Clayborn, Faulk, Vrabel named finalists for Patriots Hall of Fame


Clayborn, Faulk, Vrabel named finalists for Patriots Hall of Fame

Bill Parcells will have to wait.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that linebacker Mike Vrabel, running back Kevin Faulk and cornerback Raymond Clayborn have been named finalists to be elected into the team's Hall of Fame. 

Media, Patriots alumni and team staff met on April 6 to discuss potential finalists and then vote for the top-three contenders. Now that this year's trio has been chosen, fans will have the chance to vote online for the winner. 

Vrabel, Faulk, and Clayborn beat out other potential finalists, which included Parcells, offensive tackle Matt Light, safety Rodney Harrison and offensive lineman Leon Gray.

Clayborn is a finalist for the third consecutive year, while Vrabel and Faulk are finalists for the first time. Faulk and Light became eligible for the Hall for the first time this year. Vrabel and Harrison became eligible last year.

Clayborn played for the Patriots between 1977 and 1989 and was named to three Pro Bowls (1983, 1985, 1986) in that span. Drafted by the Patriots out of the University of Texas in the first round, he went on to become the franchise leader in interceptions (36), which was later tied by Ty Law in 2004.

Faulk played 13 seasons in New Englnad, and retired as the team's all-time leader in all-purpose yards. He ranks fifth in franchise history in rushing yards and receptions, and he's the team's all-time leading return specialist, racking up over 5,000 yards on punt and kick returns. One indication of the three-time Super Bowl champion's well-rounded skill set is that he is one of just six backs in the 2000s to have rushed for more than 3,000 yards and accumulated 3,000 yards receiving. The others? Tiki Barber, Marshall Faulk, LaDanian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook and Michael Pittman.

Vrabel was without doubt one of the most versatile players on New England's three Super Bowl championship teams in 2001, 2003 and 2004. He started at both inside and outside linebacker during his Patriots career. He also played on special teams and served as a tight end in certain situations. All 10 of his receptions went for touchdowns, including scores in the team's back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

Listen to Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry's podcast leading up to the Patriots Hall of Fame nominations, including an interview with Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown (22:41 mark), via the player below. Or search CSNNE on iTunes.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."