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Despite Deflategate, Tom Brady tops NFLPA top 50 player sales list 07.24.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Tom Brady can still move a lot of products. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Despite Deflategate, the image of Tom Brady can still move a lot of products. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tom Brady may be under fire for his role in Deflategate, but his image is still one of the hottest-selling commodities in the NFL.

According to the National Football League Players Association, Brady ranks No. 1 on the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List for the most recent quarter. The list, which is based on total sale of all officially licensed NFL merchandise from March 1 through May 31, had Brady on top, leading Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Denver’s Peyton Manning, all of whom round out the Top 5.

The list is based on overall sales of all licensed products from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 80 NFLPA licensees such as Nike, VF Imagewear, Fanatics, Outerstuff, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Oyo Sports, Bleacher Creatures, FBF Originals, Forever Collectibles, FanPrint and Photo File.

Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys and t-shirts, player murals, figurines, matted and framed photos, bobbleheads, drinkware, socks, jewelry, electronic device accessories, among others. According to the report, Brady outsold all players in Oyo Sports mini-figures, Forever Collectibles bobbleheads (followed by teammate Rob Gronkowski), Fatheads and Lids custom player headwear.

Gronkowski (No. 14) and Julian Edelman (No. 35) were the only other Patriots to appear in the Top 50.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady,
Patriots re-sign rookie WR Zach D’Orazio 07.23.15 at 5:02 pm ET
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Zach D'Orazio (11) celebrates a touchdown while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Akron’s Zach D’Orazio (11) celebrates a touchdown against Michigan on Sept. 14, 2013. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots have brought back rookie wide receiver Zach D’Orazio.

The team announced Thursday it has re-signed the rookie free agent out of Akron.

D’€™Orazio, 24, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Akron on May 26 and released on June 11.

The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder was a two-year starter at Akron, appearing in 28 games at wide receiver and finishing his career with 119 receptions for 1,422 yards and five touchdowns.

D’€™Orazio began his college career as a quarterback before switching to wide receiver in 2012.

There is some similarity in stature and style to another Patriots player who played his college ball in the Mid-American Conference.

The Patriots scouted Julian Edelman, who played collegiately at Kent State before being drafted in 2009.

Like Edelman, D’Orazio had success as a quarterback before making the shift to receiver. At 6-foot-2, D’Orazio stands some 4 inches taller than Edelman.

Read More: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, Zach D’Orazio,
Countdown to Camp: Wide receivers 07.21.15 at 9:27 am ET
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Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots' Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots’ Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’€™ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We open with a look at wide receiver.

Depth chart (2014 regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Josh Boyce (none), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards), Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon Gibson (29 catches, 51 targets, 295 yards, 1 TD with Miami), Chris Harper (none), Jonathan Krause (none), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards 7 TDs), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD).

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. This is a big summer for Aaron Dobson. Heading into his third year in the league, the Marshall product acknowledged this spring he was excited to put 2014 season behind him. Last year, he started slow because of an offseason foot issue and by the time he was able to get on the field consistently he had been surpassed on the depth chart by a group of pass catchers, including Brandon LaFell. He did get back to live action, but ended up shutting it down for good after a hamstring injury in the November loss to Green Bay. The 24-year-old, who had one of the best rookie seasons for any receiver during the Tom Brady era (37 catches, 519 yards, 4 TDs), was able to show some good things over the course of the spring workouts with LaFell on the shelf. With camp just around the corner, he needs to be able to build on those successes if he wants to regain his spot as a key member of the New England passing game.

2. Brandon LaFell is more than just a good blocker. One of the more underwhelming free agent signings of last offseason, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound LaFell came to New England with a rep as a quality blocker, as well as the ability to occasionally show good hands and separation speed. And after a slow start (averaging two catches for 37 yards over the first five games of the season), he really came on nicely as a pass catcher and proved to be a dependable option for Brady, particularly when it came to intermediate routes. He ended the year with six games of six or more receptions, including an October win over the Bears where he finished with 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Among regular receivers, he led the team in yards per reception (12.9 yards per catch) and enters the 2015 campaign as the only seasoned deep threat on the roster. Provided he’€™s past the offseason foot surgery (he missed spring workouts, and was spotted in a walking boot), he figures to be an important part of the Patriots’€™ passing game in 2015.

3. For the second straight year, Julian Edelman is the closest thing the Patriots have to a No. 1 receiver. We said as much at the start of the 2014 season, and it was proven over the course of another year for the college quarterback. While there was plenty to like about his performance over the course of the regular season, he saved his biggest performance for the playoffs, where he became a household name: In all, he finished the postseason as the league’€™s leading receiver in several areas, including most catches with 26, most targets with 37, most receiving yards with 281 and most touchdown passes by a wide receiver (one, a memorable connection with Amendola in the divisional playoffs against the Ravens). His playoff resume now includes an astounding effort in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, where he finished with nine catches on 12 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. 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. Brady, who has become his BFF, called him a “phenomenal player”€ who earned every ounce of praise he received. “€œIt’€™s great to see it, and I’€™m just real proud of him,”€ added the quarterback the day after Super Bowl XLIX.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson, Brandon LaFell, Brian Tyms
Julian Edelman on Tom Brady: ‘He’s a little ticked off’ 07.18.15 at 1:02 pm ET
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Julian Edelman (left) has been showing his strong support to his good friend Tom Brady all summer, including here at a Best Buddies Challenge in Hyannis Port. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman (left) has been showing his strong support to his good friend Tom Brady all summer, including here at a Best Buddies Challenge in Hyannis Port. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman agrees with Rodney Harrision. A motivated Tom Brady is a scary Tom Brady for the rest of the NFL.

Speaking at a football clinic at Reading High School north of Boston Saturday morning, the Patriots receiver dubbed “Minitron” by none other than Brady – and one of Brady’s best friends on the team – said he can sense the Patriots quarterback is angry and motivated from Deflategate.

“He’s fired up,” Edelman told reporters. “You don’t want a mad Tom Brady, and he’s a little ticked off.”

Speaking to MMQB.com, Harrison, who won back-to-back Super Bowl titles with Brady in 2003-04, said Brady will be “supremely motivated” to take out his anger on the rest of the NFL over his character assassination in Deflategate.

A decision is expected any day now in Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the saga. But Edelman insisted Saturday in his brief session with the media that he’s not focused on the appeal or the drama but rather getting ready for the opening of camp on July 30.

“I’m not really thinking about that right now,” Edelman said. “I have 10 more days to get ready for camp and I’m going to worry about what I can do to put myself in the best situation to help this team. Whatever happens, it happens. I’m sure our coaches will have their thing and have us prepared either way.”

There’s something else Edelman would like to mimic of Harrsion – winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

“It’s what you’ve been training for,” Edelman said. “You go out in spring and you get to play touch football almost with the helmets on, then you get to strap up now and mold your team. It’s going to be an exciting time to get out there and see the fellas. You haven’t seen them in a while. [You want to] shape your team.”

Edelman also spoke about two other teammates from last season, one of which won’t be returning. Starting left guard Dan Connolly announced his retirement on Friday.

“I’ve played my whole career with Dan and he’s been an awesome teammate. It’s unbelievable to have him and share him as a teammate,” Edelman said. “With his family, he’s had me over for Thanksgiving and he’s the type of guy you want in the locker room, so I wish him and his family the best.”

Meanwhile, kicker Stephen Gostkowski agreed to a four-year, $17.2 million contract extension with the team at the franchise-tag deadline on Wednesday, a development that pleased Edelman.

“He’s the best kicker in the league, so you expect nothing less from him to be back and it’s awesome to see him get his contract,” Edelman said.

Read More: Deflategate, Julian Edelman, Minitron, New England Patriots
What Patriots are up to as their summer vacation winds down 07.14.15 at 10:39 am ET
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We all know what Gronk’s been up to lately, but what about the rest of the Patriots? Here are some of their recent tweets about what they’ve done with their summer vacation:

Julian Edelman certainly started off his summer with a bang when he got the chance to direct the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. Maybe they recruited him after watching him direct the offense.

More recently, we learned that Edelman is incredibly passionate about Shark Week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski
Teammates support Tom Brady at Best Buddies event 05.30.15 at 1:02 am ET
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ALLSTON — Tom Brady hosted his annual charity football game on Friday to benefit Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Brady was not the only current Patriot in attendance. The quarterback was joined by the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher. Jones wasn’t spotted at Friday’s OTA, but was present at Harvard Stadium to be with some of his teammates.

Brady didn’t address the media like he typically does at halftime, likely because of his pending four-game suspension, which he is appealing.

Edelman and Amendola entered the game in the second quarter as members of opposite teams, with Edelman suiting up for Team Natixis and Amendola seeing time for Team Hublot. Brady targeted and completed passes to both during their time on the field, as he served as quarterback for both teams.

At halftime, the pair helped Brady take part in a throwing endeavor that involved him completing five passes to receivers at increasing distances. Each successful pass marked another sum of money that Hublot would donate to Best Buddies and Edelman and Amendola served as the final two targets. Both caught their respective passes and aided Brady in raising the donation total to $25,000.

In his street clothes during the fourth quarter, Ninkovich joined Team Hublot and was responsible for the team’s winning score. He picked off Brady and returned it to the red zone before flipping it to a teammate for the touchdown that gave his team the win in the final seconds.

Also in attendance were Governor Charlie Baker and comedian Dane Cook. They played in the fourth quarter and each caught a pass from Brady.

Brady, a Global Ambassador for Best Buddies, served as one of the events three co-chairs, the other two being Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III. The Event Chair was John Hailer, President and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas and Asia.

Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and President of Hublot Latin America Rick de la Croix were also at the game to launch a Best Buddies cycling watch, some of the profits of which will be donated to Best Buddies.

Brady will also take part in Saturday’s Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, which features a charity walk, run and ride.

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

Read More: Best Buddies, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady
Friday Patriots OTA observations: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo evenly split QB duties 05.29.15 at 4:32 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Here are some quick takeaways from Friday’s OTA practice session, the first open to the media, which was held on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

— Although attendance was next to impossible to take with the players not wearing numbers, even none on their helmets, here’s an unofficial list of players who weren’t present: Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, AJ Derby, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Brandon LaFell, Jerod Mayo, Sealver Siliga, Matthew Slater, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell. Wendell was spotted leaving the field in street clothes as the media filed in.

— Long snapper Joe Cardona, the Patriots’ fifth-round pick this year, was present even though he hasn’t officially signed. Since he is coming out of Navy he needs special clearance to delay his deployment and potentially start his career. There’s no word if that has been approved yet.

— There was a drone flying overhead for the entire session, adding to the cameras already stationed high above the field. The Cowboys were seen using one as well earlier in the week.

— Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the snaps fairly evenly between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In 11-on-11’s, Brady went 7-for-11, while Garoppolo went 8-for-11. Brady’s favorite target was Julian Edelman, while Garoppolo looked for Aaron Dobson a lot. Brady was as animated as usual, yelling lots of encouragement to his receivers.

— Brady got some goal line work with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and James Develin. The group ran plays without facing a defense.

— On the other end of the field, Jake Bequette caught passes from third-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert. It was reported earlier Friday by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the defensive end drafted in 2012 will get some action at tight end this summer.

— Running back Jonas Gray appeared to bulk up a great deal in the offseason. He will be in the mix in the back field, which is one of the deepest positions on the roster.

— There was a great deal of special teams work done, led by new coach Joe Judge. Edelman, Danny Amendola and Jonathan Krause all got chances to return punts.

— The team will continue with OTAs next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Thursday’s session being open to the media.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Joe Cardona, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady
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