Are the Patriots too dependent on Tom Brady, particularly when the quarterback is going to be 35 years old in August? That question was posted by moderator Trey Wingo recently at the third annual ESPNBoston.com/Patriots draft special for Patriots season ticket holders. Here is a sampling of the responses from the panelists (video above):
* ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter: "We're in an area where you start to say, 'We're in the twilight here,' where you have to begin to prepare for the future and know that Tom Brady is now on the clock. Maybe he plays 3-4 more years. You know the end is a lot closer than the beginning at this point. If anything, he is still performing at an all-time high level, but you know that there's not that much left of it."
* ESPNBoston.com Patriots analyst Tedy Bruschi: "Right now, this team is too dependent on Tom Brady, they lean on him too much. You can't ask him to throw for over 5,000 yards again next year. And I think they see that and I think that's why you're seeing the fullbacks signed, the third tight end signed. That's why I am extremely upset that they let BenJarvus Green-Ellis go. Maybe they get one of those veteran running backs.
"They have to start running the ball sometime soon. Because to be that precise over the course of an entire season is very difficult to do in the passing game. They way Tom Brady has to be so accurate against these defenses. ... these windows that the quarterbacks have to throw it to are getting smaller and smaller. To take a little pressure off of Tom Brady, it's so much easier to just sometimes hand the ball off and let your offensive line work."
* ESPNBoston.com Patriots reporter Mike Reiss: "Brady is signed through 2014, so you have three more seasons. To me it's not unrealistic to think he'll still play at a high level over those three seasons. One of the big stories last year was Indianapolis didn't have a backup plan for when things went wrong with Peyton Manning. And it cost Bill Polian his job because their season went down the tube. I look at the Patriots from a positive perspective. If things go wrong with Tom Brady, I think their backup situation is as good as any in the league with Brian Hoyer in his forth year, Ryan Mallett, a third-round pick last year. I think they're well set up should things go in the wrong direction."
Look to the blog throughout the next week for more video from the draft preview event.