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Patriots Replay Fri May 29 | 12:00 AM - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW: A little bit of this and that

I was wondering about Tully Banta-Cain. Every time I read anything about him the tone is always about him "having a future here". What do you think this means? I mean, any number of players may have a future here, playing special teams, mop-up duty and whatnot. As this is purely speculative, I ask for your personal opinion: is he in line to replace McGinest? I know you can't assume a player's potential evolving into productivity, but is that the general idea? Willie has come on strong these last few years, but the end is certainly coming at some point. On that note, is there any indication this may be McGinest's last year? He had a lull where he wasn't very productive for a while, was injury prone, but do you consider him to be a Hall Of Fame-caliber talent, who just didn't keep that level of excellency up for the duration of his career, for whatever reason? That aside, getting back to Tully, if he isn't the guy, then Peter Boulware makes perfect sense, as long as there's enough money for him. On yet another note, do you see Klecko playing any fullback this year, considering Watson will be back? Was he (Klecko) more or less a stopgap in light of Watson's injury and the aptly named Pass being more of a receiving back than a blocker? And may I just add, and feel free to cut this part out if you please, that I love Ty Law, for being one of the all-time great Patriots, whether he goes to the Jets, Steelers, Dolphins or any other team that I hate, or not. I love to see athletes who feel a certain kind of loyalty or affection for the region in which they play, but that affection is not met by the inhabitants of that region when they expect a player to sacrifice beyond what can be considered reasonable (all I mean by that is that the rift should be between the player and the organization, not the fan base). Why should Law, or Pedro for that matter, not go out and get as much as they possibly can. I root for Pedro in (gag) New York, and I will root for Law in whatever city he plays. I know both of the aforementioned gentlemen made ridiculous comments about respect and feeding their families or whatever, but that's all a part of the song and dance of contract negotiations (Ok, maybe Pedro has a bit of a diva complex). But that aside, I truly hope Law's foot heals, and that he goes out and plays well for another couple of years. Remember there is a man behind the football player. Let him go, and wish him well, and maybe, when the time comes, he can come back and do a little Otis retire-as-a-Patriot thing. Maybe in 3 or 4 years he can even come back and play some safety. It may not seem likely now, but the situation may improve. Whenever he returns to Foxboro, however hated is the team for which he is playing, he deserves nothing less than a lengthy standing ovation. What he did playing hurt in the 2003 season was truly remarkable, and that being just one season in a remarkable career. Thanks.Japers

Whew. Wow Japers. There is a lot of stuff in that. First, I also wish Ty Law the best. I enjoyed covering him for the eight seasons I had the opportunity to do so. He was always accommodating and entertaining. Now on to your other issues. Obviously none of us has seen Tully play any extended defensive football at the NFL level. But I don't believe that is as much a reflection on him as it is the guys playing in front of him. He's simply not better than Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel or Rosevelt Colvin. I think he has the potential to eventually replace one of those guys, but he was a down lineman in college who has to learn to play on his feet and read plays from off the line of scrimmage while also learning to cover tight ends and backs. Fortunately for him, he has not had to do learn those things with his feet in the fire and can learn from some pretty good players. I happen to think his role will remain relatively unchanged in 2005, but that he could emerge as a more significant defensive player in 2006 when either McGinest or Vrabel possibly move on. I don't think McGinest is a Hall of Fame level player, but is an above average player who makes big plays. Would he be a Hall of Famer if he stayed healthy his whole career? I don't think so, but that doesn't take away from what he is, which is a big play guy who has helped the Patriots win a lot of football games. He definitely enjoyed a career resurgence over the past few seasons playing outside linebacker after battling injuries for seemingly all of the Pete Carroll era. Willie will turn 34 this coming season and is definitely on the back nine of his career. Does that mean one year left? Two? I don't have a guess. His cap charge jumps from $3.8 million in 2005 to $8.3 in 2006. Likewise, Mike Vrabel's is set to go from $4.3 million to $11.5 million. I would have to think both guys would have to do something with their contract to stay around in 2006. If one leaves, that would open the door for TBC. As far as Klecko goes, it all comes down to who can do the most things. Watson could see some time at fullback, but I think he will line up mostly as a tight end in the team's oft-used two TE set. If there is no blocking fullback that has some versatility and special teams ability on the roster then I could see Klecko seeing time as a short-yardage fullback while playing on teams and continuing to learn the linebacker position.

Great job guys, it seems the offseason goes by very fast because of you. My question is... of all the people that are being brought in at this point, where do you see us having gotten stronger than last year? Also, under the radar, I cannot believe how young we have gotten on the offensive line. Thanks Troy for coming back!!Bob Sulik

On paper, I think the Patriots are deeper across the board. With the return of players like Benjamin Watson, Rodney Bailey, Guss Scott and Tyrone Poole from injured reserve, I think all of their positions get a boost. Cornerback lacks the star shutdown Ty Law type, but is certainly deeper than last year with the additions of guys like Duane Starks, Chad Scott and Ellis Hobbs. The defensive line should be better with Wilfork and Warren more experienced, Bailey returning and Marquise Hill ready to challenge for playing time. If Tedy Bruschi plays, there will be a tough cut made at linebacker. If he doesn't, the team will miss his playmaking ability for sure, but it has enough bodies to replace him even if those players aren't asked to do everything Tedy did or does. Bruschi is just flat out a tough guy to replace. The offensive line has to replace Joe Andruzzi's leadership, but is arguably more talented than it's been in some time. The group will need some time to jell, but certainly looks like it could be better at some point this season. Watson's return makes the tight end spot better. The wideout position is deeper than it was. If age doesn't affect some of the experienced players, the Patriots have the potential to be improved, but that's only hype. It takes a lot of time and practices to get in sync and this team has yet to reach that point. Potential means nothing, but does help us speculate.

Hey guys, you really help cheer me up in the offseason. Keep up the good work!!! My first question is that I see we have 101 players listed on the team is that a high amount compared to other teams at this time of year? My second question is have you any new insight about Bruschi, especially since peter king says he heard from a little bird that Bruschi is going to play? Bruschi's health is first but that aside I want to see him lead us to another championship! GO PATS!!!
Alty

The Pats have 91 players listed on the roster as of Tuesday, June 7 and will have to be down to 86 by training camp. The reason they can be over now is that the draft picks have yet to sign contracts. As they do, some players will have to be released. As far as Tedy, I don't talk to any small birds, but I have believed since speaking with Tedy in mid-April that he would play this season. He said nothing that day at Fenway Park to indicate that he would or wouldn't play, but I just came away from that conversation thinking that if you didn't know he had a stroke, you wouldn't have known. He seemed like the same energetic Bruschi to me and knowing him as I think I do as a football player, if he is cleared to play by doctors, then he will line up and strap 'em on.

Hey guys...I moved to OH from CT last year, and I rely on you guys to keep me up to date with all things Patriots. Could you tell me when the Super Bowl rings will be unveiled, specifically on the team website? Thanks. And keep up the good work!
Chris Tyler

Yes I can. Sunday, June 12.

Now that Troy Brown is back, we can all breath a collective sigh of relief and move on to the really important questions like, "Will Troy Brown make the 53 man roster?" (Just kidding, but you know you will get plenty of those!) Troy's situation raises a good point that many of these overpaid agents seem to miss -- local endorsements can mean more money in a players pocket at the end of a career than making a big free agency jump to another team for supposedly much more money. We all know that many of these big-time contracts really don't guarantee big money; they just look good on paper and, as a result, make the agent look good. Sure Troy could have made more by going to New Orleans but do you think he would have been able to ink a lucrative endorsement with a local bank like he did here? By sticking with teams for the long term, players have a much better chance of endearing themselves to the local fan base and subsequently, local advertisers. Guys who jump around the league have little to no chance of landing local endorsements. Now I know it's not always up to the players, business is business, but I also believe that players obviously have a much better chance of making it into a particular franchise's Hall of Fame and ultimately into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if they play all, or most of their career with the same team. I think sticking with a team for the long haul cements the perception of a players' durability, longevity in the league, and overall accomplishments. What do you guys think?
Rob Kotosky

I think you make good points. Troy Brown is a good bet for the team's Hall of Fame even though he will never be enshrined in Canton. I think the financial situation you described works in Troy's favor, but that's only true when the difference in offers is negligible. If the Saints offered a hefty signing bonus, my guess is that local endorsement revenue would not account for that. But I agree with your sentiments.

Hello PFW folks. I've been wondering about Richard Seymour's contract situation and future at New England. I believe he has 2 years left on his current contract, is that right? Do you think the Patriots value him enough to pay him the top (or near-top) dollars I've heard he could get elsewhere? Do you see him as a potential franchise player in New England at some point? Now that he's good enough to be expensive, is that a downside, in a Ty Law sense of the word? I've sure enjoyed seeing this guy succeed and hope to see him stay with New England for a good, long, productive run.
Ryan Pasquini
Belchertown, Mass.

Richard's contract runs through 2006. I think the Patriots value him greatly, but that doesn't mean another team won't value him more if he ever becomes a free agent. I suspect that the two sides have begun trading proposals, but having a talent like Richard on your roster never has a downside in any sense. If he wasn't as a good as he is, we wouldn't be talking about his contract and getting him re-signed. His negotiation will be a tough one to be sure. The closer he comes to free agency, the more pessimistic I will become regarding his future as a Patriot. But having talent on the team is always good. Was it a bad thing that the Pats had to lose Ty Law because he was so good? Or was it good to have him on the team as long as possible? Richard may eventually leave, but he'll have to play two more years here before he does. The Patriots could also use the Franchise tag on him if he is set to become a UFA.

Hey there. Loving the site, and I appreciate all your hard work. It's too early to predict what the rookies will do, so which second years do you think will shine this season? Of course, VW's a hit; I just wonder which young players you see contributing the most? Thanks.Mosi's Moose

I am most intrigued by Guss Scott, who seemed to fit in well as a rookie last year until his season ended with a preseason knee injury. Beyond that, I think Marquise Hill and P.K. Sam would be the players to watch while Dexter Reid remains in the role he played as a special teamer last season. But shine? I look for Benjamin Watson to shine.

Hey guys. If Tedy comes back, which linebackers would you keep along with him of the 174 or so currently on the roster? I'm not asking for a prediction of what BB will do, just what you think could be best for the team. Thanks.Grogan Country

It's a good question and also a tough one. I think you start with Tedy, Ted Johnson, Monty Beisel, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin as 1-6. Then you have Larry Izzo and Tully Banta-Cain, which puts you at eight. Ryan Claridge will make it. That's nine. Then maybe two from a group consisting of Chad Brown, Don Davis, Wesly Mallard, Matt Chatham and Dan Klecko. If there is a question about Bruschi, Brown definitely makes it. But since we're assuming Bruschi plays, I'll go with 11 guys and say Davis and Klecko stay.

I am originally from the same Pennsylvania hometown as Patriots great running back, the late, Jim Nance. Please inform me where Nance stands on the all-time Patriots rushing ladder, thanks!
Mike McGinnis

Jim Nance is second with 5,323 yards – 62 behind Sam Cunningham. He is first, however, in rushing touchdowns with 45.

So many articles about Troy and all hint on the same thing: his skills have greatly declined, this may be his last year, etc, etc. Question- how can you really tell how much his skills have declined? Is this purely based on the number of catches and face time on Sportscenter highlights? Forgive me, but I would expect the catches to decline when you add new talent, I mean who were the other options for Brady in 2001? Also of mention is the more wide-open type of offense run now compared to the dink-and-dunk, as well as the ability to actually hand the ball off and get more than 3.8 yards. Other things to consider within the last two years regarding the lack of field time and general productivity are the injuries and the fact that he was needed on the defensive side of the ball. I just feel people may be underestimating the amount of petrol left in the tank. To explain what Troy brings, do me a favor and go to The Game on the Super Bowl 38 DVD (vs. Panthers)- skip to the last drive (58:36 on the DVD) and watch this play a few times- be sure to view in slo-mo. I'm not suggesting that this throw-catch is Montana-Clark, but it is underrated and a big reason the Pats went onto the Super Bowl win. People have written about the offseason acquisitions at WR and question where Troy fits in, but I ask you, does Tim Dwight make this catch? PK Sam? - Does Brady even throw it if it's them out there?
Snibbets

I think you make some good points. I would agree that a change in the offense definitely affected his catch totals. Also, adding more capable offensive options also could impact a player's statistical output, but people watch the games and form an opinion. His punt return production has certainly fallen off. Is that because of the blocking in front of him? Perhaps. But perhaps he is a half a step slower. I don't truly know. But I don't think we should simply dismiss those who say his skills have declined just because you don't think so. I think if the coaches thought Troy was their best option at receiver that he wouldn't have been playing defense last year. I don't think he would ever have been asked to play defense in 2001 when he caught 101 passes. But I still think Troy has gas in the tank and I think he is still capable of making the type of plays you saw on that DVD. Tom Brady certainly has absolute faith in him.

With Adam Vinatieri being a franchise player, and being a free agent again next year, and the club rightfully trying every reasonable method to keep him, won't the team have to get a cheaper punter than $1 million per year Josh Miller (even though he is good) in order to "free up some money" to use for Vinatieri and in some other areas?
Dennis Davis

No Dennis, I don't think so. I don't think those two contracts are related. The Patriots establish a value and work from that and the contracts of the kicker and punter have nothing to do with one another. It's not as if they budget $2.5 million for the kickers and if they pay Adam $2 million they can only pay the punter $500,000. It doesn't work that way. It's a good question and obviously the money comes from somewhere. But all I'm saying is that it's not simply tied to the punter's contract.

Quick question: Do any of the players currently on the Patriots roster, or any of the draft picks, have the Poston brothers as their agents? I don't know of any and sure hope there aren't any. Thanks.
Tom Roberts
Acton, Mass.

There are none.

HEY GUYS I LOVE THIS FORUM. I WAS JUST WONDERING IF YOU NOW THESTATUS OF RODNEY HARRISON BECAUSE IVE HEARD HE ISNT HAPPY WITH HIS CONTRACT. THATS BECAUSE HE ISNT IN THE BEST PAID SAFTIES AT HIS POITION AND HE ISNT OK. SO DO YOU THINK HE WILL HOLD OUT FOR TRAINING CAMP? OR AM I JUST WRONG THANKS.
Juan Markon

I READ SOMETHING THAT SAID RODNEY IS UNHAPPY WITH HIS DEAL. I HAVEN'T HEARD THAT FROM HIM THOUGH. I'M SURE, LIKE ANYBODY, HE LOOKS AT HIS PEERS AND WHAT THEY ARE MAKING COMPARED TO WHAT HE IS MAKING, COMPARES THEIR PRODUCTION TO HIS AND MAKES AN ASSESSMENT ON HIS WORTH. HE ALSO KNOWS HE SIGNED A CONTRACT. HAS HE OUT-PERFORMED IT? THAT'S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO SAY, BUT HE HAS CERTAINLY BEEN A VALUABLE PART OF A TWO-TIME CHAMPION AND PROVIDED GOOD VALUE. HE'LL MAKE $1.8 MILLION NEXT SEASON. THAT CERTAINLY DOESN'T PUT HIM IN THE TOP 10 SAFETIES IN THE LEAGUE, BUT AT THIS POINT, ONE HAS TO ASK IF IT WOULD BE FISCALLY PRUDENT TO RE-DO HIS DEAL GIVEN THAT HE WILL BE 33 NEXT YEAR AND PLAYS A PHYSICALLY DEMANDING POSITION THAT PLAYS A PHYSICAL PART IN BOTH THE RUNNING AND PASSING GAMES. YOU SIMPLY CAN'T SIGN 30-PLUS PLAYERS TO BIG CONTRACTS. I HATE TO BE UNEMOTIONAL ABOUT IT BECAUSE RODNEY IS TERRIFIC AND IS A LEADER, BUT I DON'T THINK THE TEAM SHOULD TEAR UP HIS DEAL. IF HE WAS 28, THAT WOULD BE A DIFFERENT STORY. I'D BE ALL FOR IT. HIS CAP NUMBER NEVER GETS TOO HIGH DURING THE LIFE OF HIS CONTRACT SO IF HE STAYS HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE, HE COULD PLAY THROUGH 2008 AND EARN EVERY PENNY IN THE DEAL.

I don't really have a question, but I'd just like to comment on the amazing professionalism and respect Bill Belichick has instilled on this team. Everyone knows that the Patriots are a classy, well coached team, but I recently read "Patriot Reign" by Michael Holley, and I was taken aback and realized how truly fortunate we are to root for a team that is just an amazing example of how hard work, teamwork and respect can translate into success. I see guys like Javon Walker holding out for money in Green Bay. While Walker is not a bad guy, it makes me think how easily Brady, Seymour, Harrison, etc. could have created similar distractions. One person can disrupt the flow of an organization, and it's amazing how the Patriots keep every person in the organization on the same page, and that's why they win championships.Pat

And how about the classy team publication, Patriots Football Weekly, which you can get for just $43.95 for 30 issues plus a free a yearbook by calling 1-800-494-PATS. Subscribe now and you will get the training camp preview issue and the yearbook due out in August.

Do you think Matt Cassell could stick on the roster as a fourth QB because of his potential versatility? I heard they were trying him out in some sort of receiving role? That would fit in with BB's preferences in that area. Also, for Saji, I know it's not the NFL, but the CFL has a few players of Indian decent. On the lions one of the starting Guards is Bobby Singh, and there is another player in camp for them, whose name escapes me, but he played on the line for Miami when they won back to back National titles, and according to an article I read on him he's the only member of that line not to go on to the NFL. So maybe he can give that a look (at least until the NFL starts up again).
Craig McTavish

Craig McTavish? The last guy to play in the NHL without a helmet. I would be surprised to see the Patriots keep four quarterbacks this year. I know it's not unprecedented, but it is unlikely. I think Matt has to be considered a long shot.

Ummm, isn't the position most critical to the success of the 3-4 the NT? With Traylor gone and no veteran replacement, is it asking too much from Wilfork? I'm very impressed with his progress, but just staying healthy is an enormous task. Is there some kind of plan to grab a vet after cuts? Would I be insane for wondering if we'll use the Cali 2-5 front as a base? Sounds like 3 different questions but answering any one will help answer the others! Thanks PS: Andy, Bryan, et al; It's in bad taste to fight in front of the kids! Don't make me come out there!
John Constantine

I agree with the last line John. We were just kidding around. I don't think you can sit and worry about guys getting injured. I think Vince can step in and play the nose and if he goes down, the coaches may have to adjust the front. The Patriots never seem to stop tweaking the roster so if there is help out there, they will pursue it. They also have invested two years with Ethan Kelley, who might be able to find his way onto the roster as Wilfork's backup.

Hi everyone, I would like to congratulate the Patriots organization for the amazing beginning of the 21st century. Wow! And I hope for 2005 season. But I have a question for you: where are Canadian born players or coaches in New England organization? And in the NFL?? It's not American football league, and I have another question: do you know our Canadian football league? In Montreal Alouettes, we have Robert Edwards and Marc Megna (became a star here), why does not Canadian players or coaches have access to NFL? Thank you for taking the time to answer me.
David Labrie

The NFL teams definitely scout the Canadian league, although perhaps not as vigorously as they do the college ranks. The Patriots drafted a Canadian native in the third round this year – Nick Kaczur from Brantford, Ontario who played college football at Toledo. But Warren Moon and Jeff Garcia are two examples of high profile players who made their marks in Canada before excelling in the NFL. Since you are a Pats fan, I hope you also root for the Bruins.

Which recently retired Ex-Patriot returned to sign a ceremonial contract so he could retire a Patriot? Thank You.
Mike P.

Otis Smith. Do I win something? It sounded like a trivia question. Wait, how can an email sound like anything? I think I'm losing my mind.

Hey guys, long-time fan of the Pats but I'm stuck in Broncos territory so I don't get to hear much in terms of what's going on with my favorite team outside of you guys. Was wondering if Corey Dillon has done any interviews since winning the Super Bowl that talk about his experience as a Patriot so far? I feel he vindicated himself a bit with his performance last year both on and off the field but haven't seen anything on him yet in the media. Thanks. Go Air Force!!!
Brian Proulx

I have not spoken to Corey this offseason nor have I seen any interviews with him. I think enough was written toward the end of last year about him overcoming his demons so I don't think anyone felt real compelled to write more about it this offseason. I suspect the topic could come up again during mini-camp or training camp and I predict that Corey will be annoyed by the questions.

Hi guys. All this talk about Ty Law signing somewhere else to a one year for short money kind of got me thinking. Wouldn't it be in his best interest to sign back with the pats to one year at possibly vets minimum wage and prove that he is still a top contender to hit free agency in 2006 by playing on a championship team. What the Pats would be getting is a top corner on their roster next season that is on a mission to prove he still has something left in the tank. I don't thing a Law return is out of the question. Your thoughts?
Andre Palomo

I don't think it's a bad idea or question, but with all due respect, I do think it's out of the question. I think the two sides have gone their separate ways and have agreed to move on. Of course, my saying that means Law will be a Patriot within a week.

Hi, guys! Thanks for making my Wednesdays a little brighter. I went to my first Pats game last year and, while I saw the two Super Bowl banners, I didn't see the retired numbers. Am I not looking hard enough or are they just not displayed? The Krafts run a classy organization and it would surprise me if they didn't pay tribute to the great Patriots players of the past.
Paul Foster

The Patriots don't yet have any type of Ring of Fame inside the stadium. I suspect that may change someday in the near future.

I'm a huge Patriots fan currently living in Las Vegas. I'll be home in Massachusetts visiting family during the mini camp in June (9-11). Is the mini camp open to the public? If so, do you need tickets? Will it be held on the training fields? Thanks!!
Sharon Sevigny

It is not open to the public.

I read an interesting article on NFL contracts recently. I understand the cap rules and how that effects contracts as much as a fan can. My question is, when there is a part of a deal that the player & agent know for sure they won't see and the team knows they won't pay, then why is it part of the deal? For example, 2 years ago or maybe last year it was well documented by PFW that Troy would not see that 2nd year of the deal. Also, a few years back Favre signed a 10-year deal that is back loaded with money that will never be paid. Why is it even there? If the true deal is 4-year 20 million $ deal then why call it a 10 year 103 million $ deal? My numbers may be wrong but you see what I mean. So rather than back loading for cap reasons, when players know they won't see it, why don't they negotiate a "true" deal. Thanks!
David

There are a couple of reasons. First, in Troy's example, it's done to spread out a bonus over another year to lower the prorated cap hit of such a bonus. If I receive a $5 million signing bonus in a five-year deal, it counts $1 million per year toward the cap. But the deal may have exorbitant base salaries in years 4 and 5 that make it a real three-year deal. But for the first three years, the team only has to count $1 million of my bonus against the cap as opposed to $1.67 million each year for three years if it was only a three-year contract. Then if they cut me before June 1 in year 4, they would take a $2 million dead money hit that year. Or they could wait until after June 1 and take a $1 million hit each in years 4 and 5. The other reason it's done is to inflate the value of a contract for the agent. Perhaps my five-year deal has salaries of $10 million in year 4 and again in year 5, but has salaries of $2 million in year 1, $4 million in year 2 and $5 million in year three. The actual value of my contract, since we've already discussed that it's actually a three-year deal, is $16 million including the $5 million bonus and the three years of salary. But it will be reported as a five-year, $36 million deal, which makes the agent look good. Back to Troy, he accepted some of his 2004 salary as a bonus and then added a year to his contract so that his 2004 cap number could be reduced. If he didn't agree to do that, the team may have been forced to release him. He didn't lose a dime. He simply accepted most of his scheduled salary as an up front bonus in what was originally the final year of his deal. But to get cap relief, the team had to add a year so it could spread out the bonus over two years to lower the 2004 cap hit. I hope I didn't confuse you.

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