Patriots Rumors

Latest On Patriots’ QB Depth

The Patriots are currently rostering four quarterbacks, but the team is expected to resolve the crowded depth chart as soon as possible. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, the Patriots’ plan is to “narrow the competition down to three guys by the end of spring.”

With OC Alex Van Pelt installing a new offense, the Patriots are hoping for a “more efficient” approach by the time the team gets together in the summer. New England’s organized team activities started today and will run sporadically until mandatory minicamp on June 11. The front office will presumably use that following month to resolve the logjam.

After being selected with the third-overall pick, rookie Drake Maye will obviously take up one of the roster spots. Free agent acquisition Jacoby Brissett will also be on the roster, and Breer notes that the veteran still has “an early leg up” on the QB1 spot. Assuming the Patriots intend to roster a third quarterback, the competition for the final spot will come down to Bailey Zappe and rookie Joe Milton III.

Zappe, a former fourth-round pick, has spent the past two seasons in New England, occasionally filling in for Mac Jones. Zappe went 4-4 in his eight career starts, and in his 14 appearances, he’s completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,053 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. After showing some promise as a rookie, Zappe seemed to take a step back in 2023, with some sources pointing to his inability to grasp Bill O’Brien‘s offensive system. Zappe’s ability to click with Van Pelt could end up determining his future with the organization.

Milton was selected in the sixth round of the Patriots, so he’s not necessarily entitled to a roster spot. Known more as a developmental passer, the Michigan and Tennessee product is known for his size (six-foot-five, 235 pounds) and his cannon of an arm. With Maye and Brissett firmly atop the depth chart, the Patriots may opt for the rookie’s upside vs. the more experienced option in Zappe.

NFL Staff Updates: Commanders, 49ers, Slater, Colts, Panthers

The Commanders announced three updates to their front office staff this week. With new leadership in general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn, the team sees two staffers depart and one scout join his former boss.

Firstly, senior director of player development Malcolm Blacken will not be retained in 2024, per Ben Standig of The Athletic. Serving multiple stints with the team since 1999, Blacken had risen to his role from years as a strength and conditioning coach.

Joining Blacken in departure will be college scout Harrison Ritcher. According to Neil Stratton of SucceedinFootball.com, Ritcher is headed to Atlanta to serve as a national scout for the Falcons, reuniting with former Washington staffer, and current assistant general manager in Atlanta, Kyle Smith. Ritcher had been with the team since 2017.

Lastly, the Commanders will be adding Jack Quagliarello to the scouting staff as a pro scout, per Stratton. Quagliarello follows Peters from San Francisco after spending last season as a scouting assistant with the 49ers.

Here are a few other staff updates from around the NFL:

  • The 49ers also made some announcements, all to their scouting staff. San Francisco has promoted Josh Williams from national scout to director of scouting & football operations, per Stratton. Williams started with the team in 2011 as a scouting assistant and has quickly risen through the ranks. As a part of the NFL’s accelerator program, Williams is widely considered a future general manager candidate. He’ll work closely with general manager John Lynch and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe in 2024. In addition, Stratton notes that Ryan Schutta has been hired as a scouting assistant, filling the role vacated by Quagliarello’s departure mentioned above.
  • Following his retirement, we learned that former Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater would join the Patriots staff in a full-time role. Now, Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald tells us a bit more about Slater’s new role. Kyed says that, while Slater “hasn’t advanced into a coaching role” just yet, he will serve an advisory role on the staff in 2024.
  • The Colts had reportedly finalized their 2024 coaching staff back in March, but we did note that they planned to announce two Tony Dungy Diversity Fellowship hires at the time. The team has officially made such announcements, per team writer JJ Stankevitz, naming Kalon Humphries and Diego Ortiz as the two fellows. Indianapolis also announced a title change for Joe Hastings, who will now serve as senior assistant special teams coach, and the hiring of Brent Stockstill as a defensive assistant. Stockstill makes his NFL coaching debut after five years coaching at the collegiate level with a focus on offense.
  • Lastly, the Panthers have added Brad Obee as their new Midwest scout, according to Stratton. Over 21 years with the Bears and Eagles, Obee has spent time in numerous scouting roles, often focusing on pro scouting. He most recently spent the last three seasons as an area scout for Philadelphia, departing after the expiration of his contract.

AFC Staff Updates: Bills, Patriots, Browns

In the weeks following the 2024 NFL Draft, a number of teams have made changes to their player personnel staff and scouting departments. The Bills, for example, recently announced six updates to a scouting staff that should look fairly different in the coming season.

One of the updates we had seen reported days earlier by Neil Stratton of SucceedinFootball.com, who reported that long-time Cardinals area scout Darius Vinnett would be accepting a similar role in Buffalo. Vinnett had been in Arizona for 11 years and had won the Rod Graves College Scouting Award, given at the conclusion of the draft to the Cardinals’ best scout, in 2022. The team also added Vince Magri as a pro scout after having served most recently as the assistant general manager of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.

The rest of the moves were promotions to staffers already in place. Matt Bazirgan, formerly the Bills’ senior personnel executive, has been named director of college scouting. Asil Mulbah, whose pro scout position was filled by Magri, has been promoted to assistant director of pro scouting. Keith Jennings joins Vinnett as an area scout after previously working as the team’s BLESTO scout. Lastly, R.J. Webb, previously a pro scout, will now serve as a college scout and will take up Jennings’ former role as BLESTO scout.

Here are a few other scouting updates from around the AFC:

  • After establishing Eliot Wolf as the pinnacle of their personnel structure the Patriots have made a number of alterations to their staff. According to Stratton, pro scouting director Steve Cargile and area scout Taylor Redd will not be returning for the 2024 NFL season. Cargile had been with New England since 2011, while Redd had been around since 2018, meaning both were around for the team’s most recent Super Bowl victory. Replacing Redd will be new area scout Casey Belongia, previously of the Jaguars. Belongia started his career as an equipment manager for the Packers, residing in Green Bay at the same time as Wolf.
  • Lastly, the Browns are bringing Josh Lucas back to the game as their Mid-Atlantic area scout, per Stratton. Lucas had spent the past two years away from the game of football after serving as the Bears director of player personnel. Prior to his time in Chicago, Lucas had been an area scout for the Saints for 10 years and an intern in Jacksonville.

Patriots, David Andrews Agree To Extension

David Andrews will remain in place with New England for at least the next two years. The Patriots’ longtime center has agreed to an extension keeping him on the books through 2025, ESPN’s Field Yates reports.

Yates adds that Andrews will receive $12MM in base compensation between this year and next. He can earn up to $13MM via incentives. This pact – the fourth of his career – will see the former UDFA collect $8MM in guaranteed money.

Andrews was scheduled to earn $5.5MM in 2024, the final year of his $19MM extension signed in 2021. The Georgia alum’s cap hit was set for $8.43MM, a figure which will likely change depending on the structure of this agreement. Andrews has served as New England’s starter at center for all but five regular season and playoff games in his rookie season, totaling 127 starts across his career to date. He will carry on in his current capacity with another multi-year agreement in hand.

Today’s Patriots investment comes not long after Andrews admitted to contemplating his future this offseason. The 31-year-old said in a press conference that he committed to continuing his career for 2024 (h/t ESPN’s Mike Reiss). Considering New England’s decision to add another year to his existing pact, the chances are high Andrews could continue playing through 2025 if he remains healthy.

Andrews has managed to play over 1,000 snaps four times in his career, including the 2023 campaign. His run blocking remained strong with respect to PFF evaluation, but his pass protection took a notable step back compared to recent seasons. He was charged with six sacks and 30 pressures allowed, which resulted in a career-worst PFF grade of 51.2 in that department. A rebound this season would be welcomed by team and player.

New England has committed to retaining a number of in-house players this offseason. Along the offensive line, that effort has seen tackle/guard Michael Onwenu sign a three-year, $57MM deal, one which will keep him at the RT spot moving forward. Questions are in place regarding the Patriots’ blindside protection with free agent addition Chukwuma Okorafor the likely left tackle starter as things stand. Regardless of what happens on that front, Andrews will continue as a mainstay in the middle.

Latest On Patriots’ Organizational Structure

During his lengthy tenure with the organization, Bill Belichick wielded enormous influence as head coach and de facto general manager of the Patriots. 2024 will mark the beginning of a notable transition both on the sidelines and in the front office.

Jerod Mayo succeeded Belichick as head coach, but New England briefly conducted a search for a new lead executive after the draft. To no surprise, that process produced only a shortlist of outside candidates willing to interview for the position before incumbent Eliot Wolf was given the title of EVP of player personnel. Wolf will control roster decisions and cap management among other GM-esque duties, but he will not have the autonomy Belichick previously enjoyed.

