The New England Patriots have been linked to Lamar Jackson leading up to the NFL Draft, and it sounds like they could be legitimately interested in taking the former Louisville star if he’s still available late in the first round.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Patriots hosted Jackson for an official pre-draft visit earlier this month, and they came away “intrigued and impressed.”
Relatively quietly, the #Patriots hosted #Louisville QB Lamar Jackson on a Top 30 pre-draft visit, sources say. The visit, which took place 2 weeks ago, left the organization “intrigued and impressed” with Heisman Trophy winner. They may have the option at No. 23.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2018
Bill Belichick almost never does what people expect him to do on draft day, which is why it seems like there is too much information leaking out about Jackson for the Patriots to actually be interested in him. Still, it’s worth noting that the Heisman Trophy winner could fall to New England when they pick at No. 23 (acquired from the Rams in the Brandin Cooks trade), whereas the other top QB prospects will likely go early in the first round.
Tom Brady might not be happy if the Patriots use a first-round pick on a quarterback, but he did give Jackson a flattering shout-out on social media recently. Perhaps Jackson will be learning under the five-time Super Bowl champion in the near future.
- Filed Under:
- College Football
The NFL trade market has been unusually active this offseason, and there’s no reason to believe that’s going to change during the 2018 NFL Draft. In fact, there is already an abundance of speculation regarding a series of potential trades that may or may not come to fruition.
Most of the trade rumors orbit around two or three teams, but as we’ve seen in draft’s of the past, just about anyone is capable of making a shocking deal to either move up, move down or acquire an unexpected talent.
Here’s a look at 10 teams most likely to make a trade during the 2018 NFL Draft.
10. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks represent an interesting potential trade partner given that they have no picks in rounds two or three. They do however, have the No. 18 overall pick in Round 1, which could be used to move back and acquire additional Day 2 picks. And given the complete overhaul in Seattle this offseason, there are more than a handful of needs that require immediate attention. And it’s not as if Pete Carroll & Co. are shy about trading down, having done exactly that in the past. But there is also the added element of safety Earl Thomas, who is currently skipping voluntary workouts and could be targeted by the Dallas Cowboys. There are any number of possibilities for the Seahawks, and the likelihood is that they won’t sit on their hands.
Reports of tension within the Patriots organization existed well before Malcolm Butler was shockingly benched for the entire Super Bowl, but Bill Belichick’s controversial decision may be the cause of much of the lingering drama in New England.
A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the Patriots expect both Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady to be back with the team in 2018. While speculation has been that the star players have stayed away from voluntary workouts because they are unhappy with their contract situations as well as Belichick not allowing them the freedom to train the way they want, Florio notes that the Butler decision could still be a factor.
Apart from Gronkowski’s satisfaction or lack thereof with his pay, there’s also a belief that Gronkowski, Brady, and other Patriots continue to be salty about the inexplicable — and still unexplained — benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. A full eleven weeks later, coach Bill Belichick still hasn’t shed any light on the decision to use Butler for only one special-teams play and to keep him on the bench even after the Philly offense shredded the New England defense enough to force a change to the dime package during a 30-minute halftime.
Brady is said to be focusing less on football this offseason than in years past as he spends more time with his family. Gronkowski hinted over the weekend that he will be back in 2018, but he is reportedly enjoying his time away from team-sponsored workouts.
You can understand why Patriots players may feel Belichick cost them a Super Bowl win, as Butler almost certainly could have made the difference in New England’s 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. And given the way Brady and other veterans publicly supported Butler after the game, it would not be shocking to find out that they are still angry with Belichick over it.
A lot has gone on within the New England Patriots organization over the past several months, and at times the drama has been difficult to follow. Fortunately, the internet has found a way to sum it all up in less than two minutes.
Danny Picard of “The Danny Picard Show” put together one of the most incredible WWE mashups you will ever see, and it really needs no introduction. If you want to know what is currently going on with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Bill Belichick and others, just enjoy this video:
— Danny Picard (@DannyPicard) April 20, 2018
Talk about absolute gold.
If you need more details, you can catch up on some of the Brady drama here and also check out the latest on Gronkowski and whether or not he is planning to play. But, really, Picard’s mashup is all you should need. That just about covers everything.
- New England Patriots
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has created the impression this offseason that he is strongly considering retirement, but it is starting to look more and more like his indecisiveness has everything to do with his contract situation.
Gronkowski is not expected to show up when the Patriots officially begin their offseason program on Monday. While it’s possible he is still deciding if he wants to play in 2018, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that Gronkowski’s refusal to commit is “about the money.” As Howe notes, Gronk already wanted a new contract before he revealed that he was contemplating retirement at the conclusion of Super Bowl LII. If he no longer wanted to play football, he probably would have decided that by now.
For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote on Monday that he believes Gronk’s absence from Day 1 of the offseason program is a “peaceful statement” that he wants more money, as the All-Pro tight end would be forfeiting a $250,000 bonus if he doesn’t attend 90 percent of the sessions.
Gronkowski’s base salary for 2018 is $8 million. That places him among the top-paid tight ends in the NFL, but it is $2 million less than the average Jimmy Graham is getting with the three-year, $30 million deal he signed with the Green Bay Packers. Plus, Gronk makes a bigger impact in the passing game than most of the league’s top receivers, and you have guys like TY Hilton and Doug Baldwin making $13 million and $11.5 million per year, respectively.
Last year, Gronk restructured his contract so that he had more than $5 million in incentives built in for 2017. He ended up earning all of them and making nearly $11 million, but he probably feels he should not have to deal with escalators in his contract going forward.
Gronkowski missed just one game due to injury last season, and he is said to be having some issues with Bill Belichick over training. All of that might factor into why he has not committed to playing in 2018, but a fatter contract could change his mindset in a hurry.
Tom Brady will not be present for the first official day of the New England Patriots’ offseason training program on Monday, but he has a good reason for that. The quarterback is currently in Qatar doing work with his charity and won’t be returning until Monday evening.
Once he’s back, Brady will resume his role of being the first one to the Patriots’ facility and taking part in almost all team-organized workouts, right? According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, not exactly.
Even after Tom Brady returns from Qatar, I do not anticipate he will be a regular participant in team’s offseason program. He plans to spend more time with family and body coach Alex Guerrero. Brady did miss parts of Pats’ offseason program in 08, 09 and 10 so not unprecedented.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) April 16, 2018
Brady may have missed parts of the offseason program in the past, but the circumstances are different this year. Given all the tension that exists within the Patriots organization (most of it seemingly stemming from Brady’s training methods), any absence will be viewed as the result of that. Brady knows that, so he can’t really skip workouts and expect fans and the media to read nothing into it.
In addition to the training issues, there is also the fact that Brady’s contract expires after next season. If he truly wants to play until he’s 45, that means he should be in line for an extension. The comments Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently made about Brady’s contract were a bit surprising, at the very least.
Former New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola suggested that his teammates were not happy to see cornerback Malcolm Butler benched in the Super Bowl.
Speaking to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Amendola, who has since joined the Miami Dolphins, hinted that he didn’t think much of the decision to keep Butler sidelined.
“I have my thoughts about it because I was out there putting my blood, sweat and tears out on the field that night, and one of our best players wasn’t on the field,” Amendola said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know why. I did ask, but I didn’t get any answers. I can’t make decisions like that, so I don’t necessarily worry about it, but I know Malcolm is a great player and he could have helped us win. For whatever reason, he wasn’t out there. He’s going to play more football in his career, and he’s going to be a great player for a long time.”
Amendola added that he sensed his teammates felt similarly.
“Yeah, I did, honestly,” Amendola said. “Nobody really got an explanation for it. He’s a brother of ours. He was a brother of ours that year. And I hate to see a guy who worked so hard throughout the season not get a chance to play in the biggest game of the year and really get no explanation for it. With that said, I don’t know how the business aspect went into that decision. I don’t know how the personal aspect went into that decision between him and Bill [Belichick]. But as a friend, I would have loved to see him on the field that day.”
It’s safe to say Patriots players were confused at the time and are still confused now. It’s very easy to see why. If a key player was held out of the biggest game of the season with no explanation, it’s probably going to frustrate his teammates.