Chris Johnson Gets Paid; DeSean Jackson, Probably Not

Chris Johnson Gets Paid; DeSean Jackson, Probably Not

As the calendar turns ever closer to the opening of training camp and start of football season, there are still dozens of disgruntled players around the league who are stuck in unfair contracts. They're unable to negotiate new contracts with their respective clubs due to the uncertainty with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the rules currently in place that limit player movement and the amount of money teams can offer certain athletes. I'm sure you're all very concerned about their plight.

Among the players who either threatened to hold out or have already, and probably the most egregious example of the underpaid, was Chris Johnson. Last year the Tennessee running back became the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, yet he was slated to enter this season as the lowest paid runner on the roster.

The Titans finally said no mas and caved to Johnson's demands... sort of. The 2010 Offensive Player of the Year gets a salary bump for the upcoming season, but does it affect somebody like DeSean Jackson, who has also made it known he is looking for a reworked deal?

The Inquirer's Jeff McLane explains it's "unlikely." While Chris Johnson and DeSean are similar in that they are both entering their third year in the league, and have had explosive impacts the previous two seasons, for starters they are playing under two very different contracts. Johnson, who went late in the first round of the draft, is locked up in a five year deal and has a ways to go before he can become a free agent, while Jackson received a shorter four year offer in the second round.

According to McLane's sources, the thinking is the Eagles won't bother to renegotiate with DeSean because he'll already be on the final year of his existing contract in 2011, which is when teams generally try to work on extensions anyway.

A holdout or even publicly asking for a restructured deal would not benefit Jackson, who has one less year on his deal than Johnson and thus a shorter road to free agency. And once you're a good player - which Jackson obviously is - the most valuable thing you can have is a shorter road to free agency.

The other issue at hand for Jackson is CJ didn't really win his battle. Instead, he's merely been temporarily appeased. The back is now slated to earn $2.5 million in 2010, which is far better than $500k he would have earned otherwise, but it's far from representative of one of the most dynamic players in the league. Not only that, but the team technically didn't even give him a raise. They simply moved money from the final year of the current deal into this season.

That type of settlement isn't really indicative of DJac or other unhappy players suddenly striking it rich. It seems organizations have their hands tied in many of these cases, while some may just be content to point to the lack of a CBA one year from now. Luckily, McLane seems to come to the conclusion DeSean won't have too much of a problem with all of this.

Jackson's best route, according to the league source, is to wait another year before asking for a new contract.

>> McLane: Unhappy Jackson unlikely to get revised deal [Inquirer]

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies offered up a sneak peek of their Triple A roster on Thursday and, frankly, it was kind of exciting.

Now, we won't go overboard here. That’s never a wise thing to do when a bunch of solid major-league prospects beat up on a college team in a spring training game. Lessons have been learned over the years. Remember that time Domonic Brown electrified camp when he turned around a 96-mph fastball from Justin Verlander and hammered it like a missile over the right-field wall?

Enough said.

But if things like home run power and bat speed and rocket throwing arms and good infield work light up your radar gun then this was a fun day and an entertaining peek at what's going to be playing 60 miles north of Philadelphia at Lehigh Valley in a few weeks.

Manager Pete Mackanin used a lineup filled with prospects for the team’s annual good-will exhibition game against the University of Tampa.

The Phillies won the game, 6-0. They out-hit UT, 12-2, in the seven-inning game.

“This gave us home-field advantage for next year when we play these guys,” Mackanin quipped afterward.

The skipper was in a good mood and justifiably so.

The kids put on a good show.

“I know it’s a college team, but we looked good all around,” Mackanin said. “We swung the bats well. We played well defensively.”

The Phillies' farm system has improved over the last couple of seasons. There are players at the upper levels -- and even more at the lower levels -- with game-breaking tools. Those tools were displayed in this game.

• Centerfielder Roman Quinn singled and scorched a line-drive home run over the right-field wall. Quinn is working on shortening his swing this spring. The home run came on a quick swing and jumped off his bat.

• Scott Kingery, the 22-year-old second baseman picked by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft, made three nice plays in the field, one to his right, one to his left and one on a double-play ball. He actually projects to open at Double A, but could be a quick mover. Jesmuel Valentin projects to play at Triple A. He's been bothered by a sore shoulder.

• Outfielder Nick Williams was hitless but drove the ball well.

• Dylan Cozens, the lefty-hitting behemoth who swatted 40 homers, the most in all of minor-league ball, for Double A Reading last season clubbed a long home run over the batter’s eye in center field.

“Ryan Howard is the only guy I’ve ever seen do that,” one longtime security guard at Spectrum Field said.

“The ball makes a different sound coming off his bat,” Mackanin observed.

• Top prospect J.P. Crawford booted a ball in the first inning, but that happens. He came across the second base bag like a blur when he teamed with Kingery in turning a double play.

• Andrew Pullin showed his sweet lefty stroke with a scorching base hit to right field. It was one of those line drives that nose-dived into the ground because it had so much hard top-spin on it. Pullin has a short, Jim Eisenreich type of swing, and it will carry him to the big leagues someday, maybe even this year as he would be an intriguing bat to have coming off the bench.

• And then there was catcher Jorge Alfaro. Power -- with his throwing arm and his bat -- is his big tool. He showed it gunning down a would-be base stealer with a laser-beam throw to second and later by lining a pitch off the top of the wall in right-center. Alfaro seemed to simply flick his wrists and drive the ball through a stuff wind. With no wind, it was a homer.

Again, all of this came against a college team. All of these prospects still have miles to go in their development and the rigors of the unforgiving baseball schedule, not to mention pitching that improves with every step, has a way of thinning the field.

But these prospects -- and their tools -- impressed the field boss.

“If they go to Triple A and pound the ball like they did today -- that’s what we’re hoping for,” Mackanin said. “It was a good day to give those guys some confidence. We want to see what they can do and what they can’t do. It was against a college team, but you can get a good glimpse of the future, see what they’re capable of doing. I’m going to try to see the young guys as much as I can early in the spring.

“It’s really encouraging to see these guys. Every one of them has very good potential, more than I’ve seen since I’ve been here.

“I was talking to Charlie Manuel (who sees the entire system in his front office role) before the game and he said up and down the system we have a lot of good players. Perhaps not necessarily blue-chip prospects but enough where you know some of them are going to make their way to the top and this is a good start with what we’re looking at right now.”

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel's tenure in Philadelphia wasn't characterized by a whole lot of winning, but he'll still likely be remembered fondly by Sixers fans as being one of the original members of the process.

It's always an emotional time when a fan favorite departs for another city and a new team instead of seeing the championship aspirations many had for them in Philly through to fruition.

Noel posted an emotional message to his Twitter account on Thursday evening thanking the city of Philadelphia and its fans for the support they showed him through the ups and downs. 

The tweet contained the hashtag #Philly with a couple of exclamation points with a screenshot of a note that read:

What an exciting journey it’s been… To have such an amazing city embrace a kid from Boston coming out of Kentucky the way y’all did, is something I’ll truly never forget. And even through the ups and downs I never doubted the love here and that won’t change. Thank you to everybody that’s believed in me and supported through #TheProcess.

Love! -NN4

He posted the same message on Instagram as well.

Noel was traded earlier in the day to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a conditional first round pick that will likely turn into two second round picks.

Bryan Colangelo will address the media on Friday morning to discuss his rationale behind moving Nerlens.

Related:

>>Every reason why the Nerlens Noel trade was unjustifiable 

>>Video: Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid say their goodbyes 

>>Joel Embiid reacts to Nerlens trade on Twitter: 'Trust it'