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Patriots News 02-05, Kraft Wants Brady To Retire a Patriot, And Thoughts On His Retirement

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
February 5, 2023 at 5:00 am ET

Patriots News 02-05, Kraft Wants Brady To Retire a Patriot, And Thoughts On His Retirement(PHOTO: Jan 1, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline as they take on the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Good morning, and here are our Sunday Patriots news and notes. With Patriot coaches heavily involved in the East-West Shrine Bowl and to a lesser extent at the Senior Bowl, the staff got to spend some valuable time with many of the top prospects in the college game. And many of those players will soon be plying their trade in the NFL.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft went on record stating that he’d like to sign Tom Brady to a one-day contract so he can retire as a Patriot. “I’d do it tomorrow,” he said to CNN hosts Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow on Thursday morning.

“Not only do I want it, but our fans are also clamoring for it,” Kraft said. “To us, he is and always has been and always will be a Patriot.

 “We will do everything in our power to bring him back, have him sign off as a Patriot, and find ways to honor him for many years to come.”

Kraft recalled his first face-to-face meeting with Brady, who was a rookie QB in 2000. Kraft said Brady told him: 

“I’m the best decision your franchise has ever made.”

“He was No. 4 in our depth chart,” Kraft said. “He came down and really believed what he said – and he was right.”

But Brady recalls it much differently and far less cocky. In his first interview with the Howard Stern Show, Brady sounded much like the Brady that we’ve become used to hearing in interviews.

“I didn’t say that, for the record,” Brady said to Stern. “He doesn’t remember as well as I do. I remember saying, ‘You’ll never regret picking me.’ Kraft always will say, ‘I was the best decision…’ But it’s neither here nor there.”

“But what I meant was, look, you took a chance on me, and like everyone, I’m going to try and go make you proud. And I’m going to try to represent the team and the organization. I’ve really tried to keep that approach for 20 years,” Brady added.

Kraft recorded a video that explained how he and the team felt about Brady upon his retirement, which can be seen in its entirety here

While Kraft’s video hints at more than just a one-day contract (a statue outside of Gillette Stadium?) I don’t think that the “Brady retiring as a Patriot” will happen. Nothing to base it on. Strictly an opinion.

Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News: 

Will Lawing: According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the Patriots are adding a long-time assistant to Bill O’Brien and a name to keep an eye on in the future. Lawing has been with O’Brien for more than a decade at every stop he’s made. 

Lawing was hired as a graduate assistant with Penn State in 2013 when O’Brien was named as the head coach. O’Brien then brought Lawing to the Houston Texans in 2014 as a defensive quality control coach before becoming Houston’s assistant offensive line coach in 2017 and 2018. Lawing moved up to become the team’s tight ends coach in 2019.

After O’Brien was fired, O’Brien brought Lawing to Alabama, where he’s spent the last two seasons as an analyst. Before joining O’Brien at Penn State, Lawing was the tight end coach, passing game coordinator, and OC/QB coach at Juanita College (PA). His father worked for Nick Saban at Michigan State. 

His role with the Patriots has yet to be specified. He could be the next TE coach if Nick Caley, whose contract is up and leaves, OL coach or in another capacity. But, if O’Brien leaves for a head coaching gig, or gets the New England job when Bill Belichick retires, I’d wager that Lawing is being groomed as his OC.

Jerod Mayo: The Patriots made their intentions known about negotiating with Jerod Mayo about a long-term extension, a healthy raise in pay, and perhaps a new title. 

However, Karen Gueregian of the Boston Herald said that the last part is far from a sure thing. Karen is among the most respected and dialed-in writers on the Patriots beat. And she says a new title may not be in the cards in 2023. 

“Regarding Jerod Mayo, I’m hearing from a source we should pump the brakes on him having a new title going forward. A pay raise for sure, and his overall role could change, but there might not be a different title.”

It should be noted that Mayo turned down two job interviews to remain in New England and was involved in the interview process for the next Patriots OC.

Jonathan Jones: The 29-year-old Patriot cornerback, who has played only for the Patriots during his seven-year career, is a free agent but would like to remain in New England. He has been mostly a slot corner, but last year the coaches moved him to outside boundary corner, where overall, he performed well. 

Jones appeared on NBC Sports Boston’s “Next Pats” podcast with Phil Perry. “My adulthood’s been spent in New England. The things I’ve been a part of, the things I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of in my career there, has been a blessing. Just going into free agency, taking everything in stride. One day at a time. Just enjoying the process, enjoying the journey. Something new for me.”

Perry asked Jones if he’d be open to resigning with the Patriots.

“I would hope so,” Jones said. “That’s where I’ve spent my career. It’s what I know, it’s what I love. New England is home for me in that aspect. So, we’ll see. We’ll see how free agency turns out, and we’ll take it from there.”

It will be interesting to see the interest that Jones garners in FA. He definitely upped his stock in terms of showing he can do more than just be a slot corner. Although they have some young talent in Jack, Marcus Jones, and Jalen Mills, they still need an outside boundary corner. Myles Bryant is a restricted free agent. 

On an unrelated note, with free safety a need if Devin McCourty retires, could the Patriots move Mills to free safety? We know Belichick prefers to have veterans in the lineup, and it could give a rookie safety time to get aclimatized to the NFL and the Patriots defense. Therefore, Mills could still be a plug-and-play option at either position. Just throwing stuff at the wall here, but he could easily do that.  

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I took the week off, but in our last podcast, looking at the Patriots’ biggest needs moving forward.

