April 5th, 2019 at 10:05pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Lawyers for Patriots owner Robert Kraft are making a last-ditch effort to save their client. Kraft is refusing to plead guilty and admit he did anything wrong legally, and the government seems to be using the threat of releasing video footage to try and get him to cooperate. Kraft’s legal team has filed a motion to suppress the video evidence prosecutors have and get it thrown out, according to Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement of The Boston Globe. Kraft’s lawyers are apparently claiming that law enforcement officials used a “fake bomb threat” in order to get inside the spa and install hidden cameras.
It’ll be very interesting to see how the situation plays out legally, as it will likely effect what type of punishment Kraft faces from the league. Kraft released a statement apologizing to fans last month, but isn’t willing to admit guilt legally. It’s likely that he’s maneuvering to try and avoid being suspended by the NFL or facing other harsh punishment, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to pull it off. Obviously, the public release of any video evidence would be highly embarrassing to Kraft and the Patriots, so it’s not shocking he’s fighting it vigorously.
Here’s more from around the league:
Speaking of the Patriots, a former coach of theirs has found a new home. Jack Easterby, the former Team Development Director/Character Coach of the Patriots, has been hired by the Texans, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Easterby will get the title of Executive Vice President of Team Development in Houston. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is a former Patriots assistant coach and there’s a lot of crossover between the two organizations, so this move isn’t too surprising. Easterby had been with the Patriots for the past six seasons.
A lot of AAF players have been signing NFL contracts since the league folded. One player who could get some interest is running back Jhurell Pressley. But Pressley was hit with a setback as he seeks to get back to the NFL, as the league just suspended him two games for a “pending issue,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapsheet doesn’t specify what Pressley did, but says that the issue is why he hadn’t signed yet. Despite the suspension, Rapoport notes that Pressley has two workouts lined up for next week and could be signed soon now that his off-field matters have been resolved.
Earlier today, the Jets claimed receiver/returner Quadree Henderson off waivers from the Giants. New York apparently had competition for Henderson’s services, as the Panthers also put in a claim for the return specialist, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Carolina didn’t have a consistent returner last year and instead rotated a string of players, so their interest makes a lot of sense. Henderson was one of the best returners in the nation during his college days at Pittsburgh, and has a good shot to earn the job in New York as the Jets just lost All-Pro returner Andre Roberts in free agency.
The Packerscut inside linebacker Antonio Morrison last month, and now we have more clarity on why. A week before his release, Morrison was cited for interfering with a flight, according to Michael Cohen of The Athletic. Morrison, who was traded from the Colts to the Packers before last season, was removed from the flight for “exhibiting hostile behavior” toward a member of the crew, and fined by police. Morrison played in all 16 games for the Packers and started eight of them last season, so his sudden release was somewhat surprising. It’s unclear if the incident actually led to his release, but it’s notable. It was minor enough that he probably won’t face discipline from the league. We haven’t heard of any interest on the open market since his release. He received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 74th-best linebacker.
The Jets are taking a player off hands of their in-state rivals. New York is claiming receiver/returner Quadree Henderson off waivers from the Giants, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
The Giants waived Henderson on Wednesday, and he wasn’t out of a job very long. Henderson played his college ball at Pittsburgh, and signed with the Steelers last offseason as an undrafted free agent. He was waived by the Steelers at final cuts, and eventually signed to the Giants’ practice squad. He bounced between the practice squad and active reserve before his season was ended in November by a shoulder injury.
In five games, Henderson returned nine punts for 68 yards, and returned five kicks for 112 yards. The Jets just lost their returner from last year, Andre Roberts, to the Bills, so this pickup makes some sense. Roberts was an All-Pro as a returner last year, so Henderson will have big shoes to fill if he ends up winning the job. Henderson led the FBS in return yards in 2016, so he’s clearly got some potential.