Patriots

There's a Belichickian flavor to Jon Gruden's moves in Oakland

There's a Belichickian flavor to Jon Gruden's moves in Oakland

What if Jon Gruden ISN’T a blooming idiot?

What if, despite the myriad headlines lampooning Mr. 3:17 a.m. for dealing Khalil Mack to the Bears (plus a whole lot more), Gruden is actually walking an “I really don’t give a shit what everyone thinks…” path blazed by Bill Belichick?

Set aside for a minute the fact Antonio Brown acted like an overtired 3-year-old in an effort to get out of Pittsburgh.

And set aside that, not only did it work, he also got a raise for doing it.

And set aside the real reason there’s bitterness over what Brown did: the fact 99 percent of us couldn’t do the same thing at our jobs.

And set aside the fact that, even among the one percent that could, most would be too embarrassed to act that way as an adult.

Finally, set aside the unforced stupidity that the cartoon-come-to-life Brown routinely finds himself engaged in.

I’ll give you a second.

Good?

OK.

Gruden just added arguably the best wide receiver in football who is coming off a 104-catch, 1,297-yard, 15-touchdown season in which he was trying to get himself fired. He (and GM Mike Mayock), traded Amari Cooper and his expiring contract to the Cowboys in exchange for a first-round pick, upgraded with Brown for less than what Cooper may cost and gave up a picks in the third and fifth rounds to do it.

MORE FROM TOM E. CURRAN

He got Brown on a deal that — while fat — is comparable to Sammy Watkins' deal and will soon be outpaced by somebody like, well, Amari Cooper.

He got a player who will be supremely motivated to make the Steelers look bad by being on his best behavior in Oakland (we’ll see how long that lasts).

And he got a player who can conceivably make his 28-year-old quarterback Derek Carr — who’s in the third year of a five-year, $125M deal — a more potent player.

Gruden — in the second year of a 10-year deal — has the luxury of security. His job is to make the Raiders better and going and getting the best player — warts and all — is the very definition of that.

When the Patriots added Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and (potentially, it seems) Michael Bennett, Belichick was able to do that because he had the job security to make those moves and the belief that, if they didn’t work out, he’d deal with that when the time came.

Get the best players. Worry less about what “might happen down the road.”

What about Khalil Mack? Good question. That move has a whiff of Belichick to it as well. Mack was an absolute force for the Bears in 2018. He is going to be a defensive cornerstone for them for years. Gruden got predictably pummeled in the short-term.

But what did adding Mack do for the Bears? He got them to the playoffs — which is further than the Raiders went — but in reality, Chicago got to play one more game than Oakland. Neither team was going to the Super Bowl in 2018 and now the Raiders have Chicago’s first-round picks in each of the next two seasons in addition to Dallas’ this year and their own.

Oakland has to do something with those picks (the Belichickian move would be to turn some of them into more picks), but the foundation is now there.

The overarching conversation right now is whether Brown shooting his way out of Pittsburgh was the “right” thing to do and we will all work on that chew toy for the next few days. We’ll hear all about business and bottom lines and issue our moral judgments.

Meanwhile, the easily-mocked Gruden edges a little closer to maybe — if things break right — having the last laugh.

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Tom Brady laughs off Patriots injury report designation: 'I'm feeling really good'

Tom Brady laughs off Patriots injury report designation: 'I'm feeling really good'

The New England Patriots' Thursday injury report raised some eyebrows as Tom Brady was downgraded to limited in practice. But per usual, the injury designation doesn't seem to be a cause for concern.

In fact, Brady couldn't help but laugh when asked about being listed with elbow and toe ailments. During his Thursday night appearance on Westwood One with Jim Gray, Brady assured Patriots fans he'll be good to go vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

“That might be the first time my toe’s been on the injury report,” Brady said. “So, you know us Patriots. We’re pretty diligent about listing everything. So, I guess you have to make mention of my toe now, as well.”

As for the elbow issue, Brady dealt with it during last week's game in Houston and is ready to do the same at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

“Isn’t there some HIPAA violation or something like that when I start talking about all of my injuries?” Brady joked. “I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing pretty good. At this time of the year, I’ll take it. I’ll take anything if I’m still able to go out there and feel like I can play my best. I’m feeling really good, really positive about this weekend.”

Kickoff for the much-anticipated Patriots-Chiefs matchup is set for 4:25 p.m., and it sounds like Brady's more than ready for the AFC Championship Game rematch.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: A detailed look at why Tom Brady's time in NE is winding down

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: A detailed look at why Tom Brady's time in NE is winding down

For 19 seasons, Tom Brady has been the unquestioned starter at quarterback for the New England Patriots. And for 19 years, he has started every game that he has been healthy for.

But ahead of the 2020 offseason, Brady's status with the organization remains as questionable as ever.

For the first time in his career, the 42-year-old Brady will be set to hit unrestricted free agency. He agreed to a restructured contract with the team this offseason, but it only gave him a pay raise this season and guaranteed that the team couldn't slap him with the franchise tag.

While Brady could return to the Patriots, it's possible that he could choose to go elsewhere if the team doesn't commit to him financially or surround him with better weaponry.

On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed the possibility of Brady leaving. And as Curran pointed out, that topic hasn't been broached with much seriousness despite the fact that free agency is closer than some may realize.

We're talking about a seismic occurrence in the arc of the dynasty that is basically 90 days away. They could come to some kind of conclusion and rectify it and he might finish his career here, but it doesn't smell that way.

It's important to note that nothing is set in stone, and the Brady-Patriots relationship has endured for two decades for a reason. Despite some strain in the relationship at times, things have always been smoothed over. 

That said, there are some quarterback-needy teams that could attempt to lure Brady away from New England in an attempt to put their team over the top. Curran and Perry identified a few different options on the podcast, one of which was the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hear more from Curran and Perry on the latest episode of "The Patriots Talk Podcast," which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

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