Gaffney hoping WR competition brings out his best

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Gaffney hoping WR competition brings out his best

FOXBORO -- It seemed everywhere you looked Thursday afternoon, there was a target for Tom Brady.

Aaron Hernandez snatched passes out of the air, Rob Gronkowski lumbered down field as he does, Deion Branch toed the sideline, Wes Welker lit up the seam.

And then there was Donte' Stallworth, who still has bursting speed. Brandon Lloyd was even faster.

Jabar Gaffney? He looked brilliant on the receiving end of a 55-yard bomb from Brady.

"I know the competition that we have definitely at the receiver position there's a lot of guys that can play," said Gaffney. "It'll bring the best out of us each and every day, which is what you need to become a better player and a better team."

There are 10 on the current roster. Bill Belichick likely won't keep more than six. Is this a camp equation that equals desperation for a guy like Gaffney?

"There's just a sense of coming out here and doing my job best that I can and everything else will play out. I'm confident in my abilities."

Two things -- or rather, people -- are on his side.

Tom Brady is the first.

"Hes still the same: full of energy, loves to compete, wants to win on every play," Gaffney said. "That helps us out, when you see a quarterback like that who wants to win every play in practice."

After one dropped pass, the pair recovered their chemistry quickly -- something that could help Gaffney secure a roster spot.

Another ally is offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Gaffney's and McDaniels' careers have overlapped both in New England (2006-2008) and in Denver (2009-2010). That they've returned to the Patriots at the same time is nothing but good news.

"Josh is a great coach. He's a guy that players love to play for. He gets us ready to get onto the field and gets us coached up, puts us in position. In my opinion, hes one of the best offensive coordinators out there. And hes a good person.

Funny how old faces could spark a new fire to the receiving corps.

Did Gaffney ever dream he'd come back to New England? Maybe when the Patriots visited Washington.

"I was talking to Brady about it before the game, 'One more game together'" Gaffney joked. "It never really felt like, during that time, it was going to happen, but things worked out and I'm here."

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.