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The New England Patriots announced on Sunday that the team will not practice on Monday (via WEEI). The Patriots completed their second practice in full pads and fourth practice overall on Sunday. The team announced an attendance record (14,000+) at practice for the third time out of the first four practices on Sunday as well.
During Sunday's practice the duo of quarterback Tom Brady and new receiver Brandon Lloyd were in sync. Brady found Lloyd on a 45-yard touchdown strike before hitting Lloyd in the in the back of the end zone later in practice. The veteran wideout is looking to return to the form he showed during his break out season of 2010 for the Broncos (77 receptions, 1,448 yards, 11 touchdowns).
Injuries finished the day early for Defensive end Rob Ninkovich, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and offensive lineman Jamey Richard. Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was out again with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Tracy White also did not practice. Rookie free agent defensive lineman Justin Francis returned to practice (via ESPN Boston).
The Patriots will return to the practice field on Tuesday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The practice will be open to the public.
The New England Patriots made a transaction Wednesday that many Boston College football fans will enjoy. Former Eagle defensive lineman and six-year NFL veteran Tim Bulman signed a free agent contract with the Patriots.
Bulman, 29, is a former second-team All Big East Conference selection (2004) for the Eagles, and comes to New England after spending the last five seasons with the Houston Texans. In '05, Bulman was signed by the Arizona Cardinals after going undrafted.
In his career, Bulman has compiled just 54 tackles and four sacks. The Patriots signed Bulman mainly to fill a roster spot and to compete for a job during training camp.
Bulman's grammar school years were spent playing for Boston College HS, where he helped is team win Catholic Conference titles in 1999 and '00.
Dont'a Hightower signed a four-year contract with the New England Patriots on Wednesday, making him the last of the Pats' 2012 NFL Draft picks to ink with the organization. According to reports, Hightower's contract will be worth approximately $7.7 million over the length of the deal, with $6.3 million guaranteed.
Report: Dont’a Hightower’s contract worth $7.7M, with roughly $6.3M guaranteed dlvr.it/1tJBBw— WEEI (@WEEI) July 20, 2012
Hightower, a 6'3, 270-pound linebacker out of Alabama, should help a Pats defense that ranked 31st in the NFL in total defense and 24th allowing 4.6 yards per carry on the ground. He was a consensus All-American in his senior season with the Crimson Tide. He was selected in the first round at 25th overall this past April.
The players who were reported to have failed phyiscals were seventh-round NFL Draft pick wide receiver Jeremy Ebert as well as undrafted defenisve lineman Justin Francis, wide receiver Matt Roark, offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren and offensive lineman Markus Zusevics.
Ebert had been limited in spring camp. He has been placed on the physically unable to perform list but is still active. The other four players are on the non-football injury list. The cause of these players failing the physical could be the team's conditioning test: "20 timed sprints of either 60 (skill players), 50 (TE, FB, LB) or 40 yards (linemen)."
Veteran players will report for their physicals on Wednesday. Next Thursday marks the start of training camp for New England.
Nobody has ever accused the New England Patriots of having an open-door policy with the media.
According to ESPN.com, Daniel Fells missed offseason workouts due to a leg injury, causing speculation on whether he'll be fully healthy for the start of training camp. It's a bit of news that's been slow in coming out of Foxboro, but an important piece none the less.
With Fells perhaps not 100 percent, it's fair to wonder whether the Patriots will give some free agent tight ends a look. As stated in the article, Visanthe Shiancoe is coming in for a visit on Thursday. He's surprisingly still on the market and could be a very attractive option considering his past on the Minnesota Vikings.
The New England Patriots' first-round draft pick Dont'a Hightower has signed a four-year deal with the organization Wednesday, according to reports. Other media outlets are confirming the news, but no one is reporting how much the deal is for. Its expected Hightower will make a bit less than New England's No. 21-overall, Chandler Jones, who signed a four-year, $8.17 million.
Hightower, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound linebacker from the University of Alabama, was the Patriots No. 25-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Both Hightowner and Jones are expected to upgrade the Patriots defense, which struggled last season.
Third-rounder Jake Bequette is the only remaining draft pick who has yet to sign a contract. New England opens its 2012 Training Camp on July 25 at Gillette Stadium.
The team put the Franchise Tag on Welker during the offseason and he will play this season under a one-year tender of $9.5 million which he signed. Given Welker's past production for the Pats, the team could franchise him again next season for $11.4 million if he is able to produce as he has in the past.
Welker has caught 100-plus passes for 1,000-plus yards in four of his five seasons for New England. Thirty-one of his 32 career receiving touchdowns have been as a Patriot. No NFL receiver has caught more passes than Welker since the start of the 2007 season.
The deadline for the New England Patriots and All-Pro wide receiver Wes Welker is almost 24 hours away, and as zero-hour approaches it seems a deal will not get done as both sides are not actively talking, sources have told ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss.
The source said that at this point, it would be a surprise if an extension was reached, but cautioned that things always could shift as the deadline approaches.
According to Reiss, Welker, a franchise tagged player, and the Patriots are trying to avoid a situation where the wide out plays under a one-year tender. Under the tender Welker will make $9.5 million and cannot work on an extension until after the 2012-13 season. If the Patriots decided to franchise Welker again, he will make $11.4 million -- a price New England may not be able to afford.
Wes Welker and the New England Patriots have "50-50" odds of reaching a long-term contract agreement before the July 16 deadline for franchise players, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
La Canfora also reports that the Patriots and their star wide receiver "still have a pretty significant gap in terms of guaranteed money to bridge."
The Boston Globe reported earlier this week that Welker and the Patriots are expected to "be working hard this week toward getting a deal done."
If the two sides don't come to an agreement before July 16, Welker will play the season under his franchise tender of $9.5 million. He is reportedly looking for a contract offer of three years, but the Patriots are hesitant to commit to the 31-year old for that long.
The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints announced on Tuesday that they will hold joint practices on Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 before they play their preseason game on Aug. 9 at Gillette Stadium (ESPN Boston). Times for the practices have not been announced. However, the Aug. 8 practice is listed as a walkthrough on the Saints' website.
The Saints will play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cardinals on Aug. 5 before the joint practices with the Patriots.
The teams held joint practices before during the 2010 preseason. New England reported an attendance of 16,455 for a practice in August of that year (via ESPN Boston). The Patriots have also held a joint practice with the New York Giants back in 2001.
Although the deadline for contract negotiations between the New England Patriots and wide receiver Wes Welker is fast approaching, a recent report from Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe says that there are reasons for optimism that the two parties can work out a deal before 4 p.m. on July 16.
Welker, who signed a franchise tag in May, wants a three-year contract, something the Patriots are reluctant to do given Welker's age. Young does say that sources close to the team say the two will be working very hard in order to get a deal worked out before July 16.
If the two sides can't figure out a deal before then, Welker will play the 2012 season under the franchise tag, and will not be able to talk about a contract until the season is over.
New England Patriots nation will be sitting on pins and needles this upcoming week, as the deadline for contract negotiations between wide receiver Wes Walker and the club need to be settled. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the Pats' will be forced to franchise tag the All-Pro wide out for about $9.5 million.
Will the two sides reach an agreement? The Boston Globes' Greg A. Bedard thinks it could take a lot:
Both sides have been respectful of each other during the process, but if you read between the lines, owner Robert Kraft has stated the club’s position. Kraft said both sides want to complete a deal, but "it requires intelligence" and "what’s going to happen in the next few years with the cap, you have to have a core group of players that you can plan around as the foundation of your team."
Bedard say the distance between the two sides is $6 million in guaranteed money, and decision is mainly on the Patriots who need to figure out if they think Welker can still be productive.
If the Patriots would be inclined to sign Welker to an estimated $11.418 million franchise tag to keep him out of a Jets uniform, then it makes no sense to have him play under the tag this season. A contract extension now could cut his cap number in half in 2012 and beyond. That savings could be used on extensions for Aaron Hernandez, Sebastian Vollmer, and/or Patrick Chung now, or rolled over onto next year’s cap.
With less than two weeks remaining until the deadline for reaching an extension, the New England Patriots and Wes Welker are still far apart in their negotiations, according to a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
Sources with knowledge of this negotiation have believed for months that Welker would end up playing 2012 on the tag and that became even more clear when he signed it and joined offseason work a while back. It would take a fairly drastic turn of events to get off that track now.
Welker will play for the $9.5 million franchise tender this season if the two sides cannot come to an agreement prior to the July 16 deadline.
The 31-year old caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
The New England Patriots will open training camp on July 25 at Gillette Stadium, with their first practices coming the following day.
The first four practices will be held July 26-29 at Gillette from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day, and will be open to the public. Admission and parking are both free.
Per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the first two days of practices cannot feature either pads or contact. If the practice sessions are rained out, the Patriots might move inside the Dana-Farber Field House. Any practices held inside are no longer available to the general public.
The Patriots have yet to announce their schedule after July 29. For more information on the Patriots 2012 training camp, visit the training camp index at Patriots.com.
The veteran was signed by the Patriots in 2011 as a free agent and made 69 tackles (46 solo) and defended one pass in 16 games (12 starts). All of those totals from last season were career-highs for Ihedigbo. For his career, he has 118 tackles five sacks and one forced fumble. In last season's playoffs, Ihedigbo started all three games and made 20 tackles (9 solo) and one sack.
The former UMass Minuteman was undrafted in 2007 and broke into the league on the Jets' roster, first playing in 2008 on special teams. He didn't become a regular starter in the secondary until last season with the Patriots.
New England Patriots owner has been selected as the 2012 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America, the team announced on Monday.
Kraft becomes the first NFL owner and the first member of the Patriots organization to win the award, which is given annually to the player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity en route to success. The 71-year old Kraft was instrumental in bringing about the end of the NFL lockout last July, just five days after the passing of his late wife, Myra.
Kraft spent last summer splitting time between his wife's hospital bed and the league's negotiations, and was given a lot of credit for helping the owners and players reach an agreement. He then helped to lead the Patriots into the Super Bowl during a season the team dedicated to Myra Kraft's memory.
The 30-year old unknowingly played in the Super Bowl with a torn ACL and underwent offseason surgery to repair the injury. A typical nine-month recovery would keep him out until November, so James Walker of ESPN reports that it's likely Mankins will start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. If he does so, he won't be available to play in the first six games but his roster spot for that time frame will be secure.
The Patriots, in accordance with their reputation, are as quiet on the issue as a Saturday morning in the countryside. They already lost Matt Light to retirement, so losing Mankins would be another hit to an offensive line that has long been essential to New England's success.
Ras-I Dowling is healthy and will likely be one of the starting corners for the New England Patriots, according to a report from Pro Football Weekly. Dowling, drafted by New England 33rd in the 2011 draft, missed almost the entire 2011 season with a torn tendon in his leg. From Pro Football Weekly:
Dowling is finally healthy and in his first full offseason, and we hear that ideally, Dowling will start at the right corner spot opposite McCourty in a secondary that, like last offseason, still needs to improve. The team's confidence in Dowling was illustrated by its decision to thrust him into the starting role as a rookie.
Dowling would be expected to move into the starting corner position opposite Devin McCourty, which would move Kyle Arrington into the slot. The Patriots can certainly use a healthy secondary. The team gave up 293.9 yards per game in the 2011 regular season, second worst in the league.
"Those guys are coming out ready to work [and] that's all you can ask," Mayo said. "Those guys come out and work hard, both in the classroom and on the field. Being one of the older guys I just try to lead by example. We have great coaches they can learn from and [they've] got to work hard."
Mayo said the goal this summer is obviously to improve from last year, when the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl.
"The goal is to get better, obviously," Mayo said. "We have a lot of talent on our team, but at the same time we have a lot of new faces, so communication is huge. Going out there and competing each and every play is huge. It's just getting used to the coaches and things like that, especially for these young guys. That's a big part of the offseason."
"This is a time where you get the edge on everyone else," Mayo said. "You're going to have some guys who go home and just eat their way out of the league, and you have those guys who go out there and grind and work hard. Just get ready for training camp, that's the goal."
Welker is currently playing under the franchise tag with a $9.5 million tender, and the sides only have until July 16 to reach a long-term deal.
The Patriots recently signed Rob Gronkowski to a six-year, $54 million contract which makes him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. Welker, 31, has yet to be given the same security despite catching 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
The wide receiver said he harbors no jealousy for Gronkowski.
"I'm always pulling for the players," Welker said, according to ESPNBoston.com, "especially a guy like Gronk, who does such a great job for us and works hard and deserves every bit of that contract."
Bill Belichick took a page out of Doc Rivers' handbook on Thursday, cancelling the final day of the New England Patriots' mini-camp.
The players still had their regularly-scheduled meetings, but they did not have to participate in any on-field drills.
Via Nick Underhill of MassLive.com:
"We were kind of shocked, everybody was ready to practice," cornerback Ras-I Dowling said. "Guys were in the training room getting taped, and then we got that news -- 'You can go home a day early.'"
Belichick also mandated that none of the players could take home their playbooks. He said it was because the coaching staff wants to make some changes before training camp arrives.
"We'll make some revisions to it based on some things that have happened over the weeks," Belichick said. "We'll make some modifications to it, the way the playbook is set up, it kind of changes every camp because of the league installation schedule."
Ballard's agent, Blake Baratz, tweeted on Tuesday, "As I stated yesterday a 'smart' football organization might claim @NYG_J_Ballard85 while he's hurt to own his rights. He's now a Patriot!" Just yesterday, both Baratz and Ballard tweeted about returning to the Giants in 2013. As Ballard is still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, it is very unlikely he would play for New England in 2012.
Ballard was fourth on the Giants in receptions last season with 38. He had 604 yards and 4 touchdowns on those catches. Ballard had two grabs for 10 yards in the Super Bowl before his injury.
According to Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, Belichick was evasive when asked whether Waters would play at all this season. The 35-year old was voted a starter in the 2011 Pro Bowl after starting every game for the Patriots during his first season with the team. It was his sixth Pro Bowl appearance after having made it five times with the Kansas City Chiefs.
After falling in the Super Bowl, Waters told the Boston Globe he would take 2-3 weeks to decide whether he would return for another season or retire after his 12th NFL season. He is under contract for one more season with the Patriots.
The New England Patriots announced the signing of wide receiver Jesse Holley and two other players on Monday. In addition to the former Cowboys wideout, the Patriots also signed offensive lineman Mike Ingersoll and tight end Tyler Urban.
Holley (6-2, 200) earned some notoriety for winning Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin's reality series 4th and Long which earned Holley an invite to Cowboys training camp in 2009. Holley spent three seasons with Dallas and made seven receptions for 169 yards but was also a special teams contributor in his 28 NFL games.
Urban (6-5, 249) was signed by the Buccaneers as a rookie free agent in April 2012 before being released in May. He played the slot wide receiver position last season in a spread system after initially being a tight end at West Virginia.
Schefter reports that Gronkowski signed a contract that will pay him $54 million over six years. It's unclear as of now whether that contract will kick in immediately or after Gronkowski's rookie deal expires. Gronkowski is set to make $540,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in 2013.
But the 23-year old obviously has out-performed his rookie deal, finishing the 2011 season with 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns to establish the tight end records for most receiving yards and most touchdown receptions. He also added one touchdown on the ground for a total of 18 scores.
According to a report, the Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have agreed to a contract extension.
Chad Ochocinco's disappointing career with the New England Patriots has come to an end. Ochocinco, who only had 15 catches in 15 games last season, has reportedly been released by the team after they could not successfully trade him.
A source told the Boston Herald that Ochocino is "still on the Patriots" after speculation began that he might not be began when he missed the team's practice Thursday. But the Herald reports that Ochocinco was at Gillette Stadium for 10-15 minutes before he missed the practice for unspecified reasons.
Ochocinco was widely viewed as a disappointment during the 2011 season, his first with the Patriots. He finished the season with just 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown, though he did manage to stay away from any off-field controversy.
With the Patriots beefing up their stable of wide receivers during the offseason, Ochocinco's spot on the roster is not secure.
The Patriots also announced the acquisitions of offensive lineman Jamey Richard, tight end Nick Melillo and defensive back Anthony Dennard.
Gonzalez becomes one of the first casualties of a crowded New England receiving corps. He was signed in the offseason to help bolster New England's already-strong stable of weapons surrounding Tom Brady, but obviously didn't stand out enough compared to the other Patriots receivers.
Gonzalez, 27, made a name for himself early in his Indianapolis Colts career, catching 94 passes for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns over his first two seasons. But he has been hampered by injuries since, managing just five receptions over the last three seasons. He played eight games with the Colts in 2011 but didn't catch a single ball.
