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A New England Patriots Community Blog



Updated: 2018-02-20T10:15:04-05:00

 



New England Patriots links 2/20/18 - The Pats-Gronk clash: Will he stay or will he go?

2018-02-20T10:15:04-05:00

Daily news and links for Tuesday TEAM TALK Andy Hart discusses Devin McCourty’s recent interview with NJ.com that sheds some light on questions regarding Malcolm Butler’s playing status against Eagles. NFL Combine Primer - Everything you need to know in 1-minute videos: Bench Press - Broad Jump - Shuttle Run - 3-Cone Drill - Vertical Jump. LOCAL LINKS Ryan Hannable senses the Patriots need Rob Gronkowski to give them an indication one way or the other on his 2018 status very soon, as their entire offseason depends on what he decides to do. Tom E. Curran calls the Gronk dilemma a sticky one for the Patriots: “Once an NFL player starts considering retirement, he’s already gone.” Ryan Hannable says that according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Rob Gronkowski’s retirement talk started before he suffered a concussion in the AFC Championship game. Antonio Planas notes that with Rob Gronkowski mulling his future in the NFL, the WWE is reportedly looking to sign him to a contract. Nicole Yang addresses four questions about Rob Gronkowski’s future in the NFL. Kevin Duffy considers how the Patriots will replace Rob Gronkowski if he retires, and throws out a few options. Kevin Dillon examines whether Rob Gronkowski deserves to be in the Hall of Fame if he retired today. Adam Kurkjian doesn’t see the Patriots projecting to designate any players with the franchise tag this year. Kevin Duffy wonders if Baker Mayfield could be the next Patriots QB to learn under Tom Brady. Phil Perry continues his offseason position breakdown: Edge defender. Doug Kyed thumbnails two quarterbacks the Patriots could select in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Prayers for any quarterback the Pats draft. Doug Kyed profiles Danny Amendola and wonders if he would take another below-market deal to stay with the Patriots. NBC Boston passes along a report that James Harrison could return to the Patriots. Zack Cox profiles free agent Malcolm Butler to see what’s next for the benched Super Bowl hero. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Patriots internal free agents and philosophy re-group. Nick O’Malley offers a breakdown of all 32 franchise’s salary space situations, starting with the one team which is currently in the negatives. Adam Kurkjian takes an offseason peek around the rest of the AFC at the five rivals lining up to knock the Pats from their perch to reach Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Mike Reiss calls attention to Tom Brady becoming the last player from the 2000 draft class who is still with his original team. Mike Reiss notes that today is the 58th-year anniversary of the Patriots being called the Patriots, as the team name was the most popular choice for New England fans. Michael Hurley takes the air out of Stephen A. Smith’s more lazy than hot take on why all free agents now need to “think twice” before signing with ‘cruel’ Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Phil Perry and Mike Giardi Patriots Mailbag: Ndamukong Suh to the Patriots?? Marcus Kwesi O’Mard finds Robert Kraft wowing celebrities with his Super Bowl ring at the NBA All-Star game. Michael Hurley catches Eagles’ Lane Johnson doubling down on his earlier comments about the Patriots. /Can’t say I’ve ever heard so much opponent talk from a winning Super Bowl team. NATIONAL NEWS Danny Kelly (The Ringer) Your NFL franchise-tag primer. Danny Kelly (The Ringer) An intro to the 2018 NFL Draft: Everything you need to get caught up on the prospects and teams most likely to make noise this April. NFL Nation (ESPN) Players who need a change of scenery on every NFL team. Patriots: DT Alan Branch. Jason La Canfora (CBS Sports) The difficult decisions all 32 teams have ahead in the 2018 NFL offseason. Adam Schein (NFL.com) Most desirable free-agent destinations. /Ha, Pats don’t even make the list. Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports) 2018 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Frank Ragnow is the top center in this class. Jason La Canfora (CBS Sports) A look at 10 lower-level free agents who could end up being great value sign[...]



Patriots stay put, bolster defense in first SB Nation mock draft including trades

2018-02-20T08:00:04-05:00

New England does not move up or down in the first round in this mock. The 2018 NFL draft is still more than two months away but mock draft season is already in full swing. The newest trend is including trades and SB Nation's draft guru Dan Kadar did just that in his mock draft released yesterday. But while five moves were made in the first round, the New England Patriots decided to stay in slot number 31 and add to a defense that will likely lose starting cornerback Malcolm Butler in free agency: 31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida If Malcolm Butler is on his way out, the Patriots will have some options at cornerback even if a team moves ahead of them to target the position. Hughes is at his best when he can press at the line and use his size to make a play on the ball. If drafted by the Patriots, Mike Hughes would serve as the eventual replacement for Butler and add talent, athleticism and playmaking ability to the perimeter of the Patriots' secondary. Hughes was not only named to the first All-Conference team at cornerback in 2017 – his first year at Central Florida after stints at North Carolina (2015) and Garden City Community College (2016) – but also to the AAC's second team as a returnman. The 5’11 defender, who has experience playing one-on-one in man-coverage schemes and registered four interceptions last season, would join a cornerback group that has Stephon Gilmore as the clear-cut number one option, with Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones as the depth players. He does not come without his fair share of questions, though: Hughes was dismissed from North Carolina after facing misdemeanor assault charges following an altercation at a fraternity. SB Nation is not the only outlet to recently publish a draft including trades. CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso also released his latest mock draft yesterday – and he too has the Patriots staying put in slot number 31. However, as opposed to Kadar, Trapasso has New England adding to its offense: 31. New England Patriots: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M Kirk is the type of make-you-miss, downfield threat the Patriots seem to love at the wideout spot and would fill in for Danny Amendola immediately if he leaves in free agency. Even if Amendola is re-signed, Kirk would bring youth to New England’s pass-catcher group. Christian Kirk is an intriguing wide receiver. The 21-year old displayed explosiveness, great hands and solid route running abilities throughout his three years at Texas A&M and finished his college career with 229 catches for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns – all while serving as his team's primary punt returner as well. The 5'11, 200 lbs wideout therefore looks like a perfect fit for an offense that turned players like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola into stars. However, it appears unlikely that the Patriots will invest a first round draft pick at wide receiver as the team did just that with the Brandin Cooks trade last season. Considering that New England needs defensive help, adding another highly drafted offensive skill position player appears to be unlikely. The only scenario in which this could happen were if the team did not trust the health of Edelman or Malcolm Mitchell moving forward – and there are no indications of that. [...]



POLL: Should the Patriots re-sign Aqib Talib if the Broncos release him?

2018-02-20T07:00:06-05:00

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The veteran is a potential cap casualty in Denver.

Once the three-day legal tempering period preceding the NFL's free agency opens on March 12, the scramble to sign talented players about to hit the open market officially begins. Among the players to be courted will be cornerback Malcolm Butler, who is expected to leave the New England Patriots via free agency. Consequently, the reigning AFC champions will need to replace the three-year starter and former Super Bowl hero.

Free agency is the first chance the Patriots will get to do just that – and a familiar face might be on their list of targets: Aqib Talib, who called New England his home in 2012 and 2013. The 32-year old, who joined the Denver Broncos after the 2013 season, is scheduled to hit the Denver's books with $12.0 million next year and a candidate to get moved in order to generate additional cap space for his team.

According to reports, the Broncos will try to shop Talib but if no trade partner is found a release seems like a realistic scenario. If this indeed happens, two teams have reportedly established themselves as the early favorites to sign the five-time Pro Bowler: the Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coincidentally the only two teams Talib played for before joining Denver.

New England seems like a solid landing spot for Talib. After all, the former first round draft selection has played 23 games for the Patriots and grew into one of the NFL's best man-to-man corners during his tenure with the team. Of course, the financial aspect cannot be ignored as well: Would the team consider adding another potentially highly priced piece to a cornerback depth chart that is headed by $12.5 million man Stephon Gilmore?

Overall, the Patriots have allocated $15.3 million to the four cornerbacks currently part of the top-51 players under contract. Talib would certainly become a fifth – unless, of course, the team thinks that another free agent or a high-end draft pick would be the better use of financial resources.

What do you think, would you want the Patriots to bring Talib back in case he gets released?




NFL franchise tag window opens today; Patriots unlikely to use it

2018-02-20T06:00:02-05:00

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New England has not used the franchise tag since 2015.

The NFL's 2018 free agency is getting closer. The latest sign of it is the opening of the franchise tag window: Beginning today, teams can start assigning the franchise tag on one of their upcoming free agents. Just don't expect the New England Patriots to be among the franchises using the tag – despite their list of free agents including starters in all three phases of the game.

The most likely candidates for the Patriots to use the tag on are offensive tackle Nate Solder, running back Dion Lewis or cornerback Malcolm Butler. Neither of the three players will receive it, though: Solder's contract does not permit the team to tag him, Lewis' tag would be worth around $12.1 million, and Butler seems to be a safe bet to leave New England after he was essentially benched for the Super Bowl.

None of the Patriots' other free agents appears to be worth getting tagged until the window closes on March 6, which means that the team will highly likely not use the franchise tag for the third straight year. New England last applied it in 2015, when kicker Stephen Gostkowski was tagged and later signed a four-year, $17.2 million contract extension. It was the ninth overall time that the Bill Belichick-led Patriots tagged one of their players.




Pats' Past: How the Patriots got their name

2018-02-20T05:00:02-05:00

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On February 20, 1960, the nickname “Patriots” was announced.

On November 16, 1959, after an 11-year hiatus, professional football finally returned to the northeast: The newly formed American Football League awarded its eighth and final franchise to Boston businessman Billy Sullivan. The 44-year old, who had previously failed to get an NFL franchise to the city, started to build his team by hiring Mike Holovak as assistant coach and head scout and Ed McKeever as the club's first general manager.

Both Holovak and McKeever had previously worked at Boston College, Sullivan's alma mater. The new owner's third hire would also have a connection to Sullivan: Jack Grinold, who would go on to serve in the public relations department. Before moving into business, Sullivan was working in the then-Boston Braves' PR department – on a team that also employed Grinold's father as the team doctor.

With his background in marketing, Sullivan knew that a catchy name for his new team was a must. He trusted Grinold to find one – but not without some publicity to go along with the search for the name: The team set up both a contest for fans to submit names for Boston's new pro football franchise as well as an essay contest for school kids in which they argued what the new name should be.

The submissions ranged from Beantowners to Colonials, from Puritans to Braves. In the end, though, three finalists emerged: Minuteman, Bulls and – you guessed it – Patriots. 74 people, who according to Bob Hyldburg would all receive tickets for one of the team's home games, submitted the latter and on February 20, 1960 the AFL's final franchise officially received its name: the Boston Patriots.

On the same day, the team also announced that its colors would be a fitting red, white and blue. Two months after the name and team colors were made public, the team's logo was unveiled: “Uniformed Patriot centering football” – colloquially known as Pat Patriot – by Worcester cartoonist Phil Bissell was adopted as the new logo.

For more information on the Patriots' early days, please check out “From Darkness to Dynasty: The First 40 Years of the New England Patriots” by Jerry Thornton.




Patriots free agency profile: Nate Ebner

2018-02-19T11:00:05-05:00

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The core special teamer will likely return to New England.

The New England Patriots came up just short of their ultimate goal in 2017 as the team lost Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. In order to get back onto the top of the NFL mountain, the team – on and off the field personnel – will have to quickly turn the page to get into a position to field the best possible team in 2018; one that will be able to once again compete for the world championship.

A big part of creating such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency. And if judged by the list of free agents to be, New England's front office will be busy over the next few weeks. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents to find out who might or might not get re-signed; and who should be a part of the 2018 Patriots. Today, we'll continue the series with special teamer Nate Ebner.

#43 SS Nate Ebner

2018 opening day age: 29

2017 playing time: 9 games (9 regular season); 31.5% special teams snaps

2017 statistics: 8 special teams tackles; 1 carry, 14 yards

2017 cap number: $1.2 million

Nate Ebner entered the 2017 season in his usual role as a core member of the Patriots' kicking game units. And early on during the year, the two-time Super Bowl champion and one-time Olympian proved why he is among the best special teamers in the business. Playing almost 90% of snaps over the first half of the season, he registered eight tackles – a team-high at the time.

In game number nine, however, his season found an abrupt end: On a fake punt that Ryan Allen's personal protector carried for 14 yards and a first down, Ebner tore his ACL and was lost for the season. New England's special teams units still continued to play solid football but Ebner's injury certainly was a big one – and the latest suffered by one of the Patriots' starting-caliber players.

Because of the late-November knee injury, Ebner will now enter unrestricted free agency coming off injured reserve. But despite his medical status there is little doubt that the veteran will return to New England on a deal similar to the last one he signed prior to the 2016 season. After all, the 29-year old is a leader on the team and a damn good special teamer.

Projection: Ebner re-signs with the Patriots on a two-year contract worth around $2.0-$2.5 million. Due to the injury, it could include several playing time-based bonus escalators.




New England Patriots links 2/19/18 – Who will stay and who will leave in free agency?

2018-02-19T09:30:02-05:00

Daily news and links for Monday. TEAM TALK Andy Hart and Paul Perillo debate whether or not the Patriots should draft a quarterback this year. The team goes inside the numbers of the 2017 season. LOCAL LINKS Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston) believes that the Patriots' seldom use of the franchise tag will continue this year. Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston) thinks that New England's defensive issues extend beyond the pass rush. Zack Cox (NESN) offers an offseason outlook for the Patriots defensive line. Christopher Price (Boston Sports Journal) reports that there is a reasonable chance that the Patriots bring back James Harrison. Michael Hurley (CBS Boston) takes a look at one football reason why Malcolm Butler didn't play on defense in the Super Bowl. Ryan Hannable (WEEI) ranks the Patriots' top needs entering the offseason. Darren Hartwell (NESN) shares Devin McCourty's interesting admission about the Malcolm Butler Super Bowl benching. Ian Glendon (Full Press Coverage) argues that re-signing James Harrison is a no-brainer for the Patriots. Ryan Hannable (WEEI) thinks that clues on Tom Brady's successor will come soon. Mike Cole (NESN) shares a rumor that WWE is willing to offer Rob Gronkowski a contract in case he retires from the NFL. Melissa Chang (Patriots Wire) makes the case for why the Patriots should re-sign Rex Burkhead. Phil Perry (NBC Boston) asks if New England will stick with Dion Lewis or hand the football to somebody else in the future. Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston) publishes his quick-hit thoughts around the Patriots and the NFL. Isaiah Houde (Patriots Wire) argues why the Patriots should go after cornerback Bashaud Breeland this free agency. Doug Kyed (NESN) believes that free agent Dion Lewis might be out of New England's price range. Brent Schwartz (Patriots Wire) lists four keys for the Patriots this offseason. Kevin Dillon (MassLive.com) asks if Rob Gronkowski deserves to be in the Hall of Fame if he retired today. Phil Perry (NBC Boston) thinks that the cornerback search is on for the Patriots. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans.com) believes the Patriots' decision with James Harrison will be an intriguing one. NATIONAL NEWS Ryan Dunleavy (NJ.com) talked to Patriots team captain Devin McCourty about Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl benching. Matt Harmon (NFL.com) takes a look at 2017's most elusive rushers. /Dion Lewis mentioned Jeanna Thomas (SB Nation) explains the franchise tag in a two-minute read. Peter King (The MMQB) offers his early thoughts on free agency and the draft. Dan Kadar (SB Nation) publishes his latest mock draft. Michael Renner (Pro Football Focus) writes about the best offensive line options in free agency. /Nate Solder among the players listed Gregg Rosenthal (NFL.com) lists eight players who might receive the franchise tag. Gordon McGuiness (Pro Football Focus) takes a look at free agency signings that paid off this season. Jacob Feldman (The MMQB) thinks that the offseason could get wild. Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) does not yet see any indication about how Rob Gronkowski's future will look like. Khadrice Rollins (Sports Illustrated) reports that the Dolphins will donate to the family of the football coach killed in last week's Florida school shooting. Darren Rovell (ESPN) notes that a “family version” of Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI ring was sold for $344,927. Edward Lewis (NFL.com) writes that the Texans will release linebacker Brian Cushing. Curtis Patrick (Pro Football Focus) offers his fantasy offseason wishlist for the Patriots. Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) argues that the NFL should open the trade window earlier. [...]



Devin McCourty: Patriots knew Malcolm Butler wouldn't start Super Bowl 52

2018-02-19T08:00:00-05:00

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The defensive captain said that Butler's benching was no surprise.

From a New England Patriots perspective, the biggest story after the team's Super Bowl 52 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles was the benching of starting cornerback Malcolm Butler. After playing more than 98% of defensive snaps throughout the team's first 18 games of the season, Butler was only one the field for one special teams snap while his teammates gave up 41 points to its opponent.

The move was a head-scratcher and one that fueled speculation and “hot takes” in the days that followed: Butler was benched for disciplinary reasons. He was caught with weed and missed curfew multiple times. Head coach Bill Belichick sacrificed a Super Bowl to prove a point. No matter how absurd, radio hosts, analysts and fans alike joined the chorus of anger and confusion.

The media frenzy that was created after Super Bowl Sunday was not lost on members of the team as a recent interview with safety Devin McCourty shows. The defensive team captain spoke to NJ.com's Ryan Dunleavy about the speculation and denied rumors about Butler's benching being because of discipline imposed by head coach Bill Belichick.

“As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth,” McCourty recently said at a fundraiser. “We all knew he wasn’t starting all week. That wasn’t a secret to the guys on the team. [...] I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It’s just not true. As far as I know – and I was there all week – not one time did anything come up.”

McCourty continued talking how it “sucked” for Butler to basically miss the Super Bowl but that the postgame speculation was most hurtful: “To me, the worst part was to see all that stuff come out after.” Butler vehemently denied allegations of any wrongdoing on his part via an Instagram post following the game and none of his teammates or coaches have said anything else since the game.

Despite all that, the speculation and questions about Butler will certainly continue.