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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. All about the QB: Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who still lives in Massachusetts, tuned into local sports talk radio last week. He observed how negative the general supporter and media response was to the action taken by the Independence Office on May 7th.

Ninkovic, who rarely hesitates to criticize his former team as an ESPN analyst, sees it a little differently.

“I hear people saying they’re re-signing all these guys and they were 4-13 last year, so why would they do that? To me, the guys they’ve picked up and brought in, I think they’re key pieces. And they’re taking people out of the building who think they’re a four-win team,” he said. .

But the biggest thing for me is the draft that will make or break their season no matter what they do. This could be a home run. At the same time, the scary part is if they set up a quarter. At number 3, and he is not, they are in big trouble.

Director of Scouting Elliot Wolf Ninkevich summed up why Ninkevich shines the brightest light on NFL executives as he has the final staff in the first year of the post-Bill Belichick era.

The bottom line: If Wolfe and the Patriots coach and scouting staff are ultimately convicted of the No. 3 quarterback, they will have to show their cards to commissioner Roger Goodell on April 25 and then have offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and the quarterbacks coach. TC McCartney immediately developed a development plan for him.

Many assume the choice will be between LSU’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye if the Bears select Southern California’s Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick. Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix are among the top-rated QBs. With first-round potential, one NFL executive predicted that McCarthy and Penix could go further than some currently anticipate.

Ninkovich is still studying quarterbacks and is open to several scenarios for the team, including trading down and/or selecting a prospect elsewhere.

One week into free agency, Ninkovich sees some positive signs for the Patriots, but believes it’s all secondary to what’s to come.

“I like the moves across the board, but it’s the draft, and what they decide in the quarter will ultimately determine how the team comes together and if they’re going in the right direction,” he said.

2. Ridley Ricks: Receiver Calvin Ridley, who opted to sign a four-year, $92 million contract with the Titans over offers from the Jaguars and Patriots, noted the decision-making process on Friday. He said it was his hope to return to Jacksonville, but when things didn’t work out, the Titans had the combination of money and on-field elements he needed — including the upside and playmaking in receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Help bring out the best in him.

There’s no shame in the Patriots being vocally aggressive, but the fact that the top of the receiver depth chart includes JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, DeMario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton and Jalen Reagor is partly reflective of the reality.

One of the reasons the Patriots were hot on Ridley — he had 768 yards on passes thrown out of numbers last season, fifth most in the NFL. In the year In 2023, the Patriots ranked second-to-last in the NFL in receiving touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. New England’s 1,581 receiving yards on passes were more than the Jets (1,515) last season.

An NFL executive acknowledged the Patriots’ interest, but noted that the 29-year-old Ridley hasn’t always been an assignment vote in Jacksonville, seeing him more as a tight end than a high-end option.

3. The Patriot Approach:- of A very frequent question Last week, less concerned social media followers asked, “What are the Patriots’ free agent plans?”

Many may have expected more, as head coach Jerrod Mayo previously said he would “burn some money” to bring in talent. It’s fair to debate whether the Patriots’ approach is the right one, and my opinion boils down to this – they have a lot of holes, some of their best players are out of contract, and if not. They dig themselves an even deeper hole by prioritizing re-signing them because it’s unrealistic to think that more free agency deals on others will immediately cure all their issues. So they had to work hard just to stay neutral.

Bill Belichick says the team-building process will continue throughout the year and there is still plenty of work to be done, which is expected to include the start of extension talks with fourth-year defensive end Christian Barmore.

4. The Judon Pact: When the Patriots restructured outside linebacker Matthew Judon’s contract, he lowered his 2024 base salary to $6.5 million, with some of that money carried over to 2023, setting up the sides to return to the negotiating table this offseason.

Now, with the first wave of free agency over, it opens a window for the sides to work toward a solution, which they’ve already begun exploring. Judo’s return from a torn biceps injury that limited him to four games last season adds a dimension to any discussions as the team looks to defend itself against the incentive it rewards Judo to be on the field.

5. Hooper Report: What are the Patriots getting in nine-year veteran Austin Hooper, who signed him to a one-year deal worth $3 million?

“He’s not a ‘Y’ that you put on a streak and ask to block, but more of a traditional ‘F’ type of tight end — blocking space with the best of the running backs and more of a back end,” said one NFL source familiar with him. You want to be sure not to put him in too defensive a position; He’s not a street level student, but he competes. in the year [Mike] Gesicki, who was actually a receiver rather than a tight end. He has good speed and hands to get open.

6. See Intel: Linebacker Sione Takitaki, who signed a two-year contract with New England for $6.6 million and a maximum of $10.2 million, has become a team leader and signal-caller during his five years with the Browns. Wolf, the Patriots’ director of scouting, was one of Takitaki’s biggest inspirations when he worked for the Browns and was a major reason the team selected him in the third round of the 2019 draft.

A scouting report from a personnel executive familiar with Takitaki’s style of play described him as “friendly, not the fastest, but sees the game well; “Versatile, quick and flashy — a very strong third or fourth linebacker,” he explained. Takitaki had the option to return to Cleveland on a one-year deal, but the Patriots’ willingness to work out a two-year deal contributed to the decision to leave.

7. Gibson’s Skill: The Patriots’ offensive coaches identified former Washington running back Antonio Gibson as a top target, with his pass-catching and route-running abilities being his biggest assets. That partly reflects how the new regime wants more contrast between Raymond Stevenson and his backups than they did with Ezekiel Elliott last season. An NFL executive saw value in signing Gibson as long as he took over the offensive system and showed potential on defense — which could be a challenge for the project.

8. Trade Deadline/Emergency QB: The NFL’s annual meeting begins Sunday, March 24 in Orlando, and seven teams (Steelers, Browns, Lions, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Chiefs) have proposed changes to the league’s bylaws regarding the trade deadline. Last season’s transfer deadline was after the 8th week of games and the aforementioned clubs have proposed to move back in a week or two.

The Bills are proposing a rule change that would allow a quarterback to be promoted from the practice squad for one game and then be drafted as the third/emergency quarterback. Under current rules, the third/emergency quarterback designation is only allowed for quarterbacks on the permanent 53-man roster.

9. And they said thus. “I think I’m going to trade down and take the best player, not a quarterback. I don’t think this roster is ready to bring back a quarterback, there are too many holes.” — ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky on Tuesday’s NFL Live program about the Patriots and the No. 3 pick.

10. Did you know that: Assuming quarterback Jacoby Brissett is on the 2024 Opening Day roster and in a regular-season game, he is set to become the 30th player since 2000 with at least two separate stints with the Patriots.