Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com New England Patriots blogger Mike Reiss stops by to chat.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September and is a native New Englander who has stayed close to his roots. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. Since 2005 he has covered the Patriots for the Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at noon ET!
Mike Reiss (12:00 PM)
Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's chat. It looks it's a doubleheader -- first Patriots, then Celtics.
Mike Reiss (12:00 PM)
The plan here will be to go until 12:50 or so, before a short break, and then ESPNBoston.com Celtics writer Chris Forsberg stepping in.
Cam Prescott (Norwalk, CT)
With the ability to franchise tag coming up, do you think the pats will place it on wilfork or work out a long term deal before the 25th? Also will tom brady be the highest paid player come spring?What are your thoughts? Brandon Spikes, Sergio Kindle, or Brandon Graham in the draft?
Mike Reiss (12:01 PM)
Hi Cam. I think this is priority No. 1 over the next couple of weeks. I would be very surprised if the tag is assigned to Wilfork today. My sense is that if it comes to that -- and I'm not convinced they can't get a deal done over the next two weeks -- it would come on the final day, Feb. 25.
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
On the other questions, I don't think Brady will be highest paid, but he'll be one of the top players. On the draft, I like all three players you mentioned. Graham was impressive at the Senior Bowl.
It looked like NO was using 3-3-5 defense in the Super Bowl. Was this similar to what BB was trying to do with S Brandon McGowan?
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
It's a similar concept MarkJ, with McGowan sort of that hybrid safety/linebacker type. We saw Rodney Harrison in that role. The idea is that the Colts are so one-dimensional to the pass that you can be light in the box and get away with it.
Hey Mike,Any chance that we make a play for an outstanding MLB via free agency/draft? Mayo is gold, but Guyton is serviceable at best. What do you think of Dansby of Cardinals?
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
Guyton is one player I have personally had a hard time getting a good read on, Maddy. He ended up playing the second-most snaps of any defender if I'm not mistaken. I don't have a great feel on whether he's a full-time starter or better as a No. 3 option there. My general feeling on the free agency/draft at ILB is that it wouldn't surprise me, but it would probably be fourth or fifth on my "top needs" chart. So I don't see big money in free agency spent there.
pats fan (CT)
Mike, do you think we should address our 2nd/3rd WR (depending on when Welker would return), via draft or FA? BB has burnt his hand in the past with high 2nd round WR picks. Why cannot we trade one of our picks for a player like Boldin? Agreed that he is not the play maker once he was, but it will indeed be a huge boost over Aiken, who is obviously a special teamer at best.
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
I like the idea of a moderate veteran free agent signing there (Josh Reed?) to create more flexibility on draft day. I think Brandon Tate can still be a factor, but there is still some question with him as a younger receiver. I don't see Boldin because it's not just trading for him, but also giving him the big contract. I see the Patriots focusing on their own players first -- Wilfork, Brady, Banta-Cain, Faulk, Bodden...
Mike, there has been a joke circulating around in the web that BB plans to take over the duties of strength and conditioning coach. Jokes aside, do you think he is piling a lot of food on his plate?
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
That was one of the first questions I had when the news came out on Patriots.com that Bill Belichick was not naming a defensive coordinator in 2010 and that he planned to be more involved with the defense: Is he taking on too much? I think the answer to that question will be more apparent when it's clear how the responsibilities will be divided. I give Belichick the benefit of the doubt in this case.
Anthony (Sutton, MA)
If NE uses FA to fill some voids on defense, do you see BB using the draft to invigorate this offense with some youth, dare we say by trading up for Dez Bryant?
Mike Reiss (12:11 PM)
Anthony, I don't know if we'll see a trade up into top-10 territory, but I think anything 15-21 is fair game if they feel that strongly about a specific player. I'd be surprised if they went higher than that. As for adding some dynamic talent to the offense, I think two of the top four picks could be devoted to that. I can't imagine the Patriots not realizing that they need more explosive weapons after analyzing the 2009 season.
Do you expect a lot of trades right after the franchising period begins? If we trade Wilfork how quickly do you think it will happen? Where do you think Julius Peppers ends up?
Mike Reiss (12:14 PM)
I don't think we'll see a lot of trades, Evan. If it comes to a trade with Wilfork, my sense it wouldn't be until the summer. I think the Patriots want him and will exhaust all options before a trade -- that is, unless another team steps forward with an offer the Patriots feel is worthy. As for Peppers and a potential landing spot, the Falcons, Buccaneers and Seahawks were three teams that came to mind off the cuff (pure speculation).
Hi Mike, should the Pats go offence with their 1st round pick, what position to you see them targeting in round 1? RB WR or Offensive Line?
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
If they go offense, Nick, I think it needs to be one of the skill-positions.
Why doesnt the league allow access to the 'all 22' tape, the game tape? Millions would be fascinated by it and it would surely be an income stream. Is it to protect the secretive world of the coaches? It is hard for TV viewers to really grasp the game sometimes.
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Good question, Glasgow. I'm not sure the answer.
Mike,What is preventing us from using TE the way they are supposed to be used in passing game? Watson is an athletic freak and if we cannot get production from a guy who is 6'5, 240 and ran a 4.4, is there any hope for a pass catching TE in our playbook? I am sure he is going to get into a team who can use him properly and have a career year. Our 3rd receiver problem will be solved if we involve TE more like other teams do, esp Indy and Cowboys.
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
This year, it might have been an over-reliance on Wes Welker, or the simple fact that Welker was so often open that there wasn't as much of a need to go that route. I think you've hit on a great point and they need more out of that position. The Patriots often look for a combination TE -- good blocker, good pass catcher, but maybe they need to go more the latter route and go with a Garrett Mills' H-back type.
Hi Mike, Love you blog...How do you see the Benjamin Watson situation playing out...I think he is extremely underrated. Without him we have some MAJOR holes in the offense - not to mention the 3 or 4 quality players we need (in my opinion)to bring in to make this defense click...I just find it hard to beleive a rookie plus baker can come in and replace him...
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
Thanks Sam. My sense is that Watson will be playing elsewhere. He hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent and I interpreted that as a sign that he wants to be marketed around the league. I don't know Rosenhaus personally but I respect his ability to sell and create a market for his client. In this case, I think a fresh start is probably best for both sides.
Do you think the Pats will trade Moss?
Mike Reiss (12:20 PM)
I don't see a trade of Moss, Neal. Especially given Wes Welker's recovery, I think keeping the one veteran presence you have is important.
Antonio Gotti III (Scranton,Pa)
Hey Mike, do you think the patriots dynasty is over or are they just a couple of defensive players, and a solid running game away? Also do you think Wes Welker Starts Opening day?
Mike Reiss (12:22 PM)
I don't think we'll see 14-2 seasons again like we did in 2003-2004, Antonio. From an overall perspective, I think the Patriots will be contenders again in 2010. They need to infuse the roster with some more talent, but I don't think they are that far away.
Mike - don't you think it's necessary for the Pats to take one of the following with one of their 2nd round picks - Golden Tate, Dexter McCluster, or Mardy Gilyard (provided he slips). All of these guys are "playmakers" that the team needs. If I had my way I'd take Brandon Graham (DE/LB) at 22, Jonathan Dwyer (power RB we need) at 44, McCluster (dynamic playmaker, a hybrid of Percy Harvin
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
Great list Patrick. One thing we should mention is that those guys will all have to check out off the field as well. I'd be a hypocrite for talking so much about locker room chemistry and not mentioning that.
Juan Rodriguez (Cicero, Illinois)
hey mike, even though the pats have a good number of high draft picks, they also have a lot of needs; outside linebacker, defensive linemen, wide receivers, running backs, inside linebacker, offensive line.My question is based on BB's preferences in the past, what areas do you think the pats are most likely to address via trade/free agency and which areas they will most likely target in the draft? That will help the fans project what players the pats might be targeting in the draft. thanks mike!
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
It's always tough, Juan, because you don't always know what opportunities are going to be there in free agency. A lot of times a player comes available that you might not have anticipated and you pounce (e.g. Fred Taylor). My hunch is that they'll try to add one experienced receiver in free agency and one experienced free-agent defender in the front seven.
Chris (Montana (Boston transplant))
Previously, we talked about the Pats eyeing Brandon Graham from Michigan at No.22 but after a good Senior Bowl performance, his stock is rising. Would you rather see the Pats take a smaller end with a Dumervlle mold or Sergio Kindle, a big fast end similar to Mario Williams? And do you see the Pats taking an RB only if Spiller is there?
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
I'd lean more toward Kindle, Chris, and project him to outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment. On the running back, that was the topic of a blog entry today, building off a mock draft from the National Football Post that gave the Patriots Jahvid Best. I don't necessarily think it's Spiller or bust. I could see the Patriots using one of their top four picks on other backs.
Since Brandon Marshall is likely to be on the move, and Josh McDaniel's has a relationship with the Patriots, is there a decent chance the Patriots might pick him up? He is very young, and this is probably Randy Moss last year on the Patriots so he would be a good replacement. Unless you think since Mcdaniels has had issues with him, Belichick wouldn't even think about it.
Mike Reiss (12:27 PM)
I'd rule that one out, Ryan. Part of it is the player himself not being a fit for the Patriots. The other part is financial and the contract he would require.
Will Dee (Maine woods)
What do you think of this scenario. With the continued emphasis on building defensive speed, it seems to me that there needs to be an extra effort to keep AD and team him alongside Mayo at ILB. We know AD is fast for his size and he played ILB in his first year with the Pats very well. With Wilfork getting doubled and two strong, fast ILBs, I see we could get a much better inside pass rush and still cover downfield as required. This scenario also moves Guyton to OLB where his speed is sorely needed and could work well with the nickel/dime packages where speed is a priority.
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
It's an outside-the-box thought, Will, as most everyone I assume figures that Thomas has played his last game for the Patriots. A lot of soothing over of that relationship would have to take place for it to work. I still think Thomas can help a defense, so if the sides are willing to give it a try, why not?
Richie (Los Angeles)
Hi Mike,I am predicting that the Pats take advantage of the uncapped year in the following way: As soon as the uncapped year becomes official the Pats will sign Brady to a five year contract. He will be paid 30 million for the first year and 15 million a year for the remaining years. This makes it 90 million for 5 years and on these terms pretty much guarantees the whole contract. Going from 30 mil to 15 mil from year one to two satisfies the rule that a salary can only be cut in half from one year to the next. Also if a salary cap comes into play in future years 15 million a year for one of the best quarterbacks in the leagues will be a bargain. Do you think that's enough to get it done from Brady's perspective?
Mike Reiss (12:30 PM)
You guys are on fire today. Sign him up. I think that would get it done.
Matt (Plattsburgh, NY)
If I'm not mistaken, I think Chester Taylor will soon be an unrestricted free agent, and before Adrian Peterson came to town, Taylor was a 1,200 yard rusher. Do you think he could be a potential target in free agency?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
Matt, when I think about Taylor, it sort of duplicates what they already have in Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. I think the preference for the Patriots is to go younger with a running back addition.
Kerry (Chatham, NY)
what do you think about Riley Cooper or Laggarette Blount as one of our second round picks, or who do you see BB going after in the second round? also, dont you see the franchise tag as only a move that causes bad feelings twords the team (asante samual)
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
Cooper was one name that popped up on the radar, Kerry, when I spoke with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. Here is the link:http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4674713/no-2-receiver-options-in-focus-for-patriots
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Muench has also helped detail a few other second-round possibilities in recent weeks. Chris Cook, a corner/safety from Virginia, was another name that caught the eye.
Derek F. (Dorchester)
In your opinion, what are the Patriots greatest needs on both sides of the ball?
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Derek, assuming Wilfork is back, I'd say outside linebacker, defensive end, running back, receiver and tight end.
Jonathan (Quincy, MA)
Hey Mike, is the big, physical 3-4 defensive a thing of the past? Seems like it's a passing league that defenses don't need to be as stout against the run anymore because very few teams commit to running. What does Bill do?
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
I've wrestled with this one, Jonathan, and I think the Patriots' defensive style is still sound. I don't think it's a thing of the past. It's based in fundamentals. My feeling is that you put a DeMarcus Ware on this defense and we wouldn't be having this discussion, so I put the focus on trying to find the next Ware.
adam (orlando, fl)
We seem to have stopped wondering about BB contract status... Do you sense he's in for the long(er) haul?
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
I sense he is here for the longer haul, Adam. I could envision him riding it out with Brady for another 5-8 years, assuming the Patriots don't end the relationship before then.
Jonathan (Quincy, MA)
Hey Mike, Shouldn't the Patriots' focus be on maximizing the final 5-6 years of Brady's career by going all out to win another championship or two? If that means paying Wilfork, Brady, AND Peppers in an uncapped environment, I say let's do it. If Brady and Belichick can find a way to win 4 or 5 Super Bowls together (along with being a play away from 6), they will go down as the greatest of all time.
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
That would be the haul of all hauls -- Brady, Wilfork and Peppers. That is fun to think about. I call it unlikely, but I know that would create quite the buzz. I don't think people would be questioning the Patriots' willingness to spend in that case.
Dan S (Framingham)
Hey Mike, I know that the Jahvis Best out of call had one of the scariest concussions in the history of college fb, but any chance the pats see him as a game changer they need in the backfield
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
You're right on topic, Dan. Check out the last entry on the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com.http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4674899/best-could-give-running-game-a-boost
Kevin F (Framingham,MA)
Hi Mike,Traditionally RB's, WR's are among the positions where players fall from 1st round grades into the 2nd and sometimes 3rd rounds. (Guards and Safeties as well). As tempted as the Pats are to get a playmaker on offense it may behoove them to select that pass rusher in Round 1, as usually a skill position guy with a late first early 2nd round grade may drop to them in the middle of the second. I know people hate hearing about value these days but I'd rather get the 5th best RB than the 11th best Pass rusher in Round 2...
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
I understand where you are coming from, Kevin. Ray Rice was a second-rounder (55th overall). He might have been the sixth or seventh running back picked that year.
Matt (Newburyport, MA)
Hey Mike,Who are some vetran FA's you could see the Patriots going after to help build back the locker room leadership?
Mike Reiss (12:42 PM)
I was looking at some of the names in the free-agent class this morning, Matt, and I don't see too many. That's another reason why I think re-signing Wilfork is important. It's going to be hard for a veteran FA to come in here and assume a leadership role.
Mike - Can you make your blog more mobile phone friendly? I need to be able to read you on the road!
Mike Reiss (12:43 PM)
Appreciate the interest, Glover. I'll send it along to the powers that be.
Mathew (San Francisco)
I know i'm joing this late, so i'm sorry if this has already come up... But what are the Pats thinking sticking the franchise tag on Big V? I think they're making a huge mistake and will set themselves back even further just as they did with Asante
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Thanks for joining in Mathew. I was interested in your comment because I think this ties in to something I wrote yesterday on the site. I think the public perception is that the Patriots aren't negotiating and I made the point that the club might find it worthwhile to come out and explain what it is offering, sort of like the Atlanta Thrashers did with Ilya Kovanchuk.
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
If the Patriots did what the Thrashers GM did, assuming they feel they have a fair offer that is being rejected, I think it would add important context to the situation. This was the statement from GM Don Waddell: "Our goal from the start of this negotiating process was to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a long-term contract. During the process, Kovy affirmed his desire to be a Thrasher for life. We've spent several months exploring scenarios with Kovy and his agent to reach a mutually beneficial agreement and offered many lucrative packages in an attempt to meet his financial objectives. Unfortunately, we've reached an impasse and at this point he has declined all of our proposals and we can't reasonably go any higher.Ultimately, we offered Kovy more than $101 million over 12 years, which would have been the highest contract signed by an impending unrestricted free agent in the history of the league. If accepted, this contract would have been the second-highest offer ever to any NHL player. We also met his desire to be the highest-paid player based on average annual salary with a separate offer of seven years at $10 million per year ($70 M). This offer is $0.5 million higher per year than any other player. If we went beyond these offers, we would not be able to retain the young players on our roster when it came time to sign them or invest in other top-tier players needed to assemble a truly competitive team. Therefore, we are aggressively exploring all of our options as we move forward."
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
Can you imagine if the Patriots did that?
Think there is any interest in Golden Tate?
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
I'm not sure if there is interest, John, but Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly gave the Patriots Tate in his initial mock draft. Nawrocki is excellent.
Mike why is everyone going overboard on our 3 2nd rd picks? History shows we will only use 1 of them, another will be traded for a 1st rounder next year, and the 3rd will be traded back to pick up 3rd and 4th rounders where we are void.Now the question: Mt Cody with that 2nd rounder?
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
I don't know, Tim, something tells me they make the picks this year unless one of them turns into a 2011 first-rounder. Otherwise, I think we're looking at four players in the first 53 and that should, in theory, really help this team.
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Let's go for another 5 before turning this football into a basketball, with ESPNBoston.com Celtics reporter Chris Forsberg stepping in.
Ryan (Tampa, FL)
Mike,How concerned are you about the Pats' ability to address their needs through the draft? While they have had some success (e.g., Vollmer, Edleman), it seems they have had a lot of disappointment as well (Maroney... although productive hasn't lived up to 1st round potential..., Wheatley, C. Jackson, etc.). Its seems like they could use some help in this area when you compare the Pats drafting skills to the Colts.
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
You've hit on a topic that fires me up, Ryan. I actually think the Patriots' drafting is comparable to the Colts in recent years despite public perception. I think the Patriots can obviously do better, but I thought 2009 was a good draft for them, which makes me think they have a good chance of hitting again in 2010.
adam (orlando, fl)
Mike - you always talk about signing our own guys first. But would you endorse a Peppers instead of Wilfork signed - sure more money - but you can only have one of those guys on this team? And then we take care of our guys.
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
That's a tough one, Adam. I think Wilfork is a safer play because you really know the player. Peppers is obviously intriguing, but I have to question why the Panthers aren't signing him long-term.
Mike,Any chance the Patriots package thier 1st round with an additional 2nd round pick to move up to the top five in the first round?
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
I'd rule that one out, Joe. The top five is a place that most teams try to avoid these days, not trade up to.
Jim Bob (Oregon)
Mike, When does the "no salary cap" scenario become official? How can the Pats offer Wilfork a contract in the next two weeks if they won't know about the cap for several more weeks. I know everyone says there likely will not be a cap, but there is still a chance something gets worked out right?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
March 5. I hear what you are saying Jim Bob, but when the commissioner says it's a "virtual certainty", I think it's a safe bet to assume it won't be happening.
Keith Bulluck would be a fantastic veteran presence. The linebacking crew needs a vet to team with Guyton and Mayo.
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
If I'm not mistaken, Will, he injured his ACL in December so that would be a factor to consider.
EJ (San Diego)
Why would the Pats give $2.5 mil to a kicker with a first round tender? I agree Gostkowski is very good but worth that money? Not like anybody's gonna give up a second round pick to get him, why not drop it down a level?
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
That's a fair point, EJ, and builds off a blog entry from this morning.http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4674893/projecting-offers-to-mankins-gostkowski
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
I might have been a little high on Gostkowski, going with the first-round tender. If you go second-round, it's $1.75 million and saves you about $750k.
Hey mike, what do you think of darius butler's chances of starting
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Let's end on this one, Trey. I do think Butler will be starting next season, assuming there are no unexpected physical setbacks. I think he'll be a quality starter in years to come.
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll do it again next Thursday at noon. Some basketball talk coming up, with Celtics reporter Chris Forsberg on ESPNBoston.com at 1 p.m.
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