Patriots sign seven undrafted free agents


Patriots sign seven undrafted free agents

The Patriots announced on Friday that they had signed seven undrafted free agents, including a quarterback-turned-receiver out of Michigan. 

Devin Gardner highlights the new class of Patriots undrafted rookies as he tries to make the transition from signal-caller to pass-catcher. The class also includes Georgia center David Andrews, Cal receiver Chris Harper, UAB defensive back Jimmy Jean, Auburn defensive back Brandon King, Ball State defensive back Eric Patterson and Vanderbilt defensive lineman Vince Taylor. 

A three-year starter, Andrews was a captain last season and was named the team's MVP in December. He was thought to be one of the best centers in the country as a senior, but when he participated in the East-West Shrine game he got some work at guard.

Experts say Andrews is technically sound and athletic, but at 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, the frame he carries may be deemed by some as too light to withstand NFL defensive lines.

The Patriots have found success with smaller interior linemen in the past, however. Last year's starting right guard Ryan Wendell -- who started as New England's center in 2012 and 2013 -- is currently listed at 6-2, 300 pounds. When he entered the league out of Fresno State he was about 280 pounds. While it took Wendell a few seasons to find a regular role, the Patriots kept him around despite his relative lack of size.

The comparisons to Julian Edelman are inevitable. Like Edelman, Gardner was a college quarterback who is hoping to make the leap to the NFL as a wideout. But Gardner is a much different type of prospect than Edelman in that he's 6-4 and 217 pounds.

Though his receiving skill set is very raw, Gardner has the traits to be a size mismatch on the outside, and he's thought of as a hard-worker who will get the most out of his ability in due time. Plus, one would think that it would have to be a positive that he could give his new team another arm to use in practice if a need a rose. Gardner reportedly worked out for the Patriots back in March

Not a single player from the University of California was drafted this year, but Harper was picked up by the Patriots soon after the draft finished. His team's No. 2 receiver last season, he caught 159 balls for 1,963 yards and 13 scores in his three-year career. 

At 5-11, 182 pounds, Harper is thought of as a solid route-runner and he projects as a potential slot receiver at the next level who could chip in as a return man.

One of two big defensive backs the Patriots went after on Saturday after the draft, Jean checks in at 6-2, 202 pounds. A two-year starter at UAB after spending two years at Alabama Baptist Junior College, Jean had a decent pro day for someone of his size, running a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and a posting a 35-inch vertical. 

Though a corner at UAB, Jean could be moved to safety and likely will have to have to compete for a spot as a special teamer when he gets to Foxboro. 

Another tall defensive back at 6-2, 217, King actually made a move from safety to linebacker last season in order to help the team's pass-rush. 

At his pro day in March, he ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and recorded a 35-inch vertical.

Patterson is the smallest defensive back among this year's crop of undrafted free agent acquisitions, measuring in at 5-foot-9, 197 pounds. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and was named an All-MAC third-team honoree in 2014. An experienced kicking-game contributor, he was an All-MAC first-teamer for his role as a kick returner last season.

At 6-foot-1, 307 pounds, Taylor was a powerful player on the interior of the Commodores defensive line last season. He completed 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at his pro day -- a total that would have been the best for his position at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. 

The Patriots worked out Taylor in the week leading up to the draft, according to the Tennessean

Rob Gronkowski might retire after the season if he does not receive a new contract

Rob Gronkowski might retire after the season if he does not receive a new contract

Retirement rumors floated after Super Bowl 52 that Rob Gronkowski was considering walking away from football for contract reasons. 

Mike Florio was the one to speculate those rumors last winter. According to Florio, before Sunday's matchup in Tennessee, Gronkowski may retire after this season if he does not get a new contract offer from the Patriots. 

Gronkowski restructured his contract for this season with incentive-based rewards. It is hard to see the All-Pro tight end reach those statistical marks this season after missing multiple games already this year. 

I think if the Patriots had won the Super Bowl he would have retired. And I think after this season, which has been very disappointing for him and it is his second straight year with a significant incentive package that we’re probably close to saying he’s not going to hit any of the four markers which each make him $1.1 million and he can make a maximum of $3.3 million that way.

Gronkowski also reportedly threatened retirement to stop a trade to the Detroit Lions, pledging loyalty to Tom Brady. 

As one of the best and most important offensive players the Patriots have had over the past few years, Gronkowski will force the franchise to make a decision on him sooner rather than later. 

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Bill Belichick responds to Dion Lewis calling the Patriots cheap

Bill Belichick responds to Dion Lewis calling the Patriots cheap

After signing a four-year $19.8 million contract with the Tennessee Titans this offseason, Dion Lewis helped defeat his former team Sunday with a 34-10 drubbing at home. 

In his post game availability, Lewis had a few choice words for the Patriots, who let him walk in free agency without a new contract. 

Bill Belichick has a reputation for letting players go for big contracts, and then replacing their contributions for less money. On WEEI Monday, he responded to Lewis' comments. 

Dion’s made plenty of positive comments in the past... I’m not sure about this one, but whatever it is, it is. Right now, we really need to worry about what we’re doing and our football team. And that’s really where our focus is. Whatever else anybody says or doesn’t say is out of our control. I don’t think it’s going to affect us too much one way or the other, whether it’s good or bad.”

Lewis has passed receiving total from last year already, but has not gotten the same amount of carries in Tennessee while sharing the backfield with Derrick Henry. Meanwhile, New England has gotten career-best production from James White. 

Other players can say the Patriots are cheap, but they continue to find replacements year after year. 

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