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PETER KING SPEAKS WITH PATRIOTS OWNER ROBERT KRAFT & DISCUSSES NFL FREE AGENCY IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“Nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that. But we’re not in the business to be in business. We’re in this business to win.” – Robert Kraft to King on the Patriots’ offseason moves

“With seven years left on Gruden’s deal, I can’t imagine owner Mark Davis thinking of pulling the plug yet. But another disappointing year and Davis has got to start thinking about it.” – King on the Raiders’ 2021 offseason

“If it passes – and I believe the Competition Committee is clearly in favor of it – expect help from (the Replay Official) on catch/no-catch calls, down-by-contact calls and close sideline plays.” – King on potential new officiating rule

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 22, 2021 – Peter King speaks with New England owner Robert Kraft about the Patriots’ offseason and discusses the first week of NFL free agency for all 32 teams in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also examines the Texans’ situation with quarterback Deshaun Watson, discusses the NFL’s new media rights deals and provides details on a potential officiating rules change.

Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which provides extensive NFL coverage, includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss offseason storylines.

The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

ROBERT KRAFT & THE PATRIOTS

King on the Patriots: “With their 22 moves in a week: trading for a left tackle; guaranteeing between $9 million and $32 million to seven different free agents; gorging themselves on tight ends; stealing back Kyle Van Noy; and confounding those who never thought Bill Belichick would go on one of the biggest spending sprees in the 28-year history of NFL free agency.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft to King on the team’s offseason: “This year, instead of having 10 or 12 teams competing for most of the top players, there were only two or three. And in my 27 years as owner, I’ve never had to come up with so much capital before.”

King on Kraft’s views of the moves: “He didn’t sound like a man with buyer’s remorse. He sounded like a man who knew his former quarterback just won the Super Bowl in another city, and like a man who just experienced his first losing season in 20 years.”

Kraft: “It’s like investing in the stock market. You take advantage of corrections and inefficiencies in the market when you can, and that’s what we did here. We’ll see. Nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that. But we’re not in the business to be in business. We’re in this business to win.”

King on the Patriots: “Make no mistake: New England had to make these very expensive course corrections because Bill Belichick the personnel man badly let down Bill Belichick the coach...The Patriots, by virtually any measure, had the worst collection of offense skill players in football.”

Kraft on spending big money in free agency: “We’ll see. I do remember we always made fun of the teams that spent a lot in the offseason. So we know nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that.”

2021 FREE AGENCY

King on the opening week of NFL free agency: “I was wrong about 2021 free agency when I wrote last week I thought teams wouldn’t have the same fervor out of the box. And many of the 32 teams were typically frenetic.”

King on the Raiders: “This is one strange franchise, entering its fourth year of the Jon Gruden Experiment…With seven years left on Gruden’s deal, I can’t imagine owner Mark Davis thinking of pulling the plug yet. But another disappointing year and Davis has got to start thinking about it.”

King on the Bears signing Andy Dalton: “For those hammering GM Ryan Pace, I get it, I suppose. But the hammering is for something that happened four years ago, when Pace valued Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson and made a pick that will haunt the Bears for a generation. The hammering should not be for signing (Andy) Dalton, the best quarterback Pace could acquire on March 17, 2021.”

King on the Cardinals: “The Cardinals are going for broke right now in a division that’s somewhere between vulnerable and the best division in football. (J.J.) Watt teaming with Chandler Jones and (A.J.) Green with (DeAndre) Hopkins could be effective, but with the recent history of both newcomers, nothing is guaranteed. The addition of (Rodney) Hudson, however, should be one of the best acquisitions this month.”

King on the Bengals: “Cincinnati entered this offseason with its highest priority improving an offensive line that had Joe Burrow running for his life as a rookie last fall…(Riley) Reiff and Jonah Williams likely will man the tackle slots, but the interior line is exceedingly weak.”

King on the Chiefs: “Kansas City probably overpaid for Joe Thuney, but KC has a better line today with Thuney and Kyle Long than the team had at the Super Bowl this year. The player they wanted but didn’t get is center Rodney Hudson, who got traded by the Raiders to Arizona.”

King on the Giants: “The NY Giants paid too much for Kenny Golladay…but a player like Golladay is borderline essential to the development of (Daniel) Jones, so I understand the push to get him. He’s going to have to produce very big (something like 90 catches, 1,300 yards, 10 TDs) for the deal to be worth it.”

King: “I don’t fault cap-crushed teams that didn’t spend borrow from the future in the first week – Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas. I applaud the patient. History says patience is almost invariably the best policy in free agency.”

King on Jadeveon Clowney: “I can’t figure out why any team would pay real money to Jadeveon Clowney right now…Clowney’s a nice, contributing player, not a dominant one, and unless he’s signed to a deal with a base of $5 million or less and big incentives, I wouldn’t touch him.”

King on Keanu Neal: “I think a sneaky top-10 free-agent signing is Dallas inking safety Keanu Neal for one year. Love his physicality and he’ll be playing on a prove-it deal.”

DESHAUN WATSON

King on Watson: “For today, while it seems totally insensitive to the gravity of the charges, we just don’t know enough about the cases to draw any factual conclusions. So I’ll stick to the football meaning of the Watson story for now. While lawyers are combing through the allegations, there is no way a team could trade for Watson now.”

King on a potential trade: “Could a team try, while the allegations against Watson hang in the air? Perhaps. One former NFL GM told me Sunday he thinks a smart GM would check in regularly to tell Houston GM Nick Caserio of his interest – regardless how dire it looks now.”

King on teams who could be in the QB market: “The Jets (picking second overall) could draft their quarterback of the future, as could Atlanta (fourth), Philadelphia (sixth), Carolina (eighth) and another team trading into the top 10 (San Francisco?) prior to the draft. The Texans could still make a deal for Watson if he was in the clear at any time, but crucial contenders would disappear by the end of April.”

King: “The forecast for Watson’s future: cloudy. But it’s premature to think of the Commissioner’s Exempt List as a landing spot for Watson – unless criminal charges are filed and the legal timeline stretches into the season.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on the NFL’s new 11-year, $113-billion media-rights deal: “It’s revolutionary…with a $13-billion infusion of cash from one of the richest people in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Starting in 2023, for the first time, a package of 15 weekly regular-season games will be streamed, not televised (except in local markets) on cable or regular TV.”

King on Amazon streaming Thursday night games: “What the NFL is good at is making money by seeing the future. The league saw how beneficial it would be to be in business with Bezos and Amazon. Of course it had to do with Bezos’ ability to make money out of everything, and about Amazon’s ability to stream movies and sports peerlessly.”

King on a potential officiating change: “NFL owners at their virtual March 30-31 annual meeting could vote to allow in-stadium replay officials the added power to advise on-field crews on plays game officials missed or may have called errantly. If it passes – and I believe the Competition Committee is clearly in favor of it – expect help from upstairs on catch/no-catch calls, down-by-contact calls and close sideline plays.”

King on the Replay Official: “Instead (of a Sky Judge), the Competition Committee has approved and will send to ownership next week a realignment of duties for the Replay Official, whose job now is mostly in-game replay administration and communication to the crew on the field about things like spot of a foul and game clock issues.”

King on the NFL salary cap: “I won’t be surprised if there’s an element in the 2022 cap that allows teams to use a future year or years as a “bank” to borrow from. Because there’s no way the cap’s going to skyrocket next year, and I doubt in 2023 either.”

Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.

The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:




    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
    • ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
    • The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.

A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.

--NBC SPORTS--