Sunday 7: Deciphering which Patriots rumors should be taken seriously and which should be passed over

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Photo credit Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

1. With the NFL owners meetings taking place in Orlando this past week, there were plenty of rumors, including some concerning the Patriots. Around the league, the biggest may have been Odell Beckham Jr. in New York, where it seems like the Giants would potentially be open to trading him if the right offer presented itself. Some tried to connect the Patriots by saying they could trade Brandin Cooks for Beckham Jr., which makes no sense. The two have the exact same contract ($8.5 million in 2018) and will be free agents after the season. Why would the Patriots want to do this? While he’s extremely talented, Beckham Jr. isn’t exactly the Patriot-type and after a full season in New England and getting Julian Edelman back, Cooks should be even better than he was in 2017. After trading a first-round pick for him last year, it just doesn’t make sense for the Patriots to trade him now, especially for a player who would have no chance of re-signing as a free agent since he will be getting a huge contract next offseason. Another rumor which got a lot of play was the potential of Rob Gronkowski being traded. Sure, Bill Belichick probably has thought about life without the tight end, but he’s different than almost any other player besides Tom Brady. All it takes is for Gronkowski to say he’s coming back to change the entire conversation. Imagine Brady’s outrage if Gronkowski was ever to be dealt? If you thought there were issues this past season, it would be multiplied by ten. It seems very, very unlikely Gronkowski will be traded this offseason, no matter how long he drags out fully committing to 2018.

2. There was one rumor this week which actually makes sense for the Patriots. While it wasn’t saying the Patriots will sign him, there was a lot of connecting Johnny Manziel to the franchise after it reportedly spoke to him both before and after he threw at Texas A&M’s pro day. This also comes after they saw him throw a week earlier at the University of San Diego’s pro day. The Patriots need a quarterback, so why not take a shot on Manziel? Clearly, he has a ton of talent and if everything that has been said is true, he’s made a real effort to change his image. Signing him could take some of the pressure off of drafting a quarterback, and since he would be the third quarterback in New England, there would also be no real risk involved. If something went wrong, he would be cut and it wouldn’t have much impact on the team. The media circus would be no issue either, as if the organization can make it through a preseason of Tim Tebow, it can get through anything. It really is a no-risk situation and Belichick certainly isn’t afraid of taking a chance on a player like Manziel. Also, isn’t Manziel better than any quarterback the Patriots could select in the draft, since they don’t select until No. 31 overall? The only thing that needs to be looked into further is his domestic violence case. It was dismissed, but the Patriots would need to not leave a stone unturned in feeling comfortable with what happened. If the Patriots are satisfied with the results of the case, the organization should really consider signing Manziel.

3. Robert Kraft acknowledging the meeting between himself, Brady and Belichick occurring is a good development for the Patriots. Kraft is as good of a mediator as there is in the game of football — just look at his role in preventing a lockout a few years back. There’s no question there was tension with Belichick and Brady this past year, especially surrounding Alex Guerrero and it would seem that was a major topic of discussion at the meeting. With Kraft present, one would think an agreement was made as to what is best for both parties. If the meeting truly went poorly, it’s likely that information would have come out by now.

4. It was a busy week for Belichick. Following the owners meetings, he was scouting at University of Miami’s pro day on Wednesday and then on Thursday, Belichick was part of Kirby Smart’s University of Georgia coaches clinic along with Dan Quinn and Sean McVay. According to a press release, it was “a comprehensive clinic” that allows high school coaches to socialize with, “talk ball” with, and attend “chalk-talk” break-out sessions with the NFL coaches. This is something Belichick seems to enjoy doing, as it’s not the first time he’s participated in a program giving back to the coaching community.

5. With a few months passing since Josh McDaniels ditched the Colts to remain with the Patriots, we’ve changed our view on its impact on him being a head coach again. At the time, we said other NFL teams wouldn’t want to bring him in down the road after what he did to the Colts, but there just aren’t many good coaches in the NFL. If a team is given the opportunity to land him a few years down the road, it’s hard to see them turning it down because of something that happened a few years ago. McDaniels is one of the brightest offensive minds in the league and it’s hard to imagine him not being a head coach in a few years, whether it’s in New England or not.

6. Malcolm Butler’s most pointed comments towards what happened in Super Bowl LII came Friday when speaking to SI: Under The Cover. Even after hearing what he had to say, it still seems like it was a football decision that caused the cornerback to be benched and he just wasn’t 100 percent locked in and focused after an illness forced him to be hospitalized and not travel to Minnesota with the team on the Monday before the game. Don’t expect Belichick to ever entertain questions on it again, as he said what he needed to say (not much) this past week.

7. This is the last week of pro days, but there aren’t too many big schools left, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear Belichick has wrapped up his pro day tour this spring. Now begins the time where the Patriots will begin to use their 30 official visits, so keep an eye on reports of players visiting the Gillette Stadium facility. This is the next phase, as the organization prepares for the draft, which is at the end of the month.