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that especially Francis isn’t is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Thoughts On Brady’s Retirement…Again

I was trying to come up with some thoughts on Brady’s retirement (“for good this time,” he said) without bringing up the stats that everyone has been posting. And don’t get me wrong, those stats are absolutely ridiculous. However, there has always been, and always will be, the “yeah but” crowd, especially in the local and national media, who have been quite upset with the way things occurred because Brady was never expected to be, the next “great one” or the next face of the league. 

Brady wasn’t even (ridiculously so, BTW) a starter for his college team at Michigan. Despite the fact that the team was better under him than the “next great ones,” but stuck it out. He was deemed too slow, skinny, and unathletic, without a good enough arm to play in the NFL. So, in his case, the scouts got it all wrong. They never measured his brain or the size of his heart. 

Peyton Manning had entered the league shortly before Brady did, and he was the next “great one”. He was anointed by the league and the media. Nobody at all paid attention to the Patriots’ 4th string QB in 2000. But Drew Bledsoe got hurt in 2001, and everything changed, while #12 for NE did what seemed like the unthinkable. He took the Patriots to the Super Bowl and beat the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

The naysayers said that it and the Patriots were a fluke, a one-hit-wonder. Does “Because I Got High” ring a bell? Do you even remember who sang that song? Answer at the bottom. Then came two more Super Bowls consecutively, making the three SB wins in four years a dynasty. Still, the naysayers said he was a “system QB.” Whatever the hell that is.

How many times did the Patriots’ “system” change…with Brady leading it? Then came the “he’s a cheater” chant that was delivered most by the teams he’d beaten with ridiculous regularity. Does 33-3 sound familiar, Buffalo? This reached a crescendo in 2016 during the “Deflategate” buffoonery by Park Avenue. 

After he returned from a four-game suspension, Brady led the Patriots to an 11-1 record, completing 67.4 percent of his passes, with 28 TDs and just two INTs. In the Super Bowl, he led the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28, where he passed for 466 yards. 

He was ridiculed for his choice of partner, friend, and “snake oil” salesman for his stretching, muscle-suppling, diet, and band workouts. But other than kickers, Brady played in the NFL older than anyone before. After suffering aches and pains from being a Green Beret in the Army’s Special Forces, I went to his TB12 clinic a few times, and guess what? It WORKS! 

The last thing was “Father Time,” and we all heard that Father Time was undefeated…until now. We heard from the experts that Brady would be in serious decline, starting the year after tearing his ACL in 2008. His supposed decline was reported on (wished for?) so many times it boggles the mind. We all heard and read that his last few years in NE showed obvious signs of decline, according to the experts. 

He went to Tampa, threw 50 TDs, and won another Super Bowl. In 2022, the Bucs went 8-9, but Brady led the league in pass attempts and completions. He was still playing at a high level, despite the fact, the team wasn’t very good. There were 3-4 teams supposedly interested in signing him for 2023. Father Time lost out here. 

In the end, as Kraft said in his video, we were fortunate and more than a little spoiled to have witnessed his greatness for the past 23 years.  Let the naysayers and biased ones say their same old schtick. I could care less what they say. Brady passed the eye test for all those years. Thanks, Tom, for letting us witness something that doesn’t come around at all.

Some Players Who Stood Out At The Shrine Bowl

While many of us were interested in tackles or wide receivers coming out of the Shrine Bowl, according to a couple of reports, two of the players that most impressed the coaches were linebackers. 

Mo Diabate from Utah and Isaiah Moore were supposedly very highly rated by the Patriots coaches. According to NFL.com and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, the coaching staff “couldn’t stop raving” about Moore, who, prior to last week, wasn’t high on many team’s draft boards.

“Isaiah Moore has been one of the stars of the week,” Brooks said after the ‘backer made an impressive third-down pass breakup. “The coaching staff couldn’t stop raving about him. ? All week, it was about the leadership, the communication, and how he took command of the huddle. He came away with rave reviews for his work this week.”

Moore is 6’2, 236, and was a five-year starter and a three-year captain for the Wolfpack. The Patriots love players with leadership experience. 

Diabate is an OLB who, at 6’3, 229, is a bit lighter than the Patriots usually value at the position, but Brooks said the Patriots identified Diabate “as a guy who has real value.” He played both inside and outside linebacker and checks the blocks as athletic and quick. He has sideline-to-sideline speed. He too, isn’t high on many draft boards, although that may change 

Other players that caught the coaches’ eye were Edge player Tyrus Wheat of Mississippi State, DL Taron Vincent of Ohio State, and Eric Scott Jr., CB, Southern Mississippi. 

Scott may go late or undrafted, but the coaches said he was the most comfortable corner playing man coverage at the Shrine Bowl. He’s got good size at 6’0, 197, and just may end up as another late-round/UDFA gem. Its still very early in the process. 

______________

“It has been a long, historic career that he’s put together,” Brown said. “I don’t see any other player going out and accomplishing what he’s accomplished as an individual on the football field. … He has put together one heck of a career. I just want to tell him congratulations on one heck of a career. There is no other competitor that has the heart and the will to win… they don’t have the kind of heart that he has.”

“To say that you played with, probably, the greatest player to play the game, it means a lot. And I think it means a lot to me, too, because this is where his career started. This is where he threw his first pass, his first touchdown, right here in New England. And I was there to see it and witness it.”

Patriots former wide receiver and now wide receiver coach Troy Brown on his thoughts about Tom Brady’s retirement.

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

(Answer to the one-hit wonder song: Afroman)

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: Bill Belichick Bill O'Brien East-West Shrine Bowl Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots Nick Caley Patriots Patriots coaches Tom Brady Will Lawing

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