Sports Corner

By: Robert Bishop

Back again, and after a tumultuous offseason during which the betting favorite has shuffled between the Green Bay Packers trading quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the veteran signal-caller retiring. Instead, it appears Rodgers is going into an unexpected option: the reigning MVP seems set to report to camp for the Packers. Thus, it seems the Packers are conceding to Rodgers and will void the final year of his deal (2023), but he will be under contract for this season and next. Considering Green Bay is built to win now, retaining Rodgers is an obvious win for the Packers. However, the two parties don’t appear to be mending fences by any means, and it continues to confound that the franchise committed a 2020 first-round pick on Jordan Love. Either way, provided Rodgers returns to Green Bay’s huddle, the Packers must be viewed as the favorites in the NFC North.

While Rodgers seems to have cooled on his request to leave Green Bay by any means necessary, the same cannot be said for cornerback Xavien Howard. On Tuesday, Howard publicly requested a trade from the Miami Dolphins, citing irrevocable differences concerning his current contract situation. Howard led the NFL with ten interceptions in 2020 and finished second only to Jaire Alexander via Pro Football Focus’s grading for all cornerbacks. Based on last season, Howard’s current five-year, $76.5 million deal is a bargain. However, as recently as 2019, Howard was among the bottom tier at his position, making it understandable that Miami is hesitant to commit a more considerable sum. Despite his volatility, Howard will be in high demand on the trade market, setting Miami up to secure a wealth of draft capital in any potential deal.

 In other NFL news, Saints receiver Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the 2021 season following ankle surgery. The timing of the surgery is especially curious as it’s to fix the issue that limited Thomas all of last season, with the injury, initially suffered in Week 1 of the 2020 season. The Saints offense will already be tested with Jameis Winston slated to take over as the team’s starting quarterback. Without Thomas leading the receiving corps, Winston will instead rely on the trio of Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, and Deonte Harris. That is arguably the worst group of receivers in the NFL. It’s going to be tough sledding for Winston at the onset of his tenure as New Orleans starter.

Bouncing from one of the NFL’s worst receiving units to arguably its best defensive fronts, the Washington Football Team locked up Jonathan Allen to a four-year, $72 million extension over the past few days. Allen has developed into a force along the interior of the defensive line, and he forms an elite unit alongside Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Matt Ioannidis. Washington addressed its most prominent weakness during the offseason by adding quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick via a one-year deal. Now, the Football Team has ensured its strength remains a strength for the long term. There’s a lot to like about Washington’s chances in 2021.

Less than a week remains before baseball’s trade deadline, and there have been a pair of high profile new additions on the market: Washington right-hander Max Scherzer and his teammate, shortstop Trea Turner. Scherzer seems to be all but gone, with the eight-time All-Star being courted by multiple contenders, including all three NL West contenders. Scherzer remains among the best pitchers in baseball despite his advanced age, owning a 2.83 ERA, 142 strikeouts in 105 innings, and 2.5 fWAR on the season. Landing Scherzer would be huge for any of the  NL West contenders, but with Boston and Toronto also linked to his services, it’s going to take a massive prospect haul to land the three-time Cy Young winner.

As for Turner, the superstar infielder’s situation became a lot murkier on Tuesday night as he was removed from action due to a positive COVID 19 test. Amid a career-best season (.322/.369/.521), he is a legitimate MVP candidate alongside Fernando Tatis Jr., and Turner landing on a contender would only bolster his case. It is also difficult to foresee how Turner’s positive COVID 19 test will impact his trade market. Should it be unaffected, Turner instantly jumps to the top of the list of best-available position players, making him a player sure to be coveted by all the shortstop-needy contenders. Baseball’s deadline for trades is Friday at 4 p.m.