Good morning, and here are our Sunday Patriots news and notes for this week.
Memorial Day Weekend this year is supposed to be the busiest travel weekend in quite some time. If you’re on the road, be safe out there. And please remember the reason why we celebrate the holiday.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men (and women) lived. George S. Patton
While we may not have known them all, we owe them all. DOL
It is kind of a slow news week in terms of much to report in regards to OTAs, but the Patriots lost two practice sessions, and Bill Belichick was fined $50K for breaking the rules this spring…more below.
Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News:
Anthony Firkser: The Patriots signed the veteran tight end (which must have made Clare Cooper a happy camper this week. Firkser bounced around with the Jets and Chiefs in 2017 before landing with the Titans in 2018.
In four years with Tennessee, Firkser played in 58 games and caught 106 passes for 1,107 yards and five touchdowns. In the Titans’ win over the Patriots in the 2019 Wild Card playoff game, he caught two passes and a TD. He spent last year with Atlanta.
He has the experience and could carve out a role being versatile; he can play H-Back. Firkser is 6’2, 246, and graduated from Harvard.
Raekwon McMillan: The Patriots’ oft-injured linebacker suffered another injury during OTAs when he partially tore his Achilles. The team placed him on IR, which makes it very unlikely that he’ll play for the Patriots this season.
The one way that could be possible is for New England to come to an injury settlement with him, release him and then sign him to a new contract if he’s recovered enough to play this year.
He appeared in 16 games last year, mostly as a backup to Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai as an inside linebacker and as a special teamer. McMillan did have a career-high 5 tackles for loss (TFL) last year.
DeAndre Hopkins: “Release the Kraken! The Cardinals released the talented wide receiver, and immediately tongues started wagging that the Patriots would be among the many suitors trying to court Hopkins to their team.
However, unlike when there were rumors that New England was interested in trying to swing a trade for Hopkins before the draft, now it is different. His contract was quite hefty; now, there isn’t any trade capital to expend, and his contract can be manipulated to work around any cap issues if both sides are willing to work with one another.
The Patriots were interested in March, and I believe that they’ll still kick the tires on Hopkins, but if Hopkins is looking for a ring, then Buffalo or Kansas City would probably be his preferred destination.
DHop is a fan of Josh Allen, it seems. “One of my favorite quarterbacks that I’ve been watching since he came into the league is Josh Allen,” Hopkins said. “He reminds me of a new-school Andrew Luck. I love Josh Allen.” But the Ravens and Jets remain contenders for his services.
Vets Get Jersey Numbers: The Patriots announced jersey numbers for 14 veteran players.
# 3: James Robinson
# 5: Jabrill Peppers – switching from #3 that he wore last year
# 7: Juju Smith-Schuster
# 15: Corliss Waitman
# 17: Scotty Washington
#19: Trace Mcsorley
#29: Brad Hawkins
#37: Tae Hayes
#39: Rodney Randle Jr.
#45: Chris Board
#47: Olakunle Fatukasi
#74: Riley Reiff
#76: Calvin Anderson
#86: Anthony Firkser
#88: Mike Gesicki
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 is taking some time off. However, Derek and I broke down the schedule last week.
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.
Patriots Lose Two OTAs Due To A STs Meeting —
The Patriots had two OTAs (organized team activities) because of a coach’s scheduling mistake that resulted in players spending more than their allowed time of four hours at the team facility, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
With the announcement, the NFL recognized the “candor and full cooperation” of the Patriots, referring to it as “noteworthy and commendable.” However, that did nothing to soften the blow of the loss of two practices that are needed with the installation of the new offense.
Bill Belichick was also fined $50,000 in addition to losing the two sessions. One of the lost practice sessions was on Thursday when the beat writers were going to get their first look at the 2023 Patriots.
Under Article 21, Section 5(b) of the collective bargaining agreement, players can be at the team facility no more than four hours per day during the second phase of the offseason program. The NFLPA filed a complaint against New England for violating that on May 4.
The infraction was tied to coach Joe Judge who will again be working with the Special Teams this season. He scheduled a 15-minute STs meeting that was visible on the team’s internal schedule. That caused offensive and defensive players to go over the four-hour time limit. The Patriots tried to explain that it wasn’t mandatory and that no attendance was taken. However, the NFL ruled that because it was posted to the team’s internal schedule, it would be construed as “mandatory” for the players to attend.
While it may seem picky by the league, those are the rules that all teams must abide by, and the small amount of time is immaterial. Last season, four teams (Dallas, Chicago, Washington, and Houston were all guilty and penalized for violations of offseason rules.
The loss of the OTAs was a double bummer since I was hoping to hear very good things about the new receivers in the Patriots’ offense, Mike Gesicki, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kayshon Boutte, and especially Demario Douglas. Maybe this week.
That 15 minutes certainly cost Belichick in his checkbook.
“Most people don’t come in contact with that many service members or veterans … these opportunities to learn about the military are always good to take, especially on a day like Memorial Day that for a lot of service members is a somber day. A day of remembrance for the heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“The core values of honor, courage, and commitment … were really driven into me at the naval academy. They played a role in every single thing you did, every day. To carry that with me has provided me [with] perspective on what it means to play in the NFL, and it’s not just grown men playing a boys’ game. We play an important role in society in a lot of ways,”
“When it comes to what it means in our community, we have seen so many guys stepping up this last year to play a role in our society in getting back to normal in times of crisis. Leaders of men that have practiced and prepared for great endeavors, military veterans that answer the call when it comes to supporting their community, but it’s also a lot of football players and professional athletes that have perspective on what it takes to accomplish a mission. Things get done when that level of leadership steps in.”
“It shows that the operation starts with us, but really we can take a bigger role on the team as well because we’re connecting those specialists with the rest of the team, and we have to play both roles.” Cardona said, “Excited to see more guys get drafted and get more opportunities. Hopefully, our pay scale can change too.”
Patriots long snapper and Navy Lieutenant Joe Cardona on what Memorial Day means to him during a Patriots Nation podcast two years ago.
Tomorrow, we remember the fallen who have died in the service of our great nation.
“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Demario Douglas Joe Judge JuJu Smith-Schuster Kayshon Boutte Kendrick Bourne Mike Gesicki New England Patriots Patriots Patriots OTAs