Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re doing well.
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
Since he was hired as the Dolphins’ head coach, Mike McDaniel has done nothing but commit to Tua Tagovailoa. He said he saw greatness in his young quarterback, and that it is his job as coach to “get all that greatness” out of him.
On Tuesday, Miami made another commitment to Tagovailoa, signing the top free agent in this year’s class: offensive tackle Terron Armstead. It’s a five-year deal worth up to $87.5 million and a huge upgrade for a team that desperately needed it, writes our NFL guru :
- Armstead is a three-time Pro Bowler (2018-20).
- He has allowed just one sack in three of the past four seasons, including last season.
- The Dolphins allowed pressure on over 37% of dropbacks last season, among the worst rates in the NFL.
Armstead’s health has been an issue — he’s missed 48 of a possible 145 games in his career — but he is terrific when on the field. His addition continues the good work the Dolphins have done this offseason surrounding Tagovailoa with talent. Here are some of the other notable new names:
It had already been a solid offseason for the Dolphins and Tagovailoa, but yesterday’s addition of Armstead took it to a new level. The Mike McDaniel era is off to a good start.
And not such a good morning for…
This offseason began with quarterback questions all over the NFL. But just one week into the NFL’s new year, almost all of those questions have been answered:
That leaves only one team without a true plan at starter: the Panthers. It also leaves one quarterback who expected to start in 2022 now without a true home: Baker Mayfield.
So, perfect fit? Not so fast. According to reports, Carolina isn’t interested in Mayfield. It’s been a rough last few months for Mayfield, who struggled mightily on the field last season and then requested a trade last week. The Browns even initially denied the request, but have likely changed their minds now that they have acquired Watson.
- Benjamin: “1. Seahawks: Can’t you just envision Pete Carroll talking himself into this? After dealing franchise great Russell Wilson, Seattle has a huge hole under center, no matter how much the team props up throw-in acquisition Drew Lock. With over $20M in remaining cap space, they could easily take a one-year flyer on Mayfield, giving themselves a decent point guard for Carroll’s run-heavy approach, then reassess in 2023. Baker’s arrival wouldn’t preclude them from drafting a QB early, either.“
This could be the best-case scenario for Mayfield, but it’s not a great scenario. Seattle is at least semi-rebuilding, and even if Mayfield does end up there, he could just be a one-year stopgap, as Cody noted. Regardless of where Mayfield ends up, it will be far from what he envisioned when he requested a trade. The 2018 first overall pick quickly fell out of favor in Cleveland, and, apparently, he’s not an appealing option elsewhere, either.
Not so honorable mentions
Ranking all of the upcoming Sweet 16 games 🏀
The men’s Sweet 16 begins Thursday night, and I’m super excited. We have plenty of powerhouses: Three of the four 1 seeds — including top overall seed Gonzaga — are still around. We also have a Cinderella in Saint Peter’s. We also have plenty of big-name programs left: Villanova, North Carolina and Duke have all won it all within the last decade, and no program has won the tournament more than UCLA.
That means there are plenty of enticing matchups coming up Thursday and Friday, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of best game in the Sweet 16, writes our college basketball expert David Cobb:
- Cobb: “1. (2) Duke vs (3) Texas Tech: The following schools are among the places that Texas Tech’s Mark Adams has coached during Mike Krzyzewski’s 42-year run at Duke: Clarendon College, Wayland Baptist, West Texas A&M, Texas-Pan American, Howard College and Little Rock. After Duke survived a second round battle with the legendary Tom Izzo of Michigan State, it would be rather ironic if it was Adams, who was a junior college coach in rural Texas just a decade ago, who ended Coach K’s career. The on-court styles here set up for a fantastic battle between Duke’s excellent offense and Texas Tech’s gritty, tenacious defense.“
You can check out the entire rankings, from 1-8, here.
Breakout candidates for all 30 MLB teams this season ⚾
One team that will need a breakout or two is the Yankees, who earned a solid “B” in Anderson’s offseason grades but didn’t land the big names we’ve been accustomed to seeing them land. As for breakout candidates, the Bronx Bombers might look behind the plate.
- Anderson: “Kyle Higashioka himself will celebrate his 32nd birthday two weeks into the season. We’re rolling with him anyway because he hit the ball much better last season than his topline statistics and his 71 OPS+ indicate. For instance, Higashioka’s percentage of batted balls that were 95 mph or harder was within a percentage point of cold-corner sluggers like Matt Olson, Bobby Dalbec, and Pete Alonso. His average exit velocity also improved, from 88.1 mph for his career to 90.5 mph. … Hit the ball hard often enough and eventually good things will happen.“
As for every team’s top breakout candidate, you can check out the entire piece here.
What we’re watching Wednesday 📺
🏀 Nets at Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Penguins at Sabres, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 76ers at Lakers, 10 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Blackhawks at Ducks, 10 p.m. on TNT