1. Bell Signs Franchise Tag Let’s be honest: He didn’t really have a choice. After rejecting the Pittsburgh Steelers 5-year offer before the 4 pm July 17th deadline, RB Le’Veon Bell was required to play for the $12.1 million Franchise Tag. It was just a matter of when he would sign it, which he did on Monday.
  2. Heyward Restructures Contract-With their attempt to sign DE Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers restructured the contract of fellow DE Cam Heyward to free up salary cap space. Such a move would free up $3.1 million for the Steelers.
  3. Steelers Make Trades-If you’re still shocked by this news no worries, so am I. It’s very rare that the National Football League (NFL) makes trades in a given season, so you know it’s very rare when the Pittsburgh Steelers do it. But they’re in a ‘win it all’ zone right now and they’re doing whatever it takes to get it done by trading for 3 players.
  4. Cornerback Joe Haden-When the Cleveland Browns released him last week, I was hoping the Steelers would snatch him up and I was happy when they eventually did. Haden is a 2-time Pro Bowler who give the Steelers what they haven’t had at the CB position in years: Experience and maturity. Plus, he provides the man-to-man coverage that the Steelers plan to use this season. He’s already the best CB on the team.
  5. Tight End Vance McDonald-I honestly didn’t believe that the Steelers would be content with Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson as their TE crew and the Steelers proved me right when they acquired McDonald last week. He’s 6-4, 267 and can stretch the field. Despite his reputation of drops, he was expected to replace All-Pro Vernon Davis in San Francisco, so that should say a lot. He reminds me of Heath Miller and LaDarius Green.
  6. Safety JJ Wilcox-When the Steelers made this move, it made me wonder if they were in my head, because I didn’t believe they were content at the Safety position with the injury to starting S Mike Mitchell. Wilcox is a 5-year vet who played 4 years with the Dallas Cowboys and was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but when they signed S TJ Ward, Wilcox became available.
  7. Steelers Traded Veterans Too-Though the Steelers added veteran players, they traded away 2 as well as CB Ross Cockrell was traded to the NY Giants and WR Sammie Coates was dealt to the Browns. Cockrell just wasn’t a fit in the Steelers scheme and his unimpressive showing in the preseason proved it, while Coates was part of a crowded WR corps that saw the return of Martavis Bryant and the signing of veteran Justin Hunter. He was decent in 2016 before injuries ruined the rest of his season. I wish them both the best.
  8. Haden gets #21 He wore #23 with the Browns, but because he couldn’t buy it off Mitchell, the newest Steelers bought #21 off S Robert Golden, who was willing to sell that number for a disclosed amount. Golden ended up taking #20 from rookie CB Cam Sutton. Shrewd.
  9. Elliott Suspension Upheld-The 6-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott was upheld after the NFL Players Association tried to reduce it, but Elliott can play Week 1 because of the timing of the ruling. Only in Dallas can a player have his suspension move up his suspension. Just my opinion.
  10. Dolphins/Buccaneers game moved to Week 11-In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the NFL postponed the Week 1 game of the Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, which will eliminate their Bye Week. At one point Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were both named as possible neutral sites for the game.
  11. Watt Fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey Surpasses $27 million-What else needs to be said? The Houston Texans All-Pro DE has done a wonderful work in raising money for the city of Houston for the hurricane victims. Good man.
  12. New Cavs Thomas Still Hurt by Trade-Although both he and new Boston Celtics G Kyrie Irving are settling in with their new teams, Cleveland Cavaliers G Isaiah Thomas states that he’s still hurt because he was traded. It’s understandable. I’m sure Thomas was being treated as the cornerstone of the Celtics, but as Shaquille O’Neal stated in his book: There’s no loyalty in sports. Meaning: Nothing is ever guaranteed.
  13. Rockets Sold to new owners-Houston continues to make sports news as the Rockets are sold to Houston businessman Tillman Fertitta who tried to buy the Rockets in 1993. Kudos to Fertitta for refusing to give up a dream.
  14. Pittsburgh Pirates Well, it’s no secret that this team’s postseason dreams are over for 2017, but the team can still fight to finish at or above .500 and I hope they do. I may have my issues with how this team operates, but I’ll never question their hearts.
  15. Pirates sign Hurdle and GM Huntington to extensions-This news surprised me because I just knew either one or both of these gentlemen would leave the Pirates in 2018, but that wasn’t the case as the team extended the contracts of Manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington for 4 years. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t mean improvements to the team, especially in Huntington’s case.
  16. Juan Nicasio-I bring up his name because the Pirates admitted that they put this relief pitcher on irrevocable last week (meaning: nothing in return) to free up his $650,000 salary and the fact that they didn’t want him to go to another team in the NL Central Division. So the Philadelphia Phillies claimed him off waivers, and then traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals…of the NL Central. That’s what Huntington gets. Being cheap backfired on him.
  17. Josh Bell This young man continues to make an impression as he’s close to breaking Jason Bay’s rookie record of home runs (26) and RBI (82). Bell currently leads the Pirates with 24 HR and 82 RBI. He’s truly the bright light in a dismal Pirates season.
  18. Giancarlo Stanton, Can he hit 60? I think it’s possible as the Miami Marlins slugger is finally showing what he can do while healthy. Stanton has 53 home runs and 112 RBI with over 4 weeks of baseball yet. I think he’s already earned the NL MVP Award, provided that LA Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger doesn’t get it.
  19. Aaron Judge-Now he’s been quiet because of a slump, but the NY Yankees slugger is still relevant to the news as he now has 38 HR and 85 RBI and will easily have about 40 once the season is over. He’s still my pick for AL Rookie of the Year and possibly the AL MVP.
  20. Serena Williams welcomes baby-Congrats to tennis star Serena Williams as she gave birth to a baby girl over the weekend. She is missed in tennis, but sister Venus is certainly making the impression in the US Open as she continues to advance. 

Please e-mail me at Ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

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