We’ve already seen in recent years how important a player like Rob Gronkowski is to this football team, and it appears the Patriots are taking steps to ensure he stays in New England.
ESPN’s Field Yates reported on Tuesday that the Patriots made a move to try and keep Gronkowski in a Patriots’ uniform through at least the end of the decade.
According to Yates, New England accelerated Gronkowski’s year-end roster bonus, paying him $4-million of his $10-million bonus as a show of good faith. Since Gronkowski has a four-year option that can be exercised at the end of the season and included that bonus, it appears it’s now just a formality that he’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
He’ll reportedly receive the balance of the bonus after the season.
Gronkowski has already done so much in such a short period of time that its hard to believe he’s just 26 years old and still has so much football still ahead of him. Fortunately it looks like he’ll be playing much of it in New England, which is definitely good news.
“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23.
In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.
On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.
Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs. ”
Brady has maintained his innocence throughout the process and it took a while for the league to make this call, with his appeal having been filed back on June 23rd, over a month before today’s decision.
With camp coming up in just two days, the timing of the decision is curious, but nevertheless, the ball is back in his court.
As the madness surrounding DeflateGate continues, it appears there are some other NFL Owners out there that want to keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off the field as long as possible in 2015.
According to ProFootballTalk.com there are reportedly a “handful of influential owners” that want NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to hold firm on the original four-game suspension that was handed down and not to reduce it. The obvious issue is the fact that Brady and his camp want the suspension wiped out completely, which all signs seem to point to an inevitable meeting in federal court between the two sides.
The site also reports that settlement discussions have occurred, but so far no progress has reportedly been made toward a deal at this point.
Peter King of MMQB recently suggested that the NFL should wait until 2016 before making a ruling, allowing them to have an opportunity to measure game balls in adverse weather conditions to see for themselves how the footballs are actually affected, which would give them an opportunity to make a more educated decision.
“I think it takes a leader to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to be measuring the air pressure in football for the first time ever this season, before and during and after games,” wrote King. “And this is too important an issue to not have all the evidence in-house before we make a ruling.”
That would seem to be the logical route if the Goodell really wants to get this one right. But for now, the battle continues.
Brandon LaFell may not be a flashy player like Randy Moss or Wes Welker, but there’s no denying his value to the Patriots during their championship run last season.
The veteran wide receiver played a key role in New England’s offense in 2014, carving out a role as one of Tom Brady’s most reliable targets after amassing 74 receptions for 953 yards including a career-high 7 touchdowns.
He got off to a slow start in September after catching just 10 passes in four games, but from there he settled in and became an important part of Brady’s passing attack in an offense that was in dire need of another receiver to take the pressure off of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
He stepped up in a big way and was a key contributor during the Patriots Super Bowl victory after LaFell finished with four receptions, including New England’s first points against the Seahawks when he hauled in an 11-yard touchdown to put the Patriots up 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Word this offseason was that LaFell was spotted in a walking boot during OTA’s, but it sounds like he’s been making progress with whatever injury he was dealing with.
On Wednesday LaFell told Sirius XM NFL Radio that he’s finally had some time off to let his body finish healing, and he’s looking forward to getting back to work in a few weeks.
“Just a few lingering injuries that happened in the late part of the regular season that I just played through throughout the playoffs,” LaFell told host Bruce Murray via ESPN Boston. “Finally got some time off to let my body heal up properly; I’m out of the boot now and I’m just looking forward to starting camp.”
With LaFell now getting healthy, that’s certainly good news for the Patriots, who return all of their starting receivers in 2015. LaFell should be another key to New England’s success, and with training camp set to start in three weeks, hopefully he’s fully recovered and ready to go when the team starts getting ready for the upcoming season.
Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes seemed pretty happy to be back in the mix here in New England, but it didn’t take long for him to sabotage his second stint with his former team.
The veteran was reportedly involved in a collision late Saturday night that reports indicated may have involved another vehicle, with a car registered to Spikes having been abandoned in the median on I-495 in Foxborough with major front end damage.
That vehicle’s OnStar system reportedly said the driver of the car claimed to have struck a deer, while a 2009 Nissan Murano nearby was said to have been rear-ended by a car they didn’t see, with three people reported to have been taken to the hospital and treated for injuries.
The obvious assumption was that Spikes was likely involved, and the release by the Patriots indicates that was probably the case.
Not too many players get that type of second chance and it’s certainly a shame when they waste it. Unfortunately fans won’t see him back on the field in Foxboro, and Spikes will likely have to go back to blocking people on Twitter as he starts looking for a new football team.
Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes talked recently about the fact he was glad to be back in New England, but his future may potentially be up in the air following a report on Sunday that may find him in some trouble.
That car reportedly belonged to Spikes, with the vehicle’s OnStar system saying that the owner reported hitting a deer. No deer was said to be found near the scene.
To make matters worse, the report claims a 2009 Nissan Murano was reported having been rear-ended nearby by a car they didn’t see, with three passengers being taken to the hospital and examined and treated for minor injuries.
If the accident ends up being connected to Spikes’ car, it may end up being spelling the end of what could have been his second chance as a Patriot, and likely won’t help him landing a job somewhere else if that’s how it plays out.
Hopefully more details will come out and, for Spikes’ sake, that won’t be the case. No charges have reportedly been filed yet, and the investigation is still ongoing.
Here’s a recent interview with Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who talked to Russ Goldman and Steve Balestrieri recently about a variety of topics, including an upcoming football camp he’ll be a part of hosting along with several other Patriots players at UMASS Lowell from July 12-15.
If you have a youth football player and you’d like to look into getting them registered for what should be a terrific experience, you can sign them up by Clicking This Link.
PF: Joining us now is Patriots safety Duron Harmon. Duron, welcome to PatriotsFourthAndTwo!
DH: Thank you for having me, it’s an honor to be on the show today.
PF: Well it’s great to have you on Duron. Let’s start here, I want to ask you several questions. You’re going to be participating in the Sports international football academy, which takes place at UMASS Lowell from July 12-15. Tell us about this academy and what campers have to look forward to during the camp?
DH: Well, I was able to partake in it on a minor role last year with Aqib Talib and just go out there for a day or two and spend some time with the campers, just trying to show them some things that I’ve learned on my journey to the NFL. I think it’s a weekend camp if I’m not mistaken, 4 or 5 days you get to work on your offensive game, defensive game, just build on your knowledge and learning, not only from NFL players, but from coaches who know the game as well. Just enhancing your abilities to play the game. It’s a fun time, you meet new people, and you get to have a great time and just play football, what we love to do each and every day for four days. It’s a four day grind and it’s amazing. If I had this when I was in high school, and even younger, I definitely would have went.
PF: That’s great, and I noticed that a few of your teammates are going to be joining you as well.
DH: Yes, definitely. We’ve got Dont’a Hightower coming, Chris Jones, I believe [Dominique] Easley’s coming as well, some other guys are coming, I can’t name them all off the top of my head, but it’s going to be a bunch of us out there who are eager to work with these kids and these younger adults because we know that it’s an important time, especially for the high schoolers, it’s an important time for them, they’re trying to get ready to perfect their craft, get better at their craft, continue to get better, try to get ready to go play in college. So it’s a great time, an enjoyable time, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to have a lot of interaction between us and the campers.
PF: Listen, talking about working with people, during the season one of the things that tends to get unnoticed is a lot of the charity work you guys do on your off days. Can you talk a little bit about some of the things you did last season, some of the organizations that you enjoy supporting?
DH: Well, one organization that I’ve worked with is “Fuel up to Play 60”. It’s a breakfast type program that teaches kids the importance of eating breakfast. So I’ve gotten to go all the way to Vermont, I went to New Hampshire, I’ve been in Massachusetts, schools all around those areas just talking about the idea, basically, “enjoy and eat breakfast so you can have a great day.”
And then I did other things, hospital visits, school visits, Reading across America, just all different types of events that just help us show our faces in the community to let them know that we’re not just NFL players, we are the community as well. We love this community. The way they cheer us on, the way they come out to the games and the way they show us the amount of love, we want to show it back. We love being able to inspire people by going. Like I said, going to a hospital visit, going to a veteran home, going to read books to the children, just that anything that we can do, this organization does a great job of putting us in positions to give back to the community.
PF: That’s great, it sounds like you enjoy giving back and that’s a wonderful trait to have, Duron, honestly.
Alright, let’s move on, let’s now talk some football and before I ask you about the Super Bowl, I want to go back a little further and talk about the AFC Divisional Round against the Ravens, your interception late in the game was crucial to this victory. Walk us through what was going through your mind on the play that changed the playoff game.
