AFC East: Jonathan Kraft

BOSTON -- At the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference on Friday, New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft was part of a panel called "Building a Dynasty." Kraft took the stage along with former NBA coach Phil Jackson for a session moderated by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan.

At one point, Kraft was asked a question from the audience on whether the increasing influence of analytics might have somehow led to a situation in which quarterback Tom Brady wouldn't slip to the sixth round of a draft like he did in 2000.

Kraft then went back in time to tell a story that probably never gets old to Patriots followers.

"I have to go back and give Bill [Belichick] and Scott Pioli, who were running our personnel department at the time, a little bit of credit here. We had Drew Bledsoe on our team at the time, and we had just given him a large contract. It was Bill's first draft, and we had a lot of needs. Brady was rated pretty highly on the board, and, in the fifth round, Bill walked over to the board -- I clearly remember this -- and he picked up Brady's card, looked at Scott, and said 'What's Brady still doing here? This is too much value to be sitting here, and this kid is a winner. We have too many other needs. We can't take him, can we?' I'm basically paraphrasing. ...

"I remember my dad and I were standing there in the war room and we stared at each other and said, 'Why are we thinking of taking a quarterback? We have all these other needs.' In the sixth round, when it was about eight picks away, 10 picks away, Bill started to get very focused on drafting Brady because I think he felt the value was just way too great.

"So, what I would say about today, I would say Bill had an inkling and I think it came down to the intangibles. I think each team has its own way of evaluating players, and, for a lot of people, I bet you because Tom ran a 5.2 or 5.3 [in the 40] and didn't appear that athletic, he'd be off the board. I think his coachability and his passion for the game and his record as a starter -- when he starts, he wins -- that might even carry more weight other places, but I wouldn't see people thinking about him as a raw talent as a first-, second- or third-round draft pick. Because in the first, second and third rounds, you need to take your best guess of statistical sure things because those players in the salary-cap world, if they can come in and play like good, starting veterans under the rookie wage scale, you have a competitive advantage. People are always weighing the cost benefits of that.

"So, the same Brady we've seen, I would argue would still be ... he deserves to be the first pick, but I don't know it would happen today."

Club wants Mankins to be Patriot for life

March, 21, 2011
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NEW ORLEANS -- New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins hasn't hidden his disdain for how the front office has treated him.

Mankins demanded a trade last year, refused to report to the team until November, reportedly refused to apologize publicly to owner Robert Kraft and was aggravated by the club's decision to place the franchise tag on him, preventing the All-Pro from unrestricted free agency.

Mankins, unlike the other two AFC East players to receive franchise tags (New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris and Miami Dolphins nose tackle Paul Soliai), didn't sign his before the NFL work stoppage.

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft addressed Mankins' status to a group of reporters Monday afternoon at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans.

In particular, Jonathan Kraft spoke about a report head coach Bill Belichick and the football operations department were at odds with the business administration over the proper way to handle Mankins' contract. Jonathan Kraft seemed to blame Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer.

"I think sometimes agents feel it's their job to throw out rhetoric to get things moving when they can't get things moving in the traditional way," Jonathan Kraft said. "The bottom line is I don't recall any situation since Bill has been our head coach where there has been a divide. We sit down in a room and we discuss things that are big things, and we have a unified front. That's the case in this situation too.

"I think the agent, in this case, feels rhetoric helps to get deals done. We feel like we put a very fair offer on the table. We would like Logan to be a Patriot, retire a Patriot. He's a great football player. But we're not allowed to talk to Logan or his agent until [the labor situation] gets resolved."

Robert Kraft won't attend owners summit

March, 20, 2011
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NEW ORLEANS -- One of the NFL's leading voices will not attend the owners meetings.

The New England Patriots have announced owner Robert Kraft will not make the trip to New Orleans because of a "private family medical matter." His son and team president Jonathan Kraft still was expected to arrive Sunday night.

As outlined earlier, Robert Kraft sits on five league committees, including the management council, which is steering labor strategy.

