New York Giants: NFLPA grievance could cost Giants $3.8M on Williams tag

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

It’s looking like the New York Giants could franchise tag pass rusher Leonard Williams this offseason to prevent him from leaving in free agency. However, if they decide to do that, they might have to pay more than they initially expected.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Williams has an open grievance with the NFLPA to be designated as a defensive end instead of a defensive tackle. This would impact how much money Williams receives if the Giants do go ahead and give him the franchise tag.

The Giants may have to pay Williams more retroactively after franchise tagging him as a defensive tackle and playing him more as a defensive end, a higher paid position. The main concern, however, is that his tag price for a second time around would rise to $21.4M. The Giants will be in a tough cap spot this season and the front office definitely won’t be happy to hear about Williams costing $3.8M more to bring back.

It seems like the team wants to sign Williams to a longer deal but that may not happen with other teams being in a position to offer more money. Furthermore, the Giants may prioritize bringing back Williams’ fellow lineman Dalvin Tomlinson instead.

With other teams circling and sitting in a position to sign Williams this offseason, many have predicted the Giants going in another direction to address the pass rush, which Williams led in 2020. That might include drafting Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau, or trying to address the position through free agency. Either way, a potentially costlier tag is just one new thing on a list of reasons a Williams return in 2021 is looking more unlikely.

BREAKING: UFC’s Khamzat Chimaev seemingly retires via Instagram post

One of the brightest young stars in the UFC might be calling it a career. Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) took to Instagram this evening and made a post where he seemingly announced his retirement from the sport.

Just today, we posted an article about Chimaev’s next potential opponent. Chimaev and Neil Magny have been going back and forth recently and the UFC was working on a potential matchup for June.

However, Chimaev has been struggling mightily with complications from COVID-19. Chimaev’s bout with COVID has seen his matchup with Leon Edwards cancelled twice. The UFC just flew Chimaev out to Las Vegas to get the medical treatment that he needed.

However, it now is not looking promising regarding Chimaev’s fighting future. The post was in Russian and we used a translation application to translate the UFC‘s stars post.

“I want to say thank you to everyone for their support in my path in this sport. I think I’m done, yes, I know that I didn’t take the belt, but this is not the most important victory in this life, it may upset you, but my heart and body tell me everything. I want to say a huge thank you to my team,” Chimaev said.

Has the UFC star retired?

I think it’s important to take a step back until we hear from the UFC. Until we hear an official announcement from the promotion or Dana White, let’s take this announcement with a grain of salt.

However, it’s no secret that Chimaev has had a tough battle over the last couple of months. His battle with COVID hasn’t allowed him to train and at one point, Chimaev has said that he thought he was going to die.

Khamzat Chimaev made his UFC debut back on the promotion’s first trip to Fight Island. From the moment he debuted, Chimaev took the UFC by storm. The promotion was putting him on the fast track to a title shot. However, everything was completely thrown off by COVID.

This story is developing and we will continue to follow up when there’s updates. As of now, there’s still been no word from the promotion.

What’s next for Jairzinho Rozenstruik after UFC Vegas 20 loss?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 20, we saw a battle of top ten heavyweights in the main event. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) was tasked in trying to derail the hype train of the undefeated, Ciryl Gane (8-0).

Rozenstruik is one of the most powerful strikers in all of the UFC. Bigi Boy has over 70 professional kickboxing victories and he’s stormed through all competition inside the octagon outside of Francis Ngannou.

Both of these contenders were coming off of victories against former heavyweight champion, Junior Dos Santos. The fight was being built up as a battle of finishers and many didn’t think this fight would go the distance.

However, there was a lack of action on Saturday night and ultimately many were disappointed with UFC Vegas 20‘s main event. The main issue with the main event was the lack of aggressiveness from Rozenstruik.

Gane had a good game plan and was racking up points on the outside. While nothing had a ton of steam on it, Gane was popping Rozenstruik with jabs and kicks all night. Rozenstruik appeared to be waiting for one big knockout shot, however, there was no urgency.

Heading into the fifth round, Rozenstruik needed a finish to win. He had lost all four rounds on all three scorecards. When the final round started, there was still no urgency from Rozenstruik and Gane walked to a decision win. Bigi Boy is now 1-2 in his last three in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 20?

While Rozenstruik didn’t get finished at UFC Vegas 20, his stock took a major hit. Rozenstruik appeared to be fighting with a similar strategy that Derrick Lewis fought Curtis Blaydes with, however, he wasn’t throwing when he had openings.

Instead, he seemed content with staying on the outside while he was getting outpointed by Gane. So what does the UFC do with Bigi Boy after this performance? Well, I think there are a couple of options for Rozenstruik.

A matchup I actually like is the rematch with Alistair Overeem (47-19,1 NC). The two men fought in late 2019 and Overeem was winning the entire fight. However, in the last ten seconds, Rozenstruik landed a bomb that gave him the knockout victory.

I believe a lot of people would want to see the rematch. I think another fun matchup could be Rozenstruik against Walt Harris (13-9, 1 NC). The Big Ticket has lost a couple in a row, but he always brings the fight to his opponent. I believe either of these matchups would be a fun next step for Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

New York Giants: What will Darius Slayton’s role be in 2021?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

Those who expected big things from the New York Giants‘ offense in 2020 were left severely disappointed. The Giants averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game this past season. Entering the season, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Giants’ offensive core.

Veterans like Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard were looking to grow in a new offensive scheme. Quarterback Daniel Jones was entering his second season, along with wide receiver Darius Slayton, with both players coming off of impressive rookie campaigns. But, unfortunately, one of these players did not make the strides forward that they were expected to.

Daniel Jones seemed to make progress in 2020. His statistics were not impressive, but many fans feel he took a step forward and played much better in the second half of the year. Daniel did have a huge grade jump from Pro Football Focus. In 2019, his overall grade was a 65.9. In 2020, his overall grade rose to a respectable 78.4.

Darius Slayton, however, did not take the same jump that was expected of him. After an impressive rookie season where Slayton found the end zone 8 times with 740 receiving yards, fans thought he could elevate to a new status. But, it was more of the same, maybe even a little less from Slayton in 2020. Darius totaled only 750 yards on 2 more receptions with only 3 total touchdowns.

Now, entering the 2021 NFL offseason, the Giants are looking for new playmakers. General manager Dave Gettleman promised at his post-season press conference that he would upgrade the offense. With this in mind, Darius Slayton’s role in 2021 seems clouded and needs definition.

What will Darius Slayton’s role be in 2021?

Many Giants fans had high hopes for Darius Slayton in 2020. They thought he could elevate to “WR1” status and become New York’s primary receiver. But as the season went on, fans’ opinions changed and they started to hope he would develop into a high-end WR2.

Now, entering this offseason, the Giants are looking for new wide receivers to add to the mix. This could push Slayton down to “WR3” or “WR4” status. But could a reduced role like that benefit the wide receiver as he enters his third season?

As a primary receiver in the Giants’ offense, Slayton struggled at times. Lining up against opposing defense’s best cornerbacks might have been a task too tall for Darius. But in 2021, if the Giants are able to add a new primary wide receiver, Slayton could reap the benefits of facing the opposing team’s second, third, or even fourth-best cornerbacks.

Against team’s with weak secondaries, Darius Slayton flashed his high-end play. For example, Big Play Slay had 8 receptions for 129 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week Five. He also had a 93 yard receiving performance against Philadelphia in Week Ten.

Darius Slayton still had a couple of elite performances in 2020. But the consistency was lacking week-to-week. This could have been caused by injuries that bugged Slayton throughout the season. But looking ahead to 2021, if the Giants are able to add that new wide receiver they are searching for, they could see a new and improved Darius Slayton in a more refined role.

Free agent J.J. Watt spurns Buffalo Bills for Arizona

New York Giants, JJ Watt

Despite a supposedly promising social media update earlier in the day, J.J. Watt will not join the Buffalo Bills.

