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Report: Patriots, NFL trying to ‘back-channel’ end to fight over Deflategate penalties 05.18.15 at 8:04 pm ET
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Commissioner Roger Goodell (center) and Patriots owner Robert Kraft (right) are expected at owner's meetings this week in San Francisco. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Commissioner Roger Goodell (center) and Patriots owner Robert Kraft (right) are expected at owner’s meetings this week in San Francisco. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Patriots and NFL would like nothing more than to end their fight over Deflategate before it ever gets to a hearing before Roger Goodell, or anyone else.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, sources indictate that the team and league are in “back-channel conversations” to see if the two sides can resolve their differences without an appeal or possible litigation following the league’s Deflategate punishment.

From the moment NFL executive Troy Vincent announced a four-game suspension for Tom Brady, in addition to a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks, the Patriots have unleashed a powerful defense, including a 20,000-word response to the Wells Report.

While Tom Brady has already hired attorney Jeffrey Kessler and filed his appeal through the NFLPA, the Patriots have until Friday to appeal the loss of a 2016 first-round pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick and their $1 million fine. The Patriots are considering every possible move.

The NFL believes the Wells Report proved the Patriots and Brady broke rules and obstructed the league’s investigation.

Now, as the owners meet in San Francisco, there is a chance Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could sit down and talk. Both are expected to attend the spring owners’ meetings, which begin Tuesday.

Kraft, who still sounded very angry in speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King The MMQB, was asked whether he would violate NFL bylaws by going to court to try to get the league penalties overturned. He declined to comment, saying only, “I’m not going to comment on that at this point in time. I’m going to leave it. I won’t say.”

Read More: Deflategate, nfl, roger goodell, Ted Wells
Tom Brady suspended 4 games, Pats lose 2016 1st-round pick, 2017 4th-round pick, fined $1 million 05.11.15 at 5:42 pm ET
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Tom Brady was suspended 4 games for 2015 for his role in Deflategate. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was suspended 4 games for 2015 for his role in Deflategate. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The NFL has come down hard on Tom Brady and the Patriots.

After releasing its Wells Report findings last week, the NFL has suspended Tom Brady four games for the upcoming season and the team will lose its first-round pick in 2016 and fourth-round pick in 2017. They will also be fined $1 million.

The statement reads the Patriots have been disciplined “for the violation of the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation,” and Brady has been disciplined for violating “the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation.”

Brady will be able to participate in all off-season programs, training camp and preseason games. If everything stands, his first game back will be Week 5 in Indianapolis against the Colts.

“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent and many others,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”

Jim McNally and John Jastremski have been indefinitely suspended without pay by the team. They cannot return without the prior approval of NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. If they are reinstated by the Patriots, Jastremski is prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season. McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day.

Below are the complete statements issued by the league:

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Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots, nfl, Ted Wells
Jabaal Sheard learns quick lesson in Foxboro that ‘you become what you put in’ 05.05.15 at 4:17 pm ET
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Jabaal Sheard speaks Tuesday with reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jabaal Sheard speaks Tuesday with reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rookies aren’t the only new players who notice a big change when they come to Foxboro.

After playing the last four seasons in Cleveland, hybrid defensive end Jabaal Sheard learned that right away after signing as a free agent with the Patriots in March.

Belichick wrapped up Saturday’s press conference by telling reporters that each rookie better be ready to jump on board right away or risk getting left in the dust when the train picks up steam. Same goes for free agent newbies.

“You get that feeling as soon as you walk in the building,” Sheard said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. “You’re here to work. It’s definitely work first, hard hat on, and I learned that the first day, from the first team meeting on, you kind of get that feel of being in the weight room. You’ve got to lift on your own. They give you a card, go follow it, what you choose to do, what you choose not to do is on you. You’re responsible. You become what you put in. They showed me that early, as soon as I got here the first week.”

Sheard, who will wear No. 93 with the Patriots, said he has nothing but respect for the Belichick system.

“Just come here and just work. Every coach is different. Just give him respect and let’s get to work,” Sheard said.

Sheard said that may be intimidating to some in the NFL but not him.

“I guess because he’ll call you out on what you do wrong but that’s part of wearing a hard had and hard shell,” Sheard said of his new head coach. “That’s part of football. If you can’t take any criticism, I don’t know how you can get any better.”

Sheard played college ball at Pittsburgh and was selected with the 37th overall pick in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Browns. The Patriots could’ve taken Sheard in that draft but instead chose cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Sheard went to the Browns four picks after Dowling at No. 37 overall.

“I actually did visit here coming out of the draft,” Sheard recalled. “I thought I was going to end up here at first. I think I came and visited a week before the draft. Coach Belichick and met with a couple of the coaches and here I am.

“I think I developed a lot. I learned a lot of different systems. Being in Cleveland [four] years, we went through three different defensive coordinators, three different systems, three different head coaches. I got to grow a lot and understand more what the league is about and what they expect out of you and how to be a professional in this league.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Jabaal Sheard, LeBron James, New England Patriots
Nate Solder explains ‘great transformation’ after beating testicular cancer, and ‘big things to come’ at 2:17 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Nate Solder has a fresh look on football, and life.

The Patriots starting left tackle has had a couple of life-changing victories over the past 12 months. But truth be told his Super Bowl win over the Seahawks in Glendale pales to his defeat of testicular cancer. On Tuesday, taking a break from offseason workouts, the 27-year-old Solder spoke about both in detail and what he’s learned from both.

In the spring of 2014, Solder was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Just months later, it was gone after surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, a treatment that didn’t require chemo.