DH: Well, it was just knowing the personnel. You see Tori Smith coming out of the huddle, him and Joe Flacco had, like, an extended look. I took a peek out there when the play was developing and saw that Tori Smith took an outside release. I looked back at Joe Flacco and he is really staring over there, so I’m trying to make my way over there and you see the ball released, and I’m like, “Ok, I’m right here, just come down with the ball, just catch the ball, come down with it, focus on catching this ball, and then we’re getting this game this way.” It really was that, just me focusing on squeezing the ball and just taking a knee in the end zone. The way the crowd erupted in the stadium was amazing. I’ve never heard a stadium, probably that loud until Malcolm [Butler’s] interception in the Super Bowl. But that right there was an amazing feeling and I’m just happy and thankful and blessed that I was able to make that play.
PF: Let’s talk about the Super Bowl. Just share with us your thoughts and emotions after Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson which turned out to be the difference in the game, what happened right afterwards?
DH: To be honest, I ran on the field. I just ran on the field and I was in on the pile that was literally probably suffocating Malcolm. He probably couldn’t breathe. There was about 10 of us, probably about 12, maybe about 15 of us on him. It was crazy because a couple plays before, I’m in on the play where the ball takes a crazy bounce. I think the ball hits off the ground, so I jump over [Seahawks receiver Jermaine] Kearse and Malcolm, and then I turn around and I see Kearse is up. Like, literally, my heart is broken on the sideline because I feel like I let the team down, I felt like I let up. But then that play literally lifted me back up. I just had to run on the field, I really couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t have been a better ending to a story. When everybody thinks a game is over, Malcolm comes out and makes a tremendous play.
PF: Steve and I were down for minicamp, we saw Malcolm Butler shine a little bit at minicamp and then also at training camp. Was this an often occurance that you guys would see in practice with Malcolm Butler being able to make plays?
DH: Oh yes, definitely. Every week, he got his hand on a ball in practice either if it was when he was playing our defense or when we were on the scout team, his hands were always on the ball and it was something that we saw when he came in minicamp and OTA’s, he always had his hands on the ball and you could tell that he was going to be a special player then. It was just the amount of time that it would take for him just to keep learning the defense and keep learning the terminology of the defense and keep working to get better and you could just see the transition from when he was there in minicamp to the end of the season and the sky is really the limit for him.
PF: Duron, I know last season you stayed here all through the offseason and you did your workouts. Did you do the same thing this season, or did you go down to Arizona? I know a lot of the guys went down there this year…
DH: I did both. I trained here, as usual, but then one week this spring I went to Arizona to see what everybody was talking about and how good the training was out there and it was amazing. It’s something that I definitely plan on doing in the future. A couple weeks probably before camp, a week in the spring, just going out there, probably working out with my guys, Devin, Logan [Ryan], Tavon [Wilson]. We’ve all been out there and it was great to work out with your teammates with just no distraction and just getting after it. It kind of felt like college a little bit again. We were all staying together, all living together, and then we go work out. Then we just chill around, have a good time, play video games, listen to music and stuff like that. Eat together, so it’s been good. It’s a great bonding time too, so it’s something that I’m definitely looking forward to doing again.
PF: I know that you guys had a very short spring this year because you’re already right back into the workouts. How are you feeling physically? Are you feeling like you’re ready to go?
DH: I mean, the good thing about me is I’m still young. I don’t really feel too bad right now. You probably have to ask the older guys, they’re the ones that might not feel too good. But I’m feeling great. I’m ready to go and I’m really, really looking forward to this season to get starting up again.
PF: I have to ask you a question about another charity you were involved in. On May 1st you and Patrick Chung had a “World of Taste” for Charity, who’s the better chef?
DH: I would say me. I feel like we really did get cheated in the tasting, but I won’t go too much in detail in that, I’ll just let that be. But I would just say that was an amazing event, it was so much fun. Being able to bring that many people there, raise money, and have a good time doing it, you really can’t beat that. Everybody was there, they were nice, just being able to cook in front of everybody. I really felt like I was a chef even though I really wasn’t doing too much. I was letting Chef Josh, who I was working with, I was trying to let him do everything. I had my gloves on, I didn’t do the apron, I should have, maybe we would have won if I had done the apron. But it was an amazing event, it was a great night and it was a great turnout.
