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Examining five prospects who will be visiting with Patriots before draft

04.03.13 at 11:55 pm ET
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Multiple reports came out on Wednesday indicating that the Patriots were going to host several draft prospects on visits. When it comes to pre-draft visits, it’s important to remember that it could mean several things: One, it could be a sign of genuine interest in a prospect. Two, it could also be a smokescreen to feign interest in hopes of creating some pre-draft misdirection. And three, it could be an attempt to kick the tires on a player — not so much for immediate, pre-draft information, but an attempt to gain intel down the road.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the prospects who will be breaking bread with the Patriots.

Desmond Trufant: The cornerback out of Washington certainly has impressive bloodlines — he has two older brothers who have played in the NFL (Marcus for the Seahawks and Isaiah for the Jets). At the same time, he’s carved out an impressive resume of his own, as the 6-foot, 186-pounder was a member of the All-Pac-12 first team in 2012 and was a four-year starter for Washington. He set career-bests in 2011 as a junior with a pair of interceptions and 16 passes defensed. For the record: His 3-cone drill time is 6.76, which is pretty much in line with what the Patriots look for in a defensive back.

Kenny Stills: The Oklahoma wide receiver, who checks in at 6-foot, 194 pounds, had great production in his three years with the Sooners, including 204 receptions in three seasons as a collegian. (Last season, Stills caught 82 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns.) He was twice named second-team All-Big 12, and is considered a mid-round prospects. Like Trufant, he has roots deep in the game. Kenny’€™s father — also named Kenny — was a safety with the Packers and Vikings, while his uncle Gary Stills, played for the Chiefs and Ravens. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Stills is visiting with the Patriots Wednesday and Thursday.

Reid Fragel: The Ohio State offensive lineman will make Foxboro one of six pre-draft visits, according to draft analyst Tony Pauline. Former the tight end (who caught 14 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore and junior) grew into one of the best tackles in the Big Ten as a senior, and the 6-foot-8, 308-pounder is now poised to be an early- to mid-round selection. The Patriots have high-level tackles, but could use some depth, and Fragel could be a second day pickup for New England.

Dion Jordan: Intriguing. If the Patriots are going to get Jordan, their going to have to trade up to do so. Considered one of the best defensive players in the draft, the 6-foot-6, 248-pound defensive end has been slotted as a Top 10 pick in almost every mock draft to this point. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his old coach Chip Kelly (now in charge of the Eagles) take him fourth overall. With Jordan, you’re talking about a guy who could have been created in a lab by Bill Belichick — a hybrid defensive end/linebacker who can rush the passer, set the edge or drop into coverage. His last two years at Oregon, he had 12.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss and an interception. Who knows — maybe Belichick just wants to see him up close to see if he really does exist. (News of Jordan’s visit was first reported by the Boston Herald.)

Cornellius “Tank” Carradine: One of the most interesting guys in the draft. He starred in JUCO, but didn’t get a chance to start until his senior year. But in 12 games in 2012, he had 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss for Florida State, and the 6-foot-4, 276-pounder distinguished himself as one of the most talented pass rushers in the country. But a torn ACL in his right knee in November clouded his future, and will affect his draft stock. In the case of the Patriots, they almost certainly want to make sure Carradine’s knee is OK. Ultimately, if teams’ are comfortable with his health, he could go in the top half of the first round. If not, he could slide. (News of Carradine’s visit was first reported by the Boston Herald.)

Patriots have $10.299 million in room under cap

04.03.13 at 11:49 pm ET
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The Patriots have $10,299,937 in cap room as of Wednesday, according to NFLPA documents.

It’s important to remember that teams always want to leave some wiggle room under the cap to allow themselves some financial flexibility. In addition, the rookie contracts have to be figured into the mix as well. But when stacked up against the rest of the league, New England — which currently has 50 contracts on the books — is in better shape than other teams: The Patriots are one of 11 teams with at least $10 million in cap space, and all 32 teams have an average of $9,645.619.19 of cap room.

The team in best shape is Jaguars, who have $28,387,582 in cap space. (In all, there are five teams with more than $25 million in cap room: the Jags, Browns, Bengals, Eagles and Bucs.) Meanwhile, the Rams are on the other end of the spectrum with $506,053. As for the conference champs, the Ravens have $5,356,586 in cap room, while the Niners are at $4,029,822.

From a divisional perspective, the AFC East is actually in pretty good shape: In addition to the Patriots, who have more than $10 million in cap room, the Bills have 49 contracts currently on the books, and have $16,347,532 in cap room. The Dolphins have 51 contracts and $8,263,667. And the Jets have 49 contracts and $12,566,471.

