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Packers draft rumors: Green Bay tried to trade up for Justin Jefferson in 2020 to get Aaron Rodgers receiver help

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Packers draft rumors: Green Bay tried to trade up for Justin Jefferson in 2020 to get Aaron Rodgers receiver help

The Green Bay Packers drew much criticism for their inability and apparent unwillingness to draft a receiver to help quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the 2020 NFL Draft. The team spent their first three picks on offense, but none looked like they would make Rodgers’ supporting cast better. Running back A.J. Dillon was talented, but he was set to be the third-string RB behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Tight end Josiah Deguara was largely seen as a reach in Round 3 and ended up being unproductive as a rookie.

But the most head-scratching decision at the time was the one that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst made when he traded up to select quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the draft. The Packers were in the market for a young QB — Aaron Rodgers turned 37 during the ’20 season — but few thought that they would spend a first-round pick on one after Rodgers helped get the team to an NFC Championship Game during the 2020 postseason.

After a year in which the Packers once again fell one game short of making it to the Super Bowl, the pick has come under even more scrutiny, especially with the team’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers apparently fraying.

MORE: NFL Power Rankings — Packers placement depends on Rodgers

However, according to the latest rumors, the Packers did make an effort to land an impact receiver early in the ’20 draft.

What they’re saying: According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Gutekunst and the Packers tried to move up to get a couple of different first-round receivers during the ’20 NFL Draft: LSU’s Justin Jefferson and Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk.

Why this matters: Jefferson and Aiyuk both had very strong rookie years for their respective teams. Aiyuk totaled 825 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns for the 49ers in just 12 games while Jefferson was even better. The LSU-product-turned-Vikings-star set a rookie receiving record with 1,400 receiving yards and grabbed 88 passes and seven TDs for Minnesota. If not for the elite performance of QB Justin Herbert, Jefferson probably would have taken home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. 

Meanwhile, the Packers struggled to find production at the receiver position outside of Davante Adams. Aside from Adams, who posted 115 catches (tied for the second-most in the NFL), no receiver was able to make more than 33 catches on the season. In fact, Adams was almost singlehandedly able to outproduce the entire rest of the Packers’ receiver room during the 2020 regular season.

Player Targets Catches Receiving Yards TDs
Davante Adams 149 115 1374 18
Rest of Packers WRs 141 88 1390 11

Needless to say, with a player like Jefferson or Aiyuk in the fold, the Packers’ receiving situation would be much better. The team just wasn’t able to move up enough to get either of them, according to the rumors.

Even still: In trading up for Love, the Packers passed on some other quality receivers that they could have considered with the 30th pick that they traded up from. Notably, Tee Higgins, who went off the board with the 33rd overall pick, posted 67 catches for 908 yards and six TDs as a rookie with the Bengals. Chase Claypool, who was the 49th overall selection of the Steelers, had 62 catches for 873 yards and nine touchdowns.

Both of those players could have upgraded the Packers’ receiving corps and would have filled a more immediate need than Love. And it’s worth noting that both Higgins and Claypool produced despite being dogged with either middling quarterback play for most of the season (Claypool) or poor play after Joe Burrow’s torn ACL (Higgins). Given the opportunity to play with Rodgers during an MVP season could have made them both legitimate 1,000-yard, 10-TD threats.

What this means: Whether the Packers intended to get Rodgers receiver help or not doesn’t matter. Ultimately, they weren’t able to add anything to their receiver room and it ended up costing them. They were very much stuck in neutral during the ’20 season and their Super Bowl window is rapidly closing.

And if Rodgers does force his way out of Green Bay amid his contract stalemate and discontent with the team’s inability to add quality weapons around him, then it will slam shut. 

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Wizards’ Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

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Wizards' Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

The Wizards closed the 2020-21 NBA regular season with a torrid stretch. They were 17-6 in their final 23 games and went from a likely lottery team to a participant in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament.

Washington finished its climb up the standings Sunday. It defeated the Hornets 115-110 to secure eighth place in the Eastern Conference, which is a win-and-in spot in the conference’s four-team tournament.

Under the old playoff format, the Wizards would’ve clinched the No. 8 seed and guaranteed themselves a spot in the posteason with Sunday’s win. They would have started playing for their lives in a seven-game series, not a one- or two-game set.

MORE: Knicks clinch No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference

Wizards coach Scott Brooks saw that as an opportunity to poke fun at the play-in tournament and LeBron James’ recent comments about it.

“I’m with the King,” Brooks said. “Who created this play-in thing? Whoever did that, they need to be fired.”

Seconds later, Brooks affirmed that he was just kidding. He was paraphrasing James’ comments from May 2 when the Lakers star said that “whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”

Unlike James, Brooks thinks the play-in tournament is a net positive for the NBA, despite his team finishing eighth in the East.

