Monday, February 29, 2016

Leadoff with Lee 2.29.16

By Chris Lee, @TripleThreatLee

- Browns center Alex Mack is expected to opt-out of his contract, but return to Cleveland on a new contract is a real possibility. According to one source the Browns and Mack are close to a new 4 year contract. Mack is in the second year of his five-year, $42 million contract that included $26 million guaranteed. He would make annual base salaries of $8 million over the remainder of the agreement and the deal includes a no-trade clause. Mack has already visited with new Browns head coach Hue Jackson and director of football operations Sashi Brown. Alex Mack could easily become the NFL's highest paid center making at least $10M per year. The Browns have until March 4 to negotiate a new contract with Mack before he is eligible to opt-out.

- There’s a belief at the combine that offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz end up with a contract in the $8M per year. That would make Schwartz the second-richest right tackle in the league in terms of annual salary. With the Browns expected to draft a quarterback with their second pick Hue Jackson would like to protect his investment. Last season Schwartz earned $1.095M in base salary.

- The NFL's competition committee has had "lengthy discussions" about reducing the preseason schedule for NFL teams to just three games instead of the four they have now. Team would have a two-week break between their final preseason game and the start of the regular season.  It doesn't sound as though the change would affect the 2016 preseason, but it sounds like it could definitely be in play for 2017 and beyond. Hopefully this isn't a precursor to the league attempting to lengthen the regular season schedule. . .if the shortened preseason is being done primarily because of potential injury concerns it kind of defeats the purpose of shortening the preseason.

- The Denver Post reported that Peyton Manning is expected to announce his retirement. If this is the end of his career Manning he will have 200 Wins, 71,948 passing yards and 539 touchdowns a 96.5 passer rating and 2 Super Bowls under his belt. He’s got a deadline of March 9th. The end of next week is March 4th. His decision should be final within the next week according to multiple reports. He doesn’t want to force Denver’s hand and make his exit awkward. Denver public relations tweeted the following in response to Dan Petty.

- Unless something drastically changes between now and Tuesday, it appears that the Denver Broncos will place the franchise tag on Von Miller. At this time it's unclear whether the Broncos will use the non-exclusive or exclusive version of the tag. The non-exclusive tag, would allow another team to sign Miller to an offer sheet and in return for two first-round draft picks if the Broncos don’t match the offer, would cost $14.129 million for 2016, fully guaranteed. The exclusive franchise tag would be based on the average of the five highest 2016 cap numbers for all linebackers, measured as of the conclusion of the period for signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, in April. The exclusive tag for linebackers currently is on track to by $14.04 million.

- FIFA has elected Gianni Infantino as its new president. Infantino won on the 2nd ballot, netting 115 out of 207 votes.  He will complete Sepp Blatter's term and serve until 2019. Infantino holds both Swiss and Italian citizenship and has been the general secretary of UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, since 2009. He worked with UEFA to expand the European Championship from 16 to 24 teams, and he has promised to expand the World Cup field to 40 teams. An attorney, Infantino has also served as a member of FIFA’s Reform Committee. Infantino becomes just the third Fifa president in 40 years personified by Blatter and his Brazilian predecessor João Havelange, during which Fifa’s revenues soared but scandals involving World Cup tickets, TV rights and corrupt bidding races multiplied. In May, Sepp Blatter was forced to promise to stand down and then was banned from football for six years for making a $1.3M "disloyal payment” to his one-time heir apparent Platini in 2011. 

- Major League Baseball handed Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte an 80-game suspension Friday for testing positive for boldenone, a form of a Performance Enhancing Drug (P.E.D). Almonte was signed July 31 2015 from the San Diego Padres and was to be the potential opening day starter in the early part of the season while All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. Brantley has only now begun hitting off a tee and will not likely be ready by the start of the season. Almonte and free agent signee Rajai Davis were expected to get at-bats in the outfield as Brantley mended. Now, the Indians must lean more on Davis, and perhaps Colin Cowgill and Will Venable, who was signed to a minor league deal. Venable's deal is for $1.5M is base salary and can make an additional $2M in performance bonuses if he makes the team.

- The Cavs signed Jordan McRae of the D-League's Delaware 87ers will sign a 10-day contract. With Mo Williams' knee injury lingering McRae will help provide additional depth to the bench. The 6'5" guard is averaging 23.3 points, 4.6 boards and 5.2 assists for the 87ers this season.

- NBA veteran guard Joe Johnson was waived by the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, shunned the Cavs and has decided to take his talents to South Beach once he clears waivers today at 5pm. The Miami Heat are expected to sign the seven time all-star for about $3M for the remainder of the season. In Sunday's game vs. the Knicks, Johnson had 12 points in 30 minutes, on 5 of 10 shooting from the field.

- Making the oldest team in the NBA even older, free agent veteran Andre Miller has reached an agreement to sign with the San Antonio Spurs for the remainder of the season. Miller cleared waivers on Saturday after reaching a contract buyout with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

- Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry now has 287 3-pointers this season,breaking his own record from last year of 286 (GSW still have 24 games remaining). And he tied the record for 3's made in a single game with 12. He shares that record with Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant. 

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