Patriots

Any Patriots player who skips minicamp will be fined $76,580

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Any Patriots player who skips minicamp will be fined $76,580

If any Patriots decide to sit out mandatory minicamp this week, it'll cost them more than $25,000 per day.

That's per a reminder from Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who points out that if a player decides it's in his best interest to withhold his services during the three-day mandatory session, the overall fine under the collective bargaining agreement would be $76,580.

It's worth pointing out the financial implications for any potential holdout because there may be those around the league who may deem minicamp not worth their while as they jostle for new contracts.

As far as the Patriots are concerned, there are likely several players who are hoping for new deals -- including at least a dozen projected contributors going into contract years -- but any minicamp holdouts would come as somewhat of a surprise. 

Several of the players going into the final year of their deals, including linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, showed up to the optional OTA practice that was open to the media late last month. It would be reasonable to expect then that they would plan on being present for the mandatory portion of spring practices as well. 

One of the big-name absences from that May 28 practice was Patriots corner Malcolm Butler, who is set to become a restricted free agent after this season. If Butler opts to skip minicamp, it would mean accepting a fine that would add up to about 8.2 percent of what he made in base salary over his first two seasons as a pro -- not an insignificant sum.

A decision to holdout by Butler would also be worthy of a raised eyebrow because his contract status with the Patriots and his accrued service time in the NFL seems to discourage that sort protest. Any holdout that extended into training camp might mean that he would miss out on a valuable accrued season.

From Article 8, Section 1 of the CBA:

A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which he failed to report to such Club at least thirty days prior to the first regular season game of that season.

For Butler, that would mean that if he does not report to the Patriots by the second week in August, he would miss out on an accrued season, which would push back his free-agency clock another year. Since players need three accrued seasons to become restricted free agents (Article 9, Section 2), he would not hit restricted free agency until 2018, and he'd be scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Patriots minicamp practices will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. All three sessions are open to reporters but are closed to the public.

Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

We have a new arena for the Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady debate: Las Vegas.

With Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons, sportsbooks are wrestling over whether New England is still a contender without the greatest quarterback of all time.

But several betting outlets are surprisingly bullish on the 2020 Patriots while setting their Super Bowl LV odds, for one obvious reason: New England still employs the greatest head coach of all time.

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"If this were any other team, we'd probably just adjust them up to 100-1," Matt Metcalf, the sportsbook director for Las Vegas bookmaker Circa Sports, told ESPN's David Purdum. "But with Belichick, you can't do that."

Instead, the Patriots are listed at 20-1 to win Super Bowl LV at many sportsbooks -- the same odds they had to win Super Bowl LIV entering last season's playoffs, according to Purdum.

Ironically, Brady's Bucs also have 20-1 odds to win Super Bowl LV at Caesar's Sportsbook. But should a talent-deficient Patriots team really be on the same level as a loaded Tampa Bay squad led by a six-time Super Bowl champion?

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Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis also cited Belichick in his rationale.

"It's hard to say," Davis told Purdum, "But is there anyone who's done more with less than Belichick? I'd say, no."

Interestingly, Purdum cites two more reasons why sportsbooks haven't dropped the Patriots' odds more: 1) They still play in the mediocre AFC East; and 2) they still could sign a "high-profile" quarterback like Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton.

Our Tom E. Curran has reported that second option is unlikely, but even if Belichick rolls into 2020 with Jarrett Stidham, sportsbooks are wary of writing the Patriots off.

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, despite some recent struggles, has enjoyed a ton of success selecting players in the NFL Draft.

Just a few days ago, Hall of Fame general manager Gil Brandt tweeted Belichick is the best drafter of his lifetime. Brandt is 87 years old, so he's seen plenty of drafts.

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Former Patriots scout and current Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy in a few tweets Wednesday provided some interesting information on how Belichick and his staff grade prospects entering the draft. One example he used was based on evaluating cornerbacks. 

Check out Nagy's explanation below:

The Patriots' ability to contend in the AFC in 2020 could hinge on their success in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, which is still scheduled to begin April 23 despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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New England has lost several key players on both sides of the ball through free agency and trades over the last few weeks.

The most notable departure, of course, was quarterback Tom Brady, who took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent after spending 20 seasons and winning six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. The Pats have lost a bunch of important defensive players, too, including linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, as well as safety Duron Harmon. Special teams also has taken a hit with the losses of safety Nate Ebner and longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Filling this holes won't be easy, but luckily for the Patriots, they have 12 picks in the 2020 draft. These picks include No. 23 overall in the first round and three selections in the third round. Only the Miami Dolphins (14) have more picks than the Patriots.

Another positive for the Patriots is many of the top players in the 2020 draft class are wide receivers or defensive players -- two areas of need for New England. In fact, it's possible we see more than half of the first-round picks used on defensive players, and many recent expert mock drafts predict Belichick will target that side of the ball with the 23rd overall selection.