Tagged in: bill belichick

Chicago Bears acquire New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry for seventh-round pick

The Chicago Bears have obtained wide receiver N’Keal Harry from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft choice, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Harry, the final selection in the first round of the 2019 draft (32nd overall), never truly panned out in New England after becoming the highest drafted receiver in Bill Belichick’s tenure (2000-present).

He totaled 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 36 regular-season matches. The 24-year-old joins a receiver room in Chicago led by Darnell Mooney, who led the Bears in receiving last season, and features plenty of new faces that will compete for playing time.

The Bears signed former Kansas City wideout Byron Pringle to one-year deal worth $4.125 million and used a third-round pick on Velus Jones Jr. Chicago also brought in Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe and David Moore to fill out its receiving corps this offseason.

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Harry, who had requested a trade prior to the 2021 season, faced an uphill climb to earn a roster spot this season after New England traded for veteran DeVante Parker.

In addition to Parker, the Patriots have Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne locked into the top spots on their depth chart.

Harry had not been a participant in the team’s voluntary offseason program, and during June’s mandatory minicamp, had been leapfrogged by others who had previously been behind him on the depth chart.

The Patriots, who are tight to the salary cap, receive roughly $1 million in much-needed relief by trading Harry.

In 2019, Harry had been a highly-touted prospect coming out of Arizona State, where he had appeared in 37 career games and totaled 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Patriots had been excited about his physical makeup (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and knack for making contested catches.

While that didn’t manifest itself in New England, Harry now gets a fresh start in Chicago. The Bears still have an estimated $23.037 million in salary cap space to work with, which is the second-most in the NFL.

Chicago starts training camp on July 26 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill.

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New England Patriots acquire WR DeVante Parker in trade with Miami Dolphins

In a rare trade between AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots have acquired Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The Dolphins’ acquisition of Tyreek Hill and the free-agent signing of Cedrick Wilson Jr. made Parker expendable. Miami will now have two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders in the 2023 NFL draft.

Meanwhile, Parker could be a top option for Patriots second-year quarterback Mac Jones, joining a receiving corps that includes top returnees Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.

Jones immediately took to Twitter to welcome his newest teammate to New England, saying, “Let’s go,” to which Parker replied: “Let’s get it big dawg.”

The Patriots inherit the remaining two years of Parker’s contract, which calls for him to earn base salaries of $5.65 million in 2022 and $5.7 million in 2023. The Patriots are expecting to receive a compensatory third-round pick in 2023 as a result of losing cornerback J.C. Jackson in free agency.

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Since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, this is only the fifth trade New England has made with the Dolphins.

The most notable came in 2007 when the Patriots dealt second- and seventh-round picks to Miami for receiver Wes Welker, who went on to set the franchise record for receptions (672).

Belichick knows Parker well from having prepared his teams to face him since 2015, when the Louisville alum entered the NFL as a first-round pick of the Dolphins.

“He’s got a very, very good skill set,” Belichick said of Parker before a game versus the Dolphins in 2020.

“He’s a big athlete that runs well, has good hands, good run-after-the-catch ability, and good quickness for his size. He presents a lot of problems on deep balls. He’s a big target on the end of routes in-cuts and crossing routes. He’s strong, can break tackles as a catcher or run player, so he attacks all three levels of the defense and can be productive at all three [receiver spots].”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Parker played in 10 matches last season (eight starts) and totaled 40 receptions for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

Over his NFL career, he has played in 93 games (64 starts), totaling 338 receptions for 4,727 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s the Dolphins’ sixth-leading receiver all time.

Parker’s breakout season came in 2019, when he recorded 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns on 72 catches. However, his production was limited by his health over the ensuing two seasons, in which he missed nine combined games and recorded a total of 1,308 receiving yards.

As the Dolphins’ new coaching staff assembled a receiver room that specialized in creating separation and yards after the catch, Parker — traditionally a possession receiver — stood as the odd man out.

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Joe Judge returns to New England Patriots as offensive assistant

Former New England Patriots special-teams coordinator Joe Judge — who was fired after two seasons as head coach of the New York Giants — is returning to the franchise as an offensive assistant, it was revealed Tuesday.

Judge coached with New England from 2012 to 2019 before becoming the Giants’ head coach.

In his final season working under Bill Belichick, the 40-year-old Judge served as wide receivers coach in addition to his longtime role coordinating special teams.

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Judge was then hired for his first NFL head-coaching job, going 10-23 in two seasons with the Giants.

He had been set to become the head coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, before the Giants offered him the job.

In Judge’s final season in New England, Belichick had said that he “could probably coach any position on the field,” crediting his teaching ability and knack for thinking quickly.

The Patriots are undergoing a significant change on their offensive coaching staff. They don’t have an offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels was named head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree is joining McDaniels, and it’s possible other assistants could follow. In addition, veteran running backs coach Ivan Fears is anticipated to retire.

In past years, Belichick hasn’t always given out titles at the outset when filling out his coaching staff. Judge’s role, assuming there are no unexpected holdups, could depend on other additions to the staff.

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Lions, Browns both desperate for wins entering Sunday’s game

The starting quarterback is injured and won’t be close to 100% — if he even plays. The passing game isn’t producing nearly enough big plays or points and the season has grown desperate.

The Cleveland Browns have similar complications.

Shaken by an embarrassing, humbling 38-point loss at New England last week, when Patriots coach Bill Belichick seemed to enjoy toying with his former team, the Browns (5-5) head into Sunday’s matchup versus the Lions (0-8-1) without any more wiggle room in a season going sideways.

Their hopes of winning the AFC North, making the playoffs and perhaps a Super Bowl title run seem a bit far-fetched at the moment. But in a nonsensical season in which elite teams are few and far between, anything seems possible.

“We’re within striking distance,” said Browns left guard Joel Bitonio, who has been on more than a few roller-coaster rides in Cleveland since 2014. “We’re not where we want to be, but we have everything left. There’s a lot less room for error now, but we’re good.”

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Actually, it’s hard to figure out the Browns — one of the NFL’s most talented yet unpredictable teams.

Two weeks ago, they overpowered Cincinnati 41-16 while playing their most complete match this season.

A week later, it was just the opposite as the Browns couldn’t do anything right.

The past few days have been filled with corrections and reflection.

“It’s a humbling process,” said quarterback Baker Mayfield, who expects to face the Lions despite shoulder, foot and knee injuries. “It’s very easy to look around and try to find excuses, but when it comes down to it we have seven more games right now to be able to figure out how to make it work.

“And we have a lot of division games in front of us, and that’s the most important part.”

The Browns aren’t good enough to take anyone lightly, especially the Lions, who managed a 16-16 tie last week at Pittsburgh and were within a missed field goal in overtime of shocking the Steelers.

Detroit returned from its bye week emphasizing the run on offense and playing with the same intensity on defense that has kept the Lions in most games.

Bitonio played on Cleveland’s 0-16 team in 2017, when the Browns lost twice in OT and lost four other games by four points or less.

He said the Lions will not be overlooked.

“They play as hard as anybody,” said Bitonio, who has warned his younger teammates about the pitfalls of overconfidence. “It’s not like you’re at Alabama, just walk in and beat a team. Records don’t mean anything. You come out, you have to perform. “You just have these games where it’s like, ‘Oh, this team should win.’ But it’s the NFL, so anything can happen.”

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New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Cam Newton returns to New England Patriots from COVID protocol

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton returned to the team facility Thursday and practiced after missing three consecutive days due to a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding,” with coach Bill Belichick saying Newton “didn’t violate team rules.”

Belichick mostly referred to the team’s statement — which said that the club approved Newton leaving the New England region for a medical appointment — when asked about how the “misunderstanding” occurred.

“I don’t really have anything to add. We released a statement, and I think that covered it as thoroughly as we can without getting into a lengthy thing. So we’ll just leave it at that,” Belichick said.

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Newton’s absence opened the door for rookie quarterback Mac Jones to take No. 1 repetitions each of the past three days, and he seemed to take advantage of the opportunity Wednesday versus the New York Giants, capping off his practice by leading the offense to an 80-yard touchdown drive.

With Newton back Thursday, Belichick said, “All the quarterbacks will get work.”

Thursday marks the Patriots’ final practice of training camp, and then the team will visit the Giants in the preseason finale on Sunday (6 p.m. ET).

The quarterback competition between Newton and Jones remains a top storyline, with Belichick having consistently stated that Newton is the starter but that, like players at any position, he has to reestablish that standing throughout the preseason.

Belichick has also said there could be a change at any position if someone performs better than the starter or the starter isn’t available.

Asked at what point he needs to transition from a spirited quarterback competition to having a starter and giving that player the majority of repetitions to get him prepared for the season opener Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins, Belichick said: “I don’t have a timetable on that. … I’m not sure.”

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New England Patriots set to re-sign quarterback Brian Hoyer

Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer is set to re-sign with the New England Patriots, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

He joins a crowded position headlined by Cam Newton, 2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones and third-year veteran Jarrett Stidham.

Hoyer, who had taken a free-agent visit with the New York Jets earlier this offseason as a potential backup to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, opened last season as the Patriots’ top backup, before slipping to the No. 3 spot behind Stidham after the fourth week.

Hoyer, 35, provides backup quarterback insurance as a potential starting competition unfolds ahead of him. Coach Bill Belichick has declared Newton the top option at this time, while leaving the door open for Jones — and possibly Stidham — to challenge him for the starting role.

“Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does,” Belichick stated on April 29.

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The return of Hoyer, who previously played for the team in three different stints (2009-2011, 2017-2018 and 2020), provides the Patriots flexibility and insurance depending on how a starting competition plays out.

In training camp last year, Hoyer had arguably the most consistent performance among Patriots quarterbacks. That helped him initially beat out Stidham, who had been the No. 2 option in 2019.

Hoyer was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role a few days before the Patriots’ Week 4 road game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, as a result of Newton testing positive for COVID-19 the night before the team was scheduled to travel.

The Patriots lost 26-10 in a contest that was pushed back one day, with the team traveling on the morning of the game.

Hoyer went 15-of-24 for 130 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, and had a notable breakdown at the end of the first half in taking a sack when the Patriots were out of timeouts, costing them a chance at a field-goal attempt.

He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack, which was his final play before Belichick replaced him with Stidham. From that point, Hoyer served as the Patriots’ third quarterback the rest of the year.

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