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    Categories: NFL

New England Patriots put Jerod Mayo (shoulder) on IR

jordan reed or rob gronkowski

Cleveland has acquired Patriots star linebacker Jamie Collins for a compensatory draft pick that’s slated to eventually be a third-round selection, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The Browns confirmed the trade, but didn’t confirm details about compensation.

Currently the trade is for a 2018 fourth-round selection. Once the league designates the loss of former Browns center Alex Mack (who went to Atlanta in free agency) as a third-round compensatory pick for 2017, New England will receive that pick instead.

Gronkowski is still nursing a perforated lung he suffered against Seattle, which cost him the game last week against San Francisco. Keeping Gronkowski available for the playoffs has become something of an annual tradition for the Patriots, and while the back injury that forced him from this game after he landed with a thud while reaching for an overthrown pass might not be serious, it might be painful enough to give the Patriots pause about running him out for every December game. The Patriots have endured playoff runs without Gronkowski before and the results have not been pretty — they lost in the conference championship games in 2012 and ’13 without him. It is noteworthy that on the play he was injured, Gronkowski had gotten behind two Jets defensive backs, a testament to what an extraordinary weapon he is for Brady and cheap jerseys and a reminder of what the Patriots would lose if he is hobbled.

The Patriots are seasoned enough to know that the ugliness of a victory is irrelevant, but this game will give them plenty to ruminate over beyond the report from the trainer’s room. The offensive line struggled to protect Brady. The defense got little pressure, and for long stretches struggled to get a stop. Although the Pats’ defense did force two turnovers, including a Chris Long strip-sack that ended the Jets’ final drive to seal the victory. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal attempt, although he made three others. None of it is devastating, but all of it is concerning for a team with ambitions that stretch well beyond December.

Arizona is the best team in football. , the Cardinals’ outstanding general manager, has built the NFL‘s No. 1 roster, 1 through 53. Arizona has depth and oozes talent. The Cards can beat you in multiple ways. And after losing on Championship Sunday last season — getting blasted by Cam Newton and the Panthers, to be frank — Arizona is driven and ready to get over the hump.

The Cardinals have everything you want in a contender, starting with the man in the cap. Bruce Arians is a fantastic coach who will maximize Keim’s roster. Arians coaches aggressively and confidently — and the players take on his personality. The Cardinals aren’t cocky, but they know their capabilities. They practice hard. They play hard. They expect to win. That’s Bruce Arians football.

Mayo was a rotational player this season, playing 36.2 percent of snaps. He compiled one sack, one pass defensed and 47 tackles. He played just seven snaps in Saturday’s Divisional Round win over the before being injured in the third quarter.

Saturday might have been Mayo’s final game in a Pats jersey. The linebacker, who took a pay cut in 2015, has a $4 million bonus due at the start of the new league year if the team exercises their option. It would count $11.4 million against the salary cap.

And he’s right. The 2001 championship was a pleasant surprise for Patriots fans. We were the underdogs, the scrappy bunch of misfits going up against the Goliath that was the St. Louis Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf.” After that win, Lombardi Trophies became an expectation for New England fans, as though it was our right to have them. And, when you win three championships in four years, you get spoiled. But after two heartbreaking Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants, we were left wondering if the Patriots’ mystique had faded. We were supposed to go 19-0. We were supposed to avenge that loss by blowing out the Giants in the next Super Bowl. But neither of those happened.

Which is why Super Bowl XLIX was so special. We had a newfound appreciation for our team and what it took to win a championship. It took coming back against the Baltimore Ravens (twice), dealing with the Deflategate controversy and snagging a goal-line interception in the closing seconds. This championship was different for us.

The Patriots are on the cusp of earning home-field advantage in the playoffs in large part due to quarterback Tom Brady’s MVP-caliber season. Brady is five touchdown passes short of 40 on the season. No quarterback 38 years old or older have ever posted a 40 passing touchdowns in a season.

The departure of cornerback Darrelle Revis has left plenty of wonder about how Bill Belichick’s defense can prosper without him. And while those questions aren’t likely to yield answers until the regular season starts, there’s been an interesting development in training camp: Devin McCourty, who signed a new five-year, $47.5 million contract, has been seeing time lately at cornerback — in addition to maintaining his responsibilities at safety. During joint practices, McCourty was working with corners during the individual period. So what exactly does it mean? With Belichick, who knows? But McCourty’s leadership should not be understated — and apparently neither should his versatility. The attention at cornerback will remain squarely on Malcolm Butler and Tarell Brown, but Belichick clearly wants to make sure he’s getting his best defensive backs on the field no matter what position they’re playing.

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