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March 11, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon. How's everyone doing today? Thanks for stopping by. I have a little extra bounce in the step. Might be weather related as the last 5-6 days have been great here in New England. Let's talk some football. Will be back in a few to get it rolling.

C.J. (N.Hollywood California)

Hey Mike I'm jus wondering if the Patriots are working on signing or drafting another WR or at least a TE like Antonio Gates to get the pressure of Moss and help if someone gets hurt

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Yes, for sure. Veteran receiver is a high priority. Brady wants at least another vet around him. Think they'd like to get Josh Reed, but reading between the lines, maybe the contract offer didn't knock him over. As for TE, it's a major need. Not a lot out there, which has me wondering if they revisit bringing back Benjamin Watson.

MarkJ (Japan)

Mike, is there a possibility that Chris Baker will be back with a cheaper contract?

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

I'd rule that one out, MarkJ. It just didn't work out. One of several players in that category that the Patriots mis-evaluated.

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

It's not that Baker isn't a good player. Just wasn't the right fit here.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which NFL Football Stadium do you think is absolutely Terrible to watch a game?

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

Chris, appreciate your outside-the-hash-marks type of questions. A big part of it for media members is the angle from which you see the game. Wasn't a fan of Fed-Ex Field (Redskins). Angle was end zone and low.

Aaron (College Park, MD)

In your opinion, why hasn't Thomas been released or traded yet? You have said many times you don't see another team picking up his $4.9 million salary, so if trade isn't likely, why haven't we released him yet? I can't remember ever hearing so much talk about the character of a locker room during the offseason before, and Thomas was without a doubt a "bad seed".

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

If I had to guess what the Patriots are thinking, here it is: "After we invested all that money, and he'd been popping off, why should we make life easier for him?"

Tim (Washington, DC)

Mike - interesting that we continue to hear comments from ownership and players like Wilfork that the locker room dynamic must be an area of improvement next season. However, since the end of the last season, just a handful of players are no longer on the roster. Instead, we have resigned 5 of 8 free agents, and only cut TE Chris Baker. Are we to believe that the locker room problems were because of players like Chris Baker and Jarvis Green? If not, when do we expect to see some major roster turnover? I know that there are other considerations at play, like preventing a player like Adalius Thomas from ending up at a division rival like the Jets, but I am very surprised that with all of the talk of locker room disharmony, that not much has changed in terms of personnel.

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

A few different layers to this one, Tim. First, there are probably only a few bad seeds. I'm assuming Wilfork was talking about Adalius Thomas, but don't know for sure. Sometimes one bad seed can spread to other impressionable youngsters, so you remove the one, and it actually is a major cleanup. ...

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

... Second, I think it would be a major disservice to the careers of Jarvis Green and Chris Baker to lump them in that category. They are not bad seeds.

Mike (Chicago)

What do you see the Pats doing before the draft to upgrade the recievers. What happened with Josh Reed??

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

Reed visited earlier this week and I think that's a possibility. I'd also keep Deion Branch's name on the radar.

Glenn (Los Angeles)

Hi Mike. It is obvious that the Pats need to fill some gaps. While there is much focus on free agency and the draft, another important source is often overlooked -- the improvement of last year's rookies. Although (with rare exceptions) BB doesn't give rookies a lot of playing time, the 2009 draft and RFE class was unusually strong, with six players having significant roles (Butler, Vollmer, Edelman, Pryor, Hoyer, Ingram), four more earning at least some playing time in the regular offense or defense (Chung, Brace, Ohrnberger, Tate) and three more with promise who were injured or on the practice squad at full salary (McKenzie, Bussey, Richard). This season, those players will have had a full year to learn the system and will have fully participated in the offseason strength and conditioning program. Those 13 players (14, if you throw in Crable from 2008) potentially represent about a quarter of the 53-man roster. While obviously not the complete answer, do you believe this group will be a source of significant improvement in the 2010 Patriots?

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

Yes, and I think this is a very good point. I've heard some critics say 'They haven't gotten better, they've just re-signed their own.' I think that overrates the impact of the first few days of free agency and overlooks all the avenues you can get better (free agency, draft, trades, last year's rookie class). The idea is to retain as much of the good talent as possible and keep building around it. With that in mind, I think the Patriots are having a good offseason to this point. Now, there is more work to be done.

Njpatsfan (NJ)

Hey Mike,Do you think we can kick the tires on Larry Foote?

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Don't see the Pats going for Foote. Arizona and Pittsburgh more likely options for him. Don't see him as an upgrade over Guyton at this point from the total-picture standpoint (including special teams) and you also have Tyrone McKenzie -- last year's third-round pick -- in position to compete for playing time.

Pat31 (RI)

Mike,If both Kindle and Graham are available at 22, whom do you think we will choose? Kindle is a prototype 3-4 OLB size and Graham is fairly shorter, but extremely impressive. Considering that TBC and AD and Burgess are around 6-2, why do we have to still have a prototype height and weight for an OLB? Production, not size should dictate a draft choice.

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Great topic, Pat31. My hunch is the choice would be Kindle.

patsfan81 (CT)

Hey Mike,Tedy pointed out correctly that although the priority was to resign our FA, we should also look outside to bring in veteran FA. I think we are falling way behind in that as compared to our AFC east foes. Now most of the big names are gone, whom do you think we have a chance of landing?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

One thing I'd say on that is that this was one of the weakest free-agent crops in recent memory. I like what Baltimore did. As for the Jets, many look at Cromartie and say they've improved themselves, but that is a huge loss with Thomas Jones. With the Dolphins, many look at Dansby and say they've improved themselves, but those are significant voids to fill if Jason Taylor isn't back, and also Joey Porter. I think there has been a lot of hype for the Jets and Dolphins, and I like the Dansby move, but I don't buy that the Patriots are falling behind them.

Christian (Halifax)

Hey Mike - What are your top 3 Patriot Draft choices over the last decade?

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

1. Tom Brady (2000, sixth round); 2. Richard Seymour (2001, first round); 3. Matt Light (2001, second round).

Frazier (Philly)

Do you think it is at all possible that we pursue a trade for Greg Olsen? We need some young offensive playmakers.

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I think they'd be smart to look into it. I'd give up one of the second-rounders, even in a deep draft, to bring him into the fold.

Shawn (Rockville, MD)

Hi Mike. Regarding the Patriots prototype OLB, what is it about being 6'5" that would benefit a player at that position? In other words, why is height such a high priority for that position?

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Often matched against tall, powerful offensive tackles, and being shorter can make that an unfavorable matchup.

Jim L. (Macon, Ga)

Mike, it seems to me that the Patriots devoted a lot of energy and effort to locking down their own players at the beginning of free agency. Shouldn't that have been done prior to FA so that they knew what $$ they had to work with and could go after some areas of need?

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

That is a very fair point, Jim, and I'm glad you brought it up. I think that argument can be made, although one thing that I believe is important to consider is that a lot of these deals were contingent on the player feeling comfortable with the market. Kevin Faulk is a good example. The Patriots made him an offer. He wasn't crazy about it. He saw the market and Thomas Jones's two-year, $5 million deal, and then felt more comfortable with the deal. So sometimes you need that market -- which sets values -- to help close deals.

Obed (Fairfax VA)

Hey Mike, great to see you in the thick of Free Agency. Considering the amount of youthful players at WR/ special teams vying for the 3rd WR spot, what do you make of a play to get Golden Tate in the draft? Consideration must be made that he'll be gone after we select Brandon Graham to help the pass rush but if he's still on the board it can't hurt right?

Mike Reiss
  (12:19 PM)

If Tate is there at 22, I think his name will be on the small card that Bill Belichick keeps in his pocket listing his few possibilities.

Kyle (Boston)

Hey mike - want to know your thoughts on the draft going to Prime time?! I actually enjoyed saturdays investing the entire day to Mel Kiper and nachos. Seems like this new format hurts patriots fans because of the threat to trade out of the first round. imagine committing an entire night to the draft then get nothing in return til tomorrow!?!

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

I think it's a bummer, Kyle. I liked it when it was just on the weekend.

Patrick (Guelph, Ontario)

Keep hearing about how this is the deepest draft in ages. This is the draft where Bill goes "all in" with these stockpiled draft picks, right? With so many needs on this team, I'm not sure if I could handle many more "NE trades pick #44 to Team X for next year's 2nd and a 7th" type trades.

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Agree Patrick. That's why I think they'll probably make the picks.

Dave (Granby, MA)

With an uncapped year I'd keep Thomas and just pay him not to play all year. But it also isn't my money I'm dealing with.

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

The counter to that line of thinking is that you have a player who is unhappy in the locker room. That can bring others down.

Dan (Jersey (by way of Brockton))

Given that the Pats tried to make a move for Boldin, what about going after Brandon Marshall. He seems to fit the Dillon/Moss mold of alleged malcontent who could be rehabbed by following the Patriot Way.

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

I'd be stunned, Dan. Don't think Marshall is in the same category as Moss/Dillon. Those two guys thrived in the ultra-structured, competitive environment. I don't think Marshall is wired the same way.

Kristen (R.I.)

Hi Mike! Love your stuff! So maybe I am alone on this but I am pretty pleased with how the Pats have acted since the beginning of free agency. Maybe they haven't made any moves most fans would consider "sexy" but if Wilfork, Banta-Cain, Bodden and Faulk had gotten away, they would be even more screwed. Those guys know what went wrong last year and have the opportunity to work hard again to fix it during the offseason. I think that is a very positive thing. I also really think it would be a bad move to re-sign Ben Watson; he never lived up to his potential. I'd love to see them make a trade for TE Olsen though...any chance that can happen? Are you pleased with how NE has begun free agency?

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Thanks Kristen. It's an incomplete picture at this point, but I think what they've done so far is solid. They've spent almost as much as any team in free agency -- if not the most -- which has been somewhat surprising to me. I'd endorse a Watson return. I do think Olsen is worth exploring.

Pete (Philly)

Given the concerns over team chemistry, are current roster players asked to evaluate potential draft picks? For example, if it came down to Odrick or Graham at No. 22, would Vince Wilfork or Jerod Mayo be asked to look at tape or sit in on interviews, since they would be potentially working alongside/helping develop this individual for perhaps the next decade?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

No, I don't think the players are involved in that form. They might see a draft pick on a visit to the stadium and say hello, but nothing more than that.

Dan (New York, NY)

Are you surprised the Pats are paying so much to resign their veterans? The value on some of these signings surprises me......I always admired BB that he paid for future performance and not past performance, even if that was unpopular to fans. It doesn't feel to me that the club still has a lot of momentum this offseason with its fan base - no sizzle yet!

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

A little bit, Dan. I think part of it was explained by Robert Kraft on sports radio WEEI the other day. It's asking "What is the alternative?" The quality of the overall free-agent market is weak this year. I know there hasn't been a lot of sizzle, but I'd think that most would understand that sizzle (e.g. Adalius Thomas, Albert Haynesworth) isn't always what wins. It's consistent, sound decision-making that will help a team distinguish itself, and that's an area the Patriots have struggled with of late.

George (Toronto)

Mike, if you had to rank the Patriots needs by position, what would be your top 3 be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

1. OLB; 2. DE; 3. TE

Anthony (Douglas, MA)

Mike, In Bill I trust but I was dissapointed with last year's draft. Vollmer and Butler are solid players but Bill traded back so many times that he missed out on some really good players(Oher, Delmas, Matthews). Can he just sit still and pull the trigger if a quality pass rusher is there at 22?

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

I think he can. As for last year, Oher wasn't the right guy for them, and what they ask their offensive linemen to do. So he wasn't a consideration. With Matthews, since they are committed to their style of defense, he was not viewed as strong enough to set the edge at OLB. I can't quibble with that thinking. Delmas, on the other hand, looks like a stud. That might be one that I'd feel more comfortable saying they decisively missed on.

Troy (Worcester)

Obviously, Mike, the Patriots' need for a WR is foremost on our minds. Do you see this as our first round pick or one of the second round picks? Is this draft deep at this postion? Finally, are we knowledgable enough in drafting to pick a good one? We certainly haven't demonstrated that in the past.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Analysts call this a pretty deep group, Troy. Difficult to accurately answer the question without knowing what the other options available will be when they pick. As for the Patriots being knowledgable enough to pick one, I know what you are saying (e.g. Chad Jackson). I think I'd put my trust in them as compared to other clubs. They did hit on Julian Edelman last year.

jimbo (Boston)

I've been reading your columns/blogs excessively for a number of years and they are a good way to cure my football jones in the off-season.It seems that every year we speculate that management will follow a certain course only to see they do something highly surprising (Acquring Moss and Welker, not getting a pass-rusher last year, trading Seymour).This borderline impossible, but do you think anything mindblowing has a modicum of a chance to happen? Would you even try to speculate?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

The one thing I could see is an unexpected trade. Then, of course, the question is who. They are fairly deep at safety (James Sanders?) and running back (Laurence Maroney?).

Mike MacD (Fredericton, NB)

Hey Mike, Anymore ideas for free agent wide receivers now that Mason is off the market. I know you like Reed but do you see any other possibles?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Not much out there. If Reed falls through, I'd turn my attention back to Seattle and see if they'd reconsider on Deion Branch in a trade.

Dean (MA)

Mike,I was curious about Bob Kraft's comments the other night regarding the labor deal. He kept referring to the '06 deal as a "bad deal". When asked why the owners didn't object back then, he replied that they didn't know. What's obvious now, that wasn't obvious 4 years ago, and now makes it a bad deal?

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

I'd have to look back at 2006 more closely to have the best answer, Dean. My sense is that he was saying the owners didn't know the economy would turn the way it did.

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Thomas Jones signed with Kansas City for two years for 5 million. That seems like great value considering his production, he is younger and better at this stage in his career than Taylor and Morris. Should the Patriots have gone after him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Fair question, David. If they did that, they probably would have cut Fred Taylor. I think Jones would have been an upgrade, but I also know Taylor brought a lot to that locker room.

Szabi (Hungary)

Hi Mike! As I see there is a lot of Pats fans who are frustrated after the first week of free agency because the team has not improved. But by re-signing practically all the free-agents who can still contribute they maintain the level of a 10-6 team which is not a bad start and the good draft picks provide enough possibility to further improve (on draft day or by trade). Am I the only one who thinks so?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

No, I think some people are on board with your thinking, Szabi. We're only six days into free agency. There are plenty of more avenues for the team to improve. Some of their best moves have traditionally come later in the process (e.g. Jabar Gaffney signing, Ted Washington trade).

John (Salem)

Mike, Why not go after a Guy like Keith Bullock if he is healthy and Charles Grant, each would have something left in the tank and something to prove and would be good locker room guys ? They would cost maybe 2 year deals at 3 or 4 million each.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

I like Bulluck, John. Right now, he might not pass a physical as he had an ACL injury at the end of the year. So that might be what's holding him up. Not sure on Grant. Seems like more of a traditional 4-3 end from what I've seen of him.

Doug (Centerville, MA.)

Hey Mike, we explored bringing Jason Taylor here last year. What do you think the chances are of revisiting that option to help out our defensive unit with a great player who has exceptional leadership skills?

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

I think it's the same thing as last year, Doug. If Taylor wants to come, I think they'd like him here. The question is whether he truly wants to leave Miami.

BurkieInBoston (Ash Vegas, MA)

Hi Mike - w/Faulk on a one year contract, the Pats are allowing for the opportunity for a rookie RB to learn the 3rd down role during the 2010 season. Scenario - let's say they take Joe McKnight in the 2nd round. That would give them a comittee of 6 serviceable RB's. If you had a crystal ball, who's the odd man out? I hope it's not Ben "Jarvis Green" Ellis because he's so young and seems to do real well wirth the limited playing time he has had.

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Good thought, BurkieInBoston. In a situation like that, I could see them making a trade. I think a player like Maroney could bring back some vaue in the form of a mid-round pick.

RJ (Boston)

Hey Mike, tell me the reason we don't have a Bruins chat. TONS of buzz this week.and still no chat... Come on!

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

RJ, thanks for being persistent. We hear you loud and clear. You're going to notice more Bruins chats in the future with Joe McDonald, formerly of the Providence Journal now working at ESPNBoston.com. He's going to be contributing to our hockey coverage.

goobyB (Quincy, MA)

Mike, I don't know why you're so high on Olsen. The Pats need a blocking TE in the mold of Dan Graham. I think Watson would be getting greater consideration if he was a better blocker.

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

I like the pass-catching element that Olsen could bring. To me, a blocking TE is almost a waste in this offense. Might as well bring in a sixth lineman. I know that's extreme, but I was exaggerating the point.

TruePat (Worcester)

Mike, WR is our paramount need. Have you forgotten the last few games? No viable WR and the Pat's offense comes to a halt with Moss being double covered. Welker will not be around in September and a top WR is our greatest need without doubt.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Agree they need more help there. Also being cognizant of not putting too many bodies ahead of Edelman and Tate so they have a chance to grow.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Let's go for another 5 here...

Jordan (Chicago)

Mike, if the patriots were unwilling to commit to a long deal with Boldin what chance do we have to see Olsen in a Patriots uniform? Im sure that price would be even higher

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

I'd argue they are at different stages of their careers, Josh. Olsen is entering year 4. He still has three years left on his deal if I'm not mistaken. Boldin is going to be 30.

Nick (Los Angeles)

Torry Holt was signed last year by Jacksonville for a year/3 mil. Should he be explored as an option by the Pats if he'll take the same money? Haven't heard his name mentioned much.

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

One of the editors at ESPNBoston mentioned Holt this morning, Nick. I haven't seen enough of him to know at this point. Would need to talk to a pro personnel guy to have the answer. Big name, but is he still productive? Not sure.

Alan (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Hi Mike,I'm wondering whether we'll see a significant change in the offensive line this year. I've got a feeling that Dan Koppen is due a $500,000 bonus sometime this month and wondered whether the team might look to rework his contract or cut their losses altogether. My first thought was that given his relationship with Tom Brady it was pretty unthinkable. But with all the money tied up with the Wilfork, Banta-Cain, Neal, Bodden and Faulk signings can they afford to keep him and Matt Light at their current contracts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

I've wondered that too, Alan. I think Koppen also had six penalties in 2009, which is unusually high for a center. I think they can afford him, but it's something to keep on the radar.

Chris (Montana (Boston Transplant))

Hey Mike, I would like to have seen the Pats make a play for Antonio Bryant because he's one of the most consistent and we don't know when Welker will be back or if this is Moss' last year? Also, did you happen to catch that amazing comeback by the Montana Grizzlies last night to get to the Big Dance? Even football analysts can enjoy that.

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

I missed the Montana Grizzlies, but I chuckled that they made their way into our Patriots chat. Fantastic. There are some off-field questions with Bryant that were probably part of the consideration not to bring him in.

bz (glenwood springs, co)

Mike, now that Wilfork has been signed to a long term contract and Jarvis Green has moved on what are the chances that the team looks at using Wilfork at the RDE position. With a number of players to rotate at the nose position (Pryor, Wright and Brace if he shows improvement) Wilfork could be freed up to provide a steady presence on the outside. At the onset of contract negotiations there was speculation that Vince's weight and associated familial health history could be a concern for the team. If Vince could drop some weight and move more to the outside this could help everyone; thoughts.

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Hadn't put much thought into that. While it's something to consider, I think his true value is playing over center.

Adam C (Mexico)

After signing his four year deal, will Vince Wilfork take on a bigger role as a leader in the locker room?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Yes, Adam, and I think we've already seen the beginning of that.

Bob (Alexandria, VA)

Mike, Thanks for the chat. Who's the weakest link to the Pats - A. Thomas outside, or Guyton inside? Related: Was Mayo's drop off in play due to him covering for Guyton some, injury, or something else? Thanks again very much.

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

I'd say Thomas, although I think Guyton will be interesting to watch. He played 84 percent of the snaps, second highest on the team. At the same time, I am thinking the Patriots might want to bring that number down. On Mayo, I'm going with the health (knee) as a reason for the performance not necessarily standing out.

Luke (Kentucky)

do you see the pats making a move on LT

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Let's end on this one, Luke. I don't see LT in New England. They have three backs over 30 and if they add another player at the position, I see it being a younger option.

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting. You filled up the chat. Wish I could have made it through them all. We'll do it again next week.