Collinsworth: 'Mr. Kraft, take the lead'

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Collinsworth: 'Mr. Kraft, take the lead'

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Cris Collinsworth, the leading Chicken Little in terms of prognosticating labor peace, sounded a clarion call Tuesday for Patriots' owner Robert Kraft to grab the reins in negotiations with the players. Using Kraft's Saturday remarks at Gillette Stadium as a springboard, Collinsworth -- an analyst on NBC's Sunday Night Football -- wrote a blog entry entitled "Robert Kraft: We Need You!"The fact that Kraft signaled concern for the aggravation level of fans is what caught Collinsworths's attention. The former Bengals great wrote, "Now is when we need rational men like Robert Kraft to step forward. Mr. Kraft was a fan long before he became an owner. He is a terrific family man who can see the same view of this process that we are all watching. Please Mr. Kraft take the lead. There are other owners who will be pushing various agendas, but as a player, I would trust Robert Kraft to make a fair deal. I really would. So far Mr. Kraft has not been willing to take the lead, probably because the Hawks always get the most attention. But Kraft is liked and respected by almost everyone in the NFL. He is tough but fair. The players would listen to him. Tom Brady could be the point man. Lawyers be gone. There is a deal to be made, and the time is now. Please Mr. Kraft, take the lead."This isn't exactly a novel concept. Mike Vrabel espoused Kraft, Jerry Richardson and Jerry Jones summiting with a few key players and kicking the lawyers out of the room to get things done. Hasn't happened. But Collinsworth is right; Kraft is not interested in seeing the players left bleeding on the ground. He's not of a mind to "break" them. And I can give you one anecdote why not. Last month, when a breakaway group of players began insisting it be involved in the labor wrangling, Vrabel said that the members of the NFLPA executive committee and its director, DeMaurice Smith, had things under control. Only thing was, the NFLPA had decertified. So Vrabel's articulating that seemed a costly faux pas. I saw Kraft that day at Gillette Stadium and asked -- in essence --if Vrabel's statement would be used as a sword by owners. Kraft waved his hand dismissively, returning to his oft-stated belief that rancor and litigation isn't going to get it done nor will chasing moths like the statement Vrabel made. Kraft does need to take a more forward role. The problem is, while the players may want to see that happen, there are so many agendas among the owners, it may be just too damn hard for them to send out one lone voice to speak for all of them.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

PHOENIX -- The Patriots pulled off what many considered a surprise free-agent signing when they acquired corner Stephon Gilmore. As it turns out, before they picked up the former Bills cover man, they inquried about a separate move that would have been even more eye-opening. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, ahead of coming to a deal with Gilmore, the Patriots were among the teams that spoke to the Seahawks about a potential trade for Richard Sherman.

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During the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that multiple teams have contacted the Seahawks about Sherman. But, Carroll said, "I don't see anything happening at all."

Sherman, who turns 29 next season, will make $11.431 million for 2017. He's due $11 million in the final year of his contract in 2018.