Patriots

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski excited to remain with Patriots: 'I love it here'

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski excited to remain with Patriots: 'I love it here'

Stephen Gostkowski has been the starting kicker for the New England Patriots since his rookie season in 2006, making him the second-longest tenured player on the team behind 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.

Gostkowski became an unrestricted free agent soon after the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII over the Los Angeles Rams in February, and he even reportedly drew interest on the open market from the San Francisco 49ers. He ultimately re-signed with New England on a two-year contract worth a reported $8.5 million to remain in Foxboro.

The 35-year-old kicker recently explained to ESPN's Mike Reiss how difficult it would have been to leave the Patriots as a free agent.

"You have to make decisions based on a multitude of factors, and every time I thought of what it would be like somewhere else, I always came back to how much I love it here. It's a weird business, and you have to explore every option, but it was really tough for me to think I was ever going to leave. I'm excited it worked out and just thankful for another opportunity to have a crack at playing for the Patriots."

Gostkowski has won three Super Bowl championships (in six appearances) with the Patriots. His second field goal late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII clinched a 13-3 victory. Gostkowski also is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and ranks third all-time in field goal percentage.

The Patriots re-signed punter Ryan Allen to a one-year contract earlier in the offseason. New England values special teams more than any franchise in the league, and the return of Gostkowski and Allen will help maintain the stability of that group.

The Patriots also don't need to target a kicker in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft now that Gostkowski is back in the fold. They can shift even more attention to the weak spots on the roster, most notably at tight end. The Patriots have 12 picks in the 2019  draft, including six over the first three rounds.

Tom Brady reacts to Tiger Woods' 2019 Masters win>>>

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The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

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The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

The Patriots will have a long wait on Thursday night before they are on the clock for their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It's a position they've found themselves in before. This will be the fourth time in the last 15 years that they've owned the 32nd overall pick. (It would have been the fifth time, but DeflateGate cost them a first-round pick in 2017.)

Will Bill Belichick be able to find some top-tier talent? Tom E. Curran looked at past drafts, and found that some teams have managed to strike gold with pick number 32, though it's far from a sure bet.

Check out Tom's list of the Top 15 players taken at No. 32 overall.>>>>

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NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

The New England Patriots currently are slated to close out the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with pick No. 32, and after passing on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in a similar spot in last year's draft, could they use this season's first-rounder to select Tom Brady's eventual successor?

Grier is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft and could be selected anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the early portion of the second round. What level of interest do the Patriots have in Grier with Thursday night's first round fast approaching? Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported an update Monday:

The New England Patriots have shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out. The New York Giants also like Grier, and he could be their fallback plan if they don’t take a signal caller in Round 1. The Carolina Panthers also have an infatuation with Grier and will consider him in the second round.

Would the Patriots really take Grier in Round 1, or is this a smokescreen designed to trip up opposing front offices?

The Patriots do need a quarterback of the future. Contrary to what we've seen from Tom Brady in recent seasons, the 41-year-old quarterback will, at some point, start to break down and eventually retire. There aren't any great candidates already on the roster to play the role of Brady's successor, so drafting a QB this weekend makes a lot of sense for New England.

Grier played really well for the Mountaineers last season. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards with 34 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He reportedly visited with the Patriots earlier this month, as did Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock could be available on Day 2 of the draft as well.

Click here for our final 2019 Patriots mock draft roundup>>>

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