Categories
Basketball

How the NBA restart rules work for substitute players now

What’s next for NBA teams now that the transaction window has closed?

Multiple teams made roster moves over the past week, including those included and excluded from the season restart in Orlando, Florida. Players can still opt out of participating, and teams can continue to add players to their rosters, though the rules for those transactions are different moving forward.

Here are answers to the key questions about what’s next, what happens if a player gets injured or tests positive for COVID-19, and when trades might be allowed.

MORE: Breaking down the latest roster moves ahead of the NBA restart

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Basketball

Rating the latest NBA moves: Playoff and play-in implications

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

How different will NBA rosters look when the season resumes at the end of this month?

Tuesday marked the end of the NBA’s transaction window ahead of teams heading to Orlando for eight seeding games, followed by potential play-in tournaments and the 2020 playoffs. Now the only roster moves allowed will be substitute contracts for players who have chosen not to participate in the restart or are unable to do so after testing positive for COVID-19 — some of which have already been reported.

Let’s break down how the rosters shape up now — including the return of players from injuries, the effect of players dropping out and the moves we’ve seen over the past week — in contrast to what we last saw from NBA teams in March.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Basketball

Don’t forget LeBron’s astounding on-court legacy in Miami

    Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) is a professor and an NBA analyst for ESPN.

By the time LeBron James made The Decision, he was already the best basketball player in the world. He was 25 years old and had just won his second consecutive MVP award.

Ten years later, James is still at the top of the NBA, and that decision to take his talents to South Beach stands as arguably the most impactful transaction in NBA history for two reasons:

1. The GOAT conversation

  • In 2010, James displayed the potential to be the greatest player of all time. These days, it’s a legitimate debate thanks to the astounding resume he built after his first Ohio departure. There were 10 NBA Finals in the 2010s, and James had a strong case as the single best player in eight of them (in a row). That’s one of the most impressive stats of this basketball era. The move to Miami made it possible.

2. Player empowerment

  • The Decision sparked a movement that has rewired the fundamental relationships between NBA teams and superstars. Franchises need more than just max salaries to lure the league’s top free agents — they need attractive basketball situations, too. Now, it’s more like the front offices are the free agents and the league’s best players are the power brokers.

Looking back at James’ four years in Miami leaves little doubt that he made the right choice. On top of those two primary effects of his move, there’s a third, slightly underrated legacy: James entered an ideal environment to improve his game and fully took advantage of it.

He obsessed over improving his scoring efficiency numbers each year. After converting 47.6% of his shots in 2006-07, James worked to improve that number for seven straight seasons, embracing the emerging concept of efficiency that culminated in a ridiculous final two years in Miami, when James peaked from a pure scoring perspective.

Sure, James had become an efficient overall scorer prior to 2010, but he climbed to another plane entirely in Miami. And he did it through addition by subtraction.

His chosen teammates and coaches deserve some credit here. Simply being around a better talent pool enabled James to trim out the most difficult shots from his shot diet. To this day, his shot activity in his final two years in Miami remains his least active. They are the only two seasons in which James averaged fewer than 17 shots per 36 minutes.

And the shots he did take during those two seasons were cleaner than the ones he was hoisting up back in Cleveland. He shot fewer long 2s, and he dominated the paint. In the seven seasons before James got to Miami, around 35% of his shots came at least 10 feet from the rim but inside the 3-point line. That dipped to 30% in 2012-13 and slipped all the way to 25% in 2013-14. Since then, James’ midrange volume has continued to decline — all the way down to 17% of his attempts when the 2019-20 season was paused.

Opposing defenses couldn’t zero in on him like they did in Cleveland. Not only did Miami have Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, they also featured a rotating group of catch-and-shoot threats including Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Ray Allen. These sharpshooters helped Miami open up the floor and keep the middle clean for James.

Although his tenure in the league will always be associated with the pervasive rise of 3-point shooting and analytics, James became the greatest player of his generation with an old-school scoring approach: Attack the rack. LeBron became the NBA’s best interior scorer during the Heat years, thanks in part to a great system.

The Heat morphed Chris Bosh, one of the NBA’s best young interior scorers, into a spacey pick-and-pop threat. Bosh’s versatility helped turn the offense inside out, forcing opposing bigs to abandon the paint.

“It becomes a matchup problem,” James said in 2013. “Anytime you can bring one of the best defenders out of the paint — you know, like Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, or any of these guys like Marc Gasol that protect the paint so well — that allows driving lanes for myself and [Wade] to come much easier.”

James’ time in Miami coincided with the mainstreaming of basic analytical discourse in pro basketball. Franchises began hiring more and more analysts and statisticians. Concepts that Dean Oliver introduced a decade prior started to escape nerdy message boards and infiltrated basketball discussions at the highest levels. The word efficiency started showing up everywhere, even when I asked James in March 2013 to describe how his game had shifted since his rookie year:

“Efficiency,” he said. “I’m just a more efficient player. I take no shots for granted. When you’re a young player, you cast up low-percentage shots, and you’re not really involved with the numbers as much as far as field goal percentage and things of that nature. As I’ve grown, I’ve made more of a conscious effort to become a more efficient player, and I think it’s helped my team’s success over the years.”

After the Heat sputtered against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, James used that offseason to rework his scoring approach. In his worst postseason moments against teams such as Boston and Dallas, James would listlessly orbit around the perimeter. When he came back in 2011-12, that tendency was eliminated. The passivity was gone.

In his last year in Cleveland, James tried 4.7 3s per game. In 2011-12 that number shrunk to 2.3. He traded in mediocre jumpers for more ferocious rim attacks. He famously visited Hakeem Olajuwon for training in Houston, and he started posting up more on the left block.

Prior to 2011-12, James had never logged an effective field goal percentage (eFG) higher than 55%. In his nine seasons since, he has done so eight times. And that eFG soared above 60% in his final two Miami years. To put that into context, consider these two nuggets.

  • Of the 40 most prolific NBA shooters in 2012-13, only one player logged an eFG above 56%. It was James at 60.3%. Kevin Durant ranked a distant second at 55.9%. Stephen Curry ranked third at 54.9.

  • The following year, James did it again. He posted a 61.0% eFG, while Curry ranked second at 56.6%.

Following the 2012 championship, James again went back to the lab. This time he worked on his 3-pointers. In 2012-13, he wasn’t just the best paint scorer in the league — he also made 40.6% of his 3s. James finally aligned the all-world athleticism that helped him muscle his way to rim with a reliable jumper. He was unstoppable.

Was this peak LeBron? I think so.

By the time the Heat reached the most pivotal game of that season, James was ready to put it all together on the biggest stage. Just 48 hours after Ray Allen’s 3 kept the Heat alive in a Game 6 win over the San Antonio Spurs, James and his teammates still had work to do.

Earlier in his career, James had struggled to meet these definitive moments. But in Game 7 of the 2013 Finals, James played one of the finest games of his life, propelling the Heat to another title with 37 points on 23 shots. (By the way, has there been a more impressive Finals win? If the 2012-13 Spurs weren’t the best team to lose the Finals in the 2010s, then the 2015-16 Warriors were. Who beat them both?)

The Decision has many lasting legacies, but as it pertains to James’ basketball career, the lessons are clear. James proved that even great players need help to get to the mountaintop. His move to Miami showed a generation of superstars that it’s more important to be loyal to your own career than to any ownership group. And his on-court evolution displayed how the most promising players could take their skills to another level.

Last summer, when Celtics wing Jayson Tatum was attempting to rebound from a shaky second season, he saw a clear path to get back on track.

“Focus on getting to the basket much more,” Tatum said. “Shoot more 3s, and layups, and free throws.”

In short: Be more efficient. Sounds familiar.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
MLB

Answering 10 big questions about Cam Newton’s move: Our predictions

Three months after being released by the rebuilding Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton is headed to the New England Patriots. The 31-year-old quarterback and 2015 MVP reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Patriots, who moved on from Tom Brady this offseason.

Newton, who continues to rehab from a December foot surgery, had a physical in Atlanta on March 23, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He passed the physical and is healthy, with both his right shoulder — which he injured in 2018 — and left foot “checking out well,” a source told Schefter. Newton will compete with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting job in New England.

What was the reaction inside the league to Newton heading to the Patriots? Is he locked in as their Week 1 starter? And are they the favorites — again — to win the AFC East? We asked 10 ESPN NFL reporters and analysts to answer 10 questions on the move:

Assuming Newton is healthy, do you expect him to be the Patriots’ 2020 starter?

Mike Reiss, Patriots reporter: He won’t be handed the job — that’s generally not the way it works in New England — but he should be the odds-on favorite based on his résumé and big-game experience.

Bill Belichick often says it’s up to players to determine their roles, and for Newton to win the job, his first step will be to immerse himself in the Patriots’ hard-driving culture that requires players to check their egos at the door and put the team first. Then there will be an acclimating to new terminology in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system. So there is no guarantee. But given how his career résumé stacks up against Stidham and Hoyer, it seems fair to say it’s now Newton’s job to lose.

Does this mean the Patriots don’t like Stidham as much as we thought, or was this deal just too good to pass up?

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Fighting

Ringside Seat: Andrew Moloney lost his title, will the outcome be different for his brother Jason?

Tuesday’s boxing action kicked off a busy week with a world title changing hands, as Joshua Franco knocked off previously undefeated Andrew Maloney to take his junior bantamweight belt. It was far from the U.S. debut that the Moloney twins were hoping for, but there’s still a chance a redemption when Andrew’s twin brother Jason — ESPN’s No. 8 bantamweight — takes on Leonardo Baez on Thursday.

The week’s action wraps up in Mexico City on Saturday with one of the biggest standouts in boxing the past few years, former WBC junior lightweight world titlist Miguel Berchelt in action.

Thursday

Jason Moloney faces Baez, a late replacement, because Oscar Negrete was pulled from this bout because of a detached retina.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s boxing, and you have to expect the unexpected,” Moloney (20-1, 17 KOs) said of the circumstances that see him facing a perhaps fresher and stronger foe in the 24-year-old Baez (18-2, 9 KOs), who is on a six-fight winning streak.

“These things happen, and you have to reset your focus and move on. Personally, I think Baez is a tougher fight than Negrete, but I’m completely prepared.”

The bottom line is that like his brother, Jason Moloney got on that plane to America expecting to fight somebody.

“I’m in fantastic condition. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the ring — I’m ready to go,” he said.

In October 2018, Moloney challenged Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF bantamweight world title and lost in a close split decision. Despite the result, Moloney showed that he is a world-class fighter.

“It was a very close fight. I actually sat down and watched that again, put it on and had a bit of a look at it,” he said. “It’s a bit frustrating looking back at it. It wasn’t even that long ago, but I feel like I’ve improved so much as a fighter since then. Obviously, I’ve had three good wins [since then], but it’s the improvements that I’ve made in the gym that’s been huge.

“I train all year round, and I’m always striving to get better and better. I think in that fight, had I had a couple of more rounds, I probably would’ve worn him down and stopped him. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Like his brother Andrew, Jason Moloney has a well-rounded offensive attack and a motor that runs deep into fights. He’s eager for another shot at the title, and that includes the juggernaut from Japan, Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, one of the elite fighters in the sport.

“I think some people maybe don’t want to fight him, are intimidated by him, and they place him on a pedestal and think he’s this unbeatable person,” Jason said. “But I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m determined to become a world champion. Obviously, my focus right now is on Leonard Baez.

“But I just want to become world champion, cement my name and create my own legacy in defeating a fighter like Inoue. It would be a massive achievement and something I’ve got in the back of my mind.”

Catching up with: Abraham Nova

As news broke that a bout between Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre was being canceled last week because LesPierre’s manager tested positive for COVID-19, Nova (18-0, 14 KOs) immediately reached out to the members of his team who would be accompanying him to Las Vegas for his fight against Avery Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs) in the co-main event.

“I texted my brother, and I told him: ‘Yo, make sure you don’t get too close to anybody. Stay safe because if you end up catching coronavirus, I won’t be able to fight,'” Nova said. “So I’ve got my team on check, and we’re doing all the precautions to stay healthy and stay away from that whole disease.”

Nova’s team includes his head trainer, Hector Bermudez. All three will be tested before entering “The Bubble” at the MGM.

“We’ve got to be aware of everything and be very responsible, be very clean and keep our distance,” said Nova, who is excited about the opportunity to perform on national television. Promoted by Murphys Boxing, Nova recently signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank and hopes to soon be in the title picture at junior lightweight.

“This is a big opportunity for me to showcase my skills and show the world my talent,” Nova said. “I’m ready for it, and I’m the right fighter to be on TV.”

To get ready for the fight without many places to train, Nova turned his garage and backyard in Albany, New York, into a temporary gym. He has been relatively active compared to other fighters. He recently stopped Pedro Navarrete in four rounds in January, and next he faces a somewhat familiar face in Sparrow, as both were sparring partners of IBF lightweight titlist Teofimo Lopez.

“But we never sparred,” Nova said. “At one point, we were in the same gym together, but we never got in the ring together.”

When asked if he recalled anything about Sparrow, Nova said he didn’t pay attention to him.

“To be honest, no. I don’t remember much at all,” he said. “All I picture in my head was that he had quick movements. But other than that, I don’t really remember nothing.”

Sparrow is a seasoned fighter, one from the hard gym culture of Philadelphia. He has a pretty solid résumé, including a victory over veteran Hank Lundy in March 2019.

“Avery’s not in the business of tune-ups. He just wants to fight,” said Russell Peltz, Sparrow’s promoter. “He knows how to fight.”

This is ultimately a solid matchup: an undefeated prospect in Nova against a wild card. Sparrow is thought of highly enough that Golden Boy offered him the assignment of facing prized prospect Ryan Garcia in September before Sparrow was arrested the morning before the fight on gun charges.

The rest of the card

  • Orlando Gonzalez (14-0, 10 KOs) vs. Luis Porozo (15-2, 8 KOs), eight rounds, lightweight

  • Waldo Cortes Acosta (5-2, 2 KOs) vs. Kingsley Ibeh (3-1, 3 KOs), six rounds, heavyweight

  • Reymond Yanong (10-5-1, 9 KOs) vs. Clay Burns (9-7-2, 4 KOs), six rounds, welterweight

  • Vlad Panin (7-1, 4 KOs) vs. Benjamin Whitaker (13-3, 3 KOs), six rounds, welterweight

Predictions

Jason Moloney vs. Baez: This will be a good, competitive fight, which will be fought on even terms through the first half. But as Moloney said, he’s a bit better all-around, and those slight advantages in various departments will lead him to victory in the final rounds of this contest. Franco will acquit himself well, but Moloney will come out with a hard-fought victory.

Nova vs. Sparrow: Sparrow will prove to be an elusive target early, but eventually Nova and his superior offensive firepower will find a way to take over this fight. Despite some issues with the style of Sparrow, Nova will do enough to win a close decision.

Saturday

On paper, it seems like it should be an easy night at the office for Miguel Berchelt, but he insists that he has good reason to be fully focused against Eleazar Valenzuela.

“I know that by winning on Saturday, my next fight will be against Oscar Valdez,” Berchelt said through an interpreter.

Berchelt-Valdez is a fight that has been mandated by the WBC, and should both come out victorious in their summer bouts, they could meet in the fall. Berchelt hopes that by then, live audiences will be allowed to attend.

“I think that this is such a big fight. People in boxing are waiting for this kind of fight,” Berchelt said. “Oscar and I, we both know this is a big fight for the fans, too. So I prefer for the fight to be in front of the fans because this fight is also for them.”

The other belt-holders at 130 are Jamel Herring (WBO), Joseph Diaz (IBF), Leo Santa Cruz (WBA “super”) and Rene Alvarado (WBA “regular”). Although Berchelt respects his colleagues in the division, he wants to move up to the lightweight division after the fight against Valdez.

“This fight [on Saturday] is at 135, so I want to see how I feel because I know there’s some big names at 135, too, like [Vasiliy] Lomachenko and Teofimo [Lopez]. Those are fighters I want to face,” said Berchelt, who is rated by ESPN as the top junior lightweight in the world.

