Ryan's Place

Friday, March 31, 2006

Burleson Joins the Seahawks

From Seahawks.com:

This is the kind of week Seahawks President Tim Ruskell would like to see more often.

Friday night, the Minnesota Vikings failed to match the seven-year, $49 million offer sheet wide receiver Nate Burleson signed with the Seahawks, bringing the speedy Burleson home to Seattle and capping off a week during which both linebacker Julian Peterson and offensive lineman Tom Ashworth have also been signed by the Seahawks. (Nate's career stats)

“I’m very happy to add those guys to what we’ve already got,” Ruskell said Friday. “I’m never comfortable during this time of year because I hate losing players, which always happens, too. But I know this is the league that we live in and this is the system we’re under.

“Personally, I hate it even when we lose the backup holder because you know the chemistry of the group you had was very good. We know what they were capable of - look how close they were to winning the whole darn thing. At the same time, I’m very happy with adding impact players like Peterson and Burleson. Ashworth is a great addition to our line, and you have to include the depth we added with getting (defensive tackle) Russell Davis, too.”

Burleson, in particular, was a coup. A native of Seattle and graduate of O’Dea High School, he had 68 receptions for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns two years ago, but last season injuries limited him to just nine starts and 30 receptions. But the former third-round pick from Nevada is back to 100 percent and Ruskell is thrilled to add him to the Seahawks high-powered offensive arsenal.

More impressively, it’s highly unusual to get such a young player with that kind of talent as a free agent. That’s not to mention how well the fleet 6-foot, 192-pounder fits into coach Mike Holmgren’s West Coast system.

“He’s only 24,” Ruskell said, beaming. “Nate is really a perfect fit for Mike’s offense because the key, as I see it, is those receivers have to not only be able to catch the ball, but do something after the catch. That’s how we get our big plays. That’s what Darrell Jackson does, Bobby Engram does it to some extent, and even (departed) Joe (Jurevicius) was able to do it because of his strength.

“But this guy might be the best of all of them in terms of after the catch. That’s what makes it in this system. I’m excited to see how he’ll fit in. The bonus is he’s a great guy, from this area, played high school ball in Seattle, and everybody knows him. He’s going to want to please his people. His parents live here. It’s a great story. And what people don’t even realize is he’s only 24 years old; we could have him for 10 more years.”

Magic Beat Mavs 108-99

From Sportsline.com:

Orlando coach Brian Hill was happy to see the Magic beat one of the NBA's elite teams.

Jameer Nelson scored 27 points and Hedo Turkoglu added 25 to help the Magic beat Dallas 108-99 on Friday night and hand the Mavericks their third straight loss.

"This was a big step for us," Hill said. "I think we're becoming a basketball team rather than a collection of individuals. To me it's very rewarding to see how, at this stage of the season, how hard these guys are playing."

The Mavericks fell another half-game behind San Antonio in the playoff chase to clinch the Southwest Division, putting them 2 1/2 games back with nine left to play. The teams are battling for the West's best record, but since they are both in the same division the second place finisher will get the No. 4 seed when the playoffs start in three weeks. The top three seeds go to division winners.

Dallas has now lost five of last seven games, while Orlando has won seven in a row at home.
"We played a short stretch there in the fourth quarter a little bit," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "But other than that we didn't play well at all again tonight, and that's what concerns me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Magic Lose to Timberwolves 91-103

From Sportsline.com:

Kevin Garnett showed Dwight Howard that he still has a lot to learn.

In a matchup of the present and future of NBA power forwards, Garnett dominated with 27 points, 19 rebounds and six assists to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 103-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

After making it known that his patience was wearing thin following a win over New York on Sunday, Garnett made it clear that he isn't giving up on this season, or his teammates.

He delivered the kind of all-around effort he's become known for over his 11 seasons here, showing why owner Glen Taylor would be foolish to trade him in the offseason.

Garnett flustered Howard, the second-year player who, like Garnett, came straight to the NBA from high school. Howard wasn't bad -- he had 15 points and 12 rebounds. He just wasn't KG.

The Magic allowed Minnesota to shoot 55 percent and had their four-game winning streak snapped, further diminishing their long-shot playoff hopes.

Magic Come Back to Beat Bulls 97-93

From Sportsline.com:

To Keyon Dooling, the playoffs are more than just wishful thinking. They're a realistic possibility for the Orlando Magic.

"We're definitely going to try to crash in on it," Dooling said. "We've seen some crazy things happen."

And Tuesday's 97-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls only strengthened his belief.

Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, Hedo Turkoglu hit two key jumpers in the closing minutes, and the Magic wiped out an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter on their way to their fourth straight victory.

Ninth-place Chicago (31-40) trails Philadelphia by two games for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot and has two games left with the 76ers. The 11th-place Magic (28-43) remain a long shot to reach the postseason, after pulling within a game of Boston and three of Chicago.

"We didn't have a realistic shot a few weeks ago," Turkoglu said. "But if you look at it now, we're a few games behind."

The Magic simply choked out the Bulls in the fourth quarter, holding Chicago to 3-of-21 shooting and forcing five turnovers. Andres Nocioni was 2-for-2 in the quarter, but the only other field goal was Ben Gordon's 3 that made it a one-point game with 51 seconds left.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MoMo Re-Signs With Seahawks

From Seahawks.net:

Contrary to earlier reports that had him leaving Seattle, it appears that backup RB Maurice Morris will remain a Seahawk - Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Oregon product has agreed in principle to a three-year contract to remain with the team. Morris is a versatile back who gained 288 rushing yards on 71 carries in 2005. He aso caught 5 passes for 48 yards.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Magic Hang On To Beat Hawks 108-101

From Sportsline.com:

Hedo Turkoglu scored 23 points, Dwight Howard added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic beat the Atlanta Hawks 108-101 Sunday for their third straight victory.

