New York Jets set to add WR Keelan Cole on one-year deal (Report)

New York Jets

Cole, having created a respectable NFL career since emerging from Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, is set to join the New York Jets.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the New York Jets are set to add receiver Keelan Cole on a one-year, $5.5 million deal, Cole, an alum of Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, scored a career-best five touchdowns last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, also earning 642 yards on 55 receptions.

Cole, 27, has developed into a strong threat in the slot despite a seemingly endless stream of quarterback changes in Jacksonville. He memorably burst onto the scene with a 97-yard touchdown in his preseason debut against the New England Patriots. Since his 2017 arrival, he leads all Jaguars receivers with 2,242 receiving yards and was second in receptions (159, one behind Dede Westbrook).

Like fellow new receiver Corey Davis, Cole is a rare Jets representative with postseason experience, partaking in the Jaguars’ surprise run to the AFC title game during the 2017-18 playoffs. Notably, Cole earned a 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter, one that set up a Jacksonville touchdown to give them a two-possession lead. Cole is also well-known for a jaw-dropping, one-handed grab earned in the conference championship rematch with New England the following season. It was part of a 116-yard day as the Jaguars earned a quantum of revenge through a 31-20 triumph.

Cole’s arrival comes on the same day Breshad Perriman left for Detroit, the latter signing a one-year deal with the Lions. The Jets previously welcomed in his former AFC South foe Davis on a three-year, $37.5 million deal and have high hopes for second-round choice Denzel Mims, who showed some promise after dealing with early injuries. Cole could work in the slot with Jamison Crowder, who has been by far the Jets’ most consistent offensive weapon in the last two seasons.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Brian Ortega’s dream scenario is to win the belt then fight Max Holloway

Brian Ortega, UFC

Next weekend at UFC 260, Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) will get his second crack at the featherweight title. This time, standing in front of him is Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Ortega’s first attempt came back at UFC 231 against Max Holloway (22-6).

Brian Ortega was being hyped up as the guy who could take the belt away from Max Holloway back in 2018. Ortega had shown improved striking and his incredible skills on the ground were said to be a threat to the champion at the time.

However, Ortega proved to be no match for Holloway. Holloway put on a dominant performance and the doctor had to stop the fight after the fourth round and Holloway retained his UFC featherweight title.

After that fight in December of 2018, Brian Ortega took some time off. Then, he had a round of injuries that kept him out of action. During that time, Alexander Volkanovski challenged and defeated Max Holloway for the title.

Although controversial, Volkanovski then defeated Holloway a second time at UFC 251. A few months after Volkanovski beat Holloway for the second time, Ortega made his long anticipated return against The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung (16-6).

Ortega was an underdog in the eyes of many due to the layoff. However, he quickly showed UFC fans that he’s much better than he was in 2018. Ortega dominated TKZ on the feet on his way to winning a decisive decision.

Ortega’s UFC dream scenario

That performance against Jung earned Ortega this shot at UFC 260. Ortega talked with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this week about the fight and his future with the promotion. During the interview, Okamoto asked Ortega if the belt would mean more than beating Max Holloway.

Ortega gave a very interesting answer to this question. While capturing the UFC title is a dream of his, Ortega said he wouldn’t feel like the real champ until he beats Max Holloway. Holloway is the only man to have ever defeated him inside the octagon and that eats at him.

Ortega said that his dream scenario would be to defeat Volkanovski at UFC 260 then defend the title against Holloway. In that scenario, he could avenge his loss and capture the title. However, it all has to start with next Saturday night. I will say this, after seeing Ortega in October, I believe he’s fully capable of pulling it off.

New York Mets: Carrasco’s Injury Overshadows 3-1 Loss to Nationals

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

Jed Lowrie may no longer steal money from the New York Mets, but his ghost still torments the organization. After recovering from an arm injury, Carlos Carrasco strained his right hamstring while conditioning. Carrasco is likely to be out for Opening Day, leaving the fifth starter job wide open.

As for the Mets on the field, their offense went quiet again in a 3-1 loss for the Nationals. Marcus Stroman continued to impress with five terrific innings. Stroman only allowed one run on two hits while striking out six Nats.

The Mets threw all major league ready arms after Stroman left the game. Jeurys Familia did not walk anyone but allowed a home run and a double during his one inning of work. Aaron Loup suffered a similar fate when he allowed a solo homer to Josh Bell in the seventh inning. Edwin Diaz and Trevor May were as good as advertised in their respective innings. Diaz worked out of a second and third jam while May pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout.

James McCann drove in the lone run in the first with a double that scored J.D. Davis all the way from first base. Kevin Pillar took advantage of batting second to record two more hits to push his spring average up to .348. Luis Guillorme continued to prove his worth with another stellar defensive play. This one came at shortstop with a sliding stop to his backhand to record the groundout.

On Friday, Taijuan Walker takes the mound for the second time this spring. Walker gets to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals for another 1:10 p.m. ET start on SNY.

New York Jets: The Sam Darnold trade partner power rankings

As the new NFL year officially gets underway, trade partners for New York Jets QB Sam Darnold are starting to dwindle.

To quote Evelyn Carnahan, Rachel Wiesz’s character from the beloved 1999 film The Mummy, patience is a virtue. Except, apparently, in the NFL.

The New York Jets have bided their time when it comes to their ongoing quarterback quandary. One guarantee remains, that all questions will be solved by the final hours of April 29, the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, where the Jets hold the second overall pick. All but one of the elite rookie names will likely be available to the Jets, who still have a Sam Darnold-sized question to answer: where will the third pick from 2018 take his snaps comes Week 1 of the 2021 campaign.

It’s hard to fully blame Darnold for the current, wayward state of the offense. But with the Jets holding the second overall pick and a new coach in tow, the temptation of starting fresh at football’s most vital position may be too much to resist.

But it’s possible the Jets have been too patient when it comes to Darnold’s future. Several starter-starving teams have settled their vital affairs and have found their solutions. Some took care of the matter early on (Indianapolis trading for Carson Wentz after Phillip Rivers’ retirement), while other solutions have presented themselves more recently (Andy Dalton in Chicago, New Orleans re-signing Jameis Winston after Drew Brees’ departure).

Others have remained stagnant, but at least there’s a clear plan in mind. The Jacksonville Jaguars have addressed other areas of need while actively shopping incumbent Gardner Minshew under the presumed assumption they’ll take Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick come April. While the Jets have made some agreeable, if not downright underrated, signings this offseason, they’re no closer to solving their quarterback situation than they were in Week 17’s immediate aftermath.

Where else can the Jets turn and where will Darnold end up going? ESM ranks the remaining possibilities…

5. Washington Football Team

With Wild Card hero Taylor Heinicke and living football meme Ryan Fitzpatrick in tow, there’s no doubt that Washington’s passing endeavors will get social media clicks. But is it going to lead to wins? With Curtis Samuel joining college teammate Terry McLaurin, there’s a chance for offensive fireworks in Landover.

Washington does have a little extra draft capital that would be appropriate in a Darnold trade…they hold an extra third-round choice from the Trent Williams trade…but they’re probably set up with the pairing for the time being with their current, popular pair.

4. San Francisco 49ers

The status of incumbent Jimmy Garoppollo has been a hot topic in the Bay Area this winter, especially with the Warriors and Sharks mired in mediocrity. But, interestingly enough, Garoppollo’s future seems a bit more secure after the 49ers made Williams the highest-paid blocker in the history of football and re-upped with secret weapon Kyle Juszczyk.

The Jets have done something similar, adding Corey Davis after his career-best season, though their other offensive areas (particularly the blocking) still leave much to be desired.

3. Seattle Seahawks

The apparent displeasure of Russell Wilson in Seattle has been one of the most curious offseason sagas the NFL has had to offer. Such discontent has apparently had the Seahawks looking into trade possibilities. Wilson’s market is also a lot wider due to his status as an established star and Super Bowl champion. While Seattle has made some moves that will likely picque Wilson’s interest (adding Gerald Everett and Gabe Jackson), it’s likely nothing that’s going to make him fully buy into the Seahawks’ endeavors.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has reportedly expressed interest in his fellow USC football alum and the Jets’ previous dealing with the Seahawks through the closing chapters of the Jamal Adams saga. However, one has to think that Seattle, already sidelined in future capital (i.e. no first round picks for the next two years) would want to stop sending their assets out east to get a quarterback whose career has thus far defined mediocrity.

2. Denver Broncos

Denver’s in a bizarrely similar situation as the Jets in that they too are saddled with a young quarterback who has shown flashes of brilliance but not nearly enough to assure them that they don’t have to worry about their passing situation. Perhaps the arrival of another young talent would light a fire under either prospect.

The Broncos already solved one of their biggest offseason issues…exercising the $7 million option on Von Miller…and Darnold can help them solve another, the passing situation that has been in limbo since Peyton Manning retired.

1. Carolina Panthers

Robby Anderson’s time with the Jets didn’t end on a bright note, with the receiver declaring that he was “was losing (his) love for football while clad in a New York uniform. The Jets themselves made little effort to retain him, letting him walk to Carolina. But Anderson and Darnold, the closest thing the Jets have had to an explosive, big-play QB/WR combo in recent memory, still had some kind words for each other. Anderson made it clear that part of the reason he wanted to return to the Jets was because of his rapport with Darnold and the quarterback had nice things to say about Anderson even after his departure.

“Me and Robby had a really good connection over the years,” Darnold said of Anderson in May, per USA Today’s Tyler Greenawalt. “He had gotten a lot better at running routes, as time went on.”

Carolina’s quarterback situation is a questionable state at this point in time. Ex-Darnold mentor Teddy Bridgewater’s return is undoubtedly inspiring, but there are doubts he’s the long-term solution. The current backup plan is XFL star P.J. Walker, so the Panthers could stand to upgrade. Further working in Darnold’s favor is the prescience of offensive guru Matt Rhule as head coach. The NYC native has overseen collegiate offensive fireworks at Temple and Baylor and could be the perfect mind to help fulfill Darnold’s NFL potential.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants reach agreement with veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph

new york giants, kyle rudolph

The New York Giants have made another signing in free agency. According to reports, the Giants have agreed to terms with tight end Kyle Rudolph. This is the second veteran player the Giants signed today, as they agreed to terms with backup quarterback Mike Glennon as well. According to Mike Garafolo, it will be a two-year deal with a max value of $14 million.

The Giants have made a commitment this offseason to adding offensive playmakers. Kyle Rudolph is the latest playmaker the team has acquired after signing John Ross and Devontae Booker earlier this week. This is an interesting move by the Giants as they already have a young, starting tight end in Evan Engram. Engram is coming off of his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2020, but his season’s performance drew mixed reviews from the fanbase.

Now the Giants have a new tight end in town with ten-year NFL veteran Kyle Rudolph. The 31-year-old Rudolph could potentially be the Giants’ secondary tight end behind Evan Engram, but he would likely still see significant playing time. Rudolph is a talented player that should see the field often in New York’s offense that loves to utilize two and three tight end personnel packages.

Kyle Rudolph spent the first ten years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. His 2020 season ended on injured reserve. 2020 was a down year for Rudolph as he posted a career-low 1 receiving touchdown with only 334 receiving yards on 28 receptions through 12 games.

The Giants were also in on Hunter Henry to some extent before he signed with the New England Patriots. Adding talent at tight end was a priority for the Giants. Now, with the signing of Kyle Rudolph, the New York Giants have added the talent they needed at the tight end position.

New York State to allow 20% capacity at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that Yankee Stadium and Citi Field may operate under 20% capacity to open the 2021 season. This is a change from the previous 10% capacity allowed for all professional sporting events. Indoor events must remain under 10% capacity.

To attend Yankees or Mets games, fans will either have to show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of any given game. Masks and social distancing are required while seats will be divided into pods of up to eight people.

