Patriots hosting DE Clayborn and RB Hill on free-agent visits

Patriots hosting DE Clayborn and RB Hill on free-agent visits

The Patriots have yet to sign any free agents who weren't their own, but they could be moving toward bringing in a helpful piece or two. 

According to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran, the team had free-agent visits scheduled with defensive end Adrian Clayborn and running back Jeremy Hill. ESPN was the first to report the visits. 

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At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Clayborn is a stouter end who could rush from the interior in passing situations. His versatility would seem to fit what the Patriots like, and he hails from Iowa, where former Belichick colleague Kirk Ferentz runs the show. Clayborn had 9.5 sacks in 2017, six of which came in a ridiculous performance against the Cowboys. 

Should Clayborn make New England his next home, the picture on the edge for Bill Belichick's roster would come into clearer focus. After a season in which injuries ravaged that spot for the Patriots, they could be looking at a group in 2018 that includes Dont'a Hightower, Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Shea McClellin . . . and Clayborn . . . if he's interested. 

Hill, meanwhile, would be an interesting addition in that he would seem to slot into a role that the team already has filled. 

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Hill was a between-the-tackles hammer for the Bengals the last four seasons. An ankle injury and subsequent surgery ended Hill's 2017 prematurely after just 37 carries and 116 yards in seven games.

Would Hill simply be some competition for Mike Gillislee, who looks like the No. 1 contender for the team's "big back" role next season? Or might the Patriots carry two bruisers in order to give themselves some insurance? 

The Patriots seemed to make an effort in the 2017 season to become more unpredictable in the backfield. They went out and signed dual-threat free agent Rex Burkhead. They eventually made dual-threat dynamo Dion Lewis their lead back. That's not exactly Hill's style, though he can catch (21 receptions in 15 games in 2016). Burkhead, who re-signed with the Patriots on a three-year deal earlier this week, looks like the best bet to be the unpredictable option if he can stay healthy. 

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Hill is an intriguing blend of size and athleticism, though. He's just 25 years old, and the fact that he's coming off an injury-shortened season should make him a low-risk option if he and the Patriots can come to an agreement. 


Gronkowski says 'no' to optional workouts in strange press conference

Gronkowski says 'no' to optional workouts in strange press conference

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski held a strange press conference on Saturday, which he attended in full Supercross gear. Even for the goofy Patriots tight end, that's a little odd.

But what made it even more head-scratching is that the presser occurred inside Gillette Stadium, about a 15-second walk away from the Patriots weight room, which Gronkowski steered clear of last week during the team's first few voluntary workouts of the offseason. 

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran described Tom Brady and Gronkowski's absence from the workouts as part of an "open revolt" earlier this week. Gronkowski's presence in the building Saturday didn't have the feel of a peace offering. 

Told that fans would wonder why Gronkowski was able to make it to One Patriot Place for a Supercross event and not for workouts -- workouts which are traditionally extremely well-attended in Foxboro -- he cracked, "Training for this dirt-biking."

Asked if he planned on attending optional workouts that are upcoming, he answered, "No." He then added, "I've got dirt-biking skills to work on."

After avoiding a few questions on the topic of whether or not he would return to the Patriots in 2018, Gronkowski did seem to hint that he planned to play football next season, drawing laughter from a crowd that included Gronkowski's father, one of his brothers and multiple friends, including former Patriots Stevan Ridley and Rob Ninkovich.

How much weight should be put into comments made by Gronkowski during a press conference that was, essentially, one long promotional joke? Debatable. But the fact that he was willing to show up to the place he avoided during the week, then have a good laugh about his future with the team that he's captained the last two seasons? That might not sit very well with those who are looking ahead to the upcoming season and wondering about the All-Pro tight end's plans.


Tom Brady applauds Nick Foles' restructured contract

File Photo

Tom Brady applauds Nick Foles' restructured contract

Though Tom Brady has skipped the Patriots' offseason workout program, he hasn't missed a beat on Instagram. 

On Friday, it was the news of Nick Foles restructuring his contract with the Eagles that got Brady's attention in the form of a like and a comment applauding the move. Foles, who beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, got a $2 million signing bonus and will now have a mutual option for the 2019 season.