Jameer Nelson scored 15 points as the Magic put six players in double figures while recording their first win over the Hawks in three tries this season.

Al Harrington had 20 points, Joe Johnson added 19 and Josh Childress scored 18 off the bench for Atlanta, which lost its fourth straight game. Zaza Pachulia had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks.

Atlanta trimmed a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to 89-85 with 6:07 left on a 3-pointer by Childress, but never got any closer.

The Magic scored five straight points to push their lead back to nine. Orlando eventually closed out the Hawks on back-to-back dunks by Howard and DeShawn Stevenson that upped the lead to 104-92 with just under 2 minutes left.

The Magic shot 55 percent in the first half to just 37 percent for Atlanta, but the biggest lead Orlando gained from it was seven points. Nelson provided that with a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime buzzer to put Orlando on top 49-42.

The Magic pushed the lead to 77-66 at the end of the third quarter, but after giving up a layup to Bo Outlaw to start the fourth quarter, the Hawks made one final move.

Childress' 3-pointer cut the Hawks' deficit to four. Childress stole the inbounds pass, but threw the ball away trying to hit Harrington for the layup.

Carlos Arroyo hit a 15-foot jumper and Keyon Dooling nailed a desperation 3-pointer just as the shot clock was about to expire to give Orlando a 94-85 lead with 4:57 left.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Magic Kill 76ers 102-86

From Sportsline.com:

Trailing by 10 points early in the first quarter and in the midst of a franchise-record 16-game road losing streak, Orlando Magic head coach Brian Hill knew exactly where to turn.

The bench.

Orlando's reserves outscored Philadelphia's bench 50-28 and the Magic pulled away for a 102-86 win over a 76ers team that is fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I can't say enough good things about the bench," Hill said. "I thought early in the game we lacked energy. Guys came in and picked it up for us; picked up our defensive intensity. It was basically the same thing in the second half. We got good shots and good offensive production from our bench."

Carlos Arroyo scored 16 points, Keyon Dooling had 12, and Darko Milicic and Trevor Ariza each added 11 off the bench for Orlando, which hadnt won away from home since its last trip to Philadelphia a 119-115 overtime victory over the Sixers on Jan. 26.

But it wasnt all the reserves, as Orlando finished with seven players in double figures. Dwight Howard enjoyed a huge game with 15 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocks.

"Hes a great talent, hes awesome, said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who finished with 19 points and seven assists. "Hes only going to get better and thats scary for the league.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Seahawks Sign Burleson to Offer Sheet

From Len Pasquarelli at ESPN.com:

Seeking another playmaker for their already potent offense, and looking for a little payback as well, the Seattle Seahawks on Friday evening signed Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Nate Burleson to a restricted free agent offer sheet worth $49 million over seven years.

Do those contract terms sound a little familiar? They should. The Vikings earlier this week spirited three-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, designated by Seattle as a transition free agent, away from the Seahawks with a seven-year, $49 million deal. Seattle declined to match the offer, and Hutchinson moved on to the Vikings, after the Seahawks lost an arbitration case in which they challenged some so-called "poison pill" provisions of the offer sheet.

There have been rumors for about a week that Burleson, who recently visited with Seahawks officials, might sign a Seattle offer sheet. But the added element of revenge -- and there is little doubt the similarity to the Hutchinson contract was more than coincidental -- certainly provides a delicious twist.

It should be interesting to see how top officials from the two franchises interact when the annual league meetings convene in Orlando, Fla., on Monday morning. The weather in Orlando for next week already is forecast as cool, and the relationship between the Vikings and Seahawks is a bit chillier after Friday.

The offer sheet that Burleson signed on Friday with the Seahawks features not only the same number of years and the same amount of total payout as the Hutchinson contract, but also includes two "poison pills" that will make it virtually impossible for the Vikings to match.

Minnesota has seven days to match the offer sheet, keep Burleson, and essentially inherit the terms of the contract negotiated by the Seahawks with the three-year veteran wide receiver. If the Vikings decline to match, they will receive Seattle's third-round choice in this year's draft as compensation. The Vikings retained a right of first refusal on Burleson by making him a restricted free agent qualifying offer of $712,000 earlier this month.

To match the deal, though, the Vikings will have to swallow hard. Beyond the size of the total payout and a total of $5.25 million in guarantees, are two devious provisions.

The first would guarantee the entire contract, all $49 million, if Burleson plays five or more games in the state of Minnesota in any season of the contract. The Vikings, of course, play home games in Minneapolis, at the Metrodome there. The second bizarre provision would guarantee the full contract if Burleson is paid more on average per year than all of the Minnesota running backs combined. At least for now, the averages of the Vikings' tailbacks fall well shy of the $7 million average of the Burleson offer sheet.

Seahawks Re-Sign Mack Strong and Add Heller

From Mike Kahn at Seahawks.com:

Every day passes and the roster of the Seahawks continues to swell.

This time, it’s a couple of new faces joining an unfailingly familiar one.

Friday afternoon it was the re-signing of All-Pro fullback Mack Strong to a three-year contract, while adding defensive tackle Russell Davis and tight end Will Heller to multi-year deals as well. Both come on the heels of signing defensive end and special-teams leader Joe Tafoya to a new contract on Thursday.

Strong, 34, was named to the Pro Bowl and voted All-Pro for the first time in his 13-year career last season – certainly a key performer in Seattle’s run to the Super Bowl. More specifically, his blocking helped tailback Shaun Alexander gain 1,880 yards rushing to win the NFL rushing title and score 28 touchdowns – the league’s all-time record.

Signed as a free agent out of Georgia in 1993, Strong rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries during the regular season and caught 22 passes for 166 yards. His biggest play as a Seahawk came during the post-season when he gained 53 yards on eight carries. Midway through the fourth quarter of the divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins, Strong ran off tackle for 32 yards – the longest run of his career – on a third-and-six, ultimately setting up a 31-yard Josh Brown field goal that put the game away.

In his career, Strong has carried the ball 193 times for 741 yards and four touchdowns, while catching 180 passes for 1,225 yards and 10 touchdowns. Strong is third in club history with 180 games played behind only Joe Nash (218) and Steve Largent (200). Strong is also the only multiple winner of the Steve Largent Award. He has won the award four times (2001, 2002, 2004 & 2005).

The 6-6, 250-pound Heller, 25, spent his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, originally joining the team as an undrafted free agent from Georgia Tech in 2003. After playing the first seven games of 2005 with the Miami Dolphins, he rejoined the Buccaneers to finish the season. For his career, Heller has played in 26 games with three starts totaling 15 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ashworth Signs 5-Year Deal With Seahawks

From Len Pasquarelli at ESPN.com:

Just three days after losing star left guard Steve Hutchinson in a convoluted and contentious case that went to arbitration, the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday afternoon found a potential successor in a young blocker who doesn't even play the same position.

The Seahawks reached agreement with unrestricted free agent Tom Ashworth, a four-year veteran who had played his entire career with the New England Patriots, on a five-year contract. Complete financial details were not immediately available, but Ashworth will earn $4.5 million in total compensation for 2006, counting his signing bonus and base salary.

The Seahawks' brass seems confident that Ashworth will earn a starting spot on their offensive line, although no one seems to know where he will line up.

The obvious opening is at left guard, with Hutchinson having departed to the Minnesota Vikings after the three-time Pro Bowl blocker signed a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet as a transition free agent. Seattle challenged some of the terms of the offer but a "special master," essentially the top arbitrator in NFL labor matters, ruled against the Seahawks on a critical clause in the deal.

Ashworth, the No. 39 player in ESPN.com's free agent rankings, has played primarily at right tackle. But he has also started at guard and could be a candidate to fill the vacancy created by Hutchinson's departure. There is also a possibility that Ashworth could play right tackle and the incumbent starter there, two-year veteran Sean Locklear, could move to left guard.

However the offensive line puzzle shakes out -- and Seattle coaches will have ample time this spring to experiment with various combinations -- Ashworth likely will be among the Seahawks' top five blockers and will find a spot in the lineup.

Ashworth, 28, is the kind of tough, blue-collar blocker the Seahawks like. At the same time, as a former college tight end, Ashworth possesses solid athletic skills. Perhaps the only drawback is that Ashworth has had to battle through some injuries in the past, particularly a back problem that forced him onto the injured reserve list in 2004 after only six games. He bounced back to start 11 games in 2005.

A former Colorado standout, Ashworth signed with the Pats as an undrafted college free agent in 2001, spent his rookie year on the practice squad, then earned a roster spot in 2002. He has appeared in 37 games and started 30 of them in his career.

Most teams viewed Ashworth in free agency as a blocker who was lesser-known than many of the offensive linemen in the talent pool, but whose skills continue to develop, and whose best football is ahead of him. In addition to Seattle, which only became a suitor earlier this week, Ashworth visited with officials from Miami, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Magic Spank Knicks 111-87

From Sportsline.com:

Maybe Dwight Howard should come off the bench every night.

The second-year forward had 23 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes, and the Magic rolled over the New York Knicks 111-87 Wednesday night in Steve Francis' return to Orlando.

Howard, a 20-year-old drafted last year out of high school, missed the first start of his entire athletic career after showing up late for shootaround. He scored 10 points in the first quarter after entering the period with just 4:17 left -- many of them on putback dunks for three-point plays. He had started 149 straight games for Orlando.

"Traffic is traffic. But it's no excuse for me to be late," Howard said. "I'm a leader for the team and I can't be late for shootaround or anything. So it's my fault."

In his first game at Orlando since being traded last month, Francis had just two points in 11 minutes, all in the first quarter. Eddy Curry led New York with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Stephon Marbury added 12 points and five assists. Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson each added 12 points off the bench.

Orlando fans greeted Francis with a smattering of boos and applause during starting lineup announcements, but saw little of him later.

"I can't do anything about it. I am not in a position to demand minutes. I did not go through training camp with this team," Francis said.

"It was tough because I was wanting to play. But then again, looking at the whole time I have been here ... it has been up and down not really knowing where the minutes are going to come from."

Seven Orlando players scored in double figures, including Hedo Turkoglu (16 points), Darko Milicic (13), Jameer Nelson (13) and Keyon Dooling (11). Forward Trevor Ariza, acquired by the Magic in the Francis trade along with the expiring contract of Penny Hardaway, finished with 10 against his former team.

Seahawks Re-Sign Bentley & Tafoya

From Seahawks.net:

Tafoya, a five-year veteran, participated in 15 games last season posting 14 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He was a key backup to starting defensive ends Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom and helped the Seahawks defense lead the league in sacks and it was assumed that he would eventually be re-signed by the team.

Details of the contract are unknown at this time.

