Branch tested market during free agency

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Branch tested market during free agency

FOXBORO -- Deion Branch did not deny he spoke with other teams during 2012's free agency period. Not that it mattered in the end.

"The conversation was there," he said after Tuesday's OTA session. "I think everyone knew exactly what was what. This is where I want to be, this is where I want to retire. Coach Belichick and I, and his staff, the organization, made sure we tried to head in that direction."

Branch is one of 10 receivers currently on the roster. He does have at least one advantage over the rest: an enviable connection with quarterback Tom Brady, built on six seasons with the Patriots.

But Branch assumes nothing. The 32-year old knows he'll have to step into the ring with the rest and is content to do so.

"Always -- and I wouldn't want it no other way. I'm here to compete; show the coaches why I'm here; why they have me on this team. That's my job is to go out and compete and try to help my team.

"I think competition is always good," Branch said. "There's so much in and out and a lot of exchanging that goes on throughout this business. You never know until it's done, until the entire roster is set. The guys here, we're all cool. We're all here for one thing and that's to win."

New England's top-gear attitude has been reflected in every player who's met with the media since April 16; they're all happily beaten up. Of the OTA's, Branch described strength coach Harold Nash's workouts as "crazy," and laughed to say Nash is "killing" him.

All part of the fun. Branch stressed how important team-building and camaraderie are during these early workouts. Just as much as earning the exhaustion.

"It's fun. You really get to see the guys who really love the game, who love to be around each other.

"After a while, after four, five, six months of it we get tired of each other," Branch joked. "But at the beginning phase it's always good to see who's here, who's excited about the upcoming season.You see the urge that the guys have and I think we're all looking forward to the season."

Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

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Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

Three NFL owners have expressed “extreme disappointment” in Robert Kraft and the Patriots filing an amicus brief on behalf of Tom Brady in the quarterback’s appeal of the Second Circuit Court’s reinstatement of his Deflategate suspension, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. 

The Patriots filed the brief on Wednesday. 

The owners see the move as a publicity stunt done to appease Brady and the Patriots fans, Cole said, and they don’t believe Kraft did it any seriousness because the issue speaks to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to punish players and undermines the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players.

If Kraft thought it mattered, he wouldn't have done it, Cole said one owner told him. 
 

Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

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Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

FOXBORO – A fleet of Patriots have expiring contracts after this season but Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are the two most prominent on that list.

With the sport being the way it is – a nearly 100-percent casualty rate every season – it’s never comfortable for a player to enter a contract year without knowing his long-term future. And it’s especially uncomfortable for players whose first contracts are expiring because the second NFL contract is usually the bonanza.

Both Hightower and Collins can entertain thoughts of contracts worth more than $50M if good fortune sticks with them.

The question as it pertains to both of these players is whether they get contract extensions this summer or whether they go into the year with contract pressure bearing down and ultimately become free agents.

Neither player was very forthcoming after their OTA practice Thursday.

With Collins, that’s often the case. He’s never been expansive with media. It was very uncharacteristic for Hightower to be so clipped in his answers, though.

Every question posed to Hightower was met with a variation of, “I’m just trying to get better.”

Asked about his contract, Hightower replied, “I ain’t got nothing to do with none of that. I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

When it was pointed out that Hightower does indeed have say on his contract, he answered, “That might be. But there’s a time and place for everything and I’m just out here trying to get better.

“If I get better I feel like that’ll take care of everything else,” he added. “If I get better each and every day that’s all I can ask for.”

Asked whether he’s at all focused on his deal, Collins replied, “No, I come out here and I handle my business and I let the rest speak for itself … My first priority is me. So I’m gonna handle me."