The New York Giants are revamping their secondary. After spending three draft picks on the unit last year (four if you count Sam Beal), New York doubled down and signed free agent cornerback James Bradberry to a three-year deal worth $45 million.
The Giants’ new secondary features Bradberry and DeAndre Baker as the outside cornerbacks with the slot position to be determined. Jabrill Peppers will remain the starting strong safety. But who will man the free safety position? By the looks of it, Julian Love will be the Giants’ starting free safety in 2020.
Julian Love Stats And Highlights
Julian Love showed promise filling in as a starter for the injured Jabrill Peppers in the final five games of the 2019 season. The rookie recorded 37 combined tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and only 4 missed tackles. The former collegiate slot cornerback converted to safety as a rookie and allowed only 190 yards and 1 touchdown in coverage.
Julian Love did a pretty solid job diagnosing run plays in 2019 — playing in a strong safety role while Jabrill Peppers was out injured.
-37 combined tackles -4 missed -5 tackles for a loss
With Peppers set to return to the starting lineup in 2020, Love will likely shift over to the free safety position. Julian has demonstrated the ability to make plays in both run and pass defense. This makes him an ideal fit for the free safety position. However, the job is not yet his.
If Not Love, Then Who?
The Giants are running out of cap space now after signing free agents such as Blake Martinez and James Bradberry. Prior to the New League Year, the Giants reportedly did have an interest in signing a free safety: Anthony Harris from the Minnesota Vikings.
Unfortunately, the Vikings placed the franchise tag on Harris, keeping him off the open market. But the elite Vikings safety is still available if the Giants are still interested. According to Ian Rapoport, the Vikings “acknowledged to teams that Harris could be had for a mid-to-late round draft pick.”
The highest-graded safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus could be acquired via trade for a mid-to-late round pick. This is something the Giants should be all over. If New York were able to acquire Harris via trade, they would start him at free safety and allow Julian Love to move back into the position of slot cornerback, which was his primary position in college. In his scenario, the Giants’ secondary would be complete and feature one of the best safeties in the league on the back end, along with plenty more youthful talent.
Tom Brady’s AFC East departure may be cause for celebration, but the New York Jets’ yearly set with New England only gets marginally easier.
In September 2001, the New York Jets inadvertently unleashed the Tom Brady nightmare on the NFL when a Mo Lewis hit knocked Drew Bledsoe out of their Week 2 showdown.
Nearly two decades later, it’s apparently over. Like many in the near-retirement community, Brady, 42, is headed to Florida courtesy of a two-year, $50 million deal bestowed to him by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Uprooted from New England will be Brady’s six Super Bowl titles, three MVP awards, five All-Pro nominations and a 30-8 record against the Jets.
Needless to say, the response from a metropolitan area desperate for good news is perhaps comparable to the galaxy-wide celebration after the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi‘s closing act. Social distancing and quarantining might be the only thing stopping a parade down the Canyon of Heroes bidding Brady farewell. Brady is now the NFC’s problem. Sure, Tampa Bay visits East Rutherford in 2021 but that’s an extremely tolerable substitute for the yearly couple.
It thus feels like the Patriots’ day of reckoning has finally come. Two decades of torture, perhaps straight-up bullying, will finally come back to bite them. Long have fans of the Jets, and probably every football fan outside of the New England area, waited to see the departure of Brady plummet the Patriots back to the dark times: the days of Pat Patriot on their helmets, the days where 8-8 was considered Patriot progress. The will of Foxboro patrons could well be tested in the coming months. Brady did leave New England with no concrete succession plan in place. Their current savior under center is slated to be Jarrett Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick whose already minuscule playing time was dramatically slashed when Jamal Adams victimized him for a pick-six in the meaningless stages of yet another Jets defeat.
But, if Jets fans are smart, they won’t crack open the Brady-induced bubbly just yet.
For one thing, the Jets really can’t gloat about anything until they gain some sustainable success against the Patriots. The series, of course, has been ridiculously one-sided since that fateful September late afternoon and, even in Brady’s declining years, things weren’t shifting in the Jets’ favor.
There’s no denying that Brady at his worst is better than many quarterbacks at their best. He’s undoubtedly in a position to make the Buccaneers better. But there was no denying that the past few years saw Brady lose a step or two. In Brady’s last eight matchups against the Jets, his passer rating dipped under 90 on four separate occasions. New England won each of those games by an average of two touchdowns, including a 33-0 shellacking in a Monday night game back in October.
In fact, even when the Jets managed to keep Brady in relative check, victory isn’t guaranteed. When Brady posted a passer rating under 90, the Patriots were nonetheless 10-7 in games against the Jets.
It should be obvious by this point that the Patriots are the Patriots…not the Bradys. They’ve built their dynasty by a team effort, not by any one individual effort. Nobodies, spare parts left for football dead by other squads, have risen to play crucial roles in New England victories. Sure, the on-field brilliance of Brady has served as a jolt to several of these resurrected careers, but no amount of offensive prowess could explain what the defense has done.
Last season, no team allowed fewer points, first downs, or yards than the Patriots. Opponents converted only an astonishing 24 percent of their third downs against them. Their 25 interceptions were five more than their closest competitor (Pittsburgh). This is a fearsome unit that has lost some crucial pieces, but they still retain vital weapons like both McCourty brothers (Jason and Devin, the latter of whom inked a two-year deal).
September’s visit to Gillette Stadium, for example, saw the Jets score their first touchdown in defeat when they jumped on a muffed New England punt in the end zone. It was their first touchdown scored in Massachusetts in nearly four calendar years. You can’t pin that one on Tom Brady.
Fellow secondary hawks like Stephon Gilmore and Patrick Chung will likewise be back, as will experienced pass rushers like Dont’a Hightower, Adam Butler, and Chase Winovich. Such firepower is enough to keep any quarterback on edge, much less one vying to be the face of the franchise.
Whoever succeeds Brady on offense, be it Stidham, be it a veteran free agent, be it a rookie from the upcoming draft, has been set up in a relatively pleasant situation. Protection will be available from an experienced line that let up only 28 sacks last season. The Patriots even denied the Jets a chance to let one of those men block for Darnold, franchise tagging All-Pro guard Joe Thuney. New England has routinely gotten by with a strong rushing attack, and the current edition is no exception. Sony Michel is the lead back, complimented by dual-threat James White and the powerful Rex Burkhead. An arsenal of receivers both experienced and young will be available to the new thrower. Julian Edelman leads the way, while the Patriots worked their way into first-round receiver N’Keal Harry with last year’s 32nd pick. Phillip Dorsett could leave via free agency, but reliable reserves are on hand via Mohamed Sanu and incoming free agent Damiere Byrd.
Of course, the whole thing revolves around the constant of Bill Belichick. The famous scowler was there before Brady and he’ll obviously be around afterward. His mind games and expertise will still be around to haunt the Jets. Enough has been said about his relatively fruitless days at the helm of the Cleveland Browns, but remember that this is a guy that won 11 games with a full season of Matt Cassel at quarterback.
The departure of Brady does indeed present the Jets with an opportunity. It apparently took his leaving to finally convince the Jets to fix their long-lingering blocking problems, problems addressed by the arrival of up-and-comers George Fant and Connor McGovern. Fellow divisional foes Buffalo and Miami have also used the offseason funds afforded to them to improve. The Dolphins, in fact, plucked linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts from the Patriots’ lineup.
There’s little argument to the idea that the Jets have gotten better over the past few days, especially on paper. Their backfield saviors of Darnold and Le’Veon Bell have the potential to move freely with improved blocking. They’ve maintained secondary depth with the re-signings of Brain Poole and Arthur Maulet. Is it enough to finally deal a fatal blow to this monster? We’ll see in September.
It’s time to work on the field. The Jets have finally been granted a silent wish in the form of Brady leaving. Time will only tell they’ll wake up soon or if a new, scarier nightmare has only just begun.
The New York Yankees continue to deal with players’ injuries, during a time when all of the spring training has been halted, and the start of the regular season has been pushed back at least two weeks. One of the injuries involves superstar outfielder Aaron Judge who was revealed to have a fractured rib that may date back to last season when he dove for a catch. ESPN has reported that in an interview Judge said:
Aaron Judge also revealed to reporters that he suffered a “pneumothorax”, or a partial collapse of the lung, which can occur with rib fractures, and is now completely gone. Judge: “I can fly if I need to go home. The bone is still about the same. Slight improvement, but in two weeks they can’t really tell much of anything. The bone is healing the way it should be.”
This is just the latest with Aaron Judge, who has suffered a number of injuries during the past two years. Judge is just one of the injured Yankee players, the most significant blow to the team is the news that Luis Severino will be out the whole season. Severino two weeks ago underwent Tommy John surgery and is not expected to return to the team until the 2021 season.
Other injuries to New York Yankees are a minor injury to Giancarlo Stanton that has a grade one calf injury that is healing. Gary Sanchez has been suffering from back soreness, the cause of which is unknown. James Paxton had back surgery just before the start of spring training and is expected to be able to pitch sometime in June at the earliest.
The New York Yankees hope that the stoppage in play will work to their benefit healthwise, giving several of these players time to heal and be able to take part in a mini spring training and the regular season when the CDC gives the advisement that it is safe to do so. The situation is very fluid, to say the least.
MLB won’t return for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities recommended this week to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next couple of months and the league will listen. The New York Mets and the rest of the National League East teams will be affected by the delayed start of the season.
MLB.com reviewed how the development could affect each NL East team’s plans:
New York Mets
About the Mets, Mark Bowman of MLB.com wrote that they “departed Spring Training with a host of banged-up players. Unlike a lot of teams, their list included some of the best on their roster. Michael Conforto was dealing with a strained right oblique muscle, and he should no longer have any trouble getting ready for Opening Day. Dellin Betances was taking a slower progression back from last season’s left Achilles tear — while his Opening Day wasn’t in doubt, he now has plenty of time to ramp up his velocity.”
There are, however, two question marks health-wise for the New York Mets: Yoenis Céspedes and Jed Lowrie. Bowman says that they “now have plenty of extra time to prepare. In Céspedes’ case, he’s recovering from multiple heel injuries and a broken right ankle; he was questionable for Opening Day, but would seem to have a real shot at it given the extra time. Lowrie isn’t quite so certain as he looks to overcome a host of left-side issues, but a little more time can’t hurt him, either.”
Cole Hamels is probably the Braves’ biggest beneficiary of the delayed start. “As long as Cole Hamels’ left shoulder remains healthy, it now looks like the Braves will have him in their rotation for a greater percentage of the regular season.” He went down with left shoulder inflammation in late January.
What happens with Hamels will impact Félix Hernández, Josh Graham and Sean Newcomb, “who were the favorites to fill the two vacancies within Atlanta’s rotation. The Braves have the option to send Newcomb back to the bullpen, which projects to have just one lefty (Will Smith). They also must decide whether to commit $1 million to Hernández, even if it’s just to have him give Hamels more time or to allow Kyle Wright to further develop before possibly being rushed for a second straight year.”
The reduced schedule may be an incentive to have Austin Riley take over as the third baseman from the go.
The Marlins, per Bowman, were all about intensity and trying to “build team confidence” in spring training. The team had great momentum going when play was halted and the biggest challenge for the Marlins’ coaching staff and players “will be how they transition back into action. Will they be clicking the same way they were when spring was halted?”
The 2019 World Champions are a lock to fight with the New York Mets, the Braves and the Phillies for a playoff spot this time around.
The biggest hole to fill remains third base, after Anthony Rendon left to sign for the Los Angeles Angels. “Prospect Carter Kieboom was given the opportunity to earn that starting job, and the 22-year-old could have benefited from real-time game action if Spring Training had been played in its entirety. The Nats could give Kieboom the nod regardless of his experience there, or they could turn to veteran infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera to open the season.”
The team also has to decide on a fifth starter, and Erick Fedde, Joe Ross and Austin Voth are the candidates.
The Phillies were about to enter the season without Andrew McCutchen (left knee) and right-hander Tommy Hunter (right elbow), and they were cautiously optimistic they could have right-hander Víctor Arano (right elbow.)
Now that June is being thrown around as a likely date for the season start, the Phillies could have them all ready.
A lot can happen in two years, and New York Yankees five-tool prospect Estevan Florial can attest to that statement. Two years ago, Florial was a must-see player during spring training, as he was expected to be the Yankees next centerfielder. However, injuries have plagued his career up to this point and set him back significantly from his overall goal of reaching the big leagues.
At 20 years old, most believed he had the defensive attributes to start in the majors, but he suffered a broken wrist in both 2018 and ’19, forcing him to rehab for a majority of the season while putting together a minimal sample size worth of statistics.
This off-season would have been the perfect opportunity for Florial to earn starting reps in the outfield, especially with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks, all missing time. The outfield was set to start the season with Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Clint Frazier as their starting three. However, with the coronavirus setting back Opening Day, things could be different.
In 2019, Florial was still the Yankees number one ranked prospect, but he dropped this off-season significantly as others continue to climb the list. Young starting pitcher Deivi Garcia and outfield Jasson Dominguez have risen considerably in recent months.
What must Estevan Florial do to earn a spot on the New York Yankees’ top team?
Estevan must do two things during the 2020 campaign, and those are to stay on the field and remain healthy, and cut down his strikeout rate. In five years, Florial has struck out on 28% of his plate appearances. Over the last two years, he has struck out 127 times and collected 78 hits.
“It’s part of the game. You don’t want to strike out all of the time,” Florial said, per Baseball America. “I have to get better at that.”
“Everyone sees the potential. At some point (a player) has to start producing,” farm director Kevin Reese said when asked about Florial.
The young outfielder is running out of time to prove his worth before being pushed toward the back of the line. This upcoming season should be essential in his development and progress for the future — health remains a significant factor.
With the New York Giants altogether avoiding the pass rusher position aside from signing Kyler Fackrell to a one-year deal, the expectation is that GM Dave Gettleman will find a way to allocate more resources towards the spot.
It’s possible Gettleman waits until the NFL Draft to bolster the position. Still, the reality is, they currently have unproven talent tied to the scheme, which is an unadvisable mentality moving forward.
Currently, the OLB position consists of Fackrell, Oshane Ximines, and Lorenzo Carter, three players who have flashed potential but have been inconsistent. Ximines had a decent 2019 campaign (his rookie year), logging 4.5 sacks on 45% of defensive snaps. If you double his snap count, we can project a 9.0 sack season for Oshane, which would be stellar for his second-year in the NFL. The Giants may be counting on him to break out in 2020, but they cannot depend on him and Fackrell to act as their consistent pass rushers.
Are the New York Giants expecting to re-sign Markus Golden?
Considering Golden’s statistical output in 2019 and his overall quality, it’s strange that he’s still remaining on the free-agent market. Having put together a 10.0 sacks performance and displayed leadership qualities, Golden is a quality player who can be a vital piece to the Giants’ defensive front for years to come. I anticipate they will find space for him on the roster and sign him to a three-year deal with a front-loaded contract, similar to James Bradberry and Blake Martinez.
The Giants may be waiting until they re-work Leonard Williams’ franchise tag to a multi-year deal to then re-sign Golden, who, paired with a stout interior defensive line, can piece together another solid campaign this year. Williams is currently set to earn $16.126 million on the franchise tag, but the Giants are attempting to extend him and lower his cap-hit to $10-12 million with more guaranteed money.
Whenever the coronavirus shutdown of sports, and in particular, hockey ends, the New York Islanders must figure out what they have in forward Anthony Beauvillier.
Beauvillier, 22, took part in his fourth pro season this year and once again produced an up-and-down year, similar to his campaign the year prior.
Before the league suspended play on March 12th, the Sorel-Tracy, Quebec native was sitting on 18 goals and 39 points through 68 games. In the Isles’ last game in Vancouver — a 5-4 shootout loss — Beauvillier notched an assist and logged 22:02 of ice time, his most all season long. It was also the first game in a while that he was really noticeable.
And that’s where the problem lies.
If the Islanders are going to be a consistent contender in the coming years, finding the right fit for Beauvillier is crucial.
They thought they had it two years back when it was he, Mathew Barzal, and Jordan Eberle were one of the dominant trios in the NHL in the second half of the year. That vanished last season when head coach Barry Trotz barely batted an eye at putting the trio back together; Trotz paired those three back together in the postseason last spring, and it worked but didn’t go back to the well to start this season. There was some hope that it was he, Brock Nelson, and his fellow Frenchman Derick Brassard during the team’s remarkable 17-game point streak. That too fizzled out.
Ever since that trio was disbanded, Beauvillier hasn’t been the same player. Yes, there’s been flashes and some strong showings, but not nearly consistently enough. And it’s tough to keep bringing up that same narrative because it felt like Beauvillier had turned a corner earlier this season.
Beauvillier came flying out of the gates to start this year. He was clearly one of the Isles’ best forwards from opening night till mid-December, which drew praise from Trotz and the coaching staff.
“Beau looks like a different player this year,” Trotz told Newsday back in October. “A lot of that has to do with the type of playoff he had last year . . . When it’s the most important time of the year, and you’re able to elevate your game, it sort of carries over. I think there’s a lot of confidence in that and who he’s playing with, and they’re having success.”
That quote from Trotz feels like it was years ago because of how long this shutdown has prolonged. But it was the right thing to say at the time; Beauvillier did look different. Then the inconsistency and the scoring droughts took hold again, and that’s why we’re back at square one.
For a player who has proven he has 20-25 goal capabilities — he’s tallied 21, 18, 18 in his last three seasons — Beauvillier has been given every opportunity to show he can be relied on as a top-six forward. Very rarely this year did Trotz move him off the second line before the hiatus, due to the fact that he’s one of the very few skilled forwards that the team possesses.
Now, with the influx of possible top-six forwards, particularly wingers, in the pipeline — Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Otto Koivula and Simon Holmstrom — Beauvillier’s future with the Isles isn’t as clear as it was a few years back.
He does have one more season remaining on his two-year, $2.1 million contract, which will take him to age 24 by the time it ends. But how much longer is the organization willing to have faith in a player who is heading into his fifth season and hasn’t progressed to where he should be?
There are a few options to consider:
Does the brass give him another shot to solidify himself in the top-six moving forward?
They could, but he would need to produce and do it on a nightly basis.
Would Beauvillier be slotted better as a third-line presence?
It’s worth looking at after Trotz had to keep coming up with makeshift units for that line all season. Beauvillier would bring some much-needed skill and speed to that part of the lineup.
What about trading him to regroup one or two of the draft picks the organization traded away?
At 22, Beauvillier is still young and raw enough to have a good amount of value that teams believe would help them now or in the future.
Could he be a part of a bigger package that brings back a big-name forward? Could they swap him in a one-for-one deal?
The Islanders offense was abysmal at too many points this year, and dealing Beau for a more productive piece would help solve one of the club’s biggest problems. Beauvillier’s name has always floated around in trade talks, most notably when g.m. Lou Lamoriello was pursuing Matt Duchene and Mark Stone at the trade deadline a year ago.
All those possibilities make the next few months very interesting for Beauvillier and for the Islanders.
Not too long ago, Anthony Beauvillier was perceived as one of the key pieces to what the Islanders were building upfront. It’s been a bit of a rocky road since then.
And it’s going to continue as the Isles ponder their future about how he fits into the club’s plans moving forward.
It’s pretty clear that, with no baseball in sight (at least until May or June, at the earliest) people are looking forward not only to the start of the season, but also, to other exciting things. That’s precisely the case of New York Mets‘ starting pitcher Marcus Stroman.
“Stro” is looking ahead to the 2021 World Baseball Classic (WBC) which is scheduled to start a year from now. The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc in this year’s sports calendar, but there is no reason to think, as of now, that next year’s tournaments won’t be played.
Via his official Twitter account, Stroman started the discussion on Thursday about who would play for the United States in the 2021 WBC. He called the tweeting exchange the “recruiting season.”
Stroman won the MVP award in 2017, when Team USA won its first and only WBC trophy. The ever-competitive hurler, who is playing for the Mets since last season’s trade deadline, is already excited about the next edition of the tournament. Apparently, other American All-Stars are joining the squad next year.
The Mets’ Pete Alonso wants in!
One of the stars that the New York Mets’ pitcher “recruited” (unofficially, of course) is his current teammate, slugger Pete Alonso.
“If @USABaseball named me to the national team, I might cry,” Alonso wrote on Twitter. “I tried out for the 18u team a while back and didn’t make it. It would be an honor to put the red, white, and blue on and rep the Stars and Stripes.”
Other 2017 members expressed their desire to repeat. Among them are 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich and Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. Other stars said they wanted in, such as flamboyant Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell.
Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story of the Rockies, Mike Clevinger of the Indians, Whit Merrifield of the Royals and Joey Gallo of the Rangers were interested, as well.
Stroman tweeted: “I thought the @USABaseball squad was scary in 2017…2021 about to be unreal. Sheesh!” The Mets’ star’ recruiting season was a success!
The New York Knicks are trying to build a team through the draft. Now armed with 7 draft picks in the next 2 years, the Knicks will try and continue to bring in young talent. This also means they have some decisions to make with their current young players. The New York Knicks will need to decide who is worth investing in the long-term, and who is expendable. One of these players is 2nd year forward Kevin Knox.
Knox has struggled all year and has been under fire from both coaches and fans. The 8th overall pick in the 2018 draft has regressed in his 2nd year, and any magic from his rookie campaign seems to have worn off. So how do the Knicks keep faith in their inconsistent youngster? Let’s look back at his draft profile.
Kevin Knox was drafted as a project player.
Here’s what a scouting report from DraftExpress said in Knox’s senior year of high school:
“If he can find a way to buy into defending multiple positions, moving off the ball, crashing the glass, running the floor, and playing as more of a modern four man (which is very much the trend in today’s NBA) he’s far more interesting as an NBA prospect.”
We haven’t gotten to see Knox play much of the 4 due to the Knicks power forward spending spree. You have to wonder if playing him there would allow him to create more mismatches on offense.
Here’s what Knox’s former head coach at Kentucky John Calipari had to say about him entering the 2018 Draft:
“He’s not even close to where he’s going to be,” Calipari said Friday at the NBA Combine. “But he’s young…This is a futures league. They’re going to look at him and say OK where is he in three years compared to him and you go, ‘Holy s–t.’ This isn’t them looking at this guy versus that guy. It’s all projection. And then you want to get a guy you hope you have for nine years.”
Of course, a head coach will speak fondly of his own player, but Calipari was brutally honest in his evaluation of Knox. He knew Knox was a project. It’s going to take time. Kevin Knox is still growing into his body and learning how to use it effectively.
Knox’s defense has been all over the place. He’s slow with his rotations, but his frame and athleticism give you a lot of hope that he can improve.
After averaging 28.8 minutes per game his rookie year, Knox hasn’t been able to find consistent playing time all season. Knox is currently averaging the 32nd most minutes among all sophomore players. That is unacceptable for someone drafted 8th overall.
Whether or not it means playing in the G-League, the Knicks need to find a way to get Knox more experience. His ceiling hasn’t changed since the draft. Hopefully, the Knicks will recognize that.
Maulet, 26, signed a reserve/future deal with the Jets in January 2019. He had previously spent time with New Orleans and Indianapolis before making his New York arrival. The early stages of his career were spent mostly on special teams, but Maulet performed serviceably after he pressed into the starting lineup by injuries. Over a dozen games (six starts), Maulet set new career-highs in tackles (38) and pass defense (2). He also earned the first interception of his career in the Jets’ victorious season finale against Buffalo. One week prior, Maulet had a career-best eight tackles in another Jets win, their home finale against Pittsburgh.
Another highlight for Maulet came in the Jets’ Week 3 visit to New England. He would recover a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown in the Jets’ 30-14 loss. It was the first touchdown the Jets scored at Gillette Stadium since 2015.
With this signing, the Jets are able to restock their secondary depth. Earlier this week, the team also brought back fellow cornerback Brian Poole on a one-year, $5 million deal.
The return of Maulet perhaps more than makes up for another secondary free agent’s departure. It was reported earlier this week by NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo this week that cornerback Maurice Canady joined up with the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal. Remaining secondary free agents for the Jets include cornerback Bennett Jackson and safety Blake Countess.