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Ask PFW: Big moves during camp

This week's mailbag begins with questions about New England's big training camp moves thus far.

Hey PFW, was wondering what you guys think of the two DEs signed by New England today and if there is anything to worry about [Albert] Haynesworth missing the last two days of training camp. Was also wondering during last [weekend's] Hall of Fame inductions who you guys think will be the next former Patriot to get inducted into Canton. Thanks.
Ron Hansen

Sure seems like the Patriots are attempting to acquire every former first-round defensive lineman from the past decade. Last year it was Gerard Warren, this year it's Haynesworth and now Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter. When Haynesworth arrived, I wrote on the PFW blog that I thought this heralded a switch to the 4-3. I'm convinced of it now more than ever. Getting depth and versatility of this kind can only mean that Bill Belichick is trying to fit his system to the players he has. Since he can't get the prototypical outside linebacker he so covets in his desired 3-4, he's stocking up on defensive linemen who are better suited for a 4-3, with the ability to revert to 3-4 schemes when necessary.

Both Carter and Ellis are in their 30s, but have had productive recent seasons. They're different styles of player, however. Carter is more of an OLB/DE, while Ellis is a more of a DE/DT option. Both have been durable throughout their careers as well, which New England needs at that position after a disastrous December last season saw nearly every player miss some time with injuries.

Speaking of which, I'm a bit concerned about Haynesworth's absence. At this early stage in camp, veterans – especially those with conditioning and health concerns (in his case, his knees) – often are handled with kid gloves as a precaution. It could just be a routine maintenance issue at this point, but we just don't know.

As for your second question, I'll go with Adam Vinatieri.
Erik Scalavino

Hey, thanks for the work you do. I wanted to know your opinion on the possibility of the Pats trading for Osi Umenyiora. I heard that the Giants want a first-rounder for him, but would they do a player plus pick package for him? With the injury to Prince Amukamara, the Giants require depth at corner, and the Pats have depth, and could probably give up someone like Leigh Bodden or Darius Butler or Kyle Arrington. I know Ras-I Dowling and Devin McCourty are the future, would it be worth trading one to bolster our pass rush?
Ian B.

I'll start from the bottom of your question and work my way up. McCourty isn't the future, he's the present. And Dowling is currently on the shelf, so we really don't know what he brings to the table yet. Also, while there's depth at corner in terms of numbers, I'm not completely comfortable with the overall talent there to feel secure about letting go of Bodden, who was a solid starter in '09. I'm curious to see how he and McCourty work together this year, with Arrington and Butler mixing in at slot corner. The Giants obviously want something of value for Umenyiora, and if they lowered their first-round demand, they'd likely want a starting caliber player in addition to a lower-round pick. That means Bodden would likely be the asking price.

I might do it because a player of Umenyiora's talent would be too tempting to turn down, but I would do so holding my breath that no injury misfortune befalls the secondary.  
Erik Scalavino

Over here in England, one of the biggest soccer clubs in the country today issued all of their players with legal documents barring them from criticizing the club or from discussing any team matters on social networking sites. These were to be signed and returned by every player at the club because of two incidents in recent weeks where players questioned the club's policy on buying players via Twitter. I thought that this was an interesting first step at limiting players' use of Twitter in the UK and maybe something which could be effective for "troubled" players in football. While clearly the rules should be either unspoken or covered elsewhere in players' current contracts, the issuance of such a firm, legal agreement to players could be a useful tool for teams to rein in their stars. For the Patriots, the issue so far has been very limited, but with [Chad] Ochocinco coming in with a reputation for social media addiction, do you think that such a step would be too extreme for the Patriots to take (maybe after a first offense)?
Peter Hyams

Yes, I do. Players on this team know better than to question authority publicly. Whatever rules and edicts Bill Belichick has in place in this regard, they seem to work very effectively. Even Ochocinco appeared to buy in right away, based on the tone of his introductory media appearance as a Patriot.

This issue reminds me, though, of an incident a couple years back, involving an employee of the Philadelphia Eagles, if memory serves. Not a player, but an administrative or contract employee, who posted a disparaging comment about the team on his Facebook page and was subsequently let go. People should be very careful these days with what they say and do with social media, but when you start legislating or dictating what we can and can't say, the firm ground on which your intentions are based suddenly becomes a slippery slope.
Erik Scalavino

Is Jerod Mayo going to be one of those players that we let get away when he asks for a big payday, or is he integral to the team in a Vince Wilfork/Tom Brady way that will actually lead to a new contract? And do you think next offseason is the time to get him resigned? Thanks for all your input!
Kelsey Lindholm

Mayo's current contract runs through the 2012 season, and if history is any guide, the Patriots will wait until it gets close to the end, or later, before they address the issue. Mayo has clearly become one of the central figures on the roster, as a co-captain, defensive signal caller, and now Pro Bowler. So were Brady and Wilfork, and even they had to wait till their contracts were at or very near the end before they worked out new deals.

A lot can happen between now and when Mayo's contract expires, and those unforeseen forces will undoubtedly have an impact on what the team decides to do with him. My guess right now is that they'll eventually extend Mayo one way or the other. I don't see him going anywhere.  
Erik Scalavino

I feel kind of dopey asking this as I'm sure you've covered it, but I can't seem to find info on why Ty Warren was let go. I saw one quick reference to some kind of conflict between him and BB, but nothing very informative. I thought Ty was great at the end spot. I also don't recall seeing him picked up elsewhere. Was his injury something from which he is not expected to recover? What am I missing?
Randy Paine

No need to apologize, Randy. Glad to help if we can. I'll try to give you both sides of the story, as we know it. First, Bill Belichick's side. The day after Warren was released, the head coach said only that his decision to let go of Warren, Nick Kaczur, and the other veterans who were let go en masse at the start of camp was a "tough one."

"[They] gave us a lot of good football here," Belichick added, "have been players for a long time, really since their rookie year. It's just tough to have to move on in those situations."

Warren has been injured the last couple of seasons, missing all of last year, as you may recall, and, at the same time, chose to pursue his college studies in his home state of Texas during the offseason to complete his degree requirements.

A couple of days later, Belichick was asked about any perceived or reported ill will between him and Warren (based on the aforementioned circumstances) and his response was equally brief. "I gave my feelings on Ty when we released him," Bill said. "I think I spoke my feelings at that point, so really nothing has changed in the last three days since I said that."

Warren, meantime, told local reporters that he was informed that the Patriots were "moving in a different direction," which many observers believed was a change in defensive alignment to more of a 4-3. The thought being that Warren's skills, while better for a 3-4 scheme, are not necessarily what the Patriots want today.

Sound cryptic? Well, of course. What else would you expect? That's often the way information is disseminated around here. But hopefully, by reading between the lines, you now have a better understanding of why Warren is no longer here. He's no longer unemployed, though. The Denver Broncos picked him up shortly after his release from New England.
Erik Scalavino

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