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Patriots 2023 Training Camp Article
Review, Recap, Predict

A Review of the 2022 season, a Recap of the offseason, and a prediction for the future of The New England Patriots.

2022 - A look back

The New England Patriots began their 2022 GZL season on a high note. They had been able to secure their division along with a first-round bye the previous season. Although they had been taken out by the eventual Superbowl champions, the Denver Broncos, the organization knew deep down that they had what it would take to get back into the playoffs in 2022. To even take their run all the way until the end.

That positive outlook and belief in themselves, however, didn't stop the eventual collapse that happened in 2022. Everything looked good when they won their first game of the season. A complete destruction of the Washington Redskins 44-25. A home game that they had won with ease. The rest of the first half of the season did not, however, go as smoothly. They lost their second game to the Titans, before recovering with a victory against the Bengals... at that's how the rest of the season went. It seems for every game that the Patriots were able to win, there was another that they just couldn't win and they ended up finishing with an 8-8 record on the season... A stark difference from the 12-4 record they put up the year before as they clinched a first-round bye.

No, in 2022, they weren't even going to be seeing the playoffs, and that... that hurt. The person it probably hurt most of all was GM Matt Spencer. GM Spencer had been the GM of the Patriots for 13 years... a respectable length for just about anyone in this league. GM Spencer was the heart and soul of the team, and when he threw in the towel and moved to New Orleans, you could visibly tell that the heart and soul of the New England Patriots had disappeared along with him.

The Collapse of 2022

We have now discussed what happened in 2022, but we have yet to talk about why. Why did a team that went 12-4 the previous year fail to even make the playoffs? It's hard to spot a particular problem. Had GM Spencer already lost interest in the team and was looking elsewhere? Were the players overconfident in their approach to the season? Or was it something else?

Perhaps it was Ryan Nassib, who missed five games with an injury? This reporter doesn't think so. The Patriots only looked slightly worse with backup QB Bortles at the helm. They went 2-3 with Bortles at the helm. That means there was still five loses in the season that could not be placed on Blake Bortles' play.

If it wasn't QB play, then what was it? Analysts around the league were finally able to agree on a major problem that the Patriots had in 2022, and it was on the opposite side of the ball. Looking back on every game, the problem stood out more and more as the season went on, and that was their inability to get to the opponents quarterback. The Patriots were ranked 27th in sacks and 29th in opponent passer rating. These are two stats that no team ever wants to be ranked so low in. If your QB is getting pressure put on them, but you aren't returning the favor against your opponent, then you are not going to have a good time. It's a surprise to this humble reporter that with stats so low, the Patriots were even able to manage to pull out eight wins.

Hopefully, during the 2023 season, the Patriots can figure out once again how to get pressure back on the QB.

2023 Offseason

As mentioned previously, the 2023 Offseason began in the worst way possible, and that was with the departure of GM Matt Spencer. The longtime fan and GM of the Patriots left in disgust at their 8-8 record and joined the New Orleans Saints in order to start anew. The hole that GM Spencer left was quickly filled by GM Travis Robbins, a two-time super bowl champion GM with the tendency of only lasting a few seasons before going back into semi-retirement. I suppose one can only golf so much before the urge to return rushes back.

The Patriots were in shamble in more ways than one. Their hearts had been ripped out of their chests with the departure of their long-term GM, and GM Robbins confessed to even worse news. The Patriots were in a dire Salary Cap situation. In the efforts to win a super bowl, cash was being thrown at Free Agency over the past few years and those large contracts were beginning to reek havoc on the stability of the organization.

Apparently, the situation called for a little more than just cutting a few depth players that we couldn't afford. No, the first thing GM Robbins did in his new job was trade away the beloved Jarvis Jones, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2014 and played for them ever since. Patriots fans around the country were not happy but had come to accept their situation. A week later, GM Robbins had worse news; The thirteen million dollars that they saved trading away Jarvis Jones was not nearly enough to resign many of the young guys who only wanted reasonable contracts.

The next player who needed to go was announced. CB Jamar Taylor was traded away to the Falcons. CB Taylor's contract wasn't nearly as large as Jones but the Patriots already had a pretty decent cornerback squad, and GM Robbins announced that it was one of the only two positions that he felt could take a hit like that and survive.
31-year-old The man played for the 49ers for six seasons before joining the Patriots in 2021. He had a great first season with the Patriots but his production fell off severely last year because he wasn't a full-time starter. His contract was just too large for his position as a backup.

It wasn't over yet. More news appeared only a day later. Ryan Nassib would not be a Patriot for the 2023 season. GM Robbins had to make the tough decision between the 31-year-old Ryan Nassib and his backup Blake Bortles.
Ryan Nassib never played as well as he should have, and GM Robbins wasn't going to gamble on him finally fully developing his abilities now that he was in his thirties. Instead, QB Blake Bortles was called up to start for the Patriots in the upcoming seas. Drafted in 2018, Bortles has been showing signs of improvement every year. Because of the cap situation, it wasn't logical to resign Ryan Nassib to a new contract when Bortles already had a healthy contract of his own, and so The Patriots let Ryan Nassib walk.
With the departure of Nassib, it finally appeared to be over. The announcements of player departure's and trades went away and instead news of player signings started to appear.

RT Ja'Wuan James got signed to a 5-year contract that will see him making over ten million dollars in 2027.

The Patriots got into a small bidding war over the signing of RG Vadal Alexander but were able to hold on to the player with a 1 year, ten million dollar contract. Hardly ideal, but letting Nassib walk meant that they were able to keep a stable offensive line for Blake Bortles.

Two other low Unfortunately signings pre-draft were Punter Mason Whitt and Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin, two key players that GM Robbins wouldn't have been happy trying to replace.

GM Robbins expressed that he wasn't completely happy with the Pre-Draft Free Agency. He had been hoping to get a better contract on RG Vadal Alexander, but he knew that there would be a risk in letting the young offensive lineman hear offers from other teams. GM Robbins' last thoughts on the matter were, "Once we sign all of the upcoming rookies, we can take another look at our cap situation. I am cautiously optimistic."

The biggest contract that emerged from this period was news of a large contract restructure for LE Owa Odighizuwa. In order to extend his contract and lower the upcoming season's salary cap amount, Owa agreed to a 57.61 million dollar contract over seven years with a 23 million dollar signing bonus. The twenty-six-year-old has to be happy with that payday.

The Draft

Patriots fans could finally rest and gather their breath. Nothing crazy was going to come out of the NFL Draft. Sure, GM Robbins might decide to trade away his draft picks to avoid any rookie contracts, but we'd get something in return.

In fact, most expected this to be the case. The Patriots just had to trade multiple star players and agree to a ten million one year contract for their guard. There was no way, after all that, that GM Robbins would risk drafting rookies with engorged contracts and leave no money left for Free Agency, right?

Wrong. GM Robbins apparently had every intention of keeping his draft picks and drafting as much talent off the board as he could. When the critics started calling, GM Robbins answered with a media release explaining his actions, "We are not out of our cap situation yet. We may be in a worse situation next year with an even larger cap penalty because of these trades that were required. More Veterans might be leaving next season, and the only way to combat that is to have young players with talent and lengthy contracts. Large signings of talented players in Free Agency just isn't realistic... it's far too competitive. All the cash we have left will be going to young players hoping to make their dreams in the GZL."

And so the Draft went. The only trade that occurred was the trading away of a fourth-round pick for a pick next year. All other picks were used.

1.13 CB Grady Jones
2.8 FS Woody Carlisle
2.13 LOLB Elijah Strong
3.23 CB Lincoln Luna
4.4 WR Garcia Bend
6.12 C Bryant Fuller
6.13 C Gerald Watters
7.8 CB Paul Guyton
7.12 CB Liam O'Malley

It was an interesting selection. The main criticism coming out of New England and the country was the selection of Grady Jones, a developed cornerback for sure, but without the height advantage of a similar corner that was still available.

Out of the nine rookies, however, only four made the team.

1.13 CB Grady Jones
2.8 FS Woody Carlisle
2.13 LOLB Elijah Strong
3.23 CB Lincoln Luna

CB Luna and LOLB Strong were both signed to backup duty almost immediately. CB Jones might see some action, as the Patriots were down to only three corners prior to the draft. Jones could easily start playing in certain formations for the Patriots.

FS Woody Carlisle will more likely than not be starting. The rookie comes out of the draft with good awareness of tackling ability. GM Robbins believes that he's the best option they have.

The rest of the offseason consisted of the cutting and signing of depth players who would take the cheapest contract.
As the offseason ends and the season is about to start, The Patriots don't even have the cap space to sign a single player... and their depth is basically at the bare minimum.

Training Camp

The Patriots players came into the 2023 training camp ready to prove themselves. Either they were trying to battle it out for a starting position or they were trying to prove that they were better than how they played last season. Some already had their heads in the game for next offseason, where another round of trades and cut were inevitable. The better they looked in free agency, the better the payday.

It didn't matter to GM Robbins, "Every man has his reasons for being out there. Every man has his reasons for playing at their very best. That's all I can ask from them."

The first player seeing a lot of work was CB Grady Jones, the rookie drafted in the first round. Along with his well-developed catching and tackling skills, his large bulky size is what made him so attractive so this organization. They hope that he'll have the ability to completely stop receivers at the line.

Along with his large frame, he's also very agile with a high top speed. The Patriots are looking to improve it some by conditioning and it seems to be working. Any fat on his frame appears to quickly be turning into muscle; he's looking faster every day. Because of the increase in muscle mass, he's putting on even more weight. One has to wonder just how fast he could be if he dropped 30 pounds. Possibly the fasted corner in the game.

Another rookie seeing attention is FS Woody Carlisle, who is the only rookie drafted by the Patriots that can expect to see any starting time this season. Because of the Patriots lack of depth at the safety position, Carlisle is getting a lot of one on one time with both the defensive coordinator and the Defensive Back coach. Speed is the one attribute that can cover for a players lack of awareness on the field, and their conditioning seems to be focused on that area, trying to get the most out of the young player.

Blake Bortles, who thought he had another season or two before becoming a starter seems to be having the time of his life with so much focus on him. The coaches appear to be trying to perfect his throwing motion... hopefully that manifests this season, as he was only able to put up a 75 QB rating in his handful of starts the previous year.

QB Bortles currently seems to be enjoying his new role as a starter, but only time will tell how he'll handle it when the whole season gets put on his shoulders by the media and the fans combined.

Conditioning and drills continue for everyone else. Some of the recently resigned players seem to be having an increased focused directed to them. Both RG Alexander and Kelvin Benjamin. Perhaps the coaches are trying to make sure their new contracts don't get taken for granted?

It will soon be clear as to who will be having a breakthrough during this short time before the 2023 season starts.

The 2023 Season

The new England Coaches remain positive that they have a very good chance of matching their 8-8 record of last season or maybe even improving upon it.

The fans and media alike are not convinced. They appear to be more under the impression that the coaches are merely trying to save face and what New England will face instead will be a complete dismantling of their team.

Experts predict that the Patriots will be lucky to put up even five wins this season, and next offseason they will be facing, even more, cap struggles. More players will be traded or cut, and more young players with limited knowledge and experience will be forced into starting positions.

This may be the season that Robert Kraft decides to just rebuild from the ground up.

With the doomsday prediction now over with, what is the best case scenario? The best case scenario is that the Patriots somehow manage to sneak their way into a wild card position where they lose in the first round. This would require many injured QBs in the Patriots schedule as well as Blake Bortles taking command of the Offense in a way that Ryan Nassib never could.

The Patriots still have talent on both sides. Taking away a few starters won't mean a whole lot if Blake Bortles can overcome his inexperience and keep the ball safe while converting on third downs.

The largest improvement that must be made however is an increase in the Patriots pass rush. Unfortunately, they have picked up zero players that could help them in this area. We'll have to hope that the Patriots come out more aggressive on defense and they can figure out a way to break through the opponents offensive line. Without pressure on the quarterback, it won't matter how well Blake Bortles manages the game... You can't outscore a team if your opponent has all the time in the world to throw the ball.

Now that we have the best case scenario and the worst case scenario, let's now see what GM Robbins has to say when asked the same question just days ago in a press conference.

"I'm not going to come out here today and say that this team has what it takes to go all the way. We have a lot of work to do before we can even begin to dream of such an idea. What I can say is that the players on this team could have what it takes to go all the way. They must work as hard as they've ever worked, and play as good as they've ever played, but I know, that this team can surprise the critics out there... I know my players can surprise everyone."

Last ditch effort to motivate his players? Probably... but the least we can do in Patriots Nation is to at least share in his hope until it all comes crumbling down around us.

Forum Discussion (by T_Robbins on 10/28/2017) Replies - 0 :: Views - 12
Linebacker Jarvis Jones
Linebacker Jarvis Jones

Rumors have emerged from the Patriots Lock Room: Linebacker Jarvis Jones will be traded

Jarvis Jones, the linebacker drafted fifth overall in the 2014 draft, may be leaving us soon. On paper he's a thirty-one-year old linebacker who's played his entire career with the New England Patriots.

But, in our hearts, he's the man who's saved us game after game. With last minute plays and last second turnovers; the man was a monster. Sure, one can argue that he started off a little slow as he learned the playbook but for half a decade now, he's been leading these linebacker corps with a high level of skill and game knowledge.

As we mourn the loss of one of our favorite players, we have to take a look at some of his accomplishments.

With 814 tackles in his career as a Patriot, he sits at #22 all time for GZL, and #2 as a Patriot, only behind Jerod Mayo. If he stayed for the extra two years on his contract, he'd be able to find a spot in the top ten.

The next stat is where it gets impressive. Although only ranked #22 all time in tackles, he jumps up to the 15th spot for tackles for loss. He even beats Jerod Mayo, who has over 200 more tackles than him.

He was also able to put up 26 sacks in his career. This is a higher sack count than anyone with more tackles than him. The number one tackling machine? Von Miller, with 1239 tackles in his career. His sack count? 17.

Jarvis Jones was a heat seeking missile. And the Patriots loved to aim him at opposing Quarterbacks.

His turnover stats aren't as impressive, but still no small feat. 8 forced fumbles with 5 recoveries, along with 15 interceptions. Even taking two of them back for touchdowns.

Is that what Jarvis Jones' career boils down to? 814 tackles, 133 tackles for loss, 26 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 15 interceptions?

Maybe for everyone else. But for us at Patriots Nation, the impact he made on this team was far more than the stats he was able to acquire throughout his career. No, the impact he made was the accumulation of the heart, soul, and determination that he brought to the team on every down in every quarter of every season.

The man will be missed.

Forum Discussion (by T_Robbins on 08/29/2017) Replies - 3 :: Views - 27
GM Robbins Responds
GM Robbins Responds

GM Robbins holds a press conferance after a scatching news article

We released a critical news report after the surprise announcement of the new Patriots hire General Manager Travis Robbins. In order to set some things straight, GM Robbins has agreed to a press conference. Below you can see a transcript of what went on.

GM Robbins: "Wow. Just wow. I knew it was rough up here in New England, but I sure wasn't expecting that. I can tell you that I'm well aware of my many short coming in the past as a General Manager, and I hope that I can correct them here in New England. Many of you may not know this, but I've been a fan of the Patriots ever since I was young and I had the privilege of learning how amazing football was. I grew up around here, and I hope that it will feel like home.

The treatment I've received so far makes me feel almost like I am walking through the front door of my parents' house during the holidays. The watching of my every move? The feeling of my every action being criticised? Yes, it feels just like the Christmas holidays.

Now, before I open up the floor to any questions, I will make this clear to you all. From now until my resignation, I will do my very best to keep this organization at the peak of the professionalism and performance that Matt Spencer has worked many years to achieve. If for one moment, I feel like I am failing this team, then you will never have to ask me for my resignation.

Now, who's first?"

Reporter #1: "Within days of sitting at your new post, you've listed two well respected and versatile football players up for trade. Jarvis Jones and Jamar Taylor. Do you really think you've been here long enough to gauge the talent of the players here? What has made you pick these two players? Are you trying to put your own personal seal on the Patriots to make them 'yours'?"

GM Robbins: "Well, for one I believe that was a little more than one question. I didn't stop you because it really all boils down to one answer, and that is the salary cap. GM Spencer has done a great job of bringing a lot of talent onto this team. More than I ever saw in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, all these players are starting to reach the peak of their large contracts. We've become a very old team. In order to resign some of your younger players, we will, unfortunately, have to see some of our veterans go.

Along with the few players that need new contracts, we still have a draft coming up. I see no other way forward than to start rebuilding as soon as possible. In order to keep Jarvis Jones or Jamar Taylor, we'd have to let go some other great guys. Great players.

I am by no means trying to 'make my mark'. I am simply doing the best that I have."

Reporter #2: "You have three amazingly talented quarterbacks on your roster, one without a contract. Are you going to be using some of this cap room to resign Ryan Nassib?"

GM Robbins: "As most of you no doubt know, GM Spencer has been shopping Ryan Nassib around the league for awhile now. Unfortunately, no deals could be made. I am afraid that this may just be the way that Nassib will be parting from this team. I plan to move forward with Blake Bortles as the starter next year. We can't have Nassib sitting on the bench with a contract the size that he demands. I have already talked to Nassib, and he too believes that we are at an impasse.

