Patriots

Jamie Collins following path back to Pats laid by Patrick Chung?

Jamie Collins following path back to Pats laid by Patrick Chung?

“All who wander are not lost.” – Tattoo on the wrist of the woman working the register at my local gas station yesterday. Also, probably a quote from Harry Potter or some such thing like that.

There is nothing Jamie Collins did in the 30 months since being exiled from the Patriots to make anyone think the team was mistaken when it shipped him out.

Since he was dealt away on Halloween of 2016, the Patriots (who were 7-1 at the time) have been to three Super Bowls and won two. Their defense — while not perfect — has been a whole lot better without him. Especially last year when Stephon Gilmore flourished, Dont'a Hightower was healthy and — most importantly — Brian Flores took over for Matt Patricia.

Collins went to Cleveland and was the defensive centerpiece of a team that went 7-32-1 during his tenure. That’s not all on him. The team was a full-on embarrassment. But he also didn’t remind anyone of Mike Singletary during his time there. He missed 10 games in 2017 and the entire playoffs (which the Browns weren’t in, having gone 0-16). He did have a productive season in 2018 with 104 tackles.

He also made nearly $27M from the four-year, $50M deal he signed in January of 2017. The Browns released Collins in March to clear $9.25M of cap space and now the Patriots have decided to bring him back.

So far, this has very much been a win-win scenario for the two sides. The Patriots traded Collins for a third-round pick, helped use that pick to trade for Brandin Cooks and didn’t miss a beat without Collins. In fact, they improved. Collins got the money he coveted.

Actually, he went from one of the most underpaid players in the league to one of its most overpaid. The money was the root of all his problems in New England. He felt taken advantage of and — when he got to the point he felt the Patriots were stringing him along — he disengaged somewhat.

On the second play of his final game with the Patriots, Collins went tear-assing through a gap in the Bills offensive line. LeSean McCoy ran through Collins' vacated spot for a huge gain. He barely played after that and was dealt a day later.

Clearly, a message was sent when the deal was made. And the Patriots responded.

So how will Collins respond to his exile and a chance to start all over at what will likely be a fraction of what he was making in Cleveland? Maybe he should ask Patrick Chung’s advice.

Just like Collins in 2013, Chung was a second-round pick in 2009. When Chung got to his contract year in 2012, his play dipped. He seemed to gamble much more and was often on the scene when bad things happened. The Patriots let him walk in free agency. Chung signed with the Eagles for three years and $10M and lasted just one season. He returned to the Patriots in 2014, Bill Belichick claimed some of the blame for Chung not performing up to capability, Chung turned into one of the team’s best defenders and now — thanks to his second tenure — is one of the best safeties the franchise has ever had.

Chung wandered. Came back. Found himself.

Can Collins do the same? When he was here, he was trending toward an All-Pro level but — at critical times — would seize up. Collins remains the guy who watched Denver tight end Owen Daniels walk past him twice for first-half touchdowns in the 2015 AFCCG then was best defender on the field for the rest of the game.

He’ll turn 30 in October. He had enough athleticism for two players when he left; that won’t be an issue. With Jerod Mayo now a linebackers coach, Collins would be reunited with both he and Dont’a Hightower — both excellent guys to work alongside — and would join Kyle Van Noy and Ja’Whaun Bentley in the room.

If Collins can follow the same path back to the Patriots that Chung did, that’s a huge win for this team.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Tom Brady now the oldest active NFL player at 42 years old

Tom Brady now the oldest active NFL player at 42 years old

It's official. The oldest active player in the NFL is Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots quarterback, 42, officially took over the title from Indianapolis Colt kicker Adam Vinatieri. The former Patriot, 46, was placed on IR by the Colts on Monday after having surgery to repair a knee injury that had plagued him this season.

With Vinatieri on IR and his career possibly over, Brady could hold the mantle as the NFL's oldest players for the next few seasons. Of course, that would depend on his health and when he decides to retire, but the title should continue to be his to keep.

The only realistic threats to Brady's status as the NFL's oldest would be a comeback by Vinatieri or one by Matt Bryant, a 44-year-old kicker who started the season with the Atlanta Falcons before being cut. Neither seems very likely given the struggles the two veterans have endured this year.

Vinatieri made only 68 percent of his field goals and 78.6 percent of his extra points (both career lows) while Bryant made just 64.3 percent of his field goals.

The title of oldest active player may not mean a whole lot, but consider it a feather in the cap for Brady. He will certainly be proud of it as well, as this title aligns with his health and athletics company, TB12.

The next oldest active player in the league is Drew Brees. He will turn 41 in January.

CURRAN: Separating fact from fiction in investigation of Patriots film crew>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Bill Belichick responds to Bengals' videotaping allegations against Patriots

Bill Belichick responds to Bengals' videotaping allegations against Patriots

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has responded to the Bengals' allegations of a Pats staffer videotaping the Cincinnati sideline during its Week 14 road game versus the Browns.

As NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran reported, Kraft Sports Productions was in the Cleveland press box producing content for Patriots.com's “Do Your Job” series. Belichick noted that in his Monday appearance on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" and vehemently denied the team's involvement.

"Yeah, I heard about this and evidently this is the production people on the TV show that were there and I have absolutely nothing to do, we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot," Belichick said.

"I have never even seen any of their tapes of anything else. This is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with. This is something that you'd have to talk to the production people about and what they were doing, or whatever it was. We have never seen anything that they've shot, other than what has come down on TV."

The NFL is investigating the situation, according to Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.

The Patriots (10-3) will visit the Bengals (1-12) in a Week 15 matchup on Sunday.

Perry: Margin of error for Pats defense thinning as offense struggles>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.