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March 29, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few.

Mike
  (12:02 PM)

Hope everyone is doing well today. At the suggestion of a reader, I dropped the lead-in question today. We'll try it this way.

Mike
  (12:04 PM)

A few programming notes: We'll have this chat today, and then another one next Thursday. After that, we'll have a two-week hiatus on the chats. I have some exciting things happening on the personal side of things that will be taking me away for that time (hint: Reiss parents are switching from a Cover-1 scheme to Cover-2). So just wanted to toss that out there for planning purposes.

Mike
  (12:05 PM)

Let's roll...

Gabe (Newton)

Last year we could barely give Ocho playing time, how are we going to manage our new WR rotation?

Mike
  (12:05 PM)

Gabe, my view is simple: Throw them all out there, let them compete, and let the best receivers win. Also, let's not forget about the inevitable injuries.

Mike
  (12:06 PM)

P.S. -- I see Welker and Lloyd as the locks. Throw Slater in there, but more for special teams. So it's really spots 3, 4, 5 and possibly 6 we're talking about.

Matt G. (not Gutierrez) (Portland, ME)

Hi Mike - when might we expect any coaching changes/announcements, if any? I'm thinking specifically of the TE coach, after Coach Ferentz left... Thanks!

Mike
  (12:07 PM)

Matt, I spoke with Rob Gronkowski on Tuesday and asked him. His response: "Ask Coach Bill about that one." When Bill was asked earlier that morning, he said, "When we have an announcement, we'll make it." Nothing is official at this point.

Gary (No VA)

Doesn't it make sense for the Pats to resign James Ihedigbo?

Mike
  (12:07 PM)

Yes, Gary, if for nothing else on special teams. Could be a cost issue. Patriots might have a price in mind. Ihedigbo's price might be different.

Lars (Bonn, Germany)

In 2010 the Patriots had two joint practices with the Saints and the Falcons. I'll go on a limb and guess the reason for the latter was the relationship between Dimitroff and Belichick. Could you see something similar with the Buccaneers because of the tight bond between their new head coach Schiano and Belichick? Do you think they liked the experience back in 2010?

Mike
  (12:08 PM)

Like the thought, Lars. Absolutely.

Branden (Nashua)

I have not heard this name much, but what do you think of DE/OLB Vinny Curry out of Marshall? Would love the pats to grab him and/or Mercilus.

Mike
  (12:09 PM)

Branden, I think Curry could be a post-round 1 option for the Patriots. Didn't run well at the combine. When you take that, and couple it with the level of competition he played against, I don't think he's a top-32 guy. Mercilus is the type of player that intrigues me a bit. If he's there at 27, I think that has to be a strong consideration.

asap (Boston)

Barron, Hightower, and Brockers available at 27, who do we pick?

Mike
  (12:10 PM)

Brockers, IMO.

AJ (Oakland)

Who should we expect to be the odd man out (cut) in the Patriots crowded WR corps? Has to be Ocho, right?

Mike
  (12:11 PM)

AJ, as I look into my crystal ball, here is my projected depth chart (assuming good health): 1. Welker; 2. Lloyd; 3. Branch; 4. Edelman; 5. Draft pick; 6. Slater. Perhaps there's a seventh in there, too. If there is no draft pick, it would be between Ocho/Stallworth/Gonzalez at the No. 5 spot.

Pappy (Panama City Beach, Fl.)

Love your chats and articles, helps those of us in the hinterlands stay abreast of what's going on. My question. BB is generally referred to as a "defensive genius". How can he be sooo bad at drafting defensive players. His success rate is not good for someone who should recognize defensive capabilities. I remember the bad days so I'm not complaining at all, just curious.

Mike
  (12:12 PM)

Pappy, he's had his misses, no denying that. He's also had some very good hits (Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, Samuel, Mayo etc.). If we look around the league, I think you'll see similar hits and misses with every team.

Corey (D.C.)

Ive been reading recently that Shane Vareen could be the #1 RB next year for the Pats. I find that surprising for 2 reasons. One, he doesnt seem to have the body type to handle #1 RB carries, and two, he was a healthy scratch for a lot of 2011 while Ridley was actually looking like a #1RB. What do you make of the RB situation as of today?

Mike
  (12:14 PM)

I like Vereen, Corey. I think the typecast of him as a Kevin Faulk-type back is off. He is more than a passing back in my view. A big part of him being a healthy scratch was more knowledge of the offense without the benefit of an offseason. Then he did have hamstring injury. My thought on Vereen: Don't sleep on him.

Mike
  (12:14 PM)

P.S. -- I think it's important to look at the RB position less in terms of Nos, 1, 2 and 3, but more from a playtime perspective.

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

Last year's RB snaps: BJGE -- 34 percent; Woodhead -- 33 percent; Ridley -- 14 percent; Faulk -- 6 percent; Vereen -- 1.5 percent.