PF: I did see that, I didn’t get a chance to go down there but I wanted to find out who the next great chef is on the Patriots?
DH: We’ll say Patrick for right now. But next year, if we’re fortunate enough to do it again, he’s going down.
Once again, if you have a youth football player and you’d like to look into getting them registered for what should be a terrific experience, or if you have a friend who may have a child playing football, you can sign them up by Clicking This Link.
Brown was introduced to the media on Wednesday. (USA TODAY Images)
As they do every year, the Patriots introduced this year’s first round selection to the media on Wednesday, with Malcom Brown on hand at Gillette Stadium as he gets ready to begin his life as a member of the Patriots.
Brown, who was selected 32nd overall during the NFL Draft, spent 10 minutes speaking to the media and seemed pretty upbeat while letting everyone know he’s looking forward to begin getting to work.
“We got in here two weeks ago on Thursday. Just right away from the get-go you see the hard work and you see everything just thrown at you, so you’ve got to grasp it and go,” said Brown.
The rookie also said that he’s been welcomed by the guys in the locker room, who he says have taken him under their wing thus far, making the acclimation process a little easier for him.
“Everybody is taking me under their wing and everybody just wants you to work hard,” said Brown. “Really you don’t have a choice but to work hard because everybody’s going to compete.”
“Everybody wants you to work hard and help the team win games. As long as you’ve got that mindset, everybody’s happy with you.”
So far his impressions of head coach Bill Belichick have been positive, with the rookie admitting he’s been getting a little bit of “tough love”, which isn’t a bad thing.
“Great guy,” said Brown. “He’s my new coach now and he shows everybody a lot of love – tough love – and sometimes you need that.”
The expectations will certainly be high for him heading into his rookie season. He was a disruptive player in college, finishing with 70 tackles in 2014 including 13 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. That’s exactly the type of player the Patriots need in their defensive to compliment guys like Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. Considering the losses they’ve dealt with in the secondary, having players who can cut down the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw is going to be critical as they try and defend their Super Bowl title.
For now Brown isn’t letting himself get caught up with being in a locker room with great names or being around guys who were Super Bowl heroes. He just seems focused on becoming a champion himself and he’s trying to adapt the work ethic that he seems to understand is what will help him take the next step.
“I can’t be a good teammate if I’m focused on all that stuff, this and that,” said Brown. “I just go to work. I just use their work ethic to help mine and adapt to theirs because they work hard every day and go to work.”
McGinest becomes the newest addition to the Patriots Hall of Fame. (USA TODAY Images)
There have been a lot of great players over the years here in New England, and the Patriots are about to induct a couple of terrific ones into an elite group later this year.
The team announced on Tuesday that former defensive end Willie McGinest along with defensive lineman Houston Antwine will be the newest additions to The Hall at Patriots Place presented by Raytheon later this summer, although no date has been confirmed.
McGinest spent 12-seasons in New England after being drafted in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft, just one year after the Patriots selected Drew Bledsoe with the first overall selection in 1993. The two were key parts of helping put New England back on the map as an elite franchise, with McGinest later also becoming a key part of a defensive group that helped win three titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
Bledsoe was inducted back in 2011, and now McGinest will don a red jacket of his own.
Antwine was with the team from 1961 through 1971, although he’ll be honored posthumously after having passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 72. He was selected back in April by the senior selection committee.
The induction of McGinest is significant because he was the first player taken after Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.
“Just a few months after I bought the Patriots, we drafted Willie McGinest in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a statement on Tuesday. “We came into the NFL together and will always share a special bond. During his 12-year Patriots career, Willie played a critical role in transforming us from a cellar dweller into a championship-caliber team.
“He was a leader of a defensive unit that propelled the Patriots to our first Super Bowl Championship in 2001. His leadership during the season and dominance in the postseason proved principal to our success in winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. Willie was a part of so many memorable moments for Patriots fans during his career. Now, I am looking forward to Patriots fans giving Willie a memorable moment as we celebrate his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.”
When a date is announced, the event, as it is every year, will be free to the public to attend. McGinest also will reportedly be honored during a halftime ceremony this year.
Patriots S Devin McCourty was not franchised by the team and may reach free agency if an agreement can’t be reached in the next week. (USA TODAY Images)
Following Monday’s decision to use the franchise tag designation on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, it was interesting to find out that apparently the communication between New England and safety Devin McCourty doesn’t seem to be as good as it probably should have been.
