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ESPN ranks Patriots' offseason as one of NFL's worst

ESPN ranks Patriots' offseason as one of NFL's worst

The New England Patriots' offseason isn't exactly getting rave reviews.

After NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran flunked the Patriots on his offseason report card, ESPN's Bill Barnwell did the same on Monday. Barnwell ranked New England's offseason as the third-worst in the entire NFL.

Here's how Barnwell explained that ranking:

The Patriots had Brady at quarterback, and now they have Jarrett Stidham. Even a diminished Brady would still project to be a playoff-caliber quarterback with the sort of defense this team had in 2019; the same thing isn't clear with Stidham, who appears to be the Week 1 starter. Losing Brady is one thing, but the Pats neglecting to make a meaningful move for someone like Andy Dalton seems shortsighted and stubborn.

Franchising (Joe) Thuney means New England has a league-high $28.6 million of its cap committed to guards in 2020, nearly $7 million more than any other team. The Thuney tag cost the Patriots valuable cap space and eliminated their leverage in dealing with Rob Gronkowski when he wanted to return, forcing them to trade their legendary tight end to the Bucs for a midround pick. The Pats also lost three members of their starting front seven with Collins, Van Noy and defensive tackle Danny Shelton leaving town. While I have faith Belichick will replace those guys in the long term, the defense should take a step backward in 2020.

All fair points, but the Patriots' non-pursuit of Dalton had more to do with their faith in Stidham than simply being "shortsighted and stubborn." Not to mention, New England hasn't really been in a position to make a major free agency move due to their lack of cap room.

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As for Gronkowski, it has become pretty clear that he was heading wherever Tom Brady was going, and that turned out to be Tampa Bay.

It hasn't been an offseason to remember for the Patriots, but we've been down this road before. For the last 20 years, Bill Belichick has had a knack for making these poor offseason grades look pretty silly. 

Of course, he's had Brady by his side the entire way. So we'll just have to wait and see how things play out without the six-time Super Bowl champion under center.

Report: Disney is NBA's latest destination in bid to restart season

Report: Disney is NBA's latest destination in bid to restart season

The Celtics are going to Disney World? 

They could be, along with the rest of the NBA, as the league is considering Disney's Wide World of Sports complex outside Orlando as a site for resuming its season, according to Sham Charania of The Athletic.

A few weeks ago, the NBA had been considering Las Vegas as a possible destination for restarting its season. The Disney complex offers a lot of the same things - without the legal gambling - in a smaller campus-like setting, where players, coaches, broadcasters and staff can be quarantined. 

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Charania reports that Disney, the parent company of NBA broadcast partner ESPN, has offered its Wide World of Sports complex for use when it's deemed safe for players to return.

The idea was discussed on a conference call Wednesday with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the 30 NBA owners. Medical and testing issues were also discussed.

The 39-acre complex offers plenty of high-end hotel space and offers broadcast-ready facilities for practices and games, including two that can be configured to house six full-size basketball courts. Disney's suitability as a site was detailed by Yahoo Sports' Keith Smith earlier this month. 

The NBA this week pushed back its plan to reopen practice facilities to May 8 after initially targeting May 1. Massachusetts extended its stay-at-home order until May 18 so the Celtics' Red Auerbach Center practice facility in Brighton won't open until at least then.

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Dolphins, Steelers decline to be mic'd up on ESPN after Sam Darnold incident

Dolphins, Steelers decline to be mic'd up on ESPN after Sam Darnold incident

Adam Gase and the Jets weren't pleased by ESPN airing Sam Darnold's "seeing ghost" remark vs. the Patriots in Week 7, and it looks like the incident has had a ripple effect on the rest of the league.

Both the Steelers and Dolphins declined to be "mic'd up" on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," according to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise that teams have become more cautious about wearing microphones following the Darnold incident. The Jets quarterback has been trolled by opposing players and even mascots since admitting to "seeing ghosts" vs. the "Boogymen" Pats defense.

Pittsburgh and Miami clearly want nothing to do with the risk of being exposed like that on national television, and we should expect more teams to follow suit. For ESPN, that's a tough break as the "mic'd up" segment is an integral part of their "Monday Night Football" broadcast.

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