It’s another Monday as all of us get set to start the grind of another work week. A little bit of a long one this morning, but here’s today’s rundown:
New TE Bennett all about the future – The acquisition of TE Martellus Bennett will likely be one of the most intriguing storylines heading into training camp, especially as we wait to find out if Bennett is able to do what Scott Chandler couldn’t, and that’s take advantage of the attention Rob Gronkowski gets by making plays when he’s faced with one-on-mismatches in this offense.
It’s a perfect situation for Bennett, who obviously wasn’t happy in Chicago and was spending time in California with his family when he got the news he had been traded to New England. He’s excited about the opportunity and said that it will be fun to hopefully grow as a player working with Gronkowski.
“I think Gronk has always been an awesome tight end and I look forward to learning more about him,” Bennett said during his conference call after joining New England last week. “There are some things that he does that I don’t do, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of things that I do that he doesn’t do, so it’ll be a good challenge to push each other and continue to help us grow as individual players as well as a tandem to do what we can to help the team.”
A lot was made about Chandler’s size last offseason but Bennett’s no slouch either, matching Gronkowski’s 6’6″ height and he’s a little bigger at 273-pounds. Looking at his numbers, he had 53 receptions for 439 yards along with three touchdowns before ending up on injured reserve, and caught five passes down in the red zone, with two touchdowns. He also had five plays of over 20-yards.
In this offense with a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him passes, the sky is the limit for Bennett, who now finds himself with a winning organization. He knows the expectations are high and he’s looking forward to trying to keep that success going.
“I think losing can be contagious and I think winning can be contagious, so I’m just looking forward to getting out and playing and I’m going to try and contribute and continue that tradition,” said Bennett.
Will the Patriots Battle For their Draft Picks This Week? – Obviously at this point much has been discussed about the frustration among fans when it comes to the draft picks taken away by the NFL, which as we know includes a first-round pick this year. The ongoing irritation stems from the lack of evidence by the league when it comes to proving any rules being broken by Brady or the Patriots, as well as the fact the commissioner and his goons badly mishandled things during this mess and he hasn’t exactly been truthful throughout the process. Brady’s fate is still uncertain as far as his suspension is concerned given the ongoing legal battle between his lawyers and the league, but this week may tell us all we need to know when it comes to how serious the Patriots are about making a run at trying to recoup their draft picks. As Mike Reiss pointed out in his Sunday column, this is an opportunity for the team to take one final shot at getting their 2016 first-round pick back from the NFL in a league-wide setting. It’s not a great one by any means, but it’s safe to say that the effort definitely needs to be made, regardless of how much of a long-shot it might be.
The fact it didn’t happen sooner is clearly frustrating but looking back, there’s some reason to somewhat understand why owner Robert Kraft did what he did. The obvious goal was to try to quell the negative attention deflategate was causing the league and for whatever reason it seems like he somehow might have thought Goodell would take the picks and eliminate the suspension and it all would just die off. Instead, Kraft admitted what was a severe miscalculation and any glimmer of hope seems grim without the support of other owners who are likely now counting on Goodell to see this through and crucify one of the game’s last remaining elite quarterbacks.
It’s a frustrating situation that probably won’t end well as Kraft likely won’t get any sympathy from his peers. As a result, it would be nice to see some noise be made and for Kraft to fire back in a way that would mean more than just updating the team’s site, WellsReportContext.com, with new material. Unfortunately at this point, if it happens, it’s probably too little, too late.
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady have been a prolific pair thus far.
Manning Says His Record With Harrison Won’t Be Broken, But Will It?
As Peyton Manning hung up his cleats recently, he talked about his success, which in Indianapolis included a solid connection with receiver Marvin Harrison. The two combined for an NFL record 114 touchdowns for a quarterback/receiver pairing, which is obviously a remarkable total.
Manning said that he doesn’t think any quarterback will connect with one player for that many touchdowns again.
“The very first preseason game, my very first pass, I threw a five-yard pass, and Marvin Harrison ran 48 yards for a touchdown,” Manning said. “I remember thinking, ‘The NFL is easy. You just throw a short pass and Marvin Harrison will run for touchdowns.’ Which is pretty much what he did for the entire time we played together. I think many records will be broken — most of my records will be broken — I don’t believe that record that me and Marvin have of throwing the most touchdowns together will ever be broken.”
