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Free Agent Snapshot: Orlando Franklin

02.18.15 at 11:58 am ET
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Orlando Franklin is one more versatile offensive linemen on the potential free agent market. (Getty Images)

Orlando Franklin is one more versatile offensive linemen on the potential free agent market. (Getty Images)

When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. With the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag, here are a few possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that all of these guys aren’€™t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they’€™re players we think would be a good fit in New England. We already featured C.J. Spiller,  Hakeem Nicks, Torrey Smith, Rahim Moore, Charles Clay, Jerry Hughes and Pernell McPhee. Here is a look at offensive guard/tackle Orlando Franklin:

Orlando Franklin
Position: Offensive guard/tackle
Age: 27, (turns 28 on April 12)
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 320 pounds

The skinny: The durable Franklin represents one of the most versatile offensive lineman to potentially hit the free agent market. He started his first three seasons out of the University of Miami playing right tackle for the Broncos before moving to left guard this past season. He has started 63 of a possible 64 regular season games in his four NFL seasons. As general manager John Elway and head coach John Fox considered options to replace left guard Zane Beadles (FA to Jacksonville) they decided on Franklin. The massive Franklin also provided more of a physical presence along the interior to boost the running game to protect Peyton Manning. Like the Bengals did in 2013 with Andrew Whitworth, the Broncos moved one of their long and powerful tackles inside to a guard spot to help open up holes on the interior line. When Franklin debuted with the Broncos in 2011, Tim Tebow became the starting quarterback midway through the season. Franklin was named to the All-Rookie Team by Football Outsiders that season after starting all 16 regular-season contests and playing in 98.2 percent of the team’€™s offensive snaps. Franklin was a key part of an offensive line that paved the way for the Broncos to lead the NFL in rushing with a franchise-record 164.5 yards per game.

By the numbers: Allowed the fewest sacks (3.5) in the NFL among 16-game starting right tackles in 2012 while becoming the first right tackle and just the sixth offensive lineman overall in Broncos history to start every regular-season game as a rookie in 2011.

Why it would work: Value added. If 32-year-old Dan Connolly leaves via free agency, the versatile Franklin would immediately step in as the replacement, adding depth to the experienced Patriots offensive line, allowing the team to part ways with Connolly, who signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract in March 2012. It’ll take possibly three times that total dollar amount to bring Franklin on board in his prime. But protecting Brady is of utmost importance. And some money could be freed if the Patriots cut left tackle Nate Solder, who is due a pricey $7.438 million for 2015. Also, if the Patriots feel they need that cap space to re-sign Darrelle Revis and/or Devin McCourty, they could work out a long-term deal with someone like Franklin and save the money on the front end. In addition to the money, there’s no doubting that the Patriots (or any team) would value someone who has proven as durable and versatile as Franklin has in his first four seasons.

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Read More: 2015 Free Agent Snapshot, Denver Broncos, Orlando Franklin, Peyton Manning

ESPN’s Kelly Naqi on MFB: Latest Patriots accusation ‘a whole separate issue’ from Deflategate

02.18.15 at 11:45 am ET
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Kelly Naqi

Kelly Naqi

Kelly Naqi, the reporter for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” who wrote the story claiming Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally gave a referee an unapproved kicking football during the AFC championship game, joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday morning to discuss the latest allegation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Naqi, a Rhode Island native and Boston College graduate, said she is not implying that her report is proof of a wider conspiracy following the initial Deflategate accusations, although she said NFL investigator Ted Wells “is looking into this.”

“This is a whole separate issue,” she said. “I do not know if this is the same locker room attendant who reportedly stopped in the bathroom on the way to the field with the game balls. This person, who is a strong person of interest, I don’t know if it’s the same person. I do know that it is, as you a said, a separate issue.

“This officials locker room attendant, whose job it is to oversee the officials locker room — to get them food, to get them whatever they need — I was told it was atypical for an officials locker room attendant to be on the sideline during an NFL game, to be right in the team box area, which is between the 30-yard line and the 30-yard line.

“You can’t introduce a ‘K’ ball into the game. There’s a ‘K’ ball official for that. It’s an alternate official who’s assigned to playoff games. … During the playoffs, the NFL has one if its alternate NFL officials oversee the kicking balls. McNally, for reasons which we don’t know, we don’t speculate on it, but he went up to the alternate official who in the AFC championship game was an NFL back judge named Greg Yette, and he tried to introduce a ball that had not been pre-approved into the kicking game.”

Asked if the new football was not properly inflated, Naqi said she does not know.

“Not marked, that’s all I know,” she said. “The referee marks all the game balls and all the kicking balls that can go into the game. What marks Walt Anderson, the referee, used, I have no idea. Was it his initials? was it a stamp? I have no idea. But that is how the alternate official knows for a fact that these balls are approved to be used in this AFC championship game. From what my sources tell me, Jim McNally, the officials locker room attendant, went over to Greg Yette — who has not commented to me — went over to Greg Yette and handed him a ball to try to get it into the kicking balls rotation and get it to be used in the game.”

Naqi said she does not have the information about when in the first half this incident occurred, nor is she trying to make it part of a bigger picture.

“I am making no speculation,” she said.” All I’m saying is this: The officials locker room attendant clearly knows that this ball was not approved for use in the AFC championship game. Yet he tried to hand it to the ‘K’ ball official to get it put into the game. That is literally all I am saying. I don’t know if it was before the Patriots were trying to kick a field goal, I don’t know if it’s before the Colts were trying to have a kickoff, I don’t know if it’s the other way around. I never made any reference to the timing of the game because I don’t know that.”

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Read More: Deflategate, Kelly Naqi,

Mike Florio on D&C: Not much to latest Deflategate accusation

02.18.15 at 9:12 am ET
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Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the latest Deflategate news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

An ESPN report Tuesday indicated that Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally attempted to submit an unapproved kicking ball to an official during the first half of the AFC championship game. It’s not clear what advantage the Patriots would have been trying to gain by this action.

“My first reaction was ESPN’s been grinding away to try to put more meat on the bone, and this is all they have?” Florio said. “It really doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that anyone’s going to stand up and say, ‘Aha! This is the smoking gun that everyone’s been waiting for.’ And we may be waiting for it forever. There may never be one. At some point there’s going to be a report issued by Ted Wells that’s going to have all the facts in there.

“I was not surprised there has been no tangible developments in more than a couple of weeks. But I look at it and I say, yeah, this is completely different than deflating footballs, and … this is the result of an effort by ESPN to find anything they can to report on the topic.”

The Patriots reportedly believe that NFL vice president of game operations Mike Kensil is aggressively pursuing accusations against the Patriots because of his past history as a longtime Jets executive.

“I know the Patriots believe that Kensil has that bias and he’s been looking for something to stick to the Patriots,” Florio said. “It doesn’t speak well of the league office if there are employees who are allowed to act out on these agendas from past team relationships. And Kensil’s dad was at one point the president of the Jets, too. When you work for the league office, you become Switzerland. Otherwise you’re going to have these situations arise and even if Roger Goodell had no involvement in it, this all ends up on his desk and he’s the one who’s going to have to find a way through it.

“And here’s the reality: It very well could be that Kensil was acting out on a vendetta against the Patriots but also tripped over something that the NFL now has to deal with. I just hope that the NFL — as it should have done in the Saints bounty case and as it should do in every future case where there’s an allegation of cheating — broaden the lens and satisfy itself that this in an aberration, that other teams don’t do this, before hammering any one franchise. I think the NFL’s approach is, ‘When we catch somebody we’re going to nail ’em, no matter how widespread this practice may be.’ ”

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Read More: Deflategate, Mike Florio,

5 things to look for at NFL combine from Patriots perspective

02.17.15 at 10:41 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo participated in the NFL combine last year and the Patriots selected him with their second round pick. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo participated in the NFL combine last year and the Patriots selected him with their second round pick. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The NFL combine is set to kick off Wednesday in Indianapolis. where the top college prospects will work out in front of hundreds of scouts, team executives and coaches as organizations continue their preparations for the draft, which is scheduled for April 30-May 2 in Chicago.

