Patriots star gets a shiny new deal

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Patriots star gets a shiny new deal

From Comcast SportsNetFOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- The New England Patriots gave Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez a new, five-year contract on Monday.The deal is worth 40 million, according to reports, and comes just months after the team locked up another All-Pro tight end, Rob Gronkowski, through 2019.Hernandez's deal with the Patriots (No. 2 in the AP Pro32) will run through 2018, and his base salaries of 545,000 and 570,000 for the next two seasons, respectively, will remain intact.The 22-year-old former standout at the University of Florida wasn't available for comment during the team's player availability Monday. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the situation."We wouldn't have done it if we weren't happy with it," he said. "I'm glad it worked out."Hernandez had 910 yards receiving last season and seven touchdowns as the Patriots won the AFC before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl. In two seasons, he has 124 catches, 1,473 yards and 13 scores. He's also carried the ball eight times for 92 yards.Hernandez is expected to sign the contract no later than Tuesday, and the Patriots will close the preseason at the Giants on Wednesday. After signing the deal, the tight end will donate 50,000 to the Myra Kraft Foundation, a charitable organization honoring the late wife of New England owner Bob Kraft.At 6-foot-1, and 245 pounds, Hernandez last season experienced a dramatic boost in production from his rookie campaign, often proving difficult to cover. He is expected to play an even wider role in the offense this season. The former fourth-round draft pick has frequently lined up at tight end, receiver and even running back during training camp.In last season's playoffs, Hernandez ripped off a 43-yard run during a victory over the Denver Broncos, and finished the game with five carries for 61 yards as well as four catches for 55 yards."Aaron's improved a lot. He's worked hard, he's improved a lot in all phases of the game -- the passing game, the running game, protection and his overall versatility. He's doing a good job for us," Belichick said. "He's a hard guy to cover. We've had a lot of trouble covering him defensively."Like the 23-year-old Gronkowski, Hernandez's rookie contract wasn't set to expire until after the 2013 season, but the talented tandem of tight ends will now remain in New England throughout their prime, forming perhaps the most productive pair in recent memory.After posting one of the greatest seasons ever for a tight end last year, when he recorded 90 receptions, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, Gronkowski was rewarded with the richest deal for a tight end in NFL annals. He agreed in June to a six-year, 53 million extension.Hernandez's contract actually averages more the first four years than Gronkowski's deal and offers more in true guaranteed money. Gronkowski was promised 12 million up front and another 5 million if he was still on the roster in 2015."They're two different types of tight ends, Rob being the bigger body type. But they both are very good at what they do," New England tight end Daniel Fells said. "They push you to get better every single day. When you have two talented guys in your room, you want to try to raise the bar yourself, and it makes me get better."And what has he learned from them so far this preseason?"That I've got a lot of work to do," Fells joked.Hernandez's deal casts a larger shadow over the possibility of a long-term contract for Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. After a stellar season in which he led the league with 122 receptions -- 22 more than the next highest total -- Welker, who finished with 1,569 yards, was unable to come to terms on an extension this offseason. Instead, he signed a 9.5 million franchise tender in May."It's good for him. Definitely happy for him," Welker said of Hernandez. "He's a great player and (has) done a lot of great things for us. (It's) good to have him here."Welker, 31, was asked to compare his situation to that of Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, another productive fan favorite vying for a long-term extension, but who instead signed a one-year deal prior to this season."I think it's a little bit different with the sports and everything and how everything comes together," Welker said. "But at the same time, I'm under contract and I played out my last deal and I'll play out this one and we'll see where we're at."Regardless of his future with the Patriots, Welker should once again benefit from lining up beside Hernandez and Gronkowski."You can do different things," he said. "You can line up in some bigger people-type sets and in some more spread out-type sets. And with the way they can do different things, I think it really helps us in running and passing the ball."

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Last week was a sports business headline grabber in the Bay Area. On Tuesday the Golden State Warriors went all Cirque Du Soleil for a groundbreaking ceremony for Chase Center in Mission Bay. Then, the Oakland Raiders filed their relocation papers on Thursday, making a pair of gut punches for Oakland sports fans.

It’s time to separate the fact from fiction and examie what comes next...

FACT

- The Warriors will be playing in the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season.

- The Raiders officially filed relocation papers on Thursday, Jan. 19 with the NFL for permission to relocate to Las Vegas.

- The Raiders have raised season ticket prices across the board for the 2017 season in Oakland.

- Nevada has $750 million dollars in public money approved for the construction of a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.

- If the relocation is approved, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders would become the largest taxpayer-subsidized stadium deal in NFL history, more than the $600 million in public money used to build the Atlanta Falcons’ $1.5 billion stadium and $500 million the public is picking up for U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings.

- Sand’s Casino Chairman Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million dollars of his own money to help build the Las Vegas stadium. Negotiations with Mark Davis on the details of his investment are ongoing. The Raiders have a deal with global investment bank Goldman Sachs to assist in financing the Las Vegas stadium deal.

- The Raiders plan to be playing in their new Las Vegas stadium by the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders have lease options to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. 

- The cost of the Raiders' one-year lease extensions at the Oakland Coliseum is in the area of $3 million a year.

- Oakland and Alameda County still owe a large chunk of the $95 million dollars of debt for the Oakland Coliseum retrofit that brought the Raiders back from Los Angeles.

- NFL owners will next meet in Arizona from March 26 to 29. A vote on the Raiders relocation may take place at that time, or it may be postponed. Davis needs 24 "yes" votes to approve a relocation.

- Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $550 million dollars to the NFL to relocate from St. Louis to Inglewood.

- The San Diego Chargers will be moving to the new shared stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019. In the interim they will play in the StubHub Center in Carson. It will be the smallest capacity stadium in the NFL at 27,000 seats.

- Relocation fees for the Raiders and Chargers have not been publicly released.

- The A's continue to review sites in the Oakland area for the building of a new ballpark.

- The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum is the only location in North America that has a MLB and NFL team playing in the same facility.
       
- Las Vegas will have its first NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, skating next season in the new T-Mobile arena in Paradise. 

FICTION

- The Raiders' request for a relocation vote has been officially added to the NFL owners meetings scheduled in Arizona from March 26-29. 

- The exact location of the Las Vegas domed stadium has been selected.

- Mark Davis has $500 million dollars to put into the Las Vegas stadium deal. 

- Las Vegas is a stronger economic market than Oakland.

- The Raiders have a lease to play in Sam Boyd Stadium, home of UNLV football. 

- The Raiders have announced they will be selling seat licenses for their Las Vegas stadium.

- The Raiders are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a football-only facility.

- The A’s are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a baseball-only stadium.

- The A’s will move quickly on announcing new stadium plans based on the four-year minimization of MLB revenue sharing money, which begins this season.

- The A’s have selected Howard Terminal as the site of their new ballpark.

- Mark Davis has an interest in selling a major stake in the Raiders to Sheldon Adelson or any other interested billionaire to help him build a new stadium in the Bay Area or Las Vegas.

WHO KNOWS?

- What will happen with the Ronnie Lott/Fortress investment group that is negotiating with Oakland and Alameda County? 

They have no agreement of any kind with the Raiders to play in their proposed $1.25-billion, 55,000-seat stadium.

Three previous third-party investor-backed deals to finance and construct new sports venues in Oakland have failed. Floyd Kephart, Forest City and Colony Capital all struck out.

- What will the NFL charge the Raiders for relocation to Las Vegas and where will that money come from? 

The NFL is a proponent of two teams playing in one stadium in major metro areas, as we have seen work with the Jets and Giants at Met Life and with the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood.

The Raiders have adamantly opposed sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

- What legal or business actions will the Oakland authorities pursue against the Raiders and NFL if the team receives approval for a Las Vegas move? 

- Will the Warriors and Raiders pay back tens of millions owed the city and county for the improvements of the Coliseum and Oracle.

- How will the A's use the incredible leverage they will have if they wait until the Warriors and Raiders leave town?

Former A’s partner Lew Wolff said that the A’s won’t require a penny of public money to build a new stadium. Wolff is now out and A’s owner John Fisher could easily change that position.

PLACE YOUR BETS 
 
Oakland has been dealt a bad hand and it doesn’t look like it will get any help from the house. But I do not believe the Raiders will receive relocation approval at the NFL owners meeting in March.

Remember, the momentum was behind the Raiders and Chargers to get a "yes" vote on their proposed move to Carson in January of 2016. Owners instead voted 30-2 to approve the Rams' move to Inglewood. 

If the Raiders do get approval, the A’s and Major League Baseball could have a big surprise for Oakland. As the last team/league standing, they could ask for hundreds of millions in public money to support stadium construction. They could ask for control of all the land around the Coliseum at pennies on the dollar. They could threaten to move to another city with MLB approval.

This sports saga reads like War and Peace, but it's light on the peace and we're only getting started...

NBA Gameday: Kings, Pistons going in opposite directions

NBA Gameday: Kings, Pistons going in opposite directions

The Sacramento Kings are in a free fall. They come into Detroit mired in a five-game skid and they are a season-high 11 games under .500 when they face the Pistons on Monday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

DeMarcus Cousins was the only Kings player to score in double-figures in the team’s 102-99 controversial loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening. The NBA’s two-minute report conceded that the officiating crew made an error in the final minute of the game when they called Cousins for a push foul on an attempted dunk by All-Star Dwyane Wade.

The game was tied at 99-99 at the time of the infraction and Sacramento should have had the ball with 14 seconds remaining. Instead, Wade went to the line to give the Bulls a one point lead.

Detroit is riding a three-game win streak, including a big 113-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Marcus Morris led the way for the Pistons, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against his twin brother Markieff. Detroit has had an up and down season, but they definitely playing better than when they faced off with the Kings two weeks ago in Sacramento.

LINE

Pistons by 5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 16-27, third place in Pacific

Pistons: 21-24, fourth place in Central

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Anthony Tolliver vs. Tobias Harris -- The last time these two teams met, Tolliver dropped in 17 points on 3-of-7 shooting from long range to help the Kings erase a big deficit and come away with the win. Harris went blow for blow with Tolliver, scoring 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, but it was the Kings who prevailed. Cousins versus Andre Drummond is always a marquee matchup, but the game will likely be decided by someone other than the two All-Star bigs.   

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out.

Pistons: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (rotator cuff) questionable, SG Michael Gbinije (forearm) out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings lead the season series 1-0 after coming away with a win at Golden 1 Center Jan. 10. Detroit holds a 133-118 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 36-25 edge during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTABLE

“I think our team’s effort was incredible tonight. I think we did everything the right way to have a chance at winning this game, we just fell short.” -Cousins following the loss to the Chicago Bulls