A day after agreeing to re-sign Dont’a Hightower, Bill Belichick is back on the scouting trail.

The coach was spotted at Vanderbilt’s pro day on Thursday. This comes after he was at Alabama’s last week. Belichick likes to be hands on in scouting players for the draft, so he will be seen at more and more of these as the weeks go on.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

A week after free agency started, Bovada has put out its Super Bowl 52 odds and the Patriots are far and away the favorites.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are Super Bowl 52 favorites. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are Super Bowl 52 favorites. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

A week after free agency started, Bovada has put out its Super Bowl 52 odds and the Patriots are far and away the favorites.

The Patriots currently have 4/1 odds to win Super Bowl 52, which is better than the 5/1 odds it had before free agency opened. The next closest teams are the Cowboys, Steelers and Packers at 10/1 odds.

Bovada also put out Brandin Cooks over/under’s for next year. They have over/under 6.5 touchdowns and over/under 900 receiving yards.

The Patriots have been very active in free agency by adding Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy, while only losing Martellus Bennett, Logan Ryan and potentially Malcolm Butler.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Some people forget the Patriots still have Cyrus Jones. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Some people forget the Patriots still have Cyrus Jones. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler is in New Orleans meeting with the Saints and it appears it’s more and more likely Butler will not be playing in New England next season given how far things have gone to this point.

The 27-year-old could have another team sign him to an offer sheet and the Patriots could refuse to match and they would get a first-round pick in return, or he simply could be traded

The Patriots gained Stephon Gilmore, but lost Logan Ryan so from the 2016 defense, Gilmore would replace Butler, but they would still be without a No. 2 cornerback. It’s too late in the game to add a quality player via free agency and the Patriots likely won’t be able to land a NFL-ready cornerback in the draft, so they may need to rely on players already in their system.

And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

New England had a few cornerbacks show flashes last season, and just look at Butler himself after Revis left. He went from an undrafted rookie to a No. 1 corner. While no one will likely make that jump, the Patriots have players capable of developing into quality No. 2 cornerbacks to play opposite Gilmore.

Cyrus Jones — People forget Jones was a second-round pick out of Alabama. While he had a disappointing rookie season, he’s a talented player. There’s a reason he was a second-round pick. He himself admitted he needs to be better and seems like a player determined to prove to people his rookie season was not how his entire NFL career will go. If Jones puts the time in, and doesn’t let his rookie season get to him, there’s a good chance he could be a solid No. 2 cornerback in New England next season.

Eric Rowe — This is proving to be a great trade for the Patriots, as they acquired the corner for a conditional fourth-round pick early last season from the Eagles. At 6-foot-1, he’s a relatively bigger cornerback and proved he can go against some of the best big receivers in the league. He shut down A.J. Green in the second half of the Bengals game last season. Rowe even was ahead of Ryan on the depth chart in the middle of last season. There is a talented player there and seems to be poised for a big role in 2017.

Jonathan Jones — The undrafted rookie mostly played special teams last year, but when Cyrus Jones struggled, Jonathan Jones stepped in and played pretty well in the slot. While he certainly cannot be counted on in a big role, if he continues to develop, the Patriots could use him a good amount next season in sub-packages.

Justin Coleman — Coleman had a tough 2016 season, but he’s been in the Patriots’ system for a few seasons and who knows, maybe he steps up and can be a contributor. Stranger things have happened in Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Standing 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Brandin Cooks isn’t a big receiver by any means, and has been reminded of that going back to his days at Oregon State.

Speaking on a conference call with the New England media Wednesday, Cooks said being small has never bothered, or affected him.

Brandin Cooks isn't bothered by being so small.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Brandin Cooks isn’t bothered by being so small. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Standing 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Brandin Cooks isn’t a big receiver by any means, and has been reminded of that going back to his days at Oregon State.

Speaking on a conference call with the New England media Wednesday, Cooks said being small has never bothered, or affected him.

“I mean quote-unquote ‘always being the small guy’ has been fun for me because it’s a challenge and I love challenges,” Cooks said. “But having three older brothers, being in the household, you’ve got to fight them all the time to get what you want. I think that helped a lot as far as the toughness, but as you all know and as has been said plenty of times from guys like me, one thing you can’t measure is heart and I feel like I’ve got one of the biggest hearts out there. Physical wise, I’m not too worried about it. It’s just playing ball and doing what I have to do.”

Cooks will likely line up all over the field with the Patriots — both wide and in the slot.  The 23-year-old doesn’t have a preference where.

“As far as going into detail on what I would like to do, I’d rather not go into detail,” Cooks said. “But as far as playing in the slot, I definitely think I can do that at a high level. It’ll be all about what coach [Bill] Belichick and the offense think I can fit well at and just doing my job the best that I can.”

Last season with the Saints, Cooks totaled 78 receptions for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Dont'a Hightower re-signed with the Patriots on Wednesday.</p>
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It appears Malcolm Butler was very anxious to meet with the Saints.

Malcolm Butler reportedly met with the Saints on Wednesday. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler reportedly met with the Saints on Wednesday. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

It appears Malcolm Butler was very anxious to meet with the Saints.

According to Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate, Butler was at the Saints’ facility on Wednesday to meet with the team. The 27-year-old was scheduled to meet with the team on Thursday.

Butler is a restricted free agent meaning if the Saints put in an offer sheet, the Patriots would have the right to match. If not, the Saints would have to give up their own first-round pick. This means it would be the No. 11 overall pick, not the No. 32 pick the Patriots traded them for Brandin Cooks last week.

Butler was placed with a first-round tender meaning he’s on the books in 2017 for $3.91 million.

Another possibility is a trade, which has been rumored over the past few days. The Patriots could do the Saints a favor and not get their No. 11 overall pick in return, but their own first-round pick back (No. 32) and potentially other picks from the Saints. This could happen given Bill Belichick and Sean Payton’s relationship.

With how far this has gone, it would appear Butler’s days as a member of the Patriots are limited.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

When Brandin Cooks was rumored in trade talks all last week, the thought was the 23-year-old wanted out of New Orleans.