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Source: Bennett reunion with Patriots possible

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There could be a Bennett brothers reunion in New England, with Michael set to join the team via trade and Martellus contemplating a return to football.

The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Friday. With that trade set to be finalized, tight end Martellus Bennett is interested in coming out of retirement to join his brother in New England, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adding Bennett gives the Patriots an affordable rotation piece, and they remain in position to make a strong offer to the younger Flowers.

The Eagles would receive a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft and send Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots, a league source told Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.

Bennett played in 16 games (10 starts) last season and totaled nine sacks. He has 63 sacks over his 10-year career.

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LSU suspends Wade indefinitely amid FBI probe

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LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely, the school announced Friday.

The decision comes a day after reports that FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close what he described as a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit.

"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to us all," read a statement from LSU president/chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva. "As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address the situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between LSU coach Will Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close an offer for a recruit, sources told ESPN.

"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."

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Club cannabis: Will other leagues copy the NHL?

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Player X is in the NHL. After home games, he has a routine. Typically, he'll meet a few teammates at a local restaurant for a late dinner. He likes to order steak after games -- medium rare, with a side salad and mashed potatoes. Then he'll go home.

Player X sometimes has a hard time unwinding; it was a day of unbounded stimulation. He woke up and arrived at the rink for a morning skate and meetings, went home to nap, returned to the arena for warm-ups (bright lights and eardrum-blasting music), then exerted his body for 20-something sub-one-minute shifts during which he shoves, sprints, reaches, shoots, gets hit and sometimes bleeds on the ice. By the time he gets home at night, he needs something to ease the process of getting to bed. So he'll often reach for his weed pen and take a few hits. "Just to relax," he says. "Honestly, it's the easiest and most natural way for me to fall asleep and be ready for the next day."

Because Player X is on a Western Conference team based in a state in which there are broad laws legalizing marijuana, he knows he's not doing anything wrong. Actually, he's doing what he estimates thousands of others who live in his city do every night as well.

And because he plays in the NHL -- and not, say, the NFL, NBA or MLB -- he knows he won't be punished.

Evolving views

Society's views on marijuana are evolving -- fast. On Oct. 16, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. Coupled with results from the midterm elections in the United States, this is the landscape: Of the 31 teams in the NHL, 28 play in states where players have access to legal marijuana, whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes. That's the highest percentage (90.3) of any of the major four North American pro leagues, but hardly an anomaly.

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Barnwell's free-agency and trade grades: Tracking every big move

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Welcome to 2019 NFL free agency. I'm grading the most notable offseason moves -- signings and trades -- below, so come back throughout the month for updates as deals get completed.

The most recent grades and write-ups are at the top, and the first grade goes all the way back to Feb. 7, when the Cardinals added cornerback Robert Alford.

Keep in mind that I'm not grading deals until we get a clearer picture of the money involved. So if you don't see a grade for a deal that has been reported, check back in later.

Jump to a big move:
NYG-CLE trade | DEN-WSH trade | OT Smith | S Weddle

Friday, March 8

The deal: Two years, $12.5 million with $5.25 million guaranteed
Grade: B

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Smith Jr. goes for his first world title against Bivol

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VERONA, N.Y. -- After light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. -- a former construction worker -- had a breakout year in 2016, he appeared headed to a world title fight.

After all, he had scored a major upset with a stunning first-round knockout of contender Andrzej Fonfara and followed it with an even bigger win in the encore when he sent legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement by knocking him clear out of the ring in an eighth-round knockout victory.

And then he appeared on his way to defeating contender Sullivan Barrera in his next fight when he dropped him in the first round. But Barrera got off the deck, broke Smith's jaw and went on to win a unanimous decision in a fight Smith somehow managed to go the distance in despite a brutal injury that sidelined him for 11 months.

But after returning for a quick first-round knockout win against journeyman Melvin Russell in June, Smith is finally getting the opportunity to fight for a world title that he has dreamed about. He will challenge Dmitry Bivol for his 175-pound belt in what many predict will be a fan-friendly fight Saturday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Light heavyweight world titleholder Dmitry Bivol defends his belt against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday in a fight that might be his last in the weight class.

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Six Tide players could surprise this spring

As Alabama football Spring Practice begins, look to these six lesser-known players to step up and elevate themselves into key roles for 2019. With only 13 starters returning on offense and defense, Alabama football offers many opportunities for lesser-known players to earn key roles. The six Crimson Tide players discussed below could make a big step […] Alabama Football: Six Tide players could surprise this spring - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Emmitt Smith's son EJ Smith lands offer from Alabama

Emmitt Smith was one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history, and his son EJ Smith is following in dad’s footsteps.

The four-star running back out of Jesuit High School shared on his Twitter account Wednesday that he received an offer from Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Emmitt’s son has also landed scholarship offers from big-time programs like LSU, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and USC.

Ranked the 96th overall player (247Sports Composite) for the 2020 recruiting class, Smith sure does look the part of a dynamic playmaker.

Clearly, the biggest programs in the nation are following his progress closely. It won’t be long before EJ Smith is doing his thing on national television every Saturday.

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Alabama WR Henry Ruggs reportedly ran 4.25-second 40

Henry Ruggs won’t be among those entering the NFL draft this April, but next year when he comes out of Alabama, his blazing speed will have him on everyone’s radar.

According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Ruggs wowed NFL scouts during ‘Bama’s pro day, which took place on Wednesday.

“I’ve heard that NFL scouts timed Ruggs, who had 11 touchdown catches for the Tide last season, in the 4.25 range in the 40-yard dash,” Zenitz wrote.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that these scouts were hand-timing the runs on Wednesday, and that the NFL Scouting Combine uses laser timing. Regardless, that’s a crazy 40, and his speed shows up on tape regularly, too (like this).

Last year as a sophomore, Ruggs hauled in 46 passes for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

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2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders

In a way too early 2020 Mock Draft, nine Alabama football players are slated as first-round selections. The NFL first-round record is six. Why are we discussing Alabama football players and the 2020 NFL Draft? Normally a Mock Draft so far out would not get much attention. If current projections hold true for the 2019 […] Alabama Football: 2020 NFL Mock Draft loaded with Tide first-rounders - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Breaux & Gentry Shine: Alabama baseball takes two mid-week games to move to 12-2

Coach Brad Bohannon and his Crimson Tide baseball team improved to 12-2 this season with victories on Tuesday, over the Birmingham Blazers , and Wednesday over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Although happy to claim the wins, Bohannon was not entirely pleased with his team’s performance. Both games should have been out of reach early, but late inning woes led to angsty victories. Birmingham scored two in the top of the ninth, and had the tying run aboard before Jeremy Randolph shut the door on the Blazers. The South Dakota State team showed a ton of fight to score three times in the ninth to tie the Tide at four each. The teams battled through 14 innings before Bama could plate the winning run. Alabama defeated Birmingham 4-3, and prevailed over SDS 5-4 in extra innings.

Game One: Won 4-3

Birmingham brought a 9-3 squad to town on Tuesday to battle the Tide. The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m., but because of the cold snap that hit the state, was moved to 3 p.m. Bama has only played four games this season at the originally scheduled time because of weather.

Left-hander Garrett Rukes got the start on the mound for the Tide and pitched three outstanding innings, allowing three singles, with no runs, no walks, and three strikeouts over his 40 pitch stint. Bama dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when John Trousdale led off with a double, advanced on a Jeaux Breaux single, and scored on an RBI fielders choice by Brett Auerbach. Tyler Gentry singled Auerbach in for the other run in the frame.

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10 NFL draft prospects who boosted their stock at the Combine

The NFL Combine, fairly or not, can make or break a player’s draft stock. A bad workout can send someone hurtling, but a good one can turn a Day 2 pick into a first-rounder and a top-20 pick into a top-10 selection.

Which prospects stood out the most in Indianapolis this year? Here are ten players who helped themselves significantly with their on-field showings at the NFL Combine.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray did not work out at the NFL Combine, but he didn’t really need to. He has bigger hands than Baker Mayfield and measured up at 5-foot-10 and 1/8. It’s nitpicking over size, but Murray seems to be tall enough. The question at this point is not whether he’ll be picked in the first round, but instead whether he’ll go first overall. He certainly seems to have solidified his standing just ahead of Dwayne Haskins as the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board, even if his interviews led to some negative reviews.

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Likely top-five pick Quinnen Williams needs finger surgery after combine

Alabama product Quinnen Williams is almost certainly going to be selected in the first five picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, this week the defensive tackle won’t do the bench press at the combine due to a finger injury that will require surgery afterward.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media shared this news on Wednesday afternoon.

In no way should this negatively affect Williams’ draft stock. His power on the gridiron is well-documented.

The former Alabama star could potentially be selected as high as No. 1 or No. 2 overall if the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers stand pat and don’t trade down.

The Morning Bark Newsletter. Emailed daily.

You'll receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams.

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Updated roster weights for Tide players are telling

Alabama football has published its annual roster update and the listed weight changes for some players are strong clues to their 2019 contribution. The newly updated Alabama football roster shows weight changes for quite a few players. The changes are in both directions with added and lost weight. Not every change is significant but several […] Alabama Football: Updated roster weights for Tide players are telling - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Tagovailoa favorite to win Heisman next season

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Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa won't be sneaking up on anyone this year.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has opened odds on the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner with Tagovailoa as the favorite at +250, followed by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at 3-1. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Adrian Martinez (Nebraska) are tied for the next-best odds at 6-1, followed by Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor at 15-1.

"It was close between Tua and Lawrence," Ed Salmons, vice president of risk at The SuperBook, told ESPN. "But we felt Tua wants to finish what he should have won last year."

Last year, Tagovailoa opened as the third favorite at 10-1 odds to win the Heisman at the SuperBook. He became the favorite in August before Nick Saban even declared him the starter, and after an incredible season was as high as a -750 favorite at some New Jersey sportsbooks heading into the SEC championship game.

But an impressive performance by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (opened 20-1) in the Big 12 title game helped him capture the Heisman.

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Kicking Woes a Thing of the Past for Alabama Football?

With the top-ranked kicker in the 2019 recruiting class and the addition of two new special teams assistants to the Alabama Football family, the kicking troubles that have plagued the Tide since the infamous Kick Six may be a thing of the past. For several years, Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama has held its […] Kicking Woes a Thing of the Past for Alabama Football? - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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NFL Combine begins and draft profiles for Tide stars

The NFL Draft process begins in earnest on Tuesday at the annual Combine. Former Alabama football players seek to enhance their status before the NFL Draft in April. The NFL Combine begins Tuesday In Indianapolis. The first group of multiple day arrivals includes former Alabama football players Jonah Williams, Ross Piersbacher, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs. Eleven […] Alabama Football: NFL Combine begins and draft profiles for Tide stars - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Bubble Watch: Under .500 might not be a problem in 2019

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Editor's note: The NCAA tournament Bubble Watch has been updated through games of Sunday, Feb. 24.

If there's one question we here at Bubble Watch receive more than any other, it is this:

"Why isn't my team in Bubble Watch instead of Team X?" Here, Team X always, without fail, refers to a team that has a sub-.500 record in major-conference play.

Let's be even more specific. As of the moment, the following teams would all be in the tournament if the selection were held today, according to Joe Lunardi's latest bracket:

All of these teams are carrying sub-.500 records in conference play, and Bubble Watch mainstays Minnesota and Clemson, perched right on Lunardi's cut line, are similarly underwater in their league games. How is this happening?

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Reports: Rangers ship Hayes to Jets for Lemieux

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The New York Rangers have traded center Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2019 first-round draft pick, winger Brendan Lemieux and a conditional pick, according to multiple reports.

Hayes is expected to plug in on Winnipeg's second line alongside Patrik Laine; this is the second consecutive year the Jets have secured a second-line center at the trade deadline. Last season, Winnipeg acquired Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues -- a move that helped the Jets reach the Western Conference finals.

Lemieux, 22, is a son of longtime NHL player Claude Lemieux. He has nine goals and two assists in 44 games this season.

The Jets were believed to be in on Ottawa Senators center Mark Stone, but the price tag was too high.

Hayes, 26, has 14 goals and 28 assists for 42 points in 51 games this season while averaging a career-high 19:27 a night. He has been a regular in the New York lineup since 2014-15. Hayes has two goals and eight assists in 34 playoff games.

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'Last Chance U' coach resigns after Hitler text

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Independence Community College football coach Jason Brown, featured on Season 3 of the popular Netflix series "Last Chance U," resigned Sunday after allegedly telling a German player on the team, "I am your new Hitler."

Brown posted his resignation letter Sunday night on Twitter, writing "it would be nearly impossible to stay here." He referred to a story last week in the Montgomery County Chronicle, which reported a text message exchange between Brown and freshman player Alexandros Alexiou, who had posted the texts on social media.

Referring to disciplinary points that Alexiou had accrued for missteps, Brown allegedly wrote, "410pm on field u German f---. u have 17 points toward your 25 points ... u got an extra point for not hanging the lion poster as instructed I'm your new Hitler figure out your life."

Brown also threatened to take away Alexiou's scholarship during the Feb. 12 exchange.

ICC president Dan Barwick told KOAM television in a statement that the college did not condone Brown's language and was investigating. Barwick said he had addressed the incident with Brown, who "fully understands that his language was not appropriate."

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Not often a 14-1 team returns in rebuilding mode

Alabama football fans always think of seasonal transitions as a reloading process. This time Nick Saban has called it a rebuild … sort of. For many Alabama football fans, it is heresy to suggest a Nick Saban team ever needs a rebuild. Whatever the outcome of a season, the prevailing perspective is just reload and […] Alabama Football: Not often a 14-1 team returns in rebuilding mode - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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