New York Giants could double down on the offensive line with a trade down in the first round

zion johnson, giants

The New York Giants are interested in trading down in the first round of the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The Giants hold two top-ten picks in this year’s draft. The fifth and seventh overall picks are highly valuable and the Giants could greatly improve their team with this draft capital. New York has the ability to draft two top-ten prospects with these picks. But they could also trade down in the first round and gain even more capital. The Giants are almost inevitably drafting an offensive lineman in the first round of this year’s draft. Could they target two offensive linemen in a trade-down scenario?

The rumors indicate that the Giants will be drafting the top offensive tackle available with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Many believe the Giants will draft the best defender available with their second pick. But if they trade down, New York’s list of options extends quite far. They could still target a defender, but the Giants could even take an alternative route.

The New York Giants offensive line has been an atrocity for years. It is an issue that new general manager Joe Schoen plans on fixing immediately. Schoen will address this need in the draft, reportedly with more than one pick. He could place a heavy emphasis on rebuilding the offensive line and invest two first-round picks into the position group.

Offensive linemen the Giants could target in a first-round trade-down

The Giants are inevitably landing one of the top offensive tackles in this year’s draft class with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Either Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, or Charles Cross are likely to wear a Big Blue cap on Thursday night. But these prospects will not fall outside the top ten. The Giants could target other offensive linemen to pair with these tackles later on in the first round, though.

After drafting a tackle with their first pick, the Giants could target an interior offensive lineman with their second pick. There are a few prospects that make sense in a trade-down scenario. Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green, and Boston College guard Zion Johnson could be late first-round picks.

Walking out of the first round with two potential long-term starters on the offensive line would be a dream scenario for the Giants. New York could then focus its attention on other positions of need during the later rounds of the draft and look toward the future with comfortability regarding their front line. If the New York Giants trade down in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they should consider targeting a second offensive lineman to create a foundation up front for years to come.

Cris Cyborg a free agent after Bellator 279 title defense; Where will she end up?

This past Saturday night in the main event of Bellator 279, the women’s featherweight title was on the line. One of the greatest of all time Cris Cyborg (26-2) was defending her title for the second time against the very tough Arlene Blencowe (15-9).

The two had previously fought at Bellator 249 with Cyborg getting the second round submission. It looked like this fight was going to end in a stoppage as well, but Blencowe wasn’t going to go out easy.

In the first half of the fight, Cyborg brutally dropped Blencowe with a right hand. The fight looked close to being stopped but Blencowe held on. She was able to hold on and take all the punishment that Cyborg dished out.

Not only was she able to take it, she came back and won a round at Bellator 279. While it might not sound like much, winning a round was a big win for Blencowe overall in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it was a runaway win for Cyborg and another successful title defense.

What’s next after Bellator 279?

With her victory on Saturday at Bellator 279, Cyborg officially hits the free agent market. Her first deal with the promotion comes to a close and she went 5-0 during this run which included winning the featherweight title and defending the belt four times.

That being said, she’s going to be open to suitors and she made it clear that she wants the biggest fights for her fans. Let’s address the biggest promotion in the room and that’s the UFC. Cyborg was the UFC featherweight champion before getting knocked out by Amanda Nunes.

Her and Dana White don’t have the greatest relationship and it’s really hard to see Cyborg going back. However, the UFC has done difficult deals in the past and if they could resign Tito Ortiz a couple of times, a Cyborg deal could get done. However, the Bellator champion is unlikely to return.

In my opinion, this is a two-horse race. This is going to come down to Bellator and PFL. When PFL resigned Kayla Harrison, they made a promise to her that they would do everything they can to get her a massive fight for her legacy.

That massive fight would be a showdown with Cyborg. The potential fight with Cyborg is why she almost signed with Bellator in the first place. With the incentive to build that massive fight, I think PFL is going to come strong with a big offer.

However, Bellator won’t go easy and I see them making a huge offer to retain Cyborg. Cyborg is also very happy with Bellator and has a great relationship with Scott Coker. If I was to make a guess today, I would say she resigns and stays with Bellator. However, it’s going to be interesting to watch.

Report: Giants entertaining trade offers for another wide receiver

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

With drama circulating over the weekend regarding New York Giants receiver Kadarius Toney, another wide-out could be on the trade market as we quickly approach the NFL draft on Thursday.

According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, the Giants have also been taking calls on Darius Slayton:

• Toney isn’t the only Giants receiver on the trading block. The team has also been shopping fourth-year receiver Darius Slayton, according to a source.

Trading Slayton is a lot more probable than parting ways with Toney, who would likely only return a mid-round selection after being drafted 20th overall in 2021. With red flags emerging regarding Toney’s work ethic, the expectation is that he will remain in East Rutherford for the foreseeable future, but Slayton’s time could be coming to an end if a team offers anything of value.

The more likely scenario is that Slayton is thrown in as part of a package deal, potentially with James Bradberry, who would save the Giants $11.7 million in salary space. General manager Joe Schoen has been working diligently to find a potential trade partner for Bradberry, despite speaking highly of him as a player and person during his most recent press conference.

Slayton, on the other hand, is coming off a down season with the Giants and entering his fourth year in the NFL. With his rookie contract preparing to end, Slayton tallied 339 yards last season after recording 751 in 2020. He posted just two touchdowns, earning five starts, down from 15 the year prior.

The biggest concern regarding Slayton is his drop rate, which hovered at 18.8% last year. His hands have progressively gotten worse over time, which is likely why the Giants view him as a liability rather than an asset at this point.

Considering Slayton was a fifth-round pick back in 2019, he may only garner a sixth-round selection for the Giants, but that’s one more swing of the bat for Schoen and Co.

Yankees might’ve struck gold on 1st base prospect after red-hot start to 2022 season

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

When the New York Yankees traded relief pitcher Nick Nelson to the Philadelphia Phillies last year, they gained a no-name first baseman, adding him to their farm system.

Nelson, who hosts a 5.14 ERA this season over three games, is making his value known at the MLB level. While he’s struggled to some degree, the Yankees cashed in in favor of a younger Prospect in TJ Rumfield.

Rumfield, who is only 21 years old, is a 6’5″, 225-pound lefty-hitting first baseman. We all know how much the Bombers love left-handed hitters, especially at first base, which is why Rumfield could be a long-term solution at the position. Last season with the Phillies’ affiliates, Rumfield hit .250 with seven RBIs over 76 at-bats.

However, to start the 2022 season, Rumfield is hitting .354 with two homers and 11 RBIs over 48 at-bats. While he’s curated 11 strikeouts, it is quite clear the Yankees have changed his batting approach to a more heavy-hitting style, sacrificing strikeouts for power.

There is a legitimate possibility that Rumfield ends up being an absolute steal for the Yankees, who gave up on Nelson prematurely, despite being just 26 years old. The team was clearly more invested in Clarke Schmidt and Michael King, who have both been phenomenal out of the bullpen this year.

King currently hosts a 0.84 ERA over 10.2 innings, recording a 15.19 strikeouts per nine rate. Schmidt, on the other hand, has earned a 1.23 ERA over 7.1 innings of relief action. Their contributions have been phenomenal, and clearly, management made the right decision by letting Nelson go in favor of a young prospect with upside.

Report: Knicks passed up on Jalen Brunson trade for Obi Toppin pick

This year’s playoffs breakout star, Jalen Brunson, could have been the starting for the New York Knicks now instead of being their primary free-agent target this summer.

But Leon Rose passed up on a Dallas Mavericks deal featuring Brunson in the 2020 NBA Draft. Rose and the Knicks stuck with their guts and went on to use the no. 8 selection on Brooklyn native Obi Toppin.

According to an ESPN report, the Mavericks offered Brunson, the 18th and 31st overall picks, with an eye on Tyrese Haliburton, whom the Knicks also passed up in favor of Toppin. After the Knicks didn’t bite, the Mavericks never found a taker. The Mavericks’ picks — Josh Green (no. 18) and Tyrell Terry (no. 31) — have yet to pan out. Terry is no longer with the team.

Meanwhile, Toppin got buried behind Julius Randle, but he has shown promise with his strong finish to his sophomore year.

Now, Rose has to contend with the Detroit Pistons, who have the cap space to snatch Brunson outright, and the Mavericks, who could go over the cap to retain Brunson to a longer deal.

Rose could only hope that his deep ties with the Brunsons would work in their favor.

Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, was Rose’s first client when he was starting as an NBA agent. Rose also negotiated Jalen’s unique rookie contract with the Mavericks that paved the way for the younger Brunson to become an unrestricted instead of a restricted free agent this summer.

Sam Rose, Leon’s son, is one of Jalen’s CAA representatives and also part of Toppin’s team.

But although the ties that bound them run deep, Rick Brunson said they would do what’s best for his son, his relationship with Rose be damned. They want to get the most money and the best situation for Jalen to flourish.

“My point is, there are times when you have to make very difficult decisions,” Rick Brunson told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I’ve made it very clear to Leon, ‘I love you to death. Your son works for Jalen, represents Jalen, but this is about Jalen.’ The one thing about Leon is he knows that. He raised Jalen that way, too.

“It’s about what’s best for Jalen. Leon would never talk to me again. The question I have, is it a good fit in New York? We don’t know because we have to sit down and figure it out [and evaluate the] draft. July 1 is a long way away.”

Rose needs to shed around $20 million in salaries, the expected floor price for Brunson in the open market. A trade involving a combination of Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel could open up the cap space needed to pursue Brunson. The Mavericks are reportedly unwilling to cooperate in a sign-and-trade deal. But that could change as the NBA Draft Day approaches and Jalen decides to have a reunion with Rose and get closer to home in New Jersey.

The Knicks were close to dumping Burks and Noel’s salaries at the trade deadline, but the deal broke down at the 11th hour. Their greediness to squeeze an additional draft capital on top of the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick this year (20th overall) scuttled the three-team trade that would have also sent Cam Reddish to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, Rose could only hope they can kick the tires on a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks or find takers for their bunch of expiring deals to get a second opportunity on Brunson.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

After sensational win at UFC Vegas 52, what’s next for Jessica Andrade?

In the main event of UFC Vegas 52, we saw a pivotal matchup in the strawweight division. Former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (23-9) was returning to the division after a three-fight stint at flyweight to take on Amanda Lemos (11-2-1).

Both of these ladies had a lot of momentum leading up to UFC Vegas 52. Lemos was on a winning streak and Andrade was coming off of a stretch where she went 2-1 at flyweight with two first round stoppages. The only loss at 125 she suffered was against the champion Valentina Shevchenko.

When the fight started on Saturday night, I was very impressed with Lemos. She came right out and was doing a very good job of controlling range and she landed some good shots early. The big question would be rather or not she could take the power from the former UFC champion.

Later on in the first round, they ended up in a clinch against the fence. Andrade was able to lock up a standing arm-triangle, but nobody had ever won a fight via standing arm-triangle in the UFC. Lemos tried fighting, but Andrade locked it in deeper. Eventually, Lemos tapped and Andrade made history.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 52?

Make no mistake about it, Jessica Andrade made a massive statement with her performance on Saturday night. The former champion is now 3-1 in her last four fights with three first round finishes. She will likely be at the very top of the UFC’s strawweight rankings this week.

With that, what’s next for her? Well, in a couple of weeks, Rose Namajunas is defending her title against Carla Esparza. If Namajunas wins, there is a really compelling storyline with Andrade. The two have fought twice before with each fighter picking up a victory.

Andrade won the title from Namajunas by a knockout slam at UFC 237. Then, Namajunas edged out Andrade by split decision on Fight Island. I’m sure many would be in favor of the UFC doing the trilogy fight next. However, you do have Marina Rodriguez standing right there who has won four fights in a row.

Considering the strawweight division, I think the UFC will move forward with one of two options for Andrade. Either she will be in a title eliminator against Rodriguez next, or she’ll get the trilogy fight with Namajunas should Thug Rose retain in a couple of weeks.

Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole is rounding into form: “One of the best pitchers in the sport”

yankees, gerrit cole

After struggling somewhat in his first three starts this year (eight earned runs allowed in 11.1 innings), New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had a vintage outing on Sunday, in the Bombers’ 10-2 victory over the Cleveland Guardians to complete a sweep.

The right-hander stayed on the mound for 6.2 innings, in which allowed just four hits and a walk, with no runs. He struck out nine Guardians, an impressive feat that suggests he may be back to his best version.

“He’s Gerrit Cole. He’s one of the best pitchers in the sport,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com after the game. “So he wants to do his thing, and there’s that pressure of breaking through and having this kind of outing. But I also feel like it’s been right there on the surface.”

He set the tone nicely from the first at-bat, striking out Myles Straw with a 99 mph four-seamer. He averaged 97.7 mph with his four-seamer and earned five strikeouts with it, plus two on his slider, one on his curveball and one on his new cutter.

The Yankees’ ace was “about to pop”

“I haven’t been kidding when I’ve said it’s about to pop,” the Yankees’ skipper said of Cole breaking out of his funk. “I feel like he knows he’s there. I think he’s frustrated and pissed a little bit that he hasn’t gone out and had that game yet. But I feel like mentally he knows he’s there. … That’s part of the reason I’ve been heartened even after these first few starts, is I feel like he knows this has been coming.”

Cole, according to Statcast Bombers, averaged 2,483 RPMs of spin on his fastball and sat at 97.2 mph with 6.5 feet of extension against on Sunday. He 2,530 RPMs of spin on his four-seamer and sat at 97.1 mph with 6.3 feet of extension in 2019, the best season of his career in which he deserved the Cy Young award. He’s back to form, even though he implied he was doubting himself after several mediocre outings in a row to start the year.

“I’m a human being, so …” he said after being asked if he was doubting himself. “But I don’t really have time to dwell on it. We’ve got bigger things to take care of.”

The Yankees appear to have their ace back.

The Yankees might have found their lead-off man after hot start to season

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks has already gotten off to a fast start as this season gets underway, and now the Yankees are left with a rather odd predicament. While many, prior to this season, were clamoring for DJ to be out of the leadoff spot, there’s a case to be made that he’s been the team’s best bat.

Therefore, he should bat leadoff if he’s getting hits, or of course, bat either fifth or sixth, where his situational hitting can shine. Hicks has found his spot, and that is the leadoff spot. His ability to see pitches, work counts, and simply put the ball in play has been great for the Yankees to start this season. 

At the beginning of the season, Hicks spoke with reporter Bryan Hoch, and stated his lofty ambitions for this year. “There is something special about 30-30,” Hicks said. “For me, I want to steal more, and I feel like 30 home runs are reachable for me. Those two together are a dangerous pair. That’s definitely something I would like to do.”

If Hicks is able to put together a 30-30 season, nay a 20-20 season, the Yankees couldn’t possibly ask more from him. While it is easy to gripe on players that struggle in big moments, the hate for Hicks seems to run deeper than it should. 

For starters, many fans are outraged over the state of the game due to the un-juiced baseballs. That change has led to a rather abysmal MLB average triple slash and a historically low power-driven start to the year. Below is a chart comparing Hicks’ stats this season and the MLB average (prior to Monday’s games):

AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA ISO
MLB .232 .308 .368 .676 .307 .137
HICKS .275 .388 .350 .738 .335 .075

Hicks doesn’t need to swing for the fences, and he should be encouraged not to be that style of player. What every Yankees fan, like myself, had wanted Hicks to do, was be a guy that gets on base. There’s never going to be a doubt about his ability to work counts and show his elite plate discipline, and if he’s able to consistently get hits to go with that, that will be a huge weapon for the team going forward.

Hicks’ 124 wRC+ is fourth on the squad to start this year, and that is thanks in-part to his 16.0% BB Rate and his focus on simply making contact with the ball. The year is young, and there’s much more to be seen, but if Hicks can keep playing like this, then he may have another 4.0 fWAR season coming his way.

New York Yankees: Could Kyle Higashioka be on the verge of losing his spot?

kyle higashioka, yankees

Yesterday afternoon, the New York Yankees completed their first sweep of the season when they defeated the Cleveland Guardians 10-2. Gerrit Cole took the mound and finally looked like himself with dominant performance that saw him go 6.2 innings while striking out nine and allowing zero earned runs.

Cole entered the game with an ERA over six after he had struggled through is first three starts. Behind the plate for Cole yesterday was not his personal catcher Kyle Higashioka. Instead, newly acquired Jose Trevino was behind the plate for Cole’s start.

Trevino has been a breath of fresh air for Yankees fans early on in the season. He’s had some timely hits and he’s been tremendous behind the plate defensively. Trevino has a reputation of being a tremendous framer and in every start, he definitely steals a couple of strikes for his pitchers.

So far in his seven starts this season, the Yankees starters have been incredible. Three times they’ve allowed zero runs with a minimum of five innings pitched. Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Gerrit Cole have all looked sensational with Trevino behind the plate.

Trevino’s start got me thinking about Kyle Higashioka. Higgy has been playing behind Gary Sanchez for the past few years and only really started consistently when Cole was on the mound. However, if Trevino starts catching Cole regularly and they build a solid rapport, Higgy’s job could be in trouble.

Yankees Catching Situation

Right now, the Yankees are platooning the catcher spot with Trevino and Higashioka. However, if the current trend continues, it’s going to be hard arguing for Higashioka playing outside of giving Trevino a rest.

Trevino is having much more competitive at bats, and he’s been much better behind the plate. We’ve seen an uptick in passed balls from Higashioka including multiple in one inning.

Higgy’s one saving grace was the fact that he was Cole’s catcher. However, if Trevino continues to catch Cole and the numbers are strong, Higgy’s limited playing time is going to be less and less.

Look, I know it’s early and people were enamored with Higashioka’s Babe Ruth-Like Spring Training. However, it was just that, Spring Training. Until he does it in the regular season, who cares?

Jose Trevino doesn’t have the track record of a superstar catcher. Neither does Higashioka. With the Yankees catching situation, it’s all about who is looking the best and who is playing better at a given time.

There’s no question, it’s Jose Trevino right now. I see them still platooning for a while so Higgy’s got some time. However, if the results don’t come soon, he’s going to be buried on the bench once again.

Giants view Kadarius Toney as a ‘valuable asset,’ changing trade narrative

new york giants, kadarius toney

Over the weekend, rumors emerged that the New York Giants could potentially trade former first-round pick receiver Kadarius Toney. Toney has displayed a few red flags over the past year, but skipping out on voluntary practices under new leadership has been the most recent concern.

There’s an argument to be made that all players should be available and present for voluntary practices, as veteran receiver Kenny Golladay indicated.

However, Toney decided that the voluntary practices weren’t worth attending for whatever reason. General manager Joe Schoen indicated that players miss these practices for arbitrary reasons and that nobody asked about the other players on the roster that missed practice.

With that being said, rumors began to swirl regarding Toney’s availability on the open market, but the expected value for him was a mid-round draft selection.

Many on social media justified trading him for such a measly price tag, which would be malpractice considering the Giants spent the 20th overall pick on him just a year ago.

ESPN reporter Jordan Raanan tweeted on Monday that sources around the league confirmed that Toney is considered a “valuable asset” to the Giants, and they would want a significant return for him.

That is the right mentality to have for Schoen since giving up on an extremely talented player after just one year under poor management could be viewed as a step in the wrong direction. It is fair to allow head coach Brian Daboll and the new staff to rein in Toney and create a positive relationship with him, getting him back on track and focused on football.

The Giants will have plenty of time to evaluate Kadarius over the next few months, especially when mandatory practices roll around.