In 2005, the Seahawks signed Bentley as a free agent from the Cleveland Browns for a one-year $600,000 contract and got their money’s worth as the fourth-year veteran posted 22 tackles in a reserve role.

He started three games for injured starter D.D. Lewis and participated in 15 of the 16 regular season games. Bentley’s versatility was put to the test when he was asked to help cover Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers during the NFC Championship Game.

After testing the free agent market with visits to the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals, Bentley and his agent reach agreement on a two-year deal worth $1.5 million including an unconfirmed signing-bonus.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Magic Lose to Bobcats 102-108

From Sportsline.com:

After the Orlando Magic set a dubious team record, coach Brian Hill indicated changes could be on the way.

Gerald Wallace scored 27 points and the Charlotte Bobcats sent the Magic to their team-record 16th straight road loss with a 108-102 victory on Tuesday night.

Raymond Felton added 16 points and 13 assists and Primoz Brezec scored 22 for the second-year Bobcats, who snapped a four-game losing streak and won their 19th game, one more than all of last year.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Magic, who never led. Orlando, which hasn't won on the road since Jan. 26 at Philadelphia, broke the team record for consecutive road defeats set in the 1989-90 season.

"I'm embarrassed by our performance," Hill said. "I hope our players are because they should be. The way we played proved we didn't respect the game or the team. We just went through the motions."

The Magic cut a 20-point second-quarter deficit to 99-95 on Keyon Dooling's jumper with 1:35 left. But Jumaine Jones, who has hit at least one 3-pointer in 31 straight games, hit his third 3 on the next possession to make it 102-95.

"You can't play one half of basketball and expect to win. You can't spot a team a 20-point lead," Hill said. "I'm going to have to decide whether we want to play the same people. The team we put out there tonight didn't want to play. If they don't want to play, we have to put someone else out there that does."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Seahawks Let Hutchinson Walk, Sign Peterson

From Mike Sando at The News Tribune:

The Seattle Seahawks lost an argument in the afternoon and Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson in the evening.

The one-two punch left the team with a gaping hole on its offensive line and more than $20 million in salary-cap space, some of which the team set aside for a likely agreement with former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson.

On a dramatic Monday filled with confusing plot twists, Hutchinson appeared headed for Minnesota when the Seahawks, having exhausted efforts to retain him under more favorable terms, fell silent as a 9 p.m. deadline to match the Vikings’ offer passed.

The move had become expected hours earlier when a “special master” appointed by the league and its players denied Seattle’s request to match the Vikings’ offer without adhering to a clause that would force them to guarantee the seven-year, $49 million pact.

Hutchinson, 28, started each of the 73 regular-season and postseason games he played for the Seahawks. A first-round draft choice from Michigan in 2001, he combined with six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones to give Seattle one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Super Bowl XL was their last game together.

How could Hutchinson get away? Pull up a chair.

The Seahawks could have essentially kept Hutchinson off the free-agent market by naming him their franchise player and offering a one-year contract worth $6.983 million.

An NFL team had never paid that much per season for a guard, however, and the Seahawks did not want to become the first. They named Hutchinson their transition player, reducing the one-year offer by $592,000 while removing some of the roadblocks that prevent franchise players from soliciting offers in free agency.

The idea was for Hutchinson to establish his value, perhaps with an assist from the market, and for Seattle to match any offer.

Armed with the right of first refusal, the Seahawks were gambling that no team would make a prohibitive offer for a guard.

Hutchinson, agent Tom Condon and the Vikings proved otherwise. When the Seahawks and the NFL Management Council refused to believe them, special master Stephen Burbank gave them no choice.

Burbank, the David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, upheld a clause in the Vikings’ offer that would have guaranteed the contract if Hutchinson were not the highest-paid offensive lineman on his team in 2006.

The clause required Hutchinson to be his team’s highest-paid lineman the moment he signed the Vikings’ offer sheet last week. The Vikings could make such an offer without guaranteeing the contract because none of their offensive linemen earned more per season.

The Seahawks and the NFL Management Council said the clause should instead apply to the point when Seattle matched the offer. In the meantime, the Seahawks even reworked Jones’ contract to make sure Hutchinson’s proposed deal averaged more per year.

Burbank shot them down.

“Special master Stephen Burbank has determined that the additional language that the Seahawks proposed to include in the Steve Hutchinson contract would alter a principal term of the Vikings’ offer sheet,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.

The league declined further comment, as did the Seahawks and Vikings. Burbank wasn’t talking, either. But NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelson, who represented Hutchinson and the Vikings’ position at the hearing, said the decision was a simple one.

“It was a real long-shot for the Seahawks to win this one,” Berthelson said, “because the plain meaning of the words used and the circumstances surrounding it leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Vikings meant for Hutchinson to have to be the highest-paid offensive lineman for the whole year beginning with the offer sheet.

“The Seahawks’ plan was to argue that the offer sheet the Vikings had given to him should be interpreted to be saying he only had to be the highest-paid player at any time in the year.

“It was a pretty fractured interpretation of the language and the special master didn’t buy it.”

NFL.com reported that Peterson will sign a seven-year, $54 million contract with the Seahawks.

Magic Lose By One In OT

From Sportsline.com:

Zaza Pachulia was outnumbered down low for most of the game. Still, the Atlanta Hawks' center put up the biggest numbers in the end.

Pachulia scored on a tip-in with 2.4 seconds left in overtime to help the Hawks snap a four-game losing streak with a 108-107 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Pachulia, who ranks fourth in the NBA in offensive rebounds, set a career high with 18 boards, including 12 on the offensive end. The final one on the tip-in came after a missed layup by Joe Johnson, who scored 40 points for the Hawks.

