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#pounditSunday, April 18, 2021

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

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.

Patrick Chung announces retirement from NFL

The New England Patriots were expected to get a boost from several veteran defenders returning next season after they opted out in 2020, but safety Patrick Chung is not coming back.

Chung announced on Thursday that he is retiring from the NFL. He issued a statement on Instagram thanking Bill Belichick, the Kraft family and the Patriots organziation.

Chung opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he was concerned about the health of members of his family for a variety of reasons.

Chung, 33 was drafted by the Patriots with the 34th overall pick in 2009. He spent the first four years of his career in New England before playing for the Philadelphia Eagles for one season in 2013, and he had been back with the Patriots since. The safety has been a Belichick favorite despite having some off-field issues.

The Patriots have made some key signings on defense this offseason with pass-rusher Matt Judon and nose tackle Davon Godchaux, but Chung will certainly be missed.

Could this surprise team emerge in Deshaun Watson sweepstakes?

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson seems likely to be traded before the start of the 2021 season despite what the Houston Texans say, and the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have been mentioned as two possible suitors. Perhaps there is another AFC East team that could swoop in and make things interesting.

Michael Silver of NFL Network has maintained for months that he believes Watson will be traded. He reiterated that on Wednesday and mentioned the Dolphins, Jets and Carolina Panthers before throwing the — wait for it — New England Patriots into the mix.

“As bad as the relationship between Jack Easterby and the Kraft family is, Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick could probably get on the phone and have some creative conversations,” Silver said.

Easterby works as the executive vice president of football operations for the Texans. He was a character coach for the Patriots for several years before taking the job in Houston. When the Pats filed tampering charges against the Texans over their pursuit of Caserio two years ago, Easterby was at the center of the disagreement between the two clubs.

Belichick has since offered a brutally honest take on Easterby’s role with the Texans. However, as Silver mentioned, it would stand to reason that Belichick and Caserio still have a good relationship.

Watson has a no-trade clause, and it’s unclear if he would even want to play for the Patriots. He seems to be spending a lot of time in one specific city this offseason, but New England’s free agent spending spree over the past few days may impact his mindset.

LeBron James tweets funny reaction to Patriots’ free agent signings

LeBron James

The New England Patriots have been the talk of free agency since the legal tampering period began on Monday, and even LeBron James is shocked by the moves Bill Belichick has made.

After the Patriots added Hunter Henry to their star-studded free agent class on Tuesday, LeBron tweeted a funny reaction. The Los Angeles Lakers star said he’s bugging out over the spending spree just like everyone else.

LeBron is a big NFL fan, but he mostly supports the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. Though, he did once run into Bill Belichick (literally) during a game. You can see that video here.

The Patriots have signed Henry and Jonnu Smith to give themselves two legitimate pass-catching tight ends. They also added star pass-rusher Matt Judon, defensive back Jalen Mills and nose tackle Davon Godchaux.

If you want to know just how aggressive Belichick has been this offseason compared to years past, this wild stat should give you an idea. It makes sense that LeBron is just as surprised as the rest of us.

Cam Newton seemingly reacts to Patriots’ huge free agent signings

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have been by far the most aggressive team since the legal tampering period of free agency began on Monday, and Cam Newton likes what he has seen.

Newton, who recently re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal, shared an Instagram post on Tuesday morning that appeared to be related to the team’s big free agent moves. He shared a simple message in his token font, which we did our best to translate.

“WHEN YOU REALIZE THINGS ARE ALREADY DIFFERENT…… the second go around!!” Newton wrote.

The Patriots could draft a quarterback early or acquire a veteran, which would likely mean Newton has to compete for the starting job. The fact that Bill Belichick chose to re-sign him is a good indication that the coach believes Newton was not given a fair shot last year because of his poor supporting cast. Now that the Patriots have signed the top two tight ends on the free agent market and added a couple of receivers, Newton is in more of a position to succeed.

Any quarterback in Newton’s situation would be excited about the moves the Patriots have made. If you want to know how unusual the spending spree is for them, this stat should give you an idea. Newton knows he has a much better chance to prove himself this offseason than he did a year ago.

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

Hunter Henry agrees to three-year deal with Patriots

Hunter Henry

The New England Patriots entered the offseason in desperate need of a pass-catching option at the tight end position, so they have decided to sign the two best available on the free agent market.

One day after inking Jonnu Smith to a four-year deal, the Patriots have agreed to a three-year contract with Hunter Henry. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the deal is worth $37.5 million with $25 million guaranteed.

Henry was one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers the last several years. He had a career-high 60 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns last season.

The Patriots had more than $60 million in salary cap space at the start of the offseason, and they have gone on an unprecedented spending spree over the past two days. In addition to Smith and Henry, they also signed star pass-rusher Matt Judon, defensive back Jalen Mills and nose tackle Davon Godchaux.

If you want to see how unusual the big spending has been for Bill Belichick, look no further than this wild stat.

It will be interesting to see if the Patriots make a move at quarterback in the coming days or weeks. They have already re-signed Cam Newton, but he was horrible last season. It’s hard for fans in New England to get excited about all the big moves if the plan is to start Newton again.

Crazy stat puts Patriots’ free agent spending spree in perspective

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots came into the offseason with more salary cap space than almost every team in the NFL, and they have wasted no time using that to their advantage. Bill Belichick has already made several major splashes in free agency, which is something that has rarely happened in his two decades with the team.

The Patriots made four big signings at the start of what is known as the “legal tampering period” on Monday. They agreed to deals with pass-rusher Matt Judon (4 years, $56 million), tight end Jonnu Smith (4 years, $50 million), defensive back Jalen Mills (4 years, $24 million) and nose tackle Davon Godchaux (2 years, $16 million). As of Monday afternoon, New England had spent $146 million on free agent contracts this offseason.

While not all of that money is guaranteed, it is still remarkable when you compare it to the approach Belichick has taken over the last decade. The $146 million is nearly half of all the money the Patriots have spent on free agents combined in the past 10 years.

By the time the day ended, the Patriots did even more damage. They added receivers Nelson Agholor (2 years, $26 million) and Kendrick Bourne (3 years, $22.5 million) and defensive lineman Deatrich Wise (4 years, $30 million).

There are several reasons why the Patriots are spending more this offseason than usual. For starters, Tom Brady’s money is now off the books. While Brady consistently took less than market value, he still earned significantly more than what New England is paying Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham.

Of course, the Patriots also have more holes to fill than usual this offseason. It makes sense that Belichick is trying to use free agency to re-tool after a 7-9 season. In the past, his rosters have been so good that he could focus more on re-signing his own players than scouring free agency.

Time will tell if the aggressive and unfamiliar approach pays off. All we know is most Patriots fans are pleased with it, and the team even sent a hilarious tweet about the big splashes.