Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 3, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike
  (10:59 AM)

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

Mike
  (11:04 AM)

How is everyone doing today? Draft ... free agency ... Patriots Hall of Fame. Lot of balls in the air. Let's get to it.

James Mangan (South Korea via New Hampshire)

Mike, you've covered the team for a long time. What's your current feeling on true Patriots core of Kraft, Belichick, and Brady? To me, the signings on D represent a greater sense of urgency, though unlike Denver this offseason, we can never say that the Pats are ever "all in".

Mike
  (11:06 AM)

James, I think the power structure is in a good place right now. With Brady, no signs of an end point. Ditto for Belichick. And I wouldn't read that much into the signings on defense as a greater sense of urgency. It's just capitalizing on opportunities that present themselves. The Patriots actually rank 28th out of 32 teams in cash spending this year. That's not exactly "urgency" from a "let's-open-the-vault-and-go-for-it" perspective.

Dan (Westfield) [via mobile]

What do you think if MJD was a patriot? I think we have running basks with his skill set... but I heard a couple reports of DE Smith? The fact he can pass rush would help out Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich and rotate them in and out what are the chances of the pats signing a Defensive end? Or will they pick up one in the draft?

Mike
  (11:08 AM)

I thought bringing back LeGarrette Blount would have been the best option, Dan. But the price was obviously too high for the Patriots' liking. I think the same thing probably applies for MLD. So now we turn our attention to the possibility of Michael Bush, who visited this week. On Will Smith, I think he would be an upgrade over Andre Carter. More of a power rusher. Need to limit his snaps a bit. If it's on a minimum type deal, and I'd think it would be based on him coming off a torn ACL, I don't see any downside to it.

mark (ohio)

Wouldn't it be worth settling for a lower pick (3rd round) on Ryan Mallett than to lose him for nothing at the end of the year

Mike
  (11:09 AM)

Mark, I'm not sure Mallett would even command a third-rounder at this point. I think this is a case where we might be overrating the local talent a bit. In the end, I think Mallett will have more value to the team being on the Patriots' roster than the late-round pick you might be able to receive in return for trading him.

Kevin (palm beach) [via mobile]

Hey mike, What are the chances that Chris Johnson goes to the Pats?

Mike
  (11:10 AM)

Kevin, I'd say highly unlikely because of his limitations in pass protection. I could make the case that no team values that more than the Patriots from their running back position, and Johnson rates poorly in that area.

Mike naPOLI (South Boston)

Morning Mike! Do you think the Pats were holding off on re-signing Blount till they knew the scoop with MJD? Seems to me that they slept and lost out on both. Also, who do you truly believe they will go after with their 29th pick?

Mike
  (11:11 AM)

Mike, my apologies that President Obama botched your name. But he nailed Koji. Crazy how that works. On the RBs, they just set their price on both players and maintain that financial discipline -- for better or worse. So I don't think it's as much about sleeping on them as it was staying true to their core beliefs.

James (England)

Even with Tommy Kelly, Vince Wilfork, Armstead and the rookies from last year expected back, could you still see the Patriots taking a defensive tackle, say if Louis Nix fell, in the first round?

Mike
  (11:13 AM)

Yes, James, Nix would be on my short list. Those big guys who are athletic are hard to find. Think he'd be a good pick at 29. Would be a tough one for me deciding between Nix and a LB like Ryan Shazier.

garrett (westfield) [via mobile]

A lot of talk so far this off-season has been about the ight end position, yet lately most of the mock drafts don't have us taking one in the first round. Is that because some of the popular names niklas, asj, have fallen in rankings or bc the pats can get greater value at 29? Could they trade up in the second round to pick one of those two? Or do you believe they think Harrison is the answer at te?

Mike
  (11:15 AM)

Garrett, this TE class has underwhelmed a bit. Probably just not a fit/value at the position at 29. If you go with a Jace Amaro, for example, you have to be comfortable with the idea that he's not a pure combination TE and more of a WR-type. Yes, he blocks but I have doubts that the Patriots will see the value in that at 29. I'm thinking defensive front-7 with the top pick.

Brian (Oxford, CT)

Hi Mike - Do you find that pushing the draft into May is allowing the Pats to spread out their visits better? Maybe less of a "cramming 'em in" situation, and having the change to be getting more detailed evaluations?

Mike
  (11:16 AM)

Not so much, Brian. They've had quite a few guys in this week at the start of the process, as sort of a standard operating procedure.

Vernice(Uniontown, Pa) [via mobile]

Why doesn't anyone seem to talk about Wr being a big need? After last season how could it not be! The only player they brought in is Brandon Lafell but why not give Brady a weapon like Kelvin Benjamin who would be a redzone nightmare for defenses.And he is also probably big enough to line up at TE at times.Your Thoughts?

Mike
  (11:17 AM)

Vernice, part of the reason might be that when projecting at the WR position, you have to consider the development of three rookies from last year -- Aaron Dobson (second round), Josh Boyce (fourth round) and Kenbrell Thompkins (undrafted). They should all be better. If they aren't, it's a disappointment.

Robert (Altus, OK)

Hey Mike, it must be really exciting being a part of the Patriots HOF nomination committee. I read that you're really high on Parcells getting in and I agree. However, I don't know how you can not put in Law and Rodney first. In fact, all of the players that stood out on the Patriots' championship teams. While Parcells brought them in and helped develop them, don't forget that they needed Belichick's coaching to actually win 3 of 4. My solution would be for the committee to nominate four or five people to be voted on by the fans. Then the fans top two vote getters should be inducted. I think that's the only fair way with all of these past HOFers coming eligible in the last few years and the next few.

Mike
  (11:18 AM)

Robert, I appreciate your thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers on this stuff. I'd also argue that Belichick probably never would have been here if not for Parcells' presence. We could go around and around on this. All are deserving. To me, it's just a matter of when.

Chris (NE CT)

Hey, Mike. If for some reason Bridgewater, Manziel or Bortles slips to 29, do you see the Pats taking one of them? If not, who do you think would be the best QB pick in the later rounds?

Mike
  (11:19 AM)

No, no, no, no, Chris. I'd be really surprised if they do. Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, if he's there late in the third round, would be a solid pick IMO. Spends this year as the No. 3 behind Mallett and then graduates to No. 2 next year when Mallett flees as a free agent. I think it's important for the Patriots to address that developmental QB spot this year with the future in mind.

Michael (Chattanooga, TN) [via mobile]

Hi Mike, As the draft approaches which player that could realistically fall to the Patriots do you believe would provide the most value for the team and why?

Mike
  (11:21 AM)

Michael, if I had to make a pick right now, I'd go with either Notre Dame DT Louis Nix or Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier based on the projection of them possibly being there.

Darchoob of Fort Gordon, Georgia [via mobile]

Hello. What, if any, free agents do you see New England acquiring at this point in free agency? A guy who I believe would make a fine addition is Will Smith, formerly of the Saints, and was happy to see him in for a visit. Outside of him I have not heard of any other visitors. So just to reiterate, which, if any, free agents would New England have interest in, or in your own opinion, should have interest in signing?

Mike
  (11:23 AM)

At this point, you're looking mostly at minimum-level deals and DE Will Smith (Saints) and RB Michael Bush (Bears) could bolster areas that have been targeted as a bit light on the depth chart. There have been some questions on TE Owen Daniels as well, and I'd have to look closer at his situation as well.

Dan from Iowa [via mobile]

Hi Mike! I'm sure I'm not the only one to find it a little odd that the Patriots are hosting Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. So with that being said, would they actually have interest in acquiring either of these players?

Mike
  (11:25 AM)

Dan, I don't believe so and my take is that they are doing their normal thorough scouting because they are indeed looking closer at the position (in the middle to later rounds). So, for example, let's say they like Tom Savage. They can match up the information on Savage relative to Manziel and Bridgewater. A side benefit in bringing the QBs in for visits is to create a perception they are indeed interested, so if one of them slips, a team might be more inclined to trade with them for the No. 29 pick. That Bill Belichick ... he's always thinking.

Rich (New Jersey)

Hi Mike - What has been New England's best off season move so far?

Mike
  (11:25 AM)

Rich, has to be Revis, right?

Robert (Altus, OK)

Mike, could we get the hand size on Tom Savage? I know you've been talking abotu him lately, and I know Field did a post a couple months back about the top QBs hand sizes since the Patriots deem that pretty important for their QBs. I think Savage's hand size would give us some more info to ponder about him.

Mike
  (11:27 AM)

Savage's hand size: 9 1/2. Miami's Stephen Morris actually has notable hand size of 10 1/4.

Eric (MA)

No way they pick Nix and here is why: Nix is a NT, a true run stuffer which is a 2 down player now in today's NFL. How much would you want to pay for a run stuffer? If your arguement is that the Pats paid Vince, my counter is that they paid Vince for his past and lockerroom value more so than on field talent. As McCourty called him, the heart and soul of the team. I'm pretty sure that's why they brought Vince back

Mike
  (11:31 AM)

I'll disagree, Eric. I like Vince Wilfork and have touted his value for months, but I would also temper "heart and soul" comments. Too strong IMO. As for style of play, I see similarities between Wilfork and Nix and would contest the label they are both "true run stuffers." I think both can help a pass rush by commanding interior attention, and as we know, interior push aids outside pressure. In today's game, you're looking for different parts in different game-plans, and there is nothing that says Nix can't play in sub packages. You're telling me he wouldn't have been a factor in last year's Denver regular-season game when Chris Jones and Joe Vellano were getting hammered inside as the entire game was played in nickel and a six-man box? Nix pick would be as much about 2015 as 2014, similar to how the Wilfork pick was as much about 2005 as 2004 when Keith Traylor was holding things down until Wilfork was ready.

Derek (Wayland)

Mike, what is the LB rotation. Who's in Spikes old spot? Thanks.

Mike
  (11:32 AM)

I'd put Hightower in the middle, flanked by Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo. Think they need one more LB. Ryan Shazier could put them over the top. The possibilities in sub are intriguing.

James (England)

Do you see Devin McCourty getting an extension this offseason?

Mike
  (11:32 AM)

Yes, James. And if not this offseason, during the regular season. Just a matter of "when" not "if" IMO, unless there is simply a difference of opinion on value that leads to a stalemate.

grandjordanian (San Diego)

Two more things - a) seeing that McCourty was with Vince negotiating and convincing him to sign, makes me eat my "worst draft pick in NFL history" words even more and b) re: Nix and two-down play, BB doesn't just like individual players who are versatile, he likes individual who let the whole defense be scheme versatile. A guy like Nix doesn't come along often, and without someone like him, forget having a 3-4 defense in your arsenal.

Mike
  (11:34 AM)

You said it a little more eloquently than me, Grand. Want to switch jobs today? ... As for McCourty, I wouldn't take his words on Wilfork literally. It came down to dollars and cents not encouragement from a teammate for Wilfork to sign that deal.

Joe (Waltham)

Am I the only one who thinks Ryan Wendell needs to be replaced? I was really hoping he wouldn't be resigned and that they'd have to draft a C in the 2nd.

Mike
  (11:35 AM)

They can still replace him, Joe. It wasn't like the contract he signed was anything that locks them in. Wendell had a solid 2012 and an up-and-down 2013. He's probably best suited for a top backup role but as we know with injuries, anything can happen. I see no harm in bringing him back as long as they keep working to upgrade the spot.

Mike
  (11:36 AM)

Have to take a quick timeout here...will make up the time at the end.

Mike
  (11:36 AM)

About 10 minutes.

Mike
  (11:46 AM)

Apologies for the delay. Need a little more time here. Will make it up on the back end.

Mike
  (11:50 AM)

We're back. We'll go until 12:30 today.

Jeff (Westminster, CO)

Mike, do you see BB taking a look at BC running back Andre Williams on day 2 of the draft? Looks like he might be a nice addition to the RB group if he's available in the 3rd round.

Mike
  (11:51 AM)

Could see it, Jeff, although he probably doesn't catch the ball as well as they'd generally like from their backs.

Greg (Salem, NH)

Hey Mike, one thing I found interesting was the Texans releasing Daniel Manning. Could he be a good veteran pick up for the Patriots to fill the glaring gap at SS? Harmon had flashes but I don't think the team should expect consistent play due to his general inexperience. Are there any other safety options you deem valuable through the draft or free agency other than Manning?

