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After winning the AFC Championship, Belichick had to deal with the deflate-gate accusations that interfered with their preparation leading up to their Super Bowl showdown with Seattle. (USA TODAY Images)

Today marks the two month anniversary of the team’s AFC Championship victory over the Colts back on January 18th, 2015, and at this point there still has yet to be an end to the “DeflateGate” investigation that continues to drag on with little end in sight.

It’s been two months since the league launched an investigation into this debacle, and here we are in March without an end as it continues to drag on. The initial report by Bob Kravitz out of Indianapolis kicked off the whole thing, and Chris Mortensen of ESPN made it worse after he followed it up with a report from a source within the league’s office that 11 of 12 footballs were “significantly” below the required level.

From there, that’s where it started spiraling down hill with reports seemingly every other day that were contradicting.  Following Mortensen’s report, the league leaked another to The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that essentially debunked it by saying the balls were just “a tick” below.

And as we remember, it only got better from there.  A report by Fox Sports that said the league was zeroing in on a locker room attendant who took the balls somewhere on his way to the field, which we later learned ended up being the bathroom.   He was only in there for 90 seconds, which lead to conspiracy theorists trying to figure out how many balls could be deflated within that time frame rather than just letting it be dismissed at that point.

Bill Belichick’s angry tirade and explanation after doing his own investigation found that the preparation of the footballs coupled with the lower temperature on the field was the likely reason for the psi change, but that obviously wasn’t good enough to end the apparent witch hunt.

The league suffered a bit during this whole mess following a report that came from Adam Schefter, which further muddied the situation. Schefter revealed that an employee by the league gave a different football to Jim McNally, who is an employee of the Patriots that works the officials’ locker room at the team’s home games. An initial report by ESPN had said that McNally “tried to introduce an unapproved ball into the game”, but Schefter reported that McNally had been handed the ball from someone else. According to Schefter, a league employee has also been fired for taking the football and selling it for personal gain.  The NFL normally allocates those balls for charity.

To make matters worse, the NFL apparently has no proof that the Patriots did anything to alter the footballs because they don’t know what the starting psi was before the balls were turned over to New England.  The revelation by the officials during their press conference prior to the Super Bowl confirmed that after they essentially admitted that they don’t actually log the psi of the footballs before each game.

So with all that being taken into account, here we are, two months later with no word from the NFL and no other news or leaks regarding the Wells investigation.  Every smoking gun they’ve found so far has blown up in their faces, and considering the stance the Patriots have taken and how adamant they’ve been throughout that they did absolutely nothing to affect the integrity of the game, it’s hard not to believe them.  Needless to say, considering the damage they suffered reputation-wise during this whole experience, the Patriots can’t be happy with how it’s transpired to this point.

Roger Goodell did nothing to help after not coming out during the process and downplaying it while the investigation was going on. Instead the mishandling of the whole process subjected the team to further abuse in the media following repeated leaks from within his office, which left the Patriots in a tough situation as it played out through the national media and in many of the other markets. It’s inexcusable, and it’s not like this couldn’t have been figured out long before it ever reached this point.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com said on Tuesday that he believes this needs to be put to bed before the draft.

“It’s got to happen before the draft,” said Florio via CSNNE.com. “Because draft pick compensation is part of it. Whether the Patriots are punished or exonerated, I think they need to close the books on this one at least two weeks before the draft on April 30.”

But for now, nothing has changed.  Robert Kraft has asked for an apology and yet the NFL remains silent.  Hopefully they’re not thinking it will just go away because it’s pretty clear that Kraft isn’t going to find that acceptable.  One would have to think that in two months with all the resources a billion dollar corporation like the NFL has, they would have found something by now if there was something of consequence to report.

The fact there hasn’t been would lead you to believe that they still don’t have anything on the Patriots.  If that’s the case, the league just needs to suck it up and admit they made a mistake and finally put this to bed for good.

CADET SIGNED:

The Patriots signed a running back on Tuesday, with the team adding former New Orleans Saints running back Travaris Cadet.  The 26-year old had spent the last three years with the team, having played in 41 NFL games with 11 carries for 37 yards, as well as 45 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns.

In 2014 he had his most productive season, carrying 10 times for 32 yards along with catching 38 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown.  He actually scored his first career touchdown against New England in 2013, catching a 3-yard touchdown during the Patriots’ win over New Orleans back on October 13, 2013.  He appears to be more of a pass-catching back and could be a potential candidate to compete for the role vacated by Shane Vereen’s departure to the Giants via free agency.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– The Patriots remain busy as they continue exploring free agent options, with Tuesday seeing them bring in four cornerbacks to Gillette Stadium, with ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss reporting that Terence Newman, Tarell Brown, Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain were all in town yesterday.

– Patriots owner Robert Kraft were guest speakers for the Hockomock Area YMCA breakfast fundraiser on Tuesday with Governer Charlie Baker at Gillette Stadium, with Kraft pledging $25,000 to the Y.  Kraft joked about the first time he met Y President Ed Hurley, and referenced one of the Patriots’ former players and current employee Andre Tippett.  “It was like getting hit by Andre Tippett because he asked me for a seven-figure donation,” Kraft said via the Attleboro Sun Chronicle.

– Mike Reiss shed a little light as to why a couple recent free agents ended up picking different destinations than New England to sign.  According to Reiss, linebacker Andrew Gachkar chose the Cowboys over the Patriots because his wife had ties to the Dallas area, which was apparently a factor in his decision, while defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker picked Detroit over New England because of a scheme preference in Detroit.

– You may have heard about Tim Tebow’s recent workout with the Philadelphia Eagles, although the quarterback hasn’t yet been offered a contract.  According to Quarterback Guru Tom House’s partner, Adam Dedeaux, the former Patriots QB has apparently improved quite a bit.  According to FoxSports.com, Dedeaux, who is the motion mechanics instructor at 3DQB in Los Angeles and worked with Tebow last weekend in Jacksonville to prepare him for the workout, Tebow is getting the ball out faster and has made quite a bit of progress. “From the moment we started working with him until now, his ability to get the ball out quickly has dramatically improved,” Dedaux told the website.  “His ability to spin the ball and to be accurate is better. He also understands when he misfires — he can be able to answer the question why and make the adjustment.”

– Local Houston radio personality Seth Payne likes the Vince Wilfork signing and he expects Wilfork’s presence inside to make quite a difference for Wilfork’s new teammate, J.J. Watt.  “Wilfork was playing out at three-technique (between guard and tackle) and in space a lot more than he had been previously,” Payne said via the Houston Chronicle. “In Houston, he’s going to be able to get back over the center, commanding attention in that A gap … and that really frees J.J. up a lot.  Even if your feet start to slow down a little bit, your hands and your brain still help you. And Vince Wilfork’s hands are very, very good, and his football brain is very, very good.”

 


Tom Brady and the offense still has some pretty good weapons returning in 2015. (USA TODAY Images)

While the Patriots have some issues to fix defensively in the upcoming months, there’s one solace that fans can take and that’s the fact that offensively this team is still in relatively good shape heading into 2015.

