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Saints GM: New Orleans ‘kicking the tires’ on Malcolm Butler 03.28.17 at 4:13 pm ET
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Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Things have certainly changed a bit with the Malcolm Butler narrative over the last few weeks.

It seemed at first like it was a done deal that the 27-year-old cornerback would be headed to New Orleans, but now a few weeks after his visit, it certainly isn’t the lock it once was perceived.

“We’re kicking the tires, I guess is the best way to describe that,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. “We’ll see how that process works.”

Butler is a restricted free agent so the Saints could put in an offer sheet on him and the Patriots would have the right to match. If they didn’t then the Saints would get Butler, but need it give up their first-round pick, which would be No. 11 overall. This doesn’t seem likely.

The most likely route if he were to go to New Orleans would be a trade where the Saints give up their No. 32 overall pick (which the Patriots traded them for Brandin Cooks) or maybe a second and a third-rounder.

The 27-year-old hasn’t signed his first-round tender ($3.91 million) yet, which means trade negotiations cannot occur by league rules.

“We’ve accomplished some things we want to get accomplished, and there are a couple things we didn’t,” Loomis said. “But you know that going in because the offseason is comprised of free agency, the draft and trade potentials. We’re not done with free agency yet, and yet the bulk of that has happened.”

Read More: Malcolm Butler,
NFL owners approve several rule changes, including banning leaping over line of scrimmage to block kicks 03.28.17 at 3:41 pm ET
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Leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks is now illegal. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks is now illegal. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

At the NFL league meetings in Arizona, the owners approved several rule changes for the upcoming season.

1. Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

2. Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

3. Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.

4. Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.

5. Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

6. Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.

7. Makes it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

8. Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

The biggest one from a Patriots perspective is no longer is it legal for players to jump over the line of scrimmage to block kicks. They were very successful with that of late with Shea McClellin doing it this past season and then Jamie Collins two years ago.

Robert Kraft calls Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win ‘a great moment of vindication for our whole team’ 03.28.17 at 1:58 pm ET
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Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN's "First Take" on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

It’s been roughly seven weeks since the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons, 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, but that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t still talking about the game.

Owner Robert Kraft appeared on Tuesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN where he discussed the game and what it was like to overcome such a large deficit in the second half.

“With three minutes to go in the third quarter, we had a 99.6 percent chance to lose, .04 to win,” Kraft said. “Our guys believed in one another, and it’s a great lesson to young people never to give up, hang with people who are good character, who put their ego at the door and come together as a team.

“It was just a great moment of vindication for our whole team. It was pretty cool for our fans. Our fans have been behind us unbelievable.”

The “vindication” Kraft could be referring to is all of the extra things the Patriots needed to deal with over the course of the season, which included Tom Brady being suspended the first four games for his role in Deflategate.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Robert Kraft, Super Bowl LI,
Fellow NFL coaches admire Bill Belichick’s work ethic at AFC coaches breakfast 03.28.17 at 1:44 pm ET
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NFL coaches had a lot of good things to say about Bill Belichick on Tuesday. (Eric Seals/USA Today Sports)

NFL coaches had a lot of good things to say about Bill Belichick on Tuesday. (Eric Seals/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick didn’t attend the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday because he was scouting players at Florida’s pro day.

Just because he wasn’t in Arizona, doesn’t mean he didn’t come up with his fellow coaches.

“I don’t think he’s slowing down,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, via CSNNE.com. “I mean, the guy is winning rings. He’s stumbling over all the rings he’s winning, and it’s for a reason. He’s not slowing down any time soon.”

Harbaugh spent some time with Belichick last week at Ohio State’s pro day.

“I just appreciated the conversation,” Harbaugh said. “He knows the players. He’s the best, and it’s not surprising to see him work as hard as he does. You gotta work at it and he works at it.”

New Bills coach Sean McDermott respects the time Belichick puts in, as the coach is turning 65 next month and is showing no signs of slowing down.

“You respect that about him and that whole organization in terms of their drive to be the best year after year,” McDermott said. “It’s one thing to have success, it’s another thing to sustain it. To me that starts from leadership, and they set the tone, really. I’m sure they do a great job in that regard. It’s obvious, it’s out there. They’ve been able to sustain the success and we’re all scrambling to be able to try to catch up to them.”

Added McDermott: “That’s why I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning. They do a great job with building their football team whether it’s through the draft, late free agency signings, they find pieces that fit what they’re trying to do and they’re very strategic. Nick Caserio I know well does a great job on the personnel side, and then their coaching staff does a great job. Obviously, it’s led by one of the greats of all time.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott,
Former Patriots DE Chris Long signs with Eagles 03.28.17 at 12:04 pm ET
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Chris Long reportedly signed a 1-year deal with the Eagles. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long reportedly signed a 1-year deal with the Eagles. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long has found a new home.

According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, Long has signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport adds the deal is similar to the one-year, $2.4 million deal he signed with the Patriots in 2016.

[UPDATE: The Eagles confirmed the signing and it is actually a two-year deal.]

Long, who just wrapped up his 10th season in the league, made the playoffs for the first time and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

He was part of a rotation at defensive end and finished the year with 35 tackles and four sacks.

It seemed Long was welcome back in New England for another season, but on Instagram before free agency he hinted he wanted to go to a place where he would get more playing time.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Robert Kraft: Roger Goodell welcome at Gillette Stadium for 2017 opener 03.28.17 at 11:51 am ET
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Robert Kraft extended an invitation to Roger Goodell for the 2017 home opener. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft extended an invitation to Roger Goodell for the 2017 home opener. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

It is a story that will not die until Roger Goodell comes back to Gillette Stadium.

The NFL commissioner hasn’t been to Foxboro since 2015 for AFC championship game, better known as the Deflategate game.

Goodell opted to spend two straight weekends in Atlanta for the playoffs this past season instead of coming to Gillette for the AFC title game.

As he did the week of the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it clear the commissioner is welcome at Gillette Stadium for the 2017 season opener.

“Well, I think I’ll let you all ask him that,” Kraft told reporters on Monday at the NFL league meetings, via The Boston Herald. “Look, he’s commissioner in the league. As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. And if he wanted to come, he’s welcomed to come. We’re happy we’ll be celebrating our fifth banner. He can decide whether he wants to be there.”

The NFL schedule will be released in mid-April and it is possible the season opener is a Super Bowl rematch against the Falcons.

Goodell is scheduled to meet the media at the league meetings Tuesday and perhaps could get asked about it.

Read More: Robert Kraft, roger goodell,
Bill Belichick attends Florida pro day over AFC coaches breakfast 03.28.17 at 10:03 am ET
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Late Saturday night word came down Bill Belichick would not be attending the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL league meetings Tuesday morning due to a “scouting conflict.”

It’s not required for coaches to attend the breakfast, but it is very rare for a coach to miss the occasion.

There are several big pro days on Tuesday including Florida, Florida State and Texas, so many assumed that was where he would be instead of in Arizona, and it appears that is indeed the case.

Belichick has been spotted at Florida’s pro day Tuesday morning.

The soon-to-be 65-year-old has been very active on the scouting trail lately showing no signs of slowing down.

Read More: Bill Belichick,
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