Chickillo recorded 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

While Chickillo seems like a player the Steelers would like to have around as a reserve, he is scheduled to make nearly $2 million in 2018. This is a sizable amount of money for a backup on a team with less than $6 million in cap space. If a player like undrafted free-agent Ola Adeniyi can push Chickillo in camp, Chickillo could become a potential cap casualty.

However, things aren’t simply about Thomas’ performance. The veteran safety is entering the final year of his contract and is seeking a new deal. He hasn’t reported for offseason activities, and Seattle isn’t sure when he might do so.

We’ll find out, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

Former coach Ben McAdoo used 11 personnel — one running back, one tight end and three receivers — a staggering 91 percent of the time in 2016. As injuries mounted in 2017, the Giants used two tight ends more often out of necessity.

But Shurmur’s offensive background is multiple tight end-reliant, and the Giants have five (Engram, Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, Kyle Carter and Ryan O’Malley) plus fullback Shane Smith on the 90-man roster.

Evan is a tight end and we’ll use him as such, Shurmur said, but our game says that you can detach him and extend him like a wideout, so we’re going to try to use him that way if we can, as well.

Well, compared to what A.J. Cole had just done, Walker wasn’t about to take all the credit.

It’s so impressive, Walker said. It’s not easy to come out there and be sharp late in the game. Oakland has a good offensive club. What he did today was what I thought was more impressive than a walk-off win.
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Texas’ Connor Williams has the most fluctuation on boards; he’s a top tackle prospect for some teams and a Day 2 guard prospect for others.

The Cowboys need a receiver to replace Dez Bryant, and while no wideout in this draft will immediately fill that void, Dallas has had its eyes on Courtland Sutton since last season. The Cowboys probably can get Sutton later in Round 1 (or even in Round 2 if they move back). D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley also could be options in Round 1. Regardless, receiver is under consideration early for Dallas.

A slight majority of teams have UCLA’s Kolton Miller as the top offensive tackle on their boards, with Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey the No. 1 tackle on many boards, as well. Miller and McGlinchey are likely to be drafted within in the top 25 picks.

I believe at least seven offensive linemen will go in Round 1: tackles McGlinchey, Miller and Williams; guards Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame, Will Hernandez of UTEP and Isaiah Wynn of Georgia; plus Iowa center James Daniels. The next linemen in order should be Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby, Ohio State’s Billy Price, Nevada’s Austin Corbett and Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill.

First-round picks in which I feel most confident: Browns taking Bradley Chubb, Bucs taking Denzel Ward, Raiders taking Roquan Smith, Dolphins taking Minkah Fitzpatrick, Redskins taking Vita Vea, Panthers taking D.J. Moore.
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After five seasons in Pittsburgh — during which the Kings won a Cup, in 2012, but the Penguins did not — he signed with the Sharks in 2015. He and San Jose advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, only to be thwarted by … the Penguins. “We had a great run, and if we lost to any other team, it might have been OK,” Martin says. “But the fact that it was Pittsburgh was tough to swallow.”

As Martin’s career winds down and those chances to finally win a Cup dwindle, he waffles between wondering “what if” and knowing that it won’t do him any good. “It’s been frustrating to look at that,” Martin says. “You’re constantly asking yourself, ‘Did I make the right choice?’ but you know you can’t change the past. And you have to remember everything happens for a reason.”

Eagles schedule 2018: Philadelphia set up to avoid Super Bowl hangover

The Eagles will go into the 2018 NFL season as reigning Super Bowl champions. That makes them the most wanted team through every game on their schedule.

It will be tough for Philadelphia to make the NFC playoffs, let alone win the conference again, given their closest competition has reloaded to take aim. The Eagles do, however, benefit from a rather favorable schedule. Looking at last year’s records, their opponents combined to go 122-134. That’s tied for 13th “easiest” in the NFL.

Here’s breaking down how good things look for the Eagles’ quest to repeat based on all the games they will play in 2018.

Whenever Curry does take the court again, Kerr says the system won’t be disrupted much.

“It’s not like we had to alter anything [with Curry out], it’s more just kind of refocusing on certain aspects,” Kerr explained. “And that will change once Steph is back, whenever that is, and we’ll do the same thing with whatever is in front of us. Assuming that that’s the position we’re in, we’ll adapt at that point.”

Biggest breaks: The Lions haven’t had a losing record at home since 2012, and that should help against tough opponents such as the Patriots, Panthers, Rams and Seahawks. Detroit also has won four of its last five Thanksgiving games despite last year’s loss to Minnesota.

Bottom line: Detroit will have to be better in one-score games against an improved NFC North across the board. The Lions were 3-4 in one-score games last season — albeit with one loss coming on a controversial finish in a 30-26 loss to Atlanta. This record could go either way a game or two, but it is best to start in the middle given the tough road patches. Record prediction: 8-8

The Bills selected Allen despite UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen also being available at No. 7. The Arizona Cardinals later traded up to No. 10 to select Rosen.

“Both are very good players,” Beane said. “Just talking about Allen, [he’s] big. This is Buffalo. Big guy. An athlete. Really, for his size, you look at all the testing numbers, you look at the film — very good athlete. Makes plays in the pocket and on the run.”

Allen completed 56 percent of his passes at Wyoming. When asked on a conference call what he would tell fans who want to examine his college statistics, Allen cracked, “Don’t do it. Don’t look at the stats. Trust me.
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Mike Mayock thinks Arden Key will slide into Day 3 due to off-field concerns

And again, none of the UConn ugly was mentioned on the ESPN telecast, which included analyst Rebecca Lobo, former UConn star.

Questions of the Week: Reader Frank Fisher: “Which golfer would you guess is on the cover of the latest ESPN Magazine? Hint: He hasn’t won a tournament in five years.”

Guest of the Week: Chris Russo, for his MLB Network show, wisely selected Mike Francesa. With the season starting, there’s none more sagacious. Among Francesa’s expert touts:

NFL Network’s draft guru Mike Mayock isn’t high on the draft stock of pass rusher Arden Key, who at one point was considered to be a lock as a first-round pick. Mayock cited off-field concerns, noting he expects Key to be selected in Round 4 or Round 5 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Key recently admitted he took a leave of absence from LSU to attend drug rehab for smoking weed.

So this isn’t a huge shock given the recent rash of prospects (Reuben Foster is one prominent example) who have these types of red flags and have continued to get into trouble off the field at the NFL level.

Veach has been known to heap praise, saying earlier this offseason quarterback Patrick Mahomes is “one of the best players I’ve ever seen.” Yet the term “star” is something you don’t hear from NFL personnel too often, particularly about players who have yet to play a full slate of 16 games in the league.

Ragland, who missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury before being sent packing when Sean McDermott took over for Rex Ryan in Buffalo, played in just 12 games last season, starting only 10 of them. But, clearly, that’s all Veach needed to see, saying Ragland and new free-agent acquistion Anthony Hitchens can form an important backbone of K.C.’s defense moving forward.

Chris Peters, NHL prospects columnist: If Fleury keeps playing like this, any team playing in front of him would have the chance. But the way the Golden Knights relentlessly attack will make it challenging for any opponent. Even when Vegas was up 1-0 late in Game 3 against the Kings, Golden Knights defensemen were jumping into the play. They were still trying to score.seahawks_105

5-on-5: Breakout stars, Round 1 MVP and bold playoff predictions

Who will be the breakout player of the playoffs and the MVP of Round 1? Which team has the easiest path to Finals?

Our NBA Insiders give their bold predictions and what to watch in a supersized edition of 5-on-5.

“In fairness to history,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told The Post, “we have to see if they can make history.’’

Alex Rodriguez, who owns 696 home runs, fourth highest in major league history and who once hit 57 home runs in a season, said, “They have an opportunity to be the first right-handed Yankees duo to hit 100 home runs and drive in 300 runs.’’

A-Rod (57) and Rafael Palmeiro (43) combined for 100 home runs with the Rangers in 2002. Maris (61) and Mantle (54) hold the teammate mark with 115 home runs in 1961. The only other Yankee duo to hit the century mark was in 1927, when Ruth (60) and Gehrig (47) combined for 107 home runs.

“The home run power is there and this is a 1-2 combo that could be crazy,’’ said Don Mattingly, who knows something about hitting home runs in the Bronx and was Stanton’s manager the past two years with the Marlins.

Rinne tied Vasilevskiy for most shutouts with eight, which is also a Nashville team record.

Vasilevskiy and Helleybuyck, both first-time finalists, tied for the league lead with 44 victories.

Vasilevskiy, 23, helped carry the Lightning to their best record (54-23-5) in franchise history with a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Hellebuyck, 24, is the first finalist in franchise history and had a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage.

The winner will be announced at the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.

Little snippets that reflect the team’s new mindset emerge daily. In spring training, Kapler declared a moratorium on shagging batting practice fly balls because it’s a way to get pitchers off their feet and create an opportunity for “awesome volunteers” to patrol the Citizens Bank Park outfield in the early afternoon. TV cameras capture Philadelphia’s outfielders consulting positioning index cards they have tucked in their back pockets. Fans who ride the SEPTA train to the park see a stern-looking Hoskins accompanied by Kapler’s catch phrase: “Be Bold.”flames_001

Jerry Jones hopeful NFL will clear Randy Gregory to play in 2018

Jerry Jones is hopeful NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstates Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory for the 2018 season. Gregory is in the process of applying for reinstatement after serving a suspension of more than a year.

“I am not confident [in Gregory being reinstated], but I do see where his heart is,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He is one the smartest people to have played this game. This is a tremendous step. He has had that same IQ since he has had these issues. That’s an issue. This is definitely a medical issue. There is no doubt in my mind about the medical. That is another campaign.

“He is really a good person. That goes a long way,” Jones said. “He is smart. That is redeeming. Is there a chance he could get this figured out and be accountable and responsible? There is. Oh, there is one other little thing: He is one helluva football player.”

“It’s kind of unbelievable to me. We’re talking about a position that’s needed more and more on the field in today’s game. There are about five or six valuable starting safeties in free agency right now. But I guess it’s just trying to get us to take peanuts like the rest of them have. That’s just the business of the game.”

Boston’s astute to realize what’s happening. Of the 11 players remaining in the PFT Top 100 Free Agent list, four are safeties, including him, Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and Tyvon Branch.

While Tyrann Mathieu got a decent one-year deal for the Texans, the three-year deals for Kurt Coleman in New Orleans and Morgan Burnett were well short of expectations. But with Seattle’s Earl Thomas on the trade block, the market is still slow for players who have an impact.

The 25-year-old Boston is coming off career highs in tackles (79), pass break-ups (eight) and interceptions (five) with the Chargers, and said he hasn’t gotten an offer he finds adequate after some early interest from the Cardinals, Raiders, Browns, and Giants.flames_001

Trevone Boykin: Domestic violence allegations are ‘false’

Trevone Boykin was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday almost immediately after a report revealed he is being investigated for domestic violence, but the quarterback insists he is innocent.

In a statement he released, Boykin said the allegation that he physically assaulted his longtime girlfriend is false. He said he understands why the Seahawks chose to release him but claims the accuser has fabricated a story and I am suffering the consequences.

Part of last year’s story, too, was rookies. Bellinger clubbed 39 homers, finished fifth on the team in WAR and followed Seager as the Dodgers’ second straight NL Rookie of the Year. There might not be that kind of impact from a rookie this season, but if needed, it’s not hard to envision righty Walker Buehler or outfielder Alex Verdugo breaking through in a similar way.

It’s all part of L.A.’s no-stone-left-unturned approach, overseen behind closed doors and innumerable computer screens by an expansive front office staff. Yes, it’s a little boring. But it works.

In 2015 it was Kris Bryant (briefly). The following season it was Corey Seager. Last year it was Yoan Moncada.

For 2018 that player is Ronald Acuna, and he is worth the wait.

In the industry, the media and the fans, until you start the new season there is going to be talk [of last year], Roberts said. That’s just kind of the way it goes. Certainly it’s in our minds. No doubt. It’s always going to be in our minds. But I think our guys are doing a very good job of understanding that we can’t change it and looking forward.

This season marks the 30th since the Dodgers last won, and the 60th year since the franchise picked up and moved from Brooklyn to L.A. During their first three decades out west, the Dodgers won five World Series. If the Dodgers don’t win it this season, their title drought will have extended to half the time the team has played in California.
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Linebacker Paul Posluszny retires

The Jaguars have a promising young core of defensive ers, and one of their mentors is walking away.

According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times Union, veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny is retiring after 11 seasons.

With much sadness but without regret, I realize that I am no longer able to adhere to the unwavering standard of excellence that professional football demands, he wrote. I say this with a heavy heart: I am retiring from the NFL. I love the game of football so much, and I know there is truly only one acceptable way to . Knowing I can no longer compete at a level that I find acceptable, I have chosen to end my football career.

A league spokesperson told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the NFL is looking into the matter.

An arrest warrant has been issued, and the Harris County DA said it has been in contact with Bennett’s counsel regarding his surrender. Houston Police Dept. Chief Art Acevedo said his department has been in contact with the NFL over the incident.

