Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

About Ian Logue

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

Friday Patriots Notebook 3/16: Pats Make a Trade, Other Players Visiting

Ian Logue
March 16, 2018 at 8:59 am ET

Another week in the books.  With the first round of free agency starting to settle down, the Patriots appear to now be making moves to improve their roster, including one notable one from Thursday.

Patriots Acquire McCourty’s Brother – Devin McCourty has more than made it clear that the idea of playing with his brother in the NFL is something he’s hoped for and on Thursday, he finally got his wish.

According to published reports, the New England made a trade with Cleveland to bring Jason McCourty to the Patriots, fulfilling what Jason said would be a “dream come true” last offseason before agreeing to a 2-year deal in Cleveland.  At the time he felt the Patriots had interest but the personnel situation in New England didn’t quite work, so the opportunity wasn’t there.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest,” McCourty said at the time via “Me and Devin have never hid the fact that us playing together would be a dream come true. My mom kind of has hinted at that since we both got into the league. She knows it would be a lot easier only having to travel to one city during the season.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback. They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”

The last time the two got to play together was in college at Rutgers.  They were only on the field together for two seasons, with Devin redshirting, yet he ended up being the higher of the two draft picks one year after Jason made it to the NFL ahead of him.  Jason started his career with Tennessee, who took him in the sixth-round in 2010, while Devin was selected in the first-round in 2011.

It’s been an amazing journey for both players and the opportunity to finally play together in the NFL should be fun to watch.  With a secondary that now has a need, adding Jason certainly provides them with a veteran presence and playing out there with Devin certainly means chemistry shouldn’t be an issue.

The other positive will be the fact that should Jason settle in and earn a role, their mother will only have one stadium she’ll need to attend next season, which should be pretty special given how close they each are.

It’s ironic that when Devin was a free agent, Jason did all he could to recruit him to the Titans before he ultimately decided to remain in New England.  Now they’re finally together, which should be one of the more enjoyable storylines we’ll be able to follow should they experience success together next season.

Patriots to Host RB Hill – While the Patriots were able to extend Rex Burkhead, that doesn’t appear to be stopping them from trying to stock up on some additional talent at that position.

According to ESPN’s field Yates, free agent Jeremy Hill is set to visit Foxboro on Friday, with the Patriots hosting the Bengals running back as they continue looking to build their 2018 roster.

Hill is coming off of a rough season in Cincinnati, suffering an ankle injury in week 7 that sidelined him for the year after he ended up on injured reserve.  Prior to that in 2016, he finished with 222 attempts for 839 yards and nine touchdowns, including one that went for 74-yards.  He also caught 21 passes for 174 yards.

His best season came in his rookie year where he rushed for 1,124-yards and nine touchdowns, including one he broke off for 85-yards.  As a result, he’s got some athleticism and he’s somewhat of a dual threat, which may be why the Patriots are looking at him as they try and make sure they’ve got someone who can potentially make up for Dion Lewis’ loss of production after he signed with the Titans.

TE Ebron “Potentially” to Meet With the Patriots – We all know how much Bill Belichick loves having talented tight ends on his roster and according to Adam Schefter, the Patriots could have one visiting soon.

Schefter reports that after visiting Carolina on Friday and Indianapolis on Sunday, New England could “potentially” be former Lions TE Eric Ebron’s next stop.

Ebron has already played on the field at Gillette Stadium, having faced New England in his rookie season where he caught 2 passes on 7 targets for 23-yards in a 34-9 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  One of those receptions was notable, albeit it didn’t quite work out in the end for Detroit.  Trailing 27-9, Ebron made a 17-yard grab on fourth-down to keep the driving going but unfortunately for the Lions, the drive eventually stalled at the Patriots 25 and two possessions later, LeGarrette Blount added another touchdown.

Ebron is a former first-round pick by the Lions but never really met the expectations in Detroit.  His best year came in his third season after Ebron caught 61 passes for 711 yards along with a touchdown.

Last season he caught 53 passes for 574 yards and four touchdowns.

Howard Getting Interest from Patriots – Now that Nate Solder is heading to the Giants, New England is in need of another player and Ian Rapoport reports that they’ve got a player they may be interested in.

According to Rapoport, former Ravens offensive tackle Austin Howard is a player that is “drawing considerable interest” by the Patriots.

Howard is considered in Baltimore as being one of their more dependable offensive linemen and certainly fits the mold of the type of player the Patriots tend to like.   He’s been a right tackle for the majority of his eight-year career, which would give them some stability on the right side should Marcus Cannon move over to left tackle.

Woodhead getting interest? – When Danny Woodhead left in free agency to San Diego in 2013, it was a move that stung a bit given his effectiveness in the offense and his role on third down.

At the time, Shane Vereen was starting to be utilized more and it left Woodhead as the odd man out as the Patriots made the decision to let him depart to the Chargers.

Now, here we are years later and it sounds like a reunion might be a possibility.  According to the NFL Network, the Patriots have been in contact with the 33-year old running back, who spent last season with the Ravens.

He’s had a tough time with injuries over the past two seasons, playing in just 10 games over that span.  The Ravens released him two days ago and given the Patriots current running back situation, there’s certainly room on the depth chart to give him another opportunity.

New England spent a lot of time last season managing each player’s workload, which might be something that could even potentially help Woodhead become a productive player again if he can prove that he’s still got something left.  We’ll see if he gets the opportunity.

Hope everyone has a good weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday.

Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/15: Patriots In the Mix for Suh, Clayborn?

Ian Logue
March 15, 2018 at 8:31 am ET

It was another rough Thursday and unfortunately, fans can cross another free agent off the list for the Patriots.

Solder Headed to the Giants – Things took a turn for the worse heading into Wednesday in the Nate Solder negotiations and it appears New England’s left tackle will be protecting the blind side of someone other than Tom Brady next season.

Solder’s price tag had begun to escalate and as of Monday afternoon, it reached a point where even the Broncos – who were initially in the lead for his services – bowed out.  That was the first red flag that the offers for Solder’s services were becoming too rich for the Patriots to match.

On Wednesday, we found out just how bad it really was.  According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Solder’s deal is worth $60 million over four years, with the Giants giving him $35 million guaranteed.

This is a significant loss, ending a pretty good stretch for the former number one pick who has been terrific protecting Brady.  Solder was consistent with his protection in the passing game and his return in 2016 coming off his 2015 season where he was placed on injured reserve saw New England’s run-blocking improve dramatically that season.  That’s something that sort of fell under the radar, which played a big role during the team’s second championship in three years.

It’s difficult to see him go, but like Danny Amendola, it’s not hard to understand.  Best wishes to him in New York, although there’s no question that most fans may feel a bit of a sting seeing him landing with the Giants.  Unfortunately, his loss becomes the latest hole the Patriots will try and fill and unfortunately, it’s going to be a tough one.

Burkhead was extended on Wednesday.

Patriots re-sign Burkhead – There was one player the Patriots managed to re-sign on Wednesday, keeping one more offensive weapon in the fold for at least another season.

According to the Boston Globe, the Patriots signed Rex Burkhead to a three-year deal, keeping the former Bengals running back with Brady and the offense for the foreseeable future.   Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports the deal is “heavy” on gaurantees

Burkhead finished his first season in New England playing in 10 games with 64 carries for 264 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.  He also had 30 receptions for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns.

His signing somewhat stabilizes their running back situation, which just saw Dion Lewis sign with Tennessee.  That gives them James White and Burkhead as two players who played any significant snaps last season that will at least be coming back in 2018.

Last Month Burkhead talked about what it’s like being a Patriot and credited the work ethic of the people around him as motivation.

“Half the team’s there super early,” Burkhead told’s Sam McKewon of his first day with New England. “Just seeing the focus going into workouts, every single detail in warmups and certain drills we’re doing. You saw attentiveness and the competitiveness right off the bat.”

Thankfully after Wednesday’s news, he’ll now get to be a part of it for a few more years.

Suh has had success making Brady miserable over the years.

Patriots in the mix for Suh? – With the news of the Dolphins releasing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Patriots appear to be on his radar as he begins testing the free agent waters.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots “are going to be in the mix” for his services.  Given that the Patriots need help up front on their defensive line, the possibility of adding Suh is intriguing.  However, the fact his history of questionable decisions which has earned him a bad reputation as a player is another factor that’s tough to overlook.

But as we’ve seen in the past, those types of players tend to fall in line here in New England and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to Suh to join that group.

Brady probably wouldn’t mind having him on his side given how competitive things have been between the two. Suh even said back leading up their battle in early December that it was his job to “piss off” Brady.

“I’d love to make him mad,” Suh said via the Palm Beach Post. “My job is to piss him off and have him yelling at his offensive linemen for not blocking me, his coach and everybody on the sideline. That’s my job.

“We know he likes to drop back and throw comfortably and have this nice pocket, but my sole job is to disrupt that at all costs.”

The other team that could reportedly be in the mix is said to be the Seahawks so if that scenario remains, it’s a win-win for the Patriots.  They either add him to their roster or see him get shipped out of the Conference, so it appears that barring the Jets or Bills getting involved, they’ll come away a little happier knowing they won’t have to face him twice per year anymore.

Light Believes “The Culture Has Changed” in the Patriots Locker Room – Things have changed a lot since Matt Light’s playing days, and he doesn’t seem to believe it’s for the better.

Light talked with Butch Stearns prior to the annual “Speed of Light” fundraiser for The Light Foundation and said that today’s players don’t react to the same demands quite as well compared to back when he was still a player.

“The culture has changed so much in that locker room,” said Light. “When you lose a veteran presence, it’s more than what it meant five or ten years ago. It’s a different story today when guys walk into a system like a Belichick system and they have a lot of demands placed on them.

“It’s not just show up and do your job. It’s show up, do your job, work hard, be attentive, put the team first – all the core principles of the Patriot way – and that’s a lot more than a lot of other organizations ask of you. So if the culture’s different it’s going to be harder to train guys in the Patriot way than it was five or ten years ago.”

Light says that the rules of the new CBA, along with the distractions of social media and their off-field interests, are the biggest problems today’s players deal with and it makes it harder for guys to commit as much as they used to.

“You have guys that are more worried about their brand and social media and everything else but there’s not a toughness like there was before,” said Light.  “Overall that toughness and that mentality, we crafted a lot of that through training camp and minicamp and all these things. Look at the league today. I was part of that CBA that got signed and helped push it through, but didn’t really think of all the ramifications.

“Guys aren’t as prepared to play the game of football. It was a sloppy playoff run in a lot of cases, but it was also a sloppy product overall, league-wide, when you look at this whole season. I don’t think the toughness level is there. I don’t think the commitment level is there as much and I think it’s harder to get through to a lot of these young guys that are walking in from organizations where they’ve been placed on a pedestal and are asked now to jump in with both feet and make a huge commitment.”

Murphy Picks Bills Over Patriots – Free agent linebacker Trent Murphy was reportedly on New England’s radar, but it appears he’s opted to take his chances with the Bills and will instead play against them twice per year.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Murphy signed a 3-year, $10 million deal to join Buffalo.  For a team that needs help at linebacker, it’s disappointing to see the Bills benefit from his services as the Patriots still need help alongside veteran Dont’a Hightower.

Murphy seemed excited with his decision, posting on Twitter after the Bills sent out the news.

Patriots in the mix for DE Clayborn? – While they’ve yet to make a big move in free agency, it seems like the Patriots at least seem to be active in exploring their options.

According to the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, the Patriots “are showing some interest” in Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn, which would certainly give them some help getting after the quarterback.

Clayborn is coming off of a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2017, including two forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Other teams aside from the Falcons and Patriots reportedly in the mix are the Colts, Buccaneers and Browns.

Some might recall that Clayborn had a less than memorable moment during Atlanta’s visit to Foxboro back in October, with the defensive end foolishly drawing a “roughing the passer” penalty on Brady, which negated an interception and led to a touchdown by the Patriots.

Hopefully, he’ll be a little more disciplined should he wind up in New England.

Daily Patriots Notebook 3/14: Amendola, Butler, Lewis Departing to New Teams

Ian Logue
March 14, 2018 at 8:44 am ET

Things will look a little different in New England on both sides of the football in 2018, and Tuesday’s news definitely caught everyone off guard.   Let’s get to it.

Amendola Departing to Miami – Danny Amendola has been a team-first player during his time in New England, but with opportunity knocking to cash in while his value is higher than ever, the veteran receiver appears to finally be putting himself first.

According to published reports, Amendola has agreed to terms with the Dolphins, ending what has been an extremely solid career as a member of the Patriots.

His loss is significant because it creates a domino effect that’s definitely going to have a bigger effect in 2018 than some may realize.  They’re losing their best punt-returner, leaving New England with the prospect of having to now start looking for their next man up in the return game moving forward.  Julian Edelman had been a player who handled those duties but coming off of a significant knee injury, it’s safe to say the Patriots will likely play it safe and avoid using him in that role.  That leaves them with Cyrus Jones, who is coming off of his own injury and has struggled during his short career fielding punts.  If Jones has difficulty, Patrick Chung would be another logical choice but neither has the type of explosiveness Amendola has provided for them.

From there, the receiver group will most certainly suffer.  Amendola’s departure leaves them with Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt on the depth chart which, on paper, is seemingly a pretty good group.  But Amendola was arguably one of the more versatile players on the roster and it’s been his presence that has been one of the key reasons why the Patriots have been able to weather injuries as they’ve lost key players in their offense at different points over the last few years.

But more importantly, Amendola is the number one reason why this team has won each of their two championships.  One of the biggest missing components in their previous failed Super Bowl attempts prior to his arrival is the fact that the Patriots were missing a player who could win one-on-one match-ups down the stretch in the postseason, especially as teams began to double their primary targets.  Previously New England made the error of bringing in aging veterans to round out their receiving group, who were all terrific in the regular season but were run down and ineffective in the playoffs.  Having someone like Amendola took them to another level and losing him is, unfortunately, going to present the challenge of trying to overcome that again now that he’ll no longer be with the team.

Personally, it breaks up a pretty tight-knit group that starts with Tom Brady, who on many occasions has made it clear how valuable he is to their offense.  From there, his bond with Edelman is well known and it’s probably going to be a tough adjustment for a trio that managed to win two titles together.

Terms of the deal are reported to be for 2-years for $12 million, $8.25 million of which is guaranteed.  At that amount of money, it’s hard to fault Amendola for the payday he’s more than earned.  He’s gone above and beyond and taken pay cut after pay cut, having more than been a team player in helping them build their roster during each of their championship runs.   While it will be painful to see him twice per season, the logic behind his decision makes obvious sense.

It’s tough to see him go, but he’ll leave fans with plenty of incredible memories and he’ll get some additional perks.  He’ll get to play his final seasons in a warm climate eight times a year and, knowing how the Dolphins are, he’ll likely now finally have more free time during the offseason to spend with girlfriend Olivia Culpo since he’ll probably have Januarys and February free.  So there you go.

Butler finally got his big payday on Tuesday.

Butler Heading to Tennessee – Malcolm Butler spent much of last offseason extremely frustrated with his financial situation, but it’s safe to say that he’s a little happier one year removed from how things played out this time last year in New England.

According to, Butler agreed to a five-year deal worth more than $61 million, including over $30 million in guarantees.

His departure marks the end of a storybook beginning and a nightmare finish, with Butler making his historic game-winning interception over the Seahawks when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in a decade to cap off the 2014 season, only to be benched in his final Super Bowl with the team, which resulted in a frustrating loss to the Eagles just over a month ago.

Butler joins former Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan, who joined the Titans last offseason.  Ryan was supportive on Twitter of Butler when he was sidelined against Philadelphia, Tweeting “Why aint @Mac_BZ in the game??” and “#FreeTheButler”.

And Butler’s not the only player headed to Tennessee.

Lewis Also Leaving New England – Dion Lewis seemed destined to depart this offseason and Tuesday’s news more or less confirmed what everyone had already feared.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Tuesday night that Dion Lewis will be joining the Titans on a four-year deal, pairing him with Butler as two solid additions to a team that just turned the tables and poached them away from the team that knocked them out of the postseason less than two months ago.

According to Mike Garafolo, Lewis’ deal is for four years and worth $20 million, including an additional $3 million in incentives.

Lewis staying in New England seemed like a longshot, with multiple reports saying that competition for his services would be high.  Couple that with the fact Lewis reportedly wasn’t happy about how he was being used in 2017 as the team rotated running backs, and it left any possibility of keeping him heading into this week looking pretty grim.

They’re now left with the challenge of having to replace his production, with James White, Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillislee as their current options.  White has already established his role as a third-down back and a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but they lack another player at the position who can replace the 896 yards he put up last season carrying the football.

Here’s a look back at a highlight video posted by NFL Films back in January, which Lewis retweeted on his timeline.

Not “a lot of optimism” Solder Returns – It appears that the Patriots could be in need of a new left tackle in 2018, especially with the way the Nate Solder situation appears to be playing out.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Giants and Texans appear to be the two team in the running for his services, with the money seemingly escalating out of New England’s price range. The Broncos were initially thought to be the favorites, but his price began to climb and it appears it pushed them out of the mix. That’s definitely a bad sign for the Patriots, and as a result, Rapoport reports that there’s not “a lot of optimism” that he’ll be back next season.

That would be a tough blow for a team with not a lot of options behind him. Solder has been a solid addition since being selected in the 2011 draft, and his loss would certainly be significant.

The only good news is Solder has indicated he’d prefer to stay, but it’s going to be up to the Patriots to get creative and figure out a way to make it worth his while to stick around. With several key players already having moved on, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Nelson Released, Could he Land in New England? – With Amendola now headed to Miami, the Patriots have an opening for a precision route-runner and’s Chris Wessling wonders if Jordy Nelson, who was released by the Packers on Tuesday, could find a home in New England.

“Danny Amendola is absconding to Miami with a new contract and Julian Edelman is coming off ACL surgery,” writes Wesseling. “If Nelson wishes to follow the well-worn path of ring-chasers to Foxborough, perhaps there’s mutual interest in a sure-handed wideout.”

Nelson is an interesting player, but the biggest problem he presents is the fact that he’s seemingly lost some of the speed and quickness that made him so effective in Green Bay after his knee injury suffered in 2015.  As Wesseling points out, Nelson’s yards-per-catch average plummeted from 15.5 to 13.0 to 9.1 over the last three seasons, which may give the Patriots pause in investing money in a soon to be 33-year old receiver who may become a liability should any of their top targets go down.

Nevertheless, the interest appears to be there on Nelson’s side. But whether or not the interest is mutual on the Patriots side remains to be seen.

Other Notes: Other notable AFC East News includes the addition of quarterback Josh McCown, who will also reportedly receive a 1-year deal. His deal is worth a reported $10 million…Also reportedly joining the Jets is Teddy Bridgewater, who is expected to sign a 1-year deal. The former Vikings QB is still making his way back from what was believed to be a career-threatening injury in 2016 and his addition would potentially create a pretty good battle for the Jets in the preseason, which is what they’re reportedly hoping for…The Jets also added defensive back Trumaine Johnson on Tuesday, with the two sides reportedly agreeing to terms on a deal worth a reported $15 million annually. He adds size and strength to a Jets secondary that ranked 21st against the pass in 2017…Also joining the previously mentioned players with the Jets next season is linebacker Avery Williamson. The now-former Titan is 26 and has been one of the team’s leading tacklers, giving the Jets another physical player on their defense…The Bills will reportedly add New Orleans Saints free agent safety Rafael Bush to a 2-year deal worth a reported $4.5 million. He appeared in 14 games with New Orleans last season, and doubles as a special teams contributor.

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Daily Patriots Notebook 3/13: Brady Starting to Ponder His Future?

Ian Logue
March 13, 2018 at 9:46 am ET

Today’s edition certainly sparks some discussion, so let’s get to it.

Brady Starting to Ponder His Future? – The last couple of years for Tom Brady have been a little different than pretty much every year prior, especially as it pertains to his image and business interests off the field.

It almost feels like DeflateGate was really a wake-up call for the veteran quarterback, who seemed like he completely changed his approach when much of the world outside of New England turned on him.

Prior to that, Brady didn’t say much, seemingly satisfied with letting his actions on the field speak for him.  When DeflateGate started, Brady more or less brushed it off as absurd since he obviously knew what really happened and probably didn’t ever expect things to take on a life of their own.  But when things began to spiral, his approach changed. You could sense the frustration, yet he seemed more intent on taking the high road and managed to maintain that despite the fact the whole mess dragged on for well over a year and spilled over into two football seasons.

During that span, Brady only talked to the media when absolutely necessary and spoke to just a select a few outside that general circle for any additional commitments.  He admitted at the start of the 2015 season that would be an approach, obviously frustrated with all the false accusations and things being said that he couldn’t control.  Instead, he opted to focus on the game and keep the outside stuff to a minimum.

“I think that’s a pretty natural feeling to have,” Brady said via the Boston Herald back at the beginning of September 2015. “I don’t know exactly how I’ll approach those things each week. A lot of it for me especially this offseason is to try and conserve my energy as best that I possibly can because you deal with things that are pretty mentally tiring. I wouldn’t say physically tiring, but you’re still trying to get ready for a football season. There are a lot of workouts and so forth and you get off the field and you’re dealing with other things and on top of that you have your normal life, which those things are challenging within themselves so I’ll need to converse some energy this year no doubt.

“It’s a long season anyway, but the more things that I do — non-Patriot related really to help other people out — you’re right, those things take away from the energy that I may have to do other things. I’ve always tried to fulfill different obligations for people and different times it’s hard to fulfill all of them. I get a lot of requests. Things that may be public or private and then I just try and make those decisions based on how the week is, but it’s hard to fulfill them all. We’ll see how that goes this year.”

That translated into Brady starting to focus more on himself and his brand, more so than during any other time of his career.  TB12 gained more publicity, he wrote a book outlining his passion for nutrition and the methods he uses to take care of his body, and made the surprising decision to air his own “Tom vs Time” documentary.  The project was produced privately, giving him the chance to tell his own story.  It gave him the opportunity to open up his life on his own terms, allowing people an inside look at who he really is as a husband and a father, while giving them a real glimpse of what he goes through and how hard he really works.

The fact he decided to do it is probably the thing that’s the most surprising for someone so private.  But it made sense because it hopefully showed some of the naysayers that there are reasons far beyond of the ridiculous and untrue implications of why he’s so great.

As it moved along, it seemed like it was headed toward a storybook ending.  The team had plenty of momentum heading into their match-up against the Eagles and looked like a group with enough talent to get it done.  But following the loss, it seemed like the end of the project was put on hold, with Brady and the people behind the scenes seemingly trying to figure out how they wanted to write the final chapter.

However, following its recent release, Brady’s final words were somewhat concerning.  Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, who like it or not, has connections within the Brady circle and has been telling people for a while now that things may have been a little more serious in Foxboro this season than many might have thought, pointed out something Brady said that may provide some insight into where he’s at mentally.

Following the loss, the documentary cuts to Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, who insinuates that there may be some frustration in terms of what he’s dealt with and how he feels coming to work each day.

“These last two years have been very challenging for him in so many ways,” she said via NBC Sports Boston. “And he tells me, ‘I love it so much and I just want to go to work and feel appreciated and have fun.’ ”

Her words say one thing, but the final scene where Brady revealed his own thoughts spoke volumes.

“It’s a big commitment, laying here three days after the game and getting my Achilles worked on and my thumb,” Brady said. “You go, ‘What are we doing this for?’ You know? ‘What are we doing this for, who are we doing this for, why are we doing this?’ You gotta have answers to those questions. And they have to be with a lot of conviction. You know, when you lose your conviction then you probably should be doing something else.”

He’s always been someone who has been pretty clear in terms of his love of the game and his commitment to playing for as long as he can.  Hearing him waver from that is the first real hard reminder that the end could be coming sooner than some may have hoped.

Either way, one thing that’s starting to become obvious is that as much as we might not want to admit it, an incredible career that seemingly had 4-5 years left suddenly seems a little shorter.  Hopefully for Brady’s sake, he can put together one more championship run that ends his way before it’s over.

First Image of Brady’s Hand Shown – There were quite a few whispers surrounding Brady’s thumb injury leading up to the Super Bowl and while it sounded a little exagerated, the image of the actual injury only makes what he did against the Jaguars and Eagles that much more impressive.’s Zach Cox posted the photo on Twitter, revealing the severe, deep gash below Brady’s thumb that he suffered in the incident between he and Rex Burkhead where his hand reportedly got caught on Burkhead’s helmet, leading to the injury before the AFC Championship Game.

Bill Belichick downplayed the injury after their win over Jacksonville, saying, “He’s a tough guy, we all know that. But we’re not talking about open heart surgery here.”

That may be true, but being able to throw the ball accurately with that type of injury is still impressive.

Against Philadelphia, Brady put up over 505-yards and 3 touchdowns, playing well enough where punter Ryan Allen never saw the field as the Eagles had their way against New England’s defense.  The difference in the game ultimately ended up being a fumble he committed toward the end of the game where he was blindsided and stripped that led to an Eagles field goal, putting any shot at a comeback out of reach.

The photo certainly adds context and while it’s not “open heart surgery”, it’s still a testament to his incredible skill and toughness as a player.

Brady Out-Chugs Colbert in Beer Drinking Contest – In Brady’s younger years, Brady was well-known for his ability to pound down a beer and on Monday night, the normally health-conscious quarterback showed off those skills against Colbert, and as usual, came away a winner.

Brian Hoyer told a story of Brady’s prowess from a time they were stranded in Buffalo due to a snowstorm where Brady impressed everyone that night.

“We played up at Buffalo and we couldn’t fly back into Boston because the weather was so bad, so we had to stay the night in Rochester,” said Hoyer.  “We drove there, and we all decided we’d go out to dinner together. Tom being who he was, he usually couldn’t come to a team event like that. We might be at Capital Grille and he is sneaking in the back door and then people realize he’s there and he has to leave. But this was impromptu at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester. The whole team is there. And it turns into a beer-chugging contest.

“You have linemen, Julian Edelman, they all think they are going to win. Then someone says, ‘I heard Tom is really great at chugging a beer.’ We don’t usually get to experience him like this, but we finally coax him into doing it. He does it, and let me tell you, you couldn’t have poured out the beer faster into a glass. It was unbelievable.

And he slams the mug on the table and puts both fists in the air. He walks away with a look on his face that said, ‘You really thought you were going to beat me on this?’ The place went nuts.”

Some seem to forget that he wasn’t always who he is now.  He was once just a college kid at Michigan and a sixth-round pick that no one ever expected to become the best quarterback of all time.  Even when he was just starting out here in New England, one of the things that came out from players in the early going was how much more relateable Brady was among the players, which was in stark contrast to then-quarterback Drew Bledsoe.  Brady was simply one of the guys, and that played a big factor in the chemistry he was able to establish so quickly when he took over as a starter, with everyone rallying behind him on the way to the team’s first championship.

He said he still likes to have fun and it was cool to see him willing to show that side after Colbert obviously knew about that story.  And like his play on the gridiron, Brady certainly doesn’t appear to have lost a step there either.  Too funny.

Gronk Spotted Working Out – While Rob Gronkowski may be pondering his future, it appears that he’s still maintaining the same approach this offseason, which is encouraging.

The NFL Netowrk’s Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that the tight end has spent his time getting some work in at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center, which he believes is a good sign.

Rapoport, who does still hold connections within the Gronkowski camp from his time here in New England with the Boston Herald, is one of the few to report that Gronkowski is expected to return next season.  While Gronk may have somewhat refuted that report with a “#clueless” Tweet, the news is definitely encouraging for those hoping to see him back for another year.

It’s a long offseason and anything can happen.  Hopefully this continues and #87 will be back in 2018.

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Daily Patriots Notebook 3/12: New England Never in Sherman Hunt

Ian Logue
March 12, 2018 at 9:23 am ET

After a weekend break, here’s a look at today’s top stories.

Shelton Gives them a tough inside presence – “You’re not going to whip his ass” – With Alan Branch now out of the mix, the Patriots appear to be looking to start bolstering their defensive tackle position, and the addition of Danny Shelton appears to be the first piece added to the mix this offseason.

Shelton, who was acquired in a trade via the Browns over the weekend, is a tough, hard-nosed player who at 6’2″, 335 pounds, is someone who should be able to clog things up inside and improve a Patriots run defense that at times struggled a bit last season, having finished 20th against the run in 2017.

Mike Reiss of ESPN spoke to someone in Cleveland with strong familiarity with Shelton, who told him,”He plays with an edge and nasty streak: “You’re not going to whip his ass, but he’ll probably whip yours.”

He’s said to be a hard-worker and appears to be a player who will hopefully develop into a Bill Belichick type of asset on a defense full of blue collar guys looking to get better.  It definitely sounds like he’s got the right mindset, and it should be interesting to see how he fits in when we see him in the coming months at training camp.

Looking back, Mallett & Tebow were two dismal back-up options behind Brady in 2013.

Manziel to the Patriots?  Nate Burleson Seems to Think It Could Happen – File this under the “it’s never going to happen” category.

Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, who is now on “The NFL Today” every Sunday during the NFL Season, seems to believe that beleaguered quarterback, Johnny Manziel, could potentially end up as a Patriot.

Burleson’s reasoning is that New England is a place where he can go and learn from the best, while being in a competition where he only needs to beat out Brian Hoyer for the number two quarterback spot.

“Johnny can go there for a reason that not a lot of people really realize. He’s not going to beat out Tom Brady, we all know that. I don’t think there’s any quarterback that can beat out Tom Brady as a free agent coming to the Pats,” said Burleson via “But there’s a competition that he would be confident in going into, and that’s the second-string position, which is my guy Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer (and) Johnny Manziel both played together (with the Cleveland Browns), so that second-string competition will be as high as ever, and it also would be like a memory for both of them and the best man will prevail.

“If Johnny goes there though, this will be the most athletic quarterback the Pats have had since Tom Brady has taken over.”

Burleson also says that the distractions Manziel would carry with him aren’t that different from what the team endured when Tim Tebow was here in 2013, but that’s about where the similarities end.  While there was a lot of hype around Tebow’s presence, he didn’t carry anywhere close to the negative baggage that Manziel would bring with him.

Manziel has a lot to prove before he gets another NFL shot, with the quarterback reportedly set to play in a developmental league as he tries to make his way back.  But as for New England as a place where Manziel could rehabilitate his image should he get that far, it doesn’t seem likely.  The Patriots already have work to do there this offseason and whoever they add, they’ll likely do it with the plan to devote their time and energy into someone they’ll be hoping to be the future and face of their franchise.

It just seems to be a bit of a reach that they would risk that on Manziel.  Maybe 5-years ago it could have happened, but it’s safe to say given where they are with Brady at this point, you can probably cross the Patriots off the list of teams Manziel might hope to end up with.

Solder among free agents the Patriots need to try and keep.

Patriots In a Tight Squeeze Heading Into Free Agency – Heading into free agency it’s safe to say that the odds of the Patriots making the splash they did last year, which will likely see more mid-tier moves made heading into next season.

The team doesn’t have much room at this point, with a reported $20 million available in cap space and things are already complicated. It’s even more difficult given that they have free agents like Nate Solder and Danny Amendola, both of which they’ll likely try and hold onto, along with other players they’ll have to make a decision on.

Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are two others that come to mind, although Lewis appears to be a goner following reports that he’s not pleased with how he was used last season and is reportedly expected to receive a flurry of interest when teams are able to begin pursuing him.

The Amendola situation bears watching.  While he’s close with Brady and fellow receiver Julian Edelman, he may find himself with a difficult decision if the team doesn’t make an offer he believes is fair for what he brings to the table.  Everyone in New England knows how crucial he’s been in the postseason and his regular season contributions also can’t be overlooked.

As for Solder, that should be an interesting situation to watch.  Barring an offer he can’t refuse, it would be surprising to see him leave given his family situation and his relationship with the organization.  One would expect his situation to probably play out like Dont’a Hightower’s last year, with the veteran likely fielding offers while having the team structure a deal that comes close and works for both sides.

Hopefully, they’ll figure out a way to make it work to keep both Solder and Amendola for the foreseeable future.  They might not be able to make the big splash fans might want to see, but keeping either – or both – would certainly be just as significant.

The Patriots never reportedly kicked the tires on Sherman.

Patriots Never Explored Sherman Market – While there was a lot of buzz surrounding Richard Sherman’s departure from Seattle and what it might have meant here in New England, it sounds like the team wasn’t part of that.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots never reached out to Sherman after his release, which makes sense given that he ultimately signed a $39 million deal with the 49ers.

Sherman is coming off of an Achilles injury but reportedly hasn’t suffered any setbacks, which should be good news for an already pretty good San Francisco defense that now has the benefit of a revamped offense that includes former Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

As for the Patriots, they have some questions still ahead at cornerback heading into next season.  Maclolm Butler is likely set to depart, but one would expect that they’ll be actively looking for someone to compliment a secondary that includes last offseason’s addition, Stephon Gilmore.  Given the fact they were in on the Aqib Talib discussions before he was traded to the Rams, it’s clear that it’s already been something they’re looking into.

Nearly Half of Patriots on First 3 Super Bowl winning teams report brain injuries – In a stunning revelation by the Boston Globe, many of the players who smiled and waived to fans after winning three Super Bowls from 2001-2004 have reportedly alleged in a class-action concussion suit against the NFL and helmet maker Riddell that they have experienced symptons stemming from brain injuries they believe occurred during their playing careers.

Among those are Randall Gay, Otis Smith and Lawyer Milloy, all of whom were defensive backs, a position that came in with the highest number of reported injuries.  In all, 42 of approximately 100 Patriots who were part of that incredible stretch have reportedly filed in the lawsuit.

Gay, who is now a practicing attorney in Louisiana says that he experiences depression and other symptoms he feels are the result of his playing days.

“There are days when I just wake up and don’t want to be around anybody,’’ Gay told the Boston Globe. “I just want to be in a room by myself, not doing anything, not even watching TV, and I can’t explain what’s going on.’’

Other notable names on the list before that era are Steve Grogan, Raymond Clayborn and Steve Nelson.  It obviously remains an issue and it’s a reminder that these players all paid a high price far above whatever settlement they might hope to receive for the big moments they brought to the field during their incredible careers.

Daily Patriots Notebook 3/9: Cross Talib Off the List of Possible Free Agents

Ian Logue
March 9, 2018 at 8:43 am ET

It’s Friday, so we’ll wrap up the week with another quick edition this morning.

Cross Talib off the List of Potential Additions – While Aqib Talib had suggested he was interested in potentially going back to New England, some news on Thursday evening put an end to that possibility.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos and Rams have agreed to a trade, which will send Talib to Los Angeles and reunite him with former Broncos coordinator Wade Phillips.

Schefter reports that both Phillips and Bill Belichick were the two people Talib preferred to play for and the Broncos opted to wisely send him out of the Conference rather than to an AFC Rival.

The Broncos reportedly received a 5th-round pick in exchange for the veteran defensive back, making it a bargain for an already pretty good Rams defense that just improved their secondary.

Los Angeles is a team on the rise, having finished the season 11-5 and earning a postseason berth as a Wild Card team, but lost at home 26-13 in the opening round against the Falcons.

Patriots Extend King – While the Patriots haven’t had a chance to address either side of the ball on offense or defense just yet, they’ve made a couple of moves to at least ensure their special teams won’t have any issues in 2018.

Having recently re-signed Brandon Bolden, they made another move on Thursday to keep another one in the fold.  According to the Boston Herald, the team extended special-teamer and restricted free agent Brandon King on Thursday, giving him a 2-year, $2.6 million contract extension.

King has been solid on special teams, including a safety against San Diego in week 8 with a little help from Jonathan Jones but it’s been that type of hustle that’s made him a key member of this group.

King told the Herald that he’s excited for the future, and he’s hoping that the team is able to keep others together as well.

“It’s been a great thing with all those guys. Everyone brings different things to the table,” said King. “I would love for everyone to come back. We’ve been doing something really great for the past three years with the newcomers as well, but that’s out of my hands. I’m just excited to come back myself. This is a great team to be a part of. I’ve learned so much in the three years I’ve been there. It’s a great opportunity to come back and work with a top-tier program.”

Patriots eyeing Marshall QB? – With quarterback an being an obvious position of need, the Patriots already appear to be exploring their options.

According to’s Tony Pauline, the Patriots are among four teams that Marshall quarterback Chase Litton has been “receiving a lot of interest” from.

Litton reportedly had a solid combine, throwing 75 passes that, according to Pauline, saw just three touch the ground.

The Thundering Herd quarterback said last week that the opportunity to be around Tom Brady is something he certainly wouldn’t mind.

“No, you’re learning from the greatest of all-time for a reason,” he said via WEEI. “Everything he’s done as a player on and off the field. … Again, how he handles himself off the field and his preparation is something that you have to go in there and be a sponge. You have to do everything he does, and not because that is what people want you to do, but because that is the standard. There’s a reason he’s won all these MVPs. There’s a reason he’s won five rings.

“To be around a guy like that would be a blessing.”

The 6’5″, 230-pound Litton ran a 4.9 40-yard dash at the combine and also showed some pretty good quickness, recording a 4.53 in the 20-yard shuttle.

He finished his 3-year career at Marshall completing 728-of-1198 (60.8%) for 8335 yards, including 72 touchdowns and 31 interceptions with a passer rating of 133.9.

Brady Shaves Head for Cancer Reaserch Fundraiser – When it comes to cancer, that’s a topic that hits close to home for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and on Thursday he did something about it.

The 41-year old future Hall of Fame QB shaved his head for the “Saving by Shaving” event, which is a fundraiser that was held at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Following his haircut, Brady showed off his new look on Instagram.

Galynn Brady and Gisele Bundchen after the team’s Super Bowl win. (USA TODAY Images)

Brady’s mother underwent a tough battle with breast cancer, leading to an emotional moment after the team’s Super Bowl win following the 2016 season.

For now, Brady says call him, “Tom Buzzy”.

Insiders Ponder Where Malcolm Butler Will End Up – Given the way the 2017 season finished for Butler, it’s safe to say his days in New England are most certainly over. Now the only question will be where he’ll end up next and that was the topic of discussion among some NFL insiders on ESPN.

Eight people weighed in on the topic, with some interesting destinations discussed among them. Matt Bowen, Mike Sando, Aaron Schatz, Kevin Seifert, Field Yates, Pat McManamon, Dan Graziano and Mike Reiss each gave their thoughts on Butler’s future and San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Houston and Seattle were each places they believe Butler could end up.

Bowen and Schatz each picked San Francisco, while Graziano feels that the Buccaneers will likely go all-in this offseason to improve their defense. Both Yates and Sando felt Houston would be a good choice given the New England ties that would likely give Butler some familiarity with the system. Kimes believes Indianapolis makes sense given their defensive issues, while Seifert believes that Seattle needs to improve their secondary and since “who knows better how Butler can win a game?” better than the Seahawks, that would be a great fit.

Reiss suggested the Jets could make a lot of sense, or potentially another team looking for a player in the midlevel financial range.

Could Lewis be reunited with Garoppolo next season?

The Bay Area A Landing Spot For Lewis? – Given that running back Dion Lewis appears to be a “longshot” to return to New England, the question now appears to just be what team will be fortunate to receive his services in 2018.

According to Doug Williams of NBC Bay Area, the 49ers are a team in need of a player like Lewis and he feels that San Francisco would be a nice landing spot for the free agent.

Williams cites Lewis’ experience with Garoppolo, along with the fact he believes he could be extremely productive thanks to his versatility.

Lewis wasn’t among the players who caught passes from Garoppolo during his brief time as a starter in 2016, but with Garoppolo now the starter in San Francisco, he’ll likely see plenty of action in the event he was to end up there.

The veteran back is coming off of his most productive season as a pro, finishing the 2017 regular season averaging 5-yards per carry, rushing for 896 yards on 180 carries and six touchdowns, while also catching 32-of-35 passes for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In the meantime, hope you all have a great weekend.

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Daily Patriots Notebook 3/8: Patriots Tried to Make a Trade For a DE

Ian Logue
March 8, 2018 at 8:37 am ET

We’ll keep this one a little shorter today as we close in on the weekend.

Patriots Part Ways With Bennett – It appears that anyone who may have been hoping to see tight end Martellus Bennett back on the field for the Patriots in 2018 won’t get their wish.

The team opted not to pick up his option and the veteran will hit the free agent market, with the Patriots deciding not to absorb the $6.2 million cap hit he would have cost as an expensive insurance policy for Rob Gronkowski, despite the fact that uncertainty remains surrounding Gronk’s future.

Bennett had success in his one full season in New England, catching 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016, including a team-leading 5 red zone touchdowns during the Patriots second championship in three seasons.

After departing to Green Bay in free agency last offseason, Bennett landed back in New England after the Packers waived him and the Patriots claimed him.  The timing was perfect because Bennett’s arrival coincided with the injury suffered by receiver Chris Hogan, helping the Patriots get through a tough back-to-back road trip against both the Broncos and Raiders.

But it didn’t last long.  Bennett lasted for just those two games, playing 7-of-70 snaps against the Broncos while catching 3 passes for 38 yards, followed by 17-of-60 snaps against the Raiders a week later with 3 more receptions for 15-yards.

Overall, Brady was a perfect 6-of-6 for 53-yards targeting him.

With Bennett now out of the picture and Gronkowski pondering his future, the Patriots potentially head into 2018 with Jacob Hollister and Dwayne Allen for players who had any significant playing time in 2017.  If Gronkowski truly decides he’s done, one would most definitely have to believe most definitely address that position in the coming months.

Patriots were apparently in on Michael Bennett deal, but lost – The defense was obviously the story by the time the Patriots season came to an end last month, but it seems like they tried to make a move to address it heading into 2018.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots came to the table after terms of the trade between the Seahawks and Eagles for Bennett’s brother, Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, were made and the two sides came to an agreement.  New England was reportedly set to make a better offer than the Eagles, but Seattle opted to stay the course.

The deal between Seattle and Philadelphia saw Bennett go to the Eagles along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-round selection and receiver Marcus Johnson, but the Patriots were reportedly willing to part with a third and a fifth for Bennett.  Still, the Seahawks turned them down and made the deal.

According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, it was a competitive group trying to acquire Bennett, with Cleveland, Tampa and Atlanta among teams in the mix.

As we’ve seen in past years, there will probably be a couple of surprise moves coming and this is a team that really only needs a few key additions given the nucleus they have on defense.   Now we’ll just have to see who they try to bring into the mix.

Could Aqib Talib return?

A Talib Reunion? – Defensive back Aqib Talib arrived in New England from Tampa Bay via a trade in 2012 as a troubled player who seemingly needed a change of scenery to turn his career around.

It seemed to work.  As a Patriot, Talib was a model citizen and became one of the most respectable players in the secondary after solidifying a group in dire need of a legitimate shut-down corner.  He finished his two seasons with the Patriots with five interceptions and sixteen passes defended before departing to Denver via free agency.

But in Denver, with the apparent restrictions removed, Talib was a bit more boisterous and seemingly less disciplined, including multiple altercations with Michael Crabtree where he ripped the chain off the receiver’s neck, leading to an ejection in the latest altercation back in November.

That’s behavior that would never fly in New England, yet that side of him came out with the Broncos.

Fortunately for Talib, Denver’s dominant defense helped fans look past that and he’s had a solid four-year tenure as a member of the Broncos.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but Talib is now at the end of the deal and according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini,  he’s reportedly hoping the Broncos cut him loose so he can potentially return to the Patriots.

Back in February of 2016, Talib actually credited the Patriots with making himself more of a professional.

“One thing I have to say about that establishment over there: They’re very professional,” Talib said, via “You go there for one season and your professionalism will go up a plus-2. If you’re at seven, you’ll be a nine.

“That definitely helped my professionalism as far as preparation for the game, how to handle the media, my behavior on the field — everything. I really learned how to be a professional over there. I went there a seven and came out a nine. I’m working on being a 10.”

Given the Patriots potential need at corner and his familiarity with the system, bringing Talib back makes sense.  Provided the money works, it’s a win-win for a team with a need and a player likely looking to re-establish himself with a coach who knows how to deal with him. Pairing him with Gilmore would give them a pretty good tandem, although they still need additional help.

If he plays by the rules and helps get the Patriots back to the Super Bowl, people will forget about the player they saw in Denver.  The bigger question will be whether Talib is willing to settle for a more team-friendly deal since they have other needs to fill.

Talib likely knows that winning fixes anything.  Unfortunately, until Denver makes a decision, Talib will have to wait to see what the Broncos ultimately decide.  According to ESPN, the Broncos appear to be shopping him after failing to consummate a deal with the 49ers.

Flowers Robbed During Hotel Stay – As if losing wasn’t bad enough, defensive end Trey Flowers also found himself as the victim of a robbery after his stay at the JW Marriot at the Mall of America for Super Bowl week.

According to Fox9 in Minnesota, Flowers checked out of the team hotel the day after the loss, but left a gold and diamond Rolex worth a reported $33,000, as well as a gold and diamond necklace worth $30,000 in the safe in his room.

He reportedly contacted the hotel looking for the items, but the staff had no record of them being recovered from his room.

However, surveillance cameras apparently captured the culprit, which turned out to be a security guard, who has since been suspended from his job.

The bad news is at this point, the Rolex and necklace have yet to be recovered.

The security guard was reportedly arrested by police but was released while the investigation continues.

Daily Patriots Notebook 3/7: Edelman’s Return Should Spark a Big Improvement in 2018

Ian Logue
March 7, 2018 at 8:36 am ET

Looking back at the 2017 regular season, one of the biggest things that stood out for the Patriots was the fact that they managed to win 13 games despite struggling to move the chains more than they have in recent years.

Obviously, Julian Edelman’s absence played a significant role in those problems during this past season and looking at the third-down numbers over the course of the regular season, Tom Brady finished with his lowest completion percentage on third down for the first time since 2011, completing under 60% of those attempts for the first time since 2013.

Here’s a quick rundown of Brady’s third-down totals going back to that season:

2011: 80-of-139 (57.6%) 1012yds, 9 TDs, 2 INTs
2012: 92-of-150 (61.3%) 1133yds, 13 TDs, 1INT
2013: 96-of-161 (59.6%) 990yds, 8 TDs, 4 INTs
2014: 88-of-145 (60.7%) 1041yds, 10 TDs, 3 INTs
2015: 92-of-145 (63.4%) 1147yds, 10 TDs, 2 INTs
2016:  82-of-123 (66.7%) 1289yds, 11 TDs, 1 INT
2017: 81-of-140 (57.9%) 1019yds, 9 TDs, 6 INTs

Many will likely remember that following Wes Welker’s departure that offseason – and Danny Amendola’s addition – 2013 was Edelman’s breakout season.  The receiver came in and took over the lead role, finishing with his first thousand-yard season (1056yds) and found himself with even more pressure on him following Rob Gronkowski’s devastating knee injury in Week 14 that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

The following season, Edelman was comfortable in his role and it was he and Gronkowski who carried the load on third down, with both players catching a combined 44 passes and with 36 first downs.

The result?  The team’s first Super Bowl title in 10-years.

In 2015 Edelman suffered a foot injury that knocked him out of the regular season and seemed to re-aggravate it in the postseason when he finally returned, which you could tell limited his effectiveness in the AFC Championship loss in Denver.  Without a healthy Edelman, it was obvious how important he was and how much the injury ultimately cost the team another championship run.

But in 2016, Edelman completely took over, catching 28 passes on third down with 24 first downs, which is an absolutely remarkable success rate.  The amazing thing about that is the fact he did it after Gronkowski went down in Week 12 after re-aggravating a back injury against the Jets, which he originally sustained against Seattle two weeks earlier.

Thanks to Edelman’s efforts, Brady ended up finishing the season completing nearly 70% of his passes on third down.

The result, again?  Yet another championship.

It’s just a reminder of how important his return will be next season, especially if he’s even able to be close to the same player he was prior to his knee injury.  Joining Edelman will hopefully be Malcolm Mitchell, who himself caught 10 of his 15 targets that year with 9 first downs when called upon on third down as a rookie.  The obvious question mark will be the future of Gronkowski, which remains uncertain as he continues teetering on retirement.  However, as we learned, with Edelman, they have the ability to play at a championship level, which should hopefully put a few minds at ease in the event Gronkowski chooses to walk away.

Flores gets a shot, without the pressure – Another bit of news that came out yesterday was the fact according to Yahoo! Sports Charles Robinson, linebackers coach Brian Flores will inherit the responsibility of calling the defensive plays in 2018, but he won’t reportedly be promoted to defensive coordinator.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone as that’s how Bill Belichick has handled things on both sides of the football.  It works out well as it causes any issues to fall on him while taking the pressure off of Flores during the transition.  They’re no stranger to this approach, as Matt Patricia wasn’t named as defensive coordinator until 2012 after former coordinator Dean Pees departed following the 2009 campaign.

As a result, it should be interesting to see how it pans out next season for a group that was inconsistent in 2017 and has the sting of a poor performance in the Super Bowl to hopefully motivate them heading into 2018.

Alan Branch’s time in New England appears to be over.

Branch is Out, Britt is In – With free agency closing in, the Patriots have apparently already made up their minds about a couple of their players.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots have informed defensive tackle Alan Branch that they won’t be picking up his $1 million option for the 2018 season.

As we mentioned yesterday, following previous reports the news doesn’t come as a surprise given that Branch has already been talking about the team in the past tense and this news simply means he’ll hit the free agent market and move on.

Reiss points out that moving on from Branch will save the team about $3 million in cap space, giving them somewhere between $17 million and $18 million to work with.

He also reports that the team did pick up receiver Kenny Britt’s $150,000 option, which should create some competition in camp and also provides some additional insurance should either Edelman or Mitchell suffer any setbacks, or, as we unfortunately learned last year, in the event they were to lose anyone to injury in the preseason.

Gronk still exploring his options – Speaking of the passing game, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Gronkowski and it appears that he’s still potentially exploring his options outside of football.

The latest speculation surrounds the talk of his interest in pursuing an acting career, which saw him spotted on Monday at a Hollywood Casting agency.

According to @mambochicken on Twitter, the agency he was at is responsible for Handmaid’s Tale and The Walking Dead, so it’s definitely worth noting that he was there.

That same Twitter user also claims Gronk was meeting there about a possible movie role.

While none of this speculation is confirmed, the fact he was there appears to be true.  Not that any of us can blame Gronk for choosing to no longer absorb big hits from linebackers and defensive backs by choosing acting over putting the pads back on.

Regardless of whatever decision he eventually makes, it will obviously play a big part in what happens with this team moving forward.  The biggest concern for fans who have followed this team since Belichick arrived should be the fact it took a long time to find him (he was drafted in 2010, 10-years following Belichick’s arrival in 2000).  He’s definitely a unique player, and it makes you wonder just how long it might be before the team finds anyone close to him ever again.

That reality will eventually come.  All fans can do until his decision is made is hope there’s still some time left for watching #87 throw down a few more Gronk spikes before it’s over.

Daily Patriots Notebook 3/6: Butler Situation Remains a Frustrating Mystery

Ian Logue
March 6, 2018 at 7:35 am ET

(Day two as we try and string some good days together in this space heading into the rest of the offseason.  Subscribe via the email form at the bottom if you’d like to get this and other local media delivered to your inbox each morning.)

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since the Patriots’ loss to the Eagles, but as difficult as it’s been to take for those who were hoping to see the Patriots get a sixth championship, the one thing we still don’t have an answer to is the decision that will be talked about forever here in New England given the outcome.

Many had hoped that details would have slowly emerged following the game regarding the real reasons behind Malcolm Butler’s benching, yet here we are a month later still scratching our heads over how a player who played in 100% of the snaps in both the Divisional Round and AFC Championship game could have been benched due to a “football decision”.  That left him on the sideline while Philadelphia marched up and down the field and amassed 374-yards passing while only punting once during the whole contest.  The assumption when it was over was that the details would slowly leak out eventually, but Bill Belichick stuck to his guns in the days following their defeat, holding fast to the reason behind the veteran cornerback’s benching being football-related and not due to any discipline issue.

“I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion,” Belichick said when asked again the next day. “There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”

What it was is still something that without the true context, will never make any real sense.  It’s hard to believe that for a player who played nearly every snap in every game this season, including both playoff games, wasn’t good enough to play in the most important game of the year, especially given how the game ultimately played out.

That’s why the idea of it being performance based seems unlikely. The argument then remains that it had to have been some sort of disciplinary issue or something – Belichick had to have had a reason – that kept him on the sideline.  Whatever that reason was, Belichick still should have found some sort of happy medium to get his point across while not handcuffing his team on the very stage that every single player in that locker room worked so hard to get to.

NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi seemed to be the one most dialed in on Butler’s situation, reporting that a curfew violation may have been the reason behind the benching.  Some players told Giardi that curfew is a matter Belichick takes seriously, and that Butler is ultimately to blame for the outcome.

“I think there is some [disappointment toward Butler],” said Giardi. “They feel bad for him, but yet [they would tell him] ‘You put yourself in this position, too.'”

Looking back to when Belichick sat Wes Welker in the playoff game against the Jets, Welker sat out the first series.  When it comes to Butler, it’s hard not to believe that sitting Butler for the entire first half wouldn’t have been enough of a message for the veteran cornerback.

After all, like the rest of his teammates, he had an allotment of tickets where his family and friends were likely in the stands, and missing the first two quarters would certainly have been enough to penalize him.  It also likely would have fired him up enough where he would have hit the field on a mission in the second half, giving the team both a player with something to prove, while forcing Philadelphia to at least spend a good portion of the third and potentially early fourth quarter trying to re-adjust.

Instead, it never came to be and in the end, they squandered an incredible performance by their offense in a game where one defensive stop could have been the difference.  It’s one thing to lose a game giving everything you have with every available player in the locker room.  It’s another to lose with one of your better defenders on the sideline and be left with a defeat that didn’t need to happen.

Unlike past Super Bowl losses, that’s unfortunately what this one feels like.  For a man who is normally flawless in his decision-making, it’s hard not to feel like he might have gotten this one wrong.  Unfortunately, while he may have made his point with Butler, he’s left everyone else forced to deal with a disappointing loss and a lifetime of questions that we may never truly get answers to.

Branch’s days as a Patriot appear to be over.

Branch’s Days Appear Numbered – In his third year with the team in 2016, veteran tackle Alan Branch appeared to be on his way to emerging into a nice fit in a defense that was in need of a tough veteran presence inside.

Branch seemed to give them that.  In this third year with the team, he finished the regular season with 49 tackles including 1.5 sacks, three passes defensed, and a forced fumble.  In the playoffs, that success continued as he finished with a quarterback hit, half of a sack, and a fumble recovery.

As a result, last offseason the team rewarded him with a two-year deal and seemingly added another player to the foundation they were putting together.  But much like their luck has seemed to be in recent years, one of the players they thought they could count on ended up being one that turned in the wrong direction by the time the season was over.

After playing in 62% of the opener against the Chiefs, Branch’s playing time began to diminish and a knee injury in Week 14 sidelined him for the final three games of the regular season.

Branch declared himself “Good to Go” prior to the game against the Titans in the Divisional round and never saw the field, and he also missed the AFC Championship.  Heading into the Super Bowl, he was absent from the injury report, which would leave you to believe the reasoning may have gone deeper than the injury.

Branch already sounds like the Patriots are his former team.  He told WEEI in an interview last month that he has no idea why Butler didn’t play, and his reference to the team certainly raises a red flag while wondering what went wrong for a player who had seemed like he might be one of their key players moving forward.

“I noticed he wasn’t in the game, but then again you never know the reason for what is going on at certain times in that organization, especially,” said Branch. “It’s neither here nor there.”

Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal wrote on Monday that it’s “almost certain” the Patriots will release Branch before the league calendar year starts on March 14th.

Gilmore made a less than flattering list after a tough start in 2017.

Patriots Make The Wrong List For Free Agents – Anyone who follows the site “Over The Cap” knows that those guys tend to do a pretty good job and they published an interesting article looking at who they believe qualified among the top 30 worst signings of 2017.

Making that list at #26 was Stephon Gilmore, who signed a 5-year, $65 million deal that seemingly ignited the problems with Butler and led to weeks of frustration in the early going while the newcomer struggled to get on the same page with his new teammates.

Gilmore eventually settled in down the stretch and played well, which should give him some pretty good momentum heading into 2018.  Butler will likely be long gone by then, with the next question being who will be the next to try and solidify the other side opposite Gilmore.

Meanwhile, coming in just ahead of Gilmore was former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, who signed a 4-year extension in Cleveland worth a reported $50 million.  Collins had a tough year after finishing with 1 sack and 21 tackles over six games before his season was cut short with an MCL injury suffered against the Lions.

Other notable names who made the top five was Brian Hoyer (#4), who earned the honor after signing a 2-year $12 million deal in San Francisco that saw him get benched after 5.5 games, only to end up getting released and landing back in New England.  Martellus Bennett came in at #3 on the list thanks to his 3-year, $21 million deal in Green Bay that went south after he declared himself injured following Aaron Rodgers’ injury, leading to him being waived.  That allowed New England to claim him, but he ultimately ended up on injured reserve here not long after.

Earning the #1 spot was Kenny Britt, who signed a 4-year, $32.5 million deal with $10.5 million guaranteed in Cleveland and joins the list of castaways who also got a shot in New England in 2017.  Britt played in the final three games of the season for the Patriots, with his play time peaking in the regular season finale against the Jets where he played 29-of-86 snaps.  Overall, he finished with just two receptions for 23-yards and was inactive during the postseason.

Prospect Discusses Being Interviewed by Belichick – The Patriots apparently interviewed Stanford Safety Justin Reid at the NFL Combine and he came away feeling pretty confident with how things went.

According to Reid, he was fairly awestruck when he walked into the room, and he spent 20-minutes going over different things with the Patriots staff.

“It was cool. I know they heard about kind of how intelligent of a player I am, so they wanted to quiz me to see what I knew,” Reid said via NESN. “They brought up some film and asked me what I was doing in this coverage, what were some of the linebackers doing in the coverage. What I was thinking, what I saw, some formation alerts, some formation tendencies, things like that. Just to get a feel for how I saw the defense, and I feel like I left an impression.”

Reid is projected by several publications to be a day two selection.  Here are a couple of videos on him:

Cardona, Wise and Hoyer Creating Smiles – While things like this tend to fly under the radar, there were three Patriots spending time on Monday trying to bring a little joy out in the community.

The Providence Journal caught up with Deatrich Wise, Joe Cardona and Brian Hoyer, who were all spending time serving pancakes to pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital..

Cardona, who is getting ready to fly to Korea in two weeks to take part in “an exercise”, said that the opportunity to make the kids happy was one he definitely enjoyed.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to come out and do something in the community that’s a little bit different,” Cardona said. “But always something that we know we can see how happy these kids are and just to have a break from what they’re dealing with different. It’s something that’s exciting for them.”

As for Wise, he’s no stranger to getting out in the community and he also had a lot of fun while hopefully making everyone’s day a little brighter.

“It is new, but I’ve always done community service, even when I was younger and I often think about it – people being happy to see me,” Wise said. “It’s humbling to be around kids and their families. Just to see their smiles is heartwarming.”

According to the Journal’s Mark Daniels, there were plenty of smiles around the room thanks to those three players.  Good stuff.

Daily Patriots Notebook 3/5: Reasons Beyond Money Likely In Play For Solder

Ian Logue
March 5, 2018 at 8:46 am ET

Timing is everything, and for Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, instead of being able to enjoy potentially being courted by other clubs this offseason and learning his market value as a football player, he finds himself in a difficult situation where factors beyond the gridiron will likely play a big part.

A year ago, Solder’s outlook might have been different.  His son, Hudson, back then, had seemed to have a more positive outlook after undergoing previous treatments for kidney cancer.  The tumor he had on his kidney had seemingly stopped growing, allowing Solder and his wife, Lexi, to breathe a little easier.  But this past season, the young parents found out that their son wasn’t out of the woods yet and had their worlds turned upside down again in October when they learned Hudson’s tumor had again started growing and he was forced to resume treatment.

Prior to that, almost a year had passed where things looked like they had finally taken a positive turn.  Solder said back in January that it was quite a blow, but they were just forced to deal with it.

“[The tumor] wasn’t growing, wasn’t growing, wasn’t growing — boom, it started growing again, so they had to reinsert the port, start chemotherapy again, and that’s where we’re at now,” Solder said via the NY Post.

What’s surprising is that despite such an intense off-field distraction, Solder managed to still finish with another solid season.  He and his wife spent each Tuesday – the team’s off day – driving to The Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston (located over 2 hours from their home) so Hudson could receive treatment, all the while having to deal with the intensity of another Super Bowl run going on.  It was a lot to deal with, and anyone with a child can only marvel at the struggle he and his wife must be going through in dealing with something of this magnitude.

With free agency looming, Solder now finds himself with an opportunity to cash in for his talents on the field, but he’ll likely find himself brutally torn between the opportunity to receive a substantial raise for his family if a team outside of New England makes him an offer he can’t turn down.  On the other side is the prospect of leaving the region where his son has received such terrific care.

As a result, it’s going to be interesting to see how things play out.  According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the team may be bracing for the possibility of losing him in the open market, but as everyone knows, there are ways to get creative when it comes to contracts.  For the Patriots, their number one goal, if they want to keep him, will be making sure that they figure out some way to offset the annual salary with at least coming in close with the guaranteed money in order to keep him in the fold.

Howe reports that the two sides haven’t spoken yet but other reports have revealed that Solder’s situation is obviously well-known within the building, with owner Robert Kraft among those who have Solder’s family close to their hearts with what they’re all going through.

Solder’s kept up his half of the bargain with his play on the field and has definitely earned another big payday.  Now it’s up to the team to hopefully make a difficult decision a little easier by coming close.  They pulled off a similar situation last offseason with Dont’a Hightower after the linebacker reportedly received more money than he ultimately received in New England, with the team structuring the deal in a manner that obviously worked for both sides.

With quarterback Tom Brady being the team’s most important asset, making sure they have the right person protecting his blind side is obviously a priority.  The team knows what they have in Solder and like other past free agents, one would have to believe they’ll get a shot at matching any offer he receives.  But knowing Solder’s backstory, while money is certainly part of the equation, if the team can somehow figure out a way to make it work, that would definitely be ideal.

They’ve been through enough in the last two years, and through it all, Solder has emerged as one of the more important and endearing players in recent memory.  While the NFL may be just a business, hopefully the Patriots can figure out a way to make the money work and keep Solder in the fold, while making sure that he won’t have to find a new destination on Tuesdays for his son in a new city.

It’s not often you find yourself rooting for a team to do the right thing by a player, but with such an amazing family and someone who has done all the right things since he got here, Solder will certainly be one most fans in New England will likely be rooting for in the coming months.

To make it even more clear when it comes to the type of person he is, Solder spent Friday lifting spirits of elementary school kids after three young children and an adult were found dead in West Brookfield.

According to the Worcester Telegram, the veteran tackle met with students and staff, autographing photos and posing for pictures to help brighten the day for those who were affected by the tragedy.  Solder was reportedly set to hold the event in a couple of weeks, but he and his wife were moved and decided to come sooner to help.

Yet another reason to hope he sticks around.

Lewis is already reportedly garnering interest around the NFL.

Four Teams Likely in Play For Lewis – In addition to Solder, the Patriots also have the challenge of trying to keep free agent running back Dion Lewis from departing and it appears they’ll have some additional teams in play as they trying to keep their leading rusher from changing uniforms.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, in addition to the rival Jets and Colts, the Texans, 49ers and Raiders are potential teams that could be in play for Lewis.  Florio believes up to six or seven teams could be vying for his services.

San Francisco is obviously the most intriguing as it’s an opportunity for Lewis to rejoin Jimmy Garoppolo for a 49ers team that will likely be looking to surround their new quarterback with as many weapons on offense as possible.

Lewis’ stock certainly couldn’t be any higher.  He finished with a career-high 896 rushing yards during the regular season in 2017, as well as 135 more during the postseason, giving him a total of 1,031 for 2017.  The next closest player was Mike Gillislee, who finished with 383 yards during the regular season.

Losing Lewis would be tough, as the Patriots would find themselves heading into 2018 with plenty of questions at a position that Lewis had solidified quite well.  The Patriots are no stranger to dealing with turnover at running back, and if a bidding war ensues for Lewis, the likelihood that they’ll have to do the same next season seems like it might be a foregone conclusion if his price escalates too high.

Harmon is still feeling the sting of last month’s loss.

Harmon still not over February’s loss – If fans out there feel like they’re the only ones still anguishing over how things ended against the Eagles last month, there’s one player who still is having a tough time dealing with the outcome.

Veteran safety Duron Harmon told ESPN’s Mike Reiss that he thinks about that game all the time and he’s not yet over it.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that game. I’m pretty sure everybody on our team feels the same way,” said Harmon. “The only thing you can do is just learn from it — what put us in position to lose that game and how to never do that again.”

Despite the sting from that loss, Harmon seems upbeat about the future.  He told Reiss that he’s confident that they’ll rebound and put together another good year of football when they get back to work in the months ahead.

“I always feel great about my team,” said Harmon. “Coach Belichick does a great job of putting a good team together each and every year, and getting the most out of us. As far as putting expectations on the year, I can’t do that because we’re still trying to get over the loss in the Super Bowl. ”

“Like I said, I’m glad to be a part of this team; each and every year, we play good football, we try to play it the right way, and it’s been good for us — since I’ve been here [2013] and before I got here. I’m pretty sure Coach Belichick isn’t going to let that change, and we’ll see how that goes.”

White Gets Married – Congtratulations to running back James White, who got a different kind of ring added to his hand this weekend after marrying his girlfriend, Diana Civitello.

Former Patriots running back, LeGarrette Blount, was on hand for White’s wedding and posted a photo of his former teammate, with White looking quite dapper with his lovely wife.

Congratulations @sweetfeet and @dianacivii love y’all!!

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

Best wishes to the newlywed couple, who had their grand entrance captured on Instagram:

Despite spurning the Colts, McDaniels stock is reportedly still high around the league.

NFL Execs: McDaniels Still a Coveted Asset – Despite spurning the Colts for their head-coaching vacancy, it sounds like Josh McDaniels’ potential opportunity to be a coach in the NFL may not have suffered as much as some might have thought.

According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, McDaniels’ stock remains high and he’ll likely get another opportunity.

It’s hard not to underplay what that last part means as it pertains to New England’s immediate future.  McDaniels certainly gets credit for the development of Garoppolo, and it’s hard not to breathe a little easier knowing that with him back in the fold here in New England, the chances of developing the next one are at least a little better than they would have been had he departed.

As a result, it appears that he remains in control of his future.  That’s good news for a Patriots team that lost their future quarterback, but will hopefully see McDaniels develop another player to take over for the day Tom Brady is no longer under center here in New England.

If he’s able to do that, there’s no doubt that he’ll most certainly get another shot with another team if he so covets it.  It’s believed that McDaniels may someday be the future head coach here in New England, so for those hoping for a bright future for the Patriots, one can only hope McDaniels can have similar success as he tries to begin doing it all over again in the coming months.