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Friday Patriots Notebook 5/11: Patricia Facing Turmoil in Detroit; Parcells Regrets Patriots Decision

Ian Logue
May 11, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

Just a quick rundown on this Friday due to time contraints, but here’s a look at today’s top stories.

Patricia facing a firestorm in Detroit – As if trying to install your system and culture into a new team isn’t difficult enough, former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia finds himself dealing with an incident during his college days from 22-years ago that is creating quite a mess for him.

The incident stemmed from a sexual assault charge he and a friend were faced with while on spring break back in college where, according to the Detroit News, the two became friendly with a girl they met and later allegedly barged into her room and sexually assaulted her.

They were each indicted in 1996 by a grand jury on aggravated assault charges, which as the original report points out, actually could have carried a sentence of up to life in prison, citing a Texas statute.

Instead, the accuser opted not to testify, so the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Patricia maintains his innocence and on Thursday said he was “falsely accused” while expressing frustration over the story resurfacing, with the Lions standing behind him. Multiple media outlets reported having tried to reach the accuser, who has maintained her silence to this point.

It’s a difficult topic and unfortunately, since it was her decision not to testify and not a jury finding him innocent that ultimately resulted in things going away, he’s most likely not out of the woods quite yet.

For now, Patricia says his focus remains the same as he tries to continue getting ready for the season.

“I would never condone any of the behavior that was alleged and will always respect and protect the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence,” he said. “My priorities remain the same — to move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher, and man that I can possibly be.”

Parcells Expresses Regret on Leaving the Patriots – Bill Parcells was the one who initially started New England’s resurgence in the late 1990s, but it was his decision to go to New York that ultimately opened the door for Bill Belichick to become the team’s future head coach, which has obviously worked out well.

For Parcells, the situation that unfolded in his final season was frustrating because he had built a strong nucleus of players who shocked everyone by earning a Super Bowl berth that season, only to fall to the Packers in a game that was competitive until a kickoff return for a touchdown helped Brett Favre and company eventually pulled away.

“I regretted leaving the Patriots because there was a pretty good young team,” Parcells told The Athletic via USA TODAY. “We had a young quarterback, we had Curtis Martin, a premier back. I had a lot of speed at receiver, a great tight end, a young, up-and-coming defense: Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi. We had Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. That was a long time ago. I don’t think back. Temporarily it bothered me. I’d probably do things differently now if I had to do it again.”

Parcells couldn’t replicate his success with the Jets and Belichick ultimately has gone on to win five championships, so there’s likely some frustration with seeing how things worked out after his departure.

As they say, everything happens for a reason. Fortunately, fans in New England certainly have no regrets after seeing the incredible run of success that will likely someday go down as the greatest era in franchise history for this football team.

Bielema To Join Team During Minicamp – Former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has been spotted at various Pro Days with the team and it sounds like he’ll continue to be around the organization for the foreseeable future.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Bielema will reportedly be involved with coaching duties when the team begins its rookie minicamp.

There’s been a lot of speculation regarding his connection to the team and the Patriots have yet to clarify his role, but Bielema, who is reportedly a close friend of Belichick, appears like he could potentially become part of the coaching staff given how things are playing out.

If it works out, it’s certainly a great opportunity for Bielema to rehabilitate his career. He’s coming off a five-year tenure at Arkansas that saw him finish 29-34 as a head coach, with the team letting him go in January. He made out well on the deal, with published reports saying the school is paying him $11.935 on his buyout to be paid through 2020.

Odds and Ends: The Patriots released OL Jason King on Thursday, who was signed by the Patriots to a future contract back in February. King is a 6’4″, 310lb offensive lineman who was originally a rookie free agent out of Purdue and joined the team last year on May 5, 2017 … Drew Bledsoe and Celtics guard Terry Rozier have developed a friendship after Milwaukee Bucks player Eric Bledsoe said he didn’t know who Terry was. As a result, Terry called Eric “Drew Bledsoe”, and then took it further after showing up wearing a Patriots Bledsoe jersey. Now the former quarterback is planning on potentially naming a wine after him. “The Terry Rose may be the thing. Watch out,” Drew said. “I’m going to have to talk to him. We can bring him out to Washington, develop a profile and come up with a Terry Rose. It’s going to have a great finish.” The two reportedly finally met before game five. Good stuff. … The final suspect involved in the Rob Gronkowski burglary was finally arrested Thursday morning. Shayne Denn, 26, of Tewksbury Mass, apparently has quite the history. According to Wilmington (Mass.) Police, Denn was also suspected in connection with a crime spree that included using a pickup truck to smash through the wall of a store. Thankfully, his latest run of crime should come to an end and he’ll now hopefully spend some time behind bars.

Monday Patriots Notebook 5/7: Bar Is Set High For Brady’s New Deal; Captains Remained Patriots Priority In The Draft

Ian Logue
May 7, 2018 at 8:46 am ET

After a break while my daughter graduated college over the weekend, we’re back at it as we kick off the week.

Ryan’s New Deal Sets Bar For Brady’s Contract – While Tom Brady may have downplayed his current contract situation recently, the new deal signed by Matt Ryan may have just muddied the waters a bit if and when the two sides start discussing an extension.

Ryan’s deal pushed him up to $30 million annually, making him the first NFL player to reach that threshold.  That, coupled with Drew Brees’ two-year, $50 million deal, now greatly diminishes Brady’s annual salary of $20.5 per season in new money and as Mike Reiss pointed out on Friday, ranks him 16th among NFL quarterbacks.

He also saw his former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, land what prior to Ryan’s was one of the richest in the league at $27.5 million over 5-years, $74 million of which was guaranteed.  Brady’s never been vocal about money, but one would believe he’s at least aware of what is now a sizable gap in his compensation for a player who has won two Super Bowls in the last four seasons.

His agent, Don Yee, told Adam Schefter last month that while Brady’s driven to outperform his contract, it’s still something that does cross his mind.

“His objective every year is to outperform his contract and his own goals,” said Yee.  “And like every player, yes, he thinks about his contract — it’s a pretty natural thing to do. Every team’s management knows this.”

One thing the Patriots have always done a good job with is figuring out a way to structure deals for Brady where the guaranteed money has made up for the lack of annual salary, which they’ve done in the past.  One would expect that to be the case when they eventually start discussing it this time, but unfortunately for the New England front office, it will be happening long after those other contracts got done.  Robert Kraft told Jeff Howe last month that when the time comes, he’s not concerned.

“He’ll be 41 when the season starts,” Kraft told TheAthletics’ Jeff Howe last month, per Pro Football Talk. “Neither side has an issue with it. If it becomes an issue, we’ll deal with it.”

While it’s not a big deal, it’s still a reminder of how quickly the landscape can change in a league that is heading into a showdown with the Players Association when the CBA expires after the 2020 season.  One other thing that to note is the fact that this year’s draft class will be affected since each of them will sign a deal that runs through 2021.  While that won’t affect Brady, it may affect 7th-round pick Danny Etling, provided he manages to play well enough to stick around that long.

Captains Favored By Patriots – Anyone who has followed this team for a long time knows that Bill Belichick appreciates guys who love the game of football and are well respected by their teammates.

That’s why one of the trends we’ve seen over the years is that players on college rosters who were captains on their respective teams seem to be players the Patriots have favored, and Nora Princiotti had an interesting stat in a column that ran on Saturday.

According to Princiotti, 21 of the past 42 players drafted in the last five years by the Patriots were captains, which certainly fits the mold of what we already know about the type of guys they prefer on their roster.

Captains tend to be players who are self-motivated and hard-working, setting the tone and earning the respect of the guys around them.

If those traits sound familiar, it makes sense that it’s those types of players they tend to target.  She also noted that recent draftees featured offensive lineman Joe Thuney, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, receiver Malcolm Mitchell, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker Elandon Roberts and offensive lineman Ted Karras, who were each a captain at their respective schools.

While not breaking news, it’s a reminder that it remains a trait that doesn’t go overlooked by a team who demands a lot from the players who wear the uniform.

Patriots Fan Saves Eagles Fan After Donating Kidney – If there’s any bad blood between Patriots fans and the NFC North, it certainly doesn’t seem like it.

After losing two Super Bowls to the New York Giants and yet another against the Eagles this past February, you would think there would be some animosity between Patriots fans and that division, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

According to ABC New York’s Channel 7, they ran a story on John Houlihan, a Patriots fan, and Patricia Pizzimenti, who is a lifelong Eagles fan.  Pizzimenti was in need of a kidney transplant and through an organ exchange, was matched with Houlihan and set any bad feelings he had aside to save her life by donating his kidney.

The news station tweeted a photo of the pair, with Pizzimenti wearing a shirt that said, “Can you believe I took a kidney from a Patriots fan?”, while Houlihan’s said, “Can you believe I gave a kidney to an Eagles fan?”

All kidding aside, it’s a great story and a reminder that after winning five Super Bowls and experiencing a few losses, Patriots fans still remember what’s important.  Kudos to Houlihan and best wishes to he and Pizzimenti moving forward after their respective surgeries.

No Brady in Louisville This Weekend – Tom Brady has been a staple at the Kentucky Derby in past years but opted to skip it this weekend, instead spending his time with his family as he continues taking advantage of as much time as he can there before he gets down to work and starts preparing for this season.

Brady posted a photo on his Instagram last week a picture of him working out on a beach quoting Muhammad Ali, which read, “The More REAL You Get … The More UNREAL It Gets.”

The More REAL You Get… The More UNREAL It Gets" – Muhammad Ali

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

It likely didn’t help that the weather was miserable and wasn’t exactly conducive for a great time with teammates or his wife, Gisele Budnchen.  Instead, according to his Instagram page, Brady seemingly spent the time with his father, who celebrated a birthday on Sunday.

Happy Birthday Dad! We love you! 🎉💯❤️ ⛳️ 🍦#theoriginal

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady wished him a Happy Birthday in his post, which showed them on the golf course together.  No word on whether or not it was he or his dad who came away with the win.

Monday Patriots Notebook 4/30: Patriots Finished With an Interesting Group; Rams Lamented Lack of First-Round Pick

Ian Logue
April 29, 2018 at 9:56 pm ET

With the 2018 NFL Draft now in the books, it was an interesting weekend and here are some news and notes as we begin this week.

Patriots Didn’t Try and Force a QB, But Set Themselves Up Well in 2019 – The obvious focus this week centered on who the Patriots would target at the quarterback position and it was pretty clear that whoever they may have felt confident in was long-gone by the time they made their first pick at #23.  Despite the reported interest in Lamar Jackson, they passed on him twice which essentially proves they obviously either had doubts or really felt better about the selections of both Isaiah Wynn (23rd overall) and Sony Michel (31st overall).

From there, they stayed true to their normal approach, seemingly going with the guys they felt were the best available and fit with their system, while trading out of other positions where whoever they wanted either wasn’t available, or they didn’t feel there was enough value to make a pick.

They did eventually select a quarterback, taking their shot in the 7th round on LSU’s Danny Etling, who likely wasn’t their first choice, but someone they felt was smart with the football and a player they could work with.

“Here’s a guy, a Purdue transfer, went down to LSU and the thing about him – he played for Coach [Cam] Cameron in kind of a pro-style offense. He had some experience,” Caserio told reporters Saturday night. “The one thing he didn’t do – he didn’t turn the ball over. You look at his career production and this guy didn’t turn the ball over. I think it was 16-2 this year, a low percentage.”

“He takes care of the ball, smart, pretty accurate thrower. There’s some good qualities and traits that we think we can work with and develop.”

So as it stands right now, they’ll head into this season with Brian Hoyer again as the back-up while they try and develop Etling.  If it works out, it’s a win for a team who did their homework and smartly didn’t force a selection, despite a massive amount of criticism from those out there still frustrated with the team’s decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.  If it doesn’t, Belichick built up plenty of currency to try again next year with one 1st-round pick, two 2nd-round picks, potentially three third-round picks (depending on compensatory picks), a fourth-round pick, a fifth-round pick, a sixth-round pick (again, depending on the compensatory formula) and three seventh round picks (one depends on a compensatory selection).

Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that and you never know.  No one imagined a sixth-round pick like Brady becoming who he was and Etling’s road has forced him to earn what he’s gotten after getting benched at Purdue and battling his way into the starting role at LSU after transferring and starting over on the scout team.  The Patriots will need him to continue putting in the same effort he put in at LSU that got him to where he is now, which if McDaniels can pull off the same success he’s seemingly had developing quarterbacks in recent years, could see Etling surprise some people down the road.  As a result, it should be interesting to watch.

Wynn was among the first of New England’s draft picks in 2018. (USA TODAY Images)

New England walked away with an interesting group this year – Now that we have the luxury of being able to look back at how the draft played out, this year’s crop of draft picks is a nice mix that addresses some needs on both sides of the football.

They walked away adding a potential tackle (Wynn), a dynamic running back (Michel), two tough athletic linebackers (Ja’whaun Bently and Christian Sam), a speedy solid slot receiver who can return punts (Braxton Berrios), two pretty good defensive backs (Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen), a tight end (Ryan Izzo) and a quarterback they feel they can develop (Etling).

While not ideal, it’s not a bad group and having looked at the backstories surrounding these players, there’s reason enough to believe that most of them seem to have the attributes that will make them good additions to this football team.

Looking back on New England’s selections last year, despite having just four picks, it’s hard to look at any of them at this point and believe they weren’t good selections, save for injury issues that hampered them being productive.

Last year’s group included Derek Rivers (3rd Round), Antonio Garcia (3rd Round), Deatrich Wise (Round 4) and Conor McDermott (Round 6).  Rivers tore his ACL during what had been a promising preseason, while blood clots in his lung sidelined Garcia, who had also looked promising after being drafted.  McDermott impressed enough where the Bills signed him off New England’s practice squad, playing for Buffalo in three games last season and will reportedly get an opportunity to compete for an opening after Richie Incognito recently making the decision to retire.

Going back one year further in 2016, New England’s entire class worked out fairly well, with most of them becoming fairly productive players. Here’s a look back at that list:

Second round (60th) – CB Cyrus Jones
Third round (78th) – OL Joe Thuney
Third round (91st) – QB Jacoby Brissett
Third round (96th) – DT Vincent Valentine
Fourth round (112th) – WR Malcolm Mitchell
Sixth round (208th) – LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
Sixth round (214th) – LB Elandon Roberts
Sixth round (221st) – G Ted Karras
Seventh round (225th) – WR Devin Lucien

Cyrus Jones remains the one player who could go either way after problems in the return game plagued him and any shot at redemption last season were wiped away when he suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Giants.

But aside from that, it wasn’t a bad draft class.  Thuney’s been solid on the offensive line, Brissett became a pretty good back-up for the Colts, albeit he’s not truly starter-ready yet but was thrown into the fire there.  Valentine has done a good job when he’s been out there, while Mitchell had a terrific first season but missed last year while recovering from injuries.  Grugier-Hill was claimed off of waivers and snatched away by Philadelphia and was productive, including playing in 80% of the Eagles’ special teams snaps during their win over New England in the Super Bowl.

Elandon Roberts has shown flashes and done reasonably well for a 6th round pick, while Karras has done a good job as well as a similar selection on New England’s offensive line.  Lucien actually developed well and was simply victim to a deep receiving group, and he moved on after receiving an injury settlement from the team last season.  He spent time on three different practice squads last season, including Indianapolis, Kansas City and Houston before ending up with Tampa Bay.  He signed a futures contract with them in January.

But they’ve done a good job the last two years in getting the most out of their picks and it’s resulted in a Super Bowl win and two AFC Championships.  Hopefully, this year’s group also ends up being just as productive for them.

Cooks became the Rams #23 pick in 2018 after their trade with the Patriots.

Rams Lamented The Absence of Their First Pick – But Reminded Everyone Where It Went – The Rams found themselves in a similar position in 2018 that the Patriots were in at this time last year, without a first-round pick because they spent it on acquiring wide receiver Brandon Cooks.

For the Patriots, it was a fact that was mentioned because despite not having a first round selection, they were pleased with the quality of player they had in Cooks, feeling that since first-round picks aren’t always a guarantee, taking the chance on spending it on an established player made the most sense.

It’s a fact that’s hard to argue.  Cooks went out there last season and hauled in 65 receptions for 1082 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per reception, good for 7th highest in the NFL.  But where he struggled was in doing all the things Tom Brady needed him to, especially when it came to the shorter precision routes, which became a noticeable issue thanks to injuries where Cooks couldn’t pick up the slack when guys like Julian Edelman went down and then later when Chris Hogan got banged up.  Cooks finished 2017 with a dismal 7-of-26 (27%) catching the football when targeted on third down, proving that as explosive as he is, he’s not yet a complete player, or at least not in this offense.

As a result, when the Rams approached Bill Belichick with a similar offer to when he took Cooks away from New Orleans (although, that trade also cost New England a 3rd rounder), with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell hopefully returning this season, Belichick opted to take his chances on recouping a first-round pick and moved on.

For the Rams, when the 23rd pick came up on Thursday night, they reminded everyone where their pick went after ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez reported that the Rams played highlights of Cooks in the war room, with GM Les Snead saying “There were some oohs and aahs”.

Knowing how New England felt last year without a first-round pick, it was interesting to see the irony in the situation given it involved the same player.  For the Patriots, the bigger question will be figuring out a way to replace Cooks’ production.  Part of that equation will involve how healthy Edelman is in his return from a torn ACL and Mitchell’s own recovery.  So far, the news has been encouraging so we’ll have to see how both of them look when the hit the field in July.  Needless to say, keep your fingers crossed.

ODDS AND ENDS: According to all the reports, the Patriots brought in the following undrafted free agents: CB A.J. Moore, TE Shane Wimann, P Corey Bojorquez, DT John Atkins, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Trent Harris, WR Chris Lacy, RB Ralph Webb, DT Frank HerronP Corey Bojorquez and P Ryan Anderson, so that’s the group of longshots who will be fighting to surprise everyone and earn a roster spot. It adds another element that should be fun to keep an eye on, although as we’ve seen over the years, it’s likely subject to change between now and training camp…Newcomer Trent Brown brings with him quite a bit of respect after the team acquired him Saturday from the 49ers in a trade.   Broncos defensive end Von Miller holds him in high regard and had some serious praise for him last year.  “He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said in August 2017 via the Boston Herald. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move the way he moves.”… Ben Volin of the Boston Globe mentioned in his Sunday Notes that he disagrees with the team’s trade of their 2018 second-rounder (#51) to the Bears for a 2018 fourth-round pick (#105) and a 2019 second-rounder (TBD) and noted that usually when a team trades a pick for a future pick, it’s a round ahead of the current pick traded.  Volin went through every draft from 2013-18, and found that “sure enough”, 11 of the 12 trades that involved a future pick were always one round higher, with the Patriots-Bears trade as the one exception.  It’s an interesting bit of information, although I’m not sure it really means anything.  Either way, there’s a chart listing the trades he’s comparing them against this one for anyone interested.

Patriots Add Another Bulldog With RB Michel at #31

Ian Logue
April 26, 2018 at 11:46 pm ET

After taking a player out of the University of Georgia in Isaiah Wynn with their first pick, they grabbed yet another when they found themselves back on the clock eight picks later Thursday night.

The Patriots selected running back Sony Michel with the 31st overall selection, wrapping up a night where they added depth on the offensive side of the football.

The selection of Michel caught everyone by surprise, as many believed that with quarterback Lamar Jackson falling to them at the end of the first round, he might be the player that would have been on New England’s radar. The Patriots had previously expressed a fair amount of interest in him, having reportedly brought him into Foxboro recently leading up to the draft.

Instead, New England passed on him at #23 when they drafted offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, and then passed again when they grabbed Michel eight picks later.  The Ravens then traded back into the first round after making a trade with the Eagles to close out the night, selecting Jackson with the 32 overall selection.

As for Michel, he’s an intriguing selection.  He was a dynamic playmaker at Georgia, averaging 6.1 yards per carry rushing the football, along with 9.7 yards per reception.  He rushed for 3613 yards on 590 carries during his career along with 33 rushing touchdowns, as well as catching 64 passes for 621 yards and six touchdowns out of the backfield.  With the loss of Dion Lewis this offseason, it appears that Belichick may have found a potential replacement to compliment James White.

There’s reportedly an injury concern with Michel, with Mike Lombardi reporting before the draft that the Georgia running back was potentially dealing with a “bone-on-bone” condition in his knee and that may be the reason he fell so far in the draft.

However, Lombardi still liked what he saw from Michel and feels he could be a productive player in the NFL.

“I love this kid,” Lombardi said via “I think I’m concerned. There’s a lot of teams telling me there’s a medical concern here, so he could slip a little bit. I don’t know what it is, but the way the medical works at the combine is there’s a table with like six doctors from each team at one table and six different from another team at another table. His medical grade is a little iffy from what I’m told.

“But this kid, to me, is the prototypical NFL back. He can catch the ball, he can impact the passing game. Remember how we have to evaluate running backs– it’s block, catch, run. It isn’t run, catch, block. And this kid blocks well. This kid can be impactful. I love this kid as a player.”

Overall, while the Patriots didn’t get the defensive player they may have been hoping for, it’s hard not to feel good about the moves they made Thursday night.  Between Michel and Wynn, they’ve added two more players to join Brady in his final seasons, which should leave fans pretty happy with how things played out.

Patriots Select OT Wynn In Round One at #23

Ian Logue
at 11:09 pm ET

The Patriots addressed their offensive line on Thursday night with their first pick in round one, selecting offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn with the 23rd overall selection.

Wynn was a left tackle with Georgia, with the 6’2″ standout excelling in pass protection during his career as a Bulldog.  According to Pro Football Focus, Wynn was terrific, giving up just 4 sacks, 2 QB hits and 20 quarterback hurries since 2014.  He played in 15 games last season, making 15 starts at left tackle and was named offensive lineman of the week after a dominating performance at the Senior Bowl.

Belichick was on hand for Georgia’s Pro Day last month, but Wynn was sidelined while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered last November.  It was a frustrating day for Wynn, who reportedly expressed disappointment afterward for not be able to perform with his teammates.  However, he obviously wasn’t overlooked.  Instead, it may have been Wynn’s overall body of work both as a player and a person that caught Belichick’s eye as the Patriots coach must have liked not only what he saw on film, but also what he heard about the Georgia tackle, who was also a team captain.

Being a team leader is an attribute Belichick tends to appreciate, and it’s a solid addition as the team infuses some talented youth up front to protect Tom Brady for his final seasons.

There was some drama right before New England’s pick.  Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, who is now the head coach in Tennessee, jumped up in front of the Patriots at #22 after making a deal with the Ravens to move up from #25 and snatched Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans away from Bill Belichick, who Vrabel must have believed was on his radar.  It was Vrabel’s first selection as a head coach, which was ironic for the former linebacker.

After Wynn’s selection, he adds another dynamic heading into training camp and will now become a nice project for Dante Scarnecchia to work on as they look to solidify their offensive line.

Podcast: Final Patriots Mock Draft

Russ Goldman
April 25, 2018 at 2:20 pm ET

This is our Final Patriots Mock Draft before the NFL draft takes place.

Patriots 2018 Schedule Sees Team Open vs Texans

Ian Logue
April 19, 2018 at 5:21 pm ET

The Patriots schedule was set to be released tonight, but Jeff Howe of the Athletic Tweeted the full calendar this afternoon which will see New England open up against the Texans at 1pm on September 9th.

The Patriots will then play two-straight on the road, traveling to Jacksonville for what will be hyped as an AFC Championship rematch, with the game scheduled at 4:25.  After that, it’s a trip to Detroit to battle Matt Patricia’s Lions in a prime-time game on Sunday night.

From there, the Patriots will play three weeks at home against the Dolphins, Colts (Thursday night game) and Chiefs (Sunday Night).  Then they head out on the road for three of their next four games, playing two road games (Bears and Bills [Monday Night Football]), playing at home against the Packers on Sunday night, followed by a trip to Tennessee to play the Titans.  Then they finally have a bye.

They close the season out playing three of four again on the road, traveling to MetLife Stadium to play the Jets, coming home for a game against the Vikings and then they’ll travel down to Miami to play the Dolphins, followed by a trip to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers.  That should be a tough stretch, especially since at that point they’re into December and everyone will be battling for a postseason berth and playoff seeding.

They close out the season with two AFC East match-ups, facing the Bills and Jets to finish the season.

This marks at least the first step as we start trying to map out how things might go in 2018 but for now, it looks like we’re on to the Texans.

Thursday Patriots Notebook 4/19: Could Pats Pull off a 49ers Trade?; Patriots Finalists Announced

Ian Logue
at 9:37 am ET

As we look forward to tonight’s schedule release, here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories.

Could the Patriots Make a Deal with the 49ers? – With all the discussion about Tom Brady’s future dominating the discussions on Wednesday, the question now is trying to figure out how the Patriots will begin planning their future.

One solution posed by ProFootballTalk was for New England to go back to the 49ers and make a deal to get up into the top 10, with the Patriots possibly dealing the 23rd and 31st pick to obtain San Francisco’s 9th pick overall to go after their next signal-caller.

Mike Florio points out that given the fact New England only picked up a second-round pick for a player who is currently undefeated in his seven starts in the league in Jimmy Garoppolo, it makes sense for Kyle Shanahan to potentially work a reasonable deal to give Bill Belichick an opportunity to replace him.  Florio believes it could be Josh Rosen who could be on their radar, which would put that pick in the vicinity of where he might be selected.

It’s an interesting idea and while the Patriots aren’t known for making big moves when it comes to their draft picks, there’s certainly a little more at stake given where Brady is at this point in his career. While Wednesday’s reports hinted that the quarterback’s future is up in the air for 2018, the more logical thought is that it could be his future after 2018 that may be the bigger question and it will be interesting to see how the Patriots try and answer it.

It would be hard to imagine Brady not playing in 2018.

Brady Looking For a New Deal? – While Brady may be pondering his future, it sounds like for now it’s just business as usual and part of that business could potentially involve a new deal for the quarterback.

According to the’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport, Brady is looking for a new deal before the upcoming season.  Some may wonder if Brady’s recent decision to miss offseason workouts and the questions behind his future could be stemming from his contract, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  According to Garafolo, the contract is “not a pressing issue”, nor is it “anything that is contentious right now”.

As for his playing status for this season, Rapoport absolutely believes he’ll be out there.

“Tom Brady is going to play in 2018,” Rapoport said via “He said it. Everyone close to him has said it. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said it. The Patriots are going forward with the very strict and stern belief that he will be playing for 2018. I don’t get the sense that they considered any of these reports this morning about ‘maybe he doesn’t play.’

“I also know Brady is planning a little passing camp with some of his buddies before training camp. That does not sound like the kind of the thing you would do if you were not going to play in 2018.”

That certainly seems logical, especially given the fact he’ll have an opportunity to take the field this season with two people he has a lot of respect for in Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, which is a strong enough offensive group to make another run.  2018 appears to be a certainty that he’ll be under center.  However, beyond this season is the bigger question that we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

2018 Hall of Fame Finalists Announced – The Patriots issued a press release Wednesday night announcing the finalists to make it into the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon, which will be held at a time to be announced at a later date.

Among the finalists this year are offensive tackle Matt Light, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel.  The three were each teammates at one time, which is a unique situation and marks the first time that it’s worked out that way.

Starting Wednesday, fans are encouraged to vote for the former Patriot who they believe is the most deserving of hall of fame enshrinement. Fans can vote at through May 14. The Patriots will announce the 2018 Patriots Hall of Fame selection that week.

Team Partnering With Ticketmaster – The Patriots put out a press release Thursday morning announcing a partnership with Ticketmaster, which they believe will improve the buying experience for fans.

According to the release, fans will be able to purchase tickets at  The goal is to offer more tickets while also allowing the fans the convenience of digital tickets.

“Ticketmaster’s technology enables us to offer more tickets than ever before to our fans and we’re excited to roll out this new platform when the 2018 schedule is announced,” said Jen Ferron, Chief Marketing Officer for the New England Patriots. “Our renewed partnership also means that Patriots fans can reap the many benefits of Ticketmaster’s innovative digital ticketing system for all upcoming home games.”

One other thing that will be interesting to see is whether or not this will improve the amount of inventory fans have available to them, which has been an issue in past years.  According to the release, that seems to be one of the things they were trying to also improve, so we’ll have to see if it pans out.

“The New England Patriots are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL, and we’re proud to extend our partnership with them to bring the safety and convenience of digital ticketing to their fans,” said Greg Economou, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Sports for Ticketmaster North America. “After the 2018 NFL schedule goes live, Patriots fans will have access to significantly more tickets than in previous years while enjoying the best ticket buying experience possible.”

The NFL 2018 Regular Season Schedule will be announced later tonight.

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 4/11: Kraft Visits Mill in Prison, Rivers Gives a Lyft

Ian Logue
April 11, 2018 at 9:35 am ET

We’re at the midway point of the week, and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

Kraft Not Worried About Brady’s Future – When it comes to quarterback Tom Brady, Patriots owner Robert Kraft doesn’t worry about much.

Obviously, he worries about Brady’s well-being both on the field and off, but the one thing he doesn’t worry about is the quarterback’s contract.  Kraft has made his affinity clear over the years in terms of how much he values Brady both as a person and a player and that’s why he recently talked about Brady’s current contract situation, which has him still without an extension.

In past years as Brady got closer to the end of his deal and his cap number began to climb, it usually signaled a new contract to extend him out further to give the team more freedom and Brady more security.  Brady, who is signed through 2019, has a  salary for the 2018 season of $15 million, while his cap number has escalated to $22 million. Brady is reportedly open to a new deal but it hasn’t happened to this point, although Kraft told Jeff Howe of The Athletic that it’s not something he’s worried about.

“He’ll be 41 when the season starts,” Kraft told the website. “Neither side has an issue with it. If it becomes an issue, we’ll deal with it.”

For now Kraft said they’re just fortunate to have him with the team and the fact he’s still playing at such a high level is one of the things that makes him so special.

“I don’t think anyone would have believed 10 years ago that he would have played this year, gone to the Super Bowl and been MVP of the league at 40 years old,” said Kraft. “It’s just unbelievable. It speaks to the way he takes care of himself, the way he trains, how much film he watches, one of the hardest working guys. He is driven to excel. I think as long as he feels he is like that, he’ll keep playing. We’re so lucky to have him in our system.”

Kraft showed support for rapper Meek Mill Monday. (USA TODAY Images)

Kraft Visits Mill in Prison – Robert Kraft is no stranger to doing the unexpected and he did just that on Monday after making a surprise visit to incarcerated rapper, Meek Mill.

Mill, who is currently serving time in a Pennsylvania prison stemming from a parole violation, received a visit from both Kraft and 76ers owner Michael Rubin, with the two stopping to speak with reporters following their meeting with Mill.

“Amazing young man. I know how I’d feel if I was in the situation he is,” Kraft said via “Every time I see him, I just come away more impressed. He’s very intelligent. And makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform.”

Kraft called Mill’s situation “just sad” and added, “This guy’s a great guy. [He] shouldn’t be here.”

Mill is reportedly serving 2 to 4 years in prison after being sentenced in 2017 for violating his probation, which NBC 10 reports stems from a failed drug test, traveling out of the region and getting arrested for fighting and other related offenses.

Kraft has always been one to go against the grain when the situation called for it, and clearly he feels strongly about Mill’s situation.

Mills has received some high profile support in prison, with Kraft and Rubin among others that have included 76ers players Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid, who have also visited him in prison.

Rivers quietly did a nice gesture back in February. (USA TODAY Images)

Rivers Gives Man a Lyft – Mike Reiss let everyone in on a cool story he found out about that had to do with Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers.

According to Reiss, Rivers ordered a Lyft ride for a homeless man, which he conveyed to the driver, Mary Vilorio.  He reportedly told her he would be paying for the ride, but that it was for someone else.

“When I got there, he introduced me to a man and explained that he needed to get to Fall River, which was about an hour away. He was just very caring about it, and the two of them were talking about the Bible,” Vilorio told Reiss. “I didn’t think anything of it, and then when I got in the car, the man started talking about how he was homeless, was struggling with alcohol, and that the person who had just helped him played for the Patriots. I said, ‘Really?’ Then I Googled the name ‘Derek Rivers’ and it was the same person. I was like, ‘OMG!’”

According to Reiss, the ride cost $66 and Rivers tipped Vilorio $35.

It’s a great story, with Rivers showing that he’s a good-hearted player who definitely fits the mold of what people have come to expect from guys who wear a Patriots uniform.  After spending last year on injured reserve, it’s yet another reason to root for him to have a terrific comeback season.

Lucks Decision to Tough Out Injury Messed Up His Mechanics – Josh McDaniels decision to forego the head coaching job in Indianapolis is looking more and more like the right move after a report this week that things are still not going well for starting quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck, who has been through a long painful rehab from his injured shoulder, said that part of what he’s dealing with is the fact that he overcompensated for his shoulder injury over a long stretch, which ultimately led to some bad habits that are still causing him pain.

He told the Indianapolis Star that if he had it to do over again, he would have handled it differently.

“I’d like to think I’m learning from my life,” Luck said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “I’d like to think everybody does that in a sense. If you look back — I don’t want to get into shoulda, coulda, woulda — but I’ve learned from the point of injury on. ‘If it ever happened again, maybe this is how I would handle it.’”

The veteran quarterback claims that the overcompensation has messed with his mechanics, and it’s something he’s now been forced to focus on as he tries to get healthy.

“I wouldn’t say [I am] changing my throwing motion,” said Luck. “There are things in my throwing motion that I can do better from the ground up, and that’s a big part of what I’ve been working on, making sure I am using my body as efficiently as possible to throw the football and not over- or under-compensate in any way.”

With the AFC South on the schedule for the Patriots, Luck’s situation bears watching since the team will play them at some point this season.  We should find out the dates for this year’s opponents as the league announced last year’s schedule on April 21, 2017, which means this year’s version should be announced very soon.

Friday Patriots Notebook 4/6: Patriots add a Receiver, Cooks Says Belichick Was Transparent on Trade

Ian Logue
April 6, 2018 at 8:10 am ET

It’s finally Friday and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

Cooks Said There Were No Surprises By Belichick in Trade – For anyone who remembers the Richard Seymour trade, the one involving Brandin Cooks went dramatically different after the now-former Patriots receiver said that Belichick personally called him before the deal went down.

Cooks was dealt to Los Angeles earlier this week along with a fourth-round selection in exchange for the Rams’ 1st round pick (23rd overall) and sixth-round draft pick.

“Belichick gave me a call hours before it happened,” Cooks said on Thursday via a video posted by Joe Curley of the Ventura County Star.  “Have a ton of respect for him and we have a ton of respect for each other.  You hear horror stories – guys finding out on Twitter or whatever.  But at the end of the day, the way that they run things over there and the respect that we have for each other, he gave me a call and gave me a heads up.  At the end of the day, you have to respect that and you’ve got to understand it’s a business.”

The Seymour trade in 2009, which stunned everyone and happened right before the start of the season, went quite differently.  The former Patriots defensive tackle was reportedly blindsided by the move after the team shipped him off to the Raiders, to the point where he initially didn’t report to his new team right away, leading Oakland to reportedly send him a five-day letter.

But he admitted after the fact that the reason behind the delay had to do with personal matters that immediately took priority as he turned his attention there first, before the reality of what had happened eventually set in.

“First of all, I was blindsided by this whole event,” Seymour told the Boston Herald back in 2009. “When you get blindsided, you should take a moment to gather your thoughts. I have a lot of personal issues more pressing than football.”

Seymour, who at the time had four children and was the guardian of his 15-year-old cousin, whose mother had passed. The 15-year-old had reportedly been in school in South Carolina until that year, at which point he was starting high school in North Attleboro.

Needless to say, that trade caused a major change in plans for his family.  After having a week to sort things out, Seymour’s wife and family decided to move back to South Carolina (where they are from) and Seymour headed off to Oakland by himself.

It’s a reminder that when these transactions happen, it’s more than just a roster move for the team and there’s a lot more involved for the guys who have loved ones behind the scenes who are affected.  Fortunately for Cooks, Belichick did the right thing and the two parted on good terms.

Patriots Sign WR Matthews – After losing two starters at receiver this offseason, the Patriots find themselves in a unique situation where they have a couple of question marks that they really won’t have answers to until probably the end of training camp when they’re done evaluating this year’s group.

After trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams this week, along with the loss of Danny Amendola to Miami, New England made a move on Thursday to bring in another player to compete for an opportunity in the offense after reportedly signing former Bills receiver Jordan Matthews to a one-year deal.

According to the Boston Herald, Matthews visited Green Bay, Arizona and the Titans before ultimately settling on the Patriots.  He had been in New England on Monday for a visit and the timing of the Cooks move opened up an opportunity Matthews may have felt he could capitalize on.

The veteran wideout certainly has a pretty good resume.  He spent three seasons with Philadelphia where he consistently had over 800-yards receiving in his first three seasons but spent last season in Buffalo after being traded, appearing in 10 games but caught just 25 passes for 282 yards after battling injuries.

Matthews had a quiet game against New England during their Week 13 blowout 23-3 loss to the Patriots, catching just one pass on three targets for 14-yards.  That proved to be his final game of 2017 after he suffered a chip fracture in his sternum during practice the following week, with a knee and ankle injury compounding his situation before he eventually ended up in injured reserve.  Matthews later wrote that the latter injuries were actually lingering issues that he said had been bothering him for a couple of years, with him also saying he was confident he’d make a full recovery.

If he really is back to 100%, it sets up an interesting scenario as the former second-round pick has shown enough over his brief career that he could be a productive player with Tom Brady throwing him the football.  The question now is how he’ll fit in with a group that includes incumbents Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt, as well as newcomers Cordarelle Patterson and Riley McCarron and practice squad player Cody Hollister.  It should make for a competitive camp, but the possibility still likely remains that they’ll add at least one more player to this group before training camp opens.

Harrison had a strong showing for the Patriots last season.

Harrison May Not  Be on Pats Roster, But Remains on Their Radar – After a pretty solid postseason performance by James Harrison, the former Steeler still remains a free agent but it sounds like a return to New England isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

According to ESPN’s James Fowler, Harrison is taking his time and plans on waiting until after the draft before he makes a decision to sign somewhere, although he’s yet to commit to returning to the Patriots.  Fowler reports that the Patriots have inquired during free agency, but he didn’t elaborate beyond that.

The one team that appears to be out of the picture at this point seems to be the Steelers, since as we know from last season Harrison’s biggest issue was the fact he wants to play isn’t enamored at the idea of being just a limited role player.  Some have wondered if Harrison might retire but despite turning 40 less than a month from now, he seems focused on going full-speed ahead and he certainly showed enough in his brief time in New England to prove he could be worth bringing back.

He was immovable on the edge and gave the Patriots some much-needed stability given the amount of injuries they had suffered, which is what opened up a role for him.  The only question might be whether or not they can use a roster spot on him and be able to manage him enough throughout the season to get the same type of performance he gave during the playoffs.

1-1/4 V Squats

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on

He’s still hitting the gym just as hard as ever and appears focused on getting ready for the 2018 season.  Whether or not he gets to make another run in New England remains to be seen.

Thanks for reading, and for all the support since we started putting this together each day. Hope all of you have a good weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.