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Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

Patriots 2014 Preseason Opponents Announced

The New England Patriots announced their preseason opponents earlier this afternoon, giving fans a glimpse of how the Patriots exhibition season will shape up when they kick things off in the months ahead.

The team will open up on the road in Washington, followed by two home games against Philadelphia and Carolina before finishing on the road against the Giants.

No dates and times have been announced just yet.

As for the NFL Patriots regular season schedule, we’ll have to wait a bit for that as that will be announced later this spring.

Patriots Free Agent TE Matthew Mulligan is Now a Member of the Chicago Bears

It appears free agent tight end Matthew Mulligan will be taking his talents to the Windy City in 2014, with Nick Underhill of MassLive.com reporting that Mulligan has signed with the Chicago Bears.

Mulligan leaves New England having made two receptions in 2013, including one for a touchdown during their week four win down in Atlanta over the Falcons.  The local native and University of Maine standout filled in admirably during Rob Gronkowski’s absences, often times as a blocking tight end in the Patriots’ offense.

Unfortunately having lost both of their dynamic tight ends in recent years to either injury or jail, New England may be planning on addressing that position in the upcoming draft and Mulligan may have elected to try and move on to a different city where he could potentially get more playing time.

For now the 29-year old joins a crowded group as he’s one of five tight ends on the Bears roster, which includes Martellus Bennett, Zach Miller,Fendi Onobun and Dante Rosario.  As it stands currently the Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, and D.J. Williams.  One would have to believe that will likely change in the coming months, especially with Gronkowski coming off of offseason knee surgery as the Patriots look to add depth at that position.

REPORT: Vince Wilfork Agrees to Three-Year, $22.5M Extension

There have been plenty of whispers about the future of Vince Wilfork after the veteran defensive lineman reportedly cleaned out his locker thanks to a difference of opinion about a potential restructure, but it appears that his future is now safe here in New England.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Wilfork and the Patriots agreed on a three-year, $22.5 million contract extension, which will now see him remain with the team that drafted him 10-years ago.

Wilfork was heading into the final year of a 5-year deal that he signed in 2010 that saw him carry a high cap number of over $11-million, which was something the team needed to address as they continue trying to add talent to a group that finished just shy of a Super Bowl berth last season.  Fortunately Wilfork has a deal that according to the Boston Herald could see him earn up to $8 million this season, which includes $3 million guaranteed.

Overall it’s a win-win as the team now has some financial breathing room and Wilfork’s future is more secure, and all he’ll need to do is continue rehabbing the Achilles injury that he suffered in week four that sidelined him for the remainder of the 2013 season.

The veteran offered up his thoughts on Twitter, which now has him focused on helping his team win a championship.

REPORT: Vince Wilfork has already cleaned out his locker

We’ve heard the recent reports surrounding Vince Wilfork’s unhappiness regarding the team’s need to restructure and lower his salary cap number, and it sounds like the veteran wasn’t kidding when he asked for his release recently.

According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Wilfork has already ripped his nameplate off his locker stall and cleaned out his locker, which was a clear indication of how contentious those discussions apparently were.

No timetable has been released in terms of when that event occurred and the nose tackle was reported to have been on vacation, so it will be interesting to see if, in fact, Wilfork cleaned out his locker prior to heading off on vacation and if that’s the case, whether after having some time to cool off, the two sides can come back together and still get something done.

That’s a detail we don’t know, and one that we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out before rushing to any sort of judgement in what’s already a tough situation.

Robert Kraft told the Herald he’s “still not giving up hope that he’ll be a part of our team next year.” However, Kraft also said that due to the salary cap they also have to figure out something that obviously works both for Wilfork and his football team.

“We’ve been very close and I’ll let Vince speak to whatever he feels is appropriate,” Kraft told the newspaper. “We’re probably results-oriented and life is about execution so either we get it done or we don’t. I very much hope we get it done, and I believe he very much would like to do it as well. We’ve been so lucky to have him. So we’ll see what happens.”

“You know, for him, he’s making some individual decisions,” Kraft added. “For us, we have to put a team together of over 50 people. We have a salary cap. In the end, it’s about both parties feeling it’s a good transaction and it’s a win-win. I think that’s what we’re both shooting for.”

Hopefully there’s still time to reach a resolution. Losing Wilfork would leave them thin in a group that for now behind Tommy Kelly still has some question marks. Even if Wilfork’s not the player he was prior to his injury, one would have to believe he’s still good enough to be effective alongside Kelly. There’s also the intangible of what he brings to the table in terms of his leadership on the field.

