Good morning, here are your weekly Patriots news 03-27 and some NFL notes.
The Patriots, much to the chagrin of the masses, are taking a methodical approach to team building. There are plenty of holes to fill but the team has the time to put together a competitive roster. Speaking of which, we’re going to take a look at the offense, as it currently stands, and do a profile of an offensive lineman who could be a nice addition.
It has been a crazy offseason for the NFL this spring, with multiple star players and QBs changing teams. As if there wasn’t enough drama, some of it seems invented, at least from our view here.
Tom Brady is unretired, is under contract with the Bucs, and is openly recruiting some of the team’s free agents to return. According to Jeff Howe of the Athletic, he’s re-doing his deal to create more cap space for the Bucs to sign more players; something he did here in New England with the Patriots.
So, how is it that he is trying to force his way out of Tampa to play with Miami? That dog won’t hunt. It just strains the level of credibility and sounds like the wishful thinking of the people who want to see Bill Belichick fail.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, at first reading the transcripts and then listening to the interview of Jimmy and Dee Haslam the other night was eye-opening for all of the wrong reasons. The couple own the Cleveland Browns, who were out of the country, appeared on a Zoom call with media members and defended their signing of Deshaun Watson.
“We put more time, more thought, more effort, talked to more people, did more research on this decision — by far — than any other decision we’ve made with the Cleveland Browns,” Jimmy Haslam said on a Zoom call with his wife Dee from outside the country. “It’s not something we took lightly.”
“I would just add, the bottom line is we got very comfortable with Deshaun Watson the person,” Jimmy Haslam added.
The Haslams nor anyone from the Browns interviewed any of the 22 women who have made claims against Watson. The Browns didn’t contact the lawyer that is handling the civil suits against Watson.
“Watson remained stoic through his entire press conference and denied any wrongdoing.
“I’ve never assaulted or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said. “I’ve never done these things people are alleging.” After Dee Haslam suggested he get counseling to ensure nothing like this happens again, Watson balked. “It’s hard for me to say the counseling part because I don’t have a problem, I don’t have an issue,” Watson said.
“Our goal all along,” Haslam said, “was to build an organization that Cleveland could be proud of, and we’re going to continue that.”
Baker Mayfield has requested a trade, but the Browns may wait and see if Watson is suspended and for how long from the NFL, before they decide to move on from him. Right now the market for Mayfield, a former 1st round pick is low.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Malcolm Butler: Yes, another Patriot can go home again. After all of the innuendo that surrounded the end of Butler’s tenure with the Patriots, apparently, no bridges were burned on either side of the equation and the 32-year old is returning with a 2-year deal.
Butler last played in 2020 and played well, but he retired a year ago, for what he said were personal reasons. What he has left in the tank is still TBD but he joins a cornerback group that needs some help on the boundary.
Tyreek Hill: The former Chiefs’ WR was traded to the Dolphins for a boatload of picks. While there is no denying Hills talent on the field, he remains an awful father and spouse off of it. But that aside, for the “cap is crap” dolts, if that were so, how is it that both KC and GB traded their top WRs and targets for their QBs when both are expected to contend for a Super Bowl?
Personally, I believe that Hill will miss Patrick Mahomes much more than Mahomes will miss him. Yes, KC took a step back with that loss, but the draft is chock-full of WRs who can absolutely fly.
Andy Reid will get one or two for sure. KC has twelve (12) picks in the draft including two first-round picks (#29 and #30), two second-round picks (#50 and #62), two third-round picks (#94 and #103), and two fourth-rounders (#121 and #135). Rumors of KC’s demise are very, very premature.
Nick Folk: The Patriots re-signed their kicker on a 2-year deal after Folk hasn’t missed not even one FG attempt inside of 50 yards since Week 2 of the 2020 season. Folk was asked by the team’s beat writers if he enjoys kicking in the Foxboro weather.
“I guess in my own sick mind, I do,” Folk said. “It’s kinda fun. There’s always something new… I think at times in a dome you can get lulled to sleep a little bit and you can lose a little of focus, where when you’re outside in the elements you’re really having to focus for the entire three-plus hour period. And I kinda like that. In my own weird way, I enjoy being outside and having that little bit of extra element that has to be thought about.”
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Derek and I discussed the first week in free agency.
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.
Patriots Offense, The Cupboard Is Hardly Bare:
The Patriots are not even two weeks into the NFL’s 2022 league year, so if you’re expecting the roster to be finalized, you are (like many of those lining up at the Tobin Bridge), sorely disappointed. And yet looking at the offense, which we will here, while there are some holes to fill and depth to address, the roster is not in bad shape for late March.
Let’s break down the offense by position and see where additions are needed.
The team currently has Mac Jones, Bryan Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham under contract. All three were on the team a year ago and as it stands right now, no changes are needed and no players need to be added.
However, the team likes to have four quarterbacks during training camp and the team brought in Josh Dobbs who has been in the league since 2017, most of it with the Steelers for a workout last Monday. He’d be a good addition and would push Stidham for the #3 slot.
Jones’ Year 2 jump is what we’re waiting to see, and Hoyer as a veteran sounding board is perfect backing up Jones and the two have great mutual respect.
Running Back —
The team currently has Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, J.J. Taylor, Ty Montgomery, and Devine Ozigbo under contract.
Harris and Stevenson are an outstanding 1a-1b combination. And if White is healthy he gives them an outstanding 3rd down back that will provide a terrific safety valve for Jones. But his injury was a serious one, and although the team brought him back after he became a free agent, we won’t know how well he’s moving until summer. That 3rd down-back role, filled by Brandon Bolden after White’s injury last year is a major question mark.
Bolden is now a member of the Raiders, and the team signed Ty Montgomery. He could be a stop-gap filler for a game or two, but right now, I’d have my doubts about him being a full-season productive player.
The interesting move was bringing in Leonard Fournette for a visit before he decided to re-sign with the Bucs. It was thought if they signed him, the team may opt to move on from Harris for draft picks while still on a rookie deal. The big advantage there is that Fournette is very good out of the backfield in the passing game.
The team opted not to offer FB Jakob Johnson a contract and he too is a Raider. The Patriots reportedly told Johnson that they were not going to use the position in 2022. More to that below.
Wide Receiver —
The team currently has Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Christian Wilkerson, N’Keal Harry, Matthew Slater (STs, WR in name only), Tre Nixon, Ty Montgomery (double dip as at RB), and Malcolm Perry on the roster.
While the narrative since the season ended is “Mac Jones needs a #1 WR”, I’ll ask you, other than a couple of years with Randy Moss, who was Tom Brady’s #1? If you said, Troy Brown, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman, you’d be right. The Patriots offense is predicated on a quick slot receiver doing the dirty work across the middle,
The feeling here is that they could use a definite influx of speed to force the defense to defend every blade of grass, but a quick, reliable slot receiver is a must. We feel like they will add at least one veteran free agent and address at least one more in the draft.
The veteran I’d like to see is Cole Beasley who I wanted when he left Dallas a few years ago. He’s caught 82 passes in 2020, and 82 more last year in Buffalo. He’d immediately develop a nice rapport with Jones. In the draft, I’ve made no bones about that my draft binky is John Metchie III from Alabama. He can play inside, outside and has that extra gear with the ball in his hands.
Tight End —
If the Patriots didn’t add one tight end in either free agency or the draft it would be okay. They signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith last year and still have Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene. They are pretty much set at the position, at least at the top.
Henry had nine TDs last year and became a favorite red-zone target for Jones in 2021. The Patriots failed to get Smith more involved in the offense last year and that has to be fixed. One way to do so, move Smith around more, especially in the backfield.
With Johnson gone, Smith could be shifted from the line to the backfield as an H-back/FB or vice versa. One of the knocks on the offense in 2020 was that they were too predictable in certain formations. Now the team can line up two tight ends and by moving Smith around the formation, they will have the defense reacting to them instead of the other way around. Look for Smith and Henry to have much bigger years in 2022.
Year 3 is it for Asiasi and Keene to show they belong. I think Asiasi has a chance to carve out a role. While many peg Keene to take on that H-back role, I don’t see it. They invested a boatload of cash in Smith. They aren’t going to bench him for Keene. Keene still has a shot to make the roster, but he better has a great spring and summer.
Offensive Line —
The status of the Patriots’ offensive line had fans panicking just a few days ago. Ted Karras bolted for Cincinnati, Shaq Mason was dealt to the Bucs and Trent Brown was a free agent. But the team returns four starters from Week 1 last year. LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Michael Onwenu, C David Andrews, and RT Trent Brown. The team could be expected to move Onwenu to RG this fall which leaves them to add a starting guard on the left side. All of a sudden it doesn’t look like the sky is falling just yet.
They also have Justin Herron, Yodel Cajuste, Yasir Durant, James Ferentz, William Sherman, Drew Desjarlais, and Arlington Hambright right now on the roster to round out the depth. One player to keep an eye on this summer is Desjarlais who came from the CFL and was an All-Star and the winner on two Grey Cups. He was given his release to pursue an NFL career, he was drafted in the 1st Round (4th Overall) in the CFL’s 2019 draft.
The team will probably add a couple of young faces during the draft, a pick and a UDFA unless there is a veteran that makes himself available during the inevitable cuts after the draft.
Patriots Draft Profile — Darrian Kinnard, T, Kentucky:
As the 2022 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots’ radar or that we feel would be a great fit.
The Patriots can use some extra depth at the offensive line with either a starting guard or another offensive tackle to aid the team in 2022. In our earlier draft profiles, we looked at players who would be a late first or early second-round selection. But this offensive lineman will be a 3rd or 4th round prospect depending on how the big board plays out.
Darrian Kinnard, from Kentucky, is a massive tackle who could make the switch to guard who has a mauler mentality and plays with a mean streak. He has excellent play strength and was a focal point in Kentucky’s running game.
Kinnard had 39 starts in the SEC and earned First Team All-America honors in 2021 showing the improvements he’s made. He dropped quite a bit of weight (20 lbs) after the season before the Combine and weighed in at 322 while standing at 6’5.
– Phenomenal body type, physically imposing
– Surprisingly lean build
– Mean streak, a mauler in the running game
– Moves well in the open field for a big man
– Has good short-range burst to counter stunts, twists
– Hand usage needs to improve
– Footwork can be sloppy at times
– Carries his pad level too high
What his Role Will Be:
Kinnard could see a move to an interior offensive lineman and become a road grader in the running game.
Will His Role Change from Year 1-to-2?
Yes, he could easily become a plus starter for years to come
How Many Downs Can He Play?
What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Shaq Mason who was traded to the Bucs.
What is his ST Value?
Kinnard is a massive OL but carries his weight well. While he would have a lot of work to do if he was to stay at tackle, he could become a very capable guard. Placing him next to Trent Brown on the right side would be a road grading crew in the running game, and would help in his pass protection.
He possesses a great base with excellent lower body power and has above-average strength. With some quality coaching in his hand usage and his footwork, the Patriots could find themselves with another quality OL in the middle rounds.
A highlight video reel from Prospects Highlights can be seen here:
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Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Draft
Tags: Bill Belichick Damien Harris Darrian Kinnard David Andrews Isaiah Wynn Jakobi Meyers James White Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Michael Onwenu Nelson Agholor New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots offense Rhamondre Stevenson Trent Brown