Sanders has been a 'stabilizing force' for Falcons

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Sanders has been a 'stabilizing force' for Falcons

INDIANAPOLIS - I wonder if James Sanders fits in the Patriots "we'd like to have that one back" category.

Released last August by the Patriots, was missed. Now, if people want to shrug and say "alls well that ends well" that's fine.

The Patriots made the Super Bowl and were the No. 1 seed in the AFC. What was the price exacted by not having Sanders at the back of their defense? So what if the Patriots cycled through a long line of try-hard guys who were pretty bad at times? They still had a very good 2011.

The fact Sanders was carrying a 2.8 million salary and had been limited through camp (just four practices) must have made it seem OK for the Patriots to decide Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown were the answers. They weren't and it took a while before James Ihedigbo did emerge as the capable successor to Sanders. The Falcons grabbed Sanders and on Saturday at the NFL Combine, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said Sanders was "a very good addition."

"We got him late, he was a guy who joined our football team right before the season started, so there was an acclimation period but when he got the opportunity to play, he played well," said Smith. "He was a stabilizing factor in our secondary. I really like his makeup, his skill set as a guy that can play strong and free safety."

Sanders, just 28, goes about his business very professionally. He's no superstar but he's steady.

And the Patriots still have question marks at the safety spot next to Patrick Chung. Ihedigbo is a free agent, Barrett's coming back from injury and Brown is a core special teamer but the Pats don't seem to have much faith in him on their regular defense.

What the Patriots do this offseason at that strong safety spot may be the best indication of whether they do regret letting go of Sanders.

Bruins don't extend qualifying offer to Joe Morrow

Bruins don't extend qualifying offer to Joe Morrow

With free agency just around the corner, the Bruins have officially cut ties with former first-round pick and last bastion of the Tyler Seguin trade, Joe Morrow.

The 24-year-old Edmonton native arrived in Boston along with Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser in exchange for Seguin when he was shipped to Dallas, and now all of those players have moved on from Boston as well. Boston does still carry Jimmy Hayes on their roster, a player traded from Florida in exchange for Smith, as a last remnant of the Seguin deal, but it isn't expected to be too long before Hayes moves on from Boston as well.  

The B’s announced on Monday afternoon that they hadn’t extended a qualifying offer to Morrow, as well as P-Bruins power forward Colton Hargrove, as a restricted free agent, and that both B’s youngsters were now free to sign with any of the 30 NHL teams as free agents.

The Bruins extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents in Noel Acciari, Linus Arnesson, Austin Czarnik, Zane McIntyre, David Pastrnak, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner and Malcolm Subban, and will retain the associated team rights with all of those players. Negotiations are ongoing between the Bruins and Pastrnak continue over a long term deal that would put him in the same $6 million plus per season level as teammate Brad Marchand, but one source with knowledge of the negotiations indicated it’s “not close” to being a done deal.

Some RFA’s like Spooner and Subban might not necessarily fit into the long term plan for the Black and Gold, but they need to maintain their rights if they hope to trade them as valued assets down the line.

Morrow never put together the talent that made him a former first-round pick while he was in Boston, and totaled just one assist in 17 games for the B’s before playing well in five playoff games after getting pushed into duty due to injuries. In all Morrow finished with two goals and nine points along with a minus-8 rating in 65 games over three seasons in Boston, but could never string together an extended run of consistent play at the NHL level.

With the Bruins in the market to bring on another left-shot defenseman into the Boston fold this summer, it was pretty clear that the time had come to move on from Morrow while allowing him to potentially develop as an NHL D-man elsewhere. 

Tom Brady claims No. 1 spot on NFL's top 100 list

Tom Brady claims No. 1 spot on NFL's top 100 list

The NFL Network revealed the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished in the No. 1 spot.

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

Several Patriots players made the cut on this year's list: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Brady was also voted in as the No. 1 player back in 2011.