Patriots

Antonio Brown demands trade from Steelers on Twitter; would Patriots call?

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USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown demands trade from Steelers on Twitter; would Patriots call?

Antonio Brown is done dropping hints.

Amid reports Brown wants a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the star wide receiver came right out with it Tuesday, essentially demanding a trade from the team that drafted him in 2010.

Brown is under contract through the 2020 season, so the Steelers aren't beholden to trading him. But the 30-year-old has become increasingly disgruntled with Pittsburgh and now has officially demanded a trade from Pittsburgh, ESPN's Adam Schefter added in a report Tuesday.

One of Brown's "hints" involved the New England Patriots: In early January, he shared a direct message conversation he had with quarterback Tom Brady back in September.

The Patriots or any other team would have to pay a steep price to acquire Brown -- likely a high draft pick (or multiple picks) in addition to a player or two. And as ESPN's Field Yates notes, Brown comes with a very hefty contract that also would cost the Steelers a pretty penny if they moved him.

Bill Belichick traditionally hasn't broken the bank on wide receivers, but considering Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett are hitting free agency this offseason, it's worth wondering if New England at least would place a call to Pittsburgh if Brown indeed is on the trade block.

Even if the Patriots steer clear of Brown, him leaving the Steelers for an NFC West club like the San Francisco 49ers would be a major development in the AFC playoff picture entering 2019.

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Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Before Kyle Rudolph agreed to a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings on June 10, many believed he'd wind up with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots needed someone to fill Rob Gronkowski's massive shoes at tight end, after all, and Rudolph played his college ball under former New England defensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

But Rudolph insists there was no real merit to reports that he'd join the Patriots other than pundits simply connecting dots.

"I don't know how real those trade possibilities were,” Rudolph told the MMQB's Albert Breer. "But, like you said, I played for Charlie. So for me, I've kind of followed that organization from afar since 2008 when I got my first Notre Dame playbook and we watched cut-ups from the Patriots offense that we were running.

"I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they've done over the last two decades. But I don't know that there was ever any real opportunity there."

From a football standpoint, it appears Rudolph would have a had real opportunity to thrive in New England; the two-time Pro Bowler would have been quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 tight end in an offense that leans heavily on the position. (Remember when Tim Wright caught a career-high six touchdowns for the Patriots in 2014?)

But it's unlikely the Patriots would have matched the four-year, $36 million contract the Vikings gave Rudolph, who clearly desired to remain with the team that drafted him.

That means New England must look elsewhere for tight end help after Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' release and a failed trade with the Detroit Lions for Michael Roberts.

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Pro Football Focus' biggest Patriots nemesis since 2006 might surprise you

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USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus' biggest Patriots nemesis since 2006 might surprise you

The New England Patriots have dominated the NFL since Pro Football Focus was created in 2006.

The Pats have made six Super Bowl appearances and won three championships over that span, but that hasn't stopped certain players from giving consistently excellent performances against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

PFF recently researched the top "team killers' in the NFL. They listed every team and the player with the highest overall grade against each of the 32 clubs (minimum 300 snaps). The highest-graded player versus the Patriots since 2006 is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with a 90.5 grade.

Here's what PFF had to say about Big Ben's success against New England:

Sure to upset the #QBWINZ crowd, Roethlisberger comes out as the top-graded player against the Patriots despite being just 4-8 against Brady and company. The tape shows, however, that the subpar record hasn’t been his fault. Big Ben’s touchdown to interception ratio of 18-to-10 doesn’t overly impress, but his big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio of 28:8 is much more impressive. The discrepancy indicates that luck hasn’t been on his side in the matchup, but that doesn’t detract from him playing at a high level.

Roethlisberger's inability to beat Brady, including a pair of AFC Championship Game losses, makes this result a bit of a surprise. Von Miller of the Denver Broncos would've been a good guess for the Patriots' nemesis, and it turns out he's PFF's "team killer" for the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers. 

It'll be interesting to see how long Roethlisberger remains the highest-graded player versus the Patriots. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who like Roethlisberger, plays well against the Pats but has trouble beating them, probably will overtake the Steelers QB when he hits 300 career snaps against New England.

Brady was the top-rated player versus the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, while Rob Gronkowski was the highest-graded player against the Steelers and Denver Broncos, according to PFF. 

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