Tagged in: New England

WR DeVante Parker says he ‘chose’ to be traded from Miami Dolphins to New England Patriots

DeVante Parker was granted his wish; the Miami Dolphins received the draft capital they were looking for; and the New England Patriots got a player they hope will be a top wide receiver for quarterback Mac Jones.

That’s how the primary people involved in the rare intradivision trade — the Dolphins shipping Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Patriots for a 2023 third-rounder — described what unfolded. There have been just six intradivision trades in the NFL over the last five years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“I chose to get traded here,” Parker said Thursday in his first interview since the April 2 deal. “My agent [Jimmy Gould] hit me up, just telling me what the situation was, and the options I had for the teams to go to. The first on my list was the Patriots. I’m just excited we were able to get everything done.”

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier confirmed Wednesday that that’s how it went down, noting that once Miami traded for Tyreek Hill after signing free-agent receiver Cedrick Wilson, Parker’s status with the team changed.

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“When you have an opportunity to do right by the player and the organization — both sides feel good about it. This was never anything where we [had] planned to trade DeVante,” Grier said, highlighting how trading for Hill altered the dynamic.

“Multiple teams called; the Patriots were the most aggressive. We worked with the agent, talked to DeVante, we wanted to do right by him as well. Getting that third-round pick was very important to us. We were fine if it was this year or next year.”

Parker, who played the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, has spent the past week participating in the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program.

He stated he enjoyed playing in front of Patriots fans as an AFC East rival and said that is one reason he decided being in New England was “just something I want to be a part of.”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound player added that he likes playing different spots, which is a staple of the Patriots’ offense, and that he hopes to add a down-the-field presence who can high-point deliveries from Jones, the second-year quarterback.

Parker has previously spent time working with Jones in Tampa, Florida, along with fellow Patriots receivers Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers.

“My impressions of Mac: He has a nice arm on him. He was zipping it,” Parker said. “It was a great workout for all of us. It was good for me to come down and start throwing with him early, get the timing down.

“Mac is a good quarterback. The way he throws the ball, it’s not tough. He throws a catchable ball. It’s something I’m looking forward to during the season.”

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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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Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leonard Fournette reach 3-year, $21 million deal

Running back Leonard Fournette, who spent Monday visiting with the New England Patriots, is re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a three-year, $21 million deal, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The deal involves $11 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Jenna Laine, and it could reach $24 million with incentives.

The Buccaneers are also nearing a one-year contract with defensive end William Gholston, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Gholston, who had a career-high 4.5 sacks last season, had interest from other teams but wanted to chase another Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.

Fournette ranked sixth among all NFL running backs with 1,266 yards from scrimmage, averaging a career-best 4.5 yards per carry, when the Bucs placed him on injured reserve with a hamstring injury after Week 15. He missed the wild-card game and returned for the Bucs’ divisional-round loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

After signing his second one-year deal with the Bucs last offseason, Fournette, 27, rushed for 812 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns (eight in the regular season). He also caught 69 passes for 454 yards.

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His best game came in Week 12, when Fournette, in addition to delivering a memorable halftime speech when the Bucs fell behind, rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries and had seven receptions for 31 yards versus the Colts.

The last of his four touchdowns in that 38-31 victory was a 28-yard run with 29 seconds left.

Fournette earned the nickname “Playoff Lenny” — and later, “Lombardi Lenny” — while leading the Bucs with 448 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns in a postseason run to Super Bowl LV, where he rushed for 135 yards as Tampa Bay beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

After backing up Ronald Jones for the majority of the 2020 season — an experience that he and the coaching staff believe humbled him and helped prolong his career — Fournette seized the opportunity when Jones was sidelined for the final few weeks of the season by injuries and a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Fournette was the fourth overall pick in 2017 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who declined to pick up his fifth-year option and released him after the 2019 season.

After a difficult 2018 season in which he was on the bench in crunch time, fined and criticized, Fournette responded with his best season statistically with the Jaguars in 2019, rushing for a career-best 1,152 yards and catching 76 passes for 522 yards with three total touchdowns.

He has 3,810 rushing yards with 31 rushing touchdowns and 239 receptions for 1,696 yards and four TD catches in 63 career regular-season games.

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Las Vegas Raiders hire New England Patriots assistant Mick Lombardi as offensive coordinator

The Las Vegas Raiders have hired New England Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi as their offensive coordinator, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The Raiders also hired former Patriots offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo for the same job in Las Vegas, a source said.

Lombardi, 33, replaces Greg Olson, who had served as Raiders offensive coordinator since being brought in with Jon Gruden in 2018. Lombardi handled the Patriots’ red zone game plan last season and McDaniels noted that he sees the offense similarly to him.

Lombardi is the son of Michael Lombardi, the longtime NFL front-office executive who served as a senior executive with the Raiders from 1998 to 2007.

Mick Lombardi broke into the NFL as a scouting assistant with the Patriots from 2011 to 2012, before moving on to the San Francisco 49ers from 2013 to 2016 as a coaching assistant on offense and defense. He spent the 2017-2018 seasons with the New York Jets before returning to the Patriots in 2019.

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In addition to working with receivers in New England, he had been an assistant quarterbacks coach.

Lombardi and Bricillo are the latest members of the Patriots staff to follow new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas. Former Patriots quality control/QB coach Bo Hardegree lately agreed to become the Raiders’ new quarterbacks coach.

This has left some major voids for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to fill, in addition to the expected retirement of running backs coach Ivan Fears. The only new offensive coach the Patriots have revealed they’ve hired is Joe Judge, their former special teams/receivers coach who spent the past two seasons as New York Giants head coach.

Also of note on McDaniels’ staff is Rob Ryan. Previously, the Raiders defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2008, Ryan is rejoining the team as a senior defensive assistant under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Ryan was the Baltimore Ravens inside linebackers coach last season.

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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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Tom Brady officially announces retirement after ‘thrilling ride’ with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has officially announced his retirement from the NFL, saying Tuesday in an Instagram post that he is “not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.”

“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said in his statement on Instagram.

“There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”

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Brady, 44, widely considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history, acquired seven Lombardi trophies, the most championships won by a single player, along with five Super Bowl MVPs.

He rewrote much of the NFL record book with personal and team accomplishments.

He piled up career records such as most touchdown passes (624) and most passing yards (84,250) in his 22 seasons — of which 20 were with the New England Patriots.

“My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs,” Brady said in his statement.

“When you’re in it every day, you really don’t think about any kind of ending. As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against — the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

Brady, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title last season and NFC South championship this season, has been adamant for weeks that he never wanted a “farewell season,” sources told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN on Saturday that Brady had decided to retire, but Brady’s family and the Bucs had said that a final decision had not been reached.

On Monday, Brady said on his SiriusXM podcast that he wasn’t ready to finalize his plans.

After 20 seasons with New England that had already cemented his legacy, Brady joined the Bucs in March 2020 and immediately added another chapter to his story with a seventh Super Bowl title — the first acquired by a team in its own stadium.

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Las Vegas Raiders expected to hire New England Patriots’ Josh McDaniels as coach; name Dave Ziegler as GM

The Las Vegas Raiders have hired former New England Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler as general manager on Sunday and are expected to hire Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their new head coach in a package deal.

The Raiders and McDaniels are still finishing a contract.

The 44-year-old Ziegler, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, replaces Mike Mayock, who was fired earlier this month. He interviewed with the Raiders earlier in January.

McDaniels, who was the head coach of the Denver Broncos for two seasons (2009-10), interviewed for the Raiders’ head-coaching job Saturday.

Jon Gruden resigned as the Raiders’ head coach on Oct. 11 following reports that emails he wrote before he was hired by the Raiders in 2018 included racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language.

Rich Bisaccia was promoted to interim coach and led the Raiders to a wild-card berth, only the Raiders’ second playoff appearance in the past 19 seasons.

Bisaccia was saluted on social media Sunday by both quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Maxx Crosby. Carr tweeted that Bisaccia was a “phenomenal coach and even better leader,” while Crosby tweeted that he “can’t tell you how much this man has impacted not only myself but everyone in this building.”

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McDaniels, 45, was 11-17 in his two seasons with the Broncos. He was fired after Week 13 in 2010 after the Broncos started 3-9. McDaniels started his Broncos tenure 6-0 before going 5-17 over his final 22 matches.

He accepted the Indianapolis Colts’ head-coaching job in 2018 but then decided not to take it. The Colts had announced the hire, but McDaniels never came to town and the Colts said they were “surprised and disappointed” by the decision. Frank Reich was later hired to fill that vacancy.

McDaniels had been the longest-tenured offensive coordinator with the same team in the NFL.

He’d held the position in New England since 2012.

Of his 21 NFL seasons, 18 have come in New England, which includes his initial stint from 2001 to 2008. McDaniels also served as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2011.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recently paid McDaniels a notable compliment, comparing him to longtime friend and current University of Alabama coach Nick Saban in terms of his understanding of the responsibilities of every player on the field.

McDaniels played a key role in the development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones in 2021.

McDaniels had consistently said in recent years that his goal was to become a head coach again, but he was also selective in what opportunities enticed him. A key factor was being able to work with a personnel chief with whom he knows well, and Ziegler fits the bill.

Ziegler landed his first personnel job in the NFL under McDaniels with the Broncos in 2010. The two both attended John Carroll University in Ohio and were teammates on the Blue Streaks’ football squad.

Ziegler spent three campaigns in Denver before following McDaniels to New England in 2013. He ascended from assistant director of pro personnel to director of pro personnel, then was assistant director of player personnel before assuming director of player personnel duties in 2021.

Belichick, who was named the Pro Football Writers of America’s Executive of the Year in 2021, noted multiple times over the course of the season that Ziegler was leading the personnel staff. Scouting consultant Eliot Wolf, who interviewed for multiple GM openings this offseason, was often at Ziegler’s side during games and is a candidate to fill his void.

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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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Veteran WR Chris Hogan opts to retire from NFL, ending 10-year career

After a brief return to the NFL this season with the New Orleans Saints, wide receiver Chris Hogan decided to retire.

The 10-year veteran, who collected two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, was placed on the reserve/retired list Saturday.

Hogan had flirted with retirement earlier this year, when he switched careers and joined the Premier Lacrosse League. But the Saints lured him back in late July, and he earned a roster spot with the team — catching four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in five matches.

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It’s unclear exactly why Hogan decided to retire.

He was not dealing with any known injuries. But the Saints have added depth to their wide receiver corps in recent weeks.

They signed veteran Kenny Stills last month and designated veteran Tre’Quan Smith to return from injured reserve this week. All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas could also return soon, though he has not started practicing after having ankle surgery in June.

Hogan began his career as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and bounced around from San Francisco to the New York Giants to the Buffalo Bills before finally making his NFL debut in December 2012 and catching his first pass in 2013.

He then played for the Bills until 2015 before spending three seasons in New England from 2016 to 2018 and winning two championships. He also spent one year each with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

He caught a total of 220 passes for 2,836 yards and 19 touchdowns in the regular season, plus another 34 catches for 542 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs.

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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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