"I thought Joe had that layup because he was kind of calm," Pachulia said. "Pretty soon I see three guys on him, and one of them was my guy. So I went up and when he missed I was behind to tip.

"If Joe scored, I would be just as happy," he said.

Forwards Al Harrington and Josh Smith start on the front line with Pachulia, a third-year player in his first season in Atlanta.

Harrington and Smith are athletic and versatile inside-outside scorers, but each is only 6-foot-9. The Magic countered with three players 6-foot-10 or taller: Dwight Howard, Tony Battie and Hedo Turkoglu.

Each of Orlando's big men scored in double figures, but Magic coach Brian Hill said the 6-foot-11 Pachulia "was the story of the game."

With the game on the line in the final seconds of overtime, Hill had a smaller lineup on the floor.

"It was a little bit of a mismatch," Hill said. "We had smaller guys and we couldn't keep them off the glass."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Seahawks Sign Russell Davis

From Mike Sando at The News Tribune.com:

Russell Davis was one of the first free agents to visit the Seattle Seahawks when the NFL’s signing period opened a week ago.

The 306-pound nose tackle became the Seahawks’ first free-agent addition Saturday upon agreeing to terms on a three-year contract.

For Seattle, the move was not a glamorous one. Davis will not challenge for the league lead in sacks, and he is not particularly well known. But for a team looking to further strengthen the NFL’s fifth-ranked run defense, Davis could prove helpful.

Davis, who turns 31 this month, was the fourth defensive tackle chosen in the 1999 NFL draft. He played in all but one game in four-plus seasons before suffering a season-ending biceps injury during the Cardinals’ 37-12 loss to Seattle at Qwest Field on Sept. 25.

Davis, who spent one season with the Chicago Bears before joining the Cardinals in 2000, is more of a prototypical run stuffer than most of Seattle’s other defensive tackles.

Rocky Bernard is an up-the-field pass rusher. Chuck Darby relies on quickness to get his compact frame underneath bigger offensive linemen. Craig Terrill also is listed at less than 300 pounds.

Of the group that played last season, only 325-pound Marcus Tubbs, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2004, has the size generally associated with the position.

Davis lends some size and ruggedness to the position. He has started every game he has played, 72 in all, since Oct. 22, 2000. Davis also was known as a positive force in the Cardinals’ locker room.

Arizona offered him a contract to remain with the team, but the Cardinals’ recent signing of Kendrick Clancy from the New York Giants gave them another option at the position.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Magic Beat Celtics 84-77

From Sportsline.com:

Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic have become a defensive presence in the middle for the Orlando Magic.

Howard had a season-high six blocks and Milicic added four, giving him 14 in the last three games, to help Orlando beat Boston 84-77 on Friday night.

"I've been watching Darko block shots the last couple of games and I just tried to do some of the same things tonight," said Howard, who also had 18 points and 13 rebounds. "The coaches are expecting a big defensive presence from both of us and they got it tonight."

The Magic trailed 61-59 entering the fourth quarter, but limited Boston to just 13 percent (3-for-23) shooting in the final period. It was only the second time in 37 games this season that Orlando has trailed going into the fourth quarter and rallied to win the game.

"Normally, we're a better shooting team than that, but we were seeing shadows everytime we went up for a shot in the paint," said Boston's Wally Szczerbiak, one of only two Celtics to score in double figures with 16 points.

Paul Pierce led Boston with 19.

"I thought we played pretty good defense on them in the fourth quarter," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "Boston missed a lot of makeable shots, but at least we were contesting those shots. We didn't give them many wide open looks and that's really what we're trying to accomplish defensively."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Seahawks Re-Sign Williams

From Seahawks.com:

Cornerback Jimmy Williams signed a one-year deal.

Williams was a free-agent signing during the third week of the 2005 regular season, initially as a special teams player and a punt-returner. Eventually he also became vital in the secondary. The 5-11, 195-pouder started at right cornerback in the final game of the regular season while Marcus Trufant was nursing a back injury.

Williams, 27, averaged 5.8 yards on 24 punt returns and played in 14 of the 16 regular season games. His role expanded as the season progressed, often playing in nickel and dime defenses as injuries in the secondary took a toll. A sixth-round draft choice out of Vanderbilt by the Buffalo Bills in 2001, Williams never played for Buffalo but spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before joining the Seahawks.

He has accrued 76 tackles and three interceptions in his career, adding significantly to his total with 23 tackles and two interceptions in 2005. But his selfless and spirited personality in practice and presence in the locker room were just as vital to his role for the Seahawks as his in-game performance.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Magic Beat Jazz 114-108

From Sportsline.com:

Jameer Nelson scored 25 points, four in overtime, and added nine assists as the Orlando Magic beat the Utah Jazz 114-108 Wednesday night.

Nelson made a 20-foot jumper from the corner with 27 seconds left that put Orlando up 110-107. Dwight Howard, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, followed with a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 112-107 with 11 seconds to play.

Utah, which missed its last four shots from the field after leading 107-106 in overtime, got 30 points and 11 rebounds from Mehmet Okur. Carlos Boozer, starting for the first time this season, also scored 30 and had 10 rebounds.

The Magic, who have won three straight at home, got 20 points from Hedo Turkoglu and a season-high 19 from Tony Battie.

Seahawks Re-Sign Bernard & Warrick!

From Mike Sando at The News Tribune:

The Seattle Seahawks are taking a more aggressive tack after sitting out the first few days of NFL free agency.

Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and receiver Peter Warrick are expected to return to Seattle after reaching contract agreements today.

