I am a writer for CLNS Media, a sports media network in Boston, covering sports gambling and the Patriots. This Spring, I had the opportunity to cover the Patriots during free agency and the NFL draft.
Below you can find three sample articles and a button that will take you to my author page.
By: Mike Kadlick – June 1, 2021
It is looking more and more likely that the Falcons will trade wide receiver Julio Jones by the start of the 2021 NFL season. This Tuesday marks a crucial deadline in Atlanta’s quest for a trade partner, as they can save $15 million on the salary cap if they trade him after June 1.
There are several teams rumored to be in the mix for Jones – with the Patriots being one of them. According to Betonline.ag, they are the third most likely team to land Jones. One week ago they were considered the favorites.
In an uncharacteristic offseason for New England thus far, CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar says that Jones is the missing piece that the team needs. But what would a trade look like? And would Belichick actually pull the trigger on a deal? New England has been hot and cold with the top-tier wide receiver market in the past. They’ve passed on bringing in big name players like AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald, and Odell Beckham Jr. They’ve also taken their shots on guys like Randy Moss, Brandin Cooks, and Josh Gordon.
Here is what those trades looked like:
Back in the 2007 offseason, the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for wide receiver Randy Moss. Moss was a polarizing figure during his 16-year career, but was sensational during his stint with the Patriots. He was a part of the legendary 2007 16-0 regular season team, whose offense at the time was the best to ever do it. Moss set an NFL record with 23 touchdowns receptions, and helped Tom Brady break the single-season passing touchdown record with 50 (this has since been tied by Patrick Mahomes and broken by Peyton Manning). Moss stuck around for 2-and-a-half for seasons before forcing his way out of the building in 2010. He topped 1,000 yards in each of his three full seasons with the team.
After signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore and re-signing linebacker Donta Hightower, the Patriots topped off an aggressive 2017 free agency period by making a move for Saints shifty wide receiver Brandin Cooks. New England sent the 32nd overall pick and a third-round pick in exchange for Cooks and a fourth-round pick. At the time Cooks looked like a great acquisition. He was both younger and better than Julian Edelman, and added speed to an aging wide receiver room. Cooks caught 65 balls for 1,082 yards during his lone season in New England, and was then flipped to the Los Angeles Rams the following year. The Patriots received the 23rd overall pick and a sixth-round pick in exchange for Cooks and a fourth-round pick.
Just as the 2018 season began, the Patriots once again realized they needed some help with their wide receiver room. After several attempts at helping out their troubled star, the Cleveland Browns sent wide receiver Josh Gordon and a conditional seventh-round pick to New England for a fifth-round pick. Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns in 2018 before once again being suspended. After being reinstated for the 2019 season, Gordon started 6 more games with the Patriots before being placed on the injured reserve and – once again – being suspended. When he was healthy and clean – Gordon was solid, however he could not be counted on in New England.
According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, Atlanta has discussed several offers for Jones, including a first-round pick. This doesn’t seem likely to happen however – especially from the Patriots end.
If we use their past transactions as a benchmark, the only time the Patriots traded a first-round pick for a wide receiver was for Brandin Cooks. Cooks was 23-years-old at the time – 10 years younger than Jones. New England spent a fourth on Moss, and a fifth on Gordon – both of whom had their own troubles off the field. From all accounts Jones is a stand up guy and teammate. He is however on the wrong side of 30. If a deal with the Patriots were to happen, expect it to be for a second or third-round pick. New England won’t end up in a bidding war for Jones, and they’ll do it on their own terms.
By: Mike Kadlick – April 14, 2021
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields has his second pro day in Columbus on Tuesday, and the Patriots were one of several teams to attend the workout. Other notable teams present included the New York Jets, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Carolina Panthers.
Highlights from the pro day included this cross-body bomb of a throw for a touchdown.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi however, New England wasn’t just there to take a look at the 2019 Heisman trophy finalist
It’s interesting to note that the 49ers were in attendance for Fields second pro day. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan skipped his first workout to attend Alabama quarterback Mac Jones pro day in Tuscaloosa.
Rumors continue to swirl around Fields and the Patriots. In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft, he has New England trading up with Dallas to pick number 10 to take the Ohio State quarterback.
If Fields were to fall during the first round of the NFL Draft on April 29, he could be a great fit to be New England’s long-term replacement for Tom Brady. Here are four reasons why:
1. He won’t have to step in and play right away
All signs point to Cam Newton being the Patriots week one starter. The team re-signed Newton to a one-year deal back in March, and they haven’t made any other quarterback moves despite rumors of being interested in 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo.
Newton knows his role here. He wouldn’t have signed the short money, incentive-laden contract if he didn’t, and the Patriots wouldn’t have brought him back if it wasn’t on their terms. Cam has embraced the Patriot Way during his time in New England. Presumably, there is an understanding that Cam is a not the long-term answer here, and would be willing to be a bridge to a young signal caller once they are brought in the building.
Newton would start the season at quarterback so they don’t have throw the first round pick into the fire week one. He can help bring Fields along as he takes in the offense and learns what it means to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
2. Fields already has a relationship with Cam Newton
On top of the fact that Newton is only locked in to one more season in Foxboro, he also has a previous relationship with Justin Fields. When Fields was in high school, he participated in Cam Newton’s 7 on 7 league that he ran at Florida’s IMG Academy. Notably, Newton told reporters that Fields, “is the best recruit in the country. Write that down.”
While in high school, Fields told SECCountry that, “growing up when [Cam Newton] was at Auburn, he’s kind of who I modeled my game after… it’s definitely great learning from him.”
There is clearly a relationship here that has the chance to become even stronger in 2021.
3. Urban Meyer, and his relationship with Bill Belichick
When Justin Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State in 2019, he just missed the opportunity to play under legendary coach Urban Meyer.
Despite not being their coach, Meyer continued to have connections with the Ohio State program, and has had great things to say about Fields. “It was throwing, believe or not, that he came in as a dual-threat quarterback — he was a runner that threw very well — now, he is a quarterback that just happens to be Braxton Miller fast,” Meyer said. “…there’s no stopping this guy.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a strong relationship with the now Jacksonville Jaguars head coach. Belichick was quoted back in 2019 saying, “I talk to [Meyer] multiple times every season. I have great respect and appreciation for what he’s done, the national championships, and programs that he’s built.” Meyer has also visited Patriots practices several times in the past. He will steer Belichick in the right direction on Fields.
4. Josh McDaniels loves athletic quarterbacks
Despite having plenty of success with Tom Brady over the last 20 seasons calling the Patriots offense, McDaniels is a different beast when he has an athletic quarterback at the helm.
When he was the Broncos head coach, McDaniels drafted Florida’s Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft. Although Kyle Orton was the Broncos starter, he used Tebow in a special package to utilize his legs and left defenders wondering whether he would run or throw.
When Tom Brady was suspended in 2016 and Jimmy Garoppolo injured his shoulder, the Patriots started Jacoby Brissett in their week three game against the Houston Texans. With Brissett under center he unveiled this quarterback sweep for a touchdown:
And when McDaniels had a full-time starting signal caller with a set of legs this season, Cam Newton led all quarterbacks with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Justin Fields ran a 4.44 second 40-yard dash at his first pro day, and rushed for 19 touchdowns in college. He can be dynamic in the run game and someone McDaniels would love to work with.
The Patriots would be going against the grain taking a quarterback in the first round. But if Fields were to fall in their range, they’d be making a mistake not jumping up to draft him.
By: Mike Kadlick – April 12, 2021
It’s a sad realization for Patriots fans, but it’s looking like Julian Edelman may on the outside looking into the Patriots wide receiver room this coming season. On Thursday, the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported that, “it’s doubtful [Edelman] will be able to play the entire 2021 season,” due to a lingering knee injury that has aggravated him over the last two seasons.
Off-season additions Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne should be able to immediately solidify themselves as the top two options in the Patriots receiver room. On top of this, the emergence of slot receiver Jakobi Meyers last season could mean that April’s NFL Draft is the beginning of the end for Edelman in New England.
There are some serious playmakers in this draft. Top targets like Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Rashod Bateman could potentially to fall to the middle of the first round due to the quarterback avalanche that is bound happen. If the Patriots pass on the QB carousel, then there’s a real chance that they draft one of these players.
Florida’s Kadarius Toney, Purdue’s Rondale Moore, and North Texas’ Jaelon Darden could also be younger, cheaper options that the Patriots use to fill Edelman’s role later on in the draft.
According to NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry, Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge “has met with the Patriots multiple times and has gotten well-acquainted with special teams coach Cam Achord.”
The Patriots clearly have ideas of upgrading the wide receiver position before the 2021 season begins.
Edelman has meant a lot to New England. He’s a 3-time super bowl champion, the NFL’s second leading post season receiving yards and receptions leader, and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII.
Despite all of this, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league. It’s looking more and more like Edelman could be a cut candidate once August rolls around.