Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat.
Looking to start in a few minutes.
Hope everyone is well today. The news of Junior Seau's passing had me thinking back to the four years he was with the Patriots. One chatter, Joe, asked for some personal recollections. The main thing about Junior Seau was that he was always smiling, having fun. We looked forward to talking to him because of that. One day, I was wearing a sweater that had a zipper up through the neck. He noticed I had the zipper all the way up, stopped inthe middle of the locker room, zipped it down about halfway, and said, "Come on, buddy, loosen it up a little bit. A little too uptight there."
Those were the types of things that happened when you were around Junior Seau in the locker room. I say that while acknowledging that you can't truly get to know a player in that setting. But maybe you get a little bit of a feel for what he is all about.
Let's chat until about 12:50 today.
With the addition of Jabar Gaffney, what do you think the WR depth chart will look like this season?
Mike, how many Wr's will the Pat's carry, and who will they be?
Ben and Hoogie lead us off. Love the Gaffney re-signing for this team because of his versatility. He's like an offensive lineman who can play center, guard and tackle in that he is adept at all the receiver spots. I think they'll carry 6. My best guess: 1. Welker; 2. Lloyd; 3. Gaffney; 4. Branch; 5. Edelman; 6. Slater. A lot of times injury can sort things out. If Gonzalez plays big in camp, I could see him sticking and the picture altered a bit. In this scenario, it puts Stallworth, Ochocinco, Gonzalez, Underwood, Davis, Ebert and Roark on the outside looking in.
Hi Mike, Is there still no word on Andre Carter? If healthy, I think he is an important guy to sign. We have a pretty crowded D Line with Fanene, Scott, Jones coming in, but if Andre is healthy I think he's better than all 3. Do you see the Pats signing him back? Thanks!
Keith, when I first heard about the Ravens likely losing Terrell Suggs for the season, I thought Andre Carter could be a good fit for them. My sense is that Carter's status was tied to his health and that he's not fully healthy yet. But that is just a sense, and not something I know for sure.
How does the signings of all of these receivers effect #11? He's proven to be great asset even though the numbers didn't show on offense, he was there on defense, special teams, and as a scout QB. I'd hate to see us loose this 25 year old....
I think Edelman still has value to the team, starting with his role as a punt returner. I think he's one of the better PRs in the NFL. So I think he sticks, which also factors in the future with Welker. They might need a slot WR in 2013 if Welker isn't back and Edelman, Gonzalez and Ebert are the top candidates, so that is a factor to keep in mind that could affect decision-making on the roster.
Mike: With yesterday's signing of Jabar Gaffney, a lot of us on the blog are calling him a lock due to the length of his contract and his familiarity with Brady. However, I know there will be a lot of competition at the receiver spot, and while Gaffney likely has an edge, I'm second-guessing as to whether he is a lock. Do you think Gaffney (or anyone) is a lock at WR for next season?
Lock it in, Matt, barring an unexpected drop-off in performance in camp. Brady loves him.
Maybe the fact that noone had T. Wilson ranked made it harder to predict where he might go. It might have been easier if there was a lot of info out there on him. what do you think? and how do you see the safety position panning out as to who makes the roster?
Pat, the Tavon Wilson pick was the most fascinating part of the draft to me. There was a lot of info out there on him -- 50 games of tape, with 39 starts -- it's just that he wasn't invited to the combine or any all-star games and I think that narrowing-down process took him off the radar of some draft analysts. Wilson also visited 7 teams before the draft, which indicates he was on the radar of NFL teams. Clearly, the Patriots probably viewed him more valuable than anyone else. A few teams I've spoken with thought middle to late rounds was more fitting for him. ...
... As for the safety spot, I see Chung/Gregory/Wilson as the top 3. Depending on the package they're in, they all could be on the field at the same time.
I'm excited about all the new draft choices, but I think Markell Carter will have a strong training camp/preseason. Your thoughts?
Excited to see Markell Carter, Rodney. Worked hard behind the scenes last year to give himself a chance. End-of-the-line player who had some pass-rush burst in college. Let's see what he can do.
Mike, do you know if the team has plans to resign James Ihedigbo?
Rob, I was told the sides were previously talking. Not sure the holdup. Not sure if it's going to happen.
Was signing Jabar Gaffney a move the Patriots needed to make considering Gaffney is joining a crowded WR corps?
Frank, I think it makes them a better team. Could they have gotten by without it? Absolutely. But if he makes the team better, I say, "Why not?"
I'm surprised you think Branch stays with some younger prospects available. With Gaffney becoming Tom's "security blanket" maybe we move on from Branch. i assume we'll also keep the draft choice on the practice squad
Dan, all of this assumes good health for all, which is the X factor we can't predict. I would think Ebert sticks on the practice squad as well. On Branch, you're not alone. Had a little disagreement with Mr. Reiss (a.k.a. my dad) this morning about Branch's status. Still think he has value to this team, but he'll have to perform in training camp. Not a lock, but I'd include him on the 53-man roster if forming it today.
Hey Mike,This draft further proves that Bill seems to look at character just as much, if not more, than talent/skills. Sure, he looks for players to help the team production-wise, but taking a guy like Hightower, who was the defense captain for Alabama and head guy in making adjustments at the line, and then taking Wilson who was a captain at Illinois, it seems like he puts leadership experience very high on his list of what he looks for. Fair assessment?
Tim, I half-agree. I think part of what Bill Belichick liked about Jones and Hightower was that they didn't just uniquely fit football-wise, but also from the complete package standpoint. By most accounts, these are two very good guys who will represent the franchise well. That means something, especially in the first round, because those two players will set the tone for the rest of the draft class. But if you look closer at some of the other picks, there are some off-field questions. Seventh-round pick Alfonzo Dennard was arrested April 21 for allegedly punching a policeman. So while I agree on leadership being a sought-after trait, I think it's best to be careful painting a broad brush when using the word character. This is not to single out Dennard or anyone else. Also, we all make mistakes (me included). But I just feel uneasy tossing that character word around a little loosely when talking about a big group of players.
Who's going to return kickoffs for this team? Do you think BB was looking for that person in the draft and didn't find him, is the answer on the team already, or do you imagine yet another FA pickup?
Ian, I don't think the club valued that area as much as I did. Perhaps they feel like the kickoff return isn't a huge part of the game any more, now that the kickoff has been moved up. I think they'll find the solution in-house. Maybe Stevan Ridley.
Mike, I think people may overlook the psychological value of where a player gets picked in the draft. Belichick doesn't. I look at selecting Tavon Wilson in the 2nd round and Dennard in the 7th as Belichick making sure both have a little bigger chip on their shoulder. Do you see either potentially starting this year?
Gary, with the high percentage of sub defense (65-70 percent last season, according to Nick Caserio), chances are at least one of them will be on the field to open a game this year.
Mike, how much concern is there with the OL given a history of recent injuries (and retirement decisions)? They must be more confident in their depth and pickups than the typical fan/layman, or be confident in overcoming injuries or in Waters coming back, to not draft an OL in the 2nd round, and take Tavon Wilson later.
Earl, I think they like their line. They addressed it last year with Solder/Cannon, two solid picks. So I think that's an important consideration to look at -- while they didn't draft an OL this year, if you look at the two-year snapshot, they've done well. I think they like the young guys they have too.
is Welker hurting himself at this point? I mean, the Pats hold all the cards, right? Slot insurance is already on the roster. Wes already turned down a 2 year deal, reportedly. My gut is starting to tell me he plays under the tag this season or doesn't play at all. Thoughts?
I think he'll be under the tag as well. These situations can always shift, but at this point, that's the way it looks to me.
What's with the Patriots "getting the band back together"? They can't draft a WR to save their lives, so they have to get by on guys who haven't played in their system for years? I'm disappointed that we're not developing new talent, Mike. You need a "farm system" when you have a super cerebral QB like Tom Brady.
Jake, they haven't developed a WR, but they've developed two very good TEs. That has to count for something, right? No one is perfect. I don't think it always has to come from the draft. There are different avenues to upgrade a roster.
Mike, a lot of people are disliking the Wilson pick, but could he really be any worse than what we had last year? With all due respect to Ihedigbo, Brown, Barrett, why not just keep Wilson and give him a shot? Can't be much worse right?
Keith, the counter to that is that a second-round pick will hopefully come in and play a lot. You'd rather have the names Chung, Harrison and Wilson linked together than Wilson/Ihedigbo/Brown/Barrett. Second-round should represent impact, not a role player.
Mike...any idea/thoughts on if the Pats would wear a # 55 on the back of their helmets this season to honor Junior?
It's a great thought, Dave. Probably a bit early in terms of even pursuing the possibility.
Branch comes to camp and if no one gets hurt, he pulls a Bruschi and retires.
Wow, Gary, in reading his recent comments, it seemed like he was thinking about playing a few more years, not one more. I'd be surprised at that.
Gaffney, Lloyd, Gonzalez, Ochocinco doesnt matter. We needed Moss, didnt get him and I just hope it doesnt come back and bite us.
Respect the opinion, Sam. To me, Moss was too much of a wild card. I like what they did.
Hi Mike, Assuming complete health of the receivers, the talent and depth of the receiver pool is higher then the running back pool. Does it seem reasonable to keep 7 receivers and 3 running backs which might benefit the team to scheme based on personnel week to week in their passing game (Hernandez could be a fill in if injuries erupt in a game). Although this discounts the addition of the 2 fullbacks which I think is going to cause lots of problems when it comes to cuts to the regular season roster size.
Mike, 7 WRs seems like a lot to me, unless Slater is really there in Izzo-like fashion (Larry Izzo was listed as a LB but didn't really factor at the position). The key would be if Nos. 5-6 had big special teams value.
Mike, If you had to give a line up of linebackers in a 3-4 and a 4-3 who would get the nod at the starting spots?
In the 3-4, let's go with Mayo/Spikes inside and Ninkovich/Hightower outside (I'll start a bit slower with Chandler Jones here, although I think he could easily be in the mix). While Hightower might fit better inside, I think this is the way to get the best four LBs on the field. Hightower gets the early edge because of familiarity with scheme. In the 4-3, let's go Spikes at MLB, Mayo at WLB and Hightower at SLB. This helps me limit Ninkovich's snaps a bit and keep him fresher. Jones is at DE in the 4-3.
Mike, Do you have any idea why the team has not announced the signings of undrafted free agents?
It could be that they are waiting until they arrive in town to sign the contracts and that might not be until next week.
Mike:In an era where we have statistics for every time an athlete blinks or winks, I think there should be a change in how strength of schedule is caluclated. I think it should, in part, be based on power ranking, plus where an opponent is at the time you play them. For example, when we played Buffalo the first time last season they were undefeated. Everyone was hyping them as the up and comers. They came back from 20 points down and beat N.E. When we played Miami the second time, they had won 5 of 6 games. Yet, when we get to the playoffs all the pundits are going on about how we haven't played anyone with a winning record. True on face value, but not in reality. Does this make sense? What do you think?
Great point, Karl. Also, the picture changes on a week to week basis based on health. Every matchup a bit different. Strength of schedule very misleading.
How do you think the linebacker situation is going to work do yo think donta hightower as an ILB or Jerod mayo as in ILB and Donta playing as an outside ILB?
Could work either way, John. I am giving Spikes the benefit of the doubt because I thought he was their best defender in the SB. They'll try to get their best 4 on the field, however they are aligned.
When I get cut, who will I go to?
The OCNN Network :)
Mike, our offense, as of now, reminds me of the 07 offense, which is bound to be better because we also have our monster TEs. Given the fact that we have an easy schedule, and our defense is bound to improve with our draft picks and Dowling coming back, can we go 16-0 again and finally get the job done?
I think that's asking a lot Zeke. One injury changes the picture in an instant (e.g. Brady in 2008).
Talking about Wes Welker's contract, I haven't seen Desean Jackson's deal discussed much. He got 14.5 million guaranteed, and another 3.5 in 2013 guaranteed against injury. Doesn't that pretty much set the market for what a tagged WR should get? I think 18 million guaranteed over two years should be considered a fair deal (they can add non-guaranteed years with big salaries on top of that if they want) for both sides? Do you think the Patriots would be willing to do that? Would Welker sign that kind of deal?
That seems like a fair compromise, Professor. I think the Patriots would do it. I'm not sure Welker would sign it.
Mike, the unfortunate reality facing the game today (given the events of yesterday ), is that the future of this game is hanging in the balance, and Roger Goodell is the man with the power to save it. How do you, as a fan of the game and a human being, but also someone whose livelihood depends on the games success and popularity, plan on dealing with. As just a fan myself, I find it becoming increasingly harder to enjoy the game, when I think about these players my own age who may be ruining the rest of their lives for my enjoyment 16-20 times a year.
It's a good question, Tim. I love the game. But there is a part of you that wonders if what you love isn't good for the people involved in it, and that puts you in a position of conflict a bit. I thought legendary Bob Ryan once explained it very well, calling the game of football a sausage. It tastes good, but if we knew how it was made and what was in it, we might think about that taste a bit differently. That sort of sums up my feelings.
Did the Pats ink Brandon Bolden RB from Miss? Would this be it for RB or do you see a Veteran still signing -
Chris, I am not aware of that one.
Mike, another exciting draft for the NFL faithful. The Steelers got better by standing pat picking up DeCastro and Mike Adams while the Pats moved up to get their prospective impact players in Jones and Hightower. Love the rivalry. Why do I feel the Travon Wilson pick is going to be one that we all feel good about going into the 2012 season? There is something there that the team felt was worth a gamble at a position they need to fortify. BB is well aware that the safety position was a liability last season and I don't think he would have spent such a high pick on a player he didn't feel would pay dividends. RIP Junior Seau; when a person takes there own life it leaves a void.
BB clearly valued Wilson's versatility, and in a game played in sub packages more and more, a player who has experience and aptitude in a variety of roles carries a bit more weight. We'll see on Wilson. I'm as interested as everyone else to see if the Patriots simply saw something no one else really did at that point in the draft. ... Agree on Seau.
5 minute warning...
hi mike.I"ll keep it simple. We need a veteran running back. I don't trust the young guys in our backfield. Who has a realistic chance of being here? Addai, Grant or Hightower?Thanks.
They worked out all three, Thomas. I'll guess Hightower. Pass-protection gives him the edge.
I like Spikes a lot at ILB. He?s a playmaker and one of the few fiery players the Pats have. Now that the Pats picked Hightower, who I like a lot, my hope is that they can play on the field at the same time alongside Mayo. My hope is that Hightower?s playtime does not cut into Spikes? playtime.
In a 4-3, shouldn't be a problem. In a 3-4, would have to move Hightower to OLB in my view. Possible.
Hey Mike, what do you envision as the starting secondary heading into the fall?
I'll go McCourty/Dowling at CB, with Arrington in the slot. Then at safety, a Chung/Gregory combo to start, with Wilson the third man in.
Pretty insensitive to post a comment about a guy leaving "a hole in a lot of hearts" after he shoots himself in the chest.
Jake, I don't think that was the intention of the comment. I'm sorry it was received that way. I've edited it.
How do Brady and the Pats avoid the Super Bowl loser jinx?
It's not such a jinx any more Gary. The last three SB losers have all made the playoffs the next year.
Mike, do you see Ebner making the 53 man roster and taking Brown's snaps on ST ?
I'd say flip a coin at this point, Craig. Last year, the 5th, 6th and 7th round picks were all cut. Tough call.
With the draft over do you see any changes in your predictions for the Patriots schedule results?
Dan, I'll stick with 13-3. Those picks were made with improvements in the draft in mind.
Mike, is Welker going to hold out?
I'd be surprised, Pat. He might not show for minicamp, but since he's not under contract, it's not technically a holdout. I think he'll be there for the camp that matters most -- training camp.
Mike, I feel like I got snubbed in the draft and was easily a second round talent. I'm ready to show the NFL what they're missing. What do you feel are my chances at being an impact player in New England this season and beyond?
I think you have a good chance. Without the legal problems, you were probably a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Mark it down in magic marker; this is it for our friends Ron Brace and Jermaine Cunningham.
Marked down, Jude. Safe to say they are closer to the roster bubble than ever before.
Mike I respectfully disagree with slot options outside of Wes Welker. The slot would belong to Aaron Hernandez full time if it ever opens up. Hernandez is really just a giant sized Wes Welker. They both have very similar playing styles.
Good to disagree, Clark. I like Hernandez inside, but see big differences between him and a slot WR like Welker.
Hey Mike, in your view how big will the drop off be from Suggs to Upshaw
That's a drop-off, Ian, but that Ravens team has my respect for its resiliency. I still think that Week 3 game is a tough one for the Patriots.
Shun White is on the Reserve/Military list. Under the new CBA,does he count on the 90 man roster?
Jim, a player on a reserve list wouldn't count, as I understand it.
I know they are versatile and have special teams value, but isn't it going to be hard to keep both Edelman and Slater? If the Pats had drafted a return specialist, I would have said Edelman is going. Your thoughts?
Slater is a lock. Edelman will face some competition, but I think he'll prove his worth and earn a spot.
Have you heard anything on a possible yerimiah bell signing?
Drew, I would think the Wilson draft pick rules it out, but that's more guesswork.
Mike,Given Logan Mankins had ACL surgery after the SB, is it likely that he will be ready for the start of the season or is he headed to the PUP list?
David, I would never count Mankins out. At the same time, it wouldn't be surprising to me if he opens training camp on PUP. That doesn't mean he misses time in the regular season, but just buys him more time.
called it a couple weeks ago via email - Chandler Jones in the 1st, shades of Willie McGinest
Good call, Chris.
Mike, any idea what the plan is at running back? Ridley showed signs but fumbled, Vareen barely played and woodhead is a undersized, tough 3rd down back.
Let's end it here, Dave. When a team drafts players in the second (Vereen) and third (Ridley) rounds, they obviously have high hopes for them. The plan is to see what they can do, have Woodhead in that third-down role, maybe use a FB like Tony Fiammetta as a big back at times, and see where it takes them. To me, there is something exciting about that -- turning it over to the kids.
WIth all the WR depth, is there any chance Edelman switches to defense full time?
Snuck one last one in there ... I'd say offense for Edelman. More natural position for him IMO.
Good stuff today. And a special shout out to grandjordanian, a regular on the chat. He was in town from San Diego and we crossed paths. Fun to make the connection.
Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the day. Great Patriots chatter. We'll do it again next week.