Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 06-21 and AFC East notes this week.
And a Happy Father’s Day to the millions of great dads out there. With so much that is going wrong with our country today, having a strong father figure in the home would no doubt alleviate much of it.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Josh Gordon Applies for Reinstatement: The former Patriots WR has applied to Roger Goodell and the NFL for yet another reinstatement to the league. The physically gifted, but troubled wide receiver has missed more than 50 games due to suspension since 2013. It isn’t known if Goodell will reinstate Gordon at this time.
Gordon’s career can best be summed up as one of “what could have been” as he’s struggled with personal demons for most of his life. But if he is indeed reinstated one more time by the league, the chances of his returning to the Patriots are very slim.
It seemed like they wished him well, but washed their hands of him when he was released in 2019 as he was facing another suspension. Look for him to return to Seattle if he’s back in 2020.
Mohamad Sanu: The Patriots WR who injured an ankle in his second game with the team last year and struggled the remainder of the season, had surgery in May and now looks ready to go. In a couple of videos posted on social media, Sanu was seen running uphill against resistance bands and in another making a one-handed grab of a pass.
Having a healthy and productive Sanu would do wonders for the Patriots offense and 2nd year QB Jarrett Stidham in 2020. And it certainly appears that Sanu is putting in the work to be prepared.
Veterans Jersey Numbers Released: While the fascination with jersey numbers in the spring is lost on us here, fans are always excited when the numbers are released so here goes…
QB Brian Hoyer #2, WR Damiere Byrd #10, WR Marquise Lee #13, WR Quincy Adeboyejo #19, S Adrian Phillips #21, S Cody Davis #22, CB D’Angelo Ross #39, CB Lenzy Pipkins #41, FB Dan Vitale #45, LB Brandon Copeland #52, and DT Beau Allen #94 round out the newcomer veterans to the team…thus far.
Practice Squad Increased to 16 Players? We Say Yes: There was a report out late on Wednesday that the NFL was considering expanding the roster of practice squad players due to the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic.
The NFL Network’s Judy Battista and Mike Garafolo reported that the initial plan for the league was to expand practice squads from 10 to 12 players. Now, there even more discussion of practice squad rosters being expanded to as many as 16 players to allow for greater roster flexibility in the event of positive COVID-19 tests during the season.
This is a move that makes total sense and one the Players Association will no doubt approve of. We hope that the league makes this one happen.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Recently, Russ, Derek, and I talked about some of the offseason issues with the team. Please give it a listen. However, in a shameless plug of self-promotion, I was a guest on the South Florida Tribune’s show, talking about Drew Brees’ legacy and what’s in store for the NFL this year. And as always, it was a pleasure talking Patriots with good buddy Mike D’Abate on his excellent podcast “Locked on Patriots” on Friday. We’re hoping that our schedules allow the three of us on our PatsFans.com podcast allows for us recording a new podcast asap.
Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the team’s Hall of Fame…this will be a frequent sight on our posts until it happens.
Patriots Lead the Way ….Again, In Protecting At-Risk Covid-19 Season Ticket Holders:
The Patriots have offered season-ticket holders at an elevated risk of COVID-19 infection the chance to sit out the entire 2020 season entirely and still hold on to their seats for 2021.
In a letter sent to season ticket holders, the Patriots went far beyond what the NFL and 31 other teams are doing to protect those who are most at risk for contracting the coronavirus that has spread across the globe.
“By completing this agreement now, your seat location will be protected for the 2021 season,” they said.
“We remain optimistic for the return of football and we are preparing to play each home game as scheduled in front of our Season Ticket Members this fall,” the Patriots wrote in their letter.
“We will do so in full compliance with the NFL and all government regulations and will rely on the advice of medical and public health professionals to maintain the safety of our fans, players, and personnel.” Well done, by the Krafts and the Patriot front office.
Thuney on the Trading Block? It Doesn’t Make Sense Now:
The Patriots’ left guard is once again the subject of trade rumors, this time with the Philadelphia Eagles as a potential trade partner. The Eagles lost right guard Brandon Brooks, who tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout earlier this week — an injury that will force him to miss the entire 2020 season.
SI’s Albert Breer wrote that Thuney was probably on the Eagles radar, and while that is undoubtedly true, the feeling here is that it probably doesn’t go past the “kicking the tires” phase. While Thuney is among the top guards in the NFL, this probably doesn’t make sense for the Eagles to make this move at this time.
However, it probably makes even less sense for the Patriots to deal Thuney away right now. One factor that could help the team is in salary cap relief. According to our buddy Miguel (aka @patscap) the Patriots currently have $650,989 in available cap space for the 2020 season. That isn’t nearly enough. So, unless they release some veterans or restructure some other contracts (Thuney’s would be at the top of the list), they’re going to be in a bad spot during the year.
The Patriots have until July 15th to work out a long-term extension with Thuney or he’ll count for all $14.78 million against the salary cap this year. And so far, the two sides have reportedly made no progress in extension talks…stay tuned.
But …if the Patriots were to trade him now, they’d get no help other than salary cap relief in 2020. Philly probably isn’t going to pay anything more than draft picks for 2021. And while the Patriots OL looks good on paper, lots of questions remain.
David Andrews is set to return from blood clots in his lungs, but we haven’t seen him on the field yet. LT Isaiah Wynn missed half the season with an injury. RG Shaq Mason and RT Marcus Cannon both had down years in 2019. With a young QB (Stidham) set to take over the offense…you don’t want to have that many question marks for the OL set to protect him.
And the questions continue as to who the backups at swing tackle and interior OL are for 2020. Removing Thuney from the mix will force another even bigger question mark into the mix at starting left guard. Right now in a perfect world, the Patriots would love for 2nd-year players G Hjalte Froholdt and T Yodny Cajuste to step up and be the top backups on the OL. But both were on IR in 2019. And with Ted Karras now in Miami, Thuney would project as the top backup at the center position for Andrews…something that may come into play.
And of course, Dante Scarnecchia, the guru of OL coaches has retired again so, the team won’t have his expertise to rely upon. So, the feeling here is that the Patriots won’t trade Thuney…that isn’t to say it is an impossible scenario, but a difficult one to buy in on right now.
Bentley Primed for a Much Bigger Role in 2020:
Patriots 3rd-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley will be a key player to watch this season. In the “Locked on Patriots” podcast I mentioned above, Mike D’Abate and I discussed Bentley as one of the players that will have to “prove it” on the field in 2020.
Bentley is a big (6’2, 255) off the ball, interior linebacker who has shown that he can play. As a rookie, prior to tearing a biceps and landing on IR, Bentley showed a knack for learning the defense and a maturity beyond his years. Bill Belichick showed a lot of confidence in him as a rookie to elevate him to wearing the green dot communication device that the coaches call in the plays with.
Last year, his defensive snaps were cut way back as the team brought back Jamie Collins who got off to a blistering start in 2019. Still, Bentley appeared in all 16 games (2 starts) and played a big role in the kick return and kick coverage units on Special Teams.
With Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts all gone this spring, Bentley will no doubt see a lot of action at Inside Linebacker with the intention no doubt of using his talent to be a run-stuffer. However, Bentley has proven he can do more and has been used some in coverage and as a Blitzer getting after the quarterback.
We look for him to generate a lot of early snaps with the starting unit in training camp ( i know Belichick hates when we refer to that), but after that, it will be up to him to remain there. The feeling here is…he’s up to the task.
Patriots Announce Food4Vets Program at the Stadium:
The Patriots and the New England Revolution have been working for the past three months with the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation to provide “vital food packages” to those veterans, military families, and veteran service organizations that take care of those most in need of them. These food packages contain non-perishable foods and nutritionist-developed recipes to provide three meals a day for two people for 14 days.
The Patriots have put together and distributed more than 3 million meals to those veterans in need. The food packages are available for pick up at six different locations across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
On Saturday, June 20, a Patriots truck was sent to the Boston Gillette Headquarters, located at 1 Gillette Park, Boston, MA 02210. Meals were distributed from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
To learn more about the Food4Vets program, visit: www.massmilitarysupportfoundation.org.
No AFC East Notes this week, they’ll be back soon.
“Hi, this is Bill Belichick. Congratulations on your high school careers as student-athletes. I know this is an exciting time for all of you. When I reflect back on my own career, I know it was one of the most exciting times of my life…And the (county) coach of the year is Neil Baasten, soccer coach at Hoover High School.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who presented at the USA TODAY Network’s annual High School Sports Awards show
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Dont'a Hightower Joe Thuney Miami Dolphins Mohamed Sanu New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots 2020 offseason