Lombardi on Patriots not signing Pryor after workout: 'We blew it'


Lombardi on Patriots not signing Pryor after workout: 'We blew it'

FOXBORO -- After the Patriots worked out Terrelle Pryor last year, the quarterback-turned-receiver was certain that he would soon be added to their roster. 

"I really thought I was going to be a Patriot,'' Pryor told Mary Kay Cabot of "I know Bill Belichick really liked me. I had a great workout for them and everything went really well. I really thought he was going to sign me.''

From Pryor's perspective, he believes that the Patriots were scared off by a hamstring injury he had been dealing with. Hurt or not, former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Michael Lombardi acknowledged that the team should have signed Pryor then and there. 

"We blew it," Lombardi said on The Bill Simmons Podcast last week. "The league often gives you a chance to be great, and if you don’t talk advantage of it, it’s your own fault. That was one of those times we didn’t take advantage of it in New England, clearly."

Pryor is in the middle of a breakout season for the Browns. He has 290 yards receiving and a touchdown on 19 catches for a 15.3 yards-per-reception average. The former Ohio State and Raiders quarterback has also run for one score, and he has completed three of five passes for 35 yards. 

"Pryor’s a very skilled athlete," Belichick said during Wednesday's press conference. "He’s big, he’s fast. You can see him at Oakland running away from people and being elusive in the open field which he’s done this year after the catch with some catch-and-run plays.

"He has shown an ability to go up and get the ball, take it away from defenders with his length and ball skills and jumping ability and so forth. We obviously didn’t see that before, but you see that now. He does a good job for them."

Had things gone differently following last year's workout, Pryor could have been doing a job for the Patriots. When Belichick was reminded of his encounter with Pryor last year, he did not want to delve into why Pryor was not signed. It was like any workout, Belichick insisted, a fact-finding endeavor. 

"I mean every workout, anybody we evaluate, everybody we workout is to find out more about them, to learn about that player, to learn about his situation at that point of time," Belichick said when asked about the 6-foot-4, 223-pounder. "Sometimes our situation changes, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s the same process for all of the other thousands of players we’ve worked out. It’s not anything different with one guy."

Pryor's workout was on Monday, Sept. 14 of last season. At the time, the Patriots were without injured receiver Brandon LaFell and could have used a big-body on the outside to pair with quarterback Tom Brady. On Sept. 17, the team announced that it had executed a trade with the Texans to acquire receiver Keshawn Martin.

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."