Prior to Wolf’s hire, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported Mayo and New England’s next lead executive will both report to owner Robert Kraft. That marks a stark departure from the Belichick era, when he had free reign on staffing and roster-building moves with little input from Kraft. Tension between the two grew in recent seasons, though, as the organization’s inability to find a genuine Tom Brady successor became apparent.

Quarterback was an understandable priority ahead of this year’s draft, the first with Wolf at the helm. Kraft and the Patriots’ ownership wanted to exit the opening round with a rookie signal-caller, and new England turned down considerable interest from both the Giants and Vikings for the No. 3 pick. Retaining that selection cleared the way for Drake Maye to be drafted, and he is now positioned to operate as the team’s starter as early as 2024.

Needless to say, how Maye fares during the years to come will be a central factor in determining Mayo and Wolf’s job security. It will be interesting to see how the new setup plays out with Kraft again being a central figure in key organizational decisions as the other two kick off their first career seasons in their respective positions. As New England looks to rebound from a 4-13 campaign in 2024, the team will simultaneously try out a new structure with respect to operations.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from 49ers): DL Spencer Waege
  • Placed on reserve/retired list: OL Trente Jones

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: DL Chris Collins

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: OL Ireland Brown, CB Jason Maitre

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: RB Terrell Jennings, G Ryan Johnson, LB Jay Person, DE Jotham Russell
  • Waived: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed: DL Elijah Chatman
  • Waived: OLB Jeremiah Martin

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Waived: OL Kellen Diesch

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Shakel Brown

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: DE Nathan Pickering, LB Devin Richardson

Tennessee Titans

AFC East Notes: Allen, Bills, Coleman, Staff, Washington, Jets, Patriots, Slater, Dolphins

Having traded Stefon Diggs weeks after letting Gabe Davis walk in free agency, the Bills are facing questions about their receiving corps. The team’s top offseason investment at the position — No. 33 overall pick Keon Coleman — encouraged Josh Allen. Bills GM Brandon Beane said during a Sirius XM Radio appearance he had Allen join coaches in watching some film of receiver prospects. Coleman was among the candidates the superstar passer preferred, expressing his approval after being informed on Day 2 of the draft the Bills would go with the Florida State wideout. Although Coleman did not produce an 800-yard receiving season with the Seminoles, the Bills look set to count on the 6-foot-4 pass catcher as they remake their receiving corps.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Jets have moved on from one of the better-known members of their coaching staff. Leon Washington, who had been in place as assistant special teams coach in each of Robert Saleh‘s three seasons, did not see his contract renewed for the 2024 season, per the New York Post’s Brian Costello. This marked the former Jets kick returner/running back’s first full-time coaching gig, after a run of fellowships since his playing career ended after the 2014 season. A Jets contributor from 2006-09, Washington earned All-Pro honors in 2008. Earlier this offseason, the Jets lost special teams assistant Michael Ghobrial to the Giants. Dan Shamash, who helps advise Saleh in terms of game management, is now listed as an ST assistant for the team. Brant Boyer remains in place as the team’s ST coordinator.
  • Rome Odunze may well have been the Jets’ preference at No. 10, but after the Bears went with the Washington wideout at 9, the team was set on Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu. The Jets were also high on Washington tackle Troy Fautanu, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but the team carried some long-term durability concerns about the Pac-12 blocker. Two other tackles — Taliese Fuaga (Saints) and Amarius Mims (Bengals) — went off the board before Fautanu, who slid to the Steelers at No. 20. Some teams flagged Fautanu’s knee as a medical concern, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. It appears the Jets were one of them.
  • Odell Beckham Jr.‘s Dolphins contract includes a void year, which will drop his cap number by a bit. The new Miami WR3 will count $2.1MM on the team’s 2024 cap, per OverTheCap. Beckham signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Dolphins; the team will take on a $900K dead money charge in 2025 if OBJ is not re-signed by the 2025 league year.
  • The Bills have either decided on their defensive play-caller, only to not reveal the choice publicly, or they are still in the process of determining who will call the signals come September. Sean McDermott said (via the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski) he is delaying this decision until at least training camp. McDermott called plays last season, with the Bills having moved on from longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, but the Bills now have a DC again in Bobby Babich. The Bills have been a top-five defense in each of the past three seasons, though their units — as key injuries hit in each season — have struggled in the playoffs.
  • Matthew Slater‘s immediate transition to coaching will come in a full-time role, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. The perennial Pro Bowl special-teamer is working as a “right-hand man” to Jerod Mayo, with Reiss noting the new Patriots HC is receiving input from his former teammate regarding team-building and character development. Slater, 38, spent 16 seasons with the Patriots, coming into the league in the same 2008 draft class Mayo did.
  • Staying with that 2008 draft class, one of its members recently landed a scouting gig. The Dolphins hired Beau Bell as a pro scout, according to InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton. A 2008 fourth-round Browns draftee, Bell only played five NFL games. He will make the move to a full-time role after receiving an apprentice opportunity with the Rams and serving as GM of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul.

Patriots Name Eliot Wolf As Top Personnel Executive

The writing’s been on the wall for some time now, but the long-rumored favorite to take over lead front office duties in New England, vacated during the exit of former head coach Bill Belichick, will officially be taking the job.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network was the first to report that director of scouting Eliot Wolf, who had been acting this offseason as de facto general manager of the Patriots since Belichick’s departure, has officially been named the team’s executive vice president of player personnel.

The news may seem a bit underwhelming giving the lack of a “general manager” title, but it appears that Wolf’s promotion is essentially the Patriots’ action to fill that general manager role. New England has long been without an official general manager after owner Robert Kraft hired Belichick as head coach and name him “de facto” general manager, as well. That trend appears set to continue, according to Pelissero, as the team still won’t have a general manager in title.

That doesn’t lessen the importance of Wolf’s new position, though. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Wolf will oversee the overall direction of the player personnel department, will oversee management of the salary cap, and will be in control of the team’s 53-man active roster, all roles that are generally filled by a team’s general manager.

At 42 years old, Wolf has been in working in the NFL for 20 years. He first broke into the league as a pro personnel assistant with the Packers in 2004 before being promoted to assistant director of pro personnel in 2008 and assistant director of player personnel in 2011. A year later, Wolf was elevated to director of pro personnel before receiving promotions to director of player personnel in 2015 and director of football operations in 2016.

After two seasons in that role and 13 years in Green Bay, Wolf spent two years as the assistant general manager for the Browns under then-general manager John Dorsey. When Dorsey and the Browns parted ways, Wolf joined the Patriots in 2020 as a scouting consultant. For the last two years, Wolf has served as New England’s director of scouting. Wolf may not have been around for the era of the Patriots’ dynasty, but he does hold a Super Bowl ring from his time in Green Bay that saw seven NFC North titles and 10 playoff appearances.

Together with newly promoted head coach Jerod Mayo, Wolf helps to form a new, young top two under Kraft. Several years removed from the reign of Tom Brady and now without Belichick, it will be up to Mayo and Wolf to bring in a new era of success in New England.

Patriots Sign Nine UDFAs

Bill Belichick had a penchant of rostering unheralded UDFAs throughout his long tenure in New England. In fact, at least one undrafted free agent made the Patriots opening-day roster for 19-straight seasons before the streak ended last season. Jerod Mayo, Eliot Wolf, and co. will be looking to restart that habit in 2024, with the team adding nine undrafted free agents to the roster:

Jontrey Hunter finished his six-year stint at Georgia State with his best season, finishing the campaign with 96 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. The linebacker showed the ability to get after the quarterback in college and could get a look on the edge for the Patriots. The team also added a notable pass rusher in John Morgan, who compiled 14 sacks at Pitt between the 2019 and 2022 seasons. His numbers dropped following a transfer to Arkansas in 2023, with the defensive end compiling only 15 tackles and a pair of sacks.

On the other side of the ball, Jacob Warren provides some intrigue at tight end. The six-foot-six, 246-pound rookie had a consistent role at Tennessee over the past three years, averaging 15 receptions for 177 yards and more than two touchdowns per season. DeShaun Fenwick saw his collegiate career turn around following a transfer to Oregon State in 2021. Over the past three seasons, the RB collected 1,621 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/24

Yesterday’s rush of rookie signings continued today. Here are Friday’s draft pick signings:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

  • K Will Reichard (sixth round, Alabama)
  • C Michael Jurgens (seventh round, Wake Forest)
  • DT Levi Drake Rodriguez (seventh round, Texas A&M-Commerce)

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • G Mason McCormick (fourth round, South Dakota State)
  • DT Logan Lee (sixth round, Iowa)

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders