Belichick hints Meriweather's play had slipped

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Belichick hints Meriweather's play had slipped

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Bill Belichick's not going to come out and cite every reason Brandon Meriweather's an ex-Patriot. So he laid off the bad angles, bad tackling, bad off-field decisions and just threw out a general blanket review. "Brandon played a lot of good football for us," Belichick pointed out. "We kept the players this year that we felt would be the best makeup for the 2011 team. It's not the 2009 team. It's the 2011 team. That's the players we selected."Left unsaid but made very clear is that the 2009 version of Meriweather was a far sight better than this one. And that the options the Patriots had to replace Meriweather were good enough to make the move work. "Each year is a new year," Belichick said. "I just don't think you can pick teams, pick your players, based on what's happened in the past. You have to pick them based on what you think is going to happen this year. That's relative to the competition, the makeup of your team, and the player's performance. All those are obviously a part of it."When it comes to the competition, Meriweather didn't have a lot of it. Just Josh Barrett, who hadn't played in a game for the Patriots since being signed while injured in 2010. And Sergio Brown who played 86 plays last season for the Patriots (thanks, Reiss). That Meriweather couldn't beat those guys out is damning. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

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Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?