fibula on Christmas Eve.

Mariota had a plate inserted in his leg following last year’s injury, and Kuharsky was told by a source that the quarterback could require a “clean-up procedure.”

Mariota has not played well at all this season, as he has thrown 14 interceptions compared to just 10 touchdowns. He threw two interceptions in an ugly 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, giving him 10 picks in his last six games. To his credit, Mariota was recently very critical of his own play and said he needs to improve down the stretch.

Though he has appeared in all but one game this season, it seems obvious that Mariota is playing through some ailments. The fact that he may need another offseason surgical procedure is further evidence of that.

Missed kicks in snowy Buffalo may cost Adam Vinatieri $500K

Adam Vinatieri is arguably the best kicker in NFL history, but even he couldn’t overcome the treacherous conditions in Buffalo on Sunday. As a result, the 44-year-old may have cost himself a shot at $500,000.

As Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes, Vinatieri has a clause in his contract this season that would pay him a $500,000 bonus if he converts at least 90 percent of his field goal attempts. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Bills, Vinatieri had made 22 of his 23 kick attempts this year, or 95.6 percent. After he missed both of his attempts in Buffalo, he has now converted 88 percent.

“The footing for sure [was the toughest],” Vinatieri said after Indy’s 13-7 loss in overtime. “Trying to run through snow and get good plant — that’s crazy. If it was just snow and no wind, it’s one thing. But you get both of them. It was a tough game.”

If Vinatieri converts his next five field goals, he could get back above the 90 percent mark. With two of the Colts’ final three games being at home, that certainly isn’t out of the question.

Despite missing on field goal attempts of 43 and 33 yards, Vinatieri did somehow miraculously convert a 43-yard extra point to send the game to OT. Though, he received from assistance from his team that he shouldn’t have on that particular kick.

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