Some New England Patriots news and notes on this Monday:
– One interesting thing to keep an eye on remains the contract situation of Jakobi Meyers, who has still yet to sign his restricted free agent tender. He’s reportedly looking for a long-term deal after starting out as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and turning into one of the team’s most productive players. He’s coming off a season where he led the team in receptions after catching 83 passes for 866-yards and two touchdowns, which were all career-highs. Meyers has until June 15th to sign his deal, or the team could potentially reduce his tender. Listening to Meyers last week, things didn’t sound contentious, so hopefully, the outlook is positive there.
– It’s been a while, to my recollection, that the Patriots were in this situation. Former offensive lineman Logan Mankins refused to sign his back in 2010, with the guard asking to be traded in June of that year. The team did reduce his tender from $3.26 million down to $1.54 million and Mankins didn’t show up for camp and ultimately sat out until early November before eventually signing it. However, Mankins did so primarily to not lose his vested season. Meyers’ situation isn’t at that point yet, but what happens between now and June 15th will be worth watching.
– Meyers was the team’s leading receiver on third down for the team last season, with the wideout seeing a team-high 40 targets, 12 more than the next closest player in Hunter Henry, who was targeted 28 times with 15 receptions (14 first downs, including 4 touchdowns). Meyers caught 25 of those 40 targets with 19 first downs.
– Should Meyers sit out or if the team potentially trades him, that’s a void that someone else will have to fill. Kendrick Bourne would be the likely candidate as he was the next receiver behind Henry and Brandon Bolden (18-of-21 with 10 first downs, including 2 touchdowns) in third-down targets last season with 17. Bourne had 13 receptions with 9 first downs, which included 2 touchdowns.
– Speaking of Bourne, he was absent from one of last week’s practice sessions and it was apparently because the receiver had recently gotten married. Bill Belichick had said a couple of guys were “excused” and Bourne apparently fell into that category. According to Mike Reiss, his teammates surprised him with a cake upon his return, which clearly shows how well-liked the charismatic receiver is in the locker room.
– N’Keal Harry was in town last week and was reportedly relegated to the third team and things appeared to be business as usual for him. While Reiss had recently suggested a possible position change to see him possibly compete for a role at tight end behind Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, that didn’t appear to happen and it sets up, barring any trades between now and then, what will potentially be his final training camp with the club.
– The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin brought up an interesting point in his Sunday notes on the contract situation of rookie Cole Strange, which could be a factor in getting his deal signed. While the salary structures are more or less set thanks to the CBA for rookie draft picks, players have reportedly been negotiating for larger roster bonuses in recent years, as well as the percentage of the fourth year of their deal being guaranteed. As Volin points out, only the top 28 picks saw 100% of that portion guaranteed last year, while this year, picks 27,28,30,31, and 32 have all each seen that portion guaranteed. That sets a precedent on Strange’s contract, which may be something to keep an eye on.
– Brian Flores‘ lawsuit certainly started some changes in the league but it apparently erased one big one from happening in Miami. Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported recently that the Dolphins had big plans and were ready to offer a first-round pick to the Saints for Sean Payton to take over their coaching vacancy. His deal would have reportedly been a five-year, $100 million contract that would have made him the second-highest-paid coach behind Belichick.
– Hyde also reported that had Tom Brady stayed retired and joined Miami’s front office, which had been rumored to happen, Payton then reportedly planned to offer the Buccaneers a second-round pick for Brady to take over as quarterback. Brady was asked about the Miami rumors recently and while he didn’t deny conversations this offseason, he obviously didn’t offer much insight into his plans when questioned. It definitely would have set up an interesting year with him back in the AFC East, but fortunately, it didn’t come to pass.
– Down in Atlanta, former Florida and Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks is apparently taking on additional roles in the Falcons’ offense. According to reports, new head coach Arthur Smith said last week that Franks will likely take on multiple roles similar to what Taysom Hill does in New Orleans. However, Franks will also apparently be working more at tight end in 2022, which should be interesting to see how that evolves. His role is likely frustrating for Tim Tebow fans, who likely wish their QB made a similar decision much sooner instead of leaving the league after the 2015 season.
– In Pittsburgh, it sounds like the Steelers are leaning toward possibly starting rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett in 2022. Head coach Mike Tomlin said recently that he’ll be given an opportunity to compete for the role and he’s pleased with what he’s seen from him so far. “He is 24 years old. He is a mature young man,” said Tomlin. “You do see maturity in his game, and I think all those things are going to put him into position to compete.” The Patriots will face Pittsburgh on the road in Week two of this upcoming season.
UPDATE 4:30pm ET: Meyers officially signed his tender on Monday, which now has him under contract for the 2022 season.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Arthur Smith Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Brian Flores Cole Strange Feleipe Franks Hunter Henry Jakobi Meyers Jonnu Smith Kendrick Bourne Kenny Pickett Mike Tomlin N'Keal Harry Sean Payton Taysom hill Tim Tebow Tom Brady