Curran: Brady's arrival shouldn't trump other Pats


Curran: Brady's arrival shouldn't trump other Pats

By Tom E. Curran

Last year, there was all manner of hand-wringing about Tom Brady's offseason regimen which included barely an appearance in Foxboro. "The parking space!" "The contract!" "Giselle!" "Hollywood!" "Buildinga2-million square foot mansionwallpapered withrecycled Keno slips!""Soft!"Even owner Robert Kraft said he'd have preferred his quarterback be in Foxboro than everywhere else his quarterback was. Brady finally blew into town when it fit his schedule. He carried a no bullcrap agenda. He reamed rookies who ran wrong routes. He dropped F-bombs with impunity. Then, when the season started, he led the Patriots to a 14-2 record, threw 36 touchdowns and four picks on an offense populated with virtualunknowns. Then he was named NFL MVP. Unanimously. Oh, they lost to the Jets in the playoffs? If anyone wants to say with a straight face that happened because Brady was in Cannes doing his nails on a veranda in May, they forfeit the right to have their opinion valued. What he did with his time then didn't matter. And what he's done this offseason - when he's seemed softer than a butterfly's sigh - won't matter too much either. What is worth remarking upon, though, is the swinging Richard manner in which Bradysweeps into town this week and grabs the reins of the offseason workouts. As if now the 12 to 15 guys who've been working out in Foxboro since early March and catching passes from Brian Hoyer can really get some work in now with Brady in town. He's the franchise quarterback, the best player in the league and a mega-celebrity. I get it. And a lot more players are taking part now because of this concentrated gathering. But it is an insult to the players who have been working en masse since March to pass along the notion that the work began Wednesday at Alumni Stadium. Maybe it's an insult initiated and then perpetuated by the media. I know that our joint went "all hands on deck" when we heard Brady was in town. But it will be interesting to see if Brady promotes this presumption by not being at least a little deferential when he speaks Friday at Harvard Stadium at his charity flag football event. Brady is a great worker. He is a great teammate. But it will be a sad development if no mention is made of the work Mayo and Co have put in to build the 2011 Patriots. It will be a sign thatthe self-awareness that makes Brady special is finally slipping.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015


Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy


Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'


PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.