Some leftovers from the weekly Patriots mailbag:
Marc (London) -- Hi Mike, I've been seeing a lot of chatter regarding Julian Edelman not making the 53-man roster, and I'm not sure why that would be the case. As far as I can see he is an elite punt returner (much stronger than Washington or Amendola) who showed the ability to make big plays whenever he touches the ball. You can make the argument that he's not on the field enough, and that is true, but considering his team friendly contract plus his rapport with Brady, he's got to be a strong contender to be here in September. Thoughts?
Marc, I think one of the things Edelman has working in his favor is familiarity with Tom Brady. There has been a lot of personnel turnover at receiver and like you said, Brady has a trust and rapport that has developed over the last four years with Edelman. I think he's on the team if healthy.
Kid T (San Francisco, Calif.) Hi Mike, I'm surprised you missed this. The reason Brandon Spikes isn't attending voluntary OTA's is because he believes he's been pigeon-holed as a 2 down linebacker. By adding this dimension to his game, he can significantly increase his market value as a FA (hat tip Pro Football Talk).
Thanks Kid. I was aware of that when Tuesday's mailbag was posted but don't buy it. If Spikes thinks his best chance of being viewed as more of a three-down linebacker is to stay away from the Patriots, I think he's getting bad advice. I don't understand how not being around the team and taking part in the chemistry, camaraderie and communication when 89 of 90 players show up helps that process for him. To be clear, these OTAs are voluntary and Spikes isn't violating any rules by not attending, and as we've seen, injuries do happen in these OTAs. But to suggest it is because he wants to be viewed as more of a three-down linebacker, I think that's off the mark, especially considering Sikes was playing on three downs last year for a good portion of the time. His playing time progression: 2010 -- 31.7 percent; 2011 -- 40.1 percent; 2012 -- 66.2 percent.
David (North Attleboro, Mass.): Brandon Spikes has really been taking some heat for being the only player not at OTA's. Mike Varbel missed OTA's in the past and was never criticized the way Spikes has been. Why do you think that is?
David, I think the answer is more based on the fact that Spikes is the only player on the 90-man roster not to show up. If there were a few other players who chose to do the same, my sense is that it would be downplayed. As for Vrabel, I'd have to check with him, but I seem to remember him attending the organized team activities each year. It was the other parts of the offseason program that Vrabel didn't attend, but when it came to the on-field work in OTAs, I am pretty sure he was always here because the importance of that was stressed by the team's leaders.
Stephen S (Marathon, Florida): With T.J. Moe clearing waivers what does that allow him to do? Will he have access to the coaches, film room to study film, player meetings or does he just have access to rehab facility and trainers?
Stephen, Moe can be part of meetings during his year-long stint on injured reserve, using the time to learn the system. The idea is that he'll recover and compete for a spot in 2014.
Tom Mangin (Medford, Oregon) Hi Mike, not trying to be negative and I'm hopeful that Gronk will fully recover and have many productive years with the Patriots, but if his injuries forced him out of football or greatly diminished his playmaking capacity how badly would the organization be hurt having to swallow his contract? Disk surgery is never a slam dunk and in college I recall his speed was greatly affected for a year following disk surgery.
Tom, here is a breakdown on Gronkowski's contract. The way it's structured, the key decision comes at the end of 2015 when there is a $10 million option bonus the team can pick up to activate the final four years of the deal (2016-2019). In that sense, the contract protects the team pretty nicely. I don't think the deal would handcuff them too badly should things with Gronkowski take an unexpected turn and he's not able to play any more.