Kraft also missed the recent labor mediation sessions in Washington, D.C., because of a previously scheduled business trip to Israel with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Unsigned Patriots left tackle Matt Light expressed his displeasure with Kraft's lack of attendance in D.C.

"No doubt, 100 percent. I'm not going to lie to you," Light told Boston Globe reporter Shalise Manza Young. "Look, again, like [former Patriots linebacker and NFL Players Association executive committee member Mike] Vrabel stated, like everyone else has said, we had people in that room that could get a deal done at any point. Do I know how they’re structured within the league? No, I have no clue.

"But I can tell you one thing: [NFL negotiators] didn't seem to have the ability to do any of that when they had to the leave the room, make a phone call, you guys representing the league. If it was me, I was in that model, I would have every one of my guys in those seats making sure that we had one voice and we could get a deal done."

AFC East influence on NFL committees

March, 20, 2011
3/20/11
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NEW ORLEANS -- The annual NFL owners meetings are taking place downtown at the Roosevelt Hotel. While the work stoppage will be the dominant topic, many usual business discussions will transpire with the various committees and subcommittees.

Let's take a look at what AFC East folks are involved with the 28 listed groups.

Finance committee: Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner

Investment committee: Woody Johnson, New York Jets owner; Jeff Littmann, Buffalo Bills treasurer

Compensation committee: Robert Kraft; Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner

Stadium committee: Stephen Ross

Los Angeles stadium working group: Woody Johnson; Stephen Ross

Broadcasting committee: Robert Kraft (chairman)

NFL Network committee: Robert Kraft

Digital media committee: Jonathan Kraft, New England Patriots president and chief executive officer

Business ventures committee: Woody Johnson; Jonathan Kraft; Stephen Ross

Super Bowl advisory committee: Mary Owen, Buffalo Bills executive vice president

International committee: Mary Owen

Legislative committee: Woody Johnson

NFL Charities board of directors: Mary Owen

Advisory committee on NFL giving: Mary Owen

Management council executive committee: Robert Kraft

CEC executive working group: Jeff Littmann

General managers advisory committee: Mike Tannenbaum, New York Jets

AFC East wire: Joique Bell battling for spot

September, 2, 2010
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Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

No bombshells, but Brady says rehab going well

January, 21, 2009
1/21/09
7:56
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Tom Brady's interview on Toronto radio station The Fan 590 didn't provide any landmark revelations, but the fact he spoke was newsworthy in itself.

 Brady

The New England Patriots quarterback consented Wednesday to his first real interview since tearing up his left knee in September.

He was on the air for only 10 minutes. The first part of the interview was devoted to Barack Obama's inauguration and Brady's philanthropic works in Africa, and some of the segment was dedicated to hawking a sports cream, the reason for his interview to begin with.

Still, he spoke and didn't dodge any questions that were set forth, although I was told by someone in the know concessions were made in arranging the interview and certain topics, including girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, were verboten.

He was not asked whether he would be ready for training camp, about the NBCSports.com report his rehab was delayed by an accumulation of scar tissue or if the Patriots would need Matt Cassel to stick around for a while.

Brady showed his interview skills were rusty when he unleashed a curse word not allowed in the U.S. or Canada.

What was it like to watch an entire season and not be able to play?

Tom Brady: You play this game long enough, and [expletive] happens, so to speak. The reality is it happens to everybody. I'm in a new part of my career, and I'm excited about rehabilitation and different challenges. The tough part is you're not experiencing something you love to do. But you get over that and you focus on what you've got to focus on and you just say, "OK, well, it happened. We're moving on."

Could you follow the team closely, or was it too hard?

TB: I watched everything. I was the biggest cheerleader. It's painful when you see our team lose, and I thought we really had a great year, being that we finished 11-5. It was tough enough to not make the playoffs, and a team that's in the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, we beat by 40 points.

So I was disappointed along with the rest of our team and coaches, but it was what it was. It was a tough competition in the AFC this year. We're going t try to make some improvements this offseason and see if we can make it back to being the division winner next year.

(Read full post)

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