Greg Bedard is one of the best writers of Patriots news. The following is from his Boston Sports Journal which has some of the best writing on New England sports if you are interested.
Shortly after witnessing Brett Favre‘s surprise retirement announcement on March 6, 2008, in the Lambeau Field Atrium, I had a conversation with a longtime NFL executive.
At the time, there were rumors about Favre butting heads with Packers management — namely, Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy — that basically forced Favre into retirement. But all we were left with was Favre’s tear-lined face and his words from the dais, which seemed heartfelt and genuine.
“I’ve given everything I possibly can give to this organization, to the game of football, and I don’t think I’ve got anything left to give, and that’s it,” Favre said. “I know I can play, but I don’t think I want to. And that’s really what it comes down to.”
Even with follow-up questions, Favre convincingly stuck to his line that it was just time to move on.
But knowing some of the chatter behind the scenes — mostly about Thompson (similar to Bill Belichick in his lack of sentimentality when it comes to his roster management) and Favre — and, most importantly, the unshakeable iciness between Deanna Favre, Thompson and McCarthy — they were all seated right next to each other off to the side of Favre, but they could have been miles away — there had to be more to it than Favre just being done with football.
That uncomfortable tension is what I was discussing with the NFL executive.
“There’s one thing you need to remember with these guys,” he said in referencing the NFL’s great QBs. “It always ends badly, and they blame everyone else for it.”
And he was right.
Soon enough, things got messy off the field between the Packers. Friends of Favre were sniping at Thompson, McCarthy and team president Mark Murphy behind the scenes. They didn’t do this for Brett. They didn’t tell him this. It’s their fault he’s not a fault Packer anymore. He didn’t want any of this.
As we’ve come to learn in recent weeks, Tom Brady isn’t an exception to this. He’s not special or different. He’s just like every other great, future Hall of Fame quarterback who wound up finishing his career in another uniform. We’ve now reached the stage of the fallout of his departure to Tampa where people are starting to air Brady’s grievances.
Of course, all this chatter behind the scenes is missing one thing … any blame on Brady’s behalf. (Hmm, I wonder why that is.)
We’ll get into a little history lesson, and then show what’s really at the heart of all this, and Brady’s part in it.
The same thing happened with Dan Marino. His final three seasons in the NFL were marred by constant tension with Jimmy Johnson, who wanted to take the offense away from the trigger-happy Marino. It did not end well, with a 62-7 loss to the Jaguars in the playoffs.
In Marino’s heart, he knows that he needs Johnson. In Johnson’s heart, he knows he needs Marino. Johnson isn’t getting ready to trade Marino, cut Marino or ask him to retire.
But their combination is tenuous, built on a foundation of Marino’s fragile legs and piled high with huge expectations by all involved, including fans.
Marino could have added trust to the foundation. He could have said he not only understands what Johnson is doing, he agrees with it completely. He could have said he knows he’s not going to play forever and that Johnson has to keep an eye on the future.
He didn’t. Instead, Marino smiled slyly and took momentary glee in watching Johnson stew. Marino was being human, doing what prideful people often do when they are hurt or uneasy.
You don’t think Belichick and Johnson, his fishing buddy, have discussed Marino and Brady?
Joe Montana said he mentally left San Francisco during the middle of his final season with the 49ers (sound familiar?) before behind traded to the Chiefs.
“I knew I was leaving part way through last season,” Montana said. “My mind was made up.
“I could see they were trying to make the change. . . . Otherwise they would have given me a shot right from the beginning, that we could compete.”
Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll had a similar relationship to Brady and Belichick — Bradshaw complained for years that Noll rode him too hard and wish he would have been traded at some point. You could see Brady giving a similar interview about Belichick at some point.
Then there was Favre, whose final years were similar to Brady’s.
Thompson was hired in 2005 when it became apparent Mike Sherman couldn’t be the coach and GM. Thompson promptly came in and released Favre-favored linemen Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, and safety Darren Sharper. Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round before going 4-12. In ’06, Thompson fired Sherman, a Favre enabler, and replaced him with McCarthy with the edict of taking the offense back from Favre. In ’07, Thompson failed to trade for Randy Moss — which Favre pushed for behind the scenes — and drafted a bust at defensive tackle 16th overall.
“I just want to win; maybe I see things the wrong way,” Favre said at the time. “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers and I want people to respect me. Sometimes I think it’s hard for them to let Brett go. They might think that we pay him a lot of money, but he still gives us the best chance to win. I’ve never been told that, but there are times when I wonder if I’m the odd man out here and they just don’t know how to tell me.”
Favre had a tremendous ’07 season as the Packers reached the NFC Championship Game. And then he retired.
The only real exceptions to this in modern times were John Elway and Peyton Manning, but those were special circumstances — not to mention they retired after Super Bowl victories. Elway bought into the conversion of the Broncos into a running team whose identity was the zone blocking scheme and Terrell Davis — and not Elway. Manning’s neck injuries made his Indianapolis exit a moot point — that could have gotten really uncomfortable — and then Elway was there to make sure Manning’s interests were taking care of in Denver. Troy Aikman retired due to concussions.
Almost universally, the NFL executive was right: it almost always ends badly with a great QB, and the quarterback ends up blaming everyone else. You never hear them say, “Yeah, the coaches put me in a great position and I just failed to come through.”
There’s always something else. There’s always some drama.
So Tom Brady Sr. himself was right when he told the New York Times Magazine in 2015 that, “It will end badly.” He just left off the part where his son’s part of it will be ignored.
Not that I don’t think Brady isn’t right to feel the way he does in many respects. His departure from New England could have been avoided: If Belichick just gave him an earned five-year extension in the 2017 offseason … If Belichick didn’t bust his chops over Alex Guerrero … If Belichick just gave Brady a few more real weapons to work with the past two years instead of hoarding all the additions and depth on the defense … If Belichick paid Brady his worth, especially after so many years of sacrificing for the team. It all could have ended differently.
Those are real and true gripes on Brady’s behalf.
This stuff about Brady’s input being ignored in the gameplan, or Brady feeling that he was being phased out is just complete and utter nonsense.
Do I think it’s being said by Brady’s camp, and/or people who want Belichick and his coaches to be made out as the bad guys in all this? Absolutely. But it’s straight out of the Favre Family playbook — all we’re missing is phone calls from Mississippi area codes, and Scott Favre and agent Bus Cook calling media members out of nowhere.
Brady’s people just should be saying: “Tom was really worn down by everything with the Patriots the past couple of years — it was unnecessarily hard — nothing was really going to change, so he just decided to try something new.”
That’s really what all this amounts to.
Like I said, some of it is legit. But some of this was also just in Brady’s head. Belichick definitely helped to put those thoughts there, but the slights were invented by Brady.
The downward trajectory came after the Atlanta Super Bowl, as we’ve chronicled many times before. Brady was riding high after that triumph. Go listen to his podcast with Peter King from Montana after that — the “answers to the test” podcast. Brady sounds like he’s ready to play another 10 years at a high level. He’s pumped. He’s ready to conquer everything. There’s no hint at skipping OTAs.
Then it was all downhill from there.
No contract extension. Jimmy Garoppolo is not traded and won’t be dealt for four first-round picks. Brady asking questions about where the loyalty is, where his security is. Garoppolo is traded, but Brady still wants that extension, that security. He’s told his security is in San Francisco. The Eagles Super Bowl and Malcolm Butler. Rob Gronkowski is nearly traded. Drew Brees can get two years guaranteed but Brady only gets incentives. Another contract negotiation goes nowhere … that’s it, Brady’s done unless Belichick changes his tune. He doesn’t. Hello Tampa.
This stuff about Brady lacking input into the gameplan? Nonsense. What about Brady’s belief that he’s being phased out of the Patriots offense? In his increasingly paranoid head.
Here are Brady’s average pass attempts per game in later years:
2014: 36.4 (Super Bowl win)
2016: 36.0 (Super Bowl win)
2018: 35.6 (Super Bowl win)
So Brady was done with the Patriots because he attempted his most passes since ’15? That’s being phased out? That’s the offense becoming less Tom-centric? Sure looked like they relied on him more than ever, it’s just he wasn’t given the horses to run with.
This stuff that you’re hearing — he felt he was being phased out, Josh McDaniels was no longer his buffer, Brady lacked the same input — is what you get from an aging athlete, who has always been worried about being replaced, seeing ghosts. Brady was so deadset on being the one to orchestrate the final years of his career, that he was paranoid about Belichick beating him to the punch.
What you won’t hear from Team Brady is that Brady largely checked out in 2018 after the loss to Pittsburgh and hated how the offense pivoted to a more run-based attack. Brady probably hated the Rams Super Bowl gameplan as well and how it only produced 13 points.
Was Brady being phased out in ’18? Was the offense becoming less Tom-centric? Of course not. The Patriots were trying to win football games with what they had on hand. And it worked … so I guess we won’t hear any public complaints about that season.
Of course there was Brady no longer showing up in the offseason, which meant that the quarterback was no longer the hardest worker on the team — a mantra for Belichick teams. There were disagreements with the strength and nutrition staffs as TB12 creeped more into Gillette. Tom The Patriot was now Tom The Business Man/Patriot.
Closer to the field, there was general unhappiness with how Belichick allowed the offensive coaches at the positions most central to Brady’s success — tight ends and receivers — to be staffed by neophytes (Nick Caley) and those with divided attentions, especially on gameday (Joe Judge). Brady was also dissatisfied with the Antonio Brown decision, the personnel approaches at receiver and tight end, and what he was surrounded with by the end of 2019.
Brady has a right to be upset about most if not all of that. The Patriots’ offensive approach the past two years basically devolved into, “Josh and Tom will figure it out.” Belichick was right in 2018. He was terribly wrong in ’19. In Brady’s mind, 2020 wasn’t going to be all that different.
Here’s where Brady is wrong. All of this was not some vendetta against him. It was not all designed at pushing Brady out the door and making him expendable.
It was just … football under Belichick. Same as it’s always been.
The Patriots didn’t become a run-based team to become less Tom-centric. They did it because, as always, that played to the strength of the team. You can’t throw it 50 times a game with players who can’t beat anyone in man coverage. You can’t scheme players open by going to shotgun empty — you need the run and playaction to make it work.
McDaniels was “no longer Brady’s best buddy and became more aligned with Belichick” because McDaniels works at the pleasure of the head coach, and that’s the way it has always been. If Belichick says to run it twice on 3rd and 6 at the opponent’s 40, McDaniels has to run it twice. While McDaniels installs each gameplan, Belichick gives notes to each side of the ball on how best to attack that week’s opponent based on the Patriots’ personnel. The Patriots’ offensive plan has to fit in the overall attack plan for that week’s opponent.
Were the Patriots more conservative on offense the past two seasons? Of course they were. Not to phase out Brady, but because that’s what the personnel — misfires on offense while the defense became strong — dictated. Not all that dissimilar to the Patriots’ first dynasty.
The Patriots took a hit on their coaching staff because, with three Super Bowl wins in six years, their coaches were getting better opportunities and raided like never before. Did Belichick give the offense inexperienced coaches to stick it to Brady? No, Belichick has always preferred to coach up young coaches. In case Brady didn’t notice, the defense was in the same boat with Bret Bielema, DeMarcus Covington and Mike Pellegrino.
In short, Patriots business was being done as Patriots business has always been done.
The only difference? You had an aging quarterback, obsessed with not having Belichick call the final play of Brady’s Patriots career, pushed to his limit because he was only offered year-to-year contracts.
All this other stuff is nonsense.
But it makes sense. Brady is an all-time great quarterback. It always ends badly for them, and it’s always someone else’s fault.
1. Congratulations to Richard Seymour for his election into the Patriots Hall of Fame. While Bill Parcells should definitely be in for what he did for this franchise, Seymour was just a spectacular player at a crucial position for Belichick’s defense. Count Seymour as one who learned that it’s business and never personal with Belichick. “At the end of the day, the amount of respect I had for Coach Belichick and still have to this day – there’s a difference between business and your personal life. Personally, it was always a ton of respect,” Seymour told reporters. “Coach Belichick, he would always send a Christmas gift to the kids and little things like that. In terms of the business side of it, I mean, that’s just the business side of the NFL. We saw that this year with all their guys. So, that’s a part of it. I don’t have any hard feelings or anything like that. That’s just a part of the way the NFL works. So, it may have seemed like it was some tension or something, but in my mind, it’s no hard feelings. We talk and we see each other. He’ll shoot me a text. I was down there when the team was here in Atlanta for the Super Bowl. I was with the team. So, all is well. ”
2. The Patriots haven’t had much success as far as receiver reclamation projects in recent year, but Marqise Lee could be an exception because he’s largely a year removed from his knee and shoulder injuries in Jacksonville. “It’s been quite difficult with the knee injury and coming back with the shoulder injury,” Lee said this week to reporters. “It’s been difficult, but it’s been a task in which I’ve quite enjoyed as far as knowing myself. After these certain injuries, you’ve got some people who get down on themselves and tend to want to shut it down. For me, it’s kind of like a motivating factor. I just want to see where I’m at at this point. It will be good to get out there and play football, which I feel like I haven’t played in the last couple years. I’m just ready to get at it.”
3. Lee had some overlap with new Patriots assistant QB coach Jedd Fisch in Jacksonville. “Coach Jedd was a great, great coach down in Jacksonville for me as far as when I first got there, just teaching me the things I need to be as far as a player,” Lee said. “Even when he left, he stayed in communication, just making sure I stayed on top of things for the first couple years. It’s kind of motivating for me or a little helpful for me to actually know that he was on the team. It gave me a little relief not going to a team and not knowing everybody. At least I had the opportunity know somebody. I haven’t really gotten the chance to really communicate because of the coronavirus or things like that, but I’ve been hopping on Zoom with him a couple times throughout the group, spoke to him, things like that and he just gave me some tips as far as helping me as I’m going through it.”
4. I was somewhat excited to hear that the NFL was floating a plan to incentivize the hiring of minority head coaches and GMs. But a few spots in the third round? Really? Talk about throwing the bare minimum at the problem. If you really want to make NFL teams seriously consider more minority candidates — which is really the aim of the program — float moving a few spots in first round.
5. Knowing Aaron Rodgers a bit, I think he gave his real feelings on the drafting of Jordan Love and was realistic about the possible end of his Packers career (if Love is even a good player, which is far from a given) in his first comments to the media. Rodgers may be a bit of a diva and often overlooks his own responsibilities when the team struggles, but usually shoots you straight on his feelings.
New England Patriots fullback James Develin announced his retirement from football on Monday, citing "unforeseen complications" from a neck injury that sidelined him for the majority of the 2019 season.
Develin, 31, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2017, overcame long odds to break through in the NFL.
After playing on the defensive line at Brown University, he joined the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League and Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of AF2 (the minor league of the Arena Football League) before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad for the final five games of the 2010 season.
He spent 2011 on the Bengals' practice squad, and after the Bengals released him on Aug. 31, 2012, the Patriots signed him to their practice squad the next day. Develin earned a brief promotion to the Patriots' roster late in the 2012 season before finding a permanent spot the following season.
Overall, he played in 81 regular-season games (29 starts), as well as 14 playoff games (six starts). He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams, with his contributions especially notable in the 2018 season, when the Patriots turned into a power running team late in the season in a stunning transformation.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick often lauded Develin's versatility and said in a statement Monday that he was one of the most respected players the Patriots ever had.
"In football, there are a lot of tough, unselfish and dependable people who bring positive leadership on a daily basis, but the name James Develin represents those qualities at an elite level," Belichick said in a news release announcing Develin's retirement. "A tribute to the impact James had on our success, of the five seasons in which he appeared in every game, we won three championships. Any team would be fortunate to have a James Devlin type on its roster, but the reality is he is a rarity and we are very fortunate he was a Patriot."
Develin took to social media Monday to thank the Patriots organization for his many seasons with the team.
Safety Patrick Chung was one of the first to reply to Develin's Instagram post. "You're a great man, father and husband. Going to miss you on the field,'' Chung wrote. "Keep being you and you'll be successful in anything you do my man.''
The Patriots have used the fullback as much as any other team in the NFL under coordinator Josh McDaniels. This offseason, they agreed to a one-year deal with former Packers fullback Danny Vitale and selected Virginia Tech H-back Dalton Keene in the third round of the NFL draft, which foreshadowed Develin's time on the field coming to an end.
A native of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Develin was widely respected in the Patriots organization. While he spent the 2019 season on injured reserve, he remained around the team in a coaching-type capacity, traveling to road games in a rarity for those in his situation.
The Patriots had opportunities to land so-called impactful players, according to the draftnik community, up and down this weekend’s draft, and they almost universally passed. Instead, they selected players with positive traits that they think, obviously, will translate into contributing to their team concept.
It’s very much on-brand for the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Their track record over the past 20 years certainly is a testament to the success of that approach.
But some of their rivals decided to go the other way. Teams like the Ravens, Bills and Dolphins took their swings at bigger names in this draft and executed their plans.
No one is saying one approach is better than the other. You’d be a fool to call this Patriots draft, the first of the post-Tom Brady era, a failure. You’d be equally as foolish to say the Ravens, Bills and Dolphins knocked it out of the park and are on their way to supplanting the Patriots.
No one knows anything.
But it’s fair to say that this draft, perhaps more than any other, will be a great referendum three years down the road, when we know which players succeeded or failed. Because there were some pivotal moments when the teams diverged. There will be a lot of scoreboard-watching off of this draft.
Some of the pivotal decisions that will be monitored:
Patriots trade out of No. 23, passing on, among others, LBs Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, C Cesar Ruiz, QB Jordan Love, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Ravens draft Queen at 28.
Dolphins draft CB Noah Igbinoghene at 30.
Chiefs draft Edwards-Helaire at 32.
Discussion: Murray will be watched closely because he went in the Patriots’ spot to the Chargers. New England traded down, in part, because it used a second-round pick on Mohamed Sanu. … Queen will be more of a direct comp because he’s playing for the Ravens, and also since Patriots safety Kyle Dugger is similar size as a box player. … If David Andrews is not successful in his comeback from health issues and Ruiz is an instant starter on a good Saints team, that would be interesting. … If the Patriots have to defend the Chiefs in the postseason and Edwards-Helaire is a weapon, that will be remembered.
Patriots draft S Kyle Dugger 37th overall and pass on DE Yetur Gross-Matos (Panthers), TE Cole Kmet (Bears), WR/TE Chase Claypool (Steelers).
They also take DE Josh Uche 60th overall, passing on OLB Julian Okwara (Lions)
Ravens draft RB J.K. Dobbins.
Bills draft DE A.J. Espenesa.
Dolphins draft DT Raekwon Davis.
Discussion: The Patriots passed on Gross-Matos and Epenesa — at a position they obviously wanted to address by taking Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings later — to go with a box safety where they currently have numbers. They’ll see Epenesa twice a year with Buffalo. … Adding Dobbins to the Ravens’ backfield could make them even tougher to defend. … Davis has the ideal size and scheme fit (Alabama) for the Patriots’ system and Brian Flores gobbled him up. … Safeties Grant Delpit and Jeremy Chinn also went in the round. … So did receivers Van Jefferson and Denzel Mims, and QB Jalen Hurts. Not so much worried about Hurts, but Jefferson and Mims could hit, or bust. … Matt Patricia is in Detroit and will have Okwara in the same spot as Uche.
Patriots draft DE Anfernee Jennings 87th overall, TE Devin Asiasi 91st and trade up for TE Dalton Keene (101st).
Patriots passed on OLB Jonathan Greenard (Texans, same scheme), WR Devin Duvernay (Ravens), OLB Alex Highsmith (Steelers), TE Adam Trautman (Saints), TE Albert Okwuegbunam (Broncos).
Ravens draft WR Devin Duvernay 92nd right after the Asiasi pick, ILB Malk Harrison 98th.
Discussion: The Patriots’ selections, especially the TEs, will be compared to Duverany, Trautman and Okwuegbunam. Trautman was a player most expected to land with the Patriots and they passed. He joins Ruiz with the Saints in what could be another explosive offense.
Patriots didn’t have a pick in this round after trading two fourth-round picks to draft Keene.
Taken after 125 and 129: QB James Morgan (Jets), S K’Von Wallace (Eagles), WR Gabriel Davis (Bills), TE Colby Parkinson (Seahawks).
Ravens drafted OG Ben Bredeson 143rd.
Bills drafted WR Gabriel Davis 128th.
Discussion: For the price of Keene, the Patriots could have had Bredeson and Parkinson/Davis. … Baltimore is looking for a replacement for Marshal Yanda at guard and Bredeson could be a key pick for them. … Patriots, who did not draft a receiver, will see David twice a season.
Patriots take the first kicker in the draft, unheralded Justin Rohrwasser from Marshall at 159. They passed on C Nick Harris (Browns), WR Quintez Cephus (Lions), QB Jake Fromm (Bills).
Ravens draft DT Broderick Washington 170th.
Bills take Fromm.
Discussion: Obviously this all hinges on Rohrwasser. If he follows in the Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski lineage, then the Patriots knocked it out of the park. If he’s not the answer, there will be all sorts of second-guessing regardless of what anyone else does. … Ravens got interior line help, which the Patriots didn’t draft.
Sixth and seventh rounds
Patriots traded up to draft OG Michael Onewnu at 182, took OT Justin Herron at 195, ILB Cassh Maluia at 204, and C Dustin Woodard in the 7th.
Passed on QB Jake Luton (Jaguars), OT Jon Runyan (Packers), WR James Proche (Ravens), WR Isaiah Hodgins (Bills).
Ravens draft WR James Prosch, and safety Geno Stone in the 7th.
Bills draft WR Isaiah Hodgins.
Dolphins draft QB/WR Malcolm Perry out of Navy in seventh round.
Discussion: Prosch was being talked a lot as a possible slot player for the Patriots and he ends up going to the Ravens while the Patriots drafted two backup linemen and a special teams linebacker. Obviously that will be closely watched, and if Hodgins does anything in the division in Buffalo. … Perry was thought to be an athlete fit for the Patriots but he was grabbed by Flores.
You can’t judge a draft at least until the players have three years to prove themselves in the NFL. So no one should be drawing any conclusions right now.
But what we can say is the Ravens, especially under new general manager Eric DeCosta, the Bills and Dolphins certainly feel like their on the come against the reigning AFC power, the Patriots. We’re not saying the Patriots are slipping, but there’s little debate the other teams have improved their outlooks the past three seasons.
