It’s another Monday, and here’s a quick look at this morning’s top stories.
Jaguars may have set the bar on Butler with Hurns – One of the more notable deals done last week was the Jacksonville Jaguars extending wide receiver Allen Hurns, who earned a 4-year, $40 million extension.
The former undrafted free agent receiver was heading into the final year of his contract in 2016 that would have paid him $600,000, nearly the identical situation that cornerback Malcolm Butler is in right now. As Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston points out, the deal by Hurns was a win-win for both the Jaguars and their receiver, who now gets some additional security after being rewarded for two productive seasons that saw him catch 97 passes in 2014, and then 104 receptions for over 1000 yards (1031) last season along with 10 touchdowns.
The Patriots have also seen two straight seasons of improvement from Butler, albeit in a little different fashion. Butler grew as a player in his first year and then made the play of the year in his game-saving Super Bowl moment, only to follow it up the next year having established himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Getting a deal done is likely a priority but, as mentioned repeatedly here in this space, one would have to believe it will come after linebacker Dont’a Hightower gets his extension. Hightower is currently carrying a cap number of nearly $7.8 million, which New England would likely like to lower first in order to give them more room to work with prior to hopefully reaching additional extensions for Jamie Collins and Butler.
Those three are clearly important building blocks in this defense since locking up those two linebackers in addition to Butler, would put them in terrific shape for the future. That essentially gives them a nucleus in the secondary of Butler and McCourty – who signed an extension last offseason – to build around. Reiss also mentioned that negotiations weren’t expected to happen with any of those players until after the draft, and this next stretch before training camp should be interesting to watch to see if a deal is struck with any of those players.
Hightower likely the first domino in Patriots contract extension plans.
Gronk shaves his head in support of cancer – If you ever wonder why Rob Gronkowski’s headshots in recent years tend to not include any hair, there’s a terrific reason why that happens to be true.
Gronkowski spent time on Sunday getting a hair cut as he shaved his head in support for kids with cancer as part of the seventh annual “Buzz Off” at Gillette Stadium, which is a fundraiser to help kids who are battling the disease.
The event began in 2009, with 30 people getting their heads shaved as the event raised a reported $30,000. This year, more than 1,000 people took part and it collected a reported $1 milllion.
Gronkowski couldn’t be happier to help out, telling WHDH.com that it’s something he looks forward to.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Gronkowski said. “Every year I put it in my calendar to make sure I’m here. Always a blast to see the kids do it.”
Former Patriot Talib Shot at Dallas Nightclub – Following the news of Will Smith’s death in New Orleans, the news of any shooting these days is concerning and it sounds like former Patriots CB Aqib Talib is very fortunate after being a victim of a shooting early Sunday morning.
The Broncos defensive back was one of two people shot in an altercation at a Dallas night club, but luckily for Talib, he escaped with a gunshot to his leg that is reportedly non-life-threatening.
The news comes just days before the Broncos begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
The news is a reminder of how lucky Talib is to be alive. Smith was killed back on April 9th in a shooting in New Orleans, which came following a three-car crash after the police report said Cardell Hayes rear-ended Smith’s SUV. Words were exchanged and Hayes opened fire, with the gun Hayes used in the murder later reportedly being found on the hood of Hayes’ car with one live round still in its chamber.
Shootings like these are certainly senseless and Talib is fortunate that his story ended in much better fashion.
Lewis Recovering Well – Patriots running back Dion Lewis was back in action catching passes at Tom Brady’s “Best Buddies Football Challenge” last week, showing his support for Brady’s annual touch football game. Lewis reportedly wasn’t going hard at the event but it’s obviously a great sign given the fact he missed the first week of organized team activities.
According to Lewis, his rehab is going well.
“It’s going well. Just doing whatever I’m allowed to every day,” Lewis told the Norwich Bulletin. “Trying to listen to the trainers and whatever they let me do, I do it as hard as I can.”
Lewis played in seven games in 2015, totaling 49 rushes for 234 yards and two rushing touchdowns, as well as 36 receptions for 388 yards and two scores through the air for the veteran back.
Mandatory Minicamp Set to Begin – Tuesday sets up the next milestone for New England as the team will get together for a three-day mandatory stretch that should hopefully be the first time we see the entire 2016 group together getting some work in. There will be media availability again this week, which should hopefully provide some additional insight into some of the newer players.
After this week they’ll convene one more time for OTAs next week before they break away one last time prior to next month’s training camp.
As a result, football continues to creep a little closer, and there are certainly plenty of people who are in agreement that it can’t get started soon enough.
Major Changes Happening to Dolphins’ Stadium – Having committed to changes that put them back in the Super Bowl mix, there were some significant changes made to the Dolphins’ stadium in Miami Gardens that came out last week.
The Miami media was invited in for a tour of the facility, which will soon include a canopy along with four 1,472-inch video boards installed in each corner of the stadium.
Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post posted a video panning the stadium, as well as a panoramic photo of the changes.
Video shows what it's like to scan Dolphins' stadium from west end zone to north side to the east end zone. pic.twitter.com/zIMFzNUBkm
— Hal Habib (@gunnerhal) June 2, 2016
Panoramic view of stadium pic.twitter.com/o1AdWpYAeS
— Hal Habib (@gunnerhal) June 2, 2016
The tarp that is being installed will provide a more comfortable environment for the fans and keep them out of the rain and the elements, but the rest of the stadium is still expected to remain uncovered over the field.
The renovations right now have already shifted Miami’s third exhibition game, against the Falcons on August 25th, to Orlando and the Palm Beach Post reports that there’s a possibility that the preseason finale against the Titans could move to Florida Atlantic University’s football stadium in Boca Raton. That game would present an interesting problem because that stadium holds just under 30,000.
This is all part of a $425-million+ makeover that brings fans about 25-feet closer to the field, while the additional amenity changes brought the capacity down from 76,018 to approximately 65,326 in 2015. Adding those additional upgrades and luxury areas also helps Miami’s bottom line, as well as bringing the field up-to-date with current NFL stadium standards and was part of the city being awarded the 2020 Super Bowl.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown