New England Patriots News 3-13 and AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 13, 2016 at 3:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 3-13 notes and what’s happening around the division.

Patriots Begin Free Agency typically: The team has always approached free agency in a controlled, responsible manner. While other teams massively overspend in free agency, the Patriots traditionally wait until the market calms down and then makes moves that reflect a closer value to the player.

At times Patriots fans get openly upset at Bill Belichick but how can one argue with his unparalleled success during the salary cap era? Seeing some of the contracts being handed out for mid-tier players was, as every year astounding.

While a few players the Patriots had an interest in, WRs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, RBs Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and C.J. Anderson were lost in the process, in the long run, they saved themselves from a bad cap situation down the road.

That’s why re-doing the Brady deal, picking up Rob Gronkowski’s option and making smaller deals that build the depth of the team (Chris Hogan, Frank Kearse), make much better sense in the long run.

Hogan is actually a better fit in the Patriots system and has a bit more speed while about the same production while playing for a running team in Buffalo.

While much work remains to be done (RB, TE, CB, LB, DL), fans shouldn’t despair. Bill Belichick always builds his rosters slowly and with the team goals in mind, not a fantasy football roster. His success the past 15 years play out how well his philosophy works. A look at who the big spenders are in the opening of free agency year after year shows, desperation and over-spending rarely equals success.

Brady’s Contract Extension with Deflategate in Mind: The numbers for Tom Brady’s contract extension seem to play out quite favorably for the Pats QB with a possible suspension in mind. Brady was already signed thru the 2017 season but his new 2-year extension will pay him an additional $41 million dollars.

But the interesting thing about it is that his contract for both 2016 and 2017 pays him a salary of only $1 million dollars. Instead the Patriots converted $28 million into a signing bonus. While his cap hit will be $15 million both this year and next, his base salary remains extremely low.

If the NFL’s suspension for the Deflategate fiasco is reinstated, Brady’s loss of a 4-game paycheck would total around $250K instead of in the millions. His base salary of 2018 and 2019 jumps to $14 million, which if he’s still playing will probably be reduced as well.

For more on Brady’s contract see Miguel’s page:

Patriots Fire Back at Wells Report/Deflategate: Despite the court hearings to be already done last week, the Pats updated their rebuttal page of the entire Wells Report and Deflategate proceedings a few days ago.

In ripping the NFL, the team, tried to counter Judge Denny Chin’s statement that the “evidence of ball tampering was compelling if not overwhelming” by publishing “15 Myths about Deflategate” and attempting to show how weak the evidence concocted by the NFL truly is.

Click on the link above to read the entire page…it is long, but while few people outside of New England care at this point, it does make some great points.

Patriots Awarded Four Compensatory Draft Picks: The Patriots were waiting for the league to award the annual compensatory draft picks, awarded for players lost to free agency in 2015 and they will add four more picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

During last year’s free agency, the Pats lost Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Browner, Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas.

The NFL announced comp picks Friday afternoon, and New England received a 3rd rounder (#96 overall) and three 6th round picks (#s 208, 214, 221).

The Patriots’ draft picks will be (for now):
2nd round: 60th overall
3rd round: 91st overall
3rd round: 96th overall
4th round: 127th overall
6th round: 196th overall
6th round: 208th overall
6th round: 214th overall
6th round: 221st overall
7th round: 243rd overall
7th round: 250th overall

The extra picks are important because, due to the Deflategate penalty, they’ll have no 1st round draft pick (#29 overall) and will have to hit on their 2nd and 3rd round selections.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Dolphins Make Some Interesting Moves: Miami under Mike Tannenbaum is beginning to look a lot like the Jets under his watch. They signed DE Mario Williams last week and while doing so, allowed Olivier Vernon to walk in free agency. Williams 31, and Cameron Wake 34 who is coming off a serious injury will be the Fins DEs in 2016.

Miami also swung a trade with Philadelphia bringing Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell from Philadelphia who was looking to jettison both player’s contracts. Although Miami re-did both deals after the trade was in place.

But the most curious move was to allow RB Lamar Miller to leave via free agency and only signing C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet. While Anderson is very talented, the offer sheet is one that Denver can match. If John Elway does match it now that they’ve traded for QB Mark Sanchez, the Dolphins will only have 2nd year back Jay Ajayi.

Jets Lose Ivory, Gain Forte, Fitz Talks Still Ongoing: The Jets were able to not only keep Bilal Powell, but added Matt Forte in free agency after losing Chris Ivory earlier in the week. But the talks with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick are reportedly not going well, with both sides still far apart.

While the Jets want Fitzpatrick back, they refuse and rightfully so to overpay Fitzpatrick like the ridiculous amounts the bar has been set this offseason. Currently, QBs are getting in the $16-18 million-dollar range. GM Mike Maccagnan is wise not to over-pay for a well-traveled 33-year old journeyman QB. And now they’re pushing the envelope a bit by hosting free agent QB Robert Griffin III. The team is much better off with Fitzpatrick and vice versa in the short term and eventually the two sides should come to the same solution.

It would seem with the trade of Sanchez to Denver, Fitzpatrick is out of options and should come to the realization that his best bet is suck it up and go back to where he won 10 games a year ago.

Bills Awarded Two Compensatory Picks, Lose Bradham/Hogan: The Buffalo Bills mainly stood pat during the opening days of free agency, having already cut ties with disgruntled DE Mario Williams and CB Leodis McKelvin. The team also lost WR Chris Hogan to the Patriots on a 3-year, $12 million-dollar Restricted free agent offer, and LB Nigel Bradham who signed a two-year deal with Philadelphia. Bradham spoke about his lack of fit in Rex Ryan’s defense as a major reason for leaving.

But the team was awarded a pair of compensatory picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, a 4th round pick (#139) and a 6th round pick (#218). This gives the Bills eight picks in the upcoming draft and plenty of flexibility to move around.

The Bills currently hold three picks in the first 80 selections.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.



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