The blog returns to what you have come to expect today….Lots of cut and paste, and more soccer than most of you want.
We should start, though, with some very general managing on the part of the the Jones clan yesterday, as their two biggest contract concerns have been put to bed with as much ease and relaxation as Romo, Witten, and many others before them. The fact is that the Terrence Newman deal seemed to sneak up on the media a bit, with no indication that was about to go down as of Monday. But, on Tuesday, Newman is done at 2pm, and no sooner had the dust settled than before 3pm, the Marion Barber deal comes down.
There is no question that the Cowboys love what they have right now, and believe they have a Super Bowl Champion waiting to win. They have almost no other contractual concerns of note (Ken Hamlin and Chris Canty, I guess) and now can just focus on winning. Jerry is going all in with his draft day maneuvers and his willingness to sign up with Pac Man, Tank, and any other discounted stars to get the last pieces in place. There is no doubt he is obsessed with 2 things…1) winning and 2) showing you the fortune he wants for seats in the new stadium is worthy of your dollar.
If you are a Cowboys fan, this is going to be fun. And expensive.
The deals for Newman and Barber …
On a day when Jerry Jones and 31 other NFL teams voted unanimously to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, the Cowboys owner and general manager took care of two of his Pro Bowlers.
Cornerback Terence Newman signed a six-year extension worth $50.2 million with $22.5 million in guaranteed money, and running back Marion Barber signed a seven-year deal worth $45 million that includes $16 million guaranteed.
While the league and players association will have labor peace at least through 2010, the uncertainty of what might happen beyond that led to a flurry of action, even as Jerry and Stephen Jones attended the spring meetings in Atlanta.
The Cowboys wanted to get the deals done before the end of business Tuesday because of future changes to the salary cap following the owners' decision to opt out of the labor agreement.
How long signing bonuses can be prorated and how the 30 percent yearly increase would count against the salary cap would have been factors had the deal not been reached Tuesday.
The players wanted deals done so they could concentrate on football. Newman, entering the last year of his contract, was scheduled to make $1.4 million this season. Barber had been tendered a deal worth $2.562 million as a restricted free agent and missed the first day of organized team activities Tuesday.
He will be at today's workouts.
"I think it was a big factor for the Cowboys," Barber's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said of the deadline. "They have so many fine players and big deals they have to negotiate. So it may not be
a factor for other teams, but it was for the Cowboys.
"At the end of the day, it didn't matter to us, we were going to be patient and wait for a deal for our client," Rosenhaus said. "To their credit, they were very aggressive over the last 48 hours, and we were able to get it done in time. At the end of the day, both sides are very happy."
The moves continue the Cowboys' insistence on keeping their core players – from Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Bradie James, Jay Ratliff, Roy Williams, Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, Patrick Crayton and Mat McBriar – before they hit the open market.
"The Cowboys' ownership once again demonstrated why players want to be a part of their organization," said Newman's agent, Ben Dogra, who also represents Williams. "They take care of their guys."
To create room under the salary cap, the Cowboys restructured Romo's contract, opening up nearly $5 million. The Cowboys have been in talks with safety Ken Hamlin regarding a multiyear deal, and have several key players like receiver Terrell Owens and offensive lineman Marc Colombo entering the last seasons of their contracts.
Newman's contract falls in line with the deals struck recently by cornerbacks Asante Samuel of Philadelphia ($23 million guaranteed), Oakland's DeAngelo Hall ($23.5 million) and Seattle's Marcus Trufant ($20 million). Newman turns 30 on Sept. 4.
Despite missing three games because of a foot injury, Newman was named to his first Pro Bowl last season after tying career highs in interceptions (four) and pass deflections (15).
"Sometimes when you don't have a contract going into your last year, you get to thinking about the wrong things," Newman said. "You worry about staying healthy and making plays you don't normally make. The fact that we're done with it, I only have to worry about playing football."
Barber also was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2007 despite not starting a regular-season game. He ran for a career-high 975 yards on 204 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Barber's guaranteed money is $1 million more than what Michael Turner received from Atlanta as part of a six-year, $34.5 million contract this year and the amount Willis McGahee received in a seven-year, $40 million contract from Baltimore last season after his trade from Buffalo.
Six-year extension, totaling $50.2 million
Signing bonus: $12 million
Guaranteed money: $22.5 million
Seven-year deal, totaling $45 million
Signing bonus: $12 million
Guaranteed money: $16 million
More great work from Albert Breer at the Cowboys blog as he looks at the core and their deals ….
I thought we'd take a look at the contract status of all 13 of the club's Pro Bowlers. With Newman and Leonard Davis celebrating their 30th birthdays on back-to-back September days, the Thursday and Friday before the opener, six of Dallas' 13 Pro Bowl players will be 30-somethings to start the season. Here's the opening-day age (in parantheses) of each player, and the year each one of them is locked up through ...
OT Flozell Adams (33) -- 2013
RB Marion Barber (25) -- 2014
OG Leonard Davis (30) -- 2013
OLB Greg Ellis (33) -- 2009
K Nick Folk (23) -- 2010
C Andre Gurode (30) -- 2012
S Ken Hamlin (27) -- unsigned*
CB Terence Newman (30) -- 2014
WR Terrell Owens (34) -- 2008
QB Tony Romo (28) -- 2013
OLB DeMarcus Ware (26) -- 2009
S Roy Williams (28) -- 2010
TE Jason Witten (26) -- 2012
* -- Franchise player
Add it all up and nine of the 13 are signed through the next three years, and seven (Adams, Barber, Davis, Gurode, Newman, Romo, Witten) are inked for the next five seasons. I would expect that Ware will join both those groups well before his rookie deal expires.
And all of that is pretty impressive. It may have taken Jerry and Co. a while to build a championship core again. But give them this: They are serious about keeping one together when they have it.
What are the future free agency issues? …
Here, I'm going to provide the list of the free-agents-to-be over the next two years, so you guys can see any drain on the roster that could be coming. I didn't include franchise player Ken Hamlin or restricted free agent Chris Canty on these lists, since the status of those two is still up in the air. Canty is expected to sign his one-year, $2.019 million tender, with an eye on being part of the 2009 free-agent class, while Hamlin is seeking a long-term deal.
Here's the rest ...
Up after 2008
WR Miles Austin*
C/G Joe Berger
DE Stephen Bowen*
LB Kevin Burnett
OT Marc Colombo
TE Tony Curtis*
WR Sam Hurd*
NT Tank Johnson
CB Evan Oglesby*
WR Terrell Owens
C/G Cory Procter*
Up after 2009
OLB Greg Ellis
DE Jason Hatcher
CB Anthony Henry
QB Brad Johnson
OT Pat McQuistan
OLB Justin Rogers*
DE Marcus Spears
OLB DeMarcus Ware
S Pat Watkins
Check out this Gem: From Michael Lombardi’s Football Blog, A detailed evaluation of his skills …read carefully…
Williams as a player represents a shift in the game that has happen over the last few years. There was a time in the NFL where you could have a strong safety and a free safety, but today's NFL safties have to be able to play in the high part of the field, which I call level three. When you evaluate a safety its critical that they be able to play on the third level, regardless of man or zone.
Even in zone if the defender is playing in a cover two shell and a wide outs comes into his area, he still has to man him up. So when a safety lacks explosive movement in pass coverage and is limited to playing on the second level only, then he will be attacked each and every week.
Williams agent, Ben Dogra called me three years ago before he was going to finalize his extension for Williams and asked me what I thought. My thoughts were unless he was going to be moved to Will Linebacker, then there was no way he could justify the amount of money on the table. Dogra assured me the deal was for him to play safety and my reaction was for him to take the money and run-fast.
Williams lack of athleitic skills and coverage skills limits what Wade Phillips can do with his scheme on Sunday, he is always trying to hide him and hoping he can keep him from being in space and having to play in coverage. That is why the Cowboys send him on blitzes all the time. Blitzes keep him out of coverage-which is what the Cowboys need to do.
No matter how many Pro Bowls Williams achieves, he wears a big circle on his chest each week as opposing offensive coordinators plan to attack him in coverage. Now, add the notion that he has gone Hollywood, and refuses to work hard-his time in the NFL will be short lived. The NFL is all about what can you do for a team today, its always moving forward and it could care less when and where you were drafted. You have to justify the pick with your play.
Williams football career sounds like he is on borrowed time.
Adam Morris points out that CJ Wilson is not missing bats anymore …
Percentage of strikes that are swinging strikes for various Ranger relievers:
C.J. Wilson -- 12%
Joaquin Benoit -- 21%
Frankie Francisco -- 22%
Franklyn German -- 17%
Eddie Guardado -- 13%
Jamey Wright -- 11%
Josh Rupe -- 14%
The major league average is 14%.
Last season, when C.J. Wilson had 2 strikes on a batter, he allowed opposing batters to hit .134/.258/.150 against him. He allowed 17 hits, and just 2 XBHs (both doubles), in 151 PAs. He got 2 strikes on 53% of the batters he faced, and struck out 41.7% of batters once he got 2 strikes on them.
In 2008, with 2 strikes, hitters are hitting .175/.250/.350 against Wilson, including 3 XBHs (1 double and 2 homers). He's gotten 2 strikes on 56% of the batters he has faced, but he's struck out only 23% of them.
In 2007, Wilson threw a first pitch strike to 55% of the batters he saw. In 2008, he's thrown a first pitch strike to 49% of the batters he's seen.
In a nutshell...the biggest problem seems to be that Wilson isn't putting batters away this season, as reflected in his low swinging strike percentage and his low K rate once he has 2 strikes on hitters.
Carmelo anyone? …
They have been talking around the league and one of the teams they will revisit is Denver, where Carmelo Anthony is available. League sources insist the Nuggets are making Anthony available for the right price. The Nets have spoken to Denver - Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe drafted Anthony and reshaped the Nuggets roster when he was there.
Vandeweghe refused any comment on talks with the Nuggets but admitted the Nets will look to be active this summer but only in "trying to make deals that are good for your team so you are always talking to everybody around the league. But I am a firm believer in not making trades just to make trades."
So where the Nets pick will add to their summer intrigue. They have their own pick (likely 10) and No. 21 from Dallas through the Jason Kidd trade. Should they get No. 1, they would keep it for Michael Beasley of Kansas State. Same with No. 2, assuming Memphis' Derrick Rose went first to another team. If they got three, they might look to deal and a higher pick could be attractive to Denver.
The Nets and Nuggets discussed various parameters of a deal, which would not occur until after June 30 when the full $14.4 million on Anthony's 2008-09 contract kicks in. He is a base year compensation type, which makes trades difficult. One proposal contained "a lot of pieces" including the Nets' pick, Richard Jefferson and Marcus Williams for Anthony and Marcus Camby. One source stressed nothing is imminent and talks are still in the infancy stage.
Another Solid Hockey Blog I have Bookmarked …
And now, for a considerable amount of blog, I point you in the direction of the single biggest club football event of the year…And it happens today! ESPN 2, coverage begins at 1, kickoff at 1:45.
The Champions League Final! And yes, I hate both teams, but it is the Super Bowl of their sport, and they will have more viewers than the Super Bowl, and I like soccer, so sue me…
Thanks to television, the local kickoff time in Moscow is really late ….But at least it will hit London in prime time, right? And it should give everyone a fair chance to get properly drunk…
Manchester United and Chelsea are making history with the first all-English Champions League final—and the one with the latest starting time.
Kickoff at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday is 10:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m. EDT), which is 8:45 p.m. for television viewers in Western Europe. If the game goes to overtime and a shootout, the new champion won’t be crowned until about 1:30 a.m. Trains on the Moscow subway system are running two hours later than usual to accommodate fans.
“We’ve only had two days here so there is no adjustment,” Chelsea midfielder Frank
Lampard said. “Our body clock is basically ready to deal with that time.”
United has been playing in European soccer for more than a half century but has never kicked off this late.
“Even if we had it at 4 in the morning, that’s not really going to bother me,” United defender Rio Ferdinand said. “It’s not something that has played on our minds. We will just deal with it.”
By kickoff, 40,000 English fans who traveled to the match should have had plenty of time to down a pint—or perhaps a few. Because most hotel rooms were booked up months ago, many supporters are taking chartered flights, will go to the game and then fly home at breakfast time Thursday.
“We don’t care how late it kicks off, as long as we win,” said Man United fan Jimmy Westmancoat, who flew out from England on Monday.
Champions League Final Funfacts …
Facts and figures relating to the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow on Wednesday:
— Wednesday’s all-English final will be the third same-country final in the Champions League following the all-Spanish clash between Real Madrid and Valencia in Paris in 2000, which Real won 3-0, and the all-Italian match between AC Milan and Juventus in Manchester in 2003 which Milan won 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
— Wednesday’s final will be the 53rd since the competition started in 1955-56 and England are guaranteed an 11th success, bringing them level with Italy and Spain as the most successful countries. They will also win a 29th success in the three European club competitions, equalling Spain’s record.
— It is the fourth successive season that England have been represented in the final following Liverpool’s success in 2005, Arsenal’s defeat in 2006 and Liverpool’s defeat last season.
— Moscow will be staging the Champions League final for the first time, nine years after it staged the UEFA Cup final between Parma and Olympique Marseille which Parma won 3-0.
— United manager Alex Ferguson will become the 16th man to win the European Cup more than once if United triumph, following his success in 1999. He would also set a record of winning longevity in European club competition—he won his first European trophy, the Cup Winners’ Cup, with Aberdeen in 1983.
— He will become, at 66, the second-oldest man to win the trophy if United triumph. The oldest is Belgian Raymond Goethals who was 71 when Marseille won in 1993.
— Chelsea coach Avram Grant would become the first Israeli, either as a coach or player, to win the European Cup. Chelsea defender Tal Ben-Haim would become the first Israeli to be on the winning team if he plays, which is unlikely.
— Six players in the two squads will be looking to win the European Cup with a second club. United’s Edwin van der Sar won it with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995 while Owen Hargreaves won it with Bayern Munich in 2001.
— Chelsea’s four previous winners are Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira (both Porto 2004), Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan 2003) and Claude Makelele (Real Madrid 2002).
— Ryan Giggs will beat Bobby Charlton’s all-time club appearance record of 758
matches for United if he plays and could also win the trophy for a second time. He and Gary Neville were in United’s winning 1999 team while Wes Brown was a non-playing substitute. Paul Scholes, who is expected to play on Wednesday, was suspended in 1999.
— Wednesday’s match will be the third major final between the two clubs. Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final in 1994 while Chelsea beat United 1-0 in last season’s FA Cup final.
— Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United and Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Shaun Wright-Phillips of Chelsea have all played at the Luzhniki Stadium this season for England. Rooney gave England a first-half lead against Russia in a Euro 2008 qualifier on Oct. 17, but Russia ended 2-1 winners.
— If Chelsea triumph they would be the first club from London to win the European Cup.
Will Chelsea have Ashley Cole to chase down Ronaldo today ?…
Ashley Cole is a doubt for the Champions League final after receiving a blow to the ankle in a challenge with Claude Makelele. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images
Chelsea's preparations for this evening's European Cup final were dealt a late blow last night when Ashley Cole, the England full-back, who was due to directly confront Cristiano Ronaldo at the Luzhniki Stadium, suffered an ankle injury which leaves his participation in doubt.
Cole was injured in a tackle from his team-mate Claude Makelele as the Londoners' squad trained on the turf in Moscow. He was forced to hobble from the pitch to have the joint strapped and, after some clear initial discomfort as he jogged on the touchline, he did eventually rejoin the side in a practice match with Makelele offering his apologies.
Those were accepted, albeit grudgingly at first, though the full-back was unable to complete the training session and left early, still shaking his head, with the masseur Bill McCulloch for treatment on the swollen right ankle in the dressing rooms.
The joint will be assessed more fully today, though Chelsea are hopeful Cole - a losing finalist in this competition with Arsenal two years ago, and absent with a knee injury when England lost in this arena last October - will be fit to confront United, and the 41-goal Ronaldo, this evening.
In a report on their website, Chelsea said: "In a challenge with Claude Makelele Ashley Cole hurt his right ankle. He was treated, it was tested, then strapped - but after consultation between [Avram] Grant, club doctor Bryan English and physios Dave Hancock and Thierry Laurent, Cole resumed and took full part in the final training game."
Sir Alex Ferguson had his own injury concerns last night with Nemanja Vidic and Louis Saha forced to miss training at the stadium. However, while the France striker may not be fit enough to feature on the bench, United are confident Vidic will be able to start. "He has a different training programme to the other players, but he will definitely play," said Ferguson.
And if that wasn’t enough, Steve Morrow got the axe …which I hate to see, but lose 5-1 in front of your franchise’s biggest crowd will cause things like that…
Morrow, a former Dallas player, guided his former team through 38 regular-season matches and leaves with a record of 15-15-8 and secured 53 of a possible 114 points.
The loss to David Beckham's Galaxy on Sunday and Morrow's subsequent dismissal capped a rough stretch for FC Dallas, which is winless in its last four matches. Tensions were high with Thursday's dismissal of Morrow's top assistant, Jorge Alvial.
Dallas (2-3-3) is fourth in the Western Conference with nine points. Morrow is the first MLS coach to lose his job this season.
"Due to a recent run of poor results, I fully accept responsibility, and if the team needs to go in a different direction, then I wish the players nothing but great success for the remainder of the season and beyond," Morrow said in a statement.
Hitchcock, who mentioned the need for strong leadership qualities in the next coach, also cited Dallas' lack of success defending the home turf.
"If you look on our home record over the last year and a half, we have had 30 matches and have won 10 of those," he said. "I'm a firm believer that when we bring our fans out to the stadiums, this needs to be a home-field advantage for the team, and we need the team to respond and reward the fans for coming out."
Buzz Carrick is on the case with a good summary …
I got this email yesterday:
As a friend of Buckner's, I just thought I would pass this along to you and The Ticket to let you know about some exciting news for Buckner and Shoes for Orphan Souls -- and the need for volunteers in North Texas! More information below. Thank you for all you do!
TITLE: Large Humanitarian Aid Donation as a result of Texas tornado – Local Volunteers Enlisted!
DATE: Wednesday, May 21, 2008
LOCATION: Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, 5405 Shoe Drive, Mesquite, TX (just east of Buckner Blvd. on Samuell)
TIME: Volunteer prep 9 a.m.
San Angelo Tornado Creates Whirlwind of Need for Volunteers in North Texas
DALLAS, Texas – A mid-April tornado that ripped through the R.G. Barry shoe company’s San Angelo distribution center has caused a whirlwind of volunteer activity for a North Texas non-profit.
Because of the damage caused by the twister, Shoes for Orphan Souls, a shoe collection ministry of Dallas-based Buckner International, is receiving an estimated 180,000 pairs of R.G. Barry shoes and slippers over the next few weeks.
The windfall, says Shoes for Orphan Souls director Rachel Garton, has created the need for additional local volunteers to help sort and prepare the shoes for distribution to orphan and at-risk children in more than 62 countries.
“Getting multiple truckloads of shoes in a short period is very unusual,” she says. “Usually, donated shoes come in large boxes, or one or two truckloads, but never in this volume. Because these shoes are arriving at an already busy part of our collection season, we need volunteer groups and individuals to come to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid to help sort and prepare this large number of shoes.”
A May 21 volunteer event from 9 a.m. to noon at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, located at 5405 Shoe Drive in Mesquite, will highlight the need for volunteer groups’ participation. About 40 fifth- and sixth-grade students from The Winston School in Dallas will prepare shoes from one of several shipments arriving from San Angelo and shipped courtesy of Wal-Mart. The shipment is expected to arrive at 10 a.m. and special accommodations for live shots and interviews can be made.
Garton says volunteering is “easy and rewarding. It’s a climate-controlled setting, and we take individual volunteers and groups both large and small -- civic organizations, Sunday school classes, clubs, schools, or families -- all it takes are people wanting to make a difference. Come for an hour, come for the day.”
Processing of the tornado shoes is expected to take three months, and Garton says volunteers can call the humanitarian aid center at (214) 367-8080, ext. 1009, to schedule a time to volunteer.
In its ninth year of operation as a ministry of Buckner, Shoes for Orphan Souls has distributed more than 1.6 million pairs of shoes to more 62 countries. For more information about Shoes for Orphan Souls, visit the Web site at www.ShoesforOrphanSouls.org.
Stars Playoff Run Remembered
Red Neck's Wife versus Desert Eagle .50