Brady sympathizes with Colts...to a point

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Brady sympathizes with Colts...to a point

FOXBORO - The first two questions posed to Tom Brady on Wednesday were tailor-made for odes to Peyton.

Brady passed.

"Hopefully he'll be out there to say hi," was Brady's response to whether he'll miss Manning. His response when asked if the league misses the injured Colts quarterback was even more succinct: "I don't know."

What Brady does know -- and what he labored to make clear -- was that the winless Colts are dangerous. Dangerous despite scoring the second-fewest points in the league (150) and allowing the most (327).

"I think they've got some players that can really play," said Brady. "They've got Dwight Freeney. I wish he was out this week. He's a phenomenal player. If I could be a defensive guy I'd be like him. And Robert Mathis on the other side, those are guys who can really wreak havoc. Coach said this morning, Freeney's got like 99 career sacks and 43 forced fumbles. Almost half the time he sacks you he strips the ball."

Nicenumbers. But the breathless acts oforal persuasion aren't that effective no matter how earnest the Patriots want to make them.

The Colts are awful and they have no shot at winning. And, if they do win -- by some strange confluence of circumstances -- Bill Belichick will pop a vesselbecause good teams don't lose to 0-11 teams.

Although the one great late-seasonupset I remember during Belichick's tenurewas the Patriots 29-28 loss at Miami in 2004. The Patriots were 12-1 and the Dolphins 2-11 for that December 20 loss. And the Patriots still went on to win the Super Bowl.

But that is the kind of memory that Belichick and Brady can cultivate this week. They can also remind everyone how hard it is to be a successful NFL team.

"I think sometimes we take for granted here because(of our success)but it's hard to win an NFL game," said Brady. "Every team has talent. Every team can only spend to the cap . . . It's hard to win games. It really is. You never want to see a team have that kind of season because you know how miserable we are when we lose two in a row. At the same time, our job is to go out there and perform as well as we can against them this week."

In other words, sorry about this but, here is loss No. 12, Colts. Better luck next year. Against everybody but us.

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.