Patriots

Tom Brady brushes off contract situation: 'Talk to (Robert) Kraft'

Tom Brady brushes off contract situation: 'Talk to (Robert) Kraft'

Does Tom Brady deserve a contract extension with the New England Patriots?

It's a question that's popped up this summer as the Patriots quarterback inches closer to entering the final year of his contract for the first time in his 20-year career.

But rather than voice his own opinion, Brady would prefer the court of public opinion decide.

"Have I earned (an extension)? I don't know, that's up for talk show debate," Brady told reporters Wednesday at Patriots training camp. "What do you guys think? Should we take a poll? Talk to Mr. (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft, come on."

That was the most reporters would get out of Brady regarding his contract, which is set to pay him $14 million in base salary in 2019 with a total cap hit of $27 million.

"I've had such a great experience over a lot of years, and I appreciate this team and the opportunity it gave me in 2000," Brady said. "I play for a great coach, Coach (Bill) Belichick, and (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) and I have a great relationship. I love Mr. Kraft and his family, and we've had just incredible success. So, hopefully we can keep it going."

Brady turns 42 on Sunday, though, and the lack of an extension adds another layer of uncertainty entering his 20th season. The Patriots QB was asked if he's comfortable going "year-to-year" on his contract but managed to dodge that question, as well.

"We're all day to day if you think about it," Brady replied. "None of us are really promised anything. So, I'm trying to do the best I can today and just let those things work themselves out." 

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A first for Bill Belichick: Patriots lose initial pass interference challenge

A first for Bill Belichick: Patriots lose initial pass interference challenge

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick did something on Sunday against the Chiefs that he hasn't done all season. He challenged a pass interference non-call.

With 3:07 left in the third quarter, Patrick Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins on a five-yard pass that was marked at the Chiefs 40-yard line, giving Kansas City a first down. Belichick challenged the spot, which appeared to be generous, but he challenged the ruling that tight end Travis Kelce did not interfere with Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore.

The overall percentages of that offensive pass interference ruling being overturned were low based on how that play has been officiated this season. Through the first six weeks of the season, only four of 37 (10.8 percent) pass interference challenges were successful. From Week 4 through Week 10, seven weeks of games, coaches lost 32 of 33 pass interference challenges.

Twenty of 87 defensive pass interference calls have been reversed, competition committee chair Rich McKay said at this week's league meetings. That's 23 percent. Overall, there have been 345 replay reviews through Week 14 and "about 47 percent" have been reversed, according to McKay.

Belichick acknowledged in mid-October that it was very difficult to successfully challenge pass interference, which was why he hadn't.

“I think it’s been pretty clear and the league has come out and said, it has to be clear and obvious,” Belichick told WEEI at the time. “What the definition of that is, I’m not sure. But I don’t think there can be much gray area, or it’s not clear and obvious. I haven’t studied all of them, but a lot of the ones that I’ve observed or have been in our games, I can see why they were called the way they were.”

But the fact that Belichick challenged a pass-interference ruling against the Chiefs last weekend signified that he and his staff had been paying attention to recent trends. Through Week 11, only six defensive pass interference penalties were reversed upon review. In the last three weeks, seven defensive pass interference calls have been reversed.

Belichick's challenge for offensive pass interference failed last weekend. He was granted neither the penalty nor the spot against the Chiefs, which came into play later when a N'Keal Harry would-be touchdown could not be reviewed because Belichick was out of challenges after having lost one.

"We challenged both aspects of the play — it’s one challenge, it’s one play," Belichick said. "We challenged the offensive interference and we challenged the spot. It’s exactly what you said it was. When we challenged it, I thought we had a good challenge on both counts."

Perhaps Belichick challenged the non-call for offensive pass interference because . . . why not? If he wanted to challenge the spot, might as well challenge pass interference as well. It's one challenge for two aspects of the play.

But given recent trends, Belichick might've thought he had a good chance of winning the offensive pass interference challenge. That he didn't — even after officials have apparently changed their approach to pass interference reviews — might only further cloud what qualifies as flag-worthy.

There will be three more weeks of information on these calls headed into the postseason, but odds are everyone involved — coaches, players, the league office — would like a little more clarity before the calendar flips to January. Either way, thanks in part to all the confusion this season, there could be marked changes to the review setup for 2020.

“There’s no question there’s been angst,” said McKay, who is president of the Falcons. “I’ve felt the angst. I felt the angst with our team, feel the angst of others. But it’s a new rule. It’s a big change. It’s something we haven’t done before. So I don’t want to prejudge what the outcome could be."

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Preventable Patriots controversy is the last thing Bill Belichick needed

Preventable Patriots controversy is the last thing Bill Belichick needed

The Patriots locker room was choked with media Wednesday afternoon. We mostly milled in small crowds of three or four with nothing to do but chat until a player stopped long enough to signal a willingness to chat. 

Then, like ants on a dropped popsicle stick, we’d swarm. Inevitably, a question about what happened in the Cleveland press box last Sunday would be lobbed up. The answer would be some variation of, “Not my department,” accompanied by a shrug. 

Away from the throngs, I buttonholed two different Patriots starters. 

I asked how much the swirl caused by an independent contractor for Kraft Sports Entertainment shooting video of the Bengals sideline from the Browns press box was impacting the team.

“F--- that shit,” said one. “I’m thinking about playing good on Sunday. I’m thinking about the Bengals. I have enough to think about. Not a concern.”

The other just shook his head and offered a pitying smile as if to say, “You don’t really think that’s on our plate, do you?” 

It wasn’t technically Bill Belichick’s department either, but it has very much been on his plate all week. 

If any of the 31 other franchises made headlines for doing what the Patriots did Sunday, the general reaction would likely be along the lines of, “Wow. That seems boldly stupid given the nuclear fallout from the Patriots sideline filming in 2007.”

For the Patriots to do it, given the nuclear fallout from their sideline filming in 2007? 

It was like an SNL skit. It couldn’t be real. 

Not surprisingly, Belichick is beside himself about it for a couple of reasons. 

First, he tolerates the intrusion of Kraft Sports Entertainment because he grudgingly understands that promoting the brand is important to the owner. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of anything he’s doing with, you know, the actual football team, he’ll scowl but bear it. 

But spending time entertaining questions about what he knew and when he knew it in the wake of a second consecutive loss to an AFC division leader? Those are brain cells suddenly occupied by something that not only has nothing to do with football, but which puts him in an awful light. 

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And that’s the second reason Belichick is so angry. He understands that a huge swath of football-watching fans and commentators stand at the ready, waiting for a chance to dredge up SpyGate, the jaywalking offense that was prosecuted like a felony assault on professional football. It’s the second time in five years Belichick’s had to stand up and say, “I know nothing…” about some alleged impropriety and he knows the response from too many will be, “Sure you don’t…” 

At 66, he’s a living coaching legend. His involvement and enthusiasm in the NFL’s Top 100 Players production feels like an embrace of that. It’s obvious he’s flattered by it and he was willing to share the best side of himself in each episode. 

But this very preventable controversy in which he had no part means a dredging up of past sins, both real and imagined. Stern words from Roger Goodell about a “thorough investigation” and the inevitable penalty — whatever it is — is a scratch on a legacy that won’t be buffed out for those that want to fixate on them because they don’t like the man. 

So of course he’s livid, furious, and any other adjective you’d like to use that’s a synonym for monumentally pissed off. 

You can blame the Kraft Sports Entertainment personnel in Cleveland last Sunday for bad judgment in that instance. 

But you can’t blame ownership for trying to promote and advance its brand, which is what the “Do Your Job” videos do. With a salary cap near $200 million projected for 2020, every team needs to exhaust its revenue streams. Mini-docs on the inner workings of the famously clandestine Patriots are a layup idea. The execution on this one was … off.

How will the NFL react? It’s probably a boon for the Patriots that NFL owners were meeting this week in Dallas. That allowed Robert Kraft to explain directly to Goodell and fellow owners what precisely happened face-to-face. Maybe that minimizes the number of teams who ring up Goodell to demand the full weight of discipline land on the Patriots regardless of the details. 

The NFL doesn’t need this issue hijacking its season. The Patriots have already been in the headlines enough for off-field drama this offseason between Kraft’s incident in West Palm Beach and the Antonio Brown saga. 

The league as a whole would be best served if its investigation is quick and transparent. A reasonable punishment that hits the team with a fine and leaves football out of it would be the best way to tie it off tidily. 

But there’s no guarantee personalities involved at the league level aside from Goodell — league counsel and Patriots antagonist counsel Jeff Pash, for instance — could be looking for another pound of flesh from the Patriots' hide. 

Confiscating some of Belichick’s precious draft picks would surely make the coach apoplectic especially since it’s the business arm of the organization that did the deed. And while some of his ire would be directed at the league, most of it would probably be directed in-house. 

So there’s a lot of tiptoeing past the coach’s office going on right now. 

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