There’s also no debate the Patriots are headed off into a new era, with Brady now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Will things change? Are the other teams ascending while the Patriots, finally, after two decades become just another team?
Impossible to say. But it’s likely this draft, in particular, will go a long way toward answering that question in the coming years. Bill Belichick either just set a course for himself to sail off on a high note in the final years of his career, or he’ll be watching other teams — some very close rivals — surge past him at the finish line.
As the saying goes, In Bill We Trust. I really hope these picks pan out for the Patriots because this was one of the stranger drafts I've seen from them in a while.
The New England Patriots are signing former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year contract, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday.
Lee became a free agent on April 20, when he was released by the Jaguars.
Lee, 28, has battled injuries throughout his career and never became the game-changing player the Jaguars hoped he would be when he was drafted in the second round in 2014.
He played in only six games and had three catches for 18 yards after signing a four-year contract worth $34 million with $16.5 million guaranteed in March 2018. He missed the 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee during the preseason.
The signing of Lee is consistent with an approach the Patriots have taken under Bill Belichick, identifying a once highly-touted player whose value on the open market wasn't what it previously due to injuries or other factors.
Lee joins a Patriots wide receiver corps headlined by Julian Edelman, 2019 first-round pick
The Jaguars drafted Lee with the 39th overall pick in 2014, and he battled injuries early in his career, missing nine games in 2014 and '15. He played in every game in 2016 and missed only two games in 2017. He re-signed with the Jaguars in March 2018 after the team was unable to reach a deal with Allen Robinson, whom they also drafted in the second round in 2014.
Lee has 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 career games.
The New England Patriots on Monday informed longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski of their intention to release him, a source confirmed to ESPN.
It is a move that helps the salary-cap-strapped team create more space, but leaves a notable void at the position. The move was first reported by the Boston Globe.
Gostkowski, who is coming off left hip surgery that shortened his 2019 season to four games, has been the team's full-time kicker since 2006 when he replaced Adam Vinatieri. He is the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 1,775 points.
Most Super Bowl AppearancesStephen Gostkowski is one of three players in NFL history to appear in at least six Super Bowls. Former Patriots teammate Tom Brady leads the way with nine appearances.
Gostkowski, 36, was the Patriots' longest-tenured player once quarterback Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Gostkowski was scheduled to count $4.8 million against the salary cap in 2020.
The Patriots, who have nearly $23 million in cap charges for players not on their roster (which includes $13.5 million for Brady), don't have another kicker on their roster. Veteran Nick Folk finished last season in that role, and remains an unrestricted free agent.
Gostkowski was 374-of-428 on field goals (87.4%) with the Patriots, and 653-of-664 on point-after attempts (98%). That didn't include the playoffs, where he was 31-of-36 on field goals and 79-of-83 on PATs. His strong right leg was also valuable to the team on kickoffs.
With his departure, the longest tenured Patriots player is special-teamer Matthew Slater, who has been with New England for 12 seasons.
The New England Patriots have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, a source confirms.
The Boston Globe first reported the agreement.
A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Hoyer's contract with the Patriots is for $1.05 million. He is making $2 million from the Indianapolis Colts, who released him on Saturday, so with offset language, Hoyer will make $2 million in guarantees total this season between the two teams.
Hoyer returns for his third stint with the Patriots, joining 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and five-year veteran Cody Kessler as the three quarterbacks on the roster.
Stidham beat out Hoyer for the No. 2 job last preseason, which led the Patriots to release Hoyer with hopes of possibly bringing him back later in the season. But the Colts, who were scrambling after Andrew Luck's retirement, quickly scooped Hoyer up by inking him to a three-year contract to back up Jacoby Brissett.
Hoyer, 34, becomes the most experienced quarterback on the Patriots' roster (38 career starts), and should be a valuable sounding board for Stidham as the Patriots assess if the youngster can fill the void created by Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hoyer appeared in four games last season and made one start when Brissett suffered a knee injury. He completed just 53.8% of his pass attempts last season, throwing for 372 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hoyer started his career with the Patriots and also had stints with the Cardinals, Browns, Texans, Bears and 49ers before returning to New England last season. He has 38 starts in 69 NFL games. He started 13 games for the Browns in 2014. He has thrown for 10,274 yards with 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in his career.
In addition to Hoyer, the Patriots also reached agreement with free-agent linebacker Brandon Copeland on a one-year, $1.05 million contract.
The 6-foot-3, 268-pound Copeland has played in 60 career regular-season games with the Detroit Lions (2015-2016) and New York Jets (2018-2019). He started 14 games for the Jets over the past two seasons, with his most notable success coming in 2018 as a situational pass-rusher (5 sacks). He has totaled 107 career tackles, while also factoring prominently on special-teams units.
As the QB heads to Tampa Bay, he leaves behind dozens of reporters and pundits who got their start chronicling the NFL’s 21st-century dynasty
When Tom Brady decided to sign with Tampa Bay, it was a blow to one of history’s greatest dynasties. Not the Patriots—their press corps. For the last 20 years, writing about the Patriots has been the most efficient way to get a great job in the sports media. You’d have to go back to the old Yankee Stadium press box to find a group that has enriched itself more thoroughly with national jobs, book deals, and general career enhancement. There have been choice beats before. Which one of them could bless the careers of both Dave Portnoy and David Halberstam?
Bill Belichick’s sportswriting tree has fared way better than his coaching tree. Writers whose careers were improved and/or made by writing about the Pats include Ian Rapoport, Michael Smith, Albert Breer, Tom E. Curran, Mike Reiss, Greg Bedard, Michael Holley, Ben Volin, and—let’s not forget—Bill Simmons.
The Patriots added volumes to the bookshelves of Halberstam, Ian O’Connor, Charles P. Pierce, and New York Times Magazine political writer Mark Leibovich. They added to the oeuvre of filmmakers like Tom vs. Time’s Gotham Chopra, and Geno McDermott, director of the Aaron Hernandez Netflix series.
Patriots scandals and palace intrigues have been grist for writers like Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr., The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz, and Jeff Darlington, who insisted for months that Brady was prepared to leave New England. Rodney Harrison (former Pats safety) and Field Yates (former Pats intern) have roosted in TV jobs alongside many of their colleagues. Plus, daily Pats news feeds Globe columnists, local sports radio hosts, and the Sarlacc pit of Barstool.
“You want to want to remain as objective as you can when you’re writing about it,” said Curran, the Patriots insider at NBC Sports Boston. “In my estimation, you still have to have in the back of your mind, You’re so fucking lucky. You’re so lucky you just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Curran’s career arc is instructive. As he’s fond of saying, he didn’t “make his age” in journalism until he was 35 years old and covering the Patriots for the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Massachusetts.
“At that point, I’d been in the business 11 years with three boys all under 3,” he said. “I didn’t know if I could keep doing the work anymore because I wasn’t making enough money. … I was actually talking to people about selling field turf.”
In 2002, while Curran was covering the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win, in New Orleans, a writer tapped him on the shoulder and told him he was going to be hired by the Providence Journal. Four years later, Curran moved to NBC. By then, Patriots writing was a growth industry. Curran went from thinking about leaving journalism to writing Julian Edelman’s memoirs.
“You didn’t have to go to Slippery Rock and work in TV,” he said. “You didn’t have to go to Anchorage and work at a paper. You could just stay right where the fuck you were and have this happen around you.”
Sportswriters would like to think their work will get attention whether they’re covering the Patriots or the Jaguars. But the clearest path to career advancement is to cover a dynasty. That’s why national outlets’ rosters are filled with talking heads who covered the Warriors, the ’90s and ’00s Yankees, and the ’90s Cowboys.
Hiring a writer off the Patriots beat is a bonus for a national outlet. It offers the outlet a chance to compete on the stories that were going to dominate their headlines anyway. On Tuesday, when the NFL Network’s Rapoport reported that Brady had a contract with Tampa Bay that would pay him as much as $30 million per year, he was completing the life cycle of a former Patriots beat writer.
When a reporter covers a normal sports dynasty, he might get five years to earn promotions and a book deal. The Patriots’ dynasty has lasted nearly four times that long. The team won its first Super Bowl a few months after the September 11 attacks and waved goodbye to Brady as the coronavirus spread across America. In terms of longevity, Curran noted, he has covered the rough equivalent of Bill Walsh and Vince Lombardi’s careers combined.
“You didn’t have to go to Anchorage and work at a paper. You could just stay right where the fuck you were and have this happen around you.” —NBC Sports Boston reporter Tom E. CurranYou can see generational change on the Pats beat. Michael Smith, who later became a host at ESPN, was just 22 years old when he became the Globe’s backup beat writer in 2001. The Patriots dynasty also spans an epoch of media time, before sportswriting was fully nationalized.
“How were people going to get news on the Patriots in ’01, ’03, ’04 on a day-to-day basis?” said Curran. “They weren’t going to have their national reporters there, they weren’t going to have ESPN there on a daily basis. … They had to get it from us.” That, in turn, led to more promotions.
Beyond piling up titles, the Patriots proved to be a rich subject for writers. The troika of Brady, Belichick, and Robert Kraft didn’t have nearly the comic potential of Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner. But they had their upsides.
Kraft is an ideal owner to cover because he’s incredibly needy. (On Tuesday, he was telling reporters of Brady, “I love him like a son.”) Brady can be purposefully bland, but the scandals he has been involved in—or, as he tells it, have been thrust upon him—give him a kind of texture.
“The villain is always far more compelling than the guy who is Mr. Perfect,” said Leibovich, who interviewed Brady for his book Big Game. “That’s why, in a weird, paradoxical way, Brady made such a great villain.”
Belichick may stiff-arm beat writers and even the league’s cherished TV partners. But his remoteness has created its own alternate content stream. I can’t think of another NFL coach whose leisure photos would be a thing, maybe outside of Andy Reid.
The ’90s Cowboys used to be the record holder for extracurricular activities, real and alleged, which produced mountains of journalism. The Patriots took the lead with Spygate, Deflategate, Kraft’s solicitation charges, and the Aaron Hernandez murder trial. For another franchise, Belichick’s endorsement of Donald Trump would have been a nuclear event. With the Pats, it almost gets lost.
Thanks partly to such quagmires, Patriots coverage came to mimic, or maybe anticipate, the contours of political coverage. You’re pro-Pats. Or—the pro-Pats people say—you’re anti-Pats. This creates yet another meta layer of content, as Darlington, Chris Mortensen, Sports Illustrated’s Charlotte Wilder, and anyone who has been lit up on a Boston sports radio show can attest.
There’s an irony to the Patriots beat being a career-maker. Teams like the Warriors and Cowboys laid out the welcome mat for reporters. Covering the Patriots is more of a chore, as if enduring those “on to Cincinnati” answers is the price of fame. “Social distancing is basically the Patriot Way placed onto society,” said Leibovich.
Even with Brady gone, it’s not like the Patriots beat will fade into obscurity. “Was Brady or Belichick the Real Genius?” will be an ESPN chyron into the next presidential administration, provided debate shows are still being produced. Belichick powering an Andy Dalton–led team into the Super Bowl could produce another coverage boomlet.
But in the meantime, the Patriots press corps will have to share its good fortune with some star-crossed counterparts. If there’s any life left in Brady’s 42-year-old arm, you can go ahead and congratulate Rick Stroud on his book deal right now.
Patriots rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams was arrested and is facing drug charges stemming from a traffic stop in Tennessee.
According to Nashville’s NewsChannel 5, Williams, a 22-year-old rookie out of Vanderbilt, was arrested in Cumberland County, Tennessee Friday after allegedly being in possession of an “unnamed controlled substance, prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia” after being stopped for speeding.
The native of Nashville was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2019 draft. He played sparingly during the season in New England’s deep and veteran secondary. He’s expected to be a key piece of the team’s future.
Williams is the second Patriots player arrested since the season ended. Julian Edelman was arrested in Beverly Hills earlier this month for misdemeanor vandalism.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was arrested after allegedly jumping on the hood of a car, cited for misdemeanor vandalism and released Saturday night in Beverly Hills, California, Beverly Hills PD public information manager Keith Sterling confirmed to NFL.com.
Edelman, 33, allegedly jumped on to the hood of a Mercedes, causing damage. It is unknown who the car belonged to. Edelman was released on a citation and is due to appear at the Airport Courthouse on April 13.
The vandalism took place in the 200 block of N. Beverly Drive.
Edelman, who will need offseason surgery on his shoulder and knees, was the most recent Super Bowl MVP, but he and the Patriots were eliminated this postseason in the Wild Card Round by the Titans.
Edelman finished his 10th season in the NFL, all with the Patriots, and tallied 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns.
The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields without eight on Wednesday.
Starting linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, who have 105 tackles, nine sacks, six turnovers and a pair of touchdowns between them this season, were sent home due to illness. As were defensive backs Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams and Patrick Chung.
And that’d just be one side of the ball on a quarantined Thanksgiving eve.
Here’s the initial prognosis for Sunday’s 8:20 p.m. ET kickoff at NRG Stadium against the AFC South-leading Houston Texans.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Houston practiced with all but one member of the active roster on Wednesday. Watkins exited the defensive line last Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts due to a hamstring injury.
Seven Texans were limited to begin on-field preparations, including Fuller, who worked back into the lineup with seven receptions for 140 yards last week. The wideout missed Houston’s previous three contests with a hamstring injury.
Two Texans safeties have also been upgraded to full participation. Both Adams and Reid cleared concussion protocol.