Jamie Collins has been an impact player for the Patriots since he landed in Foxboro. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jamie Collins has been an impact player for the Patriots since he landed in Foxboro. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.

6. Linebacker Jamie Collins
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 250 pounds
Age: 26 (will turn 27 on October 20)

Resume: A second-round pick of the Patriots in 2013 out of Southern Miss, Collins came on strong down the stretch as a rookie, delivering his signature performance in the divisional playoff win over the Colts when he finished with six tackles, one sack and one interception. Lining up next to veteran Jerod Mayo and fellow youngster Dont’a Hightower, he established himself as a starter in 2014 with a career-high 91 tackles, to go along with two interceptions and a pair of sacks. The hyper-athletic Collins ramped things up last year, becoming the most dynamic and versatile playmaker on New England’s defense. Pro Football Focus named him second-team All-NFL in 2014, and he was a second-team All-Pro last season, per the Associated Press.

Why we ranked him here: Collins is capable of running with tight ends and running backs in coverage, and has the hands to pick off off a pass. He also possesses the pass-rush skills needed to get after the quarterback on a consistent basis. The 2015 season ended on a sour note, as he was victimized on a Peyton Manning-to-Owen Daniels touchdown pass in the AFC title game. But in his three seasons, the only thing that has managed to fell the Southern Miss product was a mystery illness that sidelined him for four games last year. Going forward, it’s going to be interesting to see how his contract situation plays out; he and Hightower lead a handful of players who are currently slated to be unrestricted free agents following the season. If he gets to the open market, Collins’ freakish skill set and penchant for big plays, his age and his background with a Super Bowl champion will make him a player in very high demand.

Quote: “The guy is very hard working. He’s a very smart player [and] really tries to improve himself every week and get better. He’s still learning the game, still learning our defense, but really does a great job. [He] has a good mix of athletic ability and power and speed and strength that we try to utilize as much as we can on the field.” — Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Collins, 12/29/15

Random Note: We’ve used this stat a half-million times over the last year or so, but it certainly warrants repeating — Collins is the only guy in the league with at least 9.5 sacks and three interceptions since the start of the 2014 season.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

It certainly will be an interesting 2016 Patriots season. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)After 545 days it's over. 



In a statement, Patriots owner Robert Kraft supported Tom Brady’s decision to stop legal proceedings with Deflategate, but that doesn’t mean he’s accepted the NFL’s penalty and what they did to his quarterback and organization as a whole.

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

In a statement, Patriots owner Robert Kraft supported Tom Brady’s decision to stop legal proceedings with Deflategate, but that doesn’t mean he’s accepted the NFL’s penalty and what they did to his quarterback and organization as a whole.

Here is the complete statement:

While I was disappointed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision not to rehear Tom Brady’s case, I am most frustrated that Tom was denied his right to a fair and impartial process. The League’s investigation into a football pressure matter was flawed and biased from the start, and has been discredited nearly unanimously by accredited academics and scientists.

The penalty imposed by the NFL was unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable, especially given that no empirical or direct evidence of any kind showed Tom did anything to violate League rules prior to, during or after the 2015 AFC Championship Game. What Tom has had to endure throughout this 18-month ordeal has been, in my opinion, as far removed from due process as you could ever expect in this country.

From day one, I have believed in Tom and given him my unwavering support in his pursuit to rightfully clear his name of any wrongdoing. That support extends throughout our organization and has only grown more steadfast as the preponderance of scientific evidence has exonerated Tom. Unfortunately, this stopped being about air pressure a long time ago.

This entire process has indelibly taken a toll on our organization, our fans and most importantly, Tom Brady. His reluctant decision to stop pursuing further action and to put this situation behind him is what he feels is best for the team in preparation for this season and is fully supported by me and our entire organization.

To our devoted fans, your unwavering support for Tom and our organization have only reinforced our longstanding belief that we have the greatest fans in all of sports. We will continue to unequivocally support Tom and know our fans will rally around him and the rest of the team like never before. Our full focus now is on making the upcoming season a memorable one for all of our fans.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

While Tom Brady has ended his legal fight with Deflategate, the NFLPA may still continue.

While Tom Brady has ended his legal fight with Deflategate, the NFLPA may still continue.

Here is a statement from the NFLPA Friday afternoon: After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA will not be seeking a stay of the four game suspension with the 2nd Circuit. This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court.

This is a move likely for the NFLPA to challenge the power commissioner Roger Goodell has. It just means Brady is no longer involved in the case.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Deflategate is over.

Posting a statement on Facebook, Tom Brady said his legal fight is over with Deflategate and he will not appeal to the Supreme Court. He will miss the first four games of the 2016 season. Earlier this week the Second Circuit did not grant he and the NFLPA’s request for a rehearing.

Deflategate is over.

Posting a statement on Facebook, Tom Brady said his legal fight is over with Deflategate and he will not appeal to the Supreme Court. He will miss the first four games of the 2016 season. Earlier this week the Second Circuit did not grant he and the NFLPA’s request for a rehearing.

The statement reads: I’m very grateful for the overwhelming support I’ve received from Mr. Kraft, the Kraft family, coach Belichick, my coaches and teammates, the NFLPA, my agents, my loving family and most of all, our fans. It has been a challenging 18 months and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process. I’m going to work hard to be the best player I can be for the New England Patriots and I look forward to having the opportunity to return to the field this fall.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Devin McCourty was a first-round pick out of Rutgers in 2010. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty was a first-round pick out of Rutgers in 2010. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.

7. Safety Devin McCourty
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 186 pounds
Age: 28 (will turn 29 on Aug. 13)

Resume: At this point in his career, McCourty’s track record is fairly well established. A first-round pick out of Rutgers in 2010, he started at cornerback (and played very well as a rookie) before making the switch to safety in 2012. He was second-team AP All-Pro in 2010 and 2013, and received similar nods from Pro Football Focus in 2012 (second team) and 2013 (first team). His best year statistically came as a rookie when he finished with seven interceptions, and his 18 career picks are 27th on the active list.

Why we ranked him here: It can be startlingly easy to forget about McCourty — he doesn’t have the cache of some of his other, high-profile teammates — but with the departure of foundational elements like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, he’s become one of the most important parts of the New England defense. (Based on his complete body of work, we’ll give him a mulligan for a forgettable 2011.) Having worked with a revolving door of defensive backs since he arrived in 2010, he’s done well playing off the varying talents of everyone from Aqib Talib to Darrelle Revis to fellow safeties like Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. The bottom line is that McCourty’s special teams value (he’ll occasionally get a random rep as a returner), his versatility (he’s a safety, but still has excellent coverage skills in the slot) and leadership all combine to make him absolutely essential to the success of the Patriots’ defense. That’s why we have him here in our top 10.

Quote: “To be able to cover that much ground and have that kind of range as a post safety is remarkable. I see that every day in practice. You really have to look Devin off. He’s really smart — he sees combinations, and sometimes you try to look him off and he knows you’re trying to look him off so he doesn’t take it. There are other times he gets great jumps on the ball. The longer he’s been at safety, the better he’s done. He’s really been a consistent player for our team. He knocks balls away, covers guys in man coverage and then has that range in the deep part of the field where he truly plays like a safety.” — Tom Brady on McCourty

Random note:
McCourty played every single defensive snap in 10 of the 16 regular-season games last year, according to Pro Football Reference. Only Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler (12 games each) had more contests where they played every possible defensive snap. In all, McCourty played 85 percent of the defensive snaps in 2015, third on the team.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Many in New England believe the Patriots could go 3-1 or 2-2 at worst with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback over the first four games of the season with Tom Brady potentially being suspended because of Deflategate.