Steelers extend Gilbert thru 2019 with big contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a total of $74 million on contract extensions for former Florida Gators offensive linemen this summer after signing offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year extension on Tuesday.

Gilbert’s extension is worth $30 million, according to ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, making his new six-year deal worth a maximum of $31 million as he will be paid $1.03 million during the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. The portion of his contract that is fully guaranteed is information that was not available as of press time.

“It means I am locked in hopefully as a Steeler for the rest of my career,” said Gilbert in a team press release. “It’s a blessing to work for a great organization, the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert and Coach [Mike] Tomlin. Just to be around in Pittsburgh, where they show you so much love, I couldn’t be happier and in a better place.”

Just over two months ago on June 12, the Steelers locked up center Maurkice Pouncey with a similar five-year, $44 million extension, including $13 million in fully-guaranteed money. The extension, which put his new contract at six years and up to $48 million, made him the highest-paid center in the NFL.

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PF Noah Dickerson commits to Florida, Donovan

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Going back to the Montverde Academy pipeline for the third time in the last four recruiting cycles, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan landed a big verbal commitment on Sunday when four-star power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) announced his intention to join the program next season.

At 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Dickerson is rated as the No. 56 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals. A one-time Georgetown commitment, he changed his mind in June and reopened his recruitment, listening to pitches from a number of schools including Florida.

In the end, Dickerson decided to play for Donovan and the Gators.

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FOUR BITS: Daigneault, Hayden, Murphy

1 » A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball staff, Mark Daigneault is on the verge of being hired away as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA D-League team, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Daigneault, who served as “assistant to the head coach” under Billy Donovan, is 29 years old and never coached on the court at Florida. Instead, he was tasked with a variety of tasks including helping players with their off-the-court needs and scouting prospects. “If you work with [Donovan], whether you are a player or his staff, there is a connection that he has with you,” he told the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise back in March. “He’s just one of those people that are extremely genuine and authentic. He’s about as normal a person that you can be around for someone who has experienced as much success as he has. He is very grounded and doesn’t see himself above anyone else.” Daigneault previously served as an assistant coach at Holy Cross for three seasons.

2 » The Gators basketball team participated in “strongman”-style workouts again this offseason. Some of the exercises were caught on camera and compiled below.

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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

The 2014 NFL preseason kicked off with 45 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 37 players that saw action along with select updates on a number of Gators during the first week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DB JAYLEN WATKINS*, Philadelphia Eagles: Two solo tackles, interception (one yard), pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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2 BITS: Erik Murphy traded, Darrin Kitchens cut

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy is in the process of being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reports that he will be one piece of a four-player transaction between the teams. Cleveland will receive Murphy, John Lucas and Malcom Thomas in exchange for Carrick Felix, a future second-round pick and $1 million. The Cavaliers are in the process of acquiring non-guaranteed contracts in hopes of eventually trading for Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love, meaning Murphy could wind up being moved and/or waived again in the near future.

Murphy, who signed a two-year, $1.31 million rookie contract, is due a non-guaranteed salary of $816,482 in 2014-15 with a team option for $1.15 million in 2015-16. He was originally selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but was waived on April 3 as the team hoped to clear cap space. Utah nabbed him off the waiver wire two days later. While his NBA future is completely up in the air, Murphy will spend the summer competing for the Finnish national team in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.

Murphy played just 62 minutes over 24 games during his rookie season, averaging .231 on 13 field goal attempts and failing to drain any of his three attempts from beyond the arc. Playing for Utah in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, Nevada, Murphy was .333 from the field and .250 from long range.

2 » One day after injuring his leg during training camp, former Gators linebacker Darrin Kitchens was waived-injured by the Buffalo Bills. Kitchens, a long shot to make the team anyway, was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft.

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Florida Gators C Patric Young signs two-year deal with New Orleans Pelicans

Florida Gators center Patric Young signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, a source close to the process told OnlyGators.com on Saturday afternoon.

Young, the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year who was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26, was given a guaranteed training camp deal with the Pelicans and played for New Orleans during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The team had been considering adding Young to their roster but did not officially come to a deal with the big man until Saturday.

In five Summer League games with the Pelicans, Young averaged 7.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game. He started the last four contests at power forward for New Orleans and shot 48.4 percent from the field over the course of the week.

The 11th player at Florida to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time among Gators in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 was also named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the first player in league history to win the award in three-straight seasons.

“It feels good going to a situation with a team that really wanted me but couldn’t get me instead of a team that would get me on the team just to have me on the team and see what I could do,” Young wrote in his exclusive OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blog about joining the Pelicans for Summer League action. “The general manager, Dell Demps, called me and said he’s really excited for me to be here. He wants me to play defense and rebound in Summer League and everything else will work out. I was excited to hear from him, especially with him saying those things. This definitely feels like the best scenario for me right now.”

Update: Young thanked his fans for their support on Saturday evening.


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“Offended” by Houston, Parsons preferred Dallas

Former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons hoped the Houston Rockets would not match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet handed to him by the Dallas Mavericks last week and eventually got his wish on Sunday.

A source told OnlyGators.com exactly that on Wednesday evening before Parsons signed the offer sheet, which Dallas owner Mark Cuban flew down to deliver to Parsons personally early Thursday morning, and reiterated it Sunday afternoon while the player was waiting on Houston’s decision.

Not only did Parsons believe that the Mavericks were the perfect landing spot for him and a great place to continue his career, he revealed to Yahoo! Sports on Monday that he was not pleased with how the Rockets viewed him as a player and handled the situation.

Instead of valuing Parsons as a rising star and picking up a team option on his contract, one that would have kept him in the fold for $964,750 in 2014-15, Houston let the option expire and allowed him to become a restricted free agent. This after he averaged career-highs of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last year

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made this roster decision specifically to free up salary cap space in order to chase a bigger name, such as Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh, a notion he made quite public.

And while the move resulted in Parsons being able to earn substantially more money a full year sooner than he otherwise would have been eligible, it also told him that Houston did not value him as an important building block for its franchise.

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