Moving nearly 8,000-pound sign was Patriots' Super offseason story

Gillette Stadium has had to make room for more of these. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are some quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. How did the Patriots ultimately decide on plans to fit their fifth Super Bowl banner inside Gillette Stadium? Here are some behind-the-scenes nuggets from one of the most unusual storylines of the offseason:

  • The Gillette Stadium sign/structure that was raised to fit the five banners underneath it weighs approximately 8,000 pounds.

  • When the stadium was designed prior to its 2002 opening, there wasn't any thought on where to put a Super Bowl championship banner. The reason is simple: The Patriots didn't have one at that time. The stadium opened in May 2002, just a few months after the team won its first Super Bowl.

  • When the Patriots unveiled their first Super Bowl banner, the placement was on the walkway opposite the third-level press box. At the time, team officials thought that would be the permanent home for any banners.

  • If the team ever earned four banners, all of them would then be moved to the pre-cast concrete around the video board (the banners' home in 2015 and 2016) because it would be nice symmetry. If the total ever reached five, the team would entertain raising the Gillette Stadium sign/structure.

  • What team officials liked about the possibility of raising the Gillette Stadium sign/structure to fit five banners was that it becomes a central element of the stadium: straight-on center in the main end zone, above the video board, below the stadium name. The five banners also filled the space nicely. Anything smaller, and it would have looked too sparse.

  • Plans to raise the Gillette Stadium sign/structure were hatched in late February/early March, and what surprised club officials was the extensive engineering involved because of the weight and the considerable steel behind the banners that helps support them. Unlike the banners that hang in an indoor arena or stadium, these banners require a lot more support so they don’t rip and become compromised by bad weather or wind.

  • The cost was significant, projected to be in the millions. But it is an expense the Kraft family was obviously happy to incur.

  • As fans will see, there is now room for more than five banners, should the Patriots add to their collection.

  • There are still a few needed finishing touches, from an architecture perspective, before the job is finished prior to the Sept. 7 opener.

2. When Patriots receiver Julian Edelman signed a two-year contract extension through 2019 this offseason that included a $5 million signing bonus, it was widely viewed in media circles as a team-friendly deal. Edelman, the thinking went, could have cashed in for a larger paycheck as an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season. But what unfolded Friday night, with Edelman tearing his right ACL, is a reminder of what most contracts are truly about: Who, team or player, assumes the majority of risk in an extremely physical game? If he didn't sign the extension, Edelman's free-agent status would have looked a lot different after the season if he were coming off a torn ACL.

3a. Did You Know, Part I: Last year, Edelman was targeted by quarterback Tom Brady on third down 38 times, which was more than the next three Patriots combined: Chris Hogan (12), Danny Amendola (10) and Malcolm Mitchell (10).

3b. Did You Know, Part II: Including the playoffs, Edelman has 436 receptions since 2013, which are 187 more than any other Patriots player in that span (Rob Gronkowski is next, with 249).

4. When veteran defensive end Rob Ninkovich retired at the start of training camp, Bill Belichick pointed out that he was the team's capable emergency snapper, and that helped the head coach sleep better at night. The leading candidate to fill that under-the-radar role this year is fullback James Develin, who told me he has spent more time snapping this year than ever before. He had dabbled in it at Brown University, where current New York Giants snapper Zak DeOssie took him under his wing, but Develin has never snapped in a game. Let's see if the Patriots give him his first chance to do so in the preseason finale Thursday night ... against DeOssie and the Giants.

5a. One popular question on social media has been which player might "benefit" from the Edelman injury and possibly earn a roster spot, with undrafted receiver Austin Carr and 2016 seventh-round pick Devin Lucien coming up most in discussion. My hunch is that both of those players are more likely to be practice-squad considerations and that if the Patriots do plan to add another receiver on top of Hogan, Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell (assuming good health) and Matthew Slater, it is more likely to come from outside the organization.

5b. Likewise with the release of Kony Ealy on Saturday: Who possibly "benefits" most? Trey Flowers and 2017 fourth-round pick Deatrich Wise Jr. have always been locks at defensive end, and then it's a big question mark. I'd say undrafted linebacker/end Harvey Langi (Brigham Young) has played his way onto the team -- his two bone-jarring special-teams tackles in the first quarter Friday night probably clinched it -- and fellow undrafted defensive lineman Adam Butler has put too much good stuff on tape to make it through waivers to the practice squad. At the same time, I still think the Patriots add an edge player from outside the organization.

6. A few key things to know about the Chiefs, who visit the Patriots in the season opener Sept. 7:

  • Starting running back Spencer Ware injured his PCL on Friday night in Seattle, which thrusts 2017 third-round pick Kareem Hunt (Toledo) into the No. 1 spot for the opener. The Chiefs don't have a rusher with a power-based style similar to that of the 229-pound Ware.

  • De’Anthony Thomas, a 2014 fourth-round pick out of Oregon, returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in Friday’s loss to the Seahawks. Between the 5-foot-8, 176-pound Thomas and the dynamic, 5-foot-10, 185-pound Tyreek Hill as a punt returner/receiver, the Chiefs have two explosive playmakers who will be a huge part of the Patriots' game-plan preparations. Special teams should be a big part of the opener.

  • Top safety Eric Berry hasn't played this preseason because of a sore heel. He returned to practice last week.

  • Whereas the Patriots' top units played well Friday night, the Chiefs' starters did not in a 26-13 loss at Seattle.

7. With longtime Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard chosen as the contributors committee's nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, it pushes Robert Kraft's candidacy to 2019 at the earliest. In 2019, two contributors will be chosen as finalists. Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, longtime New York Giants general manager George Young and former Dallas Cowboys player personnel director Gil Brandt have been widely mentioned as some of the primary candidates Kraft is likely to be competing against.

8. During his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, Belichick shared insight on what he can glean from talking to coaches from others sports, and his answer on applying lessons from basketball was something I hadn't heard before. "It's interesting. You take a sport like basketball, which is kind of a flowing sport, there's so much transition -- thinking on the run, communicating on the run, playing off of each other ... those are the kind of things you have to figure out instinctively. A lot of our plays [in football] are more set up, but we occasionally run into those situations too," he said. "So those are the kind of things I've learned from basketball and hockey: how to handle things that are more flowing and just part of a transitional part of the game. Whereas a sport like baseball, everything is set. Every play is a new play ... that's similar to football and the huddling and so forth."

9a. Contract note: The two-year, $5 million deal signed by Patriots linebacker David Harris this offseason includes $750,000 in playing-time incentives. He can earn $250,000 if he plays 60 percent of the defensive snaps and an additional $500,000 if he plays 80 percent of the defensive snaps. Harris projects to come off the field in obvious passing situations -- his sideline tackle attempt of Lions running back Ameer Abdullah on Friday night was one example of how that doesn't necessarily play to his strengths -- and that could make both playing-time levels tough for him to reach.

9b. A set-the-DVR alert: If you liked the first "Do Your Job" documentary, stay tuned for "Do Your Job, Part II," which premieres on NBC next Sunday, Sept. 3 (7 p.m. ET). It promises an inside look at the 2016 season and Super Bowl LI, with interviews from Robert and Jonathan Kraft, Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Ernie Adams. The documentary is narrated by actor Edward Norton.

10. Although the preseason finale against the Giants on Thursday will be contested by mostly backups, Belichick seldom misses a chance to take advantage of a game-like opportunity to prepare for emergency situations. This has traditionally been the game in which he has a non-coordinator call plays on offense and defense. Former tight ends coach Brian Daboll, now in his first year as Alabama's offensive coordinator, was the pick in recent years, and that could open the door for receivers coach Chad O'Shea (2009-2017) to step in this year. On defense, it was linebackers coach Brian Flores last year.