Curran: In retrospect, Pats blew call on Seymour


Curran: In retrospect, Pats blew call on Seymour

By Tom E. Curran
Raiders coach Hue Jackson recently took a tiny victory lap over the Richard Seymour deal. During a radio interview, Jackson pooh-poohed the fact Oakland didn't have a first-round pick in 2011 by saying, "A lot of people say we didnt have a first-round draft pick, but we really felt like we did because obviously we got to retain the services of Richard Seymour, who we traded for and we felt we had the best first round draft pick in the draft. I feel very good about him and where hes headed."On September 6, 2009, the Patriots shipped Seymour to Oakland for the Raiders 2011 first-round pick. Since then, the Raiders have gotten two years of excellent production from Seymour. The Patriots now have Nate Solder. So the Raiders feel good about the deal and they should. They'veimproved from being the abject mess they were at the start of 2010 when Seymour was shipped out there. They were an upward-trending 5-11 in 2010 then went 8-8 in 2011, crushing the hopes Patriots loyalists harbored of New England getting a top-five pick for Seymour. Seymour's played at a Pro Bowl level for Oakland. Additionally, his professionalism has been credited with lifting the standards of his teammates. And for two years, the Patriots have missed the hell out of him. Let's get the qualifiers out of the way right now - the Patriots' hands were restrained financially because Seymour and Vince Wilfork both had contracts expiring after the 2010 season. They weren't willing to do massive deals for both players and could only slap the franchise tag on one of them after 2010 to restrict his movement. So they chose to move Seymour rather than risk getting nothing for him afterhe left in free agency. They've been able to re-signWilfork and TomBrady since Seymour left.And now they have Solder to take over for Matt Light and be a competent NFL tackle until about 2021 (whoa!). Seymour's performance level in Oakland exceeds what he didfor the Patriots in his final years here. Achange of venuemay have jump-started his career and rekindled his love for the game because, as dominant as he is, he wasn't dominating for the Patriots with consistency. The business side of football in New England wore him down. He just didn't understand why it had to be so complicated, why guys had to - as he believed - crawl to get paid. He made that clear to me many times. He didn't like the way he was treated. He didn't like the way teammates were treated. So, yes, it may have been a necessary divorce. And yes,the Patriots did get compensation for him. And that first-round compensation has been, as an astute poster on noted, like the Richard Seymour Annuitythat gives the Patriots huge latitude to make deals going forward. And the Patriots have been able to sign players while Seymour's now working under a new two-year deal worth 30 million (22 million guaranteed) after making 12.4 million last year. But the football thing? Simply put, the Patriots have been missing what the Raiders have been enjoying. The lack of consistent pressure generated by the Patriots defensive front, the need to move Wilfork all over the defensive line including the spot formerly occupied by Seymour, the absurd third-down conversion rates, the reliance on a fleet of young players drafted late to man the defensive line, it all makes you wonder how much better the Patriots would have been if they just dug deep and kept "Big Sey 93". Nate Solder may end up being a wonderful left tackle. But the two-season gap between when he'll likely start contributing and the exportation of Seymour is never going to be erased. Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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


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.