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

What you're looking to replace is around 40 percent (BJGE/Faulk) and I think Ridley and Vereen -- if they stay healthy -- can split up those duties.

Paul (VT)

Congratulations to you and your family, Mike! We love you but we'll survive with a few fewer blog entries. Any thoughts on the Chris Simms hiring?

Mike
  (12:17 PM)

Thanks Paul. I haven't confirmed the Chris Simms hire, but no reason to believe it won't happen. I like it. One of the things I respect about Bill Belichick's work is that he doesn't just draft and develop players. He does the same with coaches. Chris Simms can prepare to get a PHd in coaching if he does join the staff. Can only help him ... and in the long run, the Patriots IMO.

Mike
  (12:17 PM)

P.S. - It will probably be an entry-level position, so wouldn't expect major impact this year.

John (Providence, RI)

Thoughts on Bill Belichick attending the coach breakfast this year?

Mike
  (12:20 PM)

Don't have many thoughts, John. You might remember last year I had a strong opinion on him not being there when 31 other coaches were. No need to revisit it. The fact he showed up this year is perhaps an acknowledgement that he would have liked to have that decision back last year.

Aaron (Rhode Island)

Mike, how come even with such a great combine stephen hill's stock hasnt seemed to rise? I know he has questionable route running skills but the last two wide recivers out of GT have been pretty good wouldnt you atleast take a flyer on him if your a team like the patriots?

Mike
  (12:21 PM)

It sounds to me like it has, Aaron. Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly said yesterday that Hill grades out as a third-rounder to him when looking solely at the tape, but the combine testing could lead teams to put him higher on their boards. I like listening to Nawrocki's analysis. He definitely watches tape.

Joe (Waimea HI)

Mike, For many years now, the losing team in the Superbowl has not fared well the following year. Are the Patriots doing anything special to try to overcome this "hangover" effect?

Mike
  (12:23 PM)

Joe, I remember writing a story on this for the Boston Globe back in 2008 and had talked to Mike Holmgren for the piece. Holmgren's Seahawks team in 2006 was one of the SB losers to buck the trend. His analysis of the SB "hangover" effect was that it was "hocus pocus." I agree with him. If we look at each SB loser and what happened the next year, there are unique factors in each case that contributed to their struggles (e.g. Tom Brady ACL injury).

Tron (Waltham, MA)

Did Stallworth and Gonzalez receive such little interest that they were willing to sign on with a team with such a crowded group of wide receivers? I don't get why neither of them wanted to make a 'comeback' elsewhere.

Mike
  (12:24 PM)

I think you nailed it, Tron. Also, let's not forget the draw of catching passes from Tom Brady. One-of-a-kind talent.

Matt (Merrimack NH)

What are your thoughts on our CB's? Would you be happy starting the season with our current CB's? (Assuming we address the pass rush and safety position)

Mike
  (12:25 PM)

Yes, Matt, I'm excited to see what Ras-I Dowling can do when healthy and if Devin McCourty can turn things around. I like Kyle Arrington and thought Sterling Moore showed some positive signs. Not saying it can't get better, but a good foundation there IMO.

Matt G. (not Gutierrez) (Portland, ME)

Hey Mike - off topic: Final Four thoughts?

Mike
  (12:26 PM)

Matt, I've got to pull for Kentucky, with the John Calipari/UMass connection.

Rob (PA)

What are the chances the Patriots pull off a trade for Carolina's Jonathan Stewart? Do you think there is any chance they trade for a corner or safety?

Mike
  (12:27 PM)

I don't see it, Rob. In my view, you draft two RBs high last year (Shane Vereen, 2nd round; Stevan Ridley, 3rd round), it's time to see what they can do. No need to bring in Stewart and block their path. As for the CB or S, I think anything is in play. If Asante Samuel was willing to significantly reduce his salary, I could see the Pats dishing a low pick to the Eagles for him. Just speculation on my part, and one that probably wouldn't happen because of all the factors that would have to fall into place.

David (Worcester)

I have a little misunderstanding about signing bonuses. Are they subtracted from the base yearly salary of a player which they get immediately and the rest of the salary comes in form of game checks, or is it a completely different check the organization cuts them when they sign the contract?

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

A different check, David. So if I signed you today to a one-year, $1.2 million deal that included a $200,000 signing bonus, you'd get your $200k up front, then the remaining $1m would be paid once the season started. I hope that sort of simplifies it.

Greg Ortiz (Salem, NH)

Mike I agree with your view on McDaniels showing a little more interest in the running game. The Pats have added fullback depth as well as Fells who took a good amount of snaps as a run blocking tight end. In recent drafts we have concentrated on adding OL help (Solder, Cannon) a surprising blocking TE (Gronk) and a couple of young running backs so I believe the run was already in focus. How much of this do you think is the team almost rebuilding while at championship caliber? With the possible Light and Waters retirements and most of the offense getting up there in age do you think setting up a solid running game will take pressure off the future of the team once we don't have an active hall of famer at QB, or do you think we keep doing what we're doing with the system and can make a Cassel type an 11-5 starter?

Mike
  (12:30 PM)

Greg, I don't think the Patriots rebuild. They reload. Got to give Belichick credit for that. It's hard to remain competitive year in and year out in this league. He's bucked the trend. They should be in the mix again this year IMO. ...

Mike
  (12:30 PM)

... As for McDaniels and the run game, I'm not saying they suddenly become a power running team. But I do think we'll see some changes in approach there.

College student (Westfield, MA)

where did you attend college and what was your major? did you know you wanted to be a sports journalist at that time or did an opportunity fall in your lap later and you took it and ran?

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

UMass-Amherst, Class of 1997. Sport Management major. Would recommend it to anyone. Great four years. Always knew I wanted to work in sports media, with the hopes of landing at the Boston Globe some day.

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Thanks for the interest... Good luck in your journey.

Lee (Canton, MI)

Hi Mike, I have read a lot about the DE/OLB in the draft and very little talk about Shea McClellin. I have watched some of his video clips and have come away impressed by his overall game. I think he would be a great fit for the Patriots. What are your thoughts about him?

Mike
  (12:33 PM)

You're right on it, Lee. McClellin's name has come up twice in recent weeks when I've listened to draft analysts (Nolan Nawrocki, Mel Kiper) touch on some second-round options for the Patriots at that position. I defer to them because I can't honestly tell you I've seen much of McClellin other than his highlight clips. And highlight clips of most players look pretty good.

Jim (Boston)

What is with the delay? Did Bruschi call you again. You should tell him you are busy next time.

Mike
  (12:33 PM)

Bummer Jim. Shouldn't be a delay. Wonder if the chat froze.

Jake (Cleveland)

What do you think about Stephen Ridley? I love the kid and I think he is really underated.

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

Jake, I liked what we saw from Ridley last year. I want to see what he can do with more opportunities. Ditto for Shane Vereen.

Joe (Cho)

With that many receivers on the roster (10 as of now?), how many do you think will last until the regular season? Also, does Donte' Stallworth still have that downfield burner speed that he used to have?

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

Joe, I do think Stallworth still has that speed. We saw it last Dec. 11 when he ran past Devin McCourty in that entertaining Patriots/Redskins game.

Matt (Cambridge)

I know it probably isn't disclosed, but is there any indication of what the Patriots offered BJGE? When I saw the deal from the Bengals it isn't too outrageous, and I am surprised 3M a year was too much for a good team guy that didn't fumble in 4 years (Just as a reference, I believe woodhead's deal averages 1.5M, and BJGE was the primary guy). We're the Patriot's really that far off?

Mike
  (12:37 PM)

Matt, just a hunch here, but I think they offered around $2m per year. Again, not something I know for sure, but reading the tea leaves, that's my educated guess. ...

Mike
  (12:38 PM)

... To me, if you didn't have Ridley/Vereen, it's not an unreasonable price to pay. But with those high picks aboard, I understand the thinking.

Matt (Albany, NY)

as I look into my crystal ball, here is my projected depth chart (assuming good health): 1. Welker; 2. Lloyd; 3. Branch; 4. Edelman; 5. Draft pick; 6. Slater. . - Mike, why no confidence in Stallworth? He certainly showed last year he has some left in the tank...you honestly think Branch has more skills and speed at this point in his career than Stallworth?

Mike
  (12:38 PM)

Matt, I think Branch is a more diverse WR and his rapport with Tom Brady is much greater than Stallworth's.

Gary (No VA)

Mike, who do you like in the draft to upgrade the pass rush?

Mike
  (12:40 PM)

Been doing some more "work" on Bruce Irvin of West Virginia, and am liking him more and more when the pass rush is the topic of discussion.

Joe (Connecticut)

Hey Mike, I think that Robert Gallery will turn out to be a huge signing. The offensive line is really in flux right now, and having a back-up of his caliber is not a luxury many teams get to have.

Mike
  (12:41 PM)

Joe, I agree on Gallery, although those in Seattle will tell you his play declined last year. There were a few factors that might have contributed to that (no offseason to integrate to a new team), but given some of the questions the Patriots have up front (Mankins coming back from ACL, Sebastian Vollmer's back concerns, Matt Light's future, Brian Waters' future), this signing seems like a very smart one in my view.

Jim (Fairfax)

Mike, before BJGE went to the Bengals I would have viewed another Kevin Faulk return as purely sentimental and probably unproductive. But if the team is going to turn the ball over to Ridley, Vereen, and Woodhead, I think a case could be made that Faulk could contribute a veteran presence in the backfield.In fact, if you are looking for a veteran who would be committed to helping the other running backs without competing with them for carries and who knows the system, Faulk might be the only ideal person for this role.That said, I recognize three reasons it might not happen. The first is the question of whether Faulk could contribute on the field if injuries cropped up or someone needed to be benched. I think the Steelers game last season suggests he could, but at his age it is certainly an open question. The second is that his skill set is similar to Woodhead and Vereen's, so he might not provide enough depth even if he could contribute. The third, and perhaps fatal, problem is that there just aren't enough roster spots to carry a fifth running back who will rarely play.That said, I do see a possible place for him that wasn't there while Law Firm was still on the team. Thoughts?

Mike
  (12:45 PM)

Jim, I just thought his level of performance had slid to a point where I'm not sure it warrants a roster spot. That fourth or fifth RB spot should be a special teams contributor IMO. Have tremendous respect for Faulk personally, and thus it's not easy to say it, but I think that situation has come to the end of the road.

Mike
  (12:45 PM)

Technical difficulties slowing me down. Quick test post here.

Elton (Beantown)

Mike,What do you think of the Patriots pulling off a trade for someone like a Matt Forte?

Mike
  (12:46 PM)

I've seen the rumors, Elton. Just doesn't add up to me. The cost to acquire him, and then pay him in salary, doesn't seem like the smartest business decision for the Patriots.

Pascal (New York)

Before taking Jerod Mayo, the big line on the Pats was the BB never took backers nor pass rushers in the first round. Obviously, that year he was working with the 7th overall pick so it's a bit easier to take the best LB on the board, but this year, with these low picks, isn't it much more likely he'll look at DT, CB or S? Maybe even WR? As much as we'd all like a DE/OLB guy, isn't it just wildly unlikely?

AM (NH)

Mike, do you think that Bill Belichick errs by relying on the opinions of college coaches he knows in evaluating players? I know it must be hard to just shut out a source of information, but in "War Room," Michael Holley reported that a number of Patriots scouts were against drafting Chad Jackson, and that the organizational impression was that Belichick left him high on the draft board because of Urban Meyer's opinion. Obviously this could be spun positively (if Hernandez and Spikes got this treatment, it speaks well of the evaluation), but as a system, doesn't it make more sense to rely on the scouts who do this full-time?

Mike
  (12:47 PM)

Pascal, I like the position you picked, but I don't think we can just rule out DE/OLB because he's never done it. He had never taken a G in 2005 when Logan Mankins was the pick.

Mike
  (12:48 PM)

AM, I think those opinions remain valuable. It's just a case of combining them with the other info you have and respecting the overall scouting process. I think BB does a fine job overall. Everyone makes mistakes. I do, too.

Mike
  (12:49 PM)

Not to compare myself to him, but I think we have to acknowledge that no one is perfect on this draft stuff.

Brian (Oxford, CT)

Hey Mike - When I was 13 I wrote a letter to Raymond Berry congratulating him on his new job as Pats' coach and he was gracious enough to write back (and that's before I realized his HoF WR career). It's a different era now, but do you have any sense of what interaction, if any, BB and the staff have with the "man on the street"?

Mike
  (12:49 PM)

Not really, Brian, but there are some nice stories that come out over the years. I remember one from a few years back of BB stopping to help a motorist standed on the side of the road.

Rob (Borough of Manhattan)

Hi Mike! I would like to heap some praise on the lead-in question! I like the lead-in question b/c it gives me a good sense for how my fellow Pats fans feel about different Pats-related topics. I find it interesting. Maybe a good solution would be to list all the answers to the lead-in question at the end of the chat - the way you have done the last couple of weeks. Just my two cents.

Mike
  (12:49 PM)

Maybe we'll put it out to a vote, Rob. Thanks.

Todd (Boston)

Mike, Edelman had 11 catches total in the last two seasons after a reasonably productive rookie year. Although he is versatile, he doesn't excel in as a kick returner, cornerback or WR. Do they have enough roster spots to add another Special Teams player? That's basically what he is at this point.

Mike
  (12:50 PM)

I guess I look at it a little differently. I'm not ready to give up on Edelman as a WR just yet. I thikn part of his dip in production was just that Welker is ahead of him.

Eric (MA)

Cover-1 to Cover 2 switch mean twins or 2nd child? I have twin boys so I'm curious....

Mike
  (12:51 PM)

Already one on the team, Eric. Not sure I could handle two at the same time. You get my game ball this week.

Mike
  (12:54 PM)

Having some technical problems today. Apoligies on the delay. Will go a bit longer today because of it.

Robert (Altus, OK)

Mike, appareciate the sharing of the info on your personal life. Congrats on the baby by the way. I was wondering, though, if your dream job was to land at the Globe, why did you leave there for ESPN?

Mike
  (12:55 PM)

Thanks Robert. Exciting opportunity here. Also, there was a lot of uncertainty at the time at the Globe (potential ownership change, cutting salaries etc.). Both places still great in my view. Fortunate to work/have worked for both.

Craig (Fl)

Mike , why not trade a pick 3rd or 4th rounder for asante samuel, rumor has it he is willing to restructure his contract and that would give a solid CB position heading into the draft and still have 5 other picks to focus on DE/OLB, safety, WR, and OL.

Mike
  (12:55 PM)

If the money works, why not? Just have my doubts that Samuel would bring it down to a level I think the Patriots would go ($3-4m). He's scheduled to earn almost $10m this year.

Mark (Connecticut)

Mike, I'm not as high on Chandler Jones as a lot of other people are. I would prefer Andre Branch; he has a lot more explosiveness off the edge, is more dynamic dropping into coverage, and was a pretty strong run defender in college

Mike
  (12:56 PM)

Mark, when I think of a first-round pick for the Patriots, that player has to be special. On Jones, I like the player, but I'm not sure I see "special" from a first-round sense. I haven't seen much of him, so I don't say it strongly, but that's the first thought that comes to mind.

Jordan (Connecticut)

Hey Mike, I saw that McShay mocked Kendall Reyes to the Patriots. They'd be getting an absolute gem. Reyes is a solid, hardworking kid that could be a fixture on the D-line for a decade.

Mike
  (12:57 PM)

Pride of Nashua, New Hampshire.

Matt (Duxbury)

2 Prime canidates i could see for the Patriots in the 1st round. Michael brockers & donte hightower. Brockers is a perfect candidate for a 3-4 DE who can also play DT. Hightower is that versatile linebacker who can play OLB in the 3-4, MLB and rush DE in a four man front in subpackages. Do you see either of these players being there when the Pats pick or do you think they will have to trade up to get them??

Mike
  (12:57 PM)

Matt, I love Brockers. If he slips past 15, I could see the Patriots exploring a move up. He's the prime candidate, to me, if we're considering a move up for the team. Hightower a tougher projection for me.

Mike (Ireland)

Hi Mike, you picked out some free agents such as Fells and Fanene prior to the Pats actually signing them. Are there any draft prospects in particular that stand out to you that you think the Pats will be interested in come the draft?

Mike
  (12:59 PM)

Mike, I'm still working on that. The Patriots have been so busy in free agency that it's cut into the draft prep the last few weeks. But before the draft comes, I will definitely put out a list of a few prospects I think could be good fits.

Lowercaseg (Atlanta, GA)

Mike, do you know if the Pats have ever drafted a player that was selected for them in a mock draft from a guru like Mayock, McShay or Kiper? It seems like the Pats never draft anyone the gurus target for them in their mocks. Am I right about that?

Mike
  (1:01 PM)

Michael Holley, Scott Zolak and Christopher Gasper are a few media types that have nailed Patriots picks in recent years. In terms of the draft analysts, my view is to focus less on the prediction, and more on what they are saying about the players. We want to learn about these players, store that info, and help us understand who they are, how they fit different schemes etc.

16ghostly (New York, NY)

Mike, two questions. I notice one change to the bylaws is still to be decided: allowing teams to add a roster spot if a player has a concussion. Can you imagine Belichick adding that little beauty to his roster manipulation repertoire? This is clearly a job for Ross Ventrone. Sticking with the rule changes, do you think the new crackback block penalty will force Belichick to adjust the way he uses Branch and Welker on running plays?

Mike
  (1:02 PM)

Love the Ventrone mention, 16ghostly. On the crackback block, I'll write it down and try to ask him at the next opportunity. I wasn't at the NFL annual meeting this year. Stayed back to help the home team.

Clark12to81 (Muncie,In)

Not a Patriots question but It's a Mike Reiss question.During your time at UMass were did you witness the famous John Calipari John Chaney press conference? If so, have you ever witnessed anything else like that since?

Mike
  (1:03 PM)

A lot of Mike Reiss questions this week :) I was there, Clark. Never seen anything like that since. That was surreal.

Ben (New York)

Hey Mike, How much of a point of emphasis is getting a pass-rushing, OLB in this draft? You've mentioned many times about teams valuing disruptive, difference-makers on defense. Can you envision a scenario where Belichick will trade up to get an Ingram or an Upshaw? Or do you think they'll settle for the second-tier of pass rushers?

Mike
  (1:04 PM)

Ben, I think you can get top-tier pass rushers without moving up. But it is a highly volatile position in terms of boom and bust. I'd be surprised if they moved up for Ingram. If Upshaw slipped a bit, I could see that one.

Casey (Plymouth, MA)

With all of these pickups on offense, I just hope the wrong guys aren't kept in favor of an "odd man out" mentality...skill positions are obviously necessary in a pass happy league, but lack of quality O-Line depth can seriously handcuff the offense...and that's not even taking into account the situation with Matt Light and Brian Waters. Which round should I expect an O-Lineman to be drafted, and at what position do you see it happening?

Mike
  (1:05 PM)

Casey, I could see an OL at any point really. If I had to guess, I'll say second- or third-round area.

Mike
  (1:05 PM)

We're going to keep it rolling for another 10-15 minutes here...

A CLOd NaMEd iv (Grafton)

With all of the free agent activity on the offensive end, it appears that Josh McDaniels is having a lot of freedom to assemble his offense. I like the offensive prospects for next season, both in personnel and in the hierarchy of power and trust.But what about the defense? Seems that nobody besides BB has enough power to make those moves, and BB as the defacto defensive coordinator doesn't have the time to devote solely to the defense. Is there anybody in the coaching ranks that is close to having the level of trust and control that Josh McD has on the offensive end?

Mike
  (1:07 PM)

I look at it a little differently in the sense that I think it starts and ends with BB. Not that the other coaches and personnel folks and scouts don't have a say in the process, but I don't think anything goes down without the BB stamp of approval.

Jeffrey (Helena)

A little nervous about Welker's contract situation, has he signed the one year franchise tag? When do Pats usually work on long term deals? Next month or so or will this drag into minicamps?

Mike
  (1:08 PM)

Hasn't signed it yet, Jeffrey. Those talks take place at all times between now and the season. No real set dates on that, other than to point out the mid-July deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions.

Ben (New York)

Hey Mike, Longtime reader and first time submit-er. You posted the Patriots' draft picks by round and there was an absence of 6th and 7th round picks. Does that make it more that likely we may see the Patriots move back in the 1st or 2nd round with one of their four picks? Maybe a scenario where BB trades an early 2nd rounder for a 3rd and a 6th/7th? Does BB value those late rounds enough to try and acquire some picks on draft day?

Mike
  (1:11 PM)

Thanks Ben. I once thought that way, but I don't think he'll necessarily go into the draft with those intentions. Those late-round picks are longshots to make the team. I don't see him sacrificing up high if he likes the players available to him, just to add chips that might not make the team (e.g. TE Lee Smith, OLB Markell Carter, CB Malcolm Williams last year in the 5th, 6th, 7th rounds).

David B (New York)

Hey MikeWhat's your take on Rob Ninkovich in terms of pass rush? Is he a 7 sack a season guy max, solid but not much more, or could he keep developing and become a guy other teams have to really worry about?

Mike
  (1:12 PM)

I like him, David, as long as he stays onsides (penalty flag thrown on me for that comment; just thought that infraction really hurt them in SB). I still see upside with him in that role.

Mike
  (1:13 PM)

I like Ninkovich a lot as a player. Think he is the type of guy winning teams need to have. Doesn't cost much on cap. Tough. Physical. Smart.

Arjuna (Durham, NH)

Pats are reportedly interested in Amobi Okoye. Do you think he would be a good fit with the Patriots? I think he would be but I think he's going to be a little pricey. Thoughts?

Mike
  (1:14 PM)

Shouldn't be too pricey, Arjuna. Not sure the level of interest there. Will have to check it out. Reminds me of Myron Pryor type. Interior rusher.

Jacob (Sarnia, Ontario)

Mike, which players do you think have prove-it years coming up?

Mike
  (1:15 PM)

Jermaine Cunningham was the first thought to come to mind.

Jeffrey (Helena)

When do you think we'll get more insight on Matt Light? Is there a deadline when he has to declare his retirement intentions?

Mike
  (1:15 PM)

Jeffrey, don't think the team will rush him. It's up to Light at this point IMO. Played very well last year.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Hey Mike,The Patriots signing Hoyer to the 1-year extension, where does this leave him in terms of the future? Do you expect a preseason or early season trade? Or does he play out the year, like Matt Flynn, then go elsewhere next offseason? I'm assuming the Packers get nothing out of that?

Mike
  (1:17 PM)

Tim, I think Hoyer will be here. Key for him is to put together a big preseason to help his value next year. Everything else, it's hard to project at this point. I just don't think he's created enough value, mostly because of limited opportunities at this point, to be thinking trade with another team. A big preseason could change that.

Eric (Indianapolis)

Who is be your number one target who is still available in free agency?

Mike
  (1:17 PM)

Eric, I like DL Luis Castillo on a short-term deal.

Eric (Indianapolis)

I know Bellichick is always unpredictable but what makes people think he will go after a pass rusher in the first couple of rounds of the draft? Even with the need in the secondary I'd be surprised if they don't take the best 5 technique DE available with their first pick and then trade #31 like they did last year. What do you think?

Mike
  (1:18 PM)

Eric, I just don't think we can lock it in like that. I'd say DL, DE/OLB, DB, OL and WR are the areas in play. Depending on how it unfolds, wouldn't be surprised at any of those.

Neil (South Boston)

Hey Mike, what's your sense for how the offensive line will shake out? We've seen Connolly re-up and Gallery sign-on, both positives. But there are questions on the left side with both Light (retirement?) and Mankins (acl), and on the right side with Vollmer (back). How will the Pats address some of these questions?

Mike
  (1:19 PM)

Neil, the way I look at it is that you have layers of security there. No team has all the answers right now. I think they are pretty well set up to have good competition regardless of how all the factors unfold. Patriots don't miss too many tricks in terms of building a complete roster IMO.

originaldb (Boston MA)

BB has addressed depth but don't you feel we need some play makers on D? I feel we are lacking players that make a play at the end of the game to stop a Giants team from winning. I feel DE,OLB,S are major needs in terms of getting impact players ( not to be confused with depth players). What is your opinion?

Mike
  (1:21 PM)

I'd agree with that, and that's why names like Mercilus, Irvin, McClellin, Upshaw and Perry are good to touch on in the weeks leading up to the draft. All have been disruptive for their college teams.

Hoogie (Lexington)

What's going on with Dan Koppen? Will he be back next season?

Mike
  (1:21 PM)

Hoogie, doesn't seem like much action on the market for him right now. Haven't been able to lock that in, but would seem to be good news for the Patriots if they are interested in his return.

Danny (Chengdu China)

Hi Mike, big fan of your work. I thought in the AFC title game and the Super Bowl, our defense really gave us the chance to win. Do you think the Pats will let the defense grow and mature and actually draft on offense to groom some aging players? Like a younger playmaking wide receiver. or Center/Guard?

Mike
  (1:24 PM)

Danny, one thought you bring up that I endorse is the idea that players on defense should improve. So the Spikes ... Dowlings ... Deadericks ... their performance, you hope, will elevate and contribute to improvement. Now, the flip side of that is something someone asked me the other day: "Which defensive player drafted by the Patriots in recent years can we look at and objectively say has gotten better?" Interesting debate that maybe we can delve into in greater depth at another time. I still believe in this coaching staff to develop defenders. Just think they need to pick better ones in some cases. ...

Mike
  (1:25 PM)

... As for the offense, I could see them picking WR and OL, but I wouldn't endorse doing it at the expense of defense.

Mike (Clearwater florida)

Hey Mike,So, with all these moves we have made, mostly for depth, how close are we to a dominant Team?

Mike
  (1:26 PM)

Mike, I don't think there are any dominant teams. But I'd use a different "d" word to describe the Patriots. Deep.

Mike
  (1:26 PM)

And with injuries in the NFL, "deep", when combined with "talented", is a good thing IMO.

Damien (Orlando, FL)

Mike, What do you think about Revis calling Belichick a jerk on ESPN in front of Gronk. Are you surprised that he didn't get the Gronk Smash?

Mike
  (1:26 PM)

Not too classy, Damien. I was happy to be deep in draft prep when that happened. Didn't really want to draw any attention to it.

Nate (Oxon Hill MD)

Hi Mike, read lot of comments from PATS fans and I think people need a reality ckeck cause they think we need so much . This team went to the super bowl and just added competent free agents. All we need is a couple impact players from the draft and hope the ball bounce our way in the next bowl . My take is draft two receivers , a safety early , a disruptive DE/ OL and a CB/Safety later. Thanks , Thoughts ?

Mike
  (1:27 PM)

Nate, if they can get a couple of impact players in the draft, I think they're in good shape. Fair. Like the positions you targeted as well.

Tron (Waltham, MA)

Hey Mike, After watching the exchange between Gronk and Revis it just reaffirmed for me what I've been thinking for a while: Gronk is just an awkward goofy TWENTY THREE year old kid. I think people--including former players-- take his actions too seriously and are too caught up in this Patriot way machismo that is reinforced by former players/current media types like Bruschi and Harrison. For me, Gronks a breath of fresh air and players like Mayo (who seems to be Bruschi incarnate) make me roll my eyes. I think having players like Gronk and Spikes add another flavor to the roster that leads to better chemistry and I hope Belichick would agree. I hope when Belichick scouts players for this upcoming draft, the biggest quality he looks for outside of their skill on the field is not whether they are the stiff, prototypical 'Patriot' player that the media creates but that they work hard and love to compete. I truly believe in Belichick's mind the latter is the real Patriot type. Sorry for the rant.

Mike
  (1:28 PM)

Tron is fired up. Sometimes a player/personality like Gronk breathes new life into a team. Fresh legs and energetic youth can be a good thing.

Dan (Sheffield, UK)

Hi Mike. Really enjoying the off-season coverage so far. It's exciting to see Tim Tebow joining the AFC East - a terrific competitor, but not an orthodox NFL QB. I think the Jets have taken a gamble bringing him in, as recruiting such a charismatic back-up QB runs the risk of undermining Mark Sanchez, and adding a QB controversy to an already fragile locker-room - all for the supposed benefit of being able to run a few wildcat plays per week. Looking into your crystal ball for 12 months' time, do you think the Tebow signing will be viewed as a smart move that made the Jets harder to prepare for and a better all-round team, or as a headline-grabbing distraction that made little impact on the field?

Mike
  (1:29 PM)

Good one, Dan. I sort of like the move for the Jets. My feeling is that every day seems like a circus with that team. This just adds to the circus.

Chris (Chicago, IL)

Greetings Mike. My question is in regards to the team restructuring contracts (e.g. Ocho Cinco and Brady come to mind) and what you think they may be planning by clearing some cap space despite being under the salary cap as of right now? Are they planning to trade for an impact skill position player (Forte)? Trade up in the first round? Or, think long-term and set aside some of the savings to work on extensions with key players who have outplayed their rookie deals (Gronk, Hernandez)? I lean towards this last one, although with Belichick and Co. nothing can be completely ruled out.

Mike
  (1:31 PM)

Chris, I focus more on the internal options. I think it opens opportunities to extend contracts of players you want to keep working with in the future, using the cap space this year to have higher base salaries instead of up-front signing bonuses. So someone like Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, to me that's where I start. Extensions for those players, structured a bit differently than the norm, is now an option.

Mike
  (1:32 PM)

This ties in to what Robert Kraft said about the salary cap at the NFL's annual meeting: "I think what you'll see over the next five to six years is a smoother growth in the salary cap. It won't be the kind of jump that you saw in '06, and so I think it will require that people manage the resources they have as intelligently as they can."

Jim (Brisbane, AU)

Mike in previous years you provided updates on potential draftees that the Pats have had in for visits - any insider information this year?

Mike
  (1:33 PM)

Going to give it our best shot, Jim. Thanks for the interest.

Gary (No VA)

Mike, thanks for going overtime.

Mike
  (1:33 PM)

With the new OT rules in the NFL -- both regular-season and post-season -- I thought we'd go a little OT here, Gary.

Dave (Charlotte, NC)

Mike...would you like us chatters to send you a case of 5 hour energy drink? The a new baby on the way, you're gonna need it!

Mike
  (1:34 PM)

Lonie Paxton told us in December that Broncos coach John Fox mixes Red Bull and coffee. I was thinking about trying it :)

Tim (Boston)

Mike, I've sent my chat topic in twice. Is there anyway you could try to find it? Thanks, tim from Boston. It has a list in it. the list looks like:1)2)3)4)etc.Thanks, Tim from Boston.

Mike
  (1:35 PM)

You got it, Tim. I'll dig it out and we'll end on that one. Give me a few here...

Tim (Boston)

I think the Patriots will trade 1st round (#31) for multiple picks this year (high 2nd, 4th, and/or 5th) and a 2nd/3rd next year (or something like this). It looks like there is not going to be that much of a drop off from the late 1st to the 2nd round picks this year. It seems like the Patriots would take either a DE/OLB or DL with their first pick, and in the scenario above (trading #31, for an additional 2nd and others) would take a C, WR, and S in the second round. It then seems like the Patriots would focus on the defense with the remaining picks, with the exception of an additional OL. After looking at some of the later round, "under the radar picks" I would think the Patriots would try to target and get WR Brian Quick (App. St.) and DB Steed (Furman). Outside of these players I have no idea the actual personnel the Patriots would consider, but I do think the positions targeted would be as listed above or something similar. What are your responses to some of these more specific ideas: 1) trading #31; 2) focusing on a OLB/DL with #27; 3) focusing on C, WR, S in the second round; 4) Focusing on the defense with the remaining picks, excepting one OL (probably interior, maybe a T/G depending on Light's status);5) aquriing WR Quick and DB Steed. What are your thoughts on some of these more specific ideas? Thanks

Mike
  (1:37 PM)

Tim, that's a long one.

Mike
  (1:39 PM)

I think these are some sound ideas. In the end, the thing for me is just knowing the players so you can capitalize on the opportunities that might present themselves to you. So I wouldn't lock in to any one thought at this time. I like the areas that you focused on with the picks. I think you've hit the key ones.

Mike
  (1:39 PM)

Good stuff, today. Thanks to everyone for chatting. We'll do it again next Thursday, unless there's an unexpected false start here at home.

Mike
  (1:39 PM)

Have a great day.