Some news and notes for this morning:
1) With training camp steadily approaching, it sounds like the Patriots and Stephon Gilmore are going to try and at least make the attempt to end what’s been a seemingly contentious situation this offseason.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the two sides are expected to sit down prior to training camp and potentially work out a new deal. Up to this point, despite the rumors of a possible trade, Fowler reports that there hasn’t been any trade traction around the league in that regard and New England didn’t make any significant move at that position this offseason.
Per @JFowlerESPN on SportsCenter:
The Patriots and Stephon Gilmore plan to sit down before training camp and potentially hammer out a deal. There hasn't been any trade traction around the league, because the Patriots didn't do enough to shore up the CB position.
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) July 8, 2021
Gilmore also reportedly doesn’t expect to be traded and due to the sizeable amount of money he’d lose by sitting out, reports have indicated that this will be resolved early enough where if he does miss time, it will be minimal.
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran believes that if the two sides can’t work out a long-term deal, it’s possible they’ll structure an extension with a pay raise similar to what they did with Tom Brady, giving Gilmore the money he’s seeking for at least this year with an opportunity to possibly move on again next offseason.
We’ll wait and see how it plays out, but it sounds like a resolution may finally be a little closer.
2) While much of the talk when camp begins will focus on the battle between Cam Newton and Mac Jones, the other question will be with Brian Hoyer in the fold to seemingly tutor Jones, where does that leave Jarrett Stidham?
Since the likelihood of keeping four quarterbacks on the roster probably isn’t realistic, Stidham currently seems like he could potentially be the odd man out if things play out the way they’re expected to. Barring a disastrous preseason, Newton will likely be the Week 1 starter, leaving Jones behind him but from there, things are a little murky.
The tough part is going to be if Stidham goes out and has a great camp, keeping Hoyer around seems excessive if it’s just going to be in a mentoring role. However, one caveat to this situation was a point that Phil Perry recently brought up, which might allow the Patriots to take advantage of the league’s current Covid rules as it pertains to the practice squad. That rule allows a veteran to be placed there, which could free up a roster spot in order to keep Stidham in the fold.
From there, the next option would be for the team to trade him, which hinges on the success of Newton. If Newton and Jones go out and have great camps, Newton will likely be given the nod to start the year. What could change things would be if Newton goes out and struggles in camp while Jones is the steady/consistent player he had been up until the last day of spring workouts. Should that happen and the coaching staff opts to elevate Jones, it’s possible Newton moves on, which would open things up where New England would still need a capable back-up like Stidham on the roster.
It’s a complex situation and one that we won’t really be able to start getting a feeling for until they next hit the field.
Harry’s status remains uncertain.
3) Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson made some headlines as he recently spoke out about the change in the Patriots culture after N’Keal Harry demanded a trade this week.
Johnson said that Tom Brady’s departure changed the “ecosystem” and seeing players speak out is a surprising change, which shows things are obviously more difficult than they were when Brady was still with club.
“It’s a totally different ecosystem now that Tom is gone,” said Johnson during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s “Boston Sports Tonight. “He was the guy who set the example for everyone else. Bill could puff out his chest, he could play hardball because he knew he had Tom behind him to kind of cover his warts and kind of make up for any decisions that he made.
“Guys fell in line because you wanted to play for a winner. You wanted to play with Tom Brady. You wanted to win. And I just don’t think that same feeling is there for players in this organization.”
Whether or not Harry will get his wish remains to be seen, and it’s hard to say if the club will be willing to grant his request. Fowler reported in a separate Tweet that he spoke with a league executive who believes that Harry will be worth a conditional 6th round pick but that teams will likely have an interest.
Harry has little leverage, so choosing to sit out of training camp until his demands are met seems unlikely. But this will obviously remain a story to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
4) Meanwhile, Curran pointed to one potential problem that could plague the offense this year, and he believes that the tackle position will be something to watch when camp begins.
While the team has talent at both positions, the biggest question he has is both the health of Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown, who have each missed quite a bit of time. The two have combined for 30 games missed since 2019 and he feels that could be a problem for a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth.
On paper, the Patriots should be one of the best offensive lines in the league. But if they’re going to reach that potential, two players not known for durability — Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown — have to stay on the field.
Brown was a two-year disappointment with the Raiders before the Patriots traded for him in early March. Wynn has played just 18 of a possible 48 games since coming into the league as a first-rounder in 2018.
The Patriots absolutely, positively have to get talented depth ready behind those two and it has to show up in camp so that the 2019 disaster of having overmatched tackles doesn’t blow up the offense. OT is a position that will be observed with crossed fingers and held breath.
Hopefully both Brown and Wynn avoid the issues they’ve had in the past, with Brown saying back when he arrived with the Patriots that he’s looking forward to playing for them again this season.
“Honestly, I just felt ever since I left, nothing has gone right for me,” Brown said this offseason. “I’ve been experiencing little small, nagging injuries. I’ve had to experience a lot of time without ball. I wasn’t really feeling a place to work I guess you could say. No hard feelings to them or anything. I guess you could say it wasn’t a good fit.
“I’ve worn a lot of jerseys in my life, but I’ve never been so proud than when I put on the Patriots jersey.”
5) Gary Davenport took a look at all 32 teams and who he believes will be each club’s “Biggest Sleeper”, and the name he picked for the Patriots was surprising.
Davenport’s selection for the Patriots was Jalen Mills, who cites the former Eagle’s versatility as the reason why he expects him to get a lot of time and make an impact.
Jalen Mills is an elder statesman among the players in this piece. The 2021 campaign will mark his sixth in the pros.
It will be his first in New England, however. Among all the signings and trades the Pats made in a hectic offseason, Mills has gotten lost in the shuffle. That’s what earns the 27-year-old “sleeper” status.
He won’t keep it long, though. His ability to play anywhere in the secondary is making an impression on his new teammates, as free safety Devin McCourty told reporters:
“He’s showing a lot of versatility so far. He’s super competitive. He’s talking, he’s having fun. I think he’s been a great addition for us just because of his ability to do different things — whether it’s playing safety, covering tight ends, covering in the slot, playing outside corner, deep safety, strong safety. I just think that versatility … allows the coaching staff to do so many different things.”
With Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson at cornerback and McCourty and Adrian Phillips at safety, Mills doesn’t have a clear path to a “starting” spot with his new team. But NFL teams spend 70 percent or more of the time in sub-packages, and Bill Belichick is sure to value Mills’ ability to move around the back end.
This could become one of the biggest value signings in free agency.
Mills reportedly got extra reps during Gilmore’s absence from the club’s recent workouts and had some good moments, catching the eyes of media members who were on hand as he broke up several passes while playing opposite J.C. Jackson.
Mills has received a lot of praise since arriving and was regarded as a solid player in Philadelphia, which will hopefully translate into seeing him continue to grow now that he’s part of Bill Belichick’s defense.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Brian Hoyer Cam Newton Isaiah Wynn Jalen Mills Jarrett Stidham Mac Jones N'Keal Harry New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore Ted Johnson Trent Brown