The Patriots do not have a first or second-round pick this year.</p>
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Roger Goodell will make his return to Gillette Stadium next year.

Roger Goodell will return to Gillette Stadium in September. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell will return to Gillette Stadium in September. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell will make his return to Gillette Stadium next year.

Speaking to wrap up the NFL league meetings in Arizona, commissioner Roger Goodell addressed a number of different things at his press conference including gambling, the Raiders moving to Vegas, rule changes and also when he will return to Gillette Stadium.

Goodell was asked if he plans on being at the Patriots’ first game next season.

“I don’t, but I plan on being at the kickoff game,” he told reporters.

The commissioner cannot officially say he will be at the Patriots’ first game since the schedule has not been released yet, but the Super Bowl champion almost always hosts the kickoff game the Thursday before the first Sunday games.

It’s possible the Patriots will host the Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch.

This would be Goodell’s first time back at Gillette Stadium since the Deflategate game, which was in January of 2015. He could have came in the playoffs last January, but opted for two straight weekends in Atlanta.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Things have certainly changed a bit with the Malcolm Butler narrative over the last few weeks.

It seemed at first like it was a done deal that the 27-year-old cornerback would be headed to New Orleans, but now a few weeks after his visit, it certainly isn’t the lock it once was perceived.

Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler to the Saints is no longer the lock that it once was. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Things have certainly changed a bit with the Malcolm Butler narrative over the last few weeks.

It seemed at first like it was a done deal that the 27-year-old cornerback would be headed to New Orleans, but now a few weeks after his visit, it certainly isn’t the lock it once was perceived.

“We’re kicking the tires, I guess is the best way to describe that,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. “We’ll see how that process works.”

Butler is a restricted free agent so the Saints could put in an offer sheet on him and the Patriots would have the right to match. If they didn’t then the Saints would get Butler, but need it give up their first-round pick, which would be No. 11 overall. This doesn’t seem likely.

The most likely route if he were to go to New Orleans would be a trade where the Saints give up their No. 32 overall pick (which the Patriots traded them for Brandin Cooks) or maybe a second and a third-rounder.

The 27-year-old hasn’t signed his first-round tender ($3.91 million) yet, which means trade negotiations cannot occur by league rules.

“We’ve accomplished some things we want to get accomplished, and there are a couple things we didn’t,” Loomis said. “But you know that going in because the offseason is comprised of free agency, the draft and trade potentials. We’re not done with free agency yet, and yet the bulk of that has happened.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks is now illegal. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks is now illegal. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

At the NFL league meetings in Arizona, the owners approved several rule changes for the upcoming season.

1. Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

2. Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

3. Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.

4. Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.

5. Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

6. Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.

7. Makes it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

8. Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

The biggest one from a Patriots perspective is no longer is it legal for players to jump over the line of scrimmage to block kicks. They were very successful with that of late with Shea McClellin doing it this past season and then Jamie Collins two years ago.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
The Patriots have won five Super Bowls under Robert Kraft's ownership. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots have won five Super Bowls under Robert Kraft’s ownership. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft is one of the most powerful kingmakers in the NFL. But when it comes to making player personnel decisions with the Patriots, he’s seemingly just a smidgen more influential than the dude rocking a Tedy Bruschi jersey in Gillette Stadium’s cheap seats. It’s important to keep that in mind when reviewing the comments he made Monday at the NFL league meetings in Arizona, where he opined on topics ranging from Tom Brady’s longevity to Malcolm Butler’s status with the team.

Last year, Brady said he wants to play football until he’s 45 years old. Kraft expanded that timeline Monday, telling reporters Brady said to him recently he would like to play for another six or seven seasons. With Brady turning 40 in August, that would mean he intends to stand under center until he’s 46 or 47. Though there hasn’t been any drop off in Brady’s game, the notion that he can keep playing at an elite level into his late 40s is preposterous. But he probably still wants to try. Unlike other superstar athletes, such as LeBron James, Brady doesn’t opine on politics and social issues. He appears to want to be defined solely by his sport. It would serve as validation for his rigid lifestyle, which is marketed in the form of $100 pajamas and $200 nutrition manuals.

It would be shocking for Brady to assign himself an artificial end date. His goal of playing for as long as humanly possible isn’t breaking news. The six-seven-year window is arbitrary.

Kraft’s reiteration of Brady’s comments are also irrelevant to Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in New England. Bill Belichick will likely have the final say on when, or if, he makes a quarterback change. Kraft, who appears to be far more sentimental than Belichick, may want Brady to stick around until the end of his career –– even if his play slips a little bit. But history shows that isn’t how Belichick operates.

Openly advocating for a player isn’t in Belichick’s playbook, either, which is why Kraft’s lauding of Darrelle Revis Monday should also be taken lightly. In an interview with the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers, Kraft said he would “love it” if the veteran cornerback returned to the Patriots. Kraft, perhaps aware of how his comments would be interpreted, followed up his Revis adulation by saying he “only speaks for himself.” When Myers asked if there was any contact between the two sides, Kraft said to “ask his boy,” presumably referring to Belichick.

If Kraft expresses his support for a player, it’s a one-day story and doesn’t hinder the organization’s negotiating ability. His comments about “rooting” for Malcolm Butler to play with the Patriots next season is a similar example. Imagine the fallout if Kraft declared the Patriots want to move on from Butler. Their chances of pulling off a sign-and-trade with the Saints, or another club that may sign Butler to an offer sheet, would likely be non-existent.

Kraft also said Monday he hopes Belichick can coach into his 80s. That’s a nice sentiment, but ultimately meaningless. Much like Brady playing quarterback until he’s 47, it just isn’t believable.

When Kraft speaks about football personnel matters, he isn’t providing keen insight. He heaps praise upon his players and organization, hoping to cause minimal distraction. When important league decisions are made, like the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Kraft is directly involved. But when it comes to his own team, he cedes decision-making power to Belichick. While it makes him a great owner, it also means his cheerleading should be dismissed.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer
Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN's "First Take" on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft discussed the Super Bowl win on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

It’s been roughly seven weeks since the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons, 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, but that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t still talking about the game.

Owner Robert Kraft appeared on Tuesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN where he discussed the game and what it was like to overcome such a large deficit in the second half.

“With three minutes to go in the third quarter, we had a 99.6 percent chance to lose, .04 to win,” Kraft said. “Our guys believed in one another, and it’s a great lesson to young people never to give up, hang with people who are good character, who put their ego at the door and come together as a team.

“It was just a great moment of vindication for our whole team. It was pretty cool for our fans. Our fans have been behind us unbelievable.”

The “vindication” Kraft could be referring to is all of the extra things the Patriots needed to deal with over the course of the season, which included Tom Brady being suspended the first four games for his role in Deflategate.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

It’s been roughly seven weeks since the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons, 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, but that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t still talking about the game.

NFL coaches had a lot of good things to say about Bill Belichick on Tuesday. (Eric Seals/USA Today Sports)

NFL coaches had a lot of good things to say about Bill Belichick on Tuesday. (Eric Seals/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick didn’t attend the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday because he was scouting players at Florida’s pro day.

Just because he wasn’t in Arizona, doesn’t mean he didn’t come up with his fellow coaches.

“I don’t think he’s slowing down,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, via CSNNE.com. “I mean, the guy is winning rings. He’s stumbling over all the rings he’s winning, and it’s for a reason. He’s not slowing down any time soon.”

Harbaugh spent some time with Belichick last week at Ohio State’s pro day.

“I just appreciated the conversation,” Harbaugh said. “He knows the players. He’s the best, and it’s not surprising to see him work as hard as he does. You gotta work at it and he works at it.”

New Bills coach Sean McDermott respects the time Belichick puts in, as the coach is turning 65 next month and is showing no signs of slowing down.

“You respect that about him and that whole organization in terms of their drive to be the best year after year,” McDermott said. “It’s one thing to have success, it’s another thing to sustain it. To me that starts from leadership, and they set the tone, really. I’m sure they do a great job in that regard. It’s obvious, it’s out there. They’ve been able to sustain the success and we’re all scrambling to be able to try to catch up to them.”

Added McDermott: “That’s why I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning. They do a great job with building their football team whether it’s through the draft, late free agency signings, they find pieces that fit what they’re trying to do and they’re very strategic. Nick Caserio I know well does a great job on the personnel side, and then their coaching staff does a great job. Obviously, it’s led by one of the greats of all time.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable