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Robert Kraft: A deal between owners and players can be done in next week

02.04.11 at 3:52 pm ET
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Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said Friday sounded an optimistic note about the uncertain labor situation on Friday, saying ‘€œa deal can get done in the next week.’€

In an interview with the NFL Network, Kraft made it very clear who he believed was holding up a potential deal between the owners and the players.

‘€œIn my opinion, we could get a deal done in the next week if business people sat down on both sides and we tried to get the lawyers in the background,’€ Kraft said. ‘€œYou just had a situation where we were sued that we didn’€™t get enough money from the networks. I know as chair of the Broadcast Committee, I’€™ve worked with our committee and the Commissioner, and we generated revenue at a very serious time in our country.

‘€œWe were just sued that we didn’€™t do a good enough job, so the players wind up paying $15 million in legal fees for something that is nonsensical. We have to stop this legal maneuvering and get business negotiations going on. If we do, I’€™m confident we can close a deal.’€

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Robert Kraft: Patriots were missing ‘good game plan’ against Jets

02.04.11 at 3:00 pm ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in remarks to reporters in Dallas, suggested that the Patriots were missing “a good game plan” in their season-ending loss to the Jets in the division round of the playoffs. He also expressed frustration with the interception that QB Tom Brady threw on a screen pass that killed the momentum of the first Patriots drive, as well as other areas in which his team failed to execute against its divisional rival.

“I don’€™t know, a good game plan,’€ Kraft told reporters in response to a question about what the Patriots were missing that day. “I mean, you have to hand it to the Jets. They came in and they did a good job. And actually, if you think about it, we drove down the field those first two drives. Tommy was unbelievable. He had (11) games without an interception and then threw that lazy interception. They go down and they miss the field goal and then we come drive right down again, and we throw one in the end zone and it gets dropped, we get three points.

“We get the fake punt, which we hadn’€™t done all year, and it gets bobbled. It was wide open, by the way, if we had executed. Matthew Slater tries to down a ball at the 1 (but could not). We didn’€™t get the breaks and the Jets did a great job. We’€™re very sad, I’€™ll tell you.”

Kraft also weighed in on other subjects. Among them:

–He described Logan Mankins as one of the best players on the team, and said that New England would make a push to re-sign him.

“I just personally want to say, I hope he’€™s with us for a long-term and we’€™re going to try to do whatever we have to do to make sure that happens,’€ Kraft told reporters.

–He noted that the Pats, including this year’s first- and second-round picks, will have had the opportunity to take 12 players at that stage of the draft from 2009-11, something that Kraft feels will position the team well for the future.

–Amidst the snow storm that has hammered Dallas, Kraft opined that perhaps it would be appropriate for New England to host a Super Bowl.

Kraft will be joining the Big Show at 5 pm on Friday.

Peter King on D&H: Roger Goodell never went back to Bill Belichick for explanation

02.04.11 at 2:45 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports NFL reporter Peter King joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning to talk about the Super Bowl. (Listen to the interview at the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.) King also discussed some interesting comments that were in a profile piece he did this week on Roger Goodell, in which the commissioner talked about how disappointed and “deceived” he felt following Bill Belichick‘s stonewalling of the press after the Patriots’ Spygate punishment.

King was asked why Goodell did not go back to Belichick and tell him his performance before the media was not what the commissioner expected.

Said King: “I asked him, I said, ‘Did you go back to him and did you ever contact him about it?’ And he said, ‘No.” And I think his whole thing was, at that point ‘€” and I’m interpreting here ‘€” his whole thing was at that point, the wounds are wide and the wounds are ugly. To exacerbate the wounds at this point is not something I want to do.

“Now, I’ve heard from a lot of people, including a bunch of people in the media down here: Why is Goodell bringing this up now? I said, well, because this is Goodell’s life and career, and I’m cross-examining him on this stuff. ‘€¦ Obviously, I’m going to ask him in depth about the toughest decision he had to make in his professional career ‘€” Mike Vick and Spygate and [Ben] Roethlisberger and things like that.

“So, the short answer is I don’t know. But I did ask him if he went back and attempted to get Belichick to do it. And he said, ‘No.’ ”

King was asked if he was surprised that Goodell answered the Belichick question candidly and did not simply say, “We’ve moved on.”

Said King: “One of the reasons why I think he didn’t, and this is just my opinion: At the start of this story, I basically emphasized to him and the other people in the league office when I wanted to do this story that this couldn’t be sort of a press conference story. It can’t be a story that, in essence, he answers questions just very officially without any real depth and without any real color.

“At the end of it, I called him last Thursday and I said to him, ‘You know, I just wanted to thank you. I wanted to give you my appreciation for doing what you said you were going to do, in opening up about some things in your life.’ And he said to me, ‘Well, Peter, you know why I did it?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he goes, ‘Because you told me if I did this that I wouldn’t have to do it again for the next 20 years.’ And he sort of laughed.

“Because in the beginning I said, ‘Look, I want to do this right. I want to do the ultimate Goodell profile. In some ways ‘€” and I told him this ‘€” when I wrote about Bill Belichick after the Patriots won their second Super Bowl, I said, ‘I wanted to do a story that if this is the last story that’s ever done about you in Sports Illustrated, I want it to be done right. I want to have a good part of your life in there, a good part of your background. And so, it was sort of the same way here. And again, he could have chosen to answer any question any way he wanted to answer it. But it struck me when he said what he said about Belichick that he’s been thinking it for a long time.”

King said he hopes people go beyond the headlines and read the article, which includes other interesting and original comments from Goodell and those affected by him. Said King: “I understand those [comments about Belichick and Roethlisberger] are two headlines that came out of what I reported this week. And I don’t fight that. I’m not upset with it in any way, shape or form. [But] I would be very disappointed if people didn’t take the time to read the story.”

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Uncertainty around franchise tag could create confusion for Logan Mankins and Patriots

02.04.11 at 12:25 am ET
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The fact that the NFL and the National Football League Players Association are disagreeing about the state of the franchise tag throws another wrinkle into the already complicated situation between the Patriots and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Logan Manikins.

Last week, a league spokesman indicated the franchise tags would remain status quo ‘€” that is, starting Feb. 10 and running until Feb. 24, clubs could continue to place the tag on players whose contracts are expiring, even if there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place. But on Thursday, the NFLPA indicated that if there is no new agreement in place between now and the day the old CBA expires ‘€” March 3 ‘€” such tags would be meaningless.

‘€œOur position is that you can franchise anyone you want, by whatever date you want, but if there is no CBA, the franchise tags will be meaningless,’€ NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told reporters.

‘€œThe current CBA provides that ‘each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or Restricted Free Agent] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement,”€ Smith wrote in a memo to player agents, obtained by ‘€œThe 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.’€

In response, league spokesman Greg Aiello said via e-mail to The Associated Press: ‘€œWe are still operating under the current agreement. … Franchise tags are always made before the start of the next league year. This is consistent with past seasons.’€

In its current form, the franchise tag allows each team to prevent one of its players from becoming an unrestricted free agent by offering him a one-year contract that’s worth 120 percent of his salary from the season before, or the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, whichever is greater.

However, the players association isn’€™t thrilled about what the tag has become ‘€” in many ways they see it as a way to prevent players from reaching a big payday ‘€” and while it isn’€™t considered chief among the differences between the two sides, it has been a point of contention between the players and the owners in the past.

Mankins and the Patriots aren’€™t the only team facing uncertainty around the franchise tag, as several big-name players across the league are facing an uncertain future because of the franchise tag situation. Philadelphia’€™s Michael Vick, Indy’€™s Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh’€™s Lamarr Woodley and Baltimore’€™s Haloti Ngata are all candidates to be franchised under the old system, but could theoretically hit the open market if the tag is eliminated.
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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Al Davis, De Maurice Smith, Frank Bauer

Player survey reveals Gillette Stadium is seventh-best artificual surface in NFL

02.03.11 at 8:26 pm ET
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In a survey conducted by the National Football League Players Association, the Gillette Stadium playing surface was ranked seventh among the league’s 13 fields that are classified as “artificial infilled.” Among the non-grass surfaces, Gillette trailed Lucas Oil Stadium (first), New Meadowlands Stadium (second), Louisiana Superdome (third), Seattle’s Qwest Field (fourth), Cowboys Stadium (fifth) and the Georgia Dome (sixth). The survey also listed Gillette as the ninth-worst “artificial infilled” venue, with Minnesota’s Metrodome, Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis leading the way.

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Patriots offensive line takes home ‘Madden’ award

02.03.11 at 7:29 pm ET
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The Patriots offensive line was named the winners of the annual “Madden Most Valuable Protectors” award on Thursday. New England came out on top of a group of lines that included fellow finalists Kansas City, New York Giants, Atlanta and New Orleans, a collection that was chosen by John Madden. The winner was then chosen after fan voting on Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir were on hand in Dallas to accept the award.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

02.03.11 at 11:00 am ET
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Gabe Carimi

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-7 1/8

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: Outland Trophy (2010), consensus All-American (2010), Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year (2010), First team All-Big Ten (media, 2009), Second team All-Big Ten (coaches, 2009), Academic All-Big Ten (2010, 2009, 2008, 2007).

What he brings: Carimi spent his days in Wisconsin at left tackle, but he is considered he top right tackle prospect in the draft. One of the tougher offensive linemen out there, the ‘€œmean streak’€ cliché is often used to describe Carimi. He has a crazy 83 2/8-inch wingspan, which was second best last week in Mobile. As noted above, the 22-year-old won received the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nations’€™ best lineman. The last four players to receive it all ended up being top-10 picks (Ndamukong Suh, Andre Smith, Glenn Dorsey, Joe Thomas), though Carimi figures to come off the board sometime around the mid-to-late first round.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17 or No. 28 Read the rest of this entry »

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