We’ve made it through another week and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories as we get ready for the weekend.
Patriots re-sign Flowers – The Patriots managed to get another playmaker back under contract on Thursday, signing special-teamer and linebacker Marquis Flowers to a 1-year deal.
His signing keeps another terrific special-teams player in the fold, but Flowers proved last season that he’s valuable in other areas as well.
Some may remember the huge play he made out in Mexico City when he forced a fumble against the Raiders, knocking the ball out of the hands of Seth Roberts as Oakland was bearing down and threatening to cut the Patriots lead in half.
Fortunately, Flowers’ turnover allowed the Patriots to extend their lead to 17-0, providing a huge momentum swing as the Patriots went on to rout the Raiders 33-8.
Overall, he finished tied for fourth on the team with 3.5 sacks over the course of the regular season, and also added another in the playoffs.
We all know that Bill Belichick loves guys who can excel in more than one area and Flowers certainly gives them that. After being traded by the Bengals to New England last season, the change of scenery has obviously been a positive one and Flowers said in January that he was glad with how it worked out.
“I haven’t looked back,” he told MassLive in January. “It ain’t really no hard feelings against Cincinnati. Sometimes that happens. There are hundreds of players in the league like that, that start off with a team and go to a different team and, you know, start playing. It’s just one of those things when it was time, and obviously the Patriots came and I’m happy to be here.”
Thankfully, after Thursday’s news, he’ll be back for one more year.
Waddle Back in the Fold – The Patriots may have lost Nate Solder to free agency, but at least they’ve managed to keep one of his back-ups around for another season.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team reached an agreement on a one-year contract with free agent LaAdrian Waddle, which will at least keep one of New England’s veteran offensive tackles around through the 2018 season.
Waddle reportedly spent time earlier in the week with fellow free agent Cameron Fleming visiting with the Cowboys in Dallas. However, fortunately for the Patriots, he came away without a contract.
The veteran was a key part of New England’s success last season, filling in after Marcus Cannon got injured, as well as appearing in seven out of the final eight games.
He battled through an ankle injury and split time with Fleming, but established himself as an important asset to the team. During his four regular season starts, he came up big during a critical stretch, including a trip out to Denver against Von Miller and the Broncos, followed by a trip to Mexico City against the Raiders where he also battled against Khalil Mack.
He played all 70 offensive snaps against Denver and was in on all but 7 snaps the following week against Oakland, which quietly fell under the radar as the Patriots went on to win seven of their final eight games on their way to another AFC East title and a first-round bye.
Waddle talked about that stretch back in December, telling Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal that “it was a blast.”
“That was cool, man. Getting out there, that’s why you play the game so you can contribute,” said Waddle. “It felt good to get out there and go against those guys. For me, it was showing that I could go out there and block who I need to block regardless of who it is. It was awesome. It was a blast.”
Now that he’s back, with Solder out of the picture and Fleming still a free agent, he may get another opportunity to do it again this season.
Manziel made a mess of his first NFL opportunity. (USA TODAY Images)
Patriots on Hand For Manziel’s Workout – As the Patriots continue their evaluations at the quarterback position, it appears that they’re doing their due-diligence on a surprising player.
According to ESPN’s Eric Williams, the Patriots were among 13 teams who were in attendance for Johnny Manziel’s throwing session at the University of San Diego Pro Day.
The former NFL quarterback reportedly threw 38 passes in a light rain, missing on just two of his attempts.
Manziel has started turning his life around, with the embattled quarterback admitting that he’s in a better place now than he was when he was a troubling story in the media during his first go-around after being drafted in the first-round out of Texas A&M by the Browns back in 2014. He’s been out of the NFL since the end of the 2015 season but has finally begun taking steps toward a positive future, having gotten married and settled down while putting his partying days behind him.
“I drive down here [to San Diego] a couple times a week and [I] work out six days a week, and that’s pretty much the schedule,” Manziel said via ESPN. “I’m a married man. I’m at home with my wife and my dogs, and I don’t have a lot of time after that after doing six-hour training days.
“I’m happy with where things are. I think things are going well, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be in my life right now.”
The Patriots showed enough interest in Manziel on Thursday where, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, they even took him inside to get an official weight for him. Feldman reports Manziel is back up to 199lbs, eight pounds shy of his scouting report coming out of college where he was listed at 207lbs.
The team is no stranger to controversial moves, having brought in a variety of players over the years who were initially a little puzzling, including the signing of Tim Tebow back in 2013. However, these are certainly different times. It would be hard to envision the team risking the prospect of turning the keys to the offense over to a player who has yet to prove he’s as devoted to football as the players Belichick generally looks for, especially when he would be taking over for a player like Tom Brady.
However, the fact they went that far is certainly interesting. Best of luck to Manziel as he continues turning his life around and while his return to professional football would be a great story, whether or not that storyline might intersect with a tenure in Foxborough remains to be seen.
NFL Pondering Ejections For “non-football acts’ – The league appears to be making some changes to curtail some of the antics we’ve witnessed in past seasons, with the NFL’s Competition Committee now pondering the adoption of ejection rules for players who commit “non-football acts” during the game.
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, reports that the Committee is recommending the ejections for “actions & techniques that pose great risks to players” and “have no place in our game.”
The @NFL Competition Committee has worked to clarify how officials will call downfield contact. The Committee also recommends allowing GameDay Central to eject a player for non-football acts — actions & techniques that pose great risks to players & have no place in our game. pic.twitter.com/fIEfbzDYiP
— TroyVincentSr (@TroyVincentSr) March 22, 2018
One part of this issue is the fact that the ejection may be requested by someone other than the officials in the event someone at GameDay Central spots the offending act after the fact following the review of the incident. It makes sense since many people don’t necessarily catch it and players often times will do something when they think no one is looking.
Most fans know far too well of the players around the league who may be most affected by it. As a result, one of two things will happen. Either we’ll see a host of ejections this season or we’ll see the usual suspects finally start acting like normal, respectable players.
The latter seems unlikely, so it will be something to keep an eye on if it ultimately passes.
Belichick and Patricia Work Out Players at Ohio State – While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia may no longer be working together in New England, that didn’t stop them from taking some time on Thursday to work out some players at Ohio State.
According to ElevenWarriors.com, Belichick and Patricia held a workout with a variety of players, including defensive backs and defensive linemen at the Buckeye’s Pro Day.
Also on hand was Patriots director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, who was throwing passes for the defensive backs to catch.
They posted a video of the workouts with the defensive linemen, which can be seen below.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Lions coach Matt Patricia – Belichick’s former defensive coordinator in New England – now leading the defensive linemen through a workout of their own. pic.twitter.com/oSS1Q1a1PD
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 22, 2018
As usual, Belichick hasn’t let up and appears as focused as ever during what’s already been a busy offseason. Given how the year ended and the problems they experienced during the Super Bowl in February, expect this to be a very interesting 2018 NFL Draft.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook