Patriots

Patriots' Tom Brady cracks Super Bowl joke in tweet congratulating Eli Manning on retirement

Patriots' Tom Brady cracks Super Bowl joke in tweet congratulating Eli Manning on retirement

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has received many congratulatory messages from across the NFL this week after it was announced Wednesday that he's retiring from the NFL.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the latest player to chime in Friday morning when he took to Twitter to congratulate Manning on a "great career," and he even got in a Super Bowl joke.

Patriots wide receiver co-signed Brady's comments.


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Manning, of course, beat Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl on two occasions. The Giants ended the Patriots' undefeated season in 2007 when Manning led a go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII. Manning led the Giants to a fourth Lombardi Trophy a couple years later in Super Bowl XLVI with another late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He was the only quarterback to beat Brady in a Super Bowl until Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Brady did manage to overcome those two difficult losses to the Giants. He's won three Super Bowl titles (in four appearances) and a league MVP since 2014. His six Super Bowl championships overall are the most by any player in league history. 

It's admittedly going to be a little weird next season when zero Manning quarterbacks are in the NFL. Eli and his brother, Peyton, had been two of Brady's top rivals since the Patriots quarterback became a starter in 2001. It's truly the end of an era.

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Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

With or without Tom Brady at quarterback, those traditional complaints about the Patriots having an easy schedule will likely die down a bit next season.

Yes, there's still the AFC East for the Pats to feast on, but based on their opponents' records in 2019, New England has the NFL's toughest schedule in 2020. 

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Patriots opponents had a .537 winning percentage in 2019. Dates and times will be released as usual in mid-April, but the opponents have been known for a while and they include the two Super Bowl teams (on the road vs. the champion Kansas City Chiefs and hosting the runner-up San Francisco 49ers) and five other games against team who made the playoffs (the Buffalo Bills home and away, at the Seattle Seahawks, at the Houston Texans and home vs. the Baltimore Ravens).

The Pats are matched up with the AFC West and NFC West for non-division opponents, which throws some coast-to-coast trips in the mix. It also puts New England's AFC East rivals right up there with the toughest schedules as well, with the Jets second, the Miami Dolphins third and the Bills the fifth-toughest. 

The team with the easiest schedule next season? It's the one that won the most regular-season games (14) last season and earned the AFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the Ravens. Their opponents had a combined .437 winning percentage last season. 
 

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

One of the New England Patriots' primary focuses this offseason will be to add weapons to an offense that lacked its usual explosiveness in the 2019 season.

There are plenty of options on the free agent market that could help the Patriots in that regard, but they also could look to improve their roster via trade. In fact, one particular star wide receiver appears to be placing himself on the trade block.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Vikings star Stefon Diggs removed all Vikings-related content from his Instagram page. That means no Vikings photos or videos, and no mention of the organization in his "bio" section.

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Predictably, that sparked plenty of "Diggs-to-the-Pats" speculation on social media.

And there's much more where that came from.

Making a move to add a top-tier wideout like Diggs not only would give the Patriots' receiving corps a much-needed boost, it also could entice soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady to stay in New England. The 42-year-old quarterback is set to officially hit free agency on March 18.

As for Diggs, he has four years remaining on his contract and the Vikings' asking price would be reasonably high. The 26-year-old caught 63 passes for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.

Is there a chance this is nothing and we're all reading way too much into social media? Of course. But it wouldn't be an NFL offseason if we didn't have this kind of drama to talk about.