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Report: Patriots in on Brian Hartline, possibly to replace Danny Amendola 03.05.15 at 3:55 pm ET
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Brian Hartline could be on the Patriots' radar in free agency. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Brian Hartline could be on the Patriots’ radar in free agency. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Patriots are considering all of their options when it comes to their wide receivers, and one of them may be veteran Brian Hartline.

According to Cleveland.com, the Patriots are among a group of four teams seriously considering making a bid for the 28-year-old veteran of five NFL seasons and may have already made a preliminary offer. Hartline hit the market after playing just two of the five seasons in his contract he signed with the Dolphins in March 2013. Miami signed him for five years and $30 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed and a $7 million signing bonus.

Amendola, 29, signed a similar contract at the same time, inking for five years and $28.5 million with $10 million guaranteed and a $6 million signing bonus. Amendola’s production picked up in the second half of this season and he played a key role as a kick returner. He had five catches for 48 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks. He also had two touchdown receptions in the playoff win over the Ravens.

Still, Amendola’s targets and catches were down drastically in 2014, his second season in New England, catching just 27 passes for 200 yards and only one touchdown on 42 targets. He caught 54 passes for 633 yards on 83 targets in 2013. His biggest impact came on kickoff returns, returning 20 kicks for an average of 24.1 yards.

Cleveland.com reports that the Patriots could be willing to cut Amendola and replace him with Hartline if it clears cap space and gives them more flexibility.

The Patriots are reportedly in the mix with the Texans, Browns (Hartline went to Ohio State and is from nearby Canton, OH), Bears and possibly the Colts. The Dolphins have already not ruled out making a run again at the receiver, who was a fourth-round pick of Miami in 2009 and has played his entire six-year career in South Florida. Hartline caught 298 passes for 4,243 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2012 and 2013, he became just the fifth receiver in Dolphins history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Last season, Hartline was relegated to a back-up, grabbing only 39 passes for 474 yards and two touchdowns.

If he chose his hometown Browns, he could help fill the void left by Josh Gordon, who’s serving a minimum one-year ban for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Read More: Brian Hartline, Cleveland Browns, Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins
Julian Edelman on Late Night With Seth Myers: ‘I was in [Bill] Belichick’s doghouse for 6 years’ 02.11.15 at 3:32 pm ET
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Wide receiver Julian Edelman continued to make his media rounds following the Super Bowl, appearing on Late Night With Seth Myers Tuesday night. He talked about the Super Bowl, tried to turn Myers into a Patriots fan and also said he was in Bill Belichick‘s doghouse for six years after he fumbled a snap his rookie season, and never got to throw a pass on a trick play since.

Belichick finally called a double-pass in the divisional round win over the Ravens when Edelman connected with Danny Amendola for a touchdown, and Edelman couldn’t have been happier given the time.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman,
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Wide receiver 02.09.15 at 3:07 pm ET
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Brandon LaFell caught the first touchdown pass of Super Bowl XLIX (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Brandon LaFell caught the first touchdown pass of Super Bowl XLIX. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We kicked off the series with a look at special teams. Now, it’€™s the wide receivers.

Depth chart: Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards, 7 TDs), Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards — ended season on injured reserve), Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins (6 catches, 11 targets, 53 yards — he was released by the Patriots on Oct. 4)

Overview: When you assess the Patriots’ receiving corps, there’s a natural inclination to say, “Is that all there is?” But it’s important to remember that the receivers are just a portion of the New England passing game. Bottom line? You can afford to roll out two-receiver sets when you have one of the best young pass-catching backs in the game, (Shane Vereen was one of five backs to finish the season with at least 50 catches and 50 carries) and the most dominant offensive option in the league at tight end (Rob Gronkowski).

With that in mind, it was a very good year for the New England receivers. Edelman followed up a terrific 2013 campaign with an even better 2014 season, and became just as valuable to the success of the Patriots’ passing game as Wes Welker had been from 2007-2013. Including the playoffs, he had eight games where he had eight catches or more, including an 11-reception outing against the Lions and 10-catch performance against the Raiders. After a slow start, LaFell became a dependable No. 2 receiver. While he had no catches in his first two games, he built to a crest midway through the year, and had an impressive four-game string in the middle of the year where he had 29 catches for 337 yards and two touchdowns. And while Amendola basically had his job swiped by Edelman midway through the 2013 season, he still showed he could contribute down the stretch, as prior to Week 16 against the Jets, Amendola had 15 catches for 113 yards and one touchdown and then in the last five games of the year (including the playoffs), he had 23 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

Going forward, provided he can continue to stay healthy, Edelman figures to remain a foundational element of the New England offense, while LaFell appears to be well ensconced as a No. 2 option on the outside. There should be a real debate as to whether or not a late-season push by Amendola (which included good work as a kick returner) could be enough to keep him for 2015. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a re-done deal for Amendola. It’s likely that youngsters Dobson, Boyce and Tyms could compete to give the Patriots some sort of deep threat, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Patriots try and find some help at the spot, either in free agency or the draft.

Best moment: Edelman was immense for much of the season, but he was at his best in the Super Bowl when he finished with nine catches on 12 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown, and sparked serious discussion as to whether or not he should have been MVP and not Tom Brady. Those nine catches included a pair of third-down pickups in the fourth quarter that helped keep late drives alive — with one reception punctuated by a bone-rattling hit from Seattle defensive back Kam Chancellor. Edelman was nails all season long, but he was never better than when he was on the big stage against the Legion of Boom. (For what it’s worth, he finished the postseason as the league’s leading receiver in several areas, including most catches with 26, most targets with 37 and most receiving yards with 281.)

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Special teams at 9:30 am ET
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Julian Edelman again carved out a niche as one of the best punt returners in the league. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman again carved out a niche as one of the best punt returners in the league. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We kick off the series with a look at the special teams.

Depth chart: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen, kick returner Danny Amendola, punt returner Julian Edelman, long snapper Danny Aiken, coverage man Matthew Slater

Overview: While the Patriots got steady and consistent performances on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball all year, the special teams were a true difference maker for New England on several occasions over the course of the 2014 season.

The Patriots had three different players win AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, they tied for the league lead in field goals blocked per game, and were among the league leaders in almost every major special teams category. Gostkowski finished second in the league in field-goal accuracy (at 94.6 percent, he was second only to Indy’€™s Adam Vinatieri at 96.8 percent) and Edelman’€™s 12.0 return average on punt returns was second best in the NFL this season (trailing only Philly’€™s Darren Sproles at 13.0.) Meanwhile, Amendola gave a midseason boost to the kick return unit, and provided some consistency, averaging 24.1 yards per return, including an 81-yarder in a win over the Lions. Allen was 12th in the league in net punting average (39.9), dropped 25 of his 66 regular-season punts inside the 20 and set a Super Bowl record with a 64-yard punt in the third quarter of last Sunday’€™s win over the Seahawks. The Patriots were also fifth in the league in kick coverage (yielding 21.2 yards per attempt) and 16th in punt coverage (9.2 yards per attempt). All in all, a terrific season for New England’€™s special teams unit, which came up big on several occasions over the course of the year.

Going forward, the group will be challenged, as longtime special teams coach Scott O’€™Brien announced his retirement in the days after the Super Bowl. Special teams assistant Joe Judge will take the reins, and while he’€™s considered a well-respected coach who is ready to ascend, it’€™ll be tough to replicate what O’€™Brien did with the group in 2014.

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Read More: Danny Aiken, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater
Patriots’ improvement on third down helped pave way to Super Bowl title at 6:00 am ET
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Rob Ninkovich, and the Patriots' third-down defense played a major part in their Super Bowl title run. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich, and the Patriots’ third-down defense played a major part in their Super Bowl title run. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“We have to get off the field, that’€™s huge. Some of the third-and-long situations we weren’t able to get off the field. I know third-and-long screens hurt us, too. Specifically that play and third and long as a whole, we need to do a better job. Obviously everything is working together, so coverage-rush, rush-coverage, everything works together. That’€™s just one area we definitely need to work on this year.” Rob Ninkovich, July 23, 2014 — the first day of training camp and media availability of the season

It was evident the Patriots defense needed to improve on third down, as dating back to the 2010 season there hadn’t been a year in which the Patriots finished higher than 20th in the league in third-down defense.

In 2013 the unit got off the field 42.7 percent of the time, 25th in the league, and 2010 was the worst season of all, as New England allowed opponents a success rate of 47.1 percent, dead last among all 32 defenses in the league.

This season was a huge improvement as the Patriots finished 16th in the NFL, getting off the field on third down 40 percent of the time, but it was in the postseason when the group took things to another level and helped lead the way to the fourth Super Bowl title in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

In the three postseason games, the Patriots defense held opponents to just 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) on third down, including holding the Seahawks to 3-for-10 in Super Bowl XLIX.

One of the keys to getting to the Super Bowl was the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over the Ravens in the divisional round where they came back from two 14-point deficits. It was on the Ravens’ drive before Brandon LaFell’s game-winning touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter where Baltimore got inside the red zone, having first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and the game tied at 28.

The Patriots defense stepped up, including a huge Patrick Chung deflection on third down in the end zone on a pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels, which forced a Justin Tucker field goal giving the Ravens a three-point lead, instead of what could have been seven.

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Rob Ninkovich, Super Bowl XLIX
From ‘smashing and dashing’ to ‘Mona Lisa Vito,’ Patriots provided plenty of memorable quotes in 2014 02.04.15 at 8:00 am ET
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Seattle corner Jeremy Lane doesn't think Rob Gronkowski is very good. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski had some of the best quotes of the year for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It was an interesting season for the Patriots, made all the more eventful by some terrific quotes. Here are the 10 most memorable statements from the 2014 season from the Patriots.

10. “We’re competing. We’re vibing on offense, trying to compete with the defense to try to get better every day.” — Wide receiver Danny Amendola on July 30, 2014, channeling his inner Wooderson when talking about the state of the Patriots offense early in training camp

9. “They beat us like we stole something.” Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork on Sept. 29, 2014 in the moments after a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. The unquestioned low point of the season, New England was dominated in all three phases of the game as it fell to 2-2 on the season

8. “He’s our Energizer Bunny.” — Cornerback Darrelle Revis on Nov. 4, 2014 talking about Brandon Browner. Browner delivered a jolt to the New England secondary, bringing guts and energy to a group of defensive backs who became one of the best positional groupings in the league

7. “With a healthy Gronk, we’re a whole different team.” — Wide receiver Brandon LaFell on Oct. 12, 2014, speaking after a 37-22 win over Buffalo where Gronkowski had seven catches for 94 yards and really started to show signs of his pre-injury form

6. “Before we came to the game I go, “I’m going to make 12 look like Tom Brady again,’ and I went out there with my teammates and we made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady after you guys were criticizing him all week. The fans — everything it feels so good — he’s such a leader and he went over 50,000 yards [passing] today. He’s an unbelievable player and I am so glad to play with him.” — Rob Gronkowski on Oct. 5, 2014, speaking after a 43-17 win over the Bengals. Brady had taken plenty of heat over the course of the week following a nasty loss, and bounced back to play one of his best games of the season while leading New England to the win

5. “Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit. I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do.” — Gronkowski on July 25, 2014, talking about his post-surgery attitude

4. “He had me at hello.” — Wide receiver Julian Edelman on Jan. 23, 2015, speaking about his relationship with Brady. The two have grown extremely close, developing a tight bond both on and off the field

3. “He was just yappin’€™ at me the whole time, so I took him and threw him out of the club.” — Gronkowski on Nov. 16, 2014, talking about his in-game altercation with Indy’s Sergio Brown where he blocked him into a camera pit

2. “I’m just telling you what I know. I would not say I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area. I’m not a scientist, and I’m not a league official.” — Belichick on Jan. 24, 2015, at a surprise press conference where he talked about the burgeoning scandal involving under-inflated footballs, referencing Marisa Tomei’s character from the movie “My Cousin Vinny”

1. “We’re on to Cincinnati.” — Belichick, speaking just 36 hours after a withering loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Belichick uttered the phrase several times in the wake of a line of questions about the state of his team. The Patriots responded, beating the Bengals 43-17 the following Sunday night, jumpstarting a race to the Super Bowl

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Mona Lisa Vito
Danny Amendola gives Will Ferrell a Bill Belichick makeover on Jimmy Fallon show 02.02.15 at 9:25 am ET
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Three members of the Super Bowl-winning Patriots — receivers Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola and running back LeGarrette Blount — were guests on “The Tonight Show” Sunday night to talk about the unforgettable game.

While their interview with host Jimmy Fallon was not memorable, Amendola made the appearance worthwhile.

Will Ferrell and fellow actor Kevin Hart were sitting behind the Pats players, and Ferrell was sporting a Seahawks sweatshirt. Amendola, saying, “Coach Belichick gave me strict orders to have a little fashion tip for you,” pulled out a pair of scissors and cut the sleeves just above the elbow.

“Very nice,” Ferrell said.

Said Fallon: “That’s a coach Belichick special right there.”

Here’s Fallon’s “Tonight Show Superlatives” tribute to the Patriots.

Read More: Danny Amendola, The Tonight Show, Will Ferrell,
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