1. Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone! Hope you’re having a fun time enjoying the beautiful weather. The football world has been pretty quiet the last few weeks and the last piece of news we’re expected to hear prior to the start of training camp relates to the status of Patriots QB Tom Brady. Most expect something to surface in the next week or two.
2. Brady has kept busy and he’s helping the Celtics land free agent NBA star Kevin Durant. If the Celtics get Durant, they immediately launch themselves into title contention and are set up to be one of the top franchises in the league for the next decade. There is no better pitchman to talk about being a sports celebrity in Boston than Brady- although Red Sox slugger David Ortiz could have helped if it were his off-season.
3. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has been discussing the top contracts in the NFL and they turned their, ahem, focus, towards tight ends. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski tops their list because he’s just so much better than every other tight end in the NFL. PFF tracks a fun metric called “yards per route run” which shows the efficiency of the receiver and Gronk has five of the ten best marks since 2008. He also tied for PFF’s top tight end blocking grade.
WR Julian Edelman also ranked in PFF’s most team-friendly wide receiver contracts, and RB LeGarrette Blount ranked in the most team-friendly running back contracts. I wouldn’t be surprised if QB Tom Brady found himself with the most team-friendly quarterback contract. This is a very well-priced offense, especially at a time where the defense has to get paid.
4. Speaking of paying the defense, the general thought is that the Patriots would like to lock up their core defensive players prior to the start of the season. CB Malcolm Butler, LB Jamie Collins, LB Dont’a Hightower, and ED Jabaal Sheard are up for monster deals and their value will probably only increase after the upcoming year.
Here’s a list of when the Patriots have landed extensions with key players with time remaining on their contracts:
ED Tully Banta-Cain: October 20th, 2009
OG Logan Mankins (had franchise tag): August 10th, 2011
LB Jerod Mayo: December 17th, 2011
TE Rob Gronkowski: June 8th, 2012
TE Aaron Hernandez: August 27th, 2012
ED Rob Ninkovich: September 23rd, 2013
S Patrick Chung: January 9th, 2015
There’s a chance the Patriots can get a deal done before the start of the season, but it’s just as likely that the deals won’t take place until September or October.