Category Archives: New England Patriots News

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NEW ORLEANS — Safety Kenny Vaccaro was benched during the New Orleans Saints’ blowout loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday amid reports that the Saints may be looking to trade him.

Vaccaro, a first-round draft pick in 2013, said he was surprised by the benching — despite his admitted struggles in the Saints’ week 1 loss at Minnesota. But coach Sean Payton explained, “Listen, we need to get more consistent play, and that dates back to last weekend.”

Vaccaro’s benching followed reports by both CBS and NFL Network that the Saints were discussing the fifth-year pro in trade talks this week — although Payton brushed off the trade question by saying, “It’s not unusual early in the season for teams to call about” players at positions where teams have depth.

“I know Gronk had two catches on me, really great catches, and that was about it. That’s all that really happened. The next thing I know, I’m sitting next to Coach Payton.”

Kenny Vaccaro
Another source downplayed the trade reports with a similar explanation — though Vaccaro is in the final year of his contract, so it can’t be ruled out as a possibility if the Saints aren’t expecting to spend big money on him this offseason. Vaccaro said the trade reports are “a little bit of a distraction, but at the same time, you gotta block that stuff out, be a pro and understand we’re trying to win a game.”

Vaccaro said he hadn’t gotten an explanation for his demotion yet in the aftermath of Sunday’s 36-20 loss. Just before he was benched Sunday, he intercepted a pass — but it was nullified because he was flagged for holding tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom he guarded for most of Sunday’s game.

“I know Gronk had two catches on me, really great catches, and that was about it. That’s all that really happened. The next thing I know, I’m sitting next to Coach Payton,” said Vaccaro, who was not covering Gronkowski during his 53-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the first quarter.

“I took full responsibility [for last week's struggles]. I had bad eyes on a couple plays, and I took responsibility for that. I didn’t know that was gonna overflow into this game until all of a sudden I was out,” Vaccaro said. “Listen, I’ve been here for the last four years, and we haven’t played up to par on defense. And I understand how it goes. Obviously I’ve got to be better in my preparation, gotta be more consistent. …

“I didn’t understand this game what happened at all. But at the same time, I take full responsibility for that and just gotta keep on, gotta keep pushing.”

Vaccaro, 26, expressed his desire this summer to finally crack into that Pro Bowl caliber after a career filled with highs and lows. Instead, his rollercoaster career path has hit another sharp turn.

Vaccaro began his career by finishing third in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2013 on a Saints playoff team that used him as a versatile chess piece as a safety, nickel corner and pseudo-linebacker. But he suffered a broken fibula late that season. Then he was temporarily demoted late in the 2014 season while battling inconsistent play.

Vaccaro’s play improved in 2015 and 2016, and he was arguably having his best season last year, with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. But then his season was cut short by a four-game suspension for a positive Adderall test (a substance banned by the NFL).

Vaccaro was replaced in Sunday’s lineup by second-year pro Vonn Bell, who started 14 games as a rookie last year. Bell himself lost his starting job this summer to rookie second-round pick Marcus Williams. The Saints also have a veteran backup with starting experience in Rafael Bush.

The Saints have allowed 777 passing yards through two weeks this season — the most in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and the sixth-most of any team since the NFL-AFL merger.

Opponents are 14-of-16 for 398 yards against the Saints on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield — with more touchdowns (3) than incompletions.

Tom Brady is ranked first in the NFL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was voted the league’s top player in the NFL Network’s annual top-100 poll, a ranking based on a tabulation of 902 players.

Tom Brady is the only player to be voted first in the NFL Network's annual top-100 poll multiple times.

It marks the second time that Brady has ranked No. 1 and makes him the only player to be voted first multiple times since the poll debuted in 2011. He was No. 2 last season, behind Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Brady was also voted No. 1 in 2011. He was fourth in both 2012 and 2013 and third in both 2014 and 2015.

“Best ever. Best in the game,” cornerback Darrelle Revis remarked Monday night on the television show that counted down the top players.

New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis added, “As long as Tom Brady is here, he’s got that No. 1 spot.”

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was second, followed by Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown and Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack rounding out the top five.

Brady, who will turn 40 on Aug. 3, was named MVP of Super Bowl LI after he led the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit against the Falcons. In 12 games in the 2016 regular season, Brady went 291-of-432 for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns and two interceptions. In three playoff games, he was 93-of-142 for 1,137 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Patriots sign Bills RB Mike Gillislee to two-year offer sheet

The New England Patriots extended an offer sheet to Buffalo Bills running back Mike Gillislee on Tuesday.

The offer is for two years and is worth $6.4 million, including $4 million in the first year, sources told ESPN. The Bills have five days to decide whether to match the offer sheet.

The Bills placed an original-round tender on Gillislee worth $1.797 million, meaning the Patriots would send a fifth-round pick to the Bills if Buffalo declines to match. The Dolphins picked Gillislee in the fifth round of the 2013 draft but released him in 2015.

The financials were first reported by NFL Network.

If the Bills decline to match Gillislee’s offer, it is unlikely the Patriots will re-sign free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns, which was the highest total in the NFL since Adrian Peterson had 18 in 2009. He was the Patriots’ top power running back, totaling 1,161 yards on 299 carries in the regular season.

Gillislee set career highs last season with 577 yards receiving and nine touchdowns (eight rushing) in 15 games, including one start. His 5.7 yards per rush average led the NFL.

This is the second consecutive offseason the Patriots have signed a Bills player to an offer sheet. In 2016 they did so with wide receiver Chris Hogan and Buffalo declined to match the offer.

Hogan went on to post a career-best 680 yards receiving with 38 receptions and four touchdowns. He tied for the NFL lead with his 17.9 yards per reception average.

Hogan had 17 receptions for 332 yards in the playoffs and caught two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ 36-17 AFC Championship Game victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Patriots also signed former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the outset of free agency, poaching another impact player from their division rival.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft says Tom Brady willing to play 6-7 more years

PHOENIX — Could New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady really play until he’s 46 or 47 years old?

That’s the target range Brady highlighted in a recent conversation with owner Robert Kraft.

“As recently as 2-3 days ago, he assured me he’d be willing to play six to seven more years and at the level he performed,” Kraft said Monday at the NFL’s annual meeting. “There’s no one that would be happier than I, and our fan base.”

Brady turns 40 on Aug. 3, and the question of how much longer he’ll play has been widely discussed and analyzed, in part because it could affect the Patriots’ plans with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who enters the final year of his contract.

Brady enters his 18th season with the Patriots in 2017, and if he were to reach his goal of six or seven more years with New England, he would smash former Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson’s NFL record of the most seasons with one team (21).

Only Hanson, Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green (20) and Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Jackie Slater (20) have spent at least 20 seasons with one team.

While Kraft said he would be thrilled if Brady could play into his mid-40s, he acknowledged that Brady would be beating long odds for starting quarterbacks if he did.

“I think there’s one player at the age of 40 who had one good year: [Brett] Favre, for the Vikings. He didn’t do so well before,” he said.

Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde, all at age 44, are the oldest quarterbacks to have been on an NFL roster, according to data tracked by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. George Blanda played until he was 48, but was primarily a kicker late in his career.

Kraft said the way Brady lives his life could give him a chance to make history while reaching his goal.

“I think Tommy’s sustained excellence is just unbelievable. It’s a lifestyle. He’s in training now, it’s not like he’s stopped,” he relayed.

“I remember after our first Super Bowl in ’01, going down in the training room in the old Foxboro Stadium, three days after we won, he’s in there with the music blaring working out. He’s really dedicated. The thing that’s amazing about him, to this day he hasn’t changed as a human being in how he relates to people, but also how he works out. The only thing that’s probably changed is how he eats and his diet. I’m not sure avocado ice cream is right for me, but if I could look like him and perform half as well, I guess I’d do it.”

As for the 24-year-old Garoppolo, he could provide insurance behind Brady in 2017 before the club could potentially lose him as a free agent in 2018. Because of that, Kraft was asked if there was any scenario in which the Patriots might be inclined to trade Garoppolo this year.

“I don’t have the right demeanor of our coach; I charge him to handle all football matters,” he said. “We’re privileged to have the greatest quarterback in the history of the game, and it looks like he’s playing pretty solid. He’s off the charts, in my opinion, and we’re lucky to have him.

“That’s the most important position on the team, needless to say. I don’t think anyone could say you have too much depth at that position. I’ve charged him to make those decisions. I’ll leave that with him.”

Pat’s James White forgot to keep the ball after the Super Bowl champion TD

New England Patriots running back James White can’t tell you what happened to the football from the final play of Super Bowl LI.

White scored the winning touchdown in overtime as the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. What happened to the ball after that is anyone’s guess, White told “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday.

“I actually don’t know what I did with it,” White said. “I left it on the ground and started running.”

White is hopeful that an equipment manager grabbed the ball and that it is in the possession of the Patriots.

“I wasn’t thinking in that moment. I was too busy sprinting down the field,” he said.

White said he did keep the football from the first touchdown he scored in the historic comeback. White had 14 receptions for 110 yards and one touchdown and added two rushing touchdowns in the victory.

After the game, his teammates, including MVP Tom Brady, were quick to say he deserved a share of the MVP honor. In years past, the Super Bowl MVP award came with a car. After the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Brady was awarded MVP and gave the truck to Malcolm Butler, who made the game-saving interception in the final seconds.

Brady said he would do the same this year with White — but there is no truck to give. According to an NFL spokesman, a vehicle hasn’t been part of the MVP award for the past two Super Bowls.

White was asked about Brady’s promise of the truck and said, “I haven’t actually received it yet. I don’t know how that works.”

White said, “it’s pretty cool that he’s humble enough to give me the car,” adding that Brady is a “great teammate.”

It is unknown if Brady still plans to give White a vehicle of some kind.

Jamie Collins Elite Jersey

The New England Patriots have traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a draft pick.

The trade is for a third-round compensatory pick if the Browns are awarded one, a source told ESPN’s Pat McManamon. If the Browns don’t get that pick from the league, the trade is for a fourth-round pick, the source said.

“In the end, we did what we thought was best for the football team. There are a lot of things to take into consideration. I’m sure we could bring up a lot of points to talk about, but in the end, that’s really the bottom line,” Bill Belichick said on sports radio WEEI when asked about the trade.

Collins’ four-year rookie contract will expire after the season, and he was at one point asking for what one league source described to ESPN’s Adam Schefter as “Von Miller money.” The Denver Broncos gave Miller a six-year, $114.5 million deal in July, including $70 million guaranteed.

For the Browns, the trade is designed to help a defense that has struggled to stop teams all season and is especially thin at outside linebacker. No team has scored fewer than 25 points on the Browns this season, and four of eight have scored more than 30 — including the New York Jets on Sunday.

The outside linebacker spot has been thin in Cleveland since Paul Kruger was released during the preseason and Nate Orchard went on injured reserve early in the season. The Browns are tied for 21st in the NFL with 14 sacks in eight games, and Collins could help there.

There is risk involved for Cleveland. Collins can become a free agent after the season; the Browns will have to convince him it’s worth staying with a team that is currently winless. The Browns (0-8) would have the option of using the franchise tag on Collins.

“We’d love to keep him obviously,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said to reporters. “It’s got to be mutual and hopefully we can move in that direction. But I think it’s getting him here, having him get to know us, us getting to know him. We know what he is. We know what he brings to the table. I don’t think we would have done this if we didn’t think there was an opportunity to move forward with him.”

Collins played 48 of 70 defensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, which was unusual because he had typically been an every-down player.

The Patriots (7-1) took him off the field when the Bills used fullback Jerome Felton in run-based packages, perhaps indicating that New England no longer viewed Collins as a three-down linebacker.

If the Browns are awarded a compensatory pick, it will be made at the end of the third round. The Browns would receive the pick based on an NFL formula evaluating the free agents the team signed and lost during the offseason.

This is the second trade between the Patriots and Browns this season. In August, the Browns traded linebacker Barkevious Mingo, a former first-round pick, to the Patriots for a 2017 fifth-round pick.

Collins, 27, had appeared in seven games for the Patriots this season and had 43 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He missed Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals because of a hip injury and had been listed on the injury report the past two weeks before coming off it Friday.

A fourth-year veteran, Collins made his first Pro Bowl last season.

“I think he’s a tremendous pass-rusher,” Jackson said. “He can play linebacker. I think there are several things he can do. He has a real versatile skill set.”

Collins is the second high-profile defensive player the Patriots have traded this year. In March, New England dealt defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. Like Collins, Jones will be a free agent after the season.

Jones appeared to react to the trade of his former teammate with a tweet shortly after news of the deal was reported.

Since Sept. 1, 2014, the Patriots have made 21 trades that either involved a player leaving or coming to New England, the most of any team in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.