“Those guys were fantastic, and they’€™re not the kind of guys that I even need to name ‘€“ they know who they are and they’€™ve done a wonderful job,” Solder said. “All the staff at Mass General has been fantastic and wonderful. Highly professional.”

He was able to return to the team and play a full season with the Patriots, protecting Tom Brady‘s blind side.

The lesson?

“I think it’€™s just early detection,” Solder said. “The sooner you detect it, the sooner you get to a doctor, the less of a problem it can be, the quicker you’€™re going to be healed.

With the great care of the doctors and everybody that took care of me it was a couple of weeks, I was cured, I was healed and just moving forward. Be vigilant. Check yourself. If you’€™re feeling anything, the best solution is to go tell a doctor.”

Solder acknowledged that he had the benefit of having an annual thorough physical with the Patriots played a key role.

“I think the fact that I had the physical here, the fact that I had a lot of people looking after my health is probably something that a lot of men don’€™t have at my age, so I think that made a difference,” Solder said. “The comments you see on the articles, it’€™s changed some people’€™s minds on the issue and I think a lot of people have come out and said they’€™ve gone through similar things.

“Tons of support from all my teammates, which I’€™d expect nothing less ‘€“ those guys are awesome.”

Solder also said his faith has been strengthened after the experience.

“I think it definitely grew my faith with God,” he said. “I had this great transformation, great hope, great peace about the whole deal, and it really was my relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’€™t know if I can deal with anything, but you do the best you can. The great thing too is you can spend more time with the ones you love, focus more on the people that matter the most. I think that was the message I really came away with.

“It changes your perspective a little bit.”

Now his wife is expecting, with a due date sometime in the summer before the regular season begins.

“I guess it wasn’€™t a surprise because we didn’€™t know when it was going to happen, but we were trying to make it happen,” Solder said.
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Read More: Nate Solder, New England Patriots, nfl, testicular cancer
Patriots 2015 schedule officially released 04.21.15 at 8:10 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for a 17th time on Nov. 29. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for a 17th time on Nov. 29. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Patriots’ Super Bowl defense begins on Thursday, Sept. 10 against Ben Roethlisberger and ends in South Florida against the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 3.

2015 PATRIOTS PRESEASON

Thursday, Aug, 13 Green Bay 7:30 p.m. ET WBZ Patriots Preseason Network

Saturday, Aug. 22 at New Orleans TBD WBZ Patriots Preseason Network

Friday, Aug. 28 at Carolina 7:30 p.m. ET WBZ Patriots Preseason Network

Thursday, Sept. 3 New York Giants 7:30 p.m. ET WBZ Patriots Preseason Network

2015 PATRIOTS REGULAR SEASON

Thursday, Sept. 10 Pittsburgh 8:30 p.m. ET WHDH NBC

Sunday, Sept. 20 at Buffalo 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS

Sunday, Sept. 27 Jacksonville 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS

Sunday, Oct. 4 BYE WEEK

Sunday, Oct. 11 at Dallas 4:25 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Sunday, Oct. 18 at Indianapolis 8:30 p.m. ET WHDH NBC*

Sunday, Oct. 25 New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Thursday, Oct. 29 Miami 8:25 p.m. ET WBZ CBS/NFL Network

Sunday, Nov. 8 Washington 1:00 p.m. ET WFXT FOX*

Sunday, Nov. 15 at New York Giants 4:25 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Monday, Nov. 23 Buffalo 8:30 p.m. ET TBD ESPN

Sunday, Nov. 29 at Denver 8:30 p.m. ET WHDH NBC*

Sunday, Dec. 6 Philadelphia 4:25 p.m. ET WFXT FOX*

Sunday, Dec. 13 at Houston 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Sunday, Dec. 20 Tennessee 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Sunday, Dec. 27 at New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

Sunday, Jan. 3 at Miami 1:00 p.m. ET WBZ CBS*

*-Game time and network subject to possible flexible scheduling adjustment.
Bold indicates nationally televised games
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Read More: New England Patriots, nfl, NFL schedule, Patriots schedule
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
Report: Peyton Manning prepared to take $4 million pay cut to stay with Broncos 03.04.15 at 4:13 pm ET
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It appears Peyton Manning is ready to take a pay cut to stay in Denver and play for John Elway and the Broncos.

According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold, the perennial All Pro quarterback is ready to take a $4 million pay cut to play for the Broncos in 2015. He was scheduled to make $19 million next season. According to Mortensen, Manning will agree to the pay cut to free up cash for Denver to be aggressive in the free agent market, potentially signing their own targeted free agents.

There had been speculation that Manning had been considering stepping away from the game after 17 NFL seasons, not including 2011, when he sat out his final season with the Colts due to a neck injury.

The money would be guaranteed, assuming he passes his physical.

Manning, who turns 39 in March, is also scheduled to make $19 million in 2016, the final year of his five-year, $96 million deal he signed when he landed in Denver in 2012. Manning was fourth in the NFL in passing yards in 2014 with 4,727 yards and second in the league with 39 touchdown passes. If Manning agrees, he will be the second marquis quarterback to re-do his deal in the last three months. On Dec. 29, Tom Brady signed a three-year, $27 million restructured contract, converting $24 million in full guarantees to an injury-only clause with the Patriots.

Manning played the last month of the 2014 season with a quadriceps injury. The Broncos lost to the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs at home. That playoff loss was his ninth “one-and-done” of his career.

Read More: Denver Broncos, nfl, Peyton Manning,
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