And while team president Tim Ruskell was meeting today with New York Jets defensive end John Abraham, the organization lined up a free-agent visit with San Francisco 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson.

The Jets have allowed Abraham, their franchise player, to seek potential trading partners after the sides failed to reach agreement on a long-term contract. Abraham visited Washington previously. Atlanta and Denver are also reportedly interested.

Peterson's first free-agent visit will be with the Seahawks. A former Pro Bowl player, Peterson returned last season from a torn Achilles' tendon. Peterson, 27, has 21 1/2 sacks in six NFL seasons.

Bernard, 26, spent Tuesday visiting the Kansas City Chiefs before reaching agreement with Seattle today. His contract is for three years and $13 million, with a signing bonus of $5.4 million, ESPN.com reported. Bernard had 8 1/2 sacks through 11 games last season. He added two sacks against Carolina in the NFC title game.

Warrick, 28, agreed to terms on a one-year deal, his agent said. He has 11 receptions in each of the last two seasons. He caught 79 passes for Cincinnati in 2003 before a knee injury derailed his career. Warrick's knee improved as last season progressed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Magic Lose to Pacers 83-97

From Sportsline.com:

The more Danny Granger plays, the better the Indiana Pacers rookie gets.

Granger came off the bench to score 21 points, leading five Indiana players in double figures as the Pacers held off Orlando 97-83 Monday night.

Granger also grabbed 12 rebounds. Anthony Johnson scored 21 points, Peja Stojakovic and David Harrison 14 each and Jamaal Tinsley 12.

"I'm feeling more comfortable out there every night," said Granger, the 17th overall pick from New Mexico. "Before, I wasn't looking to shoot. Now, I'm much more aggressive. I'm looking for the rebound. I'm looking for the good shot."

Dwight Howard, who scored 22 and had 11 rebounds for Orlando, said Granger and Harrison made the difference.

"Those two guys really stepped up tonight," he said. "Harrison is really tough to keep out of the low post. He's a strong guy. Granger really hit some big shots at key times, and he really seemed confident in his shots."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Vikings Sign Hutchinson to Offer Sheet; Hawks Have 7 Days

From FoxSports.com:

The Vikings offered Hutchinson a front-loaded seven-year deal worth $49 million, with $16 million in guaranteed money, a person close to the negotiations told The Associated Press. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been completed.

The Seattle Seahawks placed the transition tag on Hutchinson in the offseason, giving them a week to match the deal or lose him to the Vikings without compensation.

The Seahawks refused to comment Sunday, preferring to let their seven-day window to match the offer play out. Seattle entered the weekend about $17 million below the league's $102 million salary cap for 2006. With such a large offer on the table, however, the Vikings have made it as difficult as can be for the Seahawks, who have already put a lot of money into their offense.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Magic Win 2nd In Row 103-92

From Sportsline.com:

As impressive as their offense was, the Orlando Magic's defense against Jason Richardson was even better.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 21 points and tied his career high with 14 rebounds, and the Magic beat the Golden State Warriors 103-92 Saturday night.

Orlando shot 59 percent (41-of-70) a night after shooting 57.5 percent in a win over Cleveland. Turkoglu also tied his season high with eight assists.

The bigger story, however, was DeShawn Stevenson's defense on Richardson, who was coming off a career-high 44 points the night before against Miami. Richardson, who was averaging 37.3 points in his last four games, scored only 11 with Stevenson chasing him step-for-step all over the court.

"He's an awesome player and all I was thinking about before the game was that 44 points he scored and how I was going to shut him down," Stevenson said. "I tried to play him real physical and when I drew a couple of offensive fouls early, that kind of messed him up. Tonight just wasn't his night."

Richardson was shooting 60 percent from the field during that torrid four-game stretch, but was only 4-of-14 against the Magic. He scored only three points during Golden State's furious fourth-quarter rally, when the Warriors cut a 19-point deficit to just 95-91 with 1:29 left before Turkoglu hit a 3-pointer to stop the rally.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Magic Whoop Cavs 102-73 (Yes You Read That Right!)

From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic did not need a superstar Friday night.

Carlos Arroyo had 17 points and seven assists, leading a 67-point effort by Orlando's reserves in a 102-73 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was the struggling Magic's largest margin of victory this season.

Tony Battie was the only Orlando starter in double figures with 13 points and 13 rebounds, but four players -- Arroyo, Darko Milicic (11 points), Keyon Dooling (13) and little-used Bo Outlaw (12) hit the mark off the bench.

"That's our job -- to come in the game, bring energy and change the tempo of the game," Arroyo said.

The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Orlando, which had previously lost 18 of its last 20, and a four-game winning streak for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James, who missed Cleveland's shootaround and was questionable with flu-like symptoms, had 25 points and seven rebounds. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Flip Murray each scored 13 for Cleveland, while Drew Gooden added nine points and 12 rebounds.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Owners Approve New CBA!!

From Doug Farrar at Seahawks.net:

After a seemingly endless parade of deadline extensions, the NFL’s owners have voted to approve the union’s final proposal, ratifying a six-year extension of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The league’s salary cap will remain in place, and is expected to be raised approximately $10 million above the current $94.5 million figure. Free agency will begin at 12:01 AM, Friday, March 10, 2006.

The owners have spent the last two days in Dallas, going back and forth on the NFLPA proposal, as well as the separate but equal issue of revenue sharing. In the end, the vote to approve the proposal was 30-2, with lower revenue teams the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals voting against. A 24-vote majority was required. At this time, there is no knowledge of what, if any, revenue-sharing issues were addressed in the new CBA. However, based on quotes from both low- and high-revenue owners such as Indianapolis' Jim Irsay and Washington's Daniel Snyder, it appears that some provisions have been put in place.

