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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Lions sign restricted free agent RB Malcolm Brown

Detroit Lions logo

The Los Angeles Rams will have a decision to make on running back Malcolm Brown.

The Detroit Lions have signed Brown to an offer sheet, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. That will give the Rams until Monday to decide whether they want to match.

Brown is an undrafted player, so the Rams would not receive draft compensation if they lose him to the Lions despite assigning him an original round tender. The 25-year-old rushed for 212 yards last season and was placed on IR late in the season with a broken collarbone.

Tate Martell eligible to play immediately at Miami after receiving waiver

Tate Martell

Tate Martell transferred to Miami earlier this year after being buried on the Ohio State depth chart, and the dual-threat quarterback will not be losing a year of eligibility by switching schools.

On Tuesday, Martell received a hardship waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play at Miami in 2019.

Martell redshirted his freshman year at Ohio State and then served as Dwayne Haskins’ backup this past season, so he has two years of eligibility remaining. The former five-star recruit had hired a lawyer and was reportedly planning to argue that Urban Meyer’s sudden retirement was a reason he should be ruled eligible to play in 2019, and he was obviously successful.

Just when it looked like Martell might finally get a shot to play at Ohio State, Justin Fields transferred to Columbus from Georgia. Fields also received a waiver that granted him immediate eligibility, so Martell made the right choice by bolting for Miami.

Report: NFL teams not concerned about Montez Sweat’s heart condition

Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat may have a pre-existing medical condition that drew some thorough looks from NFL teams at the Scouting Combine last month, but it does not sound like it will have a negative effect on his draft stock.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported on Monday that teams took a close look at Sweat because he has a heart condition, but no restrictions were placed on him and he was allowed to participate in all Combine events. According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, teams are in no way concerned about Sweat’s health.

Sweat is one of the best pass-rushers in the country and projected to be a top-10 pick, so it’s good news that his medical condition isn’t expected to impact that. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound freak athlete made jaws drop with his 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis, and that speed and explosiveness is the reason he’s such a highly-regarded NFL prospect.

Kyler Murray reportedly meeting with Cardinals

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray is viewed by many as the favorite to be the top overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and the team that holds that pick is making an effort to get to know him better.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim visited the Oklahoma campus on Tuesday to meet with Murray.

The Cardinals created some confusion earlier this month when they chose not to send representatives to Murray’s Pro Day, but that may have been a smokescreen. It would be a surprise if they’re not interested in the former Sooners star given the way Kingsbury gushed about him in the past.

Murray’s stock has been steadily rising since he chose to pursue a career in football over reporting to the Oakland A’s, and there are people who are convinced the Cardinals have already decided to take him at No. 1. It won’t be long before we know if that truly is their plan.

Biggest storylines entering the NCAA Tournament

Coach K

During college basketball’s biggest week, sometimes I worry that I’m going out of my mind. The excitement builds and builds to a point where I put any kid on Christmas morning to shame. Just looking at an unfilled, untouched bracket makes my ears perk up and my heart race.

If you’re like me, you don’t need to spell out the storylines we’ll see play out this month. Those ideas are already bouncing around your head like bingo balls.

For those of you who have been more focused on other sports recently or who have not hit peak excitement just yet, there is good news. This bracket, this field of teams, and everything about the next month of basketball we’re about to see is poised to be great.

Here are eight things to keep an eye on:

1. Duke’s sky-high expectations

Even for a top overall seed, Duke’s expectations are as high as any team. This Blue Devils squad is the first since Kentucky’s undefeated team in 2015 to enter the Big Dance with people expecting nothing less than a championship.

With Zion Williamson and Tre Jones healthy and in the lineup, the Blue Devils lost just once. Even with those players out, Duke’s five losses all came to teams in the tournament field and ranked 35th or better in KenPom.

At full strength, this is the best team in the nation. That does not make them a shoo-in to win the title or to even advance to Minneapolis for the Final Four. Duke ranks 338th in 3-point shooting in college basketball, but shot the 63rd most long balls. Every coach poised to face Duke in the next month will know those stats and hope that their team is the one that catches the Blue Devils on a monumentally cold shooting night. If Duke can go six games without an icy cold performance, they’ll cut down the nets.

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Report: Robert Kraft offered deal that would see prostitution charges dropped

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft and several other men who were involved in a prostitution sting in Florida last month have reportedly been offered a deal that would allow them to avoid being prosecuted.

According to a report from Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal, Florida prosecutors have offered to drop the charges against Kraft and other defendants in the case if they admit guilt. The defendants would have to meet a number of conditions.

“The proposed deferred prosecution agreement calls for completion of an education course about prostitution, completion of 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of some court costs,” the Journal reported.

Kraft has already pleaded not guilty to two charges of solicitation of prostitution, but that was expected from a procedural standpoint. He now has to decide if admitting wrongdoing is worth the guarantee of not having convictions on his record, though the admission would almost certainly result in the NFL taking disciplinary action against the New England Patriots owner.

While Kraft’s reputation has already taken a hit, his arrest came as part of an investigation into sex trafficking. All indications at this point have been that he had nothing to do with that aspect of the case, so the 77-year-old may feel his powerful legal team can fight the charges and win. Prosecutors reportedly have video footage that shows him receiving illegal sex acts at a spa in Jupiter, Fla., but an attorney is trying to block that footage from being released.

Bruce Irvin agrees to one-year deal with Panthers

Bruce Irvin

Bruce Irvin will be playing for his third team in two years when the 2019 season begins, as the veteran defensive end has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Carolina Panthers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Irvin intends to sign a one-year deal with Carolina.

Irvin spent the first four years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks, where he was a key part of the “Legion of Boom” defense and helped the team win a Super Bowl. He then signed with the Oakland Raiders following the 2015 season, and they tried to trade him last year before releasing him.

While Irvin said he took less money to sign with the Falcons after being released by Oakland, he recorded just three sacks in eight games for Atlanta and they decided not to keep him. The 31-year-old will once again be looking to prove he still has a lot of good football left.

Odell Beckham says he is going ‘dark’ from social media, cell phone

Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Jr. is going through some big changes in life after he was traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns, and the star wide receiver says he needs some time away from modern day technology to process it all.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday morning that he has since deleted, Beckham announced he is going “dark” from social media and his cell phone and “takin an emotional, mental, physical/blah blah blah vacation.” He said he is doing well but asked that people not call, text or FaceTime him unless it is extremely important.

It’s unclear why he deleted the post or if he plans to stick to the hiatus.

Beckam has a better chance at making the playoffs with the Browns than he would have with the Giants, but moving from The Big Apple to Cleveland could leave him a bit shell-shocked. He also recently took aim at some of his critics on Twitter, so perhaps he’s trying to avoid the negative commentary for a while.

Report: Dolphins, Cowboys discussing Robert Quinn trade

Robert Quinn

The Miami Dolphins are looking to part ways with Robert Quinn a year after acquiring him in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and the Dallas Cowboys are one of the teams showing interest in the defensive end.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that the Dolphins are allowing Quinn to meet with the Cowboys on Tuesday, as the two sides have been discussing a potential trade.

Quinn is scheduled to count $12.5 million against the salary cap in 2019, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported on Monday that the Dolphins are willing to eat some money to trade him. They already paid him a $1.12 million roster bonus that was due last week, so that money will be gone if they move the 29-year-old.

Quinn was one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL several years ago, recording 19 sacks in 2013 with the Rams. However, he had just 6.5 sacks last season, and the Dolphins appear to be committed to not winning in 2019. It makes sense that they would be willing to eat some money to get younger, and the Cowboys are in need of defensive line help.

Twitter reacts to Mike Trout’s mammoth contract extension

Mike Trout

Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a contract extension, and to call it massive would be doing the new deal a great injustice.

As ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported, Trout and the Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth $430 million. That would be the largest contract in professional sports history, and it is also beats the previous MLB record deal Bryce Harper just signed with the Philadelphia Phillies by $100 million.

Trout is obviously a once-in-a-generation talent, but the contract is still shocking. Twitter reacted accordingly:

Harper, of course, had created some controversy by openly recruiting Trout to join him with the Phillies in two years. The Angels were clearly never going to let that happen.