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Rating the Roster, Training Camp Edition (Part 1)

07.23.10 at 1:42 am ET
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Rookie quarterback Zac Robinson starts our countdown at No. 82. (AP)

The first time we engaged in “Rating the Roster,” it was at the end of the 2009 season, roughly a week after the playoff loss to the Ravens. That exercise (check it out here and here) generated a flood of e-mail and comments, both positive and negative. There was also some concern — mostly sparked by my fellow “NFL Sunday” co-host Christian Fauria — that I had suffered some sort of debilitating neurological injury because I put a long snapper ahead of two offensive linemen, two cornerbacks and a linebacker.

Clearly, I didn’t learn my lesson, so here’s a pre-training camp edition. As was the case with our previous list, we settled on the rankings by considering a combination of factors, including overall ability, positional versatility, expectations, contract situation and place on the depth chart. We also looked at what might be best described as intangibles — loosely defined as a mixture of clubhouse character and willingness to work. In all, it helped us determine the overall value of each player within the Patriots system.

Currently, the Patriots have 82 players on the roster, and the plan is to start the countdown today with a look at Nos. 82 through 71, checking off 10 more every day until Thursday, the first day we have access to training camp:
Read the rest of this entry »

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Pats could end up near tops of league in two-a-days

07.22.10 at 4:38 pm ET
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Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News has come up with an interesting statistical breakdown on who could lead the league in two-a-days during the upcoming NFL training camp season. According to Fraley, under current schedules, the leader is Atlanta, which has scheduled 14 two-a-day sessions. Dallas has 12 days where they will have two practices, while Baltimore rounds out the top 3 with 10.

Unlike most other teams, the Patriots have only released their schedule for the first week of camp, and Bill Belichick has seven two-a-days scheduled over the course of the first week, which means they will likely hit double digits — and probably come close to Atlanta’s 14 — by the time camp ends.

Here’s a look at the Patriots’ training camp schedule for the first week (note — times are always subject to change):

Thursday, July 29
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Friday, July 30
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 31
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 1
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Monday, August 2
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Evening Practice: 7 p.m. (note: practice is in Gillette Stadium for season ticket holders only)

Tuesday, August 3
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 4
Morning Practice: 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Afternoon Practice: 3:45-5:30 p.m.

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Source: BC’s Tennant signs contract with Saints

07.22.10 at 12:45 pm ET
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Matt Tennant was a fifth-round pick of the Saints. (AP)

I know that this is technically a Patriots’ blog, but we’ve dropped in notes on local guys from time to time. In that spirit, a league source has confirmed former Boston College offensive lineman Matt Tennant has signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the National Football Post is reporting that the total base value of the deal is worth $1.96 million.

A fifth-round pick of the Super Bowl champions, Tennant is a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder who started for three years with Boston College, including 41 straight at the end of his career despite undergoing two “Tommy John” surgeries —one on each elbow — during his high school and college career.

For more on Tennant, click here or here.

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Forbes names Patriots the fifth most-valuable franchise

07.22.10 at 12:28 pm ET
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The Patriots are the fifth most-valuable franchise in the world, according to the latest edition of Forbes.

Compiled by the magazine using a variety of sources, the magazine assesses the overall value of the team at $1.36 billion, which puts them behind only the legendary soccer team Manchester United (first at $1.83 billion), the Cowboys ($1.65 billion), the Yankees ($1.6 billion) and the Redskins ($1.55 billion).

Forbes has taken plenty of notice of the Patriots recently — traditionally, it has placed the franchise in the Top 10 in overall worth the last few years. In addition, Forbes raised some eyebrows with the New England ownership this spring when it revealed coach Bill Belichick made $7.5 million annually. (That prompted Patriots president Jonathan Kraft to tell Boston’s CBS Radio: “Bill’s an exceptional coach . . . [But there] are such a small, small, small group of people that know what Bill really makes . . . [so] I don’t know where they got their data, and we’ll just leave it at that.”)

The Red Sox were the only other New England franchise in the top 50 — they were at No. 35 with an assessed value of $870 million.

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Patriots’ rookie contract updates

07.22.10 at 9:51 am ET
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With a week to go before the start of full-squad practices at training camp, here’s a snapshot of the Patriots’ rookies and their contract sitiuations:

First round
•Cornerback Devin McCourty (27th overall): Unsigned, represented by PlayersRep.

Second round
•Tight end Rob Gronkowski (42nd overall): Unsigned, represented by Rosenhaus Sports.
•Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (53rd overall): Unsigned, represented by ProStars.
•Linebacker Brandon Spikes (62nd overall): Unsigned, represented by Terry Watson of Watson Sports Agency.

Third round
•Wide receiver Taylor Price (90th overall): Signed a four-year deal for $2.494 million (that could max out at $3.35 million) with a $704,000 signing bonus on May 25.

Fourth round
•Tight end Aaron Hernandez (113th overall): Signed a four-year, $2.69 million deal on June 8 that could max out at $3.56 million if he hits all his incentives. However, Hernandez only got $200,000 guaranteed.

Fifth round
•Punter Zoltan Mesko (150th overall): Signed a four-year, $1.97 million deal with a $187,000 signing bonus on June 16.

Sixth round
•Offensive lineman Ted Larsen (205th overall): Signed a four-year, $1.87 million contract with an $80,300 signing bonus on May 18.

Seventh round
•Offensive lineman Thomas Welch (208th overall): Signed on June 4, agreeing on a four-year deal that netted him $1.859 million with a reported $69,127 signing bonus.
•Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (247th overall): Signed a four-year deal worth $1.83 million (with a $40,300 signing bonus) on July 9.
•Nose tackle Kade Weston (248th overall): Signed a four-year deal on July 21 for $1.829 million with a $39,700 signing bonus.
•Quarterback Zac Robinson (250th overall): Signed a four-year deal on July 21, terms unknown.

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Patriots sign two seventh-round picks

07.21.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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The Patriots announced the signing of two more players this afternoon, seventh-round picks Kade Weston (defensive lineman) and Zac Robinson (quarterback). Weston, a defensive lineman from Georgia, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2010 draft with the 248th selection overall, while Robinson, a quarterback from Oklahoma State, was selected by the Patriots 250th overall.

Weston, 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, played in 48 career games with 20 starts at Georgia and finished with 78 total tackles and four sacks. Robinson, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, became the starter after the second game of his sophomore season in 2007 and finished his career as the all-time leader in passing and total offense, amassing 10,175 yards in total offense and 8,317 passing yards.

Weston and Robinson are the seventh and eighth members of New England’s 12 2010 draft choices to sign with the team.

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Florio on D&H: Brady a ‘different guy’ than he used to be

07.21.10 at 3:58 pm ET
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NFL writer and creator Mike Florio joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to discuss the competitive AFC East and the contractual situation of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, as well as offer his guess as to how the Brett Favre saga will play out this summer.

Regarding Brady, Florio said: “I keep hearing it from more and more people in the know, that he’s a different guy than he used to be. Some people think there’s a little bit of the Yoko Ono factor going on with his wife who makes $30 million a year, either telling him to try and get more money, or not play football at all and stay out in Los Angeles with her.”

Following are highlights of the interview. To hear the full interview visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Can you explain the collective bargaining agreement in a way people can understand?

I cannot do it in a way that will keep people’s eyes from glazing over, and I want no responsibility for any of your listeners who fall asleep while driving their cars, but I will try, I make no promises. Look, here’s the thing: there’s a bigger issue going on here between the league and the players union and it has many levels and layers and complexities. At the end of the day, the NFL has set up a labor situation that is designed, not necessarily to crush the union, but to get the best possible deal. And one of the ways that the NFL is applying pressure to the players, especially current players, is to refuse to sign current players to new deals with big money that they would then be able to rely upon if there’s a work stoppage in 2011. And that puts the players in a position where they’re anxious about a lockout, they don’t want a lockout, because they haven’t gotten these contract extensions. Key players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who otherwise could be leaders for the union effort, they don’t have that huge pile of money to sit on. Not that Tom Brady needs any more [money] when his wife is making $30 million in a year. But, I think these guys are getting caught up in a broader effort by the NFL to cut off the players as best they can, and they’ve been able to hold most of the teams together. I think there may be some collusion going on here, and that’s for the NFL [Players Association] to take up at some point in the future. But, when you see key guys on rosters, like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, not getting deals and teams saying we want to see what the new rules are before we sign these guys. I mean common, what are you going to do, you’re not going to sign Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to a big money deal because there’s a salary cap? I just don’t buy it.

Regarding Tom Brady, what are you hearing about his relationship with the Patriots?

I was intrigued by this one, because [ESPN NFL writer] John Clayton is a guy who doesn’t care too much for me, and [ NFL writer] Tom Curran, a good friend of mine, reported that what Clayton reported was ridiculous. I’ll tell you what, I don’t think that Clayton is all that far off the mark with this one. I don’t rule anything out in this craziest of years that we’ve ever seen. Something has changed with Tom Brady over the past few years. I keep hearing it from more and more people in the know, that he’s a different guy than he used to be. Some people think there’s a little bit of the Yoko Ono factor going on with his wife who makes $30 million a year, either telling him to try and get more money, or not play football at all and stay out in Los Angeles with her. That could be a factor in all of this. Brady has taken a more active role in the union, and what better way than to be a good soldier in the union, than to take a stand against what seems to be collusion on the part of the owners to try and squeeze the players as best they can.

What have you heard about the Logan Mankins situation?

Look, the bottom line is, if the Patriots aren’t going to extend Tom Brady or Randy Moss, then why in the world are they going to do anything with Logan Mankins? You could make the argument that you could find a guy that could do almost as good a job in the draft, or as a guy you could get in free agency, and is he worth the kind of money he’s looking for. Yeah, I think that relationship may be broken and it’s just a matter of time before he goes somewhere else. But so be it, if they’re not going to pay Tom Brady, I don’t see them giving big money to anyone else.

With all the hype surrounding the Jets, you’re not handing the AFC East to them this year?

No, I handed the AFC East to the Dolphins, which I’m sure people in Boston love to hear.

Why the Dolphins?

I think Brandon Marshall has a huge impact on that team. People just write off Brandon Marshall as kind of a flake, he’s been in trouble multiple times, he’s had injuries. One of the debates I often get into is what makes a great quarterback. Is it a great receiver, does a great quarterback make a great receiver? Look last year about what happened in Denver after Jay Cutler left. Who still had a great year and who didn’t? Brandon Marshall had a great year with Kyle Orton throwing him passes. Jay Cutler couldn’t do anything with that collection of stiffs they have in Chicago. I think you bring Brandon Marshall to South Florida with that very good running game, an underrated offensive line, a good defense that’s going to get a good kick in the butt from [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Nolan, who really helped turn around Denver’s defense last year. You’re going to have guys running free in single coverage, because they are going to be double covering Brandon Marshall. He’s going to open up the running game. I think the Miami Dolphins are a very dangerous team in 2010.

When will Brett Favre show up in Minnesota?

It’s going to be some point in the middle of August. He feels compelled to have an excuse to miss training camp. And he said recently that his ankle isn’t where it needs to be. I also think he wants to make people believe he’s not coming back. He wants that buzz, he wants that sense of relief when Lord Favre rides into town on a stallion to save the Minnesota Vikings, again. He wants that. And this year it’s harder because he’s already under contract with the Vikings. Last year, he had no obligation. So, I think he’s trying to create a sense that he’s not going to play, and then in the middle of August, like last year, he’ll show up out of the blue, and all will be right in the world for the Vikings, until they get into the playoffs and lose again.

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