Patriots

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Did the 2001 New England Patriots believe they were launching a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XXXVI? Probably not.

But the defending Super Bowl champions appear a bit more confident.

Days after signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the richest contract in North American sports, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract extension with defensive tackle Chris Jones, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

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So, how did Jones celebrate his new deal with Kansas City? By declaring an apparent continuation of the Chiefs' "dynasty."

Jones has every reason to be confident in his team, which kept its core intact after winning Super Bowl LIV and is the current Super Bowl LV favorite.

But Patriots fans who watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead New England to six championships over two decades might view Jones' "dynasty" talk as premature.

After all, no team has won back-to-back titles since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and no team aside from New England and Seattle (2013 and 2014) has even reached the Super Bowl in back-to-back years since 2000.

And after signing Cam Newton, the Patriots may believe their own dynasty isn't dead yet despite Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

History won't stop Jones and the Chiefs from setting lofty goals, however, as Mahomes said recently he's eyeing Brady's record of six Super Bowl titles. Better get started soon.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Former Panthers OC explains 'biggest threat' Cam Newton poses to NFL defenses

Former Panthers OC explains 'biggest threat' Cam Newton poses to NFL defenses

The last time Cam Newton played at a high level was the first half of the 2018 NFL season with the Carolina Panthers, and Norv Turner was his offensive coordinator at the time.

Newton threw 14 touchdown passes with four interceptions and led the Panthers to a 6-2 record in the first eight games. A shoulder injury suffered in the middle of the season prevented him from maintaining that MVP-caliber form, and the Panthers suffered as a result by finishing the season 7-9. Carolina lost the last six games Newton played in 2018. Injuries again impacted him in 2019, and he played in just two games last season before the Panthers released him in March.

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The next chapter of Newton's career will come with the New England Patriots, where he'll give head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a different skill set at the quarterback position than what Tom Brady provided for the last 20 years. 

Turner is confident the Patriots looked at Newton's play from the first half of 2018 when evaluating the fit he could have in New England. 

"The biggest thing if I could look into the minds of New England and coach (Bill) Belichick when they looked at Cam, I'm sure they looked at, No. 1, when he was playing well. That was the first half of two seasons ago, through a 10-game stretch his numbers were awfully good," Turner said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. "He was playing at a high level, and I think the shoulder was an issue and kept him from doing the things at the end of the season that he had been doing. So I'm sure they looked at things he was doing that were similar to what they do.

"With (Christian) McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Greg Olsen, we were doing things that have pretty much been done by a lot of teams in the league -- the high percentage things like the crossing routes, getting receivers on the run, the options runs with (McCaffrey), which are things that are very similar to what New England does and a lot of people do in the league, it's just how you package it. I'm sure they looked at those things."

Patriots Talk Podcast: Should Pats give Newton a raise with newfound cap space? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

What's the biggest threat Newton poses to opposing defenses? Turner pointed to Newton's ability to make things happen on the run on critical downs.

"When you talk about Cam, you got to look at the things he can do -- the designed runs -- and I don't think you have to do a lot of them, but I think if you do just enough and sprinkle them in, you give the defense something they have to prepare for," Turner explained. 

"The threat that I always thought was Cam's biggest threat was when the play broke down and he was able to take off and run, particularly on third down and get those big first downs. Through the first part of the (2018) season he was very successful at doing that. I think the biggest issue I would have is his health. I would have to think that New England, before they signed him, were pretty darn thorough in making sure they knew he was healthy."

Health will always be the concern with Newton, but if he's able to stay on the field, his signing could prove to be one of Belichick's better free agent moves over the last decade.

Opt-out deadline looms for Patriots, rest of NFL

Opt-out deadline looms for Patriots, rest of NFL

The opt-out deadline loometh.

By 4 p.m. Thursday, any NFL player in the “high-risk” category can opt out and receive $350,000 and credit for an accrued season. Players without the “high-risk” designation will be paid $150,000. That money will be considered an advance on their 2021 salaries.

As of Wednesday night, 60 players had opted out, including eight Patriots. Meanwhile, 56 players tested positive for COVID during initial screening as they reported for this very different training camp. That’s fewer than three percent of all players. Another 107 had it prior to reporting. Those numbers are according to the NFLPA.

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So what will Thursday bring? The Patriots are leading the league in opt-outs by a wide margin. Four Browns have opted out as of Thursday morning. Several teams have three opt outs.

A team’s fortunes can be radically altered by an opt-out if a key player decides the risk is too great for him or his family. The AFC East has probably seen the most consequential opt outs so far.  

Expectations for the Patriots have to be reconfigured as they figure out how to best replace Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Marcus Cannon. The Jets are going to be without talented linebacker C.J. Mosley. The Dolphins are without wide receivers Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson. And the Bills have lost corner E.J. Gaines and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.

Meanwhile, their brilliant corner Tre’Davious White was still wrestling with his decision on Thursday morning and railing on Twitter that he was being criticized for debating it. The replies are — as you might imagine — a trip. Maintaining the status quo on this topic, a fleet of people wonder how come they don’t get to opt out of their 9-to-5.

Because you can’t. OK? Maybe if you tackled people at work you’d have a shot, but you probably don’t. And if you do tackle people at work and you didn’t get the opt-out provision, you gotta get yourself to the NFL ASAFP.

Will the Patriots lose any more players? Certainly could. A number of players are still wrestling with it. With a decision so personal and difficult, I’ve come to realize it’s unfair to speculate on individual players and why they may or may not decide to play. (Patrick Chung helped me get there…).

For the lion’s share, the decision is so difficult because it revolves around factors other than their or their family’s personal health. It’s not cut-and-dried.

Age, finances, professional satisfaction, all of it can weigh in.

Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, asked last week if he considered opting out, said, "Uh, nope I feel like our team is so, so close to a championship.”

We’ll keep you updated throughout the day and Phil Perry and I will sift through all of it on Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast after the deadline. 

Patriots Talk Podcast: Should Pats give Newton a raise with newfound cap space? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube