New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

As you can see, CSN caught up with the Pro Bowl wide receiver and returner at the airport on Sunday night, making some kind of fashion statement as he prepares to join the rest of the squad in Lehigh for his fourth Eagles training camp. Of course, it's little surprise DeSean Jackson finally showed, given that he is being coerced and actually had little choice in the matter.

If Jackson didn't get into camp by August 9, a rule change in the new collective bargaining agreement would prevent him from earning a year of service, which basically means instead of becoming a free agent in 2012, he would continue to have one year remaining on his contract. In short, number ten has much more to lose than $30,000 per day in fines. He could lose an opportunity to receive the very thing he's been fighting for--a new contract.

This is a major departure from old NFL rules. Players previously had until Week 10 of the regular season to report, and while they would lose more than half a season's worth of paychecks, would still accrue that all-important service year. In 2010, both Vincent Jackson of the Chargers and Logan Mankins of the Patriots held out until the bitter end to protest their respective clubs' unwillingness to offer a long term contract.

I think we can all agree that the old rule was more than a little lopsided. A player theoretically could hold out deep into the fall, and be in uniform for fewer than half his team's games, but get credit for having played a full NFL season.

However, the new rule is even more lopsided than the last one, and far more unfair. Jackson could lose the right to gain a service year before the Eagles have ever played so much as a preseason game. That takes the teeth right out of any holdout, especially in this case where the player is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

This may be all well and good to fans, as we have something of a distaste for professional athletes who hold out and ask for more money. As unpleasant as it is though, holding out of training camp is one of the only forms of leverage a football player has during a contract dispute. Now the act is rendered virtually meaningless.

And make no mistake, DeSean Jackson DESERVES a new contract. The diminutive one is scheduled to make little more than $600,000 in base salary. Even with his prorated signing bonus, the total sum of his current deal pays him less than a million dollars in 2011. For a player of his caliber, Jackson is getting flat out ripped off compared to the rest of the league.

We've heard the tired arguments fans trot out there. No, you probably will not earn "only" a million dollars this year, but unless other professionals in your field make millions, that's irrelevant. And yes, Jackson signed a contract, but as a second round pick, he had little room to negotiate the compensation for his rookie deal. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that NFL teams routinely don't honor their end of the pact, so why should a player?

Jackson is the person taking all the risk here. Players need to make as much money as they can when they are in the prime of their career, because before you or they know it, it's over.

Ultimately, I believe the Eagles will reach an agreement with DeSean before this is all said and done, perhaps once they finish a new contract for Michael Vick, but the August 9 deadline to report is still troublesome. What if Jackson sustains a serious injury during a preseason game, or even during practice? Will the front office still sign him to a long term extension?

I doubt it.

Because the risk for injury exists in those meaningless situations, a player should be able to hold out at least until the first week of the regular season. It's a long enough period of time that it's a valid concern for the club, but punctual enough that it meets the most obvious criteria for earning a year of NFL service--that being the athlete was available for a full slate of 16 games.

As for Jackson's situation, he was absolutely right to hold out. He was already underpaid last season, he's in the final year of his contract, and he has more than proven himself a valuable asset on the football field. If I were him, there would be no way I would risk injury until that check was in the mail.

But it's not up to him anymore. The league has taken it out his hands, and all he can hope is the Eagles do the right thing.

Before it's too late.

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

NEW YORK -- LeBron James scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love also surpassed 20, and the Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the New York Knicks 126-94 on Wednesday night.

James had nothing to say Wednesday morning about Knicks President Phil Jackson and not much more about his decision to not stay with the team in a Donald Trump-branded hotel, but he and the Cavs made a loud statement at Madison Square Garden.

It was their second straight win after a three-game skid, and they did it easily in handing the Knicks their worst loss of the season. Irving led Cleveland with 28 points and Love scored 21, 16 in the first quarter.

Brandon Jennings scored 16 points for the Knicks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped and lost for the just the third time in 10 games. He started for Derrick Rose, who missed his first game of the season with lower back pain.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 20 rebounds for the Cavs. They played without guard J.R. Smith, who returned to Cleveland for additional testing after hyperextending his left knee Monday in Toronto (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo drops triple-double in Bucks’ win
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo got his second triple-double of the season to lead the Milwaukee Bucks over the Portland Trail Blazers 115-107 on Wednesday night.

Antetokounmpo had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh career triple-double -- second-most in franchise history -- and is the only NBA player averaging at least 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals this season.

Jabari Parker added 27 points for Milwaukee, which rebounded from a one-point home loss to San Antonio on Monday to win for the fifth time in six games.

The Bucks entered holding opponents to a NBA-best .311 shooting percentage from 3-point range, but Portland drill a season-high 17 of them.

Damian Lillard made five of them and scored a team-high 30 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists.

C.J. McCollum added 23 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Blazers continued a nine-game stretch of playing eight times on the road (see full recap).

Streaking Rockets roll over Lakers
HOUSTON -- Eric Gordon made a career-high eight 3-points and scored 26 points to help the Houston Rockets cruise to a 134-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

James Harden added 25 points in three quarters for the Rockets. They scored a season high and extended their winning streak to a season-best four games.

The Rockets were up by 12 in the third quarter, then had a 22-6 run to make it 96-68 and put the game out of reach with about 3 minutes left in the quarter. Houston made four 3-pointers and got a nifty one-handed dunk from Clint Capela in that run to pad the lead.

Gordon already had four 3-pointers seven minutes into the first quarter after making each of his first four attempts. It was his seventh straight game with at least four 3-pointers, which is a franchise record.

Houston's winning streak is its longest since taking five straight in January.

Lou Williams led the Lakers with 24 points. They have lost four in a row, their longest skid of the season (see full recap).