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Signing updates for Patriots’ rookie class

07.04.10 at 5:45 pm ET
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With just under four weeks before the start of training camp, let’s take a look at where the Patriots are when it comes to signing their 12 draft picks. (For more information on the 2010 draft class and its representation, click here or here for our previous stories. Also, click here for a look at when the unsigned players might eventually put pen to paper.)

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): Unsigned, represented by Perennial Sports and Entertainment.
•Nose tackle Kade Weston (248th overall): Unsigned, not available.
•Quarterback Zac Robinson (250th overall): Unsigned, Athletes First.

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Polian on issues facing Brady, Manning talks

07.03.10 at 8:19 pm ET
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Speaking on the Fenway Park field prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Orioles Saturday night, Bill Polian, the president of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke on what might await teams such as the Colts and Patriots when it comes to the challenges that will come with attempting to re-sign their superstar quarterbacks.

Polian noted having to commit a significant amount of financial resources to a top tier quarterback — such as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, both of whom are heading into the final years of their respective contracts — will inevitably have some bearing on teams’ the ability to construct a team. But Polian also points out that the level of impact won’t be entirely known until a new collective bargaining agreement is put in place.

“It’s bound to have some effect,” Polian told WEEI.com. “What we don’t know is what the system is going forward. It makes it really difficult working out a deal that makes sense for everybody because you don’t know what the [salary] cap will be, what the ramifications are, how things count. All of that makes it a little difficult. We’ve been going slowly along with [Manning's agent] Tom Condon because we’re trying to formulate some things that will fit no matter what the system is.”

The National Football League’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in March, 2011. And while such decision-makers as Polian and his Patriots’ counterparts will be hamstrung by the uncertainty that comes with not knowing what the new CBA might bring, there is some hope that there will be some inkling regarding what awaits. (For more information regarding the drama surrounding the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement click here.)

“We can’t get into the nitty-gritty because we don’t mow what the rules will be. And that will clarify itself as the year goes on because there will be talks, people will understand what’s on the table and what’s not on the table,” Polian said. “It’s not like you’re going to get a deal in October, I don’t think. If that happens it would be great. But at least you can get a feel for the way things are going.”

Speaking at a charity flag football game for Best Buddies at Harvard Stadium on June 4, Brady downplayed the drama that is surrounding his impending contract year, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it a whole lot because really there’s nothing anybody can solve other than the team and myself,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of guys in my situation, so really I just want to focus on what’s coming up this week. I’m just excited about being on the field with the guys. Things happen. Some are out of your control so you’ve just got to go with the flow.

“Really I haven’t been thinking about it a whole lot,” Brady said when asked if he is upset with not having a deal done. “It’s just part of the process. I love being out on the field with the guys and playing and that’s really where my head’s at.”

For more on Tom Brady’s offseason click here, or go to the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots.

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Martinez returned to Foxboro last year to help Brady

07.03.10 at 1:28 pm ET
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Tom Martinez knows Tom Brady’s game better than anyone — no one outside Brady’s family can boast of the same professional relationship between the two. For me, he’s been an invaluable resource when it comes to finding out what’s going on with the quarterback. (That’s why I’ve spoken to him for this story and this story, as well as other Patriots-related projects I’ve worked on.)

Brady, who first started working with Martinez when the quarterback was a teenager, is the premier passing guru in the Bay Area. The quarterback thinks enough of Martinez that he gave him the game ball he received after guiding the Patriots to a win in his first start in 2001 against the Colts. (The ball is autographed by Brady with the inscription “Coach Martinez — Thanks — The first of many — 9/30/01 — Patriots 44, Colts 13 — Tom Brady #12.”)

With that in mind, in a story for ESPN.com this week, ace scribe Tim Graham spoke with Martinez, and relayed two interesting bits of information. First, he said Brady had a broken finger and three broken ribs at the end of the season. Second, he discussed a Christmas-week throwing tutorial at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse with Brady that led to a lights-out performance (267 yards and four touchdowns on 23-of-26 passing) in a win over the Jaguars.

“He wasn’t throwing well,” Martinez said of Brady, who was in a four-week slump that produced three weeks of sub-75 passer ratings. “It’s one of those things where I can see right away what he’s doing. He trusts me, so when I tweak him, it’s right back to where he wants to be. Then, at that point, it probably is psychological.”

Head coach, offensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches have come and gone, but Martinez remains a professional constant in Brady’s life. He said he will continue to work with Brady — in fact, he said the two have a session planned for this weekend in Los Angeles with wide receiver Wes Welker — and remains dedicated to helping Brady succeed

“He understands what it takes to get to Super Bowls,” Martinez told Graham. “A lot of guys don’t, so they’ll minimize preparation because it might be inconvenient. Where with him, he knows if he’s off, that’s the difference of whether they keep going or not.

“If he’s off a little bit, he’s going to be way off. The margin of error is so slim at that level that if you miss by a foot, you’re off. Most guys accept that. He doesn’t.”

