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Patriots Rival Buffalo Loses in Playoffs; Chiefs-Bengals Rematch in AFC Championship Game

Follow along as the New England Patriots enter the 2023 offseason with tweaks on the coaching staff, free agency and their highest draft pick since 2008.

JAN 22: PATRIOTS RIVAL BUFFALO OUT OF PLAYOFFS: The Patriots will remain the only AFC East team since 1973 to win the Super Bowl, because the Buffalo Bills were knocked out of the playoffs Sunday with a disappointing 27-10 loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Burrow and the Bengals dominated from the start, taking a 14-0 lead and never looking back at snowy Highmark Stadium. The result sets up a Bengals-Chiefs AFC Championship, to be played next Sunday in Kansas City. The Patriots lost to the Bengals, 22-18, on Christmas Eve.

JAN 18: PATRIOTS SIGN LB FATUKASI TO FUTURES DEAL: The Patriots announced on Wednesday that they have signed linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi to a futures contract.

Fatukasi originally signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers in May 2022. The 6-2, 240-pound defender made the 53-man roster out of training camp and played in 13 games. Fatukasi logged six special teams tackles before being released by Tampa Bay in early December. He finished his 2022 campaign on the Denver Broncos practice squad after being signed on Dec. 16.

New England has also reached agreement on futures contracts with linebacker Terez Hall, defensive back Brad Hawkins, offensive lineman Hayden Howerton, cornerbacks Quandre Mosely and Rodney Randle, Jr, linebacker Calvin Munson, wide receiver Tre Nixon, running back J.J. Taylor, tight ends Matt Sokol and Scotty Washington and defenisve linemen Jeremiah Pharms Jr. and LaBryan Ray.

JAN 18: PATS WORK OUT PAIR OF PUNTERS: Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots hosted a pair of CFL punters at Gillette Stadium for work outs on Wednesday afternoon.

Cody Grace punted at Arkansas State before being drafted in the first round by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2021 CFL Global Draft. He played in 14 regular season games and had 78 punts with a 45.6-yard average. Grace was named a CFL Western All-Star at the end of the year, becoming the first Global player to win the award.

Ben Griffith is a former Australian rules football player, who played professionally for eight years in Australia. However, Griffith was forced to retire early due to his history with concussions. In January 2018, he made the switch to American football, receiving a scholarship to USC. After graduating, Griffiths was selected in the first round (9th overall) by the Edmonton Elks in the 2022 CFL Global Draft. 

In light of incumbent punter Jake Bailey's two-game suspension to end the season, the Pats are apparently keeping their options open at the position.

JAN 18: COWBOYS SIGN EX-PAT VIZACINO: In search of a bit of competition, or perhaps a solution of their kicking game woes, the Dallas Cowboys have signed ex-Patriots practice squad kicker Tristan Vizcaino.

The Cowboys remain in the midst of a playoff run due to their 31-14 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Ba Buccaneers on Monday night. However, the perfoamcne of kicker Brett Maher, who became the first kicker since 1932 to miss four extra points in any game, may have given the Cowboys a bit of pause regarding their prowess at the position heading into the Divisional Round. 

The 25-year-old entered the NFL in 2018 as an undrafted rookie free agent from Washington. Since then, he has spent time with six teams, primarily as a member of their respective practice squads -- including a brief stint with the Cowboys scout team. Vizcaino suited up for one game with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 and appeared in six games for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021. In addition to the 49ers and the Chargers, Vizcaino has also seen practice squad action with the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills. 

Vizcaino rejoined the Patriots for his third stint on the practice squad midway through November. The 26-year-old has seen some in-game action in 2022, going 2-for-2 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points in relief for the Arizona Cardinals. He served as a game day elevation for two games for the Patriots, seeing action on six special teams snaps. 

Dallas is set to travel to Santa Clara, CA to take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs on Sunday, Jan. 22 at Levi's Stadium. 

JAN 18: CALEY INTERVIEWS FOR PATRIOTS OC: Despite rumors surrounding his imminent departure from New England, tight ends coach Nick Caley reportedly interviewed for the team's vacant offensive coordinator position on Tuesday, per NFL Newtork. 

As New England's longest-tenured coach, Caley has been an assistant for Belichick since the 2015 season. He began as an offensive assistant and has been the tight ends coach for the past six seasons. The 39-year-old was also New England's fullbacks coach for two seasons in 2020 and 2021.

The Patriots have also requested permission to interview Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, as well as Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell. 

Interviews are expected to continue throughout the week. 

JAN 18: McCARDELL TO INTERVIEW - The New England Patriots process for selecting a new offensive coordinator is underway. 

While Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien continues to remain the front-runner for the position, the Patriots have reportedly requested to speak with current Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell. 

He played for 17 seasons in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (under head coach Bill Belichick), Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, McCardell won two Super Bowl rings, with Washington in 1991 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002.

The 53-year-old previously served as the wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, University of Maryland, College Park and Washington Commanders.

JAN 16: BRADY BLUDGEONED - Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was out-played by Dak Prescott and unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys in a 31-14 blowout loss Monday night. Brady threw for 351 yards on an almost unfathomable 66 attempts, but most of his production came after Dallas dominated its way to a 24-0 lead. Brady, 45, will become a free agent in March. Was this the final game of his unprecedented, Hall-of-Fame career? Said Brady after the game, "I'm going to go home and get a good night’s sleep ... take it one day at a trime, truly.”

JAN 15: BILLS SURVIVE DOLPHINS: Despite a sloppy performance and a late scare, the Buffalo Bills held off the Miami Dolphins, 34-31, in a wild Wild Card game Sunday. The Bills, who have dominated the Patriots the last three seasons, advance to the Divisional Round attempting to become the first AFC East team other than New England since 1973 to win a Super Bowl.

JAN 14: SEAN PAYTON RIPPLE EFFECT? The New Patriots forge into their 2023 offseason not in search of a head coach, but rather an offensive coordinator. That doesn't mean, however, that they won't keep a close eye on the vacancies, interviews and transactions around the league. The Sean Payton saga will kick into high gear next week when he interviews with the Denver Broncos. The Texans and Cardinals have also requested permission to speak with him from the Saints, who have made it known they'll require a first-round draft pick and more in exchange for the former Super Bowl-winning coach. Where Payton lands will be the first domino, and one that will affect where coveted offensive-coordinator candidates such as Shane Steichen (Eagles), Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs), Ben Johnson (Lions) and Kellen Moore (Cowboys) wind up.

JAN 13: CALEY AND THE JETS? Is New England Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley keeping his friends close, but his enemies closer? 

Caley has reportedly emerged as a “strong candidate” for the New York Jets’ vacant offensive coordinator position, NFL Media reported Friday.

The report further stated that the 39-year-old is among four candidates who are of “very high interest” for the Jets.

The news comes just days after an ESPN report identified Caley as a “name to watch” for the Houston Texans offensive coordinator position — if the Texans hire current Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as their next head coach.

Though he is highly-regarded by both Belichick and Kraft, it is uncertain as to whether Caley will factor in to the Patriots coaching staff for 2023. New England confirmed, via press release on Thursday night, that the organization will begin interviewing potential candidates for their open offensive coordinator position. Following the departure of longer-term OC Josh McDaniels at the conclusion of the 2021 season, the Pats chose to reassign the duties to assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. The regression, experienced by the Pats offense in 2022, has led to an agreement between team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick that changes are needed. 

Caley is one of the few internal candidates that are likely to receive consideration for the position in New England.   

JAN 11 AB TROUBLE Antonio Brown is in trouble again, this time as a result of accusations made in a 911 call.

In November, a woman called a Tampa Police Dept. dispatcher and said that she and Brown - the former NFL star receiver and Patriot-for-a-moment (for two wild weeks in 2019)-  got into "a little argument" at their home. Brown hid out for a time from police, and later, the woman recanted her story.

However, now we know that according to the 911 call, the woman claimed Brown was sending "explicit videos" to the phone of her son (presumed to be a minor) ... and despite all of this, police withdrew the warrant after she recanted.

DEC 20: HALL BACK TO PRACTICE SQUAD: The New England Patriots announced that they have signed linebacker Terez Hall to the practice squad. Hall was released by New England in May, prior to the start of OTAs.

The 26-year-old originally joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent in 2019 out of Missouri. The 6-2, 235-pounder spent the 2019 season on the practice squad. In 2020, Hall began the regular season on the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster twice before being signed to the 53-man roster in November. He played in eight games with four starts and totaled 50 tackles and two passes defensed. Hall spent the 2021 season on the Reserve/PUP List.

Hall fills the final open spot on New England’s scout team, vacated by the signing of linebacker Cameron McGrone to the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday. 

DEC 10 TACTLESS MAC? Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has apparently drawn the attention of the NFL offices for … wait for it … a flick. 

The 24-year old was fined $10,609 for unsportsmanlike conduct late in last week’s 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jones flicked the ball and hit defensive end A.J. Epenesa after a sack. No flag was thrown, nor was Epenesa injured by the incident. 

By comparison, the NFL fined Bills safety Damar Hamlin $4,806 for a late hit to the helmet on Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers last Thursday night. Hamlin was flagged and ejected. 

Meyers remains in concussion protocol as a result of Hamlin’s hit, and will miss New England’s Week 14 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night Dec. 12 from State Farm Stadium in Glendale. 

Hamlin was fined exactly $5,803 than Jones. 

NOV 28 PATRIOTS GOOD WILL The Patriots have loaned out the team plane to University of Virginia football players and staff so they could attend the funerals of three teammates who passed away on Nov. 13. 

Virginia athletes Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were shot and killed on a charter bus on Nov. 13 after returning home from a class trip.

The Patriots plane allowed the UVA football team to travel to all three out-of-state funerals.

OCT 18 JERRY VS. KRAFT? - NFL owners on Tuesday agreed almost unanimously on most things, but - according to ESPN - billionaire power-brokers Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft got involved in a heated argument along the way.

According to the story, the Dallas Cowboys owner at one point told the New England Patriots' boss, "Don't f--- with me!"

Replied Kraft, "Excuse me?"