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis no longer on the roster, it is unclear who will be the New England Patriots starting running back. Early indications, though, suggest that it will be Shane Vereen who gets the bulk of the carries.
In the OTA practices that were open to the media, it was Vereen who worked with the first team, according to the Boston Herald.
The big thing that jumped out was Vereen served as the top back during practice. The unknown is whether or not it means anything, particularly since I have no idea who took on that role during their first two sessions. It’s just like preseason carries in that regard, as Bill Belichick will designate certain times for certain players to have their time with the first-team offense.
The New England Patriots signed veteran, Joseph Addai, in the off-season, which gives them a plethora of running backs going into training camp. With the Patriots appearing to go with the 'running back by committee approach', who will get the majority of the carries. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston answered that very question in a chat this week:
If everyone's healthy, I think we'll see Ridley and Shane Vereen get the bulk of the work. I see Addai as a nice "insurance" type of addition if Ridley and Vereen don't emerge, as well as a backup option for Danny Woodhead in the "passing back" type of role. While I'd lean toward Ridley/Vereen getting more work, it's also safe to say we can expect the Patriots to mix it up from week to week, depending on the game-plan.
The 27-year-old seventh round pick has played for the Indianapolis Colts for the last four seasons. He started seven games in 2008 – four at center and three at left guard – and played at all three interior line positions. He started four more games in 2010, but only appeared in two games in 2011 – neither as a starter.
Pro Football Focus has graded Richard pretty poorly. He has career numbers of 27 pressures and three quarterback hits and no sacks allowed, in limited time.
Gronkowski underwent surgery in February to repair multiple torn ligaments in his ankle after getting injured during the third quarter of the Patriots' AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. He returned to that game and played two weeks later in the Super Bowl, but was clearly hobbled by the injury.
The initial timetable for Gronkowski's injury was 10 weeks, which would have meant he would be able to participate in team activities as early as the end of April.
With fellow tight end Daniels Fells joining Gronkowski on the sideline, defensive end Alex Silvestro spent some time with the tight ends.
Cornerback is a position of concern for the New England Patriots as the 2012 NFL season approaches. Wide receiver is anything but. With the Patriots finishing their OTA on Thursday, ESPN's Mike Reiss writes that the team saw encouraging developments at both positions.
Cornerback Ras-I Dowling, the Patriots' second-round selection in 2011, looked strong after being limited to just two games in his rookie season before undergoing hip surgery. Reiss writes that Dowling's size stood out, and he showed enough speed to run stride for stride with Brandon Lloyd on at least one occasion.
The Patriots' crowded wide receiver corpse has put Deion Branch in unfamiliar territory as a possible odd man out, but Reiss said Branch looked quick and impressive during Thursday's workout. With Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez joining the cast of weapons at Tom Brady's disposal, Branch certainly will need to scratch for playing time.
Jones (6-5, 265) was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Syracuse Orange. He made 147 tackles and 10 sacks during his career. He also forced five fumbles and recovered one fumble. The junior was named to the All-Big East team in 2011 despite playing in just seven games.
Jones was selected 21st overall by the Patriots. He is the fifth New England draft pick to sign. First-rounder Dont'a Hightower and third-rounder Jake Bequette are the only remaining draft picks who have not yet signed a contract. Hightower is a linebacker from Alabama. Bequette is a defensive end from Arkansas.
Wes Welker and the New England Patriots have been involved in a little bit of a contract standoff since he signed a franchise tender last week. On Tuesday, team owner Robert Kraft said he would like to keep Welker a "Patriot for life," but only if a deal makes sense for the club.
"Well we'd like to see him be a Patriot for life but it takes two sides," Kraft told Kim Jones of NFL Network Tuesday at the league meetings in Atlanta. "We're just happy he's back in the system. He's a wonderful young man, and a special guy. I think both sides would like to do a deal, but it requires intelligence and putting our team first."
Welker has made some public comments about being unhappy with the negotiations, but Kraft said there are no hard feelings within the organization.
"Anyone can say whatever they want. He's done a great job for us, we're always trying to do whatever we can do to put our team in the best position to win, that means balancing a lot of things, understanding what the cap is, what the cap growth is, how things fit in the system and we try to have values for every position and every player," Kraft said.
The New England Patriots already have two of the top pass-catching tight ends in the National Football League. And they might be looking to add another tight end with a long resume of receptions.
The NFL Network reports that no deal is imminent and the Patriots are just putting in "due diligence" to determine how much Clark can still produce and whether he would be open to joining the club.
The 33-year old Clark was long considered one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends, but has suffered through two consecutive injury-riddled seasons. He managed 34 catches for 352 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games with a miserable Colts team in 2011, but his skills have lessened to the point where at least one scout questioned whether Clark is "done."
One day later, Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, is reporting that the Patriots were not too fond of Welker's comments.
According to a team source, Welker's decision to go public in recent weeks about negotiations has not gone over well with the Patriots; two weeks ago, when he made appearances on various ESPN programs, he made reference to holding out at least through full-team minicamp next month. His words have only increased the chances that 2012 will be his final season with the team.
The Patriots have a history of cutting ties with players at the perfect time. Between the contract talks and the subtle jabs at Rex Ryan publicly, last season – which the Pats were supposedly not pleased with – could be the writing on the wall for Welker's departure.
Dennard (5-10, 205) is a first-team All-Big Ten cornerback out of Nebraska who was projected to go in the second or third round of the NFL Draft before his arrest in Lincoln, Nebraska during an incident at a bar. Dennard was accused of striking a police officer. He is currently facing a third-degree felony assault of a police officer charge and will be arraigned on May 30. Dennard could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Wes Welker signed his franchise tender with the New England Patriots earlier this week with the knowledge that he was giving away any leverage he had in contract discussions. He said he was making a leap of faith and trusting the Patriots to do the right thing.
But so far, Welker told the Boston Herald Thursday, contracts talks have "gotten worse."
"There have been talks, but nothing that's brightened anything at all," Welker said. "It's actually gotten worse."
When asked to define "worse," Welker said the offer on the table is less than the two-year, $16 million fully guaranteed contract that was offered to him during the 2011 regular season.
Welker and the club have until June 16 to agree to a longer contract. If no agreement has been made by that date, Welker will play this season under the franchise tender of $9.5 million.
Dennard, who played for Nebraska in college, was accused of striking an officer outside of a Lincoln, Nebraska bar on April 21. He will be arraigned on May 30. If convicted of third-degree felony assault of a police officer, Dennard could face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Dennard had been projected to be a much higher draft pick than a seventh rounder before his arrest. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the organization was aware of the arrest
"Alfonzo is a guy who we spent a lot of time on. Obviously the incident affected his draft position," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said shortly after New England selected Dennard. "But certainly we're aware of it. We researched it, we found out as much as we could about it. Obviously as an organization we were comfortable taking the selection where we did. ... There's obviously some other things that are currently out there from a legal standpoint that I obviously can't comment on."
Dennard is currently free on $5,000 bond.
Ebert (6-0, 195), a wide receiver out of Northwestern, is the second Patriots 2012 NFL Draft pick to sign a contract. Second-round pick Tavon Wilson signed a four-year deal worth $4.217 million, including a $1.507 million signing bonus. Ebert's deal is reportedly worth $2.148 million, including a $48,200 bonus.
Ebert had 75 catches for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior for Northwestern. He had 20 total touchdown grabs and 156 catches during his college career.
Wes Welker signed a franchise tender Tuesday that guarantees he will keep him in New England at least for the 2012 NFL season. But in a tweet following the signing, Welker acknowledged that the ball is now in the Patriots' court.
"I think in essence the Patriots understood, and he understands, he can't really live without football. He's an addict, he needs football, and he understands the 9.5 (million dollars) is about half of what he made over the length of (his previous) contract," said CSNNE analyst Tom E. Curran. "He gave up the leverage, but that tweet made a nice passive-aggressive stand that says, 'Look, I'm doing it. Meet me halfway here, Patriots. Meet me halfway here, Kraft. Put your money where your mouth is. You said you were going to renegotiate and do the right thing. Let's see if you do.'"
Could the Patriots find a replacement for Welker if they don't lock him up with a long-term contract?
"Going into last year, I thought someone could replicate but not duplicate what Wes Welker did. And then he came out and he was the best receiver in the National Football League for the first half of the season, hands down -- outside, inside, whatever, hands down the most productive guy. And I actually went up to him and I said, 'I got it wrong. Nobody can do what you exactly can do. Nobody in the NFL can do it, certainly nobody on the Patriots can do it,'" said Curran. "I don't know if he was at the height of his powers last year and he can come back and be as good as he was last year for that eight- to 10-game stretch. But no, I haven't seen anybody play that position as well as him."
For more of Curran's comments on the Welker signing, view the video below:
I signed my tender today. I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results. #leapoffaith— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) May 15, 2012
By calling it a leap of faith, Welker is likely referring to his decision to sign the one-year tender rather than wait for a long-term deal. He and the Patriots still have until June 16 to agree to a longer contract. On that date, if they haven't come to a further agreement, Welker's franchise tender will be locked in for the remainder of the season.
Welker caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
According to multiple reports, the Pro Bowl wide receiver signed the franchise tender Tuesday that will pay him $9.5 million for the 2012 season. He and the team still have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal, or else Welker will play under the franchise tender for the remainder of the season.
After Welker caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns, the Patriots labeled him with the franchise tag.
A number of contract discussions followed, and Welker considered missing the team's mini-camp in June. But even before signing on Tuesday, he told WEEI the contract differences would not be an issue.
Added Welker: "We're just kind of moving along. I have a great relationship with coach [Bill Belichick] and Mr. Kraft and with the front office and everybody else. I don't think there's any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we're all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there."
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe first reported the Welker signing.
The face-paced offseason continued for the New England Patriots Tuesday, as they officially inked second-round selection, Illinois defensive back Tavon Hill, to a deal and then released quarterback Mike Hartline. The move to release Hartline bring the Patriots roster size to 88 players. New England is allowed 90 during the offseason.
On Friday, the details of the deal with Hill were reported by Scout.com's Aaron Wilson. The Patriots are expected to use Wilson, who was one of six defensive selection for New England, to help improve one of the worst defenses in the league last season.
New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who missed voluntary workouts and has been involved in a contract dispute since being labeled with the franchise tag, said Monday that contract talks will not keep him from appearing in any regular season games.
"There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn't miss any regular-season games," Welker said on the "Mut & Merloni" program.
Welker had a career year in 2011, catching 122 passes for 1,529 yards and nine touchdowns. He previously said he would not attend the team's June mini-camp without a long-term deal in place, but softened his stance on Monday.
"I think we're still kind of waiting, but I'd really like to be there," Welker told hosts Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni. "I don't know. To say I'm going one way or another right now, I'm not going to say it's definite or anything like that, but I would definitely like to be at those minicamps for sure."
Asked if there have been discussions about a long-term contract with the Patriots since the draft, Welker said: "I think we're all on the same page and we're all trying to collectively come together and make something happen."
Per Wilson, the deals of the term follow:
New England Patriots have agreed to a terms with rookie second-round safety Tavon Wilson on a four-year, $4.217 million contract that includes a $1.507 million signing bonus, according to a league source.
The first two years of the deal, $390,000 and $581,722, are fully guaranteed and the last two years, $773,444 and $965,166, aren't fully guaranteed.
Wilson was expected to go undrafted by most analysts, but the Patriots surprised the NFL world by selecting him in round two. The 22-year old safety/cornerback out of Illinois was an All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention in 2011 after notching 74 tackles, seven pass deflections, one sack and one interception.
The New England Patriots announced the signings of veteran running back Joseph Addai and seven rookie free agents on Thursday.
Addai spent his entire NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts before being released on March 9, 2012. During his years with the Colts, Addai rushed for 4,453 yards and 39 touchdowns. He's also a receiving threat with 191 career receptions for 1,448 yards and nine scores. The former first-round NFL Draft pick has only fumbled 7 times (5 lost) during his NFL career.
The rookie free agents were:
RB Brandon Bolden (Mississippi), DL Marcus Forston (Miami), DL Justin Francis (Rutgers), TE Brad Herman (Iowa), WR Matt Roark (Kentucky), OL Jeremiah Warren (South Florida) and OL Markus Zusevics (Iowa).
This group of seven players will join the Patriots' seven NFL Draft picks at rookie mini-camp that begins on Friday at Gillette Stadium.
The New England Patriots have reportedly agreed to a deal with former Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai. Could the veteran take over the role that Kevin Faulk has played for the Pats in recent years (before his injury)? For his part, Faulk hasn't officially decided on his future and last month was optimistic about returning to New England. But assuming Faulk retires or does not end up on the Patriots next season, Steve DeOssie talked about what role Addai could play on the Patriots.
Besides playing for LSU in college, both Addai and Faulk are backs that can run the ball for a solid average (4.2 ypc for Faulk, 4.1 ypc for Addai) as well as be a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield (42.8 catches/16 games for Faulk, 39.2 catches/16 games for Addai). Another thing both running backs do well is hold on to the football. Addai's only fumbled seven times in six NFL seasons (1.4 fumbles/16 games) while Faulk has fumbled 25 times (2.5 fumbles/16 games) during his lengthy career.
The New England Patriots have officially announced the signing of free agent wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney previously played with the Patriots from 2006 through 2008.
Patriots officially re-sign WR Jabar Gaffney: bit.ly/Kg6Fyf— New England Patriots (@Patriots) May 7, 2012
Gaffney, a second round draft pick in 2002, played for the Washington Redskins last season after spending two years with the Denver Broncos prior to that, catching 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games. In 155 career games, Gaffney has 5,622 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in 10 seasons. Gaffney's best season in New England came in 2007, when he had 449 receiving yards and five scores.
Dec 01, 1980
Matt Light, citing family and the desire to go out on his terms, has announced his retirement from the NFL after 11 successful seasons with the New England Patriots. Light was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champ.
Teammates and coaches used the opportunity to praise Light's leadership and sense of humor.
"He was a great prankster and that will be missed around there," guard Logan Mankins said following the announcement, which was attended by all members of the offensive line. "He always lightened the mood around there. Guys really enjoyed being around Matt. Those grinding days he always picked guys spirits up."
"He's one of my favorite teammates that I've ever had," Brady said during a video played at the conference. "I'm certainly going to miss him."
"To not fool around with guard and right tackle, that was probably one of the best un-coaching, undoing a bad decision that I've done," Belichick said of his initial decision to move Light to right tackle during his rookie training camp. "He's been a tremendous player for us, a tremendous resource for our team.
"He's given great leadership as well as great performance. A lot of levity that we probably need around here. Most of which I'll miss, but not all of it."
Joseph Addai, a free agent running back, will reportedly sign with the New England Patriots, according to former teammate and new Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Addai has rushed for 4,453 yards and 39 scores in 78 games.
The press conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Patriots Hall of Fame and modern museum, and will be open to all Patriots Hall of Fame patrons. Half of the admission fees from 10-noon will be donated to the Light Foundation.
Speculation swirled earlier in the summer about Light's potential retirement when he dodged the question during an interview at a charity event. He has not attended any of the Patriots offseason workouts.
Light was the Patriots' starting tackle for the last 11 years, one of only a handful of players to be with the Patriots for all of their Super Bowl titles.
Underwood, well known for his high-top fade haircut, appeared in six games for the Patriots during 2011, catching three passes for 30 yards.
This isn't the first time Underwood was released by the Patriots. He was cut the day before the Super Bowl in a move that caught most of the sports world by surprise. New England used the open roster spot to sign defensive end Alex Silvestro from the practice squad, but Silvestro did not play a single down in the Super Bowl. Underwood re-signed with the club two days after the Super Bowl.
The New England Patriots have announced their dates for rookie and veteran minicamps. In addition, the team also announced dates for organized team activities.
The Patriots' rookies are set to have their minicamp on May 10-12 while the veterans' camp is set for June 12-14.
Here's a list of the dates for the Patriots' organized team activities:
May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31, June 4-5, June 7-8
The Patriots have plenty of expectations and unfinished business after last season's Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. One player who has said fairly recently that he probably will skip minicamp is wide receiver Wes Welker. Welker and the team have not been able to come to terms on a new deal after the Pats slapped the franchise tag on the wide receiver this offseason.
New England had a strong draft by almost all accounts highlighted by the selections of Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. Bill Belichick always seems to have twice the picks of everyone else and this year was no exception.
The Patriots also had a pretty strong free agency period so it's easy to see why Thorman has them ranked so highly once again after their Super Bowl defeat.
Of course, as long as Tom Brady and Belichick are around, this team will always be a playoff caliber unit with a chance to have confetti raining down on them in February.
If New England does in fact have an improved defense, they might even move up in the rankings sooner rather than later.
The New England Patriots offseason hasn't been as dramatic as their AFC East rival opponents the New York Jets, but it soon might make a run at it. That's because wide receiver Wes Welker apparently isn't happy about his new franchise tag and is considering sitting out mandatory minicamps to get a long-term deal done.
"I’m thinking I’m probably not going to (attend mandatory workouts), but things could change," Welker said. "We’ll just see how it all plays out."
Welker, who's set to make $9.5 million from the franchise tag, said this during a radio interview with ESPN Boston Radio. The Pro Bowl wide out said he understands how the Patriots franchise works, especially under head coach Belichick, but admitted he hasn't been a part of voluntary workouts because of the contract situation and could make the same stance come June 12, when mandatory workouts begin.
The Patriots and Welker have until mid-July to workout a new deal.
"No, I'm just rocking and rolling," the 33-year-old Light told reporters when asked about his possible retirement. "I've been in Ohio, working on some stuff for the [Matt Light] Foundation. We have a youth turkey hunt coming up. Other than that it's been pretty quiet."
"No, not really. Although my wife has a pretty good idea on what is going to happen with me," Light said, winking at the reporter. "She keeps me pretty busy."
"You know, at this point, I'm just kind of taking it day by day," Light said. "We'll see how it goes. Sooner than later."
Light has started the last 11 seasons, all with the Patriots.
Following the NFL's release of the 2012 schedule as a whole, we've isolated just the Sunday Night Football games for you.
The Patriots will play twice on Sunday night this season. In Week 3 they will visit the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of last season's thrilling AFC Championship Game. In Week 15 the Pats will play host to Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers in what should be another exciting matchup of two NFL powerhouses from last season.
New England will also get the primetime treatment from NBC's crew for their Thanksgiving matchup against the always-entertaining New York Jets.
Here's the complete 2012 Sunday Night Football Schedule:
Week 2: Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 3: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 7: Philadelphia Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 8: New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos
Week 10: Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears
Week 11: Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 12: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (Thanksgiving)
Week 12: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Week 13: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Week 14: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots
Week 16: San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets
The NFL released the 2012 schedule at 7 p.m. on Tuesday on NFL Network and NFL.com. We've blocked out just the Monday Night Football games to give you the schedule for those games.
The New England Patriots drew just one Monday night matchup this year. In Week 14 they will host the Houston Texans in Gillette Stadium in what could be an intriguing matchup. The Texans are looking to improve past the second round of the playoffs without the likes of superstar defensive end Mario Williams, now with the Buffalo Bills.
Here's the full Monday Night Football schedule (all games on ESPN):
Week 5: Texans vs. Jets
Week 6: Broncos vs. Chargers
Week 7: Lions vs. Bears
Week 11: Bears vs. 49ers
Week 12: Panthers vs. Eagles
Week 14: Texans vs. Patriots
Week 15: Jets vs. Titans
Week 16: Falcons vs. Lions (Saturday)
The NFL released the 2012 NFL schedule on NFL Network and NFL.com at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
All NFL teams will play on Thursday night this season in one way or another. The Patriots will not be part of Thursday Night Football this season. However, the Pats do have a Thursday night game on Thanksgiving Day against the Jets at 8:20 p.m.
Here's the Thursday Night Football Schedule:
The New England Patriots released their 2012 NFL Schedule on Tuesday night after it was revealed by NFL Network and NFL.com at 7 p.m.
Here's how the Pats 2012 schedule stacks up:
Week 1, September 9th, 1:00 p.m.: Patriots at Titans (CBS)
Week 2, September 16th, 1:00 p.m.: Cardinals at Patriots (FOX)
Week 3, September 23rd, 8:20 p.m.: Patriots at Ravens (NBC)
Week 4, September 30th, 1:00 p.m.: Patriots at Bills (CBS)
Week 5, October 7th, 4:15 p.m., Broncos at Patriots (CBS)
Week 6, October 14th, 4:05 p.m.: Patriots at Seahawaks (CBS)
Week 7, October 21st, 4:15 p.m.: Jets at Patriots (CBS)
Week 8, October 28th, 1:00 p.m.: Patriots at Rams (CBS)
Week 9 BYE
Week 10, November 11th, 1:00 p.m.: Bills at Patriots (CBS)
Week 11, November 18th, 1:00 p.m.: Colts at Patriots (CBS)
Week 12, November 22nd, 8:20 p.m.: Patriots at Jets (NBC)
Week 13, December 2nd, 1:00 p.m.: Patriots at Dolphins (CBS)
Week 14, December 10th, 8:30 p.m.: Texans at Patriots (ESPN)
Week 15, December 16th, 8:20 p.m.: 49ers at Patriots (NBC)
Week 16, December 23rd, 1:00 p.m.: Patriots at Jaguars (CBS)
Week 17, December 30th, 1:00 p.m.: Dolphins at Patriots (CBS)
The Pats only have to make one cross-country trip this season to play Seattle. They get to host the 49ers, the defending NFC West champ. The Bye week comes in about the middle of the season which gives New England an opportunity to break the season up into two chunks. The Patriots will play the Jets on Thanksgiving Day and have a Monday Night Football game against the Texans on December 10.
One of the most anticipated off season days of the NFL is here, as 2012-13 schedule will be release on Tuesday during a NFL Network special starting at 7 p.m. ET. NFL Network and NFL.com will be the first source to have the New England Patriots week-by-week schedule, which will also be broken down during a three-hour ESPN SportsCenter special also starting at 7 p.m.
So far, the only known regular-season contest is the season-opening game between the defending Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants and NFC East rival the Dallas Cowboys which be played Wednesday, Sept. 5, starting at 8:30 p.m.
The remaining 17-week slate will be revealed and broken down by NFL Network and ESPN. If you'd like a complete look at the known Patriots' opponents for this upcoming season, click here.
Welker was given the Franchise Tag by the Patriots earlier in the offseason. So far, no long-term deal has been reached with New England. Welker has not decided if he will attend the offseason program.
"Still looking to try and decide on that," Welker said. "I'm in no rush and we'll figure it out. Me and my agent, we're all on the same page with everything. Just looking to move forward and looking forward to the 2012 season."
Welker's franchise tender for the 2012 season would be worth $9.5 million. NFL teams have the middle of July to complete a deal with franchise tagged players such as Welker.
Welker caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Pats last season.
The Patriots' opponents are already known, just not the order they will be played in. The TV schedule and times for the games will also come out tomorrow.
The Pats were 13-3 in 2011 and finished last season with two straight home games and had three of the last five games of the season in Foxborough. Despite that ending, New England traveled 14,610 miles during the 2011 season. Will they have fewer miles to go in 2012?
The 35-year old had been contemplating retirement, but told reporters Thursday during an appearance at Hasbro Children's Hospital that he wants to play another year.
"I am training to come back to play," Faulk said. "But it's not up to me. It's up to the team and everything, but I am planning on coming back to play, so we'll see what happens."
"It took me awhile to make a decision. But I felt like I needed this time. I've been playing professional football for a very long time," Faulk said. "To have that opportunity, to be able to play again, I wanted to give myself that time to think about, and I thought about it, and I knew where my heart is, and it's always been there."
Faulk has played 13 seasons, all with the Patriots. He appeared in seven games last season, rushing 17 times for 57 yards.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio's most recent salary cap numbers, the New England Patriots are in the top half of teams when it comes to money to spend. According to Florio's numbers, the Patriots are $9.9 million under the salary cap, which makes them the richest team with less than $10 million to spend. They do have the most money to spend in the AFC East, as the Bills are $9.7 million under the cap, the Jets are $7.6 under and the Dolphins are $6.4 million under.
The Patriots have been fairly active in free agency, re-signing their own players and bringing new players in. They have re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch, guard Dan Connolly, linebacker Tracy White and others and they have brought in wide receivers Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez, cornerback Will Allen and others. They have also lost a few players including Mark Anderson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The NFL recently passed several rule changes, but one specifically dealt with instant replay. While the result of reviews will remain the call of the referee on the field, that referee will also be charged with determining whether or not a turnover occurred on a play. Yes, all turnovers will be subject to a booth review using replay.
Former Patriots player Steve DeOssie stopped by CSNNE's Sports Tonight to talk about the issue. DeOssie's main concern is that the NFL refuses to hire and train full-time referees on the field and employees to put in the replay booths. As far as reviewing the turnovers goes, DeOssie feels that is just another sign that the league is catering to the fans to make sure there is as little controversy about results as possible.
The 2012 NFL Draft order was officially released Tuesday, and the New England Patriots may not have the as many overall picks as usual, however, they will have a good amount of quality selections. Currently, the Patriots are one of three teams that will selection twice in the first round, and then will also selection twice in the second.
Of course, history has taught us that head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office likes to trade those top picks for more later-round selections.
Below is the complete list of the Patriots' 2012 Draft Picks, while a rundown of New England's mock drafts can be found here:
The Patriots were briefly up to three fullbacks when Tony Fiammetta was signed earlier in the day on Monday.
Polite (6-0, 245), was undrafted out of Pittsburgh in 2004. He had played for the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins before being picked up by New England last season. Polite was primarily used as a blocking fullback. He appeared in just one regular season game for the Pats in 2011, but did not record any stats. Polite did appear in all three postseason games for New England last season. In the Patriots' 45-10 Divisional Round win over the Broncos, Polite had one carry for three yards.
It is not known at this time what position Simms has been hired to fill in the Patriots' organzation. Simms has no previous coaching experience.
After playing for the University of Texas, Simms was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Simms played for the Buccaneers, Titans and Broncos during his eight-year career. His main season as a starter came in 2005 for Tampa Bay.
Simms' father Phil Simms played for the New York Giants from 1979-1993 while Pats head coach Bill Belichick was an assistant (1979-1990).
As reported earlier in the week, New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocino was expected to return for the 2012 season, however, it seems that his price is coming at a reduced rate. According to ESPN.com's NFL insider Adam Schafter via Twitter, Ochocino has restructured his deal to be more friendly for the Patriots.
Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco restructured his contract for coming season, lowering base salary from $3 million to $1 million. Back to NE.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 25, 2012
Last offseason, Ochocinco was traded to the Patriots from the Cincinnati Begals after the former Pro Bowler restructured his deal. His time spent with the Super Bowl-runner ups wasn't a productive one, as Ochocinco caught a career-low 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown. It was only his fourth season without reaching 1,000 yards receiving during his 11 years in the NFL.
"Ochocinco will be back in New England next year," Schefter says in the video above. "They believe that he'll spend this offseason immersing himself in the playbook, familiarizing himself with the Patriots' offense. They're going to bring all these wide receivers in and let them compete in training camp and the best receivers will play."
The six-time Pro Bowler was ineffective, if not irrelevant in New England last season. He caught a career-low 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown. It was only his fourth season without reaching 1,000 yards receiving during his 11 years in the NFL.
Ocho played on 354 total snaps last season, Playoffs and Super Bowl included. His PFF score for the season was -0.3. For the 2008 season PFF graded Chad as the eight-best pass-catcher receiver in the league.
Brady, who signed a four-year, $72 million extension with New England at the beginning of the 2010 season, was scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.75 million this on top of a $6 million roster bonus and a $250,000 workout bonus.
Under his newly agreed up parameters, Brady will make just $950,000 in a fully guaranteed base salary for 2012, with the remainder of his money owed converted to a $10.8 million signing bonus to be prorated over the final three years of his contract.
The Patriots were not in cap peril prior to Brady's restructuring, and have already made a number of free agent signings this offseason.
Logan Mankins underwent surgery on a torn ACL following the New England Patriots' Super Bowl loss in February, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. The starting Pats left guard apparently played with the injury without even realizing it. Now he hopes to be ready for training camp in late July.
The news makes sense in context with the Pats signing Robert Gallery away from Seattle earlier Monday. It was unclear initially why New England needed more bodies at what had been considered a position of strength. Though Gallery has obviously had his trials in the NFL, he should prove valuable as a versatile backup, especially if Mankins misses any part of the regular season.
Makins reportedly injured his knee on Dec. 24 in a 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins. He missed just one game, the regular season finale, before starting throughout the playoffs and the Super Bowl. In true Bill Belichick fashion, we are only hearing of this over a month after the fact.
Reunited at last. Brandon Lloyd and Josh McDaniels are finally back together, as the veteran wideout signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots late Saturday night to rejoin McDaniels, his former coach and the Patriots' offensive coordinator.
The contract details for the recently acquired Brandon Lloyd are in, and the former Broncos and Rams receiver will be paid $12 million over the next three years by the Patriots, according to NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora.
The immediate reaction to Lloyd's deal is that the Patriots got major value during a time when receivers were flying off of the open market for big money. Vincent Jackson was recently inked to a five-year, $55.55 million deal with Tampa Bay, and Detroit extended Calvin Johnson's contract with new guarantees of $50 million.
Lloyd may have been hurt by a lack of suitors, as many have assumed that he would end up in New England with his former offensive coordinator and head coach, Josh McDaniels. McDaniels has reassumed the post of offensive coordinator in New England, and has maximized Lloyd's skill set in the three seasons that he coached him.
Brandon Lloyd, widely acclaimed as the top free agent wide receiver on the market, has reportedly signed with the New England Patriots. Lloyd, 30, has 4,784 career receiving yards and 31 touchdown receptions in 112 games.
Plenty of questions face Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots as free agency officially begins on Tuesday. The Patriots have 18 free agents of their own to make decisions on, including BenJarvus Green Ellis and Andre Carter.
The New England Patriots certainly possess a high-powered offense, but they've missed a downfield threat wide receiver since trading Randy Moss early during the 2010 season. Could Brandon Lloyd be the answer?
"Very interested. And like I said earlier, I admire Coach Bill (Belichick), I admire Tom Brady, I admire how they run things over there. For any receiver to be considered to come in and play on the New England Patriots is gonna be excited just because of the history of success."
The Patriots hired Josh McDaniels for his second stint as the team's offensive coordinator, which could help lure Lloyd; the two forged a relationship when both were in Denver.
Lloyd totaled 70 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Peyton Manning's release from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday didn't come as a surprise. Of course, there are quite a few suitors for the all-time great quarterback, but Manning's best landing spot would be with the New York Jets.
Now that the combine has passed and draft experts have had time to digest what they saw from each of the 325 invites, it's time for another round of mock drafts to quench our draft needs leading up to late April.
Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay -- the lead draft analysts for ESPN -- have each recently released their third mock drafts, and both foresee the Patriots looking defensive with each of their first round picks.
Here's a look at each of their projections and the corresponding analyses given:
27. Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
I had Reyes to the Patriots with their other first-round pick in a previous mock, and he sticks, albeit a little higher, this time around. The Patriots know they have to get better along the defensive front, and that could come via free agency (Mario Williams?). Still, I'd be surprised if they don't target it in the draft, even though Bill Belichick never fails to make moves and surprise during the draft. Reyes provides an active run-stuffer up front, a guy that can eat up blocks and free up rushers.
31. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
There's no question Jenkins comes with baggage, but without it you're talking about a player in the conversation 20 spots higher on the board. If you like your locker room and feel like you can keep him on track, this is the kind of guy you take a risk on at a big need position. I still think corner is one for the Patriots, who could obviously look at pass-rush help here. But put a talent like Jenkins in a culture like New England's, and you could have a steal.
27. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus is not a great athlete, but he is a good fit at end in a four-man front, which is something the Patriots are using much more often these days. New England needs pass-rush help, and Mercilus has a nonstop motor and a knack for making big plays (FBS-best nine forced fumbles in 2011).
31. Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Still could show more consistency, but if the Patriots get their pass-rusher at No. 27 and there are no viable options available at wide receiver, he would offer an upgrade over DTs Kyle Love and Ron Brace in four-man fronts. Playing alongside Vince Wilfork would help Still early in his career, and if he learns to play with better pad level he could become an impact defensive tackle.
Wes Welker was officially given the Franchise Tag by the New England Patriots on Monday.
In a statement on Monday, the Patriots said about Welker
"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come." (via ESPN Boston)
Welker's five-year deal is up and the team placing the Franchise Tag could be a move to give both sides more time to come to an agreement. The tag could be worth $9.4 million. Welker reportedly turned down a two-year deal worth $8 million.
Welker has been the leading receiver in the NFL in receptions since he signed with New England in 2007. He is also only one of two players to have two seasons of 120+ receptions.
The Houston Texans recently signed Arian Foster to a monster deal, which should help their running game for the next five years. But the signing could also help to push defensive end Mario Williams out the door, which begs the question:
If Williams becomes a free agent, would the New England Patriots pursue him?
