Roger Goodell offered his first public comments in the wake of Tom Brady’s announcement late last week to drop his Deflategate appeal and take the four-game suspension.

Speaking with Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post on Monday night at the premiere of a documentary on ALS-stricken former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, the commissioner said he and the league have put the whole affair behind them.

“We moved on from that as a league quite a long time ago,” Goodell told the Post.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Dont'a Hightower landed at No. 5 on our countdown. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Dont’a Hightower landed at No. 5 on our countdown. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016. We are down to our top three, which we’re set to unveil over the last few days. But first, here’s a quick look back at 4 through 20 to get you caught up.

4. Cornerback Malcolm Butler
5. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower
6. Linebacker Jamie Collins
7. Defensive back Devin McCourty
8. Running back Dion Lewis
9. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard
10. Tight end Martellus Bennett
11. Left tackle Nate Solder
12. Defensive lineman Malcom Brown
13. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich
14. Centers Bryan Stork/David Andrews
15. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski
16. Wide receiver Danny Amendola
17. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer
18. Defensive end Chris Long
19. Special teamer Matthew Slater
20. Cornerback Cyrus Jones

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be doing the owners a favor if his authority is questioned during CBA negotiations.</p>
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Running back Jeff Demps won silver at the 2012 Olympics before joining the Patriots. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Running back Jeff Demps won silver at the 2012 Olympics before joining the Patriots for a brief spell. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Nate Ebner’s berth on the U.S. Olympic rugby team is an extraordinary honor, but he’s not the first member of the Patriots to reach for Olympic glory.

Jeff Demps was a former track star at Florida who also saw time as a running back under Urban Meyer. The speedy Demps rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in four years with the Gators, but decided to forgo training for the combine and the draft after his senior season to concentrate on a potential Olympic berth. Turns out, it was a smart move: Demps was a member of the 2012 Olympic roster as a member of the 4 x 100 meter relay team that won the silver medal.

After the games were done, Demps attracted interest as an NFL free agent, and the Patriots landed him with a three-year deal. He impressed in a brief preseason run, but ended up spending his lone year in New England on injured reserve, and the following spring, was dealt to Tampa Bay for running back LeGarrette Blount. He played in two games with the Bucs in 2013, and had a brief cup of coffee with Indy before he was waived last spring.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
While Nate Ebner is at the Olympics, the Patriots will fundamentally have the luxury of an extra roster spot.  (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

While Nate Ebner is at the Olympics, the Patriots will fundamentally have the luxury of an extra roster spot. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Patriots will have some addition roster flexibility over the course of the next couple of months.

Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, while defensive back/special teamer Nate Ebner will be gone for the next month-plus because of his Olympic commitment. While it’s unclear how long Ebner will be off the radar screen, in both cases, neither player will count against the 53-man roster limit. That means the Patriots could have some additional options when it comes to September cuts, and give some hope to players who might be on the roster bubble, at least in the short-term.

First and foremost, the absence of Brady over the first four games will cause plenty of speculation about the value of adding an addition quarterback for depth purposes for the first quarter of the 2016 campaign. Off course, that could all be rendered moot if rookie Jacoby Brissett is able to show he’s ready to back up Jimmy Garoppolo, at least on a part-time basis.

While it’s unclear when Ebner will be good to go, it’s expected he’ll start training camp on the reserve list. While the franchise could theoretically add another player at a different position, it’s worth keeping an eye on the likes of safety/linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill when it comes to filling that spot. Ebner wasn’t around for the spring workouts, but the Grugier-Hill appeared to handle some of Ebner’s old responsibilities. Once the Patriots hit the field later this month, it will be interesting to see how much the rookie is asked to do, especially when he lines up alongside the likes of core special teamers like Matthew Slater and Brandon King.

One more thing to remember: There’s a danger of locking into a specific school of thought that says if the team is going to lose a someone at one position for a stretch, they need to add a new body at the same position. And while that might still be the case, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add more depth at a different position of need, at least until Brady and/or Ebner return.

Bottom line? Don’t get tricked into a traditional mode of thinking when it comes to the Patriots and the team-building process. They have some roster options and flexibility, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the team utilizes those elements over the next month-plus.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Get ready for a lot of Randy Moss on TV this fall.

Randy Moss will be on ESPN quite a bit this fall. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Randy Moss will be on ESPN quite a bit this fall. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Get ready for a lot of Randy Moss on TV this fall.

ESPN confirmed Monday morning former Patriots wide receiver and six-time Pro Bowler Randy Moss will serve as an analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown from the site of each week’s Monday Night Football game this season.

He will also contribute to ESPN’s annual Super Bowl week coverage.

“ESPN is the No. 1 sports channel in the world,” Moss said in a press release. “Now I’m a part of a network I grew up running home to watch. The team that has been put together has so much football knowledge to share and I can’t wait to get started. I feel very blessed and excited for this opportunity. It’s going be a great and fun year.”

For the past three years, Moss worked as a NFL analyst for FOX Sports on the Sunday morning FOX NFL Kickoff pregame show, among other programs.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Malcolm Butler and Odell Beckham had a memorable battle last season. (Jim O'Connor/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler and Odell Beckham had a memorable battle last season. (Jim O’Connor/USA Today Sports)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.

4. Cornerback Malcolm Butler

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 190 pounds
Age: 26 (will turn 27 on March 2)

Resume: In two years, the undrafted free agent out of West Alabama has gone from roster afterthought to one of the most important players on the team. His signature moment came in Super Bowl XLIX, but he managed to build on that in wildly impressive fashion in 2015. With more on his shoulders after the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington, Butler earned the job as the new No. 1 corner, and while there was an occasional rough patch, he managed to rise to the occasion on a pretty consistent basis against some of the best receivers in the league. (It’s also worth mentioning that, other than a misstep when it came to getting back for spring workouts, he handled the off-the-field transition from JAG to Super Bowl hero — and all that went with it — as well as could be expected, keeping the focus on his work.) Last year, Butler recorded two interceptions and 14 pass defenses last season, fourth-most in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. It was good enough to land him a Pro Bowl nod, the first of his career.

Why we ranked him here: Butler won the coin flip over linebacker Dont’a Hightower for the fourth spot for a couple of reasons, with the biggest being that in a pass-first league, the high-level cornerback wins out over the steady and consistent linebacker. The numbers are one thing, but when measuring Butler’s importance, the eye test is perhaps even more vital. While there are better pure corners, no one goes harder on a more consistent basis than the guy teammates call Straps; simply put, he approaches every play like it’s his last. It says something that the former undrafted free agent continues to approach the game the same way now he did when he was simply trying to make the roster in the summer of 2014. Last year’s win over the Giants was a perfect microcosm of who he is as a player — facing one of the best receivers in the league in Odell Beckham, there were times where he was burned, but his ability to put those plays behind him and his combative nature allowed him to make the big play at the perfect time. When you consider his technique, guts, his financial situation (which could change sooner rather than later) and the incredible importance of really good corners in the league these days, he’s earned a spot here in our top five. In the end, Butler remains the most combative cornerback in the league, a guy who will never yield an ounce to any receiver, no matter the pedigree.

Quote: “I would definitely say Malcolm – one of the things that he definitely is – is competitive. I think that was pretty evident for us going back to last year, just coming in as a free agent and knowing that you’ve got to go out and compete every day in practice and show up and make plays [and] try to stand out a little bit. That was something we definitely saw from him early, his ability to compete, his desire to compete, his intensity with that, which served him well.” — Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Butler, 11/17/15

Random Note: Butler played a higher percentage of defensive snaps (98.9 percent) than anyone else on the New England roster last season. In addition, he was the only player on the roster to top 1,000 defensive snaps. Remarkably, he played almost 24 percent of the special teams snaps (117 total) last year as well.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Well, Deflategate isn’t officially over.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Well, Deflategate isn’t officially over.

After Tom Brady announced last Friday he won’t proceed any further with the legal process, some thought the case would be over and done with for good, but shortly after that announcement the NFLPA released a statement which read: We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for [appeal] to the Supreme Court.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, filling in for Peter King on MMQB, Brady has authorized the NFLPA to proceed with the appeal on his behalf. Florio says if Brady truly wants it to be over, there would be no further appeal.

Brady will still miss the first four games of the season, but Florio says there’s a chance he gets back his $253,000 he will lose during the suspension, “reduce the Commissioner’s power in player disciplinary cases, and provide Brady with genuine vindication.”

Ultimately, Brady not proceeding with the legal process was about the Patriots and having some clarity on his situation knowing he will miss the first four games instead of potentially having to miss four games in the middle or end of the season.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable