Some news and notes for this morning:
Belichick Mum on Guy Situation
With Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy not present at minicamp due to a reported contract dispute, Bill Belichick offered up little on Tuesday when it came to the veteran’s status.
Belichick was asked about his “understanding of the situation” surrounding whatever the problem might be, but he responded, “You’d have to talk to him about that.”
He was then asked if Guy was someone he’d like to have with the club this season, with Belichick still shooting down the question.
“Yeah, whatever the issue is, you can talk to him about that,” said Belichick. “I’m not going to talk about contracts or personal situations, injuries.”
Guy is set to make $2 million in 2023 having signed a 4-year extension with the team back in March of 2021 worth a reported $11.5 million.
It’s tough to say what the issue is. Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan reported that the club guaranteed $1 million of his 2022 salary last March, which was the second straight year the veteran had guaranteed money heading into the season.
However, according to OverTheCap.com, unlike the past two seasons, none of his money appears to be guaranteed for 2023.
Guy has been a reliable member of the team on defense, with the 33-year-old finishing among just five players in 2021 who started all 17 games for the team. He did miss three games last season (Week 4, Week 5, and Week 6) but played in every game the rest of the way, participating in over half the snaps in most of those appearances.
He still has one year remaining on his 4-year deal, with the veteran set to be a free agent after the 2024 season.
Brown Back at Practice
Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown was reportedly on hand at minicamp on Tuesday, but after missing time prior to finally showing up, the veteran appears to have some work ahead of him.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Brown didn’t participate in drills and instead spent time on the side field while working on his conditioning.
Brown is in the final season of a 2-year, $13 million deal he signed with New England last offseason. However, one thing worth noting is the fact that most of the money that was guaranteed came in the first year of his deal.
The veteran was originally expected to be the club’s right tackle, but Brown ended up being New England’s left tackle last season. That apparently didn’t sit well, with some reports indicating that Brown wasn’t happy playing left tackle for right tackle money.
How things shake out will be something to monitor, as the tackle position, in general, still remains a big question mark heading into 2023.
Zappe Struggled on Tuesday
While Mac Jones continues his consistent ways, it sounds like Bailey Zappe had an off day on Tuesday during the club’s practice session.
According to MassLive’s Mark Daniels, the second-year quarterback had a difficult time during the team drills.
Daniels reported that Zappe was “wildly inaccurate” at times on Tuesday, going 6-for-11 in 7-on-7s, which included a 2-of-6 stretch in the second period of the drill where all of his incompletions were well off the mark.
Still, this is the time of year where the kinks tend to get worked out. To this point, Zappe has still accomplished something few other second-year NFL quarterbacks have done, and that’s secure the back-up role in just his second NFL season.
He continued working with the first team at various points on Tuesday, and the team continues getting him work with that group, likely trying to prepare him to be ready in the event a similar situation comes up the way it did in 2022 when Jones missed time due to an ankle injury.
Zappe went 2-0 as a starter while Jones was sidelined, appearing in a total of four games. That stretch saw Zappe come in relief of Brian Hoyer in Week 4 in Green Bay, while winning his next two starts against both Detroit and Cleveland.
He also came in the game in relief of Jones during the team’s Week 6 meeting against Chicago, which ended up as a 33-14 loss.
Overall, Zappe completed 65-of-92 (70.7%) for 781-yards, 5 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions during his rookie season.
Zappe certainly had some notable moments in his rookie year. His 3rd-quarter 25-yard touchdown pass against Green Bay marked the first touchdown among NFL rookie quarterbacks in 2022, which was the latest in a season a rookie NFL signal-caller had thrown a touchdown since 2007.
His 2-yard touchdown to Tyquan Thornton against the Browns was the first time the Patriots had a rookie-to-rookie touchdown since Week 18 of the 1993 season, which came when then-rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe connected with fellow rookie receiver, Vincent Brisby.
Zappe was also the first rookie QB to win his first two career starts and finish with a 100+ passer rating since Sonny Jurgensen did it in 1957.
Belichick Excited About Peppers
It’s not often you see Bill Belichick get excited when it comes to talking about his own players, but he certainly did on Tuesday when asked about safety, Jabrill Peppers.
Belichick was asked if he’s seen any “growth” from the veteran safety and the Patriots head coach definitely appears pleased with how far Peppers has come over the last year.
“Yeah. Oh my god, yeah,” said Belichick. “He’s a much different player now than he was last year at this time or even in training camp.”
“A full year after the injury, a lot of confidence in the communication, the system, his assignments. He’s playing fast, aggressive, helping out his teammates. Last year he was trying to learn things, now he’s helping out his teammates, anticipating, making calls or adjustments that maybe help him or possibly help his teammate be in a better position to defend a certain play or type of play.”
“Yeah, he’s been great. He’s way ahead of where he was last year.”
Peppers appeared in all 17 games in 2022, but played in over 50% of the defensive snaps just three times over that span (Week 3 – 63%, Week 8 – 68%, and Week 16 – 63%).
However, it looks like that may change this season, as it looks like he may be poised for big things in his second year here in New England.
Parker Not Excited About Hopkins?
While Mac Jones and other teammates seemed pretty upbeat about the potential of free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins becoming a Patriot, there was one player who didn’t seem overly excited about it.
Veteran wideout DeVante Parker wasn’t quite as complimentary of Hopkins, offering up a “I’m just focused on us right now, you know? Great player, but I’m just focused on us.”
When asked again, Parker said, “Focused on us, man. Next question.’
There’s probably a reason he’s possibly not loving the thought of Hopkins coming in. Both Parker and Hopkins would essentially fill similar roles, which could leave Parker as the odd man out should the team ultimately end up signing Hopkins.
The veteran is also in a tough spot from a financial standpoint, as the club could potentially save $6 million in cap space by parting ways with him.
Hopkins is reportedly set to visit with the team the next two days, with reports indicating he’ll be here both Wednesday and Thursday after spending time last weekend in Nashville visiting the Titans.
Belichick Cancels Final Practice
New England’s head coach appears to be pleased with the progress his club has made over the last few days, with Belichick canceling the final day of minicamp practice.
While he did a similar thing last year by releasing players early, this time around, things seem to be overall heading in a better direction, and the morale appears also to be much better.
This will give both the players and coaches one final month off before the Patriots get back to work when training camp begins at the end of next month.
Posted Under: Patriots News