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Five Patriots & NFL Things to Know 3/31

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 31, 2021 at 9:56 am ET

Five Patriots & NFL Things to Know 3/31(PHOTO: Joe Maiorana - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

Some news and notes for this morning:

1) Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels were both in attendance for Alabama’s Pro Day on Tuesday, which featured a throwing session by quarterback prospect Mac Jones, who is expected to be a day one selection.

Here’s a video from Tuesday of Belichick and McDaniels reacting to an overthrow by Jones, who might have been feeling the pressure a bit.

Jones’ ascension up the chart over the last few weeks has been fairly surprising, given that barely a month ago there were mock drafts that had him going in late round one and even not at all in a few cases.

Now, the latest feeling is that he may not be there by the time the Patriots pick at #15, or that he might not even make it out of the top 10. The latest whispers seem to indicate the 49ers moved up to the #3 spot to have their pick between both Jones and Justin Fields, with the club now reportedly leaning toward Jones.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was in attendance yesterday, likely taking a closer look as he continues contemplating what to do in the coming weeks. It’s clear that the 49ers have decided to turn the page on Jimmy Garoppolo after this season, although it’s frustrating given the timing.

Just a few weeks ago the consensus out of San Francisco seemed to be that they’d put their faith in Garoppolo for one more year and focus on using their draft pick to improve their defense. Or, the other thought was that maybe they’d get into the mix for Deshaun Watson and try and pry him away from Houston.

Now, here were are less than a month later and those plans have changed. Instead, they’re planning for the future and Shanahan was doing his due diligence on Jones as he continues trying to figure out who they’ll potentially turn their offense over to after this year.

Either way, the fact that the 49ers are now in a position to take a QB in the draft is bad news for the Patriots, who could end up coming up empty when it comes to any of the top names. Jones was thought to potentially be their guy, but it’s starting to look like barring a trade to move up, he’ll also be long gone by the time they pick.

A lot can still happen over the next few weeks but it’s just amazing to see how much things have already evolved even since the beginning of March. It’s just too bad that it’s not in the Patriots’ favor.

2) This entire scenario just keeps getting more irritating and it appears Greg Bedard of sort of had a similar thought to what I was wondering yesterday when it came to what Garoppolo must be thinking given what Shanahan is doing.

After making the trade with Miami to put them in a position to draft their QB of the future, Shanahan admitted during his press conference that Garoppolo was “a little pissed off”, and he obviously understood why. However, Bedard mentions a point that could also come into play and possibly free Garoppolo up for an early exit.

Bedard points out that Shanahan is obviously trying to cover himself with Garoppolo while also bringing in a player who will clearly be his replacement.  That puts the veteran QB in a no-win situation, and he should be seeing right through Shanahan’s plans.

From the article:

This is an entirely different set of circumstances. The 49ers made their move. Good for them. It’s time for Garoppolo to wake up to what Shanahan is trying to do, and for Garoppolo to make his own move by looking out for himself. He’s made $89 million, he can absolutely threaten to sit out and demand a trade, and the 49ers will have to do it.

Garoppolo doesn’t owe Shanahan anything. The best thing for Garoppolo this season, when he’ll turn 30, and beyond, is to ask out and pick a place where he knows he has a longer future than San Francisco.

We all know where that is.

Given that we’ve seen an offseason with quarterbacks digging in their heels and trying to force their way out, this is definitely a scenario that might warrant that.  After all, Garoppolo carries a 22-8 record as a starter while his coach has had one winning season over that span and could be on his way out if this year turns out badly for him.

As a result, Garoppolo is the one with the leverage and Bedard believes the time is now to take advantage of it.

3) Meanwhile, Devin and Jason McCourty appeared on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network this morning talking about what has already been a crazy offseason. Devin admitted that during his tenure, he’s never seen anything like it and he’s excited for the upcoming season.

“[In] my 11 years there, we haven’t had an offseason like this. So it’s exciting,” said McCourty via “I think as fans and people that watch the sport, they always want their team to spend big in free agency. I’m all about trying to get a better team and going out there and competing and trying to get back to the playoffs.”

“I’m excited, getting to meet some of these guys through texts already. But I can’t wait to get back together and start to build for this season.”

As for his brother, Jason is still a free agent and remains unsigned and it doesn’t sound yet that coming back to New England is a guarantee.

“This year in free agency has been different obviously with the cap and everything going on as a result of 2020,” Jason McCourty said. “I just want to be somewhere where I’m wanted and an opportunity to compete and help the guys around me. As an older player, I really look forward to and love being able to mentor younger guys and be able to kind of help them grow as well as going in there competing and trying to win games. So wherever that may be, I’m going to be excited. This will be year 13, so each year you’re closer to the end, this could be it. So I’m just excited to get somewhere and play football.”

Most fans are likely hoping that place will be back here for one more run with the Patriots.

4) With the NFL making it official on Tuesday that they’re moving to a 17-game regular-season schedule, that also locks in one more opponent for the Patriots in 2021.

That opponent will be the Dallas Cowboys, who will visit Gillette Stadium to round out New England’s slate of games this season.

The move extends the season 17 games over 18 weeks, with the new schedule not including a second bye week, which was one topic that had been previously discussed but apparently not included in the final schedule.

One other interesting wrinkle is the fact that with an odd number of games, the league will try to make things fair by rotating the number of home games by Conference. That means in 2021, AFC teams will have 9 home games, while in 2022, the NFC will have 9, and it will remain that way moving forward.

Obviously, one of the biggest concerns when it comes to this decision is the potential injury risk for players, which Roger Goodell downplayed on Tuesday. He said that the league stayed within the same 20-game format, which is what the NFLPA wanted.

“We’re still within the 20-game format. That was something that was important to the NFLPA,” Goodell said via the Boston Globe. “The highest rate of injury is actually in a preseason game. We’re actually following the data.”

5) One other note that came out of yesterday’s announcement is that the league is also apparently looking to expand its international presence and seems to be planning to play in additional countries.

Goodell mentioned the possibility of playing in both Germany and South America in the coming years. According to, the NFL will require four teams each season to give up a home game to play internationally.

The Patriots were slated to play an international game in 2020 prior to the pandemic, but that obviously didn’t happen. When they have played abroad, it’s worked out fairly well. They blew out the Raiders 33-8 in Mexico City in 2017 and they destroyed the Rams 45-7 in London back in 2012.

NFL Announces Move To 17-Game Regular Season Schedule, Patriots To Play Cowboys In 2021

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Tags: 2021 NFL Regular Season Bill Belichick Dallas Cowboys Deshaun Watson Devin McCourty Jason McCourty Jimmy Garoppolo Josh McDaniels Kyle Shanahan Mac Jones New England Patriots Roger Goodell San Francisco 49ers

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