Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NFL Nation New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss drops by to chat and answer all of your Patriots questions.
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 11 a.m. ET!
Mike (10:14 AM)
Good morning and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started at 11 a.m., but I'm going to start it off early with a little bit of an accountability session. Let's revisit what I wrote about Darrelle Revis in this chat last week:
Mike (10:23 AM)
(Last week) As for Revis, this is a challenging one to articulate but I'm going to give it a shot. I think when we look at putting the best football team on the field, who wouldn't be better with Revis? It's a no-brainer. But I do believe there is a distinction between putting a football team together and building a successful organization, and it's in the latter category where I'd have serious reservations about making that move for Revis. I believe when you're building an organization, you mostly lead by your actions, and the people you invest in the most represent your core values to everyone else. I know one could argue that acquiring Revis --and making him your highest paid player -- means you're putting the core value of winning first. But I don't think it's that easy. There is a human side in play too. He didn't come up through the system. He has previously put himself above his team because of contract issues. And now I'm going to reward that as my signature move and send the message to everyone else that this is what we reward? I am struggling with that concept. ...
Mike (10:23 AM)
(Last week) ... I think the idea of Revis-to-the-Patriots is a fun topic to talk about. Sort of like Larry Fitzgerald to the Patriots. I don't want to be overly serious and just dismiss these things out of hand, and I certainly don't want to come across as critical of another writer's work, because I don't have all the answers. Part of what we do is banter about sports and consider various possibilities. I do sense a growing disconnect, however, between reality and how most teams operate and what we often discuss in the media.
Mike (10:25 AM)
In the end, I was wrong about Revis.
Mike (10:26 AM)
I always say that no one holds themselves more accountable than myself.
Mike (10:26 AM)
A few layers to add before we move on...
Mike (10:28 AM)
The dynamics of the Revis situation obviously changed once Revis was released on Wednesday. So there is some context here: When answering that question last week, it was under the assumption that if the Patriots were to acquire Revis, it would be in a trade assuming the $16 million-per-year salary. I feel strongly they wouldn't do that.
Mike (10:30 AM)
My misstep was not thinking it through and considering the possibility of if Revis was released ... was willing to take less ... the Patriots weren't able to retain Aqib Talib (their top priority) ... and were willing to make an 'outsider' the highest-paid player on the team. All the stars ultimately aligned and that's what I wrote on late Wednesday night (link to come).
Mike (10:31 AM)
Mike (10:37 AM)
I still think the idea of making an 'outsider' the highest-paid player, and how that is received in the locker room, is an issue of significance. It doesn't all of a sudden get swept under the locker-room rug when you reward a player like that who hasn't been in your system while others who have been for multiple years (e.g. Julian Edelman) are fighting for what they feel is a fair contract, or longtime captains are approached about a reworked contract (e.g. Vince Wilfork). That's part of the human element of putting a team together and building the all-important locker-room dynamic. I think that's why the one-year deal works best for the Patriots with Revis. It softens that dynamic a bit.
Mike (10:37 AM)
Aqib Talib was a great fit here and I truly believe the Patriots looked at him as their top priority with these dynamics in mind. But the financial numbers got out of whack for them, so they explored Plan B with Revis. It seems clear that Plan C would have been Seattle's Brandon Browner, who is continuing with his visit at team headquarters today before reportedly heading on to Washington.
Mike (10:41 AM)
So, as we get started, I just wanted to get those thoughts out there and give them some time to stand on their own. Accountability matters. I work hard to try to understand all the elements that go into building a team and running a franchise, in addition to trying to best understand the X's and O's of the on-field product. Like the team itself, we don't always get it right. But I'll always hold myself accountable and retrace steps to see what could have been done differently.
Mike (10:42 AM)
We'll start the chat in a bit, and have some fun with it. Lots of great stuff to talk about.
Mike (11:05 AM)
How is everyone doing today? After that long intro, let's get right into it.
Ram (Hampton, NH)
Hi Mike, So after the Revis signing is there any chance of also signing Browner? Or was that visit setup prior to the pursuit of Revis? Thanks!
Mike (11:06 AM)
Ram, Browner is still an option obviously. But with more visits lined up after New England, I'm assuming Browner will want to explore those and then see where the chips may fall.
Any word on LaFell? Do the Pats have the cap room to make a move at receiver still after Revis?
Mike (11:08 AM)
Dan, I watched some of his tape yesterday and can see why he's of interest to the Patriots. Nothing that jumps out at you in terms of speed, but he has good size, the Panthers moved him around a lot (plenty of motion), and he aligned all over the formation (inside/outside). Often, you saw him on the inside, with the speed of Steve Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. on the outside. Pretty good hands in that MNF game against the Patriots (7 catches). LaFell also looks like a physical blocker as well, which we know the Patriots like. He'd be a solid middle-of-the-road addition, but I think the Panthers are making a competitive bid to retain him. As they say, stay tuned.
