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March 14, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

ESPN Boston
  (11:59 AM)

Welcome to today's Patriots chat with Mike Reiss. We're running a little behind; we'll plan on kicking things off at 12:05.

Mike
  (12:05 PM)

Good afternoon. Just settling in.

Mike
  (12:07 PM)

Been a hectic 24-36 hours. Just a few more minutes.

Brett Larson (NH)

Why not sign Welker for 2 years 12 million?

Mike
  (12:09 PM)

Thanks for getting us started, Brett. This is the $12 million question. The terms seem more than reasonable to me. We can't practice revisionist history. If you told me that Welker would be with the Broncos because a 2-year, $12 million offer wasn't matched/offered, I would have been stunned before free agency began. I'm still stunned.

plm (watertown)

Mike, how is it an upgrade to go from a 110 catch guy, to a guy that can't stay healthy? Also, why do we keep bringing in Rams? The team stunk for years, so the players must not be good, right?

Mike
  (12:13 PM)

PLM, we're not certain it's an upgrade, but let's look at it from the Patriots' point of view: They obviously think it's close, they have a younger player, signed for a long 5-year term, so the long-range view is part of the equation here. We don't have to agree with it, but let's step back and at least try to see where the team is coming from here. Maybe they're a certain percentage better with Welker in 2013, but the scales tip in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. If you think you can make up the difference in '13, and strengthen the long-term outlook of your team, maybe it's worth considering. I think that was the mindset. I believe they would have been pleased to have Welker back at the 2-year, $10 million deal that could have been as rich as $16 million with incentives (incentives that were going to be quite hard to reach in Welker's view). But once they got to the point that they realized it wasn't going to happen -- and after a year of talks -- they made the decision to move on. ...

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

... As for bringing in former Rams, it's not so much about the team as the player. We could look at a lot of players over the years that came from downtrodden teams and played big for the Patriots. One that comes to mind off the top of the head is CB Leigh Bodden in 2009. He had just been part of a winless Lions team the year before, but he gave them one solid year at RCB.

John (Uncasville)

Time to move on...Can we expect any new money being spent on some defensive players?

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

John, Talib is the first domino IMO. They're still in it.

Anton Ackermann (Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Hi Mike, do you think the pats will target 2 starting CB's. Is Vollmer return after Welker leaving a sure thing. Thanks for the great blog.

Mike
  (12:16 PM)

Anton, as we've found out in free agency, nothing is a sure thing. The CB market is really soft, so 2 CBs could be reasonable. On Vollmer, let's keep an eye on the Eagles, as reports said they were kicking around on some right tackles. I know the Patriots are still interested.

Eric (RI)

Mike what is your take on this. Did the Pats maybe want to sign both Welker and Amendola, and let Edelman stay a FA? You get Wes for 2 yrs and see what Amendola can do during those 2yrs. If he can live up to it we have him for 3yrs to replace Wes. I am not sure how the contract is for Amendola, but maybe the back loaded it for yrs 3-5. Any chance they wanted both?? Of course they would have to get Wes done first esp with the contract they gave Wes..

Mike
  (12:19 PM)

Eric, I think it was one or the other. When Welker called the Patriots back after receiving the Broncos' offer to see if there was a possibility of sweetening their previous proposal, he was told that the team had entered into another commitment (Amendola). Basically what happened in my view is that the Patriots moved on once free agency began because Belichick felt he had to protect the team's interests. He didn't want to lose Welker and Amendola so he moved toward locking in Amendola at an acceptable contract to the team. Timing is important in free agency. You sit around and you could lose out.

Jay (Revere)

Mike, I am stunned by yesterdays developments, but it's football and players change teams. That being said, if you could pick 4 more free agents for the team to bring on to make this successful free agency year for them who would they be? For me they would be: 1). Talib 2). Vollmer 3). Sean Smith (Miami) 4). Greg Jennings (Packers). Thanks, Jay

Mike
  (12:20 PM)

Great choices, Jay. I won't argue. Would have thought all four would be signed by now.

Shawn (Athol, MA) [via mobile]

Mike, I feel like I'm the only pats fan that is not mad at all about the wes welker deal. I saw it as business as usual for the belichick era pats. He obviously still has something left in the tank, but he is going to be a 31 year old slot receiver next yr who has been really taking some big hits the past couple of years. Plus, I can't help but be stuck with the lasting images of him dropping passes in the past two postseasons. Maybe its just me, but I see this as a gift to josh mcdaniels and aaron hernandez. I've been calling for hernandez in the slot for the past two years, I think he can do some special things with the ball in his hands in this offense. Am I crazy?

Mike
  (12:23 PM)

Shawn, I don't think they can replace Welker, but the overall function of the offense should be fine. I don't think they're all of a sudden going to become a middle-of-the-road offense. On Welker, I think they would have been happy to have him at their price and had him part of their offense. But they take the emotion out of it, for better or worse, and when they felt that wasn't going to happen they moved on. So this isn't any sign of a fundamental shift in the offense in my view. It's about setting values and adjusting as opportunities present themselves and are lost.

Kyle (Peabody.MA)

Do you know id Ed Reed and the Patriots are talking with each other about the possibility of playing in New England?

Mike
  (12:23 PM)

Kyle, Reed is meeting with the Texans today. Sounds serious.

Motgnipeek in exile (Syracuse, NY)

Mike thanks love your work. Do you think with the small number of draft choices and recent youth added to the team and being so flush with cash, that BB will go for more high impact free agants or will he go for volume in the mid-tier as he did last year. Also with the volume of good secondary players available isn't this the years they finally straighten out the secondary

Mike
  (12:24 PM)

The main thing this year is that the market is flooded with solid players and the prices are down. This has surprised some players. It's just a bad market. So I'd expect the Patriots to get active in signing players that might have commanded a higher price tag in previous years. The idea is that you can get a high impact free agent without necessarily paying high-impact prices.

mike (chicago)

It seems like the Pats have a lot of cap money, but don't appear to be pursuing areas to address the weaknesses last year? Why are they so passive?

Mike
  (12:25 PM)

Mike, this isn't the answer anyone wants to hear, but it's the truth: This is a process. They have the cap space and they will use it. No reason to burn it all now. A lot of quality players still out there.

sam (ri)

why did the pats sign amendola to a 5 year at 6 million a year but not welker to a 2 year at 6 million. is it because of age or welkers dropped balls in critical situation?

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Sam, it's puzzling to me why the Patriots wouldn't offer 2 years, $12 million to Welker. That is more than reasonable. It leads me to this conclusion: They didn't view him as being as important of a piece to the puzzle as they let on and most of us thought. On Amendola, he's younger (27) and similar to when the Patriots acquired Welker there is a projection the team is making. They think he's going to play big and the contract will be good value, just as Welker's 5-year pact was. If we recall, when the Patriots signed Welker to the five-year deal back in 2007, many analysts thought they had made a mistake. Similar dynamics are in play. As for Welker, the 2-year term was consistent with what the market dictated. That's all Welker was getting (from the Patriots and other teams), and a big part of it is his age.

Joe (RI)

My confusion is over the talk that the Patriots wanted to change the offense and "get away" from a Welker centric offense because with Gronk and Hernandez the middle of the field was too crowded. Now this makes sense to me. But then you go and grab Amendola, who's basically a Welker clone. So wont the team have the same issues?

Mike
  (12:33 PM)

Joe, my feeling is that any talk about the Patriots changing the offense is nonsense. They would have been happy to have Welker back at their terms. When that didn't look like it could become a reality to the team, it moved on to the next opportunity. I don't think these moves were made with changing the offense in mind.

John (NYC)

I love Wes and his contributions, but I'm fine going forward with Amendola.....if not for durability quesitons, I for one think he is a better version of Welker RIGHT NOW...it's not about what he's done it's about what he will do over the next few years. I for one think Welker has declined noticably over the past two years. Amendola has better hands and is faster....huge question on durability, but not much else. I feel like most everyone is underrating the upside of Amendola if he stays healthy.

Mike
  (12:38 PM)

John, I think when Bill Belichick looks at Amendola, he sees an athletic receiver with good strength and solid hands who has already proven to coordinator Josh McDaniels that he could fit in the team's offense (from 2011 in St. Louis). But on the negative side is the durability that you mentioned. Welker is a proven commodity who is still playing at a high level. Amendola has played in 12 games over the last 2 seasons. That's the big risk. If Amendola stays healthy, I think Belichick is going to be pleased with what he brings to the offense. Good player.

Anand (New York, NY)

MikeDoes Lloyd get cut before his bonus is due this weekend? If so, who do the Pats target? Could a guy like Heyward-Bey be in the hunt?

Mike
  (12:39 PM)

I'd be surprised if Lloyd is on the team at his current salary numbers. Not sure what they think about DHB.

Derrin (Plano, TX)

Will the Patriots regret minimizing, not appreciating, and not paying Wes Welker next season?

Mike
  (12:44 PM)

Derrin, I do think they will miss Welker -- both on and off the field. He's just a solid guy and represents everything you want your football team to be. Ultimately, I think the offense will function just fine in his absence because they are loaded. Off the field, when this team had Bruschis, Vrabels, Izzos etc. in the locker room, there was a certain vibe to the room that made it special. You take a Welker out of the mix and it can't help but weaken that. If I'm Bill Belichick, I'm cognizant of that and also how these moves -- Welker departing and paying an outsider a signficant deal -- has a trickle-down effect in the room.

Andy (San Diego)

Mike, do you think Brady feels betrayed by Welker leaving and by the Pats not ponying up the extra couple million to keep his favorite target? Or do you think this was the plan the Pats had all along and Brady was in on it? It seemed to happen too smoothly and quickly that it almost seems planned.

Mike
  (12:45 PM)

Andy, I think betrayed is the wrong word. I think he's "bummed out" as one source who communicated with him directly described to me. But Brady knows this is part of the business and it won't affect his preparation or commitment to the team. It's just an unfortunate part of the business which he's familiar with from the past. It's not like this is the first unpopular decision that BB has made.

Chris (NE CT)

Mike, why are there all of these questions about Amendola being injury-prone? I think this is the press getting out of hand. He had a very serious, unique injury and lost a lot of time while it healed. Then, the triceps injury cost him a little more time. Welker had a serious injury, too, but you don't hear much about that because he had the entire off-season to heal and didn't miss any regular season games. Is Amendola's injury history overblown?

Mike
  (12:46 PM)

Chris, I had this discussion with colleague Field Yates yesterday. Is he injury prone, or more prone to bad luck? I need to look deeper into it for better context.

Aaron (Burlington, MA)

Mike, this is been the track record of the Pats year after year (letting guys go just before they hit the wall) not that Welker is hitting the wall hard, but his age has to be a concern. Yet when ever they do this , the media portrays BB and the Krafts as these heartless SOB's? Because of BB's abrasive nature, is there a certain % of the media dying for this guy to fail? Most of the time he makes the media look silly on these occastions. In Bill we Trust!

Mike
  (12:51 PM)

Aaron, I wrote today that this is the type of move that puts the "In Bill We Trust" motto to the test. Welker is a beloved player. We know the drill from the Patriots' side -- they practice financial discipline with the idea of building the best team possible. Sides don't always see eye to eye and that's part of the business. In the case of Welker, I personally feel like they could have extended more than they did, but that's my opinion. It makes me question how much they really wanted him back. If they just preferred to move on, that's their call and we can debate it. But when we hear things like, "I hope Wes retires a Patriot, like Tom Brady" and then come to find out a 2-year, $12 million contract was all it would take to sign him away, it doesn't add up. I think it's fair to hold the Patriots accountable for that. I think Welker deserves better than that.

Matt (Elon NC)

Is the Leon Washington interest a bad sign for Jeff Demps?

Mike
  (12:52 PM)

Matt, it's just speculation, but that was my thought too. Woodhead too.

Jim (NJ)

I feel like people overlook that the Pats offered Welker a better deal a year ago that he got from the Broncos and he turned it down. I think both Wes and the Pats wanted it to work, but his Agent messed the whole thing up.

Mike
  (12:56 PM)

Jim, I do think Welker's agents misjudged the market. That was a miscalculation and if we're going to hold the Patriots accountable, we have to look at the other side too. Welker didn't have to be in this position, but by waiting things out, he was. The sides had productive talks last year and I was told they were about $1 million apart. They just couldn't bridge the gap. In retrospect, maybe it would have been a better deal for Welker. In terms of total dollars, as I understand it, he'll still make more when adding last year's franchise tag ($9.5m) and the $12 million from the Broncos than he would have made with the Patriots' offer. But money isn't everything. If he truly wanted to be here, and I think he did, that deal on the table looks OK right now. The hard part is that Welker and his reps didn't think the market would dip like it has this year. If they knew that, they might have jumped at the deal.

Jim (FL)

Enough with the Welker questions. What's happening with the defense?

Mike
  (12:57 PM)

Jim, everyone is waiting for the cornerback market to take shape. They want to bring back Talib. I'd think we should have some movement there. After that, wouldn't be surprised to see them target a d-lineman and safety.

Dave (Charlotte)

All hell will break loose if they lose Vollmer & Talib to free agency because they made low ball offers...spending money on both of them is a smart move.

Mike
  (1:00 PM)

Dave, my understanding is that they are maintaining dialogue with both, and the hope is to bring them back. Money is starting to dry up around the NFL (it was already pretty dry at the start of free agency) but the Patriots still have flexibility and are in position to strike.

Chris (NE CT)

Mike, doesn't Adrian Wilson seem to be the perfect fit for safety along side McCourty? Would be a great for Tavon Wilson to learn from a 5 time Pro Bowler, right?

Mike
  (1:01 PM)

Chris, when I think of that possibility, it reminds me of Rodney Harrison in 2003. Would be a good one to explore from this perspective.

Andre (Long Island, NY)

Any interest on picking up benard pollard?

Mike
  (1:01 PM)

Andre, that would be a good way to keep the roster healthy, right? I haven't heard anything on Pollard.

Mike (Storrs CT)

Boos or cheers when Welker returns to Foxboro in a presumably a Monday or Sunday night game?

Mike
  (1:01 PM)

Resounding cheers.

Mike
  (1:02 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

Daniel (Knoxville, TN)

Mike, people seem to be having trouble recognizing that this is the exact process the Pats always use. "Hoping Wes retires a Patriot" never meant that they were willing to veer from their usual way of doing business. They assigned a value to him (some may think it to be low, but it's their assignment to make), and if he decides to take more elswhere, they can't do anything about that. It is bad business to start adjusting on impulse because you really want to retain an asset. After taking everything into account, they decided what his value was, and he wound up getting a little more than that. They may wind up being wrong, but this is how they do business, and it's the best way to do business in order to minimize bad investments, which seem to be most common when they arise from emotion. Plus, it's apparent that the rest of the league was close to agreeing with them on his value.

Mike
  (1:09 PM)

Yes, Daniel, I concur that the Patriots' view of Welker's market value was pretty spot-on as the other offers proved. I do think, however, that there are times where you extend yourself a little more than maybe you normally would because of a player, or a situation. Welker fit that criteria to me, especially when considering you weren't extending that much. That's just my opinion. But that's not to spare Welker and his reps accountability. I think both sides can be held accountable -- the Patriots would have been happy to have Welker at their price, and Welker would have been happy to stay if the offer was sweetened a bit. They needed to meet in the middle and couldn't.

Chris (NE CT)

Going for the hat trick, Mike. Wallace / Hartline / Bess seems like a formidable WR corps, and the Fins defense has only gotten better. Could this be the year that they catch up the Pats?

Mike
  (1:10 PM)

I think it all comes down to Tannehill. Still a question mark to me, but they're surrounding him with weapons, which is smart. Gives him best chance to succeed.

Dan (Boston)

After everything singing Amendola for .1 mil a year more than Welker asked for seems like a slap in the face. Don't you think other free agents are going to look at the way the Pats front office treated a loyal player and not want to sign here in the future?

Mike
  (1:12 PM)

Dan, I think money will ultimately speak loudest, but I will say this: Some of the current Patriots free agents are scratching their heads as to why Welker had such struggles to get a deal done and the club was so willing to pay a player from another team so generously. Obviously, this is the business side of things, and a few players doesn't represent the whole, but players do keep score.

David (Chicago)

Mike, you new England football writers REALLY misread this Welker thing. Most of you expected him to stay for more money than he got.

Mike
  (1:14 PM)

You're right, David, and I was part of that. I really thought he'd be back because I was convinced this was where he wanted to be and that the Patriots would be willing to extend for him maybe more than a regular situation. What I misread was the market decline. It clouded the picture. I hold myself accountable. No one is perfect.

Scott (Winchester, VA)

Any word on bolstering the D-Line? I think we need to pick up the pace on the pressure to the opponent's QB, any insight?

Mike
  (1:14 PM)

Scott, I want to see if they make a move on Raiders DE Matt Shaughnessy. He's a player I thought they might like. But I haven't heard anything conrete at this point.

Jason (Maine)

Hi Mike! Any Chance the Pats go after Cruz?

Mike
  (1:15 PM)

Let's end on this one. I don't see it, Jason. Can't imagine them seeing it as a smart move to give up the first-rounder and the big contract. It's buying an asset at its highest point.

Mike
  (1:15 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Fiery issue and the passion is evident. Let's do it again next week.