MORE: How the play-in tournament works

“I love this [format]. It created so much excitement the last two weeks and, as we all know, any time you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season is great for everyone involved,” Brooks said. “Fans, TV partners, everybody. I love it. Even though we’re not the 8-seed, I still love it.”

The play-in tournament gave fringe playoff teams like the Wizards incentive to compete later into the season. Brooks is right about that. Now, it’s a matter of whether the on-court product will match the late-season chase to make (or avoid) the tournament.

With stars like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis and one of James or Damian Lillard guaranteed to participate in the play-in, there is a good chance it will live up to the hype.

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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani adds to highlight reel with go-ahead HR in 9th off one of MLB’s top closers

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Angels: Albert Pujols release about giving Shohei Ohtani more ABs, moving Jared Walsh to 1B

Matt Barnes was one out away from sealing a Red Sox victory when Angels DH Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box.

It was a mano a mano battle between one of baseball’s best pitchers and the emerging two-way superstar.

Ohtani won the battle.

MORE: Albert Pujols to sign with Dodgers

He hit a monster two-run home run that curled around the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park to give the Angels a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning Sunday. LA went on to win by that score.

Teeing off against Barnes is no easy feat. Before Ohtani batted in the ninth, Barnes had allowed two hits and no runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he was averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had allowed just one home run in 18 appearances. At one point, he had a negative FIP, something that is unheard of. 

But Ohtani managed to get the best of him Sunday and add another highlight to his superb season.

Ohtani’s homer was his 12th in 2021, tying him for the MLB lead with the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger. His 29 RBIs are tied for the Angels’ team lead with Jared Walsh. His .597 slugging percentage is second on the team only to Mike Trout.

Ohtani has been spectacular as a pitcher as well. He has thrown 25 2/3 innings over five outings, with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts per nine.

In short, he is one of the game’s most electric players right now. Barnes knows that.

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper’s magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper's magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

Match statistics: West Brom 1-2 Liverpool

Football, eh? Bloody hell!

Even after all these years, this sport still finds a way to surprise you, to thrill you, to take the breath away.

Step forward, Alisson Becker.

Liverpool’s season was fizzling out. The clock had ticked past 90 minutes, past the four that had been added on. The Reds were drawing, desperate, watching their Champions League hopes melt away in the west Midlands rain. 

And then their goalkeeper decided to take matters into his own hands. Or onto his own head, to be more specific.  

The Brazil international has been up for corners before. A few times this season, in fact. But here, when Jurgen Klopp needed him most, there he was, rising to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold’s left-wing corner with the most perfect of headers. Far corner, 2-1 Liverpool.

Bedlam.

Getty

What is it about this club? How can they just keep conjuring up these moments, these feelings, these roller-coaster rides?

What can you possibly say?

Alisson is the sixth goalkeeper to score a Premier League goal and the first to score for Liverpool. 

And this was not just any goal, this was a huge one, in the context of the Reds’ season. It keeps their top-four destiny pretty much in their own hands. As Liverpool celebrated — and boy, did they celebrate — the groans could be heard in Leicester and at Chelsea. They meet at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Any result suits the Reds.

It had looked like Klopp’s men had faltered, unable to find a way through a stubborn West Brom defense at 1-1. They had trailed to Hal Robson-Kanu’s early strike, leveling through Mo Salah’s customary equalizer.

And then they huffed and they puffed, without blowing the house down.

Salah missed. Roberto Firmino missed. Trent Alexander-Arnold missed when he simply had to score. Seven minutes left. Gini Wijnaldum missed. Two minutes remaining.

Up went the board. Four added. Klopp grinned. One of those sarcastic, rueful grins. Not enough time. Not this time.

Wrong.

alisson goal west brom liverpool
Getty

What a moment Alisson provided. What pictures, what memories. What celebrations. What an interview.

The emotion was etched all over his face. He has had a terrible few months, losing his father, Jose, in February. He deserved this. Not even Sam Allardyce could argue otherwise. The West Brom boss was smiling himself at the final whistle. What else could he do?

“I am too emotional these last months for everything that happened with me and my life, but football is my life,” a clearly tearful Alisson told Sky Sports moments after his attacking intervention.

“I hope my father was here to see it. It’s for my family and for the boys.”

Klopp could barely have hugged his ‘keeper harder. “If Olivier Giroud scores like that you say it’s a worldie!” he told Sky. 

“It’s the best goal I ever saw from a goalkeeper. It’s a worldie! Wow!”

It cannot be for nothing, can it? You can’t let a moment like this go to waste. Liverpool needs two more wins and it should be in the Champions League. Burnley on Wednesday, Crystal Palace next Sunday. There will be fans present at those games. The noise will be there, the atmosphere, the tension, the release.

One doubts whether it will be anything like it was at around 6.25 p.m. here, mind!

Football, eh? How could we ever doubt you?

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