Late Tuesday night, former Patriots offensive lineman Bryan Stork announced on Twitter he is “stepping away from football.”

Late Tuesday night, former Patriots offensive lineman Bryan Stork announced on Twitter he is “stepping away from football.”

“I can’t say I am retiring because I am only 26 years old but I have decided to officially step away from the game of football which I will always love dearly,” Stork wrote.

The Patriots selected Stork in the 2014 draft, and he even started at center in Super Bowl XLIX, but that was his most productive season.

Stork battled injuries, including concussions, throughout his first two seasons in the NFL, missing 11 games. Last preseason the Patriots tried to trade him to Washington, but he failed a physical so he was sent back to New England and then was officially released.

He wasn’t picked up by another team.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Rob Gronkowski continues to stay busy this offseason.

On Tuesday night, the Patriots tight end was in Connecticut for WWE Smackdown where he was spotted having a good time.

As it relates to football, his back seems to be holding up pretty well in the months following back surgery, which is certainly a good sign for the upcoming season.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

The first big offseason splash the Patriots made was swinging a trade with the Colts for tight end Dwayne Allen. Allen was acquired along with a sixth-round pick in exchange for the Patriots’ fourth-round pick.

Allen, 27, is signed through 2019 with cap hits of $4.9 million this year, $5 million next year and $7.4 million in 2019 — a very reasonable contract.

It’s clear he was brought in to be a complement to Rob Gronkowski and also an insurance policy in case he gets injured. He is the Marcellus Bennett of 2016, except he has a slightly different skill set.

In his five seasons with the Colts, he’s totaled 126 receptions for 1,451 yards and 19 touchdowns. While those numbers are pretty decent, Allen is hoping for a bigger role with New England than he had in Indianapolis.

“One thing that I’ve caught on to early is Coach [Bill] Belichick’s saying of, ‘The more you can do.’ I’m just about winning,” Allen said on his opening conference call. “I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players. That’s what I’m about. I’m excited to be utilized as a football player again and not be confined to any box, but just to be a football player, a tight end.”

So, what is Allen referring to with being “excited to be utilized as a football player again?”

With the Colts he was primarily used as a blocker until the offense got into the red zone and that was where the tight end did most of his damage in the passing game. New England will use him a bunch and he will have a much bigger role in the offense than he did with Indy.

At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, the Patriots wouldn’t be doing themselves any good by not having him serve as a blocker on some plays, which will be an upgrade from Bennett last year. The one knock on Bennett would be his blocking skills, which he even admitted at times wasn’t up to par at some points last year. Also, given his success in the red zone, look for Allen to be a frequent target of Tom Brady near the goal line, especially with all the attention likely going towards Gronkowski.

Of Allen’s 126 catches, an insane 15 percent of them have gone for touchdowns and according to Pro Football Focus, he has caught 71.9 percent of his red zone targets since entering the league, the best rate for all tight ends. It’s also third among receivers in that span trailing just Wes Welker (74 percent) and new Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks (72 percent).

Imagine all the possibilities for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

When not being used as a blocker, where will Allen line up? Based on what the Patriots did with Bennett, likely in the slot.

According to Pro Football Focus, 41 percent of Bennett’s routes last year came out of the slot. Allen is also very comfortable with that, as 50 percent of his routes came out of the slot, so this is where to expect Allen to line up. With he and Julian Edelman lining up on opposite sides, this could create major matchup problems for defenses.

Allen will likely play a similar role that Bennett had in 2016 with more of an emphasis on blocking and more of a presence in the red zone. Given all the attention Gronkowski will get, Allen could be one of the steals in fantasy football when it comes to tight ends.

Given all that Allen can do, he will just add to the versatility of the Patriots offense in 2017.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The last time all of the NFL was together, which was in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Patriots would not trade Jimmy Garoppolo and has stuck by his report ever since.

The Browns could make another run at Jimmy Garoppolo next week. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Browns could make another run at Jimmy Garoppolo next week. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The last time all of the NFL was together, which was in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Patriots would not trade Jimmy Garoppolo and has stuck by his report ever since.

The NFL will once again all be together next week in Arizona at the league meetings, which means there is yet again another Garoppolo rumor.

According to ESPN’s Tony Grossi who covers the Browns, he’s been told the Browns would make another run at trading for Garoppolo in Arizona at the league meetings given the two sides would be together at the same venue.

The Browns have a number of high draft picks both this year and next year, which could be attractive to the Patriots, especially since they don’t have a first or second-round pick in this year’s draft. Despite Schefter being so adamant the Patriots won’t trade Garoppolo, if they get blown away by an offer it’s hard to imagine them saying no.

Even though the Browns acquired Brock Osweiler in a trade with Houston, the franchise reportedly is looking to trade or cut him, so they are still in the market for a quarterback, which has them still connected to Garoppolo.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Thanks to help from the FBI, Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey was found on Monday in Mexico, along with his Super Bowl XLIX jersey.

Both were allegedly stolen by Mauricio Ortega, a former Mexican newspaper executive, who had a media credential at the Super Bowl for an international outlet.

Thanks to help from the FBI, Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey was found on Monday in Mexico, along with his Super Bowl XLIX jersey.

Both were allegedly stolen by Mauricio Ortega, a former Mexican newspaper executive, who had a media credential at the Super Bowl for an international outlet.

Thanks to the great reporting by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, here is a minute-by-minute look at how Brady’s jersey was stolen from the Patriots locker room following their overtime win over the Falcons.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
LeGarrette Blount is a candidate to return to the Patriots in 2017. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount is a candidate to return to the Patriots in 2017. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

No matter what people say, Rex Burkhead should not be the Patriots’ lead back in 2017.

Sure, he had a great final two weeks last season when because of injuries he was forced into a starting role with the Bengals, but it was just two weeks. In those two games, he ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries, but that was really the extent of him ever being a lead back.

Over the first 35 games of his career, he had just 19 carries. This is a sign he just doesn’t have the skill set to be used as a lead running back. He was one of the Bengals’ best special teams players last season, which is what he is — a core special teams player that can play running back in a pinch. A perfect upgrade to Brandon Bolden.

Standing 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, he’s not the LeGarrette Blount-type back the Patriots had last season. Acknowledging some of Blount’s 18 touchdowns were a product of short yardage situations and great blocking up front, a physical running back can wear down defenses and the Patriots need that element in their offense.

Here are some running backs available via free agency that fit what the Patriots need. (New England could also use one of its top picks on a running back, but that doesn’t seem likely.)

LeGarrette Blount — Blount hasn’t been signed as an unrestricted free agent, nor visited with any teams, so maybe the interest isn’t there across the league. The 30-year-old is the perfect fit for the Patriots offense, as shown last season, and has a great relationship with the organization and Bill Belichick. The one knock on Blount is ball security, displayed when he fumbled in Super Bowl LI. If Blount remains available, and would accept a one-year deal around $1 million, it would be a surprise to see him not return to New England.

Karlos Williams — This would be taking a risk as he’s been suspended twice by the league for violating the substance-abuse policy, but he is eligible to play Week 1 in 2017. Williams was selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Florida State and had a fairly successful rookie season. He totaled 517 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 carries. Standing 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he is the bigger back the Patriots need, and although he wouldn’t cost much, it would be a big risk given his off-field issues. Although this didn’t stop them from taking a chance on Blount.

Adrian Peterson — This seems like a long-shot, but if the Patriots could get him to play for say less than $5 million, why not take the chance? The team has the cap space to do it and Belichick has been known to take chances on players. Peterson has battled injuries of late, but over the course of his career the 32-year-old has had seven seasons of rushing for more than 1,000 yards. With the Patriots he would play strictly on first and second down, which could be good to keep him fresh. He also reportedly wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, which the Patriots obviously are.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady Came FACE TO FACE WITH SUSPECT … In Super Bowl Selfies (Photos) https://t.co/uz2pYkHHmv

— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) March 20, 2017