Some news and notes here on this Friday:
1) Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the media this week, giving his thoughts on a variety of topics after what’s been a busy offseason.
One of the notable quotes being discussed has been the team’s recent draft troubles, which led to the club needing to fill quite a few holes via free agency and that obviously ended up being expensive. Thanks to those signings, Kraft had to spend well over $100-million in signing bonuses, all to right some of the wrongs due to some bad drafting.
Bill Belichick was questioned about it during the season and downplayed it, but Kraft didn’t mince words when the subject came up.
“I don’t feel we’ve done the greatest job the last few years, and I really hope and I believe I’ve seen a different approach this year,” said Kraft. “In the end, it all comes out to what happens on the field and how well people execute, and you really don’t know how good a draft is for at least two years, especially in the environment we’re in now.”
Kraft also wasn’t happy about having the team’s streak of winning seasons, which before last year dated back to 2002, snapped after his club finished 7-9. Kraft called it “horrible”, and that he expects “to be a contender every year.”
The Patriots owner pointed out that the one good thing about this whole situation was the fact the team was able to act early and wasn’t in deep competition due to the low salary cap, which had quite a few teams already strapped heading into free agency.
“We’ve never been in a position where we have spent the kind of money in free agency that we did this year,” Kraft said. “If there was ever a year to do it, this would be the year because we moved quickly. And instead of having 10-12 teams competing against us for free agents, there were only two or three. I think our personnel department did an outstanding job in setting their priorities.
“We missed to a certain extent in the draft, so this was our best opportunity.”
They were definitely able to load up after making some key acquisitions on both sides of the football. Now it’s just a matter of whether or not they can make some key acquisitions in the draft and keep things moving in the right direction heading into this season.
2) It appears the Patriots could potentially be heading to London this season.
Looking at an exchange Thursday night on Twitter between Mike Reiss and Field Yates, the Falcons are reportedly set to play one of their home games in London in 2021, with the opponent still to be determined.
Reiss Tweeted out that the Patriots are scheduled to visit Atlanta in 2021, while also noting that they have a great following in London.
The Patriots are scheduled to visit the Falcons in 2021, and they have a great following in London.
Just sayin’. https://t.co/50mGfg4nOE
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) April 1, 2021
Needless to say, this might be something to keep an eye on, as this is certainly a scenario that might make sense as the NFL tries to garner some interest across the pond this season.
3) Former Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins hasn’t had the most positive retirement since his NFL career came to an end, and it sounds like it’s about to get even worse.
Thompkins, who was an undrafted free agent who made the Patriots roster back in 2013 and is remembered mostly for his game-winning TD catch against the New Orleans Saints that year, has apparently been charged with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges reportedly stem from stealing identities of numerous Florida residents to obtain fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits from the State of California.
If he’s found guilty, he could be facing 10-years in prison.
That’s definitely disappointing to hear given that there were plenty of people here in New England rooting for him that season after a terrific training camp and he ended up being a fun player to watch during his brief time here. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out and clearly, his life has gone significantly off track since his time in the league came to an end six years ago.
Thompkins spent one season with New England before being out of the league just a few short years later. He last played in the NFL for the Jets in 2015.
4) Given the discussion still swirling on Jimmy Garoppolo, one reporter out in the Bay Area proposed an interesting trade for the two sides if the Patriots are still interested in bringing him back.
NBC Sports Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco suggested swapping draft picks and sending along Chase Winovich, who he feels would add enough value to get a deal done.
“If the 49ers were to get a similar price for Garoppolo with the Patriots,” explained Maoicco, “one scenario would be for them to acquire defensive end Chase Winovich, who was chosen with a third-round pick in 2019, and a third-round draft pick (No. 96 overall).”
Winovich is a player rumored to be an issue in New England’s defense, due largely to an apparent conflict first noted by Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal in how Winovich has been used defensively. Those whispers started this offseason and the fact it’s being brought up again in this scenario obviously signals that these problems have been heard about and discussed out on the west coast, which is curious.
The former Michigan standout has definitely shown some potential and has already totaled 11 sacks in his first two seasons, so losing him would be disappointing. However, it’s also fair to note this is just all speculation by Maiocco, although he’s well-respected enough to make you wonder if there might actually be anything to it.
5) Meanwhile, as far as what they’ll actually do at the quarterback spot, ESPN’s Todd McShay posted his most recent mock draft yesterday and he believes the Patriots are going to make a move up the board to address the position.
McShay has the Patriots making a trade with former Patriots coach Joe Judge to swap picks with the Giants to the #11th overall spot to select Justin Fields.
From McShay’s Mock:
Even after the Niners’ move up the board, it doesn’t appear Jimmy Garoppolo is in the cards this season for the Patriots. And while they brought back Cam Newton, the veteran is only signed for a year at $3.5 million guaranteed. The Pats haven’t spent a first-round pick on a QB since 1993 (Drew Bledsoe), but now is the time. Fields is accurate downfield and can develop into a top-tier starter for a team searching for stability at the position in the post-Tom Brady era.
Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen, but it doesn’t change the fact the Patriots do need to add a quarterback at some point. However, how that might unfold still remains the biggest question of this offseason.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2021 Patriots Draft 2021 Patriots Season Atlanta Falcons Bill Belichick Jimmy Garoppolo Justin Fields Kenbrell Thompkins New England Patriots Robert Kraft