Reporter #3: "You lasted in Atlanta for only months and the Steelers for a few seasons. How long do you plan on staying around here? Should Robert Kraft already be looking for a replacement?"

GM Robbins: "I believe I have already addressed this line of questioning. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to work."

And thus ended the press conference. In a move well known to GM Robbins, he 'resigned' from the press conference without any warning. Will we be seeing this again sometime soon? With GM Robbins's track record, you can count on it.

Forum Discussion (by T_Robbins on 08/28/2017) Replies - 1 :: Views - 32
GM Travis Robbins Hired
GM Travis Robbins Hired

The New England Patriots were quick to hire Travis Robbins to replace the much loved former General Manager, Matt Spencer.

Although Matt Spencer finished his career in New England with only a few minorly successful playoff runs, the Patriot organization loved the man's eye for talent and appreciated the levity he brought to the football field every year. Fans all around New England were sad to see him go.

However, it was well known that he had a strenuous relationship with Robert Kraft. The crude business owner has been looking for another ring for a long time now and has faced multiple years of disappointments.

In a surprise announcement across the league, Robert Kraft announced the hiring of General Manager Travis Robbins within only days of the firing of Matt Spencer. This leads us to believe that Robert Kraft had been shopping for a new GM for quite some time.

GM Robbins is an interesting pick. He started in the league as the General Manager for the Falcons. He left the league not even a season later when he simply walked out of the stadium after a last minute loss. He resigned from his position that very night. It was years later that he resurfaced to lead the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers had proven themselves to be Superbowl contenders under Brian Brown, and GM Robbins didn't disappoint while leading them to two more Superbowl victories.

As the Steelers talent began to fade, GM Robbins had to rely on his own abilities to spot new young talent and he fared remarkably well. He acquired a new set of players that could perhaps restart the dynasty. However, the dynasty was never meant to be, for GM Robbins left the team before those aspirations could be met.

Because of all of this, GM Robbins has become known around the league as the "Rental GM." He'll come into a team. He'll do his job. He may even win, but don't expect him to remain at a team for long. Before you even know it, he'll be off doing something else.

Is that what Robert Kraft is looking for? A couple playoff runs? Maybe a trip to the Superbowl? Whatever he's hoping for, it isn't a Patriots dynasty because GM Robbins won't be around long enough to manage one of those. We at Patriot Nation hope that Robert Kraft's desire to win comes to fruition with this move for we all like to win.

Still, we'll miss all the work and dedication that GM Matt Spencer has given this organization. We can only hope that GM Robbins doesn't tear it all down.

Forum Discussion (by T_Robbins on 08/28/2017) Replies - 3 :: Views - 64
2022 Patriots Training Camp

Defending AFC East Champs Look to Extend Reg. Season Win Streak (11 Games)
Is Bortles Ready For For the Next Step, or More Nassib?

Will the Defense continue to dominate? Or is it time for the Offense to breakout?

2021 Season In Review:
The 2021 AFC East championship run was a surprise when after the 1st week of the season, the Patriots were down their star QB when Ryan Nassib was injured. However, one of the league's stingiest defenses along with a young QB who avoided costly mistakes helped guide the team to the division title and a first round bye in the playoffs. After starting the season 1-4, something clicked and the team took their play to a level that not many teams have matched in the GZL's history. The team reeled off 11 consecutive victories, allowing more than 20 points just twice in that span. Happiness would come to a cruel end for Patriots fans as they faltered in a 2 point loss in the Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.

Offense: 24.4 PPG - 11th in GZL | 85% RZ Success - 14th
We've covered the QB change due to injury, as Bortles played even football and may have earned himself the starting gig going forward into 2022 and beyond. On the ground, Giovanni Bernard was a disappointment with a sub-4.0 YPC season and managed just 51 yards in the team's biggest game of the season. The Wide Receiver corps was excellent with the steadily great CJ Washington at the forefront with another 1,000 Yard season to his name. Offseason acquisition Cordarelle Patterson helped stretch the field and open things up inside for Kelvin Benjamin and the Tight Ends; Luke Stocker and Jermaine Gresham. The Patriots still struggled up front, as Ja'Wuan James is still struggling at the all-important RT position, however LT Ereck Flowers had a pretty decent season. The Guard play also left much to be desired in production. 3rd Round rookie Fullback Derek Watt was a nice surprise for the team, as he racked up 65 pancakes and allowed 0 sacks to go along with good yardage averages when he did touch the ball.

Defense: 19.2 PPG - 4th in GZL | 34 Takeaways - 2nd | 55.3 Opp Passer Rating - 1st | 32 Sacks - 20th
The side of the ball with all the stars, but none other than Braylan Bender to start with here. Bender put together his best season as a professional and is being mentioned as a favorite for GZL League MVP honors. His 11 interceptions and 32 deflections show just how valuable he was as a disruptive force against most team's #1 wideout. He also returned 3 of his turnovers for Touchdowns, two of which came in 1-score games as the difference maker. They say Bender has better hands than some receivers in the league, and they would not be wrong. In the middle of the defense, captain Jarvis Jones was his usual steady great as well posting big tackle numbers and even 3 interceptions himself. Offseason additions Oliver Nixon (5 Sacks), CB Jamar Taylor (4 INT), and SS Matt Elam (2 INT) integrated beautifully into the team's defensive scheme and brought the unit to unseen levels. Up front, Star Lotulelei clogged the middle and brought pressure on passing downs (4 sacks), Owa Odighizuwa replicated his 2020 output with another 13 Sacks, and Leonard Williams was stout in the run game.

2022 Offseason In Review:
Notable Player Departures:
WR Cordarelle Patterson | Released | Nominated as one of 4 finalists for 2021's Addition of the Year, Patterson lasts just 1 season in New England before being shown the door. Patterson put up 929 yards and 7 TDs to bring the AFC East title back to New England, however a couple of off-field incidents and sideline dust ups were too much to handle for the organization and Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Patterson has landed in San Diego on a 3 year, $15M deal.

HB Giovanni Bernard | Released | The Patriots carousel at running back continues, Bernard lasting only 2 seasons in New England before getting the axe. Last season's sub 4.0 YPC combined with the salary that Bernard was making made him one of the more obvious cap casualties around the league. Bernard's best statistical season of his 7 year career came in his first season with the Patriots. He has now landed with the Kansas City Chiefs on a 3 year, $27M deal.

TE Luke Stocker | Released | One of the best all around TE's in the league for years, Stocker also lasted just 2 seasons as a Patriot. He had a monster year in 2020, but fell back to earth as age starts to creep up on him. Stocker has landed in Arizona on a 1 year deal worth almost $5M in what is likely to be his last season in the league.

TE Jermaine Gresham | Released | Another aging yet well rounded TE was released after the draft to make room for the team's rookie contracts. The team had hoped to keep him around for a role as a blocking TE, but could not stomach the nearly $5M cap crunch. The signing of TE Zach Ertz likely made both Gresham and Stocker disposable.

FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix | Trade w/ Minnesota | The franchise tag was applied to Clinton-Dix at the outset of the offseason, and then he was dangled as trade bait for much of the offseason until the Vikings came calling. The team landed a 2nd Round pick and RB Tevin Coleman in exchange. Clinton-Dix is one of, if not the most talented FS in the league and this move could be one to look back on if the team's defense falters to star the 2022 season.

DE Leonard Williams | Trade w/ Minnesota | In another move with the Vikings, the Patriots dealt stud DL Williams (former #3 overall pick) in exchange for a pick in each of the first 3 rounds. The 1st round pick would end up landing the Patriots QB DeShone Kizer, so they dealt an awesome DL for a 3rd string QB. Great roster management! The Vikings defense will be hugely upgraded with the addition of two former Patriots stars.

Notable Player Acquisitions:
WR Rueben Randle | 3 Years $21 Million | Similar to last offseason's gamble on Cordarelle Patterson, Randle joins the Patriots as a 2nd option to CJ Washington. A new starter has not yet been named, but if it is Blake Bortles like most are predicting, his big arm paired with Randle's ability to stretch the field could open up the Patriots offense into something fans haven't seen in a long time.

TE Zach Ertz | 4 Years $24 Million | After disposing of their two aging Tight Ends, the Patriots end up with one of the best in Ertz. He's not yet had a huge breakout season that most expected he would be capable of putting up, but with zero competition on the roster and the ability to lineup out wide, he should find a lot of targets in the Patriots' offense.

HB Gerard Campbell | Trade w/ Denver | After winning the Super Bowl with the Broncos, Campbell ended up on the trade block and the Patriots were eager to get him, seeing as they had a front row seat to his 161 yards and a touchdown in the Divisional Round. He put up back to back 1,600+ yard and 7 TD seasons in Denver and the Patriots could use that kind of performance in their backfield, especially if they are turning the reins over to the younger Bortles. Campbell has 2 years remaining on his deal.

2022 GZL Draft:

1.27 CB Cordrea Tankersley
6'1" 195 lbs | 92 SPD | 60 STR | 93 AGI | 92 ACC | 55 CTH | 60 TAK
The Patriots were dumbfounded at how quickly the talent that they were targeting was falling off their draft boards. Usually an aggressive draft day trader, GM Spencer was unable to land a trade that would move his team to the upper half of the first round where they were looking to target a WR or OL. With their original pick, the 27th in the round, they moved on the lanky Defensive Back Cordrea Tankersley out of the University of Clemson. Tankersley, and his highly decorated collegiate career, has good size and athleticism for the bottom of the 1st round. However, it is a very crowded depth chart for the Patriots with Braylon Bender, Jamar Taylor, Jordan Poyer, and Chikae Reeder as the top 4 options. It is very possible that Poyer finds his way to another program before the regular season starts, so Tankersley could mix in on the Nickel and Dime packages while he develops. If he lives up to the hype, he should pair with Reeder as a formidable CB duo for years to come in New England.

1.31 QB DeShone Kizer
6'4" 230 lbs | 67 AWR | 95 THP | 81 THA
Still disappointed by the way the chips fell in the first round, a puzzling selecting by GM Spencer as he takes DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame with the 31st pick. With Ryan Nassib and Blake Bortles still on the roster, Kizer will likely go into camp getting 3rd team reps. However, Nassib was on the trade block all off-season, which means he is likely still on the block and could elevate Kizer to the backup role to Bortles. The Patriots have spent the past 4 seasons grooming Bortles to take over the job, and now they will begin that process all over again with Kizer, who does come out of the draft a little more polished than the aforementioned Bortles.

2.15 DE Tyson Smith
6'5" 264 lbs | 83 SPD | 72 STR | 49 AWR | 78 AGI | 87 ACC | 66 TAK
After dealing away former 3rd overall pick Leonard Williams, the Patriots may have reached here in the 2nd round as the go back to the Clemson well with Tyson Smith. Smith is a physical specimen, but lacks experience and fundamentals. His low on field awareness and poor tackling could lead him to a reserve role on game days, unless he proves otherwise during the preseason. He's not strong enough to hold up on the Right Side and replace Williams, so it looks as though the team will use him behind Owa Odighizuwa as a pass rushing specialist. Jonathan Allen, selected two picks later might have been the better selection as he fits into the team needs of the Patriots and is ready to step in and play from Day 1.

3.7 WR Benjamin Itzkoff
5'11" 220 lbs | 90 SPD | 72 STR | 52 AWR | 88 AGI | 95 ACC | 70 CTH
After missing out on the upper tier Receivers available in this draft, the Patriots pick up a project in the 3rd round in Itzkoff. The Stanford graduate impresses most with his ability to muscle off of the line of scrimmage and dominate in the blocking game against weaker Defensive Backs. However, he does not provide much to the passing game with his poor route running and questionable hands to go along with average athleticism. The team and GM Spencer must be hoping that their top three of CJ Washington, Rueben Randle, and Kelvin Benjamin hold up all season, or Itzkoff will be forced into playing important downs sooner than anticipated.

3.27 MLB Collin Harbor
6'5" 239 lbs | 78 SPD | 75 STR | 61 AWR | 79 AGI | 83 ACC | 76 TAK
With superstar Middle Linebacker Jarvis Jones not getting any younger, the Patriots dip into the linebacker pool and take Harbor near the end of the 3rd round. They were hoping that the combine numbers were off and that they would get a more athletic player, but it seems that Harbor is what he is and will provide Special Teams usefulness only. One of his best attributes is his height, where he stands 6'5" and could be disruptive in the passing game over the middle if he were to see any time on the field.

4.7 SS Herschel Glass
6'1" 194 lbs | 86 SPD | 78 STR | 61 AWR | 81 AGI | 87 ACC | 66 TAK
4.27 DE Harris Washington
6'4" 250 lbs | 83 SPD | 73 STR | 66 AWR | 78 AGI | 80 ACC | 75 TAK
5.7 FS Tommy Donovan
6'0" 210 lbs | 85 SPD | 69 STR | 66 AWR | 88 AGI | 87 ACC | 62 CTH | 75 TAK
5.27 LG Tomas Fernandes
6'7" 275 lbs | 70 SPD | 84 STR | 50 AWR | 60 AGI | 71 ACC | 78 PBK | 72 RBK
The Patriots focused on depth in the 4th and 5th rounds, and may have found a starter amongst them. At the 27th pick of the 4th round, the team tabbed DE Washington out of the University of Iowa and the team has been impressed since they got him into the building. Washington could develop into a nice off the line rusher if given the opportunity in New England. After trading Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, the team is pretty thin at Free Safety, so Tommy Donovan drafted at 5.7 could get a chance to earn a starting job. With their final pick of the draft, GM Spencer took a flier on an athletic lineman in Tomas Fernandes out of Georgia. Fernandes is a very raw prospect that likely won't turn out to be anything but an extra lineman or 2nd TE in those packages that call for it.

2022 Training Camp:
CB Chikae Reeder | +1 SPD [92->93]; +1 ACC [91->92]
LE Tyson Smith | +1 SPD [83->84]; +1 ACC [87->88]
QB Blake Bortles | +1 THA [89->90]
MLB Collin Harbor | +1 SPD [78->79]

2022 Season Preview:
After spending last season on the hot seat and capitalizing with a Division Title, GM Spencer may have brought the Patriots back a step or two this offseason. While he was able to bring in some new weapons on offense (HB Campbell, WR Randle, TE Ertz), his stout defense that was likely the reason for that AFC East crown lost a couple of very talented players (DE Williams, FS Clinton-Dix). If the offense doesn't make strides and the defense regresses towards the mean, it could be back to unhappiness in New England. The team still has not announced who will start the season as the Quarterback, and it may very well be an open competition in camp. Regardless of who starts, the team will need better performance from the blockers up front. On defense, the team will look to see if big ole Montravius Adams is ready to move from inside to outside to replace the traded Leonard Williams. This could also be the emergent year for Chikae Reeder, hopefully he was studying Bender carefully in his career year last season.

2022 begins anew in the AFC East with 2 new General Managers in the division. The Dolphins are now helmed by former Saints General Manager Bryan Mellon and the Bills hired Ed Diroll after Darryl Breckheimer took his talents to Minnesota. Miami offloaded a boat load of talent over the offseason, but was able to climb the draft board and snag Leonard Fournette at the #2 pick, which will give New England plenty of headaches twice a year. In Buffalo, Diroll was quiet on the FA and Trade front, but snagged two talented players in the draft with OT DeLaney and CB Lattimore. The Jets will be the Jets, count on it. Razz

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 02/16/2017) Replies - 2 :: Views - 62
2021 Patriots Training Camp | How 'Bout Now?

Is 2021 the Year, or will Pats Fans Be Duped Again?
Taste of 6 Consecutive Losses Lingers into New Year - 2021 Training Camp Opens

Patriots can't seem to get over the hump, constantly losers.

2020 Season In Review:
After a 7-3 start to the season, Patriots fans everywhere were gearing up for a postseason run the team hadn't seen since the Tom Brady days. All that changed as the seasons changed and the team went into a much too familiar tailspin, losing their final six games. This has become the status quo for the Matt Spencer era Patriots, and something has got to change. As we take a look at what went right in 2020, the team will look to forget what went wrong and move on to the 2021 campaign.

Offense: Quarterback Ryan Nassib was solid yet unspectacular. Maybe he's been looking over his shoulder a bit as fans and media continue to clamor for the Blake Bortles era to begin in New England. Part of the issue may have been the new lineup protecting Nassib as Okung departed and the young Ja'Wuan James slid to the right side. The first season of Giovanni Bernard's time as a Patriot was pretty productive, albeit with the caveat of his 7 fumbles giving Head Coach Mike Zimmer an aneurysm. C.J. Washington once again led the Patriots receivers in production and Luke Stocker was a great addition as he reeled in 63 passes and 7 Touchdowns. The aforementioned James as well as Vadal Alexander struggled to protect their signal callers and overall, did not produce much in the way of pancakes. No Patriot blocker recorded more than 60 pancakes. Overall, the team finished 13th in the league in Points Scored and 1st in Red Zone scoring percentage.

Defense: Cornerback Braylan Bender recorded the finest season of his fine 6 year career, picking off 8 passes and recording 41 deflections, both career highs. Bender also finished 4th in KVW's final Cornerback production rating (.825). Kyan McGrady continually disappointed in 2020 as he battled to make it onto the field through his numerous injuries. After a rough rookie campaign, Owa Odighizuwa showed why he was worthy of the 12th overall pick by recording 13 sacks. 10 of those sacks came in the first 5 weeks and it seemed opposing coaching staffs decided enough was enough and he faced many double teams from there on out. Star Lotulelei and Jarvis Jones continued to anchor the middle of the defense as two of the best at their positions in the entire league. Overall, the team finished 12th in the league in Points Allowed, but 24th in the league in Red Zone defense.

2021 Offseason In Review:
Player Departures:
S Harry Richardson - One of the longest tenured Patriots on the roster, Richardson was finally let go after another solid season in the Patriots defensive backfield. Since his 5 INT season in his rookie year, Richardson recorded just 5 INT total across his final 9 seasons in New England. It was time for the team to get some fresh blood and Richardson paid the price with his release.

TE Martell Webb - It wasn't long ago that Webb and Nassib were looking like one of the best combinations in the game, but after signing Luke Stocker and his emergence as the go to target at Tight End, the team decided Webb would no longer be in the plans for the team. Webb was vocal throughout the 2020 season about his lack of snaps and targets, and this could be the reason why the team decided to move on instead of keeping the layer of depth that is needed at the position.

K Rhys Lloyd - Lloyd was both a player acquisition and a player departure in the 2021 offseason. As young kicker Derek Hunter hit Match Eligible Free Agency, the team acquired Lloyd for a 6th Round draft pick as insurance in case the bidding for Hunter reached numbers that they were not comfortable with. It turned out that the nearly $4M average for Hunter was matched and Lloyd immediately asked for his release. Lloyd remains unsigned as Training Camps open across the league.

WR Diego Peno and WR Kenny Stills - Peno caught 5 passes in 3 seasons during his time in New England and has yet to find another home. Stills had two fairly productive seasons as the slot receiver, but his price tage just escalated a bit much and he was caught in a Cap crunch. 6'1" with good speed, it's a surprise to see him "still" unsigned as we approach Training Camp.

QB Chad Henne - When Ryan Nassib went out with an injury in Week 17, it was Blake Bortles and not Chad Henne who relieved the injured starter. However, after getting a week with the starting offense prior to the playoffs, Henne won out the starting job for the beatdown at the hands of the eventual AFC Champions. The General Manager and coaching staff must have been second guessing themselves for days after that decision! It didn't take long for the Patriots to find Henne a home in the offseason, as they unloaded him to the Bills in exchange for a 3rd round draft pick, the same price the team had paid to acquire him during the season from Seattle. Henne will again find himself in a backup situation as the Bills later signed Matthew Stafford to a big deal in free agency.

HB LaMichael James - Another long tenured Patriot (8 seasons), James was shown the door as Bernard proved to be the more efficient ball carrier.

CB Marquis Robinson and CB Kyan McGrady - McGrady earned the Franchise Tag at the outset of the offseason, but after contentious negotiations on a long term deal GM Spencer quickly moved on to other plans at the position. McGrady was traded during the Draft to the Eagles for 3rd and 5th round draft picks (FB Derek Watt and MLB Kentrell Reeves), well under what his ability should have commanded. Robinson was acquired mid-season at the trade deadline, and didn't help the Patriots win a single game. He was quickly shown the door as the offseason opened, dealt to the Chargers for a 2nd round draft pick (HB Napoleon Kerr).[/b]

OLB Akeem Ayers | C Ryan Bartholomew | FB Mikel LeShoure | MLB Casey Matthews | DE Tamarick Williams - Ayers, Bartholomew, and LeShoure were key contributors to the Patriots, but the team seems to be aiming for an injection of youth at those positions. These players were not tendered a contract and were free to seek employment elsewhere, none of which have found a new home.

Player Acquisitions:
HB Dri Archer | 5 Years $14.05M ($2.6M guaranteed) - A thin running back depth chart saw the Patriots in need of a backup anyways, and the Patriots targeted an interesting player who could contribute in all three phases of the game. Archer is known for his quickness and athleticism and has proven to be productive in the running game in the couple seasons where he crossed 90 carries. The Patriots will likely keep him in a 3rd down role as well as mixing him into the passing game. Looking at the rest of the roster, he seems primed to be the main return specialist.

LB Oliver Nixon | 5 Years $53.6M ($21.4M guaranteed) - With Jarvis Jones already entrenched at Middle Linebacker on this team, this one came as a bit of a surprise. Could we see Nixon move to the outside in a 4-3 or will the team go with two great players up the middle in a 3-4. The Patriots sure handed out a ton of money to a guy where the obvious need was not so great, so we have to believe that there is a greater plan in play. Nixon was well coveted on the market, with his 6'4" frame complimenting his great all around athleticism. He has racked up 100+ tackles and 14+ tackles behind the line of scrimmage in each of his last 3 seasons.

CB Jamar Taylor | 5 Years $45M ($18M guaranteed) - Another spot on the field that the Patriots didn't have a dire need to fill, Taylor comes over from San Francisco and will either add another layer to their talented secondary; or the plan all along is to move on from the franchise tagged Kyan McGrady regardless of what kind of offer they end up receiving for him on the open trade market. Taylor lacks size, which the Patriots are truly fond of at CB, but makes up for it with an all around game. His ability to jam receivers at the line and then stay close in pursuit seem to be deciding factors for a contract this large. The former #2 overall pick will join a defense full of former 1st rounders in New England.

SS Matt Elam | 3 Years $18.69M ($7.47M guaranteed) - A Pro-Bowl selection last season, Elam signs a relatively cheaper deal (at least to his signing counterparts) to join the Patriots and team up with Ha-Ha Clinton Dix in their secondary. Elam has recorded 7 interceptions over the past two seasons while the guy he is replacing (SS Harry Richardson) only recorded 10 in his entire career, 5 of which came in his rookie year playing FS. The Patriots surely hope that Elam can continue to pile up the takeaways for a team that has underachieved in that area for the past two seasons.

WR Cordarelle Patterson - Acquired before the Draft for just a swap of a 5th for a 6th round pick, the Patriots added to their tall stable of Wide Receivers with Patterson. The 6'3" target has had an up and down career, and will look to break through with the Pats in 2021. Patterson has two years left on his deal that will pay him about $13M, so keep a close eye to see if he produces or he could be a cap casualty down the line.

2021 GZL Draft:

2.9 HB Napoleon Kerr
For the first time in ages, the Patriots did not take part in the 1st round of the GZL Draft. Normally active movers and shakers in the 1st round, the team sat patiently until pick 9 of the second round. Kerr was the selection out of small school University of Delaware, a bruising back that not many think will translate to the higher level of athleticism and strength seen around the GZL. With Bernard aging and becoming more and more expensive, GM Spencer believes Kerr could be groomed into a very productive every down back as he has the build to absorb the many hits a back is required to take through the course of a season. Expect to see him play a majority of the preseason as the team evaluates his transition from FCS to GZL opposition.

3.18 FB Derek Watt
Younger brother of Ravens DT J.J. Watt, Derek was selected with the pick that the Patriots acquired for Kyan McGrady. LeShoure was let go during the offseason, so Watt will likely step in and play from day 1, and he seems more than ready for the opportunity. The Patriots were initially targeting Tra Carson out of Texas A&M but he was snatched up by the Seahawks a few picks ahead of this selection. Watt is one of the more polished blockers coming out of the draft, but his lack of athleticism may hinder his production at the next level.

3.19 FS Jem Taylor
With their second consecutive selection in the 3rd round, the Pats took a gamble on hard hitting Safety Jem Taylor. Known as one of the most physical safeties in the college ranks, Taylor impressed with his overall Speed at the combine, but struggled with burst and agility. That left him tumbling down draft boards around the league until the Patriots came calling. GM Spencer is hoping that a few seasons of progression playing behind two pro bowlers in Matt Elam and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help him round out his game and become a special contributor down the line.

2021 Training Camp:
CB Chikae Reeder | +1 AGI [90->91]
LE Owa Odighizuwa | +1 SPD [87->88]; +1 ACC [88->89]
QB Blake Bortles | +1 THA [85->86]
HB Napoleon Kerr | +1 STR [77->78]

2021 Season Preview:
It was an unusual offseason in New England, as General Manager Matt Spencer and the Patriots passed up their usual approach to adding talent by the Draft, and went balls to the wall in Free Agency. The team landed what it hopes will be 3 immediate impact players to it's defense in Nixon, Taylor, and Elam. The offensive line struggled last season, and no moves have yet been made to address that, so the offense could still use some help in the upcoming weeks. After regressing to under .500 last season, expect to see the Patriots return to the 9-7 or 10-6 level, at least that's what the team's fans are hoping for. The division remains tough, with the Dolphins clearly the front runner and the Bills and Jets hoping to take that same next step that the Patriots are looking for.

2021 could be the last hurrah for many of these talented players. QB Ryan Nassib has a young strong armed Blake Bortles waiting in the wings, HB Giovanni Bernard could be replaced easily if he falters. CB Braylan Bender is hoping the two new additions to his secondary will take some of the pressure off of him and lastly, General Manager Matt Spencer could be on the hot seat if a return to the playoffs isn't secured.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/17/2016) Replies - 0 :: Views - 21
Patriots Offseason Report - Pre Draft UFA

Big Fish Land in New England
Patriots Splash Into Free Agency After Down Year

Matt Elam should be a big improvement over Harry Richardson for the Patriots' defensive backfield.

Pre-draft UFA Addtions:
After sitting out the Match Eligible bidding phase, General Manager Matt Spencer went to work on improving his team through open Free Agency. The Patriots handed out a whopping total of $131.34 million dollars to just 4 players during this phase of the offseason. Without a top pick in this year's draft, the team needed to infuse some talent in ways that were unfamiliar to them and this looks to be a result of that mindset. Here are the new Patriots acquisitions:

HB Dri Archer | 5 Years $14.05M ($2.6M guaranteed) - A thin running back depth chart saw the Patriots in need of a backup anyways, and the Patriots targeted an interesting player who could contribute in all three phases of the game. Archer is known for his quickness and athleticism and has proven to be productive in the running game in the couple seasons where he crossed 90 carries. The Patriots will likely keep him in a 3rd down role as well as mixing him into the passing game. Looking at the rest of the roster, he seems primed to be the main return specialist.

LB Oliver Nixon | 5 Years $53.6M ($21.4M guaranteed) - With Jarvis Jones already entrenched at Middle Linebacker on this team, this one came as a bit of a surprise. Could we see Nixon move to the outside in a 4-3 or will the team go with two great players up the middle in a 3-4. The Patriots sure handed out a ton of money to a guy where the obvious need was not so great, so we have to believe that there is a greater plan in play. Nixon was well coveted on the market, with his 6'4" frame complimenting his great all around athleticism. He has racked up 100+ tackles and 14+ tackles behind the line of scrimmage in each of his last 3 seasons.

CB Jamar Taylor | 5 Years $45M ($18M guaranteed) - Another spot on the field that the Patriots didn't have a dire need to fill, Taylor comes over from San Francisco and will either add another layer to their talented secondary; or the plan all along is to move on from the franchise tagged Kyan McGrady regardless of what kind of offer they end up receiving for him on the open trade market. Taylor lacks size, which the Patriots are truly fond of at CB, but makes up for it with an all around game. His ability to jam receivers at the line and then stay close in pursuit seem to be deciding factors for a contract this large. The former #2 overall pick will join a defense full of former 1st rounders in New England.

SS Matt Elam | 3 Years $18.69M ($7.47M guaranteed) - A Pro-Bowl selection last season, Elam signs a relatively cheaper deal (at least to his signing counterparts) to join the Patriots and team up with Ha-Ha Clinton Dix in their secondary. Elam has recorded 7 interceptions over the past two seasons while the guy he is replacing (SS Harry Richardson) only recorded 10 in his entire career, 5 of which came in his rookie year playing FS. The Patriots surely hope that Elam can continue to pile up the takeaways for a team that has underachieved in that area for the past two seasons.

With these signings, the Patriots are pushed up against the Salary Cap. Expect to see further moves out of New England as the draft winds down and the signing window comes to a close.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/06/2016) Replies - 2 :: Views - 49
Patriots 2020 Training Camp

After Back to Back 9-7 Seasons - Are the Pats Contenders?
AFC East Title a Step in the Right Direction - 2020 Training Camp Opens

Bengals defensive players celebrate their Wild Card win over the Patriots.

2019 Season In Review:
It was a very up and down season in New England, with a rough 3 game losing streak followed by a strong 4 game winning streak. The team faltered at the end of the season, losing 2 of their last 3 games, but so did the rest of the division which allowed the Patriots to earn their first postseason berth since 2015. The man behind the playoff appearance was Quarterback Ryan Nassib who had a truly breakout season. After throwing just 20 Touchdown passes in his first 4 seasons in the league, Nassib shined with 29 Touchdowns in 2019. Unfortunately, after staying healthy the entire season, he went down with an injury in the final game of the year and would miss the Wild Card game against the Bengals, a team he beat just 2 weeks prior. The Bengals obviously made some key adjustments between the regular season showdown and the WC game, as their offense lit up a reliable Patriots defense and backup Chad Henne was brutal in throwing 2 interceptions and not being able to connect with star Wideout CJ Washington.

One of the fatal flaws for the Patriots in the 2019 season was their complete lack of production in the running game. Former 1st round pick Carlos Hyde was unproductive and eventually shipped out of town for a future 1st round pick and OG Vadal Alexander. The team tried to plug the hole with LaMichael James and veteran Ryan Mathews, but to no avail, the Patriots would finish the season ranked 30th in Rushing Yards per Game. The once reputable pass defense also took a step back in 2019. A top 5 defense against opposing Quarterbacks turned back to the middle of the pack as the front 7 struggled to apply pressure and the defensive backs struggled to stay in position to defend passes. Top draft pick Owa Odighizuwa struggled to a disappointing first season in the GZL notching just 3 sacks on the season.

The high notes of the 2019 season include the previously mentioned CJ Washington. After back to back 1,000 yard seasons, Washington exploded for 1,700+ yards and 10 touchdowns, leading all other receivers by nearly 300 yards and should be a candidate for Offensive Player of the Year. Offensive Tackle Russell Okung was brought over in the offseason and produced as the team had hoped (posting a 77:1 ratio) as well as helping the young guns Ereck Flowers and Ja'Wuan James learn the ropes of being a dominant tackle in this league. Not a usual spot to look for greatness, but the Patriots' decision to spend a 3rd round pick on a Punter proved to be fruitful, as Mason Whitt posted the 5th best yardage average and the 8th best percentage of kicks inside the 20. The team found a long term solution at a less talked about position. Also on special teams, 3rd year placekicker Derek Hunter had a PERFECT season kicking the football, making all 30 of his Field Goal attempts, as well as 35 for 35 on Extra Points. The only negative being that his touchback percentage dipped below 10% for the first time in his career.

2020 Offseason In Review:
Player Departures:
OT Russell Okung - The mammoth Offensive Tackle who kept Ryan Nassib healthy for the majority of the 2019 season was not retained during the re-signing stage of the offseason. The team it seems is prepared to move forward with their plan of moving Ja'Wuan James from Left Tackle to Right, and sliding in 2nd year tackle Ereck Flowers into Left Tackle. This would give the Patriots a very young tandem protecting Nassib, and could be risky. Look for the team to keep an eye on Okung, as well as some other veterans in Free Agency to see if they can add veteran depth.

HB Ryan Mathews | CB Sylvester Wright | DE Carlos Dunlap | OG Allen Robinson | MLB Bobby Wagner - These players were also not tendered a contract offer during the re-signings stage. Only Mathews was depended upon, but also a huge disappointment when trying to improve the Patriots pathetic running game. The others were role players who did not have much impact on the field in 2019.

P Durant Brooks - After six seasons of consistency for the Patriots, Brooks took a backseat to rookie Mason Whitt, and Whitt showed exactly why he won the job over Brooks. The Patriots still held Brooks' rights for two more seasons, but Brooks was obviously unhappy not seeing the field in 2019 so the two sides were able to come to a mutually agreed decision to release him.

CB Keith Wright | SS Braun Ritter - Two players who did not see the playing field much were also given their release.

QB Chad Henne - When Ryan Nassib went out with an injury in Week 17, it was Blake Bortles and not Chad Henne who relieved the injured starter. However, after getting a week with the starting offense prior to the playoffs, Henne won out the starting job for the beatdown at the hands of the eventual AFC Champions. The General Manager and coaching staff must have been second guessing themselves for days after that decision! It didn't take long for the Patriots to find Henne a home in the offseason, as they unloaded him to the Bills in exchange for a 3rd round draft pick, the same price the team had paid to acquire him during the season from Seattle. Henne will again find himself in a backup situation as the Bills later signed Matthew Stafford to a big deal in free agency.

OLB Yasmin Ferguson - The Patriots have never been shy about trying to unload Ferguson, as he was rumored to be on the trade block the day the team drafted him! Ferguson started out as a Defensive End for the Patriots and even notched 9 sacks for the team in his rookie year. Then the team moved him to Outside Linebacker, and he's been lost ever since (0 sacks in 2019). The former first round pick was traded to the Tennessee Titans for a 2nd round draft pick.

DT Sylvester Williams - Another first round pick for the Patriots gets away. The team tendered Williams a 5 year contract, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers swooped in with an offer that included a maximum Signing Bonus and the team declined to match the offer. Williams was a solid contributor for the Patriots, but was always playing second fiddle to Star Lotulelei and Leonard Williams.[/b]

Player Acquisitions:
HB Giovanni Bernard | 5 Years $40 Million - We've long discussed the shortcomings of the Patriots running game in 2019, so here the team has made an attempt to bolster that part of the offense. Bernard is coming off of his best year as a pro when he averaged 4.25 YPC and found the end zone 7 times. The Patriots put up big money to bring in Bernard, but they hope that he is finally the answer in a backfield that has long searched for one.

TE Luke Stocker | 3 Years $15.03 Million - The Patriots already had TE Martell Webb on the roster, and he had a couple of monster games in 2019, but the team was looking for an upgrade and found one with Stocker. He's more athletic, a better route runner, and even a better blocker than Webb. Webb also missed some time in 2019 with an injury that seemed to coincide with some of the team's losses, so this is also a signing that brings valuable depth to the position.

OLB Akeem Ayers - After moving on from Ferguson, the Patriots had a glaring hole at Right Outside Linebacker. Ayers was available on the trade block for awhile and the team scooped him up for a 4th round draft pick, joining Giovanni Bernard as former Bengals become Patriots. Ayers is obviously in decline heading into his 9th season in the league, yet the team views him as a suitable stop gap for the time being.

2020 GZL Draft:

1.13 CB Chikae Reeder
The Patriots originally held the 18th pick of the first round, but when they saw that their options were quickly coming off the board, the team decided to move up, again, sending a future 2nd round pick to the Steelers in order to move up 5 spots on the board. The team found themselves stuck between two players, OLB Scooby Wright and Chikae Reeder and decided to go with the 6'4" defensive back. Reeder joins Braylon Bender in the Patriots secondary to form a very physical and lengthy duo. Reeder comes out of the draft more athletic than Bender had been, yet with a little less strength. Reeder will likely be a matchup corner early on in his career while he learns and develops behind two of the league's best in Bender and Kyan McGrady.

2.3 DT Montravius Adams
General Manager Matt Spencer is well known for his moves during draft day and this one was no different. Post draft, we now know that Adams was not the target here, but another Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche was. While the Patriots settled their trade with the Vikings (costing them two 3rd round picks), Nkemdiche was taken off the board as the Jaguars finally made their late 1st round draft pick. Spencer was at a loss, but managed to collect himself in time to grab what might be the 2nd best Defensive Tackle on the board in Adams. After losing Sylvester Williams in free agency, the Patriots basically pick up a clone of him in Adams, with his good athleticism (72 SPD/80 ACC) to go along with sufficient power (89 STR) that should only improve after getting into Training Camp. The front four for the Patriots once again being completed.

2020 Training Camp:
CB Chikae Reeder | +1 ACC [89->90]
LE Owa Odighizuwa | +1 SPD [86->87]; +1 ACC [87->88]
WR Kelvin Benjamin | +1 SPD [88->89]
LT Ja'Wuan James | +1 STR [92->93]

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 01/05/2016) Replies - 1 :: Views - 35
S2019W03::Pats Report | L 23-28

Dolphins Down Patriots in Early Season Battle
Defending AFC Champs Serve Notice to Upstart Pats

Dolphins Defenders Celebrate Big Early Season Win Over 2-0 Patriots

Week Three Game Recap:
The Patriots slipped up for the first time in the 2019 season, dropping their first game 28-23 in Miami to the defending AFC Champion Dolphins. After keeping their first two opposing Quarterbacks in check and creating game changing turnovers, the Dolphins' Russell Wilson played a brilliant game, avoiding risky throws and refusing to turn the ball over. On the other side, the Patriots played sloppily, turning over the ball 3 times and failing to convert on 4th downs and 2 point conversions. The team also committed costly penalties at inopportune times, 7 in all compared with just 2 for the home town team. They struggled to control the ball as evidenced by their just 17+ minutes of ball possession, with Carlos Hyde failing to get any momentum going in the ground game. The defense failed to create any turnovers, but they did play a nice style of bend but don't break, forcing the Dolphins into 6 field goal attempts (5 of which were made). If the offense held onto the ball a little better, the outcome could have been different. Martell Webb continued his surge to the top of the league's ranks at Tight End with another 100+ yard performance and two more touchdowns. His chemistry with Ryan Nassib has been exciting to watch and his growth into a great weapon for an offense that can use as many weapons as possible has Pats fans reliving the Ben Coates days.

Week Three Highlights:
TE Martell Webb | 116 Yards on 6 Catches (19.33 YPC) (72 YAC), 2 TD, 2 Pancakes

Week Three Lowlights:
Defensive Backs | Just 5 team deflections, 0 Interceptions
CB Braylon Bender | 0 Deflections, 0 Interceptions
RG Russell Okung | 0 Pancakes

Look Ahead to Next Week - Week Four:
Four weeks into the season, and the Patriots finally get to open their Home schedule as they host the New York Jets for their third divisional game in 4 weeks. The Jets have started out the season 0-3 and took a pretty bad beating in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Jonathan Higgins has struggled out of the gate, tossing 6 Interceptions to just 2 Touchdowns and Marcus Lattimore sits below 4 yards per carry. Aaron Drogan always draws a tough matchup and will likely see Braylon Bender all day just like the Week 1 match up. Drogan got the better of Bender in that game, and Bender has vowed to play better this coming weekend.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 08/10/2015) Replies - 1 :: Views - 24
S2019W02::Pats Report | W 24-20

Upstart Pats Upset Defending Champs
Late Touchdown Pass is the Difference

Martell Webb was the difference in the Patriots Week 2 victory over the Rams

Week Two Game Recap:
After taking care of business with the inter-divisional rival Jets in Week 1, the Patriots took to St. Louis to visit the defending GZL Champion Rams and their high-flying offense. It was a back and forth affair and closely contested throughout, evidenced by a stat sheet that is nearly identical. With the Patriots trailing by three in the 4th Quarter, the turning point came when Sam Bradford's attempt at a screen pass was read by slot corner Sylvester Wright, who made his only play of the day count, intercepting the screen pass and returning it 15 yards before being tracked down by speedy Tight End Ed Moss. After the turnover, Patriots Quarterback Ryan Nassib wasted little time in finding his favorite target Martell Webb for a 40 yard catch and score to take the lead. Webb lead the game in Catches, Yards, and Touchdowns, and also lead the Patriots in blocking. The Patriots' defense then stepped up to the challenge the rest of the way, keeping the Rams from mounting a comeback, getting the ball back to the offense with 2:30 remaining to kill the clock and send the team to 2-0. It was an impressive victory by a team that many league analysts are looking for to break through this year, though their General Manager still tempers his expectations, "We're still young, but we're a very good young football team. Don't get me wrong, I believe we're going to win a lot of ballgames. We're just not at the point where we are going to blow the lid off of games week in and week out, which is where we leave room for an error or two to change the entire tide of a ballgame."

Week One Highlights:
TE Martell Webb | 143 Yards on 6 Catches (23.83 YPC) (63 YAC), 2 TD, 4 Pancakes
DT Star Lotulelei | 3 Tackles (1 for loss), 1 Sack
CB Sylvester Wright | Game changing Interception

Week One Lowlights:
Offensive Line | No player with more than 2 Pancakes
WR C.J. Washington | 21 Yards on 4 Catches (5.25 YPC), 1 Drop

Look Ahead to Next Week - Week 3:
The Patriots have started hot again and defeating the defending champions at home is a big statement victory. The team heads to South Beach for a battle in the heat and humidity for their 3rd consecutive road game. Not to mention, that they'll be playing the defending AFC champions as well. The Dolphins have loaded up at Wide Receiver, maybe because of the talented #1/#2 Corners on the Patriots roster, so it will be interesting to see those match ups. Dolphins GM Benny Harbinger has stated that his team will look to play a little more conservatively on offense to prevent a ball-hawking Patriots Defense from making any game changing plays. The battle for supremacy of the AFC East begins, next week in Miami!

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 08/07/2015) Replies - 0 :: Views - 13
S2019W01::Pats Report | W 17-15

Patriots Squeeze by Rival Jets in Opener
'D' Starts Hot Again

The Patriots eked out a close victory in Week 1, 17-15, over the Jets

Week One Game Recap:
After a disappointing finish to the 2018 season, and an aggressive off-season fueling hopes of a fan base that is dying to get back to the Tom Brady glory days, the Patriots kicked off the 2019 season on the right foot. They traveled to meet their arch nemesis New York Jets and escaped with a 17-15 victory. There were pluses and minuses across the board, but the fact they got the win is all that mattered. Ryan Nassib, back into the starting role after Matt Ryan's departure, looked great at times (61.5% Completions) and struggled at others (2 Interceptions). Maybe the game plan from the coaching staff wasn't asking him to do much, as HB Carlos Hyde put together a solid and consistent day running behind new RG Russell Okung (acquired from Seattle in the offseason). On the defensive side of the ball, the alignment of the players looked a little different (Leonard Williams to RE and rookie LE Owa Odighizuwa), the outcome of the game looked familiar to last year's hot starting squad. Braylon Bender led the charge once again and the rookie DE picked up his first career sack. The game's turning point was, most obviously, the Jets' failed attempt at a two point conversion on their only touchdown of the game in the 4th quarter.

Week One Highlights:
HB Carlos Hyde | 115 yards on 25 carries (4.6 YPA) and 1 TD
DT Star Lotulelei | 5 Tackles (2 for loss), 1 Sack
DE Owa Odighizuwa | 4 Tackles, 1st Career Sack
CB Braylon Bender | 6 Tackles (1 for loss), 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Interception, 1 Deflection

Week One Lowlights:
QB Ryan Nassib | 2 Interceptions
RE Leonard Williams | 1 Tackle

Look Ahead to Next Week - Week 2:
Coming off of a divisional win to start the season, excitement is high in the Northeast, but that excitement could be quickly tempered as the Patriots head to St. Louis to take on the defending Super Bowl Champions. It will be a tall order, yet a good barometer, for the team to take on a Rams Offense that put up more than 32 points per game last season. It will be very important for the Patriots to match up well against the excellent passing attack and blend of size and speed that the Rams possess.


Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 08/02/2015) Replies - 1 :: Views - 31
Patriots Training Camp Article
2018 Review:
The Patriots made big strides in the 2018 season after two seasons of futility prior. An offseason amnesty acquisition of Matt Ryan and a revamped defense helped pave the way to a 9-7 record and a narrow miss of postseason play. Here's how it all went down.

Points - 23.9 (15th)
Yards - 348.0 (18th)
The aforementioned Ryan came to New England with a chip on his shoulder after being amnestied by the Atlanta Falcons, the only team he'd ever known. The 33 year old Quarterback out of Boston College, returned to the Northeast and posted the best season of his GZL career. Ryan threw for 3,700+ yards and a 26:6 TD:INT ratio and also proved to be more durable than expected, starting 15 games. Behind him, Halfback Carlos Hyde returned from an injury that sidelined him for the entirety of his rookie season. His first action in the GZL resulted in 1,400 yards and 7 touchdowns. His low YPC and 4 fumbles were costly, but the coaching staff was ecstatic to see him start all 16 games. As for Ryan's pass catching weapons, CJ Washington had the best year (as expected) with 1,100+ yards and 9 touchdowns. Rookie gigantor Kelvin Benjamin surprised by surpassing the 700 yard mark, but disappointed down in the Red Zone where he was expected to dominate (1 TD). Martell Webb had a very nice year with almost 700 yards receiving and 5 TD. Up front, the Offensive Line benefited greatly from having a quarterback with great pocket awareness. Rookie Offensive Tackle Ja'Wuan James posted a perfect pancake ratio (62:0) and earned his way onto the Offensive Rookie of the Year ballot in the process.
Pro Bowlers: QB Matt Ryan | WR C.J. Washington

Points - 22.9 (15th)
Yards - 336.7 (12th)
After drafting DL Leonard Williams with the 3rd overall pick in the draft, the Patriots changed their scheme to fit the current personnel, moving from 43 to 34 front. Things were looking great out of the gate with 5 straight wins to start the season with smothering defensive play (~10 points per game allowed during 5-0 start). The highly touted Leonard Williams finished the year with 8 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 5 sacks. Star Lotulelei continued his interior dominance in the switch to Nose Tackle, racking up 6 sacks and 7 TFL. Sly Williams chipped in 4 sacks from the right side of the 3 man front. At the linebacker level, Yasmin Ferguson notched 4 sacks and created two turnovers in his first action at ROLB, while Jarvis Jones made the transition inside very smoothly with the help of veteran Jerod Mayo beside him. In the secondary, Braylon Bender was a force out of the gate, racking up 5 of his 6 interceptions in the first 4 games, as well as swatting away 16 of his 30 deflections in that same period. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix missed 6 games with an injury which may have coincided with some of the problems the team started having when they had to replace him.
Pro Bowlers: DT Star Lotulelei

Special Teams
The Kicking game took a step in the right direction in 2018, 2nd year placekicker Derek Hunter connected on 37 of 42 (88%) of his tries, a vast improvement over a lackluster rookie campaign (56%). The team is looking forward to him making the next step in his 3rd year. LaMichael James earned a Pro Bowl invite for his work in returning kicks (25 YPR) and housed two for touchdowns.
Pro Bowlers: HB LaMichael James

Offseason Overview:
The Patriots began the offseason by trimming the fat of the roster, releasing the following players: SS Gayle Betz (who always played well when called upon), OT Jarriel King, OT Peter Baker, HB Isaiah Pead, WR Devin Thomas, OT Charlie Johnson, and most importantly and surprisingly QB Matt Ryan. The Quarterback who brought respectability back to New England was shown the door as the team faced a cap crisis of sorts, this information will be crucial down the line, as you will soon learn...

Pre-Draft Free Agency:
The Patriots approached Pre-Draft Free Agency with none of their own players eligible, which allowed them to concentrate on making solid offers to lure talent. The team made a strong pitch to Offensive Tackle Earl Cote of the Seahawks and backed it with a 5 year/$40 million dollar offer ($16 mil guaranteed). The Seahawks eventually decided to match the offer and retain the anchor to their O-Line. They also made a bold offer to Texans OT Menelik Watson (5/50), which was eventually topped by the Denver Broncos, but matched by the Texans in the end. General Manager Matt Spencer really wanted to get into the Linebacker market, but couldn't quite find the value that he was looking for.

Draft Day
GM Spencer, a known mover and shaker in the draft, did not disappoint once again. Entering the draft with the 19th and 22nd overall picks, Spencer seemed determined to move up and even had discussions with each of the top 3 teams. Deciding that the price was too high to get into the top 3 for the second consecutive year, the team took a wait and see approach. When the Dallas Cowboys dangled the 12th selection and with the Patriots drooling over their target, Spencer finally agreed to deal the 22nd pick and next season's 1st round pick to Dallas and selected DE Owa Odighizuwa, the best player available and certainly not a position of need for the team. 7 picks later, they called the name of Offensive Tackle Ereck Flowers out of The University of Miami, the second consecutive year they have selected an Offensive Tackle in the first round. Later, GM Spencer further added to the depth up front by sending a future 4th round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Offensive Tackle Russell Okung. It will be interesting to see how the talent along the Offensive Line will be deployed in the upcoming season.
In the later rounds, Spencer looks to have landed a couple of future starters. Punter Mason Whitt was taken in the 3rd round and could challenge incumbent Durant Brooks for the job. Wide Receiver Mohammed Tuggle, a 6'1" target out of Ball State looks to be a steal in the 5th round and could see significant playing time in his rookie year. Spencer was still finding capable players down in the 7th round when he selected Quarterback Martin Solarz from Kansas State.

Post-Draft Free Agency
Remember when the Patriots released Quarterback Matt Ryan? Well, the team wanted him still and made a strong offer to him in the Post-Draft Free Agency phase. The problem was, they weren't the only team interested in getting him. The Eagles came in with an offer that exceeded the Patriots' by just $20K, and that was enough to lure Ryan from New England. It was likely made easier by the fact that the Patriots released him. Or maybe Ryan wanted to be an Eagle for one last time before calling it a career (Boston College Eagles). Their other main target was LB Zaviar Gooden, and they lost out financially big time in that attempt. Players who were signed, strictly for cheap depth include; SS Braun Ritter, LG William Cannon, HB Jiles Anderson, and C Lawrence Bass.

Overall it was a mostly quiet offseason for the Patriots, failing to land big targets in either Free Agent period and not making a lot of noise on the trade front, save for their usual Draft Day dealings.

Position Battles:
Right Guard - Ismael Bryan was not retained by the Patriots, and still sits unemployed. The team picked up Ereck Flowers in the draft and Russell Okung via trade (though his value as a mentor at Offensive Tackle may preclude him from being moved inside). Former 3rd rounder Michael Schofield is an under the radar option to swing inside and see if his ability translates at Guard.
Prediction: Nobody wins, the Patriots look to the current unemployment line for an experienced option.

Slot Receiver - One of just a few unknowns going into the season, this battle has been fierce as Kenny Stills tries to keep his job over promising young rookie Mohammed Tuggle. Stills came to New England last season as a RFA, and is paid much more like a top 2 wideout than a slot receiver. Could the fact that Tuggle makes a rookie 5th round wage give him a leg up over the bigger cap number in Stills? It's a strong possibility and getting Tuggle on the field sooner will only expedite his growth as a player.

Punter - Rookie 3rd rounder Mason Whitt against one of the best in the biz in Durant Brooks. So far in camp, Whitt has shown off a much stronger leg than Brooks, but as expected has not yet perfected his directional kicking and ability to keep the ball inside the 20. This could be a case of the team bringing aboard some competition in attempts to get Brooks (who has been employed comfortably in New England for the past 6 season) motivated and improved.

Training Camp
With the attention paid to the trenches in the past two drafts, it's safe to say that the team is focused on dominating the line of scrimmage. This year's training camp looks to be heavily focused on getting the players stronger and quicker while maintaining the bulk required to throw people around in close quarters. The Defensive Line coaches have focused in on Leonard Williams and Owa Odighizuwa, the teams top draft pick of the past two drafts, in an attempt to bring them to all world levels. The organization has permanently shifted its philosophy to the 3-4 defense, and they think they've found the perfect front 3 to fit. On the other side of the ball, coaches have been training up their prized 5th round pick. The aforementioned Tuggle seems to play much faster in person than the college tape we've watched. His focus on the route tree has been praised by the coaching staff as well.

2019 Season Outlook:
The reins are finally handed to Quarterback Ryan Nassib after a year of the Matt Ryan show. Nassib played extremely well when called upon in the 2017 campaign, throwing for 2,200+ yards and 14 touchdowns. An even further improved defense should help alleviate some pressure on Nassib and the offense, with the organization giddy about getting Owa into the season and terrorizing quarterbacks. This is lining up to be a make or break year for this franchise, two more 1st round picks added to a roster full of them. It's time for a step to the next level, postseason football needs to return to New England.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/12/2015) Replies - 0 :: Views - 21
Pats Training Camp
Excuse the ugliness of what is about to transpire as I write this still drunk/hungover from my phone in Cancun...

2017 Year in Review:
Not much to say except for yet another disappointing season in New England. The patriots have been in a long slump and this was no different though there were a few bright spots.

On offense the team may have found their quarterback of the future when they acquired Ryan Nassib as he showed ability to control the offense and take care of the ball without many turnovers. With the stability at quarterback came some growth at the wide receiver position as youngsters Caz Dudley and CJ Washington had very good statistical seasons. The offensive line overall was not very impressive but rookie Guard Nguyen was solid and should provide the team a mainstay at the position for years to come.

On the other side of the ball, players such as Jarvis Jones, Star Lotulelei, and Khan McGrady all had somewhat of down years statistically speaking. Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier showed promise with his great athleticism and rookie defensive end Yasmim Ferguson put up nine sacks in a year that he spent being dangled as trade bait.

2018 Offseason Recap:
The team lost breakthrough wide receiver Cad Dudley in RFA as the Yecans pursued him hard with a nice contract offer, but the team chose to accept the compensation of pick 29 in the 1st round of the upcoming draft instead of matching.

After seeing Ryan Nassib do some good things for the team before going down with an injury, the team still went out and acquired QB Matt Ryan from the falcons in an Amnesty release.

The draft saw the usual shuffling around the draft board that GM Spencer has become known for. The team traded out of the 10th overall pick down to the 31st pick while picking up a future 1st in the process. The Patriots ended up with the intriguing players in the 1st Round; DL Leonard Williams, WR Kelvin Benjamin, and OT Ju'Wuan James. All three players are expected to step into starting roles immediately and be able to produce.

The 2nd Round came and the team once again made a bold move and traded up to draft QB Blake Bortles who has a big arm but will definitely need time to learn the game at the GZL level, which he'll get time to do with Ryan and Nassib on the depth chart ahead of him.

2018 Training CampCamp:
As players started rolling into camp and hitting the practice fields, it was clear that a couple of rookies are taking this thing seriously. Both Leonard Williams and Kelvin Benjamin came to New England immediately after the draft to work on their explosiveness. It also seems that the rumors of Benjamin tanking at the combine might have been true ashe seems a step or two quicker than he did then. Others who look to improved during camp include; FS HaHa Clinton Dix, LB Ryan Shazier, and WR CJ Washington. The focus during this offseasons camp must have been on athleticism as these players were all flying around the field like we haven't seen before.

2018 Outlook:
Quarterback - The Patriots have two guys capable of starting in this league with Ryan and Nassib, as well as a bright young star in Bortles. If this regime has proven anything over its poor tenure is that the leash on the signal caller is a very short one. If Ryan struggles out of the gate early, it would be foolish to think that they would not cut him similarly to they easy they did Phil Rivers a few seasons ago.

Halfback - The heavily awaited return of Carlos Hyde should rejuvenate a rushing attack that was stagnant in 2017. Hyde was the promising first round pick from last offseason that had his rookie year ended in the first week of pre season with an injury. Hyde showed no lingering effects from the injury during Training Camp and should be ready to go barring any new ailments.

Wide Receiver -
Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 01/09/2015) Replies - 0 :: Views - 16
Offseason Fun Equals Postseason Run? 1st Round Recap

Another Successful Draft for Patriots, but Will it Translate?
Defensive Scheme Shift Coming to New England

The Patriots stunned analysts by selecting Leonard Williams out of USC with the 3rd overall pick.

2016 Draft

1.3 DE Leonard Williams
Many analysts leading up to the draft had pegged the Patriots with one of the top Offensive Linemen prospects or an addition to the receiving corps after losing Caz Dudley in Free Agency. However, GM Spencer surprised most with the selection of Williams to play Left End in what will seemingly be a switch to the 3-4 defense in 2018. It was a surprising pick since the team spent a 1st round pick last season on Yasmin Ferguson (who has been on the trade block multiple times in his short career), who will likely move to the 2nd level, possible ROLB in a new scheme. Back to Williams, who may very well be the most unique player in the draft with his all-around combination of size, strength and athleticism.

Pros: Strong enough to hold the edge of the line in a 3-4 or slide inside and provide an inside pass rush. Athletic enough to play sideline to sideline and pursue mobile quarterbacks as they move in and around the pocket.

Cons: Not as durable as some other prospects in the draft (84 STA, 84 INJ)

1.27 OT Ja'Wuan James
Originally holding the 10th overall pick, the Patriots moved down the draft board, sending the 10th pick to Detroit in exchange for 1.31, 3.5, and a future 1st round pick. The Lions struggled this season, so this could end up being a coup for the Patriots if they do so again in 2018. Back to this pick, the Patriots sent the acquired 3.5 pick with 1.29 to move up two spots and select James to be the future Right Tackle. Spencer and Tampa GM Anthony Fernandez completed the deal with just a minute or two to get the selection in, and it's a good thing that they did because the Bears were waiting to pounce at 1.28. Bears GM Bryan Laurenson was not happy to see the Patriots jump in front of them and snipe their target. James, though not as polished from Day 1 as the linemen taken in the top half of the round, should develop into a perennial Pro Bowl Right Tackle if he's groomed along at Left Tackle for a couple of seasons.

Pros: Highly athletic (68 SPD, 80 ACC) with decent Strength (92) that should continue to improve once GZL training staffs get a hold of him.

Cons: Is fooled by experienced pass rushers with highly developed technique (59 AWR).

1.31 WR Kelvin Benjamin
The Patriots were mocked to select a top Wideout early in the draft, but with the top ones off the board at the end of round 1, they may have made a reach with the selection of Benjamin. The tallest wideout in the class, Benjamin stands 6'5" and 240 pounds, but lacks the elite athleticism to stretch the field. Many scouts around the league think that his skillset would be best suited for moving in-line to Tight End where his lack of top end speed would not be an issue. We think that the Patriots have ideas to mold him into Caz Dudley 2.0 where his size creates the mismatch instead of his speed. Some think that the team should have selected Brandin Cooks or DeMarco Mann if they were stuck on selecting a WR in this spot.

Pros: Size, size, size.

Cons: Lacks breakaway athleticism (86 SPD, 85 ACC) and is an incredibly raw route runner (50 AWR). His hands may also be problematic (74 CTH).

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/30/2014) Replies - 1 :: Views - 23
**NSFW** Patriots Deal Mallett, Again **NSFW**

Ryan Mallett Dealt Again By Patriots
Quarterback Circus Continues in New England

Everyone saw it coming, even Ryan Mallett himself. The strong armed Quarterback is headed to the Steel City.

Another offseason in New England, another Quarterback brought in to bump Ryan Mallett off the squad. Last year Philip Rivers was acquired via Amnesty trade and Mallett rode the pine for the first 4 weeks of the season. After Rivers struggled out of the gate, Mallett took over and led the Patriots to the first overall pick in the GZL draft. Much speculation leading up to the draft had the Patriots passing over elite defensive prospects Richard Sherman and JaDaveon Clowney to select Quarterback of the future Bo Callahan. What transpired was a trade down to the 8th overall pick in hopes of getting Callahan to go along with a collection of other picks. After the Falcons swooped in and snagged Callahan from right within their grasp, the Patriots dealt a future 1st round pick to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for veteran signal caller Chad Henne.

Which brings us back to Ryan Mallett. He was selected in the 1st Round of the 2012 draft and got to learn for a season behind Tom Brady. Everyone in New England hoped and prayed that Mallett would end up being the answer to the "Who follows Brady's footsteps" question, but that has obviously not been the case. After his second season in New England, he was shipped out to Denver for a First Round pick where he lost out on the starting job and attempted 53 passes in 2014. The Patriots, apparently thinking they had made a mistake, re-acquired Mallett and handed the starting job to him. Two tumultuous losing seasons later and the Patriots have dealt him again within the AFC, this time to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for 2nd and 3rd Round picks, as well as former 7th Round selection, OG Ismael Bryan. The Patriots are green up front on the Offensive Line and although Bryan was a late pick, he's shown promise. Last season he racked up 61 pancakes to just 1 sack allowed and will likely step into a starting role with the depth challenged Patriots line.

And again back to the Mallett side, he goes to a Pittsburgh team that has Ben Roethlisberger obviously in command of the Quarterback depth chart. Mallett should provide better insurance than any of the incumbents on the roster and could possibly be the succession plan for the Steelers front office.

One thing is clear, it's that the Patriots have, and have had for quite some time, a very serious Quarterback evaluation problem. Will Chad Henne be the answer in New England? I'm sure the fans in the Northeast are hoping that he is and that the circus has finally left town. Henne is in the last year of his current contract, but the Patriots do not have any other big time players expiring and if he plays well, should earn a hefty extension in the offseason.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/11/2014) Replies - 1 :: Views - 54
Pats Release Rivers, Prepare for Dolphins

Rivers Released After 4 Games
Mallett Elevates to Patriots Starting QB Once Again

Ryan Mallett has had a tumultuous career in and out of New England. He'll get another shot at leading the Patriots in Week 5.

Philip Rivers was picked up in the offseason very cheaply via an Amnesty acquisition, and now he's in a different uniform. After losing their 3rd consecutive game, the Patriots wasted no time in returning to a quarterback who led the team to a playoff appearance in 2015. Philip Rivers was released the morning after the Patriots lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The benefactor of this move is Ryan Mallett. The young quarterback has been traded twice (from the Pats to the Broncos and back), and was relegated to clipboard holder when the team brought in Rivers in the offseason. Now, the team attempting to reconcile their "mistake", look back to Mallett to continue his growth and get the team pointed back in the right direction.

The team now looks ahead to their Week 5 matchup with the division leading (2-2) Miami Dolphins. A win in this game would send the Pats back to the top of the division and put some confidence in the team's decision making process. Look for the Patriots to try and return to a formula that looked to be building momentum in 2015 when the team won the AFC East.

The release of the highly paid Rivers allowed for the team to sign Wide Receiver Pierre Garcon and Linebacker Ernie Sims. Garcon will fill the shoes of injured rookie CJ Washington, who will be out for 8-10 weeks. Sims brings a veteran presence opposite Jarvis Jones and Jerod Mayo and is a significant upgrade over rookie Benjamin Smith.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 02/11/2014) Replies - 1 :: Views - 45
Pats Active In 2016 Draft

Pats Big Movers in 2016 Draft
Pats Look to Build Upon Surprising 2015 Playoff Run

The Patriots swapped a proven weapon for one with much greater upside in the 2016 1st Round.

2016 Draft

1.10 WR C.J. Washington
The Pats' GM Matt Spencer tried for days to move into the Top 5 of this draft to grab DE/LB Amos Houston or if one of the top CBs slipped they were after them. Instead, the Patriots payed a hefty price (Torrey Smith and 1.20) to move up to the 10th pick of the draft to take a big physical WR out of Arkansas. The Patriots had been rumored to be looking for a mid to late 1st in exchange for Smith, so they essentially dealt two 1st round picks for Washington. He will pair with last year's 3rd Round draft pick Caz Dudley to form a Wide Receiver duo that is stronger than any other in the league. The Patriots' new Quarterback Philip Rivers should have a couple of guys who will be able to out battle smaller/weaker Defensive Backs.
Pros: Strong as an ox (79 STR) to go along with good size (6'2"), very good athleticism (93 SPD/92 ACC), and great hands for a rookie (81 CTH). Also an excellent return man (99 KR).
Cons: Hard to find a weakness in C.J. coming out of college.

1.21 CB Kyan McGrady
After dealing a hefty package to move up to the 10th spot, GM Spencer moved down from his 14th spot. Sliding 7 spots to 21 the Patriots picked up 3.29 as well as future 2nd and 3rd round picks. The Patriots had their eye on LB Jorge Mays at 14 and hoped he would slip to 21. He would not and they moved on McGrady who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the Combine. It's not often that you can grab a prospect who stands at least 6'0" with potential for 99 SPD, but that's what McGrady brings to the table. Much like the pairing of Dudley and Washington, the Pats will pair McGrady with last year's first round pick Braylan Bender to hopefully solidify the secondary for many years.
Pros: Decent size (6'0") with top end speed (97 SPD) and great hands (67 CTH). Also comes in with decent field awareness (65 AWR).
Cons: Though he has great top end speed, it takes a few steps for him to get to that top end (91 ACC) and needs work with his hip swivel (89 AGI).

3.29 MLB Benjamin Smith
Missing out or passing on the top linebackers in the first round, the Patriots scoop up an interesting prospect at the end of the 3rd round. Smith has got pretty good athleticism but is a little weak for the Middle Linebacker position. It's likely that the Patriots will try to move him to ROLB to try and fill the void left by the departure of DeMarcus Ware. If Smith avoids a bad skew or gets some skew in the positive direction
Pros: High end athleticism (83 SPD/84 ACC) with good field vision (66 AWR) and solid tackling mechanics (77 TAK).
Cons: Weak for an ILB (70 STR), as well as injury prone (72 INJ) and tires easily (63 STA).

The Patriots have 3 picks remaining in the 6th and 7th rounds to fill out the roster and try to scoop up a late round gem.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/29/2013) Replies - 0 :: Views - 26
Patriots Assemble Monster Front 7

Jones Amnestied, Ware Brought In
Patriots Excited About Front 7 Possibilities

DeMarcus Ware may have just one season left in the GZL, but it will be with the New England Patriots, not the Dallas Cowboys.

DeMarcus Ware In, Jacoby Jones Out
In the span of 24 hours, the New England Patriots drastically changed both sides of the ball for their football team. First, the Dallas Cowboys amnestied their defensive captain and GZL icon, DeMarcus Ware. The Patriots quickly put in their bid of a 3rd round pick, hoping that other teams would shy away from the large salary due to Ware for the 2015 season. Soon after registering their bid for Ware with the league office, GM Matt Spencer submitted the paperwork for the amnesty of their top Wide Receiver, Jacoby Jones, who was set to make more than $11 million in 2015. It was thought that the Patriots would at least recoup the compensation they bid for Ware in the amnesty of Jones, but it wouldn't be. New England won the rights to Ware for their 3rd round pick but were only able to recoup a 5th round pick out of the Chicago Bears for Jones.

New Look Defense
With the addition of Ware to the Patriots front 7, there will now be 4 new faces up front on the defense. Ware joins Jerod Mayo and sophomore Jarvis Jones to form a ridiculous trio of linebackers. Up front, the Patriots traded for Defensive Ends Jared Allen and Robert Mathis each for a 5th round draft pick. Mathis rejoins the Patriots after just one season with the Packers. Joining the two veterans on the outside are two youngsters on the inside. Returning sophomore Star Lotulelei, who had an impressive rookie campaign lining up next to Vince Wilfork, and the 15th overall pick in the recent draft Sylvester Williams. Williams is an ultra-athletic interior rusher who should compliment the all around game of Lotulelei very well.

It will be very interesting to see how the new look front 7 of the Patriots will help a secondary that lacks experience and athleticism. Marcus McCauley was re-signed, but Asomugah and Lewis will not return. The team drafted tall and strong corner Braylon Bender, but his lack of top end speed could be his downfall. Dunta Robinson stays on as a mentor and could help the long term development of the secondary.

Transformed Offense?
Early in the 2014 season, the Patriots were attempting to air it out with the best of them. After a poor start to the season, the team switched up philosophies and went to the ground game. With the addition of two veteran Offensive Guards in Jacob Bell and Todd Herremans, as well as the departure of deep threat Jacoby Jones, will we see a return to the ground based approach? New England still has capable receivers in Torrey Smith and Kealoha Pilares, as well as newly drafted Caz Dudley (80 STRENGTH!!), but the view from this perspective is that the focus will be on getting Mark Sanchez to minimize mistakes and get Benjarvus Green-Ellis rolling early and often.

Then again, the team re-acquired gunslinger Ryan Mallett during the draft, and recently agreed with the Quarterback on a 7 year extension, so we could see the end of the Mark Sanchez era sooner than we thought. Could it be during the 2015 season?

The preseason is about to kickoff, and the front office of the Patriots has made some wholesale changes during the offseason. It's about time to see if this team is ready for a return to glory, or if they're stuck in the rebuilding mode they've been in for the past few seasons.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/12/2013) Replies - 4 :: Views - 62
2014 | Patriots Training Camp | Top Rooks Highlight TC

Pats Splash in 2014 Draft
Draft Class Brings Enthusiasm to New England

Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork are the only two Patriots defenders that remain from their last Super Bowl run.

2013 Recap
Tom Brady was injured. That's the story of 2013 that caused huge ripple effects in New England. With Brady on the sideline and the team struggling along with young Ryan Mallett leading the way, the team pounced on the amnestied New York Jets Quarterback, Mark Sanchez. The rest, as they say, is history. Sanchez played well in his first few games but the team struggled down the stretch and ended up with a 6-10 record, the first losing season for the Patriots in the GZL.

What the Patriots did do during the season though, was accumulate 1st round draft picks and the shuffle that ensued during the offseason was hectic.

Offensive MVP

WR Torrey Smith | 92 Rec., 1627 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
Smith had a breakout sophomore campaign in New England and recorded 3 games of 200 yards or more. With his development continuing, fans of the Patriots should expect to see even greater things from him. Expect to see more balls thrown his way in the Red Zone and his touchdown numbers to increase.

Defensive MVP

MLB Jerod Mayo | 121 Tackles (13 For Loss), 2 FF, 1 FR, 9 Interceptions
Mayo once again led the Patriots defense and wins the team Defensive MVP award again. He was also in the running for the league's Defensive Player of the Year award. His tally of 9 interceptions on the year was 4th best in the entire GZL.

Impactful Rookies

RE Andre Branch | 41 Tackles (8 For Loss), 5 Sacks 1 FR
The lone Patriot rookie to make any major contributions to the team in 2013, Branch played a solid Right Defensive End in his rookie year. Branch slipped to the 4th round of the draft and turned out to be a very good player. Spencer hit with this selection, getting a player that could possibly replace the production lost when the team dealt Robert Mathis during the offseason.

Offseason Additions
The Patriots have not been active in Free Agency and haven't been acquiring many players in the trades that have been made. Only two new faces are on the roster outside of the draft.
LT Kris Dielman
RT Brandon Keith

Offseason Losses

LE Robert Mathis
LG Logan Mankins
RT Sebastian Vollmer
QB Ryan Mallett
QB Brian Hoyer
LT Marcus Cannon

The Patriots decided to cash in some of their veterans to load up on this year's draft. The losses of Mankins and Vollmer will be huge for a team without a capabale backup Quarterback on the roster as of now. Mallett and Hoyer both wanted out after the Patriots proved to them by acquiring Sanchez that neither would ever get a fair shot at the starting job. OL Marcus Cannon was snagged by Tampa Bay during RFA, he was slated to move to OG in New England and possibly start in 2014. Robert Mathis was quickly declining and expensive, so the team flipped him for a 3rd round pick.

2014 Draft

1.5 LB Jarvis Jones
It has been a long time since New England has picked this high in a draft, and they hit big with Jones out of the University of Georgia. Though their top two desires were Milliner and Rhodes, Spencer is pleased that Jones will be rocking a Pats jersey for a long time. Jones is the complete package at linebacker and will likely be one of the most physically gifted players in the league at the position.
Pros: Fast, strong, quick, smart, fundamental, hands. He has it all.
Cons: Some might like their linebackers a little taller.

1.7 OT Leo Richards
In the team's first trade of the day, Spencer moved the team up from 1.16 to 1.7 by sending away a 2nd round pick and a future 2nd rounder to snag Richards out of Georgia Tech. Richards hopefully pleases the fans that were unhappy to see Vollmer shipped out of town to Oakland as he possesses much greater ceiling than Vollmer. The top Offensive Line prospect in the draft is a prize that Spencer was willing to pay for.
Pros: Perfect. Size, speed, quickness, agility, strength, technique, smarts.
Cons: Doesn't look like there's a hole in his game. Some might say the Con would be the cost paid to trade up to get him.

1.9 DT Starlite Lotulelei
In an amazing turn of events, Spencer pulled the trigger on yet another trade to move into the top 10 for a 3rd pick. This time the Pats shelled out 1.19 along with a 2nd and 3rd round pick to move up and take Lotulelei. With an aging Vince Wilfork nearing retirement, the team decided to take an aggressive approach in finding his successor. Lotulelei is another very well rounded athlete who should be one of the top at his position for a long time.
Pros: Copy and paste Richards' Pros (Perfect. Size, speed, quickness, agility, strength, technique, smarts)
Cons: None.

Training Camp Battles

Defensive End
The Patriots have been scheming a new 3-4 defense for the 2014 season and that some competition has cropped up in the trenches. Star Lotulelei has been seen playing RE along with Andre Branch moving over to LE. Osi Umenyiora and another rookie John Simon have been battling with the two youngsters for playing time. if the team plays out of the 4-3 defense, the competion would come down to Osi and Simon for the LE position.

Right Outside Linebacker
4th year backer Jeffery Freeman will battle with two rookies for the starting job at ROLB. With Jarvis Jones and Jerod Mayo already having sewn up two of the 4 jobs, one still remains. We should expect to see some activity in Free Agency at the linebacker position before opening day.

Training Camp
GM Matt Spencer has invested a ton of resources, both in players traded and contracts signed, to this year's draft and it's no surprise that the coaching staff has bared down on those top three picks. The new staff, led by Head Coach Gregg Williams has taken it upon themselves to remind these players that they're no longer elite and that the veterans of the GZL will eat them up if they don't continue to improve.

Star Lotulelei has been run ragged on the field during conditioning drills and it seems that he may be a little faster and quicker than he was at the combine.

Jarvis Jones has been seen in the weight room impressing teammates, but aggravating coaches and staff who keep adding weight to his schedule. He's repping heavier than he did at the combine.

2nd year man Andre Branch has been working hard to prove that last season was no fluke and has been trying to match Jones' output in the weight room. It seems he's on a mission to prove that being drafted in the 4th round was a big mistake on some teams' part.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 01/08/2013) Replies - 0 :: Views - 36
Brady's Career in NE Over?

Brady Near Return, Sent to IR
Sanchez Headed to New England?

At 3-6, the Patriots have made a difficult decision that will alter their franchise. How will the fan base react?

Brady's Health
Tom Brady has missed the past 6+ games and the team has suffered greatly through those games with young Ryan Mallett behind Center. News broke early this week that the New York Jets had used their yearly Amnesty Clause to cut Quarterback Mark Sanchez. Rumors began to surface that the Patriots were highly interested, even though they had invested a 1st round pick into Mallett, and Brady was about to return. Those rumors were confirmed when the league announced that the Packers and Patriots had tied in the compensation bid. The Patriots were awarded first shot at Sanchez, given that they could clear the cap space.

Cap Space
The team had just 3 million in cap space when it was announced that they had won the initial rights to Mark Sanchez and his 14 million+ in salary owed. Upon hearing the news the team immediately put Tom Brady on Injured Reserve, ending his season and possibly his career in New England. The team has also come to terms on a trade with a team in the AFC East that should clear another good chunk of cap space. It will be very interesting to see what the price to resign Sanchez will be and how it will affect certain players' future with the team.

Team Statement
When reached by email, General Manager Matt Spencer released the following statement; "Tom Brady is a god in New England. I know that our fans across the nation will have very mixed emotions about this situation. I have very mixed emotions myself. This is a move that I believe will set us up for another decade of success. Tom is still great, but for how much longer? Mark is just developing into a player that still has 10-12 great seasons in front of him. We just could not pass at the opportunity to get a Quarterback as young and developed as Mark, at the price we have to pay. I hope our very educated fans can see that the foundation is being layed for more greatness from this team and I hope that Tom will come back next year, to the Patriots or another team in the GZL, and be the true champion that he has always been."

Brady Statement
Brady held a press conference shortly after it was announced that he was being put on Injured Reserve, "I'm not happy, not at all. I knew the day would come when I'd be replaced, but I'm just getting healthy and ready to bring this team back into contention. Blindsided. This one probably hurts more than any sack or injury I've had in my life. I realize it's just business, and I've said that over the years when other players have come and gone. I've been on the other side, back in 2001. But this sucks. I'll definitely be the team guy and try to continue to help this team win any way I can this season. I'm still able, I'm still willing. Hopefully someone will give me my shot again next season.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 10/05/2012) Replies - 3 :: Views - 53
2013 Patriots TC | Cap Casualty City

Cap Casualties the Story of the Year
Pats Roster Stripped Due to Expanding Salaries

As Tom Brady's career winds down, he has become more focused on getting back to the Super Bowl.

2012 Recap
A very up and down season that saw the Patriots go all out for a championship by trading 1st and 2nd round picks as well as young CB Devin McCourty for established stud Antonio Cromartie, ended in the team missing the playoffs for the first time in GZL history and home with a 9-7 record and a boatload of questions. 6 and 4 through ten games and the team was in position to reach the playoffs, but a 3-3 finish doomed their hopes and set a tumultuous offseason in motion.

Offensive MVP

QB Tom Brady | 56.72% Completions, 3661 Yards, 25 Touchdowns
Brady, even at his elderly age, has continued to be one of the best in the business. He really worked well with rookie Torrey Smith, hooking up with the youngster 8 times for Touchdowns. Brady was reportedly on the Trading Block this offseason, but remains in New England for Training Camp at least.

Defensive MVP

MLB Jerod Mayo | 127 Tackles (21 For Loss), 3 FF, 1 FR, 1 Interception
Mayo continues to be the leader of a very average defense, but he produced big numbers in 2012, partly due to being on the field so much. His 127 tackles was the 4th highest league wide, but he hopes to bring those numbers down and his turnover/sack numbers up.

Impactful Rookies

FS Gayle Betz | 67 Tackles (1 For Loss), 2 FF, 3 FR, 1 Interception, 12:7 Def:CA, 1 Touchdown
This rookie was forced into action after Harry Richardson was lost for the season in Week 1. Betz, a 7th round draft pick, might have topped Richardsonís own rookie production from 2011. He was named to the GZLís All Rookie Team by General Manager Keith Van Wagner.

WR Torrey Smith | 56 Receptions, 902 Yards, 8 Touchdowns
Combined with WR Jacoby Jones, Smith was a force for the Patriots in his rookie year. Smith quickly became a favorite target for Tom Brady as he showed that he could not just run really fast, but also run crisp routes and had pretty soft hands.

FB Mikel LeShoure | 65:1 Pancakes:Sacks Allowed
LeShoure was originally drafted as a Running Back out of Illinois, but the Patriots asked him to move over and pave the way for Benjarvis Green-Ellis and he was more than willing to make the switch to help the team. He didnít disappoint as he helped Green-Ellis to a 4.67 YPC. A lot of folks in New England think LeShoure was snubbed when he wasnít picked for GZLís All Rookie team, losing out to Washingtonís Ryan Talor (42:0 Ps:SA).

Offseason Additions
With the team entering the offseason in a world of hurt in regards to expiring contracts and cap space, some very tough decisions had to be made. In order to be able to bring back some core players, some core players had to be traded or let go. Here are the additions to the roster, as few as they are.
CB AJ Jefferson
OLB Cameron Wake
P Durant Brooks

Offseason Losses

LT Matt Light
CB Antonio Cromartie
LE Greg Peterson
P Zoltan Mesko
WR Wes Welker
OLB Jordan Senn
CB Kyle Arrington
SS Brandon Merriweather

This list is much more significant to the Patriotsí offseason as some of the high priced veterans had to be either traded or released. The Cromartie trade brought back plenty of picks and talent, but Light, Welker, Senn, Arrington, and Merriweather were all cap casualties that netted nothing in return for the Patriots.

2012 Draft

2.24 LaMichael James
James is a speedy back who can have a very great impact in the special teams area. Despite being one of the faster backs in the draft, James fell to the Patriots who could complement their power back in Green-Ellis very well.
Pros: Fast, fast, fast.
Cons: Fumble-it is.

4.5 LE Andre Branch
GM Matt Spencer thinks he found himself a gem in nabbing Branch in the 4th Round. Branch combines a pretty solid and well rounded game with pretty good instincts. He may have slipped through the cracks in the draft due to a poor combine and the fact that he is a little undersized for the defensive line, but could move to Linebacker and be more effective.
Pros: Solid all around athlete and decent awareness.
Cons: Undersized for the defensive line.

Training Camp Battles

With the drafting of LaMichael James, some wonder whether Benjarvis Green-Ellis takes it as a sign that he is being transitioned out of a starting role. The two backs are very different in their styles, so the coaching staff could use both in scheming against different opponents. This job should be BJGEís to lose as he has not failed to produce in his time with the Patriots.

#2 Cornerback
As mentioned, the team dealt stud corner Antonio Cromartie in the offseason and that leaves Marcus McCauley as the lone starter with a secure job. AJ Jefferson, who was acquired in the Cromartie trade, and Myron Lewis will battle eachother throughout training camp for the starting job opposite of McCauley. It seems that Jefferson would have the upper hand at this point with his athletic advantage over Lewis.

Backup Quarterback (QB of the FUTURE)
The Patriots are in a good position, they have 3 very good Quarterbacks on their roster, although two of them are in the developmental stage. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett will compete this offseason and throughout camp to be named the backup to legendary Tom Brady. It is assumed whoever wins the battle this offseason will hold the keys to the New England Patriotsí offense for the decade after Brady hangs Ďem up while the other would probably be traded. Mallett should have the upper hand as the Patriots spent a 1st round pick on him in 2012.

Training Camp
Long known as one of the more veteran teams in the league the Patriots are slowly having to mold their team into a much younger one. That process took a kick in the ass this offseason as many of the highly priced veterans were cut to make cap space. A very young team though, can bond together throughout training camp and be well prepared for the season at hand. During this camp, much emphasis has been placed on teaching the 1st and 2nd year players the ins and outs of the league, how to manage themselves on and off the field, and of course, training for the upcoming season. There will be plenty of concern on improving the teamís overall football IQ as well as the athleticism of some of the younger players. Young Cornerbacks AJ Jefferson and Myron Lewis are expected to shine this year and improve themselves immensely. Look for young Wideout Torrey Smith to get even better and improve his catching ability as the coaches work with he and Jacoby Jones. Brady will continue to help his successors in Mallett and Hoyer, he knows that his time is short. He loves this franchise, and knows that he is instrumental in handing over the keys to the offense and leaving the team in good hands once heís decided his time in this league is over.

Itís all a process and the Patriots are expecting nothing short of a Super Bowl, thatís how itís been in these parts the past dozen or so years. The bar was set by Brady that long ago, and he is still reaching to get back to the ultimate goal.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/12/2012) Replies - 0 :: Views - 37
Pats-'Hawks Complete Blockbuster

Patriots Acquire Star Cornerback for Stretch Run
Mortgaging Future for Present Success?

Cromartie joins his 4th team in 3 seasons of the GZL.

The GZL's Trade Committee has passed the blockbuster deal between the Patriots and the Seahawks that will send Cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the PacNW to the Northeast. Cromartie gives the Patriots the lockdown Cornerback that they've lacked since the league began. In exchange for the veteran Corner, the Patriots dealt their 1st and 2nd round draft picks along with young Cornerback Devin McCourty. This was a quite steep price to pay for a guy that's turning the corner on the last few years of his career, but a move that Head Coach Bill Belichick said was needed:

"Our team needed a shake up, and this is more than a shakeup. This move brings in one of the best Cornerbacks in the league to a team that has struggled to stop opposing Quarterbacks. Personally, I'll miss Devin, and wish him well in Seattle. He was a great asset to our Division Championship teams the past two seasons and he'll be a great player for the Seahawks. Moving forward, we have a small window of opportunity with one of the greatest Quarterbacks the league has ever seen. We need to put players of his same caliber around him and make a few last runs to that Lombardi trophy."

The Patriots also had to release OG Stephen Neal and LB James Harrison to make room under the Salary Cap to accommodate Cromartie's large salary.

GM Matt Spencer hopes this is a move that puts the Patriots into a serious win now mode and also gets the other players on the team more focused as they see the front office is not afraid to make big changes.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 03/09/2012) Replies - 2 :: Views - 64
Pats Close In on Trade (Definitely *NSFW*)

Sources Say Pats Close to Big Deal
Management Unhappy, Shaking it Up?

Has Devin McCourty played his last snaps as a Patriot?

The New England Patriots are coming off of a last minute loss at the hands of the NFC's best Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The fact that they lost a winnable game against a very good team has management and coaches pretty upset in New England, and now there are rumblings that changes are coming.

A source out of New England Front Office, who asked to remain anonymous, has said that the team has come to terms with an NFC team and the two organizations have submitted paperwork to the league's Executive Trade Committee to complete a very major deal. The source named Devin McCourty as the player that the Patriots are trading away. The source declined to get into further specifics until the Trade Committee had made it's ruling.

It will be interesting to see if the Patriots are giving up hope on this season and grabbing some picks for next year, or if they're packing McCourty with picks of their own and trying to right the ship on the 2012 season.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 03/07/2012) Replies - 1 :: Views - 44
Pats Schedule Still Tough

Patriots Season Not Getting Any Easier
Offense Needs to Find Their Rhythm

Brady celebrates the Pats' 4th Quarter comeback victory over the Buffalo Bills.

The first 8 weeks of the season saw the Patriots play the 5th toughest schedule in the league, including games against two one loss teams in the AFC in the Steelers and Texans, both of which resulted in losses. The team's third loss was a shutout at the hands of a very good New Orleans Saints team. Now the Pats will go through a gauntlet 4 week stretch in which they play 3 more of the best teams in the league.

It starts with the Bucs making the trip north to visit Foxboro. Tampa is coming off of a very convincing win over the Saints, and the Pats struggled again against the Bills before coming through with a victory in the 4th Quarter. Tom Brady and the rest of the offense needs to find some semblance of rhythm.

After the matchup against the Bucs, the team gets a break against the Falcons who are 1-6, but after that it's a trip to Tennessee and then back home against the New York Jets. While the Dolphins are at an easy part of their schedule, the Pats must find a way to come out of this series of games 3-1, or they may fall too far behind to catch a Dolphins team that has looked much better this season than the inconsistent Pats.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 03/02/2012) Replies - 3 :: Views - 44
Pats Pass Jets, Steelers and Phins Lurk

Pats Top Jets, Look Ahead to Steelers
Defense Needs Adjusting

Tom Brady continued his nearly flawless season against the Broncos in Week 9.

The Patriots and Tom Brady escaped New York with a much needed win over the divisional rival Jets this weekend, a game in which they entered the 4th Quarter with a 27-13 lead almost slipped away and the Pats held on to win 33-27. Brady and the offense played solidly, with The Law Firm picking up 135 yards on just 21 carries. The defense lapsed in the 4th Quarter and it nearly cost the team the game. Letdowns such as that must not happen against more quality opponents in Pittsburgh and Miami, both of which will be hosting the Patriots in the next two weeks.

The coaching staff is still looking for that gameplan that will get the offense to click even better than it has to this point. Brady still hasn't put up the numbers that he is capable of. Benjarvus Green-Ellis on the other hand has possibly turned the corner on his young season, after gaining more than 6 YPC against the Jets he says that he is becoming more comfortable handling the role that he fell into once Michael Turner was injured for the year.

The next two weeks will be a very good test for the Patriots as they see how they stack up against two of the better teams in the league. The Steelers and Dolphins pose different challenges and it will be up to the coaching staff to address those hurdles and install a gameplan for the team to succeed.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 01/31/2012) Replies - 0 :: Views - 28
2012 Patriots Training Camp (NSFW?)

Patriots Reload for 2012 Campaign
Training Camp Heats Up as Pats Window Narrows

Training Camp isn't only for getting better on the field, it's an opportunity to interact with the fans and make people happy.

2011 Recap
The New England Patriots looked like a team that was destined for a Super Bowl appearance and possible 4th Super Bowl championship in team history. This was after a 9-2 start that saw them nearly clinch the division in that time frame. Then the team might have gotten a little too comfortable with their great play early in the season, and nearly catastrophically lost 4 of their last 5 games. Somehow they still came away with a first round bye in the playoffs.

They would play host to the Oakland Raiders, a team they beat 16-13 earlier in the season. But this time the Patriots could not overcome their horrible finish to the year, and were clearly outcoached and outplayed in losing 33-6 in a game that Jason Campbell had to finish for the eventual AFC Champion Raiders. Same story, different season. Super Bowl hopes, only to lose badly in an important playoff game.

Offensive MVP
QB Tom Brady | 55.2% Completions, 3512 Yards, 24 Touchdowns

Defensive MVP
LE Robert Mathis | 58 Tackles (7 For Loss), 17 Sacks, 1 FR, 1 Touchdown

Rookie of the Year
FS Harry Richardson | 64 Tackles (10 For Loss), 1 FF, 5 Interceptions, 9:7 Def:CA

Offseason Additions
GM Matt Spencer has been flummoxed at times by the lack of activity his team has been a part of. He tried extremely hard to bring in some top notch players via trade and his cap situation prevented him from being a big player in Free Agency. The team that took the field last season for the Patriots is pretty much what fans and the GZL will see take the field in 2012.

Offseason Losses
RE Ty Warren
LOLB Julian Peterson
CB Leigh Bodden
HB Danny Woodhead
SS Reed Doughty
DT Kyle Love
CB Marquis Johnson

The Patriots avoided losing any big contributors from their 2011 team as Warren played alongside Wilfork in the base 4-3 and Bodden was relegated to backup/mentor duties. Woodhead didn't see the field and the rest were roster filler, injury insurance. The team did almost lose NT Vince Wilfork in Free Agency but decided to match a large offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2011 Draft

1.26 QB Ryan Mallett
Much has already been said about Mallett in the press and among the GZL's memebers, so we won't waste much time here. Mallett knows that he is in a similar situation that Aaron Rodgers of the Packers faced a few years ago, and he has already said that he is willing to accept that role and willing to try to learn as much as he can from one of the game's greats in Tom Brady.
Pros: Very tall, cannon arm.
Cons: Poor accuracy, needs to learn a lot at the next level.

1.27 WR Torrey Smith
The Patriots already have 3 weapons at Wide Receiver, but with Wes Welker aging and Kealoha Pilares being a little shorter than ideal, Smith was chosen as another player that could possibly grow and mature with the end of Brady's career. He's likely to see action in the slot receiver position during his rookie year.
Pros: Very strong, good hands, decent height, and decent speed.
Cons: Will take some time in running better routes and being more aware on the field.

3.22 HB Mikel LeShoure
GM Matt Spencer admits to making a mistake here in the 3rd round. LeShoure doesn't figure to crack the starting lineup at Halfback, but judging by Spencer's comments, could be moved over to Fullback and given an opportunity to play there. It seems like the Patriots were looking forward to selecting Robert Hughes out of Notre Dame, and couldn't get the pick in time. Hughes went two spots later to the Chicago Bears.
Pros: Solid speed, very agile.
Cons: Not very strong, can't break tackles, gets the dropsies.

Training Camp Battles

Tight End
After Tony Gonzalez announced his retirement, the Patriots found themselves without that veteran target that meshed so well with Tom Brady for the one year he was in New England. Now the team turns to Travis Beckum, a physically gifted, but raw tight end who they gave 8.4 million in guaranteed money too last offseason. Or they turn to Rob Gronkowski, the physically imposing tight end who may not be fast enough to stretch defenses. Both will be sure to get a look in Training Camp to be the starter.

Rookie 1st rounder from last season Ryan Bartholomew won last season's training camp battle for the starting Center position. He proceeded to have a rough first year in the GZL and lost his spot in the lineup to Dan Koppen in Week 13. Again, Bartholomew will be given a chance to unseat Koppen in hopes that the team did not waste a 1st round pick on him. Expect Koppen to fight hard to keep a spot that he thinks he has earned.

Michael Turner decided to return to New England, accepting a 1 year deal worth 4.77 million dollars. The question is whether the Patriots will start BenJarvus Green-Ellis who they just gave a 5 year 13 million dollar deal to. Turner and BJGE are similar backs, so the gameplan remains the same regardless of which is in the game. Expect Turner to battle hard to get the majority of the carries in what could be his last season in the GZL.

Training Camp
The Patriots are continually looking at the calendar and wishing that Tom Brady could stay young forever. Knowing that this isn't possible, the team has tried to do as much as possible in building for the future as well as putting the pieces around Brady to succeed in the present. With that in mind, the Training Camp will be decidedly about molding the younger players on the team into better shape and having them become better physically gifted athletes.

Rookie Wide Receiver Torrey Smith will be working hard with veteran Wes Welker in learning the nuances of the Patriots' playbook and the intricacies with which the relationship with Tom Brady rely on. It's been known to be difficult for young receivers to come in and build a rapport with Brady, and Brady has said that he is working harder than ever on allowing those relationships to grow this offseason.

On the defensive side of the ball, Harry Richardson has been adamant about becoming a much better player than he was in his rookie year, a year in which he was nominated for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Richardson has said that there are definitely things that he needs to improve upon, but mostly that he worked extremely hard during the offseason in becoming quicker so that he can cover the entire field.

Like we mentioned earlier, this Patriots team will feature much of the same as last season. Pats players, coaches, management, and fans all hope that the continuity can lead to great things in 2012.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/15/2011) Replies - 4 :: Views - 127
Patriots Draft Mallett: Cause Controversy??

Mallett Tabbed As Successor to Brady
Pissing Off An Entire Franchise?

Ryan Mallett was taken with the 26th overall pick in the 2012 GZL Draft by the New England Patriots.

Patriots' General Manager Matt Spencer failed in his attempt to move up in the draft from 26th and 27th picks, but he did not fail in pissing off an AFC team with high hopes for it's Quarterback position. 6'7" Ryan Mallett out of Arkansas was selected at #26 by Spencer, and the Patriots nabbed their heir apparent to the Tom Brady era. Mallett is a huge Quarterback with a huge arm, and with a couple years of seasoning behind one of the league's best, could step in and provide a seamless transition from Brady to the post-Brady era.

Soon after the pick was in to the commissioner, it is rumored that Spencer received a call from another AFC General Manager who seemed pretty ticked off that the Patriots of all teams would take Mallett. Spencer has not publically commented, but it seems that tensions are high between the two teams. Other reports have broken that the team in question is willing to overpay to bring Mallett in. It is not known if the Patriots are willing to accept such an offer.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/12/2011) Replies - 16 :: Views - 124
Patriots Look Ahead to Draft
With the 25th and 26th picks in the upcoming draft, the Patriots have been working the phones hard trying to either move up or get an outstanding receiver for Tom Brady's final few seasons in the league. So far the team has been unsuccessful at either and time is winding down.

The Patriots have a lot of players in the free agent pool, and whether or not they agree to their tenders will have a huge impact on how the team plays into the free agent pool.

The core of the team remains solid, with a few acquisitions here and there, the team should once again be in the running for the AFC East title and a shot at a Super Bowl appearance.
Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/07/2011) Replies - 3 :: Views - 55
Patriots "Earn" 2 Seed
This was a team that everyone feared in the middle of the season, a team that was rolling along on it's way to a 13-3 or 14-2 season. Then they decided to start taking a nap. They lost 4 of their last 5 games to close out the year, and now how can anyone expect them to regain their swagger and focus in the playoffs?

In come the Raiders to Foxborough. The team that can pound away with Darren McFadden against a team that some say is a little too soft. The Patriots won the regular season matchup, but that was during the Raiders' sole funk of the season. Expert predictions in this one are pretty much split 50/50 and you think you'd take a Tom Brady led team over a Matt Cassel one.

I'm sure the players on the Patriots are prepared for this game, and the coaching staff worked hard to come up with something to get the most out of their talents. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Patriots are on offense, or if they settle into a ground and pound and defensive battle with a team that specializes in those types of games.

If Brady is accurate and hits a couple of deep throws, this will be a Patriots win. If the Raiders are able to bottle up Brady and contain Jacoby Jones, the Pats could still win with a big day from Michael Turner. The Raiders will need a big day from McFadden to keep this one close, don't expect Matt Cassel to be the savior.

This Pats beat writer predicts 27-24 Patriots at the end of this one. I can see the Raiders getting a late score to take the lead and then leaving too much time on the clock for Brady and Co. to march the field and steal it.
Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 11/02/2011) Replies - 1 :: Views - 34
Patriots Improve to 7-1

Pats Top Broncos, Look Ahead to Pittsburgh
Offense Finding It's Rhythm?

Tom Brady continued his nearly flawless season against the Broncos in Week 9.

The Patriots haven't put up the best stats in the league, but they've scored the 2nd most points in the league, and are now 7-1 after a battle with the Denver Broncos. With one of the league's easiest schedule to this point, New England already holds a firm grip on the AFC East, but now the attention will turn towards the playoffs and positioning for home field advantage. Kind of crazy to be having that talk at just Week 10, but with possibly the league's best team in the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town to take on the Pats in what will most definitely be the game of the week, the number 1 seed in the AFC most certainly could be decided.

Tom Brady hasn't had his biggest year in terms of yards and touchdowns, and the offense has been missing Michael Turner forever it seems. Yet the wins keep coming and Benjarvus Green-Ellis has most certainly picked up the slack in the running game since being re-acquired. The defense has played very well, but with the juggernaut offense of the Steelers coming to town, this will be their biggest test of the season. Will the lack of true competition to this point hurt the Patriots' chances next week? MLB Jerod Mayo doesn't think so.

"We prepare for every game as if the opponent can beat us. We know that on any day, any team can win. We saw that when we played the Jets earlier this year. Lots of people thought we'd go out there and just dominate an injury riddled team. But you know, every team has professionals on their roster. Guys that are fighting to stay in this league. It's never easy. So yeah, we've been tested. We'll be ready for the Steelers."

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 08/30/2011) Replies - 2 :: Views - 39
Patriots 3-1: Host Rematch with Jets [NSFW?]

Patriots Rolling

Benjarvus Green-Ellis has been a big boost to the Patriots Offense since being brought back to New England.

The Patriots sit at 3-1 a quarter of the way through the 2011 season with the lone blemish coming two weeks ago in New York. The Jets now head to Foxboro for the rematch, a game which could put some serious space between the Pats and the rest of the division if they are able to win.

Bright Spots:
FS Harry Richardson [Rookie]
The 16th pick of the 3rd round in last offseason's rookie draft, Richardson has made an immediate impact for the Patriots' defense. Richardson has already pulled down 3 interceptions in his first 4 games and has proven the Front Office smart for dealing away Patrick Chung and drafting his replacement. 4 games is a small sample size, so Richardson's impact could diminish, but the hot start is a good sign.

QB Tom Brady
The Surgeon has started the season off quite well, throwing 8 Touchdowns to just 1 interception. Brady has some more weapons at his disposal this season including Tony Gonzalez who has caught 22 passes and 3 touchdowns already.

HB Benjarvus Green-Ellis
The Law Firm made his return to New England after Michael Turner was injured and he has produced right away. Ellis is averaging over 5 yards per carry and has already matched last season's touchdown total of 5. The Patriots moved quickly to replace the injured Turner and the proactiveness has proven to be an important part of the good start.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 07/30/2011) Replies - 1 :: Views - 29
New England Training Camp

Patriots Building on Past Successes
Training Camp Battles Heat Up At Chestnut Hill

The Patriots' Hopes Rest on Tom Brady's Right Shoulder in 2011

2010 Recap
The New England Patriots got off to a horrible start in 2010. Then they reeled off win after win en route to an AFC East Division title that was secured in Week 17. The team was ousted in the AFC Championship game by the eventual Super Bowl champion San Diego Chargers. Big Picture, 2010 was a successful season for a perennial power that was injecting lots of youth onto both sides of the ball. Below are the Patriots' team award selections.

Offensive MVP
QB Tom Brady | 56.3% Completions, 3863 Yards, 32 Touchdowns

Defensive MVP
MLB Jerod Mayo | 110 Tackles (15 For Loss), 2 Sacks, 2 FF (2 FR), 1 Interception

Rookie of the Year
LB Jermaine Cunningham | 58 Tackles (10 For Loss), 7 Sacks

Offseason Additions
SS Pat Watkins [Trade]
LB Julian Peterson [Free Agency]
DE Greg Peterson [Trade]
LB Jordan Senn [Free Agency]
TE Tony Gonzalez [Trade]
TE Travis Beckum [Free Agency]

2011 Draft
1.25 C Ryan Bartholomew - The Patriots were hoping to pick up an impact player for the front 7 of their defense, but when none of their targets were available, they went for a player that is sure to see plenty of playing time for the foreseeable future. Bartholomew is an excellent and well rounded athlete who if he refines his blocking technique, could be one of the best Centers in the game.

3.12 LT Peter Baker
Baker, much like Bartholomew, is a well rounded athlete with good STR and mobility. And much the same as his 1st round counterpart, he needs some work on his blocking technique. The Patriots obviously see the Offensive Line growing in age and have addressed that with their first two picks of the draft.

3.16 FS Harry Richardson
After the trading of starting SS Patrick Chung, the Patriots needed to find a replacement. Richardson is an intriguing prospect that one pundit tabbed as a fringe 1st round talent. If Richardson can make the transition from FS to SS and work on his tackling technique, his 6'1" frame and good athleticism will be an upgrade over the departed Chung.

3.23 WR Kealoha Pilares
Pilares is a guy the Patriots had interest in with their previous picks. They see this kid as a Wes Welker type, getting in and out of his routes quickly and possibly learning from Welker how to play the slot must have had an impact on the decision to draft Pilares. A few seasons of playing behind some good wideouts should do him some good and he'll be a very solid pass catcher in the GZL.

4.32 LT Marcus Cannon
Cannon is a behomoth who can maul anyone. He lacks ideal athleticism but it's possible his brute strength and physical play, to go along with good blocking skills, could lead to a starting spot somewhere down the line.

5.30 LOLB Jeffrey Freeman
7.26 LG Demarcus Love
A couple of roster fillers at the end of the draft for the Patriots.

Training Camp Battles

Tight End
The Patriots overhauled the position during the offseason. Getting rid of Aaron Hernandez and Scott Chandler and bringing in Tony Gonzalez and Travis Beckum. Beckum brings a similar style to the departed Hernandez, and Gonzalez in his advanced age, is very similar to Rob Gronkowski. The three should challenge eachother during Training Camp and the unit will be that much better because of it. The Patriots could run some interesting formations if they take advantage of Formation Subs in 2011.

Incumbent starter Dan Koppen had a hell of a year in 2010, but the Patriots invested a 1st Round pick in Ryan Bartholomew. It would be very surprising to see Bartholomew on the bench this season, but if Koppen proves that he still has some gas left in the tank, he could push the rookie to the bench until he proves he's ready.

Right Defensive End
The Patriots made a draft day trade with the Rams to acquire 27 year old Greg Peterson. Ty Warren surely could not have been happy with that news as he probably thought he was assured of a starting spot in 2011. Peterson brings less raw strength to the table than Warren, but is a more mobile player that could help getting to the edge. It's another case of youth against experience for the Patriots.

Training Camp
The Patriots have some aging pieces, Training Camp must be about grooming the future of the franchise. During the sessions open to the media, we've seen some of the younger players working very hard to improve their physical attributes.

On defense, Devin McCourty has been working to become a more explosive playmaker. His goal is to become a top echelon player in the league and has dedicated the offseason and training camp to improving his speed to keep up with some of the quicker receivers in the league.

Showing initiative in his first training camp in the league, Harry Richardson has shown that he is willing to put in the work necessary to become a permanent starter in this league. He's working hard to show that the teams that passed on him for other Safeties made a mistake.

On offense, the young offensive linemen, Bartholomew, Baker, and Cannon have been pushing eachother to the limits. It looks to be paying off as each has shown improvement in their fitness and look to make a smooth transition from the college game to the GZL.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 06/17/2011) Replies - 1 :: Views - 52
Patriots Offseason News & Notes

Patriots Preparing for Draft's 1st Round
Team Adds 3 Free Agents and Heat Up Trade Talks

Team Owner Robert Kraft works the phones in the Patriots Draft Room

After being ousted in the AFC Championship in 2010, the New England Patriots have finally gotten their offseason rolling with the addition of 5 new players. They've also lost some talent as well but were able to move back into the 1st Round of today's Amateur Draft after entering the offseason with just late round picks.

Instead of remaining stagnant and trying to return to the playoffs with basically the same roster, the team has been proactive in finding ways to better themselves for the regular season grind as well as the competitiveness of the postseason. The following 3 trades have been consummated and Patriots brass hopes it will inject some new life into the squad by bringing in draft picks that could inject new life into a team that is both rebuilding around youth and aging at the same time.

Offseason Trades

Miami Dolphins Send:
3rd Round Draft Pick

New England Patriots Send:
WR Domenik Hixon

Hixon was signed to a fairly big contract before the 2010 season and didn't see the field all too often playing behind Wes Welker, Jacoby Jones, and Brandon Tate. The Patriots were rumored to be on the verge of cutting Hixon but heard the Dolphins were in the market for a veteran WR. The Patriots quickly contacted Miami GM Joe Gaspar and reached an easy deal for a 3rd Round draft pick. Remember when Miami let Wes Welker get to New England? Could this trade have similar repercussions this time the other way? Probably not.

St. Louis Rams Send:
SS Pat Watkins
1st Round Draft Pick
4th Round Draft Pick

New England Patriots Send:
SS Patrick Chung
TE Aaron Hernandez

The Patriots had been desperately trying to get back into the first round of the draft all offseason and finally came up with a strategy to do so. The Rams held 4 1st rounders at one point, and they land 2 VERY good young players to an already solid core of youth. Hernandez missed more than half of 2010 with an injury so the Patriots felt that they could move on with Gronkowski and Chandler who played well at times in the absence of Hernandez. Chung was solid as a run stopper and in pass defense for the Patriots. GM Spencer though thinks that getting back into the first round for a potential prospect at a more impact position was more important.

Atlanta Falcons Send:
TE Tony Gonzalez
FUTURE 7th Round Draft Pick

New England Patriots Send:
7th Round Draft Pick
FUTURE 3rd Round Draft Pick
FUTURE 4th Round Draft Pick

The Falcons and Patriots completed a draft day trade today and Tom Brady must be all smiles this morning. Tony Gonzalez is nearing the end of his career, but he's going to end it with one of the game's best Quarterbacks throwing to him. After moving Hernandez, it was thought that the Patriots were happy with Gronkowski, but obviously Coach Belichick was needing some more talent at the position. Gonzalez may only have one great year left in him, but the price was fair enough for the team to take the shot. The Falcons get a couple of mid round picks out of the aging veteran who probably was going to be replaced anyways.

Offseason Free Agent Signings

TE Travis Beckum | 5 Years | $21.05M Salary | $8.4M Bonus
LB Jordan Senn | 5 Years | $6.9M Salary | $2.0M Bonus
LB Julian Peterson | 2 Years | $9.0M Salary | $2.2M Bonus

In a surprising move, the Patriots moved to replace departed TE Aaron Hernandez with yet another player at the position. Beckum is similar to Hernandez in that he's more of a gifted pass catcher than Gronkowski. Beckum has the downfield speed to exploit the middle of defenses and paired with Gonzalez and Gronkowski, makes this a very deep position for the Pats.

Julian Peterson decided to end his career in New England, signing a 2 year deal to be the team's starting Outside Linebacker. The Patriots lacked awareness at the position in 2010, and Peterson brings just that along with declining, but still very good physical attributes. Jordan Senn was signed to a 5 year deal to play Special Teams and become the teams emergency option at Linebacker. There are rumors that Gary Guyton could be on his way out of town as well, so this signing could be a backup plan to his departure.

Overall it has been a solid offseason thus far with no drastic changes to the roster, just tweaks here and there. Now the front office is hard at work in their draft room, looking for the prospect that could step in right away and make in impact in 2011.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 06/12/2011) Replies - 0 :: Views - 22
Patriots Overcome, Win AFC East

Patriots Defeat Dolphins in Thrilling Week 17
Win Lands Pats a 1st Round Bye

The New England Patriots endured a 1-4 start to the regular season. Now they call themselves AFC East Division Champions after holding off the Miami Dolphins 17-13 in the regular season finale at Gillette Stadium.

The Dolphins came into the game looking to play spoiler, and almost pulled off the big upset that would have sent the region into a deep cold in the middle of winter. Instead, the Patriots' defense buckled down and forced a drop in the End Zone on Miami's final offensive play from the 5 yard line. Chad Henne had his receiver, but the catch couldn't be made as Devin McCourty separated the receiver from the ball with perfect timing.

With the win, the Patriots advance to the postseason as the number two seed in the AFC, getting an extra week of rest before getting back to the field. If the Patriots had lost this game, they would have missed out on the playoffs altogether, losing tiebreakers against both the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals.

A 10-1 finish to the season has the Patriots and their fans feeling the momentum. Hopefully a week off won't kill that momentum in what should be a very exciting and competitive AFC playoff bracket. Injuries should not be a concern for the team heading into the postseason, as OT Sebastian Vollmer should be in good health by the time the second round of the playoffs starts. TE Aaron Hernandez remains out for the year, but fellow rookie TE Rob Gronkowski has filled in just fine. Rookie WR Taylor Price was injured late in the Week 17 finale, and will probably miss the rest of the postseason. His absence should not be too problematic as he was 4th or 5th on the depth chart.

An exciting end to an even more exciting season. Now comes the time for the cream to rise to the top as the playoffs are about to get rolling. Tom Brady and company should be well rested, and well prepared for whomever they face in round 2.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 05/04/2011) Replies - 0 :: Views - 19
Patriots Lock Up Veteran

Mankins to Retire a Patriot?
Sides Agree to 5 Year Deal

The New England Patriots front office announced today the signing of a 5 year contract between the team and start Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins. Mankins has been one of the franchise's best interior linemen in history. Though he has struggled through an injury during the season, the team couldn't afford risking Mankins making it to the Match-Eligible Free Agency period where some teams may have offered him a max contract.

The deal comes after a couple of seasons of heavy negotiations that turned ugly at times. Mankins did not feel wanted by the team as they sent low ball offers continually his way. Mankins felt he was one of the top interior linemen in the game today, and wanted to be paid that way. General Manager Matt Spencer had the following to say about the extension;

"We are very happy to finally reach a middle ground. Logan embodies what it means to be a Patriot and we could not let him get away from this franchise. In getting this 5 year extension done, we have talked with Logan about his opinion about moving around on the line and possible moving to one of the Tackle spots. He was very excited about the possibility of getting some repetitions out there and we are excited about the possibilities he can bring us at that position. I'd like to thank Logan for his patience in these negotiations and hope that this can repair some of the bad feelings that were stirred up during them."

Mankins' new deal is reportedly worth more than $30 million with more than $12 million in guaranteed money.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 04/13/2011) Replies - 1 :: Views - 44
Big Rumors in New England

Patriots Close to Game Changing Deal?
Mum is the Word, For Now

Sources close to management in New England have hinted that a big trade could be announced sometime soon. The leak has rumored that the team is negotiations with an NFC South team in order to acquire an addition to the offensive side of the ball. The source, who requested anonymity, said that the two sides were very close to a deal and a handshake agreement might already be in place to consummate the deal when the league re-opens the trading window.

With that said, the speculation has been swirling in the Northeast. Names from DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in Carolina, to Roddy White in Atlanta and Marques Colston in the Bayou have surfaced. It is also not known what the Patriots could be offering to get back a play maker, though they have had plenty of talent on the trade block since the offseason began.

We will surely break the news once anything, if anything, does come about in regards to a blockbuster trade involving the Patriots.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 01/03/2011) Replies - 1 :: Views - 40
Patriots Active in Preseason Roster Management

New England Looking to Improve
Free Agent Signings and Trades Aplenty

The New England Patriots have undergone a series of changes since the beginning of the offseason. General Manager Matt Spencer has taken it upon himself to reshape the roster into one that is less reliant on superior coaching ability and bringing in players that can succeed and make plays in any system. Below are the changes that have taken place so far.

TE Algae Crumpler
HB Kevin Faulk
LB Tracy White

Crumpler and Faulk both fell victim to overcrowded depth. With the Patriots drafting both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the previous draft, Crumpler found his way out of town. Faulk was expected to be the third down back, but with the signing of Danny Woodhead, Faulk was deemed expendable. Tracy White was not performing well at pre-season camps and was given his pink slip.


Tampa Bay Sends:
CB Myron Lewis [72]
4th Round Draft Pick

New England Sends:
2nd Round Draft Pick

The Patriots payed a hefty price to bring in a raw, but tall rookie cornerback in Lewis. He is one of only 8 corners in the league that stands at least 6'2" but lacks in other physical categories. With him being a rookie though, the team plans to work hard on getting him quicker and more explosive. The team lacked height in the secondary when the offseason started, along with this trade, there were other moves to address this as you will read later.

Washington Sends:
DE Adam Carriker [84]

New England Sends:
K Shayne Graham [94]
3rd Round Draft Pick

With plenty of size and strength on the front line of the defense, the Patriots wanted to get someone with a little more athleticism. They did just that in acquiring Carriker. He's got a great combination of speed and strength and should be a nice edge rusher in the 4-3 alignment while still being able to hold up against the run. With an extra kicker on the roster, and Graham being one of only a handful with his leg and accuracy, the team was able to turn him into a starter on the defense.

Houston Sends:
WR Jacoby Jones [79]

New England Sends:
MLB Brandon Spikes [75]

New England lacked size at Wideout coming into the season and address that issue with the acquisition of Jacoby Jones, who at 6'3" and 93 speed is only one of 4 players with that combination. Jones will be working with Tom Brady and could develop into one of the league's elite pass catchers. With the Patriots moving to a more 4-3 centric defense, Spikes became expendable.

Free Agent Signings
CB Marcus McCauley [76]
WR Domenik Hixon [80]

The usually frugal New England Patriots opened up their checkbooks during the first stage of free agency, landing the prized FA Cornerback in Marcus McCauley. McCauley, like the previously mentioned Myron Lewis, is one of the 8 corners in the league that stand at 6'2". Unlike Lewis though, McCauley has plenty of speed to keep up with the smaller Wide Receivers and also has shown good hands and solid tackling technique. The only question will be if he is worth the 5 years and 22 million guaranteed money going his way. McCauley is set to earn 55 million dollars if he plays out the length of the contract.

Hixon continues the offseason trend of the team adding size to it's roster. Hixon stands at 6'2" and it's unclear if the team plans on starting him, but he will undoubtedly get a shot to prove his worth during the preseason.

It's believed that the Patriots are still working the phones to improve the roster and rumors have it that they are working hard on acquiring a feature back to compliment the future Hall of Fame Quarterback that they currently have under center.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/29/2010) Replies - 10 :: Views - 89
New England Patriots Hire GM Matt Spencer.

New England Announces General Manager
Spencer Hired as GM, Special Assistant

The newly formed Green Zone League has introduced Matt Spencer as one of the 32 General Managers that will be participating in the launch of what is expected to be a great league. Spencer has signed on with Head Coach Bill Belichick in running the personnel decisions for Robert Kraft's pride and joy. Spencer's history is a mixed bag of successes and failures. His years of managing franchises around different leagues extends all the way back to 2003 and he has never won a Super Bowl. In the GZL's sister league though, Spencer has managed to record the 3rd most career wins in the RZL and sits in the middle of the pack in the General Manager Rankings.

It's unknown what direction Spencer will take the team in, but it can almost be positive that Tom Brady will end his career in New England. The new GM knows that Brady is the heart and soul of the organization and that forcing the iconic QB out of town will not earn himself any favors in and around town. The stylish Quarterback and the humble pie serving coach are likely connected at the hip, both probably going out of the league at the same time.

The Patriots have a young defense with some ability, but there will need to be some veteran presence brought in if the team wants to have the type of success that is expected from the fans.

Forum Discussion (by M_Spencer on 12/13/2010) Replies - 3 :: Views - 56

All Team News Stories

At A Glance

GM T_Robbins
Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Offensive Coordinator R.Wayne
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio
Special Teams Richard Bisaccia
Salary $152.4M
Cap Penalty $20.24M
Cap Room $1.36M

Patriots Dri Archer HB 83 Out for season
Patriots Elijah Strong LOLB 78 Out for season
Patriots Grady Jones CB 84 Out for season
Patriots Jerrell Adams TE 70 Out for season

AFC East
#15 Bills y-Bills 9-7-0 0.56 4-2
#17 Patriots Patriots 9-7-0 0.56 3-3
#16 Jets x-Jets 9-7-0 0.56 3-3
#29 Dolphins Dolphins 6-10-0 0.38 2-4

1 Sep 10 vs Bills Bills #15
Won 23-16
2 Sep 17 vs Raiders Raiders #23
Won 44-24
3 Sep 24 vs Ravens Ravens #8
Lost 10-20
4 Oct 2 vs Jets Jets #16
Lost 6-20
5 Oct 8 at Cardinals Cardinals #28
Lost 19-23
6 Oct 15 at Jets Jets #16
Lost 17-26
8 Oct 29 vs Rams Rams #3
Lost 13-32
9 Nov 5 at Bills Bills #15
Lost 14-45
10 Nov 12 at Dolphins Dolphins #29
Won 31-28
11 Nov 20 at Seahawks Seahawks #26
Won 16-10
12 Nov 26 at Jaguars Jaguars #32
Won 43-17
13 Dec 3 vs Chargers Chargers #4
Lost 25-35
14 Dec 10 vs 49ers 49ers #31
Won 31-14
15 Dec 17 at Broncos Broncos #30
Won 13-6
16 Dec 23 vs Dolphins Dolphins #29
Won 34-21
17 Dec 31 at Chiefs Chiefs #21
Won 40-32

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