Good afternoon from City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida. I'm here at Red Sox spring training, chipping in to our coverage on ESPNBoston.com. But it was important to me to make sure time was devoted to keeping the Thursday Patriots chats going. So let's chat until about 12:45 and that will give me time to get ready for first pitch.
I drove over from the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, about 3 hours. Passed through Lake Wales and thought of Vince Wilfork, because that's where he plans to retire. Let's talk some football.
Mike, do you think that the Patriots and Adalius Thomas can patch things up? It seems to me that he if unleashed could really raise havoc on defense.
I don't see it as something that can be salvaged Show_1. After hearing how decisively that owner Robert Kraft talked about team chemistry being a problem last year, I'd now be very surprised if Thomas was back.
Is it feasible to think there will be another wave of free agency post-draft for the Patriots to find adequate help at WR? Someone along the lines of Sam Hurd, etc.
I think so, Michael. Because there is no salary cap, more teams can keep players on their roster that they don't intend to keep when the season begins. I think we'll see an influx on the market at some point, and a WR can possibly be found there. Maybe the best example would be Jabar Gaffney, signed in October of '06.
Hey Mike,If Pats do pull off blockbuster trades ala' 2007, any thoughts on who the players might be?
I don't see any blockbuster trades, but the possibilities I'd keep on the radar are Deion Branch (even though Pete Carroll praised him Wednesday) and Bears TE Greg Olsen. On any deals, it seems to me that groundwork is being put in place now, and they could be executed on draft day.
Mike,Please tell me that we will not take a TE with our 22nd pick! Many mock drafts have us taking the best TE in the draft and with our scheme, he will be just a glorified blocker.
The position is one of the team's need areas, although I'd agree with you. Not worth the investment in the first round, especially in a draft considered fairly deep at that position.
Hi Mike, with the compensatory picks set the Pats once again have 12 draft picks this year? What can we expect? Trade some of those picks for players, or perhaps future picks or will they surprise us again and select 12 players again this year?
The easy answer, Nick, is to expect the unexpected. You never really know with the Patriots. They have a lot of needs and I think it would benefit them to make the picks. That being said, if a team offers a 2011 first-rounder for one of those 2010 second-rounders, that's tough to pass up. Look at how Seattle benefitted from that last year. They traded No. 37, I believe, for a 2011 first-rounder and that pick is No. 14. They are going to get a much better player this year than they would have last year.
Hello Mike,Do you have any info on Crable? Despite missing two years, he is still on the roster. Is BB really enamored with him? He has the size to be an OLB, but is he ever going to be in the field?
I don't think Belichick is enamored with him, but I think his approach is that he'd like to make sure he exhausts all options to develop him before cutting ties. Injuries have stunted the process.
Hey Mike,Is Logan Mankin going to follow VW's example? Stay away from OTA and get back for the camp. But I don't see us bending over backwards to sign him to a huge deal. Would he be franchised next year?
It's too early to project, sack10. The next step in the process, in my opinion, is whether there is movement on a new deal. He doesn't necessarily have to have a new deal in my view. If he feels like an honest attempt is being made on an extension, I don't think there will be a problem.
But in talking to Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, at the owners meeting, he relayed that Mankins is really upset.
Hey Mike,Is the locker room chemistry over rated? We don't go after certain guys as they are not patriot material. Case in point, Marshall, who could be had for 22. There is no way we can draft and develop an impact player like Marshall. Why don't we give it a shot. We took chances with Moss and Dillion. Some team is going to sign Marshall and why not one of the classiest teams in NFL.
I'm a big believer in the locker room chemistry, Bmad. And then my feelings are reinforced when I hear David Patten say this about the 2001 team: "It was just the camaraderie, the family. Many times, especially over the past year when I didn't have the opportunity to play and was going around speaking to various groups of kids and companies, one thing I reflected on and remember vividly was the family atmosphere. We would get out of practice at 3:30, 4 o'clock. You would have an afternoon meeting for about 30 minutes to an hour, but we would spend two to three hours just hanging out in the locker room. I'm absolutely convinced that's what gave us the edge on Sundays. They didn't say we were the best; we didn't have the most talent. But the one thing you couldn't argue with was the fact that we had one of the best teams. I think that was because we genuinely enjoyed being around each other. That's what I remember most."
With this in mind, I personally wouldn't make the move for Marshall.
Hi Mike,Big fan, and a follower (JohnInRumford) on Twitter. My thoughts are that the Pats might take a WR in the 1st round with Demaryius Thomas, and grab guys like Ricky Sapp and Alex Daniels to fit their pass rushing need later, if a guy like Odrick is off the board. Can you envision that scenario?
I could envision that scenario, John, based on the depth/quality of the outside linebacker/defensive end conversion types in this draft. Golden Tate might be a little rich at 22, but I think he'll be one of the players the Patriots will have on their radar at WR.
Mike,With the signing of crumpler, do you think theyll put off signing a TE this draft? With their needs at DE, OLB, WR, RB, i think it would be best to make those 4 picks in the first 2 rounds and then draft their future TE next year with their own late first round pick. Theyll still have the raiders pick to work with too. I think the only TE worth drafting would be gresham and i think the other positions are too important right now to use a 1st-2nd round on a TE.
Joe, I think they have to come out of this draft with a tight end at some point, unless they are going to trade for someone like the Bears' Greg Olsen. When I look at recent drafts, if you want a top-rated TE, it's usually the second/third round area where the most action is.
Hey Mike, I love reading your chat every week. Anyways, my question is this: If you had to create a flag football team using members from the Red Sox, who would you pick and at what positions?
My first-round pick would be Ellsbury :)
Where do the Patriots turn for a veteran receiver now that signing Josh Reed looks unlikely?
I still think they should make another bid to acquire Deion Branch (assuming he'll restructure his salary). I'd start there. Otherwise, the options aren't that appealing right now. Torry Holt might be worth a look. But my thought is that they probably wait until other players come available.
Will the pats draft sapp in the 1st round since they worked him out so long, or do u think that was a head fake.
Markus, Bill Belichick mentioned that the Patriots have interviewed or worked out 212 players as of last weekend. I wouldn't read too much into the Sapp workout.
With the unsuccess of our pass happy offense. Do you believe the Pats go to the run more and secondly keep Brady under center? I know the gun allows for better view of the "D", but we havent won anything with that type of game gameplan.
I still think they will be more of a spread team, but I am going to be interested how much they tweak their running schemes. One of the NFL's better running teams, the Ravens, does a nice job creating favorable matchups in the running game with unbalanced lines and tackle-eligible formations. I could see the Patriots possibly adopting more of that approach (similar to what we saw at the end of the 2008 season with Russ Hochstein).
Hope you are having fun with the Red Sox. My question is, wouldn't a Greg Olsen-James Sanders trade make sense for both teams? Olsen doesn't fit the Bears system and the Pats have 4 starting caliber safeties. Thanks!
I saw the Chicago Sun-Times speculate on that type of possibility, Jacob. My sense is that the Bears would need to receive a bit more in that swap. The Patriots have good depth at safety, and if there is a trade, I could see that being a position that draws some interest from other teams.
Mike trying to take in Robert Krafts comments about Brandon Tate this week. Do you think that the team feel they already have their receiver to play opposite Randy Moss already on the roster? The lack of quality players out there at the position means the draft would be the best place to add a receiver but its asking a lot of a rookie to come in with that much responsibility on them.
I thought that was a very interesting comment, Neil, with Kraft saying that Tate could surprise. I think the Patriots are excited about him, but they also realize that he remains a wild-card because he hasn't done it consistently. I think they would like to add another veteran at that spot.
Yes or no...can wilfork play end in our 3-4? If so, would it make sense to draft another dominant nose tackle (I.e. Terrance Cody) and let Cody and brace handle the nose while Vince dominates on the end?
Yes, Wilfork can play end. On Cody, I'm not sure we can guarantee that he will dominate at the nose at this point. The Patriots already have a sure thing at nose, so my feeling is that it would be best to stick with that.
Do you think the Patriots will go heavy on offense or defense in draft?
In part because of Tom Brady and Randy Moss, the Patriots currently have the oldest offense in the NFL. A lot of teams would take that combination, but I do think it's important to keep the youthful pipeline flowing on that side of the ball. Of 12 picks, I could see 8 going to the offense.
Hi Mike. While the signing of Alge Crumpler is not going to generate much fanfair, but it does help with the much needed TE depth. Do you think he was also brought in to help with the locker room? Jeff Fisher's comments alluded to his great character when he was with the Titans.
Ian, my feeling is that the Patriots' first option, Daniel Fells of the Rams, didn't work out. So Crumpler represents a fallback option. I think the locker room presence is an added bonus, but the move was made with strictly football in mind.
How do you see ILBb Tyrone Mckenzie contributing this season? Do you think he beats out Guyton, kicking him to nickle duties? Also what do you think of Penn St DE Jared Odrick?
I think McKenzie will give Guyton (84 percent playtime last season) a run for his money. Should be a good competition. The competition will determine the answer, but I expect McKenzie to be in the mix. As for Odrick, some debate as to whether he's more of a 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle. I haven't seen him enough to know.
Mike, which is more important in this draft, improving the pass rush with an outside linebacker, or replacing Seymour and Green on the defensive line?
I think they need them both, Gregg. I also think they'll be able to get them both. Deep draft at both positions. I'd start with the line, because those players are often tougher to find.
Mike,It appears that the Pats are going to remain status quo in terms of the RB crew. Do you believe that they remain confident in Maroney becoming more consistent? Also, what is the cost of keeping older players at RB if they have trouble staying healthy?
The draft could always lead to a change at RB, but I do think Bill Belichick still has confidence in Maroney. At the same time, I'm of the belief that a change of scenery is probably best for Maroney. As for keeping older players, the combo of Faulk, Morris and Taylor is about $4 million in base salary this year. Not too bad for three players. In terms of the injuries, I see what you are saying, but I could see all 3 still being effective in their roles.
Josh Reed's agent has gone on record, calling the possibility of Reed signing with the Patriots unlikely. Is this just a negotiating ploy or is he committed to placing Reed with a team that will use him in the slot?
I didn't sense it was a negotiating ploy, Jason.
Mike, enjoy Fort Myers. I'm not sure the Pats will look to move a 2nd for a 1st next year, because they already have a second 1st next year (from Oakland in the Seymour trade) that shapes up to be a high pick. Three 1st round picks would be a lot of money to invest, especially given the labor uncertainty surrounding next year. Thoughts?
That's a good point, Hal. The other factor to consider is that the team has several needs, so pushing picks into next year might not be the luxury it once was.
Let's go for another 5...
Mike, you mentioned in the Red Sox blog that the clubhouses for the Pats and the Sox were noticably different. Could you expand on that at all? (Great reporting as always!)
One of the main differences is sheer size. The Sox clubhouse here in spring training is smaller than the Pats locker room at Gillette Stadium. There are more players in the Pats locker room. Also, reporters wait around more in the Sox clubhouse. I was standing around this morning at 8 a.m., feeling a bit out of place, sort of wondering when the action starts. In Foxboro, when a player talks, you usually see a mob of reporters surround him. Those were some of the inintial thoughts, but let me put some more thought into it to better articulate what I was thinking, and maybe I can blog it later.
What happens with the new OT rule if the first team doesnt score and the second team kicks a field goal? They win?
Hey Mike, you're a realist. Are the Jets better than the Patriots? I think so, I hope not, but they play with an amped up attitude from Rex and they're not afraid to play the pats or hit the pats. your thoughts...
The gap has certainly closed Torrey. In the end, the answer, in my opinion, will come down to Mark Sanchez. That one position, quarterback, can dictate a lot. Brady vs. Sanchez. Right now, based on what I see, I lean toward the Patriots even with all their holes to fill.
Mike, ignore the lineup sheet and look over here. If the pats take pouncy in rd.1.... where does he play next year?
If Mankins shows up for work, he'd be the top interior backup. If Mankins does not show up for work, let's put him in at left guard.
One other thought on Pouncey. If they draft him, it could coincide with a move on Koppen.
Hey Mike,Whats your take on Tim Tebow? I personally think hes a great player and would fit in great with just about any team including the Patriots. I think people are over-analyzing him, hes a proven winner and will win at any level. I would be estatic is the Patriots can pick him up in the 2nd round.
Brian, my feeling is that a player like Tebow is too risky for the Patriots in the second round. But I have to admit, after hearing how convincing Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll were talking about him, it made me pause and consider reconsidering that line of thought.
Want to know yor thoughts on Jets filming Hard Knocks this year?
Seems like it's right in Rex Ryan's wheelhouse. Don't think it will help them win games, though.
Mike, I know there has been a lot of talk about how the Pats are in trouble. With the defense giving up leads, welker being out and how the team is in rebuilding mode. A lot of importance has been placed on this draft, although I don't think it is as important as some say it is. Most of our defense is young, especially in the secondary. With Darius Butler, Wheatley, and Merriweather. We have a lot of young guys with the raw skills and potential, its just a matter of getting them there. And with Wilfork really stepping up his role on the team, I don't think we are in as much trouble as some think. With all of the draft picks in 2010 and 2011, I feel that the Patriots could be in great shape by the start of the 2011 season. Is that realistic?
I'm not as optimistic on Wheatley as you are Ben, but I think this reflects one of the main storylines with the current makeup of the team: If the club is going to be successful, a lot of their young players from 2009 and 2010 are going to have to develop. The coaching staff has a big challenge ahead of itself.
Hey Mike, who do you see playing opposite of Bodden next year? Will anyone step up or will it be the same rotation of Butler, Wilhite, Wheatley?
I wouldn't rule out Springs, but my thought is that Butler steps up this year.
Hi Mike,Knowing the Pats value special teams players who may not play very much on offense of defense, do you think the staff would allow one of the special teams roster spots now taken by Matt Slater or Arrington to be used instead for a return ace? Someone like the sprinter Holliday from LSU may not be a viable RB or receiver at the next level, but since we have spots on the team for primarily special teams players, I'd like to see us use one on a good kick returner (much like Dante Hall in KC some years ago). Given our kick returns were poor and our best punt returner (Welker) is out, it may be worth a 5th or 6th rounder if a guy like Holliday or someone comparable is there.
Kevin, I think they project Tate for that role.
Mike, The Jets announced they will be on HBO's reality show; have the Pats ever been offered this gig? Personally, I just don't see any advantage to having that kind of distraction in camp. does this go to Ryan's ego or is it a marketing move for the J-E-T-S?
Don't think the Pats have been offered, Pete, but I'd think they could have it if they wanted it.
Hey Mike,Belichick's comment about trading picks for a case of beer or a gift certificate was pretty hilarious. How is it to interview him one-on-one? Is he any more forthcoming with information compared to his press conferences?
Let's end on this one. I would say Bill Belichick is more relaxed in one-on-one settings. I'm not sure I would say he is more forthcoming with information. He keeps it pretty close to the vest.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. I'm glad we could fit it in. I'm going to turn my attention to the Red Sox for the next few days and will look forward to getting back to football after that.