By: Rob Bishop
Back again, and the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers are heading into the final season with tight end George Kittle under contract. Recent reports have the two parties far apart in contract talks, and this is likely due to Kittle standing in the NFL. Easily the best player at his position, there is an argument that Kittle is the best non-quarterback offensive player in football. An elite blocker as well as being a game-changer as a receiver, Kittle will shatter the previous high for a contract to a tight end. Kittle is going to be seeking wide receiver money, and odds are San Francisco will end up paying it.
Matt Judon was hit with the franchise tag earlier in the off-season, with the thought process being Baltimore would look to trade the 28-year old edge defender. Instead—or more likely due to a lack of interest on the trade market—Judon signed his one-year tender and will make a whopping $16.8 million in 2020. Despite his career-highs in sacks and forced fumbles in 2019, Judon is far from being an elite player. He largely benefitted from Baltimore’s wealth of talent around him, and Judon will continue to be a useful, albeit now grossly overpaid, pass rusher.
In the NBA, as the potential return to the court looms on the horizon, an interesting angle has presented itself for the championship-hopeful Philadelphia 76ers. All-Star Ben Simmons was forced from action before the suspension of the season with a serious back injury. Now, weeks later, Simmons is fully recovered, and the 76ers are well-positioned to be a threat in the postseason. As a bonus, while Simmons was out with injury, Shake Milton emerged as a viable shooter for the 76ers, providing much-needed floor spacing for Simmons and Joel Embiid. On the downside, Philadelphia will look to build on-court chemistry under unprecedented circumstances, which could result in a disastrous turn.
Given the team’s rough season, the New York Knicks will not be playing for anything upon the return of the NBA. In fact, it’s increasingly unlikely the lowly Knicks will return from the suspension, instead joining the other lottery-bound teams heading straight for the off-season. For some reason, the Knicks seem committed to an odd strategy for the summer: find complementary pieces to put around rookie wing RJ Barrett. The Knicks are desperate for shooting help around Barrett, but the franchise’s belief that the 2019 third overall pick is a cornerstone player could prove to be misguided. Inefficient as a scorer, ineffective as a defender, and disinterested as a play-maker, Barrett will need to make quite a leap in the future to justify New York’s faith.
On the Major League Baseball front, the weekend brought no signs of progress between the two parties, an ominous sign considering the two sides had declared June 1 as the deadline for a deal. The two sides are still in negotiations, and the rumored start date of July 4 remains a possibility with a quick agreement. The owners continue to look for concessions from the players, but ultimately it will be the billionaires that take the most massive hit with a canceled season. There remains stifled optimism surrounding a potential agreement, though it will take some compromising from the owners.
Despite the tone from the owner’s public statements, the MLBPA has already agreed to prorated salaries based on games-played. Now, it is time for the owners, who have reaped massive profits from the work of the game’s stars, to be willing to take a loss for a single season to save the 2020 baseball season. The next week-to-ten days will determine whether or not there will be a baseball season this year, and if there’s not, the debate surrounding the future of the sport will commence.