New England finished 4th in the NFL last season in points per game with 29.3, and they’ll return their entire receiving core, with tight end Rob Gronkowski (82 catches, 1124 yards, 12 touchdowns) coming off of a terrific 2014 campaign, along with receivers Julian Edelman (92 catches, 972 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 953 yards, 7 touchdowns) each finishing with two exceptional seasons of their own.  Danny Amendola (27 catches, 200 yards, 1 touchdown) recently restructured his deal to lower his salary, putting himself in position to improve off of a year where he re-established himself with a role in the kicking game and a solid playoff run in the receiving game, and waiting in the wings is Aaron Dobson, who could still become a weapon in a critical year for the receiver.  Free agent Stevie Johnson is reportedly set to visit Monday, and it will be interesting to see if he lands in New England as he could add another dynamic to a group that was pretty productive last season.

Recently signed Scott Chandler has been a player who has given the Patriots problems in the past as a member of the Buffalo Bills.  He caught 7 receptions on 10 targets against them in 2014, including a perfect 4-of-4 on third down (4 first downs).  Pairing him with Rob Gronkowski should be fun to watch, and he’s a player that fell under the radar a bit in terms of the significance of his signing as fans continue to lament last week’s loss of Darrelle Revis.

Their offensive line remains in terrific shape, with Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer set to anchor the line at the tackle positions next season, while rookie Bryan Stork had a terrific first season at center.  The biggest question mark for the Patriots remains free agent Dan Connolly, who has been one of the more consistent players at the guard position but the 10-year veteran might be looking for a bigger pay day than they may be willing to give him.  One interesting note was the Patriots’ interest in Eagles guard Evan Mathis, who the team was reportedly contemplating a trade to bring him to New England.  That would give them some additional options along with Ryan Wendell up front and we’ll likely see other players brought in as well.

At running back, Shane Vereen is now a member of the Giants, while LeGarrette Blount, James White, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, and Tyler Gaffney are currently on the roster.  The odd man out currently is Stevan Ridley, who is still a free agent but hasn’t signed with a team a this point.  His name has recently popped up on the Cowboy’s radar, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come back to New England for a one-year “prove it” type of contract. However, one of the theories to shoot down that notion would be the fact he wouldn’t potentially get enough carries to cement his worth either here or on the free agent market after this season.

But overall it’s a pretty good group coming back off a championship season that should, once again, be among the NFL’s elite.  One would believe we’ll see some additional pieces brought into the mix but this is a football team with some pretty great pieces that with the addition of Chandler should make them even better.  Obviously the defense has some problems that still need to be solved, but it’s good to know that they still have a potent group on the other side of the ball at this point coming back next September.

 KRAFT JOKES ABOUT LOSS OF REVIS:

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft spoke at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Boston on Sunday morning and tried to make light over the loss of Revis talking about the negotiations.

According to Kraft, Revis may have been favoring the team, although his demands apparently became a little too high for them to reach an agreement.

“The money was about the same,” Kraft said via the New York Post. “[Revis] was actually favoring us, coming to us a little cheaper.”

Kraft then reportedly said Revis demanded a Boston street, Castle Island, be renamed “Revis Island”, which he claimed ended up being the deal breaker, which apparently drew quite a bit of laughter.

Obviously that wasn’t the reason and the real reason was likely the $39 million the Jets guaranteed him in just the first three years of the deal.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, free agent defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was reportedly in Houston visiting with the Texans on Sunday.  Wilfork recently said that he has several teams apparently interested in his services, and the familiarity with staff members like defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and Anthony Pleasant are all there.

– Mike Reiss reported that free-agent linebacker Andrew Gachkar was in Foxboro for a visit on Sunday, but the Dallas Cowboys ended up getting his services after agreeing with him on a two-year deal.  His visit clearly signals that the Patriots are still exploring their options at that position.

– Another thing pointed out by Reiss in his Sunday notes was the fact that recently signed Jabal Sheard is a tough player, gutting out an apparent foot injury that almost put him on injured reserve.  He fought through it and he must be O.K. since it obviously wasn’t a concern for New England, who surely cleared him before signing him to a 2-year, $11 million deal.  But it shows you that he’s a tough player who isn’t afraid to play through pain, and that’s certainly a trait that you hope for in a player.

– Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out an interesting fact in his own Sunday notes regarding the recent contract signed by Devin McCourty.  According to Volin, the $28.5 million in total guarantees set a record for safety contracts.  That just goes to show you how much the team values McCourty, who is now one of the building blocks in this defense moving forward.

– Following up on a recent note made here regarding performance based pay, the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin and WEEI’s Chris Price each had some additional figures and here’s a look at some players who received a bonus out of the $3.633 million given by the NFL to divide among its players.  For the Patriots, the top earner was Bryan Stork, who led New England with $232,728, followed by Chris Jones ($181,099), Jamie Collins ($176,321), Logan Ryan ($165,623), Tim Wright ($123,051), Jordan Devey ($115,806), Josh Kline ($107,289), Patrick Chung ($106,088) and Malcolm Butler ($84,902).  Also making the list was Tom Brady, who was given the big bucks after being named Super Bowl MVP (an extra $10,563).


Bill Belichick has a long offseason ahead as he tries to ready his team for another title run in 2015.

For the second year in a row the Patriots sat on the sideline through the early part of free agency, but as we’ve seen over the last few days there’s a methodical method to their madness as they start molding the 2015 version of this football team.

It’s not going to be easy.  This is a team that saw Darrelle Revis leave them for a division rival, along with fellow defensive back Brandon Browner heading back to the NFC after joining the New Orleans Saints.  Those were two obviously big losses that creates quite the challenge to deal with considering the improvement we saw from them defensively last season.

Shane Vereen is gone after joining the Giants, and so far the team brought in Reggie Bush for a visit, but according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald the two sides met on Friday but it seems they’ve yet to reach an agreement – although it’s not known if New England has even made him an offer.

The Patriots did add tight end Scott Chandler on Friday, with ESPN reporting the two sides reached an agreement on a contract which gives them an additional option opposite Rob Gronkowski heading into next season.  How that will affect guys like Michael Hoomanawanui or Tim Wright remains to be seen, but this is a team that obviously values that position and it’s never a bad thing to have too much depth.

Another name that popped up on the radar was receiver Stevie Johnson, with NBC4’s Diana Marie Russini reporting that the Patriots are targeting the free agent wideout.  This is a group right now that has Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola, as well as Aaron Dobson on the backburner as we wait to see what type of player he’ll be in 2015.  However, the team has already added Brandon Gibson and had been rumored to be in the mix for Percy Harvin, but Rex Ryan snatched him away and brought him to Buffalo, so it’s obvious that they may feel adding additional talent there is needed. Whether or not Johnson ends up in New England is difficult to say, as he was in San Diego visiting with the Chargers on Friday.

Defensively, one notable name they’ve added is defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard, who has quite a few people buzzing about the impact he may have on the team’s pass rush after accumulating 23 sacks during his four years in Cleveland.  With the loss of Revis and Brower, the easiest way to deal with the loss of two good corners is to allow opposing quarterbacks less time to survey the field, and hopefully Sheard’s signing is just the first of other moves ahead to continue to improve in that area.

It’s just the start of the process and there’s still plenty of time for things to play out.  But as we know this is a team that historically isn’t big on making the big splash but instead approach free agency in a way where they try and build depth to carry them through into the postseason.  Whether we like it or not, it works.  So we’ll have to wait and see what additional moves they make in the coming months and based on what we’ve seen in the past, there will be plenty more coming.

EDELMAN DOES HIS BEST BRADY/BELICHICK IMPRESSIONS:

Something a little different this morning. Patriots wide receiver recently appeared on the “Rich Eisen Show” and talked about a variety of topics, including what it was like to win a Super Bowl, his initial relationship with former receiver Wes Welker, and also did a couple of funny impressions during the segment.

You can watch it for yourself below:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Patriots center Bryan Stork performed well during his first year in New England and became a big asset on New England’s offensive line, and according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald was rewarded with an additional $232,728.51 in performance based pay, which was reportedly the most money on the team in that category.

– So far Vince Wilfork remains a free agent, and doesn’t appear to be in any rush to make a decision in terms of finding a new team to play for. According to WEEI’s Christopher Price Wilfork’s agent, Kennard McGuire, said that “about five or six” teams are involved at this point. “Mostly AFC teams, couple in the NFC, that are looking to add a player of Vince’s magnitude,” McGuire told Price. “Vince is going to take his time.”

– Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen will apparently the first person in that family to announce their retirement, with a Brazilian newspaper reporting that the 34-year-old supermodel will walk her last runway show for Brazilian brand Colcci during Sao Paulo Fashion Week on April 20th. She reportedly still plans on honoring her existing contracts and will continue to model for Under Armor and Chanel.

– An interesting note in the Satesman yesterday on former University of Minnesota tight end Ben Utecht. According to the website, Utecht recently had an upcoming tryout with the Patriots but instead decided to retire from Pro Football. He’s a spokesperson for the American Brain Foundation and one scary note from the article talked about how the hits he took in the NFL affected him to the point where he completely forgot that he was in a friend’s wedding. Retiring is one of the most difficult decisions an athlete ever has to make, and good for him to be able to walk away and put his family first.

 


The Patriots let Browner go after not picking up his roster bonus this week. (USA TODAY Images)

What a week it’s been for the New England Patriots.

First they lost free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Jets shortly after free agency opened, setting up a twice-per-year reminder of what it was like to have a championship-caliber player like him on their roster.  Guys like Revis don’t grow on trees and when they lost Aqib Talib to Denver last offseason, his signing certainly took care of the sting and immediately made the Patriots one of the favorites to play in Arizona.

One year later, just like Talib, he’s gone.  This time around, this one just aches with no easy cure on tap to make the pain go away.

To make matters worse the Patriots made a business decision to allow Brandon Browner to explore his value around the league after electing not to pick up his roster bonus, and on Thursday he became one of the newest members of the New Orleans Saints, adding another hole to a Patriots secondary that suddenly has gone from elite to in need of some serious help.

With Revis, New England had a guy who could handle his side of the field and allow Devin McCourty to focus on his own job while providing safety help on the opposite side.  Now that Revis is gone – barring any significant improvements – McCourty will be back to trying to do his own job and the job of a few other players, which is going to make for a tough season.

Losing Browner is also difficult because the Patriots finally had a player who was physical and did a good job of taking opposing players out of their routes.  As much as we all appreciate what Malcolm Butler did last month, that play may not have occurred had Browner not jammed Jermaine Kearse, who was lined up inside and essentially had Butler, who was lined up outside over Ricardo Lockette, blocked out of the play.  But Browner immediately got up on Kearse on the snap and cleared a lane for Butler to Jump Lockette’s route, and we obviously know how that ended.

But now Browner’s out, leaving New England back at square one.  They’re back to Kyle Arrington (who had a rough outing against Matthews that day), Butler, Alfonzo Dennard, and Logan Ryan among guys in their defense who had any significant snaps in 2014.  Each of these guys have had their moments and have been good role players, but none are obviously at Revis’ level, and Browner’s giant frame made him a different type of player who allowed New England to better deal with bigger offensive players.

Within the Division, the Jets are a team that comes to mind in that regard, with recently acquired receiver Brandon Marshall (6’4″), along with last offseason’s acquisition Eric Decker (6’3″) providing two big targets against them.  Decker finished 2014 with 6 catches (4 for first downs) along with 86 yards against the Patriots in 2014, while Marshall was shut down after catching 3 passes on 10 targets.  Revis obviously played a big factor in that total.

Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins is 6’1″ and Chris Hogan is 6’2″.  Watkins finished with 84 yards on five receptions (2 first downs) against New England last season, while Hogan had six catches for 75 yards (4 first downs) including a touchdown.  You can beat height with talent or you can match-up someone of similar size.  Right now the Patriots don’t have either.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall right now in the front office, but one would believe there must be some sort of a plan brewing.  Bill Belichick likely isn’t sitting there and shrugging his shoulders while thinking they’ll just go with the guys they have after having two guys like that on his roster.  Winning a championship makes coaches just as hungry as players to try and win another and after experiencing winning one with those two players, one would believe that they’ll be exploring every option. Hopefully they’ll have an answer before they start playing meaningful games next September.

PATRIOTS ADD CHEKWA, FREENEY, AND SHEARD, SHOW INTEREST IN MATHIS:

The Patriots made a few moves on Thursday, announcing the signings of free agent CB Chimdi Chekwa, LB Jonathan Freeney, and DL Jabaal Sheard.

Sheard is an interesting addition after being a standout in Cleveland over the past four seasons.  During that span he’s racked up 23 sacks and could be a terrific addition to a defense that after losing a couple of key defensive backs could use a little help getting after the quarterback.

Freeney was a rookie free agent who has spent the past several seasons as a special teams player and reserve linebacker in Miami, while Chekwa is a player who has spent four seasons in Oakland and is a former fourth round pick who saw limited action and was more of a role player with the Raiders.

Meanwhile, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald the Patriots have expressed interest in acquiring Eagles left guard Evan Mathis in a trade.  Mathis would provide a potential replacement in the event Dan Connolly moves on via free agency.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– The Patriots lost another free agent on Thursday, with linebacker Akeem Ayers signing with the St. Louis Rams.  Ayers joined New England in October after the team traded for him along with a seventh round pick by the Titans in exchange for a sixth round pick.  He finished fourth on the team in tackles for a loss with six including five QB hits, one interception, and also had seventeen tackles.

– Danny Amendola had a solid season for the Patriots after establishing himself as a threat in the return game, before putting together a strong playoff showing that also included a key touchdown in the Super Bowl.  On Thursday Jeff Howe of the Herald reported that Amendola restructured his deal to remain in New England, which will now pay him $12.75 million with the chance to earn up to a reported $15 million through incentives. An interesting note, as our own Miguel Benzan of PatsCap.com points out, even after the restructure, Amendola’s salary is still more than the $11-million Edelman can earn with incentives.

– Another bit of information pointed out by Miguel was the fact that Sebastian Vollmer earned a $1 million roster bonus Thursday just for being on the roster.

– Looking at Thursday’s signing of Freeney, our friend Oliver Thomas points out that the former standout at Rutgers played three seasons alongside Devin McCourty, as well as two with Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, and Tim Wright.

