A few leftovers from Thursday's weekly Patriots chat on ESPNBoston.com:
jblackburner (ATL): There has been some debate on the comment/message boards about undrafted free agent running back Brandon Bolden. My question: Do you think he can outperform Joseph Addai, and do you think that he would clear waivers and not get snatched up by another team if Bill Belichick wanted to put him on the practice squad? How many RBs/FBs do you see making the final 53?
I could see Bolden earning a roster spot over Addai if he outperforms him and puts some of the other off-field questions behind him. The Patriots won't hesitate to keep a younger player, even one that's undrafted, as we've seen in recent years. But until we see the players on the field, it's hard to project anything, so one way to look at it is through the economic lens. The one-year contract that Joseph Addai signed included $125,000 in bonus money that he will see regardless of whether he makes the roster, and then a $218,750 roster bonus. So one might say that reflects some minor uncertainty on the team's side that Addai will definitely be on the roster. While there is probably a vision for how it might unfold, I don't think the club has any firm decision made at this point and will let the competition in training camp dictate.
Matt (Elon NC): Can Shane Vereen take the starting job at RB, or will it go to Stevan Ridley?
I wouldn't look at the running back spot from a "starter" or "backup" perspective. One thing we've seen in recent years is that the Patriots use all their backs, and the so-called "third-down" back is just as important as any of them. To me, this one is straight-forward. Between BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, the Patriots have a 40-percent playing time void to fill and I think it's realistic to think those two can split it, assuming good health for both.
Jon (Raynham): Wes Welker claims the contract talks have gotten worse since last season. What's your take on this? I can understand some level of frustration, but I really haven't been a fan of how he's talked about his contract status. The Pats seem to reward people who quietly show up at work (i.e. Brady, Wilfork, Mayo). Talking rarely gets anything else out of the Pats.
Jon, the Patriots prefer to keep negotiations private, but I don't think it's 100 percent accurate that they only reward players who quietly show up to work. Logan Mankins is one recent example. Vince Wilfork had also expressed public frustration. Clearly Welker is bothered by this. He's been a good employee the last five years and if the Patriots really did reduce their offer, that's a "unique" way to treat someone who represents everything you want in your locker room. If I'm Welker, that really hurts after everything I've given the organization. On the flip side, I think Welker could benefit from buttoning things up and asking the club for a fresh start in refocused talks, with the springboard that everything will stay interal as his emotions got the best of him. In the end, I see it as a two-way street, with both sides needing to give a little. If both sides are truly committed to a longer-term deal, in the three-year range, I don't think it should be that hard. I just question the commitment to find a compromise at this point.