Patriots captains send thanks to U.S. Army Captain

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Patriots captains send thanks to U.S. Army Captain

U.S. Army Captain Nassar G. Jabour Jr.'s homecoming party wasn't a surprise. He was thrilled but ready to see over 60 of his friends and relatives gathered at a downtown Lawrence pub to celebrate his safe return from Afghanistan.

Still, the group did get one big surprise over on the "diehard" Patriots fan.

Tom Brady, Jerod Mayo, and Vince Wilfork all expressed thanks and well wishes to Jabour via a video assembled by Patriots PR. And everyone at the bar got to see it.

"Never in a million years could I have expected that. I expected the party, but I couldn't ask for anything more," he told the Eagle-Tribune.

"My parents are awesome! They are so great. And now I got that (the video) for the rest of my life."

The team's response was to a letter sent by Jabour's mother, Michele N. Struffolino.

Struffolino briefed the Patriots on her son's nine years of service in the Army, including his years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.While she said her son dedicated his life to serving his country, she also stressed her son's commitment to being a future Pats season ticket holder. He put his name on the Pats waiting list seven years ago.While Jabour was in Afghanistan, his contact with family over the Internet during the football season usually involved "calming and enjoyable conversations (about the Patriots) in the midst of stress," Struffolino said.

The letter was sent in May. Two months later Struffolino was able to give her son the video, an autographed photo of Brady, and a letter from Patriots VP of media relations Stacey James describing the DVD.

"three of our captains extending thanks to your captain."

You can read more about Jabour's special night here.

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

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Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?