Trading Gronk wouldn’t be out of character for Belichick

Most teams wouldn’t be eager to trade a 28-year-old future Hall of Famer with two more years on his contract at affordable salaries. But the Patriots aren’t like most teams.

So the talk that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could be traded has to be taken seriously, given the history of Patriots coach Bill Belichick wanting to move on from players too early, rather than too late.

The Raiders have been busy upgrading their defensive back seven with top free agents in linebacker Tahir Whitehead and cornerback Rashaan Melvin. Now defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, formerly of Cincinnati, can go after someone to flank Whitehead and Bruce Irvin on the weak side. Strictly playing-style speaking, Smith is a ferocious, relentless pursuit player in the vein of the Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict.

The Dolphins could go in many directions defensively, but the release of Ndamukong Suh makes tackle a monster need and lines up perfectly with Vea’s value. He’s an explosive player who can be a fixture in Miami’s line rotation for years.

Baker Mayfield arrives in Cleveland tonight, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, with the other top quarterbacks following.

“That’s another piece of information for us,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said last week of the pre-draft visits, via Cabot. “That’s probably the last piece of the process for us to bring them to campus and have an opportunity to sit down with them in a different environment and talk through the things. But we will discuss how we all felt since the trip. But that will be the final piece for us.”

The Oklahoma quarterback will visit the team facility Tuesday. The Browns will host Sam Darnold, Allen and Josh Rosen in the coming days. Jackson said last week Mayfield “no doubt” was in the mix for the No. 1 overall choice, adding the Heisman Trophy winner impressed the Browns with his leadership when he worked out for them last week.

Mayfield visits the Jets and Giants later this week, the New York Daily News reports.

An NFL coach asks draft prospects what they’d do if he punched them in the face

The questions asked of NFL prospects by team personnel are unlike the questions asked at any ordinary job interview. Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker provided one example of that in describing his interaction with an NFL coach..

That pass is hiding in plain sight for any rim-running big man, but you rarely see it. It’s really just a give-and-go squeezed into a pick-and-roll. Jokic, reigning king of the touch pass, unearths it.

Jokic is wrapping perhaps the best passing season of all time for a big man. He is on pace to be the fourth human 6-foot-10 or taller — along with Wilt Chamberlain (twice), Kevin Garnett and Ben Simmons — to average six assists per game. Jokic has assisted on 29 percent of Denver baskets while on the floor, a higher share than Chamberlain or Garnett ever produced. And Simmons isn’t really a big guy. He’s just a Ben Simmons — an anomaly.

The Nuggets won’t quit, and Jokic is finishing on a tear: 23.9 points, 11 rebounds, and six dimes per game since March 7, on 54/48/89 shooting –plus a clutch tip-in to seal a must-win over Minnesota on Thursday. Egads.

A first-round pick of the Titans in 2012, Wright spent five seasons in Tennessee and last season in Chicago. He made 59 catches for 614 yards and a touchdown last season.

For his career, Wright has played 82 games with 45 starts. He has 339 catches for 3,858 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Despite nearly a full complement of games, Monday’s slate is not very kind to those looking to get off to a head start with streaming pitchers. It will get better as the transaction period wears on, but sometimes it’s good to build a solid foundation so you’re not chasing lesser options later on in the week. Hitting, on the other hand, is stocked with good choices. Good luck to all, as the marathon has barely begun.

Jakob Junis (R), rostered in 22 percent of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals vs. Seattle Mariners: Junis has built on a fine spring, most notably exhibiting pinpoint control, which is necessary as he’s not dominating, at least in terms of velocity. The Mariners possess some heavy-hitting lefties, so there’s some risk, but research shows pitchers on a roll have a better than 50 percent chance of continuing that trend.

Get ready for a wild ride as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks gear up for contract negotiations

This is a time of delicate balance for the Seahawks. They are trying to straddle the line between reshaping the roster and stripping it of so much talent and personality that they can’t avoid a tailspin.

They have revamped and, they hope, reinvigorated the coaching staff with eight changes, including a new offensive and defensive coordinator, yet will try to maintain the essence of coach Pete Carroll’s unique sensibility.

Which brings us to the development last week — the reaction by Wilson’s “camp,” interpreted to be agent Mark Rodgers or an associate, to general manager John Schneider’s attendance at the pro day of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. According to Jim Trotter of NFL Network, Wilson’s camp called the Seahawks to ask why they were scouting a QB expected to be selected near the top of the draft later this month, and “if there is anything we need to know.”

Taken in isolation, it’s probably much ado about little. The Seahawks like to do their due diligence and it’s not unreasonable for the GM to want to take a look at an elite quarterback, if nothing else than for down the road. Just look at how many high draft picks from 2013 the Seahawks have ended up with after the fact — five of the top 13 from that year found their way to Seattle eventually. You never know, right?

There is a distinct connection between relative athleticism and pass-rushing success in the NFL. Some of the best athletes, from a pure measurables standpoint, were pass rushers, including two separate players nicknamed “The Freak.” Mario Williams (a perfect 10.0 RAS in 2006) and Jevon Kearse (also 10.0, but in 1999) were premiere talents entering the league and found immediate success planting quarterbacks in the turf.

Few statistics show such a clear line between elite athleticism and high-level pro success than sack production. There are 140 players who qualified for Relative Athletic Scores who posted at least one double-digit sack season at DE, DT or LB. Of those, an astounding 56 percent scored 8.0 or higher for RAS, with 83 percent above 5.0.

Recently, players like Von Miller (9.97 RAS) and Vic Beasley (9.87) were drafted highly in part due to their other-worldly athleticism as much as their excellent tape. Even the Lions drafted Ezekiel Ansah (9.80) fifth overall due to those traits.

Johnny Manziel Throws for 79 Yards, 1 TD in Loss in Spring League Debut

Johnny Manziel came out on the losing end in his Spring League debut on Saturday at Kelly Reeves Stadium in Austin, Texas. Manziel and the South team fell 11-7 to the North team.

For Manziel, playing in the Spring League is another step in his potential NFL comeback after he worked out at the Texas A&M Aggies’ pro day in March. Saturday was his first game since the Cleveland Browns’ Week 16 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2015 season.

The Spring League shared a photo of some NFL scouts in attendance for Saturday’s games:

Of course, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner still has some ways to go before he returns to the NFL, and a strong performance in the Spring League won’t single-handedly erase the doubt about his future. ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert said the Spring League was equivalent to “the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game.”

Still, football fans couldn’t help but get nostalgic after Manziel’s touchdown pass when he displayed some of the elusiveness that helped make him a star at Texas A&M.

Manziel and the South team will return to the field for the first game of a doubleheader Thursday in Austin. Fans can stream the game on B/R Live.

The Orioles pulled out their second marathon win in three days by breaking a 7-7 tie in the 12th when Craig Gentry capped an 11-pitch at-bat with an RBI single off Yankees reliever Adam Warren, who was pitching for the fourth time in five days.

The Yankees lost despite loading the bases with nobody out in the 12th inning. They came up empty when Aaron Judge hit into a 1-2-5 double play and Giancarlo Stanton finished an 0-for-7 day by striking out for the fifth time.

On Friday night, the Yankees lost a 14-inning game in which four starters left early due to injuries and sickness.

The Yankees lost the series finale despite having a lot of good fortune.

Even the sun was on their side in the 10th inning when Didi Gregorius had a gift double on a one-out flyball to center that Orioles center fielder Adam Jones didn’t see.

There was a lot more of that.

Packers WR Trevor Davis arrested for making bomb joke at Los Angeles airport

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Trevor Davis was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport for making a bomb threat, a police spokesperson confirmed Monday to USA TODAY Sports.

Barwin told GQ.com he was happy for his former Philadelphia Eagles teammates as well as the city following their Super Bowl LII win, but also was “kind of bummed” that he missed out on it.

The Diamondbacks’ strong start despite a tough initial schedule is even more impressive considering they’ve lost two starting players — RF Steven Souza Jr. and 3B Jake Lamb — to the DL, plus SS Nick Ahmed has lost time to illness, but once again super-utilityman Chris Owings has helped paper over those absences.

The 25-year-old LSU product faces an uncertain future with the Giants. The organization picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract, which would pay him just under $8.5 million in 2018, per Spotrac.

He’s seeking a lucrative long-term extension, however, and it’s unclear whether the three-time Pro Bowler is willing to return from a fractured left ankle to play the final year of the deal.

Last month, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Beckham “will not set foot on a field without a new contract extension” in place.

That update came one day after Giants co-owner John Mara refused to rule out trading their most dynamic playmaker while speaking at the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando, Florida.

The third-year wide receiver has appeared in 27 games over the last two seasons for Green Bay. Davis, selected by the Packers in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Cal, has eight career receptions for 13 yards. Phase 1 of the Packers ‘ offseason program begins next week.

Davis could be subject to potential NFL discipline under the league’s personal conduct policy.

Odell Beckham Jr. is in the building.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz plays aggressively, and some would say recklessly.

That, apparently, is something his coaches tried to adjust — with little success. Former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, recounted how coaches spent Wentz’s rookie season trying to get the quarterback to take a few less risks and avoid hits, but to no avail. “It definitely went in one ear and out the other early on,” Reich said, via Jeff McLane of Philly.com.

“It didn’t go exactly like this, but this is just made up to protect the innocent or protect the guilty, however you say it. We would say to him, ‘Hey, you just need to kind of back off on some of this tackling stuff.’ “And he didn’t quite say it like this, but it was essentially, ‘No. I’m not backing off. This is me. This is how I play.’” Reich said Wentz was a bit more receptive in his second NFL season, but the year still ended with him tearing his ACL. It doesn’t sound like he plans to adapt any further. For better or worse, this is who he is.

We’re lucky to have that many quotes about the Leaf-Manning debate on the record. Usually, pre-draft scouting evaluations are the domain of the dreaded anonymous scout or personnel executive, whose comparisons are often facile and occasionally prejudicial. It’s only after the fact that those executives come out and reveal that they had a first-round grade on that franchise quarterback they passed on three times and let someone else take in the fourth round.

Safety Landon Collins and cornerback Eli Apple spent most of the end of last season quarreling, but on Monday, Collins told reporters their beef has been squashed.

“We talked, definitely,” Collins said. “We buried the hatchet a while ago — that’s my guy, that’s my brother. I’m always going to have his back and we know what we got to do. We know what kind of caliber player he is, we know what kind of caliber player I am and we’re just trying to get to work and make this season go.”

The two defensive backs’ issues spanned several weeks to wrap up the Giants ‘ tumultuous 2017 season. There was Apple saying he never heard words of encouragement about his poor play from Collins, despite the safety saying that talk took place. There was Collins chiding the former 2016 first-round pick for his use of his Twitter account. Then there was Collins electing to hit the radio waves to call Apple a “cancer” and a player that “needs to grow up.”

Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy injures ankle in postgame workout

Seattle Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy might join several other starters on the disabled list after twisting his right ankle in a postgame workout Saturday.

With Sunday’s game against the Twins postponed because of bad weather, Healy showed up to the clubhouse with his right foot in a walking boot and using crutches.

“I don’t have all the details on it yet, but he twisted his ankle pretty bad in the workout,” manager Scott Servais told the Seattle Times. “It was nothing more than some plyometric work, back and forth. He rolled his ankle. I don’t know how severe it is yet, but I did get the report that he was on crutches. I haven’t talked to Ryon yet.”

Padres: Tyson Ross (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will start for San Diego in the final game of the three-game set. He earned a win in an 8-4 victory over Colorado this week.

Astros: Charlie Morton (1-0, 0.00) allowed just three hits and two walks in a strong season debut where he blanked the Orioles in six innings. He’s 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight starts against San Diego.

Ealy had 14 sacks for Carolina, which selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. His biggest game was Super Bowl 50 when he recorded three sacks in the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Broncos.

The Panthers traded Ealy to the Patriots in March 2017, but he was cut in preseason and then signed with the Jets.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 25 points.

Jokic secured his 16th career triple-double when he fed Devin Harris for a 3-pointer that put the Nuggets ahead 73-71 with eight minutes left, their first lead of the second half.

They didn’t trail again.

The Nuggets’ big win came exactly one year after Russell Westbrook’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Oklahoma City a 106-105 win at Denver that eliminated the Nuggets from last year’s playoff party.

This time, it was Denver that came up big in the end.

NFL free agent news: Cowboys sign WR Deonte Thompson to 1-year deal

The Cowboys on Thursday signed former Bills wide receiver Deonte Thompson to one-year contract, his agent announced.

According to Cowboys writer Rob Phillips, Dallas is scheduled to visit other free agent wideouts, including Allen Hurns, who was released by the Jaguars earlier this week.

The Yankees have more on their minds than the rivalry coming into this series. They’re battered and bruised, Giancarlo Stanton has already struck out 20 times — including two five-K games on a just-completed six-game homestand — and the Red Sox are off to the best start in franchise history.

On Sunday, Boston scored six runs with two outs in the eighth inning to overcome the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It takes one at a time and that’s our mindset,” Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts said after the latest win. “We just kind of grinded through at-bats. (Alex Colome’s) a tough pitcher, but he left some pitches up today and we were able to put some good swings on it.”

An ACL injury cost Smith all but two games in 2016, and he spent 2017 as Eli Manning’s backup with the Giants. Smith appeared in only two games (one start) last season, completing 21 of 36 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn was an assistant with the Jets in Smith’s first two seasons in the league.

Over that span, Smith started 29 of the 30 games in which he appeared, completing 446 of 810 passes for 5,571 yards and 25 touchdowns but with 34 interceptions. Smith also rushed 131 times for 604 yards and another seven TDs during that time.

DeRozan sat out Sunday’s game to rest and played 28 minutes or less in the two games before that. With the Raptors all set to go for the playoffs, having wrapped up the No 1 seed, DeRozan and the Raptors have little incentive to bring their “A game” against the Pistons tonight. That doesn’t fit the profile of someone you’d want to have on your roster.

Patriots S Duron Harmon arrested in Costa Rica for marijuana possession, report says

Patriots safety Duron Harmon was arrested in Costa Rica for attempting to bring marijuana into the country, according to a report from La Nacion, the national newspaper of Costa Rica.

Harmon was allegedly in possession of 58 grams of marijuana hidden inside a can of iced tea, three pipes with cannabis oil, a THC candy and four glass containers of compressed marijuana, according to a translation of La Nacion’s report, which was accompanied by a photo from police that purportedly showed the can in a suitcase.

He was detained for a short time before being sent back to the United States.

Struggling to get pucks deep, Notre Dame had just five shots in the final 20 minutes.

Since Feb. 21, 2015, UMD is 56-0-3 when taking a lead into the third period, including 23-0-1 this season.

Notre Dame had won its previous five postseason games by one goal, with the game-winners coming in the final 31 seconds of regulation or overtime.

After several seasons of ravaging the Redskins, Orlando Scandrick is joining his old rival.

The former Cowboys cornerback on Monday agreed to a two-year deal worth a maximum value of $10 million with Washington, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Wade was sick last week in Toronto, too, but nothing to the extreme of what he felt around the third inning Friday. At points during Friday’s game, he said he had “the shakes,” had a fever, was dry heaving and, when it came to his final at-bat of the night, didn’t have any energy.

“I felt I was hurting the team more than helping,” Wade said, requesting reporters who spoke with him stand about six feet away as he didn’t want to get anyone sick.

Wade was feeling better Saturday morning after a regimen of fluids and an IV, but he will not play Saturday and will rest.

Lions could hold ‘midseason camp’ out west with agreeable schedule

In his two years as Detroit Lions president, Rod Wood has had success campaigning for specific elements to be incorporated in the team’s schedule.

In 2016, Wood asked the league for a home game to close the year and got it, with the Green Bay Packers coming to Ford Field for the finale. Last year, Wood sought at least two home games the first quarter of the season. Again, his request was granted with the opener and Week 3 being played in Detroit.

I would rather not have the Patriots on Thanksgiving, he said. It might be good, giving them a short week to prepare. I think that’s going to be a big game, no matter when it’s played. I think on Thanksgiving, division opponents are fun.

The Lions have hosted an NFC North foe four of the past five years, with the Vikings coming to town the past two seasons.

The schedule is expected to be released later this month. One thing is clear, the Lions will likely be opening on the road, thanks to a concert at Ford Field that weekend.

The Sunday of Week 1 of the NFL season is Sept. 9.

We had a lot of concerts scheduled this year, so we had a few blacked-out dates, Wood said. I didn’t learn until I started talking to Howard, I think Ed Sheeran is in like half of the NFL stadiums this fall. So, every team had asked for a black-out (date) for Ed Sheeran.

We’ve reduced the number of returns, Murphy told a small group of reporters, but we haven’t really done anything to make the play safer, Murphy said, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN. If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it. It’s that serious. It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game.

Murphy noted that even on touchbacks, the risk of injury — particularly concussion — remains.

We might be looking at the twilight of kickoffs in the NFL.

Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the NFL Competition Committee, told reporters Wednesday that despite recent rule changes aimed at enhancing safety, injury data reveals that kickoffs remain an area of concern.