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Tom Brady, Terrell Owens work out together in California

04.03.13 at 5:40 pm ET
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Talk about a strange combination.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was on the practice field in Southern California Wednesday with Terrell Owens, according to a Tweet from the USC athletic department. The controversial receiver, who’s a free agent — he last caught a regular-season pass while with the Bengals in 2010 — has 1,078 receptions over the course of his career. We’re not sure if this is an indication the Patriots have interest in Owens or simply that the receiver and/or the quarterback were looking for an extra help in their workouts, but it’s an interesting duo.

(Of course, we’re not 100 percent sure the two actually connected. Owens Tweeted Wednesday that he was actually at UCLA throwing with Brady and former New England quarterback Matt Cassel.)

Brady’s appearance at USC with Owens on Wednesday comes one day after he was spotted on the Southern California campus working with new Patriots receiver Danny Amendola.

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Report: Julian Edelman visiting with Giants

04.03.13 at 5:26 pm ET
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Free agent Julian Edelman is visiting with the Giants this week, according to Mike Garofalo of USA Today. Edelman, a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2009, has spent the last four seasons with New England. The former collegiate quarterback, who caught 37 passes as a rookie, has 69 catches for 714 yards and four touchdowns over his career with the Patriots. In addition, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has shown special teams value, having returned three punts for touchdowns in four seasons.

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NFL mandates teams must install cameras in home locker rooms

04.03.13 at 3:10 pm ET
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The NFL will apparently allow cameras in home locker rooms next season.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, the league has mandated that teams install cameras in home locker rooms in 2013, with an eye toward using the content on team apps, as well as during halftime and other breaks in the game at the stadium. SBJ is reporting that while the cameras are mandated, the use of locker room footage is optional.

The decision is apparently part of a plan to improve the experience of attending NFL games by providing fans with footage and entertainment they can’t get at home.

“The content will be available only in stadium and the content will be available only of the home team. You can show it or not show it,” NFL Executive VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said Wednesday.

In addition, SBJ is reporting home teams will be made to show important replays in the stadium even if that replay doesn’t necessarily help the home team’s cause.

Wes Welker: Leaving New England was ‘just business’

04.03.13 at 12:28 pm ET
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Wes Welker said Wednesday morning that contract talks between his reps and the Patriots never got personal and indicated that in the end, “everything worked out really well for everybody.”

The former Patriots wide receiver who signed a free agent deal with the Broncos last month after six seasons in New England, told ESPN Radio that the whole thing was just about business.

‘€œI think a lot of it is just business,’€ Welker said. ‘€œIt’€™s kind of the unfortunate part of the business, but it is what it is. You try to find what works for you, as far as financially and as a player and everything else. I think at the end of the day — fortunately or unfortunately — it kind of just worked out the way it did.’€

In the days after Welker’s new deal, there was a lot of debate about which contract was better, as representatives for the wide receiver disputed the claims put forth by the Patriots and owner Robert Kraft. But Welker, who surpassed 100 catches in five of his six seasons in New England, said he doesn’t feel underappreciated for what he did with the Patriots,

‘€œAbsolutely,’€ Welker said. ‘€œI think everything worked out really well for everybody. It was a good run and I look forward to keeping that run going in Denver.’€

In his introductory press conference with the Broncos, Welker said the toughest thing was leaving quarterback Tom Brady — the two had built a tremendous relationship, both on and off the field, since Welker arrived in 2007.

‘€œTom is one of my good friends,’€ Welker said Wednesday. ‘€œWe stay in contact often.’€

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NFL free agency roundup: Nnamdi Asomugha agrees to deal with 49ers

04.03.13 at 10:43 am ET
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Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha agreed to a one-year deal with the 49ers on Tuesday that could pay as much as $3 million a year.

Asomugha spent his first eight NFL seasons, from 2003-10, with the Raiders, so the Bay Area is familiar to him. His deal has no guaranteed money: He’s due for a base package of $1.35 million with salary and bonuses, and could earn up to $1.65 million in additional incentives for playing time, awards and reaching the playoffs.

That’s a dip from where Asomugha would have been this year had the Eagles not released him on March 12. He had been scheduled to make $15 million this year, with $4 million guaranteed, on the five-year deal he signed with Philadelphia in 2011.

Asomugha’s representative, Ben Dogra, said that Asomugha is expected to sign the deal Wednesday.

‘€¢ The Raiders traded quarterback Carson Palmer to the Cardinals on Tuesday as part of a package that also included the Cardinals sending a sixth-round pick, Oakland sending a seventh-round pick, and Oakland receiving a conditional seventh-round pick if Palmer starts 13 games for Arizona in 2013, according to ESPN.

Palmer also agreed to a new contract with the Cardinals, who did not disclose the terms of the deal. According to ESPN, the contract is for two years and $16 million. Palmer had been scheduled to make $13 million with Oakland this season.

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