Mike
  (11:53 AM)

Greg, I don't know enough about Manning to have an informed opinion. I'd have to take a closer look at the other free agents at the position. Thought Chris Clemons might be a good one for them, but he signed with Houston.

Rick (Washington DC)

Mike - What are the feelings regarding the progress of Duron Harmon this offseason? I'd love to see us actually hit on a safety prospect for once, and he looked pretty good at times last year.

Mike
  (11:53 AM)

Rick, I thought Harmon exceeded my expectations last season. Better than Tavon Wilson in Wilson's rookie year. Worth a closer look this year.

Randy (Cheyenne, WY)

We keep hearing about "Brady's Window", What is Tom Brady's "window"? It just doesn't feel like there's been enough of a dropoff in his performance to say that his window is closing.

Mike
  (11:54 AM)

I view the window through the lens of his contract, Randy. It ends in 2017. No reason to think he won't hit that marker and possibly exceed it.

derek( missouri) [via mobile]

Do you think that bradys sucessor will come in this draft or a future one?

Mike
  (11:54 AM)

Future, Derek. This draft more about the developmental backup.

Chris (Edinburgh)

Mike - Is there ever a chance to lineup a draft prospect against an under contract player? For example, if there was a DE draft prospect, could the Patriots or anyone have them line up against one of their OL and see how things go?

Mike
  (11:56 AM)

The closest you can do is have a player at a Pro Day or private workout and help him put the player through a workout. But teams generally don't do that.

Brian (Boston)

Hi Mike, What are your thoughts on TE Eric Ebron? Do you think the Pats are considering him?

Mike
  (11:57 AM)

Seems like he's lost some momentum among analysts here in the last month or so, Brian, probably because he didn't have a "wow" workout. Don't think he's a Patriot.

Adam [via mobile]

Mike, you mentioned the other day that the Pats are likely done for the most part in terms of free agency, but I see them dangerously thin at LB. Considering that a rookie draft pick is not likely to have an immediate impact, where do you think the next layer of depth lies? Thanks!

Mike
  (11:58 AM)

Adam, probably in the draft. Some good ones out there. Ryan Shazier in the first round could solve that problem.

Scott (Monroe CT)

Mike, any updates sightings, reports on Rob Gronkowski relative to his rehb on the ACL Injury?

Mike
  (11:58 AM)

Scott, we can file this one under the "take it for what it's worth" category but I saw his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, at the NFL's annual meeting and he said Gronkowski is making great progress. No timetable given.

Hunter (Rochester, NY)

Any chance the lights go on for Bequette this year? I was wicked excited about him coming out of college with 20+ Sacks (compared to Jones' 10), and I'm hoping he's just a late developer.

Mike
  (11:59 AM)

Hunter, you never say never, but it seems fair to say the arrow isn't pointing in the right direction. Sometimes the light goes off later for players (e.g. Jason Worilds in Pittsburgh) so let's not close the door yet, but I wouldn't count on it.

Sam (Nashua NH)

What role do you see Adrian Wilson playing this season? Or does the potential move to safety by Logan Ryan and/or improvement by Duron Harmon force him out and give Darrelle Revis his #24.

Mike
  (12:01 PM)

Sam, I didn't think he was going to make the club last year, so it's hard for me to project him to do much this year. But he is under contract so he deserves the respect to at least be in the discussion until we learn of his status one way or the other.

Mackenzie Kirkey (Plattsburgh, New York)

With starting defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly restructuring their contracts along with backup defensive tackles Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga and Joe Vellano on the Patriots current 53-man roster, are the Patriots not confident in the defensive tackle prospects in the early-to-mid-rounds of the 2014 NFL draft? If so, are the Patriots more likely to draft a defensive tackle or two in the later rounds of the draft or more likely to wait to the conclusion of the draft and sign rookie free agents instead?

Mike
  (12:02 PM)

Mackenzie, I think the DT restructures lessen the immediate need but also don't think they'd hesitate to pounce if the right DT was there in the first round. A lot of times the draft picks are made with the following year in mind (e.g. Nate Solder in 2011 when the team already had Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer).

Erik (Portsmouth NH )

Mike, Any thoughts on Mike Bush and what he would bring to PATS if anything

Mike
  (12:03 PM)

Erik, I have it on my list to watch some of his tape from last year. Looks like a big back with pretty good hands who would come cheap. Can't hurt to add him to the mix if we're talking minimum dollars.

Shaun (Sharon)

Mike you keep mentioning Shazier, but i'm more curious about Steve Beauharnais. What are your expectations for him? He's a very intriguing player in my eyes.

Mike
  (12:04 PM)

Shaun, I see Beauharnais as a Dane Fletcher type. Good opportunity for him as the present roster is constituted. Let's see what he does with it.

Jay (Revere, MA )

Mike, in my mock draft, I have the Patriots selecting Xavier Su'a-Filo, the OL from UCLA. If that happens, how would you feel about that pick? 35 days for us football fans!

Mike
  (12:05 PM)

Projecting him to center or guard? Would think the Patriots would be settling if that's the way it turns out, but as we saw in 2005 with Logan Mankins, that's not always a bad thing when the defensive board gets picked clean.

Dan (Nome)

Mike - Love your work and Field's work! I feel losing the OL coach is going to greatly impact the pats more than people realize - what are your thoughts?

Mike
  (12:06 PM)

Dan, I do think it's significant. At the same time, I believe in players like Nate Solder, Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer. It's not like the talent cupboard is bare.

Brendan (Nashua)

Mike - my question about the qb visits from Manziel and Bridgewater is more related to opportunity cost of having them visit instead of other prospects. You only get 30 pre-draft visits, so taking 2 of those slots for these qb's seems to waste the opportunity to review other potential picks. What are your thoughts when it's viewed from this angle?

Mike
  (12:09 PM)

Brendan, it all depends on what information you still need on other players. Every visit is valuable. Every minute in the scouting process is valuable. Use Nate Solder as an example. The Patriots had everything they needed on him in 2011 and ultimately canceled their in-house visit with him the night before he was supposed to come so they could conceal their intentions and focus resources elsewhere. It's a tough question to answer without having more an internal perspective. In the end, I'd put my trust in their decision-making. Their track record is pretty solid.

Peter (TX)

Mike, where are we with the salary cap? Seems like the Pats need to scramble given that they like to have extra room for in-season moves.

Mike
  (12:09 PM)

About 7-9m in space. Enough flexibility there, Peter.

Ron (NYC)

Mike, I did not understand your point that a possible reason for bringing in the big name quarterbacks would be to better enable the team to evaluate quarterbacks who would be taken in later rounds.

Mike
  (12:11 PM)

Ron, when you're evaluating the quarterback position, you want the most thorough evaluation of all prospects so you can accurately stack your board. How does Tom Savage compare to Johnny Manziel? How does Stephen Morris compare to Teddy Bridgewater? If you're serious about drafting at the position, and I believe the team is in the middle to late rounds, I completely understand the focus on the top guys. That runs counter to 2012 when the Patriots didn't do the same with Andrew Luck and RGIII.

Brady (Adelaide, Australia) [via mobile]

Hi Mike, Pretty solid offseason so far by the Patriots. I think that they need to go all out and get Louis Nix from Notre Dame in the draft. Do you think he can fall to #29, or how high do the Patriots need to move up to get him?

Mike
  (12:11 PM)

As a point of reference, Mel Kiper has Nix falling into the second round in his most recent "Grade A" mock draft.

Derrick (Bristol) [via mobile]

After they held a private workout, i realized the the Pats NEED to get Kelvin Benjamin. This guy is a match up nightmare and would be perfect with Brady.

Mike
  (12:12 PM)

Derrick, a lot of excitement around Benjamin and I understand it. One thing I'd add -- let's be cautious about reading too much into a private workout. The Patriots work out everyone, pretty much. They are as thorough as it gets in terms of indepedent scouting.

Jon (Westminster) [via mobile]

When I heard today the stephon tuitt from notre dame was coming to visit my eyes lit up. He is a freak. My opinion I would rather have him than his teammate Nix. For versatility. Your thoughts?

