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Patriots players who potentially could get asked to take pay cut for 2017

02.27.17 at 3:16 pm ET
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Danny Amendola is a candidate to take a pay cut for 2017. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

Danny Amendola is a candidate to take a pay cut for 2017. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

With the new league year set to begin March 9, this is the time of year where teams like to cut some money off the cap by either releasing players, or re-doing a players’ contract to lower his salary for the next season.

Currently, the Patriots have $63 million in cap space so it doesn’t seem likely they will flat out release players, but the team does have a few that might be asked to take pay cuts for 2017.

Here are four players we see potentially falling into that category.

Danny Amendola — This is the most obvious one, and it is the only way the receiver will return to New England in 2017. As it stands now, Amendola has a cap hit of just under $8 million, which is the fourth-highest on the team. Amendola knows in order to return he will need to re-do his deal once again and by all reports seems interested in doing so. The 31-year-old likely won’t have a large role next year if he does return, but it is an important one. He’s relied on heavily by Tom Brady on third-down and also he’s a major part in the punt return game to take some of the load off of Julian Edelman.

Nate Solder — The left tackle is in the final year of a two-year contract, which has him on the books for a $11.2 million cap hit in 2017, the second-highest on the team. Left tackles are very valuable across the league, but Solder should not be the second-highest paid player on the Patriots. When it comes to a new deal, the team could potentially look to add another year or two to his contract and lessen the cap hit for the upcoming year. Solder is 28 years old and overall has done a solid job protecting Brady’s blindside over the years.

Patrick Chung — Chung has two years left on his contract, but has a cap hit in 2017 of $5.4 million, the second-highest on the defensive side of the ball. If the Patriots want to keep both Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, as well as potentially pay Malcolm Butler, they need as much free money as they can and lowering Chung’s salary next year a little could be a way to do that. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but Chung appears to enjoy playing in New England and could be a player to take a pay cut in order to benefit the team.

Shea McClellin — The former Bears linebacker signed a three-year deal last offseason for just over $9 million and had a cap hit of $2.3 million last year which goes up to $3.2 million this season. Every dollar counts, so McClellin could be a player the team asks to take a small pay cut to use towards key players like Donta’ Hightower, Harmon and Ryan.

Read More: Danny Amendola, Nate Solder, Patrick Chung, Shea McClellin

Potential contract extension for Dont’a Hightower with Patriots reportedly ‘not imminent’

02.27.17 at 2:56 pm ET
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The Patriots and Dont'a Hightower reportedly aren't close to a contract extension. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots and Dont’a Hightower reportedly aren’t close to a contract extension. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

There’s less than two days before the franchise tag window expires, so the Patriots are nearing the time to make a decision with linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Hightower seems the most likely member of the team to get the tag if it uses it at all, and according to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, there isn’t a strong indication either way of what the team plans to do.

The report adds a contract extension for Hightower is not imminent. But, it is worth noting if the Patriots were to place the franchise tag on Hightower, that would be a sign the two sides are close to a contract extension.

It wouldn’t make sense for the team to franchise Hightower if they didn’t intend on keeping the long-term contract negotiations going with the ultimate goal of getting a long-term contract done, like the Patriots have done in the past with players they have franchised.

Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have used the tag nine times. It is worth noting even if Hightower hits free agency, he could still return to the Patriots like Devin McCourty did a few years ago.

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Patriots announce replacement for Brian Daboll as tight ends coach

02.27.17 at 1:54 pm ET
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As the team usually does when finding new position coaches, the Patriots promoted from within.

New England named Nick Caley tight ends coach Monday afternoon.

Caley had been a coaching assistant with the team for the past two seasons after coaching in the college ranks for 10 years. He coached at John Carroll (2005-06), Akron (2006-07), Auburn (2008), Iowa State (2009-11), Eastern Illinois (2012), Arkansas (2013) and Florida Atlantic (2014).

He was also a graduate of John Carroll, just like Josh McDaniels and Nick Caserio.

Caley replaces Brian Daboll, who left the Patriots earlier this month to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama.

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What picks do Patriots have in 2017 NFL draft?

02.27.17 at 11:45 am ET
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With the compensatory picks being dished out to teams last Friday, the 2017 NFL draft order is set.

As it stands now, the Patriots are scheduled to make eight selections over the three days, which will begin April 27 in Philadelphia.

Here are the Patriots’ selections.

Round 1 — No. 32 overall
Round 2 — No. 64 overall
Round 3 — Nos. 96 and 103 overall
Round 4 — No. 137 overall
Round 5 — Nos. 163 and 183 overall
Round 7 — No. 239 overall
*Note, the Patriots also had another pick in Round 4, No. 132 overall, but forfeited it because of the Deflategate penalty.

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Could Patriots ever get No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in trade for Jimmy Garoppolo? It’s unlikely, but still possible

02.27.17 at 10:13 am ET
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What could the Patriots potentially get for Jimmy Garoppolo? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

What could the Patriots potentially get for Jimmy Garoppolo? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

With all the NFL teams in Indianapolis this week for the NFL combine, there is likely to be some buzz on a potential trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Teams that are most interested in the quarterback are likely the Browns, Bears, 49ers and Texans.

It will likely take at least a first-round pick and then some to get the Patriots to deal away Garoppolo, and with each passing day the more and more likely it seems this will happen.

The Browns have two first-round picks (No. 1 and No. 12) in addition to having a total of five picks in the first three rounds, so they seem the most logical trading partner. The biggest question is how much can the Patriots actually get for Garoppolo? While it remains unlikely, it is possible the Browns could trade the No. 1 overall pick for him and the 49ers could trade the No. 2 overall pick for him.

It seems crazy, but there reasons behind it.

The quarterback class coming out in the draft isn’t good at all. Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer just don’t seem like franchise quarterbacks. Garoppolo certainly has a better chance to be one than any rookie does, so if a team is set on finding a franchise quarterback, Garoppolo is better than any player they could get at No. 1 or No. 2 overall.

Furthermore, there have been indications the Browns and 49ers would be willing to deal their top picks (not necessarily for Garoppolo, but in general).

In her mailbag posted Sunday, Mary Kay Cabot of (who is very connected to the Browns franchise) speculated the Browns could actually trade the No. 1 overall pick to the Patriots for Garoppolo. She wrote ideally the team would trade the No. 12 overall pick, but “if it turns into a bidding war and they have to go that high, why not?”

Again, it comes down to Garoppolo being better than any other quarterback in the draft — and by a good margin — so it wouldn’t make the worst sense in the world.

San Fransisco seems open to dealing its No. 2 pick and knows selecting a quarterback with that top pick just for the sake of it isn’t a good way of doing business.

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Rob Gronkowski weighs in on Martellus Bennett’s impending free agency

02.26.17 at 3:10 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski hopes to see Martellus Bennett get a big contract in free agency. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski hopes to see Martellus Bennett get a big contract in free agency. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t all fun and games for Rob Gronkowski at the Daytona 500 this weekend.

Gronkowski was asked for his thoughts on Martellus Bennett as the tight end enters free agency.

“I’m hoping that he breaks the bank,” Gronkowski said, via ESPN. “Whenever you see a tight end break the bank, it’s good for the industry, it’s good for the position. You want to see the position grow.”

If Bennett does indeed break the bank this offseason, it likely won’t be with the Patriots.

“I want to see him do whatever he’s got to do,” Gronkowski said. “I don’t make the calls.”

Gronkowski and Bennett played just eight games together in 2016 as the Arizona product dealt with hamstring and back injuries this year. Bennett battled through injuries himself, but was able to play in all 16 games. He caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns.

As it relates to his next contract, Bennett made just over $5 million this past season and coming off the season he had will likely want to make more per year with his next contract. Being 30 years old, it likely won’t be a megadeal, but he should be able to cash in.

Gronkowski currently is signed through the end of 2019 with cap hits of $6.75 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019.

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Read More: Martellus Bennett, Rob Gronkowski,

Rob Gronkowski seems to be enjoying himself at Daytona 500

02.26.17 at 2:31 pm ET
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It looks like the Summer of Gronk has started early.

Rob Gronkowski attended the Daytona 500 for Monster Energy, a new sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series, this weekend. The Patriots tight end was asked about the Monster Energy Girls, who drew a lot of attention this week.

He was asked if he likes the girls or the drink more?

“I’m a fan of both of them,” Gronkowski said to USA Today’s For The Win. “I got my own drink, too. I make the girls make my own drink so I get the benefit of both.”

Gronkowski has enjoyed the experience of being at the race track.

“Being part of the monster crew, them bringing me around, meeting all the drivers and meeting all the people here, it’s just a blast,” he said. “It’s my first time at Daytona and it’s awesome.”

The tight end also joined the Fox broadcast of the race where he interviewed one of the Monster Energy Girls in typical Gronk fashion. See below for the video.

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