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Monday, July 22, 2019

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Report: Ezekiel Elliott holdout is ‘very unlikely’

Ezekiel Elliott

There has been a lot of chatter about a potential Ezekiel Elliott holdout, but one report does not see that happening.

Elliott wants a new contract by Week 1 and there have been widespread reports that the Dallas Cowboys’ running back is contemplating a holdout to get what he wants. That, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, is not likely to happen.

Various other reports have pegged Elliott’s stance toward a holdout as ranging from undecided to likely. The Cowboys open training camp on Friday, so there will be clarity by that point.

Elliott is poised to make $3.85 million in 2019 and $9 million in 2020. That puts him far away from the top tier of NFL running back salaries despite being among the league’s most productive backs.

Report: Padres aggressively pursuing starting pitching help

Padres logo

It’s a good market to be pursuing a starting pitcher, and the San Diego Padres reportedly want in on it.

According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Padres “are trying to be aggressive” in their efforts to acquire a starter, just as they were in unsuccessful pursuits for a frontline starter during the offseason.

The Padres may look for controllable starters given where they’re at as an organization. Their only realistic chance of getting into the playoffs this season is through a wild card, and they’re five games back. It makes sense, then, that they’d be heavily linked to Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer, who is potentially available and would have another full season of team control left, setting San Diego up for a potential run at contention in 2020.

Red Sox undecided on whether to buy or sell at trade deadline?

Red Sox logo

The Boston Red Sox in recent history have almost always used the trade deadline as a way to improve their current roster and gear up for a postseason run, but they may have a difficult decision to make before July 31 this year.

After they lost two out of three games to the bottom-feeding Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox are now 11 games back in the AL East and three games out of a wild card spot. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, they have not yet decided if they will buy or sell at the deadline.

While they probably aren’t going to catch the New York Yankees in the division, making up three games in the wild card with 62 remaining is certainly feasible. However, the Red Sox have a depleted farm system and may simply feel they don’t have enough to repeat as World Series champions. If they struggle over the next week, they may have the urge to acquire some prospects.

The question, of course, is which player or players they would unload. Mookie Betts is obviously their biggest name, and there have been questions about whether or not Boston is willing to spend what it will take to keep him. JD Martinez can also opt out of the final three years of his contract this winter, and he’s having another excellent season at the plate with a .285 average, 19 home runs and 51 RBI. Would the Red Sox try to move him if they don’t want to give him a raise or additional years?

Of course, the Red Sox have been connected to several players who could improve their team and give them a better chance at reaching the postseason. They’re probably more likely to go that route than they are to sell off assets, but it bears watching.

Ex-Browns exec Sashi Brown joins Wizards’ front office

Washington Wizards logo

Former Cleveland Browns executive Sashi Brown has a new role in the sports world.

Brown was hired as the chief planning and operations officer for the Washington Wizards as part of their new-look front office.

Brown previously served as executive vice president for the Browns and presided over a two-year period in which the team went 1-27. That was enough to get him fired in December 2017, and thrown under the bus by the regime that took over for him. The Wizards would probably be best keeping him on the business side of things and far away from any personnel decisions.

LAFC defender may need surgery after taking elbow from Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

LAFC assistant coach Zak Abdel confronted Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his team’s 3-2 loss to the LA Galaxy on Sunday, and it looks like Abdel had good reason for being so worked up.

Abdel appeared to be complaining about an elbow by Ibrahimovic on Mohamed El-Munir, and Ibrahimovic brushed him off and may or may not have cursed at the coach. If you watch the video replay of the elbow, it did look pretty egregious.

After the game, Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reported that El-Munir is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday and may, in fact, end up needing surgery.

Ibrahimovic talked some serious trash leading up to the big intra-city rivalry game, and he played outstanding in the Galaxy’s 3-2 win. However, his elbow could lead to disciplinary action, especially if El-Munir’s resulting injury is as bad as it sounds.

Julian Edelman to reportedly miss a few weeks with thumb injury

Julian Edelman beard

The New England Patriots are set to begin their official training camp on Thursday after rookies reported on Sunday, but it does not sound like Julian Edelman will be able to do much until well into preseason play.

Edelman hosted his youth football camp over the weekend, and he was spotted with a small brace on his left thumb. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates report that the veteran receiver is expected to be sidelined for about three weeks with the injury.

That gives Edelman more than enough time to be ready for the regular season, so the Patriots are likely just playing it safe. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said the thumb injury was described to him as “mild trauma.”

