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    Categories: NFL

Patriots extend first-round tender to Malcolm Butler

is quietly a big deal. The gap-plugger was a key part of New England’s defense, a unit that didn’t allow a single running back to top 90 yards on the ground last season. Ranked 25th in NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents list, Branch is playing his best football at 32 years old.

Patriots head coach makes a living off waiting for defensive players to mature before plucking them at their prime. For the last five years, he’s had a front row seat to Gilmore in the AFC East and cheap jerseys and knows exactly how he’ll fit into the system.

There’s a touch of irony in Allen’s landing spot, as the Colts originally drafted him and Coby Fleener to emulate the New England tandem of Gronkowski and . According to former Patriots executive , the team has always been high on Allen.

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At his best, the 2012 third-round pick is one of the few tight ends capable of excelling as an in-line blocker, a chain-moving receiver and a red-zone threat.

“Now that is an extremely high price to pay. That is franchise-tag high pricing right there,” Garafolo acknowledged. “No one expects that a team is going to be willing to part with that. If it’s a first-round pick this year and then a sweetener next year — maybe not a first-round pick but something else — could that start things going? Yeah, possibly it could.

Peterson has pocketed close to $100 million over the past decade with the Minnesota Vikings. If he has reached a point in his career where chasing a championship is now a driving force, he could follow the well-worn path to New England, traveled in recent seasons by mercenary veterans such as Darrelle Revis and Chris Long.

The Around The NFL Podcast has highlighted several reasons to believe there might be a fit between Peterson and the Patriots.

The one-year tender will pay Butler $3.91 million for the 2017 season, which represents a bargain for a cornerback that has played at a top-10 level at his position over the last two seasons. Butler could theoretically sign an offer sheet with another team that the Patriots would have to match, but any interested team would have to give up a first-round pick to nab Butler.

“They do intend to make a run at Jimmy Garoppolo as we get closer to the draft. Will they actually be able to do it is the question,” Rapoport told NFL Network. “I’ve talked to several teams that were in the quarterback mix. All, obviously, were considering or are considering going after Jimmy Garoppolo. To a T, every team has said, ‘We believe the Browns are going to make a huge run and we don’t think we can compete with that.’ So it certainly seems like the Browns are up front in a potential Garoppolo derby.”

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The running back position saw a massive re-emergence in the world of fantasy football last season, and a major part of it had to do with personnel changes around the league. The Dallas Cowboys picked Ezekiel Elliott in the first round of the NFL draft, DeMarco Murray thrived in his first season with the Tennessee Titans, Jordan Howard roared for the Chicago Bears as a rookie, and Melvin Gordon was a touchdown machine once the then-San Diego Chargers lost Danny Woodhead. With a number of big-name runners set to become free agents and a loaded rookie class about to be drafted, there promises to be lots of backfield movement once again ahead of the 2017 campaign.

After being barred from the NFL Scouting Combine, this was a monumentally important day for Mixon. He responded with a 4.50 40-yard dash, a number that would have put him squarely between Dalvin Cook (4.49) and Leonard Fournette (4.51) at the combine. He also had a 35-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 9 feet, 10 inches. “I thought all of his results lined up with my expectations,” said NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein. “… This workout validates the athleticism we’ve seen on tape.” More important than his numbers, Mixon got a chance to speak with a lot of NFL clubs about a 2014 incident in which he punched a female student and was suspended for the season. He met with four — the Lions, Saints, Bengals and Browns — on Tuesday, and reportedly was set to speak with 20 more. … WR Dede Westbrook ran a 4.34 and a 4.38 40-yard dash, per the school.

This all has the makings of a deal that could change the fortunes of both clubs for years to come — but it won’t come cheap for the quarterback-needy Browns.

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