Pats have whirlwind schedule if July 21 deal done

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Pats have whirlwind schedule if July 21 deal done

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
If, as ESPN reported on Monday, the target date to get the new CBA ratified is July 21, that means the Patriots have just 21 days before they're on the field against the Jaguars in their preseason opener. That, obviously, could change. And probably will. But working off that assumption and the accompanying timeline for team construction that accompanied the report, let's look at what the Patriots will have to do by the approximate dates. JULY 21: Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.The second portion of the sentence is most important. It allows veterans and rookies to report for what would probably be physicals, classwork, conditioning and logisitical work (living arrangements for rookies) in a mini-camp setting. If actual training camp opened, rookies would not be able to report without contracts. The "educate the clubs" aspect would be a seminar for personnel man Nick Caserio, contract guy Floyd Reese, overlord Bill Belichick and others to figure out the lay of the land business-wise. One has to figure Belichick has been kept abreast of things by Robert Kraft in terms of what he'll be looking at in regards to salary caps, rookie scales, etc. JULY 25: Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams.Do the Patriots covet BC's Mark Herzlich, the Cam Newton of undrafted free agents? Will Matt Light be re-upped? (My guess is yes; he's been working out at Camp Mayo during the lockout.) Is Kevin Faulk coming back? This is when the window opens for the Patriots to make these moves. JULY 28: League year starts and free agency begins. The feeding frenzy begins. The 500 or so unrestricted free agents (my guess is it will be any player with four years of service and an expired contract) hit the market and the shopping that's been delayed nearly five months launches. Do the Patriots make a run at Matt Roth? Nnamdi Asomugha? Malcom Floyd? An outlier to be named? The action will be furious and -- because of the compressed schedule -- coast-to-coast tours will not be the norm. This will also be the period in which teams can try to pry restricted free agents from teams with offer sheets. Of course, with the preseason set to open for New England on August 11, will they be interested in diving deep into the pool of UFAs? Will they get bang for the buck from these players who have limited time to learn the system? The 2011 UFA class really gets screwed royally here. AUGUST 2: Rosters must be set at 90 players.The Patriots currently have 74 players under their control according to the estimable Miguel Benzan who does the Patriots salary cap page on Patsfans.com. That includes restricted free agents and Logan Mankins who's been franchised. When business reopens, some players are going to be thrown overboard (Nick Kaczur is a candidate with his estimated 4.3 million cap hit); others will be collected. AUGUST 3: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the team's highest-profile RFA. He could be the quarry for some team interested in bolstering their running game but it's hard to see much happening on this front whether it be coming or going. AUGUST 7: A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.This is usually a 10-day window for teams to decide whether they want to ante up to keep a guy. If you consider that -- if the schedule holds -- the preseason opener is just four days away from this date you can see the practical difficulty of bringing a guy in to learn a program on the fly. AUGUST 12: Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).The whole rookie wage scale thing is apparently the speed bump that can't be cleared in negotiations. For instance, if they don't sign by August 12, then what? What are the penalties? Either way, you have to figure the angular Coloradoan (Colorado-ite, Colorado-idian?) Nate Solder will be firmly ensconced in camp before then. Just a vibe I get. AUGUST 16: Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.This would be the deadline for Dr. Mankins, Dr. Logan Mankins to report to surgery. AUGUST 29: Deadline for players to report to earn credit for an accrued season toward free agency.This appears to be the no-holdout law that the owners are trying to push to prevent instances like what Mankins did last year, bailing on the early part of the season while irritated about being an RFA and then showing up in time to get credit for 2010. So there it is. All the dates you need to know and how the local entrant is affected. Odds of it all changing? One hundred percent. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

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Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

After being cut from the Detriot Lions last week, Stevan Ridely has signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

The running back played for the Patriots for four seasons (2011-2014), averaging 4.3 yards per carry while scoring 22 touchdowns in 52 games. He only played in six game in his final year with New England as a result of a torn ACL and MCL.

Ridley played for the AFC-East rival New York Jets in 2015 with a limited role in the nine games he played.

 

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

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Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.

This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.

There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.

Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.

“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”

Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.

Enter the Barkevious.

He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.

"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."

As is the risk of having a player scooped.

“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other [31] teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.

“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”

Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

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Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.

"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."

Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year. 

Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past. 

"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.

"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."

Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.