The Patriots, close to getting resolution on Deflategate, have gotten finality on their other major offseason off-field issue: the tampering charges levied by and against the Jets.
The Jets will be fined $100,000 but not docked a draft pick for tampering with cornerback Darrelle Revis while he was a member of the Patriots. The Patriots won’t be punished at all for the tampering charge levied in retaliation by the Jets for what they believed to be a frivolous charge by New England.
The brouhaha between the AFC East rivals began Dec. 29 when Jets owner Woody Johnson was asked in a press conference about the possibility of bringing back Revis.
“Darrelle is a great player,” Johnson said. “If I thought I could have gotten Darrelle, for that [contract], I probably would have taken him . . . I’d love Darrelle to come back.”
Johnson’s comments were a textbook violation of the NFL tampering policy, which reads:
Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: “He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.”)
Johnson later called Patriots owner Robert Kraft to clarify his comments and apologize, but the Patriots filed tampering charges anyway. Revis then re-signed with the Jets at the start of free agency in March, getting a five-year contract worth $39 million fully guaranteed — a record for NFL cornerbacks — which the Patriots were never close to matching.
The Jets then fired back in March, levying a tampering charge at the NFL owners meetings based on comments from Kraft, who said, “We wanted to keep him,” and, “He’s a great player. The fan in me wishes he was still with us.”
But the NFL did not find merit to the Jets’ claim that this constituted tampering.
Meanwhile, commissioner Roger Goodell said on “CBS This Morning” that he still doesn’t know when investigator Ted Wells will release his report on Deflategate, but said, “I expect it will not be long.
“You want to make sure you have all the information. What we’re trying to do is just make sure we’re thorough.”
Goodell said one of the issues Wells likely explored was whether the deflated-ball issue happened only in the AFC Championship game.
Revis was likely going to re-sign with the Jets whether Johnson made those comments or not, but the Jets still may have gotten off easy with the $100,000 fine and no loss of draft pick.
In 2011, the Lions were found guilty of tampering when defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said in December 2010 that he wants to “catch” all of the players the Chiefs were dumping. The NFL forced the Chiefs and Lions to swap fifth-round picks, while the Lions also lost a seventh-rounder.
And in 2008, the 49ers were found guilty of tampering with Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, and were forced to lose a fifth-round pick and swap third-round picks with the Bears.
Amendola OK with pay cut
Danny Amendola had just 27 catches for the Patriots during the regular season last year, but 16 of those came over the final four games.
The late uptick in his production was a precursor of what was to come in the playoffs. After more than a year of fighting his way back up the depth chart, Amendola had five catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the divisional round against Baltimore, and five catches for 48 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIX.
Yet the Patriots still approached Amendola about restructuring the remainder of the five-year free agent contract he signed before the 2013 season; had he not done so, Amendola likely would have found himself on the chopping block at some point, because of his high salary-cap figure of $5.7 million for 2015.
Amendola agreed last month to a new three-year deal worth $12.75 million that has a maximum value of $15 million.
Meeting with reporters Tuesday, Amendola made it sound like an easy decision.
“I love playing for this team, I love playing for these coaches, this organization,” he said. “I’ve got family out here [though Amendola grew up in Texas, his parents are from the Boston area].
“This is home to me. I love playing for this team. It’s a great experience and I’d like to prolong that as long as I can. It’s been fun.”
Asked if he had any hesitation about redoing his deal and taking a pay cut, he said, “You know, it’s a business and everybody treats it like a business. Obviously you love playing football, you love being around the locker room, you love being around your teammates, and that’s really the most important thing for me.
“I love the group we have here, I love the work ethic everybody puts in every week, I love being here, so that’s why I chose to come back.”
Turning the page and focusing on the future was a big theme in Amendola’s answers. He did say, however, that he still has a chip on his shoulder and wants to play “good football for a long time.”
At the age of 29 and entering his seventh NFL season, Amendola’s biggest knock has been his durability; last year was just the second time in his career he’s played all 16 games.
A little more than a week into New England’s offseason workout program, he said he’s feeling good.
“As you get older, you have to approach things differently,” he said. “I take care of my body probably a little better than I did when I was 21, 22, but conditioning-wise I feel really good.
“We had a great day running today, probably the best conditioning day we’ve had as a team, and it was really awesome to see. Everybody feels really good.
“I still feel really great physically, I feel young.”
Chandler having fun
Now that he’s been a member of the Patriots for a little over a month, Scott Chandler has gotten an insider’s look at what has made New England a strong team for an extended period of time.
The tight end, signed in March after being released by the Bills, has been at Gillette Stadium working out with his new teammates as part of the offseason program.
“It’s been fun to come in and see these guys that you’ve seen and heard about for so long, to get to actually meet them, and they’re just a great group of guys,” Chandler said.
That includes Tom Brady, who is quite a bit better than the quarterbacks Chandler played with in Buffalo.
“It’s exciting to get to play with a guy who’s had some success in the past, but that past success doesn’t determine future success,” he said. “We’re all working hard right now, and Tom’s working harder than anybody.”
The 6-foot-7-inch Chandler — he met with media immediately after the 5-11 Amendola, joking that the television cameras might need a second to adjust for the height difference — played college ball at Iowa, under Kirk Ferentz, who once worked with Bill Belichick.
But he didn’t have to talk to Ferentz about signing with the Patriots; Chandler recalled that Belichick spoke with the Hawkeyes once while he was a student-athlete there and said of his new coach, “He comes highly recommended.”
Chandler was dismissive of the success he had against the Patriots while with the Bills (28 receptions for 384 yards and 4 touchdowns in nine games), and instead is looking forward to showing his new teammates he’s all in.
“I think you want to do everything you can to just ingratiate yourself to your teammates,” he said. “You see how hard guys work and you want to work hard with them. That’s what builds a team.”
San Francisco is the host city for Super Bowl 50, and Brady plans to be there. He hopes his teammates will be joining him. The NFL wants to link the previous 49 Super Bowls with next year’s extravaganza, and it will recognize the MVPs throughout Super Bowl week and have them participate in an on-field ceremony. Brady, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, is from the San Francisco area, although it is the one NFL city in which he has never played.