Sports Illustrated's Peter King believes they should:
I think I'm more convinced than ever: The Patriots, who need major help on defense, should be at the front of the pursuit pack for Mario Williams, assuming the Texans don't put the franchise tag on him.
The Patriots have rarely made big-name splashes in free agency, but acquiring Williams makes sense on many levels. New England's defense struggled in 2011 and has not been stout for years. Williams, if healthy, would immediately become New England's best pass rusher, and he possesses the versatility Bill Belichick craves.
After much uncertainty and confusion, it appears the drama over New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker's free agency became a lot clearer late Sunday night.
According to Greg A. Bedard and Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, the Patriots are expected to slap the franchise tag on Wes Welker just before the Monday afternoon deadline a league source close to them said.
With the new NFL collective bargaining agreement in place, franchised players are expected to receive close to $9.4 million next season with a one-year contract. Official terms on the franchise tag have not yet bee released, however.
The team reportedly offered Welker and his representatives a two-year, fully guaranteed contract for $16 million, but the proposal was turned down by the pro bowl wide receiver.
The team will have until 3:59 p.m. Monday do decide whether or not they will franchise Welker or another one of their free agents. New England is not required to use the tag. We'll know more in a few hours, but as of right now, it appears that Welker will be the Patriots' "franchise player" for the 2012 season.
Kevin Faulk, the venerable New England Patriots running back who has been with the team since he was drafted out of LSU in 1999, is not ready to retire just yet.
After serving pancakes for National Pancake Day at Children's Hospital Boston on Tuesday, Faulk told reporters:
"Of course, I'd like to be involved in the New England Patriots; let's keep it at that."
"I've been here 13 years playing and if I happen to retire or they don't happen to bring me back, I'm still going to be a New England Patriot. . . . I'm very blessed and fortunate that I have a few options." (via Boston Herald)
Faulk had been a vital player on three of the Patriots' Super Bowl-winning squads but was inactive in last season's Super Bowl against the Giants. An ACL tear from the previous season limited him to just seven games, 17 carries and 7 receptions this past season.
With NFL free agency starting in less than two weeks, the rumor mill is starting to churn. According to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots aren't an exception. Some whispers are starting to emerge about their potential interest in defensive end Mario Williams.
Williams might get the franchise tag from Houston, but if he doesn't he'll immediately become the most sought after free agent (along with perhaps Peyton Manning?).
For New England, the move would be a no-brainer. Bill Belichick has done a nice job of keeping some cap space and could use it to rebuild his mediocre defense. Instead of having to use a high draft pick on an outside linebacker, Belichick could move swiftly and take an established player.
The Texans will want to keep him, but at what price? After Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, rookie Brooks Reed filled in very nicely and helped injury-plagued Houston go on a nice playoff run. Nobody is suggesting here that Reed will ever be Williams, but maybe the Texans take the money they were going to pay Williams and invest it in a wide receiver.
Another thing to like is Williams' versatility. Belichick loves players who can move around and fit multiple schemes. Nobody does that like Williams, who can play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 end or standing up in the 3-4.
Mario Williams may not ever see free agency. However, if he does, New England will be a strong suitor.
In the latest mock draft by Peter Schrager, New England uses a first round pick on each side of the ball.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright is mocked to the Patriots with their first pick at No. 27. Wright made beautiful music with Robert Griffin III at Baylor all year, but didn't have a great combine showing.
He looks incredibly fast when playing (isn't that the most important thing?) but timed out slow in the 40-yard dash. It will merit watching how Wright fairs at his pro day in March.
With its second first round selection, Schrager has New England taking Zach Brown, a linebacker out of North Carolina. Brown would potentially fill a need at pass-rusher off the edge.
Andre Carter and Mark Anderson did an adequate job last year, but aren't the prototypical specialist. Brown has exceptional speed and burst, making him an ideal candidate for the job. He also can play the run, showcased by his 105 tackles last season at Chapel Hill.
The Patriots are in an interesting situation. With two picks so high, they could package them and trade up for one great player. However, they're more likely to trade back and acquire more picks if Bill Belichick's history tells us anything.
Chad Ochocinco has been approached by the New England Patriots to restructure his contract, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. After catching just 15 passes for 276 yards last season, the veteran receiver is likely to take a pay cut to give the Pats more room under the salary. Ochocinco is currently set to make $3.1 million next season in New England.
Ochocinco signed a 3-year, $11.5 million deal with the Patriots in July of 2011 to help facilitate a trade away from the Cincinnati Begals. Since, it's fair to say he hasn't quite lived up to his price tag. If a mutual deal can be struck, Ochocinco would be able to stay with the Super Bowl runners-up, and the Pats would gain more flexibility to re-sign free agent priorities like Wes Welker, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Shaun Ellis.
Ochocinco could still be headed for an outright release, especially if he pushes back against a pay cut. It's difficult to see him suddenly regaining his prime considering he will be 34 next season.
Yesterday, we heard word that while discussions were ongoing between the New England Patriots and Wes Welker, there had yet to be a breakthrough in talks. Now, it appears the Patriots fans shouldn't worry about Welker going anywhere else--at least next season.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Patriots will likely use the franchise tag on Wes Welker. Sources tell Schefter that the Patriots will continue talking to Welker, but they won't hesitate to tag him if there is no deal in place before the March 5 deadline. The franchise tag has an estimated value of $9.5 million for one year.
Patriots are likely to place their franchise tag wide receiver Wes Welker. Franchise WR tag is $9.5 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 26, 2012
Welker has been a tremendous asset to this Patriots offense since he joined the team in 2007. Since coming to New England, Welker has racked up 554 receptions for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent surgery earlier in February to repair torn ankle ligaments suffered during the Super Bowl, might not be healed in time to participate when Patriots offseason workouts begin in mid-April.
The Pro-Bowler appeared at an AHL hockey game on Friday night, where he told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that he's unsure whether his ankle will be mended by April.
"I can’t wait to get back,’’ he said. "I mean, I can’t do anything on my feet right now, but I’m working on my upper body and doing my core workouts because you’re just so motivated. Losing that last game, you want to keep on grinding so when it does happen again you can get the win.’’
Gronkowski drew some criticism after being filmed dancing at a nightclub hours after the Super Bowl loss, but said he was just blowing off steam with his close friends and family.
"It was a great season overall,’’ Gronkowski said. "The whole team gave everything they had - every ounce of sweat, every ounce of blood. I gave everything I had from the [AFC Championship game against Baltimore] to the New York Giants game. You just give every single ounce of sweat.
"I mean, it just happened I was with my family and my friends, people I hadn’t seen for over a year, and we were just having a fun time together. Obviously, the emotion . . . you don’t want to lose that game. You don’t play that long and get to the Super Bowl and want to lose. Obviously, that was an emotional game.’’
As they always do during the offseason, the New England Patriots appear to be taking their time with signing free agents, even when one of the most key players to the team's success in 2011 set to hit the open market.
All-Pro wide receiver Wes Welker could command a high dollar contract this offseason, but has been focused on staying in the spot where his career took off, in New England. Welker put up another fantastic season with the Patriots with 122 receptions for 1,569 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. However, it appears that things aren't going to swell in the opening stages of contract negotiations.
According to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, the two sides continue discussing a possible long term contract that would keep the 31-year-old-to-be in New England for many years, but there isn't significant progress being made. More from the Rap Sheet:
The talks do not appear to have gone smoothly. Discussions between his representatives and the Patriots have not yet included a breakthrough, a source said. (via Boston Herald)
Despite the rumored long term extension talks, sources are still adamant that the Patriots will most likely end up applying the franchise tag on Welker, which would only bring the star receiver back for one more season on a high salary base.
If I'm the Patriots, I try and lock Welker up this offseason for two reasons. One, he'll likely give them a little bit of leeway in discussions because of his desire to stay here. However, the biggest reason is because he's only a small fish in a big pound of receivers this offseason. Snag him now while his value is lower than it will be next season, where he could be the only headline making receiver on the open market.
Patriots defensive end Andre Carter was signed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots for the 2011 season after spending the previous 10 years with the 49ers and Redskins. In his one year with the Patriots, Carter led the team in quarterback pressures with 22 and tied for the lead in sacks with 10 before his year was cut short in Week 15 with a season-ending quad injury.
According to WEEI.com's Christopher Price, Carter's agent, Carl Poston, says that his client is ahead of schedule in rehab and would like to return to the Patriots for the 2012 season.
"He's rehabbing. He's in good shape. He wants to play," Poston said of Carter, who will turn 33 in May. "We're just kind of monitoring and tracking his injury, and when it's time to talk they're going to let me know. I just called them to see what their plans were, to see if they were interested, and I would have been surprised if they said they weren't interested. Obviously, they said they were interested, but it's a little premature, a little early, and I understood that. In terms of being a professional and doing my job, I just wanted to kind of call them and see where we stood."
Poston went on to say that everything went the way that Carter wanted it to go, except for his season-ending injury, of course, and that if he were healthy throughout the playoffs, he could have made a difference in the Super Bowl because of how close the game was.
Nick Caserio, director of player personnel for the personnel for the New England Patriots, spoke to reporters at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday. When asked about negotiations with unrestricted free agent Wes Welker, Caserio didn't reveal much, except to say that the two sides were still in in negotiations.
"We've had conversations with our free agents at different points, whether it was in the fall. We'll continue that dialogue," Caserio said. "We have until March 13 until free agency begins. So we'll do our due diligence, we'll go through the process and see where we end up."
Caserio's reply remained in line with the Pats' usual tight-lipped style. Re-signing Welker should be a priority, however, consider how prolific he has been over the years. That, or the Pats are simply biding their time until they throw the franchise tag on the receiver and call it a day. Either way, it is highly unlikely that Welker simply falls by the wayside.
For more on the Patriots, head over to Pats Pulpit.
Wright (6-4, 295) was signed by the Patriots after he was undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2005. Wright played in just one game last season before being sidelined with a concussion and being placed on injured reserve. During his seven seasons with New England, Wright made 133 tackles (99 solo), 15 sacks and forced four fumbles in 81 games (22 starts). The release of Wright could mean the end of his career. The defensive lineman has had both of his last two seasons ended by concussions.
Ohrnberger (6-2, 300) was selected by the Patriots out of Penn State in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played in just five games (no starts) for New England in three seasons.
The New England Patriots lost its tight ends coach, Brian Ferentz, as he left to coach with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The 2011 New England Patriots made it all the way to Super Bowl XLVI, but like in Super Bowl XLII, they lost to the Giants. The team as a whole played very well, especially on offense, but there are major holes on the roster that the Patriots need to fill if they want to have another shot at the big game in 2012.
The Pats managed to sack the opposing quarterback 40 times throughout the 2011 regular season which put them in the middle of the pack in the league but they could have used more considering their secondary was one of the worst in the NFL. A lot of pressure on the quarterback helps limit any weaknesses in a secondary and CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco feels that the Patriots should look to boost their pass rushing ability in free agency.
In an article in which he listed a free agent that would fit well on each team, he said that the Patriots and defensive end Cliff Avril would be a good fit.
This is a team that needs to get better at rushing the passer and Avril is a young player who is coming off an 11-sack season. They have to work on fixing that defense.
In SB Nation's latest mock draft, the Patriots select a defensive end, Fletcher Cox, at No. 27, and a cornerback, Alfonzo Dennard at no. 31. It's unlikely that the team could acquire Avril because Detroit will likely use the franchise tag on him if they feel that they may not be able to work out a long-term deal.
For more on the Patriots, heat to Pats Pulpit.
In news that will shock no one, NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said today in a conference call with the media that the New England Patriots should find help for their defense with their two first-round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Mayock was asked specifically if there was anything from their Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants that reflected draft day needs. Mayock responded with the bigger picture, begging the questioner to look at the complete body of the Patriots’ work from this season.
And just what kind of defensive help did Mayock suggest for the Pats?
I was kind of happy to see the return of defense in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, but let’s be honest about it, there are a lot of teams, including the Patriots, that want a track meet every week, which means you have to rush the quarterback and you have to defend on the back end. I think those are the two areas of need that kind of cry out for some help in the draft for the Patriots.
As far as offensive help, Mayock suggested the Patriots find a vertical threat for their offense, a complement to what Bill Belichick has done with Wes Welker and his two tight ends.
Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens? Moss has stated his intentions of coming out of retirement, and naturally, he has been linked to the New England Patriots. Which wide receiver -- Moss, Ocho or Owens -- would fit best with the Patriots?
The New England Patriots have a lot of offseason questions to answer, and one of them has to deal with the future of unrestricted-free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker. Well, according to the Boston Globe's Greg Bedard, who joined a Miami sports-talk radio show, Armando and Perkins, Monday, the Patriots are planning to use the franchise tag on the Pro-Bowl receiver.
"He's going to be tagged, that I know for pretty much certain," said Bedard, who clarified that it's the franchise tag the Pats would use. "If they don't, he's going to sign with the Jets and they're going to have to try and cover him twice a year, or the Dolphins ... They want him back. I don't see why things would change now, but the way it stood before the Super Bowl, they're going to tag him."
Bedard also mentioned what Welker could do if the franchise tag is slapped on him.
Bedard said once the franchise tag goes on Welker he can see, "another Logan Mankins situation where Welker doesn't report until Week 8 of next season."
Last season, Welker caught a league-best 122 receptions, but was one of the goats in the Patriots 21-17 Super Bowl loss to the Giants, as he failed to haul in a catchable pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter.
From more on the Patriots, visit Pats Pulpit.
After being defeated by the Giants once again in a Super Bowl, the Patriots will have prepare for another Super Bowl run, hopefully resulting in a win. Jared Stegall gives you the low-down on what the Pats should do during Free Agency and the Draft.
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft went on ESPN Boston Radio to discuss Rob Gronkowski's post-game partying, Wes Welker's contract and getting started on the 2012 season.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski spent his Thursday night courtside watching the Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers, bathing in a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd and listening to Kobe Bryant's pitch that the tight end should join the Philadelphia Eagles.
Friday morning, Gronkowski reportedly underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his injured ankle.
A source told Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullen that Gronkowski's surgery was successful and he is expected to take 10 weeks to recover.
After mustering just two catches for 26 yards and zero touchdowns in a 21-17 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, Gronkowski made noise while being caught on camera dancing the night away at a nightclub. Just hours after the Super Bowl defeat, Gronkowski and teammate Matt Light were shirtless dancing at a bar.
Furious callers to radio stations WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub questioned Gronkowski's commitment, but the fact that he played the Super Bowl on an ankle that needs 10 weeks of rehabilitation should go a long way toward repairing whatever bits of his reputation were lost on that dance floor.
The following is a full transcript of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's season-ending address following the team's 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Courtesy of ESPN Boston.
"I want to take this opportunity just to say thank you to all the media here who has done such a great job covering us all year. Also to the fans, when we dedicated this season to my sweetheart, I met with the players and coaches and asked them to do everything they could do to make this season special in her honor. The fact we had 18 undrafted free agents, and we're changing the team, and we started our 5-3, I think our fans were just terrific the way they stayed with us.
"I must tell you, the strength of spirit that I saw with this team is unlike any other team I've seen in my 18 years in the NFL. I think that sense of spirit was ignited by our fans, the way they supported our team and also the way they supported our family. That's something I'm forever going to be grateful for, because I think this was a memorable season and one that I won't forget for a long time.
"You have a six percent chance of going to the Super Bowl and a 3 percent chance of winning. I think the coaching staff and players really did a remarkable job this year.
"I thought back, this is our 18th year of ownership of the team, and in those 18 years, we've had two seasons that are losing seasons - 1995 when we went 6-10 and 2000 when we went 5-11. In the next 16 years, we were able to have winning [or .500] seasons - we went to seven AFC Championship games and six Super Bowls. I think what's happened is that we've set a level of expectation here that is high. I'm very happy with that and it's the way we run all of our businesses.
"I'm actually very excited about the core group of players we have on this team, about the young players that have come in, and I'm also excited that we have two 1s and two 2s in this upcoming draft. So I really want to say to those fans who supported us all year and who came out even now, even though we arrived early, it's just unbelievable to me. I felt it all week. It's the first time I've ever spent eight days in Indianapolis and there were a lot of wonderful Patriots fans there, and they've continued to support our team and our family.
"We're not going to change the way we run things. Look, we're all disappointed in what happened. The beauty of the NFL, and, I can say this as chair of the broadcast committee, the reason the networks pay us the large fees they do is that no one knows what is going to happen in a game -- head coach, quarterback, owner, d-linemen. No one knows. It's two or three plays that make the difference but makes the game so exciting.
"I'm very proud of this team and what they accomplished this year and I will forever remember the special effort and support that the fans have given to my family and to this team. And I thank you all for the coverage."
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