Franchise tag deadline passes with no long-term deals for Bell, Cousins

Le'Veon Bell, Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson will all play under the stipulations of the franchise tag for the upcoming season after failing to reach long-term extensions with their clubs before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.

All three players are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2018.

Bell, Cousins and Johnson will earn $ 12.1 million, $ 23.93 million, and $ 16.74 million respectively under the terms of their franchise tags for the upcoming season.

All three players now pose significant questions for their individual teams.

Bell will be the highest-paid running back in the NFL next year by a wide margin, but he's a genuine superstar who can make a strong case for a more lucrative deal.

Cousins faces the unfathomable proposition of being franchise tagged for the third consecutive year in 2018 and will likely be paid exorbitantly next year, barring a disaster.

Meanwhile, Johnson will be the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, although many would hesitate to rank him among the top 15 players at his position.

Bell earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors despite missing four games last season, rushing for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns while adding 75 receptions for 616 yards and two more scores for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cousins completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. The 28-year-old was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time and the Washington Redskins elected to make him the first quarterback to receive the franchise tag in consecutive years this offseason.

Johnson recorded 57 tackles and an interception in 14 games with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. The cornerback also received the franchise tag for the second consecutive year.

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NFL | theScore

Mobb Deep Rapper Prodigy Passes Away At 42 #RIP

This is the type of news you hate to report. Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, has passed away. He was just 42.

Nas seems to be the first to have broken this heartbreaking news with an Instagram nod to his fallen friend.

“🙏🏾 QB RIP King P. Prodigy 4 Ever,” was the caption of a photo of Prodigy. The cause of death is not yet precisely known, but is likely due to complications of his sickle cell anemia.

The rapper’s press rep confirmed his death and issued the following statement.

It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.

During a recent event with Premium Pete, the HNIC talked optimistically about future solo projects and new Mobb Deep music.

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New York City Hip-Hop, and Hip-Hop in general, has lost a true legend.

Rest in Power Prodigy. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.


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Hip-Hop Wired

Jets’ Hackenberg drills reporters in practice with errant passes

The New York Jets are approaching their nadir this summer.

Christian Hackenberg, the Jets’ second-round selection from the 2016 NFL Draft is off to a miserable start to his professional career. Hackenberg didn’t receive a single snap during the 2016 campaign and his bid for the team’s open starting quarterback position appears to be going miserably.

Reporters aren’t safe when Hackenberg is around, and it’s not because of his temperament.

Connor Hughes of offered a bleak appraisal of Hackenberg’s miserable showing during organized team activities.

When Hackenberg misses … he really misses. He threw just two interceptions in team drills, but nearly tossed six others. And I'm not talking about a receiver falling down. I'm saying the defender just dropped the ball.

It may be time for reporters to take their usual seats in media row.

Other times, the wideout/running back/tight end was wide open, and Hackenberg sailed it over his head or bounced it to him. That can’t happen. In the three media-open OTAs, Hackenberg hit reporters with passes twice.

The Jets appear to be positioned to bottom out during the 2016 campaign and Hackenberg’s struggles are indicative of the club’s trajectory during the past 12 months.

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NFL | theScore

Beloved Atlanta Rapper Grip Plyaz Passes Away, Killer Mike, Phonte And More React

Beloved Atlanta Hip-Hop artist Grip Plyaz has passed away after a years-long fight against a rare form of cancer.

Grip Plyaz may not have been well-known outside of Atlanta, but many of your favorite Atlantans knew exactly who he was. Hailing from Atlanta’s “Old 4th Ward,” which is often recognized as one of the birthplaces of Atlanta’s trap sound, Grip was known his unique blend trap and underground Hip-Hop that allowed him to move in many circles. While he was a fixture and icon in Atlanta’s underground Hip-Hop scene mentoring the likes of KEY!, Two-9 and Trinidad James he also worked with Dungeon Family members Killer Mike and Backbone. He was also an associate of Yelawolf‘s SLUMERICAN collective and recorded songs Strange Music artist Rittz.

Throughout the mid and late 2000s Grip rocked stages at many festivals including A3C, SXSW and Leaders of the New Cool. He released three projects, 2005’s CUMGITSLUM, 2008’s GRIP HOP and his final release, 2012’s Purp, Wind, And Fire. Known for a style that was one-part Too Short and one-part Blowfly, Grip won fans over with audacious songs like “Ray Lewis,” “Died In Yo P*ssy” and perhaps his most known song “F*ck That Hipster Sh*t” that was featured on Killer Mike’s 2009 compilation, Underground Atlanta.

Grip’s musical output slowed in recent years due to life events including a house fire that left him homeless and ultimately being diagnosed with stage three pleomorphic sarcoma in June 2015 that prevented him from holding down a job. The aggressive rare form of cancer also came with a “five years to live” diagnosis. Upon the diagnosis, a GoFundMe Page was set up by close friend Larry Baker and was supported by the local Hip-Hop community. The initial goal was $ 2,500 but it wound up getting donations exceeding $ 17,000.

After a nearly two-year fight against the disease, the cancer spread to other parts of his body, resulting in him suffering cardiac arrest earlier this week and falling into a coma. He passed away early Thursday afternoon.

Journalist Gavin Godfrey wrote an expansive piece on Grip’s life and career for Atlanta alt-paper Creative Loafing that covered the many ups, downs and impacts of his career ranging from being managed by Coack K [Gucci Mane, Jeezy, Migos, Lil Yachty] to giving Yelawolf a place to stay.

“I know some real niggas,” Grip said in the piece, pondering his situation. “It’s like why couldn’t this sh*t happen to them? I’m out here trying to make ends meet and pay child support every month. These n*ggas knocking people over the head, stealing vans, and going to the strip club blowing money fast, but they still live another day healthy as f*ck. Maybe God got they karma coming to them. I question that sh*t like, ‘Damn, what the f*ck? Why me?’ But then again, why not me?”

Grip is survived by his teenaged son Zaid. Peep the some of reactions and celebrations of Grip’s life below.

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Photo: Motion Family

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Hip-Hop Wired

LeBron passes Jordan to become all-time NBA playoff scoring leader

LeBron James is officially the most prolific postseason scorer in NBA history.

A 3-pointer in the third quarter against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night gave James 29 points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final, and 5,989 playoff points for his career. That vaulted him past Michael Jordan and into sole possession of first place on the all-time leaderboard.

James seemed to recognize the significance of the bucket, raising a single finger to the sky after drilling the record-breaking triple.

The transcendent Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, who jumped four places this year to seventh all time in regular-season points, continues to set the league ablaze in his 14th season. He came into Thursday’s game averaging 32.3 points per game this postseason – the second-best mark of his career – and having already climbed past Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the playoff scoring ladder.

He finished the game – a dominant victory that sent him to his seventh straight Finals – with 35 points on 13-of-18 shooting to bring his career total to 5,995.

Player Playoff points
LeBron James 5995
Michael Jordan 5987
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 5762
Kobe Bryant 5640

Earlier in the postseason, he also passed Jordan for second all time in postseason steals. In Game 5, he moved into third all time in playoff 3-pointers made.

James established the new scoring record in his 212th playoff game, which ranks ninth all time. Jordan, whose previous record came in 179 games, still ranks first in playoff points per game with 33.4, while James ranks fifth at 28.3.

James has called surpassing Jordan in all aspects “a personal goal,” which he holds mostly for the sake of continued motivation. It makes sense. There are increasingly fewer (if any) legacies remaining for him to pursue.

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NBA | theScore

Return of the Fun: NFL passes proposal to relax celebration rules

The “No Fun League” just got a little more fun again.

The NFL announced Tuesday that rules governing celebrations during games will be changed for the upcoming season, with acts like group celebrations, using the ball as a prop after touchdowns, and snow angels now deemed legal.

Celebrations that include offensive or sexually suggestive gestures, prolonged acts, or miming weapons are still banned.

“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown,” commissioner Roger Goodell wrote. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”

Related – 5 celebrations we want back

Goodell added that the rule changes were passed after conversations with more than 80 current and former players.

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NFL | theScore

Curry passes Kobe for 5th all time in playoff 3-pointers

Stephen Curry surpassed Kobe Bryant Monday for fifth-most 3-pointers made in NBA playoff history. His third trey against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals was the 293rd of his postseason career, one more than Bryant’s 292.

While Bryant was never known as a 3-point marksman, he played in the playoffs 15 of his 20 NBA seasons. This is Curry’s fifth NBA postseason.

LeBron James is currently in fourth place all time, with 314 treys, just behind Manu Ginobili. Ray Allen is the playoff leader with 385, followed by Reggie Miller.

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NBA | theScore

LeBron passes Jordan on NBA’s postseason steals list

Lost in the Cleveland Cavaliers' annihilation Friday of the Boston Celtics was the fact that LeBron James notched four steals in his 33 minutes.

Usually not a huge deal on its own, those four steals wound up putting James ahead of Michael Jordan for second place on the NBA’s all-time postseason steals list.

Rank Player Steals
1 Scottie Pippen 395
2 LeBron James 377
3 Michael Jordan 376
4 Magic Johnson 358
5 John Stockton 338
6 Kobe Bryant 310
7 Jason Kidd 302
8 Larry Bird 296
9 Maurice Cheeks 295
10 Manu Ginobili 281


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NBA | theScore