Lead Off with Ziggy and Scotty Mac
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are reunited, now what’s next for the Buccaneers?
April 22 2020
The time has finally come. All the hype, rumour and misdirection ends Thursday evening as Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft begins. My final mock draft is based on a combination of a team’s weak points, best player available, and prospect depth at position groups.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)
Team needs: QB, OL, Edge
Pick: Joe Burrow (QB), LSU
No need to change this pick for Cincinnati. Rumour has it that the coaching staff is already sharing the playbook with Burrow as they get ready to make the Heisman Trophy winner their franchise quarterback.
Lock it in: Burrow comes home to Ohio as a Bengal.
Last Week: Joe Burrow (QB), LSU
2. Washington Redskins (3-13)
Team needs: Edge, OL, TE
Pick: Chase Young (DE), Ohio State
Could Washington entertain trade offers if a QB-hungry team wants to pay a king’s ransom to move up to second overall? Sure, but I wouldn’t. Young proved to be a different species of pass-rusher after breaking the Bosa brothers’ records at Ohio State.
With power, speed and agility, he can stuff the run and force offensive coordinators to gameplan specifically for him. To me, Young is the greatest overall talent in this draft class and the Redskins would be foolish to let him get away.
Last Week: Chase Young (DE), Ohio State
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1)
Team needs: CB, DL, Edge
Pick: Jeff Okudah (CB), Ohio State
In my Mock Draft 1.0 I had the jack of all trades/master of none hybrid defender Isaiah Simmons heading to the Motor City. While head coach Matt Patricia’s imagination on how to use him would run wild, the Lions instead decide to take care of their hole at cornerback.
Okudah is a set-it-and-forget-it Pro Bowl–level CB. He’s got the height (6’1”) to challenge taller receivers and the speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash time) to keep up with anyone, and is thick enough at 205-pounds to withstand punishment.
This is a safe, no-brainer selection if Detroit doesn’t trade down.
Last Week: Isaiah Simmons (LB, S), Clemson
4. New York Giants (4-12)
Team needs: OL, Edge, WR
Pick: Tristin Wirfs (OT), Iowa
Mekhi Becton’s flagged drug test in Indianapolis scares off the Giants old-school, conservative GM Dave Gettleman. Instead New York beefs up their offensive line with Wirfs, who’s started games on both the right and left sides at Iowa.
Wirfs lit up the combine drills and is arguably the most versatile of the four highest rated tackles in this 2020 draft group. The G-Men have some flexibility since Nate Solder is still under contract at LT, which means they can ease in their 6’5” rookie at RT.
Last Week: Mekhi Becton (OT), Louisville
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11)
Team needs: QB, OL, S
Pick: Justin Herbert (QB), Oregon
The first shocker of the night! The wild card, of course, is how comfortable the Dolphins, or any other team, are with Tua Tagovailoa’s injury history. In this scenario, they forego the #TankforTua ideology, and 6’6″ Herbert is the choice.
Herbert’s an accurate thrower who can chuck it to any part of the field. His mobility and size combination reminds me of Buffalo’s Josh Allen. The Eugene, Oregon, native requires some quality coaching to improve on his decision making under duress and not staring down the targeted receiver. Miami can roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick under centre until Herbert is ready.
Last Week: Tua Tagovailoa (QB), Alabama
6. L.A. Chargers (5-11)
Team needs: QB, OL, CB
Pick: Tua Tagovailoa (QB), Alabama
The Chargers unveiled their new uniforms Tuesday and now add the star power they desperately need in Tagovailoa. Behind the Rams in the Los Angeles market when it comes to popularity, the Bolts are fine red-shirting Tua as the future face of the franchise.
While the dynamic dual-threat QB fully heals from his barrage of college football injuries, he can learn behind Tyrod Taylor. The mobile journeyman veteran’s skill set is similar to Tua’s, making him the perfect mentor.
Personally, I feel Tagovailoa will burn out in the NFL because of his laundry list of ailments history. Two ankle surgeries, a concussion, wrist, finger, broken nose, and of course the major hip issue. There always seems to be something nagging the Alabama product.
Last Week: Justin Herbert (QB), Oregon
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Team needs: DL, LB, CB
Pick: Derrick Brown (DT), Auburn
Carolina fills a glaring gap on the D-Line with the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Brown’s agility and quickness in close quarters are rarely seen from a 320-pound man. He won’t be an interior sack monster like Aaron Donald, but his natural power makes him a Day 1 difference maker.
Last Week: Jeff Okudah (CB), Ohio State
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1)
Team needs: OL, Edge, TE
Pick: Jedrick Wills (OT), Alabama
I love this pick for the Cardinals. Wills played right tackle for the southpaw Tua at Alabama, but also possesses the athleticism to project as an LT or guard. The Crimson Tide standout is used to protecting smaller quarterbacks, and Arizona must keep the sub-5’11” Kyler Murray as clean as possible.
Building the offensive line makes a lot of sense here since the Cards already took care of wide receiver in the lopsided trade for DeAndre Hopkins.
Last Week: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
Team needs: CB, DL, OL
Pick: Isaiah Simmons (LB, S), Clemson
Arguably the most exciting defensive prospect in this draft falls into Jacksonville’s lap. Even though the club already has Myles Jack at linebacker and signed Joe Schobert in free agency, Simmons is the best player available. He can help insert some of the missing swagger back into the Jaguars defence as a multi-dimensional tool. An in-the-box safety, LB, blitzer, run-stopper, and coverage man, Simmons never needs to come off the field.
A concern for the 6’3” Clemson Tiger is whether coming into the league without a natural position will slow his ramp-up time. Especially entering this season, which will have limited off-season on-field interaction at best.
Last Week: Derrick Brown (DT), Auburn
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10)
Team needs: OL, S, LB
Pick: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia
The Browns may target Iowa’s Tristin Wirfs since the front office is analytics focused and in-part evaluates talent using SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness) scores. Wirfs was first in this formula amongst this tackle class. However, in this mock he is off the board and Cleveland chooses an excellent consolation prize in Thomas.
Out of the widely considered “big four” OTs, Thomas is the most experienced left tackle. The 21-year-old started at LT the past two seasons at an All-American level and is the safest bet as a plug-and-play option. New GM Andrew Berry already addressed the right side of the line by signing free agent Jack Conklin, and finishes keeping Baker Mayfield safe by making this selection.
Last Week: Tristin Wirfs (OT), Iowa
11. New York Jets (7-9)
Team needs: OL, Edge, WR
Pick: Mekhi Becton (OT), Louisville
The run on tackles continues as New York opts for the freakishly athletic Becton. This Louisville OT’s flagged drug tests at the scouting combine doesn’t scare off the Jets who elect to protect Sam Darnold and swing back for a WR in a later round.
At 6’7” and 324 pounds, Becton’s potential ceiling is the highest of any O-lineman in this draft… even if the bust potential is up there, too.
Last Week: Ceedee Lamb (WR), Oklahoma
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9)
Team needs: CB, DL, WR
Pick: Ceedee Lamb (WR), Oklahoma
The Raiders definitely need to upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, but how can they let someone like Lamb slip away? Since all wide receivers are still on the board at this point, GM Mike Mayock can scoop up whatever flavour of playmaker he wants. The offence has to try to close the gap with the firepower of division rival Kansas City. A unit of Lamb alongside Tyrell Williams, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow starts to look pretty menacing.
This Oklahoma Sooner is the total package. Averaging an impressive 21.4 yards after the catch in 2019, Lamb’s reliable hands and ability to stretch the field or pull away in the slot earns him the top WR spot on my list.
Last Week: Henry Ruggs III (WR), Alabama
13. San Francisco 49ers (from 7-9 Colts)
Team needs: WR, CB, OL
Pick: Jerry Jeudy (WR), Alabama
Kyle Shanahan’s offence is primarily centred around tight end George Kittle and the wide-zone rushing scheme. However, this wide receiver corps is razor thin following the departure of Emmanuel Sanders. Deebo Samuel was exceptional last season and now Jimmy Garoppolo gets ankle-breaking Jeudy to target as well.
The Alabama junior is a diverse route runner with blistering speed (4.45-second 40-yard sprint) who can take the top off of any secondary. My only issue with Jeudy is his concentration drops.
Last Week: CJ Henderson (CB), Florida
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
Team needs: OL, RB, S
Pick: Josh Jones (OT), Houston
The necessity to keep Tom Brady safe trumps other positional needs. Josh Jones leads off the next wave of offensive linemen as a four-year LT in Houston under multiple systems. He has a solid foundation of techniques, but does need to improve on withstanding the bull rush. Jones should compete for a starting job on the left or right side immediately.
Last Week: Jedrick Wills (OT), Alabama
15. Denver Broncos (7-9)
Team needs: WR, CB, OT
Pick: Henry Ruggs III (WR), Alabama
There’s some chatter that the Broncos are angling to trade up to secure their receiver of choice. But if Ruggs falls to No. 15, then Denver can stand pat as the fastest WR at the combine is an excellent complement to the larger Courtland Sutton.
I’m not sold on Ruggs’ overall durability because of his slender, 188-pound frame and 5’11” height. To me he’s more of a Travis Benjamin type, who was a fourth round pick. In the short-term though, sophomore QB Drew Lock adds a speedy new toy.
Last Week: Jerry Jeudy (WR), Alabama
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Team needs: CB, DL, Edge
Pick: CJ Henderson (CB), Florida
The Falcons try to update their 22nd-ranked pass defence by selecting one of the top press-man corners in this draft. Henderson is lightning fast, and at 6’1” and 204 pounds he can hang with any receiver. Outside of some tackling concerns, Henderson is technically sound and should challenge for a starting role.
Last Week: Javon Kinlaw (DE), South Carolina
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Team needs: CB, Edge, S
Pick: Jeff Gladney (CB), TCU
This looks like an excellent match of team need meeting talent. Gladney’s a bad man (I mean that in a good way!) as a hard-hitting tackler with a nasty demeanour. Despite standing just 5’10” he’s able to remain physical with taller receivers without drawing excessive penalties.
The Cowboys will have to be confident that Gladney’s past knee surgeries won’t be an issue moving forward.
Last Week: Xavier McKinney (S), Alabama
18. Miami Dolphins (from 8-8 Steelers)
Pick: D’Andre Swift (RB), Georgia
Miami requires assistance on defence, but elect to snag the first running back in Swift. He comes from the Georgia NFL RB factory that’s recently churned out stars like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Todd Gurley.
The Dolphins get a polished three-down back who can run, catch and protect. Link Swift up with Jordan Howard, and all of a sudden this South Beach backfield is no longer a laughingstock around the league.
Last Week: Austin Jackson (OT), USC
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from 8-8 Bears)
Pick: Javon Kinlaw (DT), South Carolina
GM Mike Mayock probably would’ve preferred a cornerback here, but can’t resist defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. The Raiders inject explosiveness into their interior D-Line with the senior’s quick first step, quality hand attacks and powerful bull rush.
At first glance, Kinlaw’s stats at South Carolina seem average. However, he consistently drew double teams and his body is NFL ready at 6’5” and 324 pounds. If he works on improving his overall technique and lowering pad level, Las Vegas could be looking at a future Pro Bowler.
Last Week: Jeff Gladney (CB), TCU
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 9-7 Rams)
Pick: Brandon Aiyuk (WR), Arizona State
The release of Marqise Lee on Monday means that wide receiver is going to be addressed at some point during this draft. Jacksonville will likely be peeking at running backs as well with all the swirling rumours about a potential Leonard Fournette trade. The Jags own 12 total picks and could always bundle some to take care of their slew of needs.
In this mock, the franchise decides to check playmaking receiver off their to-do list with Aiyuk. Compared to a young Emmanuel Sanders, Aiyuk is somebody you want to get the ball to quickly. His 11.1 average yards after the catch in 2019 — primarily out of slant formations — screams slot receiver, but his pull-away speed means this Sun Devil alum can be lined up anywhere.
I like the fit for the Jags with this smaller wideout (5’11”) as a complement to the larger D.J. Chark.
Last Week: Jaylon Johnson (CB), Utah
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Team needs: WR, LB, CB
Pick: Justin Jefferson (WR), LSU
The Eagles wide receiver room is a wasteland of broken-down veterans and spare-part backups. Quarterback Carson Wentz rejoices as the front office finally provides him a tall, young, sure-handed weapon with straight-away speed.
Justin Jefferson has a nose for the end zone, scoring 18 touchdowns on 111 receptions for national champion LSU in 2019. While he struggles to separate when facing man coverage, the acrobatics to haul down any jump ball should give Wentz the confidence to lob it up to him without hesitation.
Last Week: Justin Jefferson (WR), LSU
22. Minnesota Vikings (from 10-6 Bills)
Team needs: WR, CB, Edge
Pick: A.J. Terrell (CB), Clemson
With the losses in free agency at cornerback, Minnesota should aggressively attack this position group in the NFL Draft. This 22nd pick is the one that came from Buffalo as part of the Stefon Diggs trade.
Terrell is a smart selection as the Clemson Tiger can be thrown into any scheme on inside or outside coverage. Mirroring abilities, quickness, and a long 6’1” frame allows him to keep close to any WR. Terrell can get a little handsy so that’ll have to be curbed in order to avoid the attention of officials early in his career.
Last Week: A.J. Terrell (CB), Clemson
23. New England Patriots (12-4)
Team needs: QB, OL, Edge
Pick: Austin Jackson (OT), USC
Offensive line depth gets the nod here as the retooling Patriots should ensure their new unproven QB remains upright. Austin Jackson’s a tad unpolished at 20 years old, but has all the potential in the world once his upper-body mechanics catch up to his smooth-sliding lower half.
It seems as though Bill Belichick is comfortable rolling with Jarrett Stidham as Tom Brady’s replacement, which means I’ll rule out picking a developmental quarterback until a later round.
Last Week: K’Lavon Chaisson (DE), LSU
Lead Off with Ziggy and Scotty Mac
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are reunited, now what’s next for the Buccaneers?
April 22 2020
24. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Team needs: LB, CB, DL
Pick: Patrick Queen (LB), LSU
Patrick Queen may have started just one season in Louisiana, but is a supreme athlete and a physical tackler. He’s got elite sideline-to-sideline coverage and can knife through gaps and drop back to track receivers.
His lack of experience may result in some adjustment time; however, Queen owns all the tools to grow into an every-down linebacker.
Last Week: Kenneth Murray (LB), Oklahoma
25. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
Pick: Tee Higgins (WR), Clemson
The Vikings took care of cornerback and now shift their attention to an impact WR to fill the void of Stefon Diggs. Enter Tee Higgins, an athletic freak at 6’4” and 216 pounds. He’s been effective lining up at all three receiver spots, and delivered 25 TDs over the past pair of seasons.
I’m sure Kirk Cousins would enjoy slinging it to a Higgins and Adam Theilen combo.
Last Week: Tee Higgins (WR), Clemson
26. Miami Dolphins (from 10-6 Texans)
Pick: Ezra Cleveland (OT), Boise State
The Dolphins grabbed their future QB, then a stud RB, and now invest to help both on the O-Line.
Ezra Cleveland’s been rising up media draft boards the last few weeks. A three-year starting left tackle at Boise State, his crisp footwork keeps potential edge rushers to the outside. A weakness is upper-body strength, which leaves Cleveland prone to being pushed back into the pocket by powerful ends.
Overall, this is a solid pick that fills a void.
Last Week: D’Andre Swift (RB), Georgia
27. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
Team needs: Edge, OL, DL
Pick: Marlon Davidson (DL), Auburn
An off-season draftniks darling, Davidson’s disruptive nature as an exterior or interior pass-rusher lands him at the end of the opening round. My evaluation has the stout senior translating best to the inside of Seattle’s defensive line. Davidson’s power and sudden burst allows him to collapse pockets, and would be a nice addition to the Seahawks front seven.
Last Week: A.J. Epenesa (DE), Iowa
28. Baltimore Ravens (14-2)
Team needs: LB, OL, DL
Pick: Kenneth Murray (LB), Oklahoma
The cliché “non-stop motor” fits perfectly when it comes to Murray. A relentless pursuer of the ball carrier, he tallied 37 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in his three-year collegiate career. This Oklahoma Sooner is a complete roaming LB who can get after running backs, provide horizontal pass coverage, and also blitz when necessary.
I’m betting that Baltimore’s strong defensive culture will be able to initially mask Murray’s less-than-ideal off-the-snap reaction time.
Last Week: Patrick Queen (LB), LSU
29. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Team needs: Edge, DL, OL
Pick: A.J. Epenesa (DE), Iowa
This is a terrific get for Tennessee at the 29 slot. Epenesa can rotate through the Titans’ 3-4 front as a run stuffer and power rusher who demands attention. Some work still needs to be done on becoming more elusive instead of seeking head-on contact.
Last Week: Marlon Davidson (DL), Auburn
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Team needs: WR, DL, LB
Pick: Jordan Love (QB), Utah State
I’m positive Aaron Rodgers would prefer my choice from Mock 1.0 or a different piece that can assist on another Packers Super Bowl run. Instead, the franchise decides on making succession plans at quarterback.
It would be tough for Green Bay to pass on Jordan Love — whose been compared to a raw Pat Mahomes — and not seek to repeat what they did for Brett Favre/Rodgers many moons ago.
I’m not that high on Love as his decision making, forcing of the ball, and sloppy footwork are red flags for me. But the flashes of talent are definitely going to entice some club to reach for him.
Getting coached up and drinking in the magic of Rodgers for a year or two is the right strategy if the Pack takes this Lambeau Leap of faith.
Last Week: Zach Baun (LB), Wisconsin
31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
Pick: Trevon Diggs (CB), Alabama
San Francisco fans should be thrilled if the draft works out this way. In my scenario, the 49ers land a speedy weapon for Jimmy G at No. 13 and now a linchpin for the secondary. Richard Sherman is on the 18th hole of his career so adding another long cornerback in Diggs makes a lot of sense. It allows the rookie to learn from the veteran, while contributing right away.
With no pick until the fifth round after this, the Niners can now relax as they’ve already addressed a pair of their most obvious weaknesses.
Last Week: Ezra Cleveland (OT), Boise State
32. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Team needs: CB, DL, RB
Pick: Xavier McKinney (S), Alabama
The reigning Super Bowl champs grab the top natural safety to help strengthen their secondary. McKinney would look good next to Tyrann Mathieu and is able to rotate between both safety spots. At Alabama he showcased ballhawk skills, producing five interceptions and five forced fumbles over the last two seasons.
Last Week- Trevon Diggs (CB), Alabama
The Boston Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season.
The Bruins were 44-14-12 and led the NHL with 100 points when the 2019-20 season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The NHL in its Return to Play Plan announcement May 26 said there would be no more regular-season games, instead restarting with eight teams in each conference playing a Qualifying Round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a Seeding Round Robin featuring the top four teams in each conference.
The Bruins had five winning streaks of at least four games, including three of at least six games. They had a 13-game point streak (9-0-4) from Nov. 10-Dec. 5 and ended the season with at least one point in 30 of their final 37 games (24-7-6).
It’s the third time the Bruins have won the Presidents’ Trophy since it was first awarded in 1985-86. They did so in 2013-14, when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round, and in 1989-90, when they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston was led by forward David Pastrnak, who tied Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the NHL lead with 48 goals and was tied with Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers for third in the League with 95 points.
Goalies Tuukka Rask (26-8-6, 2.12 goals-against average, .929 save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak (18-6-6, 2.39 GAA, .919 save percentage) combined for eight shutouts and helped the Bruins allow the fewest goals in the NHL (167, 2.39 per game), earning Boston goalies the William M. Jennings Trophy for the third time (Andy Moog and Rejean Lemelin, 1989-90; Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, 2008-09).
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins won the Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded to the top goal scorer in the NHL, for the 2019-20 season.
Each forward scored 48 goals (Ovechkin in 68 games, Pastrnak in 70) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The League, in its Return to Play Plan announcement Tuesday, said there would be no more regular-season games, and instead would restart with eight teams in each conference playing a Qualifying Round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a Seeding Round Robin featuring the top four teams in each conference.
It’s the ninth time Ovechkin has led the League in goals, including each of the past three seasons; he scored 51 goals in 2018-19 and 49 in 2017-18. Ovechkin also led the League in 2007-08 (65), 2008-09 (56), 2012-13 (32), 2013-14 (51), 2014-15 (53) and 2015-16 (50).
The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin (34 years and 178 days old at time of season pause) is the third-oldest player to lead the NHL in goals, behind Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1962-63 (34 years, 358 days) and Bill Cook of the New York Rangers in 1932-33 (36 years, 165 days).
Ovechkin, who became the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700 goals when he scored against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22, began the season in 13th place on the NHL all-time goals list with 658 and finished it eighth with 706, passing Luc Robitaille (668 goals), Teemu Selanne (684), Mario Lemieux (690), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694). Ovechkin is two goals behind Mike Gartner (708) for seventh.
Ovechkin has 11 seasons of at least 45 goals and was two from reaching 50 for the ninth time in his 15-season NHL career.
Named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017, Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) three times, the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring champion) once, and was the Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year in 2005-06. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), Calder Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award (voted best player) and the Rocket Richard Trophy.
It is the first time Pastrnak, who turned 24 on May 25, has won the Rocket Richard Trophy. He set an NHL career high in goals this season and has increased his total in each of his past five seasons. He has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past four seasons, and his 155 since 2016-17 are third in the NHL behind Ovechkin (181) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (158).
Pastrnak led the League with 20 power-play goals and tied for third in points (95) for the Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the regular season.
NEW YORK — Agent Scott Boras recommends his clients refuse Major League Baseball’s attempt to cut salaries during negotiations with the players’ association, claiming team financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have their origin in management debt financing.
In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Boras wrote that players should not alter terms of the March 26 agreement between MLB and the union that called for players to reduce their salaries to a prorated rate based on a shortened season. MLB on Tuesday proposed a series of tiered reductions that would cause top stars to receive the biggest cuts.
“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”
Boras is baseball’s best-known agent and represented 71 players on active rosters and injured lists as of Aug. 31, the most among player representative firms. His Newport Beach, California-based company negotiated more than $1.2 billion in contracts during the off-season.
Salaries were set to range from $563,500 for players at the major league minimum to $36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole, the latter a Boras client. Under the March agreement, the range would be cut to roughly $285,000 to $18 million for the 82-game regular season MLB has proposed. Under the economic proposal made by MLB this week, the range would be reduced to about $262,000 to $8 million, including shares of a bonus all players would receive if the post-season is played.
“Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made,” Boras said. “If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.”
“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout,” he added. “They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred has said 40% of MLB’s revenue is related to the gate. Teams told the union on May 12 that MLB would lose $640,000 for each game played in empty ballparks without fans. MLB claimed that playing with prorated salaries in empty ballparks would cause a $4 billion loss and give major league players 89% of revenue.
Washington pitcher Max Scherzer, among three Boras clients on the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee, issued a statement late Wednesday night saying “there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions.”
Boras cited the purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family and the redevelopment of Wrigley Field. Debt financing was key to both, he said.
“Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans,” he wrote. “However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players.”
Boras asked clients to “please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request further concessions or deferral of salaries.”
“Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision,” Boras wrote. “But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.”
He added salaries have been flat for several years. The opening day average has been in the $4.4 million rang e since 2016.
Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer addressed Boras on Wednesday on Twitter.
“Hearing a LOT of rumours about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” Bauer tweeted. “If true — and at this point, these are only rumours — I have one thing to say … Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”
Boras declined to comment on Bauer’s remarks.
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