Patriots notes, quotes, and anecdotes: Rhamondre Stevenson gets paid — Who’s next?

Good morning, happy Sunday, and welcome back into another edition of ‘Patriots notes, quotes, & anecdotes’ – a weekly piece hitting on all of the happenings surrounding the New England Patriots. 

Here we go:

— Patriots once again reward their own. Who’s next?

Continuing their trend of rewarding their own, as well as “drafting and developing”, the Patriots signed running back Rhamondre Stevenson to a four-year contract extension this week worth up to $36 million.

The deal includes $17 million, an $8 million signing bonus, and according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, “a total of $12M available in incentives based on reaching at least 1,400 yards and becoming a Pro Bowler or All-Pro.”

Stevenson is the eighth veteran player that the Patriots re-signed this offseason, joining safety Kyle Dugger (drafted 2020), tackle Mike Onwenu (drafted 2020), tight end Hunter Henry (signed 2021), wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (signed 2021), linebacker Joshua Uche (drafted 2020), and linebacker Anfernee Jennings (drafted 2020). So who’s next up?

My guess is defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. Godchaux is headed into the final year of the two-year, $20.8 million deal he signed in 2022 (after originally signing in New England on a two-year, $15 million contract back in 2021), and is once again looking for a pay bump. The 29-year-old is in the midst of what looks to be a “hold-in” this Spring — showing up to mandatory workouts but not actually participating.

When the Pats extended Godchaux two July’s ago, head coach Bill Belichick made headlines by calling him, “one of the best defensive linemen in the league.” While this anointment can be considered a stretch, the former LSU Tiger has been solid for the Patriots’ defensive front. Through three seasons in New England, Godchaux has started 50 of his 51 games played and tallied 183 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, and 2.5 sacks.

Matthew Judon’s hold-in was successful last offseason. Expect Godchaux’ to as well.

— Austin Hooper attends Tight End University in Nashville.

Four years ago, former NFL tight end-turned FOX commentator Greg Olsen, 49ers tight end George Kittle, and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce hatched an idea: Tight End University.

The yearly congregation, according to the TEU website, “was created to bring the Tight End community together for an immersive three-day program. Over the course of the summit, attendees are able to bond, collaborate with, and learn amongst their peers while participating in a variety of activities including film study, on-field drills, recovery, rehabilitation, and more. In addition to current players, TEU also features several retired legends who provide attendees with the invaluable opportunity to learn from some of the best to ever play the game.”

This year’s camp took place in Dallas, and among the many tight ends in attendance included Patriots’ Austin Hooper:

Hooper signed a one-year deal in New England this offseason worth up to $4.25 million. He joins a room with Hunter Henry and seventh-round rookie Jaheim Bell. Notably, Hooper played under now-Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt during his time in Cleveland. Over two seasons with the Browns, the 6-foot-4 target caught 84 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns.

He’s also, obviously, familiar with the system New England will look to run in 2024. Helpful for both his own opportunities to get on the field, and to help along a veteran in Henry and a rookie in Bell.

— Brady on Bill.

Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will serve as FOX’s lead color commentator on their NFL broadcasts next season, joined FS1’s “The Herd” on Tuesday as a part of his soft launch as an analyst for the network.

Host Colin Cowherd, as he does, tried to stir the pot a little bit when asking if the way Bill Belichick was as a coach would make the Patriots “tight” the day before a game. Brady explained that it was the exact opposite:

“I think the answer would be no, and I think that’s where Bill was actually so great,” he explained. “And no one saw him in those moments like we did.”

”On Saturday night,” Brady continued, “We were so prepared and so focused — we were the opposite of tight. We were always relaxed, because we had the answers to the test. I knew that — I went through the call sheet and let’s say we had 150 calls on the call sheet. There was a meeting, a squad meeting, at 8 o’clock. I would meet with the quarterbacks starting at 6:30, and the offensive coordinator. We would go through every single play on the call sheet, and we’d do exactly [this]: ‘Okay this is the play, this is a run. What’s the one thing that can mess this run up? Oh, a safety blitz off the right side. Okay great, what do you wanna do if that happens?’”

“So… if that call was made I’d break the huddle I’d look to the line of scrimmage and I’d say, ‘Okay the only problem I have on this play is if the safety is blitzing off the right side.’ And then I would just look for it. And he only did it, let’s say 5% of the time. So most coaches would just say, ‘Ah just run the play whatever. If they get lucky and call it at the same time, one for them.’ And that’s not how I played because that one play could mean everything. So I would say, ‘No no no no. If it’s a 5% chance, it could happen. What should I do if it happens?’ So we’re all on the same page. So I would tell the line, ‘Okay, if this guy’s blitzing this is what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna check to this play, called Wolf or called Beetle or called Python. Whatever we wanted to call it, this is what I’m gonna do. Or I’m gonna check to a screen, Liz, Rip. I’m gonna change the protection and go to Greta or Grape. So there was all these different code words that we had so we could get to them so quickly because it’s hard to do when there’s 70,000 fans. You know it’s hard to do… communicate to everybody in 10 seconds to go from one play to another play, but that’s what the continuity allowed us to do over a long period of time.”

“That’s what the same coordinator, the similar core group of players could do, the same offensive line coach — ‘Oh yeah we did that two years ago I like that solution that worked great that allowed us to win the game. Great we gain confidence in it.’ So that continuity that we had with all of us allowed us to succeed in those little, small percentage chances that they did something or made a call that could beat what we were doing.”

You can listen to Brady’s full interview with Cowherd here:

Sure, Brady went on a little rant here, but I had to keep transcribing it because not only is it incredible to hear him open up about Belichick, but also how their longevity together made each year that much easier.

— Roster moves:

The Patriots made the following roster moves this week:

  • Released G Ryan Johnson
  • Signed G Liam Fornadel

Fornadel, 25, played at James Madison University from 2017-2021 as a right and left tackle before signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL. He has since played right guard for the XFL/UFL’s D.C. Defenders for the last two seasons. The 6-foot-4, 312-pounder signed a three-year deal for $2.83 million.

— Plenty of Tom Brady connections to Celtics championship, parade.

Speaking of Brady, Boston Celtics officially claimed Banner 18 on Monday night and the GOAT was one of the first to congratulate the C’s, writing “Another one in Boston ☘️” on his Twitter account:

Brady, of course, won six Super Bowls with the Patriots and one with the Buccaneers and is no stranger to a good championship parade. During his last one in Tampa Bay, he had a little too much fun and had to be walked off the boat by his backup quarterback Ryan Griffin, giving us this legendary video:

So, when center Al Horford took to the Celtics’ parade on Friday, he paid homage to the GOAT by rocking a picture of him on his t-shirt:

It’s different here.

Thanks for reading! We’ll talk to ya next week.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick for the latest up-to-date Patriots and Boston sports news!

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Mike Kadlick

Mike is a Patriots reporter with experience in radio, podcasting, and writing. Follow him on Twitter @mikekadlick.

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