For months it’s seemed like an inevitability, and on Thursday it became a reality: Andy Dalton’s tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals has come to an end after nine seasons.
Dalton leaves behind a complicated legacy in Cincinnati. The Red Rifle led the Bengals to the post-season in each of his first five seasons with the team and to four straight 10-win seasons from 2012-15. He finishes his Bengals career as the team’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 204, and was clearly loved by the community.
On the flip side, Cincinnati failed to win a single playoff game in Dalton’s time under centre and a terrible stretch of play by the team over his final years led to the firing of long-time head coach Marvin Lewis, and now, the 32-year-old’s release after the team selected Joe Burrow with the first-overall pick last week.
But it’s not unreasonable to believe Dalton could still serve as a capable bridge starter in the right situation as a team searches for its quarterback of the future. Worst-case scenario, the Katy, Texas native could be a high-end backup for one of the numerous teams in need of one right now.
So where could Dalton end up after being cut by the only NFL team he’s ever known? Here is a look at three potential destinations.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Replacing Tom Brady was always going to be a tough situation for whoever takes the job, and the scrutiny Dalton would face if he started under centre in Week 1 next season would be immense. But this move would make a lot of sense.
If anyone could reinvigorate Dalton, it would be Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels — two coaches who have built their NFL reputations on getting the most out of other teams’ cast-offs.
And with Brady taking his talents to Tampa, the Patriots are left with a lot to be desired on the quarterback depth chart. Right now, sophomore Jarrett Stidham is slotted as QB1, and although there’s buzz the team really likes Stidham’s potential, the 23-year-old has thrown just four NFL passes… and one was a pick-six in relief of Brady last September.
Behind Stidham is Brian Hoyer, a 34-year-old veteran journeyman who has a 16-22 record as a starter with six different teams. None of his 38 career starts have been with the Patriots, where Hoyer has spent parts of five of his 11 seasons in the NFL.
The Patriots didn’t draft a quarterback like many expected they would. They did sign a pair of undrafted free-agent signal callers in Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, but neither should be expected to make a contribution in 2020.
So, why not bring in Dalton? There’s no risk for the Patriots, who could likely get the veteran signed to a reasonable contract, and the team’s future at the position is very much a question mark.
Plus, we’d all love to see Dalton’s Patriots defeat Brady’s Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV in Tampa next February.
The search for an answer at quarterback has been a rollercoaster for the Jaguars, and what a wild ride it’s been.
Since David Garrard’s final season with Jacksonville in 2010, Duval County has seen seven different starting quarterbacks under centre for its team, even with Blake Bortles getting the nod in 73 games between 2014-18.
Most recently, the signing of Nick Foles to a monstrous contract last off-season was a nightmare, and now the NFL’s Moustache King, Gardner Minshew, is pencilled in as Jacksonville’s starter for next season. Minshew was fun to watch in 12 starts last season, but he was far from perfect and there’s no guarantee he’s the answer in Jacksonville.
Enter, Dalton. The Jaguars are reportedly interested in him, and Dalton would immediately jump over current backup Joshua Dobbs and 2020 sixth-rounder Jake Luton on the depth chart.
He’d also likely push Minshew for the starting job as Dalton has a history with new Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who held the same role in Cincinnati from 2011-13 when Dalton played some of his best football.
The jobs of general manager David Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone are likely on the line this season despite what has been a full-scale rebuild this off-season. Bringing a veteran like Dalton into the quarterback room could help in mentoring Minshew, if that’s the direction the Jaguars want to go, or Dalton could take over under centre and maybe earn the team a couple more wins than it’s currently expecting.
Given Dalton’s status as the long-time starting quarterback of one of Pittsburgh’s fiercest rivals, this destination may not be all that likely, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a smart signing.
Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return next season at full health after elbow surgery ended his 2019 campaign, but that doesn’t change the fact that Big Ben is 38 years old and has started all 16 games just four times in 16 seasons with the Steelers.
That means there’s a good chance Pittsburgh will need to turn to its backup quarterback at some point in 2020 and if that backup is one of Mason Rudolph or Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the Steelers are in trouble.
Pittsburgh would have likely have made the post-season in 2019 if not for the play of its backups, and the Steelers would probably feel much better about turning to Dalton next season, should Roethlisberger go down, than Rudolph or Hodges — even if he’s not a fan favourite.
NBPA approves 22-team format to resume NBA season – Sportsnet.ca
The National Basketball Players Association has signed off on the 22-team, return-to-play format for the NBA, the union announced in a statement Friday.
The NBPA said its Board of Player Representatives has approved further negotiations on the plan with the league and various details still need to be hashed out.
“The acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the statement reads.
The league’s Board of Governors approved the proposal for restarting the 2019-20 season on Thursday. The plan would see the campaign resume next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla.
The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that other aspects of the return-to-play plan were discussed by the NBPA on a call with its Board and Player Representatives on Friday afternoon, including:
• Two to three exhibition tilts before the regular season
• A maximum of 1,600 people on the Disney World campus
• Daily COVID-19 testing and a minimum seven-day quarantine if a player is found positive
• The NBA will continue to play if a player contracts the novel coronavirus
• Players and family must stay inside the bubble
• Potential manufactured crowd noise using NBA 2K video game sound
• A proposed 35-person travel party limit
• Potential three-hour practice windows for teams
• No blood tests in Orlando for substances that fall under the league’s anti-drug policy.
The NBPA reportedly also said players will receive their full paycheques after taking a 25 per cent reduction in May.
Additionally, Charania reports that the union told players a Dec. 1 start to the ’20-21 campaign is “unlikely” and it plans to negotiate the date.
'Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer and become the GOAT', says former World No. 1 – Tennis World USA
Former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic was the protagonist of a long interview on Eurosport, where he commented on all the news that gravitates around the world of tennis. The former World number 1, who retired from the circuit at the end of 2016, has won 15 singles titles during his career, including Roland Garros in 2008.
She also reached a final in Paris in 2007 and one at the Australian Open in 2008. She was at the top of the world ranking from 9th June to 10th August 2008 and then from 18th August to 7th September of the same year (for a total of 12 weeks).
Ivanovic: ‘Djokovic will break Federer’s Slam record’
Ana had a recent talk with former world no.10 Barbara Schett-Eagle. She talked about Kim Clijsters: “I have been watching some of her matches and she has been striking the ball amazingly well, but I really hope she can get back to that level to play like she used to,” Serbia’s 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic, talking to Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi, said on Wednesday.
“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be easy after being out for so many years. It’s amazing what she achieved. I still respect her so much, it’s just difficult to imagine now after having three kids and being out for so long to make a comeback,” Ivanovic, who retired in 2016, aged 29, said.
“Not because she’s not fit, but because your body just reacts differently. When you are out of competition you realise how much fine-tuning is necessary and she’s been out a while”. When asked about her opinion about Novak Djokovic and the opportunity for him to break Federer’s slam record, Ana sounded rather positive.
“In tour we were very close friends, but then later over the years he had his own path and I had my own path, but what he achieved is really amazing,” Ivanovic said. “Yeah. Probably. He has time working for him.
He still has a few years left and he definitely has a big chance of doing it and that’s one of his goals probably,” she added.
A spy and an armbar: The night ‘India’ welcomed Amanda Nunes to MMA – MMA Fighting
“Let me rewind the tape here… There’s a drawer we open and memories come back.”
The first and only woman to win multiple UFC belts, Amanda Nunes, returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 250 to once again defend her throne when she takes on Felicia Spencer in Las Vegas. Like many other MMA stars, however, her career actually started with a defeat — and the woman responsible for it had a few tricks up her sleeve.
A mixed martial arts pioneer in Brazil, Ana Maria “India” received a call from Prime MMA promoter Luiz Fernando Menezes with an offer to be part of the company’s second show on March 8, 2008. It was scheduled for International Women’s Day, and he wanted women competing on it.
India was training under experienced boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea in Salvador and had previous experience in MMA, while Nunes, a 19-year-old protege under Edson Carvalho, was looking to make her debut in a cage. India was coming off a long layoff due to a knee injury and decided to collect as much as information as possible about her upcoming foe.
“I had six knee surgeries throughout my career and I was coming off one of them, just five months before the fight, and I never heard of Amanda before,” Ana Maria says. “A friend of mine trained at Edson Carvalho’s gym and I asked him if he could to the gym and film her a little bit so I could check her out [laughs].”
The experienced fighter received some inside information about Nunes, and only heard great things about her.
“Ana, this girl trains really hard,” the “spy” allegedly told Nunes’ opponent. “She sleeps in the gym and watches fights on computer all day everyday.”
“He told me she was really tough on the feet, with her background in karate, and very good on the ground,” Ana Maria says. “Since I was coming off the knee surgery and one leg was two inches shorter than the other one, I didn’t want to waste any time on the feet. I shouldn’t even be fighting, but I’m a fighter and we always think we can pull it off.”
India’s strategy was to take Nunes to the ground as quick as possible, but “The Lioness” started off with a leg kick followed by a combo of punches. Nunes was “fiery, she wanted to take your head off, but often got too emotional,” Ana Maria recalls.
She took advantage of Nunes’s aggression, pulling guard and snapping a tight armbar that forced the tap.
“35 seconds,” Ana Maria recalls. “A kick, three punches, I shot for a takedown, she sprawled, I pulled guard and got the armbar. We could see how hungry she was back then, her will to fight… You could see she was good.”
Nunes eventually joined Academia Champion in Salvador and trained with India, but saw a chance to move overseas as a way to improve as a mixed martial artist.
“She always told me she would go to the United States and only come back with the belt in her hands,” Ana Maria says. “She was the one to beat Ronda (Rousey). She said she would beat Cris (Cyborg) one day. She slept with a computer by her bed to watch videos of their fights. She was always very focused and determined.”
Their careers went different directions. Nunes eventually signed with Strikeforce and then joined the UFC, where she climbed to the top in two different weight classes — and beat both Rousey and Cyborg by first-round knockout.
Ana Maria became a popular name in Brazil after being on the cast of a Survivor-esque reality TV competition in 2009, but never made it to the big leagues in the sport. India often wonders if she was just born in the wrong era, where women simply didn’t get the same opportunity as men.
“I’ve asked myself a lot,” she says. “People didn’t understand why I was fighting, they said there was no event for women. I said it would be big one day and they called me crazy. PRIDE was the biggest promotion in the world, then Dana White said there would never be women fighting in the UFC, and I’ve always said they had nowhere to run.
“I wanted to fight, and I believed it would be big. I didn’t have someone to look up to, but I was doing it because I thought it was cool. If it wasn’t for me, Vanessa Porto, Michelle Tavares and others, these girls wouldn’t have the space they have today. That’s why I won’t complain. Someone has to be first, someone has to open the way for others.”
At 41 with a record of seven wins and five defeats (she says two victories are missing from online databases), India is open to the idea of taking a farewell bout if the terms are good. In 2018, back when she was training at Demian Maia’s team in Sao Paulo, Ana Maria says she received a “laughable” offer to fight for the first time since 2014.
“If there’s someone out there willing to pay, I’ll fight,” Ana Maria says. “I’ve had arguments with promoters for treating us like clowns. They set the circus up with a bunch of clowns. Everyone gets paid except for the fighters. It’s absurd. What’s the point of being part of a show if I’m getting paid nothing?”
Even if she doesn’t get her shot at a proper goodbye to the sport she helped build, Ana Maria India knows she was one of the pillars to get it where it is today.
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