- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some leftovers from our weekly New England Patriots chat:
Tim (Wichita, Kansas): I don't understand why they haven't signed Dustin Keller yet. There's an obvious need, I bet we can get him at a reasonable price, and BB loves to steal productive players for his own division. So what's the hold up?
Tim, I'm keeping this on the radar as well. After not drafting a tight end, Keller makes a lot of sense if the health checks out and a contract agreement can be reached. Perhaps with the Patriots set to enter a new phase of their offseason progression this upcoming week, with veterans joining rookies, it sparks some movement.
BamaPat (Mobile, Alabama): Mike, my issue with draft/free agency is our WRs. You and others have argued to let the youngsters develop before bringing in veterans. So here's the scenario: The rookie WRs from last year don't take the big step this year. Pats move on and draft rookies in 2015 draft. You and other media members give them two years to develop and they don't. Now you have a nearly 40-year-old QB wiith a rebuilding WR corps again. Your strategy is a good one with a QB in his prime; not with a QB turning 37 this year. That's a bad gamble. At some point you need to pull the trigger and bolster our WRs.
Fair enough, BamaPat. I just didn't see any sure-fire, easy-to-grab answers on the free-agent market and it's not like they haven't tried in that area. Emmanuel Sanders, signed to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent last year, could have helped. They tried with Reggie Wayne in the past and got rebuffed. So I don't think it's necessarily a lack of effort. In the end, this is the way it's unfolded, and I think at some point you have to invest in the development of these youngsters while layering the position with some experience (e.g. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell). In the end, this is what it comes down to for me: If Aaron Dobson doesn't become a top guy, it will be a big disappointment.
Jack (Portland, Maine): Mike, what is your take on Josh Boyce? Why was there so little playing time last year? Any known issues besides injuries? What potential role do you see for him in this offense, and do you sense a trust or chemistry with Brady?
Jack, Boyce is a smart player but he said a couple of times last year that the mental aspect of football was a big jump from Texas Christian. He also came out after his junior season and that often requires an extra year of development at the position. I'd expect Boyce to compete for the kickoff return job while also vying for a role as a No. 3-5 option on the depth chart.
Hector (Providence, Rhode Island): Hey Mike, who would you see as early candidates for a new contract amongst the RB corps? We've got Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and Shane Vereen going into their final years. With Stephen Houston and James White coming in to provide competition (and potentially a roster spot), who do you see the Pats keeping after this season?
Hector, I'd lean toward Vereen at this point, but the key for him is similar to Edelman at this time last year. It's about staying healthy for a full season. If he does that, I'd think the Patriots would put him at the top of the list.
Marko (Back Bay): Are we all writing off Ryan Mallett too soon? Is it possible the team carries 3 QB's -- including Mallett next season?
Marko, I think they'll carry three this year, just as they did in 2011 with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and Mallett. But next year, when Mallett is an unrestricted free agent, it seems safe to assume he will want to pursue a starting job elsewhere.
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