December 11, 2016

On deadline day, Pats net receiver and make final cuts

by Scott Benson
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The Patriots pulled off a surprising deadline day trade yesterday, breathing much needed life into the team’s emaciated receiving corps.

As Mike Reiss first reported on his indispensable blog, the Patriots have sent a conditional draft pick to the Oakland Raiders for WR Doug Gabriel. Early reports say that the pick may be a 5th rounder.

The compensation will matter some day, but not today. The need for reinforcements at the team’s weakest position is of more immediate concern.

Gabriel, a 26 year old entering his fourth year, has had some modest success with the Raiders, catching 30+ passes in each of the last two seasons. Unlike to-date-disappointment Reche Caldwell, Gabriel comes to the Pats as a player that may be trending upward. The early feedback from the Coast is good; Scouts, Inc. says Gabriel is a good effort player with size and speed, calling him a solid route runner with capable hands and an element of explosiveness in his game. His 16 YPC average seems to bear this out.

Who knows what Gabriel will do here. Like Caldwell, he may struggle to pick up the Pats offense. But its clear that he has been progressing out in Oakland, and equally clear that he advances immediately to the head of the Pats sparse receiving class. A 5th round pick seems like a small price to pay for the promise that Gabriel brings, especially under these circumstances. He’s affordable, too; for now, anyway.

To learn more about Gabriel, check his news page on Rotoworld.com.

Check Mike’s page for the complete list of Patriots roster moves from yesterday. Let’s see how GDRV did with its roster projections from yesterday morning:

Offensive line – as expected, the Pats elected to keep 9 players here, cutting three. They said goodbye to tackle Randy Hand, guards Dan Stevenson and Billy Yates, and kept Gene Mruczkowski and Wesley Britt for depth. Stevenson joins fellow 6th rounder Jeremy Mincey as 06 draft picks that failed to make the team. They could both be back as practice-squaders later today.

Running back – The easiest guess yesterday was that Patrick Pass would be PUP’d.

Receiver – I’m claiming victory here. GDRV projected that the Pats would keep 5 receivers, and we’ll just gloss over the whole Kelvin Kight thing entirely.

Defensive end – as expected, the Pats trimmed back by one at this position, as Santonio Thomas was released. Marquise Hill lives on.

Defensive tackle – GDRV thought the Pats may cut two here, but LeKevin Smith stayed on, while lightning rod Dan Klecko turned in his playbook.

Inside linebacker – Rookie free agent Corey Mays, as GDRV suspected, came up just short on his bid to make the team. Hopefully, he’ll return as a member of the practice squad. He had a good camp at a position of need for the team.

Cornerback – the Pats elected to keep just four corners, and NFLE vet Antwain Spann was the last one to go.

Safety – GDRV missed this one, figuring only one move would come from this position group. Instead, Pats IR’d Tebucky Jones, ending his season (has Hanik Milligan signed with anyone yet?), and as anticipated, finally closed the book on former 3rd round pick Guss Scott.

So basically, they cut made two moves at the safety position and just one at defensive tackle. Close enough.

And finally….. interesting to see Ron Borges – who has been carrying career criminal Don King’s bags for decades, and who has recently been working as a gratis PR agent in Jason Chayut’s office – calling Patriots supporters ‘toadies’ in this morning’s Globe. As we know, Ron’s dad told the little prick-in-the-making a lot about square pegs and round holes, but apparently he missed the one about throwing stones in glass houses.

Naturally, Borges also has urgent tales of growing discontent in the Patriots locker room. Just like he did three years ago, when the departure of Lawyer Milloy caused similar unrest. As we learned then, players are human, a trait they very quickly put aside when people start crashing into them. It’s perfectly understandable that emotions may be running high, with the most contentious holdout of the Kraft era at its apex. So some grubby scribbler grabs a juicy quote, which he then – naturally – interprets as the Seventh Sign.

Do I have to remind you about a certain September Sunday in Buffalo a few years back, and the explosive Peter King SI story that followed, with Tedy Bruschi declaring that he would never again be so foolish as to be loyal to the Patriots? You’d have thought for all the world then that the Patriots were imploding from within. THEY HATE THEIR COACH! Remember? I’m pretty goddam sure that in one of his many giddy stories during that time period, Borges used the same “if they’ll do that to him, what will they do to me?” quote that he used again today. Let me ask you – how accurate did Ron’s dire warnings turn out to be? How accurate have ANY of his numerous rantings turned out to be?

This morning, Ron’s hoping that you’ve forgotten all that. Because Ron Borges can’t stand that you don’t have the same irrational, jealous hatred of Bill Belichick that he does. And so he toils on, and so shall we.

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