The Pulse: Alabama’s trouble, NFL franchise tags and top MLB rookies

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Serious Matters

Star brought gun to scene, investigator says

Alabama star Brandon Miller brought then-teammate Darius Miles the gun Miles used in a January murder, an investigator testified yesterday. Multiple layers to this developing story:

Miles and another man were charged with capital murder after the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman, Jamea Jonae Harris, on Jan. 15. Michael Lynn Davis is accused of firing the fatal gunshot, but Miles supplied the firearm. Miles was a little-used reserve for the Crimson Tide before getting kicked off the team after his arrest. According to law enforcement, Miles texted Miller to bring Miles’ gun to the scene. Miller, who allegedly obliged, has not been charged with any crime. Tuscaloosa chief deputy district attorney Paula Whitley told there’s “nothing we could charge (Miller) with.” Alabama coach Nate Oats then made some puzzling comments following the news of Miller’s involvement, saying a team “can’t control what anybody does outside of practice” and that Miller was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” Jarring, considering Miller allegedly brought the murder weapon to the scene.

Miller has plenty at stake. Sam Vecenie has Miller at No. 3 in his latest mock draft, and Miller has led the Crimson Tide to a No. 1 overall ranking this year, something you don’t normally see at Alabama.


It remains unclear if Miller will face any punishment. Alabama plays South Carolina tonight at 9 p.m. ET.


You’ve been tagged

The NFL franchise tag window opened yesterday, meaning we have two weeks to speculate which players end up possibly unhappy (no long-term deal) but well-paid. Some notable candidates, including the big one in Baltimore:

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson Seahawks QB Geno Smith Giants QB Daniel Jones Giants RB Saquon Barkley Raiders RB Josh Jacobs Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

We’ve spoken ad nauseam about Jackson, who has been negotiating a long-term extension with the Ravens for the last two years without success. His franchise tag number is $32.4 million. Those sides seem headed for Tag City, unless Jackson holds out, which has been done (see Bell, Le’Veon).

Expect Smith and Jones to get long-term deals done, although Jones is possibly asking for as much as $45 million a season, per ProFootballTalk. If he holds firm to that, the Giants might opt for the tag and try again next offseason.

Commanders DT Daron Payne will be tagged, sources told The Athletic’s Ben Standig.

Read our handy explainer about the tag, including the difference between exclusive and non-exclusive tags, which have become popular recently. The tag window closes March 7.


Hawks fire McMillan
Nate McMillan is out in Atlanta after a 29-30 start to the season, the team announced yesterday. The move is not a surprise — The Athletic reported in December that McMillan and star Trae Young were at odds. Couple that with losing eight of 13 heading into the All-Star break, and here we are. Joe Prunty, who served as the Bucks interim coach in 2018, will take over.

Jeff Schultz writes that while McMillan’s ouster was justified, the problems run much deeper in Atlanta.

Francona’s comedy of errorsGuardians manager Terry Francona always gives a speech at the start of spring training. It sets the tone for the season, players say, and Francona stresses about it. His preparation for this year’s speech saw:

A swallowed tooth A coffee spill on the only copy of the speech A haircut prank

Zack Meisel has the fun story from Guardians camp. Worth your time this morning.


The Pac-12’s dire straitsChris Vannini has a fantastic column this morning on the no-good TV situation out west, where it appears Apple TV+ is a possible landing spot for Pac-12 football games. The dirty secret, Vannini writes, is that streaming won’t save college football because streaming isn’t saving TV. The conference is in a tough spot: accept a low-money viewership crash with a streamer like Apple or accept whatever terms ESPN sets.

UNLV player diesUNLV defensive lineman Ryan Keeler died in Las Vegas on Monday, the team announced. Keeler, a Rutgers transfer, played in seven games last season. He also had a 3.80 GPA in the classroom. “We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family,” UNLV football coach Barry Odom said.

Hi, My Name Is

Say hello to a possible ROY ballot

Keith Law is back today with his list of the top 20 MLB prospects who could make the biggest impact of 2023. There are plenty of familiar faces from his Top 100 prospect list, but viewed through a different lens: immediate production.

I grabbed us the top three:

1. Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona
2. Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Baltimore
3. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston

Carroll (already reportedly in extension talks with the Diamondbacks) and Henderson will be fun to watch, but Casas is the most intriguing to me of those three:

He steps into a big role immediately. Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are gone. So is Eric Hosmer, whom the Red Sox released in favor of Casas. The new guy will be counted on for runs. Law notes he could even lead Boston in walks. No pressure, rook.

See the full list here. Plenty of Diamondbacks, Mets and Orioles on it.

Pulse Picks

He only goes by “Mr. Paint.” Meet the man behind NBA Paint, which began as simple doodles and now has a following among NBA players and fans alike.

Nate Tice picks his Most Improved Players for 2022. Jalen Hurts and Quincy Williams lead the way.

Every fantasy baseball link you need is in this draft kit.

What has Coach K been up to? Brendan Marks finds the coach at peace, but staying busy.

Cale Makar has had two concussions this month. Everyone followed protocol, but Peter Baugh asks: Is that enough?


The MLS is tweaking its playoff format. Best-of-three series are so in. See all the details here.

Bill Shea watched all the XFL action last weekend. His full review, including an interesting look at replays.


(Photos: Marvin Gentry / USA Today)

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