After a weekend break, here’s a look at today’s top stories.
Shelton Gives them a tough inside presence – “You’re not going to whip his ass” – With Alan Branch now out of the mix, the Patriots appear to be looking to start bolstering their defensive tackle position, and the addition of Danny Shelton appears to be the first piece added to the mix this offseason.
Shelton, who was acquired in a trade via the Browns over the weekend, is a tough, hard-nosed player who at 6’2″, 335 pounds, is someone who should be able to clog things up inside and improve a Patriots run defense that at times struggled a bit last season, having finished 20th against the run in 2017.
Mike Reiss of ESPN spoke to someone in Cleveland with strong familiarity with Shelton, who told him,”He plays with an edge and nasty streak: “You’re not going to whip his ass, but he’ll probably whip yours.”
He’s said to be a hard-worker and appears to be a player who will hopefully develop into a Bill Belichick type of asset on a defense full of blue collar guys looking to get better. It definitely sounds like he’s got the right mindset, and it should be interesting to see how he fits in when we see him in the coming months at training camp.
Looking back, Mallett & Tebow were two dismal back-up options behind Brady in 2013.
Manziel to the Patriots? Nate Burleson Seems to Think It Could Happen – File this under the “it’s never going to happen” category.
Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, who is now on “The NFL Today” every Sunday during the NFL Season, seems to believe that beleaguered quarterback, Johnny Manziel, could potentially end up as a Patriot.
Burleson’s reasoning is that New England is a place where he can go and learn from the best, while being in a competition where he only needs to beat out Brian Hoyer for the number two quarterback spot.
“Johnny can go there for a reason that not a lot of people really realize. He’s not going to beat out Tom Brady, we all know that. I don’t think there’s any quarterback that can beat out Tom Brady as a free agent coming to the Pats,” said Burleson via NESN.com. “But there’s a competition that he would be confident in going into, and that’s the second-string position, which is my guy Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer (and) Johnny Manziel both played together (with the Cleveland Browns), so that second-string competition will be as high as ever, and it also would be like a memory for both of them and the best man will prevail.
“If Johnny goes there though, this will be the most athletic quarterback the Pats have had since Tom Brady has taken over.”
Burleson also says that the distractions Manziel would carry with him aren’t that different from what the team endured when Tim Tebow was here in 2013, but that’s about where the similarities end. While there was a lot of hype around Tebow’s presence, he didn’t carry anywhere close to the negative baggage that Manziel would bring with him.
Manziel has a lot to prove before he gets another NFL shot, with the quarterback reportedly set to play in a developmental league as he tries to make his way back. But as for New England as a place where Manziel could rehabilitate his image should he get that far, it doesn’t seem likely. The Patriots already have work to do there this offseason and whoever they add, they’ll likely do it with the plan to devote their time and energy into someone they’ll be hoping to be the future and face of their franchise.
It just seems to be a bit of a reach that they would risk that on Manziel. Maybe 5-years ago it could have happened, but it’s safe to say given where they are with Brady at this point, you can probably cross the Patriots off the list of teams Manziel might hope to end up with.
Solder among free agents the Patriots need to try and keep.
Patriots In a Tight Squeeze Heading Into Free Agency – Heading into free agency it’s safe to say that the odds of the Patriots making the splash they did last year, which will likely see more mid-tier moves made heading into next season.
The team doesn’t have much room at this point, with a reported $20 million available in cap space and things are already complicated. It’s even more difficult given that they have free agents like Nate Solder and Danny Amendola, both of which they’ll likely try and hold onto, along with other players they’ll have to make a decision on.
Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are two others that come to mind, although Lewis appears to be a goner following reports that he’s not pleased with how he was used last season and is reportedly expected to receive a flurry of interest when teams are able to begin pursuing him.
The Amendola situation bears watching. While he’s close with Brady and fellow receiver Julian Edelman, he may find himself with a difficult decision if the team doesn’t make an offer he believes is fair for what he brings to the table. Everyone in New England knows how crucial he’s been in the postseason and his regular season contributions also can’t be overlooked.
As for Solder, that should be an interesting situation to watch. Barring an offer he can’t refuse, it would be surprising to see him leave given his family situation and his relationship with the organization. One would expect his situation to probably play out like Dont’a Hightower’s last year, with the veteran likely fielding offers while having the team structure a deal that comes close and works for both sides.
Hopefully, they’ll figure out a way to make it work to keep both Solder and Amendola for the foreseeable future. They might not be able to make the big splash fans might want to see, but keeping either – or both – would certainly be just as significant.
The Patriots never reportedly kicked the tires on Sherman.
Patriots Never Explored Sherman Market – While there was a lot of buzz surrounding Richard Sherman’s departure from Seattle and what it might have meant here in New England, it sounds like the team wasn’t part of that.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots never reached out to Sherman after his release, which makes sense given that he ultimately signed a $39 million deal with the 49ers.
Sherman is coming off of an Achilles injury but reportedly hasn’t suffered any setbacks, which should be good news for an already pretty good San Francisco defense that now has the benefit of a revamped offense that includes former Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
As for the Patriots, they have some questions still ahead at cornerback heading into next season. Maclolm Butler is likely set to depart, but one would expect that they’ll be actively looking for someone to compliment a secondary that includes last offseason’s addition, Stephon Gilmore. Given the fact they were in on the Aqib Talib discussions before he was traded to the Rams, it’s clear that it’s already been something they’re looking into.
Nearly Half of Patriots on First 3 Super Bowl winning teams report brain injuries – In a stunning revelation by the Boston Globe, many of the players who smiled and waived to fans after winning three Super Bowls from 2001-2004 have reportedly alleged in a class-action concussion suit against the NFL and helmet maker Riddell that they have experienced symptons stemming from brain injuries they believe occurred during their playing careers.
Among those are Randall Gay, Otis Smith and Lawyer Milloy, all of whom were defensive backs, a position that came in with the highest number of reported injuries. In all, 42 of approximately 100 Patriots who were part of that incredible stretch have reportedly filed in the lawsuit.
Gay, who is now a practicing attorney in Louisiana says that he experiences depression and other symptoms he feels are the result of his playing days.
“There are days when I just wake up and don’t want to be around anybody,’’ Gay told the Boston Globe. “I just want to be in a room by myself, not doing anything, not even watching TV, and I can’t explain what’s going on.’’
Other notable names on the list before that era are Steve Grogan, Raymond Clayborn and Steve Nelson. It obviously remains an issue and it’s a reminder that these players all paid a high price far above whatever settlement they might hope to receive for the big moments they brought to the field during their incredible careers.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook