New York Giants: Kevin Zeitler lands in Baltimore following release

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

Free agency is underway, and New York Giants fans are already seeing familiar players leaving and joining other teams. In the case of Kevin Zeitler, he wasn’t due for a new contract but the team made the choice to let him walk anyway by releasing him due to salary cap concerns. While it looks like the Giants are restructuring Nate Solder’s deal, they weren’t able to come to the same terms with Zeitler and the guard is moving on to another team because of it.

That team will be the Baltimore Ravens, as we’re finding out now. Zeitler is the first signing Baltimore is making in free agency this year and it’s obvious why – with Lamar Jackson being one of the top QBs in the league, they need talent to protect him.

Zeitler was a starter in all but one game for the Giants after making the move from the Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. During that time span, many considered him the best offensive lineman the Giants had. It still remains to be seen who the Giants intend to replace him with, as the in-house option Will Hernandez has largely fallen out of favor in the current system.

Allowing Zeitler to leave, however, will clear up cap space for the Giants and allow them to bring in other players at a time when that’s needed, especially in combination with other cap saving moves such as restructuring Nate Solder’s deal and letting Dalvin Tomlinson walk in free agency.

Giants lose Tomlinson to Vikings in free agency, but Leonard Williams is on the horizon

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants haven’t been active on the first day of legal tampering in free agency, retaining DT Austin Johnson and signing RB Devontae Booker. Unfortunately, they lost more than they gained, with star interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

While Leonard Williams remains on the horizon for the Giants, they now have a massive hole in the middle of their line that Johnson can’t fill alone. Tomlinson showed incredible growth since his rookie season in 2017. At 26 years old, Tomlinson is just entering his prime and is considered an elite run-stuffer at the NFL level. The Vikings are gaining a rock on the interior and will have a much improved run-stopping game due to the signing.

Williams, on the other hand, is holding the Giants back from spending, as he sits on the franchise tag at $19.3 million. The Giants must extend him and lower his cap hit significantly if they want attack the market with more urgency.

New York Rangers fall to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime thriller

In a back-and-forth game, the New York Rangers got sloppy with the puck in overtime and fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Jakub Voracek intercepted a Keith Kinkaid pass and scored at 3:47 of overtime to give the Flyers the win.

The Rangers played the game without Adam Fox, Pavel Buchnevich, and Phil DiGuiseppe. The three Rangers were earlier placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list. This also led the Rangers to cancel their morning skate, something that may have influenced their slow start. The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead against the Rangers who came out very flat.

Tarmo Reunanen was called up and got his first NHL assist on Artemi Panarin‘s second-period goal. Panarin had two assists in the Rangers’ three-goal second period, and Colin Blackwell, Julien Gauthier, and Kevin Rooney also scored.

Head coach David Quinn talked after this game in his Zoom conference on the importance of Panarin’s return.

“You can see how our lineup is totally different when he is in there,” Quinn said. “We are just a much more of a balanced team. When you have a player of that caliber in your lineup, you are that more dangerous. The whole team feels better about itself and he has certainly given us that jolt in the two games he has played.”

The New York Rangers start slow after losing three players to COVID

Jacob Trouba talked about everything that went on during the last day in the post-game Zoom conference. “Before the game, it was a wild 24 hours for us. We didn’t get off to the start we wanted but I thought we came out and played much better in the second. It was kind of back and forth in the third but we lost the special teams game which was pretty telling.”

Quinn also addressed how his team rebounded from the slow start. “You have to shake off bad stretches. every team has them during the course of a game. How quickly can you shake them off and how quickly can you stop the bleeding? I really like our start of the second. I thought our guys approached it the right way.”

The Rangers will face the Flyers again on Wednesday night, with a 7:30 puck drop due to the national broadcast on NBCSN.

 

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BREAKING: Jets sign DE Carl Lawson to 3 year deal

For the first time in years, the Jets have signed a legitimate edge rusher. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New York Jets have signed Carl Lawson to a three-year deal worth 45 million. Lawson, a fourth-round pick in 2017, has spent the past four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, earning 20 sacks in that time span.

What it means for the Jets:

Carl Lawson ranked amongst the top pass rushers in the league over the past few seasons. With a pass rush productivity rank of 8.5 by Pro Football Focus, Lawson ranked as the ninth-best. Lawson also had 32 QB Hits in 2020, which was second-best in all of the NFL. He has 83 in his career, which ranks in the top 15 in all of football. Lawson had his best year in 2017 with 8.5 sacks.

The 25-year-old is viewed around the league as one of the best-untapped edge rushers in the game. Reports have come out that the Bengals did not let Lawson use all the moves in his arsenal either. If Lawson is let loose under Robert Saleh, then the opposing quarterback better hope it isn’t all gas and no brakes, or he is going to the turf. Lawson has the potential to be the Jets’ first legitimate pass rusher in over a decade, and the young player will likely be a massive piece of the defense over the next three years.  The Jets now have added a talented receiver and proven disruptor to the fold, and it looks like they are not slowing down soon.

UFC 261 headlined by Kamaru Usman – Jorge Masvidal 2 in Jacksonville with a full crowd

Huge UFC news has broken this evening. Dana White took to his personal twitter account this evening to announce that the promotion is going to host an event with a full crowd on April 24th.

White announced that UFC 261 will take place in Jacksonville, Florida in front of a full crowd. Jacksonville was the first place to host a UFC event after the pandemic shut things down in 2020 and they will be the first city to welcome back a full crowd.

However, the news didn’t stop there. White also announced that UFC 261 will be headlined by Kamaru Usman (18-1) – Jorge Masvidal (35-14) 2. A rematch from their first fight that took place at UFC 251 on Fight Island.

The promotion has also announced two additional title fights for that event already. Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko – Jessica Andrade will also take place on the April 24th card.

Massive UFC event with fans

It’s huge news that fans are coming back, but it’s perhaps even bigger news that we are seeing the rematch between Usman and Masvidal. Usman just defended his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns back at UFC 258.

There had been talk about the two coaching The Ultimate Fighter and fighting in September. However, that plan was scrapped in order to have these two headline the first UFC event back with a full crowd.

Masvidal will now get his chance to fight Kamaru Usman with a full training camp. Gamebred has maintained that if he had a full camp to prepare for Usman, he would’ve defeated him back in July.

Kamaru Usman looked better than ever last month when he defeated Gilbert Burns. His striking looked sensational and he was able to handle the early onslaught from Burns and finish him in the third round of their title fight.

After the fight was over, Usman called for a rematch with Masvidal. Usman doesn’t want there to be any doubt as to who is the best welterweight in the world. On April 24th, these two will finally settle the argument on who’s the best welterweight in the UFC.

New York Giants ink bruising running back Devontae Booker to two-year deal

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

Despite having Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants felt as though they needed more running back support, invested $6 million over two-years on Devontae Booker, a 219-pound bruising running back.

With Barkley needing a complementary back to ease him back into regular play, Booker can fill that role and offer a solid RB2 to take some of the slack and short-yardage situations to mitigate wear and tear on Saquon.

Booker posted 432 yards and three scores last year with the Las Vegas Raiders, and at 28-years-old, he has a few years left of solid production left. Although, this was an interesting deal indicating the departure of Wayne Gallman, who filled in valiantly when Barkley went down in week two with a torn ACL last season.

BREAKING: Jets Sign WR Corey Davis to 3-year deal

New York Giants, Corey Davis

The Jets have made their first big move! The team has reached a deal with WR Corey Davis for 3 years and 37.5 million, with 27 million guaranteed. The Jets lacked a true number one wideout, and with Davis, they have one. Davis, at 26 years old, is coming off a career year with the Tennessee Titans. Now, the Jets will hope the former fifth overall pick can repeat that success in the green and white.

What This Means

Corey Davis had a quiet start in his first year in the league with only 34 receptions for 375 yards. However, in his sophomore year, he put up 891 yards and four scores. Then, the receiver had a down third year eclipsing 600 yards with two scores. This past season though, Davis lit it up. Davis finished the season with 65 receptions for 984 yards and 5 TDs. He also hit career highs in yards per reception and receptions per game. Davis is a big-bodied receiver at 6 foot 3, 209 pounds, and his big frame should compliment Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder very nicely.

The Jets finally have a legitimate target for whoever their quarterback is at the start of next season. This opens things up for the entire offense and gives the Jets a sense of comfort heading into next season. The work should not stop here, though. With more money to spend, the team will likely look to make an upgrade at the edge position. Look for Trey Hendrickson as a potential target at the spot.

New York Giants seem destined to upgrade EDGE position in free agency

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The NFL’s legal tampering period officially began today. The New York Giants have been quiet so far, staying patient as they still look to free up cap space. The Giants are making a push to lower Leonard Williams’s cap hit by the start of the new league year on Wednesday through a long-term extension.

For now, the Giants are staying patient on free agents. They re-signed Austin Johnson, met with Kenny Golladay, and showed interest in a few free agents, but have not made any new additions to the roster yet. It seems like the Giants were close to signing an edge rusher, though. The Giants have been rumored to be heavily interested in adding pass-rushing help off the edge this offseason. After swinging for the fences and striking out on edge rusher Leonard Floyd, it seems like the Giants are destined to upgrade the edge position during the 2021 free agency period.

Who is available?

This morning, Jordan Raanan of ESPN tweeted out a list of free agents that the Giants were expected to be interested in. There were four main edge rusher targets that he reported New York was interested in. Two of those targets are now off the board. Matt Judon was one of them, he landed with the New England Patriots today. Leonard Floyd was the other, a player that the Giants reportedly made “a push” to sign before he ultimately landed back in Los Angeles with the Rams.

The final two edge rushers on Jordan Raanan’s list are Haason Reddick and Bud Dupree. Reddick is an interesting name to keep an eye on. The Giants faced the Cardinals this past season and were met with trouble when Haason Reddick racked up five sacks in Arizona’s victory. New York is fully aware of Reddick’s abilities and could be interested in making him their first splash signing of the 2021 offseason. Haason is coming off of a career-high 12.5 sack season and could be a perfect target for the Giants on a one-year “prove-it” deal.

Bud Dupree is another intriguing name linked to the New York Giants. Dupree is coming off of a season-ending ACL injury, making him a risky potential signing. However, Dupree is an impressive, versatile pass-rusher that has racked up 19.5 sacks in his past 27 career games. The Giants could look to sign Bud to a short-term contract and see if he can bounce back from a devastating injury.

The 2021 free agency class is loaded with talented edge rushers. If the Giants are intent on adding help on the edge, they will be able to find good value in this year’s class. However, the players near the top of the market will not come cheap. Leonard Floyd’s deal averages at around $16 million while Matt Judon’s deal landed at around $14 million. These high price tags could be the reason New York has yet to make any signings. If the New York Giants are serious about adding talent in this year’s free agency period, they are going to need to free up some cap space as soon as possible.

What could Andre Drummond cost the Knicks? Is he worth the price?

New York Knicks, Andre Drummond

With starting center Mitchell Robinson still on the recovery from his fractured right hand surgery, the New York Knicks have done their due diligence on Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man Andre Drummond.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Knicks have explored the possibility of adding Drummond, a four-time NBA rebounding leader and a two-time All-Star, for their playoff chase.

Charania added that the Knicks are mulling a multi-year deal to lure Drummond from going elsewhere. Title contenders Los Angeles Lakers and the Knicks’ crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets are believed to be potential destinations for Drummond should he enter a buyout agreement and becomes a free agent.

The Knicks, however, can also outright eliminate other suitors if they trade for Drummond, and it will probably cost them a second-round pick and/or two of three salary fillers from their expendable players like Austin Rivers, Frank Ntilikina, or even Kevin Knox. The Cavaliers are believed to be seeking an asset in return for Drummond.

But if the Knicks wanted to join the Drummond sweepstakes via buyout, what can they offer in a multi-year deal to pry him away from the minimum deal that comes with the glittery promise of a Larry O’Brien trophy in Los Angeles or Brooklyn?

Drummond’s market price

ESPN Front Office Insider and former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks gave us an idea of Drummond’s price range in the open market.

“He’s a $15-17 million player,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

But he’s also skeptical if he’ll be worth it since he believes Drummond won’t be a major upgrade from Robinson.

“They are a first-round [playoff] team right now,” Marks said. And he answered with an emphatic “No” when asked if Drummond gives the Knicks a better shot of advancing deeper in the playoffs.

At a bare minimum, the Knicks can use Drummond as insurance for Robinson [if he’ll be out longer than expected] as they navigate the third toughest schedule in the second half.

Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 25 games for the Cavaliers before he was shut down.

In contrast, Robinson was averaging 8.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks before he went down with an injury last month. Backup center Nerlens Noel is averaging 6.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks since he took over from Robinson.

Risk-cost benefit

When Robinson comes back at full health, Tom Thibodeau would have more options.

If he wants to generate more offense from the post, he could roll with the more offensively-polished Drummond. But if he wants rim protection, Robinson could have more value on the court. This could make Noel expendable and move Taj Gibson further down the rotation.

Drummond will be a bigger weapon to have against Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo or the firepower-heavy Nets in a potential first-round playoff series. But as Marks suggested, Drummond won’t push the Knicks over the first-round hump.

However, the bigger concern would be the risk of drilling a hole in the already solid Knicks’ chemistry.

Drummond could eat into the Knicks’ lone post threat Julius Randle’s usage rate on top of potentially rubbing Robinson the wrong way. Unless the Knicks intend to flip Robinson into a major backcourt upgrade such as Lonzo Ball or in a larger package for an All-Star level guard like Bradley Beal or Victor Oladipo, Leon Rose and his shrewd front office could be on to something.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

BREAKING: LB Jarrad Davis to New York Jets on one-year deal (Report)

Davis, a former first-round pick in Detroit, has reportedly joined the New York Jets on a one-year deal worth $7 million.

Per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the New York Jets have agreed to a one-year deal with linebacker Jarrad Davis, formerly of the Detroit Lions. The deal is reportedly worth $7 million. Davis, chosen 21st in the 2017 draft, earned 305 tackles, including 10.5 sacks over four years in the Motor City.

Davis, a 26-year-old Florida alum, never reached his first-billing with the Lions, but some felt that he was not properly utilized in Detroit. His experience under a 4-3 defense in Gainesville will help under the transition under Robert Saleh, who ran the format in San Francisco. Davis would often play the Mike under then-co-defensive coordinators Geoff Collins and Randy Shannon, earning 17 tackles for a loss over his latter two seasons at a Gator.

Davis’ best season in Detroit came in 2018, when he earned 100 tackles (10 for a loss), six sacks, and a fumble recovery. He earned 46 tackles over 14 games this past season, briefly spending time on the COVID-19 list. Davis was also named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie team at the end of his rookie campaign the year before (96 tackles and an interception).

The addition of Davis helps the Jets shore up their linebacker corps. Separate, respective reports from Vacchiano and Connor Hughes indicate that team likely won’t retain Tarell Basham and Harvey Langi. Another report from NFL Network’s Tom Pellissero has also claimed that the Jets have received calls on C.J. Mosley, who has been limited to two games in a five-year, $85 million contract. Other linebackers potentially on the market for the Jets include Jordan Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, Frankie Luvu, Patrick Onwuasor, and Bryce Hager.

Davis joins Vyncint Smith and Marcus Maye in terms of the 2021 transactions thus far. The former was re-signed on Sunday while Maye was franchise tagged earlier this month.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags