Patriots

Tom Brady, other players may be in favor of an 18-game season

Tom Brady, other players may be in favor of an 18-game season

During the last CBA negotiation between NFL owners and the NFLPA, players almost unanimously panned the idea of an 18-game regular season.

But with the agreement struck in July of 2011 set to expire after the 2020 season, the idea of lengthening the season is poking its head out of the sand once again

And there may be more traction for it this time around.

During last week’s minicamp, I asked Tom Brady about it. I didn’t frame the question very well, leading the witness by saying, “How much damage would an 18-game season do to players?”

Brady didn’t readily agree to the direction I was headed.

“It depends how you take care of yourself,” he said. “That’s how I see it. I think your ability to play, your ability to practice is as good as your ability to recover. So if you can’t recover, I think a six-game schedule is hard. I try to focus on the recovery of things and try to be out here every day in practice. I know it takes a level of focus and commitment to do that. There’s a lot of work in advance that needs to be done to make that happen. So … I love football.”

Brady is evangelical about health and the idea it’s attainable for everyone if they commit to the process.

The business and science of training, nutrition, rest and recovery are going to be the centerpiece of his post-football professional life. So maybe his response shouldn’t have surprised me. And the “so … I love football,” comment seemed to be a request to bring it on.

Some rank-and-file players might sniff at Brady’s stance. He plays quarterback and – while it’s the most vulnerable position on the field – it’s also the most protected and the collision quotient is a lot lower than linemen, linebackers, running backs, etc. Brady also figures to be out of the league for the bulk of the new agreement (figures to be) so he wouldn’t have to deal with the ramifications.

But the money to be made from two extra games and the utter uselessness of a four-game preseason ensure this isn’t going away.

And another quarterback (albeit a former one) said last week there’s a groundswell of support from the PLAYERS to make the change.

“If you put it up to a vote by the NFL players, it’ll overwhelmingly go over and say yes,” Phil Simms said on his son Chris Simms’ “Unbuttoned” podcast. “Some of the elite quarterbacks and a few players, no. Well yeah, you’re making 25 and 30 million. But the guys that are making a million or less . . . two more game checks? Are you kidding me? Think about what those checks look like and how much that is and how much of a difference it makes in their lives.”

While Simms may sense support among players, the percentage of players in favor will never match the percentage of owners who would be unanimous in wanting more product to sell to the networks, fans, etc.

So it may shape up to be an actual bargaining chip instead of the non-starter it’s seemed to be in the past. If the players want weed restrictions relaxed and unilateral disciplinary power taken away from the commissioner, let’s play 18.

“The players probably won’t have much say in it. It’ll probably be a select few players with their [executive] committee and DeMaurice Smith,” Simms predicted. “If you put it up to vote, there’s no doubt the players would vote to go 18 games. I do think it’s heading that way. Just think when the owners get into all of this. Two more weeks of TV money. TV would want it too. Just because it’s the greatest thing on every network. I never thought it would come about but …last year, you know I love watching preseason games. It was awful.”

As opposed to 2011 when there was a 132-day lockout before a resolution was reached, these negotiations could be smoother. Both sides are doing well financially as the salary cap keeps shooting upward and the owner/player rancor that flowed from 2016 to 2018 seems to have subsided for now.

The idea a deal could be struck before this season begins has even been floated. Unlikely though that may be, expect to see all these topics come to the fore in the next few months and the 18-game proposal become a major part of the negotiations.

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NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

The New England Patriots added a veteran running back to their roster on Monday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, ex-Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller reached an agreement with the Patriots on a one-year contract.


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Miller, 29, missed the entire 2019 campaign after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason. In 2018 with Houston, he rushed for 973 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Miller's most productive NFL season came in 2014 with Miami when he tallied 1,099 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

With Miller now in the fold, he joins a Patriots running back depth chart that also consists of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris. Michel underwent foot surgery in May and was placed on the PUP list earlier this month.

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't just send a shockwave through the NFL. It also altered the fantasy football landscape.

The fantasy values of both the Patriots and Bucs' skill players will be much different in 2020 following Brady and Gronk's departure from Foxboro. We've gone over what to expect from the go-to guys in New England's offense, so now it's time to go over Tampa's weapons.

The obvious benefactors -- at least one would think -- of Brady becoming a Buc are his primary wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But will their numbers, along with Brady's, see a significant increase as expected, or should we pump the brakes on the hype?

And then there are the running back and tight end positions. Can Tampa's intriguing rookie running back take over the starting job? What can we really expect out of Gronk after a year off from football?

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Here are our projections for the Bucs' key offensive players with Brady and Gronk in the fold:

Tom Brady, QB
Projected Stats
: 4,300 yards, 29 TD, 9 INT
Projected Draft Round: 5-7

Brady is set up to be a really solid starting quarterback in fantasy football this year. That being said, those who expect Brady to put up elite numbers and draft him any higher than Round 5 are just asking to be disappointed. There are going to be some growing pains in Bruce Arians' offense. Sure, having his old pal Gronk around as a security blanket will help, but it's going to take time for the six-time Super Bowl champ to get comfortable down in Florida. There's little doubt Brady's numbers will be better in nearly every category now that he has some real weapons at his disposal, just make sure you don't reach when plenty of other QBs will do just fine in the middle rounds.

Ronald Jones II, RB
Projected Stats
: 650 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-9

Jones was an OK flex play at points last season, but overall he simply hasn't been the running back Tampa Bay has hoped for these last few seasons. That led to the Bucs selecting Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn on Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft. Jones is the No. 1 guy heading into camp, though it doesn't look like that will be the case throughout the 2020 campaign. Wait until the mid-to-late rounds to take Jones, and maybe even consider passing entirely to take Vaughn if you're so inclined to take a Bucs RB.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Projected Stats
: 550 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

Speaking of Vaughn, he could be a major difference-maker for the Bucs in Brady's offense this season. He rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns for Vandy last season and was pretty effective through the air too, tallying 270 yards and a TD. It's always tough to count on a rookie, but it's worth the risk and the ceiling definitely seems to be higher with Vaughn than it is for Jones. The addition of McCoy, however, makes Vaughn's fantasy outlook a bit murky.

LeSean McCoy, RB
Projected Stats
: 400 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

It's impossible to now as of right now how the Bucs backfield is going to shape up in 2020. Although McCoy is a shell of what he once was, Bruce Arians definitely should find some sort of role for the 32-year-old veteran. The obvious question is whether that role will be more significant than Jones' or Vaughn's. If you're really that compelled to draft a Bucs running back, something I'd avoid entirely, it's a total toss-up and a matter of personal preference.

Mike Evans, WR
Projected Stats
: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

There's no question the Brady-to-Evans connection is going to excite people heading into the new season. However, I'm somewhat skeptical about how their playing styles will mesh. Brady isn't one to take many risks, and Evans made a living out of catching Jameis Winston's ridiculous jump-balls downfield. It really is impossible to know how that'll work itself out, but nonetheless we're believers in Evans' elite talent and project him as a solid WR1 again in 2020.

Chris Godwin, WR
Projected Stats
: 90 receptions, 1,350 yards, 10 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

Godwin was the breakout star of the 2019 fantasy football season as he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers with Jameis Winston under center. Now, the question is whether he can do it again with Brady. That may seem like a silly question, but again we have no clue what to expect from Brady in Arians' offense and how it will differ from what Godwin thrived in a year ago. Regardless, he definitely should be one of the first WRs off the board.

Rob Gronkowski, TE
Projected Stats
: 50 receptions, 700 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8

How do you make stat projections for a guy who took a year off from football to party in Miami and join the WWE? With injury concerns to boot, that makes drafting Gronk in fantasy football an extremely risky move. Obviously, with that high risk could come high reward as Tampa's offense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire NFL and Brady is going to look to Gronk early and often as a security blanket. Draft the former Pats tight end in the middle rounds, long after guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are off the board.

O.J. Howard, TE
Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 450 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

The Bucs are going to run two-tight end sets in 2020, so don't think that Gronk's presence will limit Howard's production. In fact, it could even help it. Howard was a huge fantasy disappointment in 2019 and is out to prove he isn't a bust this year. There's also still a chance he gets traded to a TE-needy team and benefits from a change of scenery. Either way, you could do worse than Howard in the later rounds of your draft.