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Ask PFW: Contract issues abound

A very quiet edition of "Ask PFW" this week with not many questions to ponder. Contract issues for Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are among the topics we take on in the mailbag.

If one of you guys were willing to venture a guess as to Tom's contract when it gets done what would you think it would be? Tom has been willing to "take one for the team" so to speak in the past. But given the fact that he has a family, has now suffered a very serious injury and all that it takes to overcome that, is a lock for the Hall of Fame, has 3 rings, ect. ... Will this be his last big contract before he retires, and if so will the Pats reward him for all he has given to this franchise and make him the highest paid QB in football? If so how many years do you see the contract being for?
Francis Brown

While this is an excellent question, it's almost impossible to answer accurately. I think you make some really good points about Brady's situation and what he would likely expect. He is likely in the situation where this will be his final "big" contract in terms of money and a long-term deal. He also recognizes the fact that he is the most accomplished quarterback in the game in terms of Super Bowl wins and he now has a league MVP award (2007) under his belt as well. He very well could be looking to become the highest paid player in the league based on those facts. I'd say he'd take a five-year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million with about $30 million coming up front in some form of signing bonus. It's possible that the bonus money could be tiered and paid over a couple of installments, as was the case for his last contract. But I think Brady realizes that Peyton Manning is going to get a huge deal from the Colts and he'll be looking for something in the same area if not more. It will be real interesting watching this one play out over the next several months as he nears free agency.
Paul Perillo

*I heard on a sports show that when the Super Bowl was first conceived there were a number of rules that had to be met before a city could host the Super Bowl. One of those rules was the climate had to be above 48 degrees in the winter unless it had a domed stadium. Is this true and if so how did New York get the Super Bowl?
Harvey Terbin*

You heard correctly with regard to the qualifications the NFL uses to award Super Bowls. Those rules have been modified in order to make an exception for the 2014 Super Bowl at the new Meadowlands in New Jersey. It will be the first outdoor Super Bowl played in a climate that doesn't reach the qualifications previously set. The league wanted to reward New York/New Jersey for their response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and they also liked the idea of having their feature event take place in the largest market in the United States, which translates to a whole lot of dollars. As of now the cold weather idea appears to be a one-time thing but you can bet if the game goes off without incident that more northern cities will line up for their turn in the coming years.
Paul Perillo

I appreciated reading the Len Pasquarelli article on the resurgence of fullbacks to which you guys linked in the 6/2 Patriots News Blitz. It triggered some questions in my mind. It might be looking too far ahead for you to make accurate prognostications, but here goes. Since the contract situations in our backfield make it look like next year will see a big shakeup in our running game, what do you think are the chances that we go from five backs to these three: a primary ball-carrier, a fullback and a utility guy? (Faulk's my man, so I have to hope for a roster spot for him somehow.) Do you think that Bill Belichick's comments after the draft on how he thinks teams are moving in the direction of down-your-throat offensive style might indicate that his own offensive philosophy is moving that direction, as well? (Feel free to snip here, if you don't think what follows is worthy of commentary.) I wouldn't think we'd go from no fullback at all to using a roster spot on a traditional blocking-only fullback. If that's so, would Peyton Hillis be a good fit for us? He has GREAT hands (and not just for a fullback), blocks well, runs hard and can even break runs open for big gains. (Not many fullbacks are given punt return duties.) He strikes me as a guy who would get more attention if it weren't for the de-emphasis on his position. I don't know the length of his rookie contract (do you?), but it's conceivable that he'll be a free agent of some sort next year. Do you perceive any kind of good fit with the Patriots?
Philip Antin

Andy's not answering the questions this week so there will be no snipping here. In fact, we also read that piece about the fullback and like you immediately thought back to Belichick's post-draft comments. I didn't necessarily share the coach's beliefs in this regard (feel free to roll your eyes as you ponder where in the world Perillo gets off contradicting Belichick). He mentioned the power running games so many teams feature and I really don't see it. The Jets obviously are and they added Santonio Holmes. The Dolphins added Brandon Marshall. If anything those two teams could be expected to throw more often than they did last year. Baltimore and Cincinnati would qualify as well, and both added more weapons to their passing games in the offseason with Anquan Boldin and Antonio Bryant. Maybe the fullback will begin to make the resurgence that Pasquarelli claimed it would and Belichick certainly sounded like a guy who expects that, but the tangible evidence would suggest otherwise at this point.

