Patriots

Manning explains exchange with Belichick, Brady

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Manning explains exchange with Belichick, Brady

SAN JOSE – Peyton Manning didn’t exactly lay his cards on the table regarding his post-Super Bowl plans.

But he tipped his hand a bit toward the very end of his 60-minute media session at the SAP Center in advance of Super Bowl 50.

After deflecting questions throughout his session and stating his focus was “in the moment,” Manning acknowledged, “At some point after the season I’ll have that comprehensive analysis. But I’m at peace with it. Look, I’m a realist. I know there’s talk about the conversation I had with (Bill) Belichick two weeks ago against New England.”

In that brief, postgame embrace, Manning said, “Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure.”

Of that exchange, Manning said, “That was not pre-planned. It was a spontaneous reaction. Sometimes you want to tell somebody something man-to-man, it’s better than telling them via text or even a handwritten letter, or seeing them at a banquet and saying, ‘Boy, it sure was great playing against you. I told (Tom) Brady the same thing previous to telling Belichick. I understand there’s people (nearby) but what I said was true. This could be it. I’m aware this could be it and I wanted to tell both of them I really have enjoyed these games. It’s been part of my football life and both of those guys have been part of good for me and not so good for me and so I took the time to tell them.”

Manning then joked about Brady’s own intention to play until he’s fossilized.

“Hey, Brady’s gonna play till he’s 70, Belichick’s gonna coach till he’s 90,” said Manning. “Maybe I hit the fountain of youth in the next month and I play another 10 years. Maybe we play in 10 more championships against each other. But just in case we don’t, I took the time to look them in the eye, man-to-man, shook their hands and I’m glad that I did it because it was important to me that they knew that. There in the moment, face-to-face, man-to-man, that’s all that that meant.”

Manning seemed to swallow hard and need a moment to compose himself after breaking his embrace with Belichick.

I asked him about that reaction.

“Maybe I get to play in 10 more AFC Championships and if I do, eight of them will probably be against the Patriots because I promise you they’ll be there,” said Manning. “I don’t know if it’s having kids or getting old, but I catch myself getting a little more emotional at times. It was an emotional game. You take the snap and every single photographer’s out there, you don’t even get to talk to your own teammates and you’re fighting through. Brady and I usually have a short exchange and people are bumping into you, so I took an extra 30 seconds to shake his hand, look at him in the eye and tell him face-to-face how much respect I have for him. These are things that he knew, but there’s something about telling him face-to-face.”

Patriots reportedly almost traded for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason

Patriots reportedly almost traded for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason

Heading into the offseason after yet another Super Bowl win, one of the biggest areas of concerns for the Patriots is wide receiver. 

There were similar concerns this time last season. The team eventually shored up the position by trading for Cordarrelle Patterson and Josh Gordon, but Patterson is a free agent and Gordon's return to the team is still up in the air. 

Neither move might've happened if the Patriots had succeeded in their pursuit of one star player in 2018. 

On Pro Football Talk Live, Chris Simms reported that the Patriots were frontrunners to land star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. when the Giants were shopping him last offseason. 

"From everything I know, from multiple sources, the thing that stopped the trade conversation with Odell Beckham Jr. is because the team that was most aggressive in pursuing him was the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots were trying to get Odell Beckham Jr. all last offseason." 

MORE PATRIOTS

If the trade went through, last season might've turned out quite differently for New England. Beckham Jr. would have been the most talented wideout Tom Brady had thrown to in years. Gordon put up 737 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games with the Patriots. What kind of numbers could Beckham Jr. have put up if he was catching passes from Brady over the course of a full season?

With receiver remaining a weak spot in New England and continued rumors that the Giants may move on from Beckham Jr. sooner rather than later, the Patriots may have another chance. He isn't a typical Patriot with his hefty contract and constant presence in the media, but Bill Belichick is trying to maximize the last leg of Brady's career. No one can predict what he's up to in Foxboro. 

Time will only tell if the Pats take another swing at the supremely talented receiver. 

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PFF ranks Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon two of the best tackles in AFC East

PFF ranks Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon two of the best tackles in AFC East

New England's offensive line was a large part of the reason they won the Super Bowl; they managed to keep Brady upright despite facing talented pass-rushers in every playoff game, all while running roughshod over their opponents. 

Two cornerstones of their success came in the form of the two big tackles, Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon. While they weren't quite as dominant during the regular season, they still managed to rank as two of the best five tackles in the AFC East, with Cannon coming out as the best in the division according to PFF's rankings. 

Brown, an unrestricted free agent, was a key offseason addition for the Pats, who managed to acquire him from San Francisco for merely a fifth-round pick. Unfortunately, Brown's play may have priced him out of the Patriots' range, but they have his likely successor in the wings in the form of Isaiah Wynn. 

AREAS OF CHANGE

Cannon managed to stay on the field this year after finishing the previous season on the IR, playing in 13 games. He was excellent when he did play, and was a big part in shutting down the edge rushers of the Chargers and Chiefs in January. 

Brown may be gone by the time training camp rolls around, but Cannon is in the midst of a five-year deal, and will be the team's starting right tackle for the next few years, barring any injuries. If he can keep up his excellent play while remaining healthy enough for the playoffs, New England won't have to worry about the right side of the line for years to come. 

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