Patriots

Patriots schedule 2019: Dates, times, opponents for defending champs

Patriots schedule 2019: Dates, times, opponents for defending champs

It appears an old rival is coming to Gillette Stadium in Week 1.

The New England Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" in their 2019 season opener, according to multiple reports. CLNS Media's Evan Lazar was the first to report the news.

The NFL won't officially released the 2019 schedule until 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, but The Athletic's Nick Underhill revealed the dates and opponents for the Patriots' five primetime games earlier in the day.

The Steelers were one of the five teams to beat the Patriots in 2018, earning a 17-10 victory in Pittsburgh. But the Steelers lost two All-Pros in running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown this offseason and will be a much different team when they travel to Foxboro to watch the Patriots raise their Super Bowl LIII banner.

UPDATE (8 p.m. ET): The Patriots' official 2019 schedule has been released.

Here's a look:

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Report: Patriots have had discussions with Vikings about Kyle Rudolph

Report: Patriots have had discussions with Vikings about Kyle Rudolph

As OTA's begin and we draw closer to mandatory minicamp, the Patriots have reportedly had discussions with the Vikings about a trade for tight end Kyle Rudolph. 

Rudolph is entering the final year of his contract with Minnesota and is due $7.625 million. He is unwilling to take a pay cut, so the Patriots would have to create space to execute a trade. The two-time Pro Bowl tight end caught 64 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. 

Since Rob Gronkowski's retirement, the Patriots have signed Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Benjamin Watson to one-year contracts. They also signed Matt LaCosse to add depth to the position before Gronkowski retired. 

However, Rudolph is proven to be a far more productive tight end than all three of the players the Patriots brought in to replace Gronkowski. If the price tag for him is as low as Girardi suggests, Bill Belichick might want to think about creating cap space for Rudolph. Restructuring Tom Brady's $27 million cap figure could be a way to make the necessary space. 

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WATCH: First look at Patriots OTA's and new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo

WATCH: First look at Patriots OTA's and new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo

Monday marked the first day of Patriots OTA's, and the team's Twitter account posted a first look at players going through some drills along with new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo getting his first taste of NFL coaching experience. 

Mayo was brought on to Bill Belichick's staff in March after the position was vacated by now Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Mayo spent all eight seasons of his playing career as a linebacker for the Patriots, earning two Pro-Bowl selections, a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2010 and the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

He was also a member of the Super Bowl 49-winning Patriots, who defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks thanks to an interception by Malcolm Butler in the closing moments of the game.

Mayo and the Patriots defense have a lot to live up to after a dominant performance against the Rams in Super Bowl 53. They will use the time in OTA's to get acclimated before mandatory minicamp starts on June 4. 

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