|Report: Dan Connolly will visit with Tampa Bay||03.30.15 at 11:58 pm ET|
Offensive lineman Dan Connolly is scheduled for a visit with the Bucs later this week, according to a report from ESPN. The 32-year-old free agent is one of the longest-tenured member of the New England roster, having been with the Patriots since 2007. The 6-foot-4, 311-pounder has played all three interior positions along the offensive line, and has started 43 regular-season games the last three seasons for New England.
There are plenty of Patriots’ ties in Tampa for Connolly to consider — fellow offensive lineman Logan Mankins was dealt to the Bucs late last August. In addition, the Tampa Bay front office features GM Jason Licht and assistant GM Jon Robinson, both of who made their bones in the New England system.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Darrelle Revis is gone, but his offseason coach remains close to Patriots DBs||03.30.15 at 3:49 pm ET|
Despite the fact that Darrelle Revis isn’t with the Patriots anymore, some New England defensive backs still are going to spend at least part of the offseason working with the man who played a role in helping shape Revis into an All-Pro.
Will Sullivan, who is the offseason position coach for Revis (the corner calls Sullivan “the best positional coach I’ve ever had … period!”), spent a chunk of last offseason working with several of the Patriots defensive backs as well, and those players plan on sticking with Sullivan this offseason at his facility in Arizona.
According to Sullivan, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Tavon Wilson either have plans to work out with Sullivan or already have been out to spend time with him at his facility.
“Some of them are already here working with me — I’ve been in contact with all of the guys who were here last year,” Sullivan said. “Logan has been out here — he’s been working with me for the last couple of weeks, reviewing film and what he did wrong last year. I think by now, we’re five games in. We’ve already done plenty of self-scouting and talked about how this year is going to be a big year for him.
“Tavon is supposed to come out next week. He’ll be out here with me until he has to head back. And I think Devin is set to come out here sometime in the summer — he usually likes to come and work out when his brother Jason can come out, too.”
Ryan has been the one who has received the bulk of the attention to this point in the offseason, according to Sullivan. He’s well aware that with the loss of Revis as a free agent, more will likely be on his shoulders in 2015.
“On Logan, I’ll say it like this: I think Logan, in his first year, he surprised people with his production. The times when he was asked to fill in the last two seasons, he’s done a good job,” Sullivan said of Ryan. “My thing is that now he’s a solid guy who you can stick in there. Now it’s about him taking that next step, if he’s given that opportunity. In 16 games and the playoffs, can he compete consistently against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers.
“Has he progressed? Definitely. I think Logan has been competitive since Day 1. It just boils down to whether or not he’ll be able to step up and take advantage of his opportunities,” Sullivan added. “Look, we saw it in the Super Bowl — defensive backs in New England don’t have a long leash. Everybody around the league knows that. They don’t hesitate to sit guys down. It’s just part of the culture there in New England. You have to be a tough-minded son of a gun to succeed there, to know that one game I might get 10 snaps, and then the next game I might be starting. They move guys around a lot.”
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|Sunday NFL Notes: Where will Stevan Ridley be running in 2015?||03.29.15 at 5:30 am ET|
1. The sight of Stevan Ridley at LSU’s pro day on Friday was another reminder that the running back remains one of the most intriguing free-agent options still on the market. The 26-year-old Ridley, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury he suffered in a win over the Bills last October, is ranked as the top available free agent running back out there. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder been linked to the Cowboys and Vikings at this point, and could simply be waiting for the Adrian Peterson situation to sort itself out before he ends up signing with a team. (Ridley could end up with whatever teams eventually lands Peterson.) The analytical site Number Fire has a nice stats-driven profile on Ridley — they believe he’s “the perfect low-cost, high-upside signing.” While he’ll likely have to take a one-year, “prove-it” deal to show that he’s completely over the knee issue, he’s certainly one of the players to watch as the second wave of free agency rolls through the spring.
2. The NFLPA released some of the financial numbers related to free agency over the first two weeks, and there were some interesting revelations. According to their numbers, through Tuesday at 2 p.m., there were 153 total signings with $788,491,999 in guaranteed money and $1,802,821,620 in total contract value.
— 97 unrestricted free agents signing with new teams (guaranteed: $644,104,999; total value: $1,413,501,620)
— 56 unrestricted free agents re-signing with current teams (guaranteed: $144,387,000; total value: $389,320,000)
Per the collective bargaining agreement, each club must average an 89 percent cash spend of the salary cap from 2013-2016. Per the NFLPA, the four teams that spent the least during the two-year period from 2013-2014 were the Raiders (80.16 percent), Jets (80.97 percent), Jaguars (82.24 percent) and Patriots (82.82 percent). Things have been very different for those four teams through the first two weeks of free agency. Again, per the NFLPA, those same four teams have spent the following in free agency thus far:
— 30 percent of all guaranteed money
— 27 percent of total contracts
— 24 percent of first-year cash
3. It’s hard to believe — technically, the Super Bowl was only last month — but the 2015 league year is now in full swing. One of the things to keep an eye out for over the next few weeks will be the announcements for three key dates on the calendar. The offseason workout program, the preseason schedule and the regular-season schedule. The last two years, the offseason program has been announced at this time of year (last year the announcement came on April 3, and in 2013, it was on March 28). Workouts usually begin the middle of April, with OTAs set for mid-to-late May and early June. Then, there’sthe preseason schedule and the regular-season slate release. The last four years, the preseason schedule has been released between April 4 and April 17. Meanwhile, the announcement for the regular-season schedule the last three seasons has come between April 17 and 19.
4. With an additional compensatory pick awarded to the Patriots, they now have five picks in the top 101 selections of this year’s NFL draft. If New England holds with those five selections — admittedly, given Bill Belichick‘s trade history on draft weekend, that’s a long shot — the Patriots would be the first defending Super Bowl champion to hold five picks in the top 101 since the 1999 Broncos won Super Bowl XXXIII and then had five picks in the top 93 the following spring. (As alert Tweeter “Deeep Threat” also pointed out, they’d be the first defending champion since the most recent round of expansion to pull off the feat.) Since the Broncos won, three other defending champions have had four picks in the top 101 the following year — the 2009 Steelers, 2007 Colts and 2004 Patriots.
5. It’s becoming increasingly evident that Scott O’Brien will be taking the same route that Dante Scarnecchia took in his first year after retirement. O’Brien, who has been New England’s special teams coach the last six seasons (he’s spent 24 seasons as a coach in the NFL), decided to step down as the Patriots special teams coach following the season. But he traveled to the combine with the rest of the coaching staff to take part in the combine evaluation process. And according to Belichick at the league meetings this week, he’s been “huge” when it comes to assisting with the turnover on the coaching staff. “Scott’s had a great career,” Belichick said at the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday. “Nobody’s done more for the game or special teams than he has on a number of levels. I certainly appreciate everything he’s done. I’ve learned an awful lot from him. We were together for five years in Cleveland, and he’s brought a lot to our football program in New England.” Scarnecchia retired as the offensive line coach after the 2013 season, but has popped up in an unofficial role from time to time since them. (That includes working out offensive line prospects this spring.) It wouldn’t be a surprise to see O’Brien serve as a special teams coach emeritus in 2015.
|Tom Brady goes cliff diving on vacation||03.28.15 at 11:55 am ET|
What sort of reaction do you think this video got at Gillette Stadium?
|When it comes to pre-draft evaluation, Patriots’ scouting formula different than most||03.27.15 at 8:00 am ET|
When it comes to the pre-draft scouting process, each one of the 32 NFL teams handles its business differently. Different metrics are used for evaluating prospects, certain qualities are sought out and particular playing styles are assessed as each team tries to find the right formula for success.
In Foxboro, the Patriots have distinguished themselves by ranking prospects in a relatively non-traditional fashion. Instead of putting a grade on a player by round — as most teams do at this time of the year — more of a priority is placed on how that prospect might fit into the New England system.
“They give their scouts a clear set of guidelines in what they are looking for,” according to Dan Hatman, who has worked as a scout for the Giants, Jets and Eagles and now is the chairman of scouting development at The Scouting Academy. “In talking to scouts from New England, it might be the only team that I’m aware of with an internal scout school, for lack of a better term.
“When they go out on the road for evaluations, they are given a very specific set of player profiles. They are not giving players grades by rounds like other teams. Instead, they look at how guys fit into their roster.”
That would support the statements from Phil Savage last spring, when the former college and national scout under Bill Belichick in Cleveland said on Twitter that when he worked with Belichick, he didn’t feel an area scout could know the entire country enough to say “He’s a [second-]rounder.” Savage added that Belichick didn’t want round grades, but instead to have the scout categorize a player as a starter, potential starter, backup or camp body.
Per Hatman, that directive can often make a scout’s job easier.
“You’re using a defined system,” he said, “as opposed to trying to recreate the wheel every time in trying to figure out where a player could or should be selected.”
It’s just one part of the New England system stands apart from sizable portions of the league, according to Hatman.
“My understanding is that the expose their football personnel people to both coaching and scouting elements, with the idea that coaches are better coaches when they understand the scouting process, and scouts are better scouts when they they understand the coaching process,” Hatman said.
|Resetting Patriots 2015 draft picks||03.26.15 at 3:52 pm ET|
Now that the compensatory picks have been assigned and the draft is looming larger, here’s a quick rundown of where the Patriots stand when it comes to draft value at this point on the calendar:
1st round (32nd overall)
2nd round (64th overall)
3rd round (96th overall)
3rd round (97th overall — compensatory)
4th round (101st overall — part of 2014 trade with Tampa Bay for Logan Mankins)
4th round (131st overall)
6th round (178th overall — part of 2014 trade with Tampa Bay for Jonathan Casillas)
7th round (219th overall — part of 2014 trade with Tennessee for Akeem Ayers)
7th round (253rd overall — compensatory)
The Patriots have dealt away three of their picks to this point: a fifth-rounder to the Bucs as part of the Casillas deal, a sixth-rounder to the Titans in the Ayers deal, and a seventh-rounder to the Rams as part of a 2012 deal for wide receiver Greg Salas.
|NFL mock draft roundup, version 2.0: More national pundits putting stock in idea of Pats picking Iowa’s Carl Davis at No. 32||03.26.15 at 8:00 am ET|
Here’s the second edition of our mock draft roundup, taking a look at some of the opinions the national pundits have when it comes to whom the Patriots will target with the 32nd overall pick. When stacked against our first one (where no one really stood out), now, there seems to be a belief among some that Iowa defensive lineman Carl Davis could be a potential focus for the Patriots.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah –nose tackle Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma
NFL Network’s Charley Casserly — running back T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger — wide receiver Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
NFL Network’s Charles Davis — wide receiver Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein — wide receiver Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks — cornerback Byron Jones, Connecticut
ESPN’s Mel Kiper — defensive tackle Carl Davis, Iowa (subscription only)
ESPN’s Todd McShay — defensive tackle Carl Davis, Iowa (subscription only)
CBS Sports’ Rob Rang — defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, Florida State
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler — cornerback Ronald Darby, Florida State
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco — defensive tackle Carl Davis, Iowa
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar — guard A.J. Cann, South Carolina