Amari Cooper To New York Giants Is Deal To Make, Says ESPN

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

The New York Giants often didn’t score enough points on offense last season to pick up victories in close games, and in Daniel Jones’ second season as the starting quarterback, it’s possible that the team looks for offensive additions to change that and bring the Giants over the hump in the offensive area – one of the additions they could make happens to be a major player for one of their division rivals.

The player is Amari Cooper and his existing team is the Dallas Cowboys. Cooper is set to be an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t sign a new deal with the Cowboys and such a deal hasn’t been agreed upon yet. If Cooper does hit the open market, ESPN has advocated for the Giants making a move to sign him, in their article listing a daring move for each NFL team this offseason.

Signing Cooper would hurt the division-rival Cowboys and reunite Cooper with the head coach for whom he had his greatest success: Former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is now the Giants’ offensive coordinator. Cooper also makes sense for the Giants’ roster. Slayton surprised during his rookie season but did most of his damage on deep passes thrown 20 or more yards in the air. Cooper thrived on both intermediate (10-19 air yards, 37.2% DVOA) and deep throws (20-plus air yards, 79.8% DVOA) and would give Jones a plus weapon for every area of the field. Cooper is young for a sixth-year player, turning 26 in June. He aligns well with the Giants’ likely trajectory with Jones under center and ability to cut veteran receiver Golden Tate after the 2020 season to save $6 million in cap space.

Sterling Shepard is the main receiver for the Giants right now, with others such as Darius Slayton and Golden Tate competing for the number two spot, but despite appearing to have depth at the position, the Giants struggled at receiver last year thanks to injuries and spent much of the year without Shepard.

There was even talk that Shepard should retire, though he ended up coming back and will be on the roster this season again, too, likely as the number one receiver if nothing changes roster wise.

Signing a big name receiver like Cooper would take some of the pressure off Shepard, who still has yet to prove himself as the main weapon of the Giants.

Would such a move be worth the money? It’s hard to predict how the Giants will do at the receiver position this year and how much they need an addition like this, but going into a season where the Giants will start a second year quarterback, it likely wouldn’t hurt to have an elite name at receiver in addition to the players already there – especially with a lot of free cap space this year.

New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: JA Happ

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

JA Happ is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 season with a big one in 2020 for the New York Yankees. It’s super important that he does so, especially with early injuries to the starting rotation.

2019 was by no means a season to remember for JA Happ. Despite a 12-8 record, his ERA was near five. He made thirty starts and one relief appearance over 161.1 innings, striking out 140. We also began to see his velocity dip a bit into the low 90s. Before 2019, he always sat in the mid-90s with his fastballs.

Because of his poor 2019 season, Happ was switched to the bullpen for the postseason, where he appeared three times.

The 37-year-old of Peru, Illinois, has one year left on his contract and a vesting option for the 2021 season. Happ will be paid $17 million in 2020.

2020 Expectations:

Over the offseason, Happ was the center of a lot of trade rumors. He never got dealt, and that was mainly due to Brian Cashman knowing that James Paxton will start the season on the IL. Once everyone reported to camp, Luis Severino had more arm issues, and he will now miss the entire 2020 season.

All of this puts Happ in a position to start the season in the three or four spot in the rotation, dependent on if Jordan Montgomery will pitch before or after him.

The Yankees need Happ to be a lot better in 2020 and try to get his ERA down in the threes. It would be great if he could get some velocity back, but it may be hard with his age. If he can’t get it back, he needs to develop his offspeed stuff more. Hopefully, these are things that new pitching coach Matt Blake can work out with him.

JA Happ is a vital piece to the Yankees roster, and the team needs a big year out of him in 2020.

New York Giants: After His Combine Performance, Isaiah Simmons Should Be The Top Target

New York Giants looking at Isaiah Simmons in 2020 NFL Draft?

The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up this week with plenty of impressive performances from the draft’s top prospects. The New York Giants are picking in the top-ten for the third-straight year. This year, the Giants own the fourth overall pick and are in prime position to land an elite prospect or a haul of picks in a trade back.

There have been plenty of different prospects linked to the Giants in various rumors, reports, and mock drafts. One name that keeps coming up is Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, especially after the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Simmons lit the Combine up and should be a top target for the Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Isaiah Simmons 2020 NFL Scouting Combine Performance

Isaiah Simmons completely dominated the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He nearly broke the internet with his running back-level forty-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, which was the best time by a linebacker by far. Isaiah also recorded the second-best broad jump by a linebacker at 11’0″ and the tied-third-best vertical jump at 39″.

Simmons’s incredible Combine performance is shooting him up, draft boards. Analysts are saying that there is no way Isaiah should make it past the fourth pick. The New York Giants hold that pick and rumors suggest that they are interested in taking Isaiah Simmons fourth overall. For a long list of reasons, they should.

Why He Should Be The Pick At Fourth Overall

The Giants do not need a quarterback. They have their franchise guy in Daniel Jones. Scratch Tua and Herbert off the list. Chase Young is unlikely to fall outside of the top three, so scratch him off the list, too. The Giants could still go a few different routes with the fourth pick. They could address a pressing need and take one of the top offensive tackle prospects. But there are a couple of elite defensive talents that should be available when the Giants are on the clock.

Isaiah Simmons, out of Clemson, is one of the elite defenders that should be on the board fourth overall. In fact, he should be at the top of the board. 

“There isn’t anything I can’t do. Somebody has got to stop the Travis Kelce and George Kittle’s.” – Isaiah Simmons at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

The above quote by Isaiah Simmons at the Combine this week perfectly summarizes why he is such a valuable prospect. The best teams in the league are relying heavily on pre-snap motion and versatile tight ends with excellent blocking abilities. It is extremely difficult to find players to match up against tight ends like Kittle and Kelce. Safeties might be able to cover them, but they probably cannot fight off their blocks in run-defense. Linebackers might be able to get the best of them in run-defense, but they typically do not have the speed to cover these versatile tight ends. Isaiah Simmons has the speed, the coverage ability, and the strength to do this from the linebacker position. He will be a real X-Factor for whichever team drafts him.

Isaiah Simmons is the definition of versatility. According to Pro Football Focus, Simmons played over 100 snaps at five different positions in the 2019 CFB season. He is a positionless player with the talent, skills, and athleticism to excel at whatever position he plays.

The Giants would hit a home run by selecting Isaiah Simmons fourth overall. He has the highest ceiling of any defender in the draft class. Simmons is an elite talent that would fill a massive position of need for New York. Isaiah Simmons’s rare versatility, such as his 8 sacks and 3 interceptions in 2019, makes him the top target for the Giants with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

New York Mets: Dominic Smith has learned to cope with unpredictability

For a baseball player, not knowing when (and in which particular spot) he’s going to play can be difficult from a focus standpoint. That’s why pinch-hitting is easier said than done, for example. You have to be ready at all times, as you don’t know when your number is going to be called. For the New York Mets‘ Dominic Smith, this isn’t new.

He knows about unexpected things, and life has taught him how to handle them. Last season, he was briefly demoted to Triple-A, and he still remembers the shock.

“I just feel like that’s always going to be in the back of a young player’s mind because this is a business and it’s tough,” Smith said to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, recalling the situation.

The demotion was short, as it lasted just six days. It came as a surprise since he was raking to the tune of a .333 average, two doubles and four RBI in his first 29 games.

Speaking about unexpected things, he had achieved most of that success in an unpredictable pinch-hitting role from the bench. After all, Smith, a first baseman, shared the same position as breakout star Pete Alonso.

The Mets’ pinch-hit star

Last season as a pinch-hitter, Smith had a 21.6 BB% and a 16.2 K% mark, with a .286/.459/.571 line and a 1.031 OPS. His 175 wRC+ was fantastic, and he hit two doubles and two home runs in 37 plate appearances.

For Smith, is about letting go of things he cannot control. “All I know is the thing I can control — and that’s how hard I play, my preparation and the energy I put out there and being a good teammate,” he said to Thosar. “You can’t (think about being optioned or traded), because if I think about it too much it’s going to take me away from how I perform on the field and my everyday duty as a professional baseball player.

“So all I can do is keep a smile on my face, have fun and try to make the most out of everything.”

His role in 2020 will be similar to last year’s. He will occasionally play the outfield and he’ll pinch-hit a bunch while also playing some first base when Alonso gets some rest.

