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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Could Julian Edelman’s knee injury mean the end of his Patriots career?

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman played in just six games last season after suffering a knee injury, and the veteran receiver is still working to get back to 100 percent health. Unfortunately, he may not be able to in time for the 2021 season.

Edelman’s knee issue is one that has hampered him for two years and will likely force him to miss at least some of next season, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. A source familiar with Edelman’s injury said surgery can provide temporary relief but that Edelman may never be fully healthy again.

All indications are that Edelman is going to try to fight his way onto the field, but it is now fair to wonder if the New England Patriots can keep him. They have already handed out big free agent contracts to wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and they may add another player or two at the position in the draft.

Edelman’s base salary for 2021 is a reasonable $2.8 million, so there is no major risk to keeping him. However, the Patriots could free up roughly $3.5 million in salary cap space if they release or trade him.

There was talk before last season that the Patriots and Edelman may want to move on from one another with Tom Brady gone, but he’s still considered an important leader in New England. He remained committed to the team even without his best buddy on the roster, though he did have a funny take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl.

Edelman caught 100 passes in 2019, so he is still capable of producing if healthy. Bill Belichick will probably want to keep him around to help mentor the team’s young receivers, but the lingering knee issue could force the Patriots’ hand.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia via CC-by-SA 3.0

Did Bill Belichick bomb on key 2019 draft pick after ignoring Patriots scouts?

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have not performed all that well in the draft in recent years, which is one of the main reasons they had to spend so much money in free agency this offseason. One position Bill Belichick never seems to hit on is wide receiver, and that may be a result of his reluctance to listen to the team’s scouting department.

In his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said Belichick is taking a different approach with the draft this year. Breer said Belichick has previously left team personnel “feeling like they were actively cut out where other teams’ people weren’t.” One example of that came in 2019, when the Patriots used the 32nd overall pick on wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

According to Breer, some Patriots scouts felt Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown — both of whom were taken in the second round — were better prospects than Harry. Some of Belichick’s personnel people believed there were red flags with Harry, but Harry was impressive in his visit to New England and Belichick is friends with his Arizona State coach, Todd Graham.

In two seasons with the Patriots, Harry has 45 catches for 414 yards and just four touchdowns. He has missed a total of 11 games. Samuel has also battled injuries, but he’s been much more involved with the San Francisco 49ers than Harry has with New England. A.J. Brown is a star for the Tennessee Titans and one of the best receivers in football.

Perhaps that mistake and others have humbled Belichick a bit. Breer says Belichick is treating the 2021 draft as a “more collaborative effort” than years past. Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently described the team’s free agent spending spree as a “team effort on the part of our personnel department.” That may not have been a coincidence.

We all know the Patriots have their eye on one veteran quarterback, but it will be interesting to see if they are aggressive in addressing the position in the draft. If they are, that may be a sign that Belichick is giving his personnel department a stronger voice.

H/T Boston.com

Report: Patriots have not given up on Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Jimmy Garoppolo

The New England Patriots have been viewed as the most logical suitor for Jimmy Garoppolo should the San Francisco 49ers decide to trade him, but those rumors have cooled considerably in recent days. That does not mean Bill Belichick is ruling out bringing back his former quarterback.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini said on “Get Up!” Wednesday morning that she continues to hear the Patriots are interested in Garoppolo.

“I’ve talked to a bunch of people in the league about this, and enough people I trust have told me that the Patriots’ interest in Jimmy Garoppolo has been consistent,” Russini said, as transcribed by Bleacher Report’s Rob Goldberg. “This has got to be more San Francisco willing to make the deal and, of course, New England having the right amount of picks and money to get Jimmy to bring him back. And that’s really what it’s going to come down to.”

The 49ers moved up to No. 3 overall in the draft last week via a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins. While they are certain to draft a quarterback at that spot, they insist Garoppolo remains in their plans for 2021.

That could be more posturing than anything. Head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted this week that a Garoppolo trade remains a possibility if the Niners are blown away by an offer. It’s also worth noting that at least one report has claimed the Patriots are no longer pursuing a Garoppolo trade, but that might be gamesmanship from their side.

The 49ers clearly do not view Garoppolo as their long-term solution at QB. They may be leaning toward taking a big risk with the No. 3 pick, but they would not have given up so much to move up if they truly believed in Garoppolo. For that reason alone, a trade involving Jimmy G. cannot be ruled out.

New Patriots CB Jalen Mills freaked out when he met Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have shown a lot of players how highly they think of them with their free agent spending spree this offseason, but Jalen Mills is not letting his new contract go to his head. The veteran defensive back seems to be in disbelief that he now gets to play for arguably the greatest coach of all time.

Mills, who signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Patriots, told reporters recently about the first interaction he had with Bill Belichick. He said he was totally starstruck when he walked out of the cafeteria at Gillette Stadium and Belichick greeted him.

“I literally turned my back to him and I screamed out loud, like, ‘This is coach Belichick.’ Excuse my language, but like, ‘This is f—ing Coach Belichick.’ Like, I screamed it loud,” Mills recalled, via Justi Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “And then I turned back around and he was still just like monotone, like regular, just still having a casual conversation with me, when I’m freaking out, and I was like, ‘My fault, Coach. One more thing, I gotta cut you off. I don’t want to disrespect you, but Coach, you’re a legend to me. I’m happy to be here.’ He was like, ‘Same, man. Happy for you to be here. Can’t wait to get going and coach you up.’”

Mills is 26, which means he was around 7 years old when Belichick won his first Super Bowl with the Patriots. Mills also alluded to that.

“This is a guy who I’ve been watching since before I even started taking football serious,” Mills said.

A lot of players have been in the same position when they get to New England and meet Belichick and, previously, Tom Brady. The Patriots were dominant for so long that many of their current players grew up watching their dynasty as young children. Mills’ reaction to meeting Belichick was a great reminder of that.

While Mills may be in awe of Belichick’s accomplishments, he’ll quickly learn what an underrated sense of humor the legendary coach has.

Matt Patricia has taken on interesting new role with Patriots

Matt Patricia

Matt Patricia returned to the New England Patriots following his firing from the Detroit Lions. He apparently is taking on some interesting new duties since rejoining the team.

Patriots reporter Mike Reiss had a 10-item article on the Patriots that was published on Sunday morning. In one of the items, Reiss noted that Patricia is helping the Patriots with contract negotiations.

According to Reiss, “in recent weeks, [Patricia] has been helping finalize contracts (his name appears on some of them) with free agents and getting involved in negotiations in certain spots as a salesman of sorts.”

Patricia began as an offensive assistant with the Patriots in 2004 and worked his way up to defensive coordinator. He served in that capacity from 2012-2017 before leaving to take the Lions job. After a poor tenure as Detroit’s head coach, he returned as an assistant to head coach Bill Belichick. Bill’s son, Stephen, began working last year as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator of sorts. That meant Patricia did not have his old role waiting for him. However, Belichick apparently has found some new uses for his former longtime staffer.

We know some players did not have the greatest things to say after Patricia’s firing. Maybe his new role will suit him better.

Report: Patriots not pursuing Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Jimmy Garoppolo

The New England Patriots have been viewed as a logical fit for Jimmy Garoppolo should the San Francisco 49ers decide to move the quarterback, but apparently there is not going to be a trade between the two teams.

The Patriots are not pursuing a trade for Garoppolo, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz reports.

As Schultz notes, the Patriots do not currently have the salary cap space to take on Garoppolo’s contract. They entered the offseason with roughly $60 million in cap space, but they have chewed through most of that with their unprecedented free agent spending spree.

New England had roughly $12 million in cap space as of Sunday. Garoppolo’s base salary for 2021 is $24 million, and the Patriots will still need money to sign draft picks and make in-season moves.

Even if the Patriots were interested in bringing Garoppolo back, the 49ers insist they are not looking to trade him. The blockbuster draft pick swap they made indicates they are going to draft a quarterback, but they want to keep Garoppolo for now.

Report: Patriots still monitoring availability of Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

The New England Patriots don’t appear to have given up on their hope of bringing Jimmy Garoppolo back into the fold.

On Friday, Jeff Howe of The Athletic outlined how the San Francisco 49ers’ blockbuster trade for the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft makes the Patriots’ life more difficult. If the Patriots had hoped to draft a quarterback, the price to trade up rose significantly with the 49ers’ move. Plus, the chances of a quarterback dropping are significantly lower now that it looks like three will go in the first three picks, which was not previously the case.

The trade has, however, made the future of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo more murky. Howe reports that teams are skeptical of the Niners’ insistence that Garoppolo is not available for trade, and some think he will ultimately become available. Howe adds that the Patriots are monitoring Garoppolo’s availability, and would have done so even without the 49ers’ blockbuster trade.

The Patriots already re-signed Cam Newton, but the fact that they’re still assessing the market indicates that they’re not averse to finding an upgrade. They’ve been pretty clear about their interest in Garoppolo, and are likely to be first in line if he does become available.

Patriots do not view Cam Newton as their starting QB for 2021?

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have made an effort to improve their offense by signing several key playmakers, but many wonder if those additions will matter with Cam Newton returning as the team’s starting quarterback. Of course, it is possible that Newton is not returning as the team’s starting quarterback.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini said on “Get Up!” Thursday morning that she has spoken with people who do not believe the Patriots are set on Newton as their starter. She said there is a sense around NFL circles that Newton is not Plan A for Bill Belichick.

“His contract tells you how they feel about him,” Russini said, via 98.5 The Sports Hub. “They don’t think he’s the future of the New England Patriots.”

Russini added that Belichick greatly respects Newton and that the former MVP has impressed the team with his work ethic. However, Newton did nothing in 2020 to prove he is still capable of playing at a high level.

“This is a guy who has been an elite quarterback and is no longer elite, and I think he’s done a really good job of playing the game with Bill Belichick,” Russini added. “We hear nothing but great compliments. It seems like it just works.

“But in terms of playing — because that’s what this is going to come down to at the end of the day, everyone can like each other and get along and [sing] ‘Kumbaya,’ but he’s got to go out there and perform.”

Newton had trouble finding a starting job last offseason, which is why he signed with the Patriots so late. He then went out and had 2,657 passing yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It would stand to reason that no teams would have been interested in Newton as a starter heading into 2021, which is probably why he re-signed with New England so quickly.

The way Newton reacted to all of the Patriots’ free agent signings makes it seem like he believes he’s the team’s starter, but he’ll almost certainly have to compete for the job. If New England swings a big trade or drafts a quarterback early, the odds will be stacked against him.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Colts CB Kenny Moore says he was ‘depressed’ playing for Patriots

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick infamously runs a tight ship in New England, and that style is not for everyone. In fact, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore says “The Patriot Way” made him depressed.

Moore went undrafted out of Valdosta State in 2017 but signed with the Patriots as a free agent in May. He was among the team’s final cuts in training camp and was quickly picked up by the Colts in early September. He played in all 16 games for Indy that season.

In an excellent feature by Tyler Dunne, Moore talked about how much of a bad fit New England was for him. He told Dunne that the four months he spent in New England were the longest of his life. He says the style and culture there was a grind that took its toll on him.

Moore said being part of the Patriots felt like being in the military and had him questioning whether he was built for the NFL.

“I was depressed. I was trying to fight my way out of it,” Moore told Dunne.

You can read the entire interview here.

Belichick’s style has produced a culture focused on winning and the motto “do your job.” Players don’t mess around, and even have special rules for the media (see them here).

The style is not for everyone, as was obviously the case for Moore. But it has produced excellent results. Many former Patriots have issued similar complaints about the style, though Moore appears to have been more deeply affected than most.

Perhaps Belichick was wrong to let Moore go. Moore had 80 tackles and four interceptions last season and has 10 picks in his NFL career.

H/T CBS Sports

Robert Kraft shares thoughts on Patriots’ free agent spending spree

Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots have spent by far more money this offseason than any other since they hired Bill Belichick more than 20 years ago, and that must have felt just as unusual for team owner Robert Kraft as the rest of us.

The Patriots have typically emphasized building through the draft and retaining their own players, but this offseason was a lot different. They had numerous holes to fill and more salary cap space than almost every other team, so Belichick decided to shell out $130 million in guaranteed money. Kraft admitted to Albert Breer of The MMQB that the spending spree was “exciting.”

“Look, we want to win. We’re spoiled. We got used to winning all the time. And that’s our objective. … It was a chance for us to recharge. We’ve never done anything like this in all the years I’ve owned the team. So what we did, as we were competing for new players, normally in free agency, you’ll have 10 or 12 teams going after it. Here, we had two or three.”

Kraft made sure to point out that games aren’t won in free agency, however.

“Look, we’re not going to know till the fall — we always used to make fun of the people who won the headlines in March — but here I believe we really improved our team,” he said.

There is no question the Patriots have improved their roster. They may have had the worst collection of skill position players in the NFL last season, and they addressed that by signing the top two tight ends on the free agent market in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They also bolstered their receiving corps by giving big contracts to Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.

Defensively, the Patriots signed top pass-rusher Matt Judon, cornerback Jalen Mills and nose tackle Davon Godchaux. They also brought back linebacker Kyle Van Noy with a very savvy Belichick move.

Kraft is no doubt hoping for better results in 2021 after a 7-9 season. He also just watched Tom Brady win a seventh Super Bowl, and the decision to part ways with Brady was almost certainly Belichick’s.

If all the money the Patriots spent doesn’t produce some immediate results, Belichick will have plenty of questions to answer. Some of those questions may come directly from Kraft.