NFLPA head Gene Upshaw, on a plane to Hawaii for the annual Players’ Association meetings when the vote came down, had the following statement released in his name:

On behalf of the players, the NFLPA staff and the negotiating team, we are pleased that this process has finally concluded with an agreement. This agreement is not about one side winning or losing. Ultimately, it is about what is best for the players, the owners and the fans of the National Football League.

This agreement will take the NFL through the 2012 season, and will reinforce the incredibly valuable perception that the NFL has the most competitive balance of any major sport – a crucial element of the league’s ever-accelerating popularity. Without it, 2007 would have been an uncapped year. Without it, 2008 could have led to antitrust issues, questions about the legality of the draft, the de-certification of the union and an almost sure lockout. Without it, anarchy was a certainty.

Seahawks Sign Harts

From Seahawks.net:

As first reported by Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seahawks have signed safety Shaunard Harts to a contract. Harts worked out for the Seahawks back in September.

Harts was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2001. He did not play in 2005, and has amassed 141 tackles, 2 interceptions and 5 passes defensed in his NFL career. He is regarded as a safety with some man cover skills and a good feel in coverage.

Alexander Named NFC Offensive Player of the Year

From Seahawks.com:

The 36th Annual NFL 101 Awards were held on on Saturday, March 4 in in Kansas City, and Shaun Alexander was there to receive the award for NFC Offensive Player of the Year. The award was presented by Seahawks running backs coach Stump Mitchell.

Also honored from the NFC were Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. The Colts swept the AFC honors, with Peyton Manning named the AFC Offensive Player of the Year, Dwight Freeney the Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Tony Dungy Coach of the Year.

For 36 years, a committee of 101 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL have selected three individuals from each conference to be honored as the offensive player, defensive player, and coach of the year. The event serves as a benefit for the Chiefs Children’s Fund, a foundation that distributes funds to children’s charities throughout the Kansas City area.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rally Falls Short as Magic Lose to Jazz 85-90

From Sportsline.com:

Since the Utah Jazz couldn't make a basket down the stretch, Andrei Kirilenko made certain the Orlando Magic didn't even have a shot in the final seconds.

Kirilenko blocked Jameer Nelson's potential game-tying shot with 9.5 seconds left, then knocked the ball away as DeShawn Stevenson rose to shoot a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining to help the Utah Jazz hold off the Orlando Magic 90-85 on Monday night.

"Jameer drove the baseline and I saw that nobody could help. He was kind of open, so I just made a couple of steps and jumped. It was a good floater, so it was hard for me to block it. I just caught it at the right time," Kirilenko said.

Mehmet Okur scored 22 points for the Jazz, who squandered a 20-point lead and made just one field goal in the fourth quarter on 14 attempts.

The fourth-quarter meltdown didn't go unnoticed by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, who walked across the floor with 26 seconds to glare at the players and then had some pointed comments for the team in the locker room after the game.

"They are a bunch of pampered babies," Miller told the media. "We need some guys with some guts and some fire down the stretch. It wouldn't hurt me to turn over all 15 guys, but the trading deadline has passed and there's nothing we can do."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Alexander Re-Signs!

From Jay Glazer at FoxSports.com:

FOXSports.com has learned that the Seattle Seahawks have agreed to terms with Pro-Bowl running back Shaun Alexander on a whopping eight-year, $62 million deal that includes a total of more than $15 million in the first year in bonuses (signing and roster) and salary.

The Alexander deal is not contingent upon a new CBA getting done as the Seahawks have the necessary cap space to make such a move. However, the contract still has to get approved by the NFL front office and Alexander needs to sign the contract.

The league's MVP was wise to take such a deal as the running back market in free agency will likely be much lower than several big-named veterans may think. In addition, Alexander didn't want to leave the Seahawks.

Alexander broke the NFL's single-season touchdown mark this past season, helping push the Seahawks to the NFC title. Now Seattle must turn their attention to Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson.

It's unclear how the deal is structured with regards to how much cap space this deal takes up in the first year of the new contract. Seattle had a decent amount of salary cap room heading into this free agent period.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Magic Smoked by Nuggets 94-110

From Sportsline.com:

Grant Hill scored 19 points for the Magic, who have won just two of their last 19 overall.

"I thought we played sluggish and tired all night long," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I just thought the energy wasn't there. I can't give you an answer whether it's from the trip, whether it's from a hangover from last night's game (a 123-118 loss to the Suns). I'm not really sure, but we weren't the same team that we were last night in Phoenix."

Hill wouldn't blame the tough back-to-back tip-offs, either.

"They had to play last night in Houston," Hill said. "And they were playing tonight, they had energy."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Magic Lose to Suns 118-123

From Sportsline.com:

Jameer Nelson, playing in his first game since Jan. 20, scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half for Orlando and Carlos Arroyo added a season-high 21 points. Hedo Turkoglu had 20 points for the Magic, Dwight Howard had 15 and Keyon Dooling 12.

The loss was the Magic's fourth in a row and 12th in their last 13 games. The Suns have won 12 of 13.

Orlando's point total was its highest of the season in regulation, surpassing the 111 it scored in a nine-point victory over the Suns on Jan. 24. This was the 20th straight game that the Suns surpassed the 100-point mark.

Thomas certainly made an impression on Nash, last season's MVP.

"He's going to get better and better as he understands the offense and what we're trying to do," Nash said. "I'm amazed that the guy can come in after not playing for so long and not even practice with us and get 20 points."