“Personally, I just want to help the team win,” he said. “I mean that’s all I care about, I feel like that’s all this team cares about. We were three games away from making the playoffs last year so, as a young team, that makes you more hungry and more team-oriented.”

Report: New York Yankees looking into Steven Matz after starting pitching woes

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

Evidently, the New York Yankees succumbed to injuries once again before the 2020 regular season even started. With a few weeks left of Grapefruit League play, the starting rotation for the Yankees has been stripped of top talent. With Luis Severino set to miss the entire 2020 campaign and James Paxton recovering from lower back surgery, the unit could use an injection of quality.

The New York Post is reporting that the Yankees have reached out to New York Mets management to gauge their interest in potentially sending Steven Matz across town to the Bronx. The sudden shortage of pitching for the Yankees opens up a dialogue for the Mets to potentially gain value from Matz. Reportedly, they are willing to listen, but the amount the Yankees would have to give up in a potential deal might be significant.

What would the New York Yankees be getting in Steven Matz?

Last season, Matz posted an 11–10 record, with a 4.21 ERA over 32 games pitched. However, he posted a career-high in strikeouts (153), but also a high in home runs allowed (27). This can be directly correlated to his innings pitched, though, as his 160.1 innings of work was also a career-high. Overall, Matz endured one of the more strenuous seasons he’s ever experienced in the MLB in his five-year career.

The Yankees desperately need help at the end of the starting rotation; otherwise, they can simply utilize a bevy of different options to supplement the loss of Paxton and Domingo German, who are expected to return in May and August respectively. Pitchers like Michael King, Jonathan holder, and Jonathan Loaisiga could operate in a three-man rotation in the meantime. While I don’t expect the Yankees and Mets to come to a conclusion, talks are being held, and we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a potential deal going down.

New York Guardians WR Mekale McKay rises to leadership challenge

New York Guardians, Mekale McKay

The New York Guardians’ top receiver responded to a challenge from Kevin Gilbride and came up big on Saturday at MetLife. 

New York Guardians receiver Mekale McKay knows a thing…or three…about scoring big touchdowns in New Jersey.

Prior to his November drafting by the metropolitan area’s XFL squad, the Louisville native last played in the Garden State in 2013. Three touchdowns totaling 124 yards helped his Cincinnati Bearcats top Rutgers by a 52-17 final in Piscataway.

That killer instinct hasn’t left McKay over a well-traveled career that has spanned multiple leagues. It’s led him to East Rutherford, where he now serves as the top receiver for the Guardians.

From the moment he made his metropolitan return, McKay promised fans looking for an alternative or new source of professional football that they could expect big things from the Guardians.

“(Fans can expect) a lot of big plays,” he said with a smile, recalling that November afternoon at The Birthplace of College Football. “I think we’re going to come out here and be a physical team and represent the states of New Jersey and New York.”

The early days of the rebooted XFL have seen plenty of offensive heroics, but the Guardians have struggled to get the points flowing in their infancy truly. New York tallied 23 points in an opening weekend over the Tampa Bay Vipers, but a two-game road trip to Washington DC and St. Louis saw them on the wrong end of blowout losses. Struggles under center and on the line caused the offense to sputter to the tune of 26 consecutive possessions without a touchdown.

XFL presentation innovations allow for sideline conversations to be mic’d up and documented. With the Guardians playing out a listless 29-9 decision in the Gateway City, ESPN cameras picked up a solemn but developmental conversation between McKay and head coach Kevin Gilbride.

As McKay stoically watched the clock trickle out, Gilbride would tell McKay he “played (his butt) off”.

“When we gave you the ball, you made some plays,” Gilbride encouraged. He walked back to coaching duties before adding “I may need you to be a leader here, because there’s guys that I thought were going to be better than we are at doing that are just not.”

Leading up to a big showdown at MetLife Stadium, McKay embodied the spirit of a leader as the team practiced at the Torne Valley Athletic Complex in Hillburn, NY. Despite the offensive struggles, McKay spoke highly of his unit and encouraged fans to brave cold temperatures to see the Guardians try to make things right.

“I think we’re looking great. I think we’ve corrected a lot of mistakes,” McKay said. “I think (our problems) were addressed by the team instead of the coaches. So that’s going to put us on the right note.”

“Saturday’s going to be a great day. Bring all the intensity, all the roar you can bring and just expect us to play some great football.”

