NFL notebook: Defending champion Patriots open against Steelers

The New England Patriots will open the defense of their Super Bowl LIII title against the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 1, the NFL announced in its unveiling of the 2019 schedule.

FILE PHOTO: Oct 8, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with tight end Richard Rodgers (82) after scoring the winning touchdown at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The league announced in late March that the opening game of the season would pit the Green Bay Packers at the Chicago Bears on Thursday, Sept. 5. The defending Super Bowl champion normally opens the season with a home game on Thursday night, but the NFL wanted to feature its oldest rivalry to open its 100th season, which bumped New England to Sunday night, Sept. 8.

The Patriots will also be in prime time on Oct. 10 vs. the New York Giants (Thursday night), Oct. 21 at the New York Jets (Monday night), Nov. 3 at the Baltimore Ravens (Sunday night) and Dec. 1 at the Houston Texans (Sunday night), with a Dec. 21 or Dec. 22 home meeting with the Buffalo Bills as a possible flex option to Saturday night in prime time.

Joining the Patriots with five scheduled prime-time games are the Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Steelers and Seattle Seahawks, who have three in a row from Nov. 24-Dec. 8. The Cleveland Browns have four, plus several games that could be flexed later in the season, as do the Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.

—Fresh off receiving the richest deal in NFL history, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson declared he wants to “be a Seahawk for life.”

“My goal is to play 20 years, so I would be 43ish around then,” said Wilson, who was born in 1988. “So, that would be my goal to be honest with you, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

The next five years are taken care of after Wilson signed a four-year, $140 million extension on Tuesday afternoon. He received a $65 million signing bonus and is signed with the Seahawks through the 2023 season.

—A Florida judge issued a temporary protective order Wednesday halting the impending release of videos allegedly showing Patriots owner Robert Kraft soliciting prostitution at a massage parlor.

Judge Joseph Marx scheduled a hearing for April 29 to rule on whether police surveillance videos of Kraft and 24 other men from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla., will be released.

Kraft has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution following two January visits to the spa. He has pleaded not guilty and is requesting a jury trial.

—Recently retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski dented the team’s newest Lombardi Trophy by “bunting” a pitch from teammate Julian Edelman before the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day game at Fenway Park last week.

As detailed in a story and video on the team’s website, the incident happened as a portion of the team was preparing to throw out the first pitch on April 9, a little over two months after the Patriots’ triumph over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

As a warm-up pitch approached, Gronkowski squared and used the “bat” to bunt, making square contact with the back of the football shape atop the trophy. A loud clank can be heard on the video as the ball hits and bounces back toward the mound, followed by a bunch of players howling — some in laughter, others in surprise.

—The Miami Dolphins do not plan to trade safety Reshad Jones, general manager Chris Grier said.

Jones skipped the first two days of the Dolphins’ volunteer workouts, which prompted speculation that he might be moved. He is due to earn $13 million, including $11 million in guarantees, with Miami this season.

“I haven’t given him permission to seek a trade,” Grier said in comments published by the Miami Herald. “He doesn’t want a trade. At least he has not informed me. Yeah, Reshad is going to be here.”

—The Seattle Seahawks hosted former Los Angeles Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget and former Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Al Woods on a visit to the team facility, according to a report from ESPN.

The Seahawks also hosted Allen Bailey, a free-agent defensive end who last played for the Kansas City Chiefs.

—Field Level Media


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