Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. It is a beautiful day here in New England. After a string of rainy days, it is a welcomed change.
At Gillette Stadium today, FB Spencer Larsen answered questions from reporters. Field Yates, who has joined our ESPNBoston.com Patriots coverage team this season, will have full coverage on our blog. The Patriots make two players available per week and it's a nice way to get to know some of the newcomers.
At Gillette Stadium today, FB Spencer Larsen answered questions from reporters. Field Yates, who has joined our ESPNBoston.com Patriots coverage team this season, will have full coverage on our blog. The Patriots make two players available per week and it's a nice way to get to know some of the newcomers.
Let's chat until about 1 p.m. ET today.
Hi Mike, do you share my opinion that this is the most complete and deep roster since 2007? I know theres a lot of projected talent but I can't honestly remember ever being this excited about an upcoming season and it's only May!!
Yes, Marc, I share that opinion. I also factor in the AFC being a bit down compared to past years. The power of the NFL resides in the NFC right now, which as we've seen from the past few decades, that's a cyclical process. One area I think we need to watch is the OL. I think they'll ultimately be OK, but some moving parts there.
How does the signing of Jeremy Ebert effect the remaining roster slots at WR?
At this time, I'd put Ebert on the practice squad, not the active roster, in terms of a ridiculously early 53-man projection. He faces some longer odds, but if he performs well in camp, I don't think the team will hesitate to keep him.
What are the chances that Alphonso Dennard is heading to prison??
I'd be surprised at that, Jim, even without knowing all the details of that situation.
All-Time Pats by position? My thoughts: QB: Brady RB: Martin OL: Hannah WR: Morgan TE: Coates (or Francis? or Gronk?), DL: Seymour, LB: Tippet DB: Haynes K: Vinatieri (or Gino?) P: Cares (as in Who?). How do you see it? Thanks.
You're great, Matt. In this rapid-fire format, I'm afraid to omit someone who belongs. Can I circle back on this one?
Hey Mike,What do you see for Ras I Dowling this season? Will he be healthy enough to earn a starting spot? If he does, how do you see the rest of the defensive backfield shaking out?
The thing I keep coming back to with Dowling is that he was starting last year (2 games) before his injury. That's how highly the coaching staff viewed him. So assuming a return to health -- and that's the key -- I could see it being the same. Big guy, athletic, and one of the things that coaches/scouts/personnel people have talked about in casual discussions this offseason with me is how you need those big corners. The WRs are so big these days, the idea of playing a Terrence Wheatley out there just doesn't fly in today's game. You're left too vulnerable.
As for the rest of the defensive backfield, if we go McCourty/Arrington/Dowling as the top three CBs, I think it's Chung/Gregory/Wilson as the top three safeties.
I think the Pats had the talent last year to win the Super Bowl. If one of four things went their way they win. With the team getting markedly better, can we put the "W" in there this year?
Jamie, I think they are right there in terms of contending. But as we've seen, you still needs some breaks. You still need good health. Let's put it this way, I give the Patriots as good a chance as any other team.
Mike, I just don't get it. I keep seeing these articles saying Welker should get 28+ million over 3 years. I keep hearing ESPN and other talk show hosts say look at the Garcon deal. Well, why don't more people consider the following. Welker is 31. You know who else over 30? Brandon Lloyd and Reggie Wayne. What do those two have in common? They both just signed contracts for 6 million per year. Also they don't play possitions where they get hammered every time they see the ball, like say the slot receiver position. And could you tell ESPN Pierre Garcon is 25 years old and that is why Washington over paid him and it is unlikly BB will do the same for Welker.Thanks,Peter
Peter, this is a good one to dissect. I understand the viewpoint and wouldn't be surprised if the team was thinking along those lines, while also keeping in mind they have Gronk, Hernandez, Chung, Vollmer etc. to worry about as well when it comes to extensions. I agree -- throw the Garcon deal out. Different set of circumstances. Where I disagree is the Lloyd/Wayne link. Welker's production and value to the Patriots is at another level IMO. That's why I think 3 yr/27m is a fair compromise.
Here is my question: Is it realstic to expect Welker to keep producing big over the next three years? If so, I don't see why the Patriots wouldn't want to do that deal, assuming it would even fly with Welker.
I would do that.
With a void at kick returner, why not try Stallworth there?
Jacob, I could see Stallworth getting a look there. They need to try something, IMO. One factor to consider, and I think this is what the Patriots are thinking, is that the KO return has been devalued with the new rules. I still think having an explosive returner back there has value, but my sense is that the Patriots don't necessarily see it that way.
Mike, I like the idea to use Nate Ebner as the kick off returner, which someone proposed a couple of weeks ago in your mailbag. There is no need for a tackler in our kick off return. He might be very fast but in his rugby tapes on YouTube he's good at finding a seam in the defense. Speed of kick-off cover and 7 men rugby is obviously different, but why not give him a try?
Same thing, MarkJ, I think they could give it a try. But I think we're talking about two different skill sets here -- the ability to carry and protect the football while reading blocks and creating big plays vs. what Mike Vrabel told Tom E. Curran, which was: "He's got the ability to run at a high rate of speed and move and bend without slowing down. He can run through traffic without losing speed. Guys that cover kicks and maintain their speed in traffic are what you're looking for." I think Ebner's true value comes in that area at this point.
Mike, our Patriots fan club from Vranje,Serbia invites you to come and visit our small town.You are welcome anytime you want.Is it realistic to expect Brady to play at age 40?Do you see any signs of him slowing down?
Thank you for the nice invite. That is quite flattering and also eye-opening that fan clubs are all across the world. Is it realistic for Brady to play until he's 40? Yes. Or maybe I should say, YES. Who would really bet against that guy?
The main thing, and this is something BB has mentioned in the past, is that the older a player gets, it can end quickly. A player's drop-off can be sudden. So while we don't see a dropoff at this time, I think those following the team have to be prepared, with any player, that it can be quite quick when we get past 35.
Mike,With the additions of Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones, and Jake Bequette to our defense, and the full health returns of Brandon Spikes and Ras-I Dowling, I think the patriots defense is much improved. Also with the addition of Brandon Lloyd, even our already elite offense is improved. So the question is, do you think the patriots have a chance of having another undefeated season? Also what do you see happening with ochocinco? He says he is gonna have a comeback year, but with all of our 2 tight end sets and the signing of Brandon Lloyd, how will he even see playing time? One more thing. Many people say the patriots are empty at Running Back, but I think the Stevan Ridley can be a legit starter for the Patriots, what do you think?
Zack, I'll vote against the undefeated season, solely for the reason that I think it's too hard, week in and week out in this game, to expect a group of players to be at their best. You're going to have off weeks. You're going to have injuries. On Ochocinco, I see him having a hard time making the club if everyone is healthy. I like what the Patriots have at running back, particularly because I think Shane Vereen has some speed that could really be fun to watch (if he's healthy).
Patriots record next Year?
Austin, in my "ridiculously early" and "we'll laugh at you later" season prediction, I went with 13-3.
I keep writing to you that I believe UDFAs Warren, Bolden, Zusevics
Eric, keep an eye on Jeremiah Warren, the OL from South Florida. The Patriots gave him an $18,000 signing bonus and guaranteed $10,000 of his base salary. That was their biggest commitment to any rookie free agent. I wouldn't be surprised if any of them make the team, but I am personally going to reserve judgment until I can see them practice.
Hi Mike. I've all but given up on local hero Ron Brace, so i'll ask a question about Edelman. Lets just assume that there are no injuries at WR and all of them are competitive in camp (including Gonzalez, Ebert, Stallworth, Branch). Where does that leave Edelman? Does his play last year on D and ST give him a leg up with Coach Belichick? Do you really think that if Welker only plays one year here, thar Edelman can step in for him in 2013?
I put him on the club, Mike. I think his value as a punt returner, as well as the possible starting slot WR next year (if Welker isn't back), deems him worthy of a roster spot. I still think back to Edelman's 37 catches as a rookie and believe he has that in him, and more. Maybe I'm pulling a Patriots/Tavon Wilson here and seeing something that others don't, but I don't understand the thinking that he could be out of a roster spot (assuming he maintains his level of performance).
Hi Mike, we all know that the NFL is a copycat league. The Patriots have a lot young speedy athletic DE/OLB, with that in mind could we see BB take a page out his old friend Tom Coughlin's play book and unleash a Patriots version of the "Nascar Front" that the Giants use? Some combination of Jones, Bequette, Scott, M. Cater, A. Carter(assuming he resigns), and Cunningham getting after the QB could generate some serious pressure.
Yes, yes, yes. James, I think this is one of the big stories of the team's offseason. Bill Belichick acknowledged that more of the game is being played in space and that the D is not in its base 3-4 as much as it used to be. So you need a different type of player -- 250-275 pounds, a little faster, a little longer -- because you're in a sub almost 65-70 percent of the time (according to Nick Caserio). This is a significant shift, IMO, in how BB has viewed and valued defense/defensive personnel in recent years.
Why do we keep drafting guys with significant injury histories in college? Just a few examples: Dowling. Jones. Hightower. While there are always exceptions, I think commonsense says that if a playter can't stay consistently healthy in college, he's not going to be healthy over a sustained period in the NFL. The first thing we should look at when accessing college players is health. Did they play in almost or all games they were eligible for. If now, drop them. I know that eliminates many prospects but what good are they if they're not healthy.
It's always a balance, BamaPat. I think some of them, like Terrence Wheatley, it's a fair point. One team told me that they took him off their board in 2008 because of the plate in his wrist and their viewpoint that he couldn't move the wrist well. But for every Wheatley, you have a Rob Gronkowski, who didn't play his final season at Arizona because of back surgery. He also wasn't on some teams' boards.
Mike you thing the BB is trying to have almost the same cord of receiver he have in 07/ when they were unstoppable..
Oscar, the connection at WR between 2012/2007 is a good one. Wes Welker also mentioned it this week.
Hey Mike with the new additions at wide receiver who do you think will be our top 4 receivers/tight end I have lloyd, Gronk, Hernandez and Gaffney so where does that leave Wes welker.
Derek, I put Welker/Lloyd/Gronkowski/Hernandez as the top four. Gaffney is a solid player, but with all due respect, I can't put him in the same sentence as Welker in terms of production/value to the offense.
Mike, do you feel Belichick will put more emphasis on preseason games with the revisions to the off season training programs. With less on field time to prepare and evaluate players the preseason games would seem to carry greater weight. I understand it is not nearly as interesting to the fans, particularly at the cost of an in season ticket, but could take on added value to both the coaching staff and the developing players. Though I suppose all the players are really developing in some way or another each season.
Thanks for bringing this up munchkin. This is going to be a different type of preseason because the final three games are within a span of 10 days. Because of that, I think BB is going to have to pick his spots carefully. Otherwise, he risks the health of the roster, and nothing is more important that that.
Mike, i know you probably get this question a lot but here goes. Assuming full health for Patrick Chung, who starts at the other safety spot? Gregory got signed to a 3 years deal with a decent amount of money and just drafting Tavon Wilson in the second round you would expect a second rounder to start or contribute a lot. Who do you see fitting in best with Chung?
I'd go with Gregory for now, just because I think his style of play complements Chung a bit better. But it's early yet.
I almost hate to say this but looking at the Patriots roster I think now would be a great time to trade Welker. The Patriots have shown they can go through receivers and still be competitive and with the TE Party our offense is going to change somewhat under Mcdaniels. I believe Edleman and perhaps Gonzalez can fill Welkers spot, not at the pro-bowl level Wes plays but do we need a pro bowl wr in the slot with all the other weapons we have on offense?
Rick, if it's a Seymour-for-a-No. 1 pick type of deal, I could see them doing it. But I don't see another club offering a 1. And, to me, anything else doesn't provide more value than having Welker on the team in 2012.
Jake Bequette, mid round pick, high motor and similar body type to Jared Allen. I am excited about him but then I remind myself that I felt excited about Shawn Crable also. I believe we are going to see a 4 man front with Bequette and Jones eventually becoming a nice pass rush tandum like Mathis and Freeney. I am extremely excited about our linebackers. My question is can Mayo play outside in a 3-4 look on early downs putting Spikes and Hightower in the middle. I always thought Mayo played better in an attack role where he was moving at the snap as opposed to the read and react mode a MLB plays.
Rick, I just doubled up on you. The one point I wanted to make on Bequette is that I have heard plenty of mixed opinion on him. Some teams felt it was a reach in the third round. That doesn't mean it's a bad pick, I just wanted to pass along the info. They felt he was very stiff at the combine in LB drills and is more of a one-trick pony. We shall see. As for Mayo, it's not a fit as an OLB in the 3-4, which is basically a DE position.
Now that Welker has signed the franchise tender. How much longer before a long-term deal is reached?
Steve, my feeling is that it shouldn't be that hard if both sides are truly committed. I think they could get it done tomorrow. I'm just not sure how committed both sides are to really making it happen and finding the compromise.
I see the Patriots utilizing alot of 11 & 12 personel as their base formations. RB, Gronk, Hernandez, Lloyd outside, Welker inside.When they take one of the TE's out who do you really see as the true 3rd WR?
Nick, a lot can depend on the individual matchup that week, but Gaffney was the first thought to come to mind.
Hey Mike, thanks for all the hard work in the offseason! Jeremy Ebert's 4 year contract seems a bit long to me for a 7th round pick - is this a result of the new CBA or should we read something into the length of this deal? It's hard to think he'd be a lock at WR considering the current depth at the position. Is it public how much of the deal is in guaranteed money?
Justin, that is standard. I would say, look less at the years and more at the bonuses/guaranteed money with any deal because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. I am not aware of the guaranteed money in this deal.
On the state of the WR's, now that welker has signed his franchise tender he is guarenteed to be on the roster. Some of our other WR's (Slater & Edelman) really only perform on special teams. Doesnt it make sense to carry 5 TRUE WR's on the opening day roster incase of injury and the fact slater and edelman really don't contribute too much at the position. I could see an opening day roster looking like this providing good health: Welker, Lloyd, Gaffney, Branch, Stallworth. Seems like a revival of 07' but even better considering we have Gronk and Hernandez..Thoughts??
Matt, if that is the group, you're going to need to trim somewhere else, as I'm assuming you have Edelman (punt return) and Slater (Pro Bowl special teamer) still on the roster. So then it becomes a question, "Does Branch and Stallworth have enough value as a No. 4 or 5 when they might not play that much?" Tough, tough, tough call. This is going to be fascinating to watch unfold.
hey mike, looking at Cunningham, you could tell that he had put on a decent amount of muscle between year 1 and year 2. Assuming that he has put on a few more pounds, do you think its possible that 3-4 DE is what the coaching staff is envisioning for him?
That's what he played at Florida, so I really don't see any reason he couldn't play it here. Last year in camp, though, it didn't look good. He needs a turnaround.
I like rooting for the underdogs I find myself rooting for Markell Carter and Jeremy Ebert this year what about you
Stephen, you have to love the underdog story. Both are good underdog stories to follow, for sure.
Hey Mike, With all this talk about when Brady will call it quits I started thinking about Brady's 'career arc' and how the team has fared throughout his career. My general conclusion is that if the team wants the keep winning even while Brady's skills start to deteriorate they need to build their defense and ground game up to the championship levels they were at when the Patriots won 3 of 4 Super Bowls. My line of thinking is as such. My first assumption is that Brady's skills will decline nicely and will not be a sudden drop off--I think his immense competitive nature and work ethic supports this. Therefore, his career arc will be much like a bell curve. Seeing how we are at the peak (or maybe a little after that) of his bell curve we can see that his SB winning years were at the beginning of this curve, when his skills were lower but his defense and ground game were much, much better. As his skills got better and the Pats defense got worse (lets say from 2006-2011) he won a lot of games, made Superbowls but didnt win them. So as his physical skills deteriorate (the end of the bell curve) even to the point where his numbers are not much better than his numbers at the beginning of his career, Brady and the Patriots can still win Super Bowls if the defense and running game get better. So, if the draft picks of the past two years and in the future pan out, particularly with an emphasis on defensive picks, I see no reason why Brady can't play on Super Bowl winning teams for another 5-6 more years. What say you Mr. Reiss?
Tron, that is some serious stuff here. Do you write that out and cut and paste it into the chat, or do you punch it right in there? Brady for another 5-6 years -- why not? Like I said before, I am not betting against that guy. Some players have that special thing about them and he definitely does.
Hey Mike, regarding free agent RB signings, why do you think the Patriots chose Addai over Hightower? Hightower had a great start to last year before getting injured.
Joe, might be tied to a little more versatility when factoring in blocking and pass-catching, two things that the Patriots probably value a bit more than others.
Mike, in your piece yesterday you wrote that you think the Jets are still the #2 team in this division. You don't see the Jets falling apart when the fans and half of the locker room want Tebow? If the locker room couldn't survive a Sanchez-Holmes fued, how will they last through a full QB controversy? My vote would be the Patriots, Bills, Jets, with the Dolphins years away from being competitive.
Joe, I was obviously in the minority yesterday, but I'm sticking with the Jets. As much as we talk about Rex Ryan and his antics, I think he is a very good Xs and Os defensive coach. I just have a little more confidence in them than the Bills at this point. To me, what the Bills really needed this offseason was better depth. In recent years, when they've had injuries, the difference from starter to backup has been extreme. I'm not sure they've closed that gap enough.
Mike, Jones and Hightower were great picks, but I'm just as excited about Alfonzo Dennard. Starting quality corners don't typically sit there in the 7th. Think he makes an impact this season?
Tibbs, I think he can. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say starting quality corner, but I do think he can help, at the least, in sub packages. As easy as it is to get excited abot Dennard, I keep reminding myself that the Patriots took Nate Ebner ahead of him. That tempers some of my thoughts on Dennard.
Mike, with all of the receivers we added and a the arrival of McDaniels, do you think our offensive philosophy will still revolve around the two TEs and the ability to go no huddle at any time?
Yes, Kyle, I don't think that will change. Josh McDaniels had some good thoughts on this. If you haven't seen them, I will post his quote here.
Here is the link: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4722070/mcdaniels-on-reducing-offense
Mike, I truly believe that Spikes is probably our best defensive player, although Mayo has many mental intangibles and Wilfork is still a beast as well. That said, Spikes does sometimes struggle in pass coverage / in space. If you had to rank your top 5 defensive players in terms of their value to the team, how would you rank them?
Mike, not including rookies, my top five would be: 1. Wilfork; 2. Mayo; 3. McCourty (2010 version); 4. Chung; 5. Spikes
Hey Mike. Now that rookie mini camp is over, please give us one rookie who you think will surprise and one who may disappoint, as well as some younger vets who may step up this season. Also, Jermaine Cunningham: yes or no? Thanks!
Chris, we just didn't see enough of the rookie minicamp for me to feel comfortable picking anyone. Apologies, but the Patriots didn't open up the practice to reporters other than briefly. Cunningham -- I will vote no.
Mike,Two hypos: 1) Mallet practices and plays better than Brady in training camp and in preseason. Does BB put him on the block for say 3 first round picks or two 1s and two 2s? 2) BB and Brady/Mallet wins two more Super Bowls. Does the coach of the year trophy get his name on it when he retires, or does Spygate kill the legacy?
Paul, I don't think any team would give that up for Mallett. As for the Coach of the Year, that's more of an Associated Press voting type deal, and not an actual trophy.
Hi Mike, great job as always and love your chats. With all the new defensive players we picked up this year, do you see Markell Carter making the team this year and at who;s expense.
Thanks Kenny. Carter looks like a bubble player to me right now. If he makes it, it could come at the expense of free-agent signing Trevor Scott.
Mike -- what can you tell us about Eric Kettani? He seems like a long shot to make the roster but on tape he looks great. Have you seen anything from him?
Joel, Kettani somewhat reminds me of Heath Evans -- part RB/part FB. Real team guy. Disciplined. Special teams are going to be important for him to have a chance.
Mike, thanks for making the offseason so interesting. Can you remind us of some of the key dates around training camp, roster cuts, etc?
Karl, will dig them up and post to the blog over the next few days. A good reminder for me as well.
When are the contracts of Gronkowski and Hernandez up? Do you think the signing of Welker to a three year deal hurts the chances of signing Gronkowski and Hernandez . Many fans seem to think so.
David, those contracts expire after the 2013 season. If you sign Welker to a three-year deal through 2014, and you consider that the first years of any Gronkowski/Hernandez extensions will have lower cap numbers, I don't see the problem here.
Mike, do you think the Pats would be willing to go 4-5 years on Welker? Also, any chance you could do a quick write up in the blog on where some of the local undrafted free agents signed? Thanks
I don't, Sean. My sense is three years max on Welker. That's what they went for Moss at 31 years old, and that's what I base it on. While some might say they went 3 years on Ochocinco at 33, my counter is that it was at more reasonable money (even though it turns out they overpaid).
Mike: I don't quite buy the hype about the Pats' so-called "deep" group of wide receivers. The guys under contract are either past their prime (Lloyd, Gaffney), way past their prime (Ocho, Stallworth, Grant) or unproven (Edelman, Gonzalez). I think Welker will still be "Welker" this year, but he is definitely approaching his expiration date (at least that?s what Bill B seems to think, if the contract negotiations are any indication). I think it is unrealistic to expect that these guys will be a lot better than the 2011 group. Though, they don't need to be much better than last year, given the Pats have Brady, the best receiving tight end tandem in the league, a solid offensive line and (hopefully) a better rushing attack.
Noodle, I thought Lloyd and Gaffney -- while clearly on the back nine -- still showed they were productive receivers last year. I respect your viewpoint. I think we view it a little differently.
Mike any word on Brian Waters? If he does retire who do you see competing for his spot? or do you see the Pats looking to sign another veteran OL?
No word, Rich. My sense is that he wants to come back, but there is a part of me wondering how the Patriots view it. Total hunch work here. With Robert Gallery in the fold, as well, that could play a part in the decision. I'm interested to see how it unfolds.
Hi Mike, Regardless of the defensive front, do you see Love, Deaderick, Pryor, and perhaps Brace continuing to improve, or have we seen about as much as we can expect from these young defensive lineman? Thanks!
I still think the arrow is pointing up with Love and Deaderick. Particularly with Deaderick, though, I think the coaching staff will want to see more consistency. As for Pyror and Brace, I think we've seen what they are.
Mike, are you surprised by the length of time the Welker negotiations are taking? True, he wouldn't be considered a Larry F or Calvin J if he left the Patriots but his production with Brady is astounding. Sign him up!
Sam, I can't say I'm surprised. These things can take time if both sides don't view it the same way, and as time passes, and leverage shifts, sometimes it helps them meet in the middle.
This would normally be the time the chat ends. But this chat will not be ending at this time.
With the amount of depth in other areas heading into camp, could you envision BB keeping just two QB's on his roster (Brady/Mallett).
Mike, he did it in 2009 and 2010, so it's not unprecedented. I think the key is having a practice squad QB you feel good about. The only reason I hesitate on this one is that BB's remarks after drafting Ryan Mallett are ringing in my ears. I'm going to try to dig up that quote right now...
...I'm like a referee under the relay hood right now.
BB on April 29, 2011: "We've all seen what can happen there. We got by last year -- or really the last two years -- with basically just two guys. And you put your whole team at risk if you don't have a quarterback that can run it, so it's good to have depth at that position."
What can Pats fans realistically expect from Chandler Jones in his rookie season?
Simon, I would go the Jermaine Cunningham/2010 route in terms of playing time -- around 50 percent, start him in a situational type role, and see how it goes. Just guesswork at this point.
Hey Mike. Belated draft question for you. I was disappointed the Pats didn't draft Kendall Reyes in the 2nd RD. As mentioned by many, we could have had Wilson later in the draft while adding some youth to out interior DL. Thoughts?
Steve, I liked Reyes too. Obviously, BB has a vision for where he wants to take the defense, and I'm not privy to that. Reyes was considered more of a slanter/stunter than the Deaderick type 3-4 DE who two-gaps. My guess is that BB already felt like the had a few Reyes types on the roster, including Fanene, who they are counting on as a big free agent signing. Let's keep an eye on that one to see how it turns out. Maybe it's one they'll regret in the end, but for now, BB gets the benefit of the doubt.
Reports are Welker's talks have "gotten worse" since he signed. Have you heard anything?
I don't think that's true, Jim.
Is Rob Ninkovich going to stick with the team this year?
Yes, Scott, I think the one thing we may see is that his playing time (82 percent in 2011) comes down a bit.
Hi Mike, I believe other than TB Wes Welker has been the heart and soul of this football team for the last 5 yrs. Do you remember the home game 3 maybe 4 yrs ago when the patriots were getting dominated and Welker went out in the flat for a catch and was absolutely drilled. It was the kind of hit that turns the momentum toward the defense but instead Welker went down and popped back up like a jack in the box, the crowd at the razor goes wild and the patriots take the momentum from that point on. How about Welker coming back from ACl as fast as he did? This is one tough dude and Willie M dare call him a diva? Really? Patriots do what is right and pay the man what he deserves. Thanks Mike for all the great coverage.
That was the Carolina game. One of my favorite Welker memories. That said, Lonster, you're paying a player for what you think he will do, not what he did. I think that is a key thing to keep in mind. All that said, we hear a lot about the Patriots wanting a certain type of player who represents what they are all about -- puts the team first, works hard, cares about football. That's Wes Welker. So I think that should count for something. In the end, I do believe they will strike a compromise. Just takes some time.
Hi Mike! I'm glad to see that Wes signed his tender. How do you think the front office will look at that move - will it make them more willing to negotiate a long-term deal or will it cause them to table the discussion since they know he'll be in uniform in 2012? Separately, what happened to the lead-in question? That was one of my favorite parts of the chat!
Rob, I canned the lead-in question because some folks felt it was watering down the discussion. Maybe it will come back every other week. As for Welker, I think Welker signing the tender could spark negotiations. It is a good-faith gesture that comes as OTAs are starting. Welker put the team first in this case because he wants to be there.
Hi Mike. Can we unofficially start calling Week 1 'The McCourty Bowl'?
I'm not sure that will sell nationally, Dennis. But along those lines, I noticed that Titans WR Kenny Britt underwent knee surgery. That is something to keep an eye on, relative to how it affects his availability/performance for the season opener.
Hi Mike,Did the Pats like James Ihedigbo? He seemed to fit in well with the team when he was here last year.
Tess, I think the answer is currently "no" based on the fact they haven't re-signed him, they drafted Tavon Wilson in the second round, and signed Steve Gregory in free agency.
Am I the only person confused and somewhat disappointed in the Hightower pick. I like him as a player, but now we have 3 ILBs in a day and age when ILBs have never been less valued. I know, I know... he's "versatile". But just because someone CAN play on the edge, and HAS played on the edge, doesn't mean he's GOOD on the edge. And if you watched Bama, you'd know that's NOT Hightower's strength. He's a thumper and interior blitzer; he's not an OLB in a 3-4. He can't really cover. He doesn't have great pass rush moves. He's OK but not great at setting the edge. And he certainly doesn't have the prototypical size at only 6'2" and change. This seems like a Saban-influenced wasted pick when they perhaps should have gone with the safety that teams actually had on their draft boards, Harrison Smith. I would have been much happier with Chandler Jones, Harrison Smith, and Kendall Reyes with our first 3 picks. How about you?
Jonathan, I think you're going to really like Hightower the more you watch him play in this defense, and listen to him and watch his approach to the game. I was in your camp a month or so ago, thinking that this looked like a spot the Patriots were all set. But Hightower is really more than a thumper. You can never have enough good players and I think Hightower has a chance to be in that top-5 defensive players on the team category very quickly.
Mike...Always intersting to have an offseason to talk about...what are your thoughts on the 5 UFAs that have not been signed...Carter, Ellis, Faulk, Jones and Ihedigbo?? Do you think any will be over the next mont or so?? ANy u do not think they will sign? I am thinking Carter (if injury is OK) and Ihedigbo...Faulk/Jones more if injuries.Ellis..no. your thouhts??
Hi Stan, great to hear from you. Of the five, I think it would be Andre Carter, depending on how things look with the young guys.
Mike, I honestly do not think the Pat's want to sign Welker to a LT deal. It's just not the Patriots way. I read Kirwan's column and he spoke about Garcon's contract and how that effects Welker's value. The bottom line is this: The Redskins signing Garcon to that contract was MORONIC (20 million guaranteed??)! When Peyton was healthy Garcon stat's (67/784/6TD's) were mediocre at BEST! (FYI Manning's most yards of his career was 2010!) For starters, Brandon Lloyd is better than he is and was signed for less than 1/2 the money. This is the Patriot's Way! Supreme Value or don't sign. The Patriot's are the most fiscally responsible team in the NFL. We all love Welker but a much more prudent approach would be to MAYBE franchise him again next year (but only if he has another huge year). I am not saying all the recent WR signings are Welker (although Lloyd is going to be a monster), but Welker with any other team would have Garcon type stats in my opinion. Your thoughts?
Mike, you could be right. I was just taking the Patriots at their word that Welker was a "contractual priority" which is what they said when they tagged him. They also said they hope he's with the team for years to come. To me, that says, "We'd like to sign him to an extension", but maybe I'm naive.
