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#pounditThursday, April 22, 2021

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Yasiel Puig issues statement after signing with Mexican League team

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig confirmed his decision to join the Mexican League after going unsigned in MLB this winter, but gave a hint about his future career plans.

Puig on Thursday posted a statement on Instagram confirming his deal with Aguila de Veracruz. He pledged to bring his teammates “the same Wild Horse, but a new and improved Puig.” He also added that he wants to return to MLB, stating that he is happy to play in Mexico “while I await a chance to come back to the country that adopted me as their Wild Horse.”

The 30-year-old outfielder has not played in MLB since 2019. He did have a deal to sign with the Atlanta Braves in 2020, but that ended up falling through and he ultimately sat out the season.

Puig has been picky about which team he signs with. Word was he had interest from multiple MLB teams during the offseason, but for whatever reason, nothing ever came of any of it. A strong season in the Mexican League could help improve his stock and pave the way for an MLB return.

New NFL single-digit jersey rule has important caveat

NFL logo

As expected, NFL owners on Wednesday approved a new rule loosening restrictions on which jersey numbers players can wear. However, don’t expect to see a bunch of stars rushing to get numbers that weren’t available to them before.

Under the new rules, a much larger group of players can wear numbers in the single digits, including running backs, tight ends, defensive backs, and linebackers. However, an already existing rule about player jersey number changes is likely to preclude a large amount of initial changes.

Under current NFL policy, any player who wishes to change his jersey number for the upcoming season is required to purchase all unsold jerseys with the player’s old number on them, if such an inventory exists. The league recently affirmed to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio that this rule would still be enforced upon passage of the new number rule.

In other words, if a player popular enough to have his jersey well-stocked were to change his number, he would have to pay for all of those outdated jerseys. For a big-name player, that could end up being a pretty significant sum of money, and is likely to make him think twice about the potential change.

For many players, the rule change won’t really matter unless or until they change teams. After all, some guys are really attached to the number they have now.

Anthony Davis set to return for Lakers Thursday

Anthony Davis

The Los Angeles Lakers are finally getting one of their two big stars back in action on Thursday.

Lakers center Anthony Davis revealed that he plans to return on Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks as long as he does not suffer any late setbacks or issues.

Davis has been out for two months with a calf strain that he suffered on Feb. 14. He’s been limited to just 23 games this season, and the Lakers have struggled in his absence, having fallen to fifth in the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers’ focus will now shift to getting LeBron James back on the floor. At the moment, there’s not a lot of clarity on when that will be, which makes Davis’ return even more important.

Justin Fields tells NFL teams he has epilepsy diagnosis

Justin Fields

Top NFL Draft prospect Justin Fields confirmed to NFL teams that he is managing epilepsy.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, Fields has confirmed to teams during the pre-draft process that he has been diagnosed with the neurological disorder, which can lead to seizures when triggered. However, the disorder has had no impact on his football career, and that is not expected to change.

Fields starred for two years at Ohio State, including a 2019 season that saw him throw 41 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. He’s expected to be one of the first few players off the board in the draft.

The quarterback has received widespread interest from teams picking high up in the draft. It sounds highly unlikely that this information will change that.

Adrian Peterson reveals what he is looking for in next team

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is hoping to play this upcoming season, but the veteran running back has yet to sign with a team. That could have more to do with his standards than the interest he has received on the free agent market.

Peterson confirmed in an interview with SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday that he still intends to play in 2021. He said he won’t just sign with any team, however, as he wants to play for a contender with a good quarterback and solid defense.

“I’m looking to play for a team that’s built to go and chase a championship,” Peterson said. “That’s my ultimate goal. I feel like I can really help to contribute in accomplishing that.”

Peterson turned 36 recently, so he has already defied odds by continuing to play. He appeared in all 16 games for the Lions last season, including 10 as a starter. He rushed 156 times for 604 yards and seven touchdowns. His 3.9 yards per carry was down from the previous two seasons.

Peterson has interest in joining one specific team, but we don’t see that happening. He also recently revealed how much free agent interest he is receiving. Assuming his contract demands are reasonable, Peterson should find a home at some point this offseason.

Buccaneers GM hints at Antonio Brown return after settlement

Antonio brown

Antonio Brown’s decision to settle with one of the women who accused him of sexual assault seems to have helped his chances of returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown on Wednesday announced a settlement with his former trainer Britney Taylor, who had accused him of multiple instances of sexual assault. When asked about the settlement, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht noted that the team signed Brown despite the looming civil case last season, and added that it would not have been a decisive factor on whether to bring Brown back.

However, Licht did add that Brown’s decision to settle would only help his chances of returning.

Brown has openly campaigned for a return to the Buccaneers, so this will come as welcome news to him. The 32-year-old receiver also caught four touchdowns last season, as well as one in the Super Bowl, so he’s shown he can contribute.

One question is whether the settlement could make other teams more open to signing Brown, which might come as welcome news to one quarterback.

Julian Edelman to join ‘Inside the NFL’ as analyst

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman announced his retirement from football last week, but the former New England Patriots star will be very visible to NFL fans this upcoming season.

Edelman revealed on Wednesday that his film production company, Coast Productions, has partnered with Viacom CBS to create content for some of the network’s channels. He also says he will be joining the cast of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” this fall.

Edelman will join James Brown, Phil Simms and Brandon Marshall every week, according to Deadline. Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis will still make appearances on the show as well.

Edelman announced his retirement in an emotional video (see it here), but that didn’t stop speculation that he might wind up joining the Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His announcement on Wednesday should officially put all of that talk to rest.

Eagles coach had interesting way of testing prospects’ competitive spirit

Nick Sirianni

Nick Sirianni is going through his first offseason as a head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he seems plenty confident in his scouting methods — even if they are a bit unorthodox.

Sirianni spoke with reporters on Wednesday about the ways in which he has evaluated draft prospects, and one of them involved playing rock-paper-scissors. The 39-year-old coach feels that is a good way to get an idea of how competitive a player is. He said he also talked some trash during the games to see how players would respond.

“I played a couple of them at rock-paper-scissors. It was as easy as that,” Sirianni said. “Let’s see how competitive you are. I’m competitive. I’m gonna be talking trash to them. Did you talk trash back to me? … It was awesome. Anything you compete at, when you compete with somebody that’s competitive, they’re gonna go at you no matter what game you’re playing.”

While Sirianni’s methods may seem a bit silly, we’ve certainly heard much worse. There have been horror stories about some of the questions NFL teams have asked prospects over the years. The best example was probably what happened with the Miami Dolphins over a decade ago.

Sirianni definitely seems enthusiastic about his first coaching gig. Time will tell if that translates to winning.

Aldon Smith booked on battery charge after turning himself in

Aldon Smith mug shot

The St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana announced earlier this week that Aldon Smith was wanted for an alleged battery incident, and the veteran pass-rusher has turned himself in to police.

A press release from the Sheriff’s office on Wednesday morning stated that Smith turned himself in shortly before 7 p.m. the night before, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. He was booked on a second-degree battery charge and released on $25,000 bond.

A police report stated that deputies responded to a call for medical assistance on Saturday evening outside a business in Chalmette, La. Police spoke with a man who said an acquaintance of him assaulted him before they arrived. Mike Triplett of ESPN reported that Smith was accused of choking the man unconscious.

The incident was captured on camera, according to police.

Smith, who recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks, has been arrested numerous times for DUI, including in 2019. He has also been arrested for hit-and-run. In 2018, his blood alcohol content was five times the legal limit during an arrest. It was that same year that his friends were concerned for Smith’s life.

Smith, 31, was reinstated prior to last season and played in all 16 games for the Dallas Cowboys. He had five sacks and 50 QB pressures. He had been out of the NFL since 2015 prior to last year.

Antonio Brown reaches settlement with rape accuser Britney Taylor

Antonio brown

Antonio Brown has reached a settlement with one of the women who accused him of sexual assault.

Brown’s representative Alana Burstyn issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that the free agent wide receiver has resolved his dispute with Britney Taylor, his former trainer and friend. Burstyn said in the release that Brown and Taylor have been friends for more than a decade and that they reflected on their relationship and feel it is time to move forward. Burstyn says Taylor is pleased that Brown won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that the two “wish each other great continued success.”

You can read the full release below:

It’s unclear if there was a financial settlement, but we do know that Brown was ordered by a judge to pay Taylor $100,000 earlier this year. That ruling came after Brown violated a confidentiality agreement that he and Taylor entered into shortly after Taylor filed a lawsuit against Brown in 2019 accusing him of sexual assault.

Taylor accused Brown of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions. The allegations against the Pro Bowl receiver were extremely troubling. You can see a summary of them here.

The allegations from Taylor factored into Brown’s eight-game suspension at the start of the 2020 NFL season. He has also faced sexual misconduct allegations from a second woman.

Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns with the Bucs last season. He remains a free agent but recently made it clear that he wants to return to Tampa.