Patriots Rumors

Draft Rumors: Ravens, Seahawks, 49ers, Pats

Let’s dive into some last-minute draft rumors as we anticipate the start of the first round…

  • Should the Ravens go on the clock and Mike McGlinchey is off the board, it looks like they will strongly consider UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets the Ravens are focused on Miller as a McGlinchey contingency plan at No. 16. These two are viewed by many as the top tackles in this year’s draft. Although Baltimore needs a right tackle after cutting Austin Howard, this serves as one of the possible Lamar Jackson destinations. Assuming the top four QB prospects are gone by this point in the draft, it could open up the trade market for the picks in the latter teens with the 2016 Heisman winner still available.
  • Albert Breer of SI.com writes that there are several teams interested in moving down, including the 49ers (No. 9), Seahawks (No. 18), Lions (No. 20), Titans (No. 25), and Eagles (No. 32). Seattle would have particular interest in trading their pick if safety Derwin James or any of the top pass-rushers are off the board. Meanwhile, Breer notes that San Francisco could benefit if a quarterback-needy team wants to trade up.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that he keeps hearing Miami defensive lineman Chad Thomas being connected to the Patriots. Thomas didn’t earn a spot on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 list, and he’s ultimately projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick. The senior was plenty productive in 2017, compiling 41 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

Steelers Listening To Martavis Bryant Offers

The Steelers may not be actively shopping Martavis Bryant, but they’re listening to offers on the contract-year wide receiver, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports.

Bryant did not appear to be content with his situation last season, and trade buzz followed the deep threat for weeks leading up to the 2017 deadline. But Pittsburgh kept him in the fold, and as of February, the franchise wasn’t planning on trading him despite fielding calls on him.

Part of the holdup regarding a Bryant trade is the Steelers’ timeline and the teams that might impede them from reaching their goal. The Patriots and Ravens are teams that could need a receiver like Bryant, but Graziano notes the Steelers do not want to ship a talented player to rival franchises. They believe Bryant can help them in 2018, even if he may now be the fourth option in their offense, and will need a good offer to part with him.

Kevin Colbert discussed Bryant with other teams at the Combine, but nothing emerged from those reported discussions. So as of now, the two-time defending AFC North champions are set at wide receiver as they attempt to make good on their Super Bowl window — one largely dependent on the skill-position crew they’ve assembled. But with Pittsburgh needing more help on the defensive side of the ball, it would be understandable if the team listened on Bryant if it meant draft compensation to address bigger issues.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Peter King Questions Gronk Announcement

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed on Tuesday that he’ll suit up for the Patriots in 2018, and Peter King of The MMQB is curious about the timing of his announcement. It’s purely speculative from King, but he wonders if Gronk was told that he would have to make his intentions clear about playing before this weekend’s draft. The Patriots have been willing to deal star players in the past, so Gronkowski could have feared that he would have wound up in the same boat as Richard Seymour and Chandler Jones.

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Browns, Colts Lead League In Cap Space

The Browns and Colts have the most cap room of any team in the NFL heading into draft, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. Here’s the official rundown of every team’s cap space for 2018 on the eve of draft weekend:

  1. Browns – $69.5MM
  2. Colts – $59.8MM
  3. 49ers – $43.8MM
  4. Titans – $35.8MM
  5. Texans -$35.6MM
  6. Bears – $24.1MM
  7. Jets – $21.9MM
  8. Bills – $19.4MM
  9. Jaguars – $18.6MM
  10. Cardinals – $18.1MM
  11. Redskins -$17.1MM
  12. Bengals – $16.8MM
  13. Packers – $16.2MM
  14. Vikings – $15.5MM
  15. Broncos – $14.6MM
  16. Patriots – $13.8MM
  17. Buccaneers – $12.3MM
  18. Cowboys -$11.9MM
  19. Chargers – $11.4MM
  20. Lions – $9.4MM
  21. Giants -$9.4MM
  22. Ravens – $8.8MM
  23. Seahawks – $7.6MM
  24. Chiefs – $6.7MM
  25. Saints – $5.7MM
  26. Panthers – $5.2MM
  27. Dolphins – $2.9MM
  28. Eagles – $2.2MM
  29. Steelers – $2MM
  30. Raiders – $1.8MM
  31. Falcons – $1.3MM
  32. Rams – $264K

Pats Met Twice With Lamar Jackson

It’s fair to wonder whether the Patriots’ reported interest in Lamar Jackson is a smokescreen, but the latest word indicates that they are legitimately considering the Louisville quarterback. In addition to their meeting at team headquarters, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also conducted a private workout with Jackson in South Florida, Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB tweets

A few weeks ago, it seemed likely that Jackson would still be on the board for the Patriots’ initial first-round pick at No. 23. Now, with talk that four QBs could be taken inside of the first five picks, it’s far from a certainty that Jackson will be available. Assuming that Sam DarnoldJosh RosenJosh Allen, and Baker Mayfield are taken inside of the top 10, the Patriots would have to hope that the Dolphins (No. 11), Bills (Nos. 12 and 22), Cardinals (No. 15), Ravens (No. 16), and Chargers (No. 17) pass on the speedy signal caller.

Some evaluators still believe that Jackson would fare better as a wide receiver in the NFL, but he says that he is solely focused on playing quarterback. He didn’t help his case at the combine as he performed poorly in interviews and whiteboard exercises, but that apparently has not dissuaded Patriots brass.

The Patriots own two first-round picks and two second-round picks in this year’s draft thanks to the Brandin Cooks and Jimmy Garoppolo trades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rob Gronkowski To Play In 2018

Five-time Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski announced Tuesday (on Instagram) that he’ll be returning to the Patriots for the 2018 season after sitting down with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats,” Gronkowski said in a caption for his post. “I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run.

There had been rumors nearly the entire offseason that the four-time All-Pro tight end might call it a career after eight seasons and two Super Bowl titles. The 28-year-old’s decision to not take part in the team’s voluntary workouts this offseason certainly didn’t quell those rumors.

There had been reports that Belichick lashed out at Gronkowski in front of teammates because of his participation at Tom Brady‘s Sports Therapy Center and with Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported earlier this month that Gronkowski was looking for a raise on his current deal and that the retirement rumors and his decision to not attend the workouts could’ve been him angling for a new contract. Gronkowski is under contract through the 2019 season.

Injuries have also limited Gronkowski of late, as he’s been held to just 22 games over the last two seasons. He hasn’t played a full 16 regular-season games since his sophomore campaign in 2011.

When on the field, though, his play has been unquestioned. He’s hauled in 10-plus touchdowns in five of his eight seasons and already holds several NFL records, including most postseason receiving touchdowns for a tight end (12), the most single-season receiving yards from a tight end (1,327, 2011) and most single-season touchdowns from a tight end (18, 2011).

The Patriots have lost several key pieces of their receiving corps from last year’s Super Bowl run in wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. They did add wide receiver Jordan Matthews in free agency and also acquired wide receiver/return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson from the Raiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Sweat, Giants, Patriots

FSU pass rusher Josh Sweat is a player to keep an eye on as the NFL Draft approaches. Sweat, a five-star, top-10 overall recruit nationally coming out of high school, impressed at the draft combine and drew the attention of evaluators across the league. However, his history of knee issues including ACL, MCL, PCL injuries have teams concerned, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Interestingly, his 2016 knee surgery was performed by Giants team doctor Russ Warren, and that leads Rapoport to wonder aloud if that could make New York a potential landing spot for him. Sweat has been widely projected as a third round possibility, but it sounds like he could find his way into the second round based on his potential.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

Tom Brady’s Agent Says He’ll Play In 2018

Tom Brady reportedly hasn’t told the Patriots that he’ll play for them in 2018, but his agent says there’s no real uncertainty. Don Yee expects Brady to return to the field, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes. 

[RELATED: Patriots Host Louisville QB Lamar Jackson On Top 30 Visit]

Tom’s intentions have not changed,” Yee said Monday. “He’s consistently said he’ll play beyond this contract and into his mid-40s, or until he feels he isn’t playing at a championship level. I understand the constant speculation, but this is one point he’s been firm about.”

Last week, multiple sources told Schefter that Brady’s status was up in the air. One source said there was a “75% chance” of Brady coming back, which means a 25% chance that he would not be back. Since then, word has surfaced that Brady wants to continue playing, but he would like a new contract from the team. Yee admitted that Brady, “like every player,” pays attention to his financials, but he continues to train every day.

He customizes his preparation to each season in order to maximize his performance,” Yee said. “His training methods are always evolving and getting better. The year he missed the first four games — that month of training on his own was particularly efficient.”

In all likelihood, it sounds like Brady will continue to play into his age-41 season and intends to keep going well beyond 2018. The Patriots may need to address his contract, however, in order to keep their star player happy. As it stands, Brady is set to carry below-market cap numbers of $22MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Host Lamar Jackson On Top 30 Visit

The Patriots quietly hosted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson on a Top 30 pre-draft visit two weeks ago, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Pats were left “intrigued and impressed” with Jackson, which gives further credence to reports connecting New England to the Heisman Trophy winner. 

The Patriots may or may not be within range to select Jackson at No. 23 overall. The draft’s top four QBs – Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield – are widely projected to come off of the board in the top 10, but the Dolphins (No. 11), Bills (Nos. 12 and 22), Cardinals (No. 15), Ravens (No. 16), and Chargers (No. 17) all have varying degrees of interest in signal callers. If the Patriots are truly sold on Jackson, they may have to move up in the order. In theory, the Pats could package the No. 23 and No. 31 picks to advance in the first round, but that would be a gutsy move to make with more pressing needs to fill elsewhere.

The Patriots have not selected a quarterback in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993, but they need to address the future of the position with Tom Brady‘s 41st birthday coming up in August. The Patriots are either gung-ho about Jackson as his heir or they are actively seeking to give other teams a false impression in advance of the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.