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 2009 and is a native New Englander. 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. From 2005 to 2009, he 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 10 a.m. ET!
Mike (9:58 AM)
Good morning and welcome to our weekly Patriots chat. Just settling in and will be starting it up in a few. I was wondering how switching the time might affect participation, and it is impressive to open the chat room and see as many questions (more than 100) that have already been submitted. Just another reminder that it's always football season.
Mike (10:02 AM)
The reason the chat is earlier than normal today is that the Patriots Hall of Fame Committee is meeting from 12-2 at Patriot Place. This is the seventh year of the process in which we narrow down candidates to three, and then there is a public voting on Patriots.com. Bruschi, Harrison and McGinest are first-year eligibles. I'm also curious how this week's death of Chuck Fairbanks, who legitimized the franchise in the 70s but had a messy exit, impacts any discussion today.
Mike (10:03 AM)
Let's go until about 10:55 today. What's on your mind?
Joe, boulder CO [via mobile]
With Nnamdi getting a 1 year deal from the 49ers for so cheap, why didn't the pats make a run for him? Low risk with high upside. He also played safety in college so he could be versatile potentially.
Mike (10:04 AM)
I agree, Joe. Could have seen that as a solid signing. Two thoughts come to mind as to why it didn't happen: 1) Maybe the Patriots think he's done. You figure BB, if interested, would have had some good intel from good friend Andy Reid (former Eagles coach); 2) Maybe the Patriots were interested and Asomugha wasn't. It takes two parties. Not sure the answer, but those are some thoughts from here.
Pat (Houston, TX)
Mike- is there a minimum number of years a team is required to offer an RFA? I am thinking in the case of Emmanuel Sanders, could the Pats theoretically offer him a 1 year deal for say $4 million? This would push the Steelers over the cap and lessen the long term risk for the Pats, giving Sanders a significant raise next year and allowing him to be a UFA in 2014 (same as he would be with the Steelers). I know there is the obvious consideration of giving up a 3rd round pick to get a guy on a one year deal, but was curious.
Mike (10:06 AM)
No minimum, Pat, and this is a scenario I went over last night with colleague Field Yates. The issue with a one-year deal is that you're giving up a third-round pick (a player you'd control for 4 years) for a potentially one-year hit with a higher cap charge. So you're really banking on the player hitting for one year, because you're giving up something valuable in terms of service and economics (cheaper rookie salary). The Patriots did a one-year deal with RFA defensive lineman Rodney Bailey (Steelers) back in 2003-2004 range and it wasn't matched.
Mike (10:06 AM)
Still, something to consider, for sure. I had the same thought.
Mike, there's so much concern from fellow fans over the WR position right now. Hard to believe BB would be managing his roster by hoping and praying a solution falls into his lap. I find it hard to believe Bill Belichick would let go off his top 3 WRs (assuming Edleman isn't back) without a clear cut plan in place. Can we let the offseason unfold a bit before throwing in the towel?
Mike (10:08 AM)
T, that's generally the mindset I fall into. We judge things on a day by day basis and that's part of the fun. But I think sometimes we have to let things play out and assess the full picture to really have the best analysis. I will say this, if Edelman signs with the Giants, I will be a little puzzled (and I'm assuming Edelman has an interest in returning to NE). It shouldn't be big money. I think they need him and it would be contradictory to what they were telling us last September that he had earned the right to be on the field.
Patrick (Keene, NH)
I'm glad we didn't over pay for a Mike Wallace. Josh and BB may be looking to change the offensive philosophy-mostly short, quick routes combined with a continued emphasis on the running game.
Mike (10:09 AM)
Patrick, I don't think the philosophy will change. It's been very consistent over the last 13 years. The change would be a result of playing to the strengths of the personnel, and that is always evolving. Not sure that makes sense, but what I'm trying to say is that I don't think any of their personnel decisions are based on the idea that they are changing the way they do things.
Adam (Fort Myers,Fl) [via mobile]
First. I'd like to thank you mike for this vessel where us fans can come and voice our opinions and questions. With osi signing with the falcons. My question is how long can we expect before the pats start knocking on Abrahams door with an offer? Do they save that money for Sanders? Could they sign both?
Mike (10:10 AM)
Adam, my sense is that the longer things drag out with Sanders, the less likely they would draw out an offer sheet. Just a hunch here; I'm making an educated guess that there would be a 15 percent chance at this point. On Abraham, I think it's different. To me, that's more about letting the market settle and having Abraham possibly be more comfortable with a lower number than maybe he initially had in mind. I do think that one is still alive.
Jeff (North Attleboro)
Mike, Before free agency started, Bob Kraft said that the Pats were going to spend to the cap. With 11 million left, do you see this happening? If not, more importantly, are you or anyone else in the Boston media, going to call Kraft out on this? I have a feeling this might not be answered, but it is a valid question.
Mike (10:14 AM)
Very valid question, Jeff. I think this is an area that media members like myself can do a better job explaining. So there are two key numbers to discuss -- the salary cap (about $129m for the Patriots this year after adjustments) and total payroll. The Patriots will use all the cap space by the end of the year, while also strategizing to roll a small amount over to 2014 as part of creating some future flexibility. That's standard operating procedure. The key number that you are referring to is total payroll. Just because the Patriots will use all the cap space doesn't mean they will spend $129 million because of all the accounting involved. Last year, the Patriots were 8th in the NFL in total payroll at $138 million. That tells us they spent in the top quarter of the NFL last year. We'll see where they fall this year. Glad you brought this up.
Brian (Oxford, CT)
Hi Mike - I don't seem to have any vibes that Brady's lobbying for T.O. And you HAVE to figure after the year of Ocho, there's nothing more to it than just some QBs working out offseason with pro-caliber receivers. Right? RIGHT? *gulp*
Mike (10:16 AM)
No, no, no. A lot can be read into the workout in which Brady was on the field with T.O., but one thing I feel quite certain about is that it has nothing to do with any connection to T.O. landing in New England.
mark (space coast, fla)
Any word on when the preseason schedule will come out?
Mike (10:17 AM)
Mark, I thought we might see it this week, even possibly today. But haven't heard any official word.
Robert Favreau (Santa Fe, NM)
Mike, what other profession would you have selected if not for sports reporting ?
Mike (10:18 AM)
Teacher, Robert. Almost made the jump in the early 2000s. Was working all nights and weekends, long hours, little pay, and was wondering if it was all worth it. Actually took the teacher's test as part of a signing bonus incentive that Massachusetts was offering at the time for professionals considering going into the field. Close call. I stuck it out. Happy I did, but think a life as a teacher and working with youth could have been equally as rewarding.
Alex (New Jersey)
Mike, I am worried about losing Edelman. He just keeps getting better and every time he had the ball, big plays seemed to happen. What contract would it take to sign him?
Mike (10:19 AM)
Alex, just estimating here, but I was thinking one-year, $2m and give him another crack at free agency next year (showing he can make it through a season healthy and with top-line production).
Could you see the Patriots drafting a qb in the later rounds to develop as a backup so that we could trade Mallet in a year?
Mike (10:20 AM)
I could see it, James, or even the free-agent route (a la Brian Hoyer in 2009). One thing to keep in mind is that they have Eagles 2010 fourth-round draft Mike Kafka (Northwestern) on the roster and he could also be a potential No. 2 in the future depending on how it unfolds.
Mike, Your thoughts on the possibility the Pats sign either Edelman, Sanders or both? Thanks!
Mike (10:21 AM)
Educated guesses: Edelman at 75 percent, Sanders at 15 percent.
Mike (10:21 AM)
Just got a text that preseason schedule expected to be announced today.
Good morning Mike, I was wondering is the reason why we haven't gone after a DT in Free agency because the pats rather get a young DT in the draft?
Mike (10:23 AM)
They've tried, Andre, and just been priced out based on what they were comfortable offering (Desmond Bryant, Vaughn Martin etc.). It's an area they want to address and that hasn't changed. Just looking for the right fit.
Jamal(Oregon) [via mobile]
Good afternoon Mr.Reiss I want to ask you does the situation with Jeff Demps and his desire to continue his track career may alter New England's willingness to sign future players with a track background?
Mike (10:24 AM)
Jamal, I think every player is different, so I think that's a broad brush stroke that probably goes too far. But I would imagine there is some disappointment from the team's side when it comes to Demps. They guaranteed $211k of his salary when signing him, which is a nice commitment based on his situation. I could envision them feeling the commitment isn't being matched by the player in this case.
Eric(Houston) [via mobile]
What's good Mike I want to know how much urgency is their at getting WRs if your the Patriots?
Mike (10:25 AM)
Eric, I don't think "urgency" is the word I'd use for their approach. It's more calculated with the understanding that this is an ongoing process. Let's go back to 2002 at this time. No one knew Deion Branch and David Givens and how they'd fit on the team. They ended up helping and becoming household names. While the Patriots haven't had great success drafting and developing receivers, that doesn't mean it can't happen this year. Just something to keep in mind.
Bijon(Detroit) [via mobile]
Good morning Mike I wanted to ask you does a player visiting mean its likely or unlikely the team sign him?
Mike (10:26 AM)
Bijon, it's really neither. The best way to look at it, from this view, is that the team needs more information to close the file on the player before formulating a final grade. So a visit could mean a lot of things -- they could get information they don't like and downgrade the player. Or they could gain a level of assurance and bump the player up a bit. Each case is different.
Bill (Seabrook, NH)
Hi, Mike--Will all the attention to the Pats remaining cap space, I'm wondering about the status of recovering Jonathan's Fanene's $2.5 million bonus? Any chance that gets added back to the cap before the draft?
Mike (10:27 AM)
Not sure the timeline on that Bill. Patriots earned the right to pursue it. My sense is that it might take some time.
Hi Mike. Any chance of keeping a running tally of prospects the team is bringing in for meetings, or working out?
Mike (10:28 AM)
Sure AM. The only concern I have is that I don't fully trust all the information out there and a lot of it is agenda-driven. Let me think about the best way to do it.
Alec T. (Lehigh, Pa) [via mobile]
I personally think the Pats should make a hard push to sign Antionoe Winfield. Rigt now there isn't much interest with home after the Redskins resigned Hall. Winfield could start for Dennard depending on what happens with his sentencing. When Dennard comes back he could play in short yardage situations and provide good depth (which we'll need against Denver). Also he can provide much needed leadership to lockeroom and he has the capability to shutdown any wide receiver he comes accross.
Mike (10:28 AM)
Makes sense to me, Alec.
John (Manchester, NH)
Mike, at this point, who's the Pats primary punt returner? Amendola's injury history might work against him, but there don't seem to be lots of options.
Mike (10:30 AM)
Leon Washington held that role in Seattle and I projected him into that role. I don't think the Patriots would hesitate to put Amendola there either, even though we could make a case they should based on what you mentioned -- injury history.
Rain (Ft. Lauderdale)
Why haven't the Pats signed Edelman? He is now visiting the Giants. With the WR shortage why not sign him before he goes elsewhere?
Mike (10:31 AM)
Two things come to mind, Rain: 1) Edelman wants to consider other options himself to see if there is a team that views him as a starting WR. When the Patriots signed Amendola, that probably stung him a bit; 2) Money could be a factor. Before signing with the Patriots, he just wants to see what the market tells him as part of gaining a comfort level with how he's valued monitarily.
Mike (10:32 AM)
I still think the Patriots want him back ... at their price. Not sure how Edelman himself feels about it.
Mike,With the smattering of Patriots Free Agency moves thisOffseason, one relatively new addition to the Pats is flying under the radar: Brian Daboll. He's listed as a coaching assistant and is lauded for bringing another "offensive mind" to the organization. And of course we all know him from his tenure with the Pats from 2000 -2006. Do you have any further insight as to what his specific duties with the Patriots might be, AND could he be at all contributing to the Offensive Free Agency moves/decisions the team has made thus far?
Mike (10:34 AM)
I asked BB about this at the NFL's annual meeting in March. Right now, Daboll is roving on the offensive side, meaning he has his hand in a few areas. But from what I understand, some of this greater focus has been along the offensive line with Dante Scarnecchia. We know Scar is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and BB is always thinking five steps ahead. Have to have contingency plans in place just in case we have a retirement in the near future, and what better experience for someone to be a student in the Scarnecchia School of Offensive Linemen to carry that torch?
Johnny (Billerica , MA)
Thanks for taking the time Mike! Have to tell you I'm not too happy with the offseason so far. I had higher expectations for this team given the cap room we had. Any other potential moves on the horizon? Thanks!
Mike (10:36 AM)
You're not alone, Johnny. I have heard this from others as well. I understand it because a big part of what the Patriots did was retain two key cogs in Aqib Talib and Sebastian Vollmer. Add in Kyle Arrington and that's about $10-11 million of the available cap space. As for who's next, Edelman/Abraham are two I am keeping on the radar.
Mike, based on the salary market for NFL players changing so drastically this year do the Pats save some cap space and try to sign Solder/Dmac to long term deals during the season while the market is still soft ala Gronk/hernandez ?
Mike (10:37 AM)
Not totally sure, Red, but one thing to keep in mind is that the cap isn't expected to rise much at all next year, before a little more of a spike in 2015. So that figures to be part of any future planning. Specific to Solder, he has three years left so I think it's a little early. McCourty has two and I could see potentially exploratory talks during the season.
Chris (NE CT)
Hey, Mike. Throwing me off with the chat two hours earlier. Any chance the Pats draft K Dustin Hopkins and cut loose Stephen Gostkowski? I hear Hopkins is pretty good, hit 2 from over 50 on 11/24 against Florida. Or do the Pats bring in a FA kicker to compete with Gostkowski instead. What are your thoughts?
Mike (10:40 AM)
Chris, had to make the change due to the Patriots Hall of Fame Committee meeting today (12-2). We're a game-plan chat -- we adjust to the circumstances. LOL. I could see competition at kicker, and selfishly, I'd pick Florida's Caleb Sturgis if the Patriots are thinking along those lines. Why, you ask? I sat next to him on the airplane leaving the combine and he had lost his cell phone. When we were getting off the plane, he asked if I could call his number and he'd locate his phone by the ring. I was happy to assist (losing a phone is brutal), and we found the phone, and my football contacts were increased by one. True story. Seemed like a good kid. I wish him the best wherever he lands, and if it's New England, I might have the inside track on the exclusive :)
Gerry (Dalton MA)
I heard reports of Patriots working out RB Lattimore from South Carolina. Is it possible they draft another running back this year?
Mike (10:42 AM)
Gerry, I don't think we can rule anything out. Reminds me a little bit of WR Brandon Tate in 2009, drafting a player with an injury and starting him on a reserve list (doesn't cost a roster spot) as he works his way back.
DJ (Ann Arbor)
If there was one thing I thought I knew about NEP free agency plans, it was that Fells would be cut. Instead he gets his $300k. Plus they tender Hooman. Counting Ballard and starters, that's 5 TEs, Mike. Do you think we'll see a heavy 2TE package with Gronk and Ballard, and Hernandez playing some new "slash" role? That would improve run blocking while still giving them a bunch of capable receivers, setting up mismatches no matter what package the defense uses. But that formation only has room for one true WR (assuming a RB for the run mismatch you're trying to set up). What's going on with the TE surplus and WR dearth?
Mike (10:45 AM)
I'm going to tap the breaks on this one, DJ. First of all, congrats to the Wolverines and the Final Four. Awesome. Love the John Beilein story. As for Fells, that 300k he received was deferred money from his signing bonus. That means he was getting it regardless. That alters the context of it -- had the Patriots paid a $300k roster bonus, one could have made the assumption he was still a big part of their plans. Specific to the TE position, I could see part of it unfolding the way you mentioned -- Gronk/Ballard/Hernandez on the field at the same time. But I don't think that would be the base package.
Mike (10:45 AM)
Still an evolving picture. We should still see more reinforcements at WR.
Tom Ryder (Nantucket)
Cheap Cheap Cheap! Thats Belichick & Kraft.Why they let some of these fan favorite players go for small dollars is beyond me. Good thing for Tom Brady as B.B. would have been booed out of town years ago.He can not build a wining defense and if he could Tom Brady would have won 2 to 4 more Super Bowls. B.B. thinks his ego will let him coach up these grab bag players that he signs,but he can,nt do it.He can,t draft DB,S thats for sure.Mike,do you feel I,m being unfair feeling this way?
Mike (10:49 AM)
Wow Tom, that's strong. The track record is really good. They were eighth in the NFL in total payroll last year at $138 million; nothing cheap about it. Look around the NFL and there aren't many teams that are in the Patriots' class over the last decade. Brady is a big part of that, but I think to say he's the only reason they've overcome some poor personnel decisions is short-sighted, to be honest. Do the Patriots make the right decision all the time? No. Could they sometimes be more flexible with the values they place on players? Yes. But man, Tom, I think we are all going to look back on this 20 years from now and say, "What were we really complaining about?" We're in the golden age of football here in New England. It won't always be like this. I understand the frustration that maybe they could do more to push it through to get another title, but they're always in the hunt and as we see, it takes some good fortune too. I say enjoy this while it lasts and be careful of getting sucked into some of the WWE-type talk out there.
Chuck Fairbanks (in our hearts)
Mike, who's your 3 nominee for the hall this year? (You have the right to remain silent.)
Mike (10:52 AM)
I always try to respect the process and give everyone a fair shake, especially where I am at this stage of life (late 30s). I didn't live through a big part of the history of the franchise, so I like to listen to those who did before making decisions. Anything 1993-present, I feel very strong about. Anything 1985-1993, I feel pretty knowledgeable about, but still like to get confirmation from others who were closer to it. Anything 1960-1985, I'm relying on a lot of history/story-telling/research.
Mike (10:52 AM)
Let's go for another 5...
Hey Mike, Mike and Field. Thanks for the great job you are doing in bringing us the last Patriots news. What are your thoughts on the status of Dane Fletcher? Any news regarding his fitness and contract status?
Mike (10:53 AM)
Mango, Fletcher re-signed to a one-year deal. Rehab going well and expected to be part of the linebacker mix in 2013. Good special teams player.
Whats the chance the Pats draft the "Honey Badger"? And would you like them to draft him?
Mike (10:53 AM)
Matthew, they are expected to have him in town for a visit tomorrow. I'm not sure we can read anything into that, but if he checks out off the field, why not if he's still there at a spot where he represents the best value?
Dime Store (CA)
Looking back on it, do you think the Tavon Wilson draft was a total waste?
Mike (10:54 AM)
TBD. He played more as a rookie than Patrick Chung did in 2009. I think we need more information, Dime, before we can say that.
Doug (Wakefield, RI)
Hey Mike...is there a reason why the Pats are not looking into David Nelson as a wideout alternative? He is a big (6'5"), athletic, downfield receiver who can help their offense. He had 30+ catches his first year, then 60 his second year at Buffalo. Then, was hurt last year, and released. Pats could probably get him cheaply, and pairing him back up with Hernandez would be good as well. Thoughts?
Mike (10:55 AM)
I like him, Doug. He apparently was visiting Cleveland, but he's definitely a player I could see them looking at. Might be health related as he's coming back from a knee injury.
Mike, Why would a top 5 pick Dion Jordan come to NE for a visit? I dont remember a projected top 5 pick coming here for visits in the past
Mike (10:55 AM)
Always different reasons, Dave. One is that you never know where the player will land. The Patriots never expected Vince Wilfork to be there at 21 in 2004. So you have to do the work on everyone.
Dominic (Broomfield, CO)
Hey Mike. To be honest, I'm a little divided on the WR issue. I've been saying for a couple years (don't hit me) that we need a different set of WRs (read: not Welker). Because as efficient as our offense has been, unless Gronk is healthy, it has been stoppable in the playoffs. I thought we needed a receiver(s) who can beat individual coverage when the scheme/formations weren't getting people open. But, I don't think we can sleep on Amendola and Jones. Jones is not an unknown quantity, I think he is a valid #2 receiver, especially when on the field with Gronk/Herndo and Amendola.
Mike (10:56 AM)
Like the thoughts, Dominic, although I think it is a little rich when it comes to Jones. Tough to rely on him right now IMO. I view him in the "anything you get out of him is a bonus" category. That is reflected in the contract he signed -- no bonus money.
Alexander S (Canada)
I know I probably won't get selected for this, but here it goes: I'm going to repeat a question I've previously asked regarding special teams captain Matthew Slater. I believe he has the work ethic and intelligence to adapt to the difficult task that is being a Pats WR, also he has decent size and excellent speed so how come he has never been given an opportunity to develop as a wide receiver? Your thought?
Mike (10:59 AM)
Alexander, I agree that Slater has the work ethic and intelligence to do anything on the field. I think the stumbling block is the physical aspect of it -- there is so much that goes into playing receiver (change of direction, footwork, hands etc.)
MSF (Portsmouth, NH)
How much longer you going to do this, Mike? "This" meaning this chat and reporting for the Pats?
Mike (10:59 AM)
As long as they'll have me, MSF. Fortunate.
Do you see an extension for Spikes or is he going to be a victim of Hightower's success? Seems like it's going to be really hard to have them both on the field at the same time very much, given neither is very good in coverage.
Mike (11:01 AM)
I don't think anything is imminent or in the works right now, Andy. Wouldn't be surprised if we see a draft pick at that position this year as insurance.
Matthew (Marcellus, NY)
My biggest concern on defense is the often overlooked interior D-line push of the pocket. I thought that I read a stat saying Wilfork played upwards of 80% of defensive snaps last season, and if so it's no wonder he looked fatigued by the 4th quarter. We have other guys, but none that demand the doubles and sometimes near triple teams that he does. I feel that moving the QB off his spot (which we didn't accomplish against Flacco in the AFC champ game) is equally important to tight downfield coverage. Do you think we'll draft at the DT position and is there some talent there this draft?
Mike (11:02 AM)
Great point, Matthew. This is a priority for the Patriots and perhaps Armond Armstead is part of the solution. Still an unmet need. Glad you brought it up.
Jason D (NYC)
Mike, the game tape on Emanuel Sanders is unimpressive. I see no reason at all to expend a 3rd round choice and a big cap hit on a marginal guy who is not a true X WR difference-maker. He was not a difference maker in the Steelers' big play oriented downfield offense, so I do not see how he would be here. Edelman's tape is a lot more impressive to me in 2013 (when he was on the field of course). Your thoughts on Sanders' actual play on the field?
Mike (11:03 AM)
Jason, I like him, but the question would be at what price. I think he'd be better than a third-round draft choice this year (future years tougher to project). I like your strong opinion on this one.
Dime Store (CA)
Mike, every year the Pats dominate cream puffs during the regular season and then get punched in the mouth when playing physical teams SF, NYG, Balt, etc... Why don't they ever address becoming more physical? Finesse doesn't win championships
Mike (11:04 AM)
Let's end on this one, Dime. I do believe this was a big part of the team's offseason focus. They wanted to get tougher. I think that's why Adrian Wilson, for one, was signed.
Mike (11:04 AM)
Great stuff today. I liked the switch to the morning, but let's plan on going back to the regular time next week (12 p.m.). Have a great weekend.