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Tom Brady free agency odds: Bucs new favorites to sign QB – theScore

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New England is no longer in the driver’s seat to retain Tom Brady‘s services.

That’s according to the latest odds from bookmakers, who priced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150) as short favorites to sign Brady away from the Patriots (+110). Those two teams are the clear betting front-runners ahead of Wednesday’s official start to NFL free agency.

TEAMODDS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-150
New England Patriots+110
Los Angeles Chargers+600
San Francisco 49ers+1000
Las Vegas Raiders+1200
Indianapolis Colts+1800
Chicago Bears+5000
Dallas Cowboys+5000
Miami Dolphins+5000

Those odds appear to follow Sunday’s report that Brady is deciding between Tampa Bay and New England. Brady’s preferred destination is apparently San Francisco, but the 49ers will reportedly stick with starter (and former Brady backup) Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Titans were seen as the biggest threats to the Patriots just last week, but Sunday’s contract extension with Ryan Tannehill effectively removes Tennessee from contention. Is it really a two-team race for the 42-year-old quarterback? And if so, is there value on either one?

The case for Tampa Bay

We’ve highlighted the Buccaneers as dark-horse contenders for Brady since early January, but a string of recent free-agent decisions and reports have fueled Tampa Bay’s rise to betting favorite.

On Monday, the Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, allowing quarterback Jameis Winston to hit the market with no restrictions. Even with Winston’s volatile play, it’s rare to see a team give up control on a multi-year starting quarterback without some sort of contingency plan in place. Could Brady be that plan?

It was reported last week that Brady seeks some control over roster-building and play-calling decisions – and that Tampa Bay is willing to oblige. The quarterback has also long been rumored to desire better weapons in the passing game; the Buccaneers boast arguably the best receiving corps on the market, if not in the entire league.

It adds up to an attractive package for Brady, whom Tampa Bay is “all-in” on signing, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. When you consider the financial and geographic benefits of living in Florida, it’s hard to imagine a more appealing new home.

Timing helps New England

In a normal offseason, Tampa Bay might be a bigger favorite to sign Brady. But the Patriots always seem to benefit from the unexpected.

Firstly, Saturday’s passage of the new CBA means the NFL will no longer be operating in the “Final League Year,” which was scheduled for 2020. Among many things, it means teams are once again allowed to structure contracts with more than a 30% yearly salary increase in seasons beyond 2020. That helps the Patriots, who have limited cap space this summer but can now backload deals for Brady and their other free agents.

The lack of free-agent visits due to the coronavirus outbreak also plays a role. If Brady’s going to leave the team he led to six Super Bowls, you’d think it’ll take more than a Skype call and an over-the-phone sales pitch to close the deal. In times of unease, comfort is often the simplest choice.

It’s also the choice many NFL executives expect Brady to make, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who said the signal-caller is perceived to be “slow-playing” the process to force New England to improve his supporting cast. Considering the calculated approach Brady has taken throughout his career, that wouldn’t be a surprise.

Don’t ignore the field

Remember when Brady’s agent met with three teams – the Raiders, Colts, and Chargers – that were seen as the only viable threats to New England? That was two weeks ago. Then the Titans become the front-runners. Then the Niners emerged. Now the Bucs are the odds-on favorites.

We’ve seen this story play out so many times that it’s hard to know what to take seriously. Maybe Tampa Bay really is the favorite. Or maybe Brady goes back to New England. The only consistent name among the outside options has been Los Angeles, which NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport mentioned alongside the Bucs and Pats on Monday.

It’s worth taking a small shot on the Bolts (+600) and Colts (+1800), knowing the entire board could look different a few days from now.

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He’s an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He’s also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

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Four more members of the Ottawa Senators test positive for COVID-19 – Ottawa Sun

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The Ottawa Senators have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus after the club confirmed Wednesday afternoon four more people who made the trip to California have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Senators received the positive test results for the three players and one staff member after eight people were tested by local health authorities because they were having symptoms of the virus when they arrived back home in Ottawa. That brings the total to seven people aboard the club’s Air Canada Jetz charter that returned from California on March 12 that have tested positive for the virus.

Two unnamed players had already been confirmed with having the virus while broadcaster Gord Wilson said publicly Friday night he also had received conformation of a positive test. The club indicated the five players and staff member have all recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread worldwide.

The charter jet was on the runway for a couple of hours at LAX while the Senators were waiting for the final decision from the NHL’s board of governors that the schedule would be postponed while the players also had two days off in Anaheim before taking on the Ducks.

The club haven’t named the players or staff member diagnosed because of privacy laws in Canada and it’s up to the players or staff member to decide if they want to go public.

“Members of the team and staff self-isolated on Friday, March 13, and are all doing well. All test results have now been received, and all those who tested positive have recovered,” the club said in a statement released Wednesday.

“The Ottawa Senators’ medical team continues to monitor players and staff and are following all appropriate and professional guidelines to help ensure the health and safety of our employees and the greater community.”

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told this newspaper in an email Wednesday there aren’t plans to test the whole Senators’ team because of the latest confirmation of positive tests.

“Everyone who had symptoms was tested,” Daly said.”There really is no reason to test anyone else. No one is symptomatic and no one is sick and they all have been in self-quarantine for three weeks.”

Testing was done with local public health officials and nobody was sent for a test unless they were displaying symptoms. Wilson told this newspaper Friday night he wasn’t feeling well and when he checked the symptoms online he felt that he should be tested.

“I went and got tested because I was feeling so run down from California and it was much a fear for (his wife Patricia Boal) going into work as anything,” Wilson said Friday after Boal made the diagnosis public on CTV Ottawa during the supper hour news broadcast. “I was starting to feel pretty low mid-week and that’s when they told Trish that they would do the news from our back yard.

“We’re all internet doctors. You read the symptoms and I’m checking them off as I’m reading along. OK, yeah, I’ve got a runny nose. Okay, yeah, I’ve got pressure on the chest. OK, yes, I’m out of breath. Have I had the chills? Yes, occasionally. Muscle aches? Yes, for sure.”

Wilson said Wednesday afternoon he’s doing much better and is self-isolating at home.

The Senators were the first team to confirm a positive test by an NHL player on March 17 and that came just after the club returned from a trip through California from March 6-to-12 that made stops in San Jose on March 7, Anaheim March 10 and Los Angeles March 11. The Senators were scheduled to play in Chicago on March 13 but returned to Ottawa on March 12 because the league went on pause.

Players were instructed by the league to self-quarantine for 14 days _ preferably in the city where they played _  in an email from deputy commissioner Bill Daly on March 13. Three days later, the league told players they were free to return to their homes across the world but should remain in self-isolation. That period was extended to April 15 in an email to league GM’s Tuesday.

The Senators confirmed they had second case of the coronavirus on March 21 and the Colorado Avalanche, who have had two cases of COVID-19, are the only other team that has been affected by the outbreak.

The Avalanche and Senators were both making their way through California in early-March when it was considered a hotpsot for the coronavirus and a state of emergency had been declared in the area at the time. The Senators faced the Sharks on Saturday night and the Avalanche were in town Sunday before San Jose left on a lengthy road trip.

The Sharks had been warned by the Santa Clara health commission not to allow fans in the stands but went ahead with games against the Senators and Avs anyway because it was a warning and not an order. Neither the Sharks, Ducks or Kings have had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their players or staff.

bgarrioch@postmedia.com

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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Agent says Alexander Barabanov won’t rush NHL decision – TSN

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The NHL season may be paused indefinitely, but the Toronto Maple Leafs’ pursuit of KHL free agent Alexander Barabanov has continued to pick up steam.

Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed his club’s interest in signing the Russian winger during a media conference call on Tuesday.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported that the Leafs and Arizona Coyotes were front-runners for Barabanov’s services, and that both teams had been after him for more than two years.

“He’s going through a process of interviewing teams, and there’s no timeline [on that],” Barabanov’s agent, Dan Milstein, told TSN on Wednesday. “But in another week or less depending [on how things progress], he is going to decide whether to stay in the KHL or come over to North America. There are more than a couple clubs with significant interest.”

Until now though, the 25-year-old had been content growing his game in the KHL. Never drafted by an NHL team, Barabanov has spent the entirety of his seven-year professional career with St. Petersburg SKA.

The 2018-19 campaign was Barabanov’s best, when he produced 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 58 games. His numbers took a dip in 2019-20 (11 goals, nine assists in 43 games), but that hasn’t affected the Leafs’ level of interest or changed what attracted them to Barabanov in the first place.

“He’s strong. He’s not tall (at 5-foot-10), but he’s a very strong winger,” Dubas said on Tuesday. “Tremendous playmaking ability, great skill level in tight. But one of the other things we like most about him is his ability to make plays under pressure and his ability to win pucks, protect pucks when people come after him and use his strength to be able to do that. So, he’s a playmaking winger who also has the ability to finish at the net and we’ll continue to pursue him as best we can.”​

TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button said that in Barabanov, the Leafs would have a player who ”works, has desire, and competes pretty well.” Button sees him in the same vein as former Maple Leafs’ forward Dmytro Timashov, who was a rotating healthy scratch on the team’s fourth line for 39 games this season before being placed on waivers and subsequently claimed by Detroit.

“I don’t think there’s downside to signing free agents like this,” Button said. “Barabanov’s a bottom-of-the-forward-group type player, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Although the global COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Leafs’ personnel from travelling overseas, Dubas said the work put in by senior director of player evaluation Jim Paliafito has already built a solid foundation between the team and players they’re interested in.

That makes it easier to keep expanding those relationships electronically, and the Leafs track record of luring other KHL and European free agents, like Nikita Zaitsev, Calle Rosen and Ilya Mikheyev, boosts their stock as well.

“There are players that we’re interested in and we’re competing with many other teams to try to gain recruitment,” Dubas said. “And our hope is that the ability of the players that have come over from Europe since Jim been with us to quickly transition to pro hockey in North America will be a big help for us.”

It’s especially imperative now that Toronto be creative in making acquisitions. The Leafs are already pressed right up against the salary cap, and with uncertainty surrounding whether the cap will increase at all next season following the league’s pause, filling out the bottom of the roster with players on manageable entry-level deals is all the more important.

“[Paliafito]’s got a great read early on, on who the players are that we’re probably going to look after,” Dubas said. “He does a great job communicating back to the organization and to our player personnel department to take a look at players, whether it’s live or breaking down their video. And then he’s able to begin having conversations with them and their agents during the year to kind of get a handle on it.”

Should Barabanov want any insight on the challenges of jumping into North American hockey, he’s got plenty of sounding boards available to help.

Two of Barabanov’s former teammates with SKA – Igor Ozhiganov and Miro Aaltonen – previously spent one season each in the Leafs’ organization, although Aaltonen only suited up for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

Barabanov has also represented the Russian national team alongside multiple NHLers, including Alexander Ovechkin, winning Olympic gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in 2018 and earning a series of bronze medals (at the 2014 World Juniors, and 2017 and 2019 World Championships).

Those connections could play a key role in pushing Barabanov towards his next destination; one piece of a methodical, long-term process he’s undertaken to make the best choice possible. And he won’t be rushed.

“He’s talking to teams, and him and his wife are considering the interest,” Milstein said. “I’m going to continue working with him and looking at different aspects of his options. He could decide at any time. But this isn’t something that all of a sudden came about. He’s been watching a lot of the NHL games and has a lot of friends in the NHL, he played on a line with Ovechkin [with the national team], played with a lot of NHLers in the past. It’s a variety of different things influencing him.”

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Wimbledon cancelled due to public concerns over coronavirus pandemic – CBC.ca

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Wimbledon was cancelled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.

After an emergency meeting, the All England Club announced that the event it refers to simply as “The Championships” is being scrapped for 2020.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.

Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours would be suspended until at least July 13. They already had been on hold through June 7.

Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

“But following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”

U.S. Open still a go

Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events called off completely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

That includes the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back by 12 months, and the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.

Wimbledon is the first major tennis championship completely wiped out this year because of the coronavirus. The start of the French Open was postponed from late May to late September.

As of now, the U.S. Open is still scheduled to be played in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.

Wednesday’s decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon titles from 2019.

The cancellation also takes away what might have been one of Roger Federer’s best chances to try to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon, where he lost a fifth-set tiebreaker to Djokovic in the last final after holding a pair of championship points. Federer, who turns 39 in August, is currently recovering from knee surgery and planned to return in time for the grass-court circuit.

In a statement last week, the All England Club said that postponing the two-week event would not come “without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface. The club also said then that it already had ruled out “playing behind closed doors” without spectators.

French Open moved to September

The tennis schedule already had been affected by the COVID-19 illness that has spread around the world, with about 20 tournaments postponed or cancelled.

The French Tennis Federation announced March 17 that its Grand Slam tournament was being moved to September.

Hundreds of thousands of people have caught COVID-19, and thousands have died. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Regular day-to-day life has come to a halt in many ways in many parts of the world in recent weeks, and sports has reflected that.

The NBA, NHL and MLB are on hold indefinitely; the Kentucky Derby, Masters and Indianapolis 500 were pushed back several months until September; the European soccer championship — scheduled to end in London on the same day as the Wimbledon men’s final — was postponed from 2020 to 2021.

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