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On Newsstands Friday: ESPN The Magazine’s 2015 Transactions Issue

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This issue explores all the transactions made on one of the busiest days of the year, March 2 – ranging from the franchise tag for Dez Bryant, which triggered an avalanche of season-impacting moves, to the return home of the Minnesota Wild’s Jordan Leopold.

On the cover: DeMarco Murray and the series of moves that his departure triggered in the NFL’s most competitive division, the NFC East.

Transactions Issue Features and Highlights

From Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and the Patriots apart

A collaborative investigative piece with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, with interviews of more than 90 league officials, owners, team executives and coaches, current and former Patriots coaches, staffers and players, and reviews of previously undisclosed private notes from key meetings, shows that Spygate is the centerpiece of a long, secret history between Roger Goodell’s NFL and Robert Kraft’s Patriots. The widespread perception that Goodell gave the Patriots a break on Spygate, followed by the NFL’s stonewalling of a potential congressional investigation into the matter, shaped owners’ expectations of what needed to be done by 345 Park Ave. on Deflategate. It was, one owner says, time for “a makeup call.” By Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham

Notre Dame

On March 2, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly introduced new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, one of the hottest young OCs in college football. It’s an interesting pairing, since Kelly is known for commandeering his teams’ offenses, but a move that might mean he’s ready to relinquish control of an attack that’s never sparked. Either way, Sanford’s presence at Notre Dame has already been felt, and he’ll continue to make his mark. By Wayne Drehs

DeMarco Murray

Through the lens of the franchise tag, this feature explores the Cowboys’ move to designate Dez Bryant on March 2, which led not only to DeMarco Murray’s defection to the Eagles, but also to an eventual stalemate with Bryant before both sides agreed to a long-term deal. The Mag looks at how the decisions made on that day reverberated throughout the offseason and into Week 1—and more specifically how they will likely determine who finishes atop the NFC East. By David Fleming

Sidebar: DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA By Mina Kimes

Jordan Leopold

It was the feel-good story of the NHL season: Jordan Leopold’s daughter wrote the Wild coaches an impassioned plea to bring her dad back to Minnesota—and they listened. Leopold helped the Wild in its playoff run last year, but now, with seven defensemen on the Wild’s roster, Leopold is a free agent, and he and his family have a new question to answer: What happens after the journeyman comes back home? By Steve Wulf

The Padres’ trade frenzy

In a 24-hour period between Dec. 18 and 19, the San Diego Padres completed a record 30 transactions in their quest to go all-in on 2015. Has their big gamble worked? By Dan Szymborski

Also in this issue:

  • The Truth: Howard Bryant’s most recent column focuses on RG3—a young man struggling for a career that is far from certain. Everyone, from Robert Griffin to his sponsors and the media, must own a piece of it, and what we’re really watching with Griffin is just how hard it is to be a good player when the machinery treats players as great before they’ve earned it.
  • MLB: Julio Franco won’t quit. At 57 years old, Julio Franco, the former MLB All-Star, is stillrefusing to give up the game. This season, he’s been logging time in Japan with the Ishikawa Million Stars as a player-manager, hitting .333 in the first 14 games of the season. Before heading to Japan this time around, Franco was the oldest position player in MLB at 49, the oldest player to hit a home run and a grand slam. It’s all with the desire to stay attached to baseball and perhaps land an MLB coaching gig.
  • NFL: Dez Bryant’s was the franchise tag heard round the world. Here The Mag identifies three other players who made waves on March 2 and uses analytics to hash out the good (Stephen Gostkowski), the potentially bad (Demaryius Thomas) and the not-nearly-as-ugly-as-you’d-think (Justin Houston) franchise-tag action from this spring.

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Media Contacts:

Carrie Kreiswirth – (646) 547-4686 or carrie.b.kreiswirth@espn.com

Jen Cingari – (646) 547-5840 or jennifer.j.cingari@espn.com