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Ask PFW: Adam and others still waiting

I feel the loss of Adam Vinatieri would be tremendous!! We won a lot of games by three points not to mention the 3 Super Bowls we won, 2 off the foot of Adam Vinatieri! Does the fact that Vinatieri may not be back scare anyone?? Just pay the man his money!!Guy Giguere

Geez - it's getting so I hate to read any Patriots news anymore. The way I understand it, there's a good chance most, if not all, of the following will not be back in 2006: Vinatieri, McGinest, Givens, Neal, Ashworth and Troy Brown. Did I miss anybody? So my question is: who, pray, is so valuable to the team that all these heads will be rolling? I thought Brady already had a contract for a while. So on whose behalf are all these cuts being made? Who is more deserving of the big money than the guys listed? I don't get it. Cheerleaders need new uniforms?Miranda Good

According to reports. Adam Vinatieri has turned down a multi-year deal to maintain him as the highest paid kicker in the game....am I missing something here? What exactly does Adam want? I know that every player makes his own decisions and what we think we would do in his position doesn't matter. But how much more is he holding out for? Does he really want to leave a three-time champ and go to the Packers? Leave a city where the guy is an icon and adored by his fans. Where a few more clutch kicks and maybe one more SB victory would probably earn him a bust in Canton as only the second kicker EVER in the Hall of Fame. I guess I have overestimated the attachment that these players feel towards their teams. How much more money does he feel he deserves. How much more will he really get? And the most important question...How much more will the Patriots pay? I never thought he would leave the Pats....and now it is closer to happening than ever. Is it really worth it, Adam? I hope he isn't friends with Johnny Damon...or we can kiss him goodbye. Are our worst fears coming true?Tyler Jackson
Ireland

Every offseason there seems to be a key player transaction that is the lightning rod for the bulk of fans' interest and opinions. From Tom Brady's contract extension to Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law and Richard Seymour's respectful holdout, fans weigh in with extreme emotion on decisions involving some of the most beloved athletes of Patriots Nation. This spring is no different and the obvious topic of concern is the uncertain future of Vinatieri. Each of these negotiations is different. As a kicker, the numbers being thrown around for arguably the most storied kicker in league history aren't the eye-popping figures that generally surround high profile free agents. Vinatieri played under the franchise number of just more than $2.5 million last season. The Patriots chose not to place the franchise tag on him this spring, designation that would have carried a salary of just more than $3 million for the coming season. Vinatieri has also reportedly turned down a multiyear extension that would have kept him as the top paid kicker in the league.
So let's just say we are talking about numbers somewhere in the $2.5-$3.5 million range, and that might be even a little extreme on the high end. If it's me, on either side, I find a way to get a deal done. Vinatieri has built a following here that will be difficult to recreated elsewhere. He is a local legend and near iconic figure -- almost single-footedly responsible for the Patriots first two Super Bowl titles. From a team perspective we know that there is no kicker Bill Belichick would rather have. And we know the two have built a trust over the years. When Adam tells Bill what his limits are on a certain day under certain conditions, Belichick knows the kicker isn't selling him a load of bull. There is a comfort, trust and seemingly perfect fit in that relations that won't be easy to find elsewhere for either side.
But the bottom line is that this all involves a contract that I have expected to get done for more than year now (something that's been slowed, I believe, by the fact that Vinatieri's agent had been decertified by the NFLPA) – and it still isn't. Vinatieri is set to hit free agency if and when the league stops delaying the new league year. At this point he might as well test the waters and let the market set his value. Get all the information he can. Maybe the Cowboys or some other team will throw some 'big" kicker money at him. Maybe they won't. My guess would be the former, but either way the market will set his value. He can then bring that to the Patriots and let them decide his future, a decision the team can make knowing for sure whether or not a new CBA is in place and what financial rules the team has to work under. Certainly uncertainty with the CBA, as well as pending contract extensions that need to be worked out with guys like Deion Branch, Richard Seymour and others, play into each and every decision.
All said, I truly believe Vinatieri would prefer to stay in New England. I also truly believe the Patriots would prefer him to stay. But this is a contract negotiation in professional sports. Money, egos, agents, uncertain labor issues, salary caps and everything else one can think of is involved. That muddies the waters. But in the end I still expect Vinatieri kickoff for New England when the Patriots kickoff the 2006 season. Seeing him do so in any other uniform just wouldn't feel right. But it also wouldn't be the first time professional sports, and the money that drives each and every decision in the industry, have left me shaking my head.
Andy Hart

Could you verify the Pats draft picks round by round? Could they get 7 of top 105 college players? They have #21 pick in all 5 rounds plus extra 3rd and 4th round choices. PLEASE answer.Jay Martin
*Right now the Patriots have nine picks on draft weekend. Due to tie breaking measures the pick assigned to the team rotates by round with the other 10-6 teams, the Chiefs and Redskins. So the Patriots were assigned the 21st pick in the first round, 20th in the second round, 22ndin the third round, 21st in the fourth round, 20th in the fifth (although this pick was traded to the Browns for Andre' Davis), 22nd pick in the sixth round and 21st pick in the seventh round. New England also has the 11th pick in the third round, formerly belonging to the Ravens, and the 3rd *pick in the *
fifth round, formerly belonging to Oakland.
So as of right now, New England has five of the top 105 picks in the draft. That number will change, though, once the league distributes compensatory picks. Those picks can come as sandwich picks after rounds three through seven. Therefore the best possible compensatory pick could be the 97th overall selection. Those 32 compensatory picks therefore can change the overall draft order. For what it's worth, I do expect the Patriots to get a couple compensatory selections due to free agent losses that included Joe Andruzzi, Adrian Klemm and David Patten, players that were starters with their new teams in 2005.
Andy Hart

I have read that the Patriots really like R[ichard] Marshall (CB) of Fresno State as someone they could get in the first round but, don't you think that's a bit of a reach? I saw him projected in the mid to late second round of the draft. For example last year when Logan Mankins was taken in the first round but was projected as a late second round to early third round pick yet they picked him because they were afraid he would be taken due to having poor draft picks in those later rounds. So aside from hearing about the B.B. scenario " its a B.B. type player" why don't they ever go for players rated near the top of their position, a "true first-round pick"? If they don't like potential first round players available why don't they trade down to get more picks?Jeff Thomson

I see that the Pats have this new interest in Richard Marshall from Fresno St. I just don't see the need in the backfield as much as others do. The linebackers are going on their mid-thirties by now and there is no youth behind them. Willie Mac might be out the door. In the secondary they have three young good, not great CBs in Samuel, Hobbs and Gay. How many do you need? They can't get anybody in free agency or later in the draft? I know they have had injury problems there, but what if they have injury problems at LB...like losing Teddy, Vrabel and Colvin at the same time...who do you put in? LB and WR are severely lacking in depth. No offense to Mr. Marshall...I'm sure that you are a great player, but shouldn't they focus on some greater needs?
Mike Knotts

First, just because someone like Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock says a guy is a first-round player, doesn't mean the Patriots or any other team sees the player in that light. Those guys may be gurus or experts, but that doesn't mean they value players in the same what Belichick, Scott Pioli or any other NFL talent evaluator does. So sorry to burst your bubble here, but as much fun as all those mock drafts and internet player rankings are, they really are worth about as much as Paul Perillo's rookie baseball card – that's to say, nothing. The only thing that makes a player a true first-round pick is getting selected in the first round. Once the draft comes around all those pre-draft rankings are lost and forgotten.
As far as Marshall goes, or even the team targeting a cornerback in the first round, I think the spot is one of the top four needs on the team. My list, in order, would be linebacker, wide receiver, running back and defensive back. Marshall is a physical corner with 4.4 speed and a ton of confidence. He's also a playmaker with the ball in his hands and enjoys the challenge of facing top talent. Coming from Pat Hill's Fresno State program, he's a guy the Patriots probably have a lot of experience with in evaluating. And if he gets a high recommendation from a respected former Belichick assistant like Hill, that probably carries a lot of weight. Is he that much better than guys like Gay, Samuel and Hobbs? I don't know. As much as those guys have shown the ability to make plays in the NFL, none appears to be a top-level, Ty Law type talent. If Marshall can approach that level, then I have no problem with the pick. If he's closer to Gay and Co. than Law, then I have my doubts.
I personally think the team needs a young linebacker. As Mike says, injuries at LB could kill this team's defense. We saw that last year without Bruschi and Ted Johnson. There are no young bodies seemingly on the verge of development. I know it's hard to get an immediate impact linebacker in the 20s (many believe 3-4 linebackers take a good two years to develop) but I also think you have to take most top talent near the top of the draft. That's why I think the team needs to add a top young linebacker, whichever one they believe best fits the New England system.
Andy Hart

Recently, people have been talking about how the Pats should get some veteran help at safety if Rodney [Harrison] doesn't come back 100% next year. Do you think there is a chance Belichick brings in former Texans safety Marcus Coleman considering the two have spent time in New York together?Matt

There's always a chance, haven't you seen Dumb and Dumber? I know that Coleman had some team/coaching related problems in Houston last year, but he's also been a very productive player and does have the Belichick connection from New York. He's played in 149 games in 10 seasons with career numbers that include 25 interceptions six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He had one of his best seasons in New York in 1999 under Belichick, with six interceptions and 69 tackles in 14 games. I'm not sure what the market will be for Coleman, and as a former cornerback he's been more of a free safety than a Harrison-type, but he certainly wouldn't hurt in terms of adding veteran depth to the roster if the price is right.
Andy Hart

Touching on the comments last week about the possibilities of Laveranues Coles coming to the Pats, what do you think about Brady's progress over the past few years? Consistently, Tom has throw 23+ touchdowns and had 12-14 INTs, which are numbers I'd take anytime, anywhere. Also since an initial "sub-par" year of 2843 yards in 2001, Tom has thrown for more than 3600 yards every year, breaking out this year for 4100+! Do you think that Josh McD[aniels] now officially the OC, the Pats will "really" start to become an air-based attack, a la Air-Coryell of the early 80's, or do you think that last year was just a blip in passing stats because the running game was not up to snuff.Ingo Kempfe

I don't think the Patriots under Belichick, regardless of offensive coordinator, will ever target any one area to focus on heading into a season or a game. The team philosophy is to take what the defense gives. That's all about matching your strengths with your opponent's weaknesses and vice versa. Brady has shown he can produce in just about any offensive environment, that's why he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league. But in a perfect world he'd lead a diverse, balanced offense with a 1,500-yard rusher and plenty of targets to get the ball to, not the pass-happy attack the team was forced into a year ago. How that plays out in 2006 and beyond, though, is still anyone's guess. And a lot of it hinges on the production the team gets from Corey Dillon and Co. in the backfield and what kinds of receivers Brady has to work with beyond Branch on the depth chart.
Andy Hart

I know the 2nd round of the draft is even harder to predict than the first, but if the Patriots don't select a RB in the first round, do you think they'd be willing to trade up to draft Joseph Addai? If they are, how high do you think they'd have to trade up to get him? I think he'd be a great complement to Dillon and definitely could be the feature back here eventually.Jay Corbeille

Addai intrigues me. Mike Mayock (Yes, he's the NFL Network draft guru I said didn't necessarily know what he was talking about in an earlier answer. Glad you are paying attention.) told me at the Combine that he believes that Addai is one of the top six running backs available and that there is a dramatic drop off in talent after those six players come off the board. Addai is a reasonably big back (5-11, 215) who had an impressive 4.4 40 at the Combine (and claims he's run 4.33 in the past) and has played both fullback and tailback, and even a little wide receiver. He is also considered by some to be the best pass blocking back in the draft. He's never really been "the guy" for very long in his career at LSU, but has a big upside in my opinion. His value has been on the rise since the Combine to the point where he might even sneak into the end of the first round. If not, any team interested will have to make a run at Addai early in the second. I think he would look good in a New England uniform, but he certainly won't be around for the team's second-round pick, No. 52 overall.
Andy Hart

I'm a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan and DeMeco Ryans would be perfect. He will not wow you with his 40 time or vertical jump but he has great football instincts just like Bruschi, Vrabel and McGinest. Another sleeper pick is Dwayne Slay from Texas Tech. People compare him to Rodney Harrison. He would be a great second-round selection. Do you agree with me about Demeco and Dwayne Slay?Richard Bacon

I am not going to pretend to know all there is about these prospects, especially since we haven't yet done our PFW prospect film sessions for 2006. But I do know that unofficial PFW draft guru Tom Casale is a fan of both players you mentioned. I am not in love with Ryans' size (neither is Tom) and I'm not sure he's a fit for New England's 3-4 system, but he certainly was a productive player at the college level. From what I've heard he's a late first or second-round pick, probably to the right 4-3 system. Slay is a guy whose stock is on the rise, after initially being considered a mid to later round prospect. He's a big free safety and punishing type hitter, which is where the Harrison comparison comes from. I just don't know if he has the speed to make the jump to the pros. And I'm a little hesitant to say he would be a good value in the second round. I think you can get him later than that.
Andy Hart

What are the chances that the Patriots sign Lawyer Milloy to help out at the safety position? As I recall he was released from the Patriots for salary purposes, not his performance. Have the Patriots and Milloy burned too many bridges for this to even be a possibility?
Steven Johnson

I've said it a million times, but there is always a chance. Is it likely? No. Milloy didn't leave on the beast terms, most of the damage coming in his comments after he found a new home in Buffalo. He's not the player he once was, but he can still add depth to some team's secondary. I just don't think that place is New England. But stranger things have happened.
Andy Hart

What do you think the chances are of the Patriots going after a guy like Mike Anderson. Is it even possible, or do you think Denver will re-sign him?
Billy Mondor

As has been the theme in this Ask PFW, anything is possible. Anderson is an interesting player on many levels. He's going to be 33 this summer, but got a late start on his NFL career because of time spent in the military. So he hasn't had the carries or the pounding of the normal 30-something running back. He's a big back, with two very good seasons in the NFL (2000 and 2005), but not much other than injury and reserve duty in between. Reports indicate that the Eagles have interest in Anderson as a power complement to Brian Westbrook, but it doesn't seem that too many see him as a lead back. I'm not sure it would benefit him or the Patriots to join forces at this point, although his 4.4-yard career average and 4.2 last season would certainly be an upgrade over Dillon's 2005 numbers.
Andy Hart

I was wondering if there is any difference, besides terminology, of having a player released, waived, or having his contract terminated? Do they have different impacts for a team or a player?
Mark C.

There is a bit of a difference in the technical aspects of those terms. If a player is released it generally means that he's a veteran player with at least four years of experience in the league and, unless it occurs during the season after the trading deadline, immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent (under current CBA rules). Any players released during the season after the trading deadline has to clear waivers, regardless of experience level. A player said to be waived is one who has yet to achieve four years of experience and upon being waived must go through the NFL waiver process. That means teams get a chance to claim the player starting with the team with the worst record on through the team with the best record. If a team claims the player it assumes his contract from his previous team. As far as I can tell, contract terminated is the same as being released. But I'm not completely sure on that one. I can tell you that all three mean, as a player, that you no longer have a job and shouldn't expect a paycheck that week. They are certainly not terms you want closely tied to your name – ever.
Andy Hart

Dear PFW: What have you heard regarding the Patriots adding one or more coaches to their staff? Presently, I believe the Patriots have fewer coaches on the defensive staff. I also saw a recent article from an Indianapolis paper indicating the Patriots had hired a high school or college coach out of Indiana. Can you please shed some light on whether the Patriots have or are planning to add any coaches to their staff? Thank you and keep up the great job.Scott Stevens
Minneapolis

The Indy Star did report the team's hiring of former Boston College player DuJuan Daniels to a position with the Patriots. Daniels had been working as the offensive coordinator at Cathedral High School in Indiana. The team has also added Josh Boyer, formally defensive coordinator at the South Dakota School of Mines, to the staff. Boyer also had previous experience at Bryant University and Kent State. It's also possible that the team could move around some of the young coaches on the current roster to mix in with these new bodies to fill out all the roles on both sides of the ball on the reworked staff.
Andy Hart

What do you think about Kamerion Wimbley (LB, FSU) for the Pats with the 21st pick? This is assuming Carpenter isn't there. Wimbley isn't a pure LB, but he could play OLB in a 3-4. His size and speed (4.6 at the combine) seem to fit. If McGinest isn't coming back, someone has to man the outside opposite Colvin. Even if he is coming back, it might make for a good two year combination with Willie getting the bulk of the play next year and mentoring the young guy, followed by a reversal of playing time roles the following year.Mike Mammay

I'm all for a drafting a young player to develop at linebacker, inside or out. Wimbley's stock has been on the rise and some even have him going ahead of Bobby Carpenter. He played end in college so there would likely be a transition period, but he certainly seems to have all the physical tools to have a chance at 3-4 OLB at the next level. If the team believes he's a good fit, who am I to argue. I just want any young, talented linebacker to watch develop. Just one. That's all I'm asking.
Andy Hart

For inter-conference games does the home team just rotate? The Pats played the Cowboys in Foxboro a few years ago so I was wondering if that means they'll definitely be playing in Dallas in 2007? Thanks and GO PATRIOTS.Jordan Zongol
The out of conference games do rotate and the Patriots will be playing in Dallas in 2007.
Andy Hart

Are there any rules/regulations regarding the signing of women into the NFL? (And no, this isn't Melissa Etheridge using a false online I.D.)
Mike
I don't believe there are any rules against signing women. That's all I'm going to say. I've been enough trouble for my last edition of Ask PFW. I am not touching this one any more than that.
Andy Hart

What's the feeling around the league about Lavar Arrington? Do you think he will command really big dollars in the FA market? I looked up his stats and had half expected more eye-popping numbers. He's had some agent/contract issues- are those legit or is he a head case? Would the Pats be a player for his services? At 28 years old (when the season starts) he seems to have some football left in him, but I also recall him stating that he could do without football and retire if his contract wasn't worked out. Your thoughts?Snibbets

I can tell you that Tom Casale is madly in love with Arrington and thinks he's coming to the Patriots. I on the other hand (and some other football types that I have talked to agree with me) don't think there is a chance in hell he comes to New England. He's an impressive athlete who like to freelance within a defense. That doesn't fly in Bill Belichick's system. He also has an injury history with knee problems and his desire to play the game and fit in within a team are in doubt. He makes plays, but not enough. He'll get money somewhere and make some plays, but he'll probably never live up to all the hype and some of the baggage that comes with him. In my eyes he's a little bit more flash than substance and not a Patriots kind of player.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, great offseason stuff as usual. I was just wondering if the Patriots would consider signing Ted Washington. He was just released by the Raiders and he has played in the system before. We need some depth at the position. Is Washington the guy or is the draft the place for that? He's not much of a player, but his size could really help. Just something to consider if he comes at the right price. If you get a chance check out tedwashington.com. its actually kind of funny.Chris A.
Stow, Mass.

I think Washington would be a good fit and I don't believe he burnt too many bridges when he left. And I disagree, I think he's a very good nose tackle and would be very valuable mixing in with Vince Wilfork at a spot where the Patriots have virtually no depth. I'm not sure what his value is on the open market right now, especially with so many teams going to the 3-4, but I would at least look into it if I were the Patriots. And I'm certainly not saying this because the guy is any great quote or easy to work with in the locker room. Quite the contrary, he didn't give the media the time of day. But give the man his due, he's an incredible athlete for his size and can flat out play on the nose. And the fact that he played in all 16 games over each of the last two seasons tells me the 14-year veteran has a little something left in the tank, especially for a backup role.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW, You guys do a great job for us Pats fans. I saw today that Isaac Bruce was released. What do you think about him playing opposite of Branch? Branch and Holt are very similar receivers, and we've seen what a team like that can do. I know he's getting old, and it would only be a temporary fix, but do you think it would hold up for a couple of years until we get some younger players? Also, what are the chances of the Pats playing in the black/white jerseys that are now for sale?
James P.

By very similar do mean that both Holt and Branch play football? No offense, but Branch hasn't come close to Holt's production. Holt has had six-straight seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,300 yards. I know it's a different offense, but that's not even comparable. Bruce is up there in years, but I think he has something left. And the Patriots certainly need to add some bodies at the position. But I think there will be other teams looking for veteran help at wideout (Romeo Crennel talked about targeting the spot at the Combine) and that will drive up his value on the open market. If Bruce wanted to come to New England on short years and short money, I'm sure Belichick would be interested. I just think he'll have better options and one of those might be to re-sign in St. Louis. He's going to be 34 and coming off an injury-limited season, but he's also only a year removed from an 89-catch, 1,292-yard 2004 season. And there is no chance of the Patriots playing in the black jersey. The team's alternate jersey is the silver one and league rules state that a team's alternate jersey must be in one of the team's colors. For the Patriots those are red, white, blue and silver. No black. Plus, in my opinion they are ugly.
Andy Hart

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