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POLL: Will 2012 be Wes Welker’s last year with the Patriots?

07.16.12 at 4:32 pm ET
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Per multiple reports, the Patriots and Wes Welker have not been able to reach an agreement on a long-term deal before the Monday deadline, and the receiver will now play out the 2012 season under his franchise tag of roughly $9.5 million.

Welker was hit with the franchise tag this spring, and under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the two sides had until Monday at 4 p.m. to reach an agreement on a long-term deal. However, the player and team were unable to come to an accord, which means they are prohibited from talking about a deal beyond 2012 until after the season.

Do you think Wes Welker be with the Patriots beyond the 2012 season?

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Forbes: Patriots are world’s sixth-most valuable sports team

07.16.12 at 3:45 pm ET
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The Patriots are the world’s sixth-most valuable sports team in the world, according to Forbes Magazine. Forbes estimates the worth of the franchise to be an estimated $1.4 billion, up from $1.37 billion last year.

The Patriots, who are tied for sixth overall with the Dodgers, come in third among all NFL teams — the Yankees and Cowboys were tied at third at $1.85 billion, and the Redskins were fifth at $1.56 billion. (Soccer club Manchester United and Real Madrid were ranked Nos. 1 and 2.)

Forbes, which also had New England at No. 6 last year, says the Patriots “are one of the NFL’s best-run teams on and off the field. The Patriots have sold out every game at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002 and made the playoffs eight of the past nine years. Quarterback Tom Brady is just the second quarterback, after John Elway, to lead his team to the Super Bowl five times. Brady’s last trip to the Super Bowl ended in disappointment when the Pats lost to the New York Giants for the second time in five seasons in the big game.”

For the complete look at the Forbes 50 list, click HERE.

Tom Brady made a whole lot of money last year

07.16.12 at 2:17 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady salary ranked him 26th among the highest earning American athletes over the past year, according to the latest edition of Sports Illustrated.

In the magazine’s annual “Fortunate 50″ list — based solely of an athlete’€™s salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees — Brady income of $12.25 million in overall salary and winnings and $10 million in endorsements left him at $22.25 million, good for 26th overall. Brady, the only member of the Patriots to make the list, is the fifth highest-paid football player, trailing only Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (seventh overall at $31 million), Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (10th overall at ($26.75 million), Bills defensive end Mario Williams (13th overall at $25.5 million) and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (23rd overall at $22.75 million).

Overall, the list is notable for the fact that for the first time since it was started in 2004, Tiger Woods is not No.1. That honor falls to boxing great Floyd Mayweather, whose $85 million is based entirely on his salary/winnings, no endorsement dollars. (Phil Mickelson and Woods are two and three, respectively). Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is 50th with $15,812,500.

Brady is no stranger to these salary-themed countdowns. Check out where he landed on Forbes’ list earlier this year here. And for SI’s complete list, click here.

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Gerard ‘Big Money’ Warren ready for another season with the Patriots

07.16.12 at 9:38 am ET
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Veteran Patriots’ defensive lineman Gerard Warren sounded an optimistic note about his chances for a 12th NFL season over the weekend, telling that he’s looking forward to another season in the league.

‘€œAs many years as possible, it is a blessing to be in the NFL for 11 years,’€ said the former Florida Gator, who has now been with New England for the last two seasons. ‘€œAs long as I can go, as long as a coach and a team or an organization can see me being productive and helping their organization, then I am willing to go out and put in the work and the effort and to come out and play.’€

Speaking at his second annual youth football camp in Lake Butler, Fla. — held in conjunction with Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller, a fellow Union County star — Warren said that it was important not only for young players to develop physical toughness, but also mental toughness. He said that resiliency is one of the reasons he’s been able to last as long as he has in the NFL.

‘€œPretty fortunate, but I attribute a lot of that to just being blessed and protected, but also to what was built and instilled in me here at Union County,’€ said Warren, who will turn 34 next week. ‘€œWe harp on building mental and physical toughness.

‘€œI have had a few nice injuries. It’s just the fact to having the mental (toughness) to block it out and the pain tolerance to go out there and go,’€ Warren added. ‘€œFrom high ankle sprains, torn cartilage, fingers, hyper extended elbows, separated shoulders, there has been injuries but it’s about the mental toughness and being able to be reliable and counted upon.’€

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Tom Brady lands at No. 4 on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ list

06.27.12 at 9:42 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was rated as No. 4 on the NFL Network’€™s ‘€œTop 100’€ countdown, which concluded Wednesday night. Brady, who was ranked No. 1 on last year’€™s list, trailed only Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson (No. 3), New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (No. 2) and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (No. 1).

Several NFL players were quizzed about Brady as part of the segment, including Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

‘€œBest, best ever, best ever, best in the game,’€ Revis said. ‘€œI’€™ll probably tell my kids and grandkids about him.

‘€œThe guys’€™ accuracy is unbelievable,’€ he added. ‘€œHe throws the ball where you as a defender can’€™t get it.’€

He also got some love from his teammates.

‘€œHe’€™s the ultimate competitor. The guy has accomplished so much, and it’€™s never enough,’€ said Patriots receiver Wes Welker.

Brady was the sixth Patriot on the list: Tight end Rob Gronkowski (No. 21), Welker (No. 23), left guard Logan Mankins (No. 64) and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (No. 81) were the other Patriots in the top 100.

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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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