NFL runners sign big-money deals

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NFL runners sign big-money deals

From Comcast SportsNet
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice happily shed his franchise tag Monday after reaching agreement with the Baltimore Ravens on a new five-year contract worth roughly 40 million. The Ravens and Rice, their most versatile offensive weapon, went down to the 4 p.m. deadline before hammering out the deal. Had Rice not signed, he would have played the 2012 season under the 7.7 million franchise tag tender. Instead, he will get 17 million this year and 8 million in 2013. Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of Rice's four seasons, twice advancing to the AFC title game. He earned his second Pro Bowl invite last year after leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 1,364 yards rushing. He also scored a career-best 15 touchdowns. Since being drafted out of Rutgers in the second round of the 2008 draft, Rice leads the NFL in receptions and yards receiving by a running back. He's had 250 catches for 2,235 yards during that span. Off the field, he's been associated with several charitable organizations. Quite simply, the Ravens weren't about to let him get away "This is another example of (owner) Steve Bisciotti's commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Ray has been an integral part of us earning the playoffs in each of his four seasons. His production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding. "I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL," Newsome said. "You'd have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, He's on our team.' " As Baltimore's franchise player, Rice would not have been required to report at the start of training camp. The Ravens will hold their first full squad workout July 26, and Rice is expected to attend. In 61 career games, he ranks second in franchise history in yards rushing (4,377) and yards from scrimmage (6,612). Veteran running back Ricky Williams, who played behind Rice in 2011 and retired during the offseason, was impressed with Rice's talent and passion for the game. "He's got all the God-given ability, but he also works hard," Williams said late last year. "It's rare to find that combination. In my mind, there's only one way to have success, and that's to work hard and have a little bit of talent. He's got both."

Forte signs four-year deal
CHICAGO (AP) -- Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears have agreed to a four-year contract, settling the biggest issue hanging over the team. The Bears confirmed the deal before Monday's deadline. Had the sides not reached an agreement, Forte would have had to play next season for 7.74 million after being hit with the franchise player tag. Or he could have held out. The Bears did not release terms and agent Adisa Bakari did not return calls seeking comment. The Chicago Sun-Times, citing an unidentified source, reported the deal is worth 32 million with more than 18 million guaranteed. With Forte signed, the Bears will have all their key pieces in place when training camp starts next week. "I'm proud to be a Chicago Bear and excited to be here for another four years," Forte said in a statement released by the Bears. "I'd like to thank my family, my agent and the Chicago Bears. I've been working hard this offseason and am looking forward to joining my teammates at training camp next week. I'm glad the business part is done and we can all turn our attention to football and our goal of winning a championship." Forte expressed optimism that a deal would get done in an interview with ESPN last week, and it happened just in time. It ended a long process that began last year when he sought a multiyear extension. Negotiations with then-general manager Jerry Angelo went nowhere, but Forte decided not to hold out. He wound up having his best season. Forte made the Pro Bowl for the first time, finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing. He missed the last four games after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4. By then, the Bears were in the middle of a free fall after losing quarterback Jay Cutler to a broken right thumb. They wound up finishing 8-8 after a 7-3 start and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years after reaching the NFC title game the previous year. The late plunge cost Angelo his job, setting in motion an active offseason. Phil Emery was hired as GM and quickly went to work reshaping the roster. He acquired Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami, giving Cutler a go-to target for the first time since he arrived from Denver. Even better, it's someone he knows well. Cutler and Marshall put up big numbers when they teamed with the Broncos, particularly in 2008. The Bears also filled a need at backup quarterback by bringing in Jason Campbell and signing running back Michael Bush, giving them depth at the position and insurance. That didn't sit well with Forte, who vented on Twitter that management was "undervaluing" him and that he was "disrespected." Getting him locked in is an important step for a team that's eyeing a big run. Forte was leading the league in yards from scrimmage before he was injured last season, and he ranks sixth in the league in that category since the Bears drafted him in 2008. He is the only player in NFL history with at least 900 yards rushing and 400 receiving in each of his first four seasons. "We're very pleased that we were able to come to terms on a four-year extension with Matt," Emery said. "We're excited to get him on the field and continue working toward our goal of winning a championship." The Bears believe they have the talent to compete with Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC North and make a playoff run. Even so, there are some lingering questions. It remains to be seen if the blockers can hold their ground, although the Bears believe the offensive line will be put in more of a position to succeed with Mike Tice replacing the departed Mike Martz as coordinator. The defensive line also is a question mark. The Bears drafted Shea McClellin with the 19th pick, hoping he can help take some of the load off Julius Peppers after Chicago tied for 19th in the league with 33 sacks. Age could also be an issue on defense, with Briggs, Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman all in their 30s. Then again, Briggs just made his seventh straight Pro Bowl. Urlacher got picked for the eighth time last season, and Tillman made it for the first time.

Paxton, Seager pace Mariners past Red Sox, 4-0

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Paxton, Seager pace Mariners past Red Sox, 4-0

SEATTLE -- James Paxton added a dominant night to what has become a dominant month.

Paxton allowed four singles over seven innings to win his fifth consecutive start in July and Kyle Seager homered to pace the Seattle Mariners to a 4-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.

"Heck of an effort by Pax tonight," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "He is on a nice roll right now and we're the beneficiary of it. It's been fun to watch. Getting all of his pitches over. His stuff was electric tonight."

Paxton (10-3) retired the first 13 hitters before Jackie Bradley Jr.'s single to center with one out in the fifth. The left-hander, who worked out of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings, matched his career high with 10 strikeouts and walked none. Paxton has allowed six earned runs in 33 1/3 innings and not given up a home run in five starts this month.

"My arm just felt really good today. Had the big fastball and it was just coming out easy today," said Paxton, who missed almost all of May with a forearm strain. "I wasn't thinking about going out there and throwing 98, 99, that was just what was coming out today."

Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3) allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two in his second start since coming off the disabled list.

"I missed my pitches," Rodriguez said. "Fastball to Seager, he makes good contact and hits a homer. That's how it is when you miss a spot."

Seager started a three-run second with his 14th home run, lining a 2-1 pitch over the wall in straightaway center to open the inning. With one out, Ben Gamel tripled into the right-field corner. Gamel scored on Guillermo Heredia's fielder's choice chopper to first, beating the throw home with a head-first slide. Heredia scored from first on Jean Segura's double into the right-center gap.

"I had a lane to slide in and I felt like I could sneak my hand in there, so I just went for it," said Gamel, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games and raised his average to .323.

Seattle added a run in the fourth when Gamel singled, Segura was hit by a pitch and Danny Valencia doubled.

In the sixth, Brock Holt reached with one out on a throwing error by first baseman Valencia. Mookie Betts singled Holt to second, but Paxton struck out Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia.

Hanley Ramirez and Bradley opened the seventh with consecutive singles, but Paxton struck out Chris Young and enticed Deven Marrero into a double-play grounder to short.

"On a night where we got to swing our way out of it, we get a couple of opportunities in the sixth and seventh, and the strikeout was a big weapon certainly for Paxton tonight," Boston manager John Farrell said. "First and second one out, couple of key strikeouts to (Benintendi) and (Pedroia). And then we come right back in the seventh inning, we think we are in a pretty good spot first and third nobody out, and unable to string any base hits together."

Paxton is scheduled to get another start before the end of the month.

"I think it's five wins in the month of July. He's got a chance to get one more," Servais said. "It's hard to win six games in a month. I don't know if it's ever been done by a Mariner before, but hopefully we'll see it."

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was scratched with an illness, although it was not related to the hand injury he suffered last week. Marrero started.

Mariners: CF Jarrod Dyson was out again with a toe injury sustained when he crashed into the wall Sunday. He is day-to-day.

RED SOX MOVES

Boston called up top prospect Rafael Devers from Triple-A Pawtucket. The 20-year-old Devers began the season at Double-A Portland, hitting .300 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 77 games. He played just nine games at Portland, hitting .400 with two homers. ... RHP Kyle Martin was optioned to Pawtucket. ... LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (left elbow inflammation) was transferred to the 60-day DL.

MARINERS MOVES

Seattle signed veteran INF Danny Espinosa, who was released last week by the Los Angeles Angels. Espinosa hit .209 with a career-high 24 homers in 2016 with Washington, but hit just .162 in 77 games with the Angels. He will be used in a utility role. ... RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (right shoulder inflammation) was transferred to the 60-day DL.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

Segura was hit in the foot by a pitch with two outs in the fourth. The Red Sox challenged, but the call on the field was upheld after a review of 1 minute, 10 second.

UP NEXT:

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (10-4, 3.51) has won four consecutive decisions over his last five starts, posting a 2.12 ERA over that span. Devers is expected to debut at 3B.

Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.88) is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts since coming off the DL (right shoulder inflammation). He is 5-2 in nine starts vs. Boston at Safeco Field.