Patriots

Patriots WR coach raves about 'highly motivated' Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas

Patriots WR coach raves about 'highly motivated' Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Veteran wide receivers Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas are back practicing, and the New England Patriots are enjoying it very much.

“They’re a lot of fun to work with, man,” Patriots wide receivers coach Joe Judge said after Monday's practice. “A lot of fun to work with. They come to work everyday with a smile on their face. They come to work everyday highly motivated. They get on the field and compete. They’re a ton of fun to be around. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve had to work with those guys.”

What makes Gordon, specifically, so fun to be around?

“He loves football," Judge said. "He works hard, and he competes. When you step between the lines, that’s just fun.”

It's hard to predict what the Patriots will get from Gordon and Thomas this season.

Gordon, when on the field, is a real game-changer with his ability to make tough, contested catches and stretch the field as a deep threat. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 56 more yards per game last season when Gordon played compared to when he didn't. Brady's passer rating and yards per attempt also were better with Gordon. The concern with Gordon is him staying out of trouble. He's been suspended multiple times in his career and has a history of substance abuse. Gordon was reinstated by the NFL earlier this month after having been suspended indefinitely since December.

Thomas has enjoyed an impressive career but is 31 years old and coming off an Achilles tear suffered in December. He's confident in his ability to produce at a high level this season, but an Achilles injury is among the toughest to come back from.

It's encouraging for the Patriots that both of these wide receivers are healthy enough to be on the field and practicing. The real fun will come if that remains the case into the regular season because if fully healthy, this group of wideouts could be among the deepest and most talented the Patriots have had in a long time.

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Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

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Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

There's one big question that New England Patriots are facing this offseason. Who is going to be their starting quarterback in 2020?

For the past 20 seasons, the team hasn't really had questions at the position. It has always been Tom Brady's job. But with the 42-year-old set to hit free agency, the Patriots can't necessarily count on him returning unless they want to pay him what he's worth.

So, now the question for the Patriots becomes, what will life look like if Brady departs?

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On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, which returns for its first episode of the 2020 offseason, Phil Perry is here to explore that question. And really what it all boils down to is what the Patriots are looking for in a potential successor.

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As Perry notes, it's likely to be one of two types of quarterback: The traditional pocket passer or a more mobile athlete in the mold of some of the recent success stories at the position.

Do the Patriots look for the next Brady? Uber-accurate, somebody who's going to sit in the pocket and absolutely dissect every little aspect of the defense that he is looking at. Or, do they go a different route? Do they go with an athlete? Do they get more mobile? Because talking to people this offseason, I'm getting a whiff -- I'm getting a scent that people believe the pocket passer might be dead.

Perry is joined by guests including Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo, Greg Cosell of ESPN and NFL Films, and NFL Network's Kurt Warner to answer questions about Brady's future and what his game has looked like in recent seasons.

For more thoughts about the Patriots offseason, check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast, available as part of the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

David Ortiz says leaving Patriots wouldn't impact Tom Brady's legacy

David Ortiz says leaving Patriots wouldn't impact Tom Brady's legacy

Over the past 20 years, Tom Brady has established himself as one of the greatest and most beloved athletes in Boston sports history.

But if Brady leaves New England for a new team in free agency this offseason, would that leave a stain on his Patriots legacy? Fellow Boston sports legend David Ortiz doesn't believe so.

The former Red Sox slugger recently spoke with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com about Brady's impending free agency. According to Ortiz, leaving Foxboro behind ahead of his age-43 season won't take away from anything Brady has accomplished with the Pats in the past two decades.

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"His legacy has already been built. It’s always there," Ortiz told Bradford. "That’s not the problem. His problem is not going to be legacy. He could go and play somewhere else for the next 10 years when he returns to New England his legacy is going to be there.

"It’s a good thing to do but you also have to look at your options. I hope he stays with the Patriots, but it’s not up to what I say. It’s his decision. Sometimes an offer at home might be a couple of million less than what you could get on the road. It’s up to you whether you think it’s worth it."

Brady will officially become an unrestricted free agent if he and Patriots don't agree to a contract extension by March 18. Several teams are expected to be in the mix to sign the six-time Super Bowl champion, with the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders as two of the most likely destinations.

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