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Ask PFW: Combine queries
So... With the release of GB's Charles Woodson, what are the odds the Pats make a play for him? What are the pluses/minuses of such a move? Could/should it happen? Do you place CW in the same category as Ed Reed a formerly great secondary player now past his prime and potentially not worth going after? Hypothetically, if the Pats went after any veteran secondary guy in free agency, assuming they are available, out of the following list, who do you think it would be and why? Charles Woodson, Ed Reed and LaRon Landry?
We haven't really had a veteran leader since Rodney Harrison in the secondary so with that said do you see us pursuing Charles Woodson, who clearly has injury problems as of late, but seems to still be able to be to play.
Woodson is an intriguing guy for a lot of reasons. At one point he was one of the best defensive players in the game, as his 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Award proves. He is that veteran DB who was once an elite corner but now plays safety. He’s an aggressive, physical playmaker. But he’s going to be 37, has had two broken collarbones of late and his reputation is as a free lancer. He says he wants to keep playing, but only for a contender in an effort to win another Super Bowl. I don’t think he’s an ideal fit for the Patriots for a number of reasons. He’s not the playmaker he once was and couldn’t be counted on as a full-time player. Though he might be willing to deal, he’s still going to eat up some coin on the cap. And while his leadership would be an asset (unless he’s leading young players to freelance), he’s not nearly the perfect fit that Harrison was when he joined the Patriots. Of the three safeties listed in this question, I actually like Woodson the least. My first choice would be Landry, who put in a full season last fall and has a bit more size to be a stronger safety type. He visited New England last year and reportedly left a little perturbed. He’s also supposedly looking for $6 million a year. If that’s the case, he won’t be a Patriot. Reed is a longtime Bill Belichick favorite who can still make some plays and would probably be an even better veteran influence. If he’s willing to listen to the Patriots at the right price, I’d take him even if he’s not the ideal strong safety fit that the team could use.
What do you think about drafting a safety in the 1st round like Eric Reed or [Kenny] Vaccaro and a WR in the 2nd and re-signing [Aqib] Talib and making Tavon Wilson the nickel DB? Or a WR in the first round and a safety like Phillip Thomas, [Jonathan] Cyprien or [Tony] Jefferson maybe in the 2nd round? (I hate Matt Elam. He can’t cover, he just stops the run. What do you think?) Also what about hiring [Romeo] Crennel as a DC? Salutes from Argentina!
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has been raving about the safety position in this draft, and especially the ability for a team to get a very good player in the middle rounds. That said, I am very much hoping the Patriots go after top playmakers in the draft on both sides of the ball. I’m not nearly done with my pre-draft work, so I don’t have strong opinions yet on the many individual players you mentioned. The wide receiver position is a little bit more wide-open than some years in the past, when there has been a clear elite prospect and more defined peeking order. Overall, I’m inclined to say I’d like to see the team target a receiver at the end of the first round. This regime hasn’t taken a receiver in the first round and I think that a deep threat/playmaker on the outside is a more palatable proposition in the draft than through the high price of free agency. New England has invested a lot in the defensive backfield over the last few years, so maybe a veteran addition at safety to go with a guy like Wilson developing might be the better plan. That said, I don’t see Wilson ever being a nickel guy in the slot. He’s been more of a “money” player to date, serving as a fifth defensive back with linebacker-like duties in the middle of the front. I’m not sure he has the quickness to work in the slot, even as a former college corner. And I’m on the record saying I’d love to see Crennel return to New England. The coordinator role is currently being filled capably by Matt Patricia, but you can never have too many good coaches on the staff and Crennel has always been a great guy at getting along with players and translating the game plan to them.
Hey Guys! I've got a question about the big name free-agents. Say we lose Welker, Vollmer or Talib do you believe we will receive compensatory draft picks for them? And if so, which round will they be? Since we have so little draft picks this year it would be a small bandage on the wound, but still nice to get some extra picks.
Willem van der Schoot
Losing any or all of those players would likely result in compensatory picks, but those would not come until the 2014 draft. The compensatory process is based on the net loss of free agents and how much playing time those guys see in new place. But that’s a possibility/consideration that’s a year away from coming to fruition. It won’t help this spring.
What are the possibilities of this happening? Let Welker walk, go after Harvin and Mike Wallace. Picture nightmare formation. Wallace, Lloyd at wide. Gronk and Hernandez at TE with Harvin in backfield. Our RBs are no slouches either.
Are we talking reality or fantasy world? In reality, there is almost zero chance that your little scenario plays out. Wallace has been pretty high on himself for a while and has supposedly been asking for huge money. Harvin is also high on himself, so trying to extend him after trading for him could be a huge chore. I really can’t see the Patriots investing that much into the wide receiver position this offseason. That would be a 2007-like talent spree, but with even greater likely investment.
Honestly I think the Patriots should let Wes Welker walk. He has been a dependable player but, has not really been there a lot of times when under pressure like the Super Bowl 46 drop and also the playoff drop against the Ravens this year. Welker doesn’t have that many years under his belt left. I think the Patriots should focus on the defense in the draft with top picks and maybe even moving up in trades to get some top pick corners like Dee Milliner or Johnthan Banks to improve the defensive secondary if they do not keep Aqib Talib which showed great changes in secondary when he arrived in New England. The wide receiver position can be accounted for with Lloyd, Edelman the TE's and even Shane Vereen and maybe a WR in the draft. My point is that Brady can make the offense work around different people like he has his whole career. Focus on the defense to make plays and get the offense out on the field faster. What do you think on my perspective view?
I very much agree that the defense needs to be better and needs more playmakers. I’m also amazed at how many people seem to be content and even happy to just let Welker walk. I’m even more amazed at how many people fixate on his supposed drops while giving free passes to guys like Brady and Aaron Hernandez. That said, I wouldn’t be upset or surprised to see the team be aggressive to add talent on defense. A corner, strong safety, pocket-collapsing tackle or another edge presence could all be used to improve the overall unit. I also have a lot of faith, like you, in what Brady can generally do on offense over the years almost regardless of the talent around him.
Hi and I appreciate all the work that the PFW team is doing. My question is about the Pats 1st round pick, on which position do u think the Pats should spend this pick on? Keep in mind that the DT group is promising and who is left on the board when our pick comes. I know we have a lot of needs but I feel our 1st rounder should be spent on a good DT because it’s the missing piece to our pass rush problems. Because Vince [Wilfork] is great and assuming C. Jones will improve and Rob [Ninkovich] will stay the same. A good WR could be found in the 2nd round. And I read that Tavon Wilson will step up next season as safety Thank you.
You are correct in that defensive line is one of the strengths of this draft. A lot of those guys will come off the board early and often in the first round. That begs the philosophical question of whether it’s better to take say the 10th best defensive lineman or secure one of the top players at another position like receiver, safety or corner who gets pushed down the board thanks to the run on defensive linemen. It’s a question of how teams stack their boards, both vertically and horizontally. I know a lot of people are on the bandwagon of adding a pass rushing defensive tackle, but I don’t think that would solve anywhere near all the ills on the defense. This unit is more than one player away from where it needs to be. And I’m not sure where you “read” that Wilson “will” step up next season, but that is something that’s impossible to know right now. He doesn’t know that. Belichick doesn’t know that. They may have their projections and hopes, but Wilson is very much an unknown moving forward.
I heard that Wes Welker is leaving the Pats. Is this true? It would be a great loss to the team if he was gone. Thank You....
Like any player scheduled to be a free agent, Welker COULD be leaving the Patriots. The Boston Herald has already reported multiple times that New England will not use its franchise tag on the slot playmaker, so the only option to keep him would be to sign No. 83 to a long-term contract. If that doesn’t happen, then he very well could be a former Patriot at some point after the start of free agency on March 12. But that’s a big if at this point. I still feel in my gut that Welker will be back for next season, somehow and some way. But it’s clearly not a sure-thing. Of course, neither is his leaving. Stay tuned.
I think the Pats need Talib. He can shutdown the opposing team's number one WR. When Talib went down, they couldn't cover Boldin. They need depth at CB. Even though Edelman's injury prone, he is a lot like Welker. He is fast, can catch and can make people miss. I think they should sign Mike Wallace. He is a great deep threat. If they need a WR on draft day, then they will draft one. Also, why do they need a safety? They have McCourty and Gregory. I liked them both a lot. I think after Brady retires Mallett can be successful. What do you guys think about my thoughts? Do you think they need Talib? Is Edelman good enough to be they slot receiver if Welker leaves? Do they need a safety? Do you think Mallett will be successful?
I think Talib was the best corner the Patriots had last season, but was also far from a “shutdown” guy. I think we’ve seen such poor coverage over the last couple years that when we saw a guy who was actually competitive at the position we were inclined to exaggeration of his performance. I would like to see Talib around for at least another year to prove what he can do – on and off the field – over a longer stint in New England. But I think if he gets to the open market in free agency he will get a contract that the Patriots won’t be willing to meet. Edelman is also a free agent, and by no means is a Welker replacement. Edelman drops too many balls (something people criticize Welker for) and is hurt far too often (not something that Welker can be accused of) to be seen as the simple solution. Make no mistake, Edelman has playmaking ability and potential, but he’s not worthy of being talked about in the same sentence as Welker. (Oopps! Guess I just did that.) As for the safety spot, I’m not as down on Gregory as a lot of people are. He’s not the biggest guy and had some issues with his tackling last season. Ideally he’s probably a third safety on a decent defense, but he was certainly better than the revolving door at the position with guys like Matthew Slater and Sergio Brown a year earlier. I would like to see the team add, as Rodney Harrison said, a bigger safety who might be more of a hitter to can send a few messages to opposing ball carriers/pass catchers. Finally, I have my doubts about what Mallett can be in the NFL. Though we don’t see him after the preseason, I’m concerned with the speed at which he makes his reads, his decision making and the consistency of his accuracy. I don’t see Mallett as anywhere near a lock to be a successful starter in the NFL. Only time will tell, but we’ll get a better idea of his growth this summer.
I have been reading your PFW forum for years, and consistently found that you were discouraging the fans dreams and ideas of bringing some capable free-agents, and while often your arguments made sense, at times they did not. I understand that setting fan expectations is one aspect of your job, but you need to be more open to possibilities as you are with draft prospects who are indeed a lot cheaper.
Will do, Stan. I’m opening up as I type this. I actually think the Patriots are going to sign Mike Wallace, Ed Reed, Victor Cruz, Jake Long and make a trade for Darrelle Revis. #sarcasm #thatswhytheyhateme
I live for PFW in the offseason even more than during the year. So, enough brown nosing. I am really interested in Brandon Kaufman out of E. Washington. No one else talks about him, but he is a big receiver who can get downfield fairly well. His competition was not as good as some other guys, but his stats are good and probably available later in the draft for a true steal at the WR position. I say that is the kind of guy we should bring in and give a shot to compete. Personally, I think if Welker won't take whatever short deal the Pats are offering, let him go (a change of opinion for me since the season ended.) Your thoughts on his probability in the NFL?
I have to admit I haven’t seen much of Kaufman play, as we won’t be watching our tape until after the Combine. But it’s hard to ignore his numbers with 93 catches for and FCS-record 1,850 yards (19.9-yard avg.) and 16 touchdowns last fall for a team that’s sent a couple guys to the NFL as mid-round picks in recent years. He clearly has the size and production. But the competition and his overall speed will be a concern. Our friends over at NFLDraftScout.com have him rated as a potential seventh-round pick at this point, so he’d certainly could be an option for the Patriots as an outside receiver if the team doesn’t address the position earlier in the draft.
There is no doubt in my mind Wes Welker is a great player. However, a lot of Patriot receivers have not been able to duplicate their success elsewhere after leaving the both Patriot system and Tom Brady’s ability to throw the ball. My question is what is Welker really worth elsewhere without Brady, given his age? Aren’t there just a few places for him to go to try to duplicate his success here?
I don’t think Welker’s options are overly limited. I think there are a lot of quarterbacks and offensive coordinators who would love to add a slot talent like him to their list of options. Would Peyton Manning want him? Matt Schaub? Matt Ryan? Matthew Stafford? Should I keep going? And many of the receivers who’ve failed to continue their success after leaving New England in the past either got old (Randy Moss) or injured (Deion Branch, David Givens). If Welker stays healthy, which he always has, he’ll produce in 2013.