Right now, the next closest active pairing is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who currently have 76 but are already looking for a succession plan for Gates and likely won’t break that mark. But quietly here in New England is the 64 touchdown receptions between Tom Brady and Gronkowski, with the two needing 50 touchdowns to tie Manning and Harrison. With Brady currently signed through four more seasons and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the two to connect for 13 touchdowns in each of the next four seasons (they’ve connected for 12 and 11 in the last two years respectively), which would put them ahead of the duo with 116. These two have been incredible to watch thus far through Gronkowski’s seemingly short career, but Gronkowski is about to enter his 7th season and at age 26 is heading into what should be the prime of his career. It’s tough to imagine him getting much better, but considering the fact these two connected for 17 touchdowns in 2011, it only further makes Manning and Harrison’s record look a little less difficult to reach.
Patriots Worked Out two at Michigan’s Pro Day – The Patriots were present at Michigan’s Pro Day on Friday and worked out a couple of players, with DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline reporting that the Patriots worked out defensive lineman Willie Henry as well as linebacker Desmond Morgan. The team has been full-steam ahead since the season ended and have been hard at work this offseason as they continue trying to formulate their plans for the upcoming season. Since they’re obviously missing a first-round pick there’s obviously a little more pressure to hit on their other selections in hopes of overcoming that void. Last year’s first-round selection, Malcom Brown, has already shown promise and was an impact player in 2015. As a result, it’s tough to imagine the Patriots having been forced to miss out on being able to draft him, which is essentially what’s going to happen this year. But either way, the Patriots certainly seem as focused as ever in getting it right, which will make the upcoming draft and subsequent undrafted class of players that much more interesting.
Gronkowski’s agent sidesteps contract issue – CSNNE’s Tom Curran caught up with Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, down in Florida in anticipation of the NFL Owner’s Meetings and asked him if the veteran tight end was dissatisfied with his contract.
Rosenhaus avoided the question after responding, “Not talking about that, I appreciate you asking but not getting into that.” Obviously the question stemmed from Gronkowski’s tweet earlier this month about the fact the team picking up his option was essentially a “pay cut”, although the emoji’s posted with the tweet suggested that he was only joking.
The more interesting part of the article suggested that Gronkowski may not be happy with the job Rosenhaus did with the deal, despite the fact he received a six-year, $54 million extension back in 2012. At the time it gave Gronkowski security and you would have to believe he certainly benefited from the fact the first two years of the deal worked out more in his favor than the Patriots after he wasn’t able to finish both 2012 or 2013 due to injury, but it worked out because the deal was heavily front-loaded.
One other aspect that’s certainly worth noting is that catching passes from Brady in a market like Boston has certainly made him more successful than he might have been elsewhere with a lesser quarterback, which likely helped him from an endorsement standpoint. Gronkowski has cashed in and maximized his opportunities, having worked with big names such as Capital One, Nike, Body Armor, Dunkin Donuts, SixStar Pro Nutrition and his own line of fitness equipment. It’s tough to imagine him being able to do as well in another market.
He’s a smart guy, and he claimed money isn’t the motivating factor behind his desire to play the game. Hopefully he meant it, and all this talk will continue to be just a lot of speculation with a player who is a big key to this team’s future success.
Loss of Walker Both Tragic and Frustrating – The sudden loss of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tray Walker remains one of the most tragic stories of the offseason, and one that is also one of the most frustrating. Walker, who was wearing dark clothing and not wearing a helmet while riding a dirt bike without headlights, collided with an SUV at dusk last Thursday. He passed away on Friday after suffering a massive head injury. It’s a terrible loss, and the thing that’s most upsetting is that it unfortunately takes accidents like these to bring awareness to players regarding their safety.
Losing Walker will now likely be a reminder in the back of every player’s mind, much like the loss of Marquise Hill likely is every Memorial Day for players here in New England after Hill lost his own life down in Louisiana following a personal watercraft accident on a lake over the holiday back in 2007. Bill Belichick likely reminds his players of that accident to ensure they’re as cautious as possible every year having already faced a past tragedy, but the loss of any player obviously likely transcends their own locker rooms. Walker’s loss will likely have a lasting effect that sadly may end up being used as an example to save the lives of future players, but it’s too bad that it takes the loss of a player’s life to really drive home how precious it all is and how quickly it can come to an end. It’s just not fair, and now Walker’s friends and family are left grieving the loss of a young man gone far too soon.
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
From Jamie Collins: