Patriots

Robert Kraft reportedly rejects prosecutors' plea offer; what comes next?

Robert Kraft reportedly rejects prosecutors' plea offer; what comes next?

Robert Kraft isn't interested in declaring his guilt.

The New England Patriots owner has rejected an offer from Florida prosecutors that would have had his two charges of soliciting prostitution dropped if he admitted he would have been proven guilty at trial, a "Kraft ally" told The Boston Globe's John R. Ellement on Wednesday.

ESPN's T.J. Quinn pushed back against the notion that Kraft already has rejected the offer, however.

Regardless, few expected Kraft to accept the plea offer, which was extended to all 25 men charged in Jupiter, Fla., as part of an investigation into a human trafficking ring.

According to Ellement, Kraft's legal team believes the offer went beyond what is "routinely expected" in misdemeanor cases by requiring Kraft to publicly admit he committed a criminal act, something he denied in an earlier statement.

Kraft's reported rejection would mean prosecutors plan to take the case to trial, with the Patriots owner's arraignment set for March 28.

Per Ellement, however, Kraft's legal team is negotiating with Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg's office (which extended the plea offer) to try to reach a "mutually agreeable resolution" before trial.

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Next Pats Podcast: Which QBs could the Patriots target in the draft?

Next Pats Podcast: Which QBs could the Patriots target in the draft?

Even after taking Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of last year's NFL Draft, the New England Patriots could look to add another quarterback in late April.

That'll likely depend on whether or not Tom Brady returns to New England. But if they do decide to add another young QB in the 2020 draft, they'll have several intriguing players to choose from.

If the Patriots decide to trade up, two of those options could be Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama or Justin Herbert out of Oregon. But even if they decide to sit back and wait for a QB to fall in their lap, they could find a diamond in the rough.

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On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, The Athletic's Dane Brugler joins Phil Perry to discuss Tua, Herbert, and other QBs the Patriots could have their eye on:

Click here to listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast:

Brugler isn't exactly a believer in Herbert, but it's a different story with Tagovailoa.

I would not trade up for Justin Herbert. That's just my personal opinion. I like Justin Herbert, I just -- I think there's something missing there. I see a Ryan Tannehill type of player ... 

If I'm convinced that Tua is healthy, I would definitely consider that move to go up and get him if i was in striking distance to do it. Tua, talking about instincts and how important it is at the quarterback position, I think he has that. I do worry about the durability.

Part of what makes him special is his ability to improvise. There's a little bit of Russell Wilson there with his ability to get outside the pocket and make things happen, but that also leads to more hits on his body. And so, you do worry about long-term. He needs to do a better job not taking some of those hits.

If New England opts to stand pat rather than trade up, there's one name in particular that stands out to Brugler.

If I decided not to trade up and I'm staying put, there's definitely some intriguing options there. I mean, Jordan Love, he's so intriguing.

It's funny, if we switch his sophomore year and his junior year... Jordan's Love's a top-10 lock. But it's because he took such a dip this past season with a new coaching staff, with losing a lot of talent around him, only one returning starter on offense. Because of all these factors, he didn't have that season he had the year before.

To hear about the other QBs Brugler sees as options for the Patriots, plus a complete breakdown of the latest on the NFL CBA with Judy Battista of NFL.com, check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast, available as part of the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

NFL Rumors: What Joe Thuney, Ted Karras could earn in free agency

NFL Rumors: What Joe Thuney, Ted Karras could earn in free agency

Regardless of whether Tom Brady stays or goes, the New England Patriots may lose two key players who protected the quarterback in 2019.

Offensive guard Joe Thuney and center Ted Karras both are set to be free agents on March 18. And according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, both offensive linemen could command serious money on the open market.

Here's Howe on Thuney:

Joe Thuney’s market has predictably exploded. One observer estimated Thuney could command $14-15 million annually.

Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler ($14.1 million) and Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Zack Martin ($14 million) are the only guards making $14 million or more per year. Thuney has played his way into that conversation, though: The 27-year-old was a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and had Pro Football Focus' fifth-highest overall grade among all NFL guards.

In fact, PFF ranks Thuney as the league's eighth-best non-quarterback free agent and tops our list of free-agent offensive linemen in 2020.

Karras isn't on that level but still should get paid handsomely, per Howe:

Ted Karras’ market has also been hot. With the number of interested teams, he could corral upwards of $10 million annually.

Karras started 15 games at center for New England after David Andrews went on injured reserve due to a blood clot issue. He finished as PFF's 20th-ranked center in 2019 and would join just seven NFL centers making more than $10 million per year.

Stephon Gilmore is the only Patriot under contract making north of $10 million per year, so it seems unlikely New England would spend to keep both Thuney and Karras, especially if the team wants to re-sign Brady.

That means whoever replaces Dante Scarnecchia as Patriots offensive line coach will need to work with at least one new starter in 2020.

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