|Free agent updates on Wes Welker, Michael Hoomanawanui||03.12.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
Five Patriots-related notes as free agency starts to kick into high gear:
• According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, wide receiver Wes Welker is expected to test the market, and Schefter said Tuesday afternoon that it “may take a little time” for a deal to come together for the slot receiver. Earlier on Tuesday, the NFL Network reported that Welker was waiting on a first offer from the Patriots.
• The Patriots have tendered restricted free agent tight end Michael Hoomanawanui at $1.323 million, according to Field Yates of ESPN Boston.
• Defensive lineman Paul Kruger has signed a five-year deal with the Browns for roughly $40 million, according to various reports. The 27-year-old Kruger broke through in a big way for the Ravens this past season with nine sacks and six passes defensed for the eventual Super Bowl champions. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder will fit nicely with the Browns — it’s not believed that the Patriots were ever seriously interested in acquiring the Utah product.
• Buffalo has cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Harvard product — you guys know he went to Harvard, right? — signed a big deal with the Bills in 2011, but it never happened for him in Buffalo. The 30-year-old Fitzpatrick finished the 2012 season with a 61 percent completion rate, to go along with 24 touchdowns, 16 picks and 3,400 passing yards, but now becomes the best free agent quarterback available, which could potentially affect the trade market for Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.
• Wide receiver Mike Wallace has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Dolphins. The 26-year-old Wallace, who spent the last four seasons with the Steelers, has 235 career catches for 4,042 yards (an impressive 17.2 yards per catch average) and 32 touchdowns. Now, he’ll face the Patriots twice a year, and in two career games against New England, he has 18 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
Any team looking to land Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz would need to surrender a first-round draft pick, as the Giants have said they are placing a first-round tender on him. Plus, the Giants would have the option to match whatever offer Cruz receives from another team.
Combine that with the fact that Cruz recently hired Tom Condon, an agent with whom the Patriots reportedly prefer to avoid, and it appears New England will not make a run at the former UMass star, even if Wes Welker leaves New England.
Cruz had 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, his third in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Steelers free agent receiver Mike Wallace, who had been tied to the Dolphins in multiple reports, might have a suitor in the Vikings, who have an opening after they agreed to trade Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Via Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, the Dolphins believe that Wallace’s price might go as high as $13 million per year.
|Report: Mike Wallace linked to Patriots||03.09.13 at 3:34 pm ET|
Free agency doesn’t officially open until Tuesday afternoon, but there are plenty of rumors that have been attached to the Patriots through the early stages of the weekend. Here are a few of the latest updates:
•Wide receiver Mike Wallace has drawn the interest of the Patriots, according to a report from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Wallace, 26, has emerged as one of the best deep threats in the league with 235 catches in the last four years, and has averaged 17.2 yards per catch in that period. With the New England wide receiving corps in a state of flux — the Patriots have only three receivers under contract for 2013 — and with New England with some additional money under the cap after Tom Brady’s renegotiated deal, he could be a candidate to be signed by the Patriots.
•In that same vein, New England could be interested in wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who will apparently be cut loose by the Ravens. The 32-year-old Boldin, who caught 65 passes this past year for Baltimore, is a big, physical receiver who could bring a new dynamic to the Patriots’ passing game. Boldin had a terrific postseason — he had 22 catches in the playoffs, including five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC title game and six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He was a possibility for the Patriots as a free agent in 2010, but ended up signing with the Ravens. (We write extensively about Boldin and what he might bring to the Patriots here.)
•Among the notable players released were Steelers defensive end James Harrison. The former Defensive Player of the Year was cut loose when the two sides couldn’t agree on a cap-friendly contract. The 34-year-old, who is a five-time Pro Bowler, is expected to have several suitors, including the Ravens, Browns and Texans. (One interesting note regarding Harrison: He told Josina Anderson he’d welcome the chance to play for the Patriots.) In addition, multiple repots indicate that running back Reggie Bush will not be back in Miami, with sources telling the Miami Herald that the former Heisman Trophy winner will “categorically” not be back in South Florida. And the Bills have apparently reached an agreement on a four-year. $20 million deal with cornerback/return man Leodis McKelvin.
|Bill Belichick explains why Champ Bailey can ‘match up against anybody’ in the NFL||10.06.12 at 1:36 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Wes Welker knows how hard it’s going to be to get open on Sunday against the Broncos, especially when perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey is matched up against him.
“He’s just a great ball player,” Welker said of the 34-year-old corner. “I think he just gets out of bed and he’s just great. He’s very patient and does a good job to get his hands on you and plays really well. Smart guy, instincts, all those things and it’s why he’s stayed around so long.”
There’s been so much focus on future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that it’s easy to overlook another sure-fire Hall of Famer in Bailey. He has more Pro Bowls than any cornerback in history with 11. He is a six-time All-Pro and has been the NFL Defensive Back of the Year twice.
Welker has had a decent amount of success in his battles with him, catching 22 balls in four regular season games for an average of 11.4 yards per reception. He’s averaged just over 64 yards a game but only two touchdowns in the four matchups. He had six catches for 55 yards and a score in the 45-10 romp over Tim Tebow‘s Broncos in the playoffs last January.
“Just have to be very precise and keep him on his toes and make sure you’re really mixing it up on him and being physical and doing things necessary to get open,” Welker said of what a receiver must do against the decorated corner. Read the rest of this entry »
|The 10 biggest questions entering NFL free agency||03.13.12 at 12:57 am ET|
With free agency set to start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, here’s a look at the 10 most important questions, with an eye toward what the Patriots might do:
1. Where’s Peyton going to end up? The quarterback is the biggest name in the free agent class, and will almost certainly command the biggest deal on the open market. Manning and agent Tom Condon are playing their cards close to the vest to this point, but it sounds like Arizona, Miami, Denver and Seattle are in the mix to this point. In addition, Tennessee is also reportedly poised to make a full-court press for Manning’s services.
2. What sort of impact is Peyton going to have on the rest of the free agent market? A lot of his former Indianapolis teammates are also now available, including wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, running back Joseph Addai and tight end Dallas Clark. Chances are good that whoever will land Manning probably has a very good shot at landing at least one of his former mates, and subsequently, revamping a sizable portion of their offensive scheme.
3. How will Peyton affect the market for quarterbacks? It’s not just the free agent signal callers like Matt Flynn who stand to be affected by Manning’s decision. Incumbents like Kevin Kolb (Arizona) and Tim Tebow (Denver) could find themselves on the street if Manning ends up in their respective area codes. That could ultimately create a secondary series of ripples for a handful of quarterbacks.
4. What’s going to be the course of action for the Patriots? In New England last year, it was either a boom-or-bust with last year’s free agents: the big names (Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco) were busts, while the middle of the road guys (Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Brian Waters) were some of the best free-agent signings of the Bill Belichick Era. This year? There are some intriguing fits for this team that wouldn’t break the bank, including Brandon Lloyd and Richard Marshall, while Mike Wallace remains a big-ticket possibility that would also cost them a draft pick.
5. Who will the Patriots lose? New England isn’t necessarily on danger of losing any of its elite players, but there are some intriguing UFA’s on the roster, including wide receiver Deion Branch, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, offensive linemen Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly and Anderson and Carter, all of whom have been important pieces of the puzzle over the last few seasons with the Patriots. Anderson figures to be a sought-after commodity: a 28-year-old who finished with 10 sacks, he could be in line for a decent-sized payday.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Free Agent Snapshot: Mike Wallace||02.20.12 at 11:22 pm ET|
We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of wide receiver Mike Wallace. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 199 pounds
Wallace is a restricted free agent, which would mean that depending on what sort of tender the Steelers place on the receiver, the Patriots could be forced to give up as much as a first-round draft pick. But New England had four selections in the first two rounds (including No. 27 and No. 31 overall), and would likely embrace the idea of giving up one of its two first-round choices to Pittsburgh, which is struggling with cap woes. (For what it’s worth, I would be drummed out of the media corps if I wrote a story about Wallace and didn’t include the fact that New England had the option to take him in the 2009 draft and went with Brandon Tate instead.)
You need a field stretcher? Wallace is the best option out there, even as an RFA. This past season with the Steelers, he had 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, and averaged 16.6 yards per catch. He had 18 catches of 20-plus yards and was tied for third in the league with seven catches for 40 or more yards. (For perspective, Wes Welker led the Patriots in 2011 with four catches of 40-plus yards.) In two career games against New England, Wallace had 15 catches (13 of them for a first down) for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
There is historical precedent for this sort of thing happening with a receiver who has torched them in the past: We are simplifying things a bit, but Wes Welker was a restricted free agent, but the Patriots were able to pry him away from Miami for a second-round pick before the 2007 season, eventually signing him to a five-year deal.
And finally, Wallace also passes what we call the Rosevelt Colvin Test: Bill Belichick has gushed about him on several occasions, with little or no provocation. Prior to the Patriots-Steelers game in October this past year, here was Belichick on Wallace: “He’s a big-play receiver. He’s really fast. … Nobody is going to catch him, so you have to be careful about how much space he gets when he catches the ball. I think he’s improved a lot from when we played them last year, just as a football player, his patience and route technique.
“He stretches the field, but he can also take a short pass and turn it into a long run, so you have to defend him from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone and from sideline to sideline,” Belichick added. “He’s a tough guy to match up on. He’s done a good job. Obviously he’s worked hard and he’s being well-coached and he’s got a good quarterback and other good receivers to complement him. He’s part of their very productive offense.”
Why it might not work: The Steelers could tag Wallace, which would send him back to Pittsburgh at a cost of $9.4 million, at least for another year. And if the Patriots are pondering the idea of Wallace, you can be sure that there are several other teams out there who are thinking about the same thing, including division rivals like Baltimore and Cincinnati.
|Patriots Potential Playoff Opponents: Pittsburgh Steelers||12.28.11 at 11:43 pm ET|
With the Patriots securely in the postseason, it’s time to start sizing up their possible postseason opponents. This is part of a weeklong series of features on the rest of the AFC playoff teams and how they might match up with New England. We’ve already profiled the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans. Today, we’ve got a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers:
The skinny: The Steelers, are, well, the Steelers. Tough, physical and hard-nosed, they are the same team that the city has boasted about for the last 35 years or so. With an 11-4 mark, they have already clinched a postseason spot, and are currently sitting at No. 5 in the AFC playoff race. (Although they could still finish anywhere between No. 1 and No. 5, depending on what happens the final week of the regular season. Pittsburgh has a couple of forgettable losses under its belt (at Houston and at San Francisco), but nothing too ugly, and no more than any other playoff team. Bottom line? Other than the health of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (who is a question mark in the regular-season finale against the Browns on Sunday because of a high-ankle sprain), there are few questions about the Steelers heading into the postseason.
Offense: Love him or hate him, everything flows through Roethlisberger (301-for-473 for 3,856 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions). The 29-year-old suffered a high-ankle sprain late in the season, which has hampered his effectiveness and made him a question mark for the playoffs. (Simply put, they are not the same team with veteran backup Charlie Batch under center.) Rashard Mendenhall (220 carries, 890 yards and nine touchdowns) is the guy they turn to when they want to run the ball, and Mike Wallace (71 catches, 1,182 yards and eight TDs) and Antonio Brown (63 catches, 1,018 yards and two TDs) are the most frequent targets when Roethlisberger throws. The Steelers are middle-of-the-pack when it comes to offense, as they’re ninth in the league in passing offense (257 yards per game), 16th in rushing (116.1 yards per game) and 20th in overall scoring (20.8 points per game).
Defense: They do what they do. Pittsburgh has always had one of the best defenses in the league under defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau, and the Steelers did a very good job slowing the New England offense when these two teams met back in October. (In that one, the Patriots had 43 yards rushing and 198 yards passing, both season lows in a 25-17 loss for New England.) Overall, the Steelers are one of the best defenses in the league: Pittsburgh is tops in the league in passing yards allowed (172.2 yards per game), ninth in rushing defense (101.7 yards per game) and second in the league in scoring defense (14,5 points per game).
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Fantasy Outlook: Patriots RB Stevan Ridley
- The Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2012: Number 5
- New England Patriots Links 6/18/13 - Shane Vereen: Offense Has 'Sour...
- New England Patriots Links 6/17/13 - Leon Washington Hopes to Contribute...
- New England Patriots Links 6/14/13 - WRs: It's Amendola, Everyone Else
- New England Patriots Links 6/13/13 - Don't Expect Tom-Tim Tag Team
- Patriots Cancel Final Minicamp Practice