The Patriots have filled the vacancy created when Bob Quinn left for the Lions, as Dave Ziegler has been promoted to director of pro personnel, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Ziegler, 38, had spent the past three year’s as Quinn’s No. 2, and previously worked for the Broncos under current New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Here’s a bit more on the Patriots…
- New England has an impressive crop of players entering the final year of their contracts, as Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Malcolm Butler — among others — will be free agents after the 2016 season. But the club hadn’t initiated extension talks with any of those players as of Friday, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Patriots might begin contract conversations after free agency concludes, per Volin, but Hightower, for his part, appears likely to play out the season on his fifth-year option without coming to a long-term agreement.
- Receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell are both potential cap casualties, but the Patriots haven’t “tipped their hand” about their plans for the pass-catchers, writes Volin. Additionally, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon, also though to be on the roster bubble, aren’t sure of their status.
- The Patriots want to retain free agent defensive back Nate Ebner — a special-teams ace — but the team is playing “hardball” at the moment, and hopes that it can re-sign Ebner for the veteran’s minimum.
- Defensive tackle Alan Branch‘s $400K option bonus is due on the third day of the new league year, according to Reiss. If he’s retained, the 31-year-old Branch is due to count $2.75MM against New England’s cap.
- The Patriots have a history of targeting restricted free agents — both those who are tendered by their clubs and those who aren’t — and one such player who might interest New England this offseason is Bills receiver Chris Hogan, per Reiss, who notes that Buffalo may not tender Hogan due to its salary cap restraints.