Ties bind a few Ravens to New England

833581.jpg

Ties bind a few Ravens to New England

FOXBORO - The Patriots and Ravens play so often, there are few secrets between the two teams.

And with James Ihedigbo, Arthur Jones and Corey Graham, there are probably even fewer than normal.

Jones, a Ravens defensive lineman, is the older brother of Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. Ihedigbo, a safety and special-teamer for Baltimore, was with the Patriots last season and played a key role and spent time with the Patriots in camp.

Graham, a corner, is a Buffalo native who went to UNH. All have friends and family who may have split allegiances this week when the Ravens and Patriots play in the AFC Championship game, but the Brothers Jones, of course, have the closest binding ties.
Jon "Bones" Jones, the famed UFC fighter, will be at the game Saturday, according to Arthur Jones. Also "a couple of cousins and a bunch of friends."

Arthur's hoping to see Ravens hats on as many members of the entourage as possible, he told Ravens media Wednesday.

Arthur Jones said he talked to Chandler Tuesday, two days after he tweaked an ankle in Sunday's Patriots win.

"Weve been going back and forth talking crap," said Arthur. "Really, I have been just seeing how hes doing. I know he got rolled up bad last week, so I was trying to figure out if he was going to play or not and get the inside scoop. But hes doing a good job not telling me anything. Hes not telling me anything, but I think he is going to be out there. Hes a hard-worker. I know hes getting treatment on it hard.

Ihedigbo, meanwhile, is staunchly a member of the Ravens now.

"Its exactly where its supposed to be," he said. "Im here as a Raven. I love being here, Im proud to be here and Im proud to go out with these guys and fight for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.

Released by the Patriots on August 31, he signed with Baltimore on September 2. He played in all 13 games for the Ravens, starting three. But he's not sure he can give much inside knowhow about New England's inner-workings.

I dont know if it helps at all," Ihedigbo said when asked about what advantage he can provide. Teams change every year, but one thing we know is Tom Brady is a phenomenal quarterback. He does a great job with that offense in terms of getting those guys the ball, and thats really our focus on defense. We have our hands full.

Ihedigbo defers to the coaches when discussing the things Brady does well.

"A lot of coaches who are coaching here have gone against him a lot longer than Ive been in the league six years," Ihedigbo pointed out. "So, I dont know how much intel I can give into that. But, everyone knows Tom Brady and the kind of quarterback he is and the things he can do with that offense.

Ihedigbo also noted that "Life Without Gronk" is not going to mean a day off for the Ravens defenders.

"They do a lot of the same things (whether Gronkowski is available or not. "Gronk is a phenomenal player he had a tough injury, so he wont be playing but besides that, in terms of that offense, theyll do what they do. Their offense is explosive, they get the ball going downfield, they move at a high pace and they score touchdowns. Our job is to stop them.

Graham notes that, "All of my roommates were big-time New England Patriot fans in college, and all of my friends still to this day are die-hard Patriots fans and Red Sox fans. It is a big game for me, obviously. I went to college New Hampshire in that area. I was up there all of the time. I know what it is like. They have die-hard fans out there. Obviously, you dont want to lose against the Patriots, especially when all of my friends are going to be out there probably with a Patriot jerseys on. Its going to be a little different his week, but no matter who you are playing, you want to go out there and win. This is for all of the marbles to get to the Super Bowl, so this is ever bigger.

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.