Patriots

Would timing be right for Patriots to court Kyle Rudolph?

Would timing be right for Patriots to court Kyle Rudolph?

When murmurs surfaced that the tight-to-the-cap Vikings would struggle to keep tight end Kyle Rudolph around, they were squished fairly quickly by Vikings management.

But those murmurs may soon escalate to chatter. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on Friday that extension talks that would lower Rudolph’s 2019 cap hit broke down. Rudolph, who’s in the final year of his deal, is due $7.5M. The Vikings drafted Alabama tight end Irv Smith two weeks ago.

Which obviously leads to the question of whether the Patriots would be buyers if the Vikings were sellers. Two weeks ago, I was told that a Rudolph deal at that juncture was “highly unlikely.” But that was before this latest news. The Vikings have less than $1M in cap space currently and are going to have to start lopping before they sign rookies.

But the Patriots have now committed themselves to three free agent tight ends – Matt LaCosse, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Benjamin Watson. The 29-year-old Rudolph would seem to be a touch better (at least) than all of them. He’s caught 250 passes in the past four seasons and – at 6-6, 265 – he can move people around in the running game as well.

Between Rob Gronkowski taking his time to retire, which slowed the Patriots pursuit of Jared Cook (signed with New Orleans) to missing out on wide receiver Adam Humphries (signed with Tennessee after Patriots’ late sweetener was rebuffed) to Rudolph possibly becoming available right after Watson was signed, the Patriots have seemingly been in chase mode a few times this offseason.

We’ll see if they join the fray on Rudolph.

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Stephon Gilmore aptly captures Bill Belichick's insane attention to detail

Stephon Gilmore aptly captures Bill Belichick's insane attention to detail

Those best equipped to describe Bill Belichick's football genius are the players he shares that genius with.

Take it from Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who's developed into one of the best defensive backs in the league since coming to New England in 2016.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr, Gilmore recalled a detail Belichick shared with him prior to a 2018 game that may go overlooked on other coaching staffs.

"He said, ‘When the ball is traveling in this certain direction, the wind is blowing hard enough where you should probably trail the receiver just a little bit because the ball isn’t going that deep,' " Gilmore told Orr.

"I mean, nobody looks at those kinds of things. It’s the little things like that. You listen to him."

Gilmore seemingly reaped the benefits of Belichick's extra insight, too. As Orr points out, both of Gilmore's interceptions in 2018 came in outdoor stadiums -- Week 1 vs. Houston Texans, Week 11 at New York Jets -- on underthrown deep balls. (You can see them at the 0:01 and 6:17 marks of the video below).

 

Gilmore's anecdote shouldn't surprise you: Belichick is famous for leaving no stone unturned and makes a habit of surveying the field several hours before a game to gauge everything from wind speed to field conditions to the position of the sun.

But every once in a while, a player like Gilmore gives us a reminder that Belichick's relentless preparation hasn't changed as he enters his 20th season as Patriots head coach.

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How Eagles' Brandon Graham uses Tom Brady to cheer himself up on bad days

How Eagles' Brandon Graham uses Tom Brady to cheer himself up on bad days

If you're in a bad mood, it helps to recall happier times.

It just so happens that one of Brandon Graham's happiest moments came at the expense of the New England Patriots.

The Eagles defensive end famously recorded a strip sack on Tom Brady with 2:21 remaining in Super Bowl LII, a crucial play that thwarted New England's comeback attempt and helped Philadelphia score a 41-33 upset.

According to NBC Sports' Peter King, Graham relives that play quite often. From King's "Football Morning in America" column Monday:

Graham told me he has a video of him strip-sacking Tom Brady in the biggest moment of Super Bowl (LII) on his phone, and when he’s having a bad day, he’ll watch it.

Brady and the Patriots probably never want to see that play again. But they found a different way of cheering themselves up by rebounding to win Super Bowl LIII the following year, as Brady now has shining moments from six Super Bowl titles to look back on should he ever need a pick-me-up.

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