Malcolm Butler is getting a huge paycheck from the Titans despite his Super Bowl benching

Signing with the Titans will free him from Belichick’s whims and give him a longer leash as he works to justify his first big-money contract. While Butler doesn’t have the elite size that’s been valued more and more in recent seasons (he’s 5’11), his fluid hip movement makes him an able man-to-man coverage corner who can follow everyone from slot receivers to deep threats. He’s been even better in the playoffs; in seven postseason starts he’s knocked down eight passes and made 33 tackles.

It’s also not exactly a complete change of pace for Butler. In Tennessee he’ll join former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, who is the Titans’ new head coach, and general manager Jon Robinson, who cut his teeth as a Patriots scout.

At 28 years old, Butler’s best seasons may still be in front of him. He’ll join a Titans secondary that can use the help after finishing No. 25 in the NFL in passing yards allowed. But with Butler, Logan Ryan, Adoree Jackson, and Kevin Byard in the secondary, good times could be ahead for the Tennessee defense.

Richburg’s deal, perhaps not coincidentally, resembles Mack’s.

The former Giants center reportedly gets a five-year, $47.5 million contract from the 49ers, just a tad more than the five years and $45 million Mack got in his deal with the Falcons.

Mack’s contract included $28.5 million in guarantees, identical to the mark Richburg hit in his deal.

Richburg doesn’t have the pedigree Mack had when he made the move, but the 26-year-old is also hitting free agency four years younger than Mack was when he signed with Atlanta.

In all, this is a very reasonable move to make a massive upgrade on the interior for San Francisco.

Jeremy Maclin didn’t really impress after making that move last year, but Baltimore got plenty out of Steve Smith several years back, and they’re making a significant bet on Grant given the contract terms.

I’m more inclined to like the one-year, $5 million deal they gave former Cardinals standout John Brown.

QB Chase Daniel, Bears Grade: D+ Daniel signed a two-year, $10 million deal to back up Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago, which makes sense given that he knows the system new coach Matt Nagy will be running after spending time in Kansas City. packers_097

Meet 18-year-old Kotaro Kiyomiya, Japan’s next superstar slugger

It’s not uncommon for high school baseball hitters in Japan to be asked to change their swings or their approach at the plate when they become professionals. Even someone with as well-honed of a swing as Ichiro Suzuki had to deal with that issue when he first joined the Orix Blue Wave in 1992. His manager, Shozo Doi, wanted hitting coach Kenichiro Kawamura to “fix” Ichiro’s swing. Thankfully, Kawamura resisted, and the rest is history.

On Monday after the scrimmage, a reporter asked Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama whether there was anything about Kiyomiya’s swing that needs to be fixed.

“He does not need to fix his hitting approach. It is not only for Kiyomiya, but also for everyone (all the rookies),” Kuriyama said. “I have seen a lot of players. Everyone who comes into professional baseball has a very good strength. Everyone has to compete with his own weapon, otherwise he can not survive. If he gets into trouble, that is the time to change. I think it is not a good way to change something when somebody is just starting his professional career.”

Haffey/Getty Images Watkins was an absolute terror in the red zone and little more during his lone season in Los Angeles.

He was thrown the ball nine times in the red zone and came away with seven touchdowns, which was second among wideouts behind Jarvis Landry.

Nobody else came close to that touchdown rate, and while Watkins has the size and talent to excel in the red zone, he needed 19 targets to score five red zone touchdowns during his time in Buffalo.

Otherwise, he may struggle to find suitors on the open market. The 2018 free agent class is talented but flawed at wideout with risky signings like Sammy Watkins, Terrelle Pryor, and Josh Gordon falling in behind top option Jarvis Landry in the desirability rankings. Nelson would be a heady addition if healthy, but also a risky one. Though he was able to overcome a torn ACL and operate at an All-Pro level, outmaneuvering the slow march of time will be even tougher.

The Bills just guaranteed Ivory $3.3 million, which seems inexplicable for a team which already has the league’s most expensive running back in LeSean McCoy.

Bill Barnwell, ESPN Staff Writer Friday, March 3 Trade: Rams deal DE Robert Quinn to Dolphins Grade for Rams: C+

Grade for Dolphins: C+ The Rams decision to trade Robert Quinn is a reflection on what the 27-year-old has looked like since undergoing back surgery in January of 2016.

Quinn has just 12.5 sacks and 18 knockdowns over the past two years. packers_007

The 49ers made the signing official on Sunday.

“Richard is one of the premier competitors Kyle and I have ever encountered,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “We look forward to him sharing his wealth of experience and his passion for the game of football with our team. Richard has long been looked at as the prototypical corner in our scheme, and the opportunity to have him mentor our players was one we needed to attack. Most importantly, we are excited to have a championship-caliber corner on the field for the 49ers.”

Keenum is also a player the Broncos felt they knew well given the team’s senior personnel adviser and former coach Gary Kubiak coached Keenum for two seasons when Kubiak was the Texans’ head coach.

Kubiak has an increased role in the Broncos’ personnel evaluations this year and has been a major voice as Denver prepares for free agency and the draft.

Cousins was named the starter in the summer of 2015, after Griffin suffered a head injury. He started every game over the next three seasons, helping the Redskins win the NFC East in 2015. In those three seasons, Cousins threw for a combined 13,176 yards and 81 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

The Redskins used the franchise tag on him each of the last two seasons after no long-term deals could be reached.

“It was a great experience for me because I got to share a lot of things that a lot of fans never get a chance to see,” Brady said of the series. “I think there’s always a balance between a private life and a public life, and I think I chose a very public profession. With the amount of fans that have really enjoyed the show, when I reflect back on the decision to do it, I think, ‘What a great decision’ because so many people have come up to me and said, ‘Thanks for doing that, it was really cool to see.’

In lieu of possibly netting a compensatory pick for Smith, the Eagles instead take home another cheap cornerback in Worley, who started 25 games over his two seasons in Carolina. Worley hasn’t developed as much as fellow 2016 draftee James Bradberry and fell into a rotation at times with Kevon Seymour, who should now have a clear path to a starting role.buccaneers_094

NBA community mourns death of player agent Henry Thomas

Henry “Hank” Thomas, an influential agent for many NBA players, died Saturday. He was 64.

Among the players represented by Thomas included Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Finley, Shaun Livingston, Tim Hardaway and Udonis Haslem.

The NBA issued a statement, calling Thomas a “dear friend to so many around the league.”

“The NBA family mourns the passing of Henry Thomas. He was an important influence in the lives of countless players and a dear friend to so many around the league. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Henry’s family, friends and colleagues.”

The NBA family mourns the passing of Henry Thomas. He was an important influence in the lives of countless players and a dear friend to so many around the league. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Henry’s family, friends and colleagues.

Isaiah Thomas said Saturday he did ask Kevin Love why he didn’t come back to support his teammates after leaving with an injury during the Cavaliers’ loss to the Thunder last Saturday, but he vehemently denied calling out his teammate.

“Whoever reported that it was, and we was bashing Kevin Love, there was nothing to bash him about,” Thomas told reporters after practice Saturday, via ESPN. “We just wanted to know where he was and why he didn’t play.”

It’s a fact the Cavaliers have been one of the worse defenses in the league all season. Cleveland is allowing 109.6 points through 47 games this season which is 25th in the NBA. However, since Thomas has been back, Cleveland is allowing 117 points per game. Thomas has actually missed two of those outings. In the nine games Thomas has been on the court the Cavaliers are allowing 121.8 points per game.lions_026