The NFL legal tampering period has begun and Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are now the busiest men on Twitter.

Rapoport, of, recently tweeted that he is getting the sense that the Eagles do not want to trade Nick Foles.

It’s easy to see what the tea leaves say about Drew Brees and the possibility that a future Hall of Fame quarterback actually hits the open market when free agency formally opens Wednesday in the NFL.

How likely are the Cardinals to draft a QB? 90 percent. The draft’s quarterback class is deep enough to give the Cardinals options at No. 15 or make it enticing enough to move up into the top of the first round. If they can’t land their top option, they’ll likely draft a quarterback in the second or third round. If they don’t draft one, it’s because they’re happy with whomever they signed in free agency and think he is the long-term answer. — Weinfuss

Top draft needs: If the Cardinals miss out on Cousins (and can’t pull off a trade for Nick Foles), they should look for an affordable veteran such as Sam Bradford or AJ McCarron. Even if they sign one, don’t be surprised if Arizona makes a jump up from No. 15 like Houston or Kansas City did last year to grab a QB in Round 1. Arizona needs a starting cornerback, help along the offensive line and another starting wide receiver opposite Fitzgerald, as both Jaron Brown and John Brown are free agents. — McShay

So, in theory, he could choose to take less money to return to a team and scheme he’s comfortable with on a one-year deal. If he stays healthy and demonstrates the Achilles injury is nothing to worry about, he can hit free agency with a higher stock a year from now.

But that seems like an unlikely scenario mainly because the idea that Sherman needs to take a one-year, prove-it deal to rebuild his value isn’t totally realistic. Sure, Sherman is coming off a torn Achilles and will turn 30 later this month, both of which will undoubtedly lower his value, but it’s not like Sherman has morphed into a subpar cornerback who is coasting off his name and reputation alone.

He’s still really damn good, though he’s no longer the league’s top cornerback. He’s more than just a name. He allowed a 75.5 passer rating in coverage last year, a 68.4 passer rating in 2016, and a 67.6 passer rating in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. Those are legit CB1 numbers, which Sherman, who is acting as his own agent, is well aware of.

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Why the Phillies could make a surprising playoff run in 2018

The breadth and volume of a baseball season causes a lot of leveling, for individual players and teams alike, but it also creates opportunity for a few surprises.

Sometimes it’s one guy who steps forward, like Chris Taylor for the Dodgers last season, and sometimes it’s a team that reaches the postseason just a year removed from an abysmal finish, like the Twins reaching the wild-card game last season after losing 103 games in 2016.

Let’s say that a shortstop makes a play on that ball about 25 percent of the time. If Andrelton Simmons can’t make a play on that ball, he receives -.25 credit. If he makes the play, he receives .75 — essentially, the credit for making the play versus missing the play, leaving out the expectation that a player would make the play.

DRS then looks at how many bases batters go for on the play. If Simmons misplays it and allows the runner to go to second, then Simmons is charged with -.25 times two bases, or -.50 bases allowed on the play. If he made the play, and on those types of batted balls runners received 1.25 bases on average, Simmons receives credit for .75 times 1.25, or .9375 bases saved.

According to multiple reports, the former Giants and Angels pitcher is signing with the Rangers.

Texas had a lot of trouble with their closers in 2017, so there is certainly a possibility of him stepping in and giving the role a shot.

The 33-year-old did not pitch in MLB in 2017 and threw just 38 1/3 innings in 2016 with the Angels. He has made just eight appearances out of the bullpen in MLB.

Miami’s large adult son is the clear leader for the first base job. Bour was limited to just 108 games and a trip to the Home Run Derby last year, but he very quietly hit a wonderful .289/.366/.536 and is going to be the most important bat on this team (that’s not a good thing). Whether he’s able to replicate that level of production remains to be seen.

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Trimmer Hanley Ramirez says he wants 30-30 season, but that’s a super long shot

Welcome to spring training, where everything’s made up and the runs don’t matter.

It’s that magical time of the year when baseball seeps back into the world, when our timelines are filled with grainy photos and videos of players in t-shirts and shorts jogging on the warning track and playing catch.

Hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Do it at age 34 after your speed has been fading away for years. Commit yourself to a new diet and new workout regimen to make it happen after your team signs a couple of players to eat away at plate appearances that used to be yours. Make the All-Star team. Get some down-ballot MVP votes. Revitalize your career.

It’s not a good thing to bet on. It’s almost certainly not going to happen.

Crazy goals can be a good thing to have, so good for Ramirez for getting in shape and giving himself a puncher’s chance.

The game of musical chairs among NFL game announcers has sped up in recent days. On Friday, Richard Deitsch of? Sports Illustratedreported ESPN was reassigning “MNF” play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough back to college football after two disappointing?seasons in the booth with Jon Gruden.

With Gruden now the head coach of the Raiders, ESPN will have to cast a new team in the booth to join sideline reporter Lisa Salters. The Post reported?Joe Tessitore will become the new “MNF” play-by-play announcer, but ESPN declined to comment. If Witten is interested in TV, a source said ESPN would love to talk to him.

The Lions are keeping Ezekiel Ansah with the franchise tag, but they still need to upgrade the edge pass rush for new coach Matt Patricia and coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. Davenport could have the same situational impact as the Eagles’ Derek Barnett did as a rookie.

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Despite the setback, Hernandez’s status has been listed as day-to-day after X-rays came back negative.

Thomas still hasn’t publicly announced whether he’ll play in 2018, but Friday’s flurry of trades by the Browns , which included deals to acquire Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall , might have been enough for general manager John Dorsey ensure his top QB protector will be back. While Thomas wants to make his decision before free agency begins Wednesday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that Thomas is already preparing to play next season .

Although Thomas has certainly earned the right to walk away after a Hall of Fame-caliber career in the trenches, it appears less and less likely he’ll have to endure another winless or one-win season in the Dawg Pound. If the body that carried him through 10,363 consecutive snaps is up to the task, Thomas could very well be back on field in 2018.

The Yankees were linked, but they traded with the Diamondbacks for Brandon Drury — a cheaper option. The Royals were interested in re-signing him until Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer left, leaving them in a full rebuilding mode. With most contending teams set at third base, Moustakas finds himself in an odd situation. He may have to settle for a short-term deal with the likes of Minnesota or the White Sox and hope for better in a year or two.

Hernandez left Monday’s game against Chicago after being struck in the pitching arm by a line drive. He exited with one out in the bottom of the second after being hit by a comebacker off the bat of Cubs catcher Victor Caratini. Hernandez appeared in considerable pain as trainers checked him before he left the field.

Hernandez, 31, pitched just 86? innings over 16 starts last season. The 2010 Cy Young Award winner has been hampered by injuries and dealt with two stints on the disabled list in 2017 due to right shoulder inflammation and right shoulder bursitis.

Translation: “No one has sucker-punched anyone else in the clubhouse — yet.”

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LeBron James congratulates himself on Instagram for reaching 30k points

Amid controversy surrounding the Cavaliers’ reported discord in the locker room, LeBron James led them to a 115-108 win over the Pacers Friday by recording his eighth triple-double of the season.

James scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while also dishing out 11 assists and hauling in 10 rebounds. James also had 11 turnovers, a shocking amount for the star forward, but he was vindicated by his strong overall performance.

James’ eight triple-doubles are already his second-most in a season in his 15-year career. It’s also the most he’s ever had before the All-Star break. James’ career high for triple-doubles is 13, done last season.

Kevin Love, who was singled out as a target by players in the locker room, scored 10 points with 13 rebounds in 33 minutes. Love has already said he will not ask for a trade, and coach Tyronn Lue remained faithful to his forward by keeping him in the starting lineup amid the shakeup.

All-Star Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He has scored at least 20 points in all but four games this month.

The Cavs entered the game losers in six of seven games, but they got back on track to remain third in the Eastern Conference standings, six games behind the Celtics.

Clippers guard Lou Williams added fire to the trade rumors swirling around his name by scoring 40 points with 10 assists and four steals off the bench in a 109-100 road win over the Grizzlies.

The Raptors lost 97-93 at home to the Jazz, but center Jonas Valanciunas scored 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 14 rebounds. Valanciunas now has four double-doubles in his last five games.

The Nets starting lineup produced just 45 points in a 116-91 loss to the Bucks. DeMarre Carroll scored 14 points, and Allen Crabbe added 13, but the rest of the starting lineup struggled to get anything going. Breakout star Spencer Dinwiddie scored just nine points on 1-of-6 shooting.

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Jazz waive Derrick Rose; what’s next for the former MVP?

Derrick Rose was waived by the Jazz on Saturday, just two days after joining Utah via a trade from the Cavaliers.

While the move was expected, it marked the culmination of a humbling chain events for a point guard who won the NBA MVP award in 2011. Rose has played just 16 games (seven starts) this season, averaging 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 19.3 minutes per contest.

Over his nine-year NBA career, Rose has averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 34.2 minutes through 486 games (476 starts) with the Bulls, Knicks and Cavaliers.

You can’t be a winner if you didn’t play, right? Then again, Butler took a trip to LA, chilled with some of his friends and didn’t have to do any work. No, that sounds more like a winner. Just throw him in the previous group. My bad.

The 3-Point Contest: For all of the criticism the Slam Dunk Contest receives, it’s time to consider a change to the 3-Point Contest.

Devin Booker’s flamethrower final round was great, but the event as a whole is just not that interesting. Let’s allow players to choose different spots beyond the arc and accumulate points based on distance. Put a rack with three golden balls at halfcourt. Screw it. Those shots are each worth 10 points.

There’s not a perfect solution, but as we witnessed with the All-Star Game, change can work.

Thomas, 29, averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists per contest in 15 games with the Cavs this season before being dealt to the Lakers.

Hope that Gordon Hayward can play. The Celtics are thin and rely too heavily on young and inexperienced players. That’s caught up to them lately, especially with the load carried by second-year forward Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Boston is building toward contending for a championship in the next couple of years, and it did not make a move at the trade deadline. If they Celtics are going to contend this year, they’ll need to get the injured Hayward back on the floor sometime before the end of March so that he can be ready to pitch in for the playoffs.

I was involved in basketball operations, but other than getting the financials and reports, I was not involved in the day to day [of the business side] at all, Cuban told SI. That’s why I just deferred. I let people do their jobs. And if there were anything like this at all I was supposed to be made aware, obviously I was not.

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Rae Carruth won’t seek custody of son after prison release

Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth has given up plans to pursue a relationship with his son after being released from prison later this year.

In a letter to the Charlotte Observer, Carruth wrote that he will not pursue custody of Chancellor Lee Adams, who lives in Charlotte with his maternal grandmother, Saundra Adams.

Carruth wrote that including in the first letter his desire to enter Chancellor’s life was a mistake and he admitted that was too optimistic, even though he still wants to make amends with Chancellor and try to be the father that I should have been from day one.”

I now understand that any notions of me one day being welcome to Sunday dinner is totally out of the question, Carruth wrote in the second letter, which was postmarked Feb. 21. And lastly, I didn’t foresee the media and general public being unanimous in its belief that I shouldn’t be allowed to ever have anything to do with Chancellor.

I think where we are unanimous, Mara told ESPN on Tuesday, [are] plays like the Dez Bryant play in Green Bay, going to the ground, [and] the Calvin Johnson play from a couple of years ago. I think all of us agree that those should be completions. So let’s write the language to make them completions.

What is different in 2018, in addition to Goodell’s insistence on change, is the consensus to find a way to avoid inorganic rulings caused by the requirement to maintain control throughout the process of going to the ground.

The Bengals have never been very aggressive in free agency, and after receiving four compensatory picks in this year’s draft, it would be very surprising to see them suddenly shift philosophy now. Cincinnati usually signs a free agent or two but never goes after the big fish in the early days of the signing period. — Katherine Terrell

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Johnny Manziel says he’s sober and working on his NFL comeback

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel spoke with Good Morning America about his sobriety and trying to make an NFL comeback.

In his interview, Manziel also revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. He’s since stopped drinking, started taking medication, and is seeing improvements. Now, he says he wants back on the football field.

He told GMA’s T.J. Holmes that taking care of his mental health is more important than anything.

”I don’t know what kind of comeback it will be,” he said, “but I know I want to get back on a football field to what brought me so much joy in my life and it makes me happy doing as my job.”

Manziel will have a contract approved by the CFL for him to play in 2018, which seems to be the first step to an NFL comeback. His rights are currently held by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Spring League is a three-week scouting event in Austin, Texas. Four teams play two games each, where Manziel will play on the South team.

Arvidsson, who scored twice in the Predators’ 5-2 win over Ottawa on Monday, now has eight goals and five assists in the last 14 games.

“The last two games, I think our line has been a lot better and we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Nashville’s Ryan Johansen said. “Arvie has been a huge factor in that, because he’s been making plays all over the ice lately.”

Arvidsson’s goal at 4:50 of the third period pushed the Predators’ lead to 3-1. The puck skipped over the stick of Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, allowing Arvidsson to get in alone and snap a shot by Howard on the stick side.

Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar scored for the Red Wings, and Jimmy Howard finished with 26 saves.

The Predators grabbed the lead just 4:18 into the opening period. Roman Josi’s wrist shot from the point deflected off the right skate of Nashville forward Hartnell before settling into the net behind Howard.

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Warriors seeking payback vs. Thunder

The Golden State Warriors will have rare double-revenge motivation Saturday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a matchup of teams coming off what they hope will be momentum-building wins.

The Warriors used a strong start as the driving force in their 134-127 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in both teams’ first game after the All-Star break.

Ninety miles to the northeast in Sacramento, the Thunder blew a 23-point lead before Russell Westbrook bailed them out with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that produced a 110-107 road win over the Kings.

Golden State was far better in the first quarter against the Clippers, limiting the visitors to 23 points on 41.7 percent shooting while building an 11-point lead.

He recognizes he needs to be crafty in the way he plays.

“If you don’t have the skating ability like Connor does, which I don’t, clearly, it’s hard to beat guys with speed for me,” Draisaitl told reporters after the Colorado win. “I’ve got to find other ways.”

McDavid said Draisaitl doesn’t get the attention he deserves.

He’s one of the best players in the world,” McDavid said. “He showed that last year. He’s really come on here in the last little bit, and is playing great hockey.”

Hurney has been Carolina’s interim general manager since July 19, 2017. He previously was the team’s GM from 2002-12.

Marty is the perfect person to help us in the interim, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said. He worked with us for 15 years and understands the culture we have here. He had a lot to do with the core of our team being in place. I’m thankful that he is willing to help us in this transition period.

He’d spend the next fall with the Rams. In his one season with St. Louis, he’d pilot the league’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense. Despite that failure, he’d still find the chance to redeem himself with the Patriots after 2011 offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien left to rebuild Penn State’s football program. McDaniels, who was New England’s offensive coordinator from 2006-08, returned to the same role in 2012 and has remained there since.

It’s possible that McDaniels will be Belichick’s successor for the Patriots, or maybe he just got cold feet at the last second. Either way, this latest stunt is just the latest PR disaster for McDaniels, who continues to burn bridges everywhere outside New England.

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The move made so much sense for the league at a time when the Rising Stars Challenge needed life.

Remember his 2013? Corbin finished that season 92nd overall, and 23rd among starting pitchers, on the Player Rater, thanks in large part to huge jumps in his swinging-strike and first-pitch strike rates. Now consider this: He set a personal best with a 12.1 percent swinging-strike rate and finished 22nd among 58 ERA qualifiers in first-pitch strike rate (63.0 percent) last season, concluding the year with a 3.24 ERA and 23.2 percent strikeout rate in his final 15 starts and one relief appearance. In many ways, his underlying metrics in 2017 looked a lot like 2013’s, except that his ERA was nearly two-thirds of a run higher and his WHIP more than half a point higher.

If the skills had shown any signs of fading, it’d be different, but they didn’t: Gausman kept his swinging-strike rate above 12 percent for the third consecutive season, he had the highest first-pitch strike rate of his career (60.2 percent) and posted 10 quality starts, a 3.41 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 26.2 percent strikeout rate in 15 starts after the All-Star break.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think people need to let things play out down there and give it a chance. People are going to say, ‘How come you didn’t give it a chance?’ That stuff takes time, and I didn’t know if it was going to get done in the amount of time I had left there. But I think it’s going to get better there. The fan base has been through a lot the past few years, but I truly believe this ownership group will do things different.

Marlins pitcher Dan Straily caused a stir last week when he said he agrees with the Marlins’ rebuild and did not lament the departures of Stanton and Yelich in trades.

Glad they’re gone, Straily told reporters in Miami. If they don’t want to be here, then good for them. They can continue their career elsewhere.

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