Good morning to everyone but especially to...


WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home. Griner was released from a Russian penal colony on Thursday morning in a one-for-one prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner had been in Russian custody since being detained on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport, when the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges containing the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage.

  • The exchange took place in the United Arab Emirates after President Biden gave final approval of the swap following weeks of negotiations.
  • According to CBS News, the United States and Russia agreed on the swap last Thursday.
  • Griner was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in August after being found guilty on drug charges in Russian court. You can read about the complicated matter of the entire ordeal here.

After CBS News reported the swap, the official Twitter account for President Biden confirmed the news in a few brief sentences: "She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."

Check back for more details on Griner's release here as they come in.


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The Padres' offseason had mostly been defined by big swings and misses. They had the biggest offer for Aaron Judge, who decided to stay with the Yankees. They also had the highest offer for Trea Turner, who chose the Phillies.

Early this morning, they finally got good news when they agreed to an 11-year, $280-million deal with star shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

  • Bogaerts, 30, is a pretty awesome consolation prize, though. He was the fifth-best free agent in this class according to our R.J. Anderson. He's a four-time All-Star who slashed .307/.377/.456 in 2022, and he's finished in the top dozen in AL MVP voting three of the past four years. He's also an outstanding defender.
  • Of course, the Padres still have Fernando Tatis Jr. on their roster, and this acquisition may push him to the outfield.

The Padres' already-terrific collection of top-end talent just got better: Bogaerts. Tatis Jr. Juan Soto. Manny Machado. Josh Hader. Yu Darvish.

Now the question is: Can that core lead them to their first World Series title? We'll have to see.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...



The news surrounding Von Miller's knee injury went from sigh of relief to "at least he'll be back" to worst-case scenario in a hurry. The Bills' star pass rusher is done for the year with a torn ACL.

Last week, Von Miller revealed he had lateral meniscus damage and hoped to be back for the Bills' Week 14 contest against the Jets. But days later, the Bills placed him on IR, meaning he couldn't return until Week 17.

  • This week, during surgery to reposition the lateral meniscus and clean up cartilage damage, doctors discovered the torn ACL, which hadn't shown up on the initial scans. This is the same ACL that Miller tore in 2013.
  • Miller signed a six-year, $120-million deal this offseason to be a key part of the Bills pass rush -- especially in the playoffs.
  • According to SportsLine projections, Buffalo's chance of winning the AFC decreases from 39.1% to 32.7% without Miller, and its chance of winning the Super Bowl decreases from 24.8% to 19%.

That last bullet point is no surprise: Miller had four sacks in four postseason games last year for the Super Bowl-champion Rams, and his 10.5 career postseason sacks are tied for 11th since individual sacks became official in 1982.

Miller had eight sacks -- including two in a win at the Chiefs -- this season, and the Bills posted a 7.3% sack rate with him on the field, compared to 6.0% without. Furthermore, no other Bills player has more than five sacks this season. Youngsters Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham will be called upon to step up, and while they're capable, they simply don't have the proven, game-wrecking track record Miller does.

Not so honorable mentions

The Yankees signed Aaron Judge. Now what? ⚾

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The Yankees took care of far and away their biggest offseason need by keeping Aaron Judge in pinstripes thanks to a nine-year, $360-million dealThey still have work to do, though.

Their biggest moves this offseason have been retaining Judge, re-signing Anthony Rizzo and signing Tommy Kahnle. Those first two names were all part of the 2022 team -- the 2022 team that got swept by the Astros in the ALCS. So, naturally, our MLB expert Mike Axisa has three more things for the Yankees to do this offseason, including...

Mike notes the Yankees also need to add a starter after Jameson Taillon signed with the Cubs. You can see the entire to-do list for the Yankees here.

Fantasy Football advice for your final regular-season week 🏈


If your fantasy football league is like most, this is the final week of your regular season. Whether you're already in the playoffs, already out of contention or watching your season come down to this week, everyone wants to finish strong.

In my family league (which, I'll admit, my mom and dad have dominated), I need a win to make the playoffs. Lucky for me (and you), our fantasy experts are here to help. I always check out Dave Richard's Starts, Sits, Sleepers and Busts on Thursdays, and this week, one of Dave's favorite starts is in action tonight.

  • Richard: "Start Him: Derek Carr -- Carr's been playing great ... okay, fine, Davante Adams has been playing great. That's helped. But it's about the Rams defense going from fabulous to faulty that makes Carr a reasonable starting option. I'd start him over Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady and Mike White. ... PAST FIVE: Carr has scored 20-plus Fantasy points in each, attempted at least 30 passes in each and thrown multiple touchdowns in each."

We also have top waiver wire adds if you're scrambling... and guys you can cut to make room for them on your roster. As for everything else:

Handing out college football awards, plus Dennis Dodd's Heisman pick 🏈

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On Tuesday, we revealed the CBS Sports All-America teams. On Wednesday, our experts handed out individual awards for Coach, Player and Freshman of the Year.

Only one of the three winners is headed to the College Football Playoff, though, and it's TCU's Sonny Dykes, who headed a remarkable turnaround in Fort Worth, writes college football expert Chip Patterson.

  • Patterson: "TCU overcame second-half deficits in five of its 12 wins this season -- and nearly did it again in the Big 12 Championship Game before coming up just short in overtime against Kansas State. This is a resilient team that does not waver, and by many accounts, this comes from the top with Dykes' influence on the locker room."

Speaking of individual awards, the Heisman Trophy will be announced this weekend, and college football insider Dennis Dodd wrote about how he would vote if he had a ballot. Dennis relinquished his vote a few years ago, so he was free to share his thoughts before this weekend's ceremony. Here's his choice:

  • Dodd: "1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC -- Knee-jerk reaction from Friday night: USC lost the Pac-12, CFP spot and the Heisman with Williams limping off the field. One night later, I changed my mind. Even with a bum hamstring, Williams was able to bravely stand in the pocket -- basically immobile -- and throw for 363 yards and three touchdowns. ... Williams grew as a person, a passer and a leader. He led a locker room as an outsider from Oklahoma. He integrated a talented receiving room throwing for more than 4,000 yards."

You can see the full mock ballot here.

What we're watching Thursday 📺

🏀 Clippers at Heat, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Raiders at Rams, 8:15 p.m. on Prime Video
🏀 Nuggets at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. on NBA TV