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How the Vladimir Ducasse signing will affect the Patriots

07.08.10 at 12:48 am ET
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brandon-spikes

Now that Vladimir Ducasse has his deal done, look for Patriots' linebacker Brandon Spikes (pictured) to follow in a similar fashion shortly. (AP)

The Jets signing of UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse Wednesday should have an impact on the Patriots on a couple of levels:

First, eagle-eyed Tweeter @Rich_The_Hill made an excellent point as soon as the deal was announced — with Ducasse going at No. 61 overall and the Patriots taking linebacker Brandon Spikes one spot later, it looks like the market has been set for New England’s negotiations with the former Florida linebacker. “That sets [Brandon] Spikes’ contract (1 pick later) at $3.189M,” he Tweeted. “Bank on it.” Given the history and the way contracts are uniformly slotted, that feels about right. While the reports on the signing bonus vary (I’ve seen everything from $1.46 million to just over $1 million guaranteed reported), it’s a safe bet that Spikes’ guaranteed money should exceed $1 million.

Second, Ducasse was the first second-round pick of the 2010 draft who has agreed to a deal. Keeping in mind the Patriots have three second-rounders (Spikes, Rob Gronkowski and Jermaine Cunningham), this will likely start the run on second-round signings, which means the trio could be in the fold sooner rather than later.

(On that same point, I have spoken with several people around the league over the last week or two — including agents — and they all anticipate that the Patriots will have all 12 of their draft picks in the fold before the end of July.)

•Randy Moss was back in his home state of West Virginia over the weekend as a part of the Feed the Children Caravan. “That’s something I’ve always stood for,” the Patriots receiver told reporters who spoke with him at a stop in Huntington, West Virginia. “For us to team up and feed the children, it says a lot.

“I always said you really don’t see what’s going on behind closed doors,” added Moss, who was taking part along with fellow West Virginian and NBA star O.J. Mayo. “When I pulled up and saw all those boxes … that’s a lot of families and children that need food and good nutrition. Hopefully, we can do more for his community and my community and the state of West Virginia.”

•Look for Patriots coach Bill Belichick in a new film about Alabama coach Nick Saban. Called “The Gamechanger,” the film promises what this story calls “an unpredented, behind-the-scenes look into the life of Saban as a coach, friend and husband.” Belichick, a close friend of Saban, worked with him when the two were in Cleveland, and is one of several people interviewed for the film, which is set to open Aug. 24.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Nick Saban

UMass product Ducasse inks deal with Jets

07.07.10 at 3:29 pm ET
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UMass product Vladimir Ducasse was signed to a four-year, $3.25 million deal by the Jets on Wednesday, a package that includes a $1,025,000 signing bonus, according to NFL.com. The second-round pick was a three-year starter with Massachusetts, and the 6-foot-4, 332-pounder earned first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors in 2008 and 2009. He is likely going to start at guard this year for New York.

Read More: Vladimir Ducasse,

Pats’ safety Bret Lockett joins Brady and Welker in workouts out West

07.06.10 at 10:42 pm ET
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Looks like Tom Brady and Wes Welker have a running partner.

Patriots safety Bret Lockett, a California native, Tweeted from his verified account on Tuesday night: “Just got done running [with] Tom Brady and Wes Welker at UCLA. Almost just passed out lol. Time to go hard now!!”

Lockett, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by Cleveland but cut by the Browns last September, was claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Sept. 7, 2009. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 9, and finished the season with seven tackles over 10 games.

Brady’s West Coast workouts have drawn plenty of interest — the quarterback has been at UCLA on several occasions this offseason, doing plenty of work with Welker. In addition, Brady’s personal passing guru Tom Martinez (who hails from the Bay Area) recently told ESPN he was tutoring Brady last weekend in the Los Angeles area.

Read More: Bret Lockett, Tom Brady, tom martinez, Wes Welker

Mike Lombardi: Welker ahead of schedule on rehab

07.06.10 at 9:26 pm ET
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For a guy who suffered an absolutely horrific knee injury in the regular-season finale against the Texans in January, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker looked surprisingly nimble in workouts this spring. He was limited, but was still able to participate in practice for large stretches of time — his usual MO involved working with the team through stretching and opening drills before retreating from sight when situational drills began.

There was so much made of his appearances even the receiver was a little taken aback at the reaction — ”I didn’t think it’d be that big a deal,” he said at one point.

Now comes the news from Michael Lombardi of NFL Network that Welker is ahead of schedule when it comes to returning to the field. On Tuesday night’s edition of NFL Network’s Total Access, Lombardi said Welker likely won’t be a full participant when training camp begins in late July, but the receiver is making enough progress in his rehab that he’ll “probably” be cleared for team workouts at some point during training camp.

Welker has been asked a couple of times this spring about a potential return date, and he has been noncommittal.

“I know the coaches and teammates have confidence in me just like I do them, and we’re just going to move along as quickly as we can,” he said last month. “I want to get back as early as possible. Whenever that is, is when it is. My main goal is just working hard and getting back with my teammates as early as possible.”

Read More: Wes Welker,

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.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty

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.

Read More: Bill Polian, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

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.”

Read More: Tom Brady, tom martinez,
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