Patriots

Brady at bottom of ESPN's 'Dominant 20' list

Brady at bottom of ESPN's 'Dominant 20' list

Yet another ESPN list is out and Tom Brady - despite five Super Bowl titles and his position as arguably the greatest player in America's most popular sport - again can't break into its upper echelon.

Brady, who was deemed the 21st most popular athlete by the network last year in the "Fame 100", comes in at the bottom of its "Dominant 20, a list of the most dominant athletes of the past 20 years put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ESPN The Magazine.

So, Brady checks in at the final spot, with a "Dominance Ranking" of 6.3, just behind boxer Manny Pacquiao (6.5). 

Here's part of their mathematical formula for the rankings, which must've hurt their heads to come up with as much as it will hurt yours to read.

"...Then we rated those sports' athletes in each of the past 20 regular seasons by the best single performance metric available, adjusted these ratings to normalize athletes' scores in each sport across time, narrowed our focus to the top four athletes each year in every sport, then adjusted the data again to put these players, across sports, on a common baseline..."

Oh, and Peyton Manning is No. 3 (Dominance Ranking of 12.7) on the list.

Here's the full 20:
1. Tiger Woods, golf (17.0)
2. LeBron James, NBA (15.6)
3. Peyton Manning, NFL (12.7)
4. Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR (12.0)
5. Roger Federer, tennis (10.6)
6. Annika Sorenstam, golf (10.3)
7. Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 (10.2)
8. Floyd Mayweather, boxing (10.1)
9. Marta, soccer (9.8)
10. Usain Bolt, track (9.5)
11. Lionel Messi, soccer (8.9)
12. Serena Williams, tennis (8.9)
13. Lauren Jackson, WNBA (8.3)
14. Cristiano Rinaldo, soccer (8.2)
15. Novak Djokovic, tennis (8.0)
16. Alyson Felix, track (7.3)
17. Barry Bonds, MLB (7.1)
18. Mike Trout, MLB (7.1)
19. Manny Pacquiao, boxing (6.5)
20. Tom Brady, NFL (6.3)

ESPN also ranked the most dominant teams of the past 20 years, based on their single-season dominance figured into another mind-numbing formula. Last season's Golden State Warriors take the title, just ahead of the legendary 2003-02 Australian men's national cricket team (really) and the 1998 New York Yankees.   

First from New England on the list are UConn's undefeated 2014 women's basketball national champs at No. 6. Geno Auriemma's 2000 champs, who went 36-1, are 20th. Brady's 2004 Pats, who beat the Eagles in Super Bowl 39, take the 15th spot, just ahead of the 2007 Red Sox, who swept the Colorado Rockies for their second World Series title of that decade. 

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Areas of change: How can the Patriots create some cap space ahead of free agency?

Areas of change: How can the Patriots create some cap space ahead of free agency?

Change is coming for the Patriots this offseason. Every day this week, we'll react to one area of the team that either has already undergone a shift, is in the process of shifting, or will be shifting soon. Today we'll see what kinds of changes the Patriots could make to player contracts in order to free up some cap space ahead of the new league year. 

Change is coming for Patriots bookkeepers. Happens every offseason, and 2019 will be no different. The team will have to make a few changes to contracts ahead of free agency if they want to have the cap space necessary to be in the mix for players on their radar.

Say the Patriots would like to make a play for Trey Flowers to keep continuity in their front seven, and say they'd like to try to add both Golden Tate and John Brown to bolster their depleted receiver corps. How would they do it? Could they do it?

The cap hits for those players in 2019 could very well eat up every last bit of the about $18 million in cap space the Patriots have at the moment. Not ideal, especially since they'll likely want to re-sign some of their other free agents like Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen, have enough space to sign their rookie class, and leave some space left over for mid-season acquisitions.

So what can they do?

They could extend Tom Brady for another couple years, drop his base salary to the minimum of $1.03 million, and convert his remaining 2019 base salary into signing bonus prorated over the life of his new deal. The result? He gets a raise, and the Patriots get a few million in cap space. 

Not a bad way to start.

Then the Patriots can work their way down the roster, and there's more cap space to be had. For instance, Dwayne Allen was a key to the Patriots Super Bowl victory, allowing them to get two tight ends on the field to pick apart the Rams, but with a $7.3 million cap hit for 2019, he's an obvious candidate for a contract restructure or release.

The Patriots will have decisions to make on role players such as Adrian Clayborn and Elandon Roberts. If they're looking for more cap relief, they could free up several more million by moving on.

Retirements will impact the equation here, too. If those are coming, they could mean millions more in cap space.

The bottom line: There are a lot of moving parts salary-cap wise for Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio to consider, but if they want to give themselves some financial flexibility ahead of the new league year, they have a variety of options to pursue in order to achieve that goal.

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Steelers reportedly not open to trading Antonio Brown to Patriots

Steelers reportedly not open to trading Antonio Brown to Patriots

It's never a good idea to trade your best player to a rival team. The Pittsburgh Steelers apparently are operating as such.

The Steelers will listen to trade offers from 27 NFL clubs for wide receiver Antonio Brown, the MMQB's Albert Breer reported Thursday. The four teams they won't do business with: their three other AFC North competitors ... and the New England Patriots.

Pittsburgh's stance should surprise no one, but it's a reminder the team still views New England as its biggest threat in the AFC. While the Steelers upset the Patriots in 2018, the Pats won the teams' previous five meetings and have had a stranglehold on the conference for the last several years.

The downside of that success: Patriots fans can stop dreaming about Tom Brady throwing touchdown passes to the best receiver in the NFL.

New England spending big on Brown seemed like a long shot anyway, but the 30-year-old apparently is getting serious about his trade request: He plans to meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney II to iron things out, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will meet with team owner Art Rooney II to discuss his trade request, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

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