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Fred Taylor: I’m ‘basically retired’ from pro football

04.11.11 at 2:19 pm ET
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Running back Fred Taylor, who was with the Patriots the last two seasons, told the Gainesville Sun on Monday that he’s “basically retired” from football.

The 35-year-old Taylor struggled to stay healthy in his two seasons with New England, as he was hobbled by a series of injuries that forced him to miss 19 of 32 regular-season games while with the Patriots. In two years in New England, Taylor has 106 carries for 424 yards and two touchdowns.

In 13 seasons, the Florida product has compiled some truly amazing numbers, with 2,534 carries (21st on the all-time list) and 11,695 yards (15th all-time). The Pro Bowler also average 4.6 yards per carry in his NFL career.

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Tom Brady recalls his long wait on draft day

04.11.11 at 11:09 am ET
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In an excerpt from the upcoming ESPN special “The Brady 6,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks back on the long wait before being selected 199th overall by New England in 2000.

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Vote: Who was the best fourth-round pick in Patriots history?

04.11.11 at 12:26 am ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round, with the four best selections the franchise has made in each round. We’€™ve already put the eighth, seventh, sixth and fifth rounders under the microscope. Today, we’€™ve got the fourth rounders, a group that includes three impact players and another that went on to bigger and better things with another franchise. In all, nine Pro Bowl appearances and an MVP award highlight this group. Vote for your favorite:

Aaron Hernandez: 2010, 113th overall. Listed as a tight end but playing more like a wide receiver, this rookie was a matchup nightmare in his first season in the NFL. A Florida product, he ended the 2010 season with 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns. He was occasionally overshadowed by his fellow rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, but Hernandez made a tremendous impact in his first full season in the league, and figures to have an even bigger role in the offense going forward.

Stephen Gostkowski: 2006, 118th overall. Charged with unenviable prospect of replacing the legendary Adam Vinatieri, the Memphis product has become one of the best young kickers in the NFL, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2008 and notching first-team All-Pro status to boot. Gostkowski has hit 113-of-134 career field goal attempts, and his 84.3 percent accuracy rate is the highest in Patriots history and sixth-best in NFL history.

Asante Samuel: 2003, 120th overall. The Central Florida product saw plenty of action his first two seasons, but became a full-time starter in 2005 and soon evolved into one of the most feared corners in the league, picking off a combined 16 passes in 2007 and 2008. However, his lasting legacy with the Patriots may be the way things ended for him in New England ‘€” a potential game-ending interception at the end of Super Bowl XLII went through his hands. And in the following offseason, hours into free agency, he signed a big deal with the Eagles. (As a side note, it’€™s hard to believe that Dan Klecko was taken three spots in front of Samuel at No. 117.)

Rich Gannon: 1987, 98th overall. The Delaware product was selected by the Patriots in 1987. But after a conversation with coaches who said he might work out better at a different position, he made it clear in no uncertain terms he was not interested in doing anything other than playing quarterback. That led to a trade to Minnesota just days after the draft. Gannon’€™s faith in himself would be well-founded ‘€” he played 17 seasons in the NFL and ended up passing for 28,743 yards. A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, he was the NFL MVP in 2002.

Just missing the cut: Jarvis Green, (2002, 126th overall); Scott Zolak (1991, 84th overall); Johnny Rembert (1983, 101st overall); Don Blackmon (1981, 102nd overall).

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aaron Hernandez, Asante Samuel, Rich Gannon

Vote: Who was the best fifth-round pick in Patriots history?

04.08.11 at 4:54 pm ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round. We’€™ve already put the eighth, seventh and six round under the microscope. Today, we’€™ve got the fifth rounders ‘€” a surprising group that doesn’€™t have any Hall of Famers, but is still a talented cast that can boast of seven Pro Bowl appearances between them. Vote for your favorite:

Ben Coates: 1991, 124th overall. Selected out of tiny Livingstone College, Coates went on to become one of the great tight ends in franchise history, becoming a favorite target of Drew Bledsoe throughout the 1990s ‘€” in 1996, he set the NFL’€™s single-season reception record for a tight end with 96. He ended his career ranked in the Top 10 all time among tight ends in receptions (499), yards (5,555) and touchdowns (50).

Fred Marion: 1982, 112th overall. A Miami product who would go on to play 144 games in 10 years with the Patriots, Marion reached the Pro Bowl in 1985 after a season where he picked off a career-best seven passes for 189 yards. (He finished with 29 interceptions for his career.) He was voted to the Patriots’€™ 50th anniversary all-time team as a safety alongside Rodney Harrison.

Steve Grogan: 1975, 116th overall. Grogan was initially drafted out Kansas State as a backup to Jim Plunkett, but he ended up taking the full-time starters’€™ job in his second season and ended up spending a franchise-record 16 seasons with the Patriots, finishing his career as the Patriots all-time career-passing leader with 26,886 yards. A face of the franchise for so many seasons, Grogan held the franchise record until 2007 with 182 career touchdown passes.

Dan Koppen: 2003, 164th overall. The Boston College product stepped in midway through his rookie year for an injured Damien Woody and was immediately part of back-to-back Super Bowl teams. Koppen has started 119 of 120 games for the Patriots over eight seasons with the club, and was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2007.

Who is the best fifth-round draft pick in Patriots' history?

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Ben Coates, Dan Koppen, Fred Marion

Check out the latest edition of the It Is What It Is Cast with Chris Price and DJ Bean

04.08.11 at 3:58 pm ET
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In the fifth episode of the It Is What It Is Cast, Christopher Price and DJ Bean look at five first-round prospects and whether they are fits in New England. (Among those put in the spotlight are North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo.) They also discuss Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a player on whom the two simply can’t agree. To check out the complete podcast, click here.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Anthony Castonzo, Christopher Price, DJ Bean

Vote: How does Tom Brady stack up against other sixth-round draft bargains?

04.07.11 at 8:30 pm ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™ve been looking back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round. We have already presented the best of the eighth and seventh rounds, and today, we were going to do the sixth rounders … but Tom Brady against any other sixth-round pick in New England history (Max Lane? Ron Wooten? Arther Love?) really isn’€™t much of a debate. Taken in the sixth round (199th overall) in 2000, Brady has won three Super Bowls and a pair of MVP awards and generally made this argument a moot point.

So instead, let’€™s take a look at how Brady stacks up against a list of the other great sixth-round steals in NFL history. We have a pretty good idea of how this is going to shake out, but take a look at the list and vote for your favorite:

Terrell Davis: 1995, 196th overall. A three-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, he rushed for at least 1,100 yards in his first four seasons with the Broncos ‘€” including 2,008 yards in 1998 ‘€” while Denver won a pair of Super Bowl titles. He’€™s been a Hall of Fame semifinalist on four different occasions.

Joe Klecko: 1977, 144th overall. This Temple product was a key member of the legendary New York Sack Exchange with the Jets in the late 1970s and early 80s. He made the Pro Bowl at three different positions (four times total) and was twice named All-Pro. He finished his career with 24 sacks.

Wilbert Montgomery: 1977, 154th overall. The running back played eight seasons for the Eagles and was part of one Super Bowl team. In addition, he was elected to two Pro Bowls while becoming one of the most reliable targets in the passing game for Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski. He finished a nine-year career with 6,789 rushing yards and 2,502 receiving yards.

Matt Birk: 1998 Minnesota, 173rd overall. Selected by the Vikings out of Harvard, he became a six-time Pro Bowler with Minnesota before jumping to the Ravens before the start of the 2009 season. Considered one of the finest centers of the last 20 years.

Just missing the cut: Greg Lloyd (Steelers, 1987), Mel Gray (Cardinals, 1971), Mark Chmura (Packers, 1992), Tunch Ilkin (Steelers, 1980), Ken Riley (Bengals, 1969).

Who is the best sixth-round draft pick in NFL history?

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Judge: I’ll take ‘a couple of weeks’ before ruling in lockout case

04.06.11 at 5:15 pm ET
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U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said Wednesday that she will take “a couple of weeks” before she will ultimately rule on the NFL players’ request to lift the lockout. Nelson did say that while he takes the matter under advisement, the two sides should return to the bargaining table ‘€” specifically, federal mediation under her supervision ‘€” in hopes of ending the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.

According to those who were on the scene, Nelson heard roughly five hours of arguments from lawyers for the players and the owners during Wednesday’s session. Lawyers for the players argued in favor of lifting the lockout because it is causing them “irreparable harm,” while the owners maintain Nelson does not have the jurisdiction to issue an injunction because their complaint regarding how the players negotiated is currently before the National Labor Relations Board.

Read More: lockout, Susan Richard Nelson,
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