Tagged in: New England Patriots

Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower to opt out of 2020 season

A huge piece of the New England Patriots’ defense has decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will opt out of the season, NFL Network’s Michael Giardi confirmed Tuesday.

Hightower became a first-time father on July 16. His mother also has Type 2 diabetes.

According to an agreement approved by both the league and the NFL Players Association, players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out. Players who voluntarily opt out of the campaign will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll.

“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

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Hightower’s foundation annually raises money for the American Diabetes Association, which has important meaning to him as his mother, L’Tanya, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hightower keeps a picture of his mother at his locker.

Hightower was booked to earn a base salary of $8 million in the final year of his contract, which will roll over to 2021.

The decision is a big blow to a Patriots defense already undergoing a transition with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts leaving via free agency.

Hightower is a thumper in the middle of the Pats defense who has the flexibility to rush the passer. Per Pro Football Focus, Hightower led all off-ball linebackers in total pressures over the past three seasons with 80. The loss is important from an on-field production and a locker-room leadership standpoint for Bill Belichick’s squad.

Hightower is the fifth Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season. Running back Brandon Bolden will also not play in 2020, per Giardi. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran also opted out.

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Patriots sign receiver Marqise Lee to one year deal

The New England Patriots are signing former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.

Lee became a free agent on April 20, when he was released by the Jaguars.

Lee, 28, has battled injuries throughout his career and never became the game-changing player the Jaguars hoped he would be when he was drafted in the second round in 2014.

He played in only six matches and had three catches for 18 yards after signing a four-year contract worth $34 million with $16.5 million guaranteed in March 2018. He missed the 2018 campaign after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee during the preseason.

The signing of Lee is consistent with an approach the Patriots have taken under Bill Belichick, identifying a once highly-touted player whose value on the open market wasn’t what it previously was due to injuries or other factors.

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Lee joins a Patriots wide receiver corps headlined by Julian Edelman, 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry and veteran Mohamed Sanu.

Speedster Damiere Byrd, who played last season for the Arizona Cardinals, agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2.3 million to join the Patriots early in free agency, and 2019 undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski also return this year.

The Jaguars drafted Lee with the 39th overall pick in 2014, and he struggled with injuries early in his career, missing nine games in 2014 and ’15. He played every match in 2016 and missed only two matches in 2017. He re-signed with the Jaguars in March 2018 after the team was unable to reach a deal with Allen Robinson, whom they also drafted in the second round in 2014.

Lee has 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 career games.

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Patriots trade Rob Gronkowski to buccaneers for fourth round pick

The New England Patriots agreed to trade tight end Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, the Buccaneers reported. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer stated that Gronkowski passed his physical with the team.

“Rob has agreed to play for Tampa this season,” Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “He will honor his current contract at this time.”

Reports suggest that Gronkowski, who has one year left on his contract that will pay him $10 million this year, has been getting his body ready for a return to football, and that reuniting with Tom Brady was important.

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Gronkowski, 30, retired ahead of the 2019 campaign after eight seasons with New England. During his Patriots career, he was a three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro selection. He caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 scores, establishing himself in his prime as the game’s best tight end and arguably the most talented player at the position in NFL history. 

Injuries were an issue for Gronk, however, as he missed 29 matches in his career and 13 games in his last three seasons alone. After posting double-digit touchdown receptions in five of his first six seasons, he had a total of 14 touchdowns between the 2016-18 campaigns. 

And now Gronkowski will be playing football with Brady in Tampa Bay next season. It’s great news for Bucs fans and more tough news for Patriots fans, who have seen the most important player in franchise history sign with a new team this offseason and one of the most popular figures in team history come out of retirement to join him.

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Tom Brady says goodbye to Patriots on social media

In a move that sent shockwaves around the NFL on Tuesday morning, longtime New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced across social media that he is “continuing elsewhere,” signaling an exit from the Patriots in 2020 free agency.

Brady entered the league as a sixth round pick, No. 199 overall, in the 2000 NFL Draft. Since receiving a starting opportunity in place of the injured Drew Bledsoe, he has gone on to conquer six Super Bowls and was named MVP in four of those appearances.

He has completed 6,377 of 9,988 passes for 74,571 yards, 541 touchdowns and 179 interceptions. The 42-year-old has been named an NFL MVP three times and was selected to 14 Pro Bowls. His claim as the NFL’s best ever quarterback is strong.

It will be weird to see Brady wearing a new uniform after 20 campaigns. It will be interesting to see how the legacies of head coach Bill Belichick and Brady divert, and potentially grow, in the coming years.

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NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said that the Buccaneers and Chargers had already extended an offer worth upwards of $30 million. According to Tom Curran of NBC Boston, an announcement on where Brady will be playing next is not awaited to come Tuesday. The Colts are not expected to get involved, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. They are satisfied in their pursuit of Philip Rivers. The Las Vegas Raiders might also be enticed.

New England is left with Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham on the roster at quarterback. Stidham, a fourth round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, would be the most viable option to start in Brady’s absence. However, he only attempted four passes last season and one ended in an interception.

The Patriots hold the No. 23 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and could choose to pursue an alternative with that choice.

The other possibility is that the franchise pursues another veteran quarterback either in free agency or via trade. Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater and Andy Dalton are some of the players expected to be available through those forms. 

Despite his absence on the roster, the Patriots will carry over $13.5 million in dead salary cap space due to a non-extension extension that he signed in August of 2019, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.

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Tom Brady open to new home in free agency

Tom Brady is not likely to return to the New England Patriots, the team he has led to six Super Bowl titles over 20 seasons, according to multiple reports.

The 42-year-old can leave the Patriots as a free agent in the coming months, and ESPN and The Athletic both stated that Brady will not return to New England.

Under NFL rules Brady would not be able to enter talks with other teams until 16 March. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Brady is also open to talking to the Patriots about extending his career in New England, but that does not ensure he will stay.

One reason why the Patriots and Brady haven’t had any contract discussions is the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Once that is known, Belichick and Brady can discuss everything, including how a contract could be structured.

“Without knowing about the CBA, that talk can’t happen,” one source told Schefter.

Brady endured a disappointing season by his high standards in 2019.

He threw for 24 touchdowns, his lowest total in a full campaign since 2006, although he was hampered by a lack of support from his receiving corps and offensive line. The Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

Brady, who turns 43 in August, is a three-time NFL MVP and four-time Super Bowl MVP. He has led the league in touchdown passes four times and is one of only four quarterbacks to throw for more than 70,000 yards.

A number of teams have been linked with Brady, if he does leave the Patriots. They include the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers.

He has said in the past that he is capable of playing well into his mid-40s and beyond.

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New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

New England Patriots at Denver BroncosCheck WagerWeb and find the best betting site!!!!

Date: Sunday, Jan. 24
Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver

This season’s AFC championship game looks very familiar, with the New England Patriots battling it out with the Denver Broncos. These two teams are the best when it comes to quarterback power — Tom Brady of the Pats and Peyton Manning of the Broncos. And what’s even more interesting is that these two American football greats will be facing each other in a rather colorful rivalry spanning more than a decade.

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This matchup will be a little different, however. Peyton Manning, not Brock Osweiler, will be the Broncos’ quarterback, and the Patriots will have receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Rob Gronkowski back and healthy. Jamie Collins, who injured his back Saturday against the Chiefs, also could play after missing the regular-season matchup. The Patriots lost Hightower and Gronkowski to injuries during the game earlier this season before the Broncos won in overtime. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s receivers were Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin and Chris Harper (yikes) with Edelman and Amendola out with injuries

The New England Patriots hope to clinch their third Super Bowl appearance since the 2011 season. Tom Brady is completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Brady has three touchdown passes in his last three games. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 183 receiving yards and two touchdowns while Keshawn Martin has two receptions. The New England Patriots ground game is averaging 38 yards per contest, and Steven Jackson leads the way with 16 yards on six carries. Defensively, New England is allowing 20 points and 378 yards per game. Patrick Chung leads the Patriots with nine tackles, Chandler Jones has a sack and Dont’a Hightower has a pass deflection.

The Denver Broncos look to reach their second Super Bowl in the last three seasons. Peyton Manning is completing 56.8 percent of his passes for 222 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Manning has two touchdown passes in his last five games. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have combined for 125 receiving yards while Bennie Fowler has two receptions. The Denver Broncos ground game is averaging 109 yards per contest, and C.J. Anderson leads the way with 72 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Denver is allowing 16 points and 396 yards per game. Danny Trevathan leads the Broncos with nine tackles, Derek Wolfe has one sack and Aqib Talib has two pass deflections.

The Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win. The Broncos are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 home games and 3-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Denver and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings overall.

The Broncos defense is good enough to keep them in this game, but Manning is less than a shell of himself. The Broncos struggle to run the football and have a quarterback who can’t throw the ball like he used to. Brady has his weapons back, and the Pats are back to being that scary football team that’s hard to stop

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