Patriots Notes: Matthews, Mitchell, QBs

While Tom Brady may be a year-to-year proposition following the 2018 season, his timeline may not matter to Jordan Matthews since the receiver signed only a one-year deal with the Patriots. And the wideout factored the future Hall of Fame quarterback into his decision considerably. Matthews wanted to catch passes from Brady, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The reigning NFL MVP is still near the peak of his powers despite going into his age-41 season, and Matthews made a point to include two of the game’s premier quarterbacks in his free agency tour. Matthews visited the Packers and Patriots, with Titans and Cardinals stops being on his spring itinerary as well, but he will spend a year in New England. The fifth-year receiver has done his most prominent NFL work in the slot, but Julian Edelman is due back this season. Reiss reports Matthews had other offers. The Cardinals extended one to him before signing Brice Butler. Matthews faced the Patriots once last season while with the Bills but did his best work — three 800-plus-yard seasons — with the Eagles.

Here’s the latest out of New England:

  • Malcolm Mitchell also figures to be a part of Brady’s receiving corps in 2018 after missing all of his second season with a knee injury. He’s expected to be ready for OTAs, per Reiss, and has been working with Alex Guererro at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center.
  • Troy Niklas may not factor in prominently in Brady’s arsenal, having caught just 19 passes in four seasons and being known for his blocking more. But Reiss notes a knock on the former Cardinals tight end has been that his physicality doesn’t match up with what would be expected from a 6-foot-6, 270-pound player. Should he make the New England roster, it’s likely he’ll be asked to block plenty considering Rob Gronkowski is expected back.
  • The Patriots may be taking a flier on Luke Bowanko because of his versatility. Reiss writes Bowanko worked at all five offensive line spots in practice while with the Jaguars, and Bill Belichick values an assorted skill set. An interior lineman in games, Bowanko would seemingly be in line for a swing backup job if he were to make the 53-man roster.
  • Belichick’s history and the Patriots’ need for talent capable of helping the near-future rosters points to New England not pulling off a blockbuster trade for a quarterback, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes. Curran expects Brady to at least play out his through-2019 contract before evaluating if he wants to play what would be a 21st season in 2020. Although, Robert Kraft said the team needs to think about taking a quarterback this year since there is no longer a viable succession plan after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.
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