Edelman, 33, is expected to be leaned on as heavily as ever this season. The Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and chose not to bring back Chris Hogan, so they will be relying predominantly on Edelman and first-round pick N’Keal Harry. Their flashy addition at the position seems unlikely to make the final roster, and it’s unclear when Josh Gordon might have his latest suspension lifted. Edelman’s health will be critical to the Patriots’ success in 2019.

Dan Le Batard takes day off from show after challenging ESPN policy

Dan Le Batard

Dan Le Batard was openly critical of ESPN’s no-politics policy when he decided to rip Donald Trump during his radio show last week, and it would appear he is still at odds with network executives over it.

According to several reports, Le Batard has decided he will not appear on his “Dan Le Batard Show” on Monday. The longtime host spoke with ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro over the weekend, and Pitaro made it clear to Le Batard that he would not back down from his strict policy forbidding political discussion on ESPN airwaves and other mediums. That led to Le Batard saying he was not in the right frame of mind to do his show on Monday.

Many were wondering if Le Batard would be suspended after he took aim at ESPN’s policy, but it appears he is the one who has staged a mini protest. He is expected to return to his show on Tuesday.

Le Batard spent some time on his show last Thursday ripping Trump for his recent “send her back” attacks. He acknowledged Pitaro’s policy about not discussing politics but said it is important for people to speak out against the “abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric” coming from Trump. Le Batard was mysteriously absent from the first hour of his show the following day, and there was never a real explanation as to why.

It’s possible that Le Batard was hoping to convince Pitaro to tweak his policy on political discussions, but all indications are the ESPN boss is not going to do that.

Report: Ezekiel Elliott still has not decided if he will hold out

Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys are set to begin training camp on Friday, and Ezekiel Elliott is unsure if he will attend.

Elliott wants a new contract prior to Week 1, which has led to talk that he could hold out from training camp. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that “all options were on the table” as of Sunday and that Elliott genuinely has not made up his mind about training camp.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has been reporting that Elliott has been saying privately that he will hold out without a new contract, and he is apparently planning to leave the country when training camp begins.

Elliott, who racked up more than 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in 2018, has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He is set to make $3.85 million this season and $9 million in 2020. He obviously wants to be paid like one of the top running backs in football, which means he is looking for something in the $13 or $14 million per year range that Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson make.

While he got himself into some more trouble off the field this offseason, Elliott is not facing disciplinary action from the NFL. He probably feels that gives him more leverage in contract talks, so that could play a role in the negotiations.

10 most intriguing NFL training camp battles

Josh Rosen Dolphins

It may be hard to believe, but NFL training camps are upon us ahead of the league’s 100th season.

While many potential mega-storylines dominate ahead of the NFL’s record birthday, there’s still quite a bit left to be established league-wide. And as is the case yearly, many of those uncertainties will be decided in late April and throughout August. Here’s a look at 10 of the most intriguing battles to watch at training camps.

10. New York Giants: Who starts at center?

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has spent two seasons feverishly trying to repair a badly damaged offensive line in an effort to salvage Eli Manning’s remaining years, and his project is very near complete. The only position remaining unresolved is perhaps one of the most important — center. New York re-signed both Jon Halapio, who had his 2018 season ended with a devastating injury, and veteran Spencer Pulley this offseason. Pulley was given quite a substantial chunk of change, indicating that the Giants think very highly of him, but they cautioned throughout the offseason to “not forget about ‘Pio.” Both players will be under the spotlight in training camp as the team desperately needs one final strong link to their offensive line chain.

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Kyle Kuzma not happy with his depiction on Lakers mural

Kyle Kuzma

New murals have been popping up all around Los Angeles amid one of the most insane NBA offseasons in the sport’s history, and even Kyle Kuzma has been included in the artwork. He just wishes he looked a little more ripped.

The latest Lakers-themed mural that was painted in LA features Kuzma, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While the 23-year-old seems flattered to be considered part of a “big three” with his All-NBA teammates, he joked on Twitter that the mural has him “looking fluffy.”

For what it’s worth, the photo Kuzma shared was not of the finished product. He may have felt a bit differently when he saw the shading and detail that was added:

Either way, Kuzma has to be feeling great about his current situation. The former No. 27 overall pick probably could not have envisioned that he would be featured on a mural alongside LeBron and Davis entering his third NBA season, and he already seems to be trying to step up and play the role of leader. You know what would be a lot worse than looking “fluffy” on a mural? Not being on a mural at all.