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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida CB Marcus Roberson

03.30.14 at 10:47 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

MARCUS ROBERSON

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 191 pounds

Achievements: 2012 AP All-SEC second team

What he brings: A good-sized corner, Roberson is a tough, physical player who has good ability and instincts. While he can get too reliant on his frame and commit infractions down the field, Roberson presents as an ideal corner for the NFL. However, his 4.61 40-yard dash at the scouting combine is a concern, showing a lack of top-end speed. And while Roberson is willing to tackle, he lacks ideal strength and can get manhandled in the run game. Roberson only benched 225 pounds eight times at the combine. Roberson also has injury concerns, battling ankle and knee injuries throughout his time at Florida.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Roberson missed five games as a junior in 2013 due to injury. He finished with 11 tackles and three pass breakups. He only had three career interceptions. … Roberson was arrested for underage drinking in September 2011. He also was suspended for a game in 2013 for violating team rules.

Related articles:

Orlando Sentinel: Florida CB Marcus Roberson facing underage drinking charge

CBSSports: 2014 Pro Days: Roberson, Purifoy still slow at soggy Florida workout

Video: Here are Roberson’€™s 2013 highlights against Toledo.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Marcus Roberson,

Sunday NFL Notes: Who is next in line for new deal from Patriots?

03.30.14 at 12:59 am ET
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1. With all of the Patriots’€™ big-ticket free agent items accounted for, it’€™s worth turning our attention to who might be next in line to receive a new deal. Here are eight notable contracts that are up at the end of the 2014 season.

a) Darrelle Revis — Well, he won’€™t really be a free agent, but there’€™s a very good chance we’€™ll all be back here next offseason debating what to do with the corner. There’€™s an option year for the Patriots in 2015 that would total $20 million, but if Revis has a good 2014, it wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see both sides try and find some common ground on a new deal going forward.

b) Dan Connolly — The 31-year-old Connolly, who has been a regular member of New England’€™s offensive line (at guard or center) since 2010, is entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed in the spring of 2012.

c) Stephen Gostkowski — The kicker has been very steady since taking over for you-know-who in 2006 (it’€™s hard to believe Gostlowski be entering his ninth season in the NFL in 2014), but is going into the final year of a five-year contract he signed in 2010.

d) Nate Solder — The left tackle will be a free agent following the 2014 season, as it represents the final year of a four-year rookie contract he inked in 2011. For what it’€™s worth, this offseason was a robust market for tackles — it will be interesting to see what sort of market will greet Solder if he gets to next offseason without a new deal from New England.

(UPDATED, Sunday, 12:30: We failed to include the fact that the Patriots do hold a fifth-year option on Solder, one that must be exercised prior to May 3 of this year. That option, which is for all first-round picks of the 2011 draft, would be equal to the average salaries of the third through the 25th highest paid players at the position — in this case, offensive line — at the end of the restricted free-agent signing period. There’s no word yet on whether or not the Patriots would be interested in picking up that option. For more on the situation, check out this explanation from Pro Football Talk here.)

e) Stevan Ridley — With the departure of LeGarette Blount in free agency, it now appears that the running back will have his chance to make a statement in a contract season. If he tops the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in three seasons, he could stand to make a handsome payday. If he struggles with ball security, he could find a softer than expected market for his services.

f) Shane Vereen — If Vereen can stay healthy, he’€™ll have a terrific opportunity to prove his multidimensional worth in a key year. Despite missing most of the year with a wrist injury, in 2013, he was just the third Patriots running back in more than a decade to finish a season with at least 40 catches and 40 carries in a year.

g) Ryan Mallett — The Patriots backup quarterback has been the subject of some trade talk — the Texans inquired about him earlier this offseason. However, it remains debatable what sort of asking price New England would have if someone engaged the Patriots in serious trade talks this year for Mallett.

h) Devin McCourty — One of the most important of the bunch, according to ESPN, there’€™s been no movement on a new deal for McCourty, who’s rookie deal is up after the 2014 season. His steadiness, durability, versatility and smarts have made him an indispensable member of the New England defense.

2. Details of the new deal signed by Vince Wilfork started to emerge Saturday, and it appears to be a heavily incentivized contract that bears some similarities to the deal that offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer signed a year ago with the team in that if he can reach those goals, it’ll be a nice deal for both sides. According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, the contract includes a base salary of $1.3 million and a $1.3 million signing bonus. There are a series of bonuses in place that include playtime percentages, as well as some incentives tied to the success of the team and the defense as a whole. Per ESPN, here’€™s how it all breaks down for 2014:

— If he plays 60 percent of the defensive snaps: bonus of $1.25 million
— If he plays 70 percent of the defensive snaps: bonus of $2 million
— If he plays 70 percent of the defensive snaps and team makes the divisional round of the playoffs, he makes $2.5 million
— In addition, if Wilfork plays 70 percent of the defensive snaps and the team is top 10 in points allowed, he earns $500,000.

There’€™s also a $300,000 weight clause and a $200,000 workout bonus. In addition, there’€™s a $500,000 bonus for being on the 53-man roster for the first game of the 2014 regular season (in truth, it’€™s an incentive to make sure the Achilles’€™ injury he suffered last year doesn’€™t have him start the year on PUP) and a $87,500 per-game bonus for each game on the 46-man game day roster. All told, it’€™s a deal that could make him as much as $8 million in 2014 if he (and the team) hit all the incentives in the deal.

3. There are many layers to the DeSean Jackson situation, but when it comes to how it all relates to the Patriots, from this viewpoint, it would be surprising if New England went after him as a potential free agent pickup. Jackson is a transformative offensive talent, but he will bring a tremendous amount of baggage with him wherever he lands. Even if the report about alleged gang ties proves to be false, in the post-Aaron Hernandez era, it would seem to be a leap for New England to take a chance on a player who has been dogged by so many off-field questions. (That doesn’€™t even begin to take into account the financial ramifications of going after a player who will likely cost plenty — even though the Patriots have created some financial flexibility for themselves with the new deal for Wilfork, Jackson will likely have a hefty price tag.) New England has made a habit of making some surprise personnel moves over the last decade, but it would be a really big one if the Patriots went after Jackson. As for how it all plays out on the national stage, the process will likely take a few weeks, and a look at some of the current rosters suggests that teams like the Jets, Panthers, Raiders, Redskins and Chiefs might be heavily involved. (Multiple reports confirm that Jackson will visit with Washington on Monday.)

4. One of the truly interesting exchanges of Bill Belichick‘€™s Q&A with the media earlier this week at the owners’€™ meetings came when he was quizzed on a growing trend among college offenses — operating without a playbook. The most notable program to go without a playbook as of late has been Baylor, who instead used signals to players, who had individual assignments. “€œIt’€™s come up more and more,” Belichick said when asked about what sort of challenge it is to work with players who came from that sort of system. “I’€™m not saying they can’€™t do it. It’€™s just that in some cases, they haven’€™t done it. You’€™re teaching a player a concept. We call a play within that play, 11 people know what to do. In a lot of cases, that’€™s not what they’€™re doing now. So yeah. And I’€™d say that’€™s a relatively new thing for me. I haven’€™t seen that, but it’€™s come up more and more in … I’€™d say the last two, three years, particularly this year, more so. That’€™s become more — I don’€™t want to say prevalent, but more common. I’€™d say five years ago, I’€™d never heard of that. Now, it’€™s more common.”

5. Another overlooked aspect of Belichick’€™s Q&A with the media this week was the fact that it gave him the first opportunity to comment publicly on the hiring of new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. DeGuglielmo replaces longtime assistant Dante Scarnecchia, and while the Lexington native will have the benefit of coming into a situation where the Patriots will be able to roll out the same five starting offensive linemen they’€™ve had the last two seasons, the changeover from Scarnecchia to DeGuglielmo will be worth watching. “I like Dave,”€ Belichick said of the BU product who has also worked with the Jets, Dolphins and Giants. “He has some familiarity with our system, he’€™s done a good job and I’€™m glad we have him. Dante did a great job for us as well. It’€™s still different, not having him around, but this isn’€™t the first time we’€™ve lost a staff member, and I’€™m sure it won’€™t be the last.”€ One coach who will likely be helping DeGuglielmo is offensive assistant Brian Daboll, who has appeared to work with several different aspects of the team on the offensive side of the ball since returning to Foxboro last year. “€œHopefully, our entire coaching staff is working closely together, that’€™s what we’€™re trying to do,”€ Belichick said when asked about DeGuglielmo getting help from Daboll. “€œEverything’€™s connected to everything — the center is connected to the quarterback is connected to the receiver. They’€™re all connected in some way. So it all needs to work together (and) connect together somehow. Hopefully that’€™s what (will) happen.”

6. With the first wave of free agency in the books, here’€™s a status report on New England’€™s free agent class of 2014:
Read the rest of this entry »

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley

03.29.14 at 9:38 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

C.J. MOSLEY

Position: Inside linebacker

School: Alabama

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 234 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 consensus All-American, 2013, 2012 first-team All-SEC, 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2013 Butkus Award, 2010 Freshman All-American

What he brings: Mosley is a mix of great athleticism with good speed, strength and size and smarts. Highly thought of as a leader of the Crimson linebacking corps, Mosley gets rave reviews for his intelligence and keen awareness. There aren’t a lot of negatives with Mosley, but some scouts see inconsistencies regarding his tackling technique.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1, likely requiring a trade to move up

Notes: Mosley had 108 tackles, nine tackles for loss and one forced fumble during the 2013 season. He had 107 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions in 2012. … Mosley dislocated his elbow in 2011, his sophomore year, and missed two games.

Related articles:

USA Today: Alabama LB C.J. Mosley could be NFL draft‘s silent star

NFL.com: Butkus: Team that drafts C.J. Mosley will be pretty damn lucky

Alabama.com: C.J. Mosley says he has no medical ‘red flags,’ could be Alabama’s 1st player selected in NFL draft

Video: Here are Mosley’€™s 2013 highlights with Alabama.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, C.J. Mosley,

With LeGarrette Blount gone, do Patriots need to add backfield depth?

03.28.14 at 9:30 pm ET
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The departure of LeGarrette Blount to the Steelers means there will be more on the plate of Stevan Ridley in 2014, who now appears likely to return to his role as the closest thing the New England offense has to a featured back. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen figures to work in a change up role as the third down option and pass catcher out of the backfield, and Brandon Bolden will stick in his role as all-purpose backup.

But is there a need to bring in another body for depth? While running back isn’t considered an overwhelming priority for the Patriots (there are other greater areas of need, at least at this stage of the team-building process), it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to address it with a mid-round pickup in the draft, especially considering the fact that the bargain basement has been pretty much picked over, at least at this point. (The best options right now are probably Andre Brown, Michael Bush and Justin Forsett, as well as broken-down editions of Felix Jones, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee.)

With the understanding that the Patriots would be targeting a guy like that no earlier than the third day of the draft because of other areas of greater need, here are three backs who might be available to the Patriots this year as mid- to late-round possibilities:

a) Storm Johnson, Central Florida — A multidimensional back who has already drawn the attention of the Patriots — the 6-foot, 209-pounder was one of a handful of players who went through a workout for the Patriots’ brain trust when they were in Florida this past week for the league meetings — last season he had 1,139 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 30 catches for 260 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

b) Andre Williams, Boston College Remarkably, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder led the nation in rushing last year for the Eagles, ending up with 2,177 rushing yards and becoming a Heisman finalist as a result. At the combine, he fully acknowledged the fact that he needs to improve when it comes to his work in pass protection as well as a receiver out of the backfield, but his colossal yardage total from last year will almost certainly make him attractive to someone.

c) Bishop Sankey, Washington — A little on the smaller side, like Johnson, this 5-foot-9, 209-pounder offers value in the passing game as well as the running game. Last season, he ran for 1,870 yards for a 5.7 average and 20 touchdowns to go along with 28 catches for 304 yards and one touchdown.

Of course, this doesn’t begin to take into account what the Patriots do at the kick return spot in 2014. Blount’s departure could open the door for any number of possibilities on special teams, including Josh Boyce, Devin McCourty or collegian Jeremy Gallon, who had a private workout for New England special teams coach Scotty O’Brien earlier this week in Ann Arbor. While the different looks that the three backs present should be enough to keep opposing defensive coordinators on their toes in 2014, it’s clear the Patriots do need to address the position going forward, especially considering the fact that Vereen and Ridley are heading into the final year of their rookie deals. Certainly a spot to watch going forward this offseason for New England.

Read More: Andre Williams, Bishop Sankey, Brandon Bolden, Devin McCourty

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Washington State SS Deone Bucannon

03.28.14 at 5:30 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

DEONE BUCANNON

Position: Strong safety

School: Washington State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 211 pounds

Achievements: Associated Press and Athlon Sports 2013 first-team All-American, 2013 College Football Performance Awards Elite Defensive Back, 2013 first-team All-Pac-12, 2013 Jim Thorpe award semifinalist

What he brings: The three-time captain impressed with the power that allowed him to lead the Pac-12 in tackles during the 2013 season. Analysts warn, though, that he is stiff in the hips, something that causes problems when he missteps while tracking down an opponent.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Bucannon was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and broad jump at the combine. … He has the second-most solo tackles with 268 and the fourth-most tackles overall with 348 in Washington State history. … Bucannon was suspended for the first half of a game in 2012 after a late hit against Eastern Washington.

Related articles:

The Seattle Times: Ex-WSU safety Deone Bucannon’s draft stock is rising

ESPN.com: Bucannon ready for NFL combine

Video: Here is a video highlighting Bucannon’s junior and senior seasons at Washington State

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Deone Bucannon,

Report: Patriots re-sign Ryan Wendell

03.28.14 at 4:05 pm ET
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The Patriots have re-signed center Ryan Wendell to a two-year deal, according to ESPN Boston. Wendell, a 28-year-old out of Fresno State, has started every game over the last two seasons for the Patriots.

Earlier this offseason, the Pats brought back long-snapper Danny Aiken on a one-year deal. Their only remaining free agent along the offensive line is Will Svitek, who appeared in 13 games last season.

Report: LeGarrette Blount signs with Steelers

03.28.14 at 3:53 pm ET
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Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has agreed to a two-year deal with the Steelers, according to the National Football Post. Blount reportedly visited with the Steelers on Friday and never left.

Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven touchdowns last season in New England. He made his biggest impact in the divisional round of the playoffs, when he rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts. Blount also led the Patriots with 494 kick return yards on the season.

With Blount gone, the Patriots are left with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden as their main running backs.

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