Mike
  (12:13 PM)

If the Patriots are comfortable with his work ethic and the complete package, it wouldn't surprise me. If that checks out, could see them possibly viewing him as having more value/upside.

Jonathan (University of Rhode Island )

Do you think the reason they are bringing these top tiered qbs in is to "pre-scout" them, expecting them to go to an AFC rival, say Denver or Pittsburgh?

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

Seems like less of the reason from my viewpoint. If anything, creating the perception you might pick them could have value if one of them falls and a team is looking to trade back in. I'd think it's more that than advance scouting. But in the end, I'm putting my chips closest to the idea that they are seriously looking at QBs in the middle rounds as a developmental type and this aids their process.

Marc (Malden, MA)

If the Pats are serious about drafting Brady's successor this draft or next (and I think they should be), I don't want it to be mid-late round picks. Identify the QB you want and get him in the 1st round. I know 1st round QBs are hit/miss but when you look around the league, most franchise QBs are 1st rounders.

Mike
  (12:15 PM)

I don't think they are looking for Brady's succesor, Marc. Too early for that line of thinking.

Greg (Sanibel, FL)

Does this seem like a year that the Pats start trading down to stockpile picks for next year? There are not a ton of needs in the starting lineup.

Mike
  (12:16 PM)

This is a good draft, Greg, and I think the only way they trade into next year is if they can turn a second-rounder in 2014 into a first-rounder in 2015.

James (England)

Could you see the Urban Meyer connection shining through again leading to us drafting a lot of Ohio State players?

Mike
  (12:16 PM)

If so, let's hope for the Patriots' sake that those players have some better results.

Dustin (Buffalo )

If both are available for the patriots at 29, who do you think they would chose Cj Mosley or Ryan Shazier?

Mike
  (12:18 PM)

Dustin, would be surprised if Mosley is there. Has to be him in this scenario, I'd think.

Matt (CA)

Hi Mike, is Michael Bush sufficient as a pass-blocker, or does he project only as a Blount-type (not on the field for passing downs)? Ideally, we'd want a 3rd RB who can provide a layer behind both Ridley and Vereen, and not just Ridley.

Mike
  (12:19 PM)

Good question, Matt. I'm anxious to watch Bush's tape a bit to have a more informed opinion. My sense is that he probably does pretty well in that area. Catches the ball pretty well too.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I disagree, I don't think it's too early to find Brady's successor. I don't want them to be in a position where Brady retires and they're forced to draft a QB in what could be a weak QB class.

Mike
  (12:21 PM)

Fair enough, Marc. Do you have any indication that Brady, at 37 this season, is thinking about retirement? Last I heard he wants to play into his 40s. Let's say they draft a QB this year, he signs a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year. Brady is under contract for the next four seasons and every indication is that he will still be playing (and at a high level) at that point. Just don't see the benefits to using a first-round pick on a player to sit for four years and then potentially lose him in free agency.

Dan (Sheffield, UK)

Hi Mike. What's the over/under on Rutgers players drafted by the Pats this year?

Mike
  (12:21 PM)

Wouldn't be surprised if we see a switch to a new school, Dan. BB always keeps it a moving target. Maybe some Penn State prospects led by DT Daquan Jones?

Earl Mangovich (Marlborough, MA)

Mike, TB12 seems to still be playing at a very high level, but contingency planning should start soon. Would the Pats take a few fliers in mid/late rounds over the next couple of years, or would they draft high in a couple of years when that QB can be groomed?

Mike
  (12:22 PM)

Sure, Earl, if we're talking middle to late rounds. That's a different discussion than first round IMO.

corky NPR Florida [via mobile]

Mike, any chance Bill has a deal with O'Brien in the works for mallet, seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors out of Texas for a team holding the first pick. That first pick in round two looks pretty good....

Mike
  (12:23 PM)

Texans won't be trading for Ryan Mallett, Corky. I think this is one of those things where we might be overrating Mallett a bit. What have seen in the preseason that would lead anyone to trade something valuable (third-round pick or higher) for him? I just don't see it.

John (Manchester, NH)

Mike, like most Pats fans, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Pats get a 4th rounder as a compensatory pick. While I know that the formula is real black box stuff, it seems that the only way was that pick was for Welker. Given this, it appears that the Pats should be due for a 3rd for Talib next year. Do you think that makes them think more about players who were cut (i.e. Bush, Smith) versus true UFAs as they consider free agency?

Mike
  (12:24 PM)

Always, John. That's annually part of the consideration. A team like the Ravens, for example, specifically has targeted players who are cut rather than unrestricted because of the compensatory draft pick formula.

Rene (Ariz.)

Why didn't the Pats make a run at Desean Jackson?

Mike
  (12:25 PM)

After Aaron Hernandez, probably not ready to go there on a player who comes with "questions."

KLM (Waltham, MA)

What's with all the fans' worry about a QB replacement? Wait for a draft that has a STRONG QB class - this one is NOT it.

Mike
  (12:26 PM)

KLM, I think this is a fun topic because it's unusual to see them bring in top QBs like Manziel and Bridgewater and sparks that thought. We're just looking at it from all angles. I like Tom Savage as the next No. 2 quarterback when Mallett likely departs after the 2014 season as a free agent.

Dominic Maryland [via mobile]

Do you think Jace Amaro will fall to the Pats in the first round if so do you see them taking him?

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

Dominic, my read on the TE position is that for the Patriots to have that high of a grade on a player, he has to be a pure TE -- able to block at a high level and also be a factor as a pass-catcher. That's what they saw in Daniel Graham out of Colorado (first round, 2002), Benjamin Watson (first round, 2004) and Rob Gronkowski (second round, 2010). To me, Amaro is a bit limited in the blocking area. Thus, I don't see them putting the high value on him at 29.

Brian (Worcester)

Mallet and draft pick for Andre Johnson. why not?

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

Brian, the first thought that came to mind is because Bill O'Brien went to Brown and is a smart guy. He wouldn't do that for his Houston Texans.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Thoughts on DE Dee Ford from Auburn? I hear he's a fast guy who gets after the QB. Sounds like the type of guy the Pats need.

Mike
  (12:29 PM)

Like him, Marc, based on the limted stuff I've seen. Just a question of his size. Is he too easily blocked by big OTs?

Ben Bradley (Bedford MA)

Mike I am worried that if they dont upgrade the offensive Line before the season and go with the same 5 as last year they might cost Brady a chance at ring because Denver, Seattle, and SF will be able to pressure him. thoughts?

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Ben, I think they're stronger there than the public perception, with the question marks at center and right guard. Lock in Solder (LT), Mankins (LG) and Vollmer/Cannon (RT) and that's real strong IMO. Let's see what they come away with in the draft and how some of their younger guys (Kline, Barker, Cave etc.) develop. Could be OK there in the end.

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Going to take a few more here...

Evan (NJ)

Do you think Danny Amendola will step up this year? People seem to kind of be writing him off, but I think he can be dangerous, like we saw last year in the season opener vs. Buffalo.

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Yes, Evan. If healthy, he's a difference-maker.

Brian (Worcester)

but he went for ryan fitzpatrick? i don't see that as a great decision, the guy is a losing QB going to a losing team. I think its time for them to replace and rebuild

Mike
  (12:32 PM)

I was a little surprised that O'Brien went for Fitzpatrick. a little bit of a gunslinger whose accuracy and decision-making has been questionable. I think he's a placeholder more than a long-term answer. No different than any team would view Mallett at this point IMO.

Ben (Nashua)

Hi Mike, I really like the idea of AJ McCarron being the back up until Brady retires much like Aaron Rodgers was to Brett Favre. However, I do not think that he will make it out of the 2nd Round. Do you think the Pats would bypass another need like DT or TE (whichever they don't address in the 1st Round) in order to secure someone who is a proven winner and from a Bill Belichick pipeline?

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

Let's end on this one, Ben. I'd be shocked if they take a QB in the first round. If I had to target one area, it would be defensive front 7.

TK (Bethesda, MD)

When all is said and written, a healthy Gronk is THE difference Mike.

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

We'll let you sneak that one in there, TK. No arguments here.

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Look forward to doing it again next week. Great stuff.