Patriots

NFL rumors: Jared Cook still an option for Patriots in free agency?

NFL rumors: Jared Cook still an option for Patriots in free agency?

UPDATE: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Jared Cook's deal with the New Orleans Saints is not yet signed, potentially leaving room for the New England Patriots to swoop in and steal him away following Rob Gronkowski's retirement. 

--End of Update--

The New England Patriots weren't able to sign veteran tight end Jared Cook in NFL free agency, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.

ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Sunday that the Patriots went hard after Cook before he reportedly decided to join the New Orleans Saints.

3. Similar to how the Patriots made an aggressive pitch to receiver Adam Humphries in free agency and didn't close the deal, a source close to tight end Jared Cook said the Patriots aggressively courted him before Cook elected to sign with the Saints late last week. Rob Gronkowski's uncertain status seems to have played a significant part in Cook's thinking, as there is clearer path to a top role on the tight-end depth chart in New Orleans.

Cook tallied 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders last season. He also was selected to the Pro Bowl. 

His decision not to sign with New England leaves the tight end market pretty barren. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the only notable tight end still unsigned in free agency.

The Patriots released veteran tight end Dwayne Allen before the free-agent market opened and haven't yet signed a tight end in free agency. Rob Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, recently said he doesn't know what decision his client will make regarding his future. Reports throughout the 2018 season suggested Gronkowski would consider retirement

At this point, the Patriots would probably be best suited to draft a tight end early in the 2019 NFL Draft. Luckily for the Pats, they have six picks in the first three rounds and there are a few highly rated tight ends in this draft class.

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Will Patriots re-sign Devin McCourty? Retirement 'not an option' for DB

Will Patriots re-sign Devin McCourty? Retirement 'not an option' for DB

Devin McCourty plans to come back for an 11th NFL season, regardless of whether it's with the New England Patriots.

McCourty's agent, Andy Simms of Young Money APAA Sports, told ESPN's Mike Reiss that the 32-year-old safety "wants to play" and that "retirement is not an option" for his client.

McCourty has spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots and is one of the most well-respected members of the organization. His five-year, $47.5 million contract ends in March, though, so New England will have to broker a deal with him in free agency.

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That may be easier said than done considering the Patriots have a host of players entering free agency in 2020, most notably fellow captain Matthew Slater, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy and, of course, quarterback Tom Brady.

The Patriots likely will have to give Brady a raise from his $21.5 million cap hit in 2019, which would leave less money for a player like McCourty, who is due for his own raise after continuing to play at a high level on a team-friendly deal.

If New England wants to maintain leadership and stability on defense, though, it may be willing to pay up for McCourty. We'll find out when free agency begins March 18.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

It's simple, really. If the Patriots are going to avoid staying home again after the Wild Card Round of the playoffs next season and seasons to come, they've got to get younger.

And to get younger, they've got to be more successful in the draft.

In the latest edition of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, Curran and Phil Perry focus on the last time New England was sent home this early in the playoffs a decade ago and if there can be lessons learned from that roster reboot in 2010. 

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The biggest issue confronting the Pats this time around is their age, which averages 31.6 years old (a 42-year-old quarterback skews that a little, of course). By comparison, the Super Bowl 54 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs (26.8) and the San Francisco 49ers (26.6) are considerably younger.

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The age factor is why, as Perry pointed out, "the pressure is on for them to hit not only in this 2020 draft, where they do have 12 picks, they have no second-round pick, but 12 shots at the dartboard. Last year, they had 10 [picks] and nine guys are still with the team.

"It's clear they have told themselves, 'We need to get younger. We need to start hitting here if we want to sustain this success.' The draft is the lifeblood of any team."

The 2018 team and its victory in the Super Bowl over the Rams last February worked to hide some of those flaws from recent low-yield draft classes.

"They had a great quarterback when they needed him. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback when they needed him. The defense looked tremendous we know how that story played out," Perry said. 

What kind of draft yield are we talking about to fuel the next generation of Patriots' success?

Curran goes on to rattle off the names from 2008-2012 drafts (Mayo, Slater, Edelman, Vollmer, Butler, Chung, Gronkowski, McCourty) that fueled the second half of the Pats dynasty.

"I have upwards of 30 names from 2008 to 2012 who were contributing players to the Patriots. I'm not even talking a little contributing, but massive contributing...," Curran said.  

There's also a discussion of how the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady will impact the 2020 draft strategy. Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.