Patriots

Tom Brady persuasive in his arguments to officials vs. Saints

Tom Brady persuasive in his arguments to officials vs. Saints

Tom Brady was screaming at the top of his lungs. He held up the index finger on one hand as he made a peace sign with the other to convey his message. The gestures seemed completely unnecessary because he was yelling loud enough that it looked like he might strain a muscle in his neck. 

The Saints defense had 12 players on the field. Brady was sure of it.

What had the Patriots quarterback all riled up was that he didn't see any flags on the field. And given the fact that he had just thrown one of the ugliest interceptions of his career, he was ready to explain himself -- and at a ridiculous decibel level -- to anyone who disagreed. 

PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20

Brady twice had to lobby with head official Craig Wrolstad’s crew, and both interactions were successful. He probably didn't do anything for his reputation in the eyes of those who look at him as a pampered quarterback who complains for calls, but that's fine with him. 

"I snapped it, and I was looking right at him as I snapped it," Brady said of Saints linebacker Manti Te'o, who was eventually called for a too-many-men penalty after Brady's protest. 

"He was probably three or four yards from the sideline. We didn't even have a play. I was just trying to get the penalty. I didn't see a penalty on the field and I said, 'What the heck? I saw the guy!' They said they were going to review it, there was 12 on there, and we got the call."

Brady was asked if he was amused by officials coming together and making a call after he . . . lends them a helping hand. 

"I wish," he said, "they would have thrown [the flag] right away to take away all of the drama."

Brady was in the ears of the officials earlier in the game, at the end of the first quarter, when flags were thrown on Brandin Cooks for offensive pass interference after a Chris Hogan touchdown to make the score 20-3.

Cooks set a pick on Chris Hogan's defender near the line of scrimmage at the 13-yard line, and the officiating crew initially ruled it to be illegal contact. 

But Brady swooped in immediately. He was certain that Cooks was within one yard of the line of scrimmage. It was close, but the officials eventually sided with the future Hall of Famer. 

"There is no offensive pass interference," Wrolstad said as Brady jogged toward the Patriots sideline to celebrate. "The contact in question occurred within one yard of the line of scrimmage. Therefore, it is a touchdown."

When it was suggested to Brady after the game that he had been pretty persuasive, he smiled. 

"I thought it was [legal]," Brady said of his argument. "When I looked over there, he was pretty close. Those are some judgment calls, sometimes a yard or a yard-and-a-half. They ran something on the next drive and threw a touchdown pass. [The Saints player] was like three yards down the field.

"I was like, 'If we got away with one then, they definitely got away with one.' I thought ours was legal. It was just a man-coverage play. Everyone has them and the officials call them differently. But I thought we made a good play, and it was a big touchdown."

And a big reversal, thanks in part to the quarterback who doubled as a litigator on Sunday afternoon.

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Would WWE outbid Patriots for Gronkowski?

Would WWE outbid Patriots for Gronkowski?

If Rob Gronkowski is serious about leaving football to become a wrestler, it probably won't be for the kind of money the Patriots are paying him, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer tells WEEI.

“I think that is more of a Gronkowski is going to make the call himself and I don’t think it is WWE is trying to — they are not going to outbid him," Meltzer told WEEI "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show on Thursday. "They are not going to spend $10 million a year on him. But, if he’s done with football, are they interested in him? Yeah, it is pretty clear they are."

Meltzer reported last week that World Wrestling Entertainment was interested in signing Gronk to a "similar style" deal to that of Ronda Rousey, who left UFC to join WWE for a reported $5 million a year. Gronkowski is scheduled to make $8.6 million from the Patriots in 2018. 

Meltzer cited NFL-turned-wrestling examples of James Laurinaitis, Kevin Greene and Brock Lesnar as the footsteps Gronk could follow. 

"Now, can you do it on a Brock Lesnar schedule of 10 matches a year? Yeah, probably. Lesnar was a unique type of character. He made probably $5 million-plus a year in wrestling the last couple of years.

Gronkowski is also said to be contemplating a career as an action movie star. 

Here's more on Gronk from NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

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Not many needs for young interior offensive line of Patriots

Not many needs for young interior offensive line of Patriots

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent to that area, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today we're looking at a spot where the Patriots are completely set . . . we think: interior offensive line. 

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

HOW THEY PERFORMED: It wasn't always pretty, particularly at the outset of the season when Tom Brady was being hit at a rate that rivaled years when he was most battered. And the way the season ended for this group -- with Shaq Mason allowing a sack to Philly's Brandon Graham that helped end the Super Bowl -- was obviously less than ideal. But that shouldn't overshadow how this group performed, particularly in the second half. Mason was a borderline Pro Bowl talent (Pro Football Focus' fourth-best grade at right tackle for 2017), pairing his devastating run-blocking with a vastly-improved ability to protect. David Andrews continued to play solidly and effectively make calls from his place as the line's pivot, getting through the season as PFF's No. 4-graded center. And while Joe Thuney had occasional issues with power rushers, he graded out as PFF's seventh-best left guard. Three top-10 players at their respective spots? And a reliable all-around backup in Ted Karras (three total pressures and one bad snap in two starts at center)? Plenty of teams around the league would love to be as solid up front. 

 

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018: Thuney, Mason, Andrews, Karras, James Ferentz, Jason King

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED: Not dire. At all, really. It's a 1 out of 10. They have three young, relatively healthy, improving players who will come back in 2018 and should slot in as immediate starters. The No. 1 backup at all three interior spots, Karras, is back as well. Ferentz is veteran depth piece who spent last season on the team's practice squad and was given a future contract by the team soon after the Super Bowl. Jason King (and Cole Croston who can play both guard and tackle) will also be back with the team when offseason training begins. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY: The best guard on the market was one of the best guards in the league in 2017: Carolina's Andrew Norwell. Other veterans who will garner interest on the market? Colts 2014 second-round pick Jack Mewhort and former Patriots starter Josh Kline. Jonathan Cooper, briefly a Patriot, will also be back on the market this offseason. Will the Patriots be interested in any of them? My guess is no, unless the team is put in an impossible situation at left tackle and they want to try Thuney on the outside, freeing up their left guard spot . . . but that's a pretty far-fetched scenario at this point. Even though Thuney played tackle in college, the Patriots drafted him to play on the inside. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT: Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson will be fascinating to track on draft day. The 330-pound guard is considered by some to be one of the two or three best football players in the draft. He's touted by experts as a surefire longtime starter with All-Pro potential. But he's a guard. Are teams going to be willing to spend a top-10 or top-15 pick on a position that is ably filled by late-round picks and undrafted players all over the league? Nelson's an interesting case study in that regard. It's a pretty strong draft class at the top, it seems. Georgia's Isaiah Wynn and Texas-El Paso's Will Hernandez have received first-round buzz, as have a few centers: Iowa's James Daniels, Arkansas' Frank Ragnow and Ohio State's Billy Price. Then there are the tackles-who-may-be-guards-at-the-next-level. Texas' Connor Williams, who we mentioned in our tackle assessment, is the biggest name who could end up getting kicked inside. 

HOW THE PATRIOTS CAN ADDRESS IT: There really isn't much to address, in my opinion. However, there's a little wrinkle here that's worth keeping in mind. The Patriots were reportedly interested in drafting Indiana's center/guard prospect Dan Feeney in the third round last year. They had the 72nd pick. He ended up going to the Chargers at No. 71. The Patriots traded down for a pair of picks when Feeney was gone. One was used to get defensive end Derek Rivers. The other helped them snag tackle Tony Garcia. Why the interest in Feeney? His size (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) and athletic profile (7.52-second three-cone, 101-inch broad jump) actually compared somewhat favorably to those of Logan Mankins (6-4, 307, 7.52-second three-cone, 95-inch broad jump). The idea of having him at center, between Thuney and Mason, could've been enticing. So will the Patriots jump at the chance to add a similarly-gifted player to play in the middle if the opportunity presents itself? Never say never, but I don't think so. Andrews received an extension after the draft, keeping him in New England through 2020, and he was named a captain before the 2017 season.

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