The AFL-CIO filed a seven-page “friend of the court” brief Monday asking the court reconsider their decision to overturn Tom Brady’s appeal.

The AFL-CIO filed a seven-page “friend of the court” brief Monday asking the court reconsider their decision to overturn Tom Brady’s appeal.

In the document, the AFL-CIO says Goodell “acted arbitrarily as an employer seeking to justify his own disciplinary decision rather than as a neutral arbitrator considering an appeal.” In addition, “the Commissioner was not acting as a neutral arbitrator considering an appeal at all, but rather as an employer seeking to justify his own initial disciplinary decision. The  panel majority therefore erred in extending deference to the Commissioner’s decision.”

The quarterback was suspended four games for his alleged role in what the league called a scheme to underinflate footballs prior to the 2015 AFC title game against the Colts. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected his initial appeal. Brady has appealed to the federal courts.

Here is the formal AFL-CIO filing in full on Brady’s behalf:

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots will hold two OTA practices this week and after missing last week, apparently Malcolm Butler will be there this week.

Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler

The Patriots will hold two OTA practices this week and after missing last week, apparently Malcolm Butler will be there this week.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Butler is expected to be in attendance at this week’s sessions. He also added he was given a strong indication last week’s absence was not related to his contract.

Butler is slated to make $600,000 in base salary for the 2016 season and with him being a restricted free agent after this season, there was some thought (and could still be) that he would like a new contract before the season starts.

For what a new contract might look like for Butler, Chris Price took a look earlier today.

Media is not invited to the sessions this week, but will be at minicamp next week, June 7-9.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Vontaze Burfict's contract situation could provide a template for the Patriots and Malcolm Butler. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Vontaze Burfict’s contract situation could provide a template for the Patriots and Malcolm Butler. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

There’s been plenty of talk about what it might take for the Patriots to sign Malcolm Butler to a long-term deal, but both the team and the cornerback might be able to draw on a contract that the Bengals crafted with Vontaze Burfict back in 2014 as a template to keep the cornerback around New England for the foreseeable future.

According to salary cap expert Joel Corry, the Burfict deal could serve as a template for the Patriots and the restricted free agent: in the end, Burfict have up two unrestricted years, but managed to get a handsome payday (four years, $20.05 million) and some stability. Meanwhile, Cincinnati was able to extend a key portion of its defense for another three years.

Burfict was an undrafted free agent coming out of Arizona State in 2012, but two really good years ended up bringing the team and the player together on a new deal. Prior to the start of the final season of his contract, the Bengals signed Burfict — like Butler, an undrafted free agent who was a restricted free agent — to a three-year extension. Cincinnati and Burfict agreed to the deal despite the fact that the occasionally controversial linebacker still had a year left on his deal, one that would have paid him $570,000. (For the record, Butler is slated to make $600,000 in base salary for the 2016 season.)

“Burfict gave up two unrestricted free agent years,” explained Corry. “The easiest way for a deal is for the agent to accept that the team controls rights for at least one additional year with the restricted free-agent tender and focus on the value of the UFA years.”

While the players and situations are different, the point is the same: In the end, the team and the player ended up giving something. As a result, both sides reached a fair and equitable deal, the best possible outcome for both sides.

Of course, the Patriots do have some history in this department — Miguel Benzan of Patscap.com reminds us that the team extended punter Ryan Allen after his first two seasons in the NFL. Allen, who was also undrafted, got a new contract last offseason, a three-year deal, which was agreed to a full year before he would have been eligible for UFA status.

But to Corry’s point, the team still holds the hammer when it comes to Butler. The Patriots could let him play things out next year and then place a first-round tender on him next offseason as a way to keep him around.

“To be safe, Pats should put a first-round tender on Butler in 2017,” suggests Corry. “The chances of a team signing him to an offer sheet with a first-round pick as compensation are remote. A second-round tender might even be sufficient, because teams are reluctant to give up a high pick to sign restricted free agents.”

If the Patriots do put a first-round tender on Butler, Benzan thinks that a team with cap room in abundance could still take a shot at the corner, provided that pick might come near the end of the first round.

“If I were an AFC contender with lots of cap room — maybe Jacksonville or Oakland — and was drafting in the bottom half of the first round, and if the Patriots franchise tag someone like Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard or Dont’a Hightower, I would think long and hard about signing Butler to a front-loaded deal with a large 2017 roster bonus to either take Butler away from another AFC contender or force the Pats to match the offer,” Benzan said. “Yes, draft picks are cheaper than free agents. But when you have so much cap space, you can afford to occasionally not have cheap talent.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

No, the game hasn’t been altered or cancelled all together, but there reportedly will be a change in location for the 2017 Pro Bowl.

No, the game hasn’t been altered or cancelled all together, but there reportedly will be a change in location for the 2017 Pro Bowl.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the NFL will announce on Wednesday they have agreed to a multi-year deal to have the Pro Bowl be played in Orlando, Florida and not Aloha Stadium in Hawaii.

The announcement will also be with ESPN (who broadcasts the game) which likely means there will be some connection with Disney World given the proximity.

There is no word whether or not there will be any changes to the format of the game as of now.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
The Seahawks will use Brandon Browner similar to the way the Patriots did. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Seahawks will use Brandon Browner similarly to the way the Patriots did. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Although Brandon Browner spent just one season in New England, the way the Patriots used him in the secondary may help him in his time with the Seahawks after re-signing there this offseason.

Browner never seemed to fit with the Saints last season and in mid-April, the cornerback/safety re-signed with Seattle, the team he spent the first three years of his NFL career with.

With the Patriots, a lot of times Browner would be matched up against opposing tight ends lining up inside, almost as a hybrid linebacker.

This is something Seattle and coach Pete Carroll noticed and will likely be his role this season as the Seahawks want to improve on being ranked 26th in the league in covering tight ends, according to Football Outsiders.

“He’s a guy who draws the best out of people around him,” Carroll said via ESPN. “Guys feed off his energy because he’s so tough. And then his willingness to go ahead and learn a new spot. He was wide open to it. I had the chance to see him play in positions like he’s being asked to play now when he was in New England, and we saw some really good things we thought we could mix into our stuff, and he’s very much looked the part. But I really think it’s about him; we like the guy so much.”

Being 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, this role fits him much better than lining up on the perimeter.

“I love it,” Browner said. “It’s kind of similar to some of the things I did in New England. I’ll be matched up on guys that fit my size, be in there on the run a little bit. It’ll show my skill set a little bit.”

Added Browner: “Being on the outside, it’s more of a man-to-man concept: You’re a corner on an island. Being in that box, you’re accounted for from the linemen in the run. You’ll get some run keys from the end man on the line of scrimmage. Things are just a little different. But you’re a football player in there. Playing corner, it’s more of a one-on-one thing. We’re playing basketball out there on that island. When you’re in that box, that’s football, I think.”

As for whether or not Browner brings up winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots against the Seahawks, he tries not to mention it much.

“That’s a touchy subject,” Browner said. “I try to leave that one alone, man. It does [get brought up] every now and again, but I try to leave it alone.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

David Ortiz stands with Tom Brady.

David Ortiz has Tom Brady's back. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Ortiz has Tom Brady’s back. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Ortiz stands with Tom Brady.

In an interview with SI.com, the Red Sox slugger said Deflategate is “stupid,” and he’s not going to watch football if Brady is suspended for the first four games of the season.

“I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you,” Ortiz said. “Put it this way: You’re talking about the one player that everybody wants to watch play. We’re not just talking about any player. We’re talking about Tom Brady.

“If I turn on the TV on Sunday to watch a Patriots game and I know that Tom Brady is not playing, I would turn off the TV. I don’t want to watch that game.”

Ortiz also offered his thoughts on Bill Belichick.

“I’ve met him before. He’s a great guy,” Ortiz said. “The thing is that people watch what we do on the field, they want us to be a nice guy but that’s not how it is. When you’re between those lines, you’re trying to beat whatever is in your way. But after, it doesn’t mean you’re that kind of human being. That’s what fans pay to watch. They want you to go out there and get the job done. But that doesn’t mean you’re that type of person. Coach Belichick is a super nice guy. An incredible human being. He’s a guy who in the Boston area is known as a charitable man and a guy who’s doing good things for the community. I don’t really see the point where people want to look at him where’s he’s a bad person.”

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price