Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio joined Middays with MFB Thursday morning to talk about the settlement talks in Tom Brady‘s case and how things might proceed from here.

Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio joined Middays with MFB Thursday morning to talk about the settlement talks in Tom Brady‘s case and how things might proceed from here. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

Florio reported Wednesday that settlement talks have taken place between the NFLPA and the NFL, but said he doesn’t expect them to go anywhere. With that being said, it shows there’s been communication, he said. The settlement opens the door for negotiation if both sides decide to respond.

“You never lead with your bottom line, so if the first move is, ‘We’ll take no suspension, but consider a fine,’ then the NFL could respond by saying, ‘Well, how about three games?’ and the NFLPA says, ‘How about one game?’ and the end result’s two games,” he said. “I’ve been saying for the past few days, if as many seem to believe the NFL is willing to cut this from four to two that this was either the plan all along or this was part of the wink-nod between Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft when the Patriots dropped their appeal rights, why not go to Brady and say, ‘We’ll reduce this to two games and you agree not to take us to court,’ because if they reduce it to two games, he can still take them to court.”

Florio had also reported that there was a small group of owners in Roger Goodell’s ear telling him to uphold the full suspension.

“That’s just part of the reality of being the commissioner of the NFL,” he said. “You have to deal with the owners, and some of them call you up more than others, some communicate more than others, but there’s a line of communication there. I’d be shocked if Roger Goodell says, ‘I can’t talk to you about any of this.’ He may not say anything, but he’s probably going to listen to what they have to say.

“You’re more politician than anything when you’re in that commissioner job because you are dealing with 32 successful and powerful people, and if you alienate enough of them, you’re out of a job,” Florio continued. “I think any big issue, and a lot of small issues that land on the commissioner’s desk end up in one or more owners making a phone call or otherwise making their thoughts known to Roger Goodell. That doesn’t surprise me at all.”

If Brady and his team does end up going to court, the judge will not be responsible for assigning a punishment of his or her own, but will either overturn the arbitration award entirely or will leave it as is.

“It’s a high standard to get a judge to throw it out,” Florio said. “And that’s what would happen. The arbitration outcome would be vacated, and it would either be sent back for further proceedings, or the end result would be there should be no suspension of any kind under these circumstances, period, and everybody moves on. But it won’t be ‘Well, I’m going to give you one game less’ or ‘I’m only going to suspend you one game.’ It’s going to be whatever the final outcome from Roger Goodell is, whether it’s four, three, two, one, whatever. It’s going to be that outcome or zero, with that very strong possibility it gets sent back for further proceedings.”

He also said that the arbitration hearing would not have been the time to offer settlement talks like these because the hearing is meant for arguments as to why Brady shouldn’t or should be suspended.

“It’s in the aftermath of that while that decision is pending that there’s value in both sides in trying to come up with a way to buy certainty,” Florio said. “We can either wait and somebody’s going to be happy and somebody’s going to be really upset, or we can come up with a solution protecting each of us against being the party that’s really upset because we got the bad ruling.”

 

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

With the Patriots lacking veterans at the cornerback spot, the team went out and signed a veteran corner before training camp starts next week.

According to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini, the Patriots have reached an agreement with Tarell Brown.

With the Patriots lacking veterans at the cornerback spot, the team went out and signed a veteran corner before training camp starts next week.

According to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini, the Patriots have reached an agreement with Tarell Brown.

Brown, 30, has played eight seasons in the league. He played last season with the Raiders after spending his first seven years in the league with the 49ers. Playing in 14 games last year, he finished with 47 tackles. For his career, he has a total of 11 interceptions, but none since 2012.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady and Roger Goodell pose together in happier times. (D Dipasupil/Getty Images)Tom Brady is finding out what we already know about the NFL.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


As a rookie, Bryan Stork became an absolutely vital part of New England's offensive line. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As a rookie, Bryan Stork became an absolutely vital part of New England’s offensive line. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’€™ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the wide receivers and moved on to the tight ends. Now, it’s the offensive line.

Depth chart: David Andrews (rookie), Tre Jackson (rookie), Chris Barker, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, Caylin Hauptmann, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason (rookie), Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, Jordan Devey, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer.

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. While there are other players with more experience in the system, the new leader of the line is Bryan Stork. The FSU product, who remains the spiritual descendent of Logan Mankins (right down to the occasionally questionable facial hair, the nasty attitude and preternatural skill set), stepped into the center spot last year as a rookie and immediately stabilized the line. There were some durability issues as the season went on (he missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, and he was actually listed as questionable in the days leading up to the Super Bowl), but he was far and away the pick for New England’s Rookie of the Year in 2014. As long as he stays healthy, there’s no reason to think that Stork won’t be the Patriots’ franchise center for the next decade.

2. Nate Solder probably deserves a pass for any issues he may have had last season. The left tackle out of Colorado appeared to struggle at times over the course of 2014, but still managed to hold up well while protecting Tom Brady‘s blind side over the course of the season, and earned his first Super Bowl ring along the way. But in hindsight, the news that he had been treated for testicular cancer last spring means he fundamentally gets a mulligan for what happened in 2014. Bottom line? Solder isn’t the sort to make excuses, but we’ll give him an out here. Given a clean bill of health, we fully expect Solder to return to the same high-level status he enjoyed over the course of his first three seasons in the NFL.

3. While there are some questions about how he reacts under pressure, Tom Brady still remains really good at gauging the state of the New England offensive line. We’ve hit on this many times over the last few years, but it’s tough trying to quantify good offensive line play — in many cases, you don’€™t necessarily need the five best pure linemen. Instead, it’€™s the five who work the best as a unit, so it takes time to find the best combinations. While the Patriots were going through those issues at the start of the 2014 season, one of the things that appeared to help turn things around (in addition to the evolution of Stork) was a concerted effort from Brady to speed up his release times. It’s important to remember that things vary from week-to-week depending on opponent, scheme and personnel, but looking at Brady’s release times over the course of the 2014 season, it was clear that getting the ball out fast in the passing game was a real point of emphasis for the New England offense. (For a deeper dive into those numbers from last season, check out Ryan Hannable’s excellent story here.)

THREE QUESTIONS

1. How are the Patriots going to replace Dan Connolly? The retirement of Connolly likely opens the door for one of the youngsters — either Jackson or Shaq Mason — to step in immediately at the left guard position. Jackson is probably more prepared for the gig, as he worked more at guard over the course of his college career in the Florida State offense, while Mason was a guard for a run-based scheme at Georgia Tech. At the same time, don’t discount the versatility that some of the already established veterans have in the system, including Ryan Wendell (last year’s starting right guard can play both guard spots, as well as center), Marcus Cannon (who has played both guard and tackle in his professional career) and Cameron Fleming (who played tackle last year, but has reportedly spent time this offseason working out at guard). There are lots of questions here, and hopefully, things will become clearer this summer.

2. Where will Cameron Fleming end up playing? The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder out of Stanford is one of many versatile New England offensive linemen. He played tackle in college, but served as an extra lineman/tight end/tackle eligible several times over the course of the 2014 campaign, most notably in the November win over the Colts where he had a remarkable 37 snaps at the position. His presence brought a physical edge to the Patriots’ offensive line, allowing New England to bully the Indy run defense to the tune of a season-high 246 rushing yards as a team. Looking forward, he could serve as the backup swing tackle. There’s also the possibility he figures into the mix for one of the guard positions. Regardless, his performance as a rookie could portend an even bigger role in some capacity in 2015.

3. Is there a need to bring in anyone else between now and the start of the season? Given the fact that they used a pair of draft picks on Mason and Jackson on a line where there are four established starters and a few backup candidates who have some experience in the system, it’s unlikely New England will actively pursue any other offensive linemen between now and the start of the season. That’s not to suggest that they would turn away an established veteran who might drop into their lap (as was the case with Brian Waters in 2011), but at this point, things appear pretty well set up front for the New England offensive line.

By the numbers (courtesy of Ryan Hannable): Here’€™€™s a look at the 2014 regular-season numbers for the New England offensive line with the starters and with any other combination:

‘€” Solder, Connolly, Stork, Wendell, Vollmer (7-1 record) ‘€” Weeks 5, 8-14, Brady: 214-320 (66.9 percent), 2,433 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 103.6 QB rating, 4 sacks
‘€” Any combination besides above (5-3 record) ‘€” Weeks 1-4, 6, 7, 15, 16, Brady: 160-263 (60.8 percent), 1,675 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.8 QB rating, 17 sacks

Key new player: While you could make a real argument for Jackson (who was Stork’s teammate at Florida State), our pick here is with Mason. The Georgia Tech product carved out a rep as one of the best run blockers in college football last year. (Of course, he was working in one of the run-heaviest offenses in the game in 2014.) But the 6-foot-1, 300-pounder apparently showed a tremendous leap in his pass blocking skills in his week at the Senior Bowl, and it’s reasonable to think that his performance there played a role in New England going after him in the fourth round this past spring. We speculated on this shortly after he was drafted, but given his skill set and the state of the New England offensive line, perhaps Mason will follow the same rookie path as Fleming. While Fleming was mostly a tackle who worked as an extra tight end on occasion ‘€” he also played some right guard ‘€” his presence in the lineup usually signaled a run-heavy approach for the Patriots. Given Mason’€™s background as a run blocker and his potential positional versatility, it wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see him get work as a situational run blocker as a rookie while he continues to hone his pass-blocking skills. Throw in some work as an all-around backup for the likes of Stork and Wendell and (perhaps) Jackson, and you have a full set of responsibilities for Mason at the NFL level.

The skinny: Last year, it was a bumpy transition for New England’s offensive line, as the Patriots not only made the coaching switch from Dante Scarnecchia to Dave DeGuglielmo, they traded stalwart left guard Logan Mankins just before the start of the season, all while trying to incorporate a rookie into the mix at center. As a result, it was hardly a shock that the group started as slowly as it did. While there will be things to keep an eye on over the course of the summer, including the Mason/Jackson combo, as well as the evolution of Stork and the health of veterans like Vollmer, Solder and Wendell, the start to the 2015 season should be nowhere near as dramatic.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

For once in at least a few weeks, more and more is coming out regarding the appeal of Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension.

