Report: Pats speak to Browns about moving up

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Report: Pats speak to Browns about moving up

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Could the Patriots be moving into the top 10 Thursday night? The only first-round trade-ups the Patriots have made during Bill Belichick's tenure were in 2002 (32 to 21 for Daniel Graham) and 2003 (14 to 13 for Ty Warren). But Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports the Patriots have spoken with the Browns regarding the sixth overall pick in the draft. The nugget is way down in an analysis piece by Bedard that advocates the Patriots selecting North Carolina OLB Robert Quinn. Bedard writes: "To get Quinn, the Patriots would have to trade into the top 10. Its an expensive proposition with no rookie salary cap on the horizon, but a possibility."ESPN reported that the Patriots have shown an interest in moving up. A league source said the Patriots have spoken to the Browns about the sixth pick and Quinn would be the likely target, although receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Patrick Peterson cannot be discounted."My take? Due diligence.They are simply finding out the cost to get to No. 6 if the unforeseen happens, like Patrick Peterson, Marcell Dareus or Von Miller dropping that far. Belichick talks often about laying a pre-draft foundation for deals.And this is why.With 10 minutes per pick, New England can't be scrambling to put a deal together with Mike Holmgren in that span while other teams are calling in with their deals as well. So Holmgren has at least an outline from New England saying, "Hey, if we want to get up to No. 6, what's the cost?" If Peterson, for example,is still there as the fifth pick begins, the Patriots call and say, "Our guy might be there at 6, we good with the parameters we discussed?"And if Peterson's STILL there when the Browns go on the clock, the Patriots are well established in what they'll give to get to No. 6. As for the rest of Bedard's piece, he raises a good argument on Quinn, saying the Patriots need a player who can simply get to the quarterback at will and doesn't need blitzes drawn up for him. As far as trading up for Julio Jones, the Alabama wide receiver? Doubtful. He's got a stress fracture in his foot that may need further attention and has been plagued by sports hernias. And the Patriots have yet to take a wide receiver in the first round since Bill Belichick has been here. (I have just increased the likelihood that Julio Jones will be selected by the Patriots in the top 10 with that last paragraph.)

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

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

FOXBORO -- Toward the end of Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium, Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown from Tom Brady in the back corner of the end zone despite close coverage from corner Malcolm Butler. Cooks reached behind him, as if he was pulling an invisible arrow from an invisible quiver on his back, starting what was once his signature touchdown celebration. 

But he stopped there. 

"I didn't want to shoot it," he said with a smile after the workout. "Just having fun out there with the guys, competing every day. That's what it's all about."

Cooks may have to continue showing restraint during the regular season when it comes to his post-touchdown choices. Even though the NFL has eased off of the penalties for certain celebrations, Cooks still probably won't be shooting any arrows in 2017.

"No, I'm gonna be respectful," he said. "If it's a penalty, it's a penalty. I'm not going to do anything to hurt the team . . . I think it still will be [a penalty]."

Cooks was not able to execute his preferred celebration after it was made clear last season that imitating archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for his bow-and-arrow act. 

There is a biblical origin story to Cooks' celebration, he told the New Orleans Advocate last year. 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks said, referring to Psalms 144:6. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

He added: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

After the NFL announced that it was relaxing its policy on penalizing celebrations, Cooks tweeted "#shootyourarrows" four times with several bow-and-arrow emojis. But just a few days later, he appeared resigned to keeping his celebration in moth balls so that his team wouldn't be penalized for an act that the league might deem "threatening." He wasn't thrilled.

"It's for God," he said, "so if that's threatening, then I think we've got a problem."