– Brandon Browner posted a thank you upon the news of his signing.  Browner tweeted, “I’d like to thank The Kraft family, Belichick, Matty P, J. Boyer, and the whole Patriots staff and fans. It was a championship ride.”

– It appears that Vince Wilfork could be in line for a reunion with former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennell and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.  According to Erik Scalavino of Patriots.com, Wilfork is being courted by the Houston Texans.  Wilfork became a free agent after New England opted to not pick up the option on the remaining two years of his contract.

– Shane Vereen hasn’t been gone very long but he’s already made an interesting comment now that he’s with his new team. Vereen told the New York Post in an interview that after being with a championship team, he doesn’t believe that signing in New York is a step backward. “This is not a step down. If anything, it is a step up,” Vereen said.

– We’ll leave you with this. Rob Ninkovich posted a pretty funny picture from what he says was a photo from his high school days during “Throwback Thursday” on Twitter.  This one should make you smile, and you can view it here.


Darrelle Revis is headed back to the Jets. (USA TODAY Images)

Heading into free agency it was safe to say that history has shown that if you put the Patriots in the middle of a bidding war for a player, it generally doesn’t tend to turn out well.

It didn’t take the Jets long to sink their teeth into Darrelle Revis when free agency opened, and once they did things fell apart pretty quickly. By the time the first day of free agent feeding frenzy came to an end, Revis’ time wearing a Patriots’ uniform became nothing more than a memory.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise.  The Jets are a fan base who have a team that has been irrelevant for a while now.  Owner Woody Johnson likely went into these negotiations with blinders on while caring more about beating the Patriots in an environment where he felt he could compete, beating the Patriots with his checkbook while stealing Revis away and weakening one of his biggest rivals. It’s a move that at least gives the fans something to at least feel good about, and at the end of the day there was too much to lose for him not to have gotten a deal done.

The money got out of control pretty quickly, with Revis reportedly agreeing to a 5-year $70 million deal that included $39 million guaranteed, approximately $10 million above the reported guaranteed money that Devin McCourty received when he agreed to his own extension.  That’s a lot of money for a player who is obviously pretty talented but more than the Patriots were willing to pay given their desire to remain among the NFL’s elite year to year.  You’re talking about a team that has had double-digit wins dating all the way back to 2003 and hasn’t had a losing season since 2000.  There’s a formula in place that clearly works, but obviously days like Tuesday are a disappointing reminder that that type of success occasionally comes with a cost.

Revis did his job in his one season.  He helped stabilize a secondary that has been a mess in past seasons and allowed this team to finally win their elusive fourth Super Bowl ring.  But now he’s gone and the Patriots decided that Brandon Browner’s financial cost was too much and told him to explore his value with other teams after not exercising his roster bonus.

When the two were signed last offseason, most viewed them as the key reasons why they might win another title.  Looking back, both played a massive role and this team finds itself having come full circle and they’re right back where they started.  They were better with those two players and Revis was obviously a key reason.  Now Tom Brady is back to having to face him twice a season and the Jets’ defense just became a little more difficult for the foreseeable future.

The one saving grace is the fact that you can’t dismiss the value he brought as a teammate and you could see a lot of improvement in coverage in the secondary with the guys around him compared to past years, which hopefully a lot of these younger players will carry over into 2015. That’s at least one solace this team can hold on to, as well as the fact there’s still plenty of time to hopefully bring in some additional talent to help build some depth.  There’s also the draft, additional cuts, as well as an opportunity for New England to potentially make a move to acquire someone in the months ahead.  Granted, you can’t replace a guy like him since none of them are going to be of Revis’ caliber, but this is a team that has won a lot of games with lesser talent, and they’ll likely still be in the mix again next January.

Revis has his ring, and now he’ll likely go back to having an additional month of vacation in the coming years.  Maybe he’ll be happy with that, maybe he won’t.  He seemed pretty excited about “going home” to New York, and good for him, it’s his prerogative.  It’s just too bad that the experience, along with the news of McCourty’s extension that would have kept a pretty good duo together, wasn’t enough for him to potentially want to do it again.  Although since we don’t know the difference between what the Jets offered compared to New England, if the gap was too good to walk away from then it makes sense.

Either way the Patriots are now back in the position of having to address the cornerback situation in the months ahead.  Last year when they lost Aqib Talib they were able to rebound with Revis.  At this point there’s not exactly a fallback option, which is going to set up an interesting offseason where they’ll hopefully at least find someone who can be a somewhat adequate replacement.

In the end, it was fun while it lasted.  He’s a special player who, by all accounts, was a great teammate and a terrific player in the locker room.  But the NFL is a business and Revis treated it that way, and now the Patriots are forced to move on without him.

PATRIOTS SIGN WR GIBSON, SHEARD, MCCARTHY IN FOR VISITS:

The Patriots reportedly added wide receiver Brandon Gibson on Tuesday, with the former Dolphins wideout agreeing to a one-year deal.  Gibson caught 29 passes for 295 yards along with a touchdown last season and could be a player who surprises some people in this offense.

They also reportedly took a look at Jabaal Sheard, who according to Adam Schefter visited the team on Tuesday night.  The Browns linebacker is a versatile player who has seen time both at defensive end and linebacker with Cleveland and could potentially give the Patriots another player to compliment Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich as they try and continue improving their pass rush.  The former second round pick in 2011 has 23 career sacks, and the Patriots could certainly use him to increase their own total.

New England also brought in another linebacker Tuesday night, with ESPN’s Field Yates reporting that the team hosted free-agent linebacker Colin McCarthy.  McCarthy is coming off of a 2014 season where he suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to end up on injured reserve.  He’s had a rough start and has missed 23 games since being selected in the fourth-round by Tennessee but has shown that when healthy he’s got plenty of potential and could be another player who could bring some value to this group to a group that lost Jonathan Casillas on the first day of free agency, who signed with the Giants Tuesday.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Casillas will have at least one familiar face joining him in the locker room with the Giants, as according to Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo Patriots running back Shane Vereen agreed to a three year deal worth $12.35 million with the team.  Vereen’s loss leave’s a void for the team after he handled their third down duties at running back last season.  He lead the team with 17 carries for 106 yards on third down last season, including five first downs. He was also targeted 18 times on third down out of the backfield in 2014, catching 11 passes with 8 first downs, including two touchdowns.  They’ve reportedly expressed interest in C.J. Spiller and Reggie Bush, so they’re obviously looking to find someone to take over that production.  So that will be something to watch in the months ahead.

– According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald the team retained exclusive rights free agents Sealver Siliga, James Develin, and James Morris on Tuesday on one year tenders.  However, receivers Brian Tyms and Greg Orton became free agents after reportedly not being offered deals.

– Free agent receiver Percy Harvin remains on the market and it appears he’s still a potential target for the Patriots.  It’s believed that New England wanted to select him back in 2009 before the Vikings grabbed him, and several reports seem to feel that he’s still on their radar.

– Mike Reiss reported Tuesday night that the Patriots re-signed special teams standout Chris White, who has been a good addition for them and was an important player for them  after Casillas left via free agency.  The 26-year old finished with nine special teams tackles in 2014, which was the third highest total on the team.

– The Patriots had expressed interest in free agent running back Roy Helu, but he opted to sign with Oakland yesterday.  He had been a player who was seemingly a candidate to replace Vereen, but it looks like they’ll have to continue exploring their options after Helu has decided to head west.


All eyes will be on Revis when free agency opens later today. (USA TODAY Images)

On Monday the Patriots reportedly opted not to pick Darrelle Revis’ $20 million option on his contract, which now means he’ll hit the free agent market. As a result, now the waiting game will begin to find out if he’ll be back in the fold for 2015.

They’re expected to remain in contention for his services but all indications are that the New York Jets will make a full-on blitz for the veteran defensive back, which could complicate the situation and it remains to be seen if another team will join the fray and set up a scenario where the offers climb to a point that the Patriots are forced to decide to let him move on.

The Jets are ready to try and bring him back and according to Kristin Dyer of Metro New York, they know Revis ‘never wanted to leave’ and now plan on doing what they can to bring him back.

“Darrelle would be open to the Jets,” Metro’s source reportedly said. “He never wanted to leave. And the team is planning accordingly.”

That will be a tough pill to swallow, especially given the fact that Revis was a key reason why this team won their fourth championship last month.  After locking up Devin McCourty for five years Sunday night, if they were to re-sign Revis, their secondary would more or less be set heading into next season and they’d, once again, have one of the more formidable units in the NFL.

But it all hinges on his return.  According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, Monday saw New England tell Brandon Browner that he’s free to explore his value around the NFL, which likely means that the team may not opt to trigger his $2 million roster bonus, which would cause him to count $4.8 million against the team’s salary cap and instead will try and restructure his deal.  Receiving that bonus would lock in his contract for 2015 and 2016, and now with his situation being a little more uncertain, the interesting thing about that is the fact one would believe the Patriots wouldn’t let Browner walk unless they felt they were confident they’d be able to retain Revis.

Over the coming days we’ll find out.  Revis has talked on more than one occasion about how much he’s enjoyed his time here and he knows the opportunity he has with this football team if his goal is to continue building his legacy and become a 2-time – or more – Super Bowl Champion.  He knows he’s going to get paid.  Now it’s just a matter of whether or not the Patriots end up in the same vicinity numbers-wise as the teams that will begin trying to lure him out of Foxboro when free agency begins.

Hopefully it will work out, but it’s ultimately his decision.  But how the Patriots conduct themselves in the coming months personnel-wise hinges on how this plays out and this will be the story everyone will follow until we find out if he’ll remain part of this defense for the foreseeable future.

PATRIOTS INTERESTED IN ROY HELU?

With Shane Vereen likely expected to potentially be lost when the free agent market period opens, it appears the Patriots are exploring their options.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald the Patriots are reportedly among three teams interested in Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu, who has a similar skillset to Vereen and could be an option in the event the bidding war for Vereen reaches a point that the Patriots are forced to walk away from.

Helu has accumulated 1,132 yards on 255 carries in his four seasons, including 129 receptions for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns and his price tag is expected to be more reasonable and would likely be no where near the $3.5 million – or higher – that Vereen may potentially be commanding on the open market.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Speaking of Vereen it appears there are already a variety of teams showing interest in his services, including the New York Giants.  According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News the Giants are “very serious” about signing Vereen and adding him to their backfield.  According to the report the deal could get done soon after the market opens today at 4pm.

– Chris Mortenson reported yesterday that Ndamukong Suh is expected to sign a contract with Miami based off parameters around $114 million and $60 million guaranteed, per sources.  That obviously creates a problem for the Patriots, who just saw their division rival become a little more dangerous.

– Some fans wondered why the Patriots didn’t initially give McCourty the franchise designation but when the details emerged regarding the five year deal he recently reached it made a little more sense from a financial standpoint.  According to reports McCourty will count just $6-million toward to the salary cap, which is much lower than the $9.5 million he would have counted had the Patriots tagged him and he had signed the tender.

– The news about Wilfork hit fans pretty hard, but it also hit players hard as well and McCourty told ESPN’s Mike & Mike that he plans on doing what he can to make sure Wilfork comes back.  “It’€™s tough to think about [Wilfork leaving], especially for me,” said McCourty via WEEI.com.  “I’€™ve grown very close with him over the last couple of years and I’€™ve been talking to him throughout the whole process, but I think you have to try to move on.  Obviously with me returning, I’€™m going to do everything I can do to get him back there playing in New England. It’€™ll be cool just to see what happens over the next month and hopefully he’€™s still back there helping out.”

– McCourty also admitted that having a guy like Tom Brady also influenced his decision.  In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio McCourty admitted that having a group of guys like this is a motivating factor since he knows they’ll consistently be competitive.  “It was definitely one of the main factors, being able to play with the group of guys that are there,” said McCourty via the Boston Globe. “When you got a quarterback like that, you know you always have a chance to win.”

– According to the Tennessean, the Titans were heavily involved and made a major push at trying to lure McCourty out of New England.  The newspaper reported that the team “did everything they could” to try and convince him to join his brother Jason, but in the end, he obviously picked the Patriots.

“The Titans were definitely considered,” agent Andy Simms told the newspaper. “They made a strong pitch, and did everything they could. We had some good conversations with them. And Devin was definitely interested in Tennessee. But the Patriots organization stepped up.”

– The Patriots posted a funny “save the date” wedding letter to Bill Belichick, with one caption saying “Let’s Party” and a stone faced photo of Belichick.  You can view it here.

– The summer of Gronk continues, with Rob Gronkowski shown twerking at a recent L.A. Clippers game Monday night.  The Washington Post has the video clip, which shows him getting down and having a little fun as he was captured on the scoreboard.


McCourty agreed to a 5-year deal to stay in New England Sunday night. (USA TODAY Images)

Sometimes it’s not always about the money.

Sunday night brought some good news for the Patriots after the team reached an agreement to re-sign their first key free agent, with Devin McCourty reportedly agreeing to a 5-year, $47.5 million deal, with $28.5 of that deal being guaranteed. The deal was reportedly less money than he was being offered elsewhere, with Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Tennessee and the New York Giants all reportedly in contention for his services.

According to NJ.com McCourty was close to becoming a member of the Eagles, and Mike Reiss reported that at one point the veteran safety called Bill Belichick and thanked him for a great five years with the franchise, telling him that it looked like he was ready to move on.

That apparently turned the negotiations in the final moments and the Patriots stepped up to make sure that McCourty would stay in a Patriots uniform.  As a result McCourty decided to remain in New England and told Comcast Sports New England and he was glad to be back.

“I’m blessed to say we had other teams that were interested but I said all along that I knew in my heart that I wanted to be back in New England,” said McCourty via ESPN Boston. “But I also knew the business side of football, and I had to do what I had to do. I’m back, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t possibilities over the last two days that I was going to be somewhere else. I’m happy it all worked out.”

“We wanted to be happy and we wanted to win,” McCourty said via ProFootballTalk.com. “We felt we had an opportunity . . . at really all those places, we saw ways we could win. Obviously being in New England for five years, there’s no kind of mystery or question. I know we can win here. We’ve already done it. That’s where [the Patriots] came in first in that category. And financially they stepped up and hit all the numbers that I wanted. I think that’s what matters, what was going to make me happy.”

