Category Archives: New England Patriots

Three running backs the Patriots should consider

When you look at the New England Patriots roster, there aren’t a whole lot of weak areas that need strengthening before the start of the new regular season. On the back of their fifth Super Bowl triumph, Bill Belichick and his men are preparing to make yet another run at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

As the 2017 draft edges closer, the Patriots have a couple of very interesting decisions to make. While a large part of the team that secured the championship last season will start the new year with the Patriots, there are some areas where Belichick and his coaching staff will feel they need to tweak before preseason.

Wes Welker reportedly won’t be franchised by Patriots

Have we seen the last of Wes Welker with the New England Patriots?

A source with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking told Ron Borges of the Boston Herald that the Patriots “are simply not going to put an $11.4 million franchise tag” on the 31-year-old wide receiver.

Borges argues Welker has worked himself into a corner, and he’s right. With little leverage in the situation, Welker isn’t about to receive a better offer than the fully guaranteed two-year, $16 million deal he turned down in 2011. By signing his franchise tender last May, Welker veered off a path that helped previous players get paid.

Players who carried contract demands to the brink in New England — Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins, for example — were among those awarded open-market value by the team. Welker squelched that opportunity by agreeing to his one-year, $9.515 million tender last spring. Contract talks went south soon after.

Mike Wallace, Steven Jackson, Ted Ginn Jr. Among Patriots’ Best Free Agent Options on Offense

The potential loss of one or multiple key pieces should make Bill Belichick even more focused on signing some top-notch free agents and managing some glaring needs. Welker is the biggest — at least in name — of the in-house free agents, but the wide receiver appears set for a repeat of last offseason’s franchise tag fiasco. Even if signed, the Patriots will need more help on the outside. The Patriots must address their receiver position more than any other offensive need. The indecision on Welker and uncertain future of Brandon Lloyd make it a top priority. So, finding a few valuable options to either replace or augment that production will be key. Vollmer’s potential absence will also be a big story to watch. He will likely be back with the team, whether via a contract extension or franchise tag, but if he decides to follow the money trail the Patriots could be in deep trouble. The rest of the line can remain fairly intact, but the interior could use some improvement, which brings about another potential need.

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Will the Pats let Welker go?

Wes Welker

Pro: It’s hard to debate the numbers and what Welker has provided the Pats offense. The slot machine just keeps producing and getting open underneath. He also keeps getting up after taking a pounding. He’s an automatic 100-plus catches every year. That kind of production isn’t easily replaced. Neither is his connection with Tom Brady. Keeping Welker in a Pats uniform would keep both happy. Welker is the chains-mover. He keeps Brady and the offense in sync. Or, as Brady said about Welker, he’s the “heart” of the team. Assigning the tag will, at the very least, keep the team moving toward a multi-year extension at a more reasonable cost.

Gronk out for playoffs

The Patriots’ playoff-opening victory against the Texans came with a crushing price.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has broken his left forearm again, and he’ll need season-ending surgery, according to a source. Gronkowski landed on his arm while trying to catch a pass up the left sideline in the first quarter of yesterday’s 41-28 victory.

He immediately sought out the medical staff and was in visible pain. He remained on the sideline for a few minutes before departing for the locker room, where tests revealed the extent of the damage.

 Gronkowski initially broke the arm in Week 11 against the Colts and missed five games. He returned for the regular-season finale against the Dolphins and wore a heavy sleeve over the forearm. He wore the same sleeve for yesterday’s game.