If he had his choice, would he rather face the winner of Lomachenko-Lopez or a unification bout at 130? Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Without a doubt, I’d take the fight with the winner of Lomachenko-Lopez because that’s a big fight. They are big names,” he said. “It would be a great challenge for me, and I would become a champion in another division.”

One way or the other, it looks like Berchelt’s time at 130 is quickly coming to a close.

Predictions

Berchelt-Valenzuela: This is your classic stay-busy fight. With a bigger matchup against Valdez looming, nobody involved with Berchelt is taking any chances. In his most recent fight, Valenzuela (21-13-4, 16 KOs) was stopped in two rounds by Miguel Angel Parra. This fight shouldn’t take much longer — Berchelt by early knockout.

Editor’s note: The following entry was written prior to Tuesday night’s event.

Tuesday

Andrew and Jason Moloney, twin brothers from Australia who have been two of the brightest standouts in the region the past few years, each step into the prime-time limelight. On Tuesday, Andrew Moloney makes his U.S. debut when he puts his WBA “regular” junior bantamweight title on the line against Joshua Franco. On Thursday, bantamweight contender Jason Moloney faces Leonardo Baez. Both Top Rank shows will once again take place inside “The Bubble” at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 8 p.m. ET).

It took the Moloney brothers considerable effort to reach the United States amid travel restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We pulled a massive amount of strings,” said Tony Tolj, the manager of both Maloney brothers. “We had to get an exemption from our government to leave. There was a lot of paperwork there. As soon as we got the all-clear from Top Rank that the shows were back, we did whatever it took to get here.”

The brothers arrived in Las Vegas on May 16, ready to fight. Top Rank signed them to promotional deals in 2019, looking to market their fan-friendly styles in the U.S. Their styles are exactly what fans and promoters are looking for in boxing fights right now.

“I think they’re really good scrappers. They’ve got great personalities. The fact that they’re identical twins is interesting,” said Bob Arum, Top Rank founder and CEO.

To get ready for their week in the spotlight, the brothers altered their training regimen. Each typically brings in other boxers to simulate upcoming opponents, but they had only each other to keep sharp during the quarantine.

According to their team, that approach had both Andrew and Jason in fighting form when they touched down in the U.S.

“We landed on a Saturday, and on that Monday, we went to the Top Rank office, talking about dates and things like that,” Tolj said. “I said, ‘We’re prepared to fight next week.'”

Given their attacking styles, the Andrew Moloney-Joshua Franco fight figures to be an entertaining matchup.

Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs) is a solid technician who throws sharp combinations and consistently works the body with left hooks. He also has good speed and knows how to move inside the ring.

Beyond the added exposure of his U.S. debut and a televised main event, Andrew is excited for a chance to step onto the stage at one of boxing’s most hallowed venues.

“I’m over the moon. This is a dream come true to have my first world title defense and headline at the MGM. It’s obviously something I’ve dreamed about growing up as a young kid,” said the 29-year-old Andrew Moloney, who won the WBA interim 115-pound title with an eighth-round TKO of Elton Dharry in November. Moloney was elevated to “regular” titlist when the organization made titleholder Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez its “super” champion.

“I’m extremely excited about it, and especially with the current conditions, where it looked like maybe we wouldn’t be fighting for the rest of the year,” Moloney said. “So to get this huge opportunity to get back in the ring so soon, it’s unbelievable.”

Andrew and Jason trained at the Top Rank gym before entering “The Bubble” at the MGM and quickly adjusted to the new environment. In truth, the isolation did little to alter the way they focus on the task at hand with their fights.

“Really, whether there was a pandemic going on or not, we’d be doing exactly what we are at the moment: staying in the house and resting in between training sessions, training twice a day, and getting as much rest and recovery as we can,” Andrew Moloney said. “We wouldn’t change what we’re doing at the moment. We’re here to do a job, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

In Franco (16-1-2, 8 KOs), Moloney is facing a solid foe with a similar attacking style.

“We’ve watched a lot of footage of [Franco],” he said. “I’m a massive boxing fan, and I always keep a close eye on all the guys around my division. So I know who Franco was before we were matched together. Since then, I’ve watched a lot more of his fights, studied him. He’s a good fighter. Technically he’s very good. He’s always got his hands up and puts his combinations together very well.

“But I’m a little better in all aspects, I think. I’m also too hungry. I’ve worked my whole life to get this world title. I’m not going to be giving it up, that’s for sure.”

Moloney has watched the first two weeks of crowd-less shows with great interest and said he’s looking forward to fighting in such an atmosphere.

“It’s definitely going to be different with no crowd there, but that’s something we do two, three times a week in training with sparring,” he said. “There’s never really a lot of people in the gym.”

To him, once the bell rings, it’s just another fight.

Fighter to watch: Joshua Franco

Franco — known as “The Professor” — is a 24-year-old from San Antonio. He’s a smart fighter who can adapt to fighting at a distance or engage inside.

Franco engaged in a memorable trilogy against Oscar Negrete, in which they fought 30 tightly contested rounds that resulted in two split draws and a narrow split-decision victory for Franco. Although Franco gained a lot of experience in those fights, he also learned to respect his opponents.

“With 30 rounds, we had nothing but respect for each other. We fought hard all 10 rounds of each fight,” Franco said. “Now we’re great friends. After the last fight, we gave each other a hug in the locker room, took pictures. I consider him now more of a friend.”

On Jan. 11, Franco faced Jose Burgos, stopping him in the ninth round. Next he faces Andrew Moloney, a fighter who will certainly bring the fight to him.

“It’s a world title fight. Not everyone gets a chance to fight for a world title, so I’ve pushed myself to the limit,” Franco said. “I’m feeling great, probably the best camp I’ve had in my career. I just feel good. I’ve been studying a lot of fights — not my opponents, just boxing in general. I’m still learning, and I feel extra motivation for this fight.

“I know he’s a tough fighter. He’s undefeated. He doesn’t back down. He comes with everything in the fight. I’m looking forward to a great fight with him.”

The rest of the card:

  • Junior bantamweight: Joshua Franco def. Andrew Maloney by unanimous decision (115-112, 114-113, 114-113)

  • Lightweight: Christopher Diaz def. Jason Sanchez by unanimous decision (98-92, 98-92. 97-93)

  • Miguel Contreras def. Roland Vargas by unanimous decision by unanimous decision (58-56, 58-56, 58-56)

  • Helaman Olguin def. Adam Stewart by majority decision (58-56. 58-56, 57-57)

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
MLB

Imagining five NFL trades that help both teams: Why Ngakoue to Cleveland fills a hole

    Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston’s Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

We’ve reached the point of the 2020 NFL offseason — one unlike any other — in which most player acquisitions are behind us. There are still free agents who will eventually sign with teams, led by Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney, but the majority of roster reconstruction is finished. For the most part, teams are focused on the development of the players they have. They are trying to evaluate and ready players for the season while navigating the global circumstances we are collectively facing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Trades aren’t particularly common in the NFL relative to other major North American sports leagues, but when tasked with finding potential trades based on player-for-player concepts, it got me thinking. What are some moves that work well for both sides?

Here are five deals that are sensible when factoring in many aspects, while acknowledging that they are all unlikely to take place. But if they were to happen, they are win-win options for both teams.

Jacksonville Jaguars trade DE Yannick Ngakoue to Cleveland Browns for TE David Njoku and a 2021 second-round pick

Why the Jaguars do it: My sense is that Jaguars fans would balk at such a move, as they seek a far more lucrative return for the 25-year-old pass-rusher, but let’s start by examining why making a trade for Ngakoue is difficult. He’s playing under the franchise tag, meaning the team inheriting Ngakoue is committing twice to him: once in trade compensation and then again financially, the latter likely to be more significant than the former ($20 million annually is a logical starting point).

Under this scenario, Jacksonville acquires an athletic middle-of-the-field target who has the ability to have a Jordan Reed-like impact in new coordinator Jay Gruden’s offense, which currently features Tyler Eifert (on a two-year deal that has a team option after this season) and 2019 draft pick Josh Oliver as the primary tight end targets. Njoku is under contract through 2021 for a shade under $8 million total. That’s an excellent value if he realizes the immense potential he flashed before the 2017 NFL draft. Plus, Jacksonville’s 2021 draft haul would now include an extra first- and second-round pick.

Source: Read Full Article