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Patriots Talk: Dont’a Hightower will NOT be given franchise tag




Patriots Talk: Dont’a Hightower will NOT  be given the franchise tag

by Stephen Hilton

News has already traveled throughout the sports world about Patriots’ linebacker Dont’a Hightower not being given the franchise tag. As he is one of the biggest players hitting free-agency this off-season, this is shell-shocking for the Patriots fan base, as he is considered one of the top players that needed to be resigned. According to NFL insider, Adam Schefter, he was informed that Hightower was not given the franchise tag by the Patriots.

This news means that the Patriots have effectively no control over what happens with Hightower as he is an unrestricted free agent. He can walk into free agency when the market opens for all 32 teams on March 9th and see what offers he gets. This means whatever contracts that other teams will give to Hightower, the Patriots will need to match them if they hope to resign him back. This situation is very similar to when Patriots’ safety Devin McCourty hit free agency back in 2015. Ultimately, the Patriots paid McCourty a 5-year extension worth over 47.5 million to resign him. He then became the highest paid safety in the league after that (Of course, yesterday it was revealed that Kansas City Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry was paid a 6-year extension worth over 78 million, which means he is now the highest paid at his position).

So what exactly happened? Why didn’t the Patriots just franchise tag Hightower? Couldn’t they have come to a long-term deal? According to some reports, negotiations broke down.

What Michael Giardi is referring to here is more likely that the gap doesn’t have anything to do with the total contract value. The Patriots were willing to pay him as high as 10 million per year at the start of the 2016 season. What seems to be ‘a decent gap’ is most likely the amount of guaranteed money that was offered.


The reason why I say that is because Hightower has had multiple injuries and hasn’t been able to stay consistently healthy throughout his NFL career. However, he has shown up to play in the biggest games and has been often said to be ‘the anchor’ of the Patriots’ defense. No matter how the Patriots try to put it, Hightower is too crucial to the defense to be let go.They have already traded players like Chandler Jones and Jaime Collins, letting Hightower leave as well would effectively make the question ‘well what is all the cap space for then?’ Even Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent and he won’t be given more than 1st round tender (It was reinforced after the 2011 lockout, in which RFAs who are given the amount of say $2.879 million. Any of the 31 other teams would need to give up a 1st round pick to get that player effectively then as compensation to the team who drafted him.)


The Patriots more than likely didn’t want to put the exclusive franchise tag on him as he would have been paid over $15 million for one year. The Patriots must have felt it was too serious of a cap hit to give him that as they still have many free agents that need to be resigned this season. (Especially for those who they will need to sign in the NFL draft). However, it has been stated on record by players that they hate being given the tag because it usually is a sign the team is only interested in the short-term and not giving them more money then they feel they are worth. This isn’t because the Patriots’ lack interest in signing an extension, far from it. Rather, they are refusing to put the tag on Hightower because it would only be for one year compared to say 3-4 years where they can spread the money over a period time and have Hightower commit the rest of his years in New England.


The simple fact is this: Bill Belichick will NOT overpay for any NFL player and nothing we sports fans or the media say, will change that. He has a proven track record he will do away with players that he feels are not worth the amount they are offering. This includes previous players like Richard Seymour, Lawyer Milloy, Asante Samuel, or Deion Branch. You understand where I am going. Bill has gone through this before and if Dont’a gets a better offer somewhere else, good for him, but the reality is that Belicheck is letting the risk of overpaying him become a reality even with the amount of cap space that the Patriots currently have. But Belicheck has given us almost 2 decades of football greatness and trying to question his judgement now would be foolish if you don’t think he knows what the possible consequences are.  Well, since us Patriots have been down this road before the only thing I can say is: In Bill We Trust.

Tanner founded Trifecta Network in Spring of 2016 and has been the Chief of Content for the Network since that time. Currently Tanner covers all the sports teams in Boston and has contacts in many of the teams in the city. Before starting Trifecta, Tanner was a Site Expert for the FanSided site Chowder and Champions before leaving to cover Boston teams on the ground as a member of the media for Trifecta.

New England Patriots

Patriots Injury Report: Tom Brady Suffers Injury, Status Questionable




Uh oh, according to multiple reports the Patriots starting QB suffered an injury at practice.

Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is listed on the Patriots injury report on Wednesday with limited participation in practice. But with the report coming after media availability on Wednesday, how the injury happened was a mystery. Until a reporter did some digging.

According to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, Tom Brady needed X-rays after he jammed his throwing hand at practice on Wednesday when he was accidentally run into. The X-rays showed no structural damage.

But for Patriots fans who might be worried about the QB’s status for Sunday they should take a deep breath.

But despite reports saying Brady will play, the idea that he ran into a player at practice seems suspect. Seems eerily similar to two seasons ago when Brady misssed a preseason game after cutting his hand with a scissor in the locker room pre-game. Of course this is way different with the AFC Championship game on Sunday, but still, this feels and sounds a bit odd.

More will likely come on Thursday.

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New England Patriots

Patriots Football Talk: Blowout in Foxborough




It was another cold January night at Gillette Stadium.  But on the field what we saw was an Offense on fire.  The Patriots were playing their, now annual, AFC Divisional Playoff Game.  Yes, that’s right they do this every year!  They have won their Division 9 Straight Times.  They have earned a 1st Round Bye 8 straight times.  And they have played in the AFC Conference Game, ah hem, now 7 straight times.  Yes it has been quite a run.  In Saturday Night’s Game against Tennessee, the Patriots, showed some of the best that the Team had to offer.  As you can see by the title of this post, it was a blowout.  One for the history books!  Let’s get right into the play by play action.

Ok, so it was cold, we know that; but did you see the “Scuba Suit” that Tom Brady was wearing?  Yeah he came prepared to play all 60 Minutes.  Now the Patriots got the ball first at Kickoff and they only had one 1st Down before they had to Punt it.  It was a slow start before the “Fireworks”.  On their next possession Brady just missed an open Rob Gronkowski.  It would have been a big play if Brady didn’t throw it at his shoelaces.  He was wide open and uncovered at the line of scrimmage. You could tell right then and there that the Titan’s Defense had some communication problems.  As Tony Romo commented: “They looked discombobulated.”

Then the longest Drive allowed by the Patriots came.  The Titans went 95 Yards down the field from their own end zone to score.  It was a Touchdown pass by Marcus Mariota to Corey Davis [7-0].  The long Drive ate up most of the clock of the 1st Quarter.  And the Titans looked strong.  But man oh man, did they “awaken a sleeping Dragon.”

The fire was lit under the Patriots and they responded with a huge 2nd Quarter.  They went down the field with several heroic plays by Dion Lewis.  Then James White came in for a 5 Yard pitch and catch TD [7-7].  3 Minutes and 37 Seconds later James White would score another TD, this time on the ground [14-7].  White would end up having 3 Carries for 11 Yards with a Rushing TD, and 4 Receptions for 29 Yards with a Receiving TD.  It was just some excellent “Hurry Up” Offense.  See the Patriots knew that the Titans were using the same Defensive Line.  And as Tony Romo noted throughout the game, they were getting worn out and tired.  The “No Huddle” Offense proved to be New England’s best weapon against a strong Defensive Line.

Later in the 2nd Quarter Brady threw a 4 Yard TD to Chris Hogan [21-7].  Once again Dion Lewis was a huge factor in the Drive.  Lewis would wind up with 15 Carries for 62 Yards and 9 Receptions for 79 Yards.  Another stellar game for him.  The Pats wanted to score again before the Half but Steven Gostkowski missed a 53 Yard Field Goal.  Let’s face it, it was difficult to make in these conditions.

The Patriots would show an impressive Defense in the 2nd Half.  They would go on to Sack Mariota 8 times for the game.  One of those huge Sacks came on Tennessee’s first possession.  It was just what the Patriots needed.  A stop, to get their Offensive Juggernaut back on the field.  They would end up scoring again on a 2 Yard TD Rush by Brandon Bolden [28-7].  One of the key play makers of the Team was Danny Amendola.  Who had 13 Targets 11 Receptions for 112 Yards.  He was sensational!  Then towards the end of the 3rd Quarter Brady threw to Rob Gronkowski for a 5 Yard Touchdown [35-7].  Gronk would get targeted 9 times with 6 Receptions for 81 Yards with a TD.  It was now “officially” a blowout!

Tennessee would score another touchdown but it was in “garbage time”, ie at the end of the game.  [35-14] was the final score and with that the Patriots moved on to their next opponent Steelers/Jaguars for AFC Championship at 3:05 pm next Sunday.  Tom Brady had a heck of a game, going 35-53 Passes for 337 Yards with 3 TDs.  He is now the oldest player to win a NFL Playoff Game, at age 40.  And with this win it became New England’s 26th Playoff Win out of 35 Playoff Appearances.  Wow what a great number, 35!  Congrats Pats!  I can’t wait to watch you next week!

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New England Patriots

Patriots Talk: The Rift Within The Patriots Is Overblown




New England Isn’t Fazed By This News


Talking about this subject reminds me of how Deflategate, SpyGate, and many other news reports seemingly jumped on the Patriots. In fact, some reports have been very mixed about the latest ‘bombshell’ from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham. On one hand, the piece goes over many details that come from sources that aren’t named. The writer for the article, Wickersham, has done pieces like this before regarding the NFL. He has been a senior writer for ESPN for years now. Wickersham has stood by his sources in a radio interview he did last week:


I think the reporting process in a story like this has to remain as confidential as possible. I was as transparent as I could be in the story.


Transparency is one thing but the thing here is that he had gotten this story from multiple sources inside the Patriots organization, ranging from staffers, coaches and even players. However, by not naming the people involved in this report, you also will be criticized because many will suggest you are making these up.


But criticizing the writer is not the topic of this article. It’s to report that this is all been blown way out of proportion. To the point, that some writers have stated they believe Belichick will coach the New York Giants next season due to Robert Kraft interfering in the Jimmy Garopollo trade last October.


Who Is Stuck In The Middle?


Here is where I believe that article is right and wrong. The writer is correct in that the Patriots had some serious decisions to make regarding the Garropolo trade but that was not even close to the main issue. Many have gone as far to suggest that Kraft had made this decision personal which Kraft has denied and called ‘total fabrication and fiction’ multiple times since the report was released. When he was asked about the trade deadline and Jimmy G, Kraft told Peter King of Sport Illustrated:


I assumed once the season started, we’d talk again at the end of the season about it. The next time I spoke with Bill about it was the Monday before the trade deadline. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to Jonathan, who was okay with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’


The ESPN article was mainly centered around owner Robert Kraft, Had Coach Bill Belichick and star Quarterback Tom Brady. The three have filed  a joint statement regarding this article, staying they are ‘united.’



But one of the most interesting sides to this story, is regarding Tom Brady’s personal trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero. From ESPN:’


New players felt the surest way to earn Brady’s trust was to join Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and others by seeking advice from Guerrero at his TB12 clinic — and not team doctors, which Belichick preferred … But according to multiple sources, players openly discussed with Patriots coaches, staff and trusted advisers whether to follow Brady or the team, leaving them trapped: Do we risk alienating the NFL’s most powerful coach or risk alienating the NFL’s most powerful quarterback?


This right here is just way exaggerated. Brady and Belichick don’t let egos divide players, these are grown men, not children trying to please the teachers. They will follow what will best suit their interests and just follow the Patriots motto ‘Do Your Job.’ Simply, asking advice and ways to improve performance and seeing what will work shouldn’t have to be complicated unless you players are questioning their own life choices.


How Much Is This True?


Everyone outside of New England has been eager in seeing the Patriots finally falling off, but the latest reports claim that Brady, Kraft and Belichick will have a meeting with each other after the season is officially over. According NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport:


But my understanding is [the marriage between Kraft, Belichick and Brady] is expected to continue past this season. First there is Bill Belichick, under contract for several more years and Belichick came out and said he absolutely believes he’ll be the Patriots coach next year and from what I understand I don’t see any situation where Robert Kraft allows anything besides that. Then there is Tom Brady. Of course, he is also under contract, he is never getting traded from the Patriots he is going to retire there, so it’s really on these three guys to come together after the season, figure it out and move forward.


So by all accounts, Belichick is not likely leaving because of what he has built in New England, Brady is still under contract till 2019, and Kraft isn’t suddenly handing the reigns to his son Jonathon Kraft, President of The Kraft Group. So this story will contnued to be addressed but don’t expect this story to hurt the PAtriots moral. At this point, the team is just focused on beating the Tennessee Titans at home on Saturday’s matchup at 8:15 PM EST.




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