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Sunday 7: Why are Patriots spending so much time with projected 1st, 2nd-round picks? 04.23.17 at 6:00 am ET
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Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been connected to a number of projected high draft picks. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been connected to a number of projected high draft picks. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

1. Ever since the NFL combine, the Patriots have been connected to a number of top players in the NFL draft. Whether it’s been meetings at the combine, pro days, and even private visits, the Patriots have been around a number of potential first and second-round picks. This is noteworthy considering the team doesn’t have a selection until No. 72 overall. As we wrote about last week, this could be the team is planning on trading into the first or second round, most likely because of a trade of Malcolm Butler, but what if they don’t? There could be another reason for these connections — future knowledge. Look at two players the Patriots traded for this offseason — Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy. While the Patriots didn’t draft them, their pre-draft meetings with them helped with the decision to trade for them years after they were drafted by other teams. “It’s a great resource,” director of player personnel Nick Caserio said at his pre-draft press conference last week. “We rely a lot on that information which is why even though the college process you may be going through and thinking ‘It’s not really integral to this particular player,’ well at some point it’s going to be when we build our database. We have a database of just about every player that’s in the league. So as soon as they go from college to pro all that information transfers over from the college system. So we have all the interviews, all the workouts, all of our grades, all of our background information that we have. So we kind of go back and say ‘OK, let’s look at that information. What did we say coming out? What was the information like?’” Perhaps, all these meetings are just for future knowledge and not this year’s draft. We’ll find out this week.

2. Speaking of Butler, it appears the Patriots are still making efforts to trade him. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the Patriots and Saints are expected to continue exploring a deal, but might not be able to agree on compensation. This appears to be a case of the Patriots wanting more in return than the Saints are willing to give. The Saints have picks No. 11 and No. 32 (New England’s which they got for Cooks), which the Patriots are said to be after. One scenario is the Patriots want pick No. 32 and another pick(s), and the Saints just want to part ways with the one pick, or maybe don’t want to part ways with the first-round pick at all. It really is hard to predict what is going to happen considering all the chatter there was last month and now silence, but it would be a big surprise to see the Patriots not pick in the first or second round.

3. The biggest takeaway from Caserio’s pre-draft press conference was the Patriots only have 50-75 players on their draft board. “I’d say it varies year to year,” he said. “I would say our draft board is smaller than most. We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft; not that they aren’t going to get drafted. Look, 300 players or whatever it is are going to get drafted. It’s players that we would draft that actually we would feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity.” Some teams, like the Ravens for example, have said they have closer to 150. This is good insight when it comes to how the Patriots approach the draft. It shows they are very specific in what they want in their draft picks and know not every player is the right fit for their system.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Malcolm Butler, Nick Caserio, Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft pays tribute to Steelers owner Dan Rooney 04.13.17 at 6:30 pm ET
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On Thursday, Steelers owner Dan Rooney passed away Thursday at the age of 84.

Like many owners around the league, Robert Kraft released a statement on his passing.

The statement read: I am deeply saddened to hear the news regarding Dan Rooney. When I first entered the NFL, Dan and his family were so gracious to me and my family. They provided guidance on how to build a winning organization, both on and off the field. As important as winning was to Dan, he never lost sight of the importance of giving back to his community. My goal was to build a team that could sustain a winning tradition just like the Rooney family had with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I feel the success we have had as an organization is directly tied to the lessons I learned from Dan. He represented the heart and soul of the National Football League. In my experiences with him at the NFL meetings, I always admired the way he conducted himself, with great humility, dignity and kindness. He was a leader who was respected by everyone associated with this wonderful game. My condolences go out to his wife Patricia, his son Art, as well as his entire family, the many players who played for him and the countless Steeler fans who will mourn his loss.

Read More: Dan Rooney, Robert Kraft,
Watch: Robert Kraft presents Tom Brady with recovered Super Bowl jerseys 04.03.17 at 12:46 pm ET
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A few weeks ago, with the help of the FBI, Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey was found in Mexico along with his Super Bowl XLIX jersey, which was also stolen.

The quarterback was out of town when the FBI brought them back to Gillette Stadium, but now they are back where they belong — in Brady’s possession.

Owner Robert Kraft recently returned the jerseys to Brady and the Patriots captured the moment.

See for yourself.

Read More: Robert Kraft, Tom Brady,
Patriots display unconscionable level of callousness and hypocrisy with Adrian Peterson visit at 12:17 pm ET
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Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus last season. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus last season. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Last week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’s opposed to acquiring players with a history of beating women. But apparently, he doesn’t apply the same rule to guys who physically torture their children.

The Patriots are bringing in running back Adrian Peterson for a visit Monday, purportedly because they’re interested in signing him. Pro Football Talk speculates the team leaked details about its meeting with Peterson in an attempt to put pressure on LeGarrette Blount, who’s still on the open market. But given Bill Belichick’s track record of pursuing undervalued players, it seems possible there could be a fit for the loathsome Peterson in New England. ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes the team could offer him an incentive-laden deal, not bad for a former MVP who led the league in rushing just two years ago.

Of course, there’s a reason why Peterson is still languishing in free agency. As WEEI.com’s John Tomase notes, the 32-year-old back only played in three games last season, rushing for a career-low 72 yards. If Peterson were still playing at an elite level, he probably would’ve found employment weeks ago. But now, teams may not think he’s worth the PR backlash.

It’s unlikely the Krafts are aware of every veteran player who Belichick invites for a visit. But Peterson is a special case. In 2014, he was indicted on child abuse charges after beating his young son with a tree branch. According to law enforcement, Peterson repeatedly struck the four-year-old boy after he had pushed another kid off of a motorbike video game. The running, who left stuck leaves in his child’s mouth while the beating was taking place, left bruises on the toddler in the back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum. Afterwards, Peterson texted the boy’s mother, saying he will “tear that butt up when needed.”

More troublingly, the beating may not have been a one-time offense. The boy reportedly told his mother Peterson has a “whooping room” in his home.

Peterson’s sadism should be enough to give any ownership group pause about being linked to him, even if he’s just stopping by the facilities for an exploratory meeting. But the Krafts should be even more cautious than most, because of their previous comments on Peterson and domestic abuse. Three years ago, team president Jonathan Kraft condemned Peterson’s violence.

“I just don’t get it, so it is hard to comment on,” he said, via ESPN Boston. “Other than the fact the way I was brought up and the way I brought my children is you don’t lay your hands on them. From where I sit it is completely unacceptable and as abhorrent as what we have been talking about [with Ray Rice]. It was interesting hearing some people raise a defense about it being cultural and I can’t comment on that.”

As evidenced by their fervent PR campaign during Deflategate –– the Wells Report in Context is still live, by the way –– it’s apparent the Kraft family cares about public perception. They must know they’ll take heat for hosting Peterson, especially in the wake of Aaron Hernandez. Organizations tend to lose the benefit of the doubt after they sign a murderer to a $40 million contract extension.

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Kraft, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft’s comments on Tom Brady’s longevity should be taken lightly 03.28.17 at 2:06 pm ET
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The Patriots have won five Super Bowls under Robert Kraft's ownership. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots have won five Super Bowls under Robert Kraft’s ownership. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft is one of the most powerful kingmakers in the NFL. But when it comes to making player personnel decisions with the Patriots, he’s seemingly just a smidgen more influential than the dude rocking a Tedy Bruschi jersey in Gillette Stadium’s cheap seats. It’s important to keep that in mind when reviewing the comments he made Monday at the NFL league meetings in Arizona, where he opined on topics ranging from Tom Brady’s longevity to Malcolm Butler’s status with the team.

Last year, Brady said he wants to play football until he’s 45 years old. Kraft expanded that timeline Monday, telling reporters Brady said to him recently he would like to play for another six or seven seasons. With Brady turning 40 in August, that would mean he intends to stand under center until he’s 46 or 47. Though there hasn’t been any drop off in Brady’s game, the notion that he can keep playing at an elite level into his late 40s is preposterous. But he probably still wants to try. Unlike other superstar athletes, such as LeBron James, Brady doesn’t opine on politics and social issues. He appears to want to be defined solely by his sport. It would serve as validation for his rigid lifestyle, which is marketed in the form of $100 pajamas and $200 nutrition manuals.

It would be shocking for Brady to assign himself an artificial end date. His goal of playing for as long as humanly possible isn’t breaking news. The six-seven-year window is arbitrary.

Kraft’s reiteration of Brady’s comments are also irrelevant to Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in New England. Bill Belichick will likely have the final say on when, or if, he makes a quarterback change. Kraft, who appears to be far more sentimental than Belichick, may want Brady to stick around until the end of his career –– even if his play slips a little bit. But history shows that isn’t how Belichick operates.

Openly advocating for a player isn’t in Belichick’s playbook, either, which is why Kraft’s lauding of Darrelle Revis Monday should also be taken lightly. In an interview with the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers, Kraft said he would “love it” if the veteran cornerback returned to the Patriots. Kraft, perhaps aware of how his comments would be interpreted, followed up his Revis adulation by saying he “only speaks for himself.” When Myers asked if there was any contact between the two sides, Kraft said to “ask his boy,” presumably referring to Belichick.

If Kraft expresses his support for a player, it’s a one-day story and doesn’t hinder the organization’s negotiating ability. His comments about “rooting” for Malcolm Butler to play with the Patriots next season is a similar example. Imagine the fallout if Kraft declared the Patriots want to move on from Butler. Their chances of pulling off a sign-and-trade with the Saints, or another club that may sign Butler to an offer sheet, would likely be non-existent.

Kraft also said Monday he hopes Belichick can coach into his 80s. That’s a nice sentiment, but ultimately meaningless. Much like Brady playing quarterback until he’s 47, it just isn’t believable.

When Kraft speaks about football personnel matters, he isn’t providing keen insight. He heaps praise upon his players and organization, hoping to cause minimal distraction. When important league decisions are made, like the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Kraft is directly involved. But when it comes to his own team, he cedes decision-making power to Belichick. While it makes him a great owner, it also means his cheerleading should be dismissed.

Read More: New England Patriots, Robert Kraft,
Robert Kraft calls Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win ‘a great moment of vindication for our whole team’ at 1:58 pm ET
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Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN's "First Take" on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

It’s been roughly seven weeks since the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons, 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, but that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t still talking about the game.

Owner Robert Kraft appeared on Tuesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN where he discussed the game and what it was like to overcome such a large deficit in the second half.

“With three minutes to go in the third quarter, we had a 99.6 percent chance to lose, .04 to win,” Kraft said. “Our guys believed in one another, and it’s a great lesson to young people never to give up, hang with people who are good character, who put their ego at the door and come together as a team.

“It was just a great moment of vindication for our whole team. It was pretty cool for our fans. Our fans have been behind us unbelievable.”

The “vindication” Kraft could be referring to is all of the extra things the Patriots needed to deal with over the course of the season, which included Tom Brady being suspended the first four games for his role in Deflategate.

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

Read More: Robert Kraft, Super Bowl LI,
Robert Kraft: Roger Goodell welcome at Gillette Stadium for 2017 opener at 11:51 am ET
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Robert Kraft extended an invitation to Roger Goodell for the 2017 home opener. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft extended an invitation to Roger Goodell for the 2017 home opener. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

It is a story that will not die until Roger Goodell comes back to Gillette Stadium.

The NFL commissioner hasn’t been to Foxboro since 2015 for AFC championship game, better known as the Deflategate game.

Goodell opted to spend two straight weekends in Atlanta for the playoffs this past season instead of coming to Gillette for the AFC title game.

As he did the week of the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it clear the commissioner is welcome at Gillette Stadium for the 2017 season opener.

“Well, I think I’ll let you all ask him that,” Kraft told reporters on Monday at the NFL league meetings, via The Boston Herald. “Look, he’s commissioner in the league. As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. And if he wanted to come, he’s welcomed to come. We’re happy we’ll be celebrating our fifth banner. He can decide whether he wants to be there.”

The NFL schedule will be released in mid-April and it is possible the season opener is a Super Bowl rematch against the Falcons.

Goodell is scheduled to meet the media at the league meetings Tuesday and perhaps could get asked about it.

Read More: Robert Kraft, roger goodell,
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