Orlando coach Brian Hill couldn't help but think the Magic let one get away.

"We weren't able to execute down the stretch," Hill said. "We had every chance to win the game, but we made a couple of defensive mistakes at the end in transition and they got a couple of easy baskets."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Seahawks Release Dyson, Sharper, & Harden

From Seahawks.com:

The Seattle Seahawks released cornerbacks Andre Dyson and Michael Harden, along with linebacker Jamie Sharper the team announced Thursday afternoon.

Dyson joined the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent from Tennessee last season and played in 10 games starting five. He finished the season with 21 tackles, an interception, 10 passes defensed, a forced fumble and recovery. His lone interception was returned 72 yards at Philadelphia (12/5) for a touchdown, the same game in which he also returned a fumble 25 yards for a score. He sprained his left ankle on the second touchdown and was inactive the final four weeks of the regular season. Dyson missed weeks six and seven with a right hamstring injury. Dyson played in all three postseason games and started in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.

Sharper also joined the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent last season. Sharper started the first eight games of the season before being placed on injured reserve after suffering from an infection in his right knee. Sharper totaled 37 tackles and a forced fumble in eight games.

Harden was signed as a free agent for the final four games of the regular season. He played cornerback in all four games and totaled five tackles. He was inactive all three games during the postseason.

Hall Inks One Year Deal

From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

Versatile infielder Bill Hall and the Brewers agreed on a one-year contract before Thursday's Cactus League opener, but the team hopes to continue talks about a multiyear extension.

About an hour before he started at third base against the Giants, Hall visited the upstairs offices at Maryvale Baseball Park and formally signed a 2006 contract, reportedly worth $420,000.

Hall was the final member of Milwaukee's 40-man roster to agree to terms and is eligible for salary arbitration after the season. The Brewers are looking to buy out two of his arbitration years with a deal through 2008.

"I'm on the cover of the [media guide] and they're trying to sign me for a couple years, so I know they want me around for a while," Hall said. "That tells me I'm going to be a part of the team."

And that feels good after the Brewers brought in another third baseman, veteran Corey Koskie, in a surprising offseason trade with the Blue Jays that likely cost Hall an opportunity to be the everyday starter. Koskie, a left-handed hitter, and Hall, a right-handed hitter, are expected to split duties this season.

"I've always trusted in my ability," Hall said. "But you try to figure out where you're going to fit in, where you're going to be playing."

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the team has had a multiyear offer on the table "for some time," but said Hall's agent, Scott Pucino, expressed a desire to sit down in person with his client sometime next week.

Hall started at third on Thursday because the Giants featured left-hander Noah Lowry and Jack Taschner, and he finished 1-for-3 with a double. Hall is coming off a breakthrough season in which he hit .291 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs while playing three different positions.

Seahawks Sign Carthon & LeSueur to Active Roster

From Seahawks.net:

S Jeremy LeSueur (released by Broncos 9/4, by Jets 11/22, ended regular season on Jets practice squad, ended season on Seahawks practice squad) was added to Seattle's roster on 2/26. RB Ran Carthon (released by Colts 11/30, ended season on Packers practice squad) was added to Seattle's roster on 2/26.

Magic Lose to Warriors 94-98

From Sportsline.com:

Jason Richardson scored 11 of his 25 points in the final 1:49 to lift the Golden State Warriors over the Orlando Magic 98-94 on Wednesday night, ending a four-game losing streak.

Troy Murphy matched his season high with 20 rebounds and added 14 points as the Warriors won in their first meeting of the season with the Magic.

Derek Fisher had 18 points and 10 assists for his second consecutive double-double and just the fifth of his career. He recorded three in a row during the 1997 season and then none until Monday night. Mike Dunleavy added 12 points.

Dwight Howard had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Magic, who lost their 10th straight on the road and fell to 6-23 away from Orlando. DeShawn Stevenson added 14 points, Keyon Dooling had 13 and Darko Milicic 12.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Magic Lose to Lakers 87-102

From Sportsline.com:

Grant Hill, obviously getting over the sports hernia problem that's dogged him, led the Magic with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Hill said. "I'll just continue to work and get in better shape, continue to work with the new guys and just try to get better. It's tough out there. I'm sweating like crazy."

Dwight Howard had 15 points and nine rebounds for Orlando, losing for the ninth time in 10 games.

After a close first half, the Lakers took control with a 22-4 run over a six-minute span of the third quarter.

Mihm's 19-foot jumper gave Los Angeles a 52-48 lead and started the run. A steal by Parker that set up Odom's dunk over Howard gave the Lakers a 62-50 advantage, then Bryant's 3-pointer at the 3:18 mark of the quarter made it 72-52.

Parker had 10 points in the period to help Los Angeles outscore Orlando 38-23. The Lakers were up 82-64 heading into the fourth quarter.

"We tried to come out with some energy, especially in the third quarter, and we just got out and got some easy transitions buckets and executed our offense," Parker said.

The Magic closed to 94-85 with 4:11 remaining, but Bryant's late scoring spree kept them at bay.

Mihm led the Lakers with 10 first-half points and they were up 44-41 at the break.

Hill had 10 for Orlando, which shot 57 percent to Los Angeles' 43 percent. But the Magic turned the ball over 12 times, to the Lakers' three.

"We gave up 17 points in the first half just off our turnovers, and we just can't do that," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "I was really disappointed in our play at the offensive end tonight - not so much because we had new people or anything like that, but just our carelessness with passing the basketball.

"When you give a team 24 points and you're just handing it to them, it's tough to win a game."