NFL rising star signs 6-year extension

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NFL rising star signs 6-year extension

From Comcast SportsNetTEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals and inside linebacker Daryl Washington have agreed on a six-year contract.The Cardinals had targeted the third-year pro throughout training camp as the next player to get a new deal. A second-round draft pick -- 47th overall -- out of TCU in 2010, Washington led the team in tackles last season with 111."I feel really good, really good," he said after practice on Thursday. "I'm glad it was able to get done before the season, sooner than later. I feel real good about the decision, about my agent Jordan Woy and the organization. I told them I wanted to be here for a long time and I'm glad it got done."Terms weren't disclosed but the deal contains guaranteed money, a pay raise over the next two seasons with a team option bonus in 2014.Washington, known for his extreme speed at a critical position in Arizona's 3-4 scheme, had 16 tackles for loss last season, the most by an Arizona player since 1995. He was one of five players in the NFL in 2011 with at least five sacks and two interceptions.He had two years left on the contract he signed as a rookie."It just shows they believe in me, they believe in my talent," Washington said. "It shows the kind of person I am, the kind of character that I have. I'm just excited right now, very excited."He joins defensive end Calais Campbell as players who signed long-term deals with Arizona in recent months."It just shows that they've got two potential great players for a long period of time," Washington said. "We're looking to really take over the defense and really show the organization that we're worth the pay."He said the contract does not create more pressure for him to prove he's worth it."It's more of a challenge," Washington said, "to go out there and play as well as they expect me to play. But I expect that of myself."Coach Ken Whisenhunt said "it's great when you have a young player that has made the strides that Daryl has.""We thought highly of him before we drafted him and he certainly hasn't let us down," Whisenhunt said, "so to know that he's going to be here for a number of years was a great thing."Washington has plenty of room for improvement."I think to continue on that upward scale is the next step for him," Whisenhunt said. "He learned the defense, understood what he had to do in the defense. He's been an explosive player, a fast player. When he knows what he's doing he's hard to block with the speed that he's got. He's all over the place and I think that just getting more and more comfortable in this defense and understanding where he has to be, he can get there fast, and that helps."The Cardinals had their eye on Washington throughout his college career "on a very good defense" at TCU, the coach said."For the fit in what we're trying to get done defensively, he has all the things that you like to see," Whisenhunt said. "He's smart, he's fast, he thumps a lot more than you think he would based on his size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds). He can cover, he can get down the field. All those things to play that linebacker position, a three-down linebacker, make him very valuable."Just his work ethic, that's one of the things that you look for in some of these young players, if they're going to be a leader, if they're going to be one of the guys that you count on defensively, they've got to be the right kind of guy, and Daryl is that."He is among five players from Arizona's 2010 draft class who will start in Sunday's season opener against Seattle.Campbell was elated to see Washington get the deal."He deserved it. He's definitely a great player," Campbell said. "I'd love to play with him a lot of years because he's going to make me look good and make all kinds of plays."Campbell said the Cardinals were smart to sign Washington now because he would have been a lot more expensive after this season."Because he's going to have a great year," Campbell said. "I'm predicting him to be All-Pro."

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Brooks Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Brooks Laich placed on waivers after saying he wants to play for contender

Brooks Laich thinks he has more to offer, but it seems the Toronto Maple Leafs disagree. Just one day after an interview in which he said he wanted to play for a contender, the Leafs have placed the former Captial on waivers.

“You don’t win a Stanley Cup playing in the American League," Laich told Joshua Kloke of The Athletic. "If the Leafs don’t have a plan for me with them then I would like to pursue a Stanley Cup somewhere else."

Well, it looks like Toronto is calling his bluff.

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Laich was not placed on unconditional waivers, a precursor to the team terminating his contract, he was placed on regular waivers. As he is already in the AHL, placing Laich on waivers simply exposes his contract to the rest of the league allowing other teams to claim him.

In other words, the Leafs appear to be saying, "You think you can still play for a contender? They can have you."

With an overall cap hit of $4.5 million, it seems doubtful any serious contender would claim him.

Laich, 33, was traded by the Capitals to Toronto last season. He was sent to the Leaf's AHL affiliate at the start of the 2016-17 season and that is where he has stayed. Laich has played in only 22 games for the Toronto Marlies, tallying one goal and five assists.

None of that is encouraging. Sadly, however, Laich does not seem to realize the direction his career his going.

“Listen, I’m 33. I’m not 45. I still feel incredibly young. Physically and mentally, I feel as youthful and as energetic as any kid that walks in the door. I feel like I’m younger than the 20-year-old kids. I have passion for the game. You might call me crazy, but I still feel like my best days of hockey are ahead of me.

“I’m not here just to be a mentor and be a good guy. That comes by being a teammate and having experience. But that’s not my job here. My job here is to play hockey and play as well as I can. I still feel I have many, many years left to play.”

Laich's career was derailed by a groin injury he suffered while playing overseas during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Since then, he has never been able to play more than 66 games in a season and has never really looked the same.

The idea that his best days are still ahead of him at this point for a player that can't stay healthy, can't crack the NHL lineup of the Maple Leafs and isn't producing in the AHL is simply delusional. This is not the way we all hoped it would end for a player who was a big part of the Capitals' organization for 12 seasons.

MORE CAPITALS: Grubauer again states case as NHL's best backup

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

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