The Winter of Gronk has been in full swing, but the Patriots tight end took some time to join ESPN Radio’s “SVP and Russillo” show on Wednesday to promote the ESPN Madden Ultimate Team vote.

Gronkowski picked his own Madden team, and his first choice was not much of a surprise in Tom Brady.

“It was pretty cool to pick these teams,” said Gronkowski on the show. “There are so many legendary players out there, it was kind of hard. Sometimes you went with your favorite player who was on your team growing up that you like to watch, but obviously I had to pick my first choice, which is the best QB ever, Tom [Brady].”

The Patriots tight end also reflected on what life has been like since winning the Super Bowl, 28-24 over the Seahawks.

“When you win the Super Bowl, it changes lives,” Gronkowski said. “It’s been very cool, but I was also [part of] a Super Bowl loss, when we lost three years ago. I can tell you this, winning it is a lot, lot different than losing it. It’s been a great time. Pretty awesome.”

The All-Pro said he will always remember the parade through the streets of Boston the following Wednesday after the game.

“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like, what I was really getting myself into. I didn’t know duck boat rides were four miles with thousands and thousands of people [cheering],” Gronkowski said.

He finished the regular season with 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, which was his second-best statistical season of his career. Gronkowski and Brady had a strong connection all season long, with Gronkowski being Brady’s go-to target. He said he and Brady still keep in touch during the offseason, but knows whenever the two meet up it’s all work.

“It’s like a work atmosphere. Call him up, see where he’s at and see if he wants to throw the ball around a little bit,” he said. “Whenever you meet up with Tom, you always know you’re going to be working — at least for an hour or two on the field. You know you can always count on that.”

Over the past month Gronkowski has been enjoying himself — appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, taking a vacation to Florida and most recently a weekend in Vegas.

“It’s been a little crazy, a lot of fun,” said Gronkowski of his time since the Super Bowl. “I’m just enjoying the time, celebrating with my teammates, my family and friends. Basically just enjoying the time off because you go through the grind for seven months straight, so you kind of sit back, relax, have some free time to yourself, so it’s been cool.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots signed long snapper Tyler Ott on Wednesday, according to the league transaction wire.

Ott has been on and off the New England roster over the last year. The Harvard product was signed as an undrafted free agent last May but released in August. As a collegian with the Crimson, he was a tight end and a long snapper. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder was invited to the Senior Bowl following his senior season in 2013 after handling all long snapping duties and seeing action at tight end, finishing with 15 receptions for 188 yards and four touchdowns.

Incumbent long snapper Danny Aiken is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

It appears Peyton Manning is ready to take a pay cut to stay in Denver and play for John Elway and the Broncos.

It appears Peyton Manning is ready to take a pay cut to stay in Denver and play for John Elway and the Broncos.

According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the perennial All Pro quarterback is ready to take a $4 million pay cut to play for the Broncos in 2015. He was scheduled to make $19 million next season. According to Mortensen, Manning will agree to the pay cut to free up cash for Denver to be aggressive in the free agent market, potential signing their own targeted free agents.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

A few random Patriots news items for your Wednesday afternoon:

Duron Harmon was almost a Super Bowl goat. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Duron Harmon almost was a Super Bowl goat. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A few random Patriots news items for your Wednesday afternoon:

1. Our pal Dan Duggan caught up with safety Duron Harmon, and got his take on the Super Bowl. Harmon, who was part of the coverage in Russell Wilson‘s deep ball for Jermaine Kearse that got the Seahawks into position for what would have likely been a game-winning score, if not for Malcolm Butler’s interception.

“Oh my God, I was just upset to the point where watching it, I felt like I could have done something about the play,” said Harmon, a Rutgers safety from 2009-12. “At that point, I felt like I let my team down.

“To be honest, I thought the ball was down like everybody else,” Harmon added. “I thought the ball bounced off the ground. I was like, I can stop but I’m going to fall on him because I was moving too fast. So I just jumped over him and I took a peek around and he’s up about to run and I saw Malcolm. I was like, there’s no way they’re going to count that as a catch. But it was a catch. I have to give credit to Kearse for that catch. That was a great catch. But it broke my heart.”

2. Per the indefatigable Aaron Wilson, the Patriots are set to work out Georgia center David Andrews on Wednesday. Andrews was a three-year starter and team MVP for the Bulldogs in 2014, and while at the East-West Shrine game in January, practiced at center and guard. He’s considered a mid-round candidate, and stands at 6-foot-3 and 294 pounds. One reminder — now that the private workouts and visits have begun, it’s important to note that just because the Patriots are having a private workout or visit with player at a certain position, it shouldn’t be taken as an indictment of starter at said position. There’s lots of tire-kicking, due diligence and potential scouting information to be gleaned from workouts like these, and while Andrews could be considered a draftable prospect for New England, this doesn’t mean he’s a lock to hear his name called when the Patriots are on the clock this spring.

3. Free agency hasn’t even started yet, and the joint is already jumping in Buffalo. The Bills continued their offseason makeover on Wednesday with the announcement of the acquisition of former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel. That move comes on the heels of Tuesday’s trade between the Eagles and Buffalo that netted the Bills running back LeSean McCoy. (For what it’s worth, McCoy has played in one regular-season game against the Patriots while with Philly, and had 10 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown, to go along with four catches for 30 yards.) When it comes to offseason deals, it’s important to remember the words of John Wooden, who said “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” But at the same time, it’s hard not to notice what the Bills have done to this point in the year, which has included the pickup of veteran offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Should make for an interesting year in Buffalo, and could make them an early favorite to be the Patriots opening night opponent, something we alluded to here (second item).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

In Day 20 of the Aaron Hernandez trial, Judge Susan Garsh reiterated that she will not allow prosecutors to introduce evidence related to the shooting of a Hernandez friend in Florida a few months before Odin Lloyd was murdered.

In Day 20 of the Aaron Hernandez trial, Judge Susan Garsh reiterated that she will not allow prosecutors to introduce evidence related to the shooting of a Hernandez friend in Florida a few months before Odin Lloyd was murdered.

Alexander Bradley said he was shot by Hernandez in February 2013 while riding in a car with the then-Patriots tight end. Prosecutors asked the judge to revisit her initial ruling against introducing it, saying it contradicts the defense’s claim that Hernandez would not shoot a friend, but she would not change her mind.

Also Wednesday, Massachusetts State Police trooper and fingerprint analyst David Mackin returned to the stand after testifying Tuesday.

Mackin had said in his testimony on Tuesday that Odin Lloyd and Hernandez’s fingerprints were found inside the Nissan Altima that Hernandez rented. Specifically, he found that Lloyd’s prints were on the handle of the rear passenger side door, while Hernandez’s were on the inside handle of the driver’s side.

He was asked on Wednesday more questions about the car and the prints he processed.

After Mackin stepped down, MSP crime lab staffer Sherri Menendez, who supervises forensic chemists in an MSP crime lab, took the stand. Menendez analyzed five shell casings, a firearm and two magazines.

On Tuesday, a maid cleaning Hernandez’s house, Glaucia Santos, testified that, the day after the killing, she saw him touching the security camera in his basement while cleaning a bathroom. During cross-examination, though, defense attorney Michael Fee suggested that she would not have seen him tampering with the camera from where she was based on the basement’s layout.

Prosecutors also showed the jury text messages on Tuesday that Hernandez and Lloyd had exchanged hours before the shooting. The texts all showed that Hernandez wanted to meet up with Lloyd that night.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Rex Ryan and Darrelle Revis have been pals for a long time. (Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Rex Ryan and Darrelle Revis have been pals for a long time. (Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Forget the Jets. If there’s a team the Patriots should worry about swiping Darrelle Revis, it’s the Bills.

Over the course of the season, it was clear that while Revis acknowledged his six seasons with the Jets were positive, the relationship with his old coach Rex Ryan was even deeper. In December, he acknowledged that he and Rex “have a lot of history,” and added it was “kind of sad” to see the situation Ryan was going through while New York circled the drain at the end of the 2014 season.

“It’s kind of sad for the position that Rex is in right now. But at the same time [the record is] something that they’ve got to change,” Revis said at the time.

“Me and Rex have a lot of history, and we all know that,” he added. “Some of those guys are dear to my heart and everything, but like I said, I’ve got to focus on the things that I am doing here and I wish Rex the best.”

In addition, Revis has no ties to new Jets coach Todd Bowles, and unless Woody Johnson offers him an insane deal (which is entirely possible, given the fact that it’s Woody Johnson) the idea of Revis back in Green and White makes little to no sense. Rex isn’t there, and most all of his former teammates who helped construct one of the better defensive packages of the last dozen or so years aren’t there either. You can’t go home again.

Instead, the Bills are a far more palatable destination spot for the cornerback, at least when stacked against the Jets. They have money, and Revis and the coach have a rosy history together. According to our pal Mike Rodak, Buffalo has $27.1 million in salary-cap space for 2015, as of Tuesday afternoon, the 12th-most in the league, and so they’d certainly be able to present a competitive deal. It’s entirely possible that some of that could change in the wake of Tuesday’s decision to trade for running back LeSean McCoy, but even then, the Bills should be in good enough financial shape to put together a package for Revis.

Of course, the Bills are a mess at the quarterback position, but Rex can point to a young and aggressive defense that was in the top five in most major categories last year, one that could be instantly legitimized with the addition of a world-class presence like Revis.

To his credit, he held off on committing the same potentially dopey act that Johnson did when he was asked about the possibility of connecting with his old cornerback.

“All right, now, I was waiting. I knew it would come from somebody,” he said last month at the combine when someone asked him about Revis winning a Super Bowl. “See, my first year, I would have done this” ‘– pantomiming a swing for the fences — “and I would have swung at that pitch, and probably been fined for tampering or something like that. This time, no way am I going to talk about somebody else’s player, so I refuse to do that.”

As we stated here, this is a pivotal week in determining the future for Revis, at least as it relates to his time in New England. The Patriots need to decide what to do with the 2015 option on Revis’ contract by March 9, a decision made all the tougher when you consider the massive cap number that would go along with it.

There’s a lot of time between now and the start of free agency, and this all could be moot if the Patriots pick up the option between now and then, or if the two sides do reach an accord on a long-term deal. But until then, Rex is likely going to be parked outside of Revis’ house, waiting for that moment when he can pull the radio out of his new red, white and blue truck and hold it over his head while it blasts Peter Gabriel through the bedroom window of his favorite former player.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Aaron Dobson is working to be part of the mix in 2015. (Getty Images)

Aaron Dobson is working to be part of the mix in 2015. (Getty Images)

While everyone is familiar with the season-ending injuries to starters like linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley, there were others who also who saw their 2014 season come to a premature end because of injury. While the five players we have listed below might not be considered elite-level talent, they’re still part of the franchise as of this writing, and depending on their health and contract situation, their status could tell us a lot about how the team decides to proceed in free agency and the draft.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson – According to a report from the Boston Herald, the receiver is spending time working at the Fischer Institute in Phoenix this offseason while re-dedicating himself to the game. The Marshall product followed up one of the best rookie seasons any receiver has ever had with Tom Brady (37 catches, 519 yards, 4 TDs) with just three catches for 38 yards this past year, eventually landing on injured reserve after injuring his hamstring in Week 13. It was essentially a lost year for Dobson, who had foot surgery in March and didn’t get on the field until mid-August. By that point, he had already lost valuable time, missing out on key spring workouts. It’s a key offseason for Dobson — he won’t turn 24 until June, but has to be aware that he needs to have a good stretch if he wants to gain some traction in the New England offense.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard – Bumped down the food chain because of the offseason pickups of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner (it’s hard to remember, but after Aqib Talib went down with an injury early in the 2013 AFC title game, Dennard was New England’s No. 1 corner), it was mostly a lost season for the 25-year-old. Like Dobson, he initially battled a shoulder injury, but there were times when he was healthy and he was still a scratch. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder played in just six games (four starts) before going on injured reserve in December. It represented a career low-point for the Nebraska corner, who had just 15 tackles, one pick and one pass defense in 2014, a dropoff from 40 tackles, one interception and eight passes defensed in 2013. While the Patriots’ secondary is a bit of a fluid situation at this point, many critics believe that he could be a candidate to have his deal re-done in the offseason, or even cut loose depending on what happens with Revis and/or Browner.

Running back Tyler Gaffney – The former Stanford Cardinal was swiped off waivers by the Patriots last summer, and while the former sixth-round pick spent the year on injured reserve because of knee surgery, it will be intriguing what sort of role the Patriots could have in store for him in 2015. Gaffney, who will turn 24 next month, ran for 2,500 yards in four seasons as a collegian, including 1,709 in 2013. That stat line included 330 carries, a 5.2 yards per carry average and a whopping 21 touchdowns. While he’s more of a traditional between-the-tackles back, the 6-foo0t-1, 221-pounder does have some value in the passing game as well, having caught 32 passes (including 15 as a senior) for 264 yards. With the New England backfield in a state of flux, if he’s healthy, Gaffney could see significant reps for the Patriots this year. He’ll certainly be a player of interest when spring camps start up.

Defensive end Michael Buchanan – The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder played in just three games in 2014 before seeing his season come to a premature end. As a rookie in 2013, he wasn’t an overwhelming presence off the edge, but he did have two sacks, and at times, appeared to be trending in the right direction. If he had been healthy, it would have been debatable how much New England would have needed to acquire someone like Akeem Ayers midway through the season. The 24-year-old, who was a seventh round pick in 2013 out of Illinois, was placed on injured reserve in October. This year, he’ll likely face a battle for playing time as a backup edge rusher with the likes of Zach Moore and Ayers, if the latter doesn’t depart as a free agent.

Linebacker James Morris – The Iowa product was on and off the roster last year, signing as an underrated free agent in the spring before being release in May and brought back in June. He was placed on injured reserve at the end of the summer, and could play a role when it comes to working as a backup inside linebacker/special teamer in 2015. (Technically, Morris will be an exclusive rights free agent when free agency begins next week, which basically means that if he wants to play in the NFL next season, he has to sign with the Patriots.) The 23-year-old was just the sixth player in Iowa history to record 400 career tackles after finishing with 400 tackles, 10 1/2 sacks and six interceptions as a three-year starter. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder was named a team captain in 2013 and started in all 13 games and finished second on the team with 107 total tackles, eight sacks and four interceptions.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price