NEW YORK — The NFL’s salary cap will jump $11 million next season to $188.2 million. In the ninth year of the 10-year labor agreement, the cap moves up from $177.2 million. It had increased every year of the contract, with the biggest move in 2015 to 2016, when it went up by just under $12 million. This is the third year out of four in which clubs must reach 89 percent in cash spending, and the NFL Players Association said Friday that four teams are under that threshold: Dallas, Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Houston. League expenditures for benefits are $40.5 million per team. Add that to the salary cap number, and each club’s player costs are above $228 million.
NEW YORK — The Pittsburgh Steelers insist there’s still a chance wide receiver Antonio Brown could return next season. Brown doesn’t see it that way. According to a transcript provided by HBO, the four-time All-Pro told LeBron James on James’ HBO show “The Shop” that there’s “too much smoke” between Brown and the team for Brown to play for Pittsburgh in 2019. Brown’s conversation with James marked his first extended public comments since requesting a trade last month.
The Steelers are shopping Brown, but general manager Kevin Colbert has stressed the team won’t cut him or make any personnel move that would be detrimental to the team, reiterating there’s a possibility the Steelers won’t move Brown if they don’t receive what they consider fair value. Brown took issue with how the team has portrayed him after benching him for the regular-season finale against Cincinnati.
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles and defensive end Brandon Graham have agreed to a three-year contract extension, preventing the team’s longest-tenured defensive player from testing free agency. Graham had just four sacks last season after a career-high 9 ½ in 2017, including a strip-sack on Tom Brady to secure Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over New England in the Super Bowl in February 2018. Graham was the 13th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. He has 42 ½ sacks, 16 forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries in 127 games, 70 stars.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have released Alex Collins, who led the team in rushing two years ago. Collins was arrested Friday following a car crash near the team training facility. The specific charges were not immediately released by police. The team said, “We have spoken to the police and are aware of the situation.” The Ravens announced his release later Friday.
OTTAWA, Ontario — The NHL-worst Senators have fired coach Guy Boucher and named assistant Marc Crawford as the interim replacement. General manager Pierre Dorion says Ottawa needs “a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild.” Boucher coached the Senators to within one victory of the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 in his first season behind the bench. He previously got the Tampa Bay Lightning to within one victory of the final in 2011. The Senators missed the playoffs last year, and this season is 22-37-5 and are in the last place among the league’s 31 teams. Boucher is the seventh coach to be fired this season.
NEW YORK — The NHL Network has hired women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield as a studio analyst. Coyne Schofield will make her debut on March 4. The network announced the hire Friday. A 2018 Olympic gold-medalist and five-time world champion representing the United States in international play, Coyne Schofield has been back in the spotlight since NHL All-Star Weekend in late January. She participated and impressed in the fastest skater competition, providing the event’s biggest highlight.
NEWARK, N.J. — The Philadelphia Flyers set an NHL record when Cam Talbot became the eighth goaltender to play this season. Talbot, who was acquired from Edmonton in mid-February for fellow goaltender Anthony Stolarz, became No. 8 on Friday night to start against the New Jersey Devils. Brian Elliott, Carter Hart, Michal Neuvirth, Calvin Pickard, Alex Lyon, Mike McKenna, and Stolarz have also played goal for Philadelphia when the men between the pipes have missed 107 games due to injury.
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Kansas City Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, raising the possibility the 2015 World Series MVP may need Tommy John surgery and miss the season. Perez was hurt during a workout Wednesday, and the team said an MRI on Thursday revealed the damage. Perez will travel next week to California for a second opinion from Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The 28-year-old has been an All-Star for six straight seasons and won Gold Gloves in five of the last six years.
SAN FRANCISCO — A video posted by TMZ on Friday shows Giants President and CEO Larry Baer in a physical altercation with his wife at a San Francisco park. Baer’s wife, Pam, was seated in a chair when the video shows he reached over her to grab for a cellphone in her right hand, and she toppled sideways to the ground in the chair screaming, “Oh my God!” and kicking a leg. Witnesses saw the ordeal in the public plaza. Baer, holding the phone, says, “Stop, Pam, stop,” then walks away alone. The couple said in a statement Friday that they are “embarrassed by the situation and have resolved the issue.”
BOSTON — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he would consider shortening the regular season, but only if the league could develop something meaningful to replace the games — and revenue — they would be giving up. Speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday, Silver raised the idea of replacing the All-Star Game with a midseason or preseason tournament. Teams would compete for a separate championship like they do in European soccer. Or groups of teams could compete in mini-tournaments in Asia or Europe. The problem, Silver said, is how to make these other events meaningful.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State has suspended leading scorer Kaleb Wesson indefinitely for violating an athletic department policy the school did not specify. Ohio State did not say when the 6-foot-9, 270-pound sophomore could return, only that he will play again this season. The action by coach Chris Holtmann was announced Friday. Wesson is averaging 14.6 points per game for the Buckeyes (18-10, 8-9 Big Ten) and is their top rebounder with a 6.7 per game average.
The NCAA football rules committee announced several proposed changes Friday, including replay officials more leeway to overturn targeting penalties and to require games reaching the fifth overtime to be decided by alternating 2-point conversion tries. The committee met in Indianapolis this week, and the proposed changes also include tweaks to kickoff and blind-side block rules. The football oversight committee must approve the proposals in April. They would go into effect next season. Two changes to targeting were proposed.
CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy has bought out the contract of forwarding Giovani Dos Santos, ending the Mexican veteran’s inconsistent four-year tenure. The Galaxy announced the deal Friday to reach roster compliance ahead of MLS’ season openers this weekend. Dos Santos was among four designated players on the Galaxy’s roster, and only three are allowed. The Galaxy elected to cut ties with Dos Santos while keeping his brother, Jonathan, and stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini.
TORONTO — American forward Jozy Altidore and Toronto have agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2022. Altidore will remain a designated player whose salary counts only partially in Major League Soccer’s salary cap. The 29-year-old starts his fifth season with Toronto following his transfer from Sunderland and has 60 goals in 114 matches. Altidore has 41 goals in 110 international appearances but has not played for the U.S. since the loss at Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017 that ended the Americans’ streak of seven straight World Cup appearances.
ESPN is entering the growing daily sports gambling show marketplace. The network announced Friday that it would start airing “Daily Wager” on March 11. The one-hour show will air weekdays at 6 p.m. EST on ESPNews. ESPN joins Fox Sports 1 in airing daily gambling shows. “Lock It In” premiered on Fox Sports 1 last September and is also a one-hour show.
PANAMA CITY — Former world champion Panamanian boxer Eusebio Pedroza, who defended the featherweight title more times than any other, has died at age 62. The World Boxing Association said Friday that Pedroza had been hospitalized recently while battling pancreatic cancer. Pedroza, nicknamed the “Scorpion,” successfully defended his title 19 times between 1978 and 1985.