BOCA RATON, Fla. — With “Deflategate” a never-ending saga, Patriots owner Robert Kraft drew a big crowd Monday at the NFL owners meetings.
At times, Kraft tried to steer attention to the Patriots’ offseason moves, which included adding former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett and linebacker Shea McClellin.
When fielding a question about star tight end Rob Gronkowski and his contract, Kraft mentioned his team’s excitement about Bennett’s arrival.
“We got [Gronkowski] a partner in Martellus Bennett,” Kraft said. “We think they should be a pretty fun combo for our fans to watch this year. I know Tom Brady is very happy with that addition.”
Kraft also was asked about Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, who are free agents after the 2016 season.
The Patriots signed McClellin, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2012, to a three-year, $12 million contract last week.
“Every move we make is trying to make the Patriots stronger this year, but also in the future so that we can continue to compete,” Kraft said.
Letter to Goodell
As for Deflategate, Kraft said he wrote a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell more than a month ago asking the league to rescind the penalties imposed on his team after the investigation into Brady’s use of underinflated footballs in the 2014 AFC title game.
The penalties included the forfeiture of the Patriots’ first-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
Kraft said he didn’t see any momentum from other owners to overturn the penalties.
“I wish they would because they could be in a similar position,” said Kraft, who declined to say whether Goodell responded to his letter. “We have put our case forward, and that’s where it stands.”
The NFL randomly tested the air pressure in footballs before games last season but hasn’t released any information.
“They have results, and for whatever reason, they haven’t shared them with any of us,” Kraft said. “We actually requested at the beginning of the season that they test every game throughout the league, but they chose to do it their way.”
Bears host TE Hill
The Bears’ brass might be in Florida for the owners meetings, but free agency continues back at Halas Hall. According to ESPN, the Bears hosted Saints tight end Josh Hill.
Hill was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Saints in 2013, when Bears general manager Ryan Pace was in their front office.
The Saints made a qualifying offer to Hill earlier this month. In three seasons, Hill has 36 catches for 340 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Bears have a need at tight end after trading Bennett. Zach Miller, Rob Housler, Khari Lee and Gannon Sinclair are the tight ends on the roster.
Contributing: Associated Press
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns