Patriots

Curran: Trey Flowers will be a big-ticket item for the Patriots very soon

Curran: Trey Flowers will be a big-ticket item for the Patriots very soon

Last week, Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter signed a big, fat, five-year, $72 million deal with $40 million guaranteed.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that my first reaction was, “Who he?”

His name just isn’t on my radar as being a guy who would be pulling down that kind of dough. But he is. A third-round pick from LSU in 2015, Hunter had 12.5 sacks in 2016 and became a starter last season. He’s a good, young defensive end for one of the NFL’s better defenses.

Why is he relevant? Because his contract is now a comp for Trey Flowers to use as he and the Patriots try and figure a way to keep him around past 2018. Flowers – like Hunter – is entering his fourth season. He basically missed all of his rookie season with a shoulder injury after being drafted in the fourth round out of Arkansas.

In 2016, he emerged as a rising star with seven sacks in the regular season and 2.5 more in the playoffs. Last year, he had six sacks. He is the Patriots best young pass-rusher.

But – as the recent past has shown – the Patriots are not afraid to slow play negotiations with their defensive players or turn them into trade pieces.

It wasn’t long ago that a running offseason conversation revolved around how the Patriots would keep Chandler Jones, Donta Hightower, Jamie Collins and Malcolm Butler. They couldn’t keep them all, but a combination of three seemed imperative. The team was squirreling money away.

Then they traded Jones away in early 2016 before trading Collins on Halloween. The team let Hightower test the market as a free agent in early 2017 and he came back for less than what we all figured he’d make. And the Patriots let Butler walk away this offseason.

So one remains and he stayed for less.

Whether that’s a cautionary tale for Flowers or not, we don’t yet know. There’s really nothing not to like about his game. He’s a technician. He wouldn’t say crap if he had a mouthful (that’s an old saying of my mother’s). He’s pretty durable. He’ll be good for a while.

It’s easy to imagine the Patriots getting sticker shock after seeing the money thrown at Hunter. But – bizarre as it sounds - $72M isn’t what it used to be. The salary cap was $120M in 2011 when the new CBA started. It’s now $177M.

So-called “reasonable” contracts are obsolete within a year or two. Consider, Hunter’s teammate Everson Griffen signed a deal that was 4-58-34 last offseason and he’s considerably more accomplished than Hunter.

Time isn’t running out on the Patriots by any means. They can play it out with Flowers all the way through this season and right into free agency next year and then decide if whatever he’s offered is too rich for their blood.

Be certain of this, though. If Flowers has a similar season to his last two, teams will look at his work in the New England defense, compare that to what Jones has been able to do since he’s been untethered in Arizona and then bid accordingly. And it will get steep.

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Tom Brady's heartfelt thank you video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

Tom Brady's heartfelt thank you video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

It appears that Tom Brady has finally found the words to officially say goodbye to the New England Patriots and their fans.

Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the offseason, ending a 20-year run with the Patriots that saw the team make it to nine Super Bowls and win six. But as Brady explained in a piece on The Players' Tribune, he's ready for a new challenge. And there were rumors that after the magnificent two-decade run, he was simply "Belichick'd out".

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And in addition to all this buzz, Brady was finally able to put together a video goodbye addressed to the Patriots and their fans. Here's a look at the heartfelt farewell, per his official Twitter account.

Surely, that will give fans chills and afford them a chance to relive some of the best moments of Brady's time with the team. And it was nice that Brady officially gave credit and thanks to Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft as well, including a clip saying the following:

It's really just about the relationships, you know? It's about the people that I play for. The people that I play with. I think I came into a great situation here. I think there's been a great coach, a great owner, and great teammates.

And not to mention, great success. The Patriots put together one of the greatest dynasties of all time with Brady and Belichick at the helm. And Brady's video brings back the amazing memories and championships that came over the course of those 20 years.

But now, they'll go their separate ways. Belichick will try to rebuild without Brady. And Brady will give Tampa Bay his all as the 42-year-old continues to provide further evidence that he's the greatest player to ever play the game of football.

Pete Carroll gives candid comments on pain of Super Bowl XLIX loss to Patriots

Pete Carroll gives candid comments on pain of Super Bowl XLIX loss to Patriots

It's difficult to find a more heartbreaking way to lose a championship than what happened to the Seattle Seahawks at the end of Super Bowl XLIX.

The Lombardi Trophy seemed firmly in their grasp as running back Marshawn Lynch drove the ball to the 1-yard line with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks were in complete control, and it looked like their opponent, the New England Patriots, could do nothing to stop the inevitable. But instead of giving the ball to Lynch to finish the job, Seattle ran a pass play and quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler's game-saving play secured New England's fourth championship and crushed Seattle's hopes of back-to-back titles.

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The loss was absolutely excruciating for Carroll, and in a recent interview with NFL Media's Mike Silver, he talked about the difficulties Seattle faced in recovering from that defeat.

"It was such an emotional way to lose for everybody, and we had to rebuild everybody's brain," Carroll said, per Silver. "We just bludgeoned our way through that. I tried to just make sure that I was unwavering. So, that was the challenge: To allow for the grieving and all of that, and then see what the issues were, and then put it back together. Yeah, that was hard. It was a hard challenge. It was really hard on some players. And some of us will never get over it."

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It's hard to blame any Seahawks player, coach or employee who will never get over the pain of Super Bowl XLIX. The Atlanta Falcons players who blew a 25-point lead and lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI two years later probably will feel the same way the rest of their lives.

But unlike the Falcons, who are still searching for their first championship, Carroll and the Seahawks have the joyous memories of Super Bowl XLVIII and a shiny Lombardi Trophy to help forget about their painful loss to the Patriots. 

There are few challenges in sports quite like rebounding from a horrific loss in a championship setting. Carroll has done about as well as the Seahawks could've hoped over the last five years, while Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has overcome plenty of adversity (and two Super Bowl losses) himself over the last decade.

So it was hardly a surprise when it was announced Monday that Belichick and Carroll were the two head coaches named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s.