Tom Brady applauds Nick Foles' restructured contract

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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. 
 

Belichick: Patriots have ability to land almost anyone in the draft

Belichick: Patriots have ability to land almost anyone in the draft

FOXBORO -- It's funny. In a way, by trading Brandin Cooks and landing the No. 23 overall selection in this year's draft, the Patriots made life a little harder on themselves in the short-term. Of course, they felt like it was worth it. But now, with two picks in the first round and two in the second, Bill Belichick and his staff have put themselves in position to draft almost any player available this spring. 

That means more homework, more due diligence, on this year's class relative to the last few. The Patriots have made one selection in the top 50 -- Malcom Brown in 2015 --  in the last three drafts.

"Last couple years, going into those past few drafts, I would say we were able to eliminate a number of players just based on where we were selecting," Belichick said Friday during the team's annual pre-draft press conference. "This year's a little bit different than that. We really need to know the draft top to bottom. Potentially, I'd say there are a handful of players that are probably out of reach. But realistically, just about everybody is in play other than a handful of guys."

That seems to be an acknowledgment that the Patriots won't be able to get up to the very top of the draft. Players like Sam Darnold and Josh Allen -- who seem to be the most likely choices to go No. 1 overall -- probably won't be within reach for the Patriots. Saquon Barkley and Bradley Chubb could be out of the mix as well if there are teams set on taking them inside the top three.

But after that? If a someone slips closer to No. 10 overall, the Patriots could work their way up the board if they love the player. 

To do that they'll need to find a trade partner. In particular, they'll need a trade partner who views the value of their draft position through the same lens the Patriots do. That means going to the old Jimmy Johnson draft-pick trade chart, which Belichick explained has changed somewhat in recent years because compensatory picks can now be traded.

"I’d say the draft chart has been modified a little bit based on the change in that," Belichick explained. "One of the problems with the draft chart, if we all have our own draft charts, which is fine, sometimes it’s hard to make a trade because, ‘Well, my draft chart says this. Well, your draft chart says that,’ whereas if we all use the same chart, we all agree on basic value. Then it’s a lot easier to get what we call, I’d say, a fair trade, which I’d say over the last few years the majority of the trades that we’ve studied have been within a few percentage points one way or the other of being the correct value for the trade."

Going off of the Johnson chart, the Patriots could theoretically get all the way up to No. 9 overall if they were to send their two first-rounders (No. 23 and No. 31) to the Niners. The value of New England's two firsts (1,360 points) would be a fair match for No. 9 (1,350 points). 

If the Patriots were willing to add in their top second-round pick to their two firsts (No. 43 overall, 470 points), then that would be enough to get them to No. 4 overall (1,800 points), which belongs to the Browns. The Patriots, you'll remember, have already executed two trades with Cleveland general manager John Dorsey this offseason -- one to land defensive tackle Danny Shelton and one to land corner Jason McCourty. 

Maybe Belichick's acknowledgment that there are a "handful" of players out of reach means that he wouldn't be willing to package his top three picks together to make one top-five selection. But, as he said, "realistically," if he really wanted to . . . he could. 

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Red Sox lose to Yankees in a wild night at Fenway, 10-7

Red Sox lose to Yankees in a wild night at Fenway, 10-7

BOSTON -- The fuse has officially been lit in the newest chapter of the ramped-up Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Zim vs. Pedro. A-Rod vs. Varitek. Munson vs. Fisk.

And now, Tyler Austin tangling with Joe Kelly.

In a matchup between clubs that have long clashed, Austin rushed the mound after being hit by a pitch from the Red Sox reliever, triggering a bench-clearing brawl Wednesday night as New York ended Boston's nine-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory.

"It's Yankees-Red Sox. That's what everybody wants. That's what they got," Boston starter David Price said.

Austin slid spikes-first into shortstop Brock Holt at second base in the third inning. No surprise, the sides saw it differently

Four innings later, the Red Sox retaliated.

"Two competitive teams going at it and stuff happens," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "But sometimes stuff shouldn't happen and there was no reason for fisticuffs to have to happen based on that slide at second base."

Gary Sanchez hit two home runs in a game that twice saw the benches empty and a fight that resulted in four ejections.

And no telling what might happen in the series finale Thursday night at Fenway Park.

"I think it's probably over with," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Hopefully put this to bed."

A day after the Red Sox romped 14-1, the benches cleared briefly in the third after Austin's spikes clipped Holt's leg on a slide into second base. Holt took issue with the contact and they exchanged words before being separated.

"I probably said something I shouldn't have to start the whole thing, so I'm sorry for that," Holt said. "But I just wanted him to know that it was a bad slide, and I think everyone on the field knows that it was, and I think he knows that now, too."

Said Austin: "I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with that slide. I had no thought that they were going to throw at me."

With the Yankees leading 10-6 in the seventh, Kelly nearly hit Austin with an 0-1 pitch.

"I thought it was over after that," Austin said.

Far from it.

Two pitches later, Kelly caught him on the side with a 98 mph heater. Austin slammed his bat on the plate, threw it down and took four steps toward the mound while hollering. Kelly waved Austin at him, and things quickly got out of hand.

"It escalated," Holt said.

Kelly hit Austin a couple of times, and the Yankees designated hitter wound up with a swollen lip.

Trying to hit Kelly, Austin instead tagged Red Sox third base coach Carlos Febles.

The scuffle spilled across the field before it broke up in front of the Boston dugout on the first base side, with Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stantonpushing the pile. Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames used both hands to shove Austin all the way across the infield toward the New York dugout.

Kelly had visible red marks on his neck after the game.

"I was ready to defend myself," he said. "Someone comes on my property and in my backyard -- I've got two dogs and if you come on my property and I feel like I was getting attacked then I'm going to have to defend myself."

Austin, Kelly, Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle and third base coach Phil Nevin were ejected.

This was the second bench-clearing brawl of the day in the majors. Colorado star Nolan Arenado charged the mound after being a pitch from San Diego's Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind him.

"It made me wonder, too, if they were in their clubhouse watching the Padre-Rockie brawl and planted the seed for them and led them to think that that's why they should do," Cashman said.

New York and Boston have a history of furious fights.

Thurman Munson collided with catcher Carlton Fisk in 1973 after Gene Michael missed a bunt attempt. Three years later, Lou Piniella bowled into Fisk at the plate, and Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee separated a shoulder in the ensuing fighting.

After Roger Clemens threw a pitch under Manny Ramirez's chin during the 2003 AL Championship Series, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer charged Pedro Martinez, who hit Karim Garcia with a pitch earlier. Martinez picked up Zimmer and threw him to the ground.

"The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would've hit Tyler Austin at his previous at bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly," Martinez tweeted.

"Sliding with the cleats up is a no-no in baseball. That means fight fight fight!" he posted.

A year later, Boston's Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, A-Rod shouted at the pitcher, and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek punched Rodriguez in the face, setting off a scuffle.

Before the melee, there was some baseball.

The Yankees scored four runs off Price (1-1) in the first inning before the lefty ace exited the game with a tingling sensation in his pitching hand. Price was shaking his hand during the inning.

New York jumped on Boston's bullpen, adding four more runs over next three innings.

Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) went five innings, yielding six runs. J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam and Hanley Ramirez homered for Boston.

Aroldis Chapman gave up two hits and a run on a wild pitch in the ninth, but got three outs to end the game.

Sanchez drove in four runs and Stanton had three hits and three RBIs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks (right intercostal strain), was 1 for 3 with a double in his second rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. LJ Mazzilli was 1 for 4, a day after he was acquired from the Mets organization. Boone said Hicks may rejoin the Yankees on Thursday.

Red Sox: Price said he had "no pain" in his hand or arm when he was checked out by doctors. The plan is to have him play catch on Thursday and have it reevaluated.

ERRORLESS STREAK ENDS

Boston's errorless streak to begin the season ended when catcher Christian Vazquez's attempt to stop Brett Gardner from stealing second skipped into center field. Gardner advanced to third and scored on Stanton's single.

Red Sox committed no errors in their first 10 games, the franchise's longest streak to begin any season. No other team since at least 1913 has begun a season with streak of 10 or more errorless games.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his third start of the season Thursday. He is 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in six starts against Boston.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA) has won each of his two starts this season. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer over six-plus innings pitched in each of his six career starts against New York at Fenway.

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