FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Speedy-hit thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. He’s back and “excited it worked out.” Kicker Stephen Gostkowski returned final Sunday from a NFL-USO tour to South Korea, in which he visited U.S. troops and their households at military bases, and he known as it an unforgettable and humbling knowledge.
I have a longer piece on Gostkowski’s trip coming quickly. As element of our interview on the NFL-USO tour, I asked him about returning to the Patriots soon after an extended time as an unrestricted absolutely free agent, with a two-year deal finalized over the past couple of days.
“I am exceptionally grateful and excited for the chance to preserve playing, specially for this group. Possessing had to wait 13 years to be a absolutely free agent sort of place a diverse spin on issues for me, due to the fact I am in a complete diverse spot in my life and profession than a lot of people today when they 1st have a shot at absolutely free agency. The issues I had to believe about and go by means of, and choices I had to make of irrespective of whether I would remain or leave, are absolutely diverse from what I would have had 10 years ago when I could have had a likelihood at absolutely free agency,” mentioned the 35-year-old Gostkowski, who with his wife, Hallie, has 3 young children.
“But getting the further time, and waiting and taking my time, seriously created me know that I was 100 % wanting to be right here. I am so blessed to have a likelihood to play 15 years in one particular spot. I know my position is diverse than most. But even in my position, guys that have played it this extended, have almost certainly currently been with two or 3 diverse teams. We enjoy it right here. My household loves it right here. It would have been a lot to leave.
“You have to make choices primarily based on a multitude of variables, and every single time I believed of what it would be like someplace else, I constantly came back to how considerably I enjoy it right here. It is a weird organization, and you have to discover every single alternative, but it was seriously difficult for me to believe I was ever going to leave. I am excited it worked out and just thankful for a further chance to have a crack at playing for the Patriots.”
two. The bond that ties Solder and McDaniels. There can be extremely robust bonds formed in between players and coaches in football, and I discovered of one particular in between former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels this past week. Solder was back in Boston with his wife, Lexi, as they were the headline guests for a Boston Children’s Hospital function in which they shared the story of their son, Hudson, who was diagnosed with cancer. Solder was discussing how McDaniels’ emotional support was so meaningful to him at the time of Hudson’s diagnosis, and part of what made the remarks especially poignant was that McDaniels was in the room to hear them. Even though they are now on different teams, the bond remains as strong as ever.
3. TB12’s challenge for 2019. The Patriots begin their voluntary offseason program on Monday, which sparked a recollection of something quarterback Tom Brady said at opening-night festivities for Super Bowl LIII. Brady didn’t attend the voluntary offseason program last year, and he was asked how much he felt that approach contributed to the team’s success.
“I don’t think there’s a strong correlation,” Brady said at the time. “Had I been a part of the offseason, this team would have fought just as hard. We have great leaders. Even when I wasn’t there, I was totally confident the team was doing everything that they needed to do.”
Not long before Brady had shared those thoughts, he had relayed how this offseason was already on his mind before Super Bowl LIII.
“My greatest challenge in 2019 is going to be continuing to prepare the way I want with my body, my mind. It always has its unique challenges. I’ve already got my offseason mapped out,” he said on opening night. “It’s nice when you figure out the Super Bowl is your last game, and you can start penciling in all the dates for your family and so forth. It will be a lot of time with my family and try to get ready for another year.”
4. Did You Know? Receiver Julian Edelman has the richest financial bonus for taking part in the Patriots’ offseason program, at $500,000. That easily outdistances the second player on the list, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, who gets a $200,000 workout bonus. The only other players with six-figure bonuses are outside linebacker John Simon ($150,000), safety Patrick Chung ($100,000), receiver Phillip Dorsett ($100,000) and defensive tackle Mike Pennel ($100,000).
5a. Addition of a new tight end. The Patriots’ signing of Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a one-year, $895,000 minimum deal falls into the it-cannot-hurt-to-give-it-a-appear category. That is a low expense for a player who had landed a two-year, $10 million pact final offseason, and, of course, the Patriots have a notable void to fill soon after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement. The six-foot-five, 262-pound Seferian-Jenkins runs and catches the ball properly, and even though he has never ever been a mauling blocker, he had various snaps tight to the formation in the Jaguars’ win against the Patriots in Week two final season against Keionta Davis, Kyle Van Noy and Deatrich Smart Jr. On one particular of them early in the second quarter, he helped spring T.J. Yeldon for a 15-yard run to the left edge. The Patriots are constantly searching for a mixture tight finish and Seferian-Jenkins’ blocking, from my view, will be the important to see if he can grow to be that in the Patriots’ scheme.
5b. In 2017, when Seferian-Jenkins had his most productive pro season with the Jets (50 catches), present Patriots assistant coach Mick Lombardi was on the Jets offensive employees. It tends to make sense to believe that hyperlink offered the Patriots some strong intelligence on what Seferian-Jenkins was like on a each day basis.
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six. Hogan’s departure. Despite the fact that not a carbon copy, I see some similarities in between the absolutely free-agent departures of receivers Chris Hogan in 2019 and Wes Welker in 2013. In each circumstances, my belief is the Patriots had explored extensions properly prior to each and every player became a absolutely free agent, but the initial monetary gap was so wide in each and every case that it eventually resulted in as well considerably ground to make up. Precise to Hogan, by the time absolutely free agency started, I sensed that each player and group viewed a fresh start out as the greatest strategy. I haven’t noticed the specifics of Hogan’s one particular-year deal in Carolina, but it was relayed to me that he received just a $300,000 signing bonus and has a likelihood to earn a maximum of $two million, which stood out as exceptionally modest primarily based on what his expectations had been at this time final year.
7. Crystal ball into 2019 schedule. If the previous holds accurate to kind, the NFL need to be releasing its 2019 schedule this week, which for quite a few is one particular of the most anticipated days of the year due to the fact it implies autumn and winter plans can be created for trips with mates and household. The NFL has currently confirmed the Patriots will open at dwelling on Sunday evening, Sept. eight, and element of the entertaining is taking into consideration what opponent may match greatest from a scheduling standpoint. My rankings:
Jets: Whilst some may view it as as well regional of a matchup, I believe Le’Veon Bell’s return and the developing star of quarterback Sam Darnold tends to make it a strong match.
Steelers: Lots of intrigue about the Steelers without having Antonio Brown and Bell, and this game hasn’t been in prime time in current years.
Cowboys: A single would believe this game would do major ratings later in the season, and is a major asset to Fox on one particular of its restricted visits to Foxborough, so why waste it on opening evening?
Browns: My former No. 1 decision, I bumped it down soon after the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, pondering the league would not want to waste it in a spot that figures to draw major ratings regardless.
Chiefs: A rematch of the AFC Championship Game appears to be as well fantastic of a matchup to place on opening evening.
Bills: A group that appears to be on the upswing, but my query would be if there is adequate national appeal to give them the Sunday prime-time opener.
Giants: It would not make considerably sense for the teams to meet in the fourth preseason game at Gillette Stadium, and then turn about a week or so later and play a game that counts in the similar venue.
Dolphins: With Miami in transition, this falls into the uncommon category of not getting adequate appeal to be on the opening-week national tv schedule.
eight. A thing else to place on the schedule this week. Finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame are anticipated to be announced by the club. Defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel had been finalists final year, and it tends to make sense to believe they will be there once more. So the intrigue comes with the third and final spot, with security Rodney Harrison my hunch for filling that spot on the ballot.
9. From the set-your-clock division. Final year’s 1st round of the NFL draft lasted three hours, 25 minutes, which implies if the pace stays accurate to kind, the Patriots would be on the clock with the 32nd general choose at about 11:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 25. That is, of course, if they never trade up with their NFL-higher 12 general selections as chips in hand.
10. Add a seventh-rounder for Patriots in 2020. The Patriots and Falcons tied up one particular loose finish from final September by confirming that circumstances had been met in their September trade of security Jordan Richards, which implies the club will get Atlanta’s 2020 seventh-round choose in the exchange. The circumstances of the trade had been tied to how quite a few occasions Richards was on the 46-man game-day roster. Projected as a core specific teams player, Richards ended up assuming a bigger part than that, playing in 15 games general, with 12 begins on defense. That heavier-than-anticipated workload was largely a outcome of Keanu Neal suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. From a Patriots point of view, Richards appeared to be in jeopardy of not generating the 2018 roster, so the potential to recoup an asset — albeit a modest one particular — was sound organization.