Patriots

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more. 

Trent Brown's agent reveals Patriots wanted to keep left tackle before he joined Raiders

Trent Brown's agent reveals Patriots wanted to keep left tackle before he joined Raiders

Trent Brown left the New England Patriots to sign the richest offensive lineman contract in NFL history with the Oakland Raiders, but before that, the defending Super Bowl champs did have interest in the left tackle returning to Foxboro.

Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, let that be known in a recent story by Peter King on Pro Football Talk.

You saw the pictures, I assume, of Bill Belichick and girlfriend Linda Holliday in Barbados on the weekend before free-agency began. They have phones there, and Belichick was using them. “Don’t let those photos fool you,” Rosenhaus the agent told me Sunday. “We talked one morning at 4:30 about Trent Brown. They wanted to keep him.”

Brown played well for the Patriots last season, particularly in the playoffs when the offensive line as a whole gave up just one sack of quarterback Tom Brady through three playoff games. New England acquired him in a trade last April with the San Francisco 49ers.

Keeping Brown would've been a good situation for the Pats given his impressive talent and the fact he's still just 25 years old. However, it's hard to imagine the Patriots were in the same financial ballpark as the Raiders when it came to contract offers.

We've seen the Patriots let star players walk in free agency numerous times in the Bill Belichick era, and the team usually finds a player or two capable of filling the gap.

Brown, in fact, was a replacement for departed left tackle Nate Solder, who signed with the New York Giants in free agency before last season. The next man up to replace Brown likely is Isaiah Wynn, a 2018 first-round draft pick who missed all of his rookie season because of a torn Achilles.

The Patriots still need more depth at the offensive tackle position, even if Wynn is fully healthy entering training camp, so don't be surprised if they sign a veteran or look to address the position in the 2019 NFL Draft next month.

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New Dolphins CB Eric Rowe thanks Patriots in Instagram post

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USA TODAY Sports

New Dolphins CB Eric Rowe thanks Patriots in Instagram post

Eric Rowe took his talents to Miami to join the Dolphins in NFL free agency, but the veteran cornerback will certainly look back fondly at his time spent with the New England Patriots.

Rowe spent a little time during St. Patrick's Day on Sunday to thank the Patriots in an Instagram post. 

Rowe spent three seasons in New England, beginning in 2016. He was part of the Super Bowl LI-winning squad, and also played in Super Bowl LII. Rowe did not play in Super Bowl LIII because injury limited him to just four games last season. His final game for the Patriots was a 38-31 Week 7 win on the road against the Chicago Bears.

The 26-year-old cornerback will reunited with Brian Flores in Miami. Flores was the Patriots' defensive playcaller last season and recently was hired as the next Dolphins head coach. 

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