It’s Wednesday, and you know it’s already been a long offseason when watching Bill Belichick eat breakfast is a highlight worthy enough of news coverage.
Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:
Belichick offers little to the media on the team’s moves thus far – Surrounded by reporters while he ate breakfast in the annual media event at the NFL Owners Meeting, Belichick didn’t have much to say and offered little as he was peppered with questions on the team’s free agent acquisitions at this point of the offseason. He needed to create a little personal space with the microphones and recorders before it started, and didn’t seem like he was in any real mood to speak with reporters.
“It’s free agency. Some players change teams in free agency,” Belichick said via the Providence Journal. “Other players, Bennett, Jones, so forth, change in trades. It’s all part of the process.”
It’s a process that started off slow, with New England approaching free agency the way they generally do, they sit back and let the dust settle before beginning to address their needs. So far they’ve added players which have included receiver Chris Hogan, whom they stole from the Bills with an offer sheet Buffalo couldn’t match, along with Saints linebacker Ramon Humber and Washington defensive end Frank Kearse. They also made some noise with the trade of Chandler Jones where they added guard Jonathan Cooper and a second round pick, and then shortly after added a potent weapon to their offense thanks to a trade that brought tight end Martellus Bennett over from Chicago. They also added defensive end Chris Long and linebacker Shea McClellin.
They haven’t added marquee names, but most of the additions simply underscore what they tend to value when it comes to players in their locker room: guys who they believe will be a good fit and will be productive in their system.
It’s far too early in the process to really know how things will pan out with each of their additions but obviously Belichick and the club believed they could each contribute and help them win football games in 2016. There will likely be more changes coming, but so far they’ve put together what seems like some pretty good pieces to this upcoming season’s puzzle.
“All the players that we added we feel like have an opportunity to help our team,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Jonathan Kraft Speaks Out on DeflateGate – There have been quite a few fans clamoring to hear from someone else other than Robert Kraft, and Tuesday saw Jonathan give his take on what’s been a frustrating process for fans who were hoping to see more of a battle against what’s been a less than fair process with the NFL.
Jonathan pointed out that one of the biggest problems is that taking the league to court would typically be in a situation that would entail financial damages, and considering the lengthy process involved in a legal battle, there wouldn’t be much of a point since it wouldn’t be resolved before the draft anyway.
“You can go to court, but when you sign up to be a part of this league you agree essentially not to sue the league,” Kraft told CSNNE. “But even if you did go to court, you go to court you win money damages. It’ll take longer than the time before the draft happens and the money isn’t the issue here. The issue is getting your draft pick back and at some point you have to realize it’s not gonna happen and the best revenge will be putting the best team on the field next year and hopefully having a very successful season.”
Kraft’s logic isn’t without merit, but one of the things that’s obviously frustrated fans to this point is the fact the team didn’t take the step in appealing the penalty and haven’t been as vocal since the press conference last May where Robert Kraft “reluctantly” accepted the penalty while also deciding to end the rhetoric.
Everyone in this region is frustrated, angry, and rightly so. Everybody loved the fire and fight he showed early in the process and were all behind him and were expecting a battle over an accusation that seemed to be fabricated at best and the Wells Report only poured more fuel on the fire. Once Kraft backed down, it obviously got ugly and really upset the people who were counting on the team’s owner to not go down without a fight.
Unfortunately, now that the fight is over, people might be able to reluctantly accept the loss of the draft picks, but it’s safe to say that things are likely going to get really ugly if Brady is ultimately suspended. That’s the scenario Kraft tried to prevent to begin with, and it’s obvious that it’s a decision he’s still wrestling with given his comments this week.
Patriots work out North Carolina Central CB – The Patriots are obviously doing their due-diligence heading into the upcoming draft, and according to a report, they’re exploring their options as they try and build some depth at cornerback.
According to the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson, the Patriots are among several teams conducting private workouts with Ryan Smith of North Carolina Central.
Smith isn’t a big corner, coming in at 5’11” 189-pounds but he’s athletic and earned all-conference honors in his senior season and ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He’s also a physical player, breaking the school career record for solo tackles (168). He was also a standout on special teams, ranking 10th in the nation with an average of 28.1 yards per kickoff return (14 for 294 yards and 1TD). He returned his first career kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
As a result, it’s not a surprise that the Patriots were interested. So add him to the list of players to keep an eye on in the coming month.
NFL Outlaws chop blocks, other rule changes – The NFL made another big move to protect players heading into 2016, making a couple of changes that should hopefully reduce injuries during the upcoming season.
Among them was the decision to finally ban chop blocks, as well as expanding the resolution regarding horse-collar tackles to include players grabbing the nameplate area on the back of jerseys and dragging them down.
Bill Belichick has obviously made his thoughts on the practice of cut-blocking clear, with the Patriots coach referencing Denver Coach Gary Kubiak before their match-up with Kubiak’s former team, the Baltimore Ravens, when Kubiak was Baltimore’s offensive coordinator. When asked about if the Ravens “cut” in their blocks prior to their postseason meeting in January of 2015, he didn’t pull any punches.
“Is the Pope Catholic? Yeah, they cut,” Belichick said via WEEI. “The same offense they ran in Denver, the same offense they ran in Houston, it’s the same offense Kubiak runs in Baltimore. All the characteristics from those other teams are the same characteristics in Baltimore.”
Thanks to the rule change, hopefully it will no longer be an issue.
Lions try and quell Megatron Rumors – Thanks to the report from CBSSports.com we mentioned yesterday, the Lions felt the need to speak out on the rumors about Calvin Johnson coming back into the NFL and playing with another team after retiring and walking away from football this offseason.
According to Lions president Rod Wood, he believes Johnson is done with football and also reiterated that if he wanted to play again, it would require a discussion between the two sides as Detroit obviously still owns his rights.
He’s heard the comments and the whispers about some of Johnson’s friends believing that he’s not done with the game yet, but he believes Johnson’s retirement is permanent. The veteran wideout is reportedly getting married this summer and has a young child, which may also play into his decision to stay out of football. But either way, Wood says a return to the NFL would definitely be unexpected.
“He certainly did not (leave the door open for a return),” Wood said via MLive.com out of Detroit on Tuesday. “And the way things stand right now, he’s a Detroit Lion, if he were to un-retire. So (him playing for another team) would have to be something we would mutually agree to. “But he did not indicate that.”
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald with his annual signature Belichick Photo:
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 22, 2016
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