Fast-hit ideas and notes across the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Preserving cap house: In a surprising shift, the Patriots went from having $200,000 in salary-cap house after signing quarterback Cam Newton about one month in the past to $25 million when linebacker Dont’a Hightower, proper deal with Marcus Cannon and security Patrick Chung opted out of the 2020 season final week.
Which sparks an apparent query: What would possibly the Patriots do with the additional money?
These envisioning a high-money pursuit of free-agent defensive finish Jadeveon Clowney is perhaps disillusioned, as a result of the most definitely reply is that there shall be no headline-grabbing strikes.
This is extra on the explanation why:
No matter house the Patriots picked up this yr shall be charged on their 2021 cap. And since the wage cap ($198 million this yr) would possibly go down in 2021 due to a lack of revenues from the coronavirus pandemic (the ground can be $175 million), having further house to roll into subsequent yr needs to be a part of the group’s considering.
Due to the pandemic, working with an additional salary-cap cushion in the course of the 2020 season is important. Think about sudden bills resembling stipends, COVID-19 alternative gamers and further practice-squad spots, amongst different issues.
They’re invested in seeing what their youthful gamers can do — at the very least initially. The Patriots have been forecasting the eventual departures of Hightower (with draft picks Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings), Chung (with 2020 high decide Kyle Dugger and free-agent signings Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks) and Cannon (2019 third-round decide Yodny Cajuste), and now the timeline is accelerated to see if their alternative plans are sound.
As for Clowney, some query whether or not he can be a scheme slot in New England, with Michael Lombardi — the previous assistant to the Patriots’ teaching employees — a revered voice in that space.
If Clowney would take into account a Newton-type deal to come back to New England, perhaps that modifications issues a bit. However there isn’t any indication he would try this, and at this level, no sense the Patriots are in any hurry to aggressively use a few of their newfound cap house.
2. 4 QBs breaks mould: When the Patriots reported for coaching camp final yr, they knew getting very best observe repetitions for 4 quarterbacks was going to be a problem, in order that they moved Danny Etling from quarterback to vast receiver. Evaluate that to this yr and the way the Patriots signed a fourth quarterback — undrafted Brian Lewerke — and it is a reminder of how COVID-19 is altering the standard means coach Invoice Belichick most frequently constructs his coaching camp roster. Lewerke won’t get many reps in observe, however he is a fourth layer of insurance coverage on the recreation’s most vital place. The newest time the Patriots had 4 pure quarterbacks in the beginning of coaching camp was 2009: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell. Brady, after all, was coming off a torn ACL from the yr earlier than.
3. Slater’s resolution to play: Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater’s historical past with bronchial asthma, which has been effectively documented, was naturally on his thoughts as he thought-about whether or not to choose out of the 2020 season. He in the end determined to play, guaranteeing that one of many group’s high religious leaders stays in place in a yr when his locker-room presence might be as priceless as ever. If Slater opted out together with his medical historical past in thoughts, would different gamers have adopted? That is onerous to say, as every participant’s state of affairs is exclusive.
4. Troy Brown teaching the returners: When Belichick finalized titles on his teaching employees final week, one notable designation was Patriots Corridor of Famer Troy Brown having the particular function of kick returners coach (along with assistant working backs duties). Brown is aware of a factor or two about returns; he’s the franchise’s all-time chief for punt returns (252) and punt-return yardage (2,625).
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The title piqued the curiosity of former Patriots special-teams coach Brad Seely (1999-08). “Good for Troy. He is an awesome particular person,” mentioned Seely, who retired in Could after 31 years within the NFL. “Everyone has a man that form of coaches the returners, however groups by no means actually label that man. That is an awesome factor to do. … I believe that shall be a giant deal when the season begins. The fellows who’ve naturally gifted returners, they’ll have a heck of a bonus over the protection groups, as a result of the protection groups will not have practiced a lot as a bunch. The place a man that is gifted as a returner, his expertise takes over.”
5. Patriots and sports activities betting: There’s a notable story off the sector that continues to unfold concerning sports activities betting within the Patriots’ residence state. The Boston Globe reported on how the Massachusetts Senate saved authorized sports activities betting — which might create vital income for the state — out of the financial improvement invoice it handed Wednesday. The Massachusetts Home of Representatives had handed sports activities betting language as a part of its financial improvement invoice, which included an “integrity” provision that 1% of gross income generated by contests held within the state would go to the proprietor of whichever venue hosts the competition.
Particular to the Patriots, that will profit proprietor Robert Kraft. Mentioned a Patriots spokesman when requested by ESPN: “Neither the group nor the league requested for, as instructed, this ‘integrity’ charge. We’re centered extra on the fan engagement parts of the invoice.”
6a. Vitale opt-out in perspective: Of the seven Patriots gamers to choose out of the 2020 season, I considered 4 as locks to make the preliminary roster — Hightower, Chung, Cannon and working again/core special-teamer Brandon Bolden. So fullback Danny Vitale and reserve heart/guard Najee Toran, from my view, won’t have been a part of the combination anyway. Whereas the Patriots had been trying ahead to seeing if Vitale may emerge because the alternative for the retired James Develin, my sense based mostly on conversations with brokers across the NFL was that he wasn’t their high free-agent goal on the place this offseason.
6b. Scarnecchia on opt-outs: Retired Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was a visitor on SiriusXM Mad Canine Sports activities Radio on Saturday, with host Lance Medow, and touched on the Patriots’ excessive quantity of gamers opting out of the season.
“I took every little thing that occurred with these guys at face worth. All these guys are actually good guys, clever guys, hard-working individuals. 4 of these guys actually helped us win quite a lot of video games, had quite a lot of success,” he mentioned, referencing Hightower, Chung, Cannon and Bolden. “I believe every little thing they’ve achieved relative to opting out has been with quite a lot of soul-searching, speaking with their households, and developing with one of the best resolution for them. Despite the fact that it’s a large hit — there’s little question about it, you’d be loopy to say it was any totally different – this can be a totally different time we’re in. Yeah, it’s going to hit onerous. However figuring out Invoice and that employees, they’re going to work like loopy to place out one of the best soccer group they will. I wouldn’t be actually shocked if it [was] a very good soccer group.”
Louis Riddick is assured the skepticism about Cam Newton’s comeback season with the Patriots will gas a powerful efficiency by the decided quarterback.
7a. Watson excited to see Cam: Depend retired Patriots tight finish Ben Watson amongst these intrigued by Newton’s arrival. Talking with hosts Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on SiriusXM NFL Radio about all of the modifications the Patriots have undergone this yr, Watson mentioned: “One factor Coach Belichick at all times talks about, all the best way to my first yr right here in 2004 to coming again [in 2019], is that there’s at all times change within the league. I am undecided he realized it will be this a lot change, but when anyone can cope with change it is the coaches in Foxborough, as a result of it is one thing they at all times speak about. With Cam Newton coming in, I am excited to see him play — a former MVP who has quite a lot of expertise and is hopefully wholesome now. He is an actual game-changer.
“That being mentioned, it is an entire new system [to learn]. So going from him all the best way all the way down to the final spot on the roster, this can be a totally different look and group. With the Patriots, there’s been a lot consistency — particularly on the quarterback place — that it appears actually, actually unusual now.”
7b. Measuring Patriots’ change: After an offseason of great free-agent departures, and with 4 gamers opting out who had vital roles final season, the Patriots will return 59% of their complete snaps from final season, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis. That is the second-lowest proportion within the NFL, behind the Panthers (47%). For many who imagine continuity will give groups a bonus, the Patriots’ problem is that a lot harder.
7c. Scar says Cam has edge: Another leftover from the Scarnecchia interview, on the Patriots’ quarterbacks, as he sees Newton’s arrival altering the outlook.
“I believe he has an enormous edge, due to what he’s achieved within the league. The man was an MVP [in 2015]. We performed in opposition to him a lot of occasions, have an enormous respect for him as a participant and chief, and the issues he’s achieved. This man, from a talent set, quite a bit totally different from guys we’ve had in there at quarterback over time,” he informed Medow. “[Jarrett] Stidham has nice toes and talent to maneuver and keep away from the push, and create and do quite a lot of comparable issues. I don’t suppose he’s to Cam’s talent set, however this man is a fairly good participant. He additionally has an incredible work ethic and he’s a wise man. I do know this, you need to be a wise man to play quarterback in that system. Having mentioned all that, the cabinet shouldn’t be half empty by any means. I believe there’s quite a lot of enthusiasm. The state of affairs appears quite a bit totally different than it did two months in the past.”
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8a. Media curiosity is excessive: Belichick held his first videoconference with Patriots reporters for the reason that NFL draft on Friday, and this is a quantity that was onerous to overlook: 87. That was the whole depend of all who logged in to watch Belichick’s remarks. Wow.
8b. Belichick’s sandwich: Whereas there was loads of soccer floor to cowl with Belichick, the coach cleaned up one unfastened finish from the lighter facet: He is aware of he’ll get roasted by gamers for a Subway business he shot July 14 during which he sat on a park bench consuming a sandwich. He mentioned one of many advantages of the business is that Subway is supporting initiatives of the Invoice Belichick Basis at a time when it has been difficult for charities to boost funds. One different profit? “Everyone loves sandwiches,” he mentioned with a smile.
9. Chung not considering retirement: When veteran Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty was requested earlier within the offseason about presumably opting out of the 2020 season, he famous his age (32) and primarily mentioned that if he did, his NFL profession would doubtless be over. The considering is that it is onerous to skip a season at that age and are available again one yr later. That is exactly what Chung, 32, is hoping to do. “It is not over, it is simply postponed a bit,” Chung mentioned of his enjoying profession on “CBS This Morning.” There have been no such public declarations from Cannon, who can be 32.
10. Did You Know: Chung is the one participant in NFL historical past to start his profession by enjoying in a playoff recreation in every of his first 11 seasons (2009-12 with the Patriots, 2013 with the Eagles, 2014-19 with the Patriots). Total, by way of consecutive years enjoying in playoff video games, Chung is tied with Brady and Slater for the longest streak at 11 years. Patriots security Devin McCourty (10) is subsequent on the listing.