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Ask PFW: Pre-cut queries

Posted Aug 27, 2013

It's cutdown week at Gillette Stadium and there plenty of questions surrounding to fluid nature of the Patriots roster to fill out this week's edition of Ask PFW. And be sure to check back on Wednesday for a special edition of Ask PFW relating to New England's cuts down to 75 players!

I feel that Dan Connolly is way overpaid for his level of work at RG, but who is better in there? I also don't understand why Patriots gave Armond Armstead a guaranteed salary if he had illness?
Seth S.

While Connolly may not be the best guard in the league, I can’t remember too many times when I thought he wasn’t a quality starter. He’s proven himself a reliable option when healthy. He does have one of the top-10 cap numbers on the Patriots, so I’m not sure that rates with his level of play or is ideal for a team that already pays a premium for top guard Logan Mankins. Connolly is probably a good example of the perceived Patriots philosophy of having a strong middle class in terms of cap dollars. As for Armstead, while I don’t know for certain I doubt that Armstead had an infection when New England signed him this spring. He was on the field during spring workouts, and I spoke with him at that time. He seemed to be fine and the only health questions he was dealing with had to do with past heart problems.
Andy Hart

Can we all finally say that Tim Tebow isn't what we wanted him to be? With all the "bubble" guys the Pats have. Almost all of them won't last 1 day on the market. As for Tebow, there won't be a team wasting time to sign him. So if the Pats do want to bring him back later in the season they could. They've done it many times before with guys. (Deion Branch) for example. Keep the other guys around and see what happens. Because guys like Bolden, Blount and Cole won't be waiting around to come back. Do you guys agree?
Nick Cabrera

I certainly agree that no team is likely to sign Tebow if he’s cut at the end of camp. They all had that chance this spring and passed. The Patriots have brought veterans back in the past. It’s a little different case than with a guy like Branch, who was an established veteran contributor with the team previously. Those vested veterans have their entire salary guaranteed if they are on the roster for Week 1. That’s not the case for Tebow. So little would be gained by releasing him and bringing him back, especially if the idea is to spend time and effort developing him for either a specific role or for the long term. If they really want to work with Tebow, I think they keep him for the entire season. As far as judging which guys will last on the open market and which won’t, that’s always a tough job. While I tend to agree that Bolden, Blount and Cole might land jobs elsewhere, certainly when injuries continue to pile up with other teams, that’s not necessarliy the case with every bubble guy in New England.
Andy Hart

If Gronk and Amendola are healthy, our offense should be fine, except perhaps when facing elite defenses. But our D is likely to remain average against the run and mediocre against the pass. Drafting guys like Dowling and Wilson with 2d-round picks really hurts. And the fact that Harmon and Ryan were taken in the 3d, shows that BB still drafts unproven players high. Meanwhile players like Arrington and even troubled Dennard make sense. So why is it so hard for BB to do what works?
Jake S.

Maybe I don’t understand the question. What works? Like winning his division every year? Going to AFC title games and Super Bowls? Sure, Belichick has made mistakes drafting and on defense. It happens. He’s also made good picks as well. It’s the nature of the business. He’s probably neither the genius some people paint him to be nor the drafting nightmare others portray. As always, the truth is in the middle. I think the Patriots should have a decent run defense this year and the pass defense has the chance to be better. A lot of that will be decided by the improvements of Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in their second season, especially Jones. Sure it’s easy at this point to paint Dowling and Wilson as questionable picks that are trending toward busts, but it’s way too early for Harmon and Ryan. Both are competing for playing time as rookies and have shown the ability at times to make plays. They’re young and we’ll see where the development goes.
Andy Hart

I'm really hoping, and so is Andy, that Daniel Fells will be a big part of our offense. (And what’s your nickname for him again?) Will he be given much more playing time when the season starts? Thanks!
Michael LaRocco

I am rooting for Fells because he seems to be a good guy, a true professional and a pretty versatile tight end option. (For the record I like to call him Big Smooth – because he’s big, and, well, smooth.) He missed the third preseason game and some practice time before that to injury. Last we saw him on the practice field it looked at that time like trainers were working on his left shoulder. That’s not a good sign for a guy who was limited last summer by injury and is battling for a role and a roster spot with this team. He’s also the costliest of the tight end options, so that’s a strike against him as well as the team can save nearly a million dollars by cutting him. That said, I still think he’s the most consistent, versatile, proven option on the tight end depth chart and think he has to be one of the final 53 men on the roster if he’s healthy. If he’s on the roster I think he’ll have a valuable role with the team early in the season and could open the eyes of some fans.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, I like the work you do. I'm not sure if this has been talked about already, but Edelman and Amendola seem to have a lot of redundant abilities to the point where it seems like they are in many ways the same player. Does this put Edelman's job on the team in danger at all? It seems like he could find himself being a surprise cut.
Kerry Brown

While there are clearly some overlapping roles with the two players, the same could have been said about Edelman and Wes Welker over the years. Edelman’s biggest strengths are his punt return ability and his versatility. He’s a solid backup receiver with the ability to play inside and out if needed. Amendola is the top dog at receiver right now, but there is always room for depth guys like Edelman at every position. His biggest issue is staying healthy, something that’s also a concern with Amendola. So that actually probably helps Edelman’s job security. I don’t think he’s in danger of getting cut. But I guess that’s why they would call it a surprise cut!
Andy Hart

With the likelihood of Amendola not making it to the end of the season (I'm a realist, the guy's body just isn't made for the NFL, at least not like Welker's), what are the Pats going to do? We have a lot of raw inexperienced talent but we have to have at least one real solid option on the field don't we? Isn't this a major issue? Thanks for taking my question.
Bram Johnson

Clearly the health of Amendola and Gronkowski is a concern and will be throughout the season. They are the two proven cogs of the offense and they have injury histories. But that doesn’t mean that other weapons aren’t going to develop and take advantage of extra opportunities. I’m a big Shane Vereen fan. I think he could develop into a core playmaker. Then there are the other tight ends like Zach Sudfeld and Daniel Fells. That doesn’t even take into account that the three rookie receivers are certainly going to have their chance to shine this year. Clearly the passing game playmakers are a little bit more up in the air this year, but that doesn’t mean that the team won’t find someone to come through in the end. It seemingly has more often than not in the past. But time will tell, and working with Tom Brady makes the chances of those guys coming through all that much greater.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, Montana State alum and Pats fan here, haven't heard much about Dane Fletcher so far. How's he done since coming back from his ACL injury. Saw him for a couple snaps against Tampa. Is he going to be a consistent contributor like he was in his second year, or has the linebacking core been pretty much solidified?
Wes Knoll

Fletcher has had a solid training camp and preseason. He seems fully recovered from the ACL injury and his teammates, Rob Ninkovich in particular, have been impressed by his comeback. It looks like as of now that Fletcher and rookie Jamie Collins will be the top backups at linebacker. Fletcher has experience as an inside linebacker and a sub option, a role I think he’ll have once again this fall. He’s also a core special teams player, something he takes great pride in and where he’ll continue to be counted on moving forward.
Andy Hart

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