Tagged in: New England Patriots

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, NFL’s all-time leading scorer, retiring after 24 seasons

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time scoring leader, revealed Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is retiring after 24 seasons.

“By Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it here first,” Vinatieri told McAfee, his friend and former teammate with the Indianapolis Colts.

Vinatieri, 48, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro pick three times, scored 2,673 points and made a record 599 field goals for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis, where he played his final 14 seasons.

He made 29 game-winning kicks in his career, with three of them coming with the Patriots from 1996 to 2005. He made a game winner in blizzard-like conditions versus Oakland in the 2001 AFC playoffs and made game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. No kicker has more Super Bowl rings than Vinatieri’s four — three with the Patriots and one with the Colts.

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“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Pats head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who played with Vinatieri from 2000-05, took to Instagram to salute Vinatieri, writing, “When you look up clutch in the dictionary it should have your picture. An incredible teammate with an incredible work ethic. Honored to have played with the (GOAT).”

Vinatieri was part of 242 regular-season victories, and he broke career records for field goal attempts (715) while becoming the third-oldest player to appear in an NFL game. He scored points in 47 different stadiums, too. Vinatieri played in six AFC Championship Games, five Super Bowls and a record 397 matches including the playoffs. He also was selected to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team.

His 21 100-point seasons shattered the previous mark of 16.

He made a league-record 10 game-winning kicks in overtime. He holds the league mark for consecutive field goals (44), and nobody has been better in the postseason, in which he was 56 of 69 on field goal attempts and has 238 points, all records.

Vinatieri also played in 365 regular-season games, second behind Morten Andersen (382), and is the only player in league history to top the 1,000-point mark with two different franchises.

Vinatieri also managed to chase down Herschel Walker with a textbook, touchdown-saving tackle in 1996. Vinatieri didn’t play last season after a disappointing 2019 season.

He was placed on injured reserve in December 2019 after a season-long knee injury that started in training camp. The Colts stuck with Vinatieri even though he made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts that season.

He missed a total of 14 kicks: eight field goals and six extra points, and two of his misses cost the team victories versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also had three kicks blocked in 2019, including one that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13.

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Star receiver Julian Edelman, 34, retires, ending 12-year career with New England Patriots

Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who helped New England win three championships and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, declared his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.

The NFL transaction wire released Monday stated that Edelman had his contract terminated by the Patriots, but the roster move is expected to be a technicality as part of his retirement, a source told ESPN.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”

Edelman, who turns 35 next month, was limited to six matches last season because of a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and ranks second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind only Jerry Rice’s 151.

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Edelman caps his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions (620), behind only Wes Welker (672).

He is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with 6,822 receiving yards, behind only Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).

Edelman was still playing at a high level last campaign, totaling a career-high 179 yards in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. But the nagging knee injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve in late October, and while there was hope he might return late in the season, he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated.

Because of his health, the Patriots went into the 2021 offseason unsure of Edelman’s status, which contributed to their agreeing to contracts with receivers Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million, with $15 million guaranteed) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed) on the first day of free agency.

Edelman was also entering the final year of his contract.

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Antonio Brown signs one year contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Brown has another team and another shot at playing in the NFL.

Brown, who is serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, officially signed a one-year deal with the Bucs Tuesday.

The deal is worth up to $2.5 million but is heavily weighted with incentives and no guaranteed money.

Brown is going through COVID-19 protocol, can attend meetings and work with strength and conditioning coaches. He is eligible to initiate practicing with the team when his suspension ends Nov. 3. Brown will earn a base salary of $750,000 and has $250,000 in per game roster bonuses.

He also has three, $250,000 performance bonuses he could reach for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. But those performance incentives are only payable if the Bucs reach the playoffs.

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In addition, there is a $750,000 bonus for winning the Super Bowl.

The Bucs are Brown’s third team since 2018.

He was traded from the Steelers to the Raiders for two draft picks but never played a match for them. A series of mishaps and unexcused absences led Jon Gruden’s team to release him.

Brown played one game with the New England Patriots with Tom Brady last campaign, catching five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in a rout over Miami.

But the Patriots cut him when he ran afoul of the law for assaulting a moving van driver.

It’s the only game Brown has played in more than 700 days. But he will try to carve out a role on a 5-2 Bucs team that incorporates Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson at receiver. Brown has more than 11,000 career receiving yards and 75 touchdowns.

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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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