A few leftovers from the weekly Patriots chat on ESPNBoston.com:
George (Boston): How much do you think Mark Anderson's contract will play into discussions for re-signing Andre Carter? I think most people would agree that up until his injury, Andre was undoubtedly the more dominant player both against the pass and against the run. Many of Anderson's sacks came on second-effort coverage-sack plays using his closing speed, whereas Carter was a truly disruptive force. While coming off injury certainly adds a wrinkle, shouldn't Andre be looking at Anderson's contract as a base for negotiating?
George, when comparing Carter and Anderson over the course of the 2011 season, I'd agree with the assessment that Carter was the more dominant player both against the pass and the run. However, I think there are two important factors that make his situation different than Anderson's in terms of a contract for 2012 and beyond. The first is what was mentioned -- the injury. It's unlikely any team would invest what the Bills did in Anderson for a player coming off an injury like Carter's. The second factor is age -- Carter is 33, Anderson is 29. On top of that, one has to factor in timing. Anderson's timing was right -- he was healthy on the open market when teams had money to spend in the offseason and he found that one suitor willing to break the bank. Carter's timing is much different and as we know, the market is ever-evolving.
Eric (MA): My surprise cut is linebacker Tracy White. As much as White helped last year, I think Carpenter is better the first three downs and pretty much on par with White on special teams (which is very good). Thoughts?
Eric, White's primary value is on special teams, as noted. He plays on the "Big 4" -- punt return, punt coverage, kickoff return, kickoff coverage -- and he still runs well and is a disciplined, sound tackler. I'd rate him as a better special teams player than Carpenter, while Carpenter gets the edge as a defensive player in sub packages. So if it comes down to a situation where Bill Belichick is deciding between White or Carpenter, a big factor will likely be some of the other pieces on the roster. For example, does Belichick view 2011 rookie free agent Jeff Tarpinian as a capable sub defender, thus creating the luxury to keep White for special teams? Or does Carpenter's athleticism in the sub defense have more value and potentially put White closer to the roster bubble when also considering special teams contributions of Tarpinian, Dane Fletcher and Carpenter? Often times, these situations work themselves out. It will be one of the interesting position battles to watch in camp.
Alay P. (New Jersey): I haven't heard anything about Shaun Ellis. Are the Pats looking to re-sign him at all?
Alay, unlike some of the other free agents who played for the Patriots last season (such as Kevin Faulk and Andre Carter), the club has issued Ellis' old No. 94 jersey to another player (DL Marcus Harrison). While not always a sure-fire sign that the door is closed, it is an indication to me that the Patriots have likely moved on.
Dan (NJ): After having thought about Tavon Wilson for a while, I can now see why Belichick valued him so highly. With today's quick and versatile RB's and extremely talented TE's, it's very difficult for just about all linebackers to cover them. With Wilson he has a guy who's not too small to play in the box but has solid cover skills to cover today's RB's and TE's with players like Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Vernon Davis, and Jimmy Graham. Do you think that is a possibility?
I do think that is a possibility, Dan, and believe that was part of Belichick's thinking in selecting Wilson in the second round. At the same time, if Belichick could have traded that pick, I believe he would have and hoped to get Wilson a bit further down the draft board. But sometimes a deal doesn't present itself, so you take the player a little higher than maybe you hoped.