Five Patriots/NFL Things to Know For 4/14: News and Notes
Some news and notes for this morning:
1) Pointing out yesterday’s rantings out in Buffalo appears to have ruffled some feathers with Bills fans after WGR 550 SportsRadio offered up some speculation that was a little frustrating.
For those who missed it, Buffalo Sports radio talk show host Jeremy White spent some time talking about the rumored situation down in Miami and the reports about Tom Brady’s potential plan to end up there in 2022, which reports indicate didn’t come to fruition thanks to the Brian Flores lawsuit.
That led to White eventually questioning whether the previous cheating accusations against Brady possibly held any merit, and things essentially took off from there.
“Someone wrote to me and said, ‘Are we really going to be surprised if it all comes out that he’s been pulling a Lance Armstrong all along and doing God knows what to keep playing so long?’,” said White. “[He’s got] unlimited resources and being smart and hard work is all that it is, but nothing is off the table with this guy.”
“And I started thinking about that and thinking, ‘You know? There’s an awful lot of under the radar … yeah, it’s kind of fishy that this happened. And it’s really kind of fishy that this happened. Oh, it’s kind of weird that he was always underpaid with the Patriots. How could that be? Well, the Patriots had investments in his companies. Huh…I’m sure that’s fine, right?”
“The story about Spygate. The first story about Spygate, there’s a book that’s been written about Spygate that, from a guy that used to work for the Patriots, who laid into all of the things that they did and how, in the helmets, where you could talk to the quarterback, they would keep that on the whole time. And he got every single thing he ever needed to know told to him through his helmet early in his career.”
“And what happened to the Spygate proof? Well, that just all got destroyed by the NFL. Then there’s the Deflategate scenario, right? Oh, Tom, we’re going to need your cell phone. ‘Oh, I destroy it every 6 months.’”
“Like, who are we kidding with this dude? I mean he’ll do, Sal, I think it’s fair to not even make an accusation about what he would do, but just to say, ‘I think that dude would do anything to win and he has pushed and broken rules before.’”
I hadn’t heard about the headset rumor, but what White referred to apparently stemmed from a bitter Steelers fan named Bryan O’Leary who wrote a book called “Spygate: The Untold Story” back in 2012. In the book, it appears he quoted an allegation made by reporter Dan Lebatard, who apparently made a comment about something he heard from the late John Saunders.
In that interview, Lebatard apparently said that he was told by Saunders that Doug Flutie apparently picked up Brady’s “backup helmet”, which had the green communication dot on it, and was surprised to hear that the communication continued all the way to the snap.
The insinuation that O’Leary was referencing by Lebatard was that the Patriots had a second frequency they were using to bypass the NFL’s cutoff where communications between the coach and quarterbacks normally end at the 15-second mark.
Flutie never confirmed the rumor and Sanders is no longer with us, having passed away in 2016.
Anyone questioning O’Leary’s legitimacy need only view this article from CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley, who captured quite a few Tweets that essentially tells you all you need to know about him.
As for the communications accusations, the league previously investigated the club and found no wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, where White did get it wrong was that O’Leary was never a Patriots employee. There is currently a Brian O’Leary who, according to his LinkedIn page, has worked for the club as a Replay Coordinator since 2016. But the two are absolutely not related.
Regarding White’s insinuation that there could be anything physical or shady that might involve some sort of substance use on Brady’s part, it’s probably safe to say that’s also unlikely.
While the former quarterback hasn’t previously mentioned it, it’s likely that the NFL has drug tested him more times than he’d prefer to admit. All you need to do is look at this past season as a key example. Following a big game from Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the NFL immediately requested a sample from the veteran linebacker, who found that decision amusing and fortunately, didn’t test positive for anything.
At 44-years old Brady continues on and the doubters will likely keep questioning how he’s doing it. As for the Bills, it remains to be seen whether or not this will be the year they can win the Conference and possibly get a shot at redemption against the guy who dominated them for nearly two decades.
Until that happens, the sour grapes continue in Buffalo.
2) Former Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel, Scott Pioli, appeared on NFL Network this morning and talked about what New England might be looking for if they elect to target one of the big guys up front heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pioli said that while physical tools are important, Bill Belichick will most definitely be looking at the entire picture when it comes to whoever they ultimately end up targeting.
“Generally speaking, when the Patriots go with a big guy, one of the things we did when I was out there was we made sure they were not only big and talented, but they had to be clean,” said Pioli. “During those nine seasons, we made sure when we went in the first round, we took Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and then Logan Mankins. Every single one of those guys were not only big, physical, and tough, but they were extremely, extremely dependable.”
“So when they are looking at a big guy in the first round, if that’s what they’re going to do, that is going to be not only the physical tools that they’re looking for, but from a trait standpoint, from a human standpoint, those are the kind of players that they would go after.”
“Again, I know that was a lot of years ago and that’s the way we did it a long time ago, but I know that that is a true, tried and trusted way of drafting the big guys.”
What’s interesting is looking at the various mock drafts that have come up online, not one of them appears to be looking at New England targeting someone up front in the first round. Most have them targeting linebackers or defensive backs, with any potential defensive lineman prospects all being projected as being selected in Round 2 and beyond.
That strategy worked out fairly well last year, as the Patriots struck gold when they landed Alabama’s Christian Barmore with the 38th overall selection. They’ll likely try to potentially add someone else to pair next to him this year should the right person be available.
Pioli obviously has a history with Belichick, having joined the team back in 2000 and was considered among one of the best in the league when it came to evaluating talent. He was with the club through the 2008 season, with the team having won three Championships during his tenure. Pioli also previously worked with Belichick in Cleveland.
3) Newcomer Jabrill Peppers is glad to be a Patriot, with the newly signed safety speaking to reporters this week as he gets to work with his new football team.
Peppers said that one of the big reasons he came to New England was because of coach Belchick, who he claims he’s enjoyed their conversations thus far as he’s picked his brain while trying to get up to speed.
“His understanding of the game, what he’s done for the game, the moment I had an opportunity to come learn from him I definitely wanted to jump at it,” Peppers said via USA TODAY. “He’s seen a lot of ball. He’s coached in a lot of eras. So I’m just more so excited to pick his brain, see things how he sees it, curious to see how he watches film, how breaks down opposing offenses. Just things like that really stuck out to me.”
Peppers signed a 1-year deal this offseason worth $1.75 million, likely with the hope of resetting the market for himself coming off an ACL injury.
The veteran joins a safety group that is fairly deep heading into this season, which should set up a fairly competitive training camp. The belief by quite a few people is that we could see a defensive change where they may employ more of them on the field in a given coverage, which is going to be one of the more interesting storylines to follow depending on how things continue to play out personnel-wise.
How Peppers fits into the mix is certainly one of those questions, but for now, he’s just looking forward to learning the defense and working with his new teammates.
“I’m just excited, man, to be able to come into that room and play with those guys and compete with those guys,” said Peppers. “I definitely think it’s going to be good.”
4) ESPN’s Jordan Reid did a seven-round mock draft earlier this week and he finished with some interesting selections.
He, like several others, targeted Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd in round one with the 21st overall pick, echoing the thought of many that the team will try to add some youth and speed to New England’s linebacking group.
From there, here’s how the rest of it played out:
54th Overall – John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
85th Overall – Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama
127th Overall – Joshua Ezeudu, OT, North Carolina
158th Overall (via MIA) – Sterling Weatherford, S, Miami (OH)
170th Overall (via TB) – Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
200th Overall – Esezu Otomewo, DE, Minnesota
210th Overall (via LAR) – Jaivon Heiligh, WR, Coastal Carolina
That addresses some needs on both sides of the football, but the bigger question is probably the Metchie pick as the club has a fairly deep group of receivers and both the offensive and defensive line are both still also question marks. Metchie is a talented player and it would be great to have him, but it’s just tough to say how they’ll value and use that pick. It’s possible if the guy they want isn’t there that they’d pivot to him, but only Belichick knows what they’ll do.
Given the fact they’ve looked at multiple Alabama receivers, they could also potentially target a different one in the later rounds. Slade Bolden is a name that has come up, so he could also be in the mix at some point in lieu of one of the above picks.
It was an interesting mock and one of the first seven-round ones that has popped up. Let’s just hope that no matter how it plays out, the Patriots have similar success to what they did last year.
5) Out in Cleveland, quarterback Baker Mayfield finds himself sitting in limbo as he waits to see how is future is going to play out now that the Browns have brought in Deshaun Watson.
What’s surprising is that he doesn’t seem to have any suitors, which considering that we’re only about a month away from when most teams start OTAs and minicamps is fairly surprising. The whispers from inside Cleveland indicated that they were frustrated with Mayfield’s attitude and that apparently played a role in what sparked them to consider moving on from him.
Initially, it surprised many. But the fact Mayfield remains available essentially reveals that there must have been some truth to that since no one has stepped up and made an aggressive push for him.
The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd had a good column on the situation, which essentially summed it up fairly well:
At some point, you wonder if Mayfield realizes no one in the NFL wants him right now, and more importantly, why that might be?
Why is it the Colts had the opportunity to get a former No. 1 pick, who turns 27 on Thursday, for pennies on the dollar, someone who should be entering the prime of his career? And why did they elect to try and squeeze a couple more good seasons out of a 36-year-old Ryan instead? Does Baker get that? Does he ever wonder why?
Watson comes with more baggage than Delta Air Lines. Why did the Browns look at his 22 civil cases alleging sexual misconduct and sexual assault and determine that was a better bet at quarterback than the four years they had already invested in Mayfield?
It’s definitely a little crazy. Mayfield came into the league with a lot of questions and he seemed to have toned it down publicly the last couple of seasons after many of these concerns came up in his first year.
However, it sounds like what he did on camera vs off of it may have been the difference. On camera, he appeared to be doing and saying the right things. Behind closed doors, he obviously showed a different side and for someone who appeared to be Cleveland’s future, the fact they targeted Watson at all is telling.
Now Mayfield is left wondering where he’ll end up but one thing he says won’t change is that he’s going to continue to be himself regardless of what happens.
“I feel like I tried to force it when things on the field weren’t going well in the past couple of years. I feel like I’m gonna go in (to his new destination) and be myself because that’s worked for me in the past; I’m gonna go in with the same work ethic/mentality,” Mayfield said in a recent “Ya Never Know” podcast via TheAthletic. “And if they don’t like me, that’s fine.
“But when I step on the field and I play as confident as I am, and what I think I’m going to do on the field the next time I get a chance to do it, I’ll earn the respect of the guys who didn’t appreciate it from the beginning. If I’m worried about getting them to like me, what am I doing? They don’t care if I like them, either. They want their quarterback to win. They’re trying to get a paycheck. If their team wins, they get paid. So the guys who don’t personally like me? That’s fine. But I have to have their respect. And the way I do that is just working my ass off and being myself.”
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Baker Mayfield Buffalo Bills Christian Barmore Cleveland Browns Dan Lebatard Daniel Bellinger Deshaun Watson Doug Flutie Esezu Otomewo Jabrill Peppers Jaivon Heiligh Jalyn Armour-Davis John Metchie III John Saunders Joshua Ezeudu Kyle Van Noy Logan Mankins Miami Dolphins New England Patriots NFL Richard Seymour Scott Pioli Sterling Weatherford Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady Ty Warren Vince Wilfork