By Tom E. Curran
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
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.
At this point, there may be no getting out of it.
Roger Goodell chose to visit Atlanta twice in as many weeks during its run to a Super Bowl, and in the process he opted not to check in at Gillette Stadium for either the Divisional Round or the AFC title game. But once the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, many felt as though Goodell would simply have no choice but to attend the 2017 regular-season opener in Foxboro.
There are those who are itching to have him visit. There are those who hope he stays away. In an interview with ESPN, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't put himself in either camp, but he seemed to suggest that it might not be the best idea for the commissioner to show his face in New England.
"To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so," Gronkowski said when asked if Goodell could come back to Foxboro any time soon. "The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."
Goodell hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate, but he said during Super Bowl week that he'd be happy to visit if he was invited.