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12/14/2010 - 5:25am
Reports: Phillies win Lee sweepstakes

In a startling turn of events, free agent pitcher Cliff Lee has a deal in place to return to the Phillies. The news was first reported by MLB.com, which cited multiple industry sources. According to SI.com, Lee's deal would be worth $120 million over five years, while FoxSports.com is also reporting there is a vesting option for a sixth year that would pay the pitcher $27.5 million, raising the potential worth of the deal to $135 million. There is also reportedly a $12.5 million buyout in the sixth season.

 

The deal was shocking in that Lee had been viewed by many in the industry as a mercenary who was intent on extracting as much money as possible from his first foray into free agency. But the Phillies did not make the most substantial offer in terms of either dollars or years. The Yankees, according to several reports, had an offer in the vicinity of seven years and $150 million on the table. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported (via...

12/12/2010 - 11:03pm
Sources: Rivera initiated contact with Sox

According to multiple major league sources, Mariano Rivera's representatives were the ones to initiate contact with the Red Sox in an attempt to get the team interested in the closer. While the Red Sox would ultimately make a two-year offer to Rivera, according to sources the team's expectation was that he would be returning to the Yankees. The 41-year-old ultimately re-signed with New York, securing a two-year, $30 million deal.

 

While there was some thought that because of the offer to Rivera the Red Sox were prepared to non-tender closer Jonathan Papelbon, separate sources suggest the Sox were never inclined to let Papelbon become a free agent this offseason. In the short-term, the team valued the reliever's presence in the back-end of its bullpen, while long-term it coveted  any draft picks that might come the Sox' way if Papelbon were to sign elsewhere in free agency next year. The Sox' closer is arbitration-eligible for a third...

12/12/2010 - 8:49pm
Brady: 'It was a fun day'

Tom Brady continued his incredible late-season run on Sunday at Soldier Field with 369 yards passing and two touchdowns in the Patriots' 36-7 romp over the Bears. He has now thrown 268 passes without an interception, the third-best streak in NFL history. 

 

"There's a long way to go I don't think anything's been accomplished yet. We don't sit here and think we've got it all figured out." Brady said of the playoff-clinching rout. 

 

Brady capped off a nearly-perfect first half with a 59-yard bomb to Deion Branch, making it 33-0 on the final play before halftime. "I thought it was great to get out to a lead today, to play from ahead, that was really important. We took advantage of some opportunities we got on offense. We also didn't take advantage of some other opportunities. It was a fun day. We'll remember that one. 

 

"It was one of those days, one of those days...

12/12/2010 - 8:23pm
Deion: Brady said 'No' to taking knee

The play that will be recalled as the one that put away the Bears as time ran out in the first half Sunday almost never happened.

 

Deion Branch caught a 59-yard 'hitch and go' route from Tom Brady down the left sideline as time expired in the first half. But Branch said there was "a lot of yelling" on the Patriots sideline with one coach yelling out for Brady to take a knee with a 27-0 lead. 

 

"At one point, the coach was telling us to take a knee [laughter] and I'm looking at Tom like, 'take a knee,' and he was like, ''No.' He called a route and I was like, 'Alright, good. That's a good route.' I'm thankful to have him," said Branch, who felt the TD made up for the 71-yard punt return for a TD by Julian Edelman that was called back because of holding by rookie Dane Fletcher.

 

"But if you think about it they took the punt return away from Julian, which was a big minus...

12/12/2010 - 8:06pm
Deion: Playoff clinch 'doesn't mean anything'

In the moments following their 36-7 win over the Bears at Soldier Field, Deion Branch said it's nice to have clinched a spot in the playoffs but that is hardly their end goal. 

 

"It doesn't mean anything right now," said Branch, who set a new career regular-seaon best with 151 yards receiving. "I think the thing is we want to continue to improve each and every week, to see how far can we go, as far as what's next. That's a plus, knowing we're in the playoffs, that's a plus but I think there's more football left in the rest of the season. We have three games and we're looking forward to them."

 

The Patriots can clinch their second straight AFC East title and their 9th in 11 seasons with a win over Green Bay next week and a Jets loss at Pittsburgh. 

 

For more, visit the Patriots page at weei.com/patriots and the blog...

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