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Pats announce camp schedule for first five days

07.02.10 at 5:16 pm ET
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Via Patriots.com, the team has announced the schedule for the first five days of public practices:

Thursday, July 29
9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Patriots Experience open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, July 30
9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Patriots Experience open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday, July 31
9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Patriots Experience open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, August 1
9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Patriots Experience open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, August 2
9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Patriots Experience open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Madden ’11 ratings for Patriots have been posted

06.30.10 at 10:30 am ET
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235011-madden-drew-breesOver the years, the Patriots locker room has been full of guys who love to play Madden — Rodney Harrison, Tully Banta-Cain, Laurence Maroney and David Patten have all confessed to me over the years that they are Madden devotees. And I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say about the recently-released ratings for Madden ’11, which were released today. (The game will be out Aug. 10.)

In all, the Patriots have six players who have a 90 and above ranking. Quarterback Tom Brady (95), wide receiver Randy Moss (95), left guard Logan Mankins (95) and nose Vince Wilfork (95) all top the Patriots list, while wide receiver Wes Welker (91) and kicker Stephen Gostkowski (91) also top 90.

The difference between offense and defensive rankings are striking. While the Patriots have four players over 90 on offense, Wilfork is the only plus-90 player on defense. Following him on the defensive side of the ball is safety Brandon Meriweather (88), linebacker Jerod Mayo (86) and defensive lineman Ty Warren (84). One other thing worth mentioning? The top rookie is tight end Rob Gronkowski with a 77.

Check out the Patriots full rankings here.

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Predicting when the rest of the Pats’ rookie class will sign

06.30.10 at 1:14 am ET
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Piggybacking on this story I wrote for Tuesday about how agents go about negotiating rookie deals with the Patriots, it’s worth a look at just how many members of the 2010 rookie class have actually put pen to paper, and how many are still waiting on a deal.

New England has five of its 12 draft choices signed — wide receiver Taylor Price (third round), tight end Aaron Hernandez (fourth round), punter Zoltan Mesko (fifth round), offensive lineman Ted Larsen (sixth round) and offensive lineman Tom Welch (seventh round) are all in the fold.

Patriots Rookie Football Camp

First-rounder Devin McCourty is one of seven Patriots' draft picks who haven't agreed to a contract. (AP)

On the surface, the fact that the Patriots have less than half their picks done with training camp a month away might be cause for concern. But when stacked up against the rest of the league — and when you consider the circumstances that surround the players that are unsigned — Brian McIntyre of “Mac’s Football Blog” says the Patriots are pretty much in line with the rest of the league.

McIntyre, who does an amazing job following the day-to-day news of professional football, also provides an invaluable service by compiles signing information on all 250-something draft picks, breaking it down round-by-round as well as team-by-team.

As a result of his exhaustive work, few writers are as qualified to talk about the signing and negotiation process as McIntyre. And says that when it comes to signing the 2010 NFL draft class, things are ahead of schedule.

“With the exception of a handful of teams who appear to be waiting until after the Fourth of July to get going, rookie signings league-wide are ahead of schedule,” he wrote in an e-mail to WEEI.com on Tuesday evening. “Ninety (of 256) players had signed contracts by June 29, 2009. As of today, 115 of 255 have already signed. New England is no exception.”

When it comes to the Patriots, McIntyre notes that a year ago, the Patriots only had one of their 12 picks, fourth-round guard Rich Ohrnberger, signed to a contract by June 29. This summer, they’ve already got five of 12 signed, and three more should fall in short order.

“Three more (Brandon Deadrick, Kade Weston, and Zac Robinson) are clumped together so tightly (picks 40, 41, and 43) in the seventh-round that their deals shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to finalize. Once those three sign, they’ll be able to focus on [first-rounder] Devin McCourty and the three second-round picks.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Ringing in a crazy anniversary in Patriots’ history

06.28.10 at 7:10 pm ET
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putin_with_superbowl_ring

Russian leader Vladimir Putin eyes Robert Kraft's Super Bowl XXXIX ring, moments before he pocketed the jewelry. (AP)

Watching Monday’s edition of “Pardon the Interruption,” I was reminded of a notable anniversary for the Patriots, one of the most surreal off-field moments in the history of a franchise that has seen more than its share of craziness.

Five years ago today, Patriots owner Robert Kraft had the chance to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Kraft was showing off his latest Super Bowl ring, a 124-diamond gem the team produced after a win over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX just months before. (According to this story, the idea to show Putin the ring was proposed by Sandy Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup. The same story says Putin knowingly made off with the ring.)

According to reports, Putin looked at the ring, and after a few moments, slipped it into his pocket. It wasn’t known whether the Russian leader either believed it was a gift, or he simply pocketed the jewelry.

In an attempt to try and clear up any confusion — and perhaps save face — Kraft later said he gave Putin the ring as a gift.

‘‘Upon seeing the ring, President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness,” Kraft later said in a statement issued by the team. ‘‘At that point, I decided to give him the ring.

‘‘I have ancestors from Russia, so it added significance for me to know that something so cherished would reside at the Kremlin along with other special gifts given to Russian presidents,” Kraft added. ‘‘It was truly an act of serendipity and one that I am honored to have experienced. It touched me to see President Putin’s reaction to the ring, and I felt, emotionally, that it was the right way to conclude an exceptional meeting.”

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