The New England Patriots have struck a deal with veteran free agent inside linebacker Paris Lenon, according to Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe.
Per the report, the transaction likely takes the Patriots out of the running for former St. Louis Rams starting linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa. Tinoisamoa has visited the Patriots, Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills.
“Paris is excited to finally be a part of a winning organization and eager to contribute in whatever way Coach [Bill] Belichick and his staff see fit,” agent Jon Persch told the Globe. “Now, quite simply he’s eager to go to work.”
Lenon, 31, recorded a career-high 121 tackles last season for the Detroit Lions, leading the 0-16 team in tackles.
He has a previous stint with the Green Bay Packers.
The Patriots were in need of some proven experience at inside linebacker after third-round pick Tyrone McKenzie suffered a season-ending knee injury at a rookie minicamp.
THIS POST IS FROM PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM
Injury Report Shenanigans Raise Eyebrows Due To “Patriot Compliance”
Posted by Mike Florio on May 17, 2009, 10:58 p.m.
We suspect that the Patriots, their fans, and possibly the league office would explain away the decision not to disclose running back Laurence Maroney’s broken shoulder in the Week Five injury reports on the basis that he fully participated in practice the entire week, and played in the game.
The league applied a similar interpretation to the Steelers’ decision not to disclose in the Super Bowl week report that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a lingering rib/back problem that required an X-ray several days before the game.
But the fact remains that Maroney had a broken bone in his shoulder. At a bare minimum, we think he should have been disclosed as fully participating in practice, with the word “shoulder” in parentheses after his name. And since the term “probable” means there’s a virtual certainty that the player will be available for normal duty, a broken bone in the shoulder would seem to reduce a player’s potential availability at least to that level.
Indeed, the fact that quarterback Tom Brady routinely was listed by the Patriots as “probable” with a shoulder that surely wasn’t worse than broken illustrates, from a common-sense standpoint, the fact that Maroney’s injury should have been disclosed.
The fact that Maroney apparently was told to “ix-nay on the oulder-shay” suggests that the team was taking affirmative steps to keep the opponents from knowing that Maroney’s shoulder was in a fragile state.
Even if the Patriots have a semi-plausible excuse for hiding Maroney’s injury, we’re told that their decision to dance on the line of propriety is raising eyebrows in league circles.
Here’s why. A league source tells us that every team was required to submit earlier this year a certification signed by the owner, the G.M., and the head coach that there were no known violations of any competitive rules during the 2008 season.
Among the rules included within the certification, we’re told, are the injury-reporting requirements.
For many teams, the process known in some circles as the “Patriot Compliance” (since it arises from 2007’s Spygate scandal) required hours of additional work, since many of the owners, General Managers, and head coaches wanted to obtain signed certifications from all key subordinate personnel before making the assertion that no rules were violated.
And so the mere possibility that the team whose actions have forced the other 31 teams to engage in this new certification process potentially violated the injury-reporting rules has prompted a strong negative reaction from at least one franchise — and it could make for some interesting discussion at the upcoming ownership meetings in Ft. Lauderdale.
Story from Reiss' Pieces on Boston.com
An NFL source has confirmed, as first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, that Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel and his representatives sent a letter Saturday notifying the Patriots that Cassel accepts the non-exclusive franchise tag and the one-year, $14.65 million tender that goes with it.
This is akin to the sides agreeing to contract terms.
All that remains is for the Patriots to send Cassel a formal contract with the tender offer and he will sign it, guaranteeing himself a significant raise from the $520,000 he made last season. (Unlike standard NFL contracts, franchise tenders are guaranteed for the full amount.)
The Patriots notified Cassel via a letter Thursday that they were designating him as their franchise player. Cassel's letter is a response to that letter.
The franchise tender number for Cassel is the average of the top five salaries at the quarterback position.
Cassel's acceptance of the $14.65 million tender means that the Patriots will have $29.27 million of the $123 million salary cap allocated to two quarterbacks, Cassel and Tom Brady, who will make $5 million in base salary in 2009 and an additional $3 in bonus money, but will carry a $14.62 million salary cap number due to the amortization of past bonus money.
Having that much money tied up in two quarterbacks suggests the Patriots most likely will trade one of them, with the 26-year-old Cassel being the obvious candidate, for salary cap relief.
Another option would be to try to keep both quarterbacks, but either extend the contract of Brady, whose contract runs through the 2010 season, or work out more than a one-year deal with Cassel.
Patriots offense hits Steel defense, lose 33-10 by Fred Kirsch NFL.com
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense derailed the Patriots offensive locomotive of late to the tune of 33-10.
Rain, cold and a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense were too much for Matt Cassel and the New England Patriots on this day. Cassel had two interceptions, two lost fumbles and was below 50 percent passing. He wasn’t helped by his teammates with Randy Moss dropping a sure touchdown and another pass around 40 yards downfield. Moss wasn’t alone among the Patriots whose poor execution, particularly in the second half, has New England now on the outside looking in for a playoff berth chance.
Cassel had his roughest day as a Patriot, throwing 19 of 39 for only 169 yards. He was sacked five times and as a team, the Patriots converted only one third down out of 13 tries. They also turned the ball over five times to Pittsburgh’s one.
Kevin Faulk did everything he could to help his team with 6 runs for 73 yards and 7 catches for 48 yards.
The game started off on a positive note for New England as Mike Vrabel set up the first Patriots score early in the first quarter.
On his first series in the game, Ben Roethlisberger was second and 12 from his 22. He looked to pass to his right but didn’t get enough height on the throw to get over Vrabel’s outstretched arms. Vrabel held on and returned it to the Steelers 14. New England took over on offense and Cassel hit a streaking Wes Welker over the middle on second down for 12 yards to the 2. Sammy Morris put the finishing touches on the drive from there and New England had a 7-0 lead.
Pittsburgh got three points back later in the first quarter on a 20-yard Jeff Reed field goal. Roethlisberger converted a third and 7 early in the drive with a 15-yard completion to Nate Washington and later went back to Washington for 16 yards on third and 12 from the Patriots 27. On second and 6 from the 7, Roethlisberger scrambled but came up a yard short of the first down marker. On third down, fullback Gary Russell carried but was stuffed for no gain up the middle and the Steelers sideline elected to play it safe with the field goal.
A 29-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal gave the Patriots their touchdown lead back with just under seven minutes left in the first half. On the drive, the Patriots were in good shape after converting a fourth and inches from the Steelers 21 with a Morris run. But on third and 2 from the 11, Troy Polamalu hit Cassel just as he was throwing to Moss to force the field goal unit onto the field.
At the two-minute warning Pittsburgh was threatening to score, second and 6 from New England’s 19. The Steelers got there mixing pass and run to Mewelde Moore along with Hines Ward converting a third and 2 with a 4-yard catch at the Patriots 23. When play resumed, Roethlisberger found a wide open Santonio Holmes in the right top corner of the end zone to tie the game with the extra point.
With Ellis Hobbs’ return to the 27, New England had 1:50 to work with and two time outs.
After Welker caught a 6-yard pass, Faulk had a dandy of a run off left guard in which he deked out a couple Steelers and took 41 yards to the Pittsburgh 26. Two plays later Morris ran the same play to the right side for 14 yards to the 9. From there Cassel had three tries and plenty of time. He came up empty but his second pass attempt should have been an easy touchdown for Moss that was dropped. His third pass should have been an easy interception for Polamalu but he too, flubbed it. To make matters worse for New England, Gostkowski was wide right on his 27-yard attempt and the first half ended knotted at 10.
The Patriots had the ball first in the second half but a Casey Hampton sack stopped New England’s momentum and the Patriots punted at the Steelers 37.
The Steelers took over at their 14 and started pushing around the Patriots defense. Moore was good for a 20-yard run on the first play of the drive along with two other runs of 7 and 13 yards. Pittsburgh eventually got down to the Patriots 9, first and goal but couldn’t get further than the 7 with Roethlisberger throwing incomplete on second and third down due to good red zone coverage by New England. Reed was good on a 25-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 13-10 lead.
Disaster struck for the Patriots on the ensuing kickoff. Matthew Slater tried to field the kick, bobbled it and then kicked it toward the sideline. Keyaron Fox recovered before the ball went out of bounds and Pittsburgh was back in business, first and goal at the Patriots 8.
Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Ward from 11 yards out and it was Pittsburgh up by 10, 20-10.
It got worse for the Patriots.
On the next play from scrimmage, James Harrison got around Matt Light and stripped Cassel. LaMarr Woodley recovered for Pittsburgh on the Patriots 25.
Back on the field, Roethlisberger immediately hit Miller over the middle for 19 yards to the 6. Once again, however, the Patriots defense did its job in the red zone, holding Pittsburgh to a 20-yard field goal to make the score 23-13 with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Harrison did it again on the Patriots next series. The Patriots drive had just been extended due to a vicious and unnecessary hit on Welker by Ryan Clark. The penalty gave New England a first down but two plays later Harrison found his way to Cassel again and this time James Farrior recovered for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh would have liked to settle for three points yet again but this time Reed’s kick from 40 yards went wide left. It was a big break for New England; on the previous play Washington dropped a sure touchdown on third and 8.
With 11:29 left to play, the Patriots needed two touchdowns.
Any hope of a comeback was pretty much dashed when Cassel overthrew Benjamin Watson down the middle on third and 13 from the Steelers 43 during the next series. Polamalu was playing deep safety and came up with the interception, returning it to the Steelers 34.
It was a slow death for the Patriots as the Steelers came up with only three points after the turnover, a 45-yard field goal to make the score 26-10. The 6-play drive left only 5:39 for New England.
Finally, the Pittsburgh defense put the Patriots out of their misery when Lawrence Timmons picked off Cassel’s first and 10 pass from the Steelers 14.Cassel was looking for Faulk, who was one of the few players in blue having a good game, but Timmons stepped in front and returned the ball all the way to the New England 1 where Watson caught up to him.
Two plays later, Russell ran it in to make the final score 33-10.