Bears

Huge new contract for DeSean Jackson

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Huge new contract for DeSean Jackson

From Comcast SportsNet DeSean Jackson got his wish after all. Jackson agreed to a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. The deal is worth 51 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because terms weren't officially announced. The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver already was tagged as the franchise player, meaning he would've earned at least 9.4 million next season. Now, he gets the long-term security he sought last year. Jackson held out last training camp because he wanted an extension and let the contract situation affect him. He was deactivated for a game for being late for a team meeting, dropped more passes than usual and his production dropped. But the Eagles are counting on Jackson to be the dynamic player he was in 2009-10. "We are thrilled to be able to keep one of the NFL's top playmakers in Philadelphia," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "DeSean is a game breaker. He has the speed and ability to score from anywhere on the field, and he has proven himself to be a big threat for our offense." Philadelphia stumbled to an 8-8 season last year, but closed with four consecutive victories, building momentum for 2012. The Eagles finished, despite a 4-8 start, just one game behind the New York Giants, who not only won the NFC East, but also the Super Bowl. Jackson has career totals of 229 receptions, 4,085 yards and 21 touchdowns in four years as an Eagle after being drafted out of Cal. He also has three rushing scores and a franchise-record four punt return touchdowns, as well. "Signing our own players was a big priority for us this offseason," Reid said. "And DeSean was certainly high on our list. We are very excited about his future as an Eagle." Jackson, 25, was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and is one of five players in NFL history to at least 900 yards receiving in each of his four seasons. Earlier in the day, defensive end Trent Cole and the Eagles agreed on a four-year contract extension through 2017, and on Tuesday, offensive tackle Todd Herremans agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2016. The Eagles also made a couple of roster moves, trading offensive lineman Winston Justice to Indianapolis and releasing former starting center Jamaal Jackson. Cole is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks third on the team's all-time list for sacks with 68. He had 11 sacks in 2011, his fourth season with a double-digit total. "Trent plays the game with a level of tenacity that's hard to replicate," Reid said. "He's one of the premier defensive ends in the league." While Jackson's contract situation was somewhat contentious, Cole and Herremans never said a word about it. "I think that with Todd and me, we conducted business professionally, the way it's supposed to be conducted," Cole said. "We never went out to the media and complained. We did what we had to do to keep moving and we didn't cause any problems with the team and this atmosphere." With the key returnees, there's a feeling -- inside the organization, at least -- that Philadelphia will return to its status as a perennial playoff team in the NFC. "As the season went on, we started coming together a lot more and it showed by us winning our (last four) games," Herremans said. "We really feel that we don't need any extra pieces brought to us in free agency. We feel that the team we have in the locker room can make a great run and go to the Super Bowl next year." The Eagles spent plenty of money in free agency last year, signing several players with high pedigrees. They were expected to contend for the Super Bowl, and had to play under the "Dream Team" label that was attached to them by backup quarterback Vince Young, one of those high-priced signings that didn't pan out.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.