On Tuesday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave a farewell salute to departing defensive lineman Vince Wilfork via Facebook. After 11 seasons as a teammate of Brady in New England, Wilfork signed with the Texans on Monday.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

After leaving New England on Monday, wide receiver Stevie Johnson was reportedly deciding between signing with the Chargers or the Patriots. Tuesday morning, Johnson made his decision.

According to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 in Washington, Johnson will sign with the Chargers. She added it was a tough decision, but came down to his family.

The 28-year-old left the Bills after the 2013 season when he was traded by Buffalo to San Francisco. The 49ers released him last week. In seven seasons in the league, Johnson has 31 touchdown receptions and over 4,200 yards receiving. His best seasons came in a three-year stretch between 2010-12, when he caught at least 75 passes and had over 1,000 yards receiving in each season.

Johnson will likely have more of a prominent role in the offense in San Diego than he would in New England.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots lost their top cornerbacks in the past week in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner via free agency, but haven’t yet replaced them.

Although it’s nearly impossible to replace the pair (one being arguably the best corner in the game), the Patriots are bringing another cornerback to Foxboro for a meeting.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots will meet with former Bengals cornerback Terence Newman on Tuesday. He met with the Vikings on Monday.

Newman, a former first round pick (No. 5 overall) by the Cowboys in 2003, played his first nine seasons in the league with Dallas, before playing his last three with the Bengals. He reportedly contemplated retirement, but the 36-year-old is going to give it at least another season. Newman hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

His best season came in 2010 when he had five interceptions with the Cowboys. Newman also had at least four interceptions in his first six years in the league.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots officially signed veteran tight end Scott Chandler on Monday.

The Patriots officially signed Scott Chandler on Monday. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Patriots officially signed Scott Chandler on Monday. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Patriots officially signed veteran tight end Scott Chandler on Monday.

Chandler has played seven seasons in the league, playing for the Chargers, Giants, Cowboys and for the last five years, the Bills. He’s excited about joining a team as successful as the Patriots.

“Obviously very excited to be part of a championship organization,” Chandler told Jackie Brittain in a 1-on-1 interview with the team website on Monday. “It’s something I have always wanted to do with my career and now I get that chance I am really looking forward to it.”

The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder said the Patriots were very welcoming, which was what he was expecting.

“It was a lot of what I expected — very warm and inviting,” he said. “I feel comfortable here. Mr. [Robert] Kraft runs a top class organization and obviously Coach [Bill] Belichick does a great job of keeping everyone around here — it was very inviting. Everyone was really nice.”

Last season in Buffalo, he played in 16 games with five starts and finished with 47 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns. He recorded career highs in 2013 when he caught 53 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers could go up even more with Tom Brady as his quarterback.

“Pretty excited about that,” said Chandler. “Not very often do you get to play with the best quarterback ever. That had a big determining factor in my decision.”

Chandler will serve as a nice complement to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. He says he can do everything that is asked of an NFL tight end.

“I can do a little bit of everything as a tight end,” Chandler said. “I am a veteran guy. I am a guy you can count on to know what to do and to do my job.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Bill Belichick issued a statement on Vince Wilfork Monday, shortly after it was announced the defensive lineman signed with the Texans after 11 seasons in New England.

Bill Belichick issued a statement on Vince Wilfork Monday, shortly after it was announced the defensive lineman signed with the Texans after 11 seasons in New England.

“Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around — just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism. He is the best defensive linemen I ever coached, an all-time great Patriot whose place on our team will be missed but whose remarkable career as a Patriot will be remembered forever.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Texans have released some quotes from defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who has signed with Houston after 11 years in New England:

On signing with the Houston Texans: “Me and my family, we’re excited to be here in Houston and playing as a Houston Texan. My goal is to help this team win as many games as possible and bring winning to this town. I think we deserve that, so that’s my number one goal.”

On the fit with the Texans: “I look at it as a great fit. Being here with a coach that coached me as a rookie in RAC (Romeo Crennel) and a coach that played with me in (Mike) Vrabel. Also, Billy O (Bill O’Brien) being there for a couple years with me and (George) Godsey. Being able to have a chance to play with a dynamic player such as J.J. Watt. Also, getting (Jadeveon) Clowney going and (Brian) Cushing and Johnathan Joseph, all those guys, and the offense and what they bring to the table. It’s a young, exciting team to be around. My goal is just to bring leadership, bring a lot of fun, and bring a lot of experience. I’m not a coach by no means, but at the same time, I’ve been on another level where I’ve won a lot of games and won Super Bowls. If guys want to know what it takes or how it feels, I’m here for that. At the same time, I think we can do a lot of damage here ourselves, especially winning ball games, and that’s the key. The key is winning ball games, so I’m excited and looking forward to playing with these guys and playing in Houston. I’ve heard the fans are some great fans, so I can’t wait to be a part of that.”

On what he would say to the New England Patriots fans: “I’ve been playing in New England for 11 years. That organization with (Robert) Kraft and Bill Belichick that drafted me, being a rookie and playing there. I played in four Super Bowls and won two. I’ve been very blessed and privileged to play up there and learn from the best coach that ever done it. Also, to play with one of the best quarterbacks that’s in the game. From my teammates, there’s nothing but love for them. They are brothers to me. The fans always treated me with respect. We had a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun in New England and I’m going to cherish all of that because at the end of the day, I’ve been there for 11 years, so it’s hard to close that door on my teammates, my fans, my coaches, and the owner. We built relationships over the years with the fans, my owners, my coaches, and my teammates. That’s something that’s going to be missed. Not being able to see my guys that I used to go to battle for every day in practice and in games. That’s one of the things that I’m going to miss with those guys. I always respected the nature of the business. That’s the sad thing, sometimes we get so caught up in playing the game that we forget that it’s a business. I wish there was no salary cap and you can always keep every player you want, but that’s not the way the game is anymore. I’m just happy with the decision we made to come here to Houston, but at the same time, where I’m coming from just understand the 11 great years there from my fans, the organization and my teammates, You can’t replace that.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Vince Wilfork will be a tough individual to replace in the middle for the Patriots. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Replacing Vince Wilfork will be a challenge for the Patriots. (Elsa/Getty Images)

When it comes to assessing the Patriots in the post-Vince Wilfork era, we’ll take a page from Bill Belichick‘s book: In 2013, the coach was asked how New England’s defense would look without the veteran lineman, who had just gone down for the season with an Achilles injury.

“You just don’t replace Vince Wilfork,” said Belichick. “It’s a big loss, but we’re just going to have to find a way to do it. That means everybody doing their job. Obviously somebody is going to have to replace him and whoever those people are, they’re going to have to answer the bell. But collectively as a team, we’re all going to have to pull together. There’s no one person that can replace Vince Wilfork.”

To that point, the post-Wilfork era will mean a greater role for some of the younger defensive linemen. Up front, while the team-building process involving the 2015 roster is in the relatively early stages, with Wilfork out of the picture, expect youngsters like Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley and Chris Jones to play a larger role than they have the last few seasons, as well as a veteran like Alan Branch, who recently re-signed with New England for another two years. In addition, there are a few well-regarded veteran defensive tackles who are still available in free agency who could be attractive to the Patriots. And finally, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see New England try and go after a defensive lineman at the end of the first round with the 32nd overall pick. The need to add some depth to the defensive line — as well as try and bolster a defensive front that will likely have to help the cornerbacks, at least as it stands right now — is clear, so that should certainly set the stage for the Patriots to go after a defensive lineman sometime early in the draft.

From an off-field perspective, Wilfork has always been one of the most important figures in the New England locker room. A well-respected veteran who had the ear of players on the both side of the ball — a rare feat accomplished by only a few players over the course of the last decade — his words carried a certain weight with everyone in the locker room. His resume and work ethic demanded that everyone pay attention to Wilfork. He was a leader in the truest sense of the word.

“It’s phenomenal for me to have a leader like Vince in my meetings every day,” said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in the days before the Super Bowl. “He’s a guy that sits in the front, pays attention, sits upright and is really into the meetings. If I need to point to anybody in the room that I think needs to do it a certain way, I can just point to Vince and say, ‘You need follow this guy’s example. This is how you sustain in the NFL. This is how you’re a champion in the NFL. You do it like he does it and you attack each day and each week with the preparation that he does.’ I think it’s an easy follow for the young guys that come in.”

Going forward, on the defensive side of the ball, more of a leadership mantle will fall to veterans like Rob Ninkovich, Devin McCourty and Jerod Mayo. All of them have certainly showed those qualities in previous years, and all will be asked to do more in that department going forward.

In short, Wilfork was not the overwhelming defensive presence he had been a decade or so ago for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he had to make some concessions to age, particularly as he worked to come back from the Achilles’ injury that ultimately derailed his 2013 season. But his versatility, toughness and leadership make him a difficult individual to replace for New England. Regardless of how the rest of the offseason progresses, it’ll be a challenge for Belichick, Patricia and the rest of the locker room to replicate Wilfork’s presence down the road. It can certainly happen — there’s enough talent, smarts and leadership skills on both sides of the ball to make it happen. Ultimately, whether or not they’re up to the job could tell us a lot about what happens to the Patriots’ defense in 2015 and beyond.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Eli Harold (Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

Virginia Tech linebacker Eli Harold (left) did not miss a game in three seasons with the Hokies. (Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

ELI HAROLD

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Virginia

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 250 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-ACC, Bednarik Award watch list for best defensive player, College Football News All-Sophomore team

What he brings: Scouts like Harold’s ability as a superior pass rusher. He is able to use his speed and athleticism to get around blockers, and he has the strength to match up with many linemen. He also is  considered to be above average in run defense. There are concerns among scouts and experts that his tackling is below average. Many would like to see him add more bulk to increase his potential against some of the NFL’s stronger linemen.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: ESPN.com ranks Harold as the fifth linebacker and 37th overall in the draft. He finished the 2014 season with 54 tackles, seven sacks and an interception. He appeared in every game throughout his three-year college career, finishing with 141 tackles, 17.5 sacks and two interceptions.

Related articles:

Washington Post: Harold takes inspiration from past

Video: Harold records three tackles and two sacks against Louisville in September 2014.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler