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Ask PFW: Calming the masses after Darrelle Revis departure

The Patriots took a hit in free agency and the fans are a bit unsettled as we tackle this week's mailbag.

Now that Big Vince has gone to Houston, have the coaching staff taken a look at Jets NT Damon Harrison? Big guy, still young and whilst definitely not a pass rusher he has the ability to stop the run, which is what Wilfork takes with him. With that the Patriots can look to draft a cornerback in the first round and an interior offensive lineman in the second. Or vice versa.

Joshua MacMinn*

I actually like Harrison a lot and that's exactly the type of signing I'd like to see the Patriots make. The problem is he is a restricted free agent and the Jets tendered him at a second-round level, which might be a bit too rich for my liking. I'd rather just take a defensive tackle in the second round and pay a lot less money with the idea of shoring up the void left by Wilfork. Of course one could argue that Harrison is more proven than a rookie might be so the added money spent would be worth it, but I'd rather go the draft route.
Paul Perillo

Who plays corner for the Patriots in 2015? The team just released both starting cornerbacks, and the options on the roster are a bunch of No. 3 corners. Moreover, there are not great options left on the FA market. Are we back to the days of a constantly rotating cast of corners that are marginally effective but not good enough to compete against top-tier passing offenses? Can the cast around Tom Brady win games despite a horrendous pass defense, which was a team-building strategy the team seemed to follow from 2009-2013?

Eric Curry*

As of right now it would appear some combination of Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler and Alfonso Dennard would be the starting cornerbacks. If this remains true come September I would agree with you that this group is not good enough to deal with the better passing games in the league. But it's not September and there's plenty of time to improve. I'd expect a veteran CB or two to come in, and I'd also expect to see a draft pick used on a cover man as well. Then let the competition begin in training camp and let's assess things at that point. I agree this is not ideal and this kind of approach was often scary during the timeframe that you mentioned. But the Patriots also managed to win a lot of games during that time so perhaps all is not lost just yet.
Paul Perillo

Ok so this may sound a little crazy, but could we actually be in the running for AP [Adrian Peterson]? I recently heard he is willing to restructure his deal to make it cap friendly so he can be traded. If he does, is it possible that we could trade LeGarrette Blount, and a fifth-rounder for AP and a seventh-round draft pick? I know we have a decent amount of cap space, and what better way to reward Brady than to give him a real running back for the end of his career?

Kraemer Soto*

I understand that Peterson isn't in a position of power at the moment given all the turmoil surrounding him but I don't see Blount and a seventh being able to get it done. I also don't see him trimming his contract to the point where the Patriots would want to acquire it. The Cardinals have already said they're not interested in Peterson under that contract. If Peterson ultimately winds up getting released then I believe there would be a possibility, a slight one, that New England could be interested. Personally I have no interest in bringing that circus to town, especially for a running back. Yes he is incredibly talented but that's a position that the Patriots have proven you don't need to have the best talent at to succeed. My guess is Peterson will remain in Minnesota.
Paul Perillo

The last time my question was taken right after the Super Bowl, we had a much more loaded roster. Unlike most I'm not that upset, I'm happy we won when we did because the timing was the best chance it seemed. That said, I remember awhile back the Pats won a Super Bowl, then didn't, then won two in a row. I would love to win this year and don't see it as impossible, what with all the players we could potentially get in this draft and FA still in progress. I also think everyone freaking out about the Revis thing is forgetting that we got him for one year without breaking the team's budget. Now we are set to potentially keep guys like Jamie Collins from leaving in the future. The team still has a lot of young talent. So with the Patriots seeming to approach the future without handicapping future rosters, my question is where do you think the Pats could/should look to develop future young talent like Shane Vereen, Collins and the like, who can contribute down the road.

Kyle Jeffreys*

While I believe there is still plenty of the time for the Patriots to add to the roster, I can't say I'm anywhere near as optimistic about the current state of affairs as you. Losing quality players in free agency is a fact of life in the NFL. I'm disappointed the Patriots weren't able to retain Revis but I understand that's what generally happens in the league. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it, nor does it mean that retaining him would have damaged the team's budget. He left and it's over but I don't agree with the notion that had Revis re-signed that meant losing young players like Collins. And if that is what it would mean then I'd rather have Revis. Also, Vereen also left via free agency so there was no need to save money in order to further his development. Like I said, I understand that quality players who reach free agency often leave, and the Patriots will add to this roster in the coming weeks and months through signings and the draft. But right now this team is not as good as the one that won the Super Bowl, and there's a lot of work left to be done.
Paul Perillo

With the likes of Wilfork, Vereen, Revis, Browner all gone, I guess we are going to see a different team this upcoming season, especially on defense. Revis will not be replaced so the philosophy on defense will change, but I am excited for the offense as there are a lot of returning players especially receivers, and hopefully Brain Tyms and Aaron Dobson will be able to make a breakthrough. My question is do you think the team will get Dan Connolly re-signed and will James White be able to step into Vereen's role?

Mike Jewis*

Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada*

I think there's a chance that Connolly will be re-signed since we haven't heard much about other teams talking to him at this point, although Seattle reportedly has expressed some interest. The Patriots should be able to get something done with him for reasonable money, although as a 10-year veteran that still might be more than the team is willing to pay. As for White, it's way too early to tell. He did virtually nothing as a rookie and was one of the inactives almost every week. There were times on the practice field when I felt he had some potential, but that didn't show in the preseason games nor on the rare occasions when he got to play during the regular season. Projecting White into Vereen's role is a stretch at this point, and that's likely why the Patriots have expressed interest in the like of Reggie Bush. I'd expect to see a veteran signed at some point and if White (or veteran Dion Lewis, who was signed to a futures contract) pans out in training camp the Patriots will have some options to replace Vereen. That's a big if, however.
Paul Perillo

Since the Patriots failed to re-sign Revis I normally would have expected the consolation prize of a good compensatory draft pick to help soften the blow. But since the Patriots did not pick up the option on Revis wasn't that in effect releasing the CB outright? And therefore the Pats will not be entitled to a compensatory draft in 2016?

Dennis Hanson*

You would think that would be the case but the NFL doesn't look at it that way. For some reason they view option bonuses that aren't picked up differently than simply releasing a player, and therefore the Patriots will be entitled to a compensatory draft pick in 2016 for Revis. That pick will likely be in the third round, which is the highest round for a compensatory pick.
Paul Perillo

With Matt Patricia doing such a great job this season, do you see any college team going for him next season? If yes, any chance of Kirby Smart to come at least as defensive assistant as insurance? Or who is the next man up?

Gregorio Pampaloni*

I haven't heard of any outside interest in Patricia since he's been the defensive coordinator. It's always possible that a team can come in at some point in the future but I'd be surprised if he was looking to get into the college game. Most of Patricia's coaching career has been at the NFL level, and the little college experience he's had was mostly as a graduate assistant. I'd expect Patricia to remain in New England as long as Bill Belichick is the head coach. Conversely, Smart has been almost exclusively a college coach. Other than 2006 with Nick Saban in Miami, he's been a college guy for the rest of his career. I'd expect Patricia to remain the defensive coordinator for the foreseeable future.
Paul Perillo

OK, we have lost both Revis and Browner and now have $19 million in cap space with a second-rate defensive secondary. Do you think we could spend some money on LEGITIMATE pass rushers so this inferior secondary does not get picked apart? As we have not been burning any cash yet, who are your candidates left from free agency and the upcoming draft that could fill this desperate need?

Larry Breault*

I don't see any premier pass rushers available on the free agent market, and those that are available in the draft generally get scooped up in the top half of the first round. That doesn't mean the Patriots won't be able to find some help for their pass rush, however. They already signed Jabaal Sheard, who should add some depth behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. And there will be some talented players available in the second and third rounds as well, giving the Patriots an opportunity to bolster that area. But I don't believe beefing up the pass rush will make up for the deficiencies in the secondary. Belichick will need to add some pieces at cornerback if things are going to improve from their current state because it's difficult to assume the pass rush can cover up for the back end if they can't cover themselves.
Paul Perillo

Can all the media types in NE including yourselves please, please, please stop telling us what a big loss Revis is? We sound like we have never won anything and he was our only hope and now he's gone. Revis never won anything prior to last year, he needed us. We were one play away from losing or winning all six of the latest Super Bowls. Would I like to have Revis? Sure! But please stop the insanity in thinking this team won the Super Bowl finally because of this one player. This team has been there with a great secondary and a horrible secondary. If we lost the Ravens game we would have run Revis out of town after his awful game of letting up a touchdown and crucial penalties. This is not Tom Brady or BB leaving so just stop.

Tommy Raymond*

No disrespect intended but this sounds like a jilted lover who's girlfriend left and now wasn't all that good-looking in the first place. Revis was tremendous for the Patriots and while it's impossible to gauge accurately I believe he was the difference between winning it all and coming close. I'd question anyone who would have wanted to run him out of town after allowing Steve Smith to catch three passes against Baltimore. If that qualifies as an awful game then he must have been real good in all the others. And I'd also question when the Patriots won it all with a horrible secondary. That's simply not true. So while I agree that all is not lost because Revis left, it's also untrue that there's nothing to worry about. The Patriots have some work to do, and the biggest reason for that is the loss of Revis.
Paul Perillo

How do you know that Vereen's comments on "step up" were "unintentional?"


That comment wasn't unintentional but he was referring to his contract, not the team. I know this because he said it. Unless you think he was lying about being grateful of the Patriots organization and winning a Super Bowl. I believed what he said.
Paul Perillo

What could/might the Pats gain from suing the Jets owner for Revis tampering?

James Siegel*

In the recent past teams found guilty of tampering have been forced to forfeit draft picks and swap places with the affected team as well. In others words, it's possible the Jets could lose a late-round pick while also being forced to switch spots with the Patriots in say, the fourth or fifth round. We'll have to wait to see what the NFL decides.

Paul Perillo

Yes I know Revis is on everyone's mind, but am I the only one who thinks they lost out big time with Vereen? The kid finally had his coming out last year. Played in all 16 games, a high character guy and let's face it, it's debatable whether we will the Super Bowl without his 11 grabs, many at keys times. He is in the mold of Kevin Faulk (we know what he accomplished). It only took $4 million a year to get it done with the Giants. We just paid Sheard $5.5. Do you think we will regret letting him go or do you agree he was not worth the contract the Giants gave him? I for one was sorry to see him go and feel the offense will really miss him.

Steve Lawloe*

First I don't think Vereen was anywhere near the difference between winning and losing the Super Bowl. He enjoyed a fine game with his 11 catches but I feel the big plays were made by others. But that's certainly debatable, as is Vereen's contract. I feel $4 million for a pass-catching back is too much. He's a part-time player being paid like a full-timer and I think the Patriots were right to let him go. They will need to fill his role but that hasn't been a problem going all the way back to J.R. Redmond, Faulk, Danny Woodhead and now someone new. Perhaps James White can fill the void, or a veteran like Pierre Thomas could factor in. But I have no problem letting Vereen walk, as much as I enjoyed watching him play and agree with your assessment that he is a high-character guy.
Paul Perillo

Could Keenan Lewis be the man to replace Revis? He would be a good option, if he really is disgruntled. He's better (at least immediately) than any FA or draft option and the price tag for this year is doable.

Brad Goodman*

The problem isn't necessarily the contract for the Patriots. He's only due $1.8 million in base salary in 2015. But the Saints would have to absorb a $6.9 million cap hit to trade him. If that's going to happen my guess is they're going to want something significant in return. If you're willing to part with something the Saints would want, then I would wholeheartedly agree that Lewis would be about the best we could hope for at this stage. And we all know that Belichick and Sean Payton are not afraid to make trades so perhaps this one isn't as far-fetched as so many of our other trade proposals.
Paul Perillo

I know a lot of people throw out weird trades but let me know what you think of this one. A trade for Jason McCourty. New England gives their first and two fourth-rounders for McCourty and the Titans third-rounder. Putting the McCourty brothers together on decent contracts would seem to fix the secondary for the next few years.

Jason Moseley*

Usually our fantasy trades are fantasy because they assumed the other team is willing to allow the Patriots to fleece them. This one is asking way too much of the Patriots. A first and two fourths for Jason McCourty and a third? That's way too much. Both McCourtys are solid players but not worth that kind of draft capital. And both have pretty healthy contracts after signing extensions. I like the idea of getting Jason McCourty to pair with his brother but not at that price. And by the looks of things in Tennessee the Titans are making moves in an effort to improve. I'm not sure they'd be willing to rip it all apart at this point.
Paul Perillo


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