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Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/7: News and Notes

As they try to entice free agents, the Patriots have to make a key move ahead of next week.

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 7, 2024 at 11:35 am ET

Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/7: News and Notes(PHOTO: Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK)

🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

Some news and notes for this morning:

Patriots Already Getting Spurned:

Heading into free agency, it was no secret that the New England Patriots were facing an uphill battle when it came to trying to entice top-tier free agents to come to Foxboro.

Apparently, they’ve already been spurned by a couple of key names early in the process.  According to Chad Graff of the Athletic, both Buccaneers Mike Evans and Baker Mayfield are two players who didn’t exactly jump at the chance to come to New England.

Evans reportedly had “no interest” in coming to the Patriots, while Jerod Mayo’s team is currently at the bottom of the list of clubs Mayfield is apparently willing to consider.  And that would only be if a return to the Buccaneers doesn’t work out, followed by potentially teams like Minnesota or Atlanta also failing to come to an agreement with him.

While you can laugh and say, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” the reality essentially outlines what the Patriots are up against this offseason.

As we know, this is a team that is horrifically devoid of talent.  They have significant needs up front on the offensive line, they need tight ends, receivers, they need all of it.

It’s a tough spot to be in.  They’re currently stuck in what’s basically a chicken/egg situation.  They can’t attract skill players without a quarterback, and they can’t attract the quarterback due to the lack of skill players.

That’s likely going to be why the Patriots will most likely make a push at the next tier of quarterbacks a priority.  That potentially means Jacoby Brissett is likely facing his best opportunity to cash in, and with good reason.  Of all the players to have to overpay, he’s probably the best option since you’d rather be stuck paying a guy who is at least a good teammate and a good person, fits your system and has familiarity with your staff (he played under Alex Van Pelt in Cleveland) as well as the fact he’s a decent player on the field.  He’s also the type of guy who would likely be a good mentor for whoever they select in April.

Reports have already indicated the interest in Brissett is real, albeit it’s not known if it’s mutual.  Still, it’s also a situation where he would likely be considered the day one starter, which is probably a guarantee he won’t get elsewhere.

Getting Brissett in the fold early would at least remove some uncertainty.  Better yet, for players who have potentially been with him on other rosters or are familiar with him, it may tip the scale a bit in terms of getting guys to want to come here and play with him.  He’s not Cam Newton, but he’s decent enough where he’ll provide more of a draw than the current duo of Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe.

Needless to say, getting their veteran signal-caller will likely need to be step one in the coming days, and one can hope that it’s Brissett who gets the nod.  Because if he says no, and knowing how the top-tier guys seem to be viewing New England, they may have a rough stretch over these next couple of weeks adding talent to a roster that desperately needs it.

Northwestern QB Ben Bryant, WR  Cam Johnson, and LB Bryce Gallagher. (PHOTO: Photo by Ryan Kuttler/Northwestern Athletics)

Patriots Present at Northwestern Workout:

The Patriots are continuing to gather intel, with a report by Ethan Hurwitz of the Quinnipiac Chronicle that New England was one of many teams present at Northwestern’s Pro Day on Wednesday.

According to Natt Zahn of CBS Sports, among athletes who worked out were linebacker Bryce Gallagher, wide receiver Cam Johnson, and quarterback Ben Bryant.  Several other local athletes, including North Central College receiver DeAngelo Hardy, were also reportedly on hand.

Bryant, who is 6’3″, 220lbs finished the 2023 season completing 173-of-277 (62.5%) for 1807-yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.  His best season came in 2021 when he completed 279-of-408 (68.4%) for 3,121 yards along with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

He was sacked 40 times that year, and cut that total down to 25 in 2022, and 26 last season.

Bryant told reporters he felt that he put together a good performance during the workout, and he’s hopeful someone will give him a shot at the next level.

“I think I handled the pressure well and threw the ball really well, did all the testing well,” said Bryant. “I feel like I’m as good as any of these quarterbacks in this draft. I think I proved that today and I proved that with this season. I’ll be thankful for whatever opportunity I get.”

Meanwhile, receiver Cam Johnson hauled in 54 passes for 715 yards in 2023, including 6 touchdowns, with Johnson tallying touchdowns in each of his final five games.

He told the Daily Northwestern that he learned a lot over his college career, knowing that letting up is never an option.

“Early on at Vanderbilt, getting to play early and be one of the guys taught me the importance of preparation — the importance of being a professional in the workplace environment,” Johnson said. “Going to Arizona State and not having the year I wanted was really important to learn … nothing’s given to you, and I’m gonna have to work for what I’ve got.”

As for Gallagher, the linebacker was a playmaker on the field for their defense.  He finished his career with 316 total tackles including 120 last season, one sack and two passes defended, with one interception.  He also forced two fumbles, recovering one of them.

He said perseverance has been his biggest assets, and he’s just hoping that another opportunity will come as he finishes his career at Northwestern.

“No matter what happens, no matter what you go through, just keep going — don’t let anything bring you down,” Gallagher said. “Don’t let any trials or tribulations hold you down.  Just put faith in God and trust that he’s got a plan for you.”

Judon Has a Plan and Makes His Free Agent Pitches:

Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon appeared on Good Morning Football on Wednesday, with the veteran making a pitch to try and keep one of his guys in the fold, along with trying to entice a couple of other guys to join the club.

“First of all We need to sign Kyle Dugger,” said Judon.  ” Kyle, I love you, you’ve become a leader in the secondary.  We just lost a ball God [Devin McCourty] so we don’t need to lose another safety.  So we want Kyle to stay with the team, be a leader.”

“But then, we want some wide receivers.  Gabe Davis, you don’t have to leave the division. You just have to leave New York.  Come and lower the taxes, come over to the Patriots.”

“Staying with the wide receiver group, Calvin Ridley, come on over to the red-white-and-blue.  We have a spot for you.  Nobody wears zero.  It’s all yours.  You’ve got it.  I think you wear like a size nine cleat, we’ve got all the size nines.”

“Whatever you need.  Every catch, you need a new pair of shoes?  We got you.  Need a new pair of gloves?  We got you.”

“Then, we have a great running back and we just need another one.  So I’m saying, Josh Jacobs, come on out of Nevada.  They haven’t treated you well.  You won a rushing title and nobody’s even talking about it.  You do that in New England, [you’ll be the] number one selling jersey.”

“I’m just saying you and Rhamondre [Stevenson] would be a great 1-2 punch.  It’s 1a, 1b type thing.  I see y’all as that.  Y’all never get tired, so y’all going to be running crazy.  Especially if we don’t know who you’ll have at quarterback, we definitely need good running.”

Odds and Ends:

According to Jake Rabadi of the Liberty Line, the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in soon-to-be Patriots free agent linebacker Mack Wilson Sr. Monday marks the start of the legal tampering period, and it appears New England may have some competition when it comes to trying to keep the veteran in the fold ahead of free agency. … Mark Daniels of MassLive reported on Wednesday that he dug into the news that the Patriots had inquired about acquiring Chiefs defensive back L’Jarius Sneed, but that interest was described to him as the team doing ‘due diligence’. … Some people wondered why Tom Brady didn’t talk about Aaron Hernandez in “The Dynasty” and it appears the answer was really simple.  He wasn’t asked.  Director Matthew Hamacheck told MassLive that he had a limited amount of time with Brady and the focus was on other things.  “I didn’t ask him about it,” said Hamachek via Adam London of NESN. “Part of it is, you’ve got three hours with people, and you have to pick and choose where you’re going to focus your questions on and I did not ask Tom Brady about [Hernandez].”  The episodes have been dropping on Thursday nights as of late, with the next two expected to hit later this evening.

READ NEXT:
Patriots Already Getting Spurned Ahead of Free Agency

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Aaron Hernandez Alex Van Pelt Bailey Zappe Baker Mayfield Ben Bryant Bryce Gallagher Cam Johnson Gabe Davis Jacoby Brissett Josh Jacobs L’Jarius Sneed Mac Jones Mack Wilson Sr. Matthew Judon Mike Evans Northwestern Football Tom Brady

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