Good morning to everyone but especially to ...
It seemed like there had been questions surrounding Daniel Jones' future in New York ever since the Giants drafted him. They finally emphatically answered those questions, agreeing to a four-year, $160 million deal with Jones shortly before the franchise tag deadline.
The deal includes $82 million guaranteed and $35 million in incentives. Jones is the seventh-most expensive quarterback on a per-year basis ($40 million).
- Crucially, Jones' 2023 cap hit is just $19 million. That should allow the Giants to upgrade several spots -- especially wide receiver.
- Last year, Jones posted the league's lowest interception rate (1.1%) and had just eight turnovers, a dramatic turnaround from his 16.3 per season from 2019-21. Jones was also sixth in completion percentage, threw for a career-high 3,205 yards and ran for 708 yards, fifth-most among quarterbacks.
- The Giants also won their first playoff game since the 2012 season a few months ago.
While the $160 million seems high, the $82 million guaranteed is the number to focus on. If Jones plays at a high level, this deal is very reasonable. If he doesn't, the guarantees aren't enormous, and the Giants would have some future flexibility. Regardless, credit the Giants for building a winner out of nowhere in their first year under Brian Daboll, and credit Jones -- who led the charge -- for cashing in on it.
- Sauce Gardner had a hilarious pitch to Aaron Rodgers for joining the Jets. And Jets brass is meeting with Rodgers.
- The Lakers retired Pau Gasol's jersey.
And not such a good morning for ...
LAMAR JACKSON AND THE BALTIMORE RAVENS
On the other side of the feel-good story of Jones and the Giants is the not-feel-good -- or at least feel-confused-and-concerned -- story of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
The two sides did not agree to a long-term deal before Tuesday's deadline, and Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on their star quarterback. Here's what that means:
- This gives the Ravens until July 17 to try to come to a long-term deal with the 2019 MVP.
- The non-exclusive tag costs the Ravens $32.4 million in 2023 but means any team can negotiate with Jackson.
- If another team were to agree to a deal with Jackson, the Ravens would have the opportunity to match the offer. If they declined to do so, the team agreeing to a deal with Jackson would send Baltimore two first-round picks.
- Interestingly, the Falcons, Dolphins, Panthers, Commanders and Raiders are all already "out" on pursuing Jackson.
- Jackson is the fourth quarterback to get franchise tagged since 2000: The other three were Kirk Cousins, Matt Cassell and Drew Brees. None of those three played more than two more seasons with the team that tagged them.
Teams rushing to leak their disinterest is no surprise, opines our Will Brinson. It comes down to one specific demand in Jackson's negotiations. Still, it's hard to believe no one will be in on Jackson. Our Cody Benjamin has a dozen suitors for Jackson, and I found one of his deep sleepers intriguing.
It's all the latest proof that the relationship between Jackson and the Ravens is murky at best. Jackson was initially ruled "week to week" after a Week 13 knee injury. He then missed the final six games of the season -- including the Ravens' playoff loss to the Bengals -- and had to provide his own update via Twitter to explain why he didn't return. Not great!
Who knows what the next few months look like? If another team comes to an agreement with Jackson, will the Ravens also go all-in, something they've been reluctant to do? This isn't going away any time soon.
Here's the full list of players who got tagged:
- Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
- Giants RB Saquon Barkley
- Cowboys RB Tony Pollard
- Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
- Commanders DT Daron Payne
- Jaguars TE Evan Engram
Not so honorable mentions
- The Knicks' winning streak ended at nine.
- The Warriors lost on the road... again.
CBB recap: It's always Timme time as Gonzaga wins WCC Tournament 🏀
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In what many have considered a "down" year, Mark Few and No. 9 Gonzaga proved they still run the West Coast Conference, steamrolling No. 16 Saint Mary's, 77-51, for the conference tournament title. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 11 WCC Tournaments, though the way they did it this time was surprising.
The teams split their regular-season series, and the Gaels were the tournament's top seed via tiebreaker. What was no surprise, though, was Drew Timme leading the way with a team-high 18 points and becoming the program's all-time leading scorer in the process.
Timme's remarkable career can't be summed up in one game or one story, so our Matt Norlander set out to find out the best tales about the mustachioed legend. Here's one of my favorite parts:
- Norlander: "'He'll come down on somebody's foot in practice, which usually sends everybody else on our team howling, limping, laying down in the training room, out for a week,' Few said. 'And he has this thing where he gets up and he takes his size 18 foot or whatever the hell it is, and he just stomps it as hard as he can. That's his remedy for a sprained ankle. I don't know why every trainer in America isn't looking at it.'"
Matt's collection of stories is hilarious, insightful and really good -- all things Timme is, too.
As for another great story, College of Charleston won the CAA Tournament to punch its ticket to the dance. I was there to see it and came away with this: Keep the Cougars in mind when filling out your bracket.
Also punching its ticket...
- Northern Kentucky (Horizon League)
- Oral Roberts (Summit League)
Keep up with everything college hoops here.
World Baseball Classic preview: Bold predictions, players to watch and more ⚾
The World Baseball Classic is back! After the 2021 version was postponed, a record 20 teams will compete for the title this month. As a primer, here's how the tournament works.
Team USA has a loaded roster, but it's not atop Matt Snyder's Power Rankings. That spot belongs to...
- Snyder: "1. Dominican Republic -- Top to bottom, they are totally loaded. NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara and Astros frontline starter Cristian Javier head up the rotation... The bullpen has power arms like Camilo Doval and Rafael Montero along with plenty of depth. The starting lineup is ridiculous. Julio Rodriguez, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Wander Franco, Jeremy Peña and it just keeps going... Losing Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. definitely hurts, but there's plenty of top-shelf depth here to compensate."
The US is also behind Japan, and Shohei Ohtani launching home runs like this is a big reason why.
As for everything else to know...
Champions League recap: Chelsea comes back, Benfica cruises, plus previewing today's action ⚽
If Tuesday truly was Graham Potter's last day to get things going in the right direction, he and his team responded in a big way. Chelsea beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit and advance to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.
- Raheem Sterling scored shortly before halftime and Kai Havertz scored shortly after the break to propel the Blues, who scored multiple goals for the first time in 2023
- It wasn't easy, but the Blues' run of tough luck finally ended, writes our James Benge. Here are player grades.
Stress levels were high around London all evening, a stark contrast from the scene in Lisbon, where Benfica crushed Club Brugge 5-1 to advance 7-1 on aggregate. Rafa Silva opened the scoring, and Goncalo Ramos' brace ended all doubt.
Looking forward to today, we have two more Round-of-16 second legs, both streaming on Paramount+:
The Parisiens will be without Neymar but still have plenty of firepower in Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi. As such, prepare for a lot of goals, writes our James Benge. As for who wins that goalfest, though, our experts are split.
Don't expect the same type of match between Tottenham and AC Milan, our Tom Fornelli writes in his best bets.
What we're watching Wednesday 📺
⚽ Bayern vs. PSG, 3 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+
⚽ Tottenham vs. AC Milan, 3 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 6:30 p.m. on BTN
🏀 Boston College vs. North Carolina, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Raptors at Clippers, 10 p.m. on ESPN