With the draft coming up soon, I was looking at the Patriots draft picks this year and I am leading to believe that they are going to trade down multiple times because they have less picks this year. Can you see that happening again?
I most definitely could see Belichick trading down to add more picks. That idea is strengthened by the fact that most analysts think this is a very deep draft, and we know Belichick is OK picking multiple times in the depth of the mid-rounds rather than once late in the first round. I also wouldn’t be stunned to see Belichick trade a veteran player for a draft pick, something he’s done in the past with guys like Ellis Hobbs. It would seem that Belichick will find a way to add to his limited number of picks.
How much do you think Sebastian Vollmer deserves per year?
This is a very difficult question. In terms of talent, I could easily see him earning in the range of $5-6 million per season as a second-team All-Pro right tackle. He has Pro Bowl talent when healthy. But his back is the problem. He seemed to fight through the injury last season and given that his back issues go back to college it’s something that has to be a consideration moving forward. It’s the main reason I’d be hesitant to give Vollmer a long term deal. His value in terms of talent is high, but the injury concern is just too much of an unknown to commit market money to him.
I feel like this is the Brandon Lloyd subject from last year! But with all seriousness, what are the REAL chances of us seeing Percy Harvin in a Patriots uniform? I'd be happy as crap to be honest. Hometown hero playing for my favorite team!
We know that the Patriots were reportedly very high on Harvin in the draft a few years back and were supposedly set to draft him. That has to make the idea of them pursuing a trade with Minnesota a more likely scenario. New England also could use a younger receiver and pass-catching playmaker. But unlike Lloyd, who was a free agent and emotionally tied to playing for Josh McDaniels, the pursuit of Harvin is anything but a done deal. He’d likely look for a contract extension in his new home and that would be a costly one. That makes getting Harvin twice as hard – having to trade for him and then potentially hand him tens of millions of dollars. Just from my own speculation I’ll say there is a 41.9-percent chance that Harvin ends up in New England. But don’t hold me to that.
There was a story a couple of weeks ago, that there was some logic for the Pats in releasing Brandon Lloyd, because of the $3 million option bonus. Since that story surfaced it seems like some reporters already take it as a given that Lloyd is going to be gone next season. Now, while Lloyd might not have lived up to the expectations that the fans and the media had for him, I still think he had a solid season, and the coaching staff might also think that. What do you guys think is the chance that Lloyd gets released? And do you have any "inside" knowledge on whether Lloyd did live up to the expectations the coaches had for him?
Willem van der Schoot
I have no inside knowledge of what exactly the coaches felt of Lloyd’s season. I can only tell you that I thought he was terribly disappointing. I thought he looked out of sorts in the offense. He seemed to fall down at every catch. He lacked big plays and didn’t create consistent separation. He was catching too many passes at or near the line of scrimmage for a supposed deep threat. I think it’s probably 50-50 that he’s cut. The two things that certainly help his cause are his relationship with McDaniels and the fact that the team really doesn’t have any other receivers under contract. Maybe he can be better in his second season in New England, but I didn’t see much that would lead me to believe that. In fact, given how much time and throws that Brady invested in Lloyd in his first season, I wouldn’t be stunned to see his playing time and production fall off next fall if he does stick around.
How much cap space if any would the Patriots save by cutting Logan Mankins? Donald Thomas was PFF's 4th ranked Free Agent Guard. He graded at 10.2 overall. He will not make even a 3rd of what Mankins is getting. Could you see Mankins getting cut for cap reasons? Who else might get cut to gain cap space?
I don’t think Mankins would get cut. My understanding is that Mankins would actually cost more money if cut than if on the roster due to the acceleration of his bonus money. From some of the very unofficial research that I’ve done, the Patriots don’t have a lot of guys they could cut to save big money on the cap. More likely, the team could create cap space through extensions or restructures with some of the higher paid guys like Brady, Wilfork or even Mankins.
Is Dwight Freeney a possibility for the Patriots? He’s likely not going to be with the Colts next year, who used him out of position, and could bring a solid veteran to a young DE position.
I love me some Dwight Freeney. What are the odds he's in New England next year? Do you think he's worth the investment?
I clearly would look into Freeney, who is indeed available. He didn’t have a great year last year, finishing with just five sacks and hasn’t had double-digit sacks since 2010. He’s dealt with an ankle injury that may be part of the problem, but I don’t really buy the idea that being called an outside linebacker hurt his production that much. Some think he can still be a very productive situational rusher. I certainly think the Patriots need to add a veteran type to the pass rush. Freeney or Osi Umenyiora would be good candidates. But based on some of the so-called buzz, it’s possible that Freeney would get more money than New England would be willing to invest.
Why are the Patriots so quick to pass on big time player that they know they need, especially at the wide receiver position? Almost every year a big time player hits free agency and the Pats hardly make a move. Why is that? Also why would Bill [Belichick] trade away the draft picks that he covets so much for Talib and not keep him? Makes no sense to me. Your thoughts?
It’s all about value. Free agent receivers get a lot of money on the open market. Generally that’s too rich for the Patriots blood. That’s why we’ve seen Belichick often pursue veteran receivers via trade such as Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco/Johnson. Most things come down to value with the Patriots. Talib was a talented veteran player available at the deadline at the Patriots biggest position of need. At that point New England was a playoff team with a clearly flawed defense. Belichick obviously thought the fourth-round price was worth it to try to make his team as good as possible for 2012. He’d probably like to try to keep Talib around moving forward, and he has a chance to do that with either the franchise tag or a contract. I like that Belichick was aggressive in the Talib trade and tried to fix his team. I don’t think the price tag was outrageous. He got more out of that deal than past moves for Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. Each move, though, is assessed based on its value to the team. Then a decision is made. Some work. Some don’t. I don’t fault Belichick for going to the open market and giving some supposed elite receiver $50-100 million. Guess what, truly elite receiver rarely actually get to the open market. Just ask Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and others.
If the Patriots were to offer a trade for Percy Harvin, do you think Brandon Lloyd could be in it?
I would doubt it. Not sure what value the much-traveled and aging Lloyd would bring to the Vikings. He was somewhat of a disappointment in New England this year, and if he’s not wanted here I’m not sure what his value will be elsewhere. And it’s not as if Harvin and Lloyd are the same type receiver, so the newcomer would not really be replacing the current Patriot.
Hey guys, great job! I realize that players switching position is not easily accomplished but what about this scenario. Bring in Woodson on a 2 year deal to play next to McCourty. Bring in Tebow and have him lose 10-15 lbs and spend a year learning the safety position from Woodson, BB and the rest of the staff. He has the smarts, athletic ability (6.66 3 cone), can play special teams and act as the 3rd QB on game day. Thoughts? I realize this only works if Tebow truly wants to switch positions.
No. While I agree that Tebow has almost no future as a QB, he has even less of a future as a safety. I mean the guy has been a ball carrier and playmaker for his entire life. He’s made to take hits, not deliver them. That transition would be virtually unheard of it somehow occurred and actually worked. I hate to be negative, but it’s not happening.
It's franchise tag time and also time for teams to release players. In the past, BB has released some pretty big & surprising names over salary. What big name players do you think BB releases this year? Who do you think BB will franchise? And what would you be doing with those players if you ran the team?
If I ran the team – fans everywhere are shuddering at the idea of drafting Rashard Mendenhall and Robert Quinn! – I’d franchise Talib and sign Welker while letting Vollmer walk. I think a Welker deal is the most doable, while if Talib hits the market he’ll get some large coin. I’d like to see another year of what he can do in New England. As for the big-name releases, I don’t foresee too many or remember too many over the years. Lawyer Milloy was the biggest and came during the season. Mike Vrabel was a trade and surprise. This year, there wouldn’t seem to be too many options of that ilk.
I don't get all the media fascination with Gronk. They follow him all the way to Oscars. Sure he is a highly capable TE who is yet to win anything or make a major contribution in the playoffs. So what makes Gronk a media magnet - his shirtless acts? I hope not.
Rob Gronkowski is arguably the best tight end in the NFL today, one of the more unique athletes on the planet and has a huge personality that makes him endlessly likeable. If you can’t see that, or are being blinded by some ongoing postseason disappointment, then I feel bad for you. Gronk has made some mistakes – I have been critical of the dancing DDT he applied to his brother in Las Vegas with a broken arm – but he’s a great player and a fun-loving personality. That sells in this world. Sorry you don’t approve of it.