Patriots

Unfortunately, Julian Edelman is primed for huge drop-off with Patriots

Unfortunately, Julian Edelman is primed for huge drop-off with Patriots

Julian Edelman is so screwed. 

And it really bums me out. 

I like Jules a lot. Okay ...

I LOVE JULAN EDELMAN and I don’t care who knows it!

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I love him more than Tompa Brady, Bill Belichick, Nike, Dr. Fauci (a close second to Jules), Brie Larson — have you seen "Captain Marvel"? — and me. Yes, I love him more than Gary Tanguay.   

This kid deserves better. A seventh round pick out of Kent State at 5-foot-10, he made the move from quarterback to wide receiver and is one the most clutch performers at his position of all-time. His double-clutch snag against the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 to me is unmatched. His book "Relentless," co-authored with our own Tom E. Curran, describes his persona perfectly. 

And now he's 33 going on 34 and is pretty much done. There is no way that “Stid the Kid” can put the ball where Jules needs it the way Brady could.

My biggest concern is that Bill’s pet, Stidham — hey, let’s just call him Nike 2 — is going to mess up and lay Jules out. Then it’ll be Good Night, JE11. 

DISCLAIMER: At the time I wrote this, Andy Dalton was not a Patriot. If that changes, nothing changes for Jules. Got it?

Let’s face it, Edelman should probably quit for the sake of his head. We know, Seahawk Super Bowl included, this guy has sacrificed his body and mind to unspeakable measures.

I have always been a fan, but after spending time with his former teammates at Kent State during a Tanguay Takes America Tour and watching his documentary, I fell hard for Jules. 

One of his teammates from his college days who shall remain nameless — not because I am trying to protect him, but because I forgot his name — told us that a number of times Edelman, the smallest guy in the room, would find himself in a brawl. His teammates would look at each other and say, “Okay, let’s go save his ass.” 

The pick-up basketball games he played were legendary for their battles. A game wouldn’t go by without him getting pissed at a roommate, not talking to a guy or throwing some mean elbows. The guy hated — no, hates — to lose. That’s what connected him to Tompa Brady.

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Will Nike 2 have that same desire to win? I don’t know if anyone on the planet does. Okay, maybe Jordan — but he’s a whiskey-drinking TV star now. 

I also feel bad for Jules because he never got paid. The $12 million guaranteed he received in his last deal was his financial peak. Twelve million? The guy has been robbed. Remember when no one wanted him, and he came back to New England at a bargain? He played so damn well he made Wes Welker forgettable — and that’s saying something.  

But the most endearing quality about Julian Edelman is that he takes his job seriously but not himself. I wish we could say the same about Tompa Brady.

Jules is a talented guy who is naturally funny, and unlike Gronk will have a long career in the entertainment business when his playing days are over. His Two Ferns rip off and other digital posts can be very funny. I thought he tried a little too hard with his documentary, but hey, you can’t win them all ... even though Mark Wahlberg was pretty funny. Jules has to be in "Daddy’s Home 3." The best part of that film was the father-son relationship, by the way.

Listen, I could go on and on about this guy, but the sad truth is Bill Belichick has his legacy, an island and a pile of cash. Tompa Brady has the TB12 cult, a city he named after himself and a pile of cash.

On the flip side, Julian Edelman, one of the greatest competitors of our time, will be left out in the cold. 

And it’s a F#$%^& shame!

Report: Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser removed controversial tattoo

Report: Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser removed controversial tattoo

"I knew I had to have it totally taken off of my body."

In April, that's what Patriots rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser told WBZ's Steve Burton about a controversial Three Percenters tattoo on his left arm that gained instant notoriety after he was drafted by New England.

Well, it appears he has followed through on that promise.

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According to TMZ Sports, the 23-year-old has had the tattoo removed. The report states that Rohrwasser started the painful removal process right after the NFL Draft.

After the Patriots selected the Marshall kicker in the fifth round of the draft, there was a public outcry about the tattoo displaying the logo of the right-wing militia group, which has been described as racist and anti-government. Rohrwasser had said he got the tattoo when he was 18 as a way to support the military, but didn't realize its other use.

"It's shameful that I had it on there ignorantly," Rohrwasser told Burton. "I'm sorry for all my (friends) and family that have to defend me. Putting them in that compromising position is one of the biggest regrets I'll ever have. To them, I'm sorry. I'm going to learn from this. I'm going to take ownership of it. This is not who I am. No matter what, that's not who I am. Hopefully, you will all find that out."

Though he might still face questions about the tattoo when the Patriots open training camp later this month, removing the tattoo should keep the issue from being a huge distraction during his first NFL season.

How Cam Newton's 'up to' $7.5 million contract fits under Patriots salary cap

How Cam Newton's 'up to' $7.5 million contract fits under Patriots salary cap

How did the Patriots pull this off? How did a team that had no financial breathing room, no salary-cap space, go ahead and sign Cam Newton to a contract that's worth up to $7.5 million?

The key words there are "up to."

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Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio drew up a deal that would pay Newton the way other quarterback reclamation projects have been paid, if he performs. In the meantime, his salary-cap figure for 2020 comes in at just a smidgen higher than that of long-snapper Joe Cardona.

Let that sink in.

ALPHABET SOUP

Understanding how the Patriots were able to pull that off — pay Newton the going rate for a quarterback looking to revive his career, while simultaneously getting his salary on their books when they had next to no cap space — requires an understanding of the letters "NLTBE."

That acronym stands for "not likely to be earned," and it describes the majority of the incentives Newton received in his new deal with the Patriots. By NFL rule, NLTBE incentives do not count against the salary cap immediately. NLTBE incentive markers are markers that a player didn't achieve the season prior. If those markers are reached, then that incentive payment hits the following season's salary cap.

(As you might guess, LTBE incentive markers are markers a player did hit the season prior. LTBE incentives are counted against the cap upon the player's deal being signed.)

For example, if a player did not throw for 3,000 yards in 2019 but would be paid a $1 million bonus for reaching the 3,000-yard passing mark in 2020, that would be considered an incentive that is NLTBE. It would not count against the 2020 cap. If that 3,000-yard mark is reached in 2020, it would count toward the 2021 cap.

We can deduce then that the $5.75 million in available incentives included in Newton's deal did not count against the Patriots cap for 2020. They couldn't. The team didn't have enough cap space on hand to give him that kind of money in LTBE incentives. The Patriots had less than $1 million in space prior to agreeing to terms with Newton, per Patriots cap expert Miguel Benzan.

We don't yet know the specific markers Newton has to hit to earn his 2020 incentives, but because he played in only two games last season, the Patriots could have given him very reasonable numbers to reach and they still wouldn't count against the cap immediately because they'd be NLTBE. 

For instance, New England could've given Newton bonuses for playing in three games, passing for 600 yards and throwing one touchdown. Because he didn't hit any of those numbers in 2019 — he played in just two games and threw for 572 yards without any touchdowns — they'd all be considered NLTBE and not counted against the 2020 cap. In all likelihood, though, it's going to be a little more difficult than that for Newton to reach the incentives laid out for him.

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WARNING: MATH AHEAD

So if $5.75 million of Newton's "up to" $7.5 million contract with the Patriots won't count against the cap, what will?

Newton's veteran-minimum $1.05 million contract, for one, will count. That's the minimum under the new collective bargaining agreement for players with at least seven years of NFL service.

Additionally, two games of Newton's $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses will count against the cap. If he's provided $700,000 total in per-game roster bonuses, that means he'll be owed $43,750 for each of the 16 regular-season games he's on the Patriots roster. Two games of per-game roster bonus — $87,500 — counts against the 2020 cap because it's LTBE; he played in two games in 2019. The rest of those per-game roster bonuses are considered NLTBE but will count against the cap with each game he plays. So if he plays in all 16 games, by the end of the 2020 season, his cap number will be $1.75 million. Active roster bonuses are the only earned NLTBE incentives that hit a current year's cap, Benzan relayed. 

Therefore, Newton's cap number for New England in 2020 — his base salary plus two games of roster bonuses — comes to $1,137,500. That's slightly more than the $1.08 million cap number assigned to Cardona and the $1.05 million number assigned to fellow quarterback Brian Hoyer for this coming season. It's slightly less than fullback Dan Vitale's 2020 cap hit of $1,287,500. 

Now the question is, how did the Patriots fit Newton under their cap if they had less than $1 million in cap space left prior to landing him? His cap number is over $1 million, isn't it?

It is. But there's an accounting rule the NFL uses to include only the contracts of the players with the top-51 base salaries against a team's cap until active rosters are finalized.

Newton's cap number replaces what was the No. 51 salary on the 90-man roster prior to Newton's signing. According to Benzan, that No. 51 slot was assigned to outside linebacker Tashawn Bower. Because the difference in cap numbers between Newton and Bower is only a few hundred thousand dollars, the Patriots had enough space to add Newton once Bower fell below the No. 51 spot.

If the Patriots were snug up against the cap before, they're even more so now. By Benzan's estimates, they have $263,489 left in cap room. To handle regular in-season spending, they'll need to clear out more space eventually. Re-working Joe Thuney's contract to reduce his nearly $15 million cap hit, for instance, could free up some significant cap room quickly. 

MAXING OUT

If Newton makes the team, plays, and plays well, he may have a chance to reach the full $7.5 million value of the deal. But why $7.5 million? Why settle there?

Marcus Mariota is getting a $7.5 million base salary to be the No. 2 for the Raiders in 2020. Teddy Bridgewater made about that much in 2019 from the Saints. Both were passers in need of a fresh start. Both carried a certain level of uncertainty.

The same is true for Newton in New England, though his résumé is vastly more impressive than that of either of those other quarterbacks when they signed their contracts.

It's the definition of a low-risk, high-reward deal. It just required a little bit of creativity to get it in under the minimal amount of cap space the Patriots had available for 2020.