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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Patriots flying 1 million masks to Massachusetts from China in team plane

Robert Kraft

The coronavirus outbreak is getting closer to reaching its peak in Massachusetts and many other parts of the United States, and the New England Patriots are doing what they can to help fight the pandemic.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made the team’s private plane available to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and the plane is being used to fly 1 million N95 protective masks from China to Boston on Thursday afternoon.

Kraft also bought an additional 300,000 masks with his own money for hospitals in New York.

Not having enough masks and protective equipment for healthcare workers is one of the most significant issues states have faced during the coronavirus outbreak, and Baker has expressed frustration recently that Massachusetts was being outbid by the federal government for supplies. The governor hinted on Wednesday that an announcement would be coming regarding protective equipment.

“We’ve been working on a variety of processes and opportunities to make sure that we have the gear that we need to serve our medical community and our first responders,” Baker said, via Stephanie Murray of Politico. “I’ve also said that I expected to have more information on this later this week, and I do.”

It’s unclear if the Patriots are covering the cost of the masks or if the state of Massachusetts is paying, but either way Kraft and the Patriots are playing an integral role in the process.

This is not the first time the Patriots have generously loaned out their team plane, but it may be the most important use of the aircraft that we have seen to date.

Cody Kessler released by Patriots

Cody Kessler

The New England Patriots may not be planning to make a run at a veteran quarterback with starting experience, but they will almost certainly be adding at least one more QB to their roster before the start of training camp.

The Patriots made a somewhat surprising decision on Wednesday to release Cody Kessler, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

New England signed Kessler early last season and released him less than a month later. The Patriots then re-signed the former USC star two weeks after that, and he has been with the team since.

Second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham appears to have the best chance of landing the starting job in New England at the moment. However, the Patriots signed Brian Hoyer last month and could either bring in another veteran or draft a quarterback now that they have moved on from Kessler. While they are reportedly not interested in the most intriguing name on the free agent market, they will almost certainly make another move or two at the position in the coming weeks.

Report: Patriots have no interest in Cam Newton, Andy Dalton

Cam Newton tie

The New England Patriots appear to have an obvious need at the quarterback position after Tom Brady left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and many have wondered if they will jump in the market for a veteran starter like Cam Newton. As of now, that is not Bill Belichick’s plan.

The Patriots have not expressed any interest in signing Newton or trading for Andy Dalton, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Even if they wanted to, they don’t have the money at the moment. New England had around $1 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday and is carrying a $13.5 million dead cap hit for Brady in 2020.

Second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the favorite to win the starting job for the Patriots this offseason. The team signed veteran Brian Hoyer last month, and he should be able to push Stidham a bit as someone who has been with the Patriots in the past and is familiar with the offense. However, Belichick would obviously prefer that last year’s fourth-round pick does enough to distance himself from the 34-year-old journeyman.

There are many ways to manipulate the salary cap, so the Patriots could free up the necessary space to make a run at a veteran like Newton or Dalton at some point in the offseason. Though, the coronavirus situation likely complicates things further. With offseason workouts being shortened and training camp potentially delayed, there will be minimal time for a new quarterback to familiarize himself with New England’s offense. That likely played a role in the Patriots’ decision to sign Hoyer, who has been on their roster in the past.

Multiple key Patriots players have already come forward and endorsed Stidham for the starting job, and it is clearly the former Auburn star’s to lose.

Stephen Gostkowski will be cut by Patriots

Stephen Gostkowski

Another New England Patriots stalwart is on his way out the door.

According to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, the Patriots will release kicker Stephen Gostkowski on Monday after 14 seasons with the franchise.

A combination of age, injury, and price likely ended Gostkowski’s tenure with the Patriots. He turned 36 in January, and appeared in just four games last season due to a hip injury. Add in the fact that cutting Gostkowski saves New England $3.4 million against the cap and it just makes sense to move on.

It’s no secret that the Patriots think very highly of Gostkowski, but kickers are replaceable. This was clearly a business decision, though still a rather jarring one.

Report: Patriots pursued Stefon Diggs trade before Bills deal

Stefon Diggs

The Buffalo Bills made a Stefon Diggs trade come together quickly, but their division rival was also in the mix to make a blockbuster deal.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, the New England Patriots were interested in Diggs and pursued a trade when it became clear that the Minnesota Vikings might be willing to deal. However, their interest faded quickly after using the franchise tag on offensive lineman Joe Thuney, costing the team precious cap space.

The last straw was when the Patriots became aware that Tom Brady was likely to leave, making the acquisition of a star wide receiver less important.

If nothing else, it shows that the Patriots were still trying to get more weapons for Brady late on in the process. The reality, however, was that Brady clearly wanted out regardless of what the Patriots were doing transaction-wise. Diggs might have been a nice weapon for the Patriots’ next quarterback, but giving up that much for him never made sense once Brady was out the door.

Patriots still favored to win AFC East despite losing Tom Brady

Bill Belichick

Many New England Patriots fans are calming themselves down in the wake of Tom Brady’s departure by repeating one of their favorites mantras: “In Bill we trust.” Apparently Las Vegas oddsmakers share the same faith in the longtime head coach.

Even after Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Caesar’s Sportsbook in Las Vegas still lists the Patriots as a comfortable favorite to win the AFC East. New England’s odds are -110, meaning you would have to bet $110 to win $100. The Buffalo Bills have the next-best odds at +180, meaning a $100 bet would net $180.

The Patriots signed veteran Brian Hoyer on Sunday, and he is expected to compete with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham for the starting job. While we have heard some fun speculation about New England potentially acquiring a star quarterback, they have barely any salary cap space remaining for 2020. That coupled with the coronavirus outbreak potentially shortening the NFL offseason makes it even more likely that Belichick will not bring in a veteran quarterback who has no familiarity with the Patriots’ offense system.

Belichick is always going to get the benefit of the doubt. The Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel as their starting QB in 2008 after Brady tore his ACL, and New England’s defense was one of the better units in football last year. That said, there’s no debating the AFC East is as wide open as it has been in 20 years. No one would be stunned if the Patriots are finally dethroned next season.

Is Deshaun Watson really a possibility for the Patriots in 2021?

Deshaun Watson

The New England Patriots may not be able to afford a star quarterback heading into next season, but their salary cap situation should be a lot more manageable in 2021. At that point, Bill Belichick will likely have the flexibility needed to pursue a top free agent. If the coach and GM decides to go that route, Deshaun Watson will be a name to watch.

Odds are offered for just about everything these days, and truthfully they don’t mean a whole lot. However, you may find it interesting that gambling website BetOnline.ag lists Watson as the favorite to be the starting QB for the Patriots in Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Watson is signed through next season but has a fifth-year team option for 2021. The Texans will almost certainly pick up the option, but that does not necessarily mean they will hang on to the former Clemson star.

There has been talk about Watson landing a massive contract extension this offseason, but he may be waiting for Patrick Mahomes to reset the market. It’s also unclear if the Houston Texans are willing to pay Watson more than $35 million per year, especially after they traded DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. Though, you could argue that trading Hopkins will make it easier for Houston to afford Watson.

The Patriots are likely going to head into 2020 with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and newly acquired veteran Brian Hoyer. Those two have the best chance of competing for the starting job, especially with New England having more than $20 million in dead salary cap money this year. If Stidham is unable to lock down the starting job by next offseason, Belichick will explore other options.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien comes from the Belichick coaching tree, but the two may not currently be on the best terms. That could make any potential blockbuster trade between Houston and New England more complicated. The most likely scenario is that Watson will sign an extension with the Texans, but the thought of him being the next great Patriots quarterback is an exciting one for NFL fans.