The payoff came on Saturday afternoon in East Rutherford. New York squared off against the Los Angeles Wildcats in a battle of 1-2 squads eager to reenter the premature XFL playoff picture. Their backs were further against the wall with the injury to starting quarterback Matt McGloin, forcing in third-stringer Luis Perez.

With the efforts of McKay and a healthy crowd of over 12,000 helping, the Guardians’ offense was able to muster enough firepower to conjure up a 17-14 win. The biggest offensive strike was McKay’s three-yeard leaping reception from Perez that put New York up 14-6.

Postgame comments made it clear that the top receiver on the depth chart had fulfilled the request to step up his leadership.

“What I said to Mekale is that he needs to step up and be part of the leadership. I thought that he certainly tries to do that,” Gilbride said. “Throughout the entire week of practice, I thought he did a nice job of trying to elevate the players, as is usually the case when you lose two games in a row.”

“There’s a lot of morale problems…but he did a good job of keeping the buoyancy of the players up so we had spirited practices.”

Perez remarked how McKay’s prescience was particularly soothing in the wake of the former’s first XFL start. The quarterback declared that, even when McKay dropped an open fourth-quarter deep ball that could’ve sealed the game, he knew who to turn to in the late stages of a big win.

“He knows he makes that play 99 out of 100 times,” Perez said of the drop. “I told him, as soon as that happened, I’m coming back to you, I still have faith in you, and I know you’re going to make a play for me.”

On the season, McKay has tallied 117 yards on nine receptions. He’s responsible for the Guardians’ longest play from scrimmage thus far, a 45-yard catch in their opening weekend win over Tampa Bay.

The Guardians (2-2) return to action this Saturday afternoon on the road against the Dallas Renegades (5:00 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Yannick Ngakoue continues to suggest desire to play in New York

New York Giants, Yannick Ngakoue

On Monday morning, Yannick Ngaokue, free-agent pass rusher, was franchise tagged by the Jacksonville Jaguars after expressing his desire to take his talents elsewhere in free agency. Yannick has continuously indicated his interest in the New York Giants, and while it has been subtle, it has been apparent.

Ngakoue is one of the best pass-rusher to hit the open market this offseason, and the Jags are planning to tag and trade him, so they can gain some draft capital for his services. The Giants may pursue him despite the constrain Jacksonville placed on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants offered a third-rounder in 2021 for the right to sign him to a multi-year deal.

At just 24-years-old, Yannick is in his physical prime and preparing to earn a pretty penny in free agency. If the Giants are, in fact, interested in his services, he will likely cost upwards of $19 million per season.

However, he’s well worth the money, considering his production over the past four seasons — 37.5 sacks, 122 combined tackles, 85 QB hits, and 14 forced fumbles.

CHECK OUT THE FIRESIDE GIANTS PODCAST FOR GREAT COMMENTARY! 

The New York Giants desperately need to add a top pass rusher:

With Markus Golden hitting free agency, the Giants don’t have any support at the position. GM Dave Gettleman even stated that it’s obvious they need to address the position in free agency or through the draft. This is a scenario where the Giants don’t need just one pass-rusher, they need two.

The ideal situation would include the Giants landing a premium option in FA and waiting until the draft to see if Chase Young falls into their laps. If now, they can always head back to the market to allocate more money towards a lesser target. However, linebacker Zack Baun, out of Wisconsin, racked up 12.5 sacks last year, showing off incredible speed and strength. He’s another intriguing defender for the Giants, who need to bolster the entire unit 5x over.

Yannick, though, continues to show his interest in the Giants via Social Media.

The New York Rangers Cannot Let the Chris Kreider Injury Become an Excuse

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers continue to struggle without Chris Kreider, falling 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday afternoon at MSG. Mika Zibanejad scored two goals and Pavel Buchnevich scored once for the Rangers but it was not enough. The Flyers scored four goals on special teams to extend their season-long winning streak to six games. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves in his first start since facing the Dallas Stars on Feb. 3. However, the most apparent takeaway from this game was the team missing injured star Chris Kreider, and not having enough players step up enough to overcome his absence.

All of the New York Rangers need to step up in Kreider’s absence

It will take more than just waiting for Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin to carry the whole load. The Blueshirts will need to have all players pick up their game if they want to continue their playoff run. They have done it before. Head Coach David Quinn reminded everyone about that fact when he commented about how the team played earlier in the season when they lost Zibanejad for a bunch of games. “I don’t think anybody thought that we were going to have any success without Mika and we went 8-4-1. We beat some good teams without Mika. I think we all feel that we’re a much better hockey team today than we were in November when we didn’t have Mika.” This will become even more important as they are in the middle of a big 19 game stretch, which started with the home-and-home contests against the Flyers. In this stretch, 14 will come against teams occupying playoff spots, and 10 will come on the road. They play the past three Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, a combined six times, while also drawing the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning. With no timetable yet on Kreider’s return, the Blueshirts will need to regroup and see what they can do to better there play until their valuable injured players come back to the ice.

New York Mets: Wilson Ramos used critics from fans as motivation

Hitting the ball in the air consistently is easier said than done. It implies applying theoretical changes to the way a batter hits the ball, often altering a lifelong routine. The hands, the launch angle, the hips, the legs… it isn’t an easy exercise. However, the New York Mets’ catcher Wilson Ramos decided to give it a try.

Why would a hitter try to lift the ball more often? Thanks to analytics and advanced metrics, we have come to understand that a batter would enjoy better results at the box if he hits line drives and fly balls than if he consistently puts the ball in the ground. Liners are considerably more difficult to field and often result in a high hit probability, while flies lead to increased slugging numbers, namely doubles, triples and homers. You can’t hit it out of the park if you don’t lift it.

So why did Ramos seek a change in his approach? According to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, he was getting tired of the critics and whispers.

After all, he hit 18.4 % of liners, 19.2 % of flies and an absurdly high 62.4 % of ground balls in 2019. He led the league in GB %. He is not particularly proud of it.

The Mets’ catcher had the drive to improve

Mets fans were particularly vocal about the situation. They often criticized the catcher’s offensive output from the stands and through social media.

“I heard a lot of bad things last year about hitting the ball the other way and not putting the ball in the air,” Ramos said to Thosar. “At some point, I got pissed. But I have to take those bad things as a positive. You can come back here and feel mad about the people talking about you, or you can come here and be the same person.”

Not only is Ramos trying to alter his swing – he already has a home run and a couple of well-struck balls this spring – but he is also getting familiar with new pitchers and experiencing fatherhood. He is also trying to improve as a framer.

It took him a month to become familiar with the change in approach from a ground ball hitter to one trying to join the “flyball revolution.” It remains to be seen which results he can achieve in the games that count. Certainly, the New York Mets and the fan base are intrigued.

“Years ago, people that hit for average were great players,” Ramos said. “Now, you can hit .300 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI and they don’t care. Now, if you hit 40 homers, .250 and 75 RBI, you’re one of the best players in baseball. So it’s totally different.”

The New York Jets have already met with a potential draft pick

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas, Georgia Bulldogs

This year’s NFL Draft is filled with talented offensive lineman, a position the New York Jets desperately need. One of the top talents, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, said he has already met and had an informal interview with the team.

What he said

Thomas announced at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, in his exit interview, that he had the informal interview, although didn’t explain what happened in great detail:

“Just a lot of film, breaking down my film and little things like critiquing my technique,” he said. “It was just a couple of plays that we went over.”

Meeting with prospects is normal, but this seems to mean something more given the time this happened. Also, Thomas signed with Roc Nation on December 19 last year. Roc Nation has signed numerous New York-based athletes across the years such as Saquon Barkley.

The signing with Roc Nation and the informal interview has rightly made reporters curious how he feels about the possibility of playing in New York. He addressed this possibility while at the podium as well:

“That would be crazy,” he said. “You guys know I signed with Roc Nation so I’ve been there a couple of times and New York’s a nice city.”

What this could mean

This could mean nothing, as many players wouldn’t mind playing anywhere before getting drafted and probably wouldn’t try to sound too “picky.” That could impact when and where they get picked. Having struggled for the past few seasons, having a potential player open, and seemingly happy, with the idea of playing for you is great.

Sure, he wasn’t asked about playing for the Jets specifically, but with the Giants most likely not taking an offensive lineman with the fourth pick, it’s more likely he would be in green and white next season. Now, the Jets just have to hope he’s still available when they’re on the clock.