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Patriots hit pause at QB with Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham … for now – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. QB checkpoints: Timing and leverage are often two of the most important factors for striking deals, and they are at the heart of the Patriots’ current quarterback decision-making approach.

Coach Bill Belichick is sometimes fond of saying “Last time I checked, our first game isn’t until September.” That basically explains why the Patriots are pressing the QB “pause” button at the moment, with owner Robert Kraft expressing support for Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham in 2021, while also acknowledging the team has to solidify the position long-term.

Here are three key checkpoints to watch:

  • Draft (April 29-May 1): Selecting at No. 15 in the 2021 NFL draft, the Patriots likely won’t be in position to land a top prospect unless they move up. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has them jumping to No. 11 to pick Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in his most recent mock draft. But the QB class goes beyond the top five of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Fields. And if the Patriots follow a path similar to what they did in 2014 with Jimmy Garoppolo (second round, No. 62) — with Florida’s Kyle Trask, Stanford’s Davis Mills, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond and Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman among the second-tier options — they could go into 2021 with Newton/Stidham/prospect, hold firm, and see where the chips fall.

  • End of organized team activities/start of training camp (mid-June/late-July): At this point, the San Francisco 49ers would have a better grasp of their comfort level with their No. 3 overall pick, and if it might be realistic to turn the team over to him. If so, that could lessen their asking price for Garoppolo. In turn, the Patriots will also have more information on Newton and Stidham from OTAs to gauge if their offseason analysis that both could be the answer in 2021 has merit. That intelligence would dictate how far the Patriots might be willing to extend in a potential trade offer.

  • Opening weekend (early September): Once Garoppolo is on the 49ers’ roster for the first game of the season, his $24.1 million salary is guaranteed. That’s a true leverage point to see how committed the 49ers are to carrying both Garoppolo and the No. 3 pick for the 2021 season — especially when considering future extensions for defensive cornerstones Fred Warner and Nick Bosa. It also assumes Garoppolo doesn’t force his exit before that point, which as of now, doesn’t seem to be part of his thinking. This might be late from a Patriots standpoint, but given Garoppolo’s background in the system, still tenable for a player they view favorably.



Todd McShay breaks down the potential fit of quarterback Mac Jones with the 49ers.

2. Culture starts at top: Kraft’s conference call with reporters on Wednesday, as part of his annual Q&A at the time of the NFL’s owners meeting, struck a chord from the standpoint the culture of every organization starts at the top. Kraft was direct, passionate and even critical at times (e.g. the team’s recent draft results). Some organizations might accept a 7-9 season as part of the ebb and flow of an NFL structure that is geared toward everyone being 8-8. Kraft, who has spent an NFL-record $165 million in guaranteed money since free-agent negotiating began March 15, made it clear the Patriots do not.

3. McDaniels and QBs: It wasn’t a coincidence Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was present at Alabama’s pro day on Tuesday, followed by Florida’s on Wednesday. It gave him a close-up look at Jones, followed by Trask, and highlighted how he will be a leading voice as the Patriots consider draft options. While it now seems clear Jones won’t be available for New England, there is still value in getting the most thorough scouting report to provide a comparison point to other QB prospects.

4. Patriots’ ‘different’ approach: One popular follow-up question from Kraft’s comments was about his belief he has seen a “different approach” with the team’s draft-based scouting. What exactly is different? Other than Dave Ziegler earning a promotion following Nick Caserio’s departure to become Texans GM, the staff essentially remains intact, with Ziegler having previously mentioned Eliot Wolf, Steve Cargile and Brian Smith among those playing notable roles in the transition. Matt Patricia is also making his presence felt. Perhaps that’s what Kraft meant when he said of free agency: “This was a team effort on the part of our personnel department. There’s three or four [who were] very active with Bill. They were so thorough.”

5. Stability counts: While Kraft’s remarks on the team’s recent drafts could be viewed as a challenge of sorts to Belichick, not to be overlooked was something Kraft also said about how much he values their extended time together. “He’s been with us for 21 years. He’s maybe the best ever to do it. I don’t think [stability and] continuity in coaches in the modern era has been stable. I’m pretty happy with our working relationship.” Belichick is easily the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach followed by Sean Payton (Saints, 15 years) and Mike Tomlin (Steelers, 14 years).

6. Times change: In a reminder of how times change, former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli was reflecting on the team’s 2001 free-agent splurge on “The Peter King Podcast,” noting how it was 23 players signed for a total of $2.5 million in signing bonus money, and there were no private planes and limos on the recruiting visits. Those prices don’t exist today, and the in-person visits are mostly a thing of the past.

7. Meritocracy returns: One other point Pioli made about the early years that has relevance today was when he said: “The New England Patriot model was really meritocracy. The best players were going to play.” Because of a decline in overall talent in recent years, there wasn’t as much internal competition at various positions to allow that type of meritocracy to truly manifest itself. Now, with an infusion of free-agent talent across several positions, and what the Patriots hope will be a productive draft, the thinking among some in the organization is that they can get back to that.

8. Draft nugget: The Patriots own 10 selections in the draft, which is the type of volume they have grown accustomed to. Since the draft was shortened to seven rounds in 1993, they have selected at least 10 players in 13 of 28 drafts. The highest total of selections the Patriots have made is 13, in 1996. That was followed by 12 picks in both 2009 and 2010.

9. Ticket value: When a team raises ticket prices, it usually results in a headline. In the spirit of fairness, there should be a headline when ticket prices not only remain flat, but the value of season-ticket members’ 10-game package increases with the addition of a ninth regular-season game in 2021 in place of a second preseason game. That’s what happened last week for Patriots season-ticket members; like a stock portfolio gaining value without having to make an additional investment.

10. Did You Know: The Patriots’ 29 trades in the 2019 to 2021 calendar years are the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information, followed by the Dolphins (26), Raiders (20) and Seahawks (20).

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WR Randall Cobb expects trade back to Green Bay Packers, source says



GREEN BAY, Wis. — One day after Aaron Rodgers verbally agreed to the terms of his return to the Green Bay Packers, the team seemingly met one of his requests by bringing back receiver Randall Cobb.

The Packers were on the verge of re-acquiring Cobb late Tuesday afternoon. A source said Cobb expects to be back with his old team once the final details of a trade with the Houston Texans were completed.

Cobb, who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Rodgers’ go-to receivers — especially in the slot.

He left in free agency following the 2018 season and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Texans, where he played in 10 games last season — one more than he did in his final season in Green Bay, when he battled lingering hamstring problems. He suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He finished with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns.

Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure. To fill that void in their offense, the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers in the third round of this year’s draft.

Apparently, Rodgers-to-Cobb had a better ring to it than Rodgers-to-Rodgers, but it’s unclear if bringing back Cobb was a condition of Rodgers’ return or merely a suggestion that the Packers decided to honor. When Cobb left the Packers, he did so ranked sixth in franchise history with 470 catches and 11th in both receiving yards (5,524) and touchdown catches (41). His best season came in 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was one of two seasons in his career in which he did not miss a game.

While Cobb’s role is yet to be determined and could hinge largely on his ability to stay healthy, Cobb also could help mentor Amari Rodgers. There’s already a connection between the two; Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, coached Cobb in college at Kentucky.

The trade no doubt will include a contract restructuring for Cobb, who was scheduled to make $8.25 million this season.

In an unrelated move, the Packers released two quarterbacks: veteran Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala. Bortles signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with no guarantees on May 24 in the midst of Rodgers’ absence from the offseason program. Dolegala signed with the Packers following a tryout during the June minicamp.

It leaves three quarterbacks on the roster — Rodgers, Jordan Love and Kurt Benkert — on the eve of the first training camp practice on Wednesday.

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Jamal Adams reports to Seattle Seahawks training camp amid contract negotiations



SEATTLE — Seahawks Pro Bowl strong safety Jamal Adams reported to training camp on Tuesday as his agent and the team continue negotiations towards a contract extension.

Coach Pete Carroll said during last month’s minicamp that the Seahawks were counting on Adams showing up, even if the two sides had yet to reach a deal. The Seahawks tweeted photos Tuesday of Adams, quarterback Russell Wilson and other marquee players arriving at the team’s headquarters in Renton, Washington.

The next question is whether Adams will take part in the first practice Wednesday. Two years ago, All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner reported to the team’s facility and took part in meetings but did not practice until finalizing his extension.

Adams skipped the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program — many of the team’s veteran players did not take part until the final week — and was excused from mandatory minicamp so he could tend to a family matter.

“It’s been ongoing and it’s been amicable throughout,” Carroll said in mid-June of contract talks. “We recognize that he’s a fantastic football player. … They’ve been good talks. It just hasn’t been able to get settled at this point, but it’s coming. We expect him for camp, and everything should be fine.”

Adams, 25, would have been subject to fines for not showing up to training camp, per the NFL’s CBA.

He is coming off shoulder and finger surgeries that Carroll said would have limited him if he were at minicamp. He played through several injuries during his debut season with Seattle, including a groin injury that sidelined him for four games. Despite that, Adams made the Pro Bowl and set the NFL’s single-season record for a defensive back with 9.5 sacks, which led the team.

The Seahawks acquired Adams from the New York Jets a year ago for a package that included Seattle’s 2021 and ’22 first-round picks. It was an uncommonly hefty price that they wouldn’t have paid had they only planned on Adams being a one- or two-year deal.

For now, Adams is scheduled to make $9.86 million in the final year of the rookie contract that he signed with the Jets as the No. 6 pick in 2017.

Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos became the NFL’s highest-paid safety earlier this offseason when he signed a deal averaging $15.25 million.

In other team news, the arraignment for defensive end Aldon Smith related to his alleged-battery charge in Louisiana has been moved to Aug. 24, according to a spokesperson with the St. Bernard Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.

A source told ESPN that Smith is reporting for training camp and has worked himself back into shape. He was excused from minicamp because he didn’t feel physically ready to take part, per Carroll.

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NFL says no restrictions on Deshaun Watson at Houston Texans camp while investigation ongoing



HOUSTON — Despite the 22 active lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson, there are “no restrictions” from the NFL on the quarterback’s participation in club activities, the league said in a statement Tuesday.

The Houston Texans are scheduled to hold their first training camp practice Wednesday.

In April, the first of 23 lawsuits was filed against Watson. There are 22 active lawsuits with allegations of sexual assault or sexually inappropriate behavior during massage sessions against Watson.

“The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active,” the NFL said in a statement. “We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation.

“As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.

“At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities.”

According to a league source, the NFL has not been given access to talk to many of the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuits or to third parties who might have relevant information. The NFL also has not been given access to evidence the police have gathered in their investigation.

On Monday, Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told ESPN that of the 10 women who have filed complaints with Houston police, two have not filed lawsuits against Watson.

The Texans have three other quarterbacks on their active roster: Tyrod Taylor, rookie Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel.

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