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Rodney Harrison: I had calls from teams asking me to come back and play after I retired

06.27.12 at 8:55 pm ET
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Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said Wednesday he had plenty of calls about a possible return to the league once he retired following the 2008 season, but he said he ‘€œshut those down quick.’€

‘€œI’€™ve been called for the last several years and asked, ‘€˜Hey, you want to think about coming back?’€™ I’€™m at a point where I’€™m really enjoying life. I’€™m healthy. I don’€™t miss it,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œI really enjoy watching the guys develop and grow and make mistakes and get better and really just enjoy it from the sidelines. I really don’€™t miss football in terms of me wanting to be out there. I enjoy it as a fan.’€

Harrison, who was being honored Wednesday as part of ‘€œThe Tradition’€ at the TD Garden, played the final six seasons of a 15-year career in New England, and clearly developed an affinity for the region and the coaching staff. And the Patriots’€™ secondary has certainly struggled over the last few seasons. But when he was asked which teams gave him a call, he only smiled.

‘€œI’€™m not telling. I’€™m going to keep that under wraps,’€ said the 39-year-old. ‘€œBut I had a couple of calls, some inquiries, guys who said, ‘€˜Hey man, are you interested in playing?’€™ I said, ‘€˜Nah.’€™ I shut those down quick.’€

Maybe one of the reasons he decided against pulling a Brett Favre is that it’€™s clear Harrison didn’€™t really care for Favre’€™s ‘€œwill he or won’€™t he?’€ routine over the last few seasons, going so far as to call the quarterback ‘€œclassless and immature’€ for his approach.

But that doesn’€™t mean Harrison wouldn’€™t rule out a return to the field as a coach — maybe even in New England.

‘€œYou know what? I’€™ve thought about it,’€ said Harrison, responding to a question about the possibility of coaching later in life. ‘€œI’€™d love to come back and coach, you know, the Patriots secondary and eventually become a defensive coordinator. But who knows? I’€™m 39 years old. I have a lot to do. If that job opportunity opens up, you never know what would happen.

‘€œTo be able to have this job is just a great opportunity,’€ said Harrison, who has been working as an NFL analyst for NBC Sports for three years. ‘€œWho knows what happens? You do it, you do the best you can, and maybe in two years they get rid of you and you move on. It’€™s all good. I’€™ve enjoyed myself. I’€™m going into my fourth year and we’€™ll see what happens.’€

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Patriots continue tradition of involvement at NFL rookie symposium with talks from Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater

06.25.12 at 7:03 pm ET
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Patriots’€™ veterans Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater are two of the players who will be addressing the rookies about the perils they’€™ll face in the league during this week’€™s annual rookie symposium. According to AFC PR chief Corry Rush, Devin and Jason McCourty addressed the NFC rookies Sunday, and will speak to the AFC rookies on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Slater will address the NFC rookies Tuesday and the AFC rookies on Friday.

The rookie symposium isn’€™t the same old seminar — speakers (both current and former players, as well as ex-coaches) focus on cautionary tales of sex, drugs (both performance-enhancers and otherwise), personal conduct and financial matters. Created in 1997, the Patriots have long been part of the process: Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour have addressed rookies, with Seymour talking in 2002 after his own rookie season. In a story Seymour later related to reporters, he talked a night where the rookies had to take the veterans out to dinner. A first-round pick in 2001, Seymour to fork over $15,000. ‘€œThat was when I decided to put myself on a budget,’€ he later said.

And the Patriots’€™ rookies have won the ‘€œUltimate Rookie Challenge,’€ a trivia contest held at the end of the symposium that featured questions on the materials they learned twice in the last four years, with each rookie taking home a flat-screen television for their efforts.

All of the members of New England’s 2012 draft class are expected to be in attendance this week. And in addition to McCourty and Slater, other players who have experienced a myriad of off-field issues are scheduled to address players, including Michael Vick, Adam Jones and Michael Irvin. In addition to McCourty and Slater, other current and former players scheduled to talk are Terrell Owens, Antonio Freeman, LaVar Arrington, Aeneas Williams, Jamie Dukes, Luther Ellis and Carl Eller. They will speak on a variety of topics, including subjects like ‘€œAre You Bigger Then The Game’€ and ‘€œWhat Defines Success?’€
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The latest update on the Patriots’ rookie contracts

06.22.12 at 2:34 pm ET
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The latest information we have on each one of the Patriots’€™ rookie contracts, as of Friday afternoon:

First round
Chandler Jones: The defensive end out of Syracuse inked a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year. However, there’€™s one wrinkle in the contract, per Pro Football Talk: Jones, who was picked 21st overall, doesn’€™t have the same deal that last year’€™s No. 21 got (Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor) in that there’€™s no fourth-year roster bonus of $750,000. It’€™s an interesting part of the contract, one that could come into play in 2015.

Dont’€™a Hightower: Unsigned. The Alabama linebacker, taken with the 25th overall pick, is represented by Pat Dye, Jr., of SportsTrust Advisors. Hightower is one of 14 first-round picks that are unsigned as of Friday afternoon, a group that includes the top eight overall picks. At No. 25, Hightower is the lowest first-round pick that hasn’€™t signed.

Second round
Tavon Wilson: The defensive back out of Illinois was the first Patriots’€™ draftee to sign, agreeing to a four-year, $4.217 million contract that includes a $1.507 million signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of Wilson reports that the first two years of the deal, $390,000 and $581,722, are fully guaranteed, while the last two years, $773,444 and $965,166, aren’€™t fully guaranteed.

Third round
Jake Bequette: The defensive lineman out of Arkansas, taken with the 90th overall pick, inked a four-year, $2.654 million contract. Bequette has base salaries of $390,000 (2012), $480,000 (2013), $570,000 (2014) and $660,000 (2015), per NFLPA documents. Per a league source, he got a $539,800 signing bonus. And according to Wilson, Bequette received annual workout bonuses of $5,000 over the last three years of the deal.

Sixth round
Nate Ebner: The defensive back/former rugby star has signed a four-year deal that includes base salaries of $390,000 (2012), $480,000 (2013), $570,000 (2104) and $660,000 (2015), per NFLPA documents. In addition, a league source indicates that Ebner received a $96,600 signing bonus.

Seventh round
Alfonzo Dennard: Dennard signed a four-year, $2.157 million contract that includes $57,848 signing bonus, according to a league source. The former Nebraska cornerback will have base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 over the course of the deal.

Jeremy Ebert: The wide receiver out of Northwestern signed a four-year contract worth a total of $2.148 million, according to Wilson. (Ebert’€™s deal includes a $48,200 signing bonus.) He also has the same base salaries of Bequette, Ebner and Dennard: $390,000 (2012), $480,000 (2013), $570,000 (2014) and $660,000 (2015).

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Tom Brady talks about ‘Funny or Die,’ dancing at Wes Welker’s wedding … and some football

06.21.12 at 2:43 pm ET
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In an interview with’€™s ‘€œExtra Mustard’€ editor Jimmy Traina, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talked about a variety of topics, including his work in a recent ‘€œFunny or Die’€ video, the evolution of his hair and whether or not he plans to dance at Wes Welker‘€™s upcoming wedding. (“Hell yeah, I’ll dance.”) He also talked some football, including whether or not he thought Rob Gronkowski had a chance at the final Hail Mary at the end of Super Bowl XLVI.

‘€œYou know, it’€™s interesting because this is the first time someone’€™s asked me that question. I threw it and when I let it go, I knew we were gonna have a chance. The ball got batted up in the air and I saw it tip 60 yards away from me, but then I got knocked down, so I fell to the ground and I saw the ball get deflected. Unfortunately, though, I looked over and saw the bad guys running on the field.’€

He also touches on losing two Super Bowls to the Giants:

‘€œWe play them every year in the preseason. Geographically, we’€™re very close, so yeah, there’€™s something to losing to them twice in the Super Bowl in the most meaningful game of the year and the most meaningful game of our lives. You think about some bad memories from games you lose and there’€™s that blue uniform with white numbers. That’€™s what you think about it.’€

He also talks about his ‘€œsecond favorite team,’€ the Jets, and is asked whether or not he could play for Rex Ryan.

‘€œWe’€™ve had some trouble with them. Last year, we beat them twice. The year before we split and they beat us in the playoffs. So they’€™re a good team. I got a lot of respect for that team. They play hard. They’€™re well coached. It’€™s a heated rivalry. There’€™s no love lost between the two teams.’€

For the complete Q&A CLICK HERE.

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Catching up with … the Dolphins

06.20.12 at 3:28 pm ET
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Part of a continuing series that takes a look at what some of the Patriots’€™ biggest competition in the AFC is doing this offseason. We’€™ve already looked at last year’€™s playoff teams: Ravens, Steelers, Broncos, Texans and Bengals. In addition, we’ve broken down the division with looks at the Jets and Bills. We wrap it up today with the Dolphins.

When we last saw the Dolphins, they were rebounding from a hideous 0-7 start to finish the year with six wins in their last nine games (two of those defeats to end the season were by three points or less). They allowed them to finish with a 6-10 mark — not bad at all after the awful beginning. The Patriots swept them in 2011, winning the regular-season opener 38-24 in Miami and beating them 27-24 on Christmas Eve in Foxboro, 27-24.

Who they added: In addition to new head coach Joe Philbin (a former Green Bay coordinator who is also a former assistant with Harvard and Northeastern), the Dolphins signed quarterback David Garrard as a consolation prize after losing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith. They added versatile defensive back Richard Marshall in free agency, and picked up wide receiver Chad Ochocinco after he was cut loose after one season with the Patriots. Other free-agent additions include former Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton and safety Tyrell Johnson, formerly of the Vikings. In the draft, they picked up quarterback Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) in the first round, who has already been anointed as the signal-caller of the future.

Who’€™s gone: The Dolphins dealt No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall with the Bears for a pair of draft picks, and didn’t really replace him. They also released safety Yeremiah Bell a week into free agency … after telling him they weren’t going to cut him loose. Defensive end Kendall Langford (to St.Louis) and quarterback Chad Henne are also gone.
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Catching up with … the Bills

06.19.12 at 2:17 pm ET
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Part of a continuing series that takes a look at what some of the Patriots’€™ biggest competition in the AFC is doing this offseason. We’€™ve already looked at the JetsRavens, Steelers, Broncos, Texans and Bengals. Now, we’€™ll turn our focus to the rest of the division, with a breakdown of the Bills.

When we last saw the Bills — after a 5-2 start that included a lot of good things on both sides of the ball — they were suffering through one of the worst injury-related stretches in recent history. Reeling, they lost eight of their last nine on the way to a 6-10 finish that pretty much erased all of the good feeling that was built up at the start of the season. Buffalo split with the Patriots in 2011, winning at Ralph Wilson Stadium against New England for the first time since 2003 (34-31) but losing the regular-season finale in Foxboro, 49-21.

Who they added: You could make an argument that no team had a more impactful free agent period than the Bills. They landed the top available free agent in defensive end Mario Williams, giving him a six-year, $100 million contract that included $50 million in guaranteed money. They also swiped free agent defensive end Mark Anderson from the Patriots, creating a formidable defensive front, while adding cornerback Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina) in the first round and offensive lineman Cordy Glenn (Georgia) in the second round of the draft. And while they didn’€™t necessarily add them, the re-signing of wide receiver Stevie Johnson, middle linebacker Kirk Morrison and tight end Scott Chandler before the start of free agency allowed the Bills to lock up some of their most important assets.

Who’€™s gone: The only major departure came when left tackle Demetress Bell signed with Philadelphia. Wide receiver Roscoe Parrish also left for San Diego.

What they think of the Patriots: ‘€œIt was confidence. Bill (Belichick) and that whole organization had confidence in me to come in and do what I do which is to rush the passer and be a playmaker for the team. I worked real hard with everything I had to do. Everything just gelled at the right time. Like I said, I thank God for everything. I’€™m in a blessed situation right now. I’€™m going to try and help the Bills and the Bills nation right now and try and take it to a whole other level.’€ —Anderson on what went right for him in New England in 2011

Analysis: There is a lot to like about what the Bills did over the offseason, particularly the defensive upgrades they made. While there are some familiar questions (particularly as to whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick is a franchise quarterback, as well as receiver depth after Johnson), there appears to be a solid nucleus in place for the foreseeable future. If the ownership stays the course, they could enjoy some success sooner rather than later. However, with the Patriots and Jets considered the leaders of the pack in the AFC East, Buffalo will have to show that they can consistently compete with both New England and New York before they can be considered a long-term playoff possibility.

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Tom Brady, Logan Mankins on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes

06.19.12 at 11:36 am ET
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Thanks to Forbes, we already know that Bill Belichick is the highest-paid coach in North America. Now, Forbes tells us that two of his players — quarterback Tom Brady and offensive lineman Logan Mankins — are rolling in it as well.

Brady was ranked 28th on the list of the world’€™s 100 highest-paid athletes of the last year, as Forbes said the quarterback earmed a total of $27.1 million, including $23.1 million in total salary and $4 million in endorsements from UGGs and Under Armour. As for Mankins, he’s at No. 51 on the list with $21.9 million, including $100,000 in endorsements. No other Patriots made the list.

To provide some sort of context, the top earner on the list is boxer Floyd Mayweather, who took home $85 million. Meanwhile, White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy made $16.6 million to finish at No. 100.

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