Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

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Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - It couldn't have been fun for the three Patriots offensive linemen. From the DFW Airport to the downtown Dallas Convention Center, billboards praising the Steelers and Packers for their Super Bowl appearance were impossible to miss. And here were Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir on Thursday picking up an award from an acid reflux company for being named the best offensive line in the NFL.
Koppen had no plans to even sample the Super Bowl scene. He came down Wednesday night and will leave Thursday night. His wife is expecting their second son in three weeks. "We definitely would have liked to be here under different circumstances, but that's the way it works. That's the NFL," said Koppen. "We didn't earn our spot to be here. We'll just have to deal with that and learn from it and get better. It's bittersweet."Koppen hasn't yet watched the tape of that Divisional Playoff loss to the Jets but said, "I might have to watch it just to put it to rest."Asked if it's agitating to know the Patriots lost because of inefficiency rather than being overmatched, Koppen said, "We got to go out there and play the game on Sunday regardless of what we did in the past or the regular season. Come playoff time it's one and done, and we weren't the best team on the field that day and we have to deal with that." The Patriots offensive line could be in flux. Stephen Neal's annual shoulder injury came again. Matt Light's a free agent. Logan Mankins is unhappy he has no new deal and will probably be franchised. "I don't get paid to make decisions," said Koppen when asked about the possible transition on the left side of the line. "Matt's been a great player for us for a long time and I hope he continues to be a great player for us. I think he's a Patriots type of player. With Logan's deal, it's not unheard of. There's a lot of movement, coaches, players (note: I have no idea what he means there; just dropping words, apparently), but those are two guys we'd like to have."The looming battle between owners and players has Koppen's attention. "It's concerning," he admitted. "This is what we do. That being said, there are certain things theNFL wants and certain things the players want." As for the chore of keeping in shape if labor strife drags, Koppen said players normally take a month off and then start training on their own. "With whatever happens with that, if you're a professional athlete you need to be able to handle it by yourself," he said.

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

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.