A promising lead involving J.J. Watt’s supposed Peloton profile veered off course for the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

Bills fans were enthused by a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, who claimed a Peloton profile belonging to Watt narrowed his free agency destinations down to Buffalo and two other contenders from Cleveland and Green Bay. However, Watt refuted ownership of such an exercise bike on Twitter and later revealed that he would instead be signing with the Arizona Cardinals in a separate post. The latter image shows the former Houston Texan lifting weights, clad in Cardinals gear, and is accompanied by the captions “source: me”. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the deal is worth $31 million over two seasons with $23 million guaranteed.

With this move, Watt joins fellow disgruntled former Texan DeAndre Hopkins, who united with quarterback Kyler Murray for 1,407 yards through the air.

Yates owned his refuted report, later threading the original Peloton tweet with a GIF of animated character Homer Simpson awkwardly disappearing into shrubs. It likely does nothing to soothe the blow dealt to Bills fans who wanted to see Watt in Western New York. Some Bills-supporting social media users, perhaps desperate, got their hopes up for such a union when Watt posted a tweet about “mitochondria” last week, reasoning a local medical research center in Buffalo bore the same name.

Though the Bills will miss out on Watt, he of three Defensive Player of the Year awards and 101 sacks over a ten-season career with the Texans, there are plenty of options available to them on the free agency front to bolster their pass rush, including Leonard Williams, Matt Judon, and Shaquil Barrett.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets Shutout in 2-0 Opening Game Loss to the Miami Marlins

As expected, pitching dominated the first spring training game for the New York Mets. All the Miami Marlins needed was a two-run home run from Jesus Aguilar to secure a 2-0, seven-inning victory. The Mets continued their 2020 tradition of leaving runners on base by going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Brandon Nimmo led the way with two hits at the top of the order. J.D. Davis, Kevin Pillar, and Johneshwy Fargas were responsible for the other three Mets hits. Francisco Lindor also made his Mets debut but failed to record a hit in his two at-bats but recorded a nice play ranging up the middle.

The first three innings were very successful for the Mets pitchers against an aggressive Marlins lineup. Harol Gonzalez (10), Sean Reid-Foley (6), and Stephen Tarpley (8) combined for just 24 pitches in their respective innings of work. Ryley Gilliam was the only pitcher who struggled in his inning. Gilliam allowed a Starling Marte triple and the Aguilar home run.

Trevor Hildenberger worked out of a bases-loaded jam with three strikeouts sandwiched between scoreless innings from lefties Thomas Szapucki and Daniel Zamora. On Tuesday, the Mets play their home spring training opener against the Houston Astros. The first pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET and will be televised on SNY. Framber Valdez will take the mound against Jordan Yamamoto.

New York Yankees Recap: Chris Gitten’s Grand Slam powers the Yankees to a win

The New York Yankees had their second game of spring training today, again at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Pete. This time it was against the visiting Detroit Tigers. The Yankees won the game 5-4. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole was on the mound for the Yankees. J Candelario smashed a long ball to the top of the left-field wall to start the game. The minor league Jay Bruce made an amazing catch. To start his first game of spring training. Tiger hitters were pretty much having their way with Cole.

Goodrum drove in a run leaving two men still on base. It should be noted that Cole was not pitching to his personal catcher Higashioka; Gary Sanchez was catching the ace, who struggled in the inning, throwing 29 pitches, and allowing three hits. Tigers 1 Yankees 0.

Kyle Funkhouser started for the Tigers. Tyler Wade led off for the Yankees; he grounded out. Gary Sanchez was next up. He struck out in yesterday’s game; in his first at-bat today, he walked. Aaron Hicks walked. Jay Bruce struck out. Derek Dietrich lined out to center field, ending the scoreless half for the Yankees. In the first inning, both pitchers struggled to combine for 58 pitches.

Cole only pitched one inning. Jameson Taillon pitched the top of the second inning and had a one-two-three inning for the Yankees in an impressive display of first pitch flyouts. Cole in-between innings had a long discussion with Sanchez in the dugout. Higashioka drew a walk in his first plate appearance of training.  Ryan LeMarre also walked. Thairo Estrada grounded into a double play ending another scoreless inning for the Yankees. Decaster pitched the second for the Tigers.

Taillon used only seven pitches in the second inning, but  Jhoulys Chacin came out of the pen to pitch the 3rd for the Yankees. Garcia walked, and Wilson Ramos hit a long home run off the centerfield netting, and just like that, the Yankees were behind three runs. Goodrum walked, Greene singled with Goodrum moving to third. Rogers struck out, Pinero with two outs, Green stole second on a late throw by Sanchez. Pinero grounded out, ending the inning, but Chacin gave up two runs.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Gary Sanchez hit a monster home run in his third at-bat of the spring; David Cone said not many humans could hit a ball that hard. Michael Kay said it was majestic and towering. The ball actually left the park over the protective netting that prevents the ball from leaving the stadium. The ball clearly went out onto the highway. Tigers 3 Yankees 1. After that, the Yankees loaded the bases, but Ford flew out and “Higgy” grounded out, leaving the bases loaded.

Nick Nelson started the 4th and pitched a nice clean inning using only 9 pitches to put away the Tigers. The New York Yankees had a scoreless 4th. The top of the fifth saw Nelson back on the mound, Goodrum managed a single off Nelson, but he pitched his second scoreless inning. At the bottom of the fifth, Romaro Britto doubled, Trey Amburgey walked, Armando Alverez was then hit by a pitch loading the bases for the second time in the game. Chris Gittens came to the plate and hit the first Grand Slam of the season, putting the Yankees up 5-3. Gittens is one of the Yankees’ most powerful prospects.

The top of the sixth opened with Nestor Cortes Jr. on the Yankee’s mound and allowed a base hit but struck out three Tigers for a scoreless half. The Tigers Foley worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth. Yankees 5 Tigers 3. Albert Abreu, who has had trouble with his command, started the 7th inning. He immediately allowed a fly ball single, a well-hit ball to Velazquez, followed by a fly ball double. Abreu had a wild pitch driving in a Tiger run for a score of 5-4 Yankees. Regardless Abreu managed to get out of the inning with the New York Yankees winning the game.

 

UFC Matchmaker: Khamzat Chimaev – Neil Magny

One of the biggest stories in the UFC during 2020 was the rise of Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev made his debut on Fight Island in July and dominated his way to a victory. Just ten days after his debut, Chimaev fought again on Fight Island.

This time, Chimaev fought at his natural weight class of 170 pounds. Chimaev took on prospect Rhys McKee and completely dominated him as well. Two incredibly dominant UFC victories in the span of ten days and the hype train was off and running.

From there, Chimaev went back to 185 pounds and fought Gerald Meerschaert. Meerschaert had been in there with some really tough guys and was supposed to test Chimaev. After dominating his first two fights with his wrestling, Chimaev showed off his striking against Meerschaert.

Just 17 seconds into the first round, Khamzat Chimaev knocked Gerald Meerschaert out. The UFC then had trouble getting Chimaev a fight. Incredibly, the promotion settled on an opponent and it was the third ranked welterweight in the world, Leon Edwards (18-3).

The matchup was scheduled for December. However, Edwards came down with COVID and the fight was cancelled. The UFC tried rebooking the fight two more times, however, Chimaev’s own troubles with COVID cancelled the fight both times.

Chimaev was recently flown to the US for medical care due to his complications from COVID. The UFC is now looking at a June return for Chimaev who is currently ranked fifteenth in the welterweight division. I believe they are already sizing up the perfect opponent for Chimaev.

UFC booking Chimaev – Magny?

While the UFC was looking for an opponent for Chimaev in 2020, there was one welterweight who was vocal about his desire to fight him. That welterweight was Neil Magny (24-8). The Haitian Sensation has been very vocal about wanting to fight Chimaev for a while now.

The two have recently gone back and forth on social media which has added fuel to the fire. The UFC is going to need an opponent for Chimaev to come back to and there aren’t many that are better for him that Magny.

Magny had a very good 2020 going 3-0. He is coming off of a loss to Michael Chiesa, however, he’s still a fixture in the UFC’s top 15 at welterweight. The fight makes sense from a rankings perspective and there’s heat there. In reality, this was probably a more logical next step for Chimaev anyway.

Gary Sanchez hits monster home run in spring training

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez is trying to prove that last season is buried in the past, and wants to show off his offseason work and some adjustments he made to demonstrate on the field that he is one of the best hitting catchers of his generation.

Last year, his batting average was .147, his wRC+ was 68, and his strikeout percentage was a career-high 36%. Those numbers, and his suspect defensive performance, contributed to his benching for the Yankees’ postseason, in favor of Kyle Higashioka.

In the Yankees’ second game of spring training, on Monday against the Detroit Tigers, the Bombers had Sanchez catch ace Gerrit Cole. By now, Cole’s preference for pitching to Higashioka is well-documented, but New York wants to foster the Cole-Sanchez tandem.

Cole did allow a run in his inning of work, but most of the hits against him were of the soft-contact variety.

The Yankees’ catcher hit it a mile

If you want hard contact, perhaps you should look at this home run by Sanchez. It was an impressive shot:

Sanchez’s dinger came in the bottom of the third inning as the Yankees were down 3-0. He made it a 3-1 game as he murdered a fastball and sent it over a huge black wall in dead center field, showcasing the kind of power that the Yankees’ know he is capable of.

Amid controversies between the Yankees and Sanchez because the former reportedly didn’t tell the latter they were sending him to the bench as the team advanced through last year’s postseason, the relationship between the two parties got a little weird, to the point he was, at one point, a possibility to be non-tendered a contract.

Thankfully, it all appears to be in the past now, and Sanchez is eager to show that he can return to being a power threat while going back to his 100+ wRC+ ways.

What’s next for Ciryl Gane after his win at UFC Vegas 20?

Ciryl Gane UFC

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 20, the heavyweights took center stage and were in the main event. Undefeated prospect, Ciryl Gane (8-0), took on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2). The matchup between these two looked to be a pivotal matchup for the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Both Gane and Rozenstruik were being built up as finishers heading into this contest. Rozenstruik had the one punch knockout power while Gane had a repertoire that included elite striking and great submissions for a heavyweight.

After the Derek Lewis knockout at UFC Vegas 19, there was high expectations for this matchup. Well, it didn’t turn out to be the firefight that some people were expecting. However, it was incredibly one-sided.

It was apparent early on what the strategy was for both men. Rozenstruik was looking for one big shot to end the night while Gane was staying light-footed and striking from the outside. While Gane’s performance wasn’t flashy, it was incredibly effective.

Rozenstruik struggled to get any offense off during the five rounds. Gane stayed on the outside and just popped Bigi Boy with jabs and kicks. In the end, UFC Vegas 20 was a disappointment if you wanted to see a finish. However, if you’re a fan of Ciryl Gane, you had to enjoy his dominance.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 20?

When the scorecards were read at UFC Vegas 20, all three judges scored the contest 50-45 for Ciryl Gane. The French heavyweight stayed unbeaten and he is bound to be in the top four of the rankings at heavyweight when they come out tomorrow.

Dana White wasn’t thrilled with the performance, but at the end of the day, a dominant win is a dominant win. Gane did what he had to do and it was a complete shutout. You can’t fault the man for that.

So what will the UFC do with Ciryl Gane after this victory? Well, I think the perfect opponent for Gane would be the winner of the UFC Vegas 18 headliner. Alexander Volkov (33-8) should be next for Gane.

When the rankings come out tomorrow, both of these men should be ranked inside the top five. Both carry winning streaks and both probably need another win or two before they earn themselves a UFC title shot. I believe this is the path the promotion should go, and I believe they ultimately will go this route.