For once in at least a few weeks, more and more is coming out regarding the appeal of Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension.

Late Wednesday night there was a Pro Football Talk report saying there have been settlement talk discussions between Brady’s legal team and the NFL, but no progress has been made. Thursday morning there was an ESPN report stating the same — the NFLPA had offered a settlement to the NFL, but it was rejected.

The report did add a new piece of information.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano says Brady would consider accepting a fine, although he believes Brady will hold firm on refusing to accept any type of suspension.

On Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell said there was no timeline on when a decision on Brady’s appeal would be made. His appeal was heard a month ago Thursday — June 23.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Jets head coach Todd Bowles doesn't seem to be concerned with the Patriots. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles doesn’t seem to be concerned with the Patriots. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

With Patriots camp opening up on July 30 at Gillette Stadium, WEEI.com takes a quick look at each of the Patriots’ rivals in the AFC East, their additions, losses and what each team needs to accomplish in camp.

New York Jets

2014 finish: 4-12, 4th in AFC East

Key additions: Head coach Todd Bowles, GM Mike Maccagnan, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Buster Skrine, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Stevan Ridley, DE Leonard Williams (Rookie)

Key losses: Head coach Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik, CB Phillip Adams, CB Kyle Wilson, FB John Conner, NT Kenrick Ellis, QB Michael Vick, LB Nick Bellore

Camp goals: Give Geno Smith one more chance at the starting quarterback job and see if his spring OTA and minicamp work has earned him frontrunner status at the start of camp over Ryan Fitzpatrick. Leave Rex Ryan drama behind and get in step with the no nonsense approach of Todd Bowles. Have Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall step up and take leadership roles.

What to make of the Jets:

There’s a lot to like about what the Jets did this offseason. They seem finally ready to shift the focus from the entertaining and melodramatic head coaching style of Rex Ryan to the hard-nosed approach of Todd Bowles.

They had the chance to interview Doug Marrone after he stiffed the Bills to collect his 2015 salary guarantee. They did not jump at the first chance to hire away a fellow AFC East rival head coach. Reports out of New York were that they were not impressed with Marrone and that they were looking for more of a seasoned coach with NFL experience, someone who could lead the Jets back to respectability.

Bowles played eight seasons in the NFL as a safety, including the Redskins where he started in Super Bowl XXII. Bowles was the defensive coordinator for the Eagles in 2012, and then for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and ’14. He was the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins for the final three games of the 2011 season with a 2-1 record after the firing of Tony Sparano.

With the firing of general manager John Idzik and Ryan on Dec. 29, the Jets began the process of rebuilding their roster. New GM Mike Maccagnan identified several players, along with some help from owner Woody Johnson. Of course, that’s a thinly veiled reference to the Jets’ owner’s infatuation with all-world corner Darrelle Revis, who was busy with a Super Bowl run with the Patriots.

Once the Patriots elected not to bring Revis back, Maccagnan and Johnson had their shutdown corner. They added Antonio Cromartie from the Cardinals after a one-year hiatus from the Jets. But Maccagnan was far from finished. He pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Bears to acquire star receiver Brandon Marshall on March 10. A day later, they pulled off a trade with the Houston Texans for some competition for Geno Smith, acquiring Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Not to be lost in all of the hype around the additions of Revis, Marshall and Cromartie, the Jets signed nine of their own free agents, bringing back the best of a core group they feel they can build around.

What makes the additions of Revis and Cromartie so significant is that they will complement a stout and very deep defensive line that compares very favorably to the Bills and Dolphins in terms of the ability to get to the quarterback. Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson is as dynamic a front four as there is in football. They spent their first round pick (No. 6 overall) on USC stud Leonard Williams. And, oh by the way, their new defensive line coach is Pepper Johnson.

Add in linebackers David Harris, who they were able to bring back, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace, and you have loads of talent in front of Revis and Cromartie.

Bowles is coming off a season where he was voted the Associated Press Assistant Coach of the Year for his work in his second season as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals.

Offensively, a lot has to fall just right for the Jets to be productive, most notably Smith has to prove to new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey he can command an NFL offense, something he could not do in losing his job to Michael Vick twice last season. He was embarrassed at San Diego and at home to Buffalo. Smith did finish his second NFL season strong, leading the Jets to a 37-24 victory in Miami in the season finale. Smith went 20-for-25, threw for a career high 358 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a perfect passer rating. This was Smith’s first perfect game, the sixth in Jets history, and the only one of the 2014 season. For the 2014 season, Smith finished the season with 2,525 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 14 games (13 starts). Smith started all 16 games his rookie season before starting 13-of-14 last year.

With Marshall and former Patriot Stevan Ridley added to a group that includes Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and Chris Ivory, there are some quality options for Smith.

No one has more to prove in camp this summer than Geno Smith.

The Jets are a fascinating team to watch this summer. Will all the moves add up to a competitive team to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East? A lot has to go just right but they’re certainly headed in the right direction.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Maybe there’s a reason why a ruling on Tom Brady‘s suspension appeal has taken so long.