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.
Just a quick rundown on this Friday due to time contraints, but here’s a look at today’s top stories.
Patricia facing a firestorm in Detroit – As if trying to install your system and culture into a new team isn’t difficult enough, former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia finds himself dealing with an incident during his college days from 22-years ago that is creating quite a mess for him.
The incident stemmed from a sexual assault charge he and a friend were faced with while on spring break back in college where, according to the Detroit News, the two became friendly with a girl they met and later allegedly barged into her room and sexually assaulted her.
They were each indicted in 1996 by a grand jury on aggravated assault charges, which as the original report points out, actually could have carried a sentence of up to life in prison, citing a Texas statute.
Instead, the accuser opted not to testify, so the charges were ultimately dismissed.
Patricia maintains his innocence and on Thursday said he was “falsely accused” while expressing frustration over the story resurfacing, with the Lions standing behind him. Multiple media outlets reported having tried to reach the accuser, who has maintained her silence to this point.
It’s a difficult topic and unfortunately, since it was her decision not to testify and not a jury finding him innocent that ultimately resulted in things going away, he’s most likely not out of the woods quite yet.
For now, Patricia says his focus remains the same as he tries to continue getting ready for the season.
“I would never condone any of the behavior that was alleged and will always respect and protect the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence,” he said. “My priorities remain the same — to move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher, and man that I can possibly be.”
Parcells Expresses Regret on Leaving the Patriots – Bill Parcells was the one who initially started New England’s resurgence in the late 1990s, but it was his decision to go to New York that ultimately opened the door for Bill Belichick to become the team’s future head coach, which has obviously worked out well.
For Parcells, the situation that unfolded in his final season was frustrating because he had built a strong nucleus of players who shocked everyone by earning a Super Bowl berth that season, only to fall to the Packers in a game that was competitive until a kickoff return for a touchdown helped Brett Favre and company eventually pulled away.
“I regretted leaving the Patriots because there was a pretty good young team,” Parcells told The Athletic via USA TODAY. “We had a young quarterback, we had Curtis Martin, a premier back. I had a lot of speed at receiver, a great tight end, a young, up-and-coming defense: Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi. We had Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. That was a long time ago. I don’t think back. Temporarily it bothered me. I’d probably do things differently now if I had to do it again.”
Parcells couldn’t replicate his success with the Jets and Belichick ultimately has gone on to win five championships, so there’s likely some frustration with seeing how things worked out after his departure.
As they say, everything happens for a reason. Fortunately, fans in New England certainly have no regrets after seeing the incredible run of success that will likely someday go down as the greatest era in franchise history for this football team.
Bielema To Join Team During Minicamp – Former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has been spotted at various Pro Days with the team and it sounds like he’ll continue to be around the organization for the foreseeable future.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Bielema will reportedly be involved with coaching duties when the team begins its rookie minicamp.
There’s been a lot of speculation regarding his connection to the team and the Patriots have yet to clarify his role, but Bielema, who is reportedly a close friend of Belichick, appears like he could potentially become part of the coaching staff given how things are playing out.
If it works out, it’s certainly a great opportunity for Bielema to rehabilitate his career. He’s coming off a five-year tenure at Arkansas that saw him finish 29-34 as a head coach, with the team letting him go in January. He made out well on the deal, with published reports saying the school is paying him $11.935 on his buyout to be paid through 2020.
Odds and Ends: The Patriots released OL Jason King on Thursday, who was signed by the Patriots to a future contract back in February. King is a 6’4″, 310lb offensive lineman who was originally a rookie free agent out of Purdue and joined the team last year on May 5, 2017 … Drew Bledsoe and Celtics guard Terry Rozier have developed a friendship after Milwaukee Bucks player Eric Bledsoe said he didn’t know who Terry was. As a result, Terry called Eric “Drew Bledsoe”, and then took it further after showing up wearing a Patriots Bledsoe jersey. Now the former quarterback is planning on potentially naming a wine after him. “The Terry Rose may be the thing. Watch out,” Drew said. “I’m going to have to talk to him. We can bring him out to Washington, develop a profile and come up with a Terry Rose. It’s going to have a great finish.” The two reportedly finally met before game five. Good stuff. … The final suspect involved in the Rob Gronkowski burglary was finally arrested Thursday morning. Shayne Denn, 26, of Tewksbury Mass, apparently has quite the history. According to Wilmington (Mass.) Police, Denn was also suspected in connection with a crime spree that included using a pickup truck to smash through the wall of a store. Thankfully, his latest run of crime should come to an end and he’ll now hopefully spend some time behind bars.
Nothing earth-shattering this morning, but here’s a look at today’s top stories.
Thuney Dealing With Foot Injury – Offensive lineman Joe Thuney’s been a reliable player since being drafted in the third round back in 2016, having missed little time and being one of New England’s more consistent players.
However, it sounds like Thuney’s been banged up and has been dealing with a nagging foot injury, which has limited his participation in the team’s offseason program. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Thuney will soon be undergoing surgery for the injury, which will likely keep him out of any further offseason workouts heading into training camp.
Reiss reports that the injury isn’t considered serious and shouldn’t hamper him for the 2018 season, but foot injuries tend to linger and with someone of Thuney’s size (6’5″, 287lbs), it will be important for him to take his time during his recovery.
As Reiss points out, Thuney missed just four snaps as a rookie and only five last year, with the team pulling him during that span after the game was well in hand. His absence may open up the door for rookie Isaiah Wynn, among others, to get some work in Thuney’s spot at left guard, especially if they’re not comfortable right away with him at left tackle. He’ll likely be among several players the team will rotate in as they try and figure out who will take over the left tackle spot after Nate Solder departed in free agency this offseason.
Patriots work out Hageman – With the Patriots still evaluating who they have on their defensive line, they elected to work out a player who spent 2017 as a spectator.
According to NESN.com, New England worked out former Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman on Wednesday, apparently doing some due diligence on a player who was involved in a domestic violence incident that ended his season before it got started in 2017. He was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list following the charge and saw his contract terminated by the Falcons on September 4, 2017. From there, he served a six-game suspension. No other club gave him a chance at redemption, and he remained unsigned through the rest of the year.
It started after he was arrested in 2016 following the alleged incident with his then-girlfriend, with reports saying he “pulled the hair of the mother of his child and pushed her down in the parking lot outside of her apartment, causing her to sustain lacerations on her left hand and elbow. Hageman then took her phone, preventing her from calling 911. This incident happened in front of the couple’s child.”
The Sporting News reported at the time that Hageman was fined $7,500 for the misdemeanor charges of interfering with a call for emergency help, battery family violence and cruelty to children in the third degree.
“I wasn’t really reaching my full potential, and I had just a lot of he-said-she-said about being a bust or whatever,” Hageman said last August via AtlantaFalcons.com. “But at the end of the day, I definitely credit myself and I definitely critique myself for what I need to work on, and I have to have those things, like the naysayers.”
Now he’s looking for redemption and it remains to be seen if the Patriots would give it to him. Desperation and injuries can make any team take a shot on a player with a checkered past and it remains to be seen if they’d welcome him here. The team has been clear about their stance when it comes to domestic violence, but the big question would be whether or not they’d look the other way given Hageman’s upside. The fact they brought him in here proves they’re interested, but there’s no guarantee it will lead to an opportunity.
The club is no stranger to taking chances on players looking to rebuild their careers after making a mistake. He’s a player who has amassed 62 tackles and four sacks over his brief career after being drafted in the second-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. But given what happened, whether or not Hageman’s talent can offset the graphic details of what allegedly occurred will be the big question people will most definitely ask in the event the team decides to bring him in.
Belichick pulled an interesting move with Blount last year.
One year ago, Patriots used a rare rule to try and restrict LeGarrette Blount – Yesterday was the anniversary of a bizarre moment for the team, who exploited a rare rule last year that left many scratching their heads when it was first reported.
At the time, Bill Belichick made a tender offer to running back LeGarrette Blount, who at the time was an unrestricted free agent. The move made it where had Blount signed with a new team between that date and July 22nd, his signing would have counted against the compensatory pick formula. Had Blount not reached a deal with another team by then, he would have been forced into exclusive negotiations with the Patriots that would have lasted through Week 10.
Instead, Blount signed with the Eagles less than 10 days later. As a result, he factored into the formula that ultimately saw New England end up with a fourth-round pick when the league announced the compensatory picks back in February. Blount joined Chris Long, Barkevious Mingo, Logan Ryan and Jabaal Sheard as players lost, while additions included against that group included Stephon Gilmore, Rex Burkhead and Lawrence Guy.
Despite the Patriots limiting his options, it worked out since the Eagles took a chance on him. Blount said back in February he had no hard feelings.
“It’s a business, man,” he said leading up to the Super Bowl in Minnesota. “You treat it like any other business. Guys get hired. Guys get fired. Guys get let go. Guys don’t get contracts renewed. It’s like any other business. You just can’t take it personal. I don’t take it personal. I still love Bill [Belichick]. I still love RK [Robert Kraft], you know, Tom [Brady], whatever . . . they handle their business differently than everyone else.”
The move ultimately worked out for Blount, who went on to win a championship against his former team.
Etling signed his rookie deal this week.
Etling Agrees to 4-year Deal – Seventh round draft pick Danny Etling is officially under contract, getting one important detail for the rookie out of the way heading into the team’s rookie minicamp.
According to published reports, Etling signed a 4-year deal, which is customary for players drafted after round one. He’ll probably be among the most scrutinized players given the double-whammy he faces given Tom Brady’s age and the fact Etling has big shoes to fill after the team traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco last offseason.
Etling’s a hard-worker, which is well documented and he’s overcome a lot of adversity to get to where he is. He finished his final regular season game as a starter at LSU with a 45-21 win over Texas A&M, capping a 9-3 record in 2017. His former coach, Ed Orgeron, spoke highly of him at the end of the year and believes that Etling is a winner.
“A winner, tough, hard-nosed,” Orgeron said back in November when asked how he’d remember Etling. “Went through some bumps and bruises like we all did in life, but he fought through it. For him to stay with this team and win nine games is remarkable feat as a quarterback,” said Orgeron.
We’ll see in the coming months if he can build on that here in New England.
Lombardi Feels Brady’s No Longer Willing to Take a Hometown Discount – Despite being the best player in the game, Tom Brady has never been one to seek the biggest payday.
That’s been his mindset going all the way back to when he first emerged as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and he’s remained consistent. Rather than seek the largest contract, instead, he’s allowed the team to get creative while taking care of him with guaranteed money that’s been commensurate with his worth, even if his annual salary didn’t measure up.
Now as he heads into the final two years of his current deal, which expires after the 2019 season and is now well below the current market, Lombardi believes that any future deal to give him a raise may see Brady looking to get paid something more in line with his peers.
“What I think is going on in New England, and this is just my own instinct, I think when you win five Super Bowls and you’ve had as much success as they’ve had and they have all swallowed the ‘we’re not making all this money’ routine, ‘we’re not taking all the coin.’ They have done that and I think now is the time where they are all saying to themselves, ‘it’s money time,’” Lombardi said via WEEI. “Brady, for all what he is saying about how unhappy he is, and the same thing with Gronk, I think it comes down to contract and how couldn’t it?”
“How could you look there and see Matt Ryan and what he’s making and you have five rings. How could you see what Kirk Cousins just got and it not affect you? It’s just human nature, right? You can’t fault Brady for that. You can’t.”
Brady went on to become the best QB in NFL history. (USA TODAY Images)
It’s interesting to go back and look at Brady’s stance over the years on this topic, including back in 2005 when he appeared on 60-Minutes after winning three championships in four years and talking about his contract. Brady at that time talked about the fact he didn’t care about being the highest-paid player. He felt that the more money he made, the more it took away from allowing the team to surround him with talent.
“Yeah. I mean that’s always a factor,” Brady said at the time when asked about taking less to give his team flexibility to sign people. “The way the NFL works, the more you take, the less money other guys have. And I decided, hey, this is what I think I deserve. And it’s very fair. And it is a business, and I make those decisions. It’s not like I’m, you know, non-profit here. I’m not working for free, and I’m getting paid a lot of money. Other people need to get paid a lot of money too, because a lot of other people contribute. But it’s not like the grass is greener anywhere else. I mean, I’m a part of three championships here. And I’ve got a great relationship with the coach, the ownership and the players.”
Brady went on to say that the he loved the fans and couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else.
“And the fans, and the city,” he continued. “And it’s like why leave here? Why would that make sense? That would be the dumbest — it’s such a stupid decision if I ever decide something else. And if people ask those questions, I don’t think they’re very smart either. ‘Cause if they were to evaluate it the way I did, it’d be an easy decision.”