As for Peyton Hillis, I agree with your assessment of the player. He's more of a Heath Evans/La'Ron McClain type tweener. Running backs in fullbacks' bodies. Hillis is fast and does possess great hands. But he's not an overly imposing blocker and isn't good enough to be a team's lead back. I like his skill set and wouldn't mind the Patriots picking him up, but if that happened I wouldn't expect a drastic change in offensive approach due to his presence. Hillis is entering the third year of his four-year rookie deal after getting traded from Denver to Cleveland this offseason. He'll be a free agent in 2012.
Paul Perillo

I've only been listening to the show and reading the blogs a few months now, but I must say I enjoy 98.9 percent of them. Keep it up. What I want to know (hopefully this is brought up on "PFW in Progress" and everyone chimes in) is which game left you the emptiest and most bitter? Was it the 2007 Super Bowl we lost? Or was it the 2009 Indy game we lost on the fourth-and-two call? I think I felt the Super Bowl lost more deeply, but maybe experiencing such a lost already helped me cope with the Indy lost.
Ramon Brown

Thanks for the kind words and we'll keep working toward winning you over for that last 1.1 percent of the time. Both of those games were tough to take but for me there was no comparison on which was tougher. The loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII was devastating in so many ways. The way the game was lost in the final seconds with such a fluke catch by Tyree, ruining a perfect 19-0 season, costing the Patriots a fourth title … just so many gut-wrenching elements to it. Selfishly I was looking forward to being part of those ESPN Classic and NFL Network specials documenting the run to perfection. As always … it's all about me!!
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, love reading you each week, it keeps me pumped for the upcoming season. My question was about the draft in 2012. If there is a lockout for the 2011 season (I sure hope not) would the draft order be the same for the 2012 draft as it would be for 2011? Would there be a larger roster allowed with double the rookies? I'd hate to be the guy responsible for cutting a player picked in the fourth round because there are not enough spots come opening day. What did they do after the 1987 strike?
Alexander Christopher

Although there have been strikes and work stoppages before, there has never been a case when the draft was affected. In 1982 and 1987 the strikes took place during the season and either cancelled games or resulted in games played with replacement players. The 2011 draft will take place next April regardless of the labor situation. If there's a lockout, the draft will go on. If the season is cancelled due to the work stoppage, things could get tricky moving forward in 2012. The 2011 draft will take place because that's what's dictated in the current, and soon to be expiring, CBA. The CBA does not include a 2012 draft. The next CBA would dictate the status of those players eligible to enter the league in the 2012 league year as well as the status of those players selected in the 2011 draft. So if there is no CBA in place by the time the 2012 draft rolls around, there would likely be no draft unless the league decides to make some sort of amendment. Unless or until that happens, it's unclear how that would be handled.
Paul Perillo

Now that O.J Atogwe is a free agent, and perhaps on the latter part of his career, do you think the Patriots should make a move to get him? Even on a pitiful Rams defense over the past few years this guy has been able to make some plays and stand out in the game highlights. He could bring some serious depth to our safety position, or if B.B wants, be very useful in some subpackages. I think the most this guy is worth is a second-round pick, which I think is a Patriot-friendly price. Your thoughts? It is a step up from Patrick Chung and Brandon McGowan right?
David Guerra

I'll start with the last part first – Absolutely, unequivocally yes Atogwe would represent an improvement over Chung and McGowan in my mind. But that's not the whole story. Atogwe is a free agent so it wouldn't cost the Patriots anything but money to sign him. But he's looking for a long-term deal and was due almost $7 million this season before the Rams decided not to offer him that tender. He'll be 29 when the 2010 season starts so he's not too old at this point, but he may be too expensive given the Patriots situation at safety, which includes Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Chung and McGowan. That's not a bad group even though Atogwe would improve it. Several reports indicate the Rams are about the re-sign him, but even if they don't I'd expect another team to offer more for him than the Patriots would be willing to.
Paul Perillo

Why no word of Tyrone McKenzie at the OTAs? Just last week he said he was going to make an impression but didn't get one mention. Was he even there?
Marques Pitre

There are 80 or so players out on the practice fields for OTAs and we don't get a chance to comment on all of them. McKenzie was there and like the rest of his teammates was not in pads, therefore did not get any opportunities to "make an impression by bringing the heat" like he said he would earlier. We just ran a story about him in the latest edition of Patriots Football Weekly, which should be available on newsstands today. I'm sure we'll be catching up with McKenzie once again when training camp gets rolling.
Paul Perillo

As you may have already read, there are reporters claiming that Tom Brady and the Patriots aren't as close as they were. Why haven't they locked him up already? The Patriots seem to be worried about Brady's priorities, according to these reports. This is very disheartening to all Patriots fans, because despite Brady spending less time here in Foxborough, his play level has been consistent with all other years except 2007 (special). You can't blame last year's shortcomings on Brady. He was easily the best player on the team. This talk about waiting for a new CBA is pointless, in my opinion. There shouldn't be a moment's hesitation to lock up the best QB in the league. Tom Brady is irreplaceable. Brady, Moss and Mankins deserve new contracts with the team. Winning comes first. And if the new CBA dictates a smaller salary cap, dump the scrubs.
Andy N.

I agree that Brady should be re-signed and I don't really think there's much of an argument to be made against that. Unless the Patriots had his replacement in mind, and I don't think Brian Hoyer is that guy, then I don't see how they can afford to lose him at this stage. But I do see both sides of the equation here. Brady is likely heading down the back nine of his career and to douse him with cash in an uncertain labor climate wouldn't be wise. He'll be 33 at the start of the season and his ability could be starting to decline. If that's the case, having his cap numbers be based on what he did in the past wouldn't be a wise investment. That's why things haven't progressed as quickly as many would like. I'm not disheartened by the situation at this point. There's still a lot of time before he becomes a free agent. If that happens, then I'll be in your camp. But I don't think Brady will leave. And as an aside, I wouldn't re-sign Moss under almost any circumstance. His better days are certainly behind him. Mankins … sure, but not Moss.
Paul Perillo

I'm a big fan of PFW. I was just wondering your thoughts on the Pats trading for Marshawn Lynch or Marion Barber? I think he would be a good complement to Laurence Maroney. I think Maroney needs a second back. His best year was when he shared carries with Corey Dillon.
Josh Estes

Maroney has plenty of guys to share the load with … Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Lynch and Barber would probably like to be feature backs at this point and they wouldn't be in this committee. Both guys are tough and physical but I don't think either are substantial upgrades over what the Patriots have – just a continuation of the same. Now, if you'd rather have Lynch or Barber than one of the veterans because of age, then I'd agree in the long term. But as far as 2010 guys, I'm not sure either one of those guys improves the running game significantly. In fact, I like the contrast of Morris' power with Taylor's big-play ability to complement Maroney – assuming they can stay healthy.
Paul Perillo

I have been reading your forum every week for years. Can you please explain, how does the uncertainty in the upcoming league's labor contract affect the player's contract? For instance, if the players do not play - they do not get paid - right? Then what risk does the owner have in signing a player?Ted W.

Well that's a pretty tough question to answer considering the uncertainty of the labor situation. It's not about the players getting paid; it's about the rules that will be in place once the new CBA is agreed upon. The teams are reluctant to give big contracts today under one set of rules without knowing how a new set could potentially change the nature of that very same deal. In other words, how the cap is structured under the new system could make a team-friendly deal from today not so team friendly in 2011. It's not about the fear of a lockout costing owners tons in salary. It's about the fear of the dynamics of a deal changing in the future that has some owners concerned.
Paul Perillo

I realize the Logan Mankins situation has been addressed here but there are some questions that still remain. Does Tom Brady's contract affect Mankins' contract? Can we afford them both? Is this O-line significantly worse without him? What would his trade value be, and would there be teams willing to trade for him? In your opinion, would you trade him or pay him market value?Jesse M.

There's nothing about the two contracts that affects the ability to sign either player. Teams have more than one player who deserve new deals and both deserve them in this case, and the Patriots can afford both. In my opinion the offensive line is significantly worse without Mankins but that could change depending on how some of the young players progress. For example, if Dan Connolly, Rich Ohrnberger, Ted Larsen or Ryan Wendell develops quickly any one of those players could step in and replace Mankins. Obviously the coaches know how close those guys are to being able to step into the starting lineup, and that would help make any decision about trading Mankins a lot easier. I wouldn't deal him right now but I wouldn't give him any huge extension at this point either. Market value for a top guard has grown immeasurably in recent years and I don't think the cost is worth it for the position – but that's just my opinion. Teams are paying guards $50 million deals regularly nowadays and I wouldn't be willing to do that. I'd let Mankins play as a restricted free agent, try to re-sign him for reasonable dollars and if unsuccessful I'd let him walk. I think he's a terrific player but I feel a guard can be more easily replaced for a cheaper price.
Paul Perillo

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