Patriots

NFL Rumors: Patriots free up millions in cap space from Antonio Brown, Aaron Hernandez grievances

NFL Rumors: Patriots free up millions in cap space from Antonio Brown, Aaron Hernandez grievances

The New England Patriots just got whole lot of financial breathing room.

The Patriots have earned a total of $6.25 million in settlements from compensation grievances involving former wide receiver Antonio Brown and ex-tight end Aaron Hernandez, ESPN's Mike Reiss and Field Yates reported Saturday.

New England now has $7.79 million in cap space, per Reiss and Yates, a huge bump from the less than $500,000 in spending money the team had earlier this week.

Brown, who spent less than two weeks with the Patriots last September, filed a grievance against the team in October 2019 following his release seeking to receive his unpaid Week 1 salary, his $1.025 million guaranteed base salary and his $9 million signing bonus.

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The Patriots will pay Brown $5 million as part of the settlement, per Reiss and Yates.

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Patriots on Hernandez's behalf in October 2013 seeking over $6 million in guaranteed salary. Hernandez was arrested and later convicted for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and died in prison in April 2017.

New England was up against the cap after squeezing free-agent quarterback Cam Newton in on a one-year contract and inking all of its 2020 NFL Draft picks to rookie deals. With nearly $8 million in cap space, however, the Patriots have more flexibility to bolster their roster via free agency or trade.

Our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran suggested tight end David Njoku could be a strong fit in New England after requesting a trade from the Cleveland Browns, and there are a number of quality free agents still on the market, as well.

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history is three and a half years old, but it certainly isn't forgotten.

Just ask Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who brought up New England's miraculous Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons while his fiancée, Morgan Hart, was delivering their baby. Seriously.

Hightower told The Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld he started chanting "28-3, 28-3" and "Never give up" while Hart entered her 17th hour of labor with their first child last month.

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Apparently the motivational tactic worked, as Hart said Hightower's words helped her push through and deliver their baby boy, Grayson, on July 16.

"It was surreal," Hart told Grossfeld. “It was a long night and a long day, and he kept reminding me, ‘28-3, 28-3,′ meaning you can be behind and come back. Never, never give up."

That's a reference to the deficit New England faced in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before rallying to win in overtime -- thanks in large part to Hightower's strip sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan early in the fourth quarter.

Hightower still uses the 28-3 reference "all the time," per Grossfeld, but his focus won't be on football in 2020. The 30-year-old linebacker is one of eight Patriots players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

"Not knowing too much about the COVID thing, I don’t want to jeopardize the health of my family," Hightower told Grossfeld. "I understand you can still catch it by going to the grocery store, but I’m not going to put my family’s health at risk for money.

"It’s family first. I want to take all the opportunity that I can to be a great father."

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Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

You wouldn't seek out a military general for tips on NFL roster building, but Donald Trump apparently believes there's some transferrable wisdom between the battlefield and gridiron.

During an interview Tuesday on The Hugh Hewitt Show, President Trump was asked whether he believes Bill Belichick has a better chance of winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots this year than Tom Brady does with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Trump responded with a diplomatic answer -- that included some eye-opening praise for Belichick.

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"I think they’re both going to do great. They’re both friends of mine," Trump told Hewitt. "I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? ... Give me a couple of ideas.' And he'd be as good as any general out there."

Belichick is a master strategist who relies on knowledge, adaptability and thorough preparation to put the Patriots in the best position to succeed. Those are all qualities of a successful military general, and perhaps Belichick could have been one in another life.

Alas, Belichick is a football coach with zero military credentials (aside from his father coaching at Navy), so we're not sure he's the best person to call about battle strategy.

Trump has touted his friendship with Belichick and Brady over the years, reading a letter of support from the Patriots coach on the eve of his election in 2016 and bringing up the former Patriots quarterback in various public appearances.

The President clearly still enjoys referencing both Patriots icons, even if his understanding of Belichick's talents is a bit off.