Off the wire
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 Fanragsports.com 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).