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Saturday, January 24, 2009
You'll regret not reading this AFC East mailbag


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Mack from Waverly writes: Hey Tim I have a couple of questions regarding the patriots defense. Alot of people are counting on the pats to draft a corner high or get one in free agency. I really felt like the defense improved down the stretch after Jonathan Wiilhite was injected into the starting lineup. Do you think he might be the answer at corner? Also do you think the pats might ask Junior Seau back for depth since he has bailed them out for three straight years?

Tim Graham: I'm with you on Jonathan Wilhite. I thought he played well opposite Ellis Hobbs late in the season and may have convinced the Patriots they're OK at cornerback for next year. Junior Seau was an emergency replacement late in the season. He won't be back in 2009 unless disaster strikes -- repeatedly.


Brian in Fort Myers, Fla., writes: I do not see Buffalo taking the TE from OSU, he is unpolished and has too many off the field issues in his past. I actually think he could be a bust and we need help at DE and LB, who do you see the Bills looking at with their first two picks. Thanks--Go Bills!

Tim Graham: You're correct that defensive end and linebacker are needs. The Bills also need a center, but that's not a position you take in the top third of the first round unless he's elite, and there are no elite centers in this year's draft class. That said, Bills fans should be happy if Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the pick.


Matthew in Wichita, Kan., writes: There Rumor going on net that Pats hired Romo back to staff. That Pats going after Free agents in nfl as well look at draft because of Jared Mayo.And look at May talking Ray Lewis.

Tim Graham: See what I deal with here? I get about 47 questions like this in my chat every week and another dozen in my mailbag.


Mr. Anonymous in Phoenix writes: tim, i seem to be the only bills fan that doesn't blame dick jauron for yet another losing season (bills seem to have a history of it). do you think he can get the bills to 9 wins or should i wait until the team is sold to another town to see a winning season.

Tim Graham: I've written in my chats and mailbags before I think Jauron is a satisfactory coach. Buffalo's problems are systemic, not coach-oriented. When the Bills decided to retain Jauron and make few front-office changes, Bills fans must hope they've at least decided to adopt a new philosophy on spending money and obtaining players.

The free-agency period hasn't begun yet, so it's too early to tell for sure, but fact the Bills went hard after CFL sackmaster Cameron Wake -- they lost out to the Dolphins -- could indicate they'll be active in pursuing free agents.


Josh in Norfolk, Va., writes: Mr. Graham -- do you think the Phins will pursue Julius Peppers?

Tim Graham: It wouldn't appear the Dolphins would be hot for Peppers, whose agent recently announced the Carolina Panthers defensive end would like to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The Dolphins already have Joey Porter, and last week they spent a healthy chunk (by CFL standards) on Wake. They also gave an exorbitant sum to Charlie Anderson last year.


Doug in Memphis, Tenn., writes: Kurt Warner will QB a second team in the Super Bowl. How many other QB's have done that?

Tim Graham: Kurt Warner is the third quarterback to lead two franchises to the Super Bowl, joining Craig Morton (Cowboys, Broncos) and Earl Morrall (Colts, Dolphins). But Morton was the first to start both Super Bowls. Bob Griese came back from injury in time to start Super Bowl VII in place of Morrall.


George in Wilmington, Del., writes: The last time the Jets drafted an offensive weapon in the 1st round was in 2001 (Santana Moss) and before that it was Keyshawn. Do you think this has contributed to gang greens woes? Was sticking with Tannenbaum over Mangini (or sticking with him at all) a bad choice? Is there a roadmap for the Jets to make a play-off run next season? I am not looking forward to another 5 or more years of having my heart broken.

Tim Graham: Great football teams are about the organization, the culture, the system. Mike Tannenbaum has made more moves that contribute to establishing a winner than he has made mistakes.

The Rex Ryan hire was a great one, even though he is another in a line of defensive-minded coaches. That's where their affinity for taking defensive players in the first round stems from.

Ryan will establish his tone and begin to weed out the players who don't fit his mind-set while adding players who do. But the Jets aren't in need of a major overhaul. They won nine games last year and have talent on the roster. If the Dolphins can go from one victory to 11 in one year's time, then the Jets certainly can make the playoffs next year.


Mark in Danville writes: With McCoy and Bradford electing to return to school does that increase the potential trade value for Matt Cassel should the Pats look to move him before the draft?

Tim Graham: Fewer available prospects will affect Cassel's value somewhat. It's about supply and demand. But the Patriots won't be able to trade Cassel before the draft because they won't know enough about Tom Brady's rebuilt left knee by then. The primary reason they'll franchise Cassel is to provide insurance in case Brady's not ready.


TK in Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Hey Tim, this seems like a no brainer to me, but is there any chance the Bills go after former Colts defensive cooridinator Ron Meeks? Buffalo runs that Tampa 2 defense he ran under Dungy, and he would be a great help in improving their defense; plus he knows how to defend Brady and the Patriots. The Bills would be foolish not to try and get this guy on their staff in some capacity or another. Please tell me this is going to happen.

Tim Graham: Hate to break it to you, but it's not going to happen. Word out of Orchard Park is that Dick Jauron wants to keep his staff intact. The only way defensive coordinator Perry Fewell won't be back is if he leaves on his own accord; defensive line coach Bill Kollar split for a Texans promotion. As for Meeks joining the Bills as an assistant, I'm sure he'll have better offers to consider.


Dwayne in Ohio writes: Tim, Im lovin the blog. How do you think the dolphins should handle free agency. I persoanlly think that they should dump vernon carey and use the money to keep the secondary and get a free-agent such as terrell suggs. A great pass-rush from suggs and porter would greatly assist the secondary. But then again, getting rid of carey would also put another hole in an offensive that already looks like swiss cheese. What should they do?!?!

Ti
m Graham:
I can't say I agree with you, Dwayne. Quality tackles are difficult to come by, and Vernon Carey has been reliable for years. He's good, he plays every down and he's only 27. As for Terrell Suggs, every team would love to have a linebacker like him, but he probably will get the franchise tag. Even if he doesn't, the Dolphins have committed significant money to other outside linebackers, as mentioned in my response to the Julius Peppers question.


Dr. Cliff from Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: A Jets fan since they were Titans. If Favre goes, are Jets best off shopping for or trying to groom a QB (i.e., draft)?

Tim Graham: If Brett Favre were to retire, the options to replace him would be limited. New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini wrote a story on that subject for Friday's editions. Cimini mentioned the Jets could trade for Derek Anderson or pick up a free agent, with the best possibilities Kurt Warner, Kerry Collins, Byron Leftwich, Jeff Garcia and Rex Grossman. As for the draft, the Jets already have three young prospects on their roster: Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge. Drafting another one sounds wasteful.


Jonathan from Parts Unknown writes: Hello, you never answered my question in your chat session and I just want to get an answer on what you think. Torry Holt as a Buffalo Bill. -Two years left on his contract. - can play well alongside Evans while Johnson and Hardy are progressing or proving to be busts - has a moderate contract for a HOF player for someone of Ralph's stinginess. - played very well on a bad team for a couple of years. - will help Trent's learning curve. -------------- what do you think of that scenario and what would we need to give them for him? Maybe throw in roscoe but realistically what draft picks would we need for him? would you be concerned about him playing in Buffalo 6 games rather than a dome or will his HOF status overcome the cold and wind? Thanks again Mr. Graham.

Tim Graham: It's no secret Torry Holt is unhappy in St. Louis and wants out. I'm not so sure he'd be a great fit in Buffalo, though. You seem to be overly impressed with his credentials as a Hall of Famer, but he's 32 years old and slowing down. He had 64 receptions for 796 yards and three touchdowns this season. He still has some good football left in him, but the Bills already are paying Lee Evans superstar money. Holt's cap number for 2009 is about $10.2 million.


Mr. Anonymous from Providence, R.I., writes: I know you recently reference John Clayton about Rodney Harrison's chances of being elected into the hall of fame. However, just the fact that he is the only player ever to have 30+ sacks and 30+ interceptions should be enough for him to be elected into the hall of fame. He also won two superbowls with NE and is know as being a hardnosed player that never took plays off.

Tim Graham: Remember when Jose Canseco was the first 40-40 player in baseball history? Boy, that was something.

In all seriousness, I agree that Harrison's unprecedented statistical accomplishment is worthy of consideration. But safeties are a hard sell to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors. Harrison also made only two Pro Bowls. That works against him, too. He'll be an interesting and highly debated case when he's eligible.


Jason Starr from Parts Unknown writes: Tim, I can't believe Bruschi is not part of the Hall of Fame conversation for the Patriots. He was an inspirational leader and constant playmaker for 10 solid years, he went to the Super Bowl as a rookie starter in 1996 and won super bowls with Lawyer Milloy and Rodney Harrison. He quarterbacked some of the best defenses in NFL history and he risked everything to be the first person ever to return to a full contact sport at the pro level after a stroke because he loves the game that much. He may not be full ballot but he's a definite Hall of Famer, and an inspiration to a lot of people. Please think about it, and Clayton should give him some thought too..

Tim Graham: Tedy Bruschi will never get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bruschi is a fan favorite with an inspirational story, and that overinflates his on-field distinctions. He has been a very good player. But he's not even close to being a Hall of Famer, not with only one Pro Bowl.


Dan in Brighton, Mass., writes: What's up Tim. Just looking for your thoughts on Matt Cassell's trade value. Teams tend to be very tight about giving up first rounders, so I wanted to get your thoughts on what the Patriots might have to settle for: possible a 3rd and a 5th?

Tim Graham: The front-office types whom I have spoken with about Cassel's trade value estimate the starting price will be a high first-round draft pick and then additional later-round picks. Here's a blog I wrote a couple weeks ago in which I broached the subject to former Titans GM Floyd Reece and former player personnel executive Michael Lombardi.


Nick in Palm Harbor, Fla., writes: Hey Tim hows it goin love your work. I just had a few things i'd like some input on. With the patriots losing an offensive coordinator and everyone wondering who will be the replacement. (my guess is belichick) In your opinion whats the possibility that an offensive genius like oh I dont know Mike Shannahan for example comes in and takes the reins for the patriots 2009 offense. To my understanding bill and mike are friends and have a great amount of respect for eachother and shannahan is the only coach in the nfl to have a winning record against belichick. I just see another unstopable offense like 2007 with belichick as head coach and shannahan as off. coord. as a patriots fan I would be overjoyed to see something like that happen. Thanks for all the time you put into the Afc East.

Tim Graham: Thanks for the kind words, Nick. Glad you're enjoying the blog. I think the scenario you conjured up is a fascinating one, but I'll put the odds at about one in a billion. First off, I don't think Mike Shanahan isn't interested in coaching in 2009, especially not in a reduced role. Keep in mind he ran the whole show in Denver, including player personnel. Secondly, I'm not sure Belichick would want to bring in a coach he knows won't be around beyond this season. But that sure would be a fantasy coaching staff, wouldn't it?