Belichick: Carter's been solid all year

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Belichick: Carter's been solid all year

While Chad Ochocinco has been a non-factor, Albert Haynesworth is still getting his legs under him and we're not seeing anything earth-shaking from Shaun Ellis, one veteran pickup is doing things of note for the Patriots. Defensive end Andre Carter, brought in with a simple mandate - get to the quarterback - did so twice on Sunday. But those two sacks shouldn't be a signal he's started playing well, according to Belichick. The Patriots head coach said on a conference call Monday that Carter's been playing well since he arrived. "Hes had a really solid year for us," said Belichick. "I think he's performed well pretty much since the first training camp practice. He's a very consistent, high-effort player, strong, experienced, knows what hes doing, very professional. He's been really consistent."Sack stats (and several other numbers that can be twisted) drive Belichick batty. And he mentioned that in discussing Carter."I think its really inaccurate to think that all of a sudden its been something great because he had two sacks yesterday because thats the stat that it really seems all defensive linemen get measured by," Belichick sniffed. "I think its very inaccurate. I think he's played consistently week in and week out. He had a couple big plays yesterday, but hes had good plays for us every week."Belichick was also enthused about the work of Haynesworth in his second game back from a back injury that shut him down for two weeks. "I think missed time is a little bit of a hurdle for anybody," said Belichick. "We talked about linebacker Brandon Spikes earlier, but I think Albert has been the more hes practiced, the more regularly hes practiced and played, the better hes been. I thought he had several good plays yesterday. It was encouraging. A couple of other notes from Belichick's conference call . . . On the traditional postgame coach's handshake and whether he'd miss doing it if the practice ceased"I havent really thought about it."On the play of Brandon Spikes Sunday . . .
"I think Brandon has been improving a little bit every week increased his practice reps and his playing time and all that. I think I said earlier this week that he really missed the entire preseason and he missed the Miami game, so his preseason is kind of coming to a close right now, Id say, in terms of timing and practices and all of that. He's getting better and he made some plays for us on the next-to-last possession defensively. When they were trying to run the clock, he blitzed up the middle a couple times and was disruptive and we were able to get the runner for little or no gain. He showed up on a few plays."On Tuesday's trade deadline"I dont think theres anything where the papers are all typed up and ready to be signed, lets put it that way. But who knows what could happen."

Putting Gronkowski deal in context after Washington gives Reed extension

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Putting Gronkowski deal in context after Washington gives Reed extension

Rob Gronkowski's contract with the Patriots continues to look like a relative bargain as tight ends around the league haul in big money on a per-year basis. 

On Thursday, Washington announced that it had come to terms on a long-term contract extension with tight end Jordan Reed. The deal is reportedly worth $50 million over five years, including $22 million guaranteed. 

That's not a bad pay day for a player who has missed 14 games due to injury over the course of his first three seasons. When healthy, he's proven to be one of the most dynamic players at his position -- playing more as an over-sized wide receiver at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds than a true dual-threat tight end -- and now he's being paid as such. 

Reed's new contract allows us an opportunity to take another look at Gronkowski's deal, which has come into focus ever since he sent out a tweet in March that indicated he felt as though he was taking a pay cut when the Patriots picked up an option that would keep him in New England through 2019.

In the tweet, Gronkowski said he doesn't play for the money -- and according to him he hasn't spent a dime of what the Patriots have paid him since entering the league -- but it seemed to be relatively clear that the structure of his contract was on his mind when he took to social media.

Gronkowski signed a six-year, $54 million extension in 2012. By then he had proven how important he was to the Patriots offense, but he had a lengthy injury history going back to his college playing days. At the time, a deal that both paid him at the top of the market and gave him a measure of security was welcomed with open arms.

Now here we are in 2016, and the market has shifted. The salary cap has increased and many teams have opted to pay their tight ends bigger chunks of the pie, sliding Gronkowski down the list of highest-paid players at that position based on average annual value. 

Reed and Seattle's Jimmy Graham ($10 million) now top the list. Kansas City's Travis Kelce ($9.4 million) and Jacksonville's Julius Thomas ($9.2 million) also fall in ahead of Gronkowski.

Considering where those players stack up with Gronkowski in terms of production, the Patriots' All-Pro seems to have every right to furrow his brow when he looks at his contract by comparison. 

It could be a while though before Gronkowski sees any alterations to his income, however. First and foremost, he still had four years remaining on his contract as it's currently constructed. The Patriots front office gambled and won with the deal they gave him four years ago, and barring a holdout, they'd have little incentive to re-work it. 

There's also the matter of where Gronkowski's deal falls in terms of the team's list of priorities. He's at least still paid near the top of the market at his position.

There are several of his teammates -- corners Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and receiver Julian Edelman -- who are either a) about to become free agents after the 2016 or b) could make the argument that they're even more significantly underpaid than Gronkowski. Some fall under both categories. 

As great as Gronkowski has been, and as important as he is to his team's success, he may have to take his place in line when it comes to receiving a deal that more favorably reflects his value. 

Tom Brady, Vanilla Ice look like BFFs at Under Armour event

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Tom Brady, Vanilla Ice look like BFFs at Under Armour event

Watch out Julian Edelman, Wes Welker and Alex Guerrero. Tom Brady just might have a new best friend. 

At an Under Armour event that took place on Wednesday, rapper Vanilla Ice snapped a selfie with the Patriots quarterback, who was grinning from ear to ear. 

In South Baltimore, "Armour Day" was held in order to celebrate Under Armour's 20th year in business. Brady was one of many athletes in attendance, including Jordan Spieth, Lindsey Vonn, Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken, Boomer Esiason and Roger Clemens. 

Brady is one of the faces of Under Armour, along with Spieth and Warriors guard Steph Curry. When he signed in 2010, he received equity in the company as part of the deal. 

Palazzolo: Mitchell ‘flashes really good downfield ball skills’

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Palazzolo: Mitchell ‘flashes really good downfield ball skills’

Fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell is the next in a line of receivers the Patriots have drafted in hopes they’d click with quarterback Tom Brady.

As part of the Quick Slants the podcast draft recap episode, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus told Phil Perry that Mitchell looks to be a fit in the role previously filled by Brandon LaFell and Brandon Lloyd. Palazzolo said Mitchell could serve as a complement to Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett.

“I think that’s where Mitchell fits in. And I think he does a pretty good job there creating separation on the routes the Patriots need him to run,” Palazzolo said. “He flashes some really good downfield ball skills.”

To hear Palazzolo’s analysis on the rest of the Patriots draft picks, use the Sound Cloud player below or search CSNNE on iTunes.