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New England Patriots News 03-14, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
3 years ago at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 03-14, AFC East NotesPaul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here are your Sunday Patriots news 03-14 and AFC East notes this week. The new league year begins on the 17th at 4:00 p.m. But the legal tampering period begins tomorrow. It should be a very interesting week. 

Please check out our draft profiles as we inch closer to the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Justin Bethel: The Patriots signed their Special Team’s standout to a new three-year deal worth about $6 million dollars. Bethel, 30, is one of the better STs players in the league, and with Matthew Slater gives the team a pair of excellent performers. It was an under-the-radar but very important signing for a team that values STs much higher than the vast majority of teams. While some pooh-poohed the resigning… Smart football people know the value of it. 

Kansas City OL: The last we saw the Chiefs offensive line in the Super Bowl, they had both of the starting tackles out and Patrick Mahomes was scrambling for his life in the blowout loss to the Bucs. But this week the Chiefs released both tackles, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. The Chiefs made the decision to cut both tackles as they were about $21 million dollars over the cap. They also converted all of Mahomes’ $21.7 million roster bonus into a signing bonus. That move will save the Chiefs about $17 million against the 2021 salary cap. And then get about the work to rebuild their offensive line. 

Salary Cap Questions? Ask Miguel: There is no one with more perspicacity when it comes to NE’s salary cap than our old buddy Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap  in a Friday podcast with Mike D’Abate on the always excellent “Locked On Patriots pod, the two discussed a variety of cap myths and truths, check it out. And, …ahem never miss a Tuesday episode of “Locked On” when yours truly guests.

Lawrence Guy/David Andrews: We’ve said Guy and Andrews are two of the top priorities for the team to resign this spring. Now it appears that both will test free agency. We all seem to feel that Joe Thuney will be playing elsewhere in 2021. But getting those two back in the fold should be definitely on the team’s To-Do List this week. But if Guy isn’t brought back, one guy who would fit nicely would be former Jet Henry Anderson. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a podcast where we discussed free agency, QBs, and more. Hopefully, we’ll get back in the studio soon.

Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Newton’s Re-signing Is Just the First Step In Rebuilding QB:

The news that the Patriots re-signed Cam Newton was hit with a collective groan around New England like the team was going to take the rest of free agency and the draft off. With a boatload full of cash ($56 million +), and all of their draft picks still intact, they are far from done retooling the QB position.

Newton’s money, a one-year deal worth up to $13.6 million is tied up in incentives. For him to get all of that cash would mean he didn’t have a good year, he’d have had an outstanding year. But in the end, Newton was signed although he was probably the backup plan. 

It was widely rumored that the Patriots considered Jimmy Garoppolo Plan A this offseason. But although New England reached out to San Francisco, as reported by CLNS’ Evan Lazar, the Niners said he wasn’t available. Ditto for Houston and Deshaun Watson, who the Texans are going to pull out all of the stops to keep. It takes two to tango.

Both SF and Houston aren’t going to part with their franchise QBs without another one already in hand. Some of the other QBs that have been rumored to be on the trading block, probably won’t be dealt until close to if not during the NFL Draft. And then there is no guarantee the Patriots would land the guy they covet. 

And with free agency beginning on Wednesday, the Patriots have to get busy getting some improved weapons around Newton. And while no offense is intended, Jarrett Stidham isn’t going to entice many WRs or TEs to come to New England. Cam Newton, despite his struggles a year ago still has quite a good reputation with his peers. 

Money is one thing (and a very, very big thing at that), but as Hunter Henry said recently, the QB at his next destination is an important consideration. Newton is on a one-year deal, so part of the enticement will have to be that the team is going in on bringing in a young QB in the draft, and they still need to do that. 

Newton is a placeholder…which is what the majority of veteran QBs whose names have been bandied about this spring are. We all know what transpired last year, but the Patriots obviously believe that a full offseason with better weapons around him, he’ll be much improved. 

Newton started off well enough playing well in the first two games of the season. He was okay but not great against Las Vegas but then caught the COVID-19 coronavirus. And things were never the same, Newton said that he could never catch up with the Patriots’ ever-evolving offense as the season progressed. 

While he may not have been Plan A, if the Patriots believed their struggles were all on his shoulders, they wouldn’t have brought him back. With a late June signing, a shortened training camp with no preseason games, a weak supporting cast at WR and TE, the Patriots broke their own cardinal rule…they didn’t put Newton in the best position to be successful. Now, with that said, which QB do they take in the draft?

Yannick Ngakoue A Good Fit For the NE? Pass Rush Is a Need:

The Patriots need help in getting after the passer, and one possible free agency selection could be the Baltimore Ravens OLB Yannick Ngakoue. He spent four seasons with Jacksonville before leaving under acrimonious circumstances, feuding on-line with Tony Khan. He was dealt to the Minnesota Vikings last year for a 2nd and a conditional 5th round pick. 

But after picking up five sacks in six games, Minnesota shipped him to the Ravens for a 3rd round and a conditional 5th round pick. In terms of being a pass-rushing specialist, he’s a very talented one and would immediately upgrade the Patriots pass rush. Pairing him with the young Josh Uche and Chase Winovich and one could see the pass rush becoming a position of strength.

What makes Ngakoue who is only 26 intriguing is that he’s not a one-trick pony. He can win with speed and has great bend coming off the edge. He can also win with power.

Mike Reiss in a piece on ESPN, set tongues to wagging with the article on setting where some notable free agents will wind up. Reiss, who is more wired in with the Patriots than just about anywhere else, has Ngakoue signing with the Patriots for a big payday.

 “Four years, $60 million ($30M guaranteed) … We have loved your game since your Jacksonville days, and after you bounced around last year in Minnesota and Baltimore, we envision stability and coach Bill Belichick’s brilliant defensive mind bringing out the best in you,” Reiss wrote.

But one caveat to keep in mind with Ngakoue is that he’s not particularly good at defending the run and it was an area that he suffered with. Other names to keep an eye on for edge defenders are Carl Lawson, who is expected to draw big interest and money as well as Romeo Okwara. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Re-sign Matt Milano and Darryl Williams:

The Buffalo Bills have been getting their own free agents taken care of. Last week they re-signed Micah Hyde to an extension. This week, they’ve re-signed both linebacker Matt Milano and right tackle Daryl Williams.

Milano is one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL, and with tight ends getting increasingly more athletic, having a good coverage linebacker is an absolute must in today’s NFL. He’s one player I had hope NE would target if he reached the open market.

Williams, the right tackle, signed a new three-year deal worth $28 million with $14.2 million guaranteed. Williams started all 16 games at tackle for the Bills in 2020. He is just 28 and has the versatility to play right tackle or guard. 

Miami a Home For Andrews? Will Get Calls About Pick #3 in the Draft:

The Miami Dolphins are in a great position when it comes to the upcoming NFL Draft. While rumors swirled (and still do) that they’d trade with Houston to get QB Deshaun Watson, they still have AB Tua Tagovailoa and he has a ton of upside. 

So, with scouts all watching the Pro-Day workout of North Dakota State QB Trey Lance this week, the Dolphins phone should be ringing off the hook soon, if not already from QB needy teams looking for that next franchise QB. 

It is also been rumored that the Dolphins are interested in center David Andrews, which would be a huge blow to the Patriots who are already expected to lose LG Joe Thuney. Among other Patriots garnering interest from Brian Flores and the Dolphins are defensive linemen Adam Butler, Dietrich Wise, and Lawrence Guy. One intriguing footnote is that the Dolphins signed three ex-Patriots last spring, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Ted Karras. None of them may be in Miami this fall.

Jets Big Question, Darnold, Trade for Watson, Or Draft A QB at #2:

The New York Jets are one of the more intriguing teams to watch this spring. No one knows if they are truly sold on QB Sam Darnold, who they drafted with the #3 overall pick in 2018. 

Darnold hasn’t produced like the franchise QB the Jets thought they drafted, but a look at the dumpster fire of a team they’ve surrounded him with, one has to question if he was ever given a fair shake. So, his eventual ceiling is still, after three years, an unknown. GM Joe Douglas and new head coach Robert Saleh have to decide if they stick with Darnold and try to build around him or try to move him in a trade. 

If they keep Darnold, then the Jets’ #2 draft pick will be a huge bargaining chip for teams looking to move up in the draft. And it will allow them to slide back and gather more talent to rebuild the team. 

If they do decide to trade Darnold, their first choice would be to Houston in a deal that would bring them, Deshaun Watson. Watson has demanded a trade from the Texans and listed the Jets as one of the teams he’d agree to a trade to. But Houston has adamantly refused to put Watson on the market…yet. 

So, the Jets still have the option of trading Darnold and selecting a QB with the #2 pick. Douglas has a ton of options, but he’ll also be under the microscope to make the right move, something the Jets have been searching for, for the last 50 years. 


“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots patriots defensive line Patriots edge rushers Patriots QBs

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