Tom Brady

East Notes: Patriots, Brady, Giants, Cowboys

Tom Brady recently told Oprah that he’ll retire sooner rather than later, but he may still be on course for his original plan. In a reply to a post on Instagram regarding Brady’s long-term plans, the Patriots quarterback replied “cuarenta y cinco” – Spanish for 45.

Brady turns 41 on Aug. 3, so he still has a ways to go before hitting that mark. Still, after another masterful season, it’s hard to doubt him.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • New Cowboys assistant Kris Richard is drawing rave reviews in Dallas and he could become one of the league’s hottest head coaching candidates next year. “No question,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said when asked if the 38-year-old could coach his own team in 2019 (via Charean Williams of PFT). “He’ll be like a Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith, guys I’ve been around who became head coaches. He’s got the right stuff.”
  • Giants executive Kevin Abrams, a member of the organization since 1999 and the assistant GM for the last 16 years, has been promoted to the team’s vice president of football operations. Abrams was considered as an internal candidate for GM before the hiring of Dave Gettleman.
  • Free agent wide receiver Eric Decker feels that he would be a good fit for the Patriots.

AFC Notes: Brady, Jets, McGuire, Browns

Tom Brady‘s career will soon be coming to an end, but the future Hall of Famer still wasn’t willing to give a definitive timeline in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Patriots quarterback acknowledged that retirement would be coming “sooner, rather than later,” but he also noted that he’ll still play if he has the passion and drive.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series, there’s other things happening in my life, too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

The five-time Super Bowl winner will be turning 41 next month, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. He completed 66.3-percent of his passes for a league-leading 4,577 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • The Jets have a number of relatively popular running backs on their roster, including Isaiah CrowellBilal Powell, and Thomas Rawls. However, running backs coach Stump Mitchell decided to gush about 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire, who is currently buried on the depth chart. “He has the skill set to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity,” Mitchell told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not what presents itself to him at this point in time. The skill set, he can do it all. He can catch, he can run as a running back and he can run routes as a receiver. He just happens to be here, and I’m glad we got him.”
  • Once Jets quarterback Sam Darnold signs his rookie contract, the Jets will have around $16MM in cap space. ESPN’s Rich Cimini doesn’t believe the front office will end up using any of that money for extensions, but he notes that it could provide general manager Mike Maccagnan will the ability to pull off a pricey preseason trade. Cimini also writes that the Jets could simply roll their open cap room into next season, which will add to their projected league-leading $88MM in space.
  • During his tenure as Steelers offensive coordinator, Todd Haley worked with quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Michael Vick. However, the current Browns offensive coordinator say he may be working with the best grouping of signal-callers throughout his career. “This is probably one of the best – if not the best – quarterbacks rooms, in general, that I’ve had,” Haley told Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “The group, in general, is what I’m excited about. I think that it’s an intelligent, intelligent group, with ability to throw the football and make plays with their legs, some of them. When you have that, I think that good things happen. Competition is created in the room, even though they’re working hard together to help each other and get better as a group.” The Browns are currently rostering a trio of quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield, and Drew Stanton.

Latest On Brady, Gronkowski

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski reported to the Patriots last week, but they won’t be around for the team’s remaining practices in the month of June. The two stars are not slated to take part in the final few OTAs this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With that, Brady and Gronk are not expected to report to the club until July when training camp gets underway.

The arrival of the two players last week was viewed as a positive sign for their relationships with the team and their contractual situations. To date, neither player has received a new deal, and it’s still not clear whether that is part of Brady’s agenda. A revised pact seems likely for the tight end, though nothing is imminent on that front.

For all of the rumors of discord in New England, there is every reason to believe that both players will be in uniform for the team in September. A new round of trade speculation circled around Gronkowski last week, but there’s no basis for such talk.

Brady, predictably, has said very little about reports of a rift between him and coach Bill Belichick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brady, Gates, Peterson, Titans

In a recent opinion piece, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe makes the case that Tom Brady didn’t hold up his end of the bargain in trying to quell concerns about drama within the Patriots organization. Volin argues that coach Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski both did their best to assure the media and the public that all was good in New England, but that Brady raised more questions than he answered during his brief media availability.

Volin writes that the Patriots’ goal when Gronkowski and Brady finally returned to the team was to “show a united front, and squash all of the drama”, but that Brady failed to do so. According to Volin, Belichick did a “superb job” and Gronkowski did a “great job of explaining himself too”, but that Brady seemed like “he wants the drama to linger, to let it be known that he’s still upset with Belichick and the organization.”

Whatever is going on with the Patriots, it seems to be a saga with no end in sight. The issues likely won’t be put to rest for good until the team take the field in 2018 and shows they can still play at a championship level even with all the off-field distractions.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Antonio Gates isn’t a realistic candidate to be signed by the Bills, according to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Despite the Bills being a bit thin at tight end behind Charles Clay, Skurski thinks the Bills would rather develop the young tight ends on their roster.
  • Adrian Peterson would like to play for the Texans, he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). Peterson said “I would definitely love to be here in Houston. I think I can help them out tremendously..I still got it.” Peterson has repeatedly expressed his desire to continue playing, but hasn’t drawn much interest.
  • Rookie tight end Ethan Wolf is a “long shot” to make the Titans roster, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. Wyatt thinks he’ll end up on the outside looking in due to the Titans’ full tight end depth-chart, but that he’s a potential practice squad candidate.

Latest On Patriots QB Tom Brady

On Thursday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke to the press about his relationship with the team and his absence from OTAs. Though he was reluctant to delve deep into his absence from voluntary OTAs, Brady did say that his relationship with the club continues to be in a good place (video link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe). 

[RELATED: Julian Edelman Suspended By NFL]

Brady reiterated that he was away from the club for “personal reasons.” When asked if those personal reasons include friction with coach Bill Belichick, Brady claimed there are no issues on that front, despite all of the rumors to the contrary.

Not at all,” Brady said. “[Our relationship] is great, we’ve always had a great relationship. I’ve been here for a long time and I love this team, I love this organization, and I love playing quarterback for him. I loved it last year and I’m having a lot of fun now, so that’s obviously what’s most important to me.”

Meanwhile, Brady was non-committal when asked whether he’ll take part in the Patriots’ next set of OTAs. It’s safe to assume that Brady will be on hand for mandatory minicamp later this summer, though he could be putting pressure on the team to revise his contract between now and then.

Last year, Brady led the league with 4,577 passing yards and completed 66.3% of his throws. The Pats went 13-3 in the regular season under Brady’s command and defeated a tough Jaguars team in the AFC title game before falling short against the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tom Brady, Gronk Report To Patriots

As expected, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were on hand for the Patriots’ Tuesday morning practices. The two stars previously stayed away from voluntary offseason team activities, but it appears that all parties are now on the same page. 

It is widely believed that Gronkowski was abstaining from OTAs in order to push the Patriots for a new contract. No new deal has been reached yet, but that’s likely forthcoming. Gronk, who is signed through the 2019 campaign, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $8MM in 2018, but New England has been working on “tweaking” his deal. The Patriots are expected to add some sort of incentive package to Gronkowski’s pact, as they did last year.

The circumstances behind Brady’s absence are not quite as clear. It has been speculated that the quarterback is angling for a new deal and/or is at odds with head coach coach Bill Belichick. Brady has not confirmed such talk and owner Robert Kraft did his best to sweep those rumors under the rug. Belichick, predictably, has been mum on the subject.

Last year, Brady led the NFL in passing yards en route to his third MVP trophy. While the rumors of discord will continue to swirl in New England, Brady will look to capture his sixth Super Bowl trophy this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tom Brady Arrives At Gillette Stadium

Tom Brady is in the house. One day prior to the Patriots’ next round of offseason practices, Brady was spotted at the team’s fantasy camp for fans at Gillette Stadium, as Doug Kyed of NESN.com writes. 

[RELATED: Gronk To Participate In Minicamp]

Brady has not explicitly confirmed that he’ll participate in practices on Tuesday, but it certainly sounds like he will after owner Robert Kraft said that he expected Brady to suit up this week. It’s still not clear why Brady has been away from the team, which has led to speculation that the quarterback is angling for a new deal and/or is at odds with head coach coach Bill Belichick.

For what it’s worth, Kraft says “nothing’s changed” with regards to their relationship and “everything is good.” Brady also said that he skipped OTAs, in part, to spend more time with his loved ones.

Part of this offseason for me is certainly about still preparing for what’s ahead in my next journey, my next mountain to climb with this group of teammates, but it’s also [acknowledging] that a lot of people are getting the short end of the stick in my life — certainly my wife and my kids,” Brady said in May. “Football is year-round for me. It’s a lot of thought, a lot of energy and emotion put into it, but I need to invest in them, too. My kids are 10, 8 and 5. They’re not getting younger, so I need to take time so I can be available to them, too. … I’ve really spent the last two or three months doing those things, and I think I’m really trying to fill my tank up so that when I do go back, I can go back and I think I’ll actually be, in my mind, a better player, a better teammate, because I’ll be really rejuvenated.”

Brady’s decision to skip OTAs came as a shock, but it won’t necessarily hurt his play on the field. Even at age 40, Brady was terrific last year as he led the NFL in passing yards on the way to his third MVP trophy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Brady, Jets, Dunlap

Bill Musgrave, who was elevated to Broncos‘ offensive coordinator once Mike McCoy was dismissed after Week 10 of the 2017 campaign, could not effectuate many wholesale changes to the offense midseason. But as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Musgrave is installing an almost completely different offense this year. “Yeah, it’s pretty much all different,” Musgrave said.

Denver ranked 27th in the league in scoring last season, and everyone from the front office down believed that McCoy’s complex system was a big reason for that, although the team’s offense has been in a funk since the second half of the 2014 season. However, the Broncos hope that Case Keenum will bring much-needed stability to the quarterback position, and that Musgrave’s more streamlined offense — which was developed along with GM John Elway, head coach Vance Joseph, and personnel advisor Gary Kubiak — will lead to improved results in 2018.

Now let’s take look at a few other AFC notes and rumors:

  • Although Tom Brady has not announced when he will return to the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, just like owner Robert Kraft, expects him to be present for the team’s mandatory minicamp this week. Brady’s backups, Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling, have gotten increased work in Brady’s absence, and it remains unclear as to how Brady will be received by head coach Bill Belichick when he returns. While Brady will likely not have much trouble making up for lost time, his absence has created plenty of buzz in the NFL world, and it is not helping the already palpable tension between him and his coach.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says Patriots second-year TE Jacob Hollister, who made the team as a UDFA last year, has added some noticeable weight and strength and has looked good in OTAs. Hollister will compete for No. 3 TE reps with free agent signee Troy Niklas, who comes with a better draft pedigree but who has not done much in his first few professional seasons.
  • Jets CEO Christopher Johnson‘s pro-player stance on the national anthem issue will likely not be a major factor when it comes to luring free agents, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says it is suggestive of a player-friendly environment, which could be a selling point if a player has narrowed his choice to a couple of teams. In the same piece, Cimini notes that the team is rededicating itself to a physical and prominent running game, which free agent signee Isaiah Crowell will lead, and that Quincy Enunwa still expects to be ready for the start of training camp.
  • Steelers‘ 2018 second-round choice James Washington is the presumptive favorite to assume the team’s No. 3 WR job following the draft-day trade of Martavis Bryant. But as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, Justin Hunter — a former second-round pick of the Titans whose star never rose like some expected — has been getting a few first-team reps during this year’s OTAs, and he is making the most of them. Hunter, like Bryant, is a lanky deep threat capable of making plays downfield, and he hopes to become a consistent target for Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Both Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are entering the final year of their respective contracts, and as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, the Bengals clearly want to keep Atkins around long-term. Whether or not they want to keep Dunlap could hinge not only on the performance of the young defensive lineman already on the roster, but on next year’s crop of rookies. 2019 is already being labeled “the year of the defensive lineman,” and if the 2019 crop of collegiate prospects lives up to its billing, Cincinnati could be perfectly content to let Dunlap walk. We learned yesterday that Dunlap would end his short-lived holdout and report to the team.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner names Bengals‘ 2018 fifth-round choice Darius Phillips as the late-round pick who has stood out the most thus far. Phillips has been deployed as a slot corner in spring practices and has looked sharp and instinctive. He also has been getting a shot at punt returner, as he is reportedly electric with the ball in his hands.