Saints’ 5 best moments under Tom Benson’s ownership Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, team president Dennis Lauscha, and vice president of communications Greg Bensel will also serve as pallbearers, carrying Benson’s casket. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, forward Anthony Davis , and general manager Dell Demps will be honorary pallbearers with Brees and Payton, as well.

PFT reported two weeks ago that Cousins plans to make at least one visit before agreeing to terms, in the hopes of avoiding a Brock Osweiler situation from two years ago, where he agreed to terms with the Texans without ever meeting them. (Ultimately, he hated them . . . and they hated him.)

Vikings fans will hate it if Cousins visits and leaves without a contract. As the dominoes keep falling, the Vikings could be left with something other than a contract in their hands.

But there’s still much work to do.You can’t throw 30 go-routes.Typically when I select the key performer, I like to look for which Jazz player enjoys a key positional advantage against the opposing team due to a lackluster player, injuries, etc.That’d make LaFell a poor bet for fantasy relevance.49ers_143

O.J. Simpson denies murder ‘confession’ from 2006 interview

Former NFL running back O.J. Simpson detailed how he would have hypothetically murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a never-before-seen 2006 interview. Fox aired that interview Sunday night on a program titled “The Lost Confession.”

“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,” McCabe said. “It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

That’s significantly more full-throated than even Comey was after his firing. The question now is: What does McCabe know, and how hard does he push back We have yet to see what’s in the inspector general’s report, and it’s quite possible that it will undercut McCabe’s credibility and prove that his firing was warranted. Having his name dragged through the mud could temper McCabe’s public comments.

But if it doesn’t, Trump and Sessions have just created a very motivated enemy.

The New York Jets, originally slotted at No. 6 in the first round, traded up to land the No. 3 spot from the Indianapolis Colts. The Jets gave the Indianapolis their first-round pick along with two 2018 second-round picks (Nos. 37 and 49) and a 2019 second-rounder to move up three spots.

The Jets, remember, lost out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes and quickly moved to Plan B by signing veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. The final piece of that plan, it appears, is to nab one of the highly-touted quarterbacks in the first round of the draft.

With the trade, the new top six teams in the draft are, in order: Cleveland, New York Giants, New York Jets, Cleveland, Denver and Indianapolis.

Cleveland traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor and already declared him the starter for 2018. But it could still draft another quarterback as well as a playmaker, perhaps running back Saquon Barkley.

That means at least three quarterbacks could be gone before the Broncos are up.patriots_103

Devils-Oilers to play in Sweden, Panthers-Jets in Finland in 2018-19

Even in the midst of a rough November losing streak, it didn’t seem as though the thought of starting over was on Rivers’ mind.

“I love this team and I like what we’re doing,” Rivers said (via The Ringer). “We’ve got major obstacles, and if we can somehow get through it, I think we’re going to be really good.”

Only Tampa Bay has more points (96), and Nashville has a game in hand on Tampa Bay.

One Islander who may have some butterflies heading into this matchup is Eberle, who was selected 22nd overall by Edmonton in the 2008 NHL Draft, and dealt to the Islanders last June for center Ryan Strome.

Eberle is third on New York with 23 goals, including a team-best six game-winners. He averaged 23.5 goals in seven seasons with the Oilers.

“He spent a lot of time here and put in some good years,” Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “Hopefully they cheer him on loud. When your buddies like that go somewhere else, you still want them to succeed. It’s good to see him playing well.”

Strome, who is fifth on the Oilers with 31 points, has three goals and four assists in his last six games.

“He can really shoot the puck, has a bomb of a shot,” Sullivan said.

“You are always concerned no matter what when a player is injured,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “I don’t want to make a comment on it. I hope he’s all right. I think our guys feel like it’s a bruise.”

New York’s Barzal, a Coquitlam, British Columbia, native, made his first NHL appearance in Vancouver. He leads the rookie scoring race with 69 points, including two assists Monday night. He’s the first rookie with 50 assists since Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom did it in 200708. Boeser trails him with 29 goals and 55 points.

And it’s not easy to see how the Pistons will adjust their style of play to suit Griffin. He is a better player than Greg Monroe, but Detroit already went through a stretch in which it tried to pair star center Andre Drummond with a ball-dominant power forward who can pass from the post. That was Monroe, and it did not go well. That’s primarily why Detroit has one brief appearance in the postseason in the last nine years.packers_164