Patriots

Kraft: Brady and Gronkowski will be at mini-camp

Kraft: Brady and Gronkowski will be at mini-camp

As recently as Tuesday night on Quick Slants, Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran reported that Tom Brady would be present for mandatory minicamp in June. Patriots owner Robert Kraft confirmed as much at the NFL's Spring Meeting in Atlanta on Wednesday.

"I think he's very excited about the upcoming season," Kraft told reporters. "These are voluntary workouts, and I think he's in great shape. I think he's at an age where -- I was thinking back to when he joined us -- he's blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it's very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football. I can only say this: I know he's very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year."

Rob Gronkowski has also stayed away from Patriots practices thus far, but Kraft said he expected the All-Pro tight end to be present for mini-camp as well.

"We all love Gronk," he said.

The Patriots are currently in Phase Three of their offseason workout program, which consists of 10 voluntary OTA practices. Splitting those OTA sessions is the team's mandatory three-day mini-camp from June 5-7.

Though Brady has opted to steer clear of all voluntary work to this point, Kraft explained that he felt as though the relationship between Brady and coach Bill Belichick was in a good place.

"From my point of view, nothing's changed," Kraft said. "Everything is good and I think he's very excited about coming back, and I know we're excited to have him. We look forward to a great football season."

Coaches would of course like all players to be accounted for during the offseason program -- as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained recently -- but Kraft seemed to indicate that he wasn't all that concerned with Brady's level of play falling off because of his absence. And that may be fair. Brady is coming off an MVP season and is widely expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league again in 2018.

How his decision to skip workouts impacts others, though, remains to be seen. Will it be more difficult for players like Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett -- all of whom will be going through their first offseason with Brady whenever Brady shows up -- to get up to speed with their starting quarterback sitting out?

Kraft alluded to the fact that the absence of key players could actually help the team build depth.

"The good news out of this, I've learned this over time, whenever one player isn't there, other players -- we're in a business of quality depth management," Kraft said. "A lot of other players are able to get reps they wouldn't get and go down the learning curve. During the course of the season, a number of things happen where you can't plan, and it's good to have as much preparation as you can."

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Curran: A look back shows how much Brady yearns for sixth ring

Curran: A look back shows how much Brady yearns for sixth ring

I spent some time last week trying to reconcile Tom Brady’s “sooner rather than later” statement to Oprah and the ensuing Instagram comment where he re-asserted -- in Spanish -- that 45 was his target retirement date, Brady said a lot last offseason. In more aggressively marketing the TB12 Sports Therapy, he did more national interviews that I recall him ever doing

One was with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor last May

Their conversation was stuffed with interesting quotes, but one that stuck out to me was his open pining for a sixth Lombardi.

MORE CURRAN ON BRADY

"The great part is the next one for me is No. 6," Brady told O’Connor. "And I'm not on No. 1. I'm trying to reach No. 6 and I'm on No. 5. If I got to No. 6, that would have great meaning to me.

“It's not trying to keep up with my idols,” he added. “It's not Magic, Jeter, Mariano [Rivera], Kobe, Duncan, guys more my age who I always admired. I just want to win because I owe it to my teammates. I'm working this year like I have none, and hopefully it results in a magical season."

While behind-the-scenes friction may have sapped enjoyment from 2017, the chance to get No. 6 was right there in Minnesota. Brady opened up his life in an unprecedented way in 2017 with the Tom vs. Time documentary and myriad interviews like the one with O’Connor in which he seemed to take more stock of what he was in the midst of accomplishing. It was all building to a climax.

And the Patriots didn’t win. And Brady -- despite throwing for 505 yards and three touchdowns -- was stripped with 2:16 left and the Patriots trailing 38-33.

That might be his first lament if he spoke candidly about how crushing it is to get so close and fall short. He had the ball with a chance to go down and score and the Eagles stopped his offense. Stopped him. But at some point, you have to believe he’d get to the absurdity of having to put up 40 on the Eagles to even have a chance at winning. That the Patriots couldn’t get off the field defensively, yet they still left Malcolm Butler holstered all night.

As angry as Patriots fans remain about that game and the lack of explanation for Butler’s benching, imagine Brady’s bitterness. It meant everything to all of them, but Brady -- in his comment to O’Connor -- indicated that No. 6 would have held special meaning for him.  

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Brady bristled when O’Connor suggested he was the greatest player the league’s ever seen, saying, "I don't agree with that. I know myself as a player. I'm really a product of what I've been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in. I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes they could accomplish the same kinds of things. So I've been very fortunate.”

Still, his resume with No. 6 and a 6-2 record in Super Bowls would have been unassailable and, quite likely, an unbreakable record. Think about it. As brilliant as Aaron Rodgers is, he’s played in one Super Bowl. John Elway, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre combined for six Lombardis. Six Super Bowl wins would have looked like Cy Young’s 511 wins and Wilt’s 50.4 points per game.  

Another quote from the O’Connor interview that caught my eye was this one. “I don't like conflict,” Brady said. “It's just inherent in who I am."

That was May. He had no way of knowing what the next 10 months would bring. Or that he’d ultimately come tantalizingly close to No. 6, fall short and then realize he’d have to start all over again and play just as well at 41 to even get in position for another shot at a half-dozen. 

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Julian Edelman's appeal of suspension taking place Monday

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Julian Edelman's appeal of suspension taking place Monday

Julian Edelman's suspension appeal hearing is being heard on Monday, more than two weeks after news broke that he was facing a four-game ban for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Dan Graziano of ESPN was the first to report the date of Edelman's appeal hearing. 

Per Graziano's report, Edelman's defense will be focused on the recognizability of the substance that triggered the positive test. (The MMQB's Albert Breer reported that the substance was not recognized by league drug testers.) Another aspect of Edelman's defense, according to Graziano, "involves a mishandling of the documentation and delivery of Edelman's test results." 

Edelman will lean on the counsel of attorney Alex Spiro during his defense. Spiro is a New York-based partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP with plenty of New England connections. 

Spiro graduated from Wellesley High, Tufts University and Harvard Law, and he's handled a number of high-profile cases. He helped indict and convict Rodney Alcala, the "Dating Game" killer. Spiro was a member of Aaron Hernandez's defense team -- along with Jose Baez and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. -- in Hernandez's double homicide trial. Spiro also represented Utah Jazz forward (then a member of the Atlanta Hawks) Thabo Sefolosha when Sefolosha was found not guilty of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest stemming from an incident in 2015. Sefolosha eventually earned $4 million from New York City in a settlement.