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 sort out Marcus Cannon and security Patrick Chung opted out of the 2020 season final week.
Which sparks an apparent query: What may the Patriots do with the additional money?
These envisioning a high-money pursuit of free-agent defensive finish Jadeveon Clowney is likely to be dissatisfied, as a result of the most certainly reply is that there might be no headline-grabbing strikes.
Here is extra on the the explanation why:
No matter house the Patriots picked up this yr might be charged on their 2021 cap. And since the wage cap ($198 million this yr) may 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 must be a part of the staff’s pondering.
Due to the pandemic, working with an additional salary-cap cushion in the course of the 2020 season is important. Think about sudden bills similar to stipends, COVID-19 alternative gamers and additional practice-squad spots, amongst different issues.
The Newton Impact. The Patriots barely match Newton beneath the cap with a modest one-year deal due to their prior monetary crunch, so in the event that they have been to pay large cash for a free agent, it might most likely imply having to sweeten Newton’s contract as effectively.
They’re invested in seeing what their youthful gamers can do — at the 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 prime choose Kyle Dugger and free-agent signings Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks) and Cannon (2019 third-round choose 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 workers — a revered voice in that space.
If Clowney would think about a Newton-type deal to return to New England, perhaps that modifications issues a bit. However there is no indication he would do 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 mildew: When the Patriots reported for coaching camp final yr, they knew getting perfect apply repetitions for 4 quarterbacks was going to be a problem, so that they moved Danny Etling from quarterback to huge 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 normal method coach Invoice Belichick most frequently constructs his coaching camp roster. Lewerke may not get many reps in apply, however he is a fourth layer of insurance coverage on the recreation’s most essential place. The newest time the Patriots had 4 pure quarterbacks firstly of coaching camp was 2009: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell. Brady, in fact, 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 of whether or not to decide out of the 2020 season. He in the end determined to play, making certain that one of many staff’s prime non secular leaders stays in place in a yr when his locker-room presence may very well be as useful as ever. If Slater opted out along 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 workers final week, one notable designation was Patriots Corridor of Famer Troy Brown having the precise position of kick returners coach (along with assistant operating 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).
The title piqued the curiosity of former Patriots special-teams coach Brad Seely (1999-08). “Good for Troy. He is a terrific individual,” mentioned Seely, who retired in Could after 31 years within the NFL. “Everyone has a man that type of coaches the returners, however groups by no means actually label that man. That is a terrific factor to do. … I feel that might be an enormous deal when the season begins. The blokes who’ve naturally proficient returners, they are going to 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 proficient 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’ house state. The Boston Globe reported on how the Massachusetts Senate stored authorized sports activities betting — which might create important income for the state — out of the financial growth invoice it handed Wednesday. The Massachusetts Home of Representatives had handed sports activities betting language as a part of its financial growth 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 staff nor the league requested for, as instructed, this ‘integrity’ price. We’re centered extra on the fan engagement components of the invoice.”
6a. Vitale opt-out in perspective: Of the seven Patriots gamers to decide out of the 2020 season, I seen 4 as locks to make the preliminary roster — Hightower, Chung, Cannon and operating again/core special-teamer Brandon Bolden. So fullback Danny Vitale and reserve middle/guard Najee Toran, from my view, may not have been a part of the combo anyway. Whereas the Patriots have been trying ahead to seeing if Vitale might 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 prime 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 all the things 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 plenty of video games, had plenty of success,” he mentioned, referencing Hightower, Chung, Cannon and Bolden. “I feel all the things they’ve finished relative to opting out has been with plenty of soul-searching, speaking with their households, and developing with the most effective resolution for them. Although it’s a large hit — there’s little question about it, you’d be loopy to say it was any completely different – this can be a completely different time we’re in. Yeah, it’s going to hit onerous. However figuring out Invoice and that workers, they’re going to work like loopy to place out the most effective soccer staff they will. I wouldn’t be actually shocked if it [was] a very good soccer staff.”
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 all the time talks about, all the best way to my first yr right here in 2004 to coming again [in 2019], is that there’s all the time change within the league. I am unsure he realized it might 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 all the time discuss. With Cam Newton coming in, I am excited to see him play — a former MVP who has plenty of expertise and is hopefully wholesome now. He is an actual game-changer.
“That being mentioned, it is a complete 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 completely different look and staff. 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 serious free-agent departures, and with 4 gamers opting out who had important roles final season, the Patriots will return 59% of their whole snaps from final season, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis. That is the second-lowest share within the NFL, behind the Panthers (47%). For many who consider continuity will give groups a bonus, the Patriots’ problem is that a lot more durable.
7c. Scar says Cam has edge: Yet another leftover from the Scarnecchia interview, on the Patriots’ quarterbacks, as he sees Newton’s arrival altering the outlook.
“I feel he has an enormous edge, due to what he’s finished within the league. The man was an MVP [in 2015]. We performed towards him quite a lot of instances, have an enormous respect for him as a participant and chief, and the issues he’s finished. This man, from a talent set, rather a lot completely 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 plenty of related issues. I don’t assume he’s to Cam’s talent set, however this man is a reasonably good participant. He additionally has an incredible work ethic and he’s a sensible man. I do know this, it’s a must to be a sensible man to play quarterback in that system. Having mentioned all that, the cabinet is just not half empty by any means. I feel there may be plenty of enthusiasm. The state of affairs appears rather a lot completely different than it did two months in the past.”
8a. Media curiosity is excessive: Belichick held his first videoconference with Patriots reporters because the NFL draft on Friday, and here is a quantity that was onerous to overlook: 87. That was the full depend of all who logged in to observe 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 will get roasted by gamers for a Subway industrial he shot July 14 wherein he sat on a park bench consuming a sandwich. He mentioned one of many advantages of the industrial 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 pondering retirement: When veteran Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty was requested earlier within the offseason about probably opting out of the 2020 season, he famous his age (32) and basically mentioned that if he did, his NFL profession would seemingly be over. The pondering 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 also 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). General, when it comes to 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.