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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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Catching up with … the Bengals

06.19.12 at 12:28 am 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 and Texans. Today, we take a look at the Bengals:

The last time we saw the Bengals, they had survived the fistfight that is the AFC North, going 9-7 and making the postseason. Sure, they were depantsed in the wild-card round by the Texans, 31-10, but the fact that Cincinnati was able to finish above .500 and reach the postseason is certainly a step in the right direction for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. They’€™ll look to build on that in 2012 with one of the better offseasons in the NFL.

Who they added: The Bengals made some wise free-agent signings, including BenJarvus Green-Ellis, cornerback Jason Allen (Houston) and guard Jacob Bell (St. Louis). They also added defensive linemen Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey. In addition, they had what many consider to be a very good draft, getting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) and offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) in the first round, to go along with defensive lineman Devon Still (Penn State) in the second round and safety George Iloka (Boise State) in the fifth round, two players who many believe can contribute immediately.

Who’€™s gone: The Bengals lost a pair of quality defensive linemen in Frostee Rucker (Cleveland) and Jonathan Fanene (New England) in free agency.

What they think of the Patriots: There’€™s no bad blood between the two teams, but it’€™s worth mentioning that they effectively pulled off an offseason trade through free agency, swapping Green-Ellis for Fanene. While Green-Ellis will be used as the primary back for the Bengals, look for Fanene to be used situationally (primarily as an interior pass rusher) in his first season in New England.

Analysis: The Bengals finished strong and made great strides in the offseason, but they’€™re still victims of geography: Frankly, it will still take a massive effort for them to be consistent playoff performers in the always brutally tough AFC North, a division that has almost always been ruled by the Steelers and Ravens. It can be done, and Cincinnati has taken a lot of steps in the right direction over the last 12 months, but until the Bengals can prove themselves to be a consistent winner — that is to say, when they can put together back-to-back trips to the postseason — they are at the back-end of the playoff picture in the AFC.

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Julian Edelman impresses Blue Jays coaching staff in weekend workout in Toronto

06.18.12 at 5:45 pm ET
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Julian Edelman is one of several Patriots who can bring a versatile dynamic to the field. A college quarterback, he’€™s lined up at wide receiver, defensive back and returner since he arrived in Foxboro before the start of the 2009 season.

But a weekend stint working out with the Blue Jays in Toronto showed off a side of Edelman’€™s versatility that few have seen. Edelman spent the weekend in Toronto hanging out with the Blue Jays and pal J.P. Arencibia. (The two have become friends through linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was at Tennessee with Arencibia.) On Sunday before the Phillies-Blue Jays game, working with Blue Jays coach Brian Butterfield, who was born in Maine and is a big Patriots’€™ fan, Edelman put on a show.

Over the years, several Patriots have shown some baseball experience: Quarterback Tom Brady was drafted as a catcher out of high school by the Expos, while safety Jarrad Page (who spent the 2010 season with the Patriots) played college baseball at UCLA and was good enough to get drafted by three different teams before committing to football. But it’€™s unlikely they ever impressed a major league coaching staff like the 26-year-old Edelman did on Sunday.

‘€œHe worked out for us at shortstop and took ground balls and fly balls, and he took batting practice with Group Four, and he just wowed us,’€ said Butterfield. ‘€œHe worked unbelievably hard, and was just soaked by the end of batting practice.

‘€œ[Second baseman] Kelly Johnson took balls alongside him, and said he was amazing. He’€™s never seen footwork as good as that. The first fungo you hit him, he just exploded and attacked the ball,’€ he added. ‘€œDwayne Murphy, who won seven Gold Gloves, was watching him take fly balls and said he was impressive.’€

During batting practice, Butterfield said Edelman hit five homers, including two into the middle deck at Rogers Centre.

‘€œIn his first round or two, he struggled a little, but you could see the bat speed and the athleticism. And then, he got hot — he hit two balls into the middle deck and five home runs total,’€ Butterfield said.

‘€œThe two in the middle deck were absolute bombs. When he hit them, the guys were just screaming and yelling and telling each other, ‘€˜Look at that!’€™ He just wowed all of our guys. I’€™m a huge fan of his to begin with, and he was just even better than I thought. A great athlete.’€
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