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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Report: Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola to re-sign with Lions

Report: Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola to re-sign with Lions

Scratch that Danny Amendola-Patriots reunion.

Peter Schrager of the NFL Network reports the free-agent wide receiver is re-signing with the Detroit Lions, where he spent last season and had 62 catches for 678 yards. Former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will enter his third season as Lions coach in 2020. 

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The 34-year-old left the Patriots after five seasons to sign with the Miami Dolphins in 2018 and may have burned a bridge or two with Bill Belichick. 

It had been speculated that perhaps bringing in a former reliable Tom Brady receiver might be part of a plan to lure Brady back to New England, with a report in late January that Amendola could come along to wherever Brady lands in free agency, but a Brady-Amendola reunion in Detroit isn't happening, either. 

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.