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Vikings’ Justin Jefferson is highest-paid non-QB in NFL history; another MLB gambling scandal

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

💰Good morning to everyone, but especially to …


There’s a new richest non-quarterback contract in NFL history, and it’s hard to find anyone more deserving. Justin Jefferson agreed to a four-year, $140 million extension that includes $110 million guaranteed and over $88 million at signing.

You shouldn’t need the stats to prove Jefferson’s incredible career, but just in case, here they are:

  • The production: Jefferson’s 98.3 yards receiving per game is on pace for most in a career in NFL history. The current mark belongs to Calvin Johnson at 86.1.
  • No empty stats: Since entering the NFL in 2020, Jefferson’s 0.43 expected points added per target ranks third in the NFL (min. 100 targets) behind only Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins.
  • Quarterback’s best friend: According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jefferson has 40 more catches than expected (based on several factors, like defenders’ positioning, depth of target, etc.), most in the NFL since 2020.

That last point means a lot considering Minnesota is transitioning from Kirk Cousins to first-round rookie J.J. McCarthy and/or Sam Darnold. Wrapping up Jefferson, 24, through 2028 is just one of many reasons the Vikings have crushed this offseason, Cody Benjamin writes.

Wide receivers as a whole are happy, too. Jefferson ($35 million per year) is one of five wide receivers making over $28 million per year. Four of those five signed their contracts this offseason. That means CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase, Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins are likely up next for huge paydays. Furthermore, agent Drew Rosenhaus suggested Tyreek Hill is looking for more money from the Dolphins in the aftermath of Jefferson’s deal.

😁 Honorable mentions

⚾ And not such a good morning for …


Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano is under MLB investigation for allegedly violating the league’s gambling policy, an MLB spokesperson confirmed to CBS Sports.

  • Marcano, 24, is accused of gambling on Pirates games while he was on Pittsburgh’s injured list last year. If he is found to have broken the rules, he faces a lifetime ban.
  • Marcano joined the Padres as an amateur free agent in 2016 and debuted for San Diego in 2021. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 2021 and played for the Pirates in 2022 and 2023.
  • He rejoined the Padres in November 2023 but has not played in a game this season due to a torn ACL.
  • Four minor-league players have also been accused of gambling on MLB games.

MLB players can legally gamble on non-diamond sports but cannot gamble on any level of baseball or softball. Those who gamble on diamond sports face a one-year ban on first offense and a lifetime ban if they gamble on their own team.

Gambling scandals have marred the still-young MLB season. In March, Ippei MizuharaShohei Ohtani‘s former interpreter — was charged with stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts to an illegal bookie. Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in prison. David Fletcher, currently a Braves minor leaguer, is being investigated for placing bets with that same bookie. Neither Mizuhara nor Fletcher are accused of betting on baseball.

R.J. Anderson has a full history of baseball betting scandals

Gambling scandals aren’t limited to baseball, of course, and they have become more prevalent recently, with legalized gambling on the rise. Since the start of 2023, in addition to the scandals above …

The Supreme Court struck down prohibitions on sports gambling in 2018.

😔 Not so honorable mentions

🏆 NBA Finals expert picks: Our staff is split

It may not be the NBA Finals matchup we expected — at least on one side of the bracket — but it’s setting up to be a thrilling one.

Out of the West, we have an offensive supernova, an absolute force, a superstar of the highest order taking to the biggest stage for the first time in Luka Doncic. His Mavericks supporting cast, led by a rejuvenated Kyrie Irving, trade deadline acquisitions P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford and rookie surprise (even to himself) Dereck Lively II is nothing to sneeze at. Dallas is in its first Finals since 2011.

Out of the East, we have the Celtics, who are no stranger to postseason success. Over the past eight seasons, Boston has won more playoff games than anyone, but they’re still looking for their first title since a Doc Rivers-led squad featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and an emerging Rajon Rondo beat the Lakers in 2008. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the mainstays of this era of Boston hoops, still lead the charge, but Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White supplement one of the best teams we’ve seen in a long time.

Doncic can stake another claim to best-in-the-world status. Brown and Tatum can finally complete the biggest task from a successful-yet-incomplete era and answer all lingering questions. There’s plenty of intrigue, drama and great basketball to come.

That’s why our experts are exactly split on their picks. Sam Quinn likes Dallas.

  • Quinn: If the Thunder and Timberwolves struggled to get to the rim against Dallas, I think Boston will too, and I’m not going to bet on them to make enough contested triples to win this series that way. A healthy Porzingis might offer their offense enough space and enough versatility to swing this thing, but until I see how he looks on the floor in a high-leverage moment, I’m just not going to believe he’s in the kind of shape he’d need to be for Boston to win this series.”

Colin Ward-Henninger, meanwhile, took Boston.

  • Ward-Henninger: So, to me, this series comes down to which team will more consistently sustain excellence. Despite having a path to the Finals paved in gold, the Celtics have given us no reason to believe that they won’t continue to be the juggernaut we’ve seen all season long. Most importantly, they have a versatile defensive roster seemingly created to make life hell for players like Doncic and Irving.”

We’ll have plenty more in the coming days, so stay tuned!

🏀 WNBA Power Rankings: Sun’s suffocating defense has them No. 1

Let’s look at some numbers from the Sun‘s 8-0 start to the season:

  • Seventh WNBA team to start 8-0
  • Five games from tying the best start to a season (2016 Lynx started 13-0)
  • Best defensive rating in the WNBA this season (89.1)

But here’s my favorite: The Sun already have two games allowing 50 points or fewer this season, the first team with multiple such games in a season since 2008. They’re the first team to do it multiple times within their first eight games since the 2001 Cleveland Rockers.

So, yeah, it’s not fun to play the Sun. Add five double-digit scorers to the mix, and Connecticut is an easy call atop Jack Maloney’s WNBA Power Rankings.

  1. Sun
  2. Liberty
  3. Aces
  4. Lynx
  5. Storm

Cowboys legend, Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Allen dies at 52

Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Allen, a longtime stalwart for the Cowboys and one of the most decorated linemen ever, died suddenly on Sunday while on vacation in Mexico with his family. He was 52 years old.

  • Allen, drafted by Dallas in the second round in 1994, played a dozen seasons with the Cowboys and the final two years of his career with the 49ers.
  • The career accolades are astonishing: 11 Pro Bowl selections, six first-team All-Pro selections, one Super Bowl ring and selections to both the All-1990s and All-2000s Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade teams.
  • He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, two years after he was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor.

At 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, Allen was an incredible athlete who played every offensive line position except center throughout his marvelous career, opening up gaping holes for the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. Offensive linemen rarely make highlights, but Allen was an exception, bulldozing defenders, running alongside or faster than players much smaller than him and lifting jaw-dropping amounts of weight.

Bryan DeArdo ranks Allen as a top-10 player — and the top offensive lineman — in Cowboys history.

📺 What we’re watching Tuesday

Twins at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Liberty at Sky, 8 p.m. on NBA TV
USWNT vs. South Korea, 8 p.m. on truTV
🏀 Mercury at Storm, 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

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Author: Zachary Pereles
June 4, 2024 | 9:20 am

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