Now the team can turn their attention to trying to keep Darrelle Revis, with today’s 4pm deadline looming to pick up the cornerback’s $12 million option, although New England is expected to instead try and get a long-term deal done.  McCourty told CSNNE Sunday night that he’s spoken to Revis and he’s planning on working out with him soon in Arizona and he hopes the two will be in training camp together by the time they reconvene in July.

“I actually spoke to him,” McCourty said via MassLive. “I told him I feel like the same thing he would tell me…I want him back here. I want to play with him. He’s a great teammate and the best corner in the game, but also I know it’s a business. I would never hit him up and try to pressure him into doing something. I already told him (we’re teammates) for the rest of my NFL career anyway because we already train together, so I’ll see him again in Arizona (for offseason workouts) and hopefully I’ll see again in July in training camp.”

DEADLINE LOOMING FOR BRANDON BROWNER:

If there was ever an indication to let you know how things are going with the Darrelle Revis negotiations, we may learn a little by what happens with Brandon Browner, who has a $2 million roster bonus pending before today’s 4pm deadline.  As Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald points out, that bonus locks in his contract for 2015 and 2016 and it’s doubtful they’ll let him go if they felt they weren’t going to be able to retain Revis.

If it comes down between the two the odds are pretty good the Patriots would likely choose Revis over Browner, so what happens on that front may give us a slight glimpse into the negotiations.  But it should make for an interesting day ahead.  The good news is that at least one of their key components in their secondary will be in place for next season, and hopefully McCourty won’t be the last one the Patriots are able to keep in the fold.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– A nice story on KARE11.com on actor Chris Evans, who is a Patriots fan and made a bet with fellow actor Chris Pratt, who is a Seahawks fan.  Pratt had reportedly challenged Evans to a bet via Twitter that if Pratt’s team won the Super Bowl, Evans would visit Seattle Children’s Hospital dressed as his movie character – Captain America – carrying the 12th Man flag and if Evans’ team won, Pratt would visit Christopher’s Haven in Boston dressed as his movie character – Star-Lord – wearing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey.  The two visited both hospitals, so kudos to both for taking the time to do so.

– There will be a familiar feel for two former Patriots quarterbacks in Houston this July, with Brian Hoyer reportedly expected to re-join former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien with the Texans.  The deal will put him back in a battle with former Pats QB Ryan Mallett, who has reportedly agreed to terms and sets up an interesting competition in training camp since Mallett, as of right now, was expected to be the team’s Week 1 starter.  Mallett is coming off of a torn pectoral that required surgery and ended his season back on November 24, 2014.

–  It’s going to be interesting to see if the Patriots make any additional moves before having to be in compliance with the salary cap by Monday at 4 p.m. ET and Mike Reiss brought up the point in his Sunday notes that one to watch will be if the team does anything with receiver Danny Amendola’s contract. He’s scheduled to earn $4 million in 2015 and count $5.7 million against the cap and given his production he’ll likely be in line for a pay reduction. Now the big question will be whether or not he’s willing to accept that to stay, or if he’ll decide to move on.  He was a key contributor down the stretch but you have to wonder if he would also want to remain in New England given what he’s been through the past couple of seasons.  He’s earned a role here, albeit a reduced one, and whether or not it will make sense financially will be the key factor.  Bill Belichick talked during the season about the fact that Amendola’s role returning kicks took some wear and tear off of Julian Edelman and if he leaves the Patriots will have to find someone else to take on those duties.

– Reiss also brought up the point that seeing Vince Wilfork end up with the Texans is a strong possibility given that former coach Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel are there, as well as former players Mike Vrabel and Anthony Pleasant.  The worst-case scenario would be the Jets getting into the mix since for Pats coach Pepper Johnson is currently their defensive line coach.  That would be something that would be tough to deal with, although Wilfork might have a hard time with that given the ribbing he recently gave a Jets fan.

– An interesting note on Wilfork in Ben Volin’s Sunday notes.  His racehorse, Great Minds, won the fifth race at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans on Thursday, which according to Volin earned Wilfork a winner’s share of $22,800.  Not a bad payout for the veteran defensive lineman, and it was apparently the second win in less than a month for his horse.


We’ll likely learn a lot about Revis’ future next week. (USA TODAY Images)

A few weeks ago Patriots president Jonathan Kraft appeared on WEEI and talked about the future of Darrelle Revis, pointing out the option the team had for the veteran still technically kept him under contract and was simply a “placeholder”, and that the hope was to try and get a long-term deal done to keep him in a Patriots uniform.

At the time, Kraft was hopeful both sides would want to get something done in order to keep him here, and they were focused on trying to keep him.

“Hopefully both sides want to make a deal and we’ll be able to get one done,” said Kraft. “People understand that that’s a placeholder and we’ll get to work on trying to make it happen.”

As the March 9th deadline approaches the two sides don’t appear to be on the verge of any type of agreement, and according to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole the Patriots are going to decline his option on Monday and forego the $25 million cap hit they’d sustain by going that route with the veteran defensive back.  Cole reports that New England will know by Monday if Revis will hit the open market or if he’ll be negotiating with the team, and he classified the Patriots as “confident” in getting a deal done with him.

As it stands right now, per a report from ProFootballTalk.com, the negotiations between the two sides haven’t begun.

Just a month ago Revis described his decision to come to New England as a “no-brainer”, and now we’ll have to wait and see how he feels about staying here.

“This was a no-brainer,” said Revis following the Patriots victory over Seattle. “This was a no-brainer to come here and be a part of this organization and help be one of the missing pieces – that the organization felt – at the cornerback position.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein on Thursday, and he pointed out that with the New York Jets among teams who will likely take a shot at getting him under contract.  But according to Schefter it will ultimately come down to what’s more important and what he’d like to do with the remainder of his career.

“I don’t know what New England is going to offer him, I really don’t,” said Schefter via Boston.com.  “Say it’s $10 million, $11 million a year, $12 million and you’re the Jets and offer $15-16 million a year. Worth it to go back to New York to finish your career for a few million dollars more where you would be saluted as a king? I don’t know. It’s a question of what you find most important, what you value most in your life and what you want to do with your career.”

It sounds like we’ll get a feel for what direction Revis is headed in this week.

HOWE TALKS ABOUT RIDLEY, VEREEN’S FUTURE:

Boston Herald beat writer Jeff Howe spoke to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Friday and he believes both Patriots running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will be playing elsewhere in 2015.

“Vereen’s market right now is up to $3.5 million dollars a year, which is pretty much the going rate for running backs these days,” said Howe via CBS Boston.  “That is kind of what you can expect Vereen to look at this offseason. The Patriots have shown so far no willingness to go anywhere near that number, which is how they’ve treated running backs since Belichick has been around.”

Howe points out that Vereen isn’t a player who has enough production to warrant that type of deal and despite what he’s done at times in the passing game, he doesn’t believe the Patriots will pay him that much.

“$3.5 million dollars for a guy who still has never rushed for 400 yards in his career, and I know how valuable he is for the passing game, but I don’t see the Patriots moving anywhere near that,” said Howe. “If Vereen wants to get paid those figures, he’s probably gone.”

As for Ridley, he believes that looking at the Patriots current situation in their backfield that Ridley likely wouldn’t receive enough carries to warrant a big pay day after the season if he was to re-sign on a one-year deal coming off his ACL and MCL tear.

“I think Ridley wants to be back, but he owes it to himself that he’s going to get a one-year deal or something that looks like a one-year deal,” said Howe. “He owes it to himself to find a depth chart where he can go out and guarantee that he’s probably going to be no worse than second, earn some carries and maybe take on the lead role at some point in the season.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– According to the Boston Herald, kicker Stephen Gostkowski signed his franchise tender on Friday, which will earn him a fully guaranteed $4.59 million for 2015.  That appears to be just a formality and the two sides appear focused on trying to hammer out something long-term for the veteran.   “Stephen has been extremely productive and a vital component to our success since joining our team in 2006,” the team said via a statement the day he was given the designation. “Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal.”  The two sides have until July 15th to get something done.

– After the Jets recent addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who they recently acquired in a surprising trade, Percy Harvin is set to hit the open market and there seems to be a belief that he could be someone who ends up on New England’s radar.  According to NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling, he believes that the Patriots could be on the list of the veteran’s potential landing spots, especially given New England’s reported interest in 2009 after the team worked him out one day after he Vikings visited him.  According to the Minnesota Star Tribune the Patriots were going to draft him, but the Vikings snatched him away.  This is a team that has done a good job with players who have had troubled pasts, but given their current group of receivers it would be hard to imagine Harvin fitting in at the type of money he’ll likely be seeking.

– Speaking of which, another player whose name continues to be mentioned as a potential target is Andre Johnson, whose current situation in Houston has become contentious and the Texans have given the disgruntled receiver permission to seek a trade.  Gordon McGuinness of ESPN Insider calls the Patriots a “perfect match” given who would be throwing him the football and the fact he wouldn’t have to be the primary focus of the offense.  Johnson has two years and $21.5 million remaining on his existing deal, and if the Patriots were to acquire him they would definitely have some work to do in order to rework the numbers to fit him in.  He’s an explosive player, there’s no question about it and putting him on the field with Tom Brady would likely be a lethal combination.  But given his reaction at a reduced role in Houston, it would be tough to imagine how he’d react to how many passes he would likely see here in New England.  Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Brandon LaFell accounted for 248 of Tom Brady’s 373 completions in 2014.  So there’s not much left to go around, although he would certainly make them even more dangerous.

– Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston believes the Patriots level of need at the guard/center position is moderate to high this offseason, and believes that Dan Connolly will be one of their priorities and given his history with the team, he’s an obvious fit here in New England. Other names he mentions that fans may want to keep an eye on are Justin Blalock (Falcons), Clint Boling (Bengals), James Carpenter (Seahawks), Orlando Franklin (Broncos), Todd Herremans (Eagles), Rodney Hudson (Chiefs), Mike Iupati (49ers), Chris Myers (Texans), Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders).

– The Boston Herald reports that receiver Brian Tyms, who is an exclusive rights free agent, is working on a deal to remain with New England.  Tyms caught 5 passes for 82 yards including a memorable 43-yard touchdown against the Bills in Week 6, which was the 6th longest scoring reception for a Patriots receiver last season.


Wilfork had some great moments during his career in New England. (USA TODAY Images)

The news about Vince Wilfork on Thursday proves that the NFL rolls on no matter who you are, and sometimes it happens at the expense of guys that are loved by their team and their fans and it’s hard when the business side of football gets in the way of keeping that story going.

In Wilfork’s case, he’s a player who has been a key component to the Patriots defensive line since being drafted 21st overall in 2004, and he’s been an incredible teammate, leader, and friend to a lot of players in that locker room.

Looking back to the day he was drafted, his story was an interesting one and he’s a player who was already at a maturity level well above and beyond what most players his age tend to be at.  Having lost both his parents two years prior in 2002 over a six month span, it caused him to have to grow up in a hurry.  At just the age of 20 he was married to his current wife, Bianca, and had two children.  After being drafted, Wilfork didn’t care about his big contract or buying a new car, or all the crazy things young players tend to do with it.

“I already have a car,” said Wilfork back in 2004. “A house is my main concern right now. Getting familiar with the area and that is it.”

He’s had plenty of great seasons here as a Patriot, playing a key role in New England’s championship run in his rookie season as well as helping be a part of a decade where they’ve continually won ten or more games. Despite coming off of his Achilles injury in 2013, he had solid year for the Patriots after finishing with 47 tackles as well as an interception and a pass defensed. He also played in 68% or more snaps in 10 games last season.

It’s been quite a run, and it’s one that you could almost see coming back when he first got the news.  The former University of Miami standout told the media the day he was drafted that the fact this was an organization that cared about winning was why he was so excited to be a part of it.

“I loved [being picked by the Patriots] because New England loves to win, they love to play the game and they know a lot about winning,” Wilfork told the New England media in a conference call that day. “[When it was announced I was a New England Patriot] I just fell in love right there.”

Wilfork said in a statement yesterday that he still believes he has plenty of gas left in the tank one year removed from his Achilles injury.

They won a lot of games thanks to him, and it will be tough not seeing the number 75 on the field for this team next season.  Unfortunately everything comes to an end eventually, and now the Patriots will head into 2015 having closed a chapter with a player who was just as good off the field with all of the charity work he’s done with he and his wife.  Guys like him don’t come around very often, and it was quite a run.  

He’ll definitely be missed.

SCHEFTER TALKS REVIS, MCCOURTY:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was on Mad Dog Sports Radio on Thursday and gave his thoughts on where Darrelle Revis may end up, and he believes it may come down to a bidding war between the Patriots and Jets.

“I believe that it will come down to the Patriots and the Jets,” said Schefter via WEEI.com. “I think the Jets are going to pay him short of whatever he wants to bring him back there because not only could they use him, it would be a huge moral, emotional victory for that franchise to bring him back there, get him to finish his career there.

“I don’t know what New England is going to offer him, I really don’t. Say it’s $10 million, $11 million a year, $12 million and you’re the Jets and offer $15-16 million a year. Worth it to go back to New York to finish your career for a few million dollars more where you would be saluted as a king? I don’t know. It’s a question of what you find most important, what you value most in your life and what you want to do with your career.”

Schefter also went on to say that he was surprised that Devin McCourty wasn’t given the franchise tag designation instead of Stephen Gostkowski.

“It was a little surprising to me that McCourty wasn’t tagged and they went with Gostkowski,” Schefter said. “I think once McCourty gets to market he’s going to get a lot of interest from a lot of different teams — Philadelphia, both New York teams. Look, what team in the league doesn’t need a safety? If you’re in that position, I think he is going to command big dollars.

“I think it is going to be a big enough offer that compels him to leave New England, a place he’d like to stay. He wants to be there. He’d like to stay there. This is going to be a business decision and I think there are going to be some teams out there that make it a hard enough business decision for him to leave.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– As we get closer to free agency it appears the rumors are starting for players the Patriots may have on their radar as they start kicking the tires for some new players for next season.  According to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline is a player the Patriots have expressed interest in.  He was cut by Miami last week.

– Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been a person who has taken an interest in many different issues over the years, and the latest one appears to be trying to do his part to help in the battle of marriage equality.  According to the Huffington Post the New England Patriots organization was one of 379 corporations and employer organizations to sign a friend-of-the-court, or amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.  Other pro teams included the San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays.  You can read the full list here.

– According to WHDH Tom Brady is about to play a round of golf with a former major champion.  The Super Bowl XLIX quarterback will reportedly play a round of golf at Augusta National with four-time major champion Rory Mcllroy next week.  Augusta National is the home of the Masters Tournament, with the 79th edition scheduled to be played from April 9th-12th.

– Bill Belichick was on hand for Clemson’s pro day on Thursday, with TigerNet.com reporting that Belichick watched defensive tackle DeShawn Williams while he was there, keeping an eye on him during his foot drills. Williams told the website he hoped he made an impression. “Yeah, I saw him give me a look during the foot drills,” Williams told the website. “He was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ But I got his attention, and that is a good thing. But whoever picks me is going to get a hard-working guy. I am not a guy what will be showboating but I will get the job done.” Sounds like a Patriot.

– Patriots running back Shane Vereen is going to be honored on March 26th. According to SCVNews.com Vereen will be honored at the Hyatt Regency form 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The City of Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean is expected to present a key to the city and honor Vereen at the event. Vereen will also reportedly speak to the attendees about his career path and will answer questions.


Patriots have until March 9th to decide on Revis’ massive option. (USA TODAY Images)

As the Patriots head into next week there will be some interesting decisions to be made as they try and do the best they can to keep their championship group together, although there will likely be changes heading into 2015 that will see some current players who won’t be around for kickoff in September.

One of the biggest issues facing the team is the obvious one in Darrelle Revis, who has a massive option that some reports say will cause him to hit free agency if it isn’t picked up.  One would believe the Patriots are trying to hammer out a deal and that Revis should be their top priority, but after New England franchised Stephen Gostkowski, it seems to lean in the direction that Devin McCourty is going to reach free agency and that the they may instead be prioritizing the veteran cornerback in their future.

Keeping the two initially seemed like a possibility, but after the Patriots opted to franchise Gostkowski, that immediately became more difficult.  However, the team clearly felt that the franchise number for McCourty was too high and the good news is placekicker won’t have to be a priority this offseason, but potentially finding a new safety might be.  Given the issues this team has had in the secondary in recent years up until this past season, losing someone like McCourty would definitely sting and it’s hard to see Duron Harmon or Patrick Chung being guys who can fill his shoes or be the same type of player in coverage.

But in the event deals don’t get worked out and both Revis and McCourty hit the market, there will likely be plenty of suitors lining up to add that caliber of player to their roster, and it’s going to probably become a big problem for New England.  The Patriots have a host of other deals that need to be restructured or extended (Nate Solder, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Danny Amendola, just to name a few) so if some team opens their checkbook and the two receive above-market value offers, all of a sudden the Patriots priorities will shift dramatically and will be tough to imagine they’ll recover as quickly as they did a year ago when they replaced Aqib Talib‘s signing in Denver by signing Revis.  This year, there’s not really anyone out there that will measure up to put the minds of fans in New England at ease of losing a guy that finally helped them secure their fourth title.

Needless to say the only constant in the NFL is change and it appears to be on its way in one form or another.  There was a lot of optimism a couple weeks ago that these two would be in their plans for next season.  Now we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks if they’ll even be around and if not, the challenge will begin for Bill Belichick and company to formulate a plan on how they’ll handle life without them.

MCCOURTY HINTS AT BEING “HOME” IN NEW YORK:

Just imagine the Patriots having to face McCourty against the New York Jets next season.  It’s not a happy scenario but it sounds like the veteran would be open to it after some of his comments in the NJ Advance Media where the native of Nyack New York said that he would be open to signing with a New York team.

“I would be lying if I said that it wouldn’t be cool being back home,” McCourty said. “But I also know being back home comes with some new stresses and different things that way with family and friends being so close. For me right now, everything is open. I don’t want to turn something down. I’m willing to leave everything open and see how it works out.”

For now he’s following the lead of his agent, who looks to be ready to take his client to market and McCourty is ready to take these next few weeks in stride and explore all his options.

“Now it’s deciding what to do next as far as visits and different offers and what will happen from there,” McCourty said. “I’m talking to my agents and seeing what’s best for me and getting their opinion and what they’ve heard and what they know as of right now.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Ben Volin has a good long look at some of the big decisions facing the Patriots, which he points out could be “franchise altering”.  Among some of the players that will be in focus when it comes to having their deals altered or extended will likely be obvious names like Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty, along with Vince Wilfork, Nate Solder, Brandon Browner, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Danny Amendola, and Kyle Arrington, just to name a few.

– Interesting to hear on the radio outside the New England market that so many people seem to believe Houston’s Andre Johnson could land in New England. Given how little spending money the Patriots have and so many key players of their own they need to sign, it would be hard to imagine them opening up their wallet and giving it to a guy who seemingly could be a problem in an offense where he likely wouldn’t be “the guy” given that they already have three guys in Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Brandon LaFell who accounted for 248 of Tom Brady’s 373 completions in 2014. That doesn’t leave much more to go around and unless he’d be happy with a reduced role – which he doesn’t appear to be open to in Houston – it would be a surprise to see him land here.

– The Patriots added long-snapper Tyler Ott on Wednesday, who spent part of the 2014 training camp battling Danny Aiken. Aiken is slated to become a free agent on March 10th and the signing is interesting since Ott didn’t land with another NFL team in 2014. That’s a position that doesn’t get much talk unless something goes wrong, so it may be one to keep an eye on heading into next year in the event Aiken isn’t retained.

– Shane Vereen joined us for a fan Q&A on Twitter yesterday and talked about a variety of topics, and had some fun answers to a few questions he was asked. One of the more notable ones was his answer when asked who the most difficult player he’s had to pass block against. His answer? Teammate Jamie Collins. Other questions included:

Q: When you first got here, how long did it take for you to really get a hold of the Patriots offense?

Vereen: I would say a couple months to learn it but a whole season to really get it

and

Q: Who do/did you model your game after?

Vereen: Walter Payton is my favorite running back of all time I always wanted to be like him

You can read the entire session by CLICKING HERE.

– The Patriots apparently were one of 22 teams who attended Minnesota’s Pro Day on Wednesday and were also on hand for one held in Virginia. Obviously this is a key time for their scouting department as they start gathering information heading into the draft, but many of these players could be guys who end up making an impact as an undrafted player and as we saw from Malcolm Butler, those are sometimes the ones who make plays when you least expect it. According to several reports the Patriots are expected to visit Clemson’s Pro Day today.

– In a tidbit highlighted by Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star telegram the Patriots conducted a private workout with Texas A&M tight end Cameron Clear. Clear is 6’5″, 277lbs and could be on their radar to compliment Rob Gronkowski as the Patriots may be looking to upgrade the position on the other side, which for now has Michael Hoomanawanui and Tim Wright.