TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 23 days until Patriots training camp

As much as I don’t want to, we’re going to kick today’s headlines off with a piece that appeared last night from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com regarding Tom Brady’s supposed “disconnect” regarding his contract.

Florio points out that up to this point Brady has been the good soldier and taken a “hometown discount” to help his team stay competitive and keep talent around him.¬† However according to Florio,¬†Brady is saying that¬†those days are over, and the Patriots are now going to have to pay market value for his services.¬† The reason?¬† Brady is supposedly angry that New England has been using his last good gesture against other free agents (ie: Logan¬†Mankins) to get them to take less money – and he’s not going to do it any longer.

NFL Total Access also had a mention on the Brady/Peyton Manning contract situation Monday night, with Michael Lombardi of NFL Network saying of Brady – who is scheduled to make $3.5-million this year – that the Patriots can “always franchise him” after this season (provided there is one) until they have a better understanding of what’s going to happen with the NFL’s labor situation and what type of deal they can make¬†once an agreement¬†is made with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.¬† They go on to question Brady’s injury history and wonder if it will factor into the Patriots’ decision to give him¬†a¬†5-year deal, which at his age¬†they claim¬†could potentially¬†be an issue.

My feeling?¬† They gave Drew Bledsoe a 10-year deal back in 2001.¬† While it may have ultimately been a mistake, the Patriots would be foolish not to¬†take a long-term risk on a guy who hasn’t given them any reason to feel he wouldn’t fulfil it.

He’s also already passed one of the ultimate tests for a guy at his position – ¬†battling back from a major injury.¬† Despite coming off¬†of a¬†torn ACL and MCL, Brady still managed to finish the 2009 campaign with 4398 yards passing with a 65.7% completion percentage, throwing for 28 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions (96.2 QB rating).¬† Owner Robert Kraft has made it clear repeatedly¬†that Brady is in¬†New England’s¬†future, so¬†there’s no reason to believe we won’t see a deal done eventually.

Obviously the only ones who know¬†the truth¬†in what’s really¬†happening behind the scenes¬†are the Patriots and Brady.¬† One would have to believe that New England will do what they need to in order to get him under contract, but¬†until we obviously have another source who is familiar with the negotiations to elaborate¬†further – I’ll reserve judgement.

Needless to say, moving on…..

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe takes a look at Wes Welker in Part 3 of his “10 Questions” leading into training camp, wondering exactly when Welker will be ready to go, and if he’ll start training camp on PUP.

Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sportsline released his top five kickers Monday night, with Stephen Gostkowski making the list.  Katzowitz feels that Gostkowski has done a good job of helping Patriots fans forget about former New England legend Adam Vinatieri.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com wonders if recently signed Vince Wilfork, Leigh Bodden, and Tully Banta-Cain will back up the big contracts they recently signed this offseason.

Ian Rapoport spoke to Bill Belichick earlier this spring and asked the head coach for recommendations regarding some summer reading, and his pick was the late Bill Walsh’s second book.¬† You’ll have to read this link to find out how Rapoport finally came upon it – it’s an interesting story.

John Clayton of ESPN.com answered some questions in his mailbag online yesterday, several of which involved potential trades with the Patriots.

Recently I posted the predictions of five of the top¬†NFL preview¬†magazines, which included Athlon Sports.¬† In that issue Athlon was heavily promoting their new website, which they claim will contain “year-round coverage” of the NFL.¬† They now have their Patriots preview available online for any fan who hasn’t yet purchased their copy of the issue and wants to read it.

The Attleboro Sun Chronicle has the results of the Harvard Pilgrim Patriot place 10K race, which finished on the field at Gillette Stadium over the weekend.  Milford, NH resident Tammie Robie was the winner, finishing with a time of 38:54.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Former Raiders QB JaMarcus Russel was arrested last night at his Alabama home for possession of a controlled substance during a police investigation.¬† According to¬†published reports Russel was busted for being in possession of codeine syrup without a prescription, which can be mixed with soda to create ‚ÄúPurple Drank.‚Ä̬† According to a report in the New York Post Russel was on the Jets radar as a potential veteran backup for Mark Sanchez, but this arrest just removed him from their radar.¬† Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, who covered Alabama sports and has ties to that area, Tweeted last night¬† that, “Interestingly I had people in Alabama tell me JaMarcus was addicted to some drug drink. I literally did not understand what it was. Now I do.”¬† He also posted Russel’s mugshot, which is pretty smug for a guy who had just been arrested.

We mentioned a while back about the arrest of Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand, who was recently charged with a DUI.¬† The San Diego Union-Tribune finally has more details of what went down that night, and one has to wonder what type of penalty Roger Goodell will hand down for Lewand.¬† Up to this point he’s the highest ranking team¬†official to be arrested, and when you read what his alcohol level was you’ll be pretty surprised that he actually thought he was O.K. enough to get behind the wheel.

The Sporting News has an NFL Preview¬†article on the Denver Broncos, and wonders if they can survive head coach Josh¬†McDaniels’ “my way or the highway” mentality.¬† As we know the Broncos got off to a fast start, only to become the third team ever to open 6-0 and fail to make the playoffs and the first not to finish with a winning record.

As much as I despise the Indianapolis Colts, the Advocate has an article this morning on Joseph Addai, who recently attended a charity event.¬†¬†The Colts runningback helped raised money¬†for the Heritage Ranch, which is a faith-based nonprofit that is providing life skills training to the area youth while also raising money to build a children’s home in East Baton Rouge Parish.

We’ll end on this note.¬† We¬†mentioned in Sunday’s entry¬† about the state of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are struggling to sell season tickets and appear on the verge of relocating.¬† One destination that is continually mentioned is California, where the league has been trying forever to break back into the Los Angeles market.¬† An article today in The¬†Sacramento Bee¬†mentions that the new UFL franchise, the Mountain Lions, is already selling out at a pace that’s the second fastest for the league.¬† According to the article tickets are selling for as little as $60 for four games, which is clearly a great deal for a family of four that would probably never be able to afford what it would cost to have four season tickets to an NFL franchise.¬†¬† Interactive media manager Kat Haro¬†told the newspaper that¬†the team has sold more than 1,200 season tickets, putting them nearly halfway toward a goal of 3,000.

That’s it for this morning.¬† Hope your day goes well, and we’ll have updates later on.