Nick Caserio said the Patriots have 50-75 players on their draft board this year. (WEEI.com)

Nick Caserio said the Patriots have 50-75 players on their draft board this year. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Next week close to 300 players will be selected in the NFL draft, but the Patriots are only considering about 25 percent of that number.

Speaking at his pre-draft press conference Tuesday at Gillette Stadium, director of player personnel Nick Caserio acknowledged the Patriots only have 50-75 players on their board, which is much lower than the average team.

For a comparison, the Ravens have said they have 150 players on their board.

“I would say it varies year-to-year, but I would say our draft board is smaller than most,” Caserio said. “We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft. Not that are going to get drafted. Three-hundred players or whatever it is are going to get drafted. It’s players that we would draft, that we would actually feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity.”

It is worth noting that number doesn’t include players the team expects to go undrafted, which the Patriots generally take full advantage of.

“The Jonathan Joneses, the Brandon Boldens, the David Andrewses, who, could they have been drafted? Sure. Absolutely,” Caserio said. “They didn’t get drafted for whatever reason, but that’s going to be another pool of players that come into our program, and some have had some more success than others.

“You have a couple of different groups. Here’s the draft group. Here’s the undrafted group. We spend a lot of time on the players that we maybe think are not going to get drafted. They could get drafted, but if they don’t get drafted, we definitely want to work with that player because of X, Y and Z. We try to identify those. Andrews definitely fell into that category. Brandon Bolden was another player who fell into that cat. Jonathan Jones fell into that category. Drafted players, those are important. Undrafted players, they’re equally important.”

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The biggest storylines with the Patriots as the NFL draft approaches are not who will they take, but rather what will happen to Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler.

There could be more Jimmy Garoppolo rumors between now and the draft. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

There could be more Jimmy Garoppolo rumors between now and the draft. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The biggest storylines with the Patriots as the NFL draft approaches are not who will they take, but rather what will happen to Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler.

Garoppolo is a highly-sought after quarterback, but it appears the Patriots want to hold on to him. Still, offers could come in leading up to and on draft day as teams are desperate for good quarterbacks.

Butler remains a restricted free agent who hasn’t signed his tender. The deadline for teams to place an offer sheet on players is Friday, so with that appearing unlikely to happen for Butler, it seems he has no choice but to sign his tender.

Once he does that, the Patriots can discuss trades with other teams. This could heat up around the draft, as teams could want Butler over taking a chance on a rookie cornerback.

Speaking at his pre-draft press conference at Gillette Stadium Tuesday, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was asked if Garoppolo strictly isn’t for sale.

“Anything that we do, we’re always going to do what we think is in the best interest of our football team, and that’s how we approach it,” Caserio said. “That’s not going to change. Whatever you think is best for our team for 2017, for that season, then that’s what we’ll do. However that manifests itself, not exactly sure, but that’s where the focus is, is trying to put together the best team possible for the 2017 season. However that comes about, then we’ll take it as it comes.”

Caserio was also asked about Butler, and if the Saints (who Butler visited) proposed a trade, how would the Patriots approach it?

“Our focus and goal is to put together the best team possible,” Caserio said. “However we’re going to improve our team, whatever players we think are going to help our team for the 2017 season, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Patriots also do not have a selection until the third round, No. 72 overall in the draft. So are they in a position to try and move up? It doesn’t appear that way.

“I don’t anticipate that many transactions here between now and next Thursday or Friday,” Caserio said. “Could that change? Look, it’s the National Football League. Things can change in a heartbeat. Our focus is on getting ready for the draft and putting together the best team possible.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

File this under the as expected category.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, Danny Amendola has taken a pay cut for 2017 in order to remain with the Patriots.

Danny Amendola reportedly agrees to take another pay cut. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Danny Amendola reportedly agrees to take another pay cut. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

File this under the as expected category.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, Danny Amendola has taken a pay cut for 2017 in order to remain with the Patriots.

Amendola was scheduled to have a base salary of $6 million this season, but now will make a little more than $1.6 million, which he made last season where he also took a pay cut.

While he may not have a huge role, he’s very important to Tom Brady and the offense. Amendola has tremendous chemistry with Brady and has a knack for making big plays, especially on third down.

He came up big in Super Bowl LI.

Amendola caught eight passes on 11 targets for 78 yards and a touchdown, as well as converting the second two-point conversion to force overtime. Also, look at what he did in 2014 when the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. He hauled in five passes for 48 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to help beat Seattle.

The wide out will likely be behind Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan on the depth chart, but will battle with second-year receiver Malcolm Mitchell for snaps. Also, Amendola can return kicks, which helps his cause.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

It looks like the Patriots might get their running back.

The Patriots are interested in Bills running back Mike Gillislee. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots are interested in Bills running back Mike Gillislee. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

It looks like the Patriots might get their running back.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots have extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee of the Bills. It’s for two years, and $6.4 million with $4 million coming in the first year.

The Bills have until Friday to match, which is the deadline. Otherwise he will be a member of the Patriots and they would have to give Buffalo a fifth-round pick.

It’s worth noting the Patriots structured the deal so it will be tough for the Bills to match considering their cap situation for 2017. This would be the second straight offseason the Patriots signed a Bills restricted free agent, as last year it was Chris Hogan.

If Gillislee signs, it likely means the Patriots would be set at the running back position and LeGarrette Blount would be out of the picture. The Patriots reportedly made Blount an offer this offseason, but obviously he didn’t sign it.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — How should the Patriots be preparing to use their 7 picks starting in the third round and how does the status of Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler affect their approach to the draft? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss Nick Caserio’s comments from Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The NFL schedule is said to be released later in the week, but the thought is the Patriots will be hosting the Chiefs in the annual NFL kickoff game, where the defending Super Bowl champion typically open the season at home on Thursday night.

Alex Smith and the Chiefs could be coming to Gillette Stadium to open the 2017 season. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Alex Smith and the Chiefs could be coming to Gillette Stadium to open the 2017 season. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

The NFL schedule is said to be released later in the week, but the thought is the Patriots will be hosting the Chiefs in the annual NFL kickoff game, where the defending Super Bowl champion typically open the season at home on Thursday night.

The Chiefs are already talking like they will be playing in that game.

“It kind of has everything in it,” tackle Mitchell Schwartz said, via ESPN. “It’s the opening week. It will be the only game. Defending champs, going to New England, which has probably been up there as the toughest places to play since those two [Tom Brady and Bill Belichick] have been playing and coaching together.”

Added Schwartz: “Coach Belichick is great. That’s not a guy you really want to face with five months of preparation against you. But our staff has typically done a great job coming off a bye, so we’re pretty good at that type of preparation, too. If that’s how it plays out, it should be a good matchup. Obviously, they want to put a good game out there for the opening game.”

Since Andy Reid joined the Chiefs, they have only played in New England once — the divisional round in 2015 when the Patriots won, 27-20. Kansas City might most be remembered for beating New England, 41-14 in 2014 on Monday Night Football leading to many doubting Tom Brady and the team. And everyone knows how that season ended.

The Chiefs won the AFC West last year for the first time since 2010 and are looking to keep the momentum going.

“We’ve upped the ante a little bit,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “I think that’s a good thing. To get to play on the big stages, you have to earn that. They just don’t let anybody there. If it happens, we’ll have to be ready for it.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable