This 'bag is a Welker-free zone
WR's defection has dominated conversation, but we're moving on in this space
PHOENIX -- Not sure about you, but I'm all Welker-ed out.
Thus, we're going to make this a Welker-less Patriots mailbag. Surely, if you're interested in varying opinion on Welker, it should be easy to find.
But let's try to move the discussion forward here by focusing on other areas.
Q. Mike, is the signing of Adrian Wilson an early admission that second-round pick Tavon Wilson is a bust? His selection was considered a big reach by many. Why does Bill Belichick, a defensive guru with all his collegiate connections, struggle drafting defensive backs that can contribute and stay with the team? Patrick Chung is the latest example. At least he lasted longer than Darius Butler, who was taken in the same round in 2009. -- Ben (Grass Lake, Mich.)
A. Ben, I wouldn't say that the addition of Adrian Wilson is a reflection on Tavon Wilson. In Adrian Wilson, the Patriots add an element of toughness that has shades of Rodney Harrison to it, even though Adrian Wilson is older than Harrison was when first arriving. I'm sure Bill Belichick has a specific role in mind for him -- maybe sub-package linebacker -- and that could evolve on a week-to-week basis. I like the signing, as long as Wilson can still run at a competitive level. As for Belichick and defensive backs, there have been more misses in recent years. If some of the defensive backs went on to greater things elsewhere, we could point to the coaching as perhaps a big reason for the struggles in development. But that really hasn't happened. So that points more to talent evaluation and a flaw somewhere in that area.
Q. The Patriots still have plenty of cap space. What are your thoughts on signing Ed Reed or Michael Huff and moving Devin McCourty back to cornerback? I like him a lot at safety, but this would give them a great 1-2 combo at CB and two veteran safeties. I realize Adrian Wilson and Ed Reed are older, but this secondary on paper looks phenomenal and their depth would really be solid with Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Tavon Wilson and Ras-I Dowling. -- Scott (Charlotte, N.C.)
A. Scott, I think the Patriots are pretty close to being done with big moves in free agency, so I wouldn't expect an addition like Reed or Huff. I also sense that this is a year to leave Devin McCourty at safety and see how he grows into that position.
Q. Hi Mike, I really feel Danny Woodhead's contributions will be missed. He always seemed to bail the team out on third down, and made several big plays on what is the most important down of the game. Relying on Shane Vereen to replace his production seems risky given Vereen had 8 catches last year (and some missed blocks in pass protection). Yes, his playoff game against Houston was dazzling; on the other hand, the very next game, he did nothing. Woodhead showed he was one of those role players that every successful team always seems to have. Vereen showed some flashes, but no consistency. Your thoughts? -- Tman (Belmont, Mass.)
A. Tman, I feel the same way. When we look back on 2013 free agency, I think Woodhead is going to be one player the Patriots might regret not extending a little more for financially. Steady, reliable, durable and clutch. I think teams need three good backs and he was one of them. That's a hit for the Patriots and I think it's a nice signing for the Chargers.
Q. Mike, I don't get why Patriots are not awarded compensatory picks this year. -- Mark (Japan)
A. Mark, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The Patriots didn't qualify.
Q. Hi Mike, what do you think of Darius Heyward-Bey as a receiver who can fulfill the Pats' lack of a deep threat? It seems that they have yet to address this need along with a pass rusher. Of the remaining free agents, who do you think is the best fit as a deep-threat WR and pass rusher? -- Mel (Sacramento, Calif.)
A. Mel, I can't say I've seen too much of Heyward-Bey, but in terms of the reputation he had coming out of Maryland in the 2009 draft, it is worth a look from this perspective. He is known for his speed. As we know, there is a lot more to playing receiver than that, but that is one thing you can't teach. As for the pass rusher, John Abraham would be a top option, but a lot will depend on the price.
Q. Mike, I haven't heard anything about Julian Edelman. Does he have interest from other teams and have the Pats made him an offer? In spite of his injuries, he offers great value for the team. It would be a shame to lose him. -- Alex (Stamford, Conn.)
A. Alex, Edelman is still a possibility to return to the team. I believe he could have some other suitors as well, but I'd expect the Patriots to be competitive to retain him. He remains an unrestricted free agent.
Q. In 2007, I remember a number of writers in Miami predicting that Welker would be a perfect fit in New England system. Have you heard anything out of St. Louis as to what type of an impact their press believes Amendola may have with the Pats in 2013? Was Amendola a fan favorite in St. Louis? How is their fan base reacting to his departure? I'm just trying to move on and get excited about the players we have. -- Jim (Washington, D.C.)
A. Jim, I think we can draw a parallel to Welker in 2007 and Amendola in 2013. This system fits his style of play well. In 2010, the year before Josh McDaniels arrived in St. Louis, Amendola had 85 receptions and I think there was a feeling that he could surpass 100 if he stayed healthy the next season. But Amendola sustained an injury that limited him to one game. Amendola had a few teams lined up in free agency if things fell through with the Patriots, but his preference was to play with Tom Brady and under McDaniels' tutelage.
Q. Hi Mike, do you think the Patriots would consider bringing Randy Moss back? They have never been able to replace his stretch-the-field or height capabilities. Brady, in my view, is not a good deep-ball passer, but with Moss he was most effective. He was pretty good last year in San Francisco for a team that was transitioning its offense. -- Peter (New Canaan, Conn.)
A. Peter, I think the Moss train has left the station and isn't coming back. I had considered the possibility a few months back, thinking that maybe he could have provided more than the Patriots received out of their No. 3 role in 2012, but then the Super Bowl reminded me that it's probably best to stay away.
Q. Hi Mike. Can you provide a plausible argument that we're not going to see a repeat of the 2006 season with regards to our wide receivers? I think I understand the Welker story ... but cutting Lloyd with no clear backup plan baffles me. Why are they signing every warm body on the market? -- Earl (Waltham, Mass.)
A. Earl, it's an incomplete picture right now at receiver and if this is all they have, it could look like 2006 all over again. They're going to still make some additions here, and I think we have to wait to see how that unfolds. We know they visited with restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders (Steelers) and he'd be a nice addition. They could also draft a receiver, and possibly look elsewhere in free agency. Let's circle back on this one once the depth chart is filled up a bit.
Q. Mike, if Lloyd doesn't get picked up as free agency begins to wind down, do you think he could end up back with the Pats on the terms they offered? -- Joseph (Andover, Mass.)
A. Joseph, I could see that as a possibility, depending on how things unfold. When things like that happen, my general feeling is that the Patriots usually leave the door open because one can never project what situations might arise in the future. I don't think there were any bad feelings there.
Q. Hi, Mike. You keep saying that Brandon Lloyd was "wired a little differently." What in the world does that mean? -- Bo (Oakland, Calif.)
A. Bo, Lloyd was tough to read at times in terms of daily interaction. He could be incredibly engaging one day and then dismissive at times the next. You didn't always know what you were getting, and that's what I meant by that.
Q. What is the deadline to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets? Is it possible that the Patriots are very interested in signing Emmanuel Sanders but will wait until after the draft because of their limited number of draft picks this year? This way, they would relinquish a 2014 not 2013 draft pick. Your thoughts? -- Jonathan (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
A. Jonathan, the deadline to submit an offer sheet to a restricted free agent is before the draft, so this scenario wouldn't come into play.
Q. Mike, this just feels like the same old "Patriot Way" type of offseason that has served them well over the past 5-7 years but it hasn't put them over the top (to be fair it has come close twice). However, with Brady restructuring his contract I was in the camp that thought (or hoped) that the Patriots would put a few more chips in for the final 3-5 years of Brady's career. I have been disappointed so far and I don't sense the urgency from the Pats that one would expect during the twilight of a Hall of Fame quarterback's career. They've clearly taken a step back on offense, and at best their defense is just slightly better from last year (their biggest move is bringing back Aqib Talib, who they had last year). It looks like the Pats are bottom-fishing yet again and trying to get "value" and "deals" instead of getting talent. The entire football world knows the Pats have a weak pass rush and struggle against the pass, with exception of Belichick. Signed, frustrated Pats fan. -- Marcus (San Diego)
A. Marcus, I think two things you have to count on is big development from Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower as the first-to-second-year jump is often the most significant, and also that another year for the secondary playing together sparks improvement. Will that be enough? Fair question, and one that I don't think any team truly has the answer to at this time. It's still an incomplete picture. We can expect some more additions, specifically through the draft and rookie/veteran free agency -- so I think this one deserves a little more time.
Q. Hey Mike, in terms of some of the Patriots' other free agents -- such as Tracy White, Trevor Scott and Marquice Cole -- have you heard anything about them? I know they were mostly special team guys, but they provided solid depth. -- Scott (Fort Myers, Fla.)
A. Scott, there is nothing brewing with any of the three as of early this week, but that could always change. Of the group, I wanted to focus briefly on Scott, who I thought did a nice job for the Patriots in limited action at defensive end in 2012. I know the club brought in veteran ends John Abraham and Dwight Freeney in for visits last Friday, and depending on the market, they could be a consideration. But if that falls through, I think the team could do much worse than bringing Scott back. Solid guy, too.
Q. Hey Mike, do you think that BB will make a play for Elvis Dumervil? It would be awesome with him at one end and Chandler Jones on the other in the 4-3? What do you think? They still need help along the defensive line. -- Regis (Braintree, Mass. )
A. Regis, I think any team would be better with Dumervil on it. I'd most definitely consider it if we're talking about $5 million per season or less, although I'm not sure that will get it done. It all depends on the market.
Q. Hey Mike, do you think the Patriots are done improving the defense? I like their signings in Talib, Adrian Wilson and Kyle Arrington but I hope they can finalize a veteran pass rusher. -- Tron (Waltham, Mass.)
A. Tron, I don't think they are done, but it might be a case where they need to let the market settle a bit, and possibly see what additions come in the draft. Trevor Scott is a good addition in this regard. When he signed with the Patriots last offseason, the Patriots looked pretty thin at defensive end. But then the team selected Chandler Jones (first round) and Jake Bequette (third round), while also picking up rookie free agent Justin Francis, and the depth chart got overcrowded pretty quickly. So while I could still see some additions, the urgency to do so doesn't seem overly high right now.
Q. Mike, it seems a common reference to quote "a league source." Can you clarify what this means? Does this refer to an employee of the Patriots or corporate headquarters? -- Kevin (Boston)
A. Kevin, a league source could cover a variety of people connected to the NFL that is close enough to the story to have the information.
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