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A pre-camp look at the status of the Patriots’ rookie contracts

07.17.12 at 12:16 pm ET
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We’€™ve run some of this info a few times over the last couple of months, but it’€™s always worth revisiting, especially with camp looming (rookies are scheduled to report to Gillette Stadium on Thursday). Here’€™s another look at the status of the Patriots’€™ rookies and their contracts:

First round’€¨ — Chandler Jones: The defensive end out of Syracuse inked a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year. Per Rotoworld, the entire deal is for $8.173 million, with $7.42 million guaranteed. (That includes a $4.384 million signing bonus.) Per NFLPA documents, his base salaries for the duration of the contract are as follows: $390,000 (2012), $761,522 (2013), $1.133 million (2014), $1.504 million (2015).

Dont’€™a Hightower: The only unsigned member of New England’€™s rookie class. 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 who remain unsigned, a group that includes the top eight picks. (Per ESPN Boston, the deal is being held up because of fourth-year guarantees.)

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 have base sslaries of $390,000 and $581,722, and are fully guaranteed, while the last two years (at $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 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).

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower, Jake Bequette

What’s next for Wes Welker and the Patriots?

07.16.12 at 6:40 pm ET
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The Monday deadline for a long-term deal for Wes Welker has come and gone. So what does this mean for his future with the franchise?

Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, players like Welker who were hit with the franchise tag had until 4 p.m. on Monday to reach a new deal or play the entire 2012 season under the franchise tender — in Welker’€™s case, roughly $9.5 million. The failure to reach a new deal means that the sides face the latter scenario, which sets up three potential outcomes:

1) Welker and the Patriots reach an accord on a ‘€œlong’€ term deal following the season. (In quotes because any deal at that point probably wouldn’€™t be longer than three years, tops.)

2) Welker becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2013, and New England hits him with the franchise tag once again (expected to be roughly $11 million). If he does stay healthy for the duration of 2012 and 2013, that would give Welker two years at just over $20 million. Not a bad deal, but considering Welker’€™s production, that would make him one of the most underpaid players in the league.

3) The Patriots believe the escalating 2013 franchise tag number makes another game of tag with Welker too cost-prohibitive — particularly with a flat cap expected in 2013 — and they simply decide to let him walk after the upcoming season. Remember, this is a franchise that has a well-earned reputation for cutting ties with veterans a year too early as opposed to a year too late. Welker would then become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

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POLL: Will 2012 be Wes Welker’s last year with the Patriots?

07.16.12 at 4:32 pm ET
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Per multiple reports, the Patriots and Wes Welker have not been able to reach an agreement on a long-term deal before the Monday deadline, and the receiver will now play out the 2012 season under his franchise tag of roughly $9.5 million.

Welker was hit with the franchise tag this spring, and under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the two sides had until Monday at 4 p.m. to reach an agreement on a long-term deal. However, the player and team were unable to come to an accord, which means they are prohibited from talking about a deal beyond 2012 until after the season.

Do you think Wes Welker be with the Patriots beyond the 2012 season?

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Forbes: Patriots are world’s sixth-most valuable sports team

07.16.12 at 3:45 pm ET
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The Patriots are the world’s sixth-most valuable sports team in the world, according to Forbes Magazine. Forbes estimates the worth of the franchise to be an estimated $1.4 billion, up from $1.37 billion last year.

The Patriots, who are tied for sixth overall with the Dodgers, come in third among all NFL teams — the Yankees and Cowboys were tied at third at $1.85 billion, and the Redskins were fifth at $1.56 billion. (Soccer club Manchester United and Real Madrid were ranked Nos. 1 and 2.)

Forbes, which also had New England at No. 6 last year, says the Patriots “are one of the NFL’s best-run teams on and off the field. The Patriots have sold out every game at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002 and made the playoffs eight of the past nine years. Quarterback Tom Brady is just the second quarterback, after John Elway, to lead his team to the Super Bowl five times. Brady’s last trip to the Super Bowl ended in disappointment when the Pats lost to the New York Giants for the second time in five seasons in the big game.”

