FOXBOROUGH – (Wire Service Report) – New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower agreed to a four-year, $43.5 million deal, his agent announced Wednesday. The contract also includes $19 million in guaranteed money, Hightower’s agency, Sports Trust Advisors, posted on Twitter.
Hightower was being coveted during free agency by multiple other teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets, before the Patriots picked up the fifth-year option of the five-year contract he had signed as a rookie.
The 27-year-old Hightower, who was named a captain for New England in 2016, made $7.751 million during his fifth NFL season.
Hightower’s fourth-quarter strip sack of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI was one of the game’s biggest plays as the Patriots rallied from a 25-point comeback to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Hightower recorded 65 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season. He has 404 tackles and 17 sacks in his career
FOXBOROUGH – The New England Patriots continued their offseason retooling, signing defensive lineman Lawrence Guy to a four-year contract on Saturday, according to published reports. Guy, who is five days shy of his 27th birthday, signed a deal worth a reported $20 million, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Guy spent the majority of the last three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, appearing in all 16 games in each of the past two years and starting a career-high 10 in 2016.
Lawrence Guy (93)
Guy had 28 tackles and one sack last season after registering career highs in both categories in 2015 with 46 and 4.5, respectively.
A seventh-round draft pick out of Arizona State in 2011, Guy spent parts of two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers before landing with the Ravens.
Defending Super Bowl champion New England has made a flurry of moves in the early signing period, including the acquisition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks and signing of free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore
FOXBOROUGH – Jimmy Garoppolo‘s early morning farewell to Boston was a hoax pulled off by someone other than the Patriots’ backup quarterback Friday.
A post a 4:26 a.m. from “jimmypolo10,” the registered Instagram account of Garoppolo, read “So grateful for my time in New England. Peace out Boston.”
Multiple media outlets reported before sunrise on the East coast that Garoppolo was not aware of the post, meaning his account was hacked or someone in his inner circle accessed Instagram using Garoppolo’s information.
Garoppolo is a target of the Cleveland Browns and other teams chasing Tom Brady’s backup. Garoppolo can be an unrestricted free agent in March 2018. He is being groomed as Brady’s successor, but Brady said in February he plans to play several more seasons.
Cleveland reportedly is willing to trade a first-round pick in a package to acquire Garoppolo. The Browns have 23 draft picks the next two years.
The Browns added a 2018 second-round pick on Thursday in a deal for Brock Osweiler, but the former Broncos and Texans quarterback could again be on the block as Cleveland seeks to pad its stash of picks, bolstering a trade offer for Garoppolo.
With the first pick in the draft, Cleveland is expected to draft Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, but the Browns also have the 12th pick via trade with the Philadelphia Eagles
FOXBOROUGH – (Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – The New England Patriots picked up a huge weapon for Tom Brady, acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints on Friday night for a first- and third-round pick in this year’s draft.
Brandin Cooks (10)
The reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots also received a fourth-round draft choice for Cooks, multiple media outlets reported. ESPN first reported the deal.
Although New England and New Orleans reportedly were in talks to swap Cooks for Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler, the price tag for the Patriots wound up being their 32nd and 103rd selections in the April draft.
Cooks, 23, caught 78 passes for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season. It was his second straight 1,000-yard campaign as he caught 84 passes for 1,138 yards and nine scores in 2015.
The 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Cooks has 215 career receptions for 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns, and provides a major upgrade to New England’s receiving corps.
Cooks is scheduled to make $1.563 million this season in the final year of his four-year rookie contract.
The Patriots have been among the busier teams at the start of the NFL new year, signing Buffalo cornerback Stephon Gilmore and acquired tight end Dwayne Allen from Indianapolis. Earlier Friday, New England swung a deal with Carolina, landing defensive end Kony Ealy.
FOXBOROUGH – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The New England Patriots reportedly passed on using the franchise tag on Dont’a Hightower, making the linebacker a free agent on March 9. The Super Bowl hero could still return to the Patriots but ESPN reported that Hightower is intent on testing the free-agent market.
Hightower earned $7.751 in 2016 during his fifth NFL season. The franchise tag is expected to be worth approximately $14.7 million.
The Patriots can negotiate with Hightower until March 7.
Hightower’s fourth-quarter strip sack of Atlanta Falcons quarterback in Super Bowl LI was one of the biggest plays as the Patriots rallied from a 25-point comeback to win the contest.
Hightower, who turns 27 on March 12, had 65 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season. He has 404 tackles and 17 sacks in his career.
FOXBOROUGH – The New England Patriots promoted Nick Caley to tight ends coach. Caley was a coaching assistant with the Patriots for the past two seasons after coaching in the college ranks for 10 years. Caley replaces Brian Daboll, who left last week to become the offensive coordinator at Alabama.
Before coming to New England, Caley gained experience working on the defensive side. He coached at John Carroll (2005-06), Akron (2006-07), Auburn (2008), Iowa State (2009-11), Eastern Illinois (2012), Arkansas (2013) and Florida Atlantic (2014).
Caley is a John Carroll alumnus, as are Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, director of player personnel Nick Caserio, assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schulpinski and director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler.
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says there is “no doubt” he will be ready for the start of the 2017 season despite undergoing the third back surgery of his career. “Yes, for sure,” Gronkowski told Cari Champion on ESPN when asked if he expects to play in Week 1. “No doubt.”
Gronkowski, who underwent season-ending back surgery in December, played only eight games during the 2016 season after missing time earlier in the season with a hamstring injury and bruised lung. Gronkowski’s injury history has put his future in question, with the 27-year-old Pro Bowler undergoing eight surgeries as an NFL player.
“I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I can possibly play. My mindset is to keep on going,” Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski finished the 2016 season with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns but had to watch from the sideline as his teammates rallied from a historic 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl LI.
Tom Brady threw for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to win his fifth championship ring and record fourth Super Bowl MVP Award.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended Brady for four games to open the 2016 season over the Deflategate scandal, presented the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“It was great to see him hand over that trophy, for sure,” Gronkowski said of Goodell. “I was super happy for Tom.”
Gronkowski was asked whether Goodell could come back to Foxborough anytime soon.
“To tell you the truth? I really don’t think so,” Gronkowski told ESPN. “The fans are nuts. They are wild. They have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back, I’m telling you. (Goodell) won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can land in the airport in Boston, because Patriots fans are the best fans. They’re the most loyal fans.
“I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxborough, if he landed in Boston.”
Kraft said before the Super Bowl that he would invite Goodell for the Patriots’ 2017 season opener if they won another title.
Goodell hasn’t attended a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium since January 2015 when New England defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game that started the Deflategate saga
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Thousands of Patriots fans packed the streets of Boston on a cold, snowy Tuesday to catch a glimpse of Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and New England’s fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy during the team’s championship parade. Riding in the city’s signature duck boats, the Patriots slowly made their way down Boylston Street in downtown Boston before making a left turn onto Tremont Street on the way to Boston City Hall.
As the procession reached Copley Square, fans chanted “Brady!” as the smiling quarterback pumped his fist in the air. Once the celebration reached Tremont Street, Brady caught a football from WBZ-TV sports anchor Steve Burton and tossed back a perfect spiral as fans chanted “MVP!”
“One more!,” Brady screamed during a post-parade rally at City Hall. “I told you we were going to bring this sucker (the trophy) home and we brought it home.
Thank you guys. We do it for you. You do it for us. Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Brady added, “These aren’t easy to do, but this team gave everything it had and it took — damn, that game was hard. That game was real hard, but you know what we’re going to remember this moment for the rest of our lives.”
Brady threw for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as New England overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime on Sunday night.
“There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple weeks about goats,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, referring to the acronym for the phrase “greatest of all time” (G.O.A.T.). “And you all know we have the G.O.A.T. when it comes to players in Tom Brady. We have the G.O.A.T. when it comes to coaches in Bill Belichick.
“And I (want) you to know that my family and our organization feel that we have the G.O.A.T. of fans on the planet.”
Belichick led fans in chants of “No days off!” and ended his brief address to the crowd by screaming “Let’s go Pats!”
“These players, they work harder than any team I’ve ever coached,” Belichick said. “They came to work everyday and there were no days off!”
Massachusetts governer Charlie Baker, a Republican, was meet with a smattering of boos as he addressed the crowd, but the boos turned into cheers when Baker officially declared Feb. 7 as “New England Patriots Day.”
Kraft said he was inspired by the impact the Patriots’ success has had on the region.
“I’m happy, I think this team is a rallying point for a lot of people,” Kraft told NBC Boston before the parade began.
Kraft spoke about a young electrician who told him before the parade that he suffered from depression and has identified with the Patriots.
“What we’ve done over the last two, three years has made a difference in his life, and that makes me feel good,” Kraft said.
Before the parade, injured Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was pictured holding a customized WWE championship belt with Patriots logos on it. Video later showed Gronkowski catching a can of beer that was thrown to him while riding on a duck boat.
After missing the Patriots’ final eight games with a, Gronkowski said he didn’t plan to ride on the duck boat in the parade but was convinced by the fans, saying “I party for the fans.”
Another popular chant from fans was “Roger That!”, a nod to the strained relationship between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Brady. Goodell suspended Brady four games for his role in the Deflategate scandal.
On Monday, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was photographed wearing a shirt with a red clown nose on Roger Goodell’s face as he exited the team plane on the tarmac.