Jaguars RB Fred Taylor.
I was just wondering what you thought the chances of adding some big name free agents or small names. At cornerback I'd like to see Lito Sheppard, DeAngelo Hall or retaining Deltha O'Neal. I think any of them can come in and mentor the younger guys. Of course Nnamdi Asomugha would be great but is that realistic? I'd also like to see Bobby Engram get brought in. I think he do great as our No. 3 receiver. Just wondering how you guys felt about this.A.J. Sparico
I agree that cornerback should be an area of interest for the Patriots but I disagree with the guys you're interested in. Your last suggestion was particularly "interesting" with Deltha O'Neal. Did you watch him play this season? Aside from the very first game against Kansas City he was completely ineffective before eventually losing his starting job twice – once at Indy to Terrence Wheatley and again a few weeks later to Jonathan Wilhite. Both guys who replaced him are rookies so obviously Bill Belichick didn't share your enthusiasm for O'Neal's ability. Lito Sheppard barely saw the field in Philadelphia this past season after losing his job to Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. The Eagles had no use for him, reportedly due to his poor attitude and inability to perform as a team player. That's not exactly the type of guy I want around the Patriots young defensive backs, although he could probably be had for short money coming off such a poor season. Hall is a player the Patriots showed interest in last season but it looks like he'll be sticking in Washington. And you're right about Asomugha – that's unrealistic. Bobby Engram is a little long in the tooth at this point but he has been a quality possession receiver for a lot of years. I'd rather see the Patriots look for a young athletic guy who can stretch the field since they already have Wes Welker taking care of things underneath the coverage. Engram would just be another short-range target and I'm not sure the Patriots need that.
Now that the Ravens have released Chris McAlister, do you think it is likely the Pats will pick him up? He's got a few good years left in him and we need a shut down corner. I know he might be expensive but I think he's definitely worth it. What do you think?
This week's Do we have any interest in (fill in name of scrap heap player here) winner is Chris McAlister, followed closely by Fred Taylor (read on). Every week there are players released all over the NFL and each week Patriots fans salivate as if they've just received an extra first-round pick. Obviously some of the players – like McAlister and Taylor – would actually make some sense. In talking to someone close to the situation in Baltimore, McAlister had really worn out his welcome recently. His play had dropped and he was close to losing his job before he got hurt. From what the person told me, they couldn't wait to get rid of him. That doesn't mean McAlister wasn't a terrific corner because he was. I'm just not sure he's the same player and if attitude has become a problem then maybe the Pats should look elsewhere. But if he's willing to come in for reasonable bucks then I'd gladly take a shot.
Since Fred Taylor just got released, and I have read on here how a veteran back would be a plus for our team, do you think he would be a good fit for us? I think it'd be nice to see him provide a complementary running style to Laurence Maroney's.James Nolte
Part II of another man's trash is … well, you know the rest. Actually, of all the various players that get cut and subsequently draw the attention of Patriots Nation, Taylor may be the best fit. He's 33 years old and has been through a number of injuries, but Taylor is as professional as they come. He has more than 11,000 career yards and has always been a physical runner with speed to go with it. His style is actually similar to Maroney's but Taylor has been much more effective. I could see Belichick taking a flyer on a veteran back with a great resume and reputation to round out the backfield. With Sammy Morris, Maroney and Taylor handling the bulk of the ball carrying duties the Patriots ground game would be in good hands.
I have a question and an idea. If a player is selected to the Pro Bowl and is hurt and doesn't go, is he still considered a Pro Bowl player for that year? And how about picking up Jeff Garcia as insurance if we trade Matt Cassel. The guy knows how to win.Matt Rea
Yes and yes … or more specifically, yes and if Tom Brady isn't ready to go for the start of the season. If a player is selected to the Pro Bowl and doesn't go for any reason he is still considered a Pro Bowl player for that season. Garcia would be an interesting alternative if Cassel is traded and Brady suffers a setback. He's a veteran with a proven track record and at his age he might not be against signing a one-year deal, which is all the Patriots would need. It's a highly unlikely scenario since Brady will likely be ready for the start of the season and Garcia wouldn't want to be a backup, but it is worth considering.
Do you think that Julius Peppers would be a good fit for the Pats in the 3-4 defense with him and Mike Vrabel blitzing off the outside?
I think Peppers would be a perfect fit in Belichick's 3-4 scheme, but not everybody agrees with my assessment. He's a little bigger than most of the team's outside linebackers at 6-7, 283 and would probably have to shed a few pounds. Adalius Thomas is 6-2, 270 while Vrabel is 6-4, 261. Peppers is ridiculously athletic and has the speed and agility to play the position. The only question I'd have is could he handle the various pass coverage responsibilities necessary to play the position? I know that I'd like to see Belichick get the chance to work with such a gifted player. I could see Peppers taking more of a pass rusher role and having a lot of success working in the Patriots system.
I think the Pats should cut Sammy Morris. Since they have Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Faulk has speed Green-Ellis has power and Maroney should have a good season if healthy. Like to know what you think.John Pearson
I think with the exception of Faulk, Morris is the last guy you mentioned that I would cut. He's a far more powerful runner than Green-Ellis and has been more productive than Maroney in his two seasons in New England when healthy. Morris has been a solid between the tackles back – nothing fancy but a steady contributor. There's no guarantee that this is the season that Maroney will finally stay healthy and put it all together, and Green-Ellis did a nice job filling in last year but he's not as accomplished a player as Morris. I'd hold onto to him for sure.
What's your opinion on Dan Morgan? I know he's had his share of injuries and coming out retirement, but I think it'd be worth a one-year deal with a contract that is full of incentives instead of guaranteed money. I'm not saying he would be a Pro Bowler or a savior to the defense, but as a situational guy. Someone who can fill in on running downs and just give the linebacker corps some depth. I like him in the role that Junior Seau had played for the Pats.Eric Ludwig
I like Dan Morgan as a player a lot. He's a tough run-stopper on the inside and is more athletic than he's given credit for. But there are several factors working against him, not the least of which is health. He's endured several concussions and that's what led to his leaving Carolina in the first place. There were some questions over his being allowed to play in the first place. He went to New Orleans and eventually retired last year without playing. Now he wants to come back but the Saints still own his rights. On top of all of that, he's really been a middle linebacker in a 4-3 alignment and I'm not sure he'd be a good fit in a 3-4.
Is the Cassel roar deafening us to other ripe trade opportunities on the team? I'm looking at you, Mssrs. Light and Hobbs. Especially Hobbs, who may only ever be an adequate No. 2, but who brings enough value as a returner to perhaps reel in something sweet--say, a pick and a different adequate corner. NE seems wiser about corners than many, as it regards great corners as great, but good corners as no different than OK corners. Thanks for your time.J. Szarabajka
Wow, there's a lot of stuff to disagree with here. You think Ellis Hobbs is nothing more than "an adequate No. 2" but because he's a solid returner you believe he could garner a better corner and a draft pick via trade. You must have felt that Asante Samuel could have gotten Denver's entire draft plus Champ Bailey if the Patriots had traded him. I'm also not sure where your opinion of the Patriots cornerback evaluations come from. Let me toss a few names at you and tell me what you think: Duane Starks, Eric Warfield, Tory James, Deltha O'Neal, Fernando Bryant, Jason Webster and Lewis Sanders. All of those guys were brought aboard as potential corners to replace starters like Ty Law and Samuel. Most of them didn't even make the team coming out of camp, and then ones that did were disasters for the most part. Law and Samuel were great corners but were still allowed to walk away while mediocre ones took their spots.
And why do you want to trade Matt Light? He's been a solid left tackle for many years and is one of the team's real leaders. I'm not really sure what you're looking for here.
Andy Hart indicated that Cassel is a top 20 quarterback; that seems conservative to me. Whoever is answering PFW this week please list for me 11 other quarterbacks that you would rate higher than him (if you list Favre-your fired).A. Snibbetts
I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what the insult was toward Cassel in referring to him as a top 20 quarterback. We all agree he's worthy of being considered an NFL starter, so what difference does it make where he lands in the league's hierarchy? But since you asked me to specifically list quarterbacks I feel are better, then I'll take a shot. This is certainly quite unscientific and based on nothing other than my opinion, but here goes. (I also considered players' careers and not necessarily last season): Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler, Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan. If I were Houston, Baltimore or Green Bay, I'd also stick with Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers rather than trading for Cassel. All together, that's 16 quarterbacks I'd say are either better or on equal footing with Cassel, and that doesn't include guys like David Garrard, Kerry Collins, Jason Campbell and Derek Anderson who have enjoyed short periods of success but haven't sustained it from year to year, which we'll find out if Cassel is able to do in the future. I'm sure some of the names I included would be scoffed at – which is fine. But I think the point here is that it's not a laughable statement to consider Cassel one of the top 20 quarterbacks. He might deserve to be in the top 15, but not likely any higher than that. Another season like last year would likely move him up into the top 10, however.
Looking at all the facts I can only see two quality trade partners - Minnesota and Detroit. I just don't see KC giving up high draft picks – it's not the Patriots way and not the Scott Pioli way. My best guess is that they both would give up this years first and next years second - plus maybe a late rounder. What are your thoughts on legitimate trade partners and scenarios?
I definitely see Minnesota and Detroit as potential partners, along with Kansas City, Tampa Bay and maybe even Carolina. I've seen a lot of people predict that Pioli won't be involved because, as you put it, it's not the Patriots/Pioli's way. I really don't understand this. What exactly is the Patriots way? What I've experienced over the nine years of the Belichick era is pretty simple: he not opposed to doing anything that he feels would helps his football team. If that means giving up the No. 3 overall pick to acquire a quarterback he feels can be the cornerstone of his franchise, then my guess is that Belichick or Pioli would it. People often use the term "Belichick would never do that" and for the life of me I can't figure out why. He's shown us time and again that there's nothing he wouldn't do – and my guess is Pioli will bring that same philosophy to Kansas City. He might not be in the Cassel sweepstakes for a variety of reasons. He might not think Cassel's good enough, he might think he's better off with Tyler Thigpen or he even might believe he can get a quarterback in the draft somewhere that's better than both. I have no idea how Pioli feels about Cassel, but he won't pass on a potential Cassel trade because he doesn't "believe in" dealing a high draft pick to obtain a quarterback.
From what I hear, the most likely landing spots for Cassel (assuming he's traded) are Detroit, KC and Minnesota. Do you think the Jets have enough at QB? Do you think they might be interested in Cassel? Do you think BB would be willing to trade Cassel to the Jets?Eric Theall
Here's another one of those things that "Belichick would never" do that seem to have everyone in agreement – "no way Belichick trades Cassel to the Jets." Again I say, hasn't anyone been paying attention? I don't think the Jets would be Belichick's preferred partner for obvious reasons. But if New York offers the best compensation package then I have little doubt that Belichick would deal him to the Jets. It's really all about simple business, and Belichick definitely adheres to the Michael Corleone philosophy that business is not personal and he wouldn't let his feelings get in the way of what felt was best for the Patriots. And to specifically answer your question, I have no idea what the Jets feel about Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff, the two current Jets quarterbacks that would be asked to replace Brett Favre. I just haven't seen enough of either of them to know if they'd be able to step in and do what Cassel did in New England.
Read Part II| *Ask the writers a question*