With the Patriots holding their Super Bowl victory parade just two weeks ago Wednesday, their staff has some catching up to do when it comes to looking at players outside their organization and coming from the college game. In fact, some members of the organization who usually attend the combine will not attend because of their recent workload with the long season.

Here are five things to look for from a Patriots perspective at the combine:

1. Who from the Patriots organization is attending?

Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio and his team will have a heavy presence, who even with the Super Bowl run have been hard at work looking ahead to 2015. Coach Bill Belichick will be in attendance, as will former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who was spotted on a flight with Patriots staffers from Boston to Indianapolis on Tuesday. Scarnecchia, who retired at the end of the 2013 season, also attended the combine last season, and had a sizable impact in the Patriots selecting rookie center Bryan Stork in the fourth round.

The combine is usually the first time coaches and general managers speak after their respective seasons wrap up, but don’t expect to hear from Belichick or Caserio. Neither are scheduled to speak, but Belichick wasn’t scheduled to speak last year and he did (don’t hold your breath this year). New England will surely come up with other coaches and general managers, especially following their Super Bowl win and all things Deflategate related. Some notables who are speaking Wednesday are: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, Bills coach Rex Ryan, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Jets coach Todd Bowles. Then on Thursday: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, Colts coach Chuck Pagano and Broncos general manager John Elway. On Friday Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will speak.

2. On field workout schedule

Friday, Feb. 20: Specialists, offensive linemen, tight ends
Saturday, Feb. 21: Quarterbacks, running backs wide receivers
Sunday: Feb. 22: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Monday, Feb. 23: Defensive backs

This is where the players complete their drills including: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three cone drill and the shuttle run.

3. Positions, players to watch

From a Patriots perspective, it’s unlikely they will be taking a skill player (quarterback, running back, wide receiver) high in the draft, so from both a viewing and a team perspective, they will be paying attention more so on Friday, Sunday and Monday, specifically Friday and Sunday. Their top two positions of need would seem to be offensive and defensive line. With the Patriots having the last pick in both the first and second round (No. 32 and 64 overall) they likely will not have some of the top players at those positions available when they select. With that in mind, here are some names from those positions to keep an eye on:

Offensive line: Andrus Peat, Stanford; Cedric Ogbuhei, Texas A&M; T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh; Josue Matias, Florida State; Ereck Flowers, Miami.

Defensive line: Malcom Brown, Texas; Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma; Michael Bennett, Ohio State; Carl Davis, Iowa; Ellis McCarthy, UCLA.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Nick Caserio

Report: Locker room attendant identified, accused of trying to sneak ‘kicking’ football in AFC championship

02.17.15 at 9:56 pm ET
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Bill Belichick spent significant time leading up to the Super Bowl trying to explain Deflategate.  (Mike Petraglia/

Bill Belichick spent significant time leading up to the Super Bowl trying to explain Deflategate. (Mike Petraglia/

There now is a likely explanation for why there was such a delay at the start of the second half of the AFC championship game between the Patriots and Colts at Gillette Stadium last month.

According to a report from ESPN’s investigative unit “Outside the Lines” 48-year-old Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally has been identified as the person responsible for attempting to introduce an unapproved special teams ball into the game.

There was a significant delay at the start of the second half, and Dean Blandino confirmed before the Super Bowl that it was due to the fact that a “kicking” ball was given to referee Walt Anderson as the Patriots prepared to begin their first offensive series of the second half.

ESPN spoke with four sources familiar with the investigation into Deflategate. It is not clear whether McNally’s attempt to introduce a kicking ball is specifically related to the delay at the start of the second half or if it’s connected to the accusation of deflating footballs that were checked into the game by Anderson.

One source told ESPN that McNally, the attendant assigned to the officials’ locker room, has been interviewed by investigators for Ted Wells, the attorney the NFL hired last month to lead an investigation into allegations the Patriots intentionally used under-inflated footballs on offensive plays in the first half of that game against the Colts, won by the Patriots, 45-7.

Additionally, three sources told “Outside the Lines” that McNally has worked Patriots games for a decade, and has been in charge of the officials’ locker room at Gillette Stadium since at least 2008. In the first half of the AFC championship game, McNally tried to give the unapproved football to an alternate official who was in charge of the special-teams footballs. Those footballs are known as “kicking balls” or “K balls.”

Before every NFL game, footballs are inspected and measured by NFL officials in their locker room before they can be approved for in-game use. The “K balls” are used for special teams, and not by the offenses of either team.

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Read More: Deflategate, Jim McNally, New England Patriots,

Dante Scarnecchia heads out to Indy to lend a helping hand in NFL combine

02.17.15 at 6:07 pm ET
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Dante Scarnecchia remains an advisor to the Patriots, even in retirement. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Dante Scarnecchia remains an advisor to the Patriots, even in retirement. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The man who left the Patriots offensive line in the hands of Dave DeGuglielmo is still helping out where he can.

According to multiple reports, Dante Scarnecchia was on a flight from Boston to Indianapolis on Tuesday for the start of the NFL combine workouts in Indianapolis.

It was Scarnecchia who told the Boston Herald before Week 4 that he had faith that the offensive line would eventually gel and work well together. That faith was really tested when the Patriots, after Scarnecchia’s pronouncement, went out and were trounced 41-14 by the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sept. 29.

The key point to that gelling came with the insertion of rookie center Bryan Stork, a move that actually occurred in Kansas City, during the loss to the Chiefs. Stork was one player Scarnecchia referred to the Patriots after scouting him after retirement.

As it turns out, Scarnecchia, who retired from his offensive line job after the 2013 season, is still helping out, scouting players and advising Bill Belichick and the coaching staff. He’ll get that opportunity again this week.

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo, New England Patriots,

Report: Darrelle Revis viewed signing with Patriots as a 1-year deal

02.17.15 at 2:45 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and Darrelle Revis celebrate after Sunday's win over the Seahawks. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick and Darrelle Revis celebrate after the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In what could be a precursor of the tone of talks with the Patriots, Darrelle Revis looked at 2014 as a one-year deal to earn a long-term commitment from the Patriots. Of course, as Jets owner Woody Johnson learned after the season, the superstar shutdown corner is actually signed for 2015 at a $20 million price tag.

According to Pro Football Talk, Revis was thinking along the same lines as Johnson when he actually inked the contract with the Patriots in March 2014.

All of this began last March when the Buccaneers cut him, realizing they didn’t want to give up a high draft pick to the Jets and pay a $1.5 million bonus. Bill Belichick hopped on the chance quickly to get the shutdown corner he desperately wanted to upgrade from the departed Aqib Talib.

The contract, when it was first reported, was for one year, with a handshake agreement that the two sides would both revisit in March 2015. But that was not the case. The Patriots and Revis came to agreement on a second season. That second season provided a degree of insurance for both player and team, at a cost of a $20 million payout for the ’15 season to Revis if a long-term deal could not be struck.

From the perspective of Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft, it’s a placeholder, as he told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan after the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks.

But according to Pro Football Talk, that was not the understanding Revis had.

Revis and his representatives Schwartz & Feinsod felt the second year was designed to allow the Patriots to divide the signing bonus over two years, for cap purposes. In other words, either sign a new contract with the Patriots or be released by March 9 and sign a new deal elsewhere. The placeholder concept, according to PFT, was a bit of a curveball.

The $20 million is fully guaranteed but would preclude him from signing a multi-year deal at the top of his game in free agency that could be worth two or three times that amount on the open market. In a sense, the Patriots have a built-in, negotiated franchise tag of their own with Revis.

A complicated story is sure to have more twists and turns before the two sides come to an agreement on what’s next.

Read More: Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots,



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