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Debate Friday: Sweet dreams

Posted Jun 24, 2011

If you could add any player in the league to the Patriots roster, who would it be? Cast your vote in our Debate Friday poll.

With the lockout heading in the right direction, but still firmly in place, we're still waiting to write about substantive football news.

Meantime, PFW is taking the opportunity to have some fun with all this free time. Today, we're daydreaming.

Our inspiration was a recent e-mailer to our internet radio show, "PFW in Progress," who asked us a thought-provoking question. In a completely hypothetical scenario – disregarding contracts, trade restrictions, and the like – he wanted to know which current NFL player we would add to the Patriots roster if we could wave a magic wand and make it happen.

That led to this week's Debate Friday topic:

If you could bring any player to New England, who would it be?

Read the arguments of the Patriots Football Weekly writers, then cast your vote in our poll.

Paul Perillo says, “DeMarcus Ware …”

As long as we're dreaming I'm dreaming big. Ware is the best all-around outside linebacker in football and has the type of versatility that even Bill Belichick dreams of. He's played in every game for the Cowboys since entering the league in 2005, and his worst season consisted of 58 tackles and eight sacks, which came in his rookie year. Since then he's never had fewer than 11 sacks in a season, topping out with 20 (to go along with 84 tackles and six forced fumbles) in 2008. Last year he posted 15.5 sacks, giving him 80 thus far in his career.

The best part about Ware's production is it has come in a 3-4 defense, so there's no projection necessary to evaluate him. He's already worked as an upright outside linebacker, and although not in Belichick's exact system, it's clear that his talents would translate to any scheme.

There are so many talented players around the league to pick from for this exercise, but none fill a hole as big as the Patriots have at OLB as much as Ware. New England could upgrade at pretty every spot other than quarterback, but each already has an alternative in place. That's not the case at outside linebacker, particularly in the pass rush, and putting Ware on the edge for the Patriots would do wonders in improving the unit's overall performance. Remember that 32nd-ranked third-down defense? Think a 15-sack guy might change that?

Yes it's a fantasy and players like Ware sign long-term, big-money deals for a reason. But as long as the lockout continues and we're forced to play hypothetical games, I'll take DeMarcus Ware on my team.
~ PP

Erik Scalavino says, “Larry Fitzgerald …”

I know, I know … I've been essentially begging for a pass rusher for the past few years, and believe me, I'd still love to have a Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware, or Tamba Hali on this roster.

However, remember what Randy Moss did for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense back in 2007? And he wasn't even in his prime. Fitzgerald is, and he's the best receiver in football. And Brady is coming off possibly his best season ever – even better than the record-smashing '07 campaign, given all the variables at play – so just imagine what kind of numbers a Brady-Fitzgerald connection could produce.

Fitzgerald is virtually unguardable, even on a Cardinals team that hasn't had consistent, quality quarterback play during his career in Arizona. Put him on the field with a slot threat like Wes Welker, a red-zone beast like Rob Gronkowski, and a seam-killer like Aaron Hernandez and opposing defenses wouldn't have the luxury of trying to double-cover Fitzgerald all the time.

Defense would still be a concern, but if New England's offense could become even more unstoppable than it was four years ago, that would more than compensate for the deficiencies on defense. Other offenses wouldn't be able to come close to piling up the kinds of point totals the Patriots would.

Yes, I still long for a threat to rush the quarterback. But as long as the greatest QB in NFL history still plays for this team, why not give him something he's never had – the best receiver in the NFL.
~ ES

Your turn! Cast your vote in this week's Debate Friday poll.

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