A few leftover pieces of mail from the weekly Patriots mailbag:
Brandon (Massachusetts): Hi Mike, how many players per position have the Patriots traditionally kept for the 53-man roster? I know it changes every year but what is the average?
Brandon, we'd be accounting for 14 years of Patriots football under Bill Belichick to come up with the averages on a per-week basis, so in the interest of time let's just go with a general range, give or take one depending on the year or different dynamics in play.
QB -- 2-3
RB -- 4
FB -- 1
TE -- 3
WR - 5
OL -- 9
DL -- 7
LB -- 7
DB -- 10
K -- 1
P -- 1
LS -- 1
Coverage STs -- 1
Matt (New York City): Mike, hard to argue with the selections for 'best' Patriot moment. But let me try. The moment that will never again be replicated in NFL history is the Tom Brady pass to Randy Moss in Week 17 of the 2007 season which broke the NFL record for passing TDs for a QB and receiving TDs for a WR ... all while clinching the first 16-0 regular-season ever. Regular-season accomplishments are downplayed in Patriot Nation but the excitement and level of play displayed during that season, all to be captured in that one play, was amazing to watch. A perfect way to end the most exciting season in Pats history, regardless of whether some dude caught a pass of his helmet six weeks later.
Matt, that was a great moment and I'm glad you mentioned it. One of my personal favorite parts of that play was how there was the long Brady-to-Moss incompletion right before it, when it appeared that play could have been the record-breaker. I mentioned the play in the final entry of the series, but ultimately felt that something from 2001 should trump it.
Luke (Maine): Hey Mike, have you seen/heard anything about Zach Moore? We didn't hear much about him in OTAs and I was curious how he's making out so far. Any chance he carves out a spot as a third-down rusher?
Luke, because Moore plays defensive end and contact is such a big part of that position, there wasn't much to assess in OTAs. My feeling is that when the Patriots selected Moore in the sixth round out of Concordia (St. Paul), they were essentially making a two-year commitment to him knowing he's a raw prospect from a lower level of competition who is going to take some time to develop. He has some rare physical traits and my feeling is that, at the least, he'll get 2014 as a redshirt type of year as the coaching staff attempts to harness and develop those traits. Maybe he develops quickly and becomes an immediate contributor, but I don't think that's necessarily something the club is expecting at this point.
Patrick Song (Davis, California): Mike, how far do you think the Patriots will go to re-sign Matthew Slater? Even with his leadership skills, I don't see Bill Belichick paying a player who can be easily be replaced at a much cheaper rate. Your thoughts?
Patrick, I think the Patriots will make it a priority to extend Slater's contract (expires after this season) because they value his work as one of the NFL's best special teams players, and also feel he's special in the locker room and beyond. He'd be a very tough player to replace.
Eric (Richmond, Virginia): In a recent article, an offensive assistant coach stated that if Tom Brady had the offensive weapons that Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have, he would be unstoppable. For most of his career, Brady has had average receivers to target. Why can't the Patriots trade or draft some top receiving talent instead of hoping Thompkins or Dobson become reliable playmakers?
Eric, if they draft receivers with this in mind, they'd still be hoping. That's one of the higher-rate "bust" positions in the draft. As for a trade, it's not like there are top-flight receivers available on a regular basis; teams aren't giving them away. Finally, I'm interested in the assessment of the assistant coach because I just read something Tuesday about Brees (via Jeff Duncan of Nola.com) that caught my eye: "One of the most remarkable -- and largely overlooked -- aspects of Brees' prolific career in New Orleans has been that's occurred with only one Pro Bowler at any skill position." Something to consider when adding Brees to this comparison.