Now the only question will be whether the Patriots will place enough of a value on him to make him happy, or if it will be another tough decision that will lead to change on this football team.

Edelman On Being Back with Patriots: ‘It’s a surreal moment’

After losing one of their top free agents in Aqib Talib early in the process, there were quite a few people who wondered whether or not Julian Edelman would be the next player out the door in the process.

Edelman and the Patriots couldn’t come to an agreement before the start of free agency on a new contract, and the veteran receiver decided to take his chances on the open market.   However, in the end New England was where he wanted to be, and Edelman told the media on Thursday despite the reality he could have played elsewhere, he’s glad things worked out.


Julian Edelman ultimately decided he couldn’t leave Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and re-signed with the Patriots.
(USA TODAY Images)

“The most difficult time of this process is planning on the worst and that’s moving on and going to another place,” said Edelman.  ”It’s very tough, especially when you’ve been in a place for five years and you’ve developed a love for the area. You have teammates, coaches that you’ve been through battles with, you have fans that are just outrageously great.”

“It’s just a great area to play football in,” continued Edelman.  ”There’s a reality that I could have played somewhere else. You didn’t know what direction your life was going to go, so it’s definitely great to have the process over and I’m looking forward to getting started and doing this right now. ”

Edelman also said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made it known he wanted him back, and when it came down to it, the veteran receiver admitted that the two have a good relationship and it would have been difficult for him to leave him behind.

“TB let it be known that he would love to have me back and part of the team,” said Edelman. “But Tom’s also a good friend of mine, one of the guys that’s helped me develop into a professional in this league. He also told me that I would have to take care of myself and my family. He just kind of mentored me through the process. It’s going to be a very tough decision. It was definitely a very tough decision that you had to deal with but TB was right there behind me if I would have left or if I would have stayed. I couldn’t leave the guy, he’s my dog. ”

Fortunately he won’t have to after signing a 4-year, $17-million contract, which Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported  also includes a $5 million signing bonus and up to $8 million in guaranteed money, as well as an additional $2 million in incentives that could increase the total value to $19 million.

Edelman admitted that the fact the team believes enough in him to reward him that way certainly made him feel good, and having the security of knowing he’ll be part of the offense for years to come is something he’s glad he has now that his contract is out of the way.

“It’s good to have a little security and knowing that a team believes in you enough to pay you that kind of stuff,” said Edelman. “A little security on how many years I’ll be here, I’ve never really been in that situation. I’ve always felt like if I had a bad practice, I could potentially get cut the next day, like stuff like that. Ultimately it’s good to be back with this franchise and it’s a surreal moment.”

Now that he’s back, Edelman admitted he’s liked what he’s seen so far with some of the early personnel moves they’ve made, which has seen the likes of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as receiver Brandon LaFell come into the fold.  Edelman feels that things like that make camp and OTA’s more competitive, and he has confidence in the front office and the fact they’ll make sure they’ll be as competitive as possible when they take the field in the months ahead.

“I have full trust in what those guys do and who they bring in because it’s proven that it works,” said Edelman. “So, if we’re bringing in these guys, you obviously know Revis, how great of a player he is. Then Browner, how he’s had a lot of success over there on the West Coast. LaFell, having another receiver to have for Tommy [Tom Brady], so I mean, all these guys, it’s pretty good to have that. It’s just going got make camp and OTAs a lot more competitive. It’s going to make us better.”

After having been a part of this area for so long, now that he’ll be continuing his career here, Edelman also admitted that he’s ready to start calling himself a New Englander. That should be music to the ears of the fan base that has seen him grow quite a bit since being taken in the 7th round back in 2009.

“You know, I’ve spent most of my adult life out there so I can tell you right now, I know Boston better than I know San Francisco,” said Edelman, who is from California and visited with the 49ers during free agency. “I go to the Cape more than I go to Lake Tahoe. I mean, I guess I am a New Englander when it comes down to it. It’s pretty crazy to think but if you look at it close, I don’t know the city of San Francisco that well but I grew up 30 miles south. I didn’t go to the city that often as an adult. Now in Boston, I’m there three times a week. I guess I would say I’m a New Englander.”

Patriots Armond Armstead May Finally Be Ready to Get to Work

With the injuries to starters Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly on the defensive line last season, most fans were hoping to see Armond Armstead by midseason last year to help give them some additional depth. Unfortunately he suffered a setback thanks to a mysterious infection, which ultimately prevented that from happening.

Now according to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, Armstead is reportedly on pace to be ready April 21st when the Patriots begin their offseason program.  Howe reports that it’s unclear exactly what the team can expect from the 23-year old, but his depth could certainly help them on a group that for right now still remains relatively thin heading into the remainder of free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft.

After starting the season on the non-football illness reserve list, Armstead never made it onto the active roster and was ultimately placed on injured reserve, just months after undergoing surgery at the end of July to treat a reported infection.  In early November Bill Belichick told reporters in a conference call that it “looks less likely now with each day that goes by” that Armstead would return, and ultimately, he wasn’t able to and ended up being lost for the season.

If he’s able to return, he’s certainly an intriguing prospect. He finished with six sacks in his 2012 season in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts, and he was released last January per his own request to try and pursue a career in the NFL.

Today’s news is certainly at least encouraging, and it will be interesting to see if this is the year he’s able to finally hit the field here in New England.

When Darrelle Revis takes the field for the Patriots this season, there’s a possibility he may have a discussion with safety Adrian Wilson to see if Revis can convince Wilson to relinquish the number he’s worn in past seasons in New York and Tampa Bay, as well as the number of a player he apparently holds a lot of admiration for.

According to Revis, former Patriots defensive back Ty Law, who wore number twenty-four during his career in New England, has apparently been a mentor throughout the veteran’s life and the two still communicate even now.

“Ty has been a mentor through my whole life,” Revis told reporters on Monday.  ”He’s a very close friend to my family. We had a conversation. It is not about the situation I’m in at hand, but I talk to Ty all the time – about life and football. I can’t get into details of even what me and him talk about.

“I’m just happy that he was there, he’s on my side and if I can bounce questions off of him and ask him certain things because he has a lot of experience then that’s what I can do. Ty’s always there in my corner to help me whether it’s football or life. I thank Ty for that. I’m sure he’s not listening, he’s not on the call but I’ll tell him that later.”

After losing free agent cornerback Aqib Talib to the Denver Broncos, the Patriots surprised everyone after they were able to quickly get a deal done to bring Revis into the fold. Law is a local analyst for Comcast Sports New England and was pleased with the move, telling USA TODAY that Revis was an “upgrade” over Talib.

“Darrelle is an upgrade,” said Law. “No disrespect to Aqib, who is a great corner in his own right. But outside of Denver in the AFC, who else do you see besides the Patriots?”

Law also said he had never seen Revis happier.

“He’s ecstatic,” said Law. “He’s in a damn good place — able to get paid and play for a championship team, especially after going through that tumultuous (4-12) year in Tampa Bay. Playing in New York, he smelled a Super Bowl a couple times. He can taste it right now.”

Revis admitted during the process that when he was released by the Buccaneers, he and his agent weighed their options before ultimately making the decision to come to New England.  Revis felt that the oppoortunity to play for a winning program ultimately was the deciding factor.

“We had to weigh our options,” Revis explained.  ”It was a lot of stuff going on after I got released, teams calling and we had to weigh our options. Me and my agents had to weigh our options. We felt like New England was the best place. They’re a winning program, they’re a winning organization and we wanted to be a part of it. I know the New England Patriots very well from playing against them when I was a Jet and we just felt like this is the right situation for me. Everything fell into place.”

For now Revis is trying to get settled and begin the process of getting acclimated into New England’s system.  He’s somewhat familiar with their personnel, and the goal over the next few months is to try and start getting comfortable before they begin work during OTA’s as he begins the process of preparing for the 2014 season.

“As of right now, I’m just trying to focus on being a Patriot right now,” said Revis.  ”Everything has happened so fast over the last couple days, so I’m still trying to soak everything in. I know we’ve got Brandon [Browner], I know we’ve got [Devin] McCourty and Logan Ryan. We’ve got some great talent back there. But as of right now, I’m still trying to soak it in and look at the next step ahead and that’s OTAs right now.”

One question obviously is the health of his surgically repaired knee, which Revis said hampered him early last season but got stronger as the season progressed.  However, he doesn’t expect it to be a problem, and he’s just excited to get back on the field to start the next chapter of his career.

“It was a long process,” Revis said of his rehabilitation.  ”I did finish all 16 games. I was slow and maybe sluggish in the beginning of the season but week to week, I got stronger and stronger. Toward the end, I probably felt my best as a football player.

“That’s a thing where it took some time and I thank [the] Tampa Bay Buccaneers for everything they did to help me with my rehab throughout the course of the year. It was a big process to get through that and fight through it but right now I feel great. I’m just ready to play ball.”

There was some speculation that newly signed free agent cornerback Brandon Browner might have been brought in with the idea that he would move to safety to give the Patriots a bigger presence along-side Devin McCourty.

As it turns out, that doesn’t appear that’s going to be the case.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Browner said the team hasn’t discussed that possibility with him, which means for now he plans on playing cornerback when he suits up for his new team.

“They haven’t talked to me about playing safety,” Browner told him. ”So far, I’m here to play cornerback, and I play wherever need be. I just want to play some football, and I’m fortunate enough to play for a team like the Pats.”

One area that the team has struggled with at times is man-to-man, which is something that Browner also said was his strong suit and he plans on doing that now here in New England.

Overall according to ProFootballFocus.com, Browner was relatively successful in coverage last season, having been thrown at 38 times with 20 completions (52.6%) for 240 yards while allowing two touchdowns, one interception and nine passes defensed.

Now he’ll try and bring his skillset into New England’s defense and plans on doing a lot of the same things, which means he doesn’t see his job description changing much.

“The only thing that changes is the terminology,” said Browner  ”I was also told I’ll play a lot of man to man, which is my strong suit. I take it in stride and can’t wait to get back out there.”

Free Agent WR Brandon LaFell Becomes Latest Addition to Patriots

If you can’t beat them, get them to join you.

After a team leading 7-catch, 59yd performance including a touchdown during the Panthers Monday night win over New England earlier last season, the Patriots have managed to lure Carolina free agent receiver Brandon LaFell to their side after CSNNE’s Tom Curran reported that he’s agreed to join Bill Belichick’s team, just hours after the team re-signed free agent Julian Edelman.

According to Adam Schefter, it’s a 3-year deal.

At 6’2″ LaFell gives New England another big body to go along with 2nd-year receiver Aaron Dobson, who is 6’3″.  Looking over the depth chart, height was something they certainly needed as none of the remaining names on the list who played a snap last season were over six feet tall.  His addition now gives the Patriots an additional big body along with Dobson to compliment tight end Rob Gronkowski as another potential scoring threat down in the red area.

Against New England in Week 11 in what ended up being a controversial finish, LaFell had a good night.  He caught a touchdown against rookie Duron Harmon and was a reliable target for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, missing on only one pass attempt when looking LaFell’s way after having targeted him eight times.

During that contest, here’s a breakdown of LaFell’s receptions:

BY DIRECTION:
Deep Left: 1/1 17yds
Deep Right: 1/0
Short Middle: 2/2 17yds 1 TD
Short Right: 4/4 25yds

BY DOWN:
1st: 4/4 38yds
2nd: 2/2 12yds
3rd: 1/2 9yds 1 TD

With LaFell in the fold, the Patriots don’t appear done yet in terms of exploring additional receiving options.  New England will reportedly take a look at former University of Rutgers receiver and Tennessee Titans free agent Kenny Britt on Sunday.  Between the addition of LaFell and New England’s continued interest in receivers, that may not be a good sign for Kenbrell Thompkins. Thompkins peaked early last season before dropping off in the second half, and like he did last preseason, he may have to battle it out to prove he deserves a roster spot.

All in all it’s yet another interesting move in what has already been quite a week here in New England.

REPORT: Veteran Patriots DT Vince Wilfork Asks For His Release

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork came into this offseason with a high cap number, as well as the knowledge that his ability moving forward after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury might be questioned by those who wondered how he’d bounce back.

That was a recipe for a difficult scenario, and on Thursday the outcome came to fruition after, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the long-time nose tackle asked the Patriots for his release.

No details have emerged behind the move just yet, but it likely comes due to the two sides possibly being unable to agree to terms to restructure his deal and lower his $11.6 cap number, as well as potentially having to accept a lower salary than the $7.5 million he was due this season.

The former 1st round pick back in 2004 (21st overall) has spent all 10 seasons with New England, having been a key part of two Super Bowl championships and is a leader in the locker room, so this likely will come as just as big of a surprise to his teammates and the fans who enjoyed watching him. It also potentially leaves quarterback Tom Brady as the lone player left who has won a title for the Patriots.

The 32-year old was entering the last season of the five-year, $40 million contract he signed back in 2010.  Unfortunately it appears unless something changes, he may not finish it here and if released, he’ll be a free agent.