Did you know Maryland senior tight end Matt Furstenburg has been named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award? Now you do. Given annually to the top collegiate tight end in the nation,Furstenburg is one of 33 players on the list. Furstenburg, a consensus preseason first team All-ACC selection,caught 31 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns last season. He rankedthird among ACC tight ends in receptions and receiving yards per game year ago. He was also named to the Mackey Award midseason watch list last year, but didnt make the semifinalist list. The award, which has been presented since 2000, is named for NFL Hall of Famer John Mackey.
During the All-Star break, when Otto Porter should've been in New Orleans launching red, white and blue moneyballs in the three-point contest, he was buried under a hood of a car in Morley, Mo.
The 6-8 forward for the Wizards, who'll be extended a qualfying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer, wouldn't have it any other way. He ignored the clamoring for the NBA to put one of the league's top long-ball shooters in 2016-17 in the contest. He'd rather bond with his father and listen to his family's vintage Plymouth Road Runner hum.
"Home is where the heart is. Why would you change that?" said Porter, who spent All-Star week in his hometown at his parents' house which is the same place he grew up. "Population of 700. Probably 699 now that I left."
That's Porter. He cooled after a blistering start to his fourth season, second as a starter, to average 13.4 points, 51.6% overall shooting and 43.4% from thee-point range. All were career-highs as were his 6.4 rebounds.
The Wizards aren't in the same position as they were last summer with Bradley Beal, who was a restricted free agent. They moved quickly to re-sign him to $128 million. They'll have less room under the cap this time coupled with Porter being a completely different player.
Wall and Beal are the two best players who are at their best with the ball because they create for others, too. Porter is best off the ball, as he relies on movement, angles and spotting up to get his shots.
Every good team needs someone like Porter, who won't pout if he doesn't get a 15 shots each night and will sacrifice for the greater good. He's ego-less. But does that mean the Wizards won't dig deep to pay $100 million-plus to retain his services? They could qualify him at 125% of this season's $5.9 million salary which woould officially make him restricted, allow him to test the market and bring back an offer sheet and if he does they'll have 72 hours to match it. If the offer sheet is low, that works in the Wizards' favor. If it's at the higher end and they don't match it, Porter walks and nothing is gained in return.
Free agency is a supply-and-demand market like any other industry. If there's a dearth of talent available and a lot of teams are in need of that product -- see Beal last summer with the next best shooting guard Dwyane Wade -- the pricetag skyrockets. After Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward, neither of whom are in the Wizards' wheelhouse, there's Danilo Gallinari (five years older, injury prone), Rudy Gay (seven years older, coming off Achilles tear), Andre Igoudala (nine years older) and the like.
Porter, however, has another thing going for him. He's theirs. The Wizards developed him after a hip injury slowed him as a rookie and he spent his sophomore season as an apprentice under Paul Pierce. The Wizards moved up in the 2013 lottery from eighth to No. 3 which put them in position to draft what they considered to be the safest bet. While the Cleveland Cavaliers bombed with Anthony Bennett at No. 1 and the Orlando Magic gambled on Victor Oladipo at No. 2 only to trade him last season, the Wizards' selection never was in doubt.
If the Wizards were to come to terms with Wall on a veteran extension that could approach $170 million, that likely would limit what they could offer Porter. But there are a lot of moving pieces to the puzzle before figuring out a number that would work for both sides.
Porter spent two years at Georgetown. His agent, David Falk, is here, too. There's no drama with Porter, who avoided the AAU circuit as an elite high school player. He prefers to keep it simple which is in perfect line with how he was raised.
"That's just how I grew up playing basketball, with my father and my family. We didn't need AAU, really," he said. "We had so much family that was my AAU."
When he goes back to Morley, he stays with his parents. He gets the house all to himself when his brother is at college. He'd much rather talk about cars than the business of the NBA and contracts.
"That's my second love. Not a question. That's just something I enjoy off the court," Porter said of being a mechanic. "Majority of the day. Everyday, really.
"My father, his brothers always worked on cars. I was always around when they were fixing cars up. I took a big interest in cars when I was young. It's relaxing to my mind, body and my soul."
He'll be 24 next month. Porter exploded for a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds in a Nov. 9 win the Boston Celtics, He had 32 and 14 in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks the following month.
Before the calendar year ended, he had five double-doubles which was equal to his output in his first three NBA seasons. Under first-year coach Scott Brooks, he had more freedom and opportunities to score.
The attention to Wall and Beal often left Porter as the forgotten man spotting up on the weakside, awaiting ball reversals or skip passes for wide-open looks. He can still have trouble with physical players at small forward but he flourishes when moved over to the stretch four spot in small lineups. What happens with restricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic and rising third-year forward Kelly Oubre, who has a fourth-year option coming in October, will factor in as well.
While it may sound cliche when other players say things like this about their contract status, every bit of Porter's words are genuine.
"It is what it is," he said. "I'm going to continue what I've been doing. Continue to work. If everything work itself out, it will. ... A lot of people are surprised but with me it's like, 'I saw this coming a long time ago.'"
Porter played a career-high 80 games, five more than he did in 2015-16, which is surprising when considering how his right hip flared up on him several times. He often rode an exercise bike to stay loose on game nights.
To get past the second round of the playoffs, where the Wizards' season has ended in three of the last four years, the roster will need a tune up. In a perfect world, Porter would remain one of their spark plugs.
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 23, 21 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.
It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 110 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 21
—Training camp starts (7/27) 65
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 79
Who will surprise in 2017?
As OTAs start today, all 90 players on the roster have something to work for. But few dozen of them don’t have to work for a job. These are players who either because of their contracts or draft status or importance to the team who are locks to make the 53-man roster. Here are the 2017 roster locks.
Backs: QB’s Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, and Nate Sudfeld; RB’s Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, and Samaje Perine.
I’ve had Sudfeld on the bubble ever since the Redskins drafted him but he’s past the point where they are going to give up on him and risk putting him on the practice squad. A year ago, Kelley was on the outside of the bubble and now he is a mortal lock.
WR/TE: WR’s Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder; TEs Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis
Receivers Maurice Harris and Robert Davis are close to being locks but there is a lot of competition going on in the bottom of the depth chart. Jeremy Sprinkle is likely to make it as a tight end but he may have to beat out special teams stalwart Niles Paul.
O-line: OT’s Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, G’s Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio; C Spencer Long
You can argue about Lauvao but the fact that the team did not draft or sign serious competition for him tells me he is safe. Someone who can back up a center is a lock to make the roster. That could be sixth-round pick Chase Roullier or a veteran plucked off waivers.
D-line: Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Jonathan Allen, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood
Lanier will still be a project but after keeping him last year the Redskins will hang on to him again to see if he can develop into a pass-rushing threat. Matt Ioannidis could be the sixth defensive lineman but he could get beaten out.
Linebackers: OLB’s Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson; ILB’s Will Compton, Zach Brown, Mason Foster
Trent Murphy will be suspended for the first four games so he won’t be on the initial 53. Martrell Spaight is close to being a lock but competition will be fierce for that last inside linebacker spot.
Backs: CB’s Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar; Safeties Su’a Cravens, D.J. Swearinger
Five or possibly six positions are up for grabs here. Third-round pick Fabian Moreau is a lock to be with the organization but he could be on the PUP list.
Specialists (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way, K Dustin Hopkins
It would be very surprising if they brought in competition for Hopkins.
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- Which Redskins will surprise in 2017?
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- Redskins could learn valuable lesson from Patriots
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