Patriots try out six players, one tweets he's joined 49ers

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Patriots try out six players, one tweets he's joined 49ers

The Patriots continue to feel out the available talent on the market, trying out six players on Sunday.

New England tried out Chandler Fenner, defensive back Holy Cross; Jerry Franklin, linebacker Arkansas; Buddy Jackson, defensive back Pittsburgh; Ricardo Lockette, wide receiver Ft. Valley St.; Tyler Nielsen, linebacker Iowa; JK Schaffer, linebacker Cincinnati.

Lockette, a wide receiver, had a minimal role on the Seahawks last season before being cut by the team prior to this season. He tweeted Monday evening, "Boarding my flight I will miss seattle so much but I very honored and proud to be an ....." The Pats tryout, coupled with the timing of Lockette's Tweet could have meant he was on his way to New England. On top of that, Albany Herald reports that Seahawks wideout Golden Tate tweeted last night (and then deleted) "good luck lock, until u play us". The Pats and Seahawks play on October 14. BUT . . . Lockette just tweeted, "I am the newest member of the 49ers". So, that's that.

Fenner, a free agent rookie, was a final cutdown day casualty of the Kansas City Chiefs this year. He spent four years at Holy Cross, starting the final two seasons. He finished with 68 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass breakups in his senior year. He was also a member of the Holy Cross Track and Field team, specializing in sprints and jumps.

Franklin was undrafted, but signed by the Broncos as an rookie free agent. He was later released on the team's final cutdown day. Franklin finished his four-year career with 51 games played, 369 tackles (31 for loss), 10 sacks, and five interceptions. Franklin was the team's leading tackler last season, and played on the same defense as Patriots DE Jake Bequette.

Jackson was signed by the Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent and looked to be doing well, but was later waived by the team in August. It looks like an undisclosed injury was the reason. Jackson has some speed and according to Rob Rang of nfldraftscout.com used it to impress scouts along with his leaping ability. Jackson was primarily a special teamer (kick returner) at Pittsburgh but got time at corner in his senior year, finishing with 34 tackles.

Nielsen was signed and then released by the Vikings when they trimmed their roster to 75 players. Nielsen is a player that NFL Network's Mike Mayock was particularly high on as a sleeper linebacker. Here's what Mayock said: "Nielsen is very undervalued. He played through some injuries this year. If you didnt know that, you might not like him. But I think hes one of the better special teams players in this draft who ultimately might be a starting SAM (strong side) backer in this league. And I think youll be able to get him somewhere around the fifth round.

Schaffer was cut by the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie on the final day of roster cutdowns. He was later signed days later by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the practice squad but released on September 18. Schaffer was not only Cincinnati's best tackler, but was the Big East Conference active leader in tackles, recording 100 or more tackles in three straight seasons.

(Jimmy Toscano contributed to this report)

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."

Does Butler want to be with Patriots beyond 2017? 'Whatever happens, happens'

Does Butler want to be with Patriots beyond 2017? 'Whatever happens, happens'

FOXBORO -- Malcolm Butler came off of the Gillette Stadium practice field to a gaggle of reporters who had been interested in speaking to him all offseason. There had been speculation not too long ago that he'd be traded. There was speculation he might sign elsewhere as a restrcited free agent.

What he would say on those topics might prove to be informative. People were eager to hear from him. But it was what he didn't say that may have been the most interesting part of his first back-and-forth with reporters since Super Bowl LI.

In the rain, in front of a dozen or more microphones, following his team's third organized team activity practice, Butler was asked if he would like to be in New England beyond the 2017 season, the final year of his contract. 

"Can't predict the future," he said. "Whatever happens, happens."

Butler was given several opportunities to say that he'd like to stick with the Patriots for the long term, but he was non-committal. Though his presence on the roster for this season gives the Patriots a supremely talented cornerback duo, the fact that the team gave Stephon Gilmore a lucrative long-term contract this offseason makes Butler's long-term future in New England a bit hazy.

Playing for a restricted free agent tender worth $3.91 million, Butler was asked if it was difficult to separate the business side of things from his on-field performance.

"Not really," he insisted. "Just gotta come here and just play football. You gotta earn everything you want. Gotta come here, work hard each and every day. Nobody's gonna give you nothing."

He added: "Just gotta keep working. Ignore the noise, and just keep working. No matter what. You got a job to do no matter where you're at. Glad to be here to do this job."

Butler received significant interest from the Saints during the offseason, and he made a trip to New Orleans to visit the organization's facilities there. Unwilling to provide Butler with a big-money contract offer and turn over their first-round pick to the Patriots, the Saints decided to cease in their pursuit of the 27-year-old Super Bowl XLIX hero. 

Butler said he didn't wasn't always sure he was going to be in New England for 2017.

"You never know what's gonna happen, I was just sitting back patiently waiting," he explained. "Just doing what I can do, control only what I can control. I'm here now and that's what it is."

That Butler has been at Patriots workouts and OTA practices since signing his tender is an indication that he's ready to throw himself into the upcoming season with his sights set on performing as well as possible in order to put himself in the best position possible when he's scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the year. 

"Wasn't gonna hurt nobody but myself if I missed this," he admitted. "This is extra time to get better, and that's what I'm out here to do. To get better and have another great year. Anything to help the team. Present a positive image."