Drew Brees: I don't trust any NFL-led investigation


Drew Brees: I don't trust any NFL-led investigation

Drew Brees has been on the wrong end of a decision made by Roger Goodell once before. The Saints were handed a punishment for Bountygate that included a year-long suspension for coach Sean Payton and suspensions for Brees' teammates that were later overturned. 

Now that Deflategate is back in the news following the reinstatement of Tom Brady's four-game suspension in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Brees made clear his feelings about the NFL and its disciplinary practices in an interview with SI Now's Maggie Gray

Gray asked Brees if Brady's case underscored the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has too much power when it comes to disciplining players. 

"I think we would all agree he definitely has too much power," Brees said. "He is basically judge, jury, executioner when it comes to all league discipline. I mean listen, I'm not gonna trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything because it's not transparent.

"At times, I feel like there's a desired conclusion or agenda that they have in mind, and that prevents maybe the absolute truth from being told or the absolute facts from being presented. And at the end of the day we as the public, we as players don't really ever get to see that. We never get to see those facts, those truths, those things. That's the unfortunate part about this whole thing."

Brees and Brady took on the NFL together in court back in 2011. They were among the 10 players who sued the NFL in federal court, accusing the league of conspiracy and anticompetitive practices. With the lawsuit, a request for an injuction was filed that would keep the NFL and its teams from engaging in a lockout. 

That Brees had Brady's back, pushing the idea for a third-party arbitrator in these types of cases, came as little shock. 

"In regards to Brady in particular, I think we all thought that this was a dead issue," Brees said. "All of a sudden it's announced a day or two ago that his suspension has basically been upheld or the decision that Goodell has that authority to suspend him for four games has been upheld.

"It is what it is. I really don't know the inner workings of how that's been going over the last year. I think we all thought it had passed, and here it is again. I'm sure we'll learn more about it over the next few weeks, but I think certainly there should be more of a third-party, independent involvement when it comes to suspensions."

Clearly Brees was still sore about how the Bountygate issue was handled, and the issues that have come up during Deflategate have looked all too familiar for him. 

"In regards to the bounty accusations, which were found to be in most cases completely false, and yet it affects the perception as to what was going on with our organization and certain players and certain coaches that have very high character, very high integrity," Brees said. "Yet that was challenged, and unfortunately they were falsely accused in many cases.

"There's no apology that comes from that. There's no, 'Well we could've handled things differently.' It's very much, 'Everything's happening behind closed doors, and this is the way it is, and you just have to accept it.' There's nothing you can really do about it. We're just going to play the game, try to win championships, try to do it the right way and hopefully people will notice."

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

File Photo

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

There's one gigantic hole to fill on the Patriots offensive line.

Replacing Nate Solder is no easy task and it's not exactly clear how the Pats will yet.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was first to report the Patriots would like to bring back Waddle or Fleming.

It now appears that one of the former backup tackle is taking a serious look elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport. 

It's not the best offensive line free agency market this season, so the Pats may prefer to bring back a guy they are familar with.

If Fleming is off the board, Waddle still remains as an option for New England.



How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

AP Photo

How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

How highly do the Patriots value their mid-round draft picks? We'll find out as the run on NFL free agents continues this week. 

If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio plan to make any signings from outside the organization, they'll have to factor into that decision what they will be giving up. Money and cap space matter . . . sure. But there is draft capital at stake.  

The Patriots are currently projected to land two third-round compensatory picks in 2019 after losing both Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency. There's real value there, and the decision-makers at One Patriot Place may be reluctant to give that up. 

Recent Patriots third-round picks include Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan. 


Before we get into how the Patriots might lose those third-round comp picks if they remain active in free-agency, it's worth noting how comp picks are assigned. 

The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. Only free agents whose contracts have expired (not players who've been released) qualify for the compensatory-pick formula.'s Nick Korte is the best in the business when it comes to predicting how many picks teams will land based on their free-agent losses and acquisitions, and he has the Patriots down for two third-rounders in 2019 and nothing else. 

That may sound surprising given the Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola in addition to Butler and Solder, but that's the way the formula broke, according to Korte. The Adrian Clayborn signing (given a sixth-round value by OTC) cancelled out the Amendola loss (sixth-round value). The Matt Tobin signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Lewis loss (sixth-round value). And the Jeremy Hill signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Johnson Bademosi loss (sixth-round value). 

Why do Tobin and Hill cancel out Amendola and Lewis, despite being lower-value moves? Here's how OTC describes the process. (Free agents who qualify for the comp-pick formula are known as Compensatory Free Agents or CFAs.)

1. A CFA gained by a team cancels out the highest-valued available CFA lost that has the same round valuation of the CFA gained.

2. If there is no available CFA lost in the same round as the CFA gained, the CFA gained will instead cancel out the highest-available CFA lost with a lower round value.

3. A CFA gained will only cancel out a CFA lost with a higher draft order if there are no other CFAs lost available to cancel out. 

That final point is key. An example? The Seahawks recently signed CFA Jaron Brown, a seventh-round value. The only Seahawks "CFAs lost" available to cancel out the move were Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, both fourth-round values. Even though there's a three-round difference between Brown and Richardson, per Korte's projections, those moves still will cancel each other out. 

With that in mind, the Patriots may want to tread lightly when it comes to signing free agents who will qualify toward the comp-pick formula. They could lose out on the third-rounders they've received for Solder and Butler even if they sign a lower-value free agent.

Players like Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro or Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman would count toward the comp-pick formula. Would their value to the team be such that losing a 2019 third-round pick wouldn't matter to the Patriots? Or would their comp-pick impact hurt their chances of being picked up in New England? My guess would be the latter. 

The good news for the Patriots is that re-signing their own players -- like offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle and/or Cam Fleming -- doesn't impact the comp-pick setup. Neither does signing players who've been released, meaning the Patriots could theoretically make a splash by signing Ndamukong Suh or Eric Ebron and they'd retain their comp picks.

Given the Patriots made just four draft picks last year, and since comp picks can be traded now (that rule was changed last year), it would come as little surprise if retaining those picks weighed heavily on Belichick and Caserio's decisions as they move through the remainder of the offseason.