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Vince Wilfork to give commencement address at New England Institute of Technology 04.06.15 at 1:52 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork is staying true to continuing to be part of the New England community.

The former Patriots defensive lineman will give the commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology on May 3, according to a press release from the school. The school, located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, notes it’s special because of Wilfork wearing No. 75 on the field, while the school is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Wilfork will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters for his accomplishments and his work to improve the lives of others.

The 11-year veteran signed with the Texans this past offseason, leaving the Patriots after 11 seasons and winning two Super Bowls.

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Goodbye to Vince Wilfork ‘one of toughest things’ Robert Kraft had to do as owner 03.23.15 at 9:55 pm ET
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Robert Kraft and Vince Wilfork were together for 11 seasons. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Robert Kraft and Vince Wilfork were together for 11 seasons. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Seeing Vince Wilfork depart was “one of the toughest things” Robert Kraft had to endure as the owner of the Patriots, he said Monday.

“It was even harder than anything else,” Kraft told reporters at the league meetings in Arizona. “He’s someone we watched come in here; I developed a very strong personal tie to him. It’s the hardest part of this game, speaking as a fan and also someone who got to know him and Bianca and his kids.”

The veteran defensive tackle, who had spent 11 seasons with the Patriots, announced on March 5 that the team was not going to pick up his option, and that he would become a free agent. And on March 16, while bidding a fond farewell to New England, he announced he was signing with the Texans.

Kraft said Wilfork’s goodbye to the Patriots was “something beautiful.”

“He’ll always be a Patriot and he’s keeping his home here. Sometimes the player is more valuable to one team than other team given how they’re constructed. Losing Vince is probably one of the hardest things that happened. (There are) some emotional ties. He’s a pretty special guy.”

Read More: Robert Kraft, Vince Wilfork,
Who are Bill Belichick’s favorite trade partners? 03.19.15 at 4:13 pm ET
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Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

If you’re of the mind that the Patriots need to make some deals in hopes of shoring up the secondary of defensive line in the wake of the personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork, you should be checking out the rosters in Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

History tells us that when it comes to dealing, Bill Belichick has a relatively small circle of teams — and more specifically, individuals — he prefers to deal with more than others. Since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).

The Raiders have been Belichick’s most frequent trade partner, and deals with Oakland have arguably produced the most blockbusters, including the trades of Richard Seymour and Randy Moss. However, it’s worth noting that since the death of Al Davis in October 2011, the Patriots have not made a single deal with Oakland. (The last trade between New England and Oakland came when the two teams swapped picks on draft weekend in April of that year.) That’s not to rule out any sort of future trades between the two teams — only to suggest that the Raiders might not necessarily be the first team Belichick targets when he picks up the phone to talk about a deal this time around.

As for the best of the rest, it’s also unlikely that the Patriots and Broncos look to make a deal anytime soon, given the nature of their rivalry, as well as the fact that old friends Mike Shanahan or Josh McDaniels are no longer with Denver. Tampa Bay and Green Bay remain intriguing trade partners, as the Packers and GM Ted Thompson have shown a willingness to work with Belichick in the past on more than a few occasions over the last decade, with the last trade between the two teams coming last summer when New England acquired defensive tackle Jerel Worthy for a draft pick. And while the Patriots and Bears made a couple of notable deals a little over a decade ago (New England acquired Ted Washington in 2003 and a swap of draft picks that same year netted the Patriots Ty Warren), the two teams haven’t made a deal since 2007.

(Two teams we do know who are likely off Belichick’s trade radar: the Colts and Jets. While New York received compensation for losing Belichick to the Patriots in 2000, since he arrived in New England, Belichick has not made a personnel swap with either Indy or the Jets.)

That brings us to the Texans, Ravens, Eagles and Bucs. All four of these franchises have shown a willingness to work with the Patriots in the past, and given the deep relationship Belichick has with most of the decision-makers in each one of the four teams, it makes it a possibility that they could put together another deal in the not-too-distant future.

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Read More: Al Davis, Bill Belichick, Bill Belichick New England Patriots, Bill O'Brien
Ted Johnson on D&C: NFL doctors once knew dangers of concussions, but never shared information at 9:57 am ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson is a big advocate of post-concussion syndrome. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson is a big advocate of post-concussion syndrome. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Former Patriots linebacker and current Houston sports radio host Ted Johnson joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the concussion dangers in football. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Johnson dealt with post-concussion syndrome after he retired in 2005 and the topic has come up again this week after 24-year-old 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired because of fears of brain damage.

When Johnson retired there wasn’t much information about the serious dangers of concussions, but can relate to what Borland felt.

“I retired in the summer of 2005, the first day of training camp in 2005,” Johnson said. “I knew almost going into the offseason after we won our Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, I kinda knew that it might be coming to the end for me, but I wasn’t quite sure. I just knew my head hurt. I knew [from a] behavioral standpoint things weren’t right. I just knew my mood was shifting and something was wrong. I feel like I made the right decision.

“I feel like in a way I was maybe like what Patrick Willis, after his his eighth year shutting it down. I feel like after my 10th year that I was making the right decision even though I wasn’t educated and I wasn’t full informed on what I was dealing with. There was no name to what I had or what I was feeling. … For me I could relate to a lot of what Chris was going through and maybe what Patrick Willis and other guys who have retired because of the way their heads were feeling. I feel like for me in a lot of respects I don’t have a lot of regrets in that regard.”

The former linebacker said he didn’t know what post-concussion syndrome was until after a year after he retired and he started speaking with Chris Nowinski, the co-founder and president of Sports Legacy Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching concussions. Johnson said he will be sharing his brain with Nowinski once he dies.

Johnson said the NFL and NFL doctors knew the dangers of concussions when he played, but just didn’t share the information.

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Read More: Ted Johnson, Vince Wilfork,
History, recent personnel losses means Patriots will get defensive early in draft 03.18.15 at 12:28 am ET
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History -- and recent personnel losses -- would seem to point to the idea of Bill Belichick drafting a defensive tackle or defensive back this spring in the first round. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

History — and recent personnel losses — would seem to point to the idea of Bill Belichick drafting a defensive tackle or defensive back this spring in the first round. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Predicting how the Patriots will approach the draft can be a fool’s errand. But history tells us that when it comes to their approach with high-value picks — combined with the recent personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork — if they end up sticking with just one selection in the top 50, they’ll try and find a defensive back or defensive lineman.

Since Bill Belichick took over just prior to the 2000 draft, the Patriots have had 24 picks in the top 50, and they have spent half of those on defensive linemen or defensive backs — six each. (In addition, they’ve taken four offensive linemen, three tight ends, two wide receivers, two linebackers and one running back with those selections.)

Of that group of 24, you can easily count 10 players as being long-term starters: Wilfork, Devin McCourty, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour, Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Rob Gronkowski, Chandler Jones and Nate Solder. You could also make an argument that three others (Benjamin Watson, Ty Warren and Patrick Chung) were in the league long enough to qualify as contributors.

While it’s unclear how that stacks up against the rest of the league — that’s a more in-depth blog post for another day — the fact that the Patriots have been able to hit on 42 percent of those picks is a good number. That stat is made all the more impressive considering the fact that New England has had just two picks in the top 10 in that span (Seymour at No. 6 in 2001 and Mayo at No. 10 in 2008). That’s second on the list of fewest top 10 picks in that span. By way of comparison, since 2000, the Lions and Jaguars have had the most top 10 picks (10 each), while the Colts, Steelers, Broncos and Giants have had the fewest (one each).

How does all this figure into this year? Ultimately, no one throws more curveballs on draft weekend than the Patriots, and the same should be true this time around. (It’s no surprise that no draft expert can seem to agree on what direction New England will go this time around.) But if you’re looking for the Patriots to utilize their 32nd pick on a defensive lineman, history tells us that’s usually a good thing: Of the six defensive linemen they have taken in the top 50, they’ve hit on four of them: Wilfork, Seymour, Warren and Chandler Jones. One was an undisputed miss (Ron Brace) and the sixth (Dominique Easley) gets an incomplete for playing roughly half of his rookie season before going on injured reserve.

However, as successful as they’ve been at targeting defensive linemen and plugging them immediately into the system following those high value picks, they’ve struggled when it comes to identifying and drafting defensive back, at least when it comes to those same high-value picks. McCourty and Chung are the only two defensive backs taken in the top 50 who have enjoyed successful careers — Eugene Wilson had one very good year before a slide in semi-obscurity, but Brandon Meriweather, Darius Butler and Ras-I Dowling have all made little to no impact at the NFL level, at least when they were in Foxboro.

Of course, when it comes to drafting and developing defensive backs, maybe the organizational philosophy is more about quantity than quality: Since 2000, the Patriots have used most of their picks at defensive back (26), while defensive line (22) and offensive line (22) round out the top three. They’ve drafted 17 linebackers, 13 wide receivers, 10 tight ends, eight running backs, eight quarterbacks, three fullbacks, two kickers (one, Owen Pochman, also worked sparingly as a punter), one punter and one long snapper.

In the end, no one is suggesting that the Patriots will be able to replace Revis or Wilfork with a rookie. There’s always a ton to consider when the pick is submitted — scheme fit, approach, playing style, how one position stacks up against another. And simply put, there’s no one in this draft class at either cornerback or defensive line who can have the impact on the 2015 Patriots that Revis or Wilfork would have had if he was still a part of the franchise. (That’s not to say that a player taken at that spot couldn’t eventually grow into that role — it’s important to note that Revis was taken 14th overall by the Jets in 2007, while Wilfork was selected 21st overall by New England in 2004.)

But when you consider their historical approach, combined with their recent personnel losses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see New England lean on a semi-familiar formula when they’re on the clock this spring.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork
Tom Brady says so long to Vince Wilfork via Facebook 03.17.15 at 12:24 pm ET
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On Tuesday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave a farewell salute to departing defensive lineman Vince Wilfork via Facebook. After 11 seasons as a teammate of Brady in New England, Wilfork signed with the Texans on Monday.

Read More: Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork,
Bill Belichick on Vince Wilfork: ‘Best defensive lineman I ever coached’ 03.16.15 at 6:16 pm ET
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Bill Belichick issued a statement on Vince Wilfork Monday, shortly after it was announced the defensive lineman signed with the Texans after 11 seasons in New England.

“Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around — just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism. He is the best defensive linemen I ever coached, an all-time great Patriot whose place on our team will be missed but whose remarkable career as a Patriot will be remembered forever.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Vince Wilfork,



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