AFC Notes: Bridgewater, Pats, Dareus

Teddy Bridgewater has looked very good in OTAs, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, and if his strong performance continues, the Jets could be faced with a difficult decision. They could trade Bridgewater — which was the plan when they signed him — or they could name him their starting QB for at least the beginning of 2018 while they continue to groom Sam Darnold. Starting Bridgewater would likely mean keeping three quarterbacks on the roster, as the nearly 39-year-old Josh McCown doesn’t really have any trade value. But head coach Todd Bowles, who is coaching for his job this year, will want to start the best quarterback he has, and he is a big believer in Bridgewater.

Let’s take a look at a few more rumors and notes from the AFC:

  • Cimini also details Christian Hackenberg‘s last few months with the Jets before he was shipped to the Raiders. We already knew that Bowles was not aware Hackenberg changed his throwing motion until after the fact, but Hackenberg first approached Jets QB coach Jeremy Bates about making the change, and Bates was skeptical. That caused some friction between the two men, and it forced Hackneberg to go outside the organization to seek help with his mechanics.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe points out how Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady continue to (needlessly) fan the flames of controversy that owner Robert Kraft keeps trying to extinguish, and that the apparent tension between Belichick and Brady may be one of the reasons why Brady has not attended spring practices. However, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says Brady’s absence has not created as big of a leadership void as one might expect, as younger players are taking a more active role in that regard and veteran players like Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower are back after their 2017 season was marred by injury.
  • The Broncos released C.J. Anderson last month, leaving Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson as the top candidates to become the team’s next No. 1 RB. However, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post says Royce Freeman, whom the team selected in the third round of last month’s draft, has the durability and history of production to suggest he can be an every-down back at the next level, and he will get a chance to make a major impact right away. His heavy collegiate workload could have contributed to his falling to the third round.
  • Marcell Dareus more than wore out his welcome in Buffalo, leading the Bills to ship him to the Jaguars before last year’s trade deadline. Dareus, though, found new life in Jacksonville, and per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (citing Mike Kaye of First Coast News), Dareus continues to be a good soldier for the Jags. Head coach Doug Marrone said, “I’m very happy with the way he’s worked, the way he has come into camp. I think those are things he has done a much better job of than what maybe he had done in the past. I can appreciate that and see that in him.” That is not an insignificant statement, as Dareus’ effort in Buffalo seemed to evaporate after he signed his big-money extension, so perhaps he has matured and will continue to be a solid contributor to Jacksonville’s talented defensive front. Marrone, of course, was also Dareus’ coach in Buffalo during Dareus’ best two seasons to date (2013-14), so he has a pretty good reference point.

Pats Owner: Brady, Gronkowski Will Show

The absence of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at Patriots OTAs caused a stir this week, but owner Robert Kraft does not seem concerned. Kraft says Brady is excited about being at minicamp, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, which is an apparent confirmation that he will be in attendance at some point. Kraft says Gronkowski will also show for minicamp, despite rumblings of the tight end angling for a new contract (Twitter link). 

It’s not exactly clear why Brady opted to stay home on Tuesday, but speculation has been rampant regarding his relationship with coach Bill Belichick. Some believe that Brady is looking to send a message to the head coach, but Kraft says “nothing’s changed” with regards to their relationship and “everything is good.”

Kraft’s assertion that Gronk will show up for practice jibes with a recent report on the tight end’s plans. It stands to reason that the dynamic pass-catcher could arrive as early as Thursday, which is the one-year anniversary of his last contract restructuring. Per NFL rules, a deal involving incentives cannot be reworked until one year after the last round of adjustments.

Brady’s decision to skip OTAs is unprecedented, but it may not be a hinderance to his performance after yet another brilliant season. Even at age 40, Brady was terrific, leading the league in passing yards on the way to his third MVP trophy. Gronk, meanwhile, had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.