The New England Patriots began their voluntary offseason training activities program Monday, but quarterback Tom Brady was not expected to be in attendance this week, according to multiple reports.
Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski was also not present at the start of the team’s OTAs on Monday, per NFL Network’s James Palmer. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Brady and Gronkowski both are expected to attend the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp from June 5-7.
Brady, who turns 41 on Aug. 3, is set to make $15 million in 2018, tied with Cam Newton and Philip Rivers for 18th among NFL quarterbacks. He is scheduled to make the same figure in 2019, which currently ties Alex Smith for 21st among signal-callers. Brady will count $22 million against the Patriots’ cap in both seasons, which ranks 11th in 2018 and 14th in 2019.
Gronkowski, who turned 29 a week ago, is scheduled to make a base salary of $8 million per season and has two years left on his contract. Gronkowski and the Patriots are working on a restructure of his contract, according to an NFL Network report.
—Richie Incognito is free to explore the open market after the Buffalo Bills released him from the reserve/retired list.
According to an ESPN report, Incognito told the team he plans to unretire, leading to his release. The four-time Pro Bowler, who started all 48 games during his three seasons with the Bills, now hopes to play elsewhere.
Incognito, who turns 35 in July, suddenly retired last month, citing health concerns from his personal physician, but multiple reports indicated his contract played a major role. Incognito reportedly asked the Bills to address his contract in the days before he posted “I’m done” via Twitter. Since the offseason began, Incognito fired his agent via Twitter and agreed to a pay cut with a base salary of $3.65 million.
—Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has told the team he will not report for OTAs as he seeks a contract extension, according to a report by ESPN.
Donald, who turns 27 on Wednesday, is the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and widely expected to seek a contract that will make him the league’s highest-paid defensive player. He stayed away from the team for the entire 2017 offseason and through training camp, so his absence isn’t a surprise.
Donald is scheduled to earn $6.89 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract in 2018, the final year of his deal. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is currently the league’s highest paid defender at six years and $114.5 million, including $70 million guaranteed. The Rams have a three-day mandatory minicamp in June before they officially kick off training camp. Donald attended the mandatory minicamp last year.
—Earl Thomas did not report to the Seattle Seahawks’ facility after previously skipping a voluntary three-day minicamp, sparking concern that a protracted holdout over his contract status might be in the offing.
Head coach Pete Carroll was hopeful Thomas would be back for organized team activities this week, but there is no indication he will be on the field behind middle linebacker Bobby Wagner when the overhauled Seattle defense lines up for OTAs.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that there have been no negotiations between the two sides and no expectation a deal would be discussed soon. Thomas is in the final year of his current contract and has a base salary of $8.5 million.
—One week after the Supreme Court cleared states to regulate sports gambling in a landmark decision, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement addressing the league’s stance.
“As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport,” Goodell’s statement begins. “Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.”
The statement later pushed for “four core principles” in requested uniform standards to Congress: substantial consumer protections, content and intellectual property protections, mandated and reliable league data for fans and proper resources for law enforcement agencies.
—Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre revealed that he went to rehab multiple times in addition to the one well-documented 1996 rehab stint during his playing days.
Favre told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he actually went to rehab two other times that were never made public. King reported their conversation in the final installment of his MMQB column, in which he recounted a week he spent with Favre for a cover story for the magazine.
Favre’s lengthy rehab stint in 1996 to deal with his addiction to Vicodin became part of his legend, but he says now that he actually tried to beat his addiction to pills once before and wound up in rehab again later to deal with a drinking problem. “I actually went to rehab three times,” he told King.
—The NFL announced it will not discipline the Detroit Lions or head coach Matt Patricia after reports surfaced about a sexual-assault allegation against the coach.
The 1996 arrest first came to light earlier this month. According to reports, Patricia and a teammate on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team were arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault. Patricia was 21 at the time. The case did not go to trial, reportedly because the alleged victim was “unable to testify,” and was dropped in January 1997.
Patricia, 43, denied any wrongdoing when reports first surfaced and the team has expressed support for its new coach throughout. The Lions hired Patricia in February, a day after the New England Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. He had been the Patriots’ defensive coordinator for six seasons.
—The NFL is expected to announce the locations for two more years of the Super Bowl when the owners meet this week in Atlanta.
With the game’s sites through 2022 already awarded, the league will name Arizona as the host for Super Bowl LVII in 2023 and New Orleans as the host the following year, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.
That would make for the fourth time a Super Bowl has been hosted in Arizona and a league-high 11th time for New Orleans. Miami, which will host the Super Bowl after the 2019 season, will also have hosted the game 11 times.
—First-round pick Billy Price signed his rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, the club announced.
Price was the 21st overall pick in the 2018 draft and landed a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option covering the 2022 season. The four-year deal is worth around $10 million. A four-year starter and two-time All-American for the Buckeyes, Price played left guard, right guard and center.
Price sustained a partially torn pectoral during bench press drills at the NFL Scouting Combine on March 1, but following surgery, Price’s surgeon sent a letter to all 32 NFL teams with a projection for a full recovery in no more than two months.
—Field Level Media