“We are heartened by the Governor’s decision to allow us to begin the season at Yankee Stadium with a 20% capacity and offer our deep appreciation for his office’s diligent work and guidance,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “This will be a very special year in the Bronx, and we will continue to work together with the State of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York, Major League Baseball, and other health and safety experts to utilize the best and most responsible practices in our facility. We are fully committed to providing a world-class experience at Yankee Stadium in every respect.”

 

The New York Rangers will be without Coach David Quinn for the Washington series

After their morning skate, the New York Rangers announced that head coach David Quinn and his staff will miss at least the two-game series against the Washington Capitals this weekend.

Kris Knoblauch, coach of the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford, will continue to replace Quinn as the acting coach. Hartford associate coach Gord Murphy and Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury will continue to be his assistants.

It was Knoblauch’s first time coaching an NHL game but he was a Flyers assistant from 2017-19.

Knoblauch reported that after finding out about his call-up, he was in constant contact with Quinn about the game plan. “I was just following the game plan that he set forward. We didn’t have much time to prepare much or do anything rather than just implement what they had planned.”

Between the game plan and a team that rallied behind their substitute coaches, the Rangers pummeled the Philadelphia Flyers 9-0 on Wednesday night.

They will need to continue this strong play in facing one of the top teams in the division.

The New York Rangers will face a Capitals team that has won six straight.

The Capitals have won six in a row and 10 of their past 11 to move ahead of the Islanders in the standings after defeating them on Tuesday night. In fact, Washington has won those six in a row even after Tom Wilson was suspended for a dangerous hit.

However, the Capitals still have Alex Ovechkin. Recently, Ovechkin scored his 718th goal to pass Phil Esposito and became the second active player to record 1,300 points. He has also been a big part of the Capital’s recent success. The longtime captain has goals in four consecutive games and five of six and is tied with longtime running mate Nicklas Backstrom, who also scored, for the team lead with 12 this season.

Also, Wilson’s replacement in the lineup, Daniel Sprong, has been playing very well. He has three goals in five of those games. He has six goals in 18 games this season and is averaging 10:28 of ice time. Wilson will be out for Friday’s games against the Rangers but will return from the suspension for Saturday’s contest.

Friday and Saturday’s games against the Capitals are scheduled for a 7 p.m. puck drop.

 

 

 

 

Mets: Carlos Carrasco pitches in simulated game, hopes to soon advance to Grapefruit League action

New York Mets’ pitcher Carlos Carrasco continues to make excellent progress on the injury front, as he recently gave the team a scare with a minor bout of elbow soreness. You don’t have to be an expert to know that when a hurler suffers elbow issues, there is a wide array of possible outcomes, including the dreaded Tommy John surgery. However, that option is not on the table now as the newcomer is already throwing without problems.

About 10 days ago, the Mets’ pitcher, who came to the team via trade alongside Francisco Lindor, reported some minor soreness in his pitching elbow after throwing to hitters in the club’s spring training complex.

He rested for a few days and explained that it wasn’t overly concerning, which turned out to be true. He started throwing at a 75-feet distance this past weekend and progressed to throwing a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

The Mets think he will be ready

Now, the Mets’ starter, who expects to be ready for the first week of the season (he will take the ball in the third or fourth game of the regular campaign) pitched in a simulated game Thursday in Mets camp according to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News.

It marked the first time in 10 days, since he reported his minor elbow issue, that Carrasco faced live hitters, and he didn’t report any setbacks, soreness, or inconveniences shortly after the session, which is excellent news for the Mets.

The plan, if he goes through the day without further complications, is for Carrasco to advance to Grapefruit League action in the next few days, as he needs to test his elbow in games before thinking about joining the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

The 33-year-old Carrasco had already reported late to camp as he underwent tests and screening, but it appears that he is well on his way to being ready to start the season, just as he predicted.

Anthony Beauvillier finding his game is key for the Islanders down the stretch

When the Islanders take on the Flyers this evening it will be their 31st game of the season. Anthony Beauvillier, their second-line winger, has played in 21 of those 31 games and produced a very disappointing six points (two goals and four assists).

It’s been a quiet campaign for the 23-year-old after his standout performance for the Isles in the bubble postseason. But an opportunity has now arisen with forward Anders Lee now sidelined for the rest of the season. I explained yesterday how Lee’s missing leadership could be replaced, with Mathew Barzal being a worthy choice. From a production standpoint, it’s Beauvillier who needs to pick up the slack.

Beauvillier — whose gone pointless in his last six games — is a key part of the Islanders’ top-six and what makes that second line of he, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey go. But it’s been a struggle for him so far this season. As said he’s got only six points but both his goals and assists rank towards the bottom of the team. That possible dip in points could be associated with his setback earlier this season and missing nine games. Enough time has passed though since his return to where he should be showing more consistency.

Playing in a top-six spot, the QC native has been expected to produce as such.

“I think he’s a player that has a high value in knowing he’s an important piece to our team,” head coach Barry Trotz said a few weeks back regarding Beauvillier. “He’s a contributing player and I think he values that and he has a sense of responsibility that that’s part of what he does for us.”

This year was also supposed to be where Beauviller took that leap forward and solidify himself as a true top-six NHLer. Old habits — the tendency of being inconsistent — which have followed Beauvillier since his career has crept into his game again. This is the kind of trend that can’t continue if the Islanders are going to continue to want to be successful the rest of the way. It also doesn’t bode well for Beauviller who is slated to be an RFA at season’s end and for many who have projected him to be looking to get a nice raise in the $4-4.5 million range.

The Isles’ offense has proven this season they are a balanced attack. Receiving an extra boost from Beauvillier can give them another dynamic. Not only that, he producing nightly will take some of the heavy liftings off of Barzal, Jordan Eberle and several other forwards.

The Islanders enter the hardest portion of their schedule starting now. And the time has arrived for Beauvillier to find that level to his game again that had the rest of the league buzzing about him being a potential breakout star entering this year.

There should be no discussion needed for the Islanders as to what the task at hand is tonight. The team is coming off their first loss after their nine-game winning streak was snapped Tursday night in Washington in an uncharacteristic effort. But they are also facing an opponent in Philadelphia which was humiliated last night at Madison Square Garden.

Take it from Casey Cizikas who put it perfectly what the Isles need to be ready for.

“They’re coming off an embarrassing loss so they’re going to come out strong and they’re going to come out hard and you’re going to see a different team than you saw last night,” he said this morning.

 

Yankees’ regular is not a fan of the Blue Jays’ temporary home to start the season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The Canadian government isn’t allowing MLB baseball to be played in Toronto, at least for the start of the regular season, because of concerns regarding a possible outbreak of COVID-19. That’s why the Blue Jays are being forced to play in their spring training home, TD Ballpark, in Dunedin, FL. Last season, they had to play in Buffalo because of a similar scenario. What does this have to do with the New York Yankees?

Well, one of the Yankees’ regulars, Clint Frazier, is certainly not a fan of the venue as a place for outfielders to thrive. According to what the young thumper told NJ Advance Media, the ballpark is really inconvenient from several standpoints.

In approximately two weeks, the Yankees will travel to Dunedin to face the Blue Jays as the season begins.

The Yankees’ outfielder didn’t give TD Ballpark a great review

Frazier isn’t so thrilled with the idea. “It’s a typical spring training place that unfortunately we’re going to have to play at a few times probably,” he said this week.

Frazier played six innings in left field, and said the experience wasn’t very good.

“The way that the reflection comes off those seats, it’s really bright,” he explained. “It reminds me of the Dodgers’ spring training (stadium), whenever I played in Cleveland. It’s just a really hard backdrop considering how much reflection seems to come off those chairs and then you factor in no clouds in the sky and it’s just a really high sky and it just makes it a semi-uncomfortable setting in the outfield.”

“Just like other stadiums, they all have their things they have to work around, whether it’s sometimes the sun sets in left field and the left fielder is getting crushed by the sun,” the Yankees’ young star said. “Unfortunately, it seems like there’s a couple more piled on top of things that you have to deal with. Hopefully it’s different whenever there’s a night game played just so we can go out there and avoid all the reflections and all that, the way the sun sets.”