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Friday Patriots Notebook 3/8: News and Notes

Will the Vikings approach the Patriots about a trade at #3 overall?

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 8, 2024 at 11:50 am ET

Friday Patriots Notebook 3/8: News and Notes(PHOTO: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 11 minutes

Some Patriots news and notes for this morning:

Minnesota in the Mix?

Out in Minnesota, the Vikings are in the middle of what’s likely going to be a pivotal offseason.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is about to be a free agent, with the veteran 35-year-old signal-caller, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, likely set to cash in for what could be his final time as a pro.

If Cousins departs, it’s going to leave the Vikings in a massive hole, especially coming off of seasons where they’ve been in the mix in the NFC North.

Right now, it’s uncertain whether Cousins will come back as he’s expected to garner interest and it could leave Minnesota in a position where they may need to let him go and potentially turn their attention to the draft in order to replace him.

As it currently stands, the Vikings sit at #11 but there are rumblings that they could also be among teams who could be looking to make the leap up the board to take a quarterback.

According to Alec Lewis of the Athletic, who covers the Vikings, an LSU staffer told him that Minnesota was “one of the earliest teams to dive into, evaluate, and express an interest in” Jayden Daniels.

The fact they’re even looking at Daniels tells you that there’s possibly an interest in moving up for Minnesota.  Given how the draft board is starting to shake out, that would require the Vikings to potentially make a deal with one of the teams sitting in the top three slots, with the Patriots clearly being one of those at #3 overall.

The Athletic’s Chad Graff, who previously covered the Vikings before taking the job here in New England to cover the Patriots, appeared on the Purple Insider podcast recently to discuss a variety of topics, including their QB situation.  That discussion included a potential trade by Minnesota next month with New England, which would see the Vikings move up from the #11 pick to #3 overall.

Host Matthew Coller noted that Drake Maye is also a player who Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell is said to be fond of.  So he asked Graff if he believes the Patriots should accept a deal that would allow New England to add a haul of choices while allowing the Vikings to replace Cousins and get their future QB.

“So Washington takes Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye is on the board – I think that’s who [head coach] Kevin O’Connell would like the most – I’m going to offer you three first-round picks,” said Coller.  “#11, and then two additional first-round picks, and then we’ll throw in some change – maybe a second-rounder in 2026.  Is that enough for you?”

Graff believes it’s a deal worth considering, noting that 2024 is likely going to be a tough season and the Patriots need all the ammunition they can get as they continue restocking their roster.  He also believes adding picks also gives them flexibility next year should the club covet a quarterback at that point.

“Yes,” said Graff.  “I may not be allowed back in the grocery store around here.  Everybody wants to just hold onto the number three pick, take the quarterback and move on. If the Patriots could get two additional first-round picks including #11, sign up for that.  Do that.”

“This roster stinks.  It needs as many first-round picks as you can possibly get.  And then, next year, if you do hit on some guys this year and you target a quarterback that you like, you’ve got the ammunition that you can then be the team to move up and go get whoever.  And if we’re being honest, they’re probably not going to be very good next year.  They’re probably going to have, almost certainly, a top 10 pick, probably even a top 5 pick again next year.  You’re going to have another chance to get the quarterback.”

“The Patriots are not in a spot where adding Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels is going to change their outlook, whereas I think it would for Minnesota.  If you’ve got a guy on a rookie deal in Justin Jefferson, and the pieces that they have there, I would sign up for that for Minnesota.”

The Giants also recently have been rumored to be interested in moving up into the top three, which means that Eliot Wolf may find himself with an interesting decision in the coming weeks.  At the same time, going the route of trading down would likely require at least bringing in a veteran early in free agency and taking steps to give them someone capable enough to start in September if they’re going to cash in and follow the strategy Graff – and others – have suggested.

However, New York is also reportedly meeting with Russell Wilson, which could possibly take them out of the mix if they ultimately end up bringing him in.  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Wilson was spotted in Newark last Friday for what he called an “exploratory meeting.” Pittsburgh is another team that’s said to be interested.

(PHOTO: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Henry Staying in the Fold

The Patriots locked up a key free agent on Friday, with Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reporting that the Patriots are finalizing a deal with free agent tight end Hunter Henry.

His deal is a reported three-year deal worth $27 million.

Initial reports on Henry weren’t promising, as the two sides were reportedly “far apart” in negotiations.  However, it looks like they were able to overcome whatever gap existed, which now ensures that Henry will at least be around for the foreseeable future.

Locking him up makes sense, as he’s been among New England’s most productive players on third down in previous seasons.  Losing him would have left a significant gap in that area, which they already encountered last season following the departure of Jakobi Meyers.

They spent most of last year hoping for someone else to emerge in those “gotta have it” moments, and it never happened.  Fortunately, it appears they won’t have to deal with losing one of the few guys they’ve been able to count on.

With Henry sticking around, it allows New England to set their sights on other areas, with tackle and receiver remaining key needs ahead of both free agency and the draft.

(PHOTO: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Frustrating Episodes of “The Dynasty”

The latest two episodes of “The Dynasty” dropped Thursday night with episode seven focusing in on the “DeflateGate” situation and it was absolutely frustrating to watch.

The beginning of this one was a little strange.  The episode started with a bit about owner Robert Kraft, with Rupert Murdach appearing during the segment talking about Kraft’s great leadership, and Rupert’s trip with Kraft to Russia in 2005 to meet with Vladimir Putin.  That was the infamous meeting where Kraft was asked to show his ring to Putin, who tried it on, and then dropped it into his pocket and ended up walking off with it.

Why that was included in an episode about DeflateGate was a little odd, especially since it held no relevance.  It sort of felt like that was an anecdote that they wanted to include, and there was no good spot to put it, so they chose this episode.

After the segment, which talked about the media reports about the incident, they flipped things and used that moment as a spring board for the rest of the episode to set up the motive behind the deflategate accusations.

“It was unbelievable the attention it got,” said Kraft about the ring incident.  “But to tell you the truth, we were used to all this attention at this point in our lives.”

It was just a strange tie-in.  And the rest of the episode was also similarly as aggravating.

The discussion centered around Bill Belichick deferring to Tom Brady on the cheating allegations following that game against the Colts, and they completely left out the epic Saturday press conference where Belichick was intensely defiant against what they were being accused of.

“Over the last few days I’ve learned a lot more than I ever knew, like exponentially more,” said Belichick in that press conference.  “I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100% that I have personally and we as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter and I just feel that on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that’s involved in this organization, that we need to say something.”

“I’ve talked to and gathered a lot of information from members of our staff. I have talked to other people familiar with this subject in other organizations, and we have performed an internal study of the process and I think there’s certainly other things that I can do and there’s maybe other research that can be done.  But I’d say at this time, I definitely have enough information to share with you. And so based on the events of today, I feel like now’s the time to do it rather than wait and so I know this is kind of an impromptu thing but that’s just the way it worked out.”

Belichick then went on to say that he forced his staffers to go through the entire process of how they prepared the footballs for game day, with Belichick monitoring the situation and then having the club begin testing the footballs.  That resulted in the “I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa-Vito of the football world as she was in the car expertise area, all right?” comment everyone likely remembers.

As we know, the league never tested the Colts’ footballs that night, nor did the ensuing “spot checks” by the league the following year see those results get released publicly.  That’s likely because the NFL found the exact same thing Belichick did.  None of that was mentioned.

The episode then, despite working in the Jimmy Garoppolo pick and how it also changed that season for Brady, at least turns and talks about the revenge tour Brady went on following his return, which helped ease the frustration of having to relive the deflategate nonsense again.

It remains an irritating subject for those of us who went through it, and in the episode, while Brady wouldn’t give his opinions on it, he did at least provide some insight into his frame of mind while it was going down.  That in and of itself made the last half fun to watch as they went on to dominate after that week four game.

(PHOTO: Ron Chenoy – USA TODAY Sports)

Belichick Was Extremely Thorough

Since it was left out, it makes senses to clear the air a bit.  During the process ahead of that press conference, which, keep in mind, took place ahead of their Super Bowl meeting against the Seahawks, Belichick outlined absolutely everything they did when it came to how the balls were prepared ahead of handing them off to the officials, and it was about as thorough as you would have expected him to be.

Like anything else, before firing back at the league, Belichick wanted to cover all his basis and it was clear that what they were being accused of didn’t add up based on what he had to say.

“So we simulated a game day situation in terms of the preparation of the footballs and where the footballs were at various points in time during the day or night as the case was Sunday and I would say that our preparation process for the footballs is what we do, I can’t speak for anybody else,” explained Belichick.  “It’s what we do and that process, we have found, raises the psi approximately one pound. So that process of creating a tackiness, a texture, the right feel, whatever that feel is, it’s a sensation for the quarterback – what’s the right feel – that process elevates the psi approximately one pound based on what our study showed, which was multiple balls, multiple examples in the process as we would do for a game.”

“It’s not one football. When the balls are delivered to the officials’ locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 psi, what exactly they did, I don’t know, but for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did. We set them at 12.5. That’s at the discretion of the official though, regardless of what we ask for, it’s the official’s discretion to put them where he wants.”

“Again, that’s done in a controlled climate. The footballs are prepared in our locker room, they’re delivered to the officials’ locker room, Which is a controlled environment, it’s whatever we have here, is what we have there. When the footballs go out onto the field into game conditions, whatever those conditions are, whether it’s hot and humid, whether it’s cold and damp, whether it’s cold and dry, whatever it is, that’s where the footballs are played with and that’s where the measurements would be different than what they are, possibly different than what they are, in a controlled environment, and that’s what we found.”

“We found that once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words, they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the balls reached an equilibrium without the rubbing process, after that had run it’s course and the footballs had reached an equilibrium, that they were down approximately one and a half pounds per square inch. When we brought the footballs back in after that process and retested them in a controlled environment as we have here, then those measurements rose approximately one half pound per square inch. So the net of one and a half, back to a half, is approximately one pound per square inch, to one and a half.”

(PHOTO: Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports)

“Now we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions, it’s a function of that. So if there’s activity in the ball relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put it at let’s say twelve and half, if that’s in fact what they did, that once the ball reached its equilibrium state, it probably was closer to eleven and a half. But, again, that’s just our measurements we can’t speak specifically to what happened because we have no way of touching the footballs other than once the officials have them, we don’t touch them except or when we play with them in the game.”

Belichick then went on to explain what all of us already knew.  When the temperature drops, just like with the tires on a car, the air pressure obviously drops.

“But it’s similar to the concept of when you get into your car and the light comes on and it says low tire pressure because the car’s been sitting in the driveway outside overnight and you start it up and you start driving it and the light goes off, it’s a similar concept to that. So the atmospheric conditions as well as the true equilibrium of the ball is critical to the measurement. At no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than in the locker room, or in an area very close to that. Never in a heated room or heated condition, that has absolutely never taken place to anyone’s knowledge or anyone’s recollection and I mean, that just didn’t happen.”

He also added that he manipulated the balls to try and see if there was a discernable difference, while telling reporters, none of the quarterbacks, including Brady, could tell a difference.

“We had our quarterbacks look at a number of footballs and they were unable to differentiate a one pound per square inch difference in those footballs. They were unable to do it,” said Belichick.  “On a two pound differential, there was some degree of differentiation, but certainly not a consistent one. A couple of ones they could pick out, but they were also wrong in some of the other ones that they had.”

“So you’re welcome to do that yourself and I can tell you from all of the footballs I’ve handled over the last week, I can’t tell the difference if there’s a one pound difference or half a pound difference in any of the footballs.”

He closed it out with angrily saying, “I’m embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I’ve put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us.”

Again, all of the above was left out.  So while Belichick may have initially deferred to Brady, he didn’t exactly throw him under the bus and move on.  He absolutely took steps that day to clear his – and the team’s – name as all of this unfolded.

Odds and Ends:

The Patriots added a tackle on Thursday, with the club agreeing to terms with former Pittsburgh Steeler Chukwuma Okorafor ahead of free agency. The 26-year old has started a total of 59 games for the Steelers, including 14 last season.  While he’s not a top-tier player by any means, he at least provides a servicable player at what’s certainly a position of need this offseason. … According to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Bills special-teamer Siran Neal is on the Patriots’ radar, with the club having reportedly expressed interest in him. … Broncos safety Justin Simmons was released by the club and is reportedly expected to draw interest from the Patriots.  The former Boston College standout was also previously on their radar, having been among players who visited with the team back in 2016 before being taken in the third round by Denver that year. … According to MassLive’s Mark Daniels the Patriots have made some headway on some of their exclusive rights free agents.  He pointed out that on Thursday, cornerback Alex Austin announced on Twitter that he was returning to the Patriots.  Daniels also reports that the team is also planning to pick up tackle Tyrone Wheatley’s option, citing a source.

READ NEXT:
Patriots Keep TE Henry In the Fold

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.


Tags: Alex Austin Bill Belichick Chukwuma Okorafor Drake Maye Hunter Henry Jayden Daniels Justin Simmons Kevin O'Connell Kirk Cousins Robert Kraft Siran Neal Tom Brady Tyrone Wheatley Jr. Vladimir Putin

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