Mike (11:10 AM)
As for the cap, that is a fluid situation. In short, yes, they have room to make moves. I expect some tweaking on the cap to create more room (e.g. Adrian Wilson likely to be cut), but the Revis $7m cap hit takes up some space. They'll probably have to be a bit more judicious because of it.
Do you think Revis will view himself as a hired gun, or do you think he will help mentor some younger guys like Dennard and Ryan?
Mike (11:11 AM)
Anthony, if I had to bet, he'll be great. It sure seems like he wanted to be here. I do believe he could have received more money in a long-term deal elsewhere, so that tells me something.
Mike (11:12 AM)
Really, this is like Aqib Talib/2013 all over again. A one-year deal, feel it out, and you see if that comfort level increases to invest long-term.
Marc (Malden, MA)
At first I wondered why only 1 year, but the Pats can just franchise Revis next year.
Mike (11:13 AM)
Marc, I believe more than that, the reason for the 1 year deal is articulated in the opening remarks of the chat. When you reward an "outsider" as your highest paid player, there is a residual impact to that. The 1-year deal, in theory, softens that a bit. ...
Mike (11:14 AM)
... I'll widen out the scope. Consider what is happening in Denver. They have just paid big for three outsiders (Ware, Talib and Ward) who are very good players, while two up-and-comers who developed in their system (Beadles, Decker) went elsewhere for their big pay day. If you're a young guy in that locker room, what message is that sending to you?
Mike, isn't your stat about success of AFC Esat teams vs non-division opponents misleading? Everyone knows the Pats are an elite NFL team, but people question the strength of the rest of the division. Take out the Pats and its a very weak division. I'd like to see some blog analysis from you on this.
Mike (11:15 AM)
Hi Matt., Thanks for referencing our "four downs" piece today on ESPN.com (link to come).
Mike (11:16 AM)
Mike (11:17 AM)
Like any stats, it's all about context. I'd certainly rank it ahead of the AFC South and say it's competitive with the other divisions outside the NFC West, which is clearly a cut above. Comparing divisions is challenging, so it certainly requires a deeper analysis.
Alex (Weston, MA)
Mike, any update on the "market" for Edelman and do you think this cap hit impacts his signing? Would his signing now force Amendola to be a post June 1 cut?
Mike (11:19 AM)
Alex, Edelman believes he is deserving of a Danny Amendola/Wes Welker type deal, and it's understandable why. Patriots in a tough spot there, IMO, based on marrying up with Amendola over Edelman last year. Watch out for the Browns, whose pursuit of Andrew Hawkins didn't unfold as they hoped (Bengals will reportedly match RFA offer sheet), to possibly up the ante. I still think the Patriots are in the mix, and Edelman's desire to play with Tom Brady is real. Just about seeing if the market presents him more elsewhere because that's important to him as well. Revis deal won't have an impact on that as much as potential interest from the Browns or another team.
Joe (North Attleboro)
Mike, more a comment than a question. Any player who would put what another player makes above the team winning doesn't belong in an NFL locker room. Or in any other league's locker rooms either.
Mike (11:21 AM)
Joe, I wish it were that simple. We want to believe it's all about the team concept, but these aren't robots either. Consider yourself in Julian Edelman's shoes right now. I can understand why he'd have a tough time thinking he's worth anything less than Danny Amendola. Any disagreement there?
Mike, in hindsight, wouldn't the Pats have been better off signing Talib to a long-term deal last year, when the CB market was soft, rather than to a one year deal, losing him to the Broncos and then paying (albeit only for one year) Revis a lot?
Mike (11:21 AM)
Yes, Michael, but I don't think they had the comfort level with Talib-the-person at that juncture. Remember, he came here with some significant off-field questions.
Mike, looking further ahead, how do you see a potential franchise tag for Revis playing out?
Mike (11:22 AM)
I'd think unlikely, but as we saw over the last 24-48 hours, don't ever close the door on anything.
Hi Mike,Not sure if I'm just stunned by the move, but I find myself...disappointed that we got Revis? One of the best to play the games for sure, but I'm afraid he will leave after the year is up and we spent valuable cap money for a one year rental instead of grabbing Edelman for a few years. I also don't like giving an 'outsider' top money. Thoughts?
Mike (11:26 AM)
Cole, I think it was a good move based on the way things unfolded. Talib was preferred, I believe, and they'll miss what he brought to the team on and off the field. He was part of the soul of that locker room -- a dynamic personality who players responded to. But when the financial numbers reach a point that you're just not comfortable going because of an injury history that is a real issue, it's best to have financial discipline and go to Plan B. To get a premier player, I have no issue whatsoever with the one-year term. It gives you a chance to gain some comfort with everything that comes with the player. I do think the 'outsider' thing is an issue of significance from a locker-room dynamic and it's just something to monitor. I wouldn't overstate it or overrate it; just acknowledge it's part of the overall picture of things.
Mike, I think the 'outsider getting the most money' gets a pass in the locker room with this one. Everyone on that team knows this guy, like a quarterback, is different. It's a lot about respect to these guys, and Revis comes in with that respect. So I don't see it as a problem.
Mike (11:27 AM)
I tend to lean toward that line of thinking, Derek, but again -- every player looks at things differently. We're all human and have different emotions. I'd be very curious to hear Vince Wilfork's thoughts right now.
Ryan (bloomington) [via mobile]
I don't see how people can be upset about the "rental" of revis. Every single pats fan has been shouting "Brady's window is closing!". So the pats went out and got the best player at that position. Any player of that caliber will take a significant amount of money. Revis came here on a very patriot friendly deal! If "the window is closing" and you wanna keep pace with the broncos in the AFC.. To me this one was a no brainer
Mike (11:28 AM)
Agree, Ryan. No problem with the one-year term. Same thing as Talib/2013. A chance to work with the player and see if there is a good fit to extend the marriage long-term.
Jason (New Bedford, MA) [via mobile]
Revis is a fantastic addition, but an unusually big free agent splash by the Patriots. Does this indicate the Pats are "going for it" this year?
Mike (11:29 AM)
No, Jason, I think it indicates that the team saw a unique opportunity and was "light on its feet" to capitalize on it when it's preferred option (Talib) landed a deal they weren't comfortable matching.
Mike, are the Pats banking on Aaron Dobson for the season? They really need to get an outside receiver for Tom.
Mike (11:30 AM)
Jared, I wouldn't say "banking" on anything, especially after Dobson underwent surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot recently. They obviously want to see him make that same jump that other second-year receivers like Randall Cobb, Marvin Jones, Alshon Jeffrey and others have made in recent years, but they'll protect themselves in the event there are setbacks.
Mike, I think Revis can be the defensive equivalent of the Moss trade. Agree?
Mike (11:32 AM)
I wouldn't go that far, Michael. I thought Talib was very good; the only issue was the long-term commitment based on the health question. I look at this way -- they've upgraded at the position from a talent, sturdiness and reliability standpoint, but it was already at a pretty high level. More reinforcements on this team needed.
Rob (Boston, MA)
Mike, It's been quiet on the Wilfork front? Any sense as to where the Pats stand with re to his contract situation? I feel as if he's the most important player on the roster and in the locker room.
Mike (11:33 AM)
Sensitive situation, Rob. Have to stay tuned. Not sure where it stands.
Do you have a sense of why Alterraun Verner's contract seemed a little low compared to what other CBs are getting this off-season? I really would have like to see the Pats grab him at that price point. Maybe even over the Revis deal.
Mike (11:34 AM)
Joe, I think the key is to look closer at the player's skill set and what he does best -- Verner is more of a cover-2 zone corner. The corners who signed for big money are more man corners who can match up, which to me is a bit more of a premium skill.
"If you're a young guy in that locker room, what message is that sending to you?" Doesn't it convey accurately that this is a business and will be run as such without sentimentality?
Mike (11:36 AM)
I'd counter with this, Steve. Football is also a game of emotion and coming together as a team (see: Super Bowl, Patriots/Rams/2001 season/pre-game introductions). It's part of the dynamic. Players aren't robots. ...
Mike, aren't you happy that this chat was scheduled for today instead of yesterday, just from a tone/tenor of the fan point of view?
Mike (11:38 AM)
Nate, that was my first thought after the Revis news broke. LOL.
Talib may have been the "soul" of the locker room, but he also missed the AFC Championship (for the 2nd year in a row) with what he admitted was only a bone bruise. I will take Revis
Mike (11:39 AM)
Fair enough, Dave. The injury factor is obviously a big part of this. Denver gave him a deal that reflected it is OK with it. New England obviously didn't have that same level of comfort.
Mike, to your point about players not being robots, true enough, but loyatly works both ways. The Patriots resurrected Talib from the Bucs and from his own bad reputation and as thanks he grabs the richest deal he can get, against the Pats' main rivals no less.
Mike (11:40 AM)
True, Michael, and that's part of it as well. A lot of players benefit from the Patriots' structure and system. It's all part of the complete picture.
Mike, if we don't sign Edelman, who do you see us signing?
Mike (11:41 AM)
Chuck, Brandon LaFell and Jason Avant visited and there is the past connection with Emmanuel Sanders. Those are the WRs I'd focus on.
Mike - I was reading what Brady said about Revis last year, and it struck me that he seems to have given a great description of the difference between Talib and Revis. - "There?s some guys who guess all the time and sometimes they guess wrong. He never guesses wrong." I liked Talib a lot, but I feel like he was a little too flashy and a little less consistent than Revis. What do you think?
Mike (11:42 AM)
Zack, Talib said it himself last year -- there is one CB who is at the head of the class and it's Revis (link to come).
Mike (11:44 AM)
Mike (11:44 AM)
At the same time, I'm not going to tear Talib down to build Revis up. I thought Talib was excellent here -- on and off the field. My favorite CB to watch play since Ty Law.
trader75 (wilton, ct)
Mike the first time you interview Revis can you please ask him if he still thinks Belichick is a "jerk?" It would get you two off to a great start.
Mike (11:45 AM)
Something tells me that question will be asked and he'll have a good humored awswer ready.
David (Cape Cod)
Why am I the only one who thinks the Broncos will be a train wreck this year. They are swapping out young healthy good players for older more expensive not as healthy players.
Mike (11:45 AM)
David, I think they'll still be good because Peyton Manning is there. But built to win a championship? Too early for me to buy that at this point.
Mike, after the Revis deal, what else do you see as the Pats' main needs?
Mike (11:48 AM)
Depending on the contracts, WR, move TE, and C are the three that come to mind. Safety bears watching as well. There is a balance between addressing short-term needs and long-term, and those look to be more in the short-term category in the sense of asking the question, "Who would they line up with if the season started today?"
Mike, how do you think the pats will address their defensive issues at 3rd and long situations? It felt like the were conceding 1st-downs at most 3rd-long situations...
Mike (11:50 AM)
The free-agent visit of LB Wesley Woodyard seemed tied to that, as he's more of a coverage LB. Something to monitor. He's in Tennessee now visiting the Titans.
David (Newton, MA)
Heard anything about getting offensive line help?
Mike (11:50 AM)
David, Rams interior OL Shelley Smith is in town today after visiting the Giants. Smith is then scheduled to visit Miami.
Nathan (Tampa, FL)
Mike, what is the first question you will ask Revis?
Mike (11:51 AM)
What was it about the short-term deal that appealed to you when compared to a longer-term deal where you probably could have received more bonuses/guaranteed money?
Glenn (New York)
Really interested to see what happens at center. Is Phil Costa still viable? Is he a cheaper option than what we already with Wendell?
Mike (11:52 AM)
Glenn, I'd stick with Wendell over Costa.
Mike, building off of Bailey's question you just answered...How do you say TE is a bigger need than DE? Pats failed to generate a pass rush in key situations and still have trouble getting off the field on 3rd downs. As I see it: DE,WR,S are the needs.
Mike (11:55 AM)
I think they want a third DE to work with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. But pressure can come from different places, and an interior push is part of it too (the return of injured players and development of youngsters should yield improvement there). I do think we'll see them add a DE, but think they could line up today and win games with their top guys at DE.
Mike (11:56 AM)
Let's take a few more. I can't keep up. We're almost at 600 questions. Wow.
Mike, with the particulars about Revis' contract are coming out now, it seems to be very favorable to the team with regards to cap space. Thoughts?
Mike (11:57 AM)
I'd have to take a closer look, Ryan, to see the cap implications. We've been chatting the last hour and I've obviously been all-in on this.
Mike, looking ahead to next year with Revis, I just found out that his contract includes an option for 2015 at 20 million. Is it realistic that the Patriots will pick this option up? or is he only here for one year?
Mike (11:57 AM)
I'd have to see the specifics of the deal to have a better understanding, Jesse. Just developed while we have been chatting.
Mike, Steve Smith just got cut. Seems like a perfect signing for the Pats (i.e, great value-probably a 1 year deal at low money, tough veteran hungry to win and prove people wrong, etc.) Seems almost like he could be their offensive Rodney Harrison move.
Mike (11:59 AM)
Eric, I think Steve Smith looks to be headed to Baltimore.
Have negotiations broken down between Patriots and Julian Edelman?
Mike (11:59 AM)
Tristan, dialogue remains open, so I wouldn't say broken down.
Matt (Dedham, MA)
Are any of the FA tight ends that are out there of interest to the Pats (e.g., Daniels, Finley)?
Mike (12:00 PM)
Matt, I'm sure they'd like to, but there is only so much money to go around. After re-signing Michael Hoomanawanui, wouldn't be surprised if they are done until the draft.
Mike, with the WR's you had mentioned (LeFell, Avant, Sanders) which do you think would be the best fit and get the "Patriots System" that has seen great WR's fail at when coming in?
Mike (12:03 PM)
Let's end on this one, Keith. I've watched a little tape on all three. LaFell is a little bit bigger and has an inside/outside element to his game. So he's built to last. Sanders is the fastest and most dynamic of the three. Avant more depth/leadership/inside guy. I'd go Sanders/LaFell/Avant.
Mike (12:04 PM)
Thanks to all for chatting. Overload of questions. Tried to get to as many as possible. We'll do it again next week.