Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Just getting settled here. We'll start up in a few.
How is everyone doing today? The big news today was the sentencing for CB Alfonzo Dennard (30 days in jail starting in March of 2014; plus community service). This means he will be available for the 2013 season and beyond for the Patriots, pending any possible NFL discipline. Common sense tells me that the NFL wouldn't suspend Dennard, but then again, common sense doesn't always win out on these types of situations.
I wouldn't even be surprised if Dennard never serves the 30 days, pending how things unfold over the next year.
Let's plan on going until about 1:05 p.m. today.
What's on your mind today?
Hey Mike great job! My questions is about Emmanuel Sanders. I think that the WR corps definitely needs a boost and I do like emmanuel Sanders game and think he has a lot of potential. My issue is, why do the pats consistently go for WR 5'11 and under. We have a lot of slot receivers in amendola and edelman now (even though I know they can all play some outside). I think the Pats offense would be at a new level if we could get a big target that can go up and get the ball for Tom. With so few draft picks I'm weary giving up a 3rd. My main question is, even if we do sign Sanders do you think we would still target a big WR with our 1st or 2nd round pick?? I really like Deandre Hopkins (6'1) from Clemson and for the 2nd round Aaron Dobson (6'3), Justin Hunter (6'4) and terrance Williams (6'2) are good options.
Alex, one thing to keep in mind on giving up the 3rd for Sanders (if the Steelers don't match): The Patriots made 33 picks between 2009-2011. Every team ebbs and flows in its team-building process. They can afford a draft or two with fewer picks. But this would be dangerous if it happened on an annual basis, being so light on picks. As for the big receivers, those guys are tough to find, especially for fitting in the system (a key consideration). If there were more of them, I think we'd see more of them here.
Last year, Gregory only played 8 snaps on special teams. Is this typical in his career (not a special teams player)? If not, will BB really keep a backup S who doesn't play special teams?
Insightful thought, T. Gregory used to play more on special teams earlier in his career. If he doesn't factor into the special teams mix in 2013, that could put him on shaky ground for a roster spot. I still think he sticks, but it is somethin to consider.
Why didn't the Pats give Sanders a better offer? Just seems like another example of the Pats caring more about the deal than about the player.
Marc, I interpreted the offer this way: They want the player to a certain extent, but there is still some doubt as to how well he fits in the long term. So this is a way to conservatively explore the possibility. If it works out, great. If not, no harm in trying.
So if they had an assurance that Emmanuel Sanders would have a Wes Welker-like impact, circa 2007, I think they would have been more inclined to sign him to a richer, longer-term deal. But I still think they have some doubts. Another factor to consider is that Sanders has to agree to any deal. Maybe he didn't want a longer-term deal, and liked the idea of a one-year pact so he can hit the open market next year.
I'm thinking the patriots will draft a coverage linebacker early on. Thoughts?
I think you're on to something, Dave. Like the thought.
Hi Mike,The off season has been very interesting. With so few picks in the draft can we expect some trades from BB to increase his picks? Mallet is an obvious candidate but what about players such as Spikes or even Nink? Can you please make a few wild guesses on who will be traded?Thanks
Neeraj, if the Patriots trade to accumulate more picks, my feeling is that it would be more likely that they trade down with picks instead of trading an actual player.
Mike, Regarding Sanders, you indicated that a "lucrative one-year deal in its place -- is telling. In part, it speaks to their need at receiver. It also should be noted that their discipline in managing the salary cap"Doesn't this really represent desperation on the Patriots part? I would argue that a 3rd round pick historicially has been valued highly by the club (even more so this year with the reduced number of picks) and that $2.5M is a lot of money for a guy who has not produced as well as Lloyd. I'm hoping the Pats are not done at WR because this corps does not appear very threatening.
You could say desparation, but I personally think that's too strong. I think those third-round picks have value, and the level of that value can vary depending on the year. If the Patriots hadn't drafted 33 players from 2009-2011 and were not a deep team that was in the lower quarter of the NFL in terms of youth, I might hesitate more on this move. But I see the thinking here. Sanders projects as a top-3 target in New England and if you can get him for 2013, and then retain his rights beyond that (a big "if", but not out of the question, especially with the team retaining leverage), it is worth exploring.
And this isn't the main reason I think it's worth exploring, but let's also list some of the team's recent third-round picks: DE Jake Bequette, RB Stevan Ridley, QB Ryan Mallett, WR Taylor Price, WR Brandon Tate, LB Tyrone McKenzie, OLB Shawn Crable, QB Kevin O'Connell.
I think you can always make better picks -- Tate instead of Mike Wallace in 2009 stings -- so it's not a reason to just give away third-rounders. But I think it adds some context to the discussion.
Hey Mike, now that we know the Pats intend to acquire Emmanuel Sanders, do you think this wipes out any chances of the Patriots selecting a WR in Round 1 or 2?
I think it's still alive, Russo. I wouldn't rule it out. I do think it highlights the point that Bill Belichick made at the NFL's owners meeting that it's easier to evaluate WRs in the NFL than coming out of college because of the differences in the passing games. I find that very interesting.
Mike:Great job with coverage leading up to the draft. I believe the Pats will field a strong team, but I have a sinking feeling that we are not nearly competitive enough to get to SB (thus wasting TB for another year). If we get Sanders, reducing our picks further, what do you see as the one area they better get right in the draft, CB or WR?
Karl, I could see both of those positions. I also wouldn't overlook at DL or G/C either. Similar to 2011 with Nate Solder, that wasn't an immediate need, but when you project out a year or two, those are areas that could warrant attention. Often times, when you're drafting, it's not just the present year snapshot that you're looking at.
hi Mike, how much of the timing of the offer sheet to Sanders had to do with the start of the patriots offseason workouts around the corner?
Not 100 percent sure, Sean, but I could see that being the case. The Steelers have until Sunday to match. The offseason program starts Monday.
Hey Mike, thanks for all the excellent reporting you do. A name I've been interested in is Danario Alexander from San Diego but haven't noticed his name in any Pats chatter? He was undrafted so no draft pick compensation would have to be sacrificed if he signs. He's not as experienced as Sanders but would cost considerably less I am assuming, any idea what type of offer it would take (2 years 3.25m)? I'd love to see TB have a 6-5 217 lbs target on the outside.
John, I don't know much about him, but my thought is that the Patriots have good intel/background on him from his 2011 season with the Rams (Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator that year in St. Louis). If they thought it was a fit, I figure they would have moved on it by now.
Mike furthering your comment from earlier about the possibility of the Pats trading down what type of package do you think they could get trading down from 29?
Eric, we know it's hard to really specify anything right now, so let's talk in generalities. If these QBs slide down to the lower part of the first round, that could be good news for a team like the Patriots looking to accumulate some picks because you'd have an aggressive suitor for your picks. Generally, a team looking to move back in for a QB is motivated to deal. So you might be able to pick up a 2 and a future 2. Maybe even more.
As usual, I go into this draft assuming that BB would ideally like to add a big chip for 2014 as part of his dealings.
I think the Patriots need for WRs are being overblown. They're deeper and younger at the position now although there still is a need for a deep threat. I could see them drafting a burner, but i wouldn't be surprised if they didn't draft one at all because i don't see them drafting someone they don't like or reaching for pick if the ones they like are already gone. I think its more likely the draft for depth on the defensive side or offensive line.
Kyle, I think a lot of it will depend on how things unfold with Emmanuel Sanders and if the Steelers match the offer sheet. If they don't match, I don't see how the Patriots can feel good about not coming out of the draft with a WR. I just feel like they have to build up that position a bit more than they have.
Hi Mike,I need your help. I've no problem with the team submitting an offer sheet to Saunders and giving up a 3rd. I have every problem with only offering him a 1 year contract in exchange for a third!Can the Patriots sign him to a multi year contract after he signs the offer sheet or do we have to wait for a year and then get caught in an unrestricted free agent bidding war (assuming he has a great season!)?I don't understand the thought process here - please enlighten me.
Yes, they can sign him to a longer-term deal as long as the salary for 2013 doesn't decrease. This is something that Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports wrote about today. Will dig up the link.
The one thing I just want to add is that if some people around the NFL think there is something sneaky here, they are nuts. This is completely by the book. The Patriots did it before in 2004 with DL Rodney Bailey (1 year, $1.3 million deal). The Steelers didn't match and got a sixth-round pick. Obviously, the Patriots and Sanders' agent discussed a long-term deal as part of negotiating this offer sheet. That's part of the process. But at this time, both sides obviously felt better about the one-year term. They aren't bound to it if the Steelers don't match, though.
With all this talk of drafting a coverage linebacker, is it possible that they already are on the team? We know that even Rodney Harrison thinks Adrian Wilson will play the coverage line backer spot, but what about Rob Ninkovich? Didn't he play that role in the past before he was forced to be their end rusher, due to lack of anyone else? Maybe drafting a guy like Margus Hunt and moving Ninkovich back off the line servers two purposes. The first would be improving the pass rush as and the second would be solving the issue of coverage linebacker and depth in case Spikes can't be resigned. Did Ninkovich add weight to play end? Am I overvaluing his skill as a coverage LB? I know he was their first backup linebacker anyway last year. Thanks.
Very possible, and something to consider, for sure. With Ninkovich, the question is whether you like him better playing forward or dropping back. He was arguably their best pass-rusher last season. You start dropping him back (and we've seen him do it successfully), are you limiting his greatest asset to the team. Like the thought on Wilson. I do think there were times that the Patriots were in nickel last year that they could have been in dime. That's where someone like Wilson, in a LB-type role, could play a big role.
Hi Mike,I for one have been quite happy with the Patriots offseason moves so far. Everything has been value-driven and relatively risk-adverse. My opinion regarding the Welker move has always been that his addition helps Denver more than his loss hurts New England. I do feel like this team is very close to being ready personnel-wise to hit training camp when you consider that a handful of additional bodies (undrafted free agents and maybe a few more vets) are likely to be added too along the way. This brings me to my question. The largest question mark by far is the draft and it's no secret here the Patriots are pick deprived this year. Our largest asset trade-wise certainly appears to be Mallett if a taker can be found. Is it possible that New England's thought process could be to trade Mallett while they can for value and boost the team around Brady while they still can? I don't know that Belichick feels this way, but while I like Mallett, I think New England has no real shot at a 4th if he goes down so why not go all in using every asset possible?
Michael, is Lupi's Pizza still in business in Chattanooga? When I interviewed for a job at the Chattanooga Times (now defunct, I believe), the editor took me there for lunch. Great lunch. ... On Mallett, I think it all comes down to if the deal is worth it. If another team is offering a first-round pick, you do it. A conditional second-rounder that could become a first, you do it. Anything less than a third, I think you hold on to him because he has more value to your team than what you could get in return. As BB once said, "if you don't have someone who can run the offense, you put your whole team at risk based on the importance of the position." Bill Polian, in 2011 with the Colts, essentially lost his job because he didn't have an adequate backup to Peyton Manning. Have to be careful there.
Along those lines, let's also remember that Eagles 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka (Northwestern) is also on the Patriots' roster. Was signed to a contract and will compete for a job. Let's see how he looks in camps.
Do you really think the Patriots should draft a cornerback? given their track record at drafting cornerbacks, I think they should try signing someone from free agency. What do you think?
Rob, I don't think they should back away from a position because of their past struggles. That's not good business. Just try to learn from missteps and make a better decision the next time.
Mike,I feel this offense will put plenty of points on the board. They need to draft Defense defense defense........cover LB, another corner and either a pass rusher or the Vince Wilfork of the future!
Good stuff, Dan. I can't argue, but depending on what happens with Sanders, I do think WR is an area they will need to focus on as well.
Dont you think the pats would be better off drafting a reciever like Justin Hunter in the second round who is 6'4 and runs a 4.4 than giving up a 3rd round pick for sanders? We need a true outside reciever that can be a deep threat not another slot reciever on the outside.
Matt, I'd caution anyone from pigeon-holing Sanders as a slot receiver. He can play on the outside and be effective. I thought Boston Globe columnist Christopher Gasper made a solid comparison -- this is potentially like Deion Branch in his prime years. As for the Hunter vs. Sanders question, it comes down to comfort level based on the information you have. BB is on record talking about how difficult it is to project college WRs into their system, and how it is much easier to project an NFL receiver into their system. I think that's a big part of this. Hunter is intriguing. He also comes with more risk in the Patriots' view, based on BB's past remarks. This is what it makes it all compelling.
Sorry if you already addressed this, but in your opinion how likely are the Steelers to matching the Pats offer on Sanders?
James, not sure if you saw, but one of the reporters closest to the Steelers (Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) opined that the club shouldn't match. He has a much more informed than me. If I had to guess, I think they do match. I think highly of Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' GM, and he'll have it all mapped out from a team perspective. I think it's a reasonable salary to absorb for a No. 2 WR, which is what Sanders projects to be for them in 2013.
Hi, Mike. I'm still really surprised to see the Pats enter a draft with so few picks. Do you think this was a conscious result of feeling they were young enough and trying to cash in on veterans (ochocinco, haynesworth, etc.) or just an accidental byproduct of each individual move?
I'd say a little bit of both. And surely, they thought they would get more out of the Ocho and Haynesworth acquisitions. In retrospect, they bombed on both of those decisions. In the words of BB, "I'm sure there are some he'd like to have back."
Mike,Enjoy your work...any word on David Nelson WR from the Bills? I think they need to add a bigger/taller target on the outside. I know he is recovering from knee injury...any intel that the Pats might be interested once he is healthy?
AJ, he actually signed with the Browns.
I understand that projecting how college WRs will fare is difficult, but if the Pats only target veterans for the position, aren't they sort of ignoring the problem? Can't they try to improve the talent evaluation problem?
Great question, Farhan. Yes, they can try to improve it. And they should. I still think they could take a WR in the first few rounds. If they get Sanders, it would allow them more margin for error with the draft pick (and as we've seen, they've needed it with WRs).
I was wondering if you could expound on that and compare it to an option already on the team like Brandon Lloyd.Looking at the talent, you have someone who was familiar with the system and reasonable successful (nearly 1000 yards) who has experience with Brady with Lloyd. Then you have Sanders who really has none of that. Maybe Sanders agrees to a long term deal and you get that year of experience for 2014 and going forward, but it doesn't seem to be a slam dunk. I don't have the confidence that you are going to get a player who is going to produce in 2013 like Lloyd might and I think you are paying a similar or even price when you count the offer sheet and the value of a 3rd round pick.
Another good point, Brian. If Lloyd had worked out as they hoped, maybe this isn't even on the radar. It speaks more about the team's view of Lloyd to me. While the production looks OK, they must have not liked the fit.
Mike, Do you think the lack of pats draft picks may have led to led to the signings of Armistead (sort of replacing a 4th or 5th round pick?) and Vega (6th or 7th?) Seems like scouring places for talent is especially wise this year.
Yes, Chris, probably something to that. Could almost include Jeff Demps (to a lesser degree) and Jake Ballard into the discussion too. More avenues to find players than just the draft.
Mike, why are Dwight Freeney and John Abraham still unsigned? Their destinations seem very well placed. Freeney to denver. Abraham to New England. What's the deal?
Dan, I think it comes down to money. Whatever the teams are offering isn't enough to entice them to sign. So maybe they wait until camp, or even after camp, and save themselves the physical grind.
Mike, Do you think now that Dennard isn't go to miss time this year Devin McCourty becomes a full time safety? Wilson and McCourty would be a strong/smart/instinctive pairing.
I do, Dave. I think the club would like to leave McCourty at safety. Whether it's McCourty and Adrian Wilson, or McCourty and Tavon Wilson, or Steve Gregory ... that seems like the best fit for McCourty and the team.
Mike, know you must be worn out with any discussion of Welker. However, do you think Brady losing his 'security blanket' could ultimately be good for this offense? The Pats of old were about getting the ball to the open receiver, no matter who. After Moss/Welker, Brady had noticeably started to lock into WR's.
Joe, I could see that viewpoint. Sometimes when you step outside of your comfort zone, it forces you to grow. I don't think that was the team's intention, but if things work out, maybe it's an unexpected benefit.
Mike, you recently identified Markus Wheaton as a potential target for the Patriots. I agree with you on that, seeing that he seems to have the desired characteristics they value in receiver prospects. Now with the news of Emmanuel Sanders signing the offer sheet i looked up their respective combine numbers. Boy, are they similar. Sanders is 5'10 185 lbs, Wheaton is 5'11 189 lbs. Both ran a 4.40, Sanders is a bit better in the agility drills, Wheaton is a bit stronger. Also in playing style they are strikingly similar to the point where you ask yourself if those two are brothers. Both remind me of the last really good draft pick at receiver, Deion Branch. Is this a plan A (Sanders) plan B (Wheaton in the second round) scenario or am I putting to much into this?
Lars, I like this thought. We've talked about the idea of the Patriots "double-layering" the position, similar to how they did in 2010 with tight ends and in 2011 with running backs. Maybe they end up with both? I think Wheaton might play a little faster, and is the type who probably threatens the deep third of the field a bit more.
Who will the New England Patriots select with their very first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft?
This Leon Sandcastle prospect has caught my eye, Chris.
Tough call right now, Chris. When you're picking that low, you just don't know who will be there. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, DL Jesse Williams, WR Markus Wheaton, WR Justin Hunter and OL Dallas Thomas are a few prospects who could be on the radar with one of their initial picks (wherever it winds up being).
If the Steelers match, can the Patriots offer Sanders another contract or is this their only opportunity?
Nick, once the Steelers match (if they do), it's game over. The player is under contract to the Steelers. No more offer sheets.
Mike, I couldn't help thinking while watching the pats this past year that an improved pass rush would considerably help our defense. While our DBs are finally starting to come into their own, imo we have improved from a poor secondary to a competent secondary. Wouldn't making another investment in a solid pass rusher be a smart move for this team to help take pressure off the secondary? While our run stop has been great with Wilfork and Spikes, without a dominant pass rusher we will continue requiring our coverage LBs and DBs to pick up the slack on passing plays. And the league is only geting more pass heavy each year..
Ned, I think they feel like they helped themselves along these lines with the free-agent signing of DT Tommy Kelly. He might be able to give them more push inside next to Vince Wilfork. The pass rush can come from different areas -- it doesn't have to just be the edge. I think Adrian Wilson can also help them in that area. He's a good blitzer. But I'm aligned with your thinking -- you can never have enough when it comes to the pass rush.
In a normal draft nothing drives me crazier then the Pats trading down...I'm all exited about the possibilities that Mel is talking about only to find out we are getting an extra draft pick in next years draft and non of Mel's top,prospects. But with this years lack of draft picks I think I could get on board with trading down for more draft picks...do you think this is the path the pats take this year.
I do, Ethan. So here's my advice: As we're watching the draft on Thursday night, and it's getting closer to 11 p.m. ET when the Patriots' No. 29 pick is scheduled to be made, plan for a trade down. That way no one is disappointed. If they make the pick, it's a pleasant surprise.
Mike. Assuming the best scenerio for Dennard, no jail time, can the NFL still punish him with a suspension even though he was not yet in the NFL at the time of the offense?
Paul, as we've seen, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can pretty much do whatever he wants. I don't think they will suspend Dennard, but no one can say with certainty that the NFL won't.
Mike, I wanted to know how many primetime games do you think we'll have this year? It seems like we have quite a few that could land us with at least three to four with Broncos, Ravens, Falcons, and possibly the Steelers and Saints.
At least that many, Thomas. Patriots remain a big draw.
Let's go for another 5 here...
Mike, I'm going on the record to predict that the Pats will absolutely NOT take a WR in the first three rounds--even if they trade down to acquire more picks--and I'll throw in a free lunch if wrong (next time you're in Birmingham, AL). The Pats' history since 2000 proves it's the QB that makes the WR, not the other way around. Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are best in the league, Detroit and Arizona have losing records.
I hear what you are saying, Jamal. But when you consider what Torry Smith (second round) brought the Ravens, I think we could make the case that could help put the Patriots over the top. I wouldn't rule it out, especially if the Steelers match the Sanders offer sheet.
Hey Mike, keep up the great work...are you planning on doing the tweet ups again this season? Didn't get a chance to catch you in Miami...hoping to in Houston this season.
Austin, we received some nice feedback from the tweet-ups. We'll try to do a few more this year, for sure. Stay tuned and thanks for the interest.
Whom did the Pats draft with the Seymour trade?
I want your honest opinion, isn't the Pats difficulty in developing young WRs as much to do with Tom Brady as it is with their talent evaluation? You can't tell me that Branch (2nd rounder) and Givens (7th rounder) were so much more immensely talented than many of the recent misses. The difference is back then, Brady was willing to put the time in with the receivers in Foxborough developing chemistry, which is why Branch and Givens were so good. There is something to this change Mike, you can admit it, it doesn't diminish Brady's greatness, it is just a fact.
Mike, I do think Brady is part of it. Can't deny that. I don't think he's the only reason, though. It's not like the receivers they've drafted have gone on to signficantly bigger and better things elsewhere (e.g. Brandon Tate, Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson etc.).
Ok, I hear a lot about how Amendola
The truth is that no one knows, Ted. Have to let it play out. Wouldn't say one over the other.
Mike-This offer sheet move by NE/BB is genius. Do you think Pitt has any incentive whatsoever to give ES a 1 year deal?
Derek, I do see incentive for the Steelers to match the offer. They lost Mike Wallace in free agency to the Dolphins. Their depth chart isn't overflowing. I think Sanders has some value to them and $2.5m is manageable. They might decide that the value of the third-round pick (four-year deal at reasonable level) is greater, so it gives them something to think about, but if I'm Kevin Colbert I match that deal.
How much of an impact could Tommy Kelly have this season?
James, I could see him as a 50-percent playtime option (if everyone is healthy), doing his best work as an interior pass rusher. He can still play.
There was a report that Pitt was going to match NE's offer for their WR. Was that a false alarm?
I don't think anything has been decided, Tilly.
Looks like Edelman got lowballed? Can't imagine he's very happy with his contract.
Michael, I don't think "lowballed" is the way to look at it. It's what the market spoke about his value. All 32 teams had their say. Sure, it's disappointing to him to ultimately land a split contract (a different salary if he winds up on IR). It speaks to the health questions.
Why is everyone so hard on Arrington? He's only one year removed from tying the lead league in interceptions, and I know he wasn't as good last year, but it seems like everyone thinks he isn't worth the money he just got. I don't get it.
Ryan, I think we remember some of the big plays that went against him, and it's easier to forget some of the excellent work he's done in the slot (e.g. vs. Victor Cruz in Super Bowl). If a defense is in sub 57 percent of the time, your third CB is like another starter.
This might be the first offseason in a while that it seems as though the Pats aren't the favorites to win the SB in March/April. Seems as though "experts" are saying the Pats have holes and not enough draft picks or depth. Could this be a sign that we're on the decline?
Let's end on this one. Thanks Adam. The Patriots might not be the favorite, but pretty much every "expert" or analyst I've seen has them in the championship hunt. We never know how injuries will alter the picture, but they're built to be in it. We can debate if they've done enough, and how well they've allocated their resources, and that's part of the fun. But I don't see too many saying they are a franchise in decline. I don't see it that way.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Enjoyable, as always. We'll do it again next Thursday.