Haynesworth: Time for 'sleeping giant' to awake

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Haynesworth: Time for 'sleeping giant' to awake

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO --Albert Haynesworth wasnt happy with his situation inWashington the last two seasons. Thats no secret.

But as Mondays regular-season opener in Miami nears for thePatriots, everyone in the football world is ready to see what Haynesworth willbring to New Englands defensive line this season.

Hes pretty clear on what he wants to do.

I think its time for me, and for the sleeping giant toawake, and to go back out there on the field and play football again, said Haynesworthin front of his locker at Gillette Stadium, prior to Thursdays practice.

A pretty powerful comment, to say the least.

At 6-foot-6, 350 pounds, Haynesworth is a giant. And for thelast two seasons, hes felt like hes been a non-factor.

So to hear him call for the sleeping giant to awake withno sense of comedy attached to it, is quite a statement, just days away fromhis first meaningful game with the Patriots.

Haynesworth said that hes still a little bit rusty andthat he still has some work to do, in order to get where he wants to be. Butthat doesnt mean there hasnt been improvement by the day.

Maybe the fact that hes improving isnt a surprise. Maybeits the fact that the past two seasons havent allowed for many football fansand critics to buy into the fact that hes willing to put in the time to makethose improvements.

On a day in which the Patriots chose six captains for theseason, Haynesworth described his hard work as a product of the familyenvironment in the Patriots locker room.

For two years, I was kind of taken out of football a littlebit, and now Im back in it, and am truly enjoying the game again, and trulyenjoy coming in to practice and coming in to work every day, said Haynesworth.Just to be able to have the chance again to play and to show what I can do, isawesome.

Its not like the last two years, he said. That was alittle different. The captains or whatever were almost above the team inWashington. Here, with Mayo and Vince, you can go up and talk to those guys.

Thats not saying you couldnt do that in D.C., but here,its really like a family in the locker room. Everybodys for you. No matterwhat happens, say that guy does something or whatever, it doesnt matter, wereall behind him. Were not going to pass judgment or anything like that. Itsall about everybody being for you, and everybody having your back.

And when that sleeping giant awakes, it sounds like hesalso going to have theirs.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Putting Gronkowski deal in context after Washington gives Reed extension

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Putting Gronkowski deal in context after Washington gives Reed extension

Rob Gronkowski's contract with the Patriots continues to look like a relative bargain as tight ends around the league haul in big money on a per-year basis. 

On Thursday, Washington announced that it had come to terms on a long-term contract extension with tight end Jordan Reed. The deal is reportedly worth $50 million over five years, including $22 million guaranteed. 

That's not a bad pay day for a player who has missed 14 games due to injury over the course of his first three seasons. When healthy, he's proven to be one of the most dynamic players at his position -- playing more as an over-sized wide receiver at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds than a true dual-threat tight end -- and now he's being paid as such. 

Reed's new contract allows us an opportunity to take another look at Gronkowski's deal, which has come into focus ever since he sent out a tweet in March that indicated he felt as though he was taking a pay cut when the Patriots picked up an option that would keep him in New England through 2019.

In the tweet, Gronkowski said he doesn't play for the money -- and according to him he hasn't spent a dime of what the Patriots have paid him since entering the league -- but it seemed to be relatively clear that the structure of his contract was on his mind when he took to social media.

Gronkowski signed a six-year, $54 million extension in 2012. By then he had proven how important he was to the Patriots offense, but he had a lengthy injury history going back to his college playing days. At the time, a deal that both paid him at the top of the market and gave him a measure of security was welcomed with open arms.

Now here we are in 2016, and the market has shifted. The salary cap has increased and many teams have opted to pay their tight ends bigger chunks of the pie, sliding Gronkowski down the list of highest-paid players at that position based on average annual value. 

Reed and Seattle's Jimmy Graham ($10 million) now top the list. Kansas City's Travis Kelce ($9.4 million) and Jacksonville's Julius Thomas ($9.2 million) also fall in ahead of Gronkowski.

Considering where those players stack up with Gronkowski in terms of production, the Patriots' All-Pro seems to have every right to furrow his brow when he looks at his contract by comparison. 

It could be a while though before Gronkowski sees any alterations to his income, however. First and foremost, he still had four years remaining on his contract as it's currently constructed. The Patriots front office gambled and won with the deal they gave him four years ago, and barring a holdout, they'd have little incentive to re-work it. 

There's also the matter of where Gronkowski's deal falls in terms of the team's list of priorities. He's at least still paid near the top of the market at his position.

There are several of his teammates -- corners Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and receiver Julian Edelman -- who are either a) about to become free agents after the 2016 or b) could make the argument that they're even more significantly underpaid than Gronkowski. Some fall under both categories. 

As great as Gronkowski has been, and as important as he is to his team's success, he may have to take his place in line when it comes to receiving a deal that more favorably reflects his value. 

Tom Brady, Vanilla Ice look like BFFs at Under Armour event

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Tom Brady, Vanilla Ice look like BFFs at Under Armour event

Watch out Julian Edelman, Wes Welker and Alex Guerrero. Tom Brady just might have a new best friend. 

At an Under Armour event that took place on Wednesday, rapper Vanilla Ice snapped a selfie with the Patriots quarterback, who was grinning from ear to ear. 

In South Baltimore, "Armour Day" was held in order to celebrate Under Armour's 20th year in business. Brady was one of many athletes in attendance, including Jordan Spieth, Lindsey Vonn, Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken, Boomer Esiason and Roger Clemens. 

Brady is one of the faces of Under Armour, along with Spieth and Warriors guard Steph Curry. When he signed in 2010, he received equity in the company as part of the deal. 

Palazzolo: Mitchell ‘flashes really good downfield ball skills’

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Palazzolo: Mitchell ‘flashes really good downfield ball skills’

Fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell is the next in a line of receivers the Patriots have drafted in hopes they’d click with quarterback Tom Brady.

As part of the Quick Slants the podcast draft recap episode, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus told Phil Perry that Mitchell looks to be a fit in the role previously filled by Brandon LaFell and Brandon Lloyd. Palazzolo said Mitchell could serve as a complement to Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett.

“I think that’s where Mitchell fits in. And I think he does a pretty good job there creating separation on the routes the Patriots need him to run,” Palazzolo said. “He flashes some really good downfield ball skills.”

To hear Palazzolo’s analysis on the rest of the Patriots draft picks, use the Sound Cloud player below or search CSNNE on iTunes.