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."


NFL Rumors: Patriots free up millions in cap space from Antonio Brown, Aaron Hernandez grievances

NFL Rumors: Patriots free up millions in cap space from Antonio Brown, Aaron Hernandez grievances

The New England Patriots just got whole lot of financial breathing room.

The Patriots have earned a total of $6.25 million in settlements from compensation grievances involving former wide receiver Antonio Brown and ex-tight end Aaron Hernandez, ESPN's Mike Reiss and Field Yates reported Saturday.

New England now has $7.79 million in cap space, per Reiss and Yates, a huge bump from the less than $500,000 in spending money the team had earlier this week.

Brown, who spent less than two weeks with the Patriots last September, filed a grievance against the team in October 2019 following his release seeking to receive his unpaid Week 1 salary, his $1.025 million guaranteed base salary and his $9 million signing bonus.

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The Patriots will pay Brown $5 million as part of the settlement, per Reiss and Yates.

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Patriots on Hernandez's behalf in October 2013 seeking over $6 million in guaranteed salary. Hernandez was arrested and later convicted for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and died in prison in April 2017.

New England was up against the cap after squeezing free-agent quarterback Cam Newton in on a one-year contract and inking all of its 2020 NFL Draft picks to rookie deals. With nearly $8 million in cap space, however, the Patriots have more flexibility to bolster their roster via free agency or trade.

Our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran suggested tight end David Njoku could be a strong fit in New England after requesting a trade from the Cleveland Browns, and there are a number of quality free agents still on the market, as well.

Patriots TE Devin Asiasi joins Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry for workouts

Patriots TE Devin Asiasi joins Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry for workouts

Twelve days ago, Cam Newton was still a free agent looking for work.

But ever since he agreed to a one-year contract with the Patriots, he's been very busy trying to get ready for the 2020 season, learning the playbook and developing chemistry with his new receivers.

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In addition to N'Keal Harry, whose workout with Newton was captured on video, rookie tight end Devin Asiasi was also catching passes from New England's new quarterback. Twitter user amirmehrtash15 took pictures with both Asiasi and Newton at the UCLA practice session and posted them in reponse to the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels.

The workout wasn't limited to Patriots, as Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. was also in attendance.

Newton trying to fast-track a relationship with his new teammates makes perfect sense. He set up his first practice with Mohamed Sanu on the day he signed his Patriots contract, and in less than two weeks, he's already connected with three of the guys who will be among his top receiving options in 2020.

The Patriots certainly hope all that extra work pays off, as training camps could open as soon as the end of this month once the NFL and NFLPA can finalize preseason dates.