FOOTBALL NOTES (2/10) — It appears that yesterday’s release of Ben Coates was made to finalize the signing of safety Lawyer Milloy, who according to the Boston Globe is expected to sign a new contract today.
The new contract will make Milloy the richest safety in football. It’s reportedly a seven-year deal that will be worth $36 million, including a signing bonus of around $10 million.
Last season was the most unproductive for Coates since he replaced Marv Cook in 1993. The veteran made only 32 catches, and also had just two touchdowns, his fewest since his rookie season in 1991. Coates had his best season in 1994, when he set the NFL record for catches by a tight end with 96.
After nine seasons with the team, Coates expressed his disappointment with the team’s decision.
“You have to expect these things,” Coates told the Boston Globe. “It’s a business. That’s what you learn. This will give me a chance to start my career again someplace else. It’s good for them. Now they have the highest-paid secondary in football.”
“After nine years this is the way they thank me, real professional. Nobody in the organization even bothered to call me. When Drew and I were combining for all of those passes, we helped to build this organization to where it is. They asked me to cut my salary, I said no.”
The team also released a statement from head coach Bill Belichick regarding the matter.
“As I have said before, we are faced with some very tough decisions,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, this is one of them. It’s a shame that in this era of salary cap constraints and value considerations that players of Ben Coates’ stature have to finish their careers in places other than where they established themselves. However painful, the process of blending in younger and less expensive players has to be done. I respect what Ben has given to this organization over the last decade. I’m sure he’ll remain one of the most revered players in Patriots history.”
While New England will keep Milloy in a Patriots uniform, they did anger several other players in the process. Veteran tackle Bruce Armstrong, who is coming off of knee surgery, was asked to take a $1.5 million pay cut. Armstrong, who made six Pro Bowls, was scheduled to earn $2.5 million this season along with a $1 million roster bonus on March 1. The Patriots told Armstrong they wanted him down to $2 million, but Armstrong refused the pay cut. The veteran feels that he doesn’t mind restructuring his deal to help the team, but to take a cut in pay would be another story.
The Globe is also reporting that the team made contact with their other unrestricted free agents yesterday. It appears Shawn Jefferson may not be around next season. The veteran receiver is trying to get a deal that averages more than $3 million per season, but apparently the team feels he’s not worth more than $2.5 million. New England also reportedly offered Troy Brown a five-year deal for an average of about $1.5 million per season. Brown apparently feels he’s worth more.
The team also filled the quarterbacks coach position yesterday, hiring former New York Giants offensive assistant Dick Rehbein.
Rehbein, 44, spent eight years with the Giants, working with the tight ends, receivers, and offensive line. He was also the Vikings assistant offensive coach from 1989-91.
Another Patriots coach will be wearing green and white next season. Former New England defensive line coach Ray Hamilton, who was recently fired by Belichick, was hired yesterday by the Jets to coach their defensive line.