Vinatieri expects 'fun game' from Brady and Patriots


Vinatieri expects 'fun game' from Brady and Patriots

INDIANAPOLIS - There are as many grey hairs in Adam Vinatieri’s beard as there are brown. The same for his slightly receeding hairline. But the Vinatieri who booted game-winning field goals for the Patriots is now 42 years old, deep in the second phase of his career, one that includes another Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts. For those counting at home, that makes four in what should most certainly be a Hall of Fame career.

Very few of Vinatieri’s old Patriots teammates are still playing, not just in Foxboro, but period. However, Tom Brady remains a constant, just as Vinatieri does. Vinatieri’s locker used to be just a few down from Brady’s. He knows as well as anyone how Brady’s mind works, though he wasn’t willing to put himself in the quarterback’s shoes after an offseason of unrest caused, in part, by the Colts.

“I don’t want to speak for Tom,” said Vinatieri. “I don’t know what’s in his mind right now. I’m sure he’s preparing like he always does. He’s a professional. One of the best professionals out there as far as getting ready to play and getting his team ready to go. So I’m sure he’ll be ready to play.”

But is there more to it than that for Brady, for the Patriots?

“Does this game hold more meaning?” Vinatieri asked. “Like I said, I’m not speaking for anybody else. I know for us, it’s a good game. Whenever you play a team like the Patriots, it’s a big game. They’re a good team, but it’s one of 16 and they all count as one of 16 so is it any more or any less important? Absolutely not. It’s the next game...”

The Patriots have dominated this “rivalry,” with wins of 38, 22, 21 and 35 points in their past four meetings. Now, there’s something different at play for this one, at least in the eyes of fans and media alike publicly, and privately, in the minds of some of those who live in that Pats locker room. Yes, all who “Believe in Brady” are praying for a beatdown of epic proportions Sunday night, one that leaves the Colts neutered. Vinatieri obviously has no desire to see that, but knows how Bill Belichick can operate.

“I remember coach Bobby Bowden 15 years ago when he was at Florida State, I remember him saying my job is to score to points, it’s the other team’s job to stop us from scoring points,” he said. “Why would I expect anything less from them, or from us, or from any other team for that matter? We try to score as many points as we can, and I’m sure they’ll try to do the same. We‘ll see how it all pans out, how it is at the end of game.”

Considering the level the Pats are playing at right now and how difficult it has been for the Colts to get their season turned in a positive direction - don’t let the three straight wins fool you - Vinatieri is sure it will take a much better performance from his team Sunday night, or else, well, you know...

“This locker room knows how great of a team the Patriots are,” he said. “They’re the defending world champs, undefeated and playing some of the best football of anybody. We know what we’re getting ourselves into as far as going out there, needing to execute, play well, play error free. So, we expect it to be a fun game.”

Depends on what you consider fun.

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

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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.