Category Archives: NFL News

New England Patriots News 3-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 29, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-29 and AFC East notes this week. 

The news has been filled with nothing but the latest of the coronavirus, but with that being said, we hope that all of you and your families are being safe. While we’re not supposed to visit and congregate in larger groups (those Sunday Italian family dinners are missed), we can still check up on one another. Give a call to a family member, especially an older one, they’ll appreciate it. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Devin McCourty: We were very pleased that the team locked up McCourty, the QB of the defense for the next couple of seasons with a two-year, $23 million dollar deal. ESPN’s excellent NFL Insider Field Yates feels the same and gave NE high marks.

“I’m always a fan of investing in your own players, particularly one who is as indispensable as any other on the defensive side of the ball,” Yates wrote. “McCourty is one of the best players in football and an indispensable cog for the Patriots’ defense.”

Tom Brady Bucs Presser: It was no doubt painful for many fans seeing the virtual press conference with Tom Brady being introduced as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the thing that kept coming to mind was the Seinfeld “Pirate” episode.

Bill Belichick: The coach was nominated for a Sports Emmy for his appearance on NFL Network’s “NFL 100 All-Time Team” panel. He is one of six nominated in the “Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst” category. We believe that he should be nominated every year for his press conferences …but that is just our opinion.

Shalique Calhoun/Brandon Copeland: With Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts heading off in free agency, the Patriots linebacking corps took a big hit. It is going to look very different (and we’ll add more below) but two players who have been brought back/in could see a significant amount of snaps this year are Calhoun and Copeland. 

Joe Montana: Tom Brady’s childhood idol is a bit baffled by the Patriots allowing Brady to leave for Tampa (Us too). However, Montana had this to say, “I think when you look at the whole situation, you try to figure out how you want to get away from things that are there,” Montana said. “I had a different story, where they had made a decision. I still don’t understand how New England let him get away. I don’t understand that.”

Salary Cap: The Patriots cap space is currently under $1 million dollars…yikes. The official amount according to Miguel aka @patscap is $803,834. So changes are coming and either some players are getting their deals reworked or cut outright. 

Among those who are available for reworking contracts are Dont’a Hightower and Stephon Gilmore. Those who could get a deal reworked or risk being cut would include Marcus Cannon, Rex Burkhead (with redshirt RB Damien Harris waiting in the wings). Burkhead is versatile but has had durability issues and his release would save nearly $4 million in cap savings. But again, if you’re not getting your cap information from Miguel, you’re not getting the right stuff. 

Phillip Dorsett: Is now a former Patriots WR, signing a one-year deal with Seattle. The former 1st round pick of the Colts has never lived up to his potential. His three years with the Patriots consisted of small hot streaks surrounded by long stretches where he was invisible/or forgotten. Maybe his third team is a charm. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. This week Derek and I went over the various comings and mostly goings of free agency. 

How Will the Patriots Attack the 1st Round of the Draft? Defense:

By now, most of you have seen on television or read many of the draft pundits predictions on how the team will go using the 23rd pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Many, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, have the Patriots using their pick on a QB. Kiper thinks they take Utah State’s Jordan Love. 

While that is entirely plausible, considering who they lost in FA, I’m not so sure they pick Love, who should develop into a solid starter but doesn’t strike me as having a very high ceiling. But we’ll see. Do I believe that they’ll draft a QB in 2020? Absolutely, but I feel that will be done in the middle rounds. I definitely don’t see them double-dipping with the 1st pick at WR for the 2nd year in a row. There will be some intriguing wide receiver talent available in the middle rounds as well too. 

They need an eventual replacement and backup for Devin McCourty at free safety. Both McCourty and Pat Chung return but both are getting long in the tooth. The Patriots have plenty of depth behind Chung, including the recently added Adrian Phillips. But with Duron Harmon gone, traded to the Lions during the early free agency frenzy, they lack that backup and eventual replacement to McCourty. 

If they were going to draft a safety in the first round, the guy I’d really like to see is Alabama free safety Xavier McKinney. Alabama turns out great defensive players every year and McKinney is outstanding. 

In my opinion, he’s the best safety in the draft and especially in man coverage. The Patriots demand that their single-high free safeties have the range to cover the deep part of the field, and McKinney is outstanding there. He can also (like McCourty) drop down and cover receivers out of the slot. McKinney, if drafted would provide an even better option than Harmon gave them in their subpackages…and that is saying something. 

I wrote here a few weeks ago that I thought they’d go defense either a lineman or linebacker in the first round. They replaced the loss of Danny Shelton with the signing of former Bucs DT Beau Allen and the big man should be a force against the run. We’ve heard rumors of the Patriots signing former Broncos DL Derek Wolfe, but there are at least as many rumors of him going to Kansas City or Baltimore, so we’ll have to watch how this situation plays out. 

Matt Miller, one of my favorite draft writers from Bleacher Report has the Patriots going after LSU LB Patrick Queen with the 23rd pick. I love Queen’s game, he’s very athletic, a three-down linebacker who can roam sideline to sideline. His biggest strength is in the run game, but he has a definite lack of size that the Patriots generally like with their linebackers at just 6’0, 229. However, Elandon Roberts was about the same size at 6’0, 238 so there is precedence there. Queen is at his best when the defensive line stacks things at the point of attack and it allows him to attack downhill. 

The guy I like and have been beating the table for is Iowa edge player A.J. Epenesa. He’s got the size that the Patriots like in their 3-4 DE/Edge rusher at 6’5, 280. He was very productive for the Hawkeyes in 2019 with 11.5 sacks, 49 tackles, and 14 tackles for a loss. And he didn’t test exceptionally well at the NFL Combine in Indy which may push his draft stock down enough for the Patriots to find him available with the 23rd pick. 

He’d be a great fit with the Patriots defensive philosophy that puts a premium on setting the edge against the run first, which is a strength of his. He shows excellent power, balance and the ability to be stout and string the play out. And for a big man, Epenesa has the speed to chase down ball carriers. And he can still bring the heat on the opposing QB too, as evidenced by his 11.5 sacks.

If the Patriots were to select McKinney, Queen, or Epenesa, it would, in my opinion, be a great start to the draft.  

Patriots Offensive Line Strength or Weakness in 2020:

The Patriots have a lot of holes to fill this offseason, but the offensive line is at least on paper, looking pretty strong heading into the 2020 offseason workouts…if there are any.

With LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, and RT Marcus Cannon seemingly in place, this starting unit with a new QB under center should be a position of strength. And the team still has last season’s redshirt draft picks T Yodny Cajuste and G Hjalte Froholdt as depth. However, there still exist several unknowns this spring.

Andrews is expected to be ready for training camp after missing all of last season with blood clots in his lungs. And with Ted Karras gone in FA to Miami, it opens up big question marks if Andrews is not ready. Joe Thuney had the franchise tag placed on him, which he signed but it is still a possibility that the Patriots trade him rather than try to work out a long-term deal. 

We had heard right after the playoff loss to the Titans that Cannon wasn’t returning and had moved his family back to Texas. Whether that was the Patriots choice or his wasn’t known. But perhaps he changed his mind. With a salary of $9.5 million (a prime player to rework his deal), it was a good reason to return for one more season in New England.

There were reports that the Patriots face-timed with Boise State T Ezra Cleveland. His draft projections are all over the place from 1st Rd to 3rd-4th with many draft pundits believing he projects to be a guard at the next level. Do the Patriots see him as a guard or tackle? And are they serious about bringing him in? If so, at which position? That’s what makes the offseason/draft season so intriguing.    

Plus we have the 2nd year guys with Cajuste and Froholdt. How will they fare in Year 2? And with Dante Scarnecchia retiring for a second time, how will his replacement fare in trying to replace one of the very best positional coaches in the league and a legend in Gillette? 

No AFC East Notes This Week – 

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“I have had the privilege of coaching some of the best specialists in the NFL and Stephen Gostkowski is one of them. Stephen had many highlights over his 14 years as a Patriot and one of the most impressive was the way it began when he succeeded the most accomplished kicker in NFL history. For some, this may have been too difficult a challenge. But from his rookie year, Stephen exuded a maturity and confidence that demonstrated he was up to the task. He made several crucial kicks his rookie year and established a top level of performance and consistency for years and years to come. Stephen is a great teammate who made outstanding contributions over a decade of championship football.” Bill Belichick on kicker Stephen Gostkowski after the team announced he would not be returning to New England. 

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“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 3-22, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 22, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-22 and AFC East notes this week. 

The news of Tom Brady leaving for Tampa Bay has dominated the talk and the print media this week, they’ll be much more of that below, however, there was plenty of other news this week as the Patriots had an exodus of veterans jump ship. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Kyle Van Noy: As we said last week, the Dolphins were expected to show a lot of interest in Van Noy, and they did, signing him to a four-year $51 million dollar contract. 

In Miami, he’ll be reunited with former Patriots’ coach Brian Flores, and his former coach knows how to utilize the versatile player the Dolphins hope can become a centerpiece of their front seven.  Van Noy can play the run off the edge, drop into coverage and also rush the passer from any position.  

Jamie Collins: Is rejoining his former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in Detroit. The Lions offered Collins a three-year deal worth $30 million. Collins had a career-high seven sacks and three interceptions last season for the Patriots. 

Joining Collins in Detroit are DL Danny Shelton, who signed a two-year, $8 million dollar contract. They also secured Duron Harmon who was, in essence, a salary dump by the Patriots. New England gave up Harmon and a 7th round draft pick for a Detroit 5th round pick. 

Ted Karras: Opted to bet on himself and signed with the Miami Dolphins on a one-year deal worth $4 million. The Patriots offered him a two-year deal with more overall cash but Karras looked at the current unsettled situation, especially with Brady and his OL coach Dante Scarnecchia retiring, he’ll have a good chance to start at center for Miami

Nate Ebner: The ace ST player is joining former Patriots STs/WR coach Joe Judge with the New York Giants on a one-year deal.  

Damiere Byrd: The Patriots signed the small (5’9, 180-pound) but fast wide receiver to a one-year deal. Byrd is coming off of a career-high 32 catch season for the Cardinals and has the ability to return kicks and punts. Byrd ran a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash while at South Carolina. 

Beau Allen: The Patriots replaced Danny Shelton with the big, 6’3, 327-pound defensive tackle who is known as a run-stuffing interior lineman. Allen spent the past two years with the Bucs  

Danny Vitale: The Patriots signed the big, bruising fullback who played for the Packers last year serving as a lead blocker and occasional pass catcher (7 receptions, 97 yards). The signing of Vitale doesn’t bode well for the long-term health of James Develin who suffered a season-ending (perhaps career-ending) neck injury last year.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. This week Derek and I went over the various comings and mostly goings of free agency. 

Trying to Make Sense of Brady’s Leaving:

For the first time in 27 years, the Patriots are now the team in the AFC East that is searching for their franchise quarterback. The Bills, for years, have been waiting for the next Jim Kelly, the Dolphins tried out numerous faces searching for Dan Marino’s heir apparent. The Jets? All the way back to Joe Namath. Now with Tom Brady leaving, there is a huge hole in the Patriots lineup.

For the past nearly three decades, the Patriots have had that stability, since they drafted Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Then when Mo Lewis leveled Bledsoe in the first game after 9/11, Brady stepped in and twenty years and nine Super Bowls later, the rest has been history.  That stability is now HIS-TOR-REE. And that is of their own choosing

They have 2nd year QB Jarrett Stidham, and honestly, nobody knows if he can be the guy or whether the Patriots even believe he can be. That’s what the other teams in the division have been dealing with for the past few decades…So, how the heck did we ever get here? 

But first and foremost, let’s get something clear and it seems like a lot of people on social media have it in error. Brady didn’t leave the Patriots. The Patriots forced him out the door. Now they can spin this however they want, but this relationship was broken to the point of no return last year.

Ian Rapoport from NFL Network said that the Patriots “likely would have done the contract” he signed with the Bucs, “though Tom Brady never came to them with his desire to return.” That’s a crock, sorry folks. They made it quite clear that they were not going to commit to Brady more than year-to-year. 

One of the people we spoke with is Tom’s long-time, good buddy Jay Flannelly. You can check out our conversation here: And we’ll get into the year-to-year thing shortly. But first, once the Patriots decided to go year to year, Brady was furious. He basically felt betrayed and that he was a lame-duck quarterback. He felt that after 20 years, he earned the security of a multi-year deal, even at age 42. 

After nothing was agreed upon by both parties in August, they gave Brady a raise and agreed to let him test free agency for the first time in his career this spring. Brady put his house on the market the next day. This was all very avoidable if, in fact, the team wanted Brady around past the 2019 season.  The sad fact is, they didn’t want him beyond 2019 unless it was at their terms and now they’re paying him $13.5 million dollars to play in Tampa Bay in 2020. 

And Tampa is paying him only what he asked of the Patriots last summer. Tom’s choice to leave? Really? No, this was their decision. 

One of the hallmarks of what made this team so great for the past two decades is that they invariably made sound decisions when it comes to the team. Bill Belichick is considered cold-blooded by some for his business first attitude and the fact that he doesn’t let emotions play into his decisions. That’s been their business model and it has obviously worked. 

But what about this decision? Do the Patriots have a better option at quarterback right now? Is there someone waiting in the wings that can handle this offense better, to where you’re paying Brady millions of dollars to stay away? 

This spring they didn’t even make an offer to Brady, the message was “go find an offer and bring it back to us.” To some bottom third of the roster player, that may be acceptable. To the QB who brought you to nine Super Bowls, that was a message that he wasn’t needed or wanted back. Then with the news that the DeAndre Hopkins trade was coming and how little Arizona gave up for him, Brady’s mind was made up. The Patriots weren’t going to make him an offer, nor would they be making another play to be all-in for another championship in 2020.

The Stefon Diggs trade was the icing on the cake. We spoke with someone that lives in Tampa, that Brady had dinner with Bill Gates, Derek Jeter and Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and that he made Jeter an offer to buy his mansion on Davis Island off of Tampa Bay. His decision was made…for him.

On Monday, he went to Robert Kraft’s home and told him that he was leaving. But the fact remains, he was ready to leave last August. There were reports that Belichick was shocked that Brady was signing with the Bucs. If they thought he was going to come back to them for one final negotiation, they were sadly mistaken. 

You could make a comparison between Brady’s last season and Rob Gronkowski’s. Both were unhappy and unnaturally moody in their final season. But the difference was, Gronkowski made the signature play at the end of the Super Bowl, hauling in a great catch that set up the Patriots for the game-winning touchdown. He was able to ride off into the sunset a champion. Brady’s last game ended badly with a Wildcard Loss to the Titans. 

Robert Kraft has come off awfully bad since the news broke. First, he called into a daily “hot take” show to claim that it was Brady’s decision to leave. That Brady wanted to leave… that take was a classic Red Sox move (hint, that isn’t a good look) by trying to deflect it back on #12 and then on Friday, he had another statement that was even worse, by throwing Belichick under the bus, in essence comparing Belichick or possibly his son Jonathan to a meddling mother-in-law that ruins a marriage. 

“Think about loving your wife and for whatever reason, there’s something — her father or mother – that makes life impossible for you and you have to move on but you don’t want to,” Kraft told NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. 

If Kraft had just said that the Patriots were sticking to their business model and the two sides were hopelessly deadlocked, while one can disagree with it, or even dislike it, but at least you can respect the decision. This wasn’t the case at all. Kraft first tried a couple of times to insist that all Brady had to do was to tell them he wanted to return and then tried to blame others as if he didn’t have the power to change it. That was a really bad look. 

We’ve heard rumors that Kraft has increasingly turned over more of the day-to-day operations to his son Jonathan, and may have admitted as much a few years ago, when Brady signed an extension. Kraft said he looked at the contract and then asked Jonathan what he thought. But that is a stretch …or was it?

Kraft spoke with Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston and tried to explain that the Patriots were waiting for Brady to signal that he wanted to return…What? After eight months of inactivity, they waited until the final few hours for Brady to signal he wanted to return? Bad, bad, bad. For a team steeped in making smart business decisions, this one rivals any of the stupid ones the Jets or Dolphins have made in the past 20 years.

The Patriots made their decision and have now taken a giant step back. They will no longer be an automatic favorite to go deep into the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl. They’ve rejoined the pack. They’ll have to fight, claw, and scratch for every win and hopefully eke out a Wildcard berth. They won’t be favorites, nor should they be, to even win the division they’ve owned for 20 years. Honestly, wearing an analyst’s hat, it makes for a very compelling season. It should be fascinating to see how the entire team dynamic is going to work. Switching to a fan’s perspective, it sucks. But we knew it was coming sooner or later…and now it is sooner.

And so, Brady is moving on to a new team, a new coach, new teammates, and a new system. But what isn’t new is his burning desire to win. Everyone who’s had the pleasure to watch him work and interact on a very small scale down at Gillette can see that the fire still burns really bright in him. His coaches and teammates will soon see that too. He’s going to a good coach that knows how to get a lot out of his QBs, although he’s a bit of a deep passing guy. 

Brady loves nothing more than a challenge. That’s his personal bushido, he approaches things with the warrior mentality of everything is a challenge. Any perceived slight or negative criticism is, therefore, also a challenge. And he does feel slighted and challenged by the Patriots forcing him out the door. The Bucs defense may hold them back this year, their secondary was awful a year ago. But Brady and the offense? He’s going to light it the hell up in 2020 in Tampa.  Just sit back and watch.

Patriots Franchise Tag Joe Thuney:

The Patriots in a somewhat of a surprise move used the franchise tag designation on left guard Joe Thuney and the 27-year old signed it guaranteeing him…for now having the highest salary on the Patriots at $14.78 million for 2020 now that Tom Brady is a member of the Bucs.

Thuney has made $3.6 million in his three-year career, so this is a big pay increase for him. He was expected to price himself out of New England this spring as a free agent but the tag will keep him a member of the Patriots …for now. The team could still opt to trade him since they’d have an inordinate amount of cap space dedicated to their guards. 

The Patriots have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension with him or he’ll count the entire $14.78 million against the cap this year. 

Adrian Phillips, Will Ease Workload on Pat Chung:

The Patriots signed Safety Adrian Phillips, the free-agent All-Pro and Pro Bowler came from the Chargers where he had spent his entire six-year career.  Phillips signed a two-year deal worth $7.5 million with $3 million guaranteed. Phillips can earn a total of $4 million this year if he hits all of his incentives.

Besides being a Special Teams ace, he is a physical, downhill safety and will play in the box, defending the run and in coverage against tight ends. He missed significant time in 2019 with a broken forearm but this year, with Pat Chung, who fills the same role getting older, Phillips would help scale back Chung’s workload and would look to be his eventual replacement.

So, Phillips would replace Ebner’s presence in the kicking game and back up Chung and play a role at Strong Safety. But the salary dump of Harmon still leaves the team with a hole in Free Safety depth. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Trade for WR Stefon Diggs:

The Buffalo Bills are going to have an offense that will be tough to stop. They wasted no time in going after former Vikings WR Stefon Diggs during the early hours of “legal tampering” as free agency unfolded. 

While they paid a steep price for Diggs, a 1st, 5th, and 6th round picks in 2020 and a 4th rounder in 2021, he’s going to transform this offense into a very dangerous one. Buffalo now has speed, speed and quickness outside and it will be a case of “pick yer poison” while trying to defend Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley next year. 

Buffalo has three excellent wide receivers who give their QB a large target window due to their ability to get separation from defenders. For a QB that still has some accuracy issues in Josh Allen, this group will go a long way in alleviating that. 

Diggs is a very good #1 WR, Brown as the #2 and Beasley out of the slot gives Allen and Buffalo an excellent group of skill players. Coupled with a suffocating defense, Buffalo should be overwhelming favorites to run away with the division in 2020. 

Dolphins Going Conservative in FA? Not a Chance:

The Miami Dolphins had said that they were leaning towards being conservative in free agency, despite having a boatload of money to spend. But GM Chris Grier and HC Brian Flores were anything but, going after a ton of players that they coveted once free agency began.

Miami filled a bunch of holes in their roster as they quickly hit on the Patriots, poaching LB Kyle Van Noy, who should immediately become a centerpiece for their front seven. But their secondary got a huge boost from the signing of CB Byron Jones, formerly of the Cowboys to a deal worth a guaranteed $57 million. Jones, teamed with Xavien Howard gives Miami the most expensive CB duo in the league. Miami also brought in edge rusher Shaq Lawson, OL Ereck Flowers. They later added OL Ted Karras from the Patriots who should get the nod at the starting center in 2020. 

With three first-round draft picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, Miami is set to make a big splash there as well. A week into the process, the Fins are off and running. Conservative? Nope, but it is hard to disagree with anything they are doing so far. 

Jets Go Low Key in Early Free Agency:

The New York Jets, unlike Miami, DID go conservative in the first week of free agency, something they’ve not done in recent years. Probably the biggest signing the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have made is slot corner, Brian Poole. While a needed, and solid signing, it isn’t the kind of splashy signing, we’ve seen from Gang Green under previous regimes. Although, those haven’t exactly worked out either. 

Poole is a solid player and a good signing, and while the Jets still need more help at corner, they didn’t spend a ton on him and he should pay immediate dividends. Another under the radar move GM Joe Douglas did was to sign C Connor McGovern. A definite position of need, McGovern is a solid, if unspectacular player but is an immediate upgrade over what they had last year. 

They gave McGovern good money, three years, $27 million with $18 million guaranteed but with the Broncos last year, he allowed one sack and just three QB hits. And he didn’t commit a single penalty last year. He’ll help keep the pressure off Sam Darnold up the middle in the A gap. Good moves by Gang Green

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“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone-setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in almost every season in between. This is a credit to Tom’s consistency and what separates him. He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.

“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.

“Examples of Tom’s greatness are limitless, going back even before he was drafted. We witnessed how he prepared when he wasn’t playing, how he performed when he got his opportunity, what he did to continuously improve, his leadership, his mindset, the example he set, and, of course, the person he is. I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally.

“Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”  Bill Belichick on Tom Brady after he announced he would not be returning to New England. 

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“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

Tom Brady Bids Farewell to Patriots Fans on Social Media

Steve Balestrieri
March 17, 2020 at 9:36 am ET

There won’t be another season for Tom Brady under center for the New England Patriots. What fans have been bombarded with for months with constant innuendo and rumors has finally come home for sure. 

Brady bid fans a heartfelt goodbye in a series of Instagram posts that were quickly carried by Twitter and Facebook. He didn’t say where his NFL career would be heading to, but we now know, there won’t be the 21st season in New England.

Ever the team player, Brady always eschewed personal accomplishments, a point he reiterated in his statement this morning. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments,” he posted.

Brady leaves behind an incredible legacy of six Super Bowl Championships, including four Super Bowl MVP awards, nine conference championships in his 20 years in a Patriots uniform.

He’s been saying for years, his goal was to play until he’s 45-years old, and when the season begins in September, he’ll be 43. But he won’t be quarterbacking the Patriots this year, the only team that he’s ever played for professionally. 

Unable to come to an agreement last summer, he essentially signed a one-year deal that would allow him to test free agency for the first time in his career. And now he’s gone. 

In his Patriots career, he led the team to at least 12 wins, a record total of 13 times. Now the Mount Rushmore of the Patriots Dynasty (Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft) will be missing one of its pieces. A grateful Patriots’ Nation bids you a fond, but sad goodbye.

Brady at minicamp last year, answering questions about his future. (SBalestrieri photo)

What Does Joe Thuney’s Franchise Tag Mean For The Patriots?

Steve Balestrieri
March 16, 2020 at 3:30 pm ET

In a surprise move, the Patriots have placed the franchise tag on left tackle Joe Thuney. The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride was the first to have this report. So, instead of hitting free agency on Wednesday, he still belongs to the Patriots who now will owe him a cool $14.781 million in 2020. 

Thuney’s money officially goes on the books on March 18, at 4:00 p.m. That means that unless they start renegotiating with some of their established stars (Gilmore, Hightower) to create some cap space, they aren’t going to have much cap space left. That, on the surface, doesn’t bode well for the return of Tom Brady. 

But…this could be the Patriots deciding to tag and then trade Thuney and thereby getting some draft capital for him today rather than a compensatory pick for him next spring. And a bigger point to consider is that by tagging and trading Thuney, the Patriots can dictate where he goes. More to that below.  However, the Patriots released a statement saying they are tagging Thuney to try to work out a long-term deal.

“Joe has been a model teammate and an essential element to our success since joining our team in 2016. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach the goal of a long-term agreement.”

Again, on the surface, this would make it seem that the Patriots are interested in keeping who was their best offensive lineman around for the long-term. And who could blame them for that? 

Thuney has outstanding on the field and a model of consistency while answering the bell, not only for every game but playing nearly every snap as well. Thuney, 27 has made 74 straight starts including the playoffs for the Patriots. 

But at the end of last season, we thought, as everyone else did, there was no way that they’d be able to keep Thuney and most of their other free agents, given that their cap situation is so low. This is just another case of the Patriots going against the grain when it comes to predicting what they are going to do. 

There are so many scenarios at play here, and as always Bill Belichick will keep the rest of the league guessing at to what their true intentions are until the last minute. This could be a way of protecting themselves in the case that they can’t work out a deal for Tom Brady. Then they’ll be protecting whoever they do have at QB with their best OL at least for 2020. 

But the feeling here is that this will be a tag and trade scenario. They get immediate compensation and can pick the spot where Thuney goes and perhaps keep him out of the AFC East. As we wrote in our Sunday notes, Thuney was expected to generate a ton of interest from both Miami and the New York Jets, and perhaps the Patriots don’t want to help either of those. 

Thuney is now making left tackle kind of money in the league, it is really doubtful that the Patriots could lessen his cap hit very much to keep him around long-term. One common theory which is now shot was that they’d tag and trade him to Houston for DeAndre Hopkins. But Houston inexplicably traded Hopkins to Arizona for David Johnson, a 2nd round draft pick this year and a 4th next year. Maybe the Texans should have made a bigger push for Nick Caserio one more time this spring. 

Needless to say, the news is already popping with the league. 

On the tight end front, with Hunter Henry tagged, Austin Hooper is moving to Cleveland and the Cowboys have signed TE Blake Jarwin to a long-term deal, seemingly moving on from Jason Witten. One thing is for sure, the market for TEs is drying up quickly. 

New NFL CBA Should Make It Easier for Brady/Patriots To Deal

Steve Balestrieri
at 8:30 am ET

While the world rushed the aisles of stores to hoard the last of the toilet paper supply, the vote for the NFL’s new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) narrowly passed 1019-959 with about 500 players not even voting. 

If the Player’s Union wanted to send a strong message to the owners, they perhaps sent the wrong one. With about 20 percent of the members not even voting, it tells the ownership that the union is fragmented and weak. That won’t bode well down the road.

The big takeaways from the new CBA is that there will now be a 17-game season with one less preseason game. The seven-team playoff format with only one team getting a bye means that more teams will be resting players down the stretch

The salary cap will increase to $198.2 million, which means the Patriots should receive about another $3 million in cap space. Rosters will increase from 53 to 55 and teams can dress an additional two players on game days. The rules governing drug testing have changed and the players will receive a bigger slice of the revenues moving forward. The agreement will ensure a somewhat calm labor front for the next 10 years.

So, on to the Patriots and the possibility of bringing Tom Brady back, the new CBA should help that along. The 30-percent rule is no more so it “should” be easier to backload a contract for multiple seasons that may be agreeable to both Brady and the Patriots. This “should” make it easier for the team to restructure guys like Stephon Gilmore and Dont’a Hightower, because with the Slater re-signing and the news of Devin McCourty’s return (more below) the Patriots are running out of cap space.

With the new CBA, the sticky subject of voidable years has also been addressed as well. The Patriots added two voidable years to his deal last year, those are not allowed if the CBA is in its final year, which the league was in until Sunday. Now the team and Brady can add the voidable years to the back end of the contract, which will give the team some measure of cap space relief. For more on that see Miguel @patscap.

The rumored Brady to Tennessee train totally derailed on Sunday when it was announced that the Titans were giving Ryan Tannehill a big new contract with over $91 million in guaranteed money. That supposed door is closed. What’s left for Brady now? In reality, not much. The Tampa Bay Bucs, the Patriots, or perhaps that “mystery team” that we’ve been reading about. We’ll see; unless something totally crazy happens in the next day or so, the chances of Brady returning should be much better. 

Is Tampa closer to a Super Bowl than New England? No, so if Brady were to opt to go there, it would have to be for one of two reasons. One, he just wants out of NE and would be willing to go about anywhere, or Two, the Patriots don’t want him back. 

So, with the news that Devin McCourty is returning, the twins will be back for at least another season in New England. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that McCourty’s two-year deal is worth $23 million with $17 million in guarantees. 

Friday the Patriots locked up Slater for another two years, so they are locking up some of their veteran players before free agency starts. Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Joe Thuney, and Ted Karras are all free agents, but all eyes will be on #12. 

And so it begins, buckle your seat belts, its going to be a bumpy night.

New England Patriots News 3-15, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 15, 2020 at 6:27 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-15 and AFC East notes this week. 

“Beware the Ides of March”… on this day Julius Caesar was assassinated on his way to the Senate. Hopefully, the Ides will bode better for the Patriots in regards to a certain Free Agent quarterback than it did for J.C.

With all of the absolute hysteria going on with the coronavirus, let’s all take a break and talk some football for a few… 

This promises to be a busy week, corona panic and all. First of all, teams face the franchise- and transition-tag deadline Monday. Free-agency negotiating, the so-called “legal tampering window” also opens Monday. And the new league year begins on Wednesday when the feeding frenzy begins and teams begin to overpay for free agents.

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Kyle Van Noy: The Patriots linebacker is expected to draw some interest from the Miami Dolphins and possibly even the Detroit Lions, the team that didn’t use him properly and jettisoned him to New England on the cheap. 

Miami makes sense, he played for and had great respect for Brian Flores, the Dolphins have a boatload of cash to spend, the weather in Florida is nicer in the winter and there is no state tax. But how would Van Noy look in teal?   

Julian Edelman: The Patriots wide receiver took to social media and posted to Twitter a picture of him in a throwback Patriots jersey with the caption: “Hearing rumors about new jerseys.” Let’s hope it wasn’t that one, those hideous blue-paneled ones from the Bledsoe era were godawful.

If they’re going to wear new jerseys then go back to the white jerseys and red pants of the ‘85 era Patriots, which were the best uniforms in team history. And it isn’t open for debate on these pages.

Ted Karras: The Patriots free agent OL cashed in nicely on the NFL’s performance-based pay system. This is used to reward players who earn more playing time relative to their salaries. Karras, filling in for Center David Andrews, started 15 games for the Patriots in 2019. 

So, Karras raked in $635,947, the second-largest payout in the program. He earned $393,363 through the performance-based pay pool, and an additional $242,584 from a veteran performance pool. Not bad…now he’ll cash in even more in free agency.

Eliot Wolf: The Patriots have hired the former Browns Assistant GM and former Director of Player Personnel for the Packers as a front office assistant. The 37-year old is the son of former Packers GM Ron Wolf. 

Salary Cap: If any of our readers have salary cap questions, there is only one person that they should be following and asking questions of and that is Miguel aka @patscap. If you’re asking anyone else or getting your Patriots cap information from anyone else, you are doing yourself a disservice. 

“If This Is Sunday” – Then Tom Brady must be going to San Francisco, or Tennessee, or Las Vegas…or was it Tampa Bay? This should be rectified very soon one way or another this week once free agency begins. 

Compensatory Picks: The Patriots added four compensatory draft picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, the most in the league. Of the 32 comp picks that the NFL releases every spring, the Patriots picked up two in the 3rd Round, and two in the 6th Round. 

The Patriots currently have the 23rd overall pick in the 1st Round, and no 2nd Round pick (Traded for Mohamad Sanu) and now three picks in the 3rd Round. Which means they’ll have four of the first 100 picks. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. Two weeks ago we finally got the band back together as Russ Goldman, who’d been working a schedule that didn’t permit getting together with Derek Havens and myself, was able to rejoin the podcast for the first time in several months.

Matthew Slater is Returning With a 2-Year Deal:

File this one under a no-brainer… The Patriots are bringing back ST’s Captain and outstanding Gunner Matthew Slater on a 2-year contract according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Yates stated that the deal was structured similarly to how his last contract was which paid him $2.6 million. 

Slater who turns 35 this fall, belies his age as he remains one of the very best gunners in the NFL and has been a captain of the STs since 2011. Slater’s work ethic is beyond reproach as the Patriots have long allowed him to practice on his own and during training camp. He can be seen sprinting up and down the field with an assistant coach trying to block him. 

And it still translates to very good on-field production. Slater notched 10 tackles in the kicking game, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble,as well as a blocked punt and he scored the first touchdown of his career in an early-season win over the Bills.

When his playing days are through, many have predicted and we agree with, that Slater will be a perfect person to take over the old position that Jack Easterby held as a character coach and team chaplain.

Slater is a locker-room influence and has been a veteran leader for many years. For several years, it is Slater who Bill Belichick calls upon to break down the team after a victory. “So…how do we feel about Matthew Slater returning to the Patriots in 2020? Awwwww Yeah!” 

CBA Vote Expected Soon:

The CBA voting window is closed, it was over at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday night. The results will be posted sometime this morning. A simple majority is all that is needed for the new CBA to take effect, which would begin immediately if adopted. 

This will have a great deal of influence on new contracts, especially with Tom Brady. Stay tuned

Hunter Henry Franchise-Tagged By the Bolts, A Possible NE Target:

Around Los Angeles, most people thought the Chargers would franchise tag tight end, Hunter Henry. Others believe that the Bolts may tag him and then trade him… not out of the realm of possibility.  And they did just that on Friday, guaranteeing him at least $11 million dollars in 2020. 

Chargers GM Tom Telesco said at the Combine, that LA wanted to keep the very talented but oft-injured tight end.who has caught 136 passes for 1,709 yards and 17 touchdowns in his three seasons. Last season, he set single-season career highs with 55 receptions and 652 receiving yards for the 5-11 Bolts. He missed all of 2018 with a knee injury suffered n the spring.

Henry was a favorite Free Agency binky for New England fans. The Patriots need to retool and reload at the tight end position. With Henry out of the free agency picture, that means that Austin Hooper is probably primed for a very big payday once free agency begins as he’s the biggest name out there, which doesn’t bode well for any hope of the Patriots enticing the 25-year old here. 

Other names that they could target…barring a trade include Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Delanie Walker, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham, and Marcedes Lewis. Many people feel (including here),  that the Patriots will double-dip on the position in both free agency and then during the 2020 NFL Draft. Of course, we thought that last year as well, so we’ll see how it plays out.  

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Re-Sign TE Jason Croom:

The Buffalo Bills have re-signed exclusive rights free agent Jason Croom according to ESPN’s Field Yates. After he led all Bills tight ends in receptions in 2018, albeit with a modest 22 receptions for 259 yards and one touchdown, he ended on IR in 2019.

He injured a hamstring in training camp and it bothered him to the point that he was eventually placed on IR last summer. 

Croom will compete with a crowded positional room as the Bills have Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, and Nate Becker all under contract for 2020. They were trying to entice Greg Olsen to Buffalo but he signed with Seattle. Kroft redid his contract earlier this week. 

Dolphins Sign Three ERFAs, Promote WRs Coach:

The Miami Dolphins tendered exclusive rights free agents wide receiver Isaiah Ford, linebacker Trent Harris, and defensive tackle Zach Sieler.

Ford has spent his entire career with Miami and has had numerous stints on the practice squad and active roster. In 2019, he caught 23 passes for 244 yards. Harris was originally signed by the Patriots as a UDFA. He was picked up via waivers and played in 11 games with 22 tackles (16 solo), 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Sieler joined the team in December via waivers from the Ravens and notched eight tackles (three solo), one sack and two passes defensed in three games. 

Miami has told center, Daniel Kilgore, that he won’t be brought back in 2020.they also announced that they have promoted Josh Grizzard to be the wide receivers coach. This is his 4th season with Miami, the first three as a quality control coach. 

Jets Reportedly Looking At OL Thuney, Ricky Wagner, Jack Conklin:

The New York Jets have to do a rebuild along their offensive line in 2020. The good news is that both free agency and the NFL Draft promises to be very deep for the offensive linemen. 

The Jets are supposedly very high on G Joe Thuney from the Patriots, as are the Dolphins and he’d be an immediate fit and upgrade on their Oline. The Jets are supposedly rumored to kick the tires on Titans tackle Jack Conklin once free agency begins. Another name that surfaced was Lions RT Ricky Wagner who was released this week. He had a very solid 2018 but fell off sharply last year, now he’s been released.

Two other free agent names on the defense to watch for the Jets are edge rushers Cameron Wake, released by the Titans last week and Jadaveon Clowney from the Seahawks who is a free agent. 

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 3-08, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 8, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-08 and AFC East notes this week. It is good to be back on Daylight Savings Time…did you remember to turn your clocks forward last night? 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, the Scouting Combine, and the NFL:

Jason McCourty: The Patriots are going to pick up the contract option for the veteran cornerback, which will pay him about $4 million dollars in 2020, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. McCourty had said in early February, “I definitely plan on playing next year. Now he’ll be back with the Patriots, which a tad surprising as with the cap space available, we thought that the team may be tempted to move on.   

Devin McCourty: The other half of the McCourty twins is an unrestricted free agent coming off of, arguably his best season. The Patriots move to re-sign Jason could be twofold in the thought process. While he’s been a valuable, versatile presence, his return could be the catalyst in Devin deciding to remain with the Patriots once free agency starts. 

Bill Belichick: The Patriots head coach will be honored by his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland on March 14th and be given the Keys to the City by MayorGavin Buckley. Originally, the city of Annapolis had planned on doing this last spring, but then former Heisman Trophy winner and Navy alum Joe Bellino passed away and Belichick, who was close to Bellino, went to the funeral, which happened to be the same day as the ceremony was planned.   

The city was understanding and now they’ve rescheduled for the 14th to present Belichick with the key to the city at halftime of the Navy-Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse game next Saturday. 

In a released statement, Belichick stated, “I am humbled and honored to be recognized by Mayor Buckley and the City of Annapolis,” he said.  “I would like to thank Admiral Buck and Chet Gladchuk for allowing me to receive the key in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. I loved the years I spent growing up in Annapolis and at the Naval Academy and I always look forward to returning. I am proud to be an Annapolitan!”

“If This Is Sunday” – Then Tom Brady must be going to San Francisco, or Tennessee, or Las Vegas…or was it Tampa Bay?

Jalen Hurts – This week on another podcast other than our own, I spoke with Mark Schofield, who is one of the best QB evaluators concerning the draft about Hurts. Schofield writes for too many publications to list them all, but we spoke about Hurts and his potential fit with the Patriots. 

He said that if Brady were to return, then the possibility of getting Hurts with one of their mid-round picks would be intriguing. His long throwing motion has been cleaned up and his mechanics looked very good in Indy at the Combine, where he threw very well. Something to remember, after going to Oklahoma last season, Hurts threw for over 3800 yards and 32 touchdowns. He’s an incredible athlete and is a very good runner with the ball in his hands.

His potential to learn under Brady would be a huge factor as well and the Patriots could opt to use him in the meantime much like the Saints use Taysom Hill, which would create matchups and get him some good game-time experience. Just something to consider. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. Last week we finally got the band back together as Russ Goldman, who’d been working a schedule that didn’t permit getting together with Derek Havens and myself, was able to rejoin the podcast for the first time in several months.

The Scouting Combine Needs To Return To Daytime, Prime Time? No:

The NFL can take one of the best events of the offseason, the Scouting Combine and turn it into a soup sandwich. In a league that has become obsessed with turning every little thing into “an event”, they’ve kicked the Combine into prime time and tried to bring in the casual fans, most of whom could care less how fast Player A. runs the 3-Cone Drill, or even know what that is. They just want to know who their team is drafting. 

The players arrive four, five, and in some cases six hours before they are due to working out and then forced to sit around for a large part of the day waiting for the prime time window to begin. The pace of the workouts seemed off as well. As a result of these long delays, several players suffered muscle pulls and strains. For what? 

Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported that “agents and agencies were protesting the pending change to prime time workouts and threatened to have players sit out Combine workouts. However, now that they’ve experienced the issues that come with these workouts which last until 11 PM, it may be a different story in 2021.”

The Combine, the way it had always been run was just fine the way it was. It didn’t need tweaking and definitely doesn’t need to be a “prime-time event” and judging from what we heard the numbers were, the fans rejected it as well. Some folks who work on Park Avenue couldn’t hit water out of a boat. 

Jarrett Stidham A Star QB? His Throwing Guru Believes So:

In case you have either been on Mars or have been unwired for the past few months the Patriots may or may not re-sign Tom Brady this spring…(I know, it is breaking news! More to that below). But regardless of the incessant and increasingly silly rumors of who the Patriots are “all in on” coming into replace him if indeed he does leave, but all of it ignores one key fact.

We’ve been saying since the season ended, whatever the Patriots decide to do begins with how they feel about Jarrett Stidham. They drafted him in the fourth round last year and he’s still quite an unknown quantity. But by now, the coaches must have a feeling on whether he can play at a high level and become a franchise QB. One person who totally believes in Stidham is his throwing coach Jordan Palmer. 

Palmer, the younger brother of Carson, has been working with Stidham since he was just 16 years old. Jeff Howe of The Athletic spoke with Palmer and the former NFL player was glowing in his praise for Stidham. 

“To be clear, I think he is a star, and he is going to be a big-time franchise quarterback,” Palmer said. “I have felt that way for a couple of years now. I’m totally fine saying that. I don’t care that he went fourth round. I think he is legitimate. He is going to be the leader of New England for a long time, whenever that starts. Go ahead and jump on that bandwagon.”

Palmer and Stidham have been hard at work to improve his velocity, an area that he has to improve upon moving forward. And that comes from fine-tuning his mechanics. 

“Because he can spin it as well as anybody in the league, literally from a data perspective,” Palmer said. “The focus for Jarrett was velocity. So he gained 11 percent velocity over two months, and that was almost double what the other guys were. So just by focusing on certain areas, we can make large gains. So with Jarrett, every other week or so, we’re testing that and having him throw from the simulator out on the field, and we’re able to monitor growth and address certain issues.”

“He has had to learn two completely different systems in college and is now learning a third,” Palmer added. “He is playing for the best organization in football and the greatest coach of all time. I would put my money on the guy who gets to play with that guy.”

Stidham is the wildcard in all of this. Regardless of whether Brady decides to stay or go, how they proceed beyond that is directly related to how they feel about their 2nd year QB. Remember, other than mop-up duty against the Jets, we really haven’t seen him play since Game 4 of the preseason. The beat writers got quotes from some of the players saying that he was making some great throws in practice, but then once the season started, their only access was the first 15 minutes or so of practice that is essentially a walk-thru.

Vrabel Facetime, Not a Big Deal…Unless They Did in Foxboro:

Around this time of year, the most overlooked and ridiculous rule in the league centers around the “legal tampering” period. Teams aren’t allowed to contact free agents or their agents and discuss money or contracts until the designated period….right. 

Pro Football Talk and Larry Fitzgerald Sr. published a report that the Raiders were prepared to offer Tom Brady a two-year $60 million dollar deal…hmm. Last week, we’ve by now all seen the Facetime video of Titans coach Mike Vrabel chatting up with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman. Normally, during this time of year, a head coach of another team calling a free agent QB that is rumored to be coveted by your organization would send the NFL offices at Park Avenue into a frenzy. 

However, Vrabel said that there was no harm, no foul…it was simply old teammates and friends catching up. 

“It would be no different than a conversation you would have with two of your (friends) on a weekend,” said Vrabel.

“And listen, my relationship goes back to 2001 with Tom Brady and training camp at Rhode Island (and) Parente’s. We’d go practice, and a bunch of us would go to the bar at Parente’s after practice, and that’s where a lot of those friendships were made. And those friendships aren’t going to stop or not continue to grow and develop now that I’m a head coach and he’s a quarterback with an expiring contract. Those are going to continue on well after he’s done playing — with his family, with my family. “

Vrabel added, “And having the ability to meet Jules and all those players, there’s a special bond that goes on in the locker room, and that’s not going to stop, the same way that Larry Izzo or Tedy Bruschi or Willie McGinest or Wes Welker and Matt Cassel and I will have a relationship.”

That is completely understandable and his explanation makes a lot of sense, because there are times that common sense has to prevail…right? But what if Brady actually DOES sign with Tennessee? Would that conversation be looked at differently in Foxboro then? It won’t in New York, but just imagine if you will (Rod Serling voice) that Bill Belichick got on “MyFace” or “SnapFace” and yukked it up with a big free agent that the Patriots supposedly coveted. Would the non-story remain the same? The league would be on the horn with Ted Wells and trying to grab everyone’s cell phone within a 10-mile radius to Gillette. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills To Target Jadeveon Clowney in FA? A Good Fit:

The Buffalo Bills have a need for a consistent pass rusher in 2020 and they have the cap space to go out and find one. Buffalo has about $80 million in available cap space, although GM Brandon Beane said that the team wouldn’t go on a spending spree like last year, they have the flexibility to target some of the higher-priced talents out there. Enter Clowney from the Seahawks who is a free agent. 

Buffalo had a rotation of Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and free agent Shaq Lawson and they played well. Bringing in a guy like Clowney will add a disruptive edge player who is outstanding against the run. He’d be a really good fit in the Bills defense and with the money available, he could be Buffalo bound if they are interested. 

Dolphins QB Fitzpatrick In Favor of CBA Proposal:

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the few players that we’ve seen so far embrace the CBA proposal forwarded by the owners to the Players Association to vote on. Fitzpatrick said he has spent weeks going over the proposed CBA and he agrees with the vast majority of it. 

“I can confidently say today that I’m going to vote yes on the CBA proposal. And there’s a long list of reasons why,” Fitzpatrick said in a video he sent to ESPN’s Trey Wingo. “First, when we met with NFLPA leadership during the season we gave them things we wanted to see addressed.”

He said that the points that the Player’s Association brought up were addressed and he was voting yes. Those points included increased minimum salaries, marijuana drug policy changes, increased roster spots, better work conditions and environment, better practice-squad treatment, less hitting in training camp and increased benefits for current and former players.

“For us as players, revenue sharing, getting a larger percentage of the pie, is important but also the overall growth of that pie is important,” he said. “Those two things both happen if we sign this CBA.”

“The possible gains we could make from a work stoppage don’t justify the risk we would undertake in voting this proposal down,” Fitzpatrick said

Jets Quinnen Williams Arrested For Attempting To Bring a Gun on a Plane:

The New York Jets DL Quinnen Williams was arrested at New York’s LaGuardia Airport this week for criminal possession of a weapon and will be arraigned March 25 in Queens County criminal court, according to the DA’s office.

Williams was carrying a Glock 19 handgun in a carry-on bag when he was arrested at the Delta check-in counter at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Thursday night, a Port Authority Police spokesperson said. The gun was licensed in his home state of Alabama, but not in New York, according to police.

He was not, however, carrying any ammunition which would carry a much stiffer sentence if the owner of the weapon is carrying it loaded or has ammunition in close proximity to the weapon. New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. 

Although the resolution of this legal matter should be over quickly, Williams would still face league discipline for this incident under the personal-conduct policy.

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 3-01, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 1, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-01 and AFC East notes this week. 

Has everyone been watching the Scouting Combine this week? Any surprises that stood out?

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, the Scouting Combine, and the NFL:

Xavier McKinney – The outstanding safety for Alabama, played for Bill Belichick’s close friend Nick Saban and the two share a similar outlook on many things. But that still didn’t stop the young man from feeling a bit out of sorts after meeting with the Patriots.

“That was one of the harder meetings that I had,” McKinney said. It was a little tough, a little awkward. Just toward the end, I wasn’t sure if they enjoyed the meeting or if I did well,” he said. “You kind of walk out of these meetings, kind of uncertain sometimes. But I think that’s just how it goes. You just try to do the best you can.”

Jared Pinkney – The stud TE from Vanderbilt was also taken back a bit, when in a meeting with the Patriots, they accused him of having a “loser’s mentality.” OOOPS.

“I gave a kind of wonky answer, and it was like, ‘No, that’s a loser’s mentality.’ And I was like, ‘OK, my bad.’ (raises hands) They were like, ‘You need to be like this and that and that,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, sir. I’m better.”

Combine Tight Ends –  As most people have Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet as the top tight end in this year’s class, he was impressive with his straight-line speed, but he struggled with his agility, something his tape showed. Adam Trautman of Dayton is my personal favorite of the class and while his straight-line speed was a tad slower, he blew away the competition in the 3-Cone Drill with a very impressive time of 6.78. And we know how the Bill Belichick and the Patriots like the 3-Cone. And his sled drill, was reported to be outstanding, but I didn’t see that.

Marcus Mariota – Profootballnetwork.com has reported that “with all the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are showing interest in soon to be free-agent quarterback Marcus Mariota. The former first-round pick is being courted by several teams who may have an open competition at quarterback. I’m told the Indianapolis Colts have also shown interest in Mariota – just in case.”

What exactly is “showing interest”? Anyone’s guess, but if TB12 wasn’t to return, I’d want either Stidham or another young QB…just my dos centavos.

Denzel Mims – While the football world (and many NE fans) went gaga over the 40-time of Henry Ruggs, (who wouldn’t?), the chances of the team snagging Ruggs is pretty remote. I think he’ll be long gone by the time the Patriots were to pick at #23. 

Doug Kyed from NESN, however, highlighted a very intriguing WR, Mims from Baylor who checks all of the blocks the Patriots usually look for in a WR. Said Kyed, “At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, Mims ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash with a 38.5-inch vertical leap, 10-feet, 11-inch broad jump, 4.43-second short shuttle and — most importantly — a 6.66-second three-cone drill. Mims isn’t just an athletic anomaly either. He caught 66 passes for 1,020 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2019 with the Bears. Mims finished his three-year college career with 182 catches for 2,901 yards and 28 touchdowns.”

Oh, and BTW in case you missed it, Mims ran a 6.66 time in the 3-Cone Drill tops in the group on Thursday night, we’ll see what the Patriots think of him down the road.

Media Eating Their Own – Was it just me or did all of this Tom Brady hysteria turn into the beat writers just attacking each other. Things got a little bit on the ugly side this week. Time for everyone to step back. 

Combine Interviews – We usually hear about most of the interviews that the Patriots conduct during the Scouting Combine. And hearing that they are meeting with Player A or B, usually gets the interest piqued. However, did you know… that over the last five years, the Patriots have only drafted two out of the 154 players they met with at the combine? This great bit was written to Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. The two players? Sony Michel and Tre’ Jackson.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. We are hoping to get our third amigo, co-host Russ Goldman back in the fold soon, as his schedule may allow him the time to rejoin the show. Coming into our ninth year together, he’s definitely been missed. 

Mohamed Sanu Needs Ankle Surgery:

The Patriots were expecting big things from Mohamed Sanu when they traded a 2nd round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons for him last season. Initially, things definitely seemed to be tracking that way. In the blowout loss to the Ravens, Sanu, in just his second game in a Patriots uniform caught 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Then the following week, while trying to make an Eagles defender miss on a punt return, he twisted awkwardly while going to the ground as he was being tackled. He missed the monsoon game against the Dallas Cowboys, but when he returned from that high ankle sprain, he hardly resembled the same player.

Sanu struggled badly down the stretch, now we know the reason why. We don’t know the timetable for his surgery and rehab, but this will be a very important off-season for Sanu, who is due to make $6.5 million dollars this season. 

Still Hunting For a Smoking Gun? NFL Wrapping Up NE/Cin Fiasco:

The NFL may finally be wrapping up their investigation of the Patriots taping issue at Cincinnati. The league has been at this for three months, think about that for a second…and Pro Football Talk reported several weeks ago that the league was “frustrated” by their lack of ability to link the film crew with football operations. 

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported from the Combine that, “Last week, NFL Security completed what was believed to be the final interview with a Patriots employee. Now the security officials must write up their report, then hand it up the chain of command, where it will eventually land on the desk of commissioner Roger Goodell, who will approve of a final course of action. There is still no precise timetable for a release of the findings, but it is drawing close. The NFL declined to comment on the investigation.”

Volin speculated that the Patriots could be in-line for a fine of up to $500,000 and a mid-to-late round draft pick. But don’t be too sure. They suspended Tom Brady for a quarter of the season for playing in cold weather. 

Patriots Exploring a Deal for Hayden Hurst With Ravens? A Possibility:

The Patriots have a need at tight end, where the production was woeful in 2019. However, according to the Florida Times-Union’s Eugene Frenette, the Patriots are kicking the tires for a pre-draft trade for Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst. 

Of course, it all depends on the compensation; and the Patriots aren’t alone, Jacksonville is supposedly also interested in Hurst as well. Hurst was a 1st round pick in 2018 out of South Carolina, but he’s been stuck behind Mark Andrews on the Ravens depth chart. He caught 30 passes for 349 yards last season. 

The Patriots have a glaring need at tight end, as they never truly addressed the loss of Rob Gronkowski and blocker Dwayne Allen a year ago. They brought in Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse but neither was able to produce. Ryan Izzo was supposed to check the block on the running game blocking but he was hurt and then a healthy scratch for much of the season. 

The big questions are, would Baltimore trade Hurst to New England and what would it cost them in compensation? 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Draft Will Determine Where Cody Ford Plays on Bills OL:

The Buffalo Bills are going to wait and see where they stand after the draft to determine where versatile OL Cody Ford is playing this season. Head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media at the Combine this week and was asked if there is a possibility of Ford playing either guard or tackle this season, depending on how the Bills draft. 

 “Absolutely”, he said. “Cody’s position flexibility was very apparent year one. There was a learning curve there as well just adjusting to the NFL, but being able to play two positions throughout preseason and also in the season at times I thought really spoke for who Cody is and his versatility. And now, you know, we’ll see how things fall into place through this process with both free agency and the draft and then we will go from there.”

“I don’t want to say he’s going to be this position or that position because of the flexibility. You know, we’re going to put it together like we do every season and the great part about it whether it’s Cody or Jon [Feliciano], Ty [Nsekhe], they’ve got some flexibility with not only playing right or left side but also guard or tackle. Some guys are guard and center flex like [Ryan] Bates was flex last year and you look at what Spencer [Long] was able to do. I think that’s all good for us.”

Asked if the Bills have a preference, McDermott said, “Well I think we have a feel for where he is best but at the same time he has a history of playing both, really. So we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves,” McDermott said. “It wouldn’t be smart strategically to do that right now with where we are, with where Cody is in his development. It wouldn’t be a smart move for us as an organization right now to say ‘well he’s just this’ because he’s a lot more than that potentially.”

Dolphins Playing Coy With Tua or Not Interested?

The Miami Dolphins left Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa wondering whether the team is the right fit for him after they treated him a bit coldly in their meeting. Tagovailoa said, they didn’t give any indication that he was their guy or that they were remotely interested in bringing him on board. 

However, it could be just a way for Miami to see how the players react to that, or to throw other teams off what their true intentions are. The Sun-Sentinel reported:

Dolphins coach Brian Flores is spearheading a stealthy operation with regards to the franchise’s thoughts and movements throughout the upcoming draft and free agency, and does not want the result of Miami’s meetings to divulge any of the team’s intentions.

Also, Flores has also been known to create adversity in a variety of ways to see how players respond in an effort to gauge their character and mental toughness, which could have been a tactic he used to test Tagovailoa during their first meeting together.

This just could be a smoke screen, but for Miami fans who much of last season were chanting “Tank for Tua”, this news has to be a bit disconcerting.

Jets Need to Hit on a WR in the Draft:

The Patriots aren’t the only ones who need help at WR. The New York Jets already had a middling passing attack and with Quincy Enunwa’s future questionable over a neck injury and Robby Anderson hitting free agency, the Jets need help at wide receiver in a big way. They have a very good slot WR in Jamison Crowder but Josh Doctson, a free agent they signed last week, is a depth guy, not a difference maker.

Amari Cooper is a possibility in free agency, but he may end up staying in Dallas. So, they need to hit on one at the draft. And they’ll be in a great position to nail one of the top WRs with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, or CeeDee Lamb all slated to be available when the Jets pick. 

Sam Darnold would love having one of those three being available when the Jets’ number in called in the draft. 

________________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 2-16, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
February 16, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 02-16 and AFC East notes this week. We hope that everyone had a happy and fun St. Valentine’s Day with your significant other. 

On another note, I’ll be surprised…no shocked if there aren’t some players currently in the XFL who aren’t in training camp with the Patriots this summer… stay tuned.

 Quick Hitters For the Pats,and the NFL:

Tom Brady – The Patriots’ QB has had more rumors and innuendo surrounding him lately than the guy currently residing in the White House…and that’s saying something. Take your pick, “Brady’s aging but the Patriots are bringing him back”, Brady “Definitely” isn’t coming back”, “the Patriots Don’t Want him back”, the Patriots definitely want him back”, He’s going to LA, Las Vegas, the Jets, Giants, Titans. 

My favorite was that the Raiders already offered him two years and $60 million. Which if true, as they are being reported by Larry Fitzgerald Sr. the father of the Cards WR, and a very good reporter, would beg the question, “Was there illegal tampering done?” Nah.

Just think…we have 31 more days of this drivel until we “REALLY KNOW” what Brady is doing and where he’s going. The rest are just spit-balling the latest rumor that someone just made up. Ignore the noise. 

Derek Rivers – Mike Reiss of ESPN made note that while other players have taken off for the remainder of the winter, one player who has stuck around and is working out in the team’s facility is Rivers who was the team’s first draft choice a few years ago.

Rivers had two of his three seasons cut short by injury in training camp. And while it is good news he’s stuck around to work out, he has to be a long-shot to make the team this season. However, anything he could bring to the table at this point would be a bonus to the team. 

Lenzy Pipkins – Pipkens is an intriguing signing as he appeared in 12 games as an UDFA rookie in 2017 with the Packers. He was released and played in two games with the Colts and one with the Lions in 2018 before landing on the Browns PS.

Cleveland cut him in August and he was out of the NFL for the entire 2019. He has decent size at 6’0, 196 and is now 26 years old. There’s always something about UDFA cornerbacks that wind up in New England…we’ll see how well he can play this spring. 

AB – Antonio Brown, who was with the Patriots for all of 11 days can’t seem to stop talking about them. His latest rant, while conducting an interview on the radio was more directed at Robert Kraft than anyone else as he said:

“(The Patriots) didn’t want to see me get off. They didn’t want to see me be great,” Brown said. “They’d rather let me go than be great.”

Brown was then asked why Bill Belichick would sign him if he really didn’t want Brown on the Patriots. That’s when Brown said his release wasn’t Belichick’s doing, saying it “was over his head,” once again throwing owner Robert Kraft under the bus in the scenario. 

“I wanted them to need me there, man,” Brown said. “Want and need are two different things, you know?”

Is there anyone left now, still wanting to beat the drum for the team bringing him back? What about all those poor hysterical souls screaming for him down the stretch and into the playoff game…anyone, Bueller?

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, last week, we spoke with Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap about the different scenarios facing the team this offseason. Please do check it out. We’ll be back this week with another episode, as we took a week off. We reasoned that fans get enough of the “Brady is rumored to be going here” stuff all week. We certainly do. 

Cutting Ties With Phillip Dorsett? Not Shocking if True:

The Patriots really need to upgrade both the wide receiver and tight end position. The tight end position we visited last Sunday, but the wide receiver needs an influx of some speed. This is why the report that the Patriots are planning on allowing free agent Phillip Dorsett walk, on the surface appears to be a puzzling decision. 

Dorsett has plenty of speed, he ran a 4.29 and a 4.27 at his Pro Day and averaged nearly 25 yards per reception in his last two seasons of college football. But those numbers never equated to the NFL like most believed they would. He’s spent the past three seasons with the Patriots. He was expected to play a significant role in the passing game. And for the first three games of 2019, he did. But those numbers nosedived and he became pretty much a non-factor. 

In fact, his production in the first three games was nearly half of his entire season. In his three years with the Patriots, he combined for only 73 receptions, 881 yards, 8 touchdowns and a 12.1 yard per reception average. Hardly the numbers they were looking for or needed from the former 1st round draft pick of the Colts. His best season in terms of catches and yardage are still from his second and final year with Indy, 33 catches for 528 yards, although he did have a career-high five touchdown catches in 2019, with three of those coming in the first three games.

It is probably best for everyone to make a clean break here.

Patriots Re-Sign Caserio, Great for the Short-term But No Extra Title?

The Patriots on Wednesday this week, signed a big pending free agent when they signed Nick Caserio, the Director of Player Personnel to a multi-year contract extension. Caserio is considered Bill Belichick’s right-hand man and wears many hats for the organization. Although Belichick retains the final say on roster moves, Caserio has swung several trades and is the de facto General Manager. 

Caserio swings deals with other teams, and manages both the pro and college scouting departments. He sits in the booth during game days and communicates directly with OC Josh McDaniels. And when the team brings in offensive players to work out, they’ll frequently have Caserio throwing them the ball. This is also something he does at team practices and gets a first hand feel for how the players are working within the system. 

Caserio has been with the team for the past 15 years and his returning after losing coaches Joe Judge and Bret Bielema to the Giants and Dante Scarnecchia to retire is a huge boost for the team. Especially considering that the biggest free agent, Tom Brady still has to be signed. 

But if there is one caveat to this news, is that his new extension makes no mention of a new or added title to Caserio’s name. Does that mean another team, like Houston has done twice, will attempt to swoop in and steal him away as their GM and do so again? It will be interesting to see if the Patriots included a clause in his contract to prevent that or did Caserio insist on it being left out? These are the only questions that need to be answered. But it is big news for the team as Caserio’s contract was due to run out right after the 2020 NFL Draft. Now they need to get to work on Director of College Scouting Monti Ossenfort’s contract. His runs out after the draft as well…and of course, #12.

No AFC East Notes this week 

________________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 01-12, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
January 12, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 01-12 and AFC East notes this week. 

With the Patriots out of the playoffs, it is strange without a football game to play in the divisional round. It is a reminder to how blessed we’ve been around here since Belichick and Brady took over the playoff landscape in 2001. 

There are a lot of variables in play this year and the 2020 team may look quite different. But don’t be throwing dirt on this team just yet. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Tom Brady – The Patriots QB (and yes…he still is until we hear different) addressed his Instagram post from earlier this week on the Westwood One radio show with Jim Gray. Brady spoke about his comment that he still has a lot to prove in this league. 

 “Well, it’s always been proving it to myself. and being motivated internally to push myself to the limits,” Brady said. 

“And sometimes the limits push back, I’ve experienced that, but I also think I’m inspired by so many people who push the limits. You know, I watch a lot of movies, I love watching documentaries of incredible human feats, and they’re inspiring when people climb these mountains and do things… things people never thought were possible,” he added. 

“And I’m at a certain point in my career where people think what I’m doing is, to a degree, impossible. For me, it’s about continuing to prove to myself that I can lay it all on the line and we can still try to achieve the ultimate goal, which is winning Super Bowls.”

Brady added a quote about his contract status with Gray, stating, “The contract things, a week after the season, I would say these things haven’t even started to pick up. It’s really not my concern at this point,” he said.

Andy Dalton – Really? Bart Scott started this Dalton to NE narrative, with no real basis but then a few others in print and on the air…say “it is a fit” For whom? And now it is being reported as a possibility. Yeah right, and Bill may hire me as a coach on the special teams too. 

Julian Edelman – The Patriots WR needs surgery on both his shoulder and knee but we thought that a while ago. But Edelman is (not surprisingly), the Patriots 2019 recipient of the 2019 Ed Block Courage Award. The honor is bestowed annually upon a player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. Watching him play through those injuries this year, that honor is no surprise… Well deserved.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out.  

Joe Judge Takes Over the Giants: 

With every passing year, it always seems that Bill Belichick’s coaching staff is getting picked through as many of his coaches, move up and move on. The latest was STs Coordinator/WR coach Joe Judge. 

When we heard he was being interviewed for the Giants’ open head coaching position, we put him pretty low on the possibility chart of getting the nod. We were wrong. Judge dazzled the Giants owner John Mara during the interview and got the job. Having worked for both Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, Judge got to learn from some of the best. 

But while he takes some of the same philosophies from his mentors, he is definitely his own man. Anyone who watched him in the spring/summer workouts would see that. And in his introductory press conference, despite what some hot takez bobos have said, he nailed it. 

“I want teachers, not presenters,” Judge said of his coaching staff. “I don’t want someone who looks fancy in front of the screen that can say it with a lot of different sales lines. I want teachers, I want old school people who can get to our players and give them the mental image of what it’s supposed to look like. I want them to demonstrate on a daily basis the work ethic of what it’s going to take to do it successfully day in and day out.”

Judge has his work cut out for him and although he retained his excellent STs coordinator Thomas McGaughey, he still needs an offensive coordinator that can work with young QB Daniel Jones and a defensive coordinator that will be aggressive. They’ve asked to speak with Dolphins’ DC Patrick Graham. But he’s off to a good start. 

McDaniels Spends Seven Hours Interviewing for Browns Job:

The Cleveland Browns vacant head coaching position is still open as of Saturday evening… but perhaps the Browns saved the best for last. Josh McDaniels was the last candidate to interview and he and his wife spent seven hours at the Browns HQs. 

The other candidates are Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, Bills OC Brian Daboll, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Eagles DC Jim Schwartz. Cleveland is clearly taking their time and doing their due diligence and are willing to take their time. 

Whoever does get the job will have to work the analytics team of Paul DePodesta closely. They’ll have a say in coaching and personnel decisions. McDaniels is from the area and would no doubt try to bring some more New England people with him. One name being thrown about is Director of Pro Player Personnel Dave Ziegler who may become a candidate for the vacant GM job. 

McDaniels was a huge fan of Baker Mayfield when he came out in the NFL Draft and visited with him three days before the draft while urging the Patriots to move up and take the QB. It will be intriguing to see if McDaniels gets the job, who the next Offensive Coordinator of the Patriots will be. The Browns are expected to make their decision within the next few days. 

NFL Schedule Divisional Weekend, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week:8-8
Final Regular Season:162-93-1
Wild Card Weekend: 1-3

Divisional Round –
Saturday – San Francisco over Minnesota
Baltimore over Tennessee
Sunday –  Kansas City over Houston
Green Bay over Seattle

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Daboll A Browns Coaching Candidate:

The Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll is one of the candidates for the vacant Cleveland Browns head coaching position. While Buffalo’s offense remains very much a work in progress, it is easy to see how Daboll is changing the offense from the awful unit that it was a few years ago to one that is definitely on the upswing.

Daboll’s good work begins with QB Josh Allen, who made big strides in Year 2 and is trending upward. Buffalo’s offense still has a long way to go, but if they lose Daboll, it may set them back. 

Also on the Browns’ radar is assistant GM Joe Schoen who is one of the candidates for Cleveland’s vacant GM position.  

Dolphins DC Graham May Be the Giants Choice for DC:

The Miami Dolphins were rebuilding in 2019 but finished strong going 5-4 down the stretch. But now the New York Giants have requested to speak to Miami’s DC Patrick Graham. The Giants new coach Joe Judge would like to add Graham to his staff as the Defensive Coordinator, a lateral transfer. 

Graham coached with the Giants in 2016-17. Miami has already fired OC Chad O’Shea and if they lose Graham, they will be putting a lot of pressure on Head Coach Brian Flores to rebuild his team and start from scratch with his coordinators. 

With Flores trying to build a winning culture into the program, losing both coordinators after just one season would not be the best scenario for Flores. 

Jets Darnold Has Thumb Surgery:

The New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was banged up physically in his sophomore season, and he had some needed surgery to repair the damage the toll of the 2019 season did to him. 

Darnold underwent a surgical procedure Tuesday to repair a ligament in his left thumb. The surgery was performed by the Jets team doctors, and he should be ready to go when the Jets begin their offseason workouts.

Darnold had to deal with this thumb injury for the final two months of the season. He originally injured it in a loss to the Jaguars on Oct. 27. However, he played through it and wore a brace under a glove on his left, non-throwing hand.

________________

Honestly, look, I know it’s out there, just like there’s a lot of other things out there. We could bring up 50 questions just like that one, and I told you what my state is on that. You can ask all 50 of them and it’s going to be the same answer 50 times, Ben. We’ve been working on Tennessee, it’s 12 hours after the game, not going to talk a lot of things about the future because it’s not – I’m not prepared to talk about it.” Bill Belichick on if he’d like to have some clarity on Tom Brady’s situation. 

________________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.