Tom Brady Explains Throwback Helmet Choice, Hopes To Stick With Old Style

Eagle-eyed NFL viewers weren’t mistaken in spotting Tom Brady’s surprisingly traditional look.
The New England Patriots quarterback wore an older-model helmet last Sunday during his team’s Week 12 win over the New York Jets. Instead of using the Riddell Precision Fit Speed Flex helmet he has worn since preseason, Brady covered his head with Riddell’s VSR-4 helmet, a model the NFL will ban players from using after this season because it performed poorly on impact and other safety tests.
Brady on Thursday night explained to Westwood One Radio’s Jim Gray why he reverted to the older helmet and revealed he’ll petition the NFL to continue using it beyond the current season.

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“Yeah, I’ve gone back-and-forth quite a bit,” Brady said, per WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “You know, the old one has just treated me so well over the years, so hopefully I can get grandfathered in. That’s what I’m going to try to do this offseason, see if I can keep playing with it. I love the way it fits. I love the way it feels. It’s been a great helmet for me. So I’ve just been thinking about it and think that’s what works the best for me as we continue on this season.”
As the issue of players’ safety becomes increasingly important to the NFL, it’ll be interesting to see how the league weighs a request from one of its iconic players against its own responsibility to protect him.

Trey Flowers Absent From Start Of Final Patriots Practice Of The Week

One of the New England Patriots’ best players wasn’t spotted at the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media.
Defensive end Trey Flowers was the lone absence from the final practice session of the week. The Patriots had perfect practice attendance Thursday when tight end Dwayne Allen returned.
The Patriots will release a practice participation and injury report Friday afternoon. That’s when we’ll find out if Flowers was absent for the entire session, for what reason and his status for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

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Flowers missed one game this season with a concussion suffered early in the Patriots’ Week 2 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots lost Week 3 against the Detroit Lions when Flowers was inactive.
The Patriots also have Deatrich Wise Jr., Adrian Clayborn, John Simon, Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis at defensive end.

How Craig Kimbrel’s Initial Contract ‘Ask’ Compares To Historic Closer Contracts

Craig Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers in baseball history, and he reportedly wants to be paid like it.
The free agent pitcher is a free agent this winter, and while we still don’t know what he seeks in terms of dollars, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Friday that the flame-throwing right-hander is asking for a six-year contract.
Of course, just because Kimbrel is asking for a six-year deal doesn’t mean he’ll actually get it. It’s most likely just a negotiation tactic from which he’ll likely have to come down at least a year, perhaps in exchange for more money per season. We don’t know much else because there’s not yet much in the way of reported offers for the 30-year-old.
But if Kimbrel actually were to land a six-year pact, it would be an unprecedented deal for a closer. As it stands right now, no closer has a contract for more than five years. Here are the biggest closer contracts right now:
Aroldis Chapman (Yankees): five years, $86 million
Kenley Jansen (Dodgers): five years, $80 million
Mark Melancon (Giants): four years, $62 million
Wade Davis (Rockies): three years (with vesting option), $52 million

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(It’s also worth noting Sean Doolittle signed a five-year contract with the Oakland Athletics worth $10.5 million before being traded to the Washington Nationals.)
The Red Sox did extend a qualifying offer to Kimbrel (one year, $17.9 million) that the closer rejected. That’s not surprising, as Kimbrel is taking this chance to cash in on the biggest contract of his career.
Kimbrel made $13 million last season, so we can only imagine he’s looking for a higher annual value for this contract. So maybe $15 million per season? Considering every high-end player wants to reset the market for his position, a six-year, $90 million contract for Kimbrel would set a new standard for closers, as it would be the longest and richest deal ever handed to a player at that position.
That’s all speculation, though. Maybe Kimbrel is aiming even higher. Maybe he wants $100 million; who among us doesn’t want $100 million? And perhaps he’d be willing to “settle” for fewer years and more money per season.
One thing is clear: Anyone wanting to sign the closer of the defending World Series champion is going to have to pony up in historic fashion to lock him down.

Ford F-150 Final Five Facts: Rick Middleton Night Capped With Shootout

The Boston Bruins did not let Rick Middleton night go to waste at TD Garden.
Ryan Donato finished it off for the Bruins scoring in the fourth round of the B’s shootout win over the New York Islanders. NESN.com’s Michaela Vernava explains how Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask also had big nights and takes a look back on Rick Middleton’s career with the black and gold in today’s Ford F-150 Final Five Facts of the game.

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Watch the video above to see all the facts.

These Patriots Seasons Rank As Best, Worst In Team History, Per ESPN

New England Patriots fans certainly have enjoyed some good times, but how many can identify the team’s highest and lowest points?
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell helped achieve that task in an article he published Thursday on the subject of each NFL team’s best- and worst- ever seasons. Instead of using the teams’ record in a respective season to gauge highs and lows, he took the point differential from each game played to determine which season was the best, worst and everything in between.
Excluding the present, these Patriots’ results, per ESPN, mark important moments in team history:
Current season: 8-3 (23rd best of 59 seasons in franchise history since 1960)
Best season: 2007 (16-0)
Worst season: 1990 (1-15)

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“The 2007 Patriots rank as the best team since 1960 by this metric, outscoring opponents by 19.7 points per game,” Barnwell writes. “By contrast, this year’s Patriots are beating teams by 5.3 points per contest and have the point differential, essentially, of a 7-4 team.”
Barnwell didn’t indicate the 1990 team’s point differential, but we’re sure it was terrible.
Following their undefeated regular season, the 2007 Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl XLII, where they lost to the New York Giants 17-14. The heights the Patriots reached that season were overshadowed, however, by the disappointment of its ending.

Mariners-Mets Trade: Here Are Reported Details Of Robinson Cano Blockbuster

The Seattle Mariners seem poised to upstage themselves for the biggest trade of the MLB offseason thus far.
The Mariners and New York Mets are reportedly nearing completion of a blockbuster trade that would send Seattle All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to New York.
The reported deal, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman is “close,” but it’s likely the trade isn’t officially announced until Saturday at the earliest, which makes sense given all the pieces involved.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, here’s what the reported deal looks like:

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New York acquires: 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz
Seattle acquires: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Justin Dunn, OF Jarred Kelenic, RHP Gerson Bautista
As Rosenthal notes, the addition of Bruce and Swarzak in the return is mostly financial. It’s unlikely either player does a whole lot to make the Mariners much better in 2019. What it does, however, is offset some of the money left on Cano’s massive contract. The Mets will owe the 36-year-old infielder $120 million over the next five years. Heyman also noted that the deal is taking a while to complete because of the contracts, and it’s unknown how much money the Mariners would send the Mets as part of the deal.
But the Mariners aren’t just getting financial relief by offloading Cano’s burdensome contract. Dunn and Kelenic are two bona fide prospects who will help improve Seattle’s farm system. The Mets drafted Dunn out of Boston College with the 19th pick in the 2016 draft, who’s on the older side for a prospect but pitched well in 2018, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings with time at High-A and Double-A. Kelenic was an even higher draft pick, who New York selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2018 draft. MLB.com already has him ranked as the No. 62 prospect in baseball.
It should come as no surprise then that Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto “was said to be euphoric,” according to Rosenthal.

How To Attend Red Sox 2018 World Series Documentary Premiere On Dec. 3

Want to relive the Boston Red Sox’s amazing 2018 World Series run? Well, you’re in luck.
Major League Baseball will host a 2018 World Series documentary premiere, presented by Mastercard, on Monday, Dec. 3, at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston.
The one-night only, red-carpet event will begin at 6 p.m. ET, with the film showing at 7 p.m. ET.

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Tickets are $30 and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is general admission. You can purchase tickets by visiting RedSox.com/Documentary.
The festivities are expected to include appearances by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and team president Sam Kennedy. The 2018, 2013, 2007 and 2004 World Series trophies also are expected to be present, as are Red Sox mascots Wally and Tessie.
The 80-minute documentary, narrated by Emmy Award winning actress Uzo Aduba, will be available on DVD and Blu-ray at MLBShop.com and where videos are sold near you on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Patrick Corbin To Yankees? Brother’s Wedding Gesture Fuels Speculation

Did Patrick Corbin’s brother just let the cat out of the bag?
Corbin is a free agent this offseason after a fantastic 2018 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks. There figures to be plenty of interest in the talented left-hander, who’s arguably the best pitcher available on the open market, and the New York Yankees are right in the thick of the discussion.
The Yankees, of course, have deep pockets, and they could use help in their rotation, even after acquiring James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners last week. Corbin just so happens to be a New York native, too, so it makes a ton of sense for the Bronx Bombers to pursue the two-time All-Star.
Likewise, it would make sense for Corbin to seriously consider donning pinstripes. For one, his family seems to be rooting for that scenario, as evidenced by his brother’s recent best man speech.
Here’s more from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

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From someone who attended Patrick Corbin’s recent wedding: “His younger brother gave a best-man speech and at the end took out a Yankees hat and put it on, which elicited a great applause, and said they all hoped that he and Jen would be moving closer to home.”
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 30, 2018

Should we read into this at all? Maybe not. It’s hard to imagine Corbin turning down a competitive offer from New York, though, especially since he’s admitted in the past that he grew up a Yankees fan and would welcome the opportunity to pitch for his hometown team.
Corbin, 29, finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting this season after going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 246 strikeouts over 200 innings (11.1 K/9).

Patriots Mailbag: What Happens To Free Agent-To-Be Trey Flowers In Offseason?

With the Minnesota Vikings next up on the New England Patriots’ docket, can we talk about Kirk Cousins for a minute?
On this week’s NESN Patriots Podcast, Zack Cox and I discussed where Cousins ranks among NFL quarterbacks (26:10 mark). Is he top 10? Is he average? Is he somewhere in between?

He’s probably somewhere in between.
We’d take Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, Jared Goff, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson over him. That’s 12 QBs. Cousins is probably on the same plane as a Matthew Stafford, and moving forward, we’d definitely rather have guys like Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield.
The case for Cousins this season is pretty easy. He’s fifth in the NFL in passing yards, third in completion percentage, ninth in touchdowns, ninth in passer rating, and he’s only thrown seven interceptions. But he’s averaging just 7.36 yards per attempt. That ranks 21st among qualified quarterbacks. He’s been sacked 28 times. That’s the 11th most in the NFL. It’s easy to say Cousins’ line stinks, but he’s sacked on average in 3.18 seconds. That’s just the 14th fastest in the NFL.
One of the reasons Cousins’ completion percentage is so high is because he’s eating sacks rather than throwing the ball away. He’s good. But showering him with any more praise than that is overdoing it.
Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.
More likely scenario in free agency for the 2019 off season #Patriots re-sign Trey Flowers or Trent Brown? #MailDoug
— @pats_chatter247
The Flowers question is an interesting one. I’m of the opinion that the Patriots basically need to re-sign him.
What happens if they don’t?
They would have Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis and Adrian Clayborn at defensive end. Yikes. The Patriots’ don’t trust Wise or Clayborn to play against the run at this point. Rivers and Davis were healthy scratches in Week 12, and both have struggled when they’ve been active this season.
The Patriots would have a hard time stopping any opposing offenses if that’s who they choose to trot out at defensive end next season. They haven’t won games without Flowers this season. Flowers suffered a concussion seven snaps into the Patriots’ Week 2 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed their Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions. Flowers was neutralized in the Patriots’ Week 10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, when he was held pressure-less.
So, they either need to bring back Flowers, take a player high in the 2018 NFL Draft, sign a free agent (pass rushers are not cheap) or trade for a veteran edge defender.
Isn’t the simplest option just to bring back Flowers? He’s either the best or second best defender on the roster. The Patriots won’t be struggling for cap room next offseason. Spotrac currently projects them for $24.5 million in cap space next offseason. It’s also difficult to imagine both Devin McCourty ($13.345 million) and Dont’a Hightower ($10.375 million) being on the books at their current 2019 cap hits. Tight end Dwayne Allen almost certainly will be a cap casualty at $7.4 million, and a contract extension would lower quarterback Tom Brady’s $27 million cap hit. The Patriots should have room to retain Flowers even if it’s on a franchise tag, which would cost north of $17.143 million.
And given Flowers’ low sack totals, it’s possible teams won’t be willing to give him elite pass-rush money.
As for Brown, it depends on how much he’ll cost. The Patriots could decide to roll with first-round pick Isaiah Wynn and Brown or Wynn and Marcus Cannon next year. If Brown costs as much as Cannon, then the Patriots might choose to re-sign Brown and either trade or cut Cannon. It’s unlikely Brown and Cannon will be back next season, however.
Grade the Patriots draft up too this point.
— @Owen16058167
Jeez. The easy answer is incomplete, but that’s taking the easy way out. So far, the Patriots have received nothing out of first-round pick Isaiah Wynn, second-round pick Duke Dawson, sixth-round picks Christian Sam and Braxton Berrios and seventh-rounders Danny Etling and Ryan Izzo.
Dawson is back on the active roster, but he was a healthy scratch in Week 12. Wynn, Sam, Berrios and Izzo are out for the season. Etling is on the practice squad.
First-round pick Sony Michel has been as good as advertised at running back when healthy. But he’s missed three games with knee injuries.
Fifth-round pick Ja’Whaun Bentley looked like a future starting linebacker but only made it three games before being lost for the season.
Seventh-rounder Keion Crossen has barely contributed at cornerback, but he has played special teams.
We’re looking at something in the D range after 12 games. There’s still plenty of upside in this class, and that grade will rise even when Dawson finally takes the field. But the Patriots have just got so little out of such a big draft class.
What FA signings in the off-season do you think would have helped the most given how the season has played out so far?
#MailDoug #Pats
— @WYTSports
Patriots free agents?
The Patriots lost Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Johnson Bademosi, Cameron Fleming and Ricky Jean Francois in free agency.
The Patriots haven’t seen a major dropoff from Solder to Brown.

