Patriots

These stats hint at a Patriots offensive strategy vs. Chargers

These stats hint at a Patriots offensive strategy vs. Chargers

The Chargers come to Foxboro for their AFC Divisional Playoff Sunday with one of the NFL's best defenses. It's ranked No. 8 in in the regular season at 26.8 points allowed per game. Still, there could be a vulnerability in one area the Patriots may be able to exploit.

Mike Giardi, Patriots reporter for the NFL Network, points out that defending backs catching passes out of the backfield is a weak spot for Los Angeles.

In last season's meeting, a 21-13 New England victory in Foxboro, Pats running backs Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead were targeted a total of 15 times and caught 14 passes for 163 yards.

It's already been a heavy volume year for White. The running back is actually the Pats' most targeted receiver this season with 123. He had career-highs with 87 receptions and 751 receiving yards. In fact, he's just the fourth back in the Super Bowl era with 750 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Expect Tom Brady, who can use throws to his back to help neutralize a Chargers pass rush that features Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, to go back to him again Sunday until the Chargers show they stop defend pass catchers out of the backfield.

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Report: Contract details for Patriots' Maurice Harris, Terrence Brooks

Report: Contract details for Patriots' Maurice Harris, Terrence Brooks

Surprise, surprise: The New England Patriots are spending carefully in free agency.

Rather than dole out significant cash to one or two players, the Patriots' strategy to date has been to sign a handful of depth pieces at relatively low cost. On Tuesday morning, we got a look at the contract details of two such players.

First up: wide receiver Maurice Harris, who can earn up to $1 million this season, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.

According to Spotrac, Harris' $720,000 base salary in 2019 makes him the second-lowest-paid Patriots wide receiver, ahead of Damoun Patterson and just behind fellow newcomer Bruce Ellington, who carries a $895,000 base salary.

That contract suggests the 26-year-old Harris may have to compete for a roster spot during the preseason, especially if New England trades for a receiver of higher value.

New Patriots safety and expected special teams contributor Terrence Brooks, meanwhile, has the chance to earn a maximum of $4 million total a two-year contract, per The Boston Globe's Ben Volin.

Head coach Bill Belichick clearly values special teams, so it's not surprising the Patriots are willing to shell out north of $1 million guaranteed to two potential core special teamers in Brooks and running back Brandon Bolden.

New England's work isn't done on the special teams front, as it currently doesn't have a kicker or punter with Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen still unsigned in free agency.

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Report: Pennel's 2-year Patriots deal could be worth up to $8 million

Report: Pennel's 2-year Patriots deal could be worth up to $8 million

The Patriots deal with free-agent nose tackle Mike Pennel is for two years with a base salary of $5 million and could be worth up to $8 million in incentives, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Pennel, 6-foot-4, 332 pounds, turns 28 in May. The former New York Jets defensive tackle will try to make up for the loss of Malcom Brown, who signed with the Saints. 

After the signing, Pennel spoke to Patriots.com about joining a "winning culture" in New England.

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