FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Patriots’ to-do list: The quiet time of the NFL calendar has arrived -- a break from the end of June's minicamps to the start of training camp in late July -- but that doesn't mean business stops completely. Here are three issues for coach Bill Belichick's Patriots, and where things stand with them.
Mac's contract -- First-round pick Mac Jones has yet to sign his rookie deal, and in fact, defensive tackle Christian Barmore (second round) and defensive end Ronnie Perkins (third round) also remain unsigned. A cause for concern? Hardly. Sometimes agents prefer to wait to see more contracts finalized before moving forward, and those close to the situation relay that's the current dynamic in play.
Gilmore resolution -- When cornerback Stephon Gilmore didn't report for June's mandatory minicamp, it was essentially his call for action to the team to address his base salary of $7 million, which is below market for a player of his caliber. At the same time, the situation hardly seems contentious, as evidenced by Gilmore's presence in town last week. Just business, and this is the time for the sides to explore resolutions.
A perfect 10? -- If the past is any indication, rookies should soon be receiving their official jersey numbers, and Jones' No. 10 (last worn by receiver Damiere Byrd) is available. That's what Jones wore at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, and also in college at Alabama. The last quarterback to wear 10 for the Patriots was Jimmy Garoppolo, and come to think of it, that's who Jones reminded me of most after watching him in spring practices.
We're talking about jersey numbers?
Yup, it must be the slower time on the NFL calendar, which is why this Patriots notebook will take a multiple-week hiatus until later in July. Reporters need time to recharge the batteries as well.
2. Rookies tour Hall: When the Kraft family first unveiled its vision for a Patriots Hall of Fame on May 20, 2007, the idea was to honor franchise greats and provide fans an opportunity to celebrate the team's championship transition through a cutting-edge multimedia experience. Since the Hall opened in 2008, it has done that ... and more. One example came on Friday when the team's 2021 rookie class toured the exhibits and watched the signature "Patriots Way" film in the Raytheon Theater.
Looks like videoboard in the south end zone at Gillette Stadium had a good offseason program. Definitely bigger and stronger.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 25, 2021
Before ... and after. pic.twitter.com/6Od1c5oN73
3. New look at Gillette: When playing in a venue that he wasn't as familiar, Tom Brady would often visit the field before the game to get a feel for things like the location of the all-important play clock. He didn't want to take a delay-of-game penalty for not being able to quickly identify how much time he had left.
Brady wouldn't have to do that at Gillette Stadium, but when he returns with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 3 for a highly-anticipated homecoming, he'll likely want to reacquaint himself with the south end zone, which has undergone a significant makeover with a larger-than-life videoboard.
As a result, the game clock has moved from the left side of the old screen to the right. It is now next to the play clock, which was moved further to the right from its original location to accommodate the larger videoboard.
4. Jonnu not enrolled: George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers), Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) and the recently retired Greg Olsen gathered 49 tight ends for "Tight End University" last week in Nashville, an idea sparked in hopes of generating more respect for the position. The Patriots' Hunter Henry said he had planned to attend, but Jonnu Smith was not enrolled. Smith, who is an expecting father, appeared to tweak something on the first day of mandatory minicamp.
5. Winovich stays local: Third-year outside linebacker Chase Winovich was one of five players not spotted on the field at Patriots mandatory minicamp in mid-June, sparking questions about his absence -- especially since he had taken part in prior voluntary spring practices. One follow-up: Winovich has stayed local since minicamp, connecting with teammates at Gillette Stadium as the focus turns to preparations for the start of training camp.
6. Rodney on fourth-and-2: In a story on former Patriots players seamlessly transitioning to national broadcast work -- and crediting their time with the organization for providing the springboard -- Rodney Harrison relayed how criticism of Belichick for his fourth-and-2 decision in 2009 was his defining broadcasting moment. The natural follow-up: Did he receive any flak from Belichick himself?
Said Harrison, "I was just up there for the Patriots Hall of Fame [in 2019], and Belichick told me and Willie McGinest, 'Look, if you guys have to criticize me, I understand it. You have a job to do.' I was like, 'Coach, I have no problem with that!' It was nice for him to say that, because somebody that gave me an opportunity, who really believed in you, the last thing you want to do is criticize him. But I had to do my job."
7. Hein at HUB: It's possible the Patriots might have had receiver Devin Ross in for a tryout at mandatory minicamp anyway -- given their background with him from 2020 on their practice squad -- but it couldn't have hurt that scouting assistant Jordon Hein had the chance to evaluate him in-person at the most recent HUB Football workout in San Diego. HUB football is a new concept, created by Brady's agent Don Yee, which brings players together in one location and provides them a platform to work out for scouts. In turn, NFL teams have a chance to evaluate multiple players at a fraction of the cost of bringing them to their own facility.
8. Not so fast on Gronk's digits: Ross had donned number 87 during his tryout, which marked the first time Rob Gronkowski's old number was back in circulation, but it was a short-lived return. Now that he's been signed to the 90-man roster, Ross has officially been issued No. 8 (along with linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley).
9. Arrington the author: Congratulations to former Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington (2009-2014) on the release of his new children's book, "Piece It, Together", an inspirational message to youngsters to strive to be the best version of themselves. Arrington overcame underdog odds to emerge in the NFL -- from undrafted free agent out of Hofstra (which no longer has a football program) to playing in two Super Bowls (winning one) -- and was always one of the most accountable, upstanding players in the Patriots' locker room. Arrington finished his career with the Ravens, but spent his final season there in 2016 on injured reserve after suffering a concussion in preseason.
10. Did You Know: A total of 23 first-round picks have signed their rookie contracts to date. Of that group, Justin Fields (No. 11, Bears) is the only quarterback.