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History of Patriots and franchise tag 02.17.14 at 10:56 am ET
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We’ve written about this a couple of times to this point in the offseason, but with the franchise tag window open Monday, it’s worth taking another look at how the Patriots have used the tag in the past and what happened as a result:

2002: Adam Vinatieri, contract extension
2003: Tebucky Jones, traded
2005: Adam Vinatieri, played it out and later departed as a free agent
2007: Asante Samuel, played it out and later departed as a free agent
2009: Matt Cassel, traded
2010: Vince Wilfork, contract extension
2011: Logan Mankins, contract extension
2012: Wes Welker, played it out and later departed as a free agent

To be clear, there are two types of franchise tags:

The non-exclusive franchise tag: The most common designation. Under this agreement, the player must be offered a one-year deal based on the average of the non-exclusive franchise numbers at his position over the last five seasons and their percentage of that year’€™€™s salary cap or 120 percent of his prior year’€™€™s base salary, whichever is greater. If a player does get a non-exclusive franchise tag, they can talk with other teams, but if he signs an offer sheet with another club, his team has five days to match the offer. If the offer is not matched, his team will receive two first-round picks as compensation from the signing team.

The exclusive franchise tag: With this designation, the player receivers a one-year offer from his own team that’€™€™s the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free-agent signing period has ended or 120 percent of his prior year’€™€™s salary. A player cannot negotiate with other teams with the exclusive franchise tag.

Teams have a two-week window, starting Monday, to tag their players.

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Asante Samuel, Logan Mankins, Matt Cassel
Thoughts on Julian Edelman, Aqib Talib and franchise tag 02.05.14 at 5:20 pm ET
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Aqib Talib could be in line for the franchise tag. (AP)

Aqib Talib could be in line for the franchise tag. (AP)

We’€™re now less than two weeks away from the start of the franchise tag window — it begins on Feb. 17 and lasts for two weeks — and while New England has a dozen free agents, it’€™s believed the Patriots have two seriously taggable possibilities this year in wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Aqib Talib.

Both were essential elements to the success of the 2013 team, but both were playing on one-year contracts. While the deal Talib signed this past offseason was more of a “show-me” contract (one signed in the wake of a depressed market for free-agent cornerbacks), Edelman was more or less forced to take New England’€™s one-year offer, as it was one of the only ones that was extended to him.

However, as a result of their work in 2013, the pair could enter the market poised to make a sizable piece of change. But would the Patriots be inclined to let them walk without a new deal to keep them in place? The franchise tag is a hammer the teams have over potential players when it comes to retaining their services, and history tells us that the Patriots have never been shy about using it, whether it’€™s a way to keep the player around Foxboro for one more season, a way to keep a player under their umbrella while still negotiating a deal, or as a sign-and-trade maneuver. And it could certainly come into play when talking about Talib and Edelman.

To be clear, there are two types of franchise tags:

The non-exclusive franchise tag: The most common designation. Under this agreement, the player must be offered a one-year deal based on the average of the non-exclusive franchise numbers at his position over the last five seasons and their percentage of that year’€™s salary cap or 120 percent of his prior year’€™s base salary, whichever is greater. If a player does get a non-exclusive franchise tag, they can talk with other teams, but if he signs an offer sheet with another club, his team has five days to match the offer. If the offer is not matched, his team will receive two first-round picks as compensation from the signing team.

The exclusive franchise tag: With this designation, the player receivers a one-year offer from his own team that’€™s the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free-agent signing period has ended or 120 percent of his prior year’€™s salary. A player cannot negotiate with other teams with the exclusive franchise tag.

Here’€™s a look at how New England has utilized the franchise tag, and what has happened as a result:

2002: Adam Vinatieri, contract extension
2003: Tebucky Jones, traded
2005: Adam Vinatieri, played it out and later departed as a free agent
2007: Asante Samuel, played it out and later departed as a free agent
2009: Matt Cassel, traded
2010: Vince Wilfork, contract extension
2011: Logan Mankins, contract extension
2012: Wes Welker, played it out and later departed as a free agent

As we said, the tag can be a relatively easy way for a team to retain the services of a player, even for a year, but in the case of both Talib and Edelman, it would come at a serious price. While the franchise tag numbers are not expected to be announced until after the 2014 cap number is officially set (usually in late February or early March), according to former agent Joel Corry — who is an excellent follow on Twitter for all things cap related — the projected franchise tag value for cornerbacks in 2014 will be $11,256,000 million. At wide receiver, the price is even steeper — $11,539,000. (For a complete look at Corry’€™s projections click here.)

With all this in mind, we want to get your take: If you could only use the franchise tag on one — Talib or Edelman — who would you tag and why?

If you had to choose between franchising Julian Edelman or Aqib Talib, who would it be?

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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Aqib Talib, Julian Edelman, Logan Mankins
Stephen Gostkowski is still waiting for that special Adam Vinatieri playoff ‘moment’ 01.09.14 at 6:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s no secret that kickers live in their own little world and usually only show themselves when the pressure is on.

Stephen Gostkowski gave a little insight to his world and what he might be thinking should Saturday night’s playoff game against the Colts come down to his right foot.

“I just go into a game trying to make a kick,” Gostkowski said. “The times that I’€™ve gotten into situations where it’€™s in the fourth quarter, it’€™s a kick that you know if you don’€™t make it, you’€™re not going to necessarily get another opportunity, I try to just treat it like any other kick. I’€™ve made kicks, I’€™ve missed kicks and I’€™m still here. I just try to take each kick one kick at a time.

“There could be a kick that I make in the first quarter and we could end up winning by three. So me just sitting there and worrying about a kick at the end of the game I feel like would do a disservice to the other kicks. Each game is different and each mentality is different. I remember my first couple years, you’€™re just waiting and waiting and waiting for that moment. But you have no control over it. All you can do I prepare yourself to be ready for that moment. We’€™ve had a lot of them this year and hopefully we can take the same approach and have the same success we’€™ve had if we get into that situation.

TV crews love to show kickers on the sidelines late in close games. What is thinking when the camera is on him and does he visualize the mental aspect of every kick while getting ready?

“Yeah, you do little things like I’€™ll watch a five minute cut-up of some big kicks that I’€™ve made to a song that I like,” he said. “Just like little visual things and then when I’€™m on the sideline I’€™ll sing that song and then in my head I see the ball going through the uprights.

“Sometimes there are days you don’€™t feel good or things haven’€™t been going well and you might have in your mind, ‘€˜Don’€™t miss this kick.’€™ But then when it’€™s going good, you go out there, ‘€˜I’€™m going to make it.’€™ It’€™s just that difference between confidence and cockiness, just going out there to make the kick instead of to not miss. Mentally to me that’€™s a big difference. I always just try to visualize myself doing well and not getting overexcited or too hyped up in the moment.

“Most of those guys are banging heads. I’€™m trying to like listen to Enya before the game to calm myself down. All I do is just try to ‘€“ the worst thing you can do in situations where, for me personally, where the situation gets bigger is get too excited. You have to try to slow your heart rate down, turn that nervousness and tightness into focus and if you just try to do that and do what you do on every other kick then most of the time you’€™ll be successful. That’€™s just the approach that I take.”

Gostkowski, who later clarified that he does not listen to nor sing Enya songs on the sideline – is yet to have that definitive moment that Adam Vinatieri enjoyed three times in the 2001 playoffs, including the game-winner in Super Bowl XXXVI. Vinatieri also won Super Bowl XXXVIII with a last-second field goal.

He will, of course, be going against Vinatieri on Saturday night in a matter of speaking as the Colts come calling to Gillette Stadium.

“Most kickers and punters and snappers are pretty cordial with each other throughout the year,” Gostkowski said Thursday when asked about his predecessor. “You kind of pull for each other when you’€™re not playing [against] each other kind of thing. Most guys have respect for each other because some guy who is knocking heads every play is not going to have as much respect for what we do as other guys that go through what we do on a day-to-day basis.

“You always have a fond respect for a guy that there’€™s only 31 other in the league. He’€™s the best of the best. As far as does it matter that he’€™s playing? It doesn’€™t matter. Unless he’€™s trying to come block the kick or he’€™s going to be back there returning it, it’€™s just another game.”

Does Gostkowski see himself lasting till he’s 41, like Vinatieri?

“I don’€™t know, man. I’€™m just trying to make it to the next game,” Gostkowski said. “Whatever I do is bonus. I had no idea I would even be in the NFL, let alone play eight years. A short-term goal is 10 [years]. This is all bonus. Here we focus on a day-to-day kind of thing. If I were to get the chance to do that, that would be great.

“The guys that have been good, like Gary Anderson, Morten Andersen, a lot of guys that kicked well into their later careers, John Carney. You hear stories about, I remember Junior Seau told me John Carney was the most in-shape guy he’€™s ever been around. I was like, ‘€˜No, get out of here.’€™ This is Junior Seau, one of the best linebackers of all-time, he said he’€™s a good buddy. You hear stories about Adam working out and being in shape,” Gostkowski said. “As long as he’€™s out there producing, there’€™s no reason. Age is just a number. If he feels good and it looks like he’€™s doing good then more power to him.”

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Read More: 2014 playoffs, Adam Vinatieri, Enya, Indianapolis Colts
Bill Belichick on Adam Vinatieri: ‘A Hall of Fame kicker if there ever was one’ 01.07.14 at 12:55 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The debate goes on every Saturday before the Super Bowl. Should kickers be considered for the Hall of Fame? Jan Stenerud is the only pure placekicker enshrined in Canton while Lou Groza and George Blanda made it with the help of their other positions. Groza was a dominating offensive tackle while Blanda was a quarterback.

Well, if the writers ask Bill Belichick, he has a gold standard for the position – Adam Vinatieri.

The Patriots coach was asked on a conference call with Indianapolis writers Tuesday if he is surprised the 41-year-old Vinatieri is performing so well so late in his career.

‘€œNot really. I think Adam, when he was here, trained very hard in the offseason, was one of our hardest workers,” Belichick said. “He worked out with all the other position players and he was never really looked at as a kicker in terms of his offseason program and what he did as far as training, that kind of thing. He was a very well-conditioned athlete. Mentally, he’€™s as tough and as consistent as they come. I can’€™t think of anybody, certainly no other kicker, that I’€™ve coached that I would put ahead of him in terms of mental toughness, concentration, focus, professionalism, all of those things.

“He just did his job as well as he could possibly do it every day that I was here. I was here in ‘€™96 when he came in as a rookie and then as the head coach when I came back. I have the utmost respect for Adam and the way he approaches his job, the way he does his job. It really seems like every year, you turn on the film and he’€™s making 50-yard field goals and kicking them right down the middle and doing the same things that he did 17, 18 years ago, however long it’€™s been since ‘€™96. He’€™s a great player and a Hall of Fame kicker if there ever was one.’€

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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
Which Patriots should expect a call from the Hall? 08.03.13 at 11:10 pm ET
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When it comes to the Hall of Fame, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are easy choices. (AP)

When it comes to the Hall of Fame, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are easy choices. (AP)

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted the class of 2013 on Saturday night, with Bill Parcells, Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Warren Sapp and Curley Culp honored in Canton. The most recent round of inductions got us wondering: What members of the Patriots over the last decade-plus could eventually end up being fitted for a yellow jacket? Here are 13 possibilities, with their Patriots careers in parentheses.

Bill Belichick (head coach, 2000-present): Regardless of how his career ends, whenever Belichick decides to retire the hoodie, five rings (three as head coach, two as a coordinator) are certainly enough to land a spot.

Tom Brady (2000-present): At the age of 36, with three Super Bowl titles and two MVPs, Brady is already a no-brainer. Can’t imagine that there would be much debate over his candidacy.

Wes Welker (2007-2012): We wrote this column at the end of the 2012 season, and stand by it: Welker needs another 100 catches and another 1,000 receiving yards, and if he gets it, he’ll be at the center of a great debate when he does decide to hang them up. That would give him almost 900 career receptions and close to 10,000 career receiving yards, which would put him in the heart of a discussion that once included Carter (1,101 catches, 13,899 receiving yards and 130 touchdowns, inducted this year) and now will focus on Andre Reed (951 catches and 13,198 receiving yards and 87 touchdowns, not in) and Tim Brown (1,094 catches, 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns, not in). One thing that would help his candidacy would be at least one ring.

Randy Moss (2007-2010): Moss drew some flak this past January when he said he was the “greatest receiver ever to play,” But he’s not too far off. Moss’s 156 receiving touchdowns are second only to Rice’s 197, and his 15,292 yards are third behind Rice’s 22,895 and Terrell Owens’ 15,934. (For what it’s worth, if Moss could have hitched his wagon to Brady for more than three-plus seasons, he might have been able to catch Rice.) Like many of the guys on this list, his candidacy would be considered truly ironclad if he came away with a ring, and I’m not sure if that’s possible at this stage of his career. But his stats should be more than enough to get him to the Hall. That induction speech will be an all timer.

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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Corey Dillon
Adam Vinatieri on getting booed: ‘I appreciate it’ 11.18.12 at 9:35 pm ET
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Tom Brady was more welcoming of former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri than the Gillette Stadium crowd. (AP)

FOXBORO — This wasn’t Adam Vinatieri’s first trip back to Gillette Stadium as a member of the visiting team. But the boos in this visit were louder than ever for the former Patriots kicker, famous for sending two Super Bowl-winning kicks through the uprights for New England.

Less than five minutes into the game, Vinatieri made his way onto the field for an extra-point try after a Delone Carter touchdown — the first score of the game. And fans at Gillette Stadium made their displeasure for the Colts kicker heard.

Vinatieri, who departed from New England after the 2005 season, is in his seventh year with the Colts, and he has made the trip back to Foxboro four times as a member of the opposition. So he’s used to the hostility. But he said after the Colts’ 59-24 loss on Sunday that some of the fans who were booing him during the game also said that they still appreciate the most storied kicker in Patriots franchise history.

“Some ones that were booing at the very end were saying, ‘Yeah, we still love you man,’ ” said Vinatieri, who spent 10 years in New England. “So it’s all good. It’s gamesmanship, or whatever you want to call it, so I respect that. Most of the people, if I acknowledge them, they go, ‘Hey, it’s all good.’ So it’s all good, though, and I understand the deal. That’s home-field advantage. That’s what you’re supposed to do — get loud and get rowdy and try to make it hard on the other team. You just put your blinders on and just keep going forward.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick asks: ‘What more could [Adam Vinatieri] do’ to get into the Hall of Fame? 11.16.12 at 2:33 pm ET
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Adam Vinatieri kicks the game-tying field goal in the snow against the Raiders, considered by many the biggest kick in NFL history. (AP)

FOXBORO — Leave it to Bill Belichick to answer a highly-debated question with several of his own. Such was the case Friday when he was asked if Adam Vinatieri – and all of his huge kicks – deserves a bust in Canton when he finally hangs up the cleats.

“He’s certainly one of the greatest kickers I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the league – the longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games,” Belichick said. “What more could he do? Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? Is that what he needs to do? I don’t know. What more could he do? I don’t know what more Dave Jennings could have done at his position or Ray Guy or guys like that. What else would they have had to do? Get a bunch of interceptions? We don’t judge quarterbacks on their rushing yardage.

“We don’t judge them on how many tackles they made. I don’t know if we even judge them on how many games they win. We judge them on a lot of their quarterback rating and stats and running backs on rushing yardage. What does a guy have to do if he excels at his position? Is that good enough? I don’t know. Like I said, you’d have to ask somebody that knows a lot more about it than I do because I don’t understand what the criteria is.”

He left after the 2005 season and has been in Indianapolis ever since.

“I know it’s been a while,” Belichick said. “I’ve been fortunate to have two good kickers here, two real good kickers.”

Vinatieri is still making big kicks, including a game-winning 50-yarder with eight seconds left in regulation against Minnesota on Sept. 16 in a 23-20 Colts win.

“That was a big kick Adam made in overtime at the end of the [Minnesota] game, the 50-yarder,” Belichick said. “That was a big kick. I’ve seen him make a lot of those.”

At this point, only Jan Stenerud is the only “pure” placekicker in the Hall of Fame. George Blanda made it but he was a quarterback for the great Raiders teams of the 60s and early 70s. Lou Groza is in but he was also an offensive tackle. And perhaps most egregious, Ray Guy does not have a bust in Canton.

So, with what Vinatieri has accomplished, he’s a slam dunk to become the second place-kicker in the Hall, right?

“I think that’s a good question,” Belichick began. “I don’t know what Hall of Fame means. There are guys who have great, long careers. There are other guys with very short careers in the Hall of Fame; from championship teams, there are guys that never or hardly ever played on winning teams. There are guys with personal stats, there are guys with I’d say less personal stats but maybe more championships or more longevity. I don’t know what the criteria is for the Hall of Fame, I’m not in any position to be honest with you. That’s something you’d have to ask the Hall of Fame committee or voters or something like that, because I don’t really know what the criteria is. I don’t know if it’s ever been defined. I don’t know if it’s a popularity contest or if it’s a political thing. I don’t know what it is. It’s hard for me to believe that. as great as this game is, that there are no punters and one kicker in the Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Canton, George Blanda, Indianapolis Colts
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