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Butler has struggled with the Tennessee Titans, and Jason McCourty has stepped up well at cornerback.
The Patriots certainly could have used Lewis while Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead were injured earlier in the season. Michel has played well as a rookie, though.
The Patriots also missed Amendola in the first four weeks of the season while Julian Edelman was suspended. They weren’t going to re-sign him for $6 million per year, though, and they didn’t know Edelman would be suspended in March.
The Patriots haven’t missed Fleming, Jean Francois or Bademosi.
I’d go with Lewis just because the Patriots were so shallow at running back for so many weeks, and he didn’t sign an overly exorbitant contract.
What are your expectations for Duke Dawson this week?
— @pereira_report
I don’t think this is the week to throw Dawson into the fire. The Vikings’ slot receiver is Adam Thielen, who leads the NFL in receptions, is second in receiving yards and fifth in receiving touchdowns.
The Patriots would be better off having either Stephon Gilmore or Jason McCourty cover Thielen. The Patriots could get Dawson’s feet wet next week against Amendola and the Miami Dolphins.
Let’s go rapid fire.
Which current players in the roster will be in Patriots Hall of Fame? You don’t need to answer TB12. #MailDoug
— @gcabreu87
Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty should be locks. I’d pound the table for James White, Stephen Gostkowski and Dont’a Hightower.
Shaq Mason could get in if he starts piling up Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. The rest are too early to tell.
Do you think a contract extension is on the way for brady?
— @tayahchor
I have no idea, but I think it would be in the best interest for everyone involved.
@DougKyed do you think Josh Mcdaniels will leave this summer for a head coaching job this summer?#MailDoug
— @Proudred_devil
The safe answer is no.
How good do you think Isaiah Wynn will be when he comes back next year?
— @Ayush_Gupta03
That’s tough to tell. He was really good in college, but we barely saw him in the preseason before he tore his Achilles.
Why does the defense always suck?
— @KJC2287
Here’s the thing, though: It doesn’t.
Which game with be harder in your opinion @ Steelers or @ dolphins?
— @patroits4
At the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rules/hypothetical Q. There seem to be many backwards passes across fball this year. What happens if a defender is flagged for PI behind LOS? Where is ball spotted?
— @stuartkirsch
You can’t commit pass interference behind the line of scrimmage.
Oatmeal chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin
— @DrChimRitchalds
Get raisins out of my damn cookies.
And why is oatmeal in cookies at all? I’ll take a chocolate chip cookie, sugar cookie, molasses cookie, snickerdoodle, Oreo or gingerbread cookie over an oatmeal cookie any day.
Soft cookies are better than hard cookies too. I have a lot of takes on cookies.
I’ve got nothing for the Patriots, so if you had to rank the sauce for McNuggets… what you got?
— @TheDTSB
It’s funny you ask me this question, because I got a six-piece McNuggets on Thursday, and I got hot mustard, which was delightful. I liked honey with my McNuggets as a kid. I definitely went through a barbecue sauce phase. I don’t think McNuggets go well with ranch, and I don’t remember what McDonald’s honey mustard or sweet and sour sauce is like.
I don’t eat McNuggets often enough to actually rank the sauces.
I’ve been told by noted sports expert @TonyMassarotti that Sony Michel both “sucks” and “stinks”. Can you confirm?
— @runsmc
I cannot, no. I think Tony was a little premature on that one.
What’s been the stat that has impressed you the most about the Pats this year?
— @thebolenshow
8-3.
#MailDoug
Why do you hate the new live action Lion King
— @Pedmeg233
I don’t, but I just think it’s a little ridiculous to call it live action. I mean, that mandrill is not holding up a baby lion.

Can we stop calling the new Lion King live-action? I'm pretty sure this damn baboon didn't lift up a lion cub. pic.twitter.com/K1DB7aA1UJ
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) November 28, 2018

Fantasy Football Week 13 Starts, Sits: Advice For Toughest Lineup Decisions

It’s crunch time, folks.
Week 13 is the final week of the fantasy football regular season for many, and if you haven’t already secured a playoff spot, you’ll need to put forward your best effort in order to do so.
Don’t ruin your chances of winning a league title with a lineup mishap. We’ve got you covered with some roster tips in hopes of earning a Week 13 victory.
Here are NESN.com’s starts and sits for Week 13:
STARTS
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson likely won’t turn in a masterclass in passing Sunday, but that doesn’t mean the rookie QB won’t be a fantasy monster. The Atlanta Falcons’ defense has been among the worst this season, and there’s a good chance Jackson will be able to run wild in his third career start under center. Jackson posted a touchdown both through the air and on the ground last week, and as he gets more comfortable, the Ravens will be more inclined to let him loose.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler will have another opportunity to shine in Week 13 as Melvin Gordon nurses a knee injury. The second-year back stuffed the stat sheet last Sunday, rushing for 35 yards and a score on five carries while catching 10 passes for 68 yards. The Pittsburgh Steelers feature a fairly stout defense, but the amount of touches Eckler is expected to receive provides more than enough upside.

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Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett is becoming Russell Wilson’s new favorite target as Doug Baldwin works through an injury. The speedster has been on a tear of late, catching five passes in each of Seattle’s last three games with two total touchdowns. The San Francisco 49ers are mediocre at defending the pass, so you can look for Lockett to take the top of the defense as the Seahawks continue their postseason push.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Bill Belichick’s M.O. long has been taking away your best weapon(s), which in the Vikings’ case is the lethal wideout tandem of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. This should open the door for Rudolph, who is coming off a seven-catch performance against the Green Bay Packers. Not to mention, the New England Patriots have struggled to defend tight ends all season, allowing seven touchdowns to players at the position.
SITS
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
It’s admittedly tough to campaign benching Ryan, who’s thrown for 330-plus yards in seven of the Falcons’ 11 games this season. But the Ravens are tremendous against the pass, as the unit only has allowed one performance of 300-plus passing yards on the campaign. Ryan also has thrown an interception in three of his last four games, making him an even riskier start against Baltimore.
Sony Michel, RB New England Patriots
Michel is coming off his best game as a professional in Week 12, but it might be best to sit the rookie this Sunday. The Vikings’ front seven is flat-out ferocious, having allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league this season. In fact, Minnesota only has allowed three touchdowns on the ground in 2018. Michel still has yet to establish himself as a consistent pass catcher, so it’s probably best to look elsewhere for running backs this week.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
Landry has been a total nonfactor of late, catching a combined five passes in the last two games against weak Cincinnati Bengals and Falcons defenses. This certainly is concerning for Landry, who isn’t a bonafide touchdown threat and typically makes his fantasy worth with catches in abundance. The Houston Texans are fairly strong against the pass, which could result in another quiet day for the speedy wideout.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers
Much like many of the other tight ends who have come through Green Bay in recent seasons, Graham has been a disappointment for the Packers. The ninth-year pro has been particularly ineffective of late, catching a combined nine passes in his last five games. Graham only has two touchdowns on the season, while the Arizona Cardinals only have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends. A less-than-ideal matchup, indeed.