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, McCourty didn’t really know what the Patriots were going to do from that standpoint until the decision was made. Now it seems like he’s starting to believe he could end up elsewhere.
“I guess it’s more realistic now that (there’s) a chance that I might not be back there,” McCourty told Anderson. “Or there’s still a chance that I will, but I guess (there’s) more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process.”
For now it appears that McCourty could very well be headed to free agency and that could be bad news for New England, who may see one of the league’s top safeties receive an offer far above what they may be willing to pay him. The franchise tag number for the veteran was $9.6 million and the decision to target Gostkowski instead likely may have more to do with the fact it was a number they felt was simply too high.
There’s still time to get a long-term deal done as well as a chance to still bring him back, but it sounds like his time in New England could very well be coming to an end. Needless to say it will remain one of the bigger things to watch in the weeks to come.
REVIS HEADED TO FREE AGENCY?
For anyone hoping Darrelle Revis may have had enough fun in his first season to try and take a shot at winning a second ring and may have been eager to get a deal done, it appears that the veteran may have alternate plans and may be focused on still getting maximum value.
According to Adam Schefter Revis may also be headed to free agency as unless the Patriots pick up his $20 million option for the 2015 season, he’s apparently ready to test the market.
Darrelle Revis has a clause in his contract that says he can’t be tagged,” Schefter said via NESN. “There’s a $20 million option bonus payment that would carry a $25 million cap number. The bottom line is, it would surprise me if New England picked that up. So, the chances are — not chances are, it’s going to happen — Darrelle Revis is going to hit the market. He’ll be another coveted free agent.”
Now the bigger question will be whether or not Revis wants to remain a Patriot, or if he’ll simply continue his stance of the business of the NFL and go wherever he’ll get the most value.
“This all comes down to whatever Darrelle Revis wants to do,” Schefter said. “He’s got a Super Bowl ring, his career has been validated. He’s got one more big score left. One score in terms of big contract. So, does he want to take that big contract with a team like the New York Jets, who are dying to make a run at Darrelle Revis? Or the Buffalo Bills? Or is he willing to take less to go back and play with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and be in the environment he’s been in in New England? “That’s a call that only he can make.”
Hopefully if the two sides are close he’ll opt to stay, but for now it’s looking like there’s a chance this team may look quite different next season.
Some good news for those who wish the worst for one of the biggest Patriots killers, as it appears the Tennessee Titans appear to be on the verge of cutting Bernard Pollard. Pollard finished 2014 on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles and the 30-year old will now be headed to free agency. Here’s to hoping he ends up somewhere playing for a team New England won’t face next season…
With $55 million dollars to spend, the Jets are reportedly making a “big push” for Revis, if he is cut loose before his bonus money is due. According to SI, Woody Johnson has told GM Mike Maccagnan that it needs to get done. Johnson made comments about the same thing publicly in December which led to a Patriots charge of tampering. If Revis is released and signed by the Jets, how would the league view those tampering charges then?
While Revis talk is dominating talk in New England, the “Spring of Suh” has begun. Lions DT Ndamukong Suh was not franchised and will be a free agent when the period begins on March 10. He’s the biggest name, both figuratively and physically to be looking for a new team. His potential suitors are deemed to be the Raiders, Colts, Dolphins, Bears and Jaguars. Other top free agents include Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray, Packers WR Randall Cobb, Broncos TE Julius Thomas, Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin, and designated pass rushers include the Bills Jerry Hughes, Steelers Jason Worilds and the Redskins Brian Orakpo.
With the NFL mandated salary cap set at $143.28 million for 2015, the Patriots had over $6 million in carryover from 2014 which was slashed down to just over a million due to adjustments. Right now, the Patriots cap for 2015 is $144,578,084. The Patriots are currently more than $11,280,000 over the cap. They now have a week to remedy that situation. With big contracts of Revis, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo being looked at, the Patriots have some work to do…
With the Patriots using the franchise tag on K Stephen Gostkowski, they join only four other teams to use the tag in 2015. The other four teams include: Justin Houston, Kansas City, Dez Bryant, Dallas, Demaryius Thomas, Denver, Jason Pierre-Paul, NY Giants. The Dolphins placed a transition tag on TE Charles Clay which means other teams can make an offer to Clay, but Miami will have the opportunity to match any offer made.