Patriots

Bill Belichick ranks second among NFL GMs in these categories, per survey

Bill Belichick ranks second among NFL GMs in these categories, per survey

Bill Belichick has won six Super Bowl championships in nine tries as the New England Patriots' head coach and de facto general manager. That's a pretty decent résumé.

But if you ask NFL agents, there are two current front-office leaders who have Belichick beat.

The Athletic's Ben Standig surveyed 30 certified NFL agents on a variety of topics and compiled their list of votes to determine a "winner" for each category.

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Among those topics were two questions -- "Among general managers or front-office leaders, who is the smartest?" and "Who is the best talent evaluator?" -- that Patriots fans may expect Belichick to receive the most votes for.

But guess where Belichick ranked in both categories? Second.

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman received five votes for "smartest GM" to Belichick's four, with NFL agents pointing to Roseman's ability to handle all aspects of the job -- including dealing with the media.

"Howie Roseman is a guy who I think is very good with the media from what I can tell," one agent said. "I know that he knows the money game very well. And I’ve known him for 15-18 years and he’s worked incredibly hard to learn football and how to evaluate to the point now where he’s really good."

Roseman's Eagles defeated Belichick's Patriots in Super Bowl LII, and it appears he's scored another victory over the Hoodie here -- although another agent insisted Belichick is "Light Years ahead of everybody."

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, meanwhile, topped Belichick in the "best talent evaluator" category.

"He’s the best by far," one agent said of Ballard. "He’s the easiest to deal with and I think he’s great at talent evaluation as well."

Belichick's history of finding success with players other teams overlooked (cough, Tom Brady, cough) presents a strong counter-argument. But the longtime Patriots coach did lead his contemporaries in one category: According to agents, Belichick is the GM they trust the least.

"You can fill in the dots," one agent said.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions. Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun, and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player, he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

One of the New England Patriots' 2020 draft picks has decided to retire before his rookie season began.

The team announced Thursday it has placed offensive lineman Dustin Woodard on the reserve/retired list.

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Woodard, who played college football at the University of Memphis, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (230th overall) of April's draft. The 22-year-old center/guard was one of three offensive linemen taken by the Patriots in the 2020 draft, along with guard Michael Onwenu (sixth round) and tackle Justin Herron (sixth round).

Why is Woodard retiring? ESPN's Mike Reiss reported additional details:

The Patriots signed center Tyler Gauthier on Wednesday in a move that adds some depth to the position following Woodard's retirement. Woodard had a chance to make the roster as the backup center behind starter David Andrews.