Off the wire

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - Com­piled from Demo­crat-Gazette Press Ser­vices

Steel­ers, Brown agree

The Pitts­burgh Steel­ers and wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown agreed to a new con­tract that will make Brown the high­est-paid re­ceiver in the NFL. A source told the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette that the con­tract is for five years and $72.7 mil­lion. That puts Brown’s salary at more than $15 mil­lion per year. Shortly af­ter the news broke, Brown tweeted a photo of him­self with agent Drew Rosen­haus, in­di­cat­ing that the deal was signed. Brown had one year re­main­ing on a fiveyear, $ 42 mil­lion con­tract. On Feb. 16, Gen­eral Man­ager Kevin Col­bert said en­sur­ing that Brown re­mained “a Steeler for life” was the team’s top off­sea­son pri­or­ity. The first year of Brown’s new deal re­places the fi­nal year of his previous one, mean­ing that he’s un­der con­tract through the 2021 sea­son. Brown, 28, has av­er­aged 1,575 re­ceiv­ing yards and 120 catches in each of the past four sea­sons. He’s been pro­duc­tive enough to have his 1,284 yards and 10 re­cep­tions in 2016, his sev­enth NFL sea­son, rep­re­sent a back­wards step. He made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and in 2013-2016, and was named a first team All-Pro in each of the past three sea­sons. Brown is sec­ond in Steel­ers’ his­tory in ca­reer re­cep­tions (632) and third in re­ceiv­ing yards (8,377).

The Pitts­burgh Steel­ers placed the fran­chise tag on run­ning back Le’Veon Bell, giv­ing them ex­clu­sive ne­go­ti­at­ing rights on the All-Pro, en­sur­ing he’ll re­main with the team in 2017. The tag gives the Steel­ers time to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who could have be­come a free agent next month. Bell, 25, led the NFL in av­er­age yards from scrim­mage last sea­son and be­came the first NFL player to av­er­age at least 100 rush­ing yards and 50 re­ceiv­ing yards per game. The fran­chise tag buys the team time to put to­gether a new deal that will al­most cer­tainly make Bell one of the high­est-paid run­ning backs in the league. The Steel­ers have un­til July 15 to reach an agree­ment with Bell on a new con­tract. If not, he will make the av­er­age salary of the top five run­ning backs in the league in 2017. While Bell has been pro­duc­tive when avail­able, he’s been sus­pended twice for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s sub­stance abuse pol­icy and was un­able to fin­ish Pitts­burgh’s fi­nal game of the sea­son in each of the past three years be­cause of in­juries.

A per­son with knowl­edge of the de­tails said the New York Gi­ants have told de­fen­sive end Ja­son Pierre-Paul that he will be made a fran­chise player. The league source with di­rect knowl­edge of the move spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the Gi­ants had not an­nounced the de­ci­sion. The Gi­ants have to des­ig­nate Pierre-Paul a fran­chise player by 3 p.m. on Wed­nes­day. He will earn roughly $17 mil­lion this sea­son un­less the team reaches a long-term agree­ment by mid-July. Pierre-Paul had a come­back sea­son in 2016, record­ing seven sacks and 53 tack­les. He also had 8 passes de­fended, forced 3 fum­bles and re­cov­ered 1 and re­turned it 43 yards for a touch­down. He missed the fi­nal four reg­u­lar-sea­son games and a play­off game against Green Bay with a sports her­nia. Pierre-Paul missed the open­ing half of the 2015 sea­son be­cause of a se­vere hand in­jury sus­tained in a fire­works ac­ci­dent.


76ers’ Em­biid out in­def­i­nitely

The Philadel­phia 76ers an­nounced Mon­day that Joel Em­biid will be side­lined in­def­i­nitely with a left knee in­jury. With 24 games re­main­ing, it looks like the rookie cen­ter might not play again this sea­son. He had an MRI on Mon­day af­ter­noon. Em­biid has missed 13 con­sec­u­tive games and 16 of 17 af­ter suf­fer­ing a bone bruise Jan. 20. The MRI re­vealed he also has a slightly torn menis­cus. He was ex­pected to re­turn Fri­day against the New York Knicks. “The luck he’s had with in­juries, you have to feel re­ally bad for him,” 76ers point guard T.J.

McCon­nell said. “But his health is most im­por­tant. I would rather him get healthy and be able to play than try to risk it more.” Em­biid has al­ready missed 27 games this sea­son due to rest and/or in­juries. The third-over­all pick of the 2014 draft missed the previous two sea­sons with cor­rec­tive surg­eries to the nav­ic­u­lar bone in his right foot. Em­biid is av­er­ag­ing 20.2 points, 7.8 re­bounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 as­sists per game this sea­son.

The New York Knicks waived Bran­don Jen­nings on Mon­day and signed guard Chas­son Ran­dle. Jen­nings av­er­aged 8.6 points and a team-high 4.9 as­sists in 58 games, mostly as the backup to Derrick Rose. But the Knicks are again fo­cus­ing more on the tri­an­gle of­fense, which isn’t Jen­nings’ strength. Charley Rosen, a long­time con­fi­dante of Knicks Pres­i­dent of Basketball Oper­a­tions Phil Jack­son, wrote Sun­day on Fan­ that Jen­nings “re­sists the tri­an­gle” and is a “pro­found dis­ap­point­ment” be­cause of his er­ratic play. Jen­nings signed a one-year deal worth $5 mil­lion last sum­mer, say­ing Jack­son told the vet­eran he ex­pected him to be the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. Since he was waived be­fore the March 1 dead­line, Jen­nings will be eli­gi­ble to sign with an­other team and play in the post­sea­son. Ran­dle was cut by the Knicks in pre­sea­son and went on to play eight games with the Philadel­phia 76ers.


Fly­ers de­fense­man sus­pended

Philadel­phia Fly­ers de­fense­man Bran­don Man­ning has been sus­pended for two games by the NHL for in­ter­fer­ence against Pitts­burgh Pen­guins for­ward Jake Guentzel. The pun­ish­ment stems from Satur­day’s game in Pitts­burgh at 3:26 of the sec­ond pe­riod. The NHL said Mon­day that Man­ning will lose more than $10,833 in salary. The money goes to the play­ers’ emer­gency as­sis­tance fund.

TEN­NIS Fed­erer wins in Dubai

Roger Fed­erer won his first match Mon­day since claim­ing his 18th Grand Slam ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open. The third-seeded Fed­erer beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 to move into the sec­ond round of the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships. Fed­erer, a seven-time Dubai cham­pion who holds a 48-5 record in 13 ap­pear­ances, missed last year’s tour­na­ment with a knee in­jury. “It’s in­cred­i­ble to be back af­ter the knee,” Fed­erer said. “I’m stand­ing and I’m here.” Fed­erer was cheered as he walked on court. He main­tains a home in Dubai and is viewed as a part-time lo­cal in the city. “It’s nice as you’re warm­ing up you hear the crowd as they’re get­ting pumped up,” Fed­erer said. “You hear mu­sic and hear the roars. And when you walk out, I don’t know, it’s a nice feel­ing to have. It’s mu­tual, be­cause I missed play­ing here last year.” Fed­erer saved all three break points he faced in the match, with all three coming in the fifth ser­vice game of the first set. “There were some break points to be saved,” Fed­erer said. “I think I re­turned very well for a first round. I was able to get my sec­ond serves in deep, was able to go into the of­fen­sive quickly.” Also, Philipp Kohlschreiber beat eighth-seeded Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6 (1) and sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut de­feated Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (4).


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