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Sunday 7: Who could Patriots be targeting with No. 72 pick overall in NFL draft?

04.02.17 at 6:00 am ET
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Michigan tight end Jake Butt could be an option for the Patriots at No. 72 overall. (Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports)

Michigan tight end Jake Butt could be an option for the Patriots at No. 72 overall. (Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports)

1. As of now, the Patriots do not have a pick in the first or second round of the NFL draft, which means their first pick will be in the third round, No. 72 overall. This pick has actually yielded some pretty decent players over the years including defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, defensive end Olivier Vernon and guard Brian Winters. So who could the Patriots be targeting this year? A name that stands out is Michigan tight end Jake Butt. The team could be thinking of trying to find Rob Gronkowski’s replacement, and Butt could be that guy. He was likely going to be a first-round pick until he suffered a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl this past January. It’s his second torn ACL and is interesting to note Gronkowski had injury concerns when the Patriots drafted him in the second round of the 2010 draft. The Patriots wouldn’t need much out of him this year, either. He could take his time with his recovery and whatever he gave the team this year would be extra. A running back could be an option as well. Some options if still on the board include D’Onta Foreman out of Texans and Brian Hill out of Wyoming. Another position that could be targeted is defensive end and some options there include Auburn’s Carl Lawson and Trey Hendrickson out of Florida Atlantic. Keep in mind, there is still plenty of time between now and the NFL draft and the Patriots have a few avenues to find their way back into the first or second-round.

2. Sean Payton and the Saints sure were speaking a different tune this week at the NFL league meetings when talking about Malcolm Butler. Two weeks ago it seemed like a sure thing he would be playing 2017 in New Orleans, but now the likelihood is he returns to New England and plays for $3.91 million as a restricted free agent. Payton said the team will not sign Butler to an offer sheet, which means the only way out of New England for Butler is a trade. For a trade to happen he needs to first sign his tender, but secondly have he and a team agree on a long-term deal. This isn’t going the way Butler had hoped because what team wants to pay him like an unrestricted free agent and give up compensation to the Patriots? His best option appears to be to return to New England, have a good season, and then cash in next offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

3. Just like Butler, the rumors with Jimmy Garoppolo have gone away as well. Unless the Browns come up with a blockbuster package to offer the Patriots, it seems the backup quarterback will be back in New England next season. There still remains a chance considering the Browns still don’t have a reliable quarterback and there aren’t many remaining (including the draft), but the way Cleveland was talking this week in Arizona, it doesn’t appear a trade is going to happen. “Unfortunately, [there is] no hat and no rabbit [to produce a trade],” Sashi Brown, the Browns’ executive vice president, told reporters. “I think we’ve shown we want to be aggressive. That doesn’t mean that something’s necessarily going to get done.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jake Butt, Jimmy Garoppolo, Malcolm Butler

Tom Brady pokes fun at Boston Globe front page following Super Bowl LI on April Fools Day

04.01.17 at 1:48 pm ET
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Remember those early editions of the Boston Globe following Super Bowl LI? Tom Brady does too.

The quarterback poked fun at the front page on social media Saturday (April Fools Day) by posting a picture of the early edition front page, which had the title “A bitter end” for the morning after Super Bowl LI.

Obviously, the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Brady wrote: Happy April 1st! #fakenews

Happy April 1st! #fakenews

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

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Chris Long shares why he left Patriots for Eagles

04.01.17 at 12:11 pm ET
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Chris Long believes he has something left in the tank. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long believes he has something left in the tank. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

For defensive end Chris Long, he believes at age 32 he has something left in the tank and because of that wanted to play outside New England.

Long, who won a Super Bowl in his first and only year with the Patriots, signed a two-year deal with the Eagles this past week.

“It wasn’t any bad blood,” Long told Philadelphia reporters on Friday. “Just football-wise, it was more about finding a positive, and the positive for me, the thing I enjoy the most is playing in a situation that allows me to be proud of what I put on the field every Sunday. Pretty quickly after the season I was able to be straight up with the coaches there, who I admire a lot, that I was probably going to look to go elsewhere.”

He was part of a rotation at defensive end in a 3-4 defense, but expects to play more with the Eagles who play more of a 4-3 style.

“If you watch what I did in St. Louis for eight years, that was more like what we do here,” he said. “So schematically there’s a big difference. I’m just lucky to find a place that I think I can at least compete to try to have a role.”

Long finished the year with four sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble in the Super Bowl LI winning season. He appreciated the chance Bill Belichick took on him by signing him to a one-year deal last offseason.

“I feel like I have a lot left, I really do,” he said. “There was a time when I was injured and playing really bad and cut, rightfully so, that I wasn’t sure what my future in football was. But I was really lucky to take that step and for Coach [Bill] Belichick to take a chance on me, and I found out that I still had a lot in the tank. I didn’t miss a practice, I didn’t miss a game last year, and that was something that I was very proud of — and was able to play, and I think at a pretty high level.”

Read More: Chris Long,

Patrick Chung skates with Bruins at practice on Friday

03.31.17 at 12:55 pm ET
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Patrick Chung is a versatile player on the football field, and on Friday he showed he can do more than just play football.

The safety skated with the Bruins at the Warrior Ice Arena during their practice where he showed off his skills on the ice.

See for yourself.

Read More: Patrick Chung,

Who are Patriots working out as NFL draft approaches?

03.31.17 at 11:15 am ET
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The Patriots reportedly worked out J.J. Watt's brother. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots reportedly worked out J.J. Watt’s brother. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Believe it or not, the NFL draft is four weeks away and the Patriots have been all over the country trying to identify potential fits for their organization.

Here are a few players the Patriots have worked out of late.

(Keep in mind, just because the team works a player out, doesn’t always mean there is a better chance of the Patriots selecting that player. But, Bill Belichick did have 1-on-1 meetings with both Cyrus Jones and Malcolm Mitchell last year before selecting them.)

LB T.J. Watt, WisconsinNFL.com reports the Patriots are one of the few teams that have worked out Watt. The linebacker is the brother of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Teams have reportedly asked him to line up all over the field, including at inside and outside linebacker, as well as on the defensive line.

OT Brad Seaton, VillanovaAccording to Aaron Wilson, the Patriots are working out Seaton on Friday. Standing 6-foot-8, 327 pounds, he could be the swing tackle the team needs to develop for the future.

WR Jamari Staples, Louisville — Prior to Louisville’s pro day, New England worked out the receiver along with the Lions, per NFL.com. The Patriots are still looking to get younger at the receiver position, but really don’t have a lot of space, at least on the active roster.

DL coach Craig Kuligowski, MiamiMatt Porter of the Palm Beach Post reported Belichick spent over 30 minutes with the coach at Miami’s pro day this week. Besides Miami defensive linemen, Kuligowski coached new Patriots defensive end Kony Ealy at Missouri, so it’s likely they spoke about him as well.

Read More: Brad Seaton, Jamari Staples, T.J. Watt,

How Tom Brady became $14 million richer Friday

03.31.17 at 9:55 am ET
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Tom Brady received $14 million Friday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady received $14 million Friday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It’s been a good last few months for Tom Brady.

The quarterback won his fifth Super Bowl in February and now Friday, for essentially doing nothing, Brady collected $14 million.

When Brady signed a two-year contract extension last year, he received a $28 million signing bonus and $14 million of that was deferred to March 31, which is Friday.

The 39-year-old is signed through 2019 and has a cap hit of $14 million this season, but that number jumps to $22 million in 2018 and 2019. His contract could once again get re-visited next offseason when the organization likely will decide what to do with Jimmy Garoppolo.

When it comes to cap hits, 20 other quarterbacks have numbers higher than Brady in 2017.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Tom Brady,

It sure seems like things are trending towards Jimmy Garoppolo staying in New England

03.30.17 at 12:16 pm ET
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It doesn't look like Jimmy Garoppolo is going anywhere. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

It doesn’t look like Jimmy Garoppolo is going anywhere. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The NFL owners meetings are over and the week went by without a single Jimmy Garoppolo rumor.

Sure Bill Belichick didn’t really give a chance for rumors to start given he left Monday afternoon for a Florida scouting trip, but director of player personnel Nick Caserio was there so there was an opportunity for the Browns (and other teams) to inquire on Garoppolo.

It looks like it didn’t happen.

The Browns remain the only team left that really need a quarterback and have the most assets to give up, but it doesn’t seem like anything is cooking.

On Thursday, Tony Grossi, who covers the Browns for ESPN wrote, “the timing may be off by one year. Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t give them the time of day before departing the Arizona Biltmore two days before everyone else to scout inside linebackers.”

“Unfortunately, [there is] no hat and no rabbit [to produce a trade],” Sashi Brown, executive vice president, told reporters this week. “I think we’ve shown we want to be aggressive. That doesn’t mean that something’s necessarily going to get done.”

If Belichick really wanted to deal Garoppolo, he in all likelihood would have chosen to stay in Arizona and potentially start laying the ground work for a draft day trade, but instead he chose to skip across the country for Florida and Miami pro days.

Grossi is right that next offseason is the better year to make a play on Garoppolo. He would be an unrestricted free agent and the Browns could negotiate directly with the quarterback and offer him enough money to make him want to sign. This year the Browns are trying to come up with a package good enough to please Belichick, which given how valuable Garoppolo is to them, is proving to be very hard to do.

Sure, if Belichick was presented the right deal he would trade Garoppolo, but it appears that right deal would be potentially two first-round picks and then some. It can be seen why the Browns wouldn’t want to do such a deal.

Certainly things can change quickly, but with the draft less than a month away, it certainly seems like Garoppolo will be with the Patriots when the team hits the back fields at Gillette Stadium next summer.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo,

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