For the complete look at the Forbes 50 list, click HERE.

Tom Brady made a whole lot of money last year

07.16.12 at 2:17 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady salary ranked him 26th among the highest earning American athletes over the past year, according to the latest edition of Sports Illustrated.

In the magazine’s annual “Fortunate 50″ list — based solely of an athlete’€™s salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees — Brady income of $12.25 million in overall salary and winnings and $10 million in endorsements left him at $22.25 million, good for 26th overall. Brady, the only member of the Patriots to make the list, is the fifth highest-paid football player, trailing only Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (seventh overall at $31 million), Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (10th overall at ($26.75 million), Bills defensive end Mario Williams (13th overall at $25.5 million) and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (23rd overall at $22.75 million).

Overall, the list is notable for the fact that for the first time since it was started in 2004, Tiger Woods is not No.1. That honor falls to boxing great Floyd Mayweather, whose $85 million is based entirely on his salary/winnings, no endorsement dollars. (Phil Mickelson and Woods are two and three, respectively). Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is 50th with $15,812,500.

Brady is no stranger to these salary-themed countdowns. Check out where he landed on Forbes’ list earlier this year here. And for SI’s complete list, click here.

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Gerard ‘Big Money’ Warren ready for another season with the Patriots

07.16.12 at 9:38 am ET
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Veteran Patriots’ defensive lineman Gerard Warren sounded an optimistic note about his chances for a 12th NFL season over the weekend, telling that he’s looking forward to another season in the league.

‘€œAs many years as possible, it is a blessing to be in the NFL for 11 years,’€ said the former Florida Gator, who has now been with New England for the last two seasons. ‘€œAs long as I can go, as long as a coach and a team or an organization can see me being productive and helping their organization, then I am willing to go out and put in the work and the effort and to come out and play.’€

Speaking at his second annual youth football camp in Lake Butler, Fla. — held in conjunction with Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller, a fellow Union County star — Warren said that it was important not only for young players to develop physical toughness, but also mental toughness. He said that resiliency is one of the reasons he’s been able to last as long as he has in the NFL.

‘€œPretty fortunate, but I attribute a lot of that to just being blessed and protected, but also to what was built and instilled in me here at Union County,’€ said Warren, who will turn 34 next week. ‘€œWe harp on building mental and physical toughness.

‘€œI have had a few nice injuries. It’s just the fact to having the mental (toughness) to block it out and the pain tolerance to go out there and go,’€ Warren added. ‘€œFrom high ankle sprains, torn cartilage, fingers, hyper extended elbows, separated shoulders, there has been injuries but it’s about the mental toughness and being able to be reliable and counted upon.’€

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Tom Brady lands at No. 4 on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ list

06.27.12 at 9:42 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was rated as No. 4 on the NFL Network’€™s ‘€œTop 100’€ countdown, which concluded Wednesday night. Brady, who was ranked No. 1 on last year’€™s list, trailed only Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson (No. 3), New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (No. 2) and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (No. 1).

Several NFL players were quizzed about Brady as part of the segment, including Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

‘€œBest, best ever, best ever, best in the game,’€ Revis said. ‘€œI’€™ll probably tell my kids and grandkids about him.

‘€œThe guys’€™ accuracy is unbelievable,’€ he added. ‘€œHe throws the ball where you as a defender can’€™t get it.’€

He also got some love from his teammates.

‘€œHe’€™s the ultimate competitor. The guy has accomplished so much, and it’€™s never enough,’€ said Patriots receiver Wes Welker.

Brady was the sixth Patriot on the list: Tight end Rob Gronkowski (No. 21), Welker (No. 23), left guard Logan Mankins (No. 64) and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (No. 81) were the other Patriots in the top 100.

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