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Tuesday Patriots Notebook 4/2: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
April 2, 2024 at 11:47 am ET

Tuesday Patriots Notebook 4/2: News and Notes(PHOTO: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 7 minutes

Some Patriots News and notes on this Tuesday:

Bedard: Time For Kraft To Step Down

Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal has started beating the drum for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to step down, with NBC Sports Boston helping to amplify that sentiment on Monday after having Bedard on to discuss that very topic.

In a recent article, Bedard wrote, “Kraft has been and continues to be one of the most powerful owners in the biggest professional sports league in North America.  But it’s time for someone else to be the voice of ownership to the fans.  It’s time for Jonathan Kraft to step out of the shadows and to the forefront of this franchise.”

“This is not age-ism or anything like that.  Just like players and coaches, there comes a time when the best days for NFL personnel are behind them.  It was time for Belichick to depart, after more than a few down years.  It’s time for RKK to step aside for his son.”

Bedard’s apparent reasoning is that he’s frustrated by the non-answers that Kraft gave last week on a variety of topics, with Kraft obviously not being 100% transparent when asked about some things during his press conference.

“Patriots fans, for the most part, are angry or at the very least concerned, and they want real answers,” wrote Bedard.

“To get those answers, there needs to be a real give-and-take between ownership and the media. This is not a time where Patriots fans want to hear ownership just give their selective responses and nary room for a follow-up. They want real answers. The only way that can happen is if the media feels like things are on a level playing field between the subject and the questioners.”

“And that’s not happening anymore.”

The last sentence is puzzling.  Anyone who has listened to Kraft’s press conferences over the years, especially the last couple of years, knows that not a lot has changed.  Kraft gave up sound bytes regarding the pressure on Bill Belichick the last two years, but beyond that, he’s always chosen his responses carefully.  He’s never been one to completely tip his hand.

Calvin Ridley

(PHOTO: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports)

One situation Bedard cited was what obviously transpired with free agent receiver Calvin Ridley.  That was the clip played in the interview, with Kraft obviously talking about the issue with both the tax difference between Massachusetts and Tennessee, along with the fact his “girlfriend (Ridley is actually married) wanted to be in the south” and that “he didn’t want to be in the northeast,” while also adding, “And part of it might be the quarterback situation as well.”

The latter situation more than likely played a bigger factor than the money.  There are simply still too many questions and too many hypotheticals, and someone like Ridley who was in a position of strength opted to put himself in what he believed was a more comfortable situation.

Fans and media people can’t seem to grasp the fact that sometimes players just don’t want to follow the money, and it’s led to disappointment in free agency.  It’s frustrating, but we’re currently in the reality of what bottom-of-the-barrel teams are facing. That, unfortunately, won’t improve until the team turns a corner.

The Patriots Situation Wasn’t Conducive to Success in Free Agency

New England may have been flush with cash along with having plenty of cap space, but there honestly couldn’t have been a worse time for them to be in this situation given all the issues they’re facing.

This is a Patriots team that’s trying to start over with a new head coach and currently sits without a viable long-term solution at quarterback.  No top-end player, especially ones who are driven by incentives and the additional money that comes by playing in January, is going to turn a blind eye to any of that without being insanely overpaid.

Still, Bedard believes Kraft needs to go, which is all well and good.  But the reasons he gave are absolutely ludicrous.

“I just think, look, times have changed for this franchise, and I think fans are demanding answers to a lot of things,” said Bedard on NBC Sports Boston.  “With Robert Kraft up there and we can’t tell, I mean, even Chris [Gasper] brought up, last year when I brought up, you know, I asked a question, and I said, ‘Robert, you had losing seasons three out of the last four years, and he didn’t recall the third one.”

“There was just a bunch of things in the back and forth, but the big thing is, it’s hard to ask to ask the hard questions of Robert Kraft when he’s who he is at this point, and I respect that immensely.  But the fans want to hear real answers and not just dancing around some of the questions or going back to yesteryear.”

“No, we want answers about the spending.  Who’s in charge?  Why aren’t you giving Eliot Wolf a title, like all this stuff, and there’s 15 minutes.”

First of all, with all due respect to Bedard, who is a terrific writer locally, as much as we’d all love 100% transparent answers, ownership and/or Jerod Mayo are never going to offer that.  They’ll provide honest responses where they can, and then use double-talk or “I don’t know” on the others.

Mayo is already getting killed as it is for saying too much, while also trying to mask his own responses.  But at the same time, there’s at least already been a little more there than with Bill Belichick, who often offered virtually nothing.

As for Kraft not recalling that 7-9 finish in 2020, I think most of us, myself included, had buried that season in the back of our minds and focused on what’s gone on from 2021 forward.  Most of us understood that with Belichick letting Tom Brady depart, there was going to be a transition.  Add in how bad Cam Newton played down the stretch that season, and 7-9 honestly felt like a miracle.

However, what happened in 2022 can’t be overlooked.  Nor can what happened last year.  So here we are.

Jonathan Kraft

(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Nothing Will Likely Change When Jonathan Does Eventually Step In

If Bedard thinks for a second things will change with Jonathan Kraft taking those questions, or if it’s just simply a matter of him feeling less bad about pushing his dad and feeling better about instead bullying a response out of his son, it’s not going to change anything.  His son likely won’t answer them either.

Yes, it would be nice to have more clarity on Wolf’s future.  Yes, it would be nice to have a better sense of how the spending is handled and getting more clarity from that standpoint internally.  The former seems like a realistic question, the latter is one they’re probably never going to tip their hand with.  Especially if there are, in fact, any restrictions in place.

If you look around the league and listen to the double-speak that happens from various owners throughout sports, that’s just the reality.  No owner or coach tells you everything.

And for him to now start beating the drum to oust Kraft because he’s frustrated about not hearing what he wants to hear is beyond ridiculous.

It’s a terrible motive, and hiding behind the fans makes it sound even more disingenuous.  Father time will absolutely see the day where Jonathan is going to indeed need to step up at some point for his dad.

But if Bedard believes for a second that anything will change when that moment does finally arrive, he’s likely got another thing coming.

Kyle Dugger

(PHOTO: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

Dugger Frustrated With Transition Tag

Another bit of news yesterday was a report by Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, who reported that free agent safety Kyle Dugger is apparently unhappy with the transition tag.

Callahan wrote in a piece on Sunday that, “Dugger remains dissatisfied with the transition tag, a one-year, $13.2 million placeholder that will keep him here in New England. As of late this week, he had not signed the tag.”

That led to some ire locally on 98.5 The Sports Hub, where Mark Bertrand discussed the situation with Scott Zolak, and Bertrand believes the club botched the negotiations.

“What an F-up by the team on this player and this contract given now the context of they did not do in free agency,” said Bertrand on Monday on Zolak & Bertrand. “So they had all this money to spend – and still do – and they couldn’t just get a long-term deal done with Kyle Dugger?  And if Jerod Mayo’s telling the truth, which is the priority was for them to sign their own guys back, then why did they did they not re-sign Kyle Dugger and get a deal done beyond the transition tag?”

“Because I think Dugger feels he’s worth a lot more than where they feel he’s worth,” said Zolak.

“He isn’t, the market would have dictated that,” said Bertrand.  “They misread the market.  The Patriots did, and Dugger.  They’re both wrong.”

Zolak disagreed, and in his mind, it’s just a matter of letting Dugger see if anyone truly believes he’s worth that amount.

“If there’s a team out there that values him a lot more, ink him to a contract,” said Zolak.  “Make the Patriots match it.  It’s kind of crickets out there right now.  If there’s somebody out there who feels he’s a $16 million a year safety or $18 million a year safety, give him a three-year deal for $48, $50 million with $30 guaranteed.  It’s that simple.”

Zolak then asked NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry if he’d match that deal.

“Nope,” replied Perry.  “He’s not a top-five safety in football.  He’s not Minkah Fitzpatrick or Antoine Winfield.”

Bertrand then asked, “Why couldn’t they get a deal done?”

“Because he might think, I don’t know exactly what he’s demanding, but if he thinks he’s one of those guys, and he just saw Jessie Bates sign for $16 million, or Grant Delpit is probably the closer, better example at $12 million,” said Perry.

Bertrand then continued, arguing that the club set the floor at $13.2 million.

“So, what do you think is holding it up?” asked Perry.  “It takes two to tango.  You can’t just give him whatever he wants.”

Bertrand’s argument was the fact that, as Zolak suggested, the club apparently offered him $12.5 million per season, and he believes they should come up given that they’re already paying him over $13 on the tag.

“Where’s the strategy in that?” asked Bertrand.

The problem is, it sounds like Dugger’s demands are far higher, which is likely where the impasse really is.  Given the cap space the club has, it doesn’t feel like it’s a matter of the Patriots botching the negotiations.  They’re also likely willing to come up higher than any of us are aware.

However, for things to have reached this point, it’s probably more that Dugger believes he’s done enough and established himself enough as a cornerstone piece of their defense that he wants to be paid accordingly.  And that may be a number closer to the bigger names in the NFL at his position.

So for now, they sit at an impasse.  Unfortunately, it will also leave this as something to keep an eye on over the coming weeks or months until they figure it out.

READ NEXT:
Monday Patriots Notebook 4/1: News and Notes

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.


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