By Tom E. Curran
Could the Patriots be moving into the top 10 Thursday night? The only first-round trade-ups the Patriots have made during Bill Belichick's tenure were in 2002 (32 to 21 for Daniel Graham) and 2003 (14 to 13 for Ty Warren). But Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports the Patriots have spoken with the Browns regarding the sixth overall pick in the draft. The nugget is way down in an analysis piece by Bedard that advocates the Patriots selecting North Carolina OLB Robert Quinn. Bedard writes: "To get Quinn, the Patriots would have to trade into the top 10. Its an expensive proposition with no rookie salary cap on the horizon, but a possibility."ESPN reported that the Patriots have shown an interest in moving up. A league source said the Patriots have spoken to the Browns about the sixth pick and Quinn would be the likely target, although receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Patrick Peterson cannot be discounted."My take? Due diligence.They are simply finding out the cost to get to No. 6 if the unforeseen happens, like Patrick Peterson, Marcell Dareus or Von Miller dropping that far. Belichick talks often about laying a pre-draft foundation for deals.And this is why.With 10 minutes per pick, New England can't be scrambling to put a deal together with Mike Holmgren in that span while other teams are calling in with their deals as well. So Holmgren has at least an outline from New England saying, "Hey, if we want to get up to No. 6, what's the cost?" If Peterson, for example,is still there as the fifth pick begins, the Patriots call and say, "Our guy might be there at 6, we good with the parameters we discussed?"And if Peterson's STILL there when the Browns go on the clock, the Patriots are well established in what they'll give to get to No. 6. As for the rest of Bedard's piece, he raises a good argument on Quinn, saying the Patriots need a player who can simply get to the quarterback at will and doesn't need blitzes drawn up for him. As far as trading up for Julio Jones, the Alabama wide receiver? Doubtful. He's got a stress fracture in his foot that may need further attention and has been plagued by sports hernias. And the Patriots have yet to take a wide receiver in the first round since Bill Belichick has been here. (I have just increased the likelihood that Julio Jones will be selected by the Patriots in the top 10 with that last paragraph.)
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week.
"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."
Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.
"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."
Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."
"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."
Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.
"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."
FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate.
It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.
"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."
In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.
"I could not care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."
Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.
"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."