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How will new TE Dwayne Allen be used with Patriots?

03.21.17 at 11:16 pm ET
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Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

The first big offseason splash the Patriots made was swinging a trade with the Colts for tight end Dwayne Allen. Allen was acquired along with a sixth-round pick in exchange for the Patriots’ fourth-round pick.

Allen, 27, is signed through 2019 with cap hits of $4.9 million this year, $5 million next year and $7.4 million in 2019 — a very reasonable contract.

It’s clear he was brought in to be a complement to Rob Gronkowski and also an insurance policy in case he gets injured. He is the Marcellus Bennett of 2016, except he has a slightly different skill set.

In his five seasons with the Colts, he’s totaled 126 receptions for 1,451 yards and 19 touchdowns. While those numbers are pretty decent, Allen is hoping for a bigger role with New England than he had in Indianapolis.

“One thing that I’ve caught on to early is Coach [Bill] Belichick’s saying of, ‘The more you can do.’ I’m just about winning,” Allen said on his opening conference call. “I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players. That’s what I’m about. I’m excited to be utilized as a football player again and not be confined to any box, but just to be a football player, a tight end.”

So, what is Allen referring to with being “excited to be utilized as a football player again?”

With the Colts he was primarily used as a blocker until the offense got into the red zone and that was where the tight end did most of his damage in the passing game. New England will use him a bunch and he will have a much bigger role in the offense than he did with Indy.

At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, the Patriots wouldn’t be doing themselves any good by not having him serve as a blocker on some plays, which will be an upgrade from Bennett last year. The one knock on Bennett would be his blocking skills, which he even admitted at times wasn’t up to par at some points last year. Also, given his success in the red zone, look for Allen to be a frequent target of Tom Brady near the goal line, especially with all the attention likely going towards Gronkowski.

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Browns reportedly could make another run at trading for Jimmy Garoppolo next week

03.21.17 at 3:59 pm ET
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The Browns could make another run at Jimmy Garoppolo next week. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Browns could make another run at Jimmy Garoppolo next week. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The last time all of the NFL was together, which was in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Patriots would not trade Jimmy Garoppolo and has stuck by his report ever since.

The NFL will once again all be together next week in Arizona at the league meetings, which means there is yet again another Garoppolo rumor.

According to ESPN’s Tony Grossi who covers the Browns, he’s been told the Browns would make another run at trading for Garoppolo in Arizona at the league meetings given the two sides would be together at the same venue.

The Browns have a number of high draft picks both this year and next year, which could be attractive to the Patriots, especially since they don’t have a first or second-round pick in this year’s draft. Despite Schefter being so adamant the Patriots won’t trade Garoppolo, if they get blown away by an offer it’s hard to imagine them saying no.

Even though the Browns acquired Brock Osweiler in a trade with Houston, the franchise reportedly is looking to trade or cut him, so they are still in the market for a quarterback, which has them still connected to Garoppolo.

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Video: Minute-by-minute look at how Tom Brady’s jersey was stolen

03.21.17 at 2:29 pm ET
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Thanks to help from the FBI, Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey was found on Monday in Mexico, along with his Super Bowl XLIX jersey.

Both were allegedly stolen by Mauricio Ortega, a former Mexican newspaper executive, who had a media credential at the Super Bowl for an international outlet.

Thanks to the great reporting by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, here is a minute-by-minute look at how Brady’s jersey was stolen from the Patriots locker room following their overtime win over the Falcons.

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Patriots need a physical running back, so who are their options?

03.21.17 at 11:40 am ET
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LeGarrette Blount is a candidate to return to the Patriots in 2017. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount is a candidate to return to the Patriots in 2017. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

No matter what people say, Rex Burkhead should not be the Patriots’ lead back in 2017.

Sure, he had a great final two weeks last season when because of injuries he was forced into a starting role with the Bengals, but it was just two weeks. In those two games, he ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries, but that was really the extent of him ever being a lead back.

Over the first 35 games of his career, he had just 19 carries. This is a sign he just doesn’t have the skill set to be used as a lead running back. He was one of the Bengals’ best special teams players last season, which is what he is — a core special teams player that can play running back in a pinch. A perfect upgrade to Brandon Bolden.

Standing 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, he’s not the LeGarrette Blount-type back the Patriots had last season. Acknowledging some of Blount’s 18 touchdowns were a product of short yardage situations and great blocking up front, a physical running back can wear down defenses and the Patriots need that element in their offense.

Here are some running backs available via free agency that fit what the Patriots need. (New England could also use one of its top picks on a running back, but that doesn’t seem likely.)

LeGarrette Blount — Blount hasn’t been signed as an unrestricted free agent, nor visited with any teams, so maybe the interest isn’t there across the league. The 30-year-old is the perfect fit for the Patriots offense, as shown last season, and has a great relationship with the organization and Bill Belichick. The one knock on Blount is ball security, displayed when he fumbled in Super Bowl LI. If Blount remains available, and would accept a one-year deal around $1 million, it would be a surprise to see him not return to New England.

Karlos Williams — This would be taking a risk as he’s been suspended twice by the league for violating the substance-abuse policy, but he is eligible to play Week 1 in 2017. Williams was selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Florida State and had a fairly successful rookie season. He totaled 517 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 carries. Standing 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he is the bigger back the Patriots need, and although he wouldn’t cost much, it would be a big risk given his off-field issues. Although this didn’t stop them from taking a chance on Blount.

Adrian Peterson — This seems like a long-shot, but if the Patriots could get him to play for say less than $5 million, why not take the chance? The team has the cap space to do it and Belichick has been known to take chances on players. Peterson has battled injuries of late, but over the course of his career the 32-year-old has had seven seasons of rushing for more than 1,000 yards. With the Patriots he would play strictly on first and second down, which could be good to keep him fresh. He also reportedly wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, which the Patriots obviously are.

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Patriots release RB Tyler Gaffney who still has yet to record a NFL carry

03.20.17 at 8:05 pm ET
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Tyler Gaffney

Tyler Gaffney

Running back Tyler Gaffney has been in the NFL for three seasons, but has yet to find a role for himself while battling injuries. In fact, he’s yet to get a carry in a regular-season game.

Gaffney’s career could now be with another team, as he was released by the Patriots on Monday.

After suffering a knee injury during training camp with Carolina in 2014, Gaffney was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots. He was then placed on season-ending injured reserve, and also spent the 2015 season on injured reserve.

Last year he suffered a foot injury in the final preseason game and was released when the team cut their roster down to 53 players. Gaffney was re-signed to the practice squad in October and spent a few weeks on the active roster, but didn’t appear in any games. He signed a futures contract after the Super Bowl.

With Gaffney now out of the picture, the Patriots have Dion Lewis, James White, D.J. Foster and Rex Burkhead on the depth chart.

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Tom Brady vows to turn stolen jerseys into something positive once getting them back

03.20.17 at 5:04 pm ET
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Tom Brady released a statement on his jerseys Monday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady released a statement on his jerseys Monday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady is hoping to turn a negative into a positive.

On Monday, it was learned with the help of the FBI, Brady’s stolen jerseys from Super Bowl XLIX and LI were found in Mexico.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the alleged thief is Mauricio Ortega, a former Mexican newspaper executive, who pretended to cover the games and then stole the jerseys in the locker room afterwards.

A video of Ortega walking out of the Patriots locker room was also surfaced on Monday.

Courtesy of NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, Brady released a statement though his agent Don Yee.

“I am happy my jerseys from SB 49 and 51 have been recovered, and I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved,” the statement read. “I know they worked hard on this case — and it is very much appreciated. Hopefully when I get the jerseys back I can make something very positive come from this experience.”

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Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jerseys are a major embarrassment for NFL

03.20.17 at 4:23 pm ET
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Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jerseys are back in Boston. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady’s missing Super Bowl jerseys are back in Boston. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

A man who was posing as an international journalist was able to get credentialed for Super Bowl LI and make off with Tom Brady’s jersey after the game. The NFL has some explaining to do.

In a statement Monday, the league announced the more than six-week hunt for the missing piece of memorabilia is over. According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the alleged thief is Mauricio Ortega, a former Mexican newspaper executive. He was found in Mexico, thanks to an effort spearheaded by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who was the first person to report the jersey had been recovered, released a video of Ortega seemingly leaving the Patriots’ locker room with Brady’s uniform top tucked underneath his arm.

This doesn’t appear to be one-time incident with Ortega. He also reportedly swiped Brady’s jersey after Super Bowl XLIX and may have taken Broncos linebacker Von Miller’s cleats following Super Bowl 50. Both items were found Monday.

In a press conference, Houston police chief Art Acevedo blasted the NFL’s security protocols.

“I just hope the NFL security takes a look because they are the one’s responsible for securing the locker rooms,” he said. They really need to check their protocols and their efforts because there are these two jerseys we are aware of and required a response from the Houston Police Department and other partners to recover them,” he told reporters. “Quite frankly, they are going to end up in the hands that they belong as in Mr. Brady and his family.”

At this point, it’s unclear how Ortega was credentialed for Super Bowl LI. He may have legally obtained press passes, or more troublingly, falsified documents in an effort to pose as a working member of the media. Either way, the NFL must reassess its credentialing policy. It’s an embarrassment for a $14 billion business to experience a security lapse of this magnitude at its biggest event of the year. This episode makes the league look like a Mickey Mouse operation.

While it’s amusing to think about the FBI dedicating resources to find a missing jersey, the item has been valued at $500,000. Last month, Patriots owner Robert Kraft compared the heist to to the robbery of a “great Chagall or Picasso.” And it happened moments after the Super Bowl, where a finite number of people, such as players’ friends and family members, are allowed to be in the locker room.

It appears as if Ortega was able to steal valuable Super Bowl memorabilia from the winning team for three straight years. In a world of near constant surveillance, that seems to be impossible.

The NFL is wearing egg on its face. Big time.

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