Mike: what are your thoughts on Stallworth vs Branch this year? Seems like last year at the end Branch just flat out disappeared and was totally ineffective, on top of that his speed is gone whereas looking at Stallworth he still seems real quick....
Andrew, I see two different types of receivers. Branch did slow down late last year and I think part of that was tied to his high playtime total (76 percent). It was that high because Ocho never emerged (26 percent). At 40-50 percent, I think we see a better Deion Branch from wire to wire.
Just wanted to say great work Mike I have been reading your weekly chats for 2 yeas now and loved every minute! I have two questions for you the first of which why does everyone want to trade mallet away he looks to be in the same place as brady when bledsoe went down...also I am one of the few remaining jermaine cunningham fans and think he has alot to offer do you think he can do the same as McCourty did and will bounce back?
Thanks Jon. I think the idea with Mallett is to get something before you lose him, so you don't have what happened to the Packers this year with Matt Flynn. It's probably a year too early to start thinking that way, assuming Mallett's career trends upward. As for Cunningham, I won't count him out, but what I saw in training camp last year -- from an amateur scout perspective -- would concern me.
Can you imagine the heat the Patriots would take for handling TB the way the Colts and the Saints handled their QB situation. I would add though that the Colts got it right and the Saints, well, we will just have to wait and see
Peter, the heat always seems to get turned up a bit higher here in New England. It's a pressure cooker. That's one reason why BB is the right man for the job. He's pressure proof.
Big V and Mankins already were listed in the Top 100 of 2012. Any predictions on what other Patriots might be on the list and where?
I think Waters could sneak on there. Welker, Brady, Gronkowski the others that immediately come to mind.
Mike, Will the 2001 Patriots team have a 10 reunion? I know the tradition is to wait for the 25th year anniversary, but I don't want 15 years to pass and for some important members of that Patriots family to possibly no longer be with us.
Good question, Harry. I don't know the answer, but I'll ask around and see what I can come up with.
I know it's still way too early to tell. But who do you think makes the final cut in regards to the plethora of receivers we have heading into camp this year?
Mike, I'd go with: 1. Welker; 2. Lloyd; 3. Gaffney; 4. Branch; 5. Edelman; 6. Slater. I think we could debate the No. 4 spot. Stallworth a better fit there? Gonzalez? This is going to be a fun competition to watch. This all assumes good health.
What are your thoughts on the Celtics playoff run? KG is playing like it's 2004 right now. Do they have what it takes to get by the Heat in the East?
Mitch, I'm a one-trick pony. It's all football here. But I will say this: From afar, I think Danny Ainge's decision to keep the team together at the trade deadline -- which was highly scrutinized -- deserves some credit. This is a team that is easy to root for. They generally give you everything they have. And as a fan, what more can I ask for? Garnett -- he might be near the end of his career, but there's a championship heart in there. I'll go to the opening tip with that any day.
Did I just answer a basketball question?
Biggest sleeper for the Pats this year...Im gonna go with Markell Carter
I'm most interested to see what Shane Vereen can do for this offense.
Hey Mike, I know that it's still early, but at what point do the open-to-the -public practices begin, i.e. late June/early July?Thanks!
Late July, Captain Bru.
Mike, maybe I'm the only one, but I still see the safety situation as a potential fatal flaw. Chung has show signs but so far in his career he has been an average player - no better than, say, Meriweather or James Sanders. The other safety spot is a complete question mark. I think I'd rather have Rondo at FS and Avery Bradley at SS than the current group.
Nick, you may turn out to be correct. Have they done enough at safety after all the struggles in 2011? I think it's a fair question to debate.
On the Wes Welker stuff, I hadn't seen this.http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/rap_sheet/index.php/2012/05/17/wes-welker-on-the-outlook-of-contract-talks-its-actually-gotten-worse/#more-18213
So my bad. I should probably end this chat and get to some reporting. One more question here.
Mike, according to Karen Guregian today, Welker confirmed things are worse.
Thanks Jim. I hadn't seen it.
With Josh Being the Offense Coordinator and matt patricia becoming the Defense coordinator, does that take work off of Bills shoulders or is it just a title thing? Can he focus more on the gameplan knowing Matt and Josh (both who are young and talented) have his back?
Let's end on this one, Sam. I do think having Patricia and McDaniels in place will give Belichick more comfort in not feeling as spread thin as maybe he's been in the past.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Went a little overtime. We'll chat again next week.