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Source: Tom Brady, Devin McCourty among Patriots back at Gillette Stadium 03.23.15 at 2:16 pm ET
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It’€™s back to work for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Even though the Patriots official offseason workout program usually doesn’€™t start until mid- to late-April, there have been occasional sightings here and there of players around Gillette Stadium as of late. On Monday, a source indicated quarterback Tom Brady was back in the building –€” just a couple of days after being buried by his kids on the beach. In addition, according to the same source, defensive backs Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon were also present.

According to league rules, players are allowed to use the facilities at the stadium in the offseason before the official team program begins. However, they are not permitted contact with coaches during that period.

The news of Brady’s appearance was first reported by Mike Reiss of ESPN.

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Tom Brady,
A brief history of Patriots and their pre-draft contact with recent top picks 03.16.15 at 1:50 pm ET
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Before he was drafted by the Patriots last spring, Dominque Easley had an inkling New England was interested in his service. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Before he was drafted by the Patriots last spring, Dominque Easley had an inkling New England was interested in his service. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the pre-draft process now in full swing — and private workouts and visits looming for each team starting later this month — fans and media alike will undoubtedly try and gauge the level of the Patriots’ interest in a player through visits, contact and workout sessions. With the understanding that some of the pre-draft conversations can be a smokescreen, some of it can be done for intel down the road and some of can be for practical scouting purposes, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections New England has made with some of their top draft picks over the last seven years.

Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (taken with New England’s first pick in 2014, 29th overall): Easley was brought in to Foxboro for a pre-draft visit with the Patriots. He later recalled that Bill Belichick showed up at his pro day, and they “talked a whole lot and got to know each other,” according to the Florida product.

Linebacker Jamie Collins (taken with New England’s first pick in 2013, a second-round selection at No. 52 overall): Belichick flew South to work out Collins before the draft, but the linebacker later indicated he didn’t talk much with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process, at least when compared to other teams.

Defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round pick 2012, 21st overall): Jones said the only substantive contact he had with New England prior to being drafted was a conversation at the combine that winter in Indy. “I talked to the Patriots — I talked with them at the combine,” he said. “That was the most formal thing we did. That’s basically it — we talked at the combine.”

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick 2012, 25th overall): He didn’t work out for Patriots, but he said he “had a small (idea)” the Patriots were interested, he indicated following the draft. “I met with those guys at the combine and I met them at one of the pro days,” Hightower recalled, “I knew that they were kind of interested in some of the defensive players that we had at Alabama.”

Tackle Nate Solder (first-round pick 2011, 17th overall): Solder had “fairly limited contact” with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. He met with former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia the Monday before the draft in Colorado, but also had a scheduled visit to Foxboro cancelled at the last minute as he was preparing to leave for New England. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Solder later explained. “I was scheduled to visit (but), the minute before I left, it was cancelled. That’s all I know.”

Defensive back Devin McCourty (first-round pick 2010, 27th overall): McCourty met with Belichick prior to the draft, where the two had a film session on campus at Rutgers. “Bill Belichick had come to my school for a coaches’ clinic, and he was going to fly right out after the clinic to see his son play in a lacrosse game,” McCourty recalled. “But we had an hour, we watched some film and we spoke for a little while. We had a real generic conversation, but he showed me some things on film, just watching and helping me out as far as being a player.”

Linebacker Jerod Mayo (first-round pick, 2008, 10th overall): Mayo had 11 visits with teams during the pre-draft process, and remembers his visit to Foxboro fondly. “I had a great visit when I came down there,” he said after the draft. “The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked.”

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, chandler jones, Devin McCourty, Dominique Easley
Devin McCourty: Darrelle Revis ‘got a chance to be back where he really wanted to be’ 03.12.15 at 12:40 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty made a formidable combo for the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty made a formidable combo for the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty plans to hold a grudge against Darrelle Revis for turning his back on the Patriots and signing with the Jets.

“I’m going to tell him I’m not talking to him for the first five minutes,” McCourty told our pal Dan Duggan of with a laugh on Wednesday, “and then we can be friends again.”

McCourty was very public in his wishes to see Revis return to the Patriots, but he understands the reality of the situation, and has no problem with what the veteran cornerback did, spurning New England for a five-year deal with the Jets worth $70 million.

“I’m happy for him,” McCourty said. “I think a lot of people label him as chasing money, but I think he got a chance to be back to where he really wanted to be. From talking to him throughout this year, I don’t think he ever really wanted to be out of New York. I think now it will give him an opportunity to be back playing in New York and back where he got drafted.

“He’s the best corner in the game. But that’s what the NFL is about. (New Giants running back) Shane Vereen was a huge part of our offense last year. You have to adjust,” McCourty added. “That’s the thing I’ve learned from being in the league. I saw every team that wins the Super Bowl usually loses guys that everyone else is like, ‘How are they going to replace him?’ That’s what it is, though. When you win a Super Bowl, you win because you have a lot of good players on your team. So when those guys’ contracts are up, I tell people all the time, ‘You have a short window to play this game. You need to do what you feel is best for your family.'”

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Read More: Devin McCourty, NFL free agency 2015,
Why Patriots’ financial philosophies were reason for Darrelle Revis’ departure to New York at 12:01 am ET
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It was next to impossible for the Patriots to retain Darrelle Revis for 2015. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It was next to impossible for the Patriots to retain Darrelle Revis for 2015. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Patriots fans were thrilled Sunday night when it was learned safety Devin McCourty re-signed with New England for five years, $47.5 million. But, things took a drastic turn Tuesday night when it was revealed cornerback Darrelle Revis would be going back to the team he began his career with — the New York Jets — for a massive five-year, $70 million contract.

Would fans feel any different if signing McCourty to the contract the Patriots did meant they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Revis? Because looking at their cap situation, that is exactly what happened.

Like everything else in the organization, the Patriots are very meticulous when it comes to managing their salary cap. They have a specific value for specific players, as well as positions. They are not the type of franchise to go away from their values to retain one player, as we’ve seen many times in the past.

Here are the salary cap hits for the Patriots’ secondary (cornerbacks and safeties) for each of the last four seasons (All cap numbers in the story and below are with contracts from

2011: $12,347,347
2012: $17,576,037
2013: $17,236,889
2014: $25,289,886

The secondary clearly isn’t a position the Patriots break the bank for, especially when the team has two of the best players at their respective positions in Tom Brady with a cap hit of $14.8 million in 2014 and Rob Gronkowski with a cap hit of $5.4 million in 2014. The team was able to have Revis, also the best player at his position, on the team last year because they were able to sign him to a deal which allowed his cap hit to only be $7 million. The Patriots are not a team to go overboard for a few players to in turn handcuff them when it comes to the rest of their roster.

Revis’ deal with the Jets has a cap hit in 2015 for $16 million. McCourty has a cap hit in 2015 for $6 million. If Revis agreed to that deal with the Patriots, just for McCourty and Revis, their cap hit would be $22 million — for two players, not even skill position players. This would back up the report floating around Tuesday night that the Patriots were out of the negotiations on Monday for Revis, the day after they re-signed McCourty.

After signing McCourty, the Patriots have $14.9 million against the cap allocated to the secondary for 2015, and now it can be seen why the Patriots asked Brandon Browner to seek what his value was and then not picking up his option, which would have been a $5.5 million cap hit.

Yes, the Patriots went over the top by their standards in 2014 in signing both Browner and Revis, but when you can get those two quality players for just over $9 million against the cap, you do it every time — especially when they had some up-and-coming players playing with low cap hit contracts. The Patrots couldn’t do it again for 2015 because that $9 million for the pair would have turned into over $20 million. History also shows the Patriots don’t shell out big money contracts in the secondary.

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Read More: Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, NFL free agency 2015
Patriots players react to a crazy day of free agency 03.10.15 at 8:06 pm ET
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Fans weren’t the only ones who were weighing in on Tuesday’s free agent moves — there were a few Patriots players who made their feelings known. Here’s a quick look at who was saying what on social media.

LaFell said farewell to Shane Vereen, who signed a free-agent deal with the Giants.

Of course, it wasn’t all #crazy. Devin McCourty Tweeted out a pic of him signing his new deal.

And LeGarrette Blount had fans wondering about a potential deal when he Tweeted that he was headed to Arizona. He later had a follow-up message for those who might have been worried.

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Devin McCourty, LeGarrette Blount, NFL free agency 2015
Report: Patriots will not pick up Darrelle Revis’ $20 million team option, making him a free agent 03.09.15 at 3:50 pm ET
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In a move that was to be expected, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Patriots will not pick up Darrelle Revis‘ $20 million team option for 2015 and the cornerback will become a free agent Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The Patriots would have taken a $25 million cap hit if Revis would have played out the contract, so it seemed very unlikely he would play for that number. Revis will now be able to sign with any other team in the league, including the Patriots. Schefter said last week he believes Revis will either sign with the Patriots or the Jets.

As for what kind of money Revis will be seeking?

Newsday’s Kimberley Martin reported he is looking for in the “ballpark” of three years, $48 million with $40 million guaranteed. For a comparison to other top cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson has a five-year, $70 million contract with $47 million guaranteed with the Arizona Cardinals, while Richard Sherman has a four-year, $56 million contract with the Seahawks with $40 million guaranteed.

The Patriots and Revis could still come to an agreement before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. official start of free agency.

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Read More: Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, NFL free agency 2015,
Devin McCourty will do everything he can to keep Vince Wilfork in New England at 3:26 pm ET
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The Patriots made their first big move of the offseason when they reportedly agreed to bring back safety Devin McCourty Sunday night.

One of the next big looming questions is will Vince Wilfork join McCourty on the Patriots after the defensive tackle was informed his contract would not be picked up for the 2015 season? The Patriots would like Wilfork to take a pay cut, but the 33-year-old is a free agent and can now sign with any team.

McCourty wants Wilfork to return to New England and make a run at another Super Bowl. McCourty discussed this and other matters appearing on a number of ESPN shows Monday.

“Me playing with him for five years and seeing him, there might not be 10 sacks in a season, but he causes so much havoc up front,” McCourty said on “Mike & Mike”. “It’€™s tough to think about [Wilfork leaving], especially for me. I’€™ve grown very close with him over the last couple of years and I’€™ve been talking to him throughout the whole process, but I think you have to try to move on.

“Obviously with me returning, I’€™m going to do everything I can do to get him back there playing in New England. It’€™ll be cool just to see what happens over the next month and hopefully he’€™s still back there helping out.”

Wilfork, like McCourty, has never played for another team besides the Patriots.

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Read More: Devin McCourty, NFL free agency 2015, Vince Wilfork,
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