According to a report in Friday's New Orleans Times-Picayune the Tebucky Jones trade talks between the Saints and Patriots are heating up again as the Saints have sweetened their offer for the safety. Citing league sources the paper says the deal could be completed as early as next week as New Orleans has added a late-round pick in this April's draft and a mid-round pick in 2004 to its previously reported offer of a third-round pick this year.
The report states the Patriots are now mulling over the new offer and could make a decision by next week. Popular speculation has been that New England will trade the former first round pick and five-year NFL veteran after placing the franchise tag on him earlier this offseason. Including Jones' $3.043 million franchise salary and the contracts of Pro Bowler Lawyer Milloy and free agent signee Rodney Harrison, the Patriots currently have more than $10 million of the $75 million 2003 salary cap devoted to its three safeties.
Green Praises LSU's James
Patriots second-year defensive lineman Jarvis Green had good things to say this week about LSU linebacker and former teammate Bradie James. James is a 6-2, 242-pound linebacker who has been widely mentioned as a potential New England selection in the upcoming draft.
"He's a good guy on and off the field," Green said recently following a workout in the Patriots offseason program. "He's a competitor. Also, the defense [at LSU] is similar to this defense. For three years he's topped 100 tackles and not a lot of guys do that in the SEC. Last year he was kind of out there by himself. He was the leader and I watched the games and he was all over the place. As far as linebacker goes I think he's one of the top five in the draft."
Green also said that his current employers have talked to him about his former teammate and asked for his opinions on him.
"They asked me what kind of guy he was," Green said. "That's the one thing I've noticed about the coaches here. They don't ask you if he can play, they ask you what kind of person he is first. [Patriots Head Coach, Bill] Belichick is looking for honest guys on and off the field who will represent the organization. He's a real positive guy."
Running back gets camp invite
According to a report in yesterday's Patriot Ledger the Patriots have invited former Chargers running back Jermaine Fazande to the team's May minicamp. The 6-2, 262-pound former 1999 second-round pick out of Oklahoma has been out of football for the last two seasons. The 28-year-old Fazande had an ankle injury with San Diego that basically brought his short two-year career to what looked like a close.
But now healthy and ready to attempt a comeback the tailback/fullback is appreciative of the opportunity he will reportedly receive in New England.
"I'm very excited,'' Fazande told the Patriot Ledger. ''I think the Patriots are a good fit. I'm very excited to get up there and play ball. I'm just glad the Patriots gave me an opportunity to come in and prove myself.'
''They didn't make any promises,'' Fazande said. ''I'm just blessed with this opportunity after being out for a while. I'm just eager.''
In his 18-game career with the Chargers Fazande carried the ball 210 times for 733 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught 16 passes for 104 yards. The highlight of his brief career came with a 30-carry, 183-yard rushing performance against the Broncos in the final game of his rookie season in 1999.
NFLE Week Two
NFL Europe enters its second weekend with seven Patriots again set to see action across the pond. The Scottish Claymores will have four Patriots in their starting lineup and will try to follow up their record-setting 62-31 opening day win against the Frankfurt Galaxy and Patriots center/guard Mike Clare. Former Brown University running back and current Patriots fullback Michael Malan will look to once again open holes for the Claymores' dominating running game, which racked up 282 yards last week as Malan paved the way for six rushing touchdowns. Other Patriots in action for the Claymores will include cornerback Dyshod Carter and tight end Rod Trafford, as well as wideout Scott McCready and quarterback Shane Stafford, who connected for a 26-yard score last week. The Claymores-Galaxy game can be seen on DirecTV at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 13. Patriots middle linebacker Courtney Ledyard will also be in action on the Continent when his Rhein Fire square off with the Berlin Thunder on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. on DirecTV. NFLE's other game features the Barcelona Dragons against the Amsterdam Admirals and will be shown live on Fox Sports Net at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.
Patriots media relations graduate assistant Casey O'Connell contributed to this report.