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Ray Jr. on Sports

  1. The NFL apparently has taken stage again as they’re preparing for Free Agency March 9th. And teams are already making moves.
  2. The Atlanta Falcons released star WR Roddy White, the New Orleans Saints released WR Marques Colston, the Carolina Panthers said goodbye to longtime DE Charles Johnson and the Houston Texans parted ways with RB Arian Foster.
  3. It’s a shame so see teams part with veterans, but unfortunately it goes with the territory. The 2016 Salary Cap is set at $155 million, and apparently these teams (among others) were significantly over it. Especially in the Panthers case as they saved $11 million by cutting Johnson. Wow.
  4. White was a bit of a surprise, because of his career. He’s the Falcons all-time leader in yards (10,863) receptions (808) and TDs (63). But they have one of the best WRs in the NFL in Julio Jones, who had more yards than any WR in 2015. Plus, he signed a 5 -year $71.5 million contract extension.
  5. Foster is another story. Although he’s one of the best in the NFL when healthy, staying healthy has been a problem, especially in 2015 where he tore his Achilles and only played 4 games this season. He played 7 seasons with the team.
  6. And I’m sure there will be more cuts before March 9th. Such is the life of the salary cap in sports. Teams got to comply.
  7. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, for once they’re not in major salary cap trouble. Apparently with the retirement of TE Heath Miller (saving $4 million) and a rollover of about $ 3 million, the Steelers are $9 million under the cap. Not bad.
  8. But I know the Steelers will still find ways to add cap space by restructuring contracts. For example: QB Ben Roethlisberger has cap hit (salary + bonus) of almost $24 million and LB Lawrence Timmons has a hit of $15 million. Those are the 2 highest salaries on the team. You bet their deals will get restructured.
  9. The Baltimore Ravens did a little restructuring as they resigned QB Joe Flacco to a new extension worth $66 million-and a $40 million signing bonus. Wow! He still gets his money, and the Ravens now have salary cap space. That’s good business.
  10. And then there’s the news (or not) on Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who apparently is undecided about playing football in 2016. I think he ought to retire as he has nothing left to prove, but I just wish he’d make up his mind.
  11. Onto College Basketball: It’s really a shame that the Pitt Panthers went from playing their best basketball in beating Duke Sunday to playing their worst in falling to Virginia Tech Wednesday night. Well, that’s in the past now, so if they want to save face, they need to beat Georgia Tech Saturday and then win at least 2 games in the ACC Tournament next week in Washington DC to have a chance at a NCAA Tournament.
  12. According to ESPN’s ‘Bracketology’, Pitt is predicted to be an 8th seed and will open vs. USC. And remember, this came after Pitt lost to Va. Tech. I honestly feel like the suspension of Louisville greatly benefits Pitt.
  13. In addition to G James Robinson, the Panthers will also be saying goodbye to Cs Rafael Maia, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa and G Sterling Smith-all graduate transfers. Now they do have a promising recruit in PF Corey Manigult coming in, but HC Jaime Dixon will need to add more players in the offseason. And hopefully C Rozelle Nix will be ready.
  14. As for the rest of college basketball: There’s a new #1 team and they are the Kansas Jayhawks. Once former #1 Villanova lost, you knew the Jayhawks were going to be there. In rounding out the Top 5, Michigan St. is #2, followed by Villanova, Virginia, and Xavier.
  15. In addition to Virginia, the other ranked ACC teams are #7 Miami, #8 North Carolina, #11 Louisville and #17 Duke. The ACC still rules.
  16. Onto the NBA, where the second half of the season is in full effect, two teams are already in the playoffs. You know the ones: 54-5 Golden State & 51-9 San Antonio. It kind of makes 42-19 Oklahoma City look mortal. Double for 40-20 LA Clippers. In the East, the 42-17 Cleveland Cavaliers still lead the way followed by 40-19 Toronto.
  17. As for the NBA’s worst teams: 8-53 Philadelphia leads that pack, followed by 12-50 LA Lakers. Hopefully they will get good lottery picks this summer.
  18. Another note regarding the Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour: He’s been signing shoes and giving them to players, but this time he’s signing them-and giving them to fans. Very classy move Kobe.
  19. As for MLB, it’s still pretty surprising that former Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez still hasn’t found a team-or a team hasn’t found him, so to speak. It’s reported that the Baltimore Orioles are still possible frontrunners to get him. He would be a good fit there, especially as a DH.
  20. As for the Pirates, they (like all MLB teams) have begun exhibition play, and although the whole story isn’t told in these games, it’s a chance to look at player development. And in the Pirates case, it’s ‘Who’s at First’, because they have several candidates for only 2 spots. time will tell.

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