Patriots

Brady takes multiple issues with ESPN story

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Brady takes multiple issues with ESPN story

ESPN put a lot of eggs into Seth Wickersham’s piece on dysfunction on the Patriots. In the story, it was speculated that the end could be near for the ruling triumvirate of Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Since that story was posted Friday, the team and the individual pieces have gone out of their way to deny parts of the story with great vigor.

It was Tom Brady’s turn Tuesday morning during his weekly appearance with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI.

Though he claimed not to have read the entire story, Brady apparently had someone do it for him, saying he’s well educated on the more pointed details of what was -- at its core -- a less than flattering look at the quarterback. It portrayed him as petty and jealous and believing he is beyond reproach. 

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“I have been a part of a lot of articles over the years that I disagree with,” said Brady.  "People can write whatever they want to write. This is a free country. You can say what you want to say. I am evaluated on my job, I am sure other people are evaluated on their jobs. I think it is just being in my position and I understand there’s 31 other cities where people aren’t Patriots fans or Tom Brady fans. Here there’s a lot competition within our media. I have been a part of that for a long time, too.

"I think you just have to take the good with the bad. It’s probably harder on the people who care about me . . . They read it, probably like a lot of other people, you read it and when we grew up, what you read in the paper was the truth. I think now you just have to take everything -- it’s just a little bit different now.”

At the heart of the piece was a power struggle between the three egos: Kraft, Belichick and Brady. It was written that Kraft mandated a Jimmy Garoppolo trade despite the coach’s desire to keep the player and eventually transition from the 40-year-old Brady to the 25-year-old Jimmy G. Belichick wouldn’t discuss the allegation, but Brady had no problem shooting down the notion that he was “liberated” when the trade happened.

“I think that is such a poor characterization," he said. "In 18 years I have never celebrated when someone has been traded or been cut. I would say that is disappointing to hear that someone would express that, or a writer would express that because it is so far from what my beliefs are about my teammates and I think I am very empathetic about other people’s experiences. I know those situations aren’t easy.

"I have never been traded or released, but I can imagine how that might feel. I would never feel that way when Jimmy got traded, or Jacoby [Brissett] got traded. I have kept in touch with all those guys. When Matt Cassel was gone -- all these guys I’ve worked with. I feel like I have had such great relationships with all the quarterbacks I have worked with. I have kept him touch with basically everybody. To characterize that as a certain way is just completely wrong.”

There was also the story of Garoppolo being turned away from the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriot Place in the immediate aftermath on his shoulder injury last season. It was said that Garoppolo was locked out of the facility and ended up not being seen by Brady’s business partner/body coach Alex Guerrero until two weeks after the fact. Multiple attempts by this reporter to confirm that story have failed, though I was told and reported multiple times that there were clear lines for when Garoppolo could and couldn’t use Guerrero. As for the alleged lockout, Brady scoffed.

“Again, it’s hard to even answer those questions," he said. "It is so far from any truth that I know, or any characterization of my relationship with my teammates. I have never denied anybody anything in regards to TB12. I have always found it very flattering when teammates go there. Again, I think this speaks to someone whether it is the writer himself, or whoever he spoke to, what agenda they might have in painting some type of picture.

"I think [Belichick] always says speak for yourselves and I have always tried to go by that. Like I said, I have a great relationship with all my teammates. I certainly did with Jimmy. I loved working with Jimmy. We had a great time together. I wish him nothing but the best, like always. Just like all my teammates, really. I think that is just how I feel about him.”

Guerrero has also been a hot topic of conversation this year, with his access reduced at the stadium and on the road, much to the quarterback’s dismay. Brady is a devout follower of Guerrero’s methods and in the story it was stated that Brady would tell his teammates, “Bill’s answer to everything is to lift more weights,” which certainly runs counter to Guerrero’s teachings. Brady claims that part of the story to be false as well.

“Again, I am not a divisive person," he said. "I don’t speak about things like that, and again, I think we’ve talked for a long time about how I feel about training and my preparation. Again, people come up to me whether it is my teammates, or other guys and say, ‘Hey, what are the things that you do? What are the things that have worked for you?’ I can just convey that certain message. Whether that is how I train, or how I eat, or sleep, or drink, all those things. I just try and give them the answer that works for me. It certainly doesn’t have to work for everybody. Every player, it is up to them to either listen to what I am saying and either use it or not use it. It’s their career. It’s not that I couldn’t care less. I want everyone to experience the things I have experienced as I have gotten older. That is just what I try and convey.”

Finally, as for tiring of Belichick’s harsh critiques and unwillingness to throw verbal bouquets at the quarterback regularly, Brady said he wouldn’t change the last 18 years for anything.

“Coach Belichick has been such a great coach and mentor and I certainly could never accomplish anything in this sport without everything that he has taught me," Brady said. "I have been so lucky to play for this team. There’s been so many great coaches here, players, staff members, Mr. Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft]. I have had such great support here. I think again, to characterize it any differently than how I say it, and again, I could say it a million times and then someone could write one thing. It is really up to whoever is listening that wants to believe it and maybe they want to believe it because that’s what they want to believe. They want to believe things are maybe different, or maybe they want to believe -- I don’t know.”

Wickersham has repeatedly stated that he stands by his story.

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With Butler's departure inevitable, Patriots' corner search is on

With Butler's departure inevitable, Patriots' corner search is on

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 at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today, we're looking at the position group that received more attention than any other during Super Bowl 52: Cornerback. 

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HOW THEY PERFORMED


No single position group experienced as many dips, climbs and dives as Patriots corners did during their rollercoaster season. In September alone, the communication was a mess, Malcolm Butler got benched, Stephon Gilmore got benched, and Eric Rowe suffered a serious groin injury that allowed Gilmore to quickly get his job back. Second-year special teams standout Jonathan Jones might've been the team's best cover man at that juncture. Then, as soon as Gilmore started to find his footing, he was diagnosed with a concussion. The group started to put it together in the second half with solid performances against the Raiders in Mexico City and the Bills in Buffalo. Gilmore was particularly strong as the season wore on, showing the man-to-man cover skills and the knack for getting his hands on footballs that made him one of the highest-paid players at his position last offseason. But in the end, in the Super Bowl, with Butler benched again, the group (outside of Gilmore, who played well against Philly) had too many letdowns in what was arguably the team's worst defensive performance of the season.

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?
Gilmore, Rowe, Jones, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz

WHO ISN'T?
Butler, Johnson Bademosi

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?

The Patriots played Rowe in prominent roles in each of the past two Super Bowls and he seems to be first in line to take over No. 2 duties with Butler certainly headed on to a new chapter in his career. Jonathan Jones showed in spurts that he could be an effective slot corner, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the Divisional Round and it's unclear what the Patriots will be expecting from him in 2018. Cyrus Jones is coming off of a torn ACL, and even before his injury, it looked like he may have a hard time cracking the regular rotation. This is one position -  like tackle  - that the Patriots don't want to be left thin. If we had to rank it, the need for another capable body would probably come in at about a 7 out of 10. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?


There are a handful of relatively big names who will be on the market come March, including Butler. Trumaine Johnson of the Rams figures to be at the top of the class. Vontae Davis of the Colts is 29 and often injured, but in a corner-needy league, he shouldn't have much trouble finding a team. EJ Gains of the Bills could leverage his inside-out versatility to come away with a deal worth almost $10 million per year. Aaron Colvin of the Jaguars, Patrick Robinson of the Eagles, Nickell Robey-Coleman of the Rams and Leonard Johnson of the Bills give teams in need of slot help some options. Kyle Fuller of the Bears and Morris Claiborne of the Jets are two former first-rounders who've had up-and-down careers but showed last season they have still value on the outside. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?

It feels like the best athletes at the high school and college levels are getting smarter. Or their coaches are. Once again, there's a deep group of athletes peppering the incoming draft class at corner, which is, of course, one of the highest-paying positions in football. (Why so many top-tier athletes are still playing running back, on the other hand, is beyond me.) Alabama's hybrid star in the secondary Minkah Fitzpatrick will be long gone by the time the Patriots pick. Same goes for Ohio State's undersized burner Denzel Ward and Iowa's ball-hawking 6-foot-1 cover man Josh Jackson, in all likelihood. At the bottom of the first round, though, players like Auburn's Carlton Davis (who has drawn comparisons to Richard Sherman because of his length and ball skills) and Colorado's Isaiah Oliver (a one-time Pac-12 decathlete with a 6-foot-1 frame) could be available. Would the Patriots want to invest a first-round pick at that spot? If they feel like they have good depth at the position already on the roster but want to take a flier on a mid-round selection, they could hope Louisville's Jaire Alexander (who dealt with injuries in 2017 that will probably hurt his draft stock) lasts into the third round. 

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?


One name that's sort of intriguing on the free-agency market is Davis'. You've heard tales similar players ending up in New England before. He's spent the majority of his career without much of a shot at a title - though his Colts made the AFC Championship Game in the 2014 season. He should be low-cost. He had season-ending groin surgery last year, was released in November and went unclaimed. He'll be 30 before the start of next season, but he may be worth a roll of the dice to help a relatively young Patriots secondary. If he doesn't pan out, no harm done. Hard to envision Belichick and Nick Caserio investing big money into this position with Gilmore on the roster, but maybe they'll deem one of the free-agent slot options worth a shot if he's cost-effective. Otherwise, the Patriots may try to take advantage of a draft that seems - at least right now - as if it's deeper at corner than it is at some other spots on the defensive side of the ball, like on the edge.

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Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

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Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

James Harrison was a larger than life figure during his time in Pittsburgh. 

It was as if God molded him to be a member of the Steelers: massive, physical, and an absolute bruiser.

But at the end of the day he is a football player. And athletes in this sport don't particuarly like time on the bench.

Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers organization were reminded of this fact in a very harsh manner.

At the end of the December, Harrison made a late season move to sign with the Patriots. It left his former teammates in Pittsburgh frustrated, and his former fans confused.

But at the end of the day he just wanted to be on the football field again. And that's exactly where Belichick put him.

Harrison had the opportunity to appear in many more situations, and had several sacks at the end of the season.

Now there is a new report from Christopher Price of the Boston Sports Journal that he could re-sign with the Patriots in 2018.

A source close to Price and Harrison said "there's a reasonable chance" that he could be on the roster next year.

He will be playing this upcoming season at age 40, and has previously stated he'd like to play one or two more seasons.

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