|03.12.10 at 8:39 am ET|
With the news that tight end Benjamin Watson has signed a three-year deal with the Browns, it brings down the curtain on an eventful career with the Patriots.
In his six years with New England, Watson was always one of the most polarizing players in a Patriots’ uniform. There was no middle ground with the first-round pick out of Georgia — his supporters believed he was a great pass-catcher who wasn’t being properly utilized in the Patriots’ offense, while critics pointed to his occasionally underwhelming numbers and penchant for bad drops.
Regardless of your feelings on Watson, he was a consistently positive locker room presence and, by all accounts, a very good teammate. In 2006 — his third season in New England — he had his best season with the Patriots, finishing with 49 catches for 643 yards. He certainly had some great moments in a New England uniform, but he will almost always be remembered as the guy who chased down Champ Bailey in the 2005 playoffs, a great hustle play that NFL Films took a look at here. He also had a chemistry with Tom Brady that will be difficult to replace — only one player (Randy Moss) has caught more touchdown passes from Brady than Watson.
Going forward without Watson and Chris Baker (who was released earlier this offseason) leaves the Patriots with just two tight ends, Robbie Myers and Robbie Agnone, both of whom were on the practice squad last season. New England has already worked out veteran tight end Alge Crumpler, and figures to check out some other veterans between now and the start of the season. With tight end being such a position of need, the Patriots could also use one of their early picks (they have four in the first two rounds in this year’s draft) on a tight end.
|03.11.10 at 6:22 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of the conference call between the media and Stephen Neal.
Q: Last time we talked to you was after the playoff game and you made reference to a possible retirement. What changed in your mind from that point to agreeing to this deal?
SN: That’s a good question. Football is a brutal sport. There’re a lot of people banging around out there and your body heals after a little bit of time. I feel a lot better than I did that day. It’s tough to go out on a game like that. You work so hard all year and only one team really gets to walk off the field that season satisfied, so I would like to definitely come back and give it another run, work with my teammates, have some fun and not end my career like that.
Q: When did you make that decision? Was it the next day or whenever the disappointment of the loss went away?
SN: It took a long time. Like I said, when you wake up and you’re feeling pretty sore for quite a while, until the body started healing a little bit I said, ya know what if the opportunity is there I think I might like to come back and play. That’s the other thing, too. You never know. If you want to play you can’t just go somewhere and say I want to play football. Fortunately, for me, it worked out that way earlier on. I was very fortunate. For one, I wanted to make sure my body felt good and I could do what I signed up to do and two, hopefully I’d get an opportunity.
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|03.11.10 at 5:21 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of the conference call between the media and Kevin Faulk from Thursday afternoon:
Q: Can you talk about getting this deal underway and knowing that you have another year left?
KF: It was just the fact of getting it done and getting it out of the way, so you can get started [on] football.
Q: Was retirement ever part of the equation for you?
KF: Never. No. Not at all. Sorry for that laughing, it just sounds funny – retirement, right now. No.
Q: How certain were you that something was going to get done? Was it taking a little longer than you hoped?
KF: It was a very mind blowing process. Like I always said, when the season was over, that I was always 85 percent sure that I was going to wind up back in New England and 15 percent sure it [would be] anywhere else. If that 15 percent came into play, how much of that was going to be a factor. And at some point in time during the week it kind of was a factor because as a father, a husband I had to think about all of that besides just football – what I was going to do, what the family was going to have to do if I was going to have to leave or not. That was a weighing factor on me, as well.
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|03.11.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
Depending on who you talk to, the Wonderlic test is either the best barometer for how well a college player will do in the NFL or an annual candidate for top non-story of the year.
Regardless of where you stand, the test results for the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft have started to leak out. According to a report in the Palm Beach Post that quoted a league source, heralded Florida quarterback Tim Tebow scored a 22 out of 50 in the Wonderlic, the lowest of the four top quarterback prospects in the 2010 draft. (Tebow reportedly graduated from Florida with a 3.66 GPA.) Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford was tops with a 36, while Texas’ Colt McCoy scored a 25 and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen a 23.
The story, which can be found here, lists the scores of all NFL quarterbacks — including Tom Brady’s 33 — as well as some great moments in Wonderlic history, which include 15′s from Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw. It also notes that the average score among the past seven Super Bowl winners is a 30.1.)
|03.11.10 at 12:51 pm ET|
The Patriots just officially announced the Kevin Faulk signing. (The pic is from Patriots.com.) Here’s the complete press release on the move.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots have re-signed unrestricted free agent running back Kevin Faulk. Terms of the contract were not announced.
Faulk has filled various roles since joining the team in 1999 as a second-round pick (46th overall) out of LSU. He is the Patriots all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,140) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is the Patriots’ all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,031 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 933 punt return yards).
|03.10.10 at 8:13 pm ET|
One free agent the Patriots had been targeting as a possible addition at tight end has returned to his old team. Daniel Fells rejected the Patriots and agreed to terms on a new contract with the Rams on Wednesday, a deal described by ESPN’s Adam Schefter as a one-year, $1.5 million contract. It has been reported that New England has had veteran free agent Alge Crumpler in for a workout.
|03.10.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
On the heels of Vince Wilfork’s impassioned conference call and the re-signing of Kevin Faulk to a one-year deal on Wednesday, it appears the Patriots are starting to address any leadership questions that have surrounded this franchise over the last year.
Wilfork made his feeling clear in an 11 a.m. conference call, saying he would have no trouble taking care of the “bad seeds” in the New England locker room, and demanding accountability from his teammates.
“As players, we’re going to have to start in the offseason training, and basically, everybody is going to have to be accountable,” Wilfork said. “If you’re on the field, you have to give me 100. You have to give me 100 percent. Always. We have to weed out the bad seeds, point blank. If you can’t give me what I’m giving you on the field, I don’t need you on the field with me. Point blank. That’s how you win.
“You got to build trust. Show me that I can trust you. I have no problem, if a guy’s not giving me that, I have no problem telling that guy I don’t need him on the field, and I have no problem going to tell Bill (Belichick) I don’t want him on the field. That’s point blank.”
Faulk, who signed a one-year deal to return to Foxboro, is one of the most well-respected veteran players in the locker room, not only for the consistent level of on-field production over the years, but also for his longevity — he’s the only player left on the roster who was drafted before Bill Belichick took over as head coach. The 33-year-old is one of only a handful of players remaining from all three Super Bowl teams, and is an unquestioned leader — he’s one of only a handful of players who commands immense respect from players on both sides of the ball.
In my mind, the words of Wilfork and the move to re-sign Faulk (as well as the re-signing of veteran offensive guard Stephen Neal and the return of veteran wide receiver David Patten) do a lot to help reinforce the positive locker room infrastructure that existed when the Patriots won three Super Bowls in four seasons.
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