That was obviously a long time ago and times have unfortunately, changed a bit. With things being as tense as they’ve been over the past year, it’s definitely a different environment than it was back then and he’s had a full career of perspective that could have him thinking about making the most financially of his final seasons. But whether or not it will really affect him the way Lombardi might think is a different story.
Brady said back in 2005 that the thought of the end of his career scared him. (USA TODAY Images)
Brady Once Said The Thought of the End of His Career Scared him “Big TIme” – One interesting note out of that same interview was the fact that when asked if there was something that really scared him or intimidated him, Brady said it was the idea of the end of his playing career.
At the time, he felt that walking away would be hard because football was all he knew and that when it was over, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to handle not experiencing what being part of the NFL brought with it.
“The end of my playing career. Big time,” said Brady. “Because I guess I’ve done this for so long. And I know what I feel like in the off-season. That I’m always trying to figure out ways to have a day that’s filled with things I like to do. And when I’m playing football during those seven months out of the year, it’s easy. I mean I get up and come in here. Not that it’s easy to work hard, not that it’s easy to show up every day and do the job, but you’re focused. You know? You got a goal. You got something you’re trying to accomplish.”
“And when that’s done, you don’t have 80,000 people screaming your name. You know, what’s it gonna be? I’ve heard a lot about astronauts who go to the moon and come back, and they’re so depressed because there’s nothing they can do in their lives that ever can fill ’em the way that that does.”
It’s interesting given where he is right now and it’s scary for fans to think the days of seeing him on the field are slowly coming to an end. Hopefully, he can ease the pain for both himself and the fans cheering for him with another Championship run.
Harmon will be wearing a different number next season. (USA TODAY Images)
McCourty, Harmon reach an agreement on jersey numbers – Duron Harmon has been known for some late-game heroics and it looks like he’ll be wearing a familiar number next season.
Newcomer Jason McCourty told reporters on Tuesday that he and Harmon reached an agreement to swap jerseys, allowing McCourty to wear #30 (Harmon’s number). McCourty said that making the deal with the veteran safety wasn’t a tough sell.
“He actually was on the verge of wanting to switch numbers, as well,” McCourty said Tuesday via the Boston Globe. “So, just in our Rutgers way, we were able to work it all out and everybody walks away happy.”
As for Harmon, he’s switching to #21, which was Malcolm Butler’s number. Butler is now in Tennessee having left via free agency this offseason.
We’re on to Tuesday, and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Patriots Wanted Someone in the Third Round – Bill Belichick is no stranger to wheeling and dealing when it comes to the draft but it sounds like he swung and missed last week while trying to trade back into the third round.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s “Bengals Beat” podcast, New England, who didn’t have a third-round pick thanks to their trade with the 49ers that yielded tackle Trent Brown, apparently tried to make a deal with the Bengals but came up empty.
Director of player personnel Duke Tobin appeared on the podcast and said during the session that Belichick called at the back of the third round right before Cincinnati selected linebacker Malik Jefferson with the 78th overall pick. Apparently, the Patriots’ offer wasn’t enough to make them want to pull the trigger.
“I think we were in the third [round], we were getting ready to take Malik Jefferson, and I think it was Belichick that called – I’ve got the card in my hand – I’m trying to call our guy down in … and Belichick calls and he wants that pick,” said Tobin. “And I’m like, well Bill, thanks, I appreciate it, you know, what do you want to give? ‘Cause I’ll listen, I’ll always listen. And he wants to give, you know, commensurate value for it, and the answer is no, I think we’re going to pick.”
“And so we probably fielded 25, 30 calls and we probably put out the same number as possibilities ‘if this guy’s available, do you guys want to come back …’ Most of them don’t get done, but a lot of them do.”
It’s tough to say who the Patriots were targeting, whether it was Jefferson or if it was potentially USC’s Rasheem Green, who went next to the Seahawks at 79 overall.
Either way, some have wondered why the Patriots let so many players go off the board from No. 56 through No. 143 but it appears, at least from this news, there was at least one player on their radar.
Patriots Set to Pick Up Four Compensatory Picks – With the NFL’s free agency period set to end today, the Patriots now find themselves with a little more freedom when it comes to signing players since it won’t hurt their status for compensatory picks.
According to OverTheCap.com, after losing Malcolm Butler, Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Cameron Fleming and Jonathan Bademosi in free agency, the Patriots added just two qualifying unrestricted free agents in Adrian Clayborn and Jeremy Hill, which sets them up for a projected four compensatory picks under the NFL’s formula.
As it stands right now, if everything works out, the team would be in pretty solid shape heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, armed with potentially 12 selections including six in the first three rounds.
Given some of the needs they’ll have, including possibly at quarterback depending on how things go with 7th-round pick Danny Etling, that should give Belichick more than enough ammunition to restock the club with more talent next April. For now, the picks won’t be awarded until next February, so it will be a while until we know exactly how this will play out.
Team Still Negotiating With Gronkowski – While Rob Gronkowski has made his intent clear that he’ll be back this year, it sounds like the club is working on taking care of his contract heading into this season.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Patriots are reportedly willing to adjust his contract for this season and increasing his compensation.
“The Patriots are willing to adjust Gronkowski’s contract for at least a year,” said Rapoport on Monday’s edition of NFL Up to the Minute via NFL.com. “They never do extensions two years out, but they are at least open to taking a look at Gronkowski’s deal and giving him some more money which he no doubt deserves.
“He has stayed away from the Patriots, which is believed to be related to his contract. When they do come up with a new deal or part of a new deal, Gronkowski will in fact probably show up.”
Rapoport also pointed out that this is a similar stance to what the team did last year when they added incentives to increase his compensation, which Gronkowski reached.
For now, like Brady, Gronkowski’s current deal runs through 2019.
Berrios’ former coach expects big things from him. (USA TODAY Images)
Coach Believes Berrios Is Poised For Success – Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald had a nice read on wide receiver and sixth-round selection Braxton Berrios on Tuesday and spoke with Berrios’ former coach, who believes the former Hurricane receiver is poised for success in the NFL.
Ron Dugans, Berrios’ coach at the University of Miami, cited Berrios’ incredible intensity and perseverance as just a couple of reasons why he believes he’ll fight his way up the ladder with the Patriots.
“He’s a kid that’s going to compete and outwork everybody,” said Dugans via the Boston Herald. “Fighting through injuries early in his career, persevering, not quitting — he’s always had confidence in himself as a player. He never wants to come out of plays. He always wants the ball on third down. I love him. I’m going to miss him.”
One thing Dugans pointed out was the fact that Berrios is a versatile player and is willing to line up all over the field, but more importantly, he also blocks in the running game. That’s an important trait as we’ve seen each of New England’s receivers play a key role in quite a few runs over the years, so the fact that falls into Berrios’ skillset is a good thing.
“He’s a detailed football player. He knows multiple positions,” said Dugans. “His junior year, we had him in the outside lane. This year, he was in the slot. He’s very coachable, he pays attention, he studies, he’s a willing blocker in the run game. He competes. His edge is the knowledge of the game.”
Needless to say, he’ll be a player to watch in the coming months and considering how crowded the receiving group is, it could potentially lead to some surprises by the end of the preseason.
After a break while my daughter graduated college over the weekend, we’re back at it as we kick off the week.
Ryan’s New Deal Sets Bar For Brady’s Contract – While Tom Brady may have downplayed his current contract situation recently, the new deal signed by Matt Ryan may have just muddied the waters a bit if and when the two sides start discussing an extension.
Ryan’s deal pushed him up to $30 million annually, making him the first NFL player to reach that threshold. That, coupled with Drew Brees’ two-year, $50 million deal, now greatly diminishes Brady’s annual salary of $20.5 per season in new money and as Mike Reiss pointed out on Friday, ranks him 16th among NFL quarterbacks.
He also saw his former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, land what prior to Ryan’s was one of the richest in the league at $27.5 million over 5-years, $74 million of which was guaranteed. Brady’s never been vocal about money, but one would believe he’s at least aware of what is now a sizable gap in his compensation for a player who has won two Super Bowls in the last four seasons.
His agent, Don Yee, told Adam Schefter last month that while Brady’s driven to outperform his contract, it’s still something that does cross his mind.
“His objective every year is to outperform his contract and his own goals,” said Yee. “And like every player, yes, he thinks about his contract — it’s a pretty natural thing to do. Every team’s management knows this.”
One thing the Patriots have always done a good job with is figuring out a way to structure deals for Brady where the guaranteed money has made up for the lack of annual salary, which they’ve done in the past. One would expect that to be the case when they eventually start discussing it this time, but unfortunately for the New England front office, it will be happening long after those other contracts got done. Robert Kraft told Jeff Howe last month that when the time comes, he’s not concerned.
“He’ll be 41 when the season starts,” Kraft told TheAthletics’ Jeff Howe last month, per Pro Football Talk. “Neither side has an issue with it. If it becomes an issue, we’ll deal with it.”
While it’s not a big deal, it’s still a reminder of how quickly the landscape can change in a league that is heading into a showdown with the Players Association when the CBA expires after the 2020 season. One other thing that to note is the fact that this year’s draft class will be affected since each of them will sign a deal that runs through 2021. While that won’t affect Brady, it may affect 7th-round pick Danny Etling, provided he manages to play well enough to stick around that long.
Captains Favored By Patriots – Anyone who has followed this team for a long time knows that Bill Belichick appreciates guys who love the game of football and are well respected by their teammates.
According to Princiotti, 21 of the past 42 players drafted in the last five years by the Patriots were captains, which certainly fits the mold of what we already know about the type of guys they prefer on their roster.
Captains tend to be players who are self-motivated and hard-working, setting the tone and earning the respect of the guys around them.
If those traits sound familiar, it makes sense that it’s those types of players they tend to target. She also noted that recent draftees featured offensive lineman Joe Thuney, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, receiver Malcolm Mitchell, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker Elandon Roberts and offensive lineman Ted Karras, who were each a captain at their respective schools.
While not breaking news, it’s a reminder that it remains a trait that doesn’t go overlooked by a team who demands a lot from the players who wear the uniform.
Patriots Fan Saves Eagles Fan After Donating Kidney – If there’s any bad blood between Patriots fans and the NFC North, it certainly doesn’t seem like it.
After losing two Super Bowls to the New York Giants and yet another against the Eagles this past February, you would think there would be some animosity between Patriots fans and that division, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to ABC New York’s Channel 7, they ran a story on John Houlihan, a Patriots fan, and Patricia Pizzimenti, who is a lifelong Eagles fan. Pizzimenti was in need of a kidney transplant and through an organ exchange, was matched with Houlihan and set any bad feelings he had aside to save her life by donating his kidney.
The news station tweeted a photo of the pair, with Pizzimenti wearing a shirt that said, “Can you believe I took a kidney from a Patriots fan?”, while Houlihan’s said, “Can you believe I gave a kidney to an Eagles fan?”
All kidding aside, it’s a great story and a reminder that after winning five Super Bowls and experiencing a few losses, Patriots fans still remember what’s important. Kudos to Houlihan and best wishes to he and Pizzimenti moving forward after their respective surgeries.
No Brady in Louisville This Weekend – Tom Brady has been a staple at the Kentucky Derby in past years but opted to skip it this weekend, instead spending his time with his family as he continues taking advantage of as much time as he can there before he gets down to work and starts preparing for this season.
Brady posted a photo on his Instagram last week a picture of him working out on a beach quoting Muhammad Ali, which read, “The More REAL You Get … The More UNREAL It Gets.”
It likely didn’t help that the weather was miserable and wasn’t exactly conducive for a great time with teammates or his wife, Gisele Budnchen. Instead, according to his Instagram page, Brady seemingly spent the time with his father, who celebrated a birthday on Sunday.
Another interesting morning on this Tuesday and here’s a rundown of today’s news.
Was Mayfield on Patriots Radar? – While New England finished the draft without taking a top-tier quarterback, it sounds like there was at least a shot that they might have been in the mix for one depending on how things unfolded.
Peter King of MMQB pointed out on Monday that after the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager mentioned during the telecast that the Patriots spent time last Monday with Baker Mayfield (and Mike Reiss later reported that Josh McDaniels made a visit with him in his hometown last week), it appears that New England may have been willing to take a shot at trading up to get him if he dropped out of the top five. Given that McDaniels took the time to travel there to meet with him, King believes that the Patriots may have had plans to put together a package worthy enough of moving up to take him.
Obviously, that didn’t happen given that Mayfield was gone immediately after the Browns snatched him up with the first overall pick in the draft.
It sounds like had the Browns gone in another direction, any shot New England might have had at him would have been a long one, with the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting that at least a half-dozen teams had Baker on their radar, which means that the Patriots needed to hope that Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen were among those picked in the top five. One of those teams may have been the Jets, who reportedly quietly had Mayfield at the top of their wish list. They instead settled on Sam Darnold as their hope of turning things around in New York.
If that’s true, it’s hard not to wonder who New England’s potential trade partner may have been to pull that off. The Bears and 49ers seem to make the most sense at #8 and #9, which means that’s probably where Mayfield would have needed to drop for the Patriots to make a move for him. That being said, that could have meant they didn’t feel confident enough in Rosen since they could have had a chance to move up and take him after he dropped to #10 and was selected by Arizona.
Either way, for fans wondering why they didn’t take one that high, it at least sheds some more light on the reason behind it. For now, they have a project in seventh-round pick Danny Etling in a low-risk move and it will be interesting to see what McDaniels does with him. If Etling pans out, it obviously would be terrific. If it doesn’t, it cost them nothing to try and they’ll have another shot next year with a stockpile of draft picks to try and go after one.
It’s not an ideal situation and they’re left without a potential successor for another season as Brady heads into 2018 as a soon to be 41-year old quarterback. But give them credit for not forcing a square peg into a round hole if they didn’t feel comfortable with who they had to choose from. However, if Etling doesn’t show signs of potential, the urgency this time next year should be interesting to watch in terms of how they deal with it.
Belichick and Brady have had quite a run together. (USA TODAY Images)
Brady “Pleads the 5th” On Whether he Feels Appreciated – For anyone wondering what the headline of the week will be, it looks like we know the answer to that question.
Tom Brady was interviewed by his favorite reporter, Jim Gray, at the Milken Institute Global Conference where he was asked a variety of questions that included whether or not he felt appreciated by the team.
For the sake of being completely transparent to avoid the question of context, here’s the exact question, response, and subsequent follow up based on the below video.
“Do you feel appreciated by them [the team] and do they have the appropriate gratitude for what you have achieved?”
Said Brady, “I plead the 5th.” followed by “Man, that is a tough question.”
He also added, “I think everybody, in general, wants to be appreciated more at work.”
He was also asked by Gray, “Are you happy?” to which Brady replied, “I have my moments.”
Tom Brady was asked today at the Milken Institute Global Conference if he feels appreciated by the Patriots. His response: "I plead the 5th…" pic.twitter.com/8Tl6k5emj9
The bottom line? Losing stinks and that’s probably exacerbated whatever issue exists between Brady and Belichick that has led to all the speculation both during the season and since it ended.
But Brady did add that while Belichick’s not the easiest to play for, the two overall have a great relationship. Jim Gray, after saying Belichick has been very respectful to him, asked Brady what it’s like to be around him.
“He’s very respectful to me too,” said Brady.
“We can tell,” quipped Gray.
“We’ve had a great relationship, a very respectful relationship for a long time and I feel like he’s the best coach in the history of the NFL,” said Brady. “He has a management style of players and he would say, ‘Look, I’m not the easiest coach to play for’ and I agree, he’s not the easiest coach to play for [smiling], but he’s the best for me and I think what he’s proven is that whatever talent he has, he maximizes talent and I mean, what more can you ask of a coach than that? That’s what I want as a player.”
“I’m sitting in there, I don’t want to coach, I just want to play and you need the coaches to do their job, they need the coaches to do their best. That’s what you expect, that’s what you want. They want me to do my best, I want them to do their best. I can’t do their job, they can’t do mine and it all works, it all comes together. It’s a hard journey over the course of the season but it’s incredibly fulfilling, or else I wouldn’t be continuing to do it. I wouldn’t be continuing to want to play.”
“He’s an incredible coach. He’s been an incredible mentor for me. He’s taught me so much football. Like I said, to be a 22-year old kid and to come and learn from him, I mean, I wouldn’t be sitting here without his coaching. I wouldn’t have the success without how incredibly talented he was, along with a lot of the other coaches, a lot of the other players, a lot of the other people in the organization because it takes everybody to do it. Everybody. The guys who are cleaning the locker room after practice, it takes them too and you better have respect and appreciation for them because I’m not the one doing that job, but we all expect that the job needs to get done. That’s part of being in a great culture and for us, continued success on our team. Everyone is looking for continued success in their business and that culture really sets the tone for everybody.”
Expect this one to get a lot of play this week, although after digging out the available video and seeing it in context, it’s not as bad as it will be played out to be.
The interview went on for about an hour, and begins with Brady getting uncomfortable with being called “the greatest quarterback and football player in the history of the National Football League” replying, “You’re right, I do hate that.” The full video posted directly by the Milken Institute is below, which should help put some minds at ease:
For those reading the "I plead the 5th" headlines regarding Tom Brady's comment from the Milken Institute video with Jim Gray, here's the full video posted by @MilkenInstitute that people should watch to provide the full context of the interview: https://t.co/QlZCJTigtr
Georgia Declares New England Their New Campus – Following the additions of Georgia Bulldogs Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel, along with current players Malcolm Mitchell and David Andrews, the University of Georgia is quickly becoming what Rutgers was years ago in terms of the number of players they’ve brought in recently.
The school took notice, proclaiming Foxboro Massachusetts as their new campus here in New England with a tweet yesterday afternoon.
Well-played. Hopefully the two latest additions work out as well as both Andrews and Mitchell have, with Mitchell hopefully looking to improve on his rookie season before he missed last year due to injury.
Garoppolo Fired Up For Sharks Game – We’ll close it out on this note just because the GIF of him was amusing to watch. Former Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo was all fired up for playoff hockey last night, in a video captured by NBC Sports and posted by the San Jose Sharks’ Twitter account.
With the 2018 NFL Draft now in the books, it was an interesting weekend and here are some news and notes as we begin this week.
Patriots Didn’t Try and Force a QB, But Set Themselves Up Well in 2019 – The obvious focus this week centered on who the Patriots would target at the quarterback position and it was pretty clear that whoever they may have felt confident in was long-gone by the time they made their first pick at #23. Despite the reported interest in Lamar Jackson, they passed on him twice which essentially proves they obviously either had doubts or really felt better about the selections of both Isaiah Wynn (23rd overall) and Sony Michel (31st overall).
From there, they stayed true to their normal approach, seemingly going with the guys they felt were the best available and fit with their system, while trading out of other positions where whoever they wanted either wasn’t available, or they didn’t feel there was enough value to make a pick.
They did eventually select a quarterback, taking their shot in the 7th round on LSU’s Danny Etling, who likely wasn’t their first choice, but someone they felt was smart with the football and a player they could work with.
“Here’s a guy, a Purdue transfer, went down to LSU and the thing about him – he played for Coach [Cam] Cameron in kind of a pro-style offense. He had some experience,” Caserio told reporters Saturday night. “The one thing he didn’t do – he didn’t turn the ball over. You look at his career production and this guy didn’t turn the ball over. I think it was 16-2 this year, a low percentage.”
“He takes care of the ball, smart, pretty accurate thrower. There’s some good qualities and traits that we think we can work with and develop.”
So as it stands right now, they’ll head into this season with Brian Hoyer again as the back-up while they try and develop Etling. If it works out, it’s a win for a team who did their homework and smartly didn’t force a selection, despite a massive amount of criticism from those out there still frustrated with the team’s decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. If it doesn’t, Belichick built up plenty of currency to try again next year with one 1st-round pick, two 2nd-round picks, potentially three third-round picks (depending on compensatory picks), a fourth-round pick, a fifth-round pick, a sixth-round pick (again, depending on the compensatory formula) and three seventh round picks (one depends on a compensatory selection).
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that and you never know. No one imagined a sixth-round pick like Brady becoming who he was and Etling’s road has forced him to earn what he’s gotten after getting benched at Purdue and battling his way into the starting role at LSU after transferring and starting over on the scout team. The Patriots will need him to continue putting in the same effort he put in at LSU that got him to where he is now, which if McDaniels can pull off the same success he’s seemingly had developing quarterbacks in recent years, could see Etling surprise some people down the road. As a result, it should be interesting to watch.
Wynn was among the first of New England’s draft picks in 2018. (USA TODAY Images)
New England walked away with an interesting group this year – Now that we have the luxury of being able to look back at how the draft played out, this year’s crop of draft picks is a nice mix that addresses some needs on both sides of the football.
They walked away adding a potential tackle (Wynn), a dynamic running back (Michel), two tough athletic linebackers (Ja’whaun Bently and Christian Sam), a speedy solid slot receiver who can return punts (Braxton Berrios), two pretty good defensive backs (Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen), a tight end (Ryan Izzo) and a quarterback they feel they can develop (Etling).
While not ideal, it’s not a bad group and having looked at the backstories surrounding these players, there’s reason enough to believe that most of them seem to have the attributes that will make them good additions to this football team.
Looking back on New England’s selections last year, despite having just four picks, it’s hard to look at any of them at this point and believe they weren’t good selections, save for injury issues that hampered them being productive.
Last year’s group included Derek Rivers (3rd Round), Antonio Garcia (3rd Round), Deatrich Wise (Round 4) and Conor McDermott (Round 6). Rivers tore his ACL during what had been a promising preseason, while blood clots in his lung sidelined Garcia, who had also looked promising after being drafted. McDermott impressed enough where the Bills signed him off New England’s practice squad, playing for Buffalo in three games last season and will reportedly get an opportunity to compete for an opening after Richie Incognito recently making the decision to retire.
Going back one year further in 2016, New England’s entire class worked out fairly well, with most of them becoming fairly productive players. Here’s a look back at that list:
Second round (60th) – CB Cyrus Jones Third round (78th) – OL Joe Thuney Third round (91st) – QB Jacoby Brissett Third round (96th) – DT Vincent Valentine Fourth round (112th) – WR Malcolm Mitchell Sixth round (208th) – LB Kamu Grugier-Hill Sixth round (214th) – LB Elandon Roberts Sixth round (221st) – G Ted Karras Seventh round (225th) – WR Devin Lucien
Cyrus Jones remains the one player who could go either way after problems in the return game plagued him and any shot at redemption last season were wiped away when he suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Giants.
But aside from that, it wasn’t a bad draft class. Thuney’s been solid on the offensive line, Brissett became a pretty good back-up for the Colts, albeit he’s not truly starter-ready yet but was thrown into the fire there. Valentine has done a good job when he’s been out there, while Mitchell had a terrific first season but missed last year while recovering from injuries. Grugier-Hill was claimed off of waivers and snatched away by Philadelphia and was productive, including playing in 80% of the Eagles’ special teams snaps during their win over New England in the Super Bowl.
Elandon Roberts has shown flashes and done reasonably well for a 6th round pick, while Karras has done a good job as well as a similar selection on New England’s offensive line. Lucien actually developed well and was simply victim to a deep receiving group, and he moved on after receiving an injury settlement from the team last season. He spent time on three different practice squads last season, including Indianapolis, Kansas City and Houston before ending up with Tampa Bay. He signed a futures contract with them in January.
But they’ve done a good job the last two years in getting the most out of their picks and it’s resulted in a Super Bowl win and two AFC Championships. Hopefully, this year’s group also ends up being just as productive for them.
Cooks became the Rams #23 pick in 2018 after their trade with the Patriots.
Rams Lamented The Absence of Their First Pick – But Reminded Everyone Where It Went – The Rams found themselves in a similar position in 2018 that the Patriots were in at this time last year, without a first-round pick because they spent it on acquiring wide receiver Brandon Cooks.
For the Patriots, it was a fact that was mentioned because despite not having a first round selection, they were pleased with the quality of player they had in Cooks, feeling that since first-round picks aren’t always a guarantee, taking the chance on spending it on an established player made the most sense.
It’s a fact that’s hard to argue. Cooks went out there last season and hauled in 65 receptions for 1082 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per reception, good for 7th highest in the NFL. But where he struggled was in doing all the things Tom Brady needed him to, especially when it came to the shorter precision routes, which became a noticeable issue thanks to injuries where Cooks couldn’t pick up the slack when guys like Julian Edelman went down and then later when Chris Hogan got banged up. Cooks finished 2017 with a dismal 7-of-26 (27%) catching the football when targeted on third down, proving that as explosive as he is, he’s not yet a complete player, or at least not in this offense.
As a result, when the Rams approached Bill Belichick with a similar offer to when he took Cooks away from New Orleans (although, that trade also cost New England a 3rd rounder), with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell hopefully returning this season, Belichick opted to take his chances on recouping a first-round pick and moved on.
Knowing how New England felt last year without a first-round pick, it was interesting to see the irony in the situation given it involved the same player. For the Patriots, the bigger question will be figuring out a way to replace Cooks’ production. Part of that equation will involve how healthy Edelman is in his return from a torn ACL and Mitchell’s own recovery. So far, the news has been encouraging so we’ll have to see how both of them look when the hit the field in July. Needless to say, keep your fingers crossed.
ODDS AND ENDS: According to all the reports, the Patriots brought in the following undrafted free agents: CB A.J. Moore, TE Shane Wimann, P Corey Bojorquez, DT John Atkins, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Trent Harris, WR Chris Lacy, RB Ralph Webb, DT Frank HerronP Corey Bojorquez and P Ryan Anderson, so that’s the group of longshots who will be fighting to surprise everyone and earn a roster spot. It adds another element that should be fun to keep an eye on, although as we’ve seen over the years, it’s likely subject to change between now and training camp…Newcomer Trent Brown brings with him quite a bit of respect after the team acquired him Saturday from the 49ers in a trade. Broncos defensive end Von Miller holds him in high regard and had some serious praise for him last year. “He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said in August 2017 via the Boston Herald. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move the way he moves.”… Ben Volin of the Boston Globe mentioned in his Sunday Notes that he disagrees with the team’s trade of their 2018 second-rounder (#51) to the Bears for a 2018 fourth-round pick (#105) and a 2019 second-rounder (TBD) and noted that usually when a team trades a pick for a future pick, it’s a round ahead of the current pick traded. Volin went through every draft from 2013-18, and found that “sure enough”, 11 of the 12 trades that involved a future pick were always one round higher, with the Patriots-Bears trade as the one exception. It’s an interesting bit of information, although I’m not sure it really means anything. Either way, there’s a chart listing the trades he’s comparing them against this one for anyone interested.
The Patriots had a busy day on Saturday, and with the 2018 NFL Draft now in the books, here’s a complete look at what went down on day three.
1) Round 5 (143) – Ja’whaun Bentley – ILB – Purdue – 6’2″ 260lbs – Perdue – The Patriots addressed the linebacker position with their first pick of Day 3 and Bentley seems to be a good addition. He finished his collegiate career with 272 total tackles and in his final season even returned an interception 76-yards for a touchdown.
He’s a player who at 6’2″, 260lbs is sort of like Tedy Bruschi was because of his size as someone who was considered in-between being a defensive end and linebacker. On film, he seems to have pretty good quickness and great football instincts. He’s also strong and does a great job fighting through defenders, which makes him a good addition to New England’s run defense.
More importantly, Nick Caserio was really high on him when he spoke to the media, which obviously says a lot about how they viewed him.
“This guy is an awesome kid,” said Caserio. “Four-year starter, a three-time captain, which there’s not a lot of people that can say that. A pretty impressive kid, been through a lot on a personal level, but a good football player, very smart, signal caller, ran the defense there at Purdue, played for a couple of different coaches, a couple of different staffs. We brought him in here for a visit here to Foxboro. He was awesome. He was really, really impressive.”
Bentley told reporters during his conference call that he’s familiar with past and present Patriots linebackers and he’s looking forward to getting to work.
“Oh yes, for sure. I’ve definitely watched a lot of football, so I’ve seen a lot of guys from the Patriots, even back to Tedy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas days,” said Bentley. “Especially Rosevelt Colvin, like you said, Rob Ninkovich, guys like that – I definitely watched a lot of ball, watch some guys play, the history of backers. Dont’a Hightower is one of my favorites. It’s definitely a good system as far as the linebacker is concerned. I’m just excited to get to work.”
2) Round 6 (178) Christian Sam – ILB – Arizona State – 6’2″ 244lbs – Arizona State – Sam’s not a big player but he’s strong and very athletic, with terrific speed and acceleration in pursuit and he’s really good laterally attacking players in the flat. For a player who only ran a 4.75 40-yard dash, he looks quicker on film than the time he put up, which makes sense given that he started his football career as a defensive back before playing linebacker at Arizona State.
One other thing that stood out is the fact that he doesn’t shy away from contact, often lowering his shoulder to deliver the big hit. Belichick loves speed and toughness and Sam appears to possess both of those attributes. For a team in need of getting younger and faster at that position, it’s a smart addition if he can develop into a contributor in their defense.
After being able to also select Bentley, Caserio said they were glad to get both of these players in this year’s draft as both possess skills that are unique and ones he believes can help them.
“I’d say they’re a little bit different,” said Caserio. “They’re both off-the-ball linebackers. Bentley’s a little bit more of a ‘mike’ linebacker. Sam is probably a little bit more of a ‘will’ linebacker. His situation – a real successful high school program at Texas. He actually was a defensive back. He played safety in high school and then he got to Arizona State. He kind of was the spur, kind of the call it a ‘star walked-out will linebacker’ initially and then they moved him kind of to off-the-ball linebacker, a ‘will’ linebacker type.”
“[He’s] athletic, runs really well, played for Coach [Todd[ Graham, who we have a lot of respect for Todd and his program that he ran out there, a good relationship there. A smart kid, ran the defense, so between the two of them you’re talking about good mental capacity just in terms of handling volume, handling adjustments. Those are two players that we liked that we spent some time with and we were fortunate that we were able to acquire them.”
3) Round 6 (210) Braxton Berrios – WR – 5’9″ 184lbs – Miami – Berrios should be fun to watch in camp, because he’s extremely fast and a pretty dynamic player.
One of the things about Berrios is the fact that considering his small size, he managed to make up for his lack of height with his athleticism and toughness. He reportedly ran between a 4.3 and 4.4 40-yard dash on his Pro Day, and despite having played at the slot during his career, he’s confident he can play both inside and outside.
“Obviously, in college, especially this last year, I played primarily in slot,” Berrios told WQAM recently via the Miami Herald. “But I did line up at boundary. I did line up outside at Z, so I’ve done other things. …Naturally, I am a slot. But there’s nothing to say I can’t go play outside at some point in time.”
He was also impressive in the return game on punts, which there’s obviously an opening for after Danny Amendola’s departure to Miami.
Caserio praised his intelligence and gave him credit for making the most of his opportunities during his time in Miami.
“So, [he’s] an impressive kid. This guy’s really, really smart,” said Caserio. “He graduated in, I want to say three to three-and-a-half years, whatever it was. Played inside the formation at the University of Miami, really productive, really tough, good traits, smart, good quickness, was productive, had more opportunities here this season in Miami and he made the most of them.”
Needless to say, he should be fun to watch when fans get to see him hit the field in July.
Etling was the only quarterback selected by the Patriots Saturday.
4) Round 7 (219) Danny Etling – QB – 6’3″ 222lbs – LSU: – Etling’s journey is an interesting one, with the college quarterback having dealt with some adversity on his way to being drafted on Sunday.
Etling originally started his career at Perdue as a four-star recruit, but his time as a Boilermaker was short-lived after his sophomore season saw him get overtaken by Austin Appleby after a 2-3 start. That led to him to transfer to LSU.
Given what he had just been through, he obviously had a fire lit under him and battled his way from the scout team in 2015 to become the starter, leading the team to a 7-3 record along with a victory in the Citrus Bowl.
From there, his senior season was impressive. He finished last year completing 60% of his throws while throwing for 2463 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions, one of which was a desperation throw at the end of their battle against Troy. That one didn’t sit well as it ended up being the first home loss for LSU in 49 games against non-league opponents and saw Etling temporarily knocked out of the game after getting shaken up in the first half.
But his toughness and gutsy play are big reasons he was able to win over fans at LSU, along with the fact he was smart with the football. Nick Caserio praised him for his ball security during his press conference Saturday night, saying Etling has attributes they can work with.
“Here’s a guy, a Purdue transfer, went down to LSU and the thing about him – he played for Coach [Cam] Cameron in kind of a pro-style offense,” said Caserio. “He had some experience. The one thing he didn’t do – he didn’t turn the ball over. You look at his career production and this guy didn’t turn the ball over. I think it was 16-2 this year, a low percentage.”
“He takes care of the ball, smart, pretty accurate thrower. There’s some good qualities and traits that we think we can work with and develop. He played against good people on a weekly basis, kind of like we talked about with Sony [Michel] and Isaiah [Wynn].
One knock on him came in 2016 where he lost sight of the clock in the critical moment against Auburn and had a game-winning play called back because of it (see below video). Considering who he’s playing behind and will likely be looking to take over for, those are hopefully things he’s learned from. But he’s seemingly a smart, athletic player with potential so we’ll have to see what kind of magic Josh McDaniels can pull off developing him.
5) Round 7 (243): Keion Crossen – CB – 5’10” l80lbs – West Carolina – Crossen finished with 165 tackles during his four years at West Carolina, including 106 solo and 5 for a loss along with three interceptions.
His story is interesting, with Crossen telling USA TODAY earlier this month that he’s always been underrated and it’s one of the things that’s driven him to excel. He even went so far as to cite Tom Brady’s journey, which ultimately is ironic given that he ended up here.
“I’m a motivated guy. I love reading Tom Brady’s draft profile. He had all these negative things said about him,” said Crossen. “He was too small, he didn’t have a strong arm. There’s always something. Us smaller-school guys always work just a little bit harder. I didn’t have the same resources that the bigger programs can provide. You have to work with what you have.”
“At Western for example, we didn’t have an indoor facility. Practicing in the snow wasn’t a big deal. Practicing in the rain wasn’t a big deal. I never let the outside factors determine who I am or what I can accomplish. I only control what I can control — things like my work ethic, my attitude, my passion for the game and my study habits. I make sure that I’m a coachable player. I make sure I respect my coaches and my teammates.”
At the end of the day, Crossen admitted that he just loves the game and despite his physical attribtutes, it’s his knowledge of the game that sets him apart.
“I just know football, period. Being athletic can only serve as your foundation. Your character and football IQ is what puts you over the top. Those are the attributes that I have. That’s where the diamond in the rough comes from.”
Crossen also said during that same interview that he previously worked out for both the Patriots and Bills, who each came down to Western Carolina to look at him.
The school posted a good video of him in a segment called “WCUINSPIRES”. Check it out below:
6) Round 7 (250): Ryan Izzo – TE- 6’5″ – 256lbs – Florida State – Izzo played in 35 games during his collegiate career at FSU, catching 45 passes for 602 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 13.4 yards per catch. 27 of his 45 receptions went for first downs.
Izzo has had an interesting road, with the FSU standout having originally started out in high school as a quarterback before switching to tight end during his sophomore season. He made the move after the team hired new head coach Brian Carlson, who believed he could play at the next level at that position.
He’s the oldest of three brothers and is a family man, including the fact that after losing his grandmother to breast cancer in 2015, he wears a pink bracelet on his wrist that, according to the Orlando Sentinal, has faded and turned white because he’s never taken off. He also has a cousin who has local ties here in New England, having played linebacker for three seasons at UMass.
While Izzo is a threat in the passing game, his blocking ability is his apparent claim to fame and if he’s anything like former FSU tight end Nick O’Leary (drafted by the Bills in 2015), he’ll have a work ethic that should make him a great addition to New England.
According to Caserio, he’s been on their radar for a while and now it will be interesting to see how he potentially factors into the mix.
“We’ve been kind of watching this guy here for the past couple of years and just a solid, strong, consistent football player,” said Caserio. “We’ll put him in the mix there at tight end.”
Bill Belichick certainly likes to make it interesting.
When it came time for New England to make their first pick of the night Friday night, they traded out of the 43rd overall spot, with Belichick reaching a deal with the Lions in exchange for Detroit’s 51st pick and the 117th overall selection. The latter pick gave them a fourth-round pick, which they didn’t have at that point in this draft.
When the time came again to pick at 51, New England made yet another trade, trading back with the Bears in exchange for a 2019 second round pick and selection 105 overall in this year’s draft. That gave them yet another 4th round pick (105th overall).
But the Patriots jumped up from 63rd overall to the 56th spot after making a deal with the Buccaneers by giving up pick 63 and one of their fourth-round picks at 117 to take Florida defensive back Duke Dawson, which ended up being their final pick of the evening.
The addition of Dawson is intriguing, with the former Gators standout giving them some help in the secondary which ended up being one of their biggest weaknesses back in February against Philadelphia. He’s 5’11”, 197 pounds and he’s fast, having run a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s also proven he’s a versatile player, excelling when Florida moved him outside last season, which gives Bill Belichick someone he can move around in New England’s defense.
Patriots No. 56 overall pick CB Duke Dawson allowed a 37.1 passer rating last season. 21-48, 223 yards, two TDs, four INTs.
Dawson finished his collegiate career at Florida with 82 tackles and six interceptions, including three he returned for touchdowns. He also had 23 pass breakups in 48 games. One other interesting note is the fact that Dawson could have come out in last year’s draft but instead opted to remain for his senior season, earning first-team All-SEC honors.
Gator fans likely won’t recognize him after the veteran cut his signature long hair that was notable during his time in college, with Dawson saying at the end of last season he was headed to the next level and needed to act the part.