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Patriots Replay Thu May 28 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Counting down to the Combine

Would any team sign another team's franchise player with the cost being so steep? Giving up two first rounders is a lot to give up for anyone other than a superstar player. I would love to see the Pats get 2 more first rounders to rebuild for the future, rather than keep Samuel.Moses Ip

First off, I don't think any team would give up two first rounders for Samuel. Samuel is a good player but if you give up two first round picks, the player's last name better be Brady or Manning. Also, I disagree with your thinking. The Patriots can't keep trading their best players for draft picks. They're not the Montreal Expos, where they develop talent and then trade all their players away. I have bad news for you. Ten years from now, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady probably won't be in New England. That's not saying the team won't be good but having that kind of coach and quarterback at the same time is something special.

I keep hearing about building for the future. What about building a team to win in Brady's prime? I think that's what the Patriots are doing. They have a team that can compete for a Super Bowl title every year, without mortgaging the future. However, if you start trading away every good player once they hit their prime for future draft picks, you become a farm team, not a Super Bowl contender. Franchising Samuel was a no-brainer and now the two sides can continue working towards a long-term contract. For me, I would rather have one of the NFL's premier corners than getting a bunch of draft picks so maybe you can find a good cornerback two years from now. Having first round draft picks are good, although having great players is even better.
-Tom Casale

Schottenheimer as Pats offensive coordinator? I understand that there's 0% chance that this would ever happen, but it would certainly be poetic justice if it did and the Pats won the Super Bowl next season, giving Marty a ring and a chance to send a Southie cheer to Spanos.Steve Warren

Have you ever heard of Marty Ball? Who do you think invented that? I know you are just half-kidding but no thanks. He's never coached on the offensive side of the ball in his life. Bringing Schottenheimer on to your coaching staff in some capacity wouldn't be a bad idea, unless that capacity is to be the offensive coordinator.
-Tom Casale

With Cassel's limited playing experience, do you think there is a chance the Pats could send him to NFL Europe to get some playing time, which may prove vital if Brady ever goes down?Paul Evenson

Cassel is much too far along in his career for the Patriots to allocate him to NFL Europe now. That would have only been an option in his first year with the team. I don't know if you watch the league much but those quarterbacks over there couldn't start for the best programs in college football. I hear what you're saying about getting Cassel reps but he would be better served to stay in New England and workout with his teammates, rather than risking injury in a league where he might be in an offense nothing like the one he runs with the Patriots. NFL Europe is for guys like Brock Berlin who are hoping to just land on a team's practice squad, not entrenched backups like Cassel.
-Tom Casale

Watching the Super Bowl, I was struck by how few formations were used - by both teams and on both sides of the ball. It seemed to me the coaches just lined up and let the athletes loose. Is the Patriots system too intricate and/or arcane? In the wake of Darrent Williams, Tank Johnson, etc., etc., is it too ambitious to expect to be able to find enough smart, dedicated, athletic football players to run the Patriots complex system?Chris Noble

I'm not sure I get your point Chris. The Patriots are coming off a very successful season that saw them fall four points short of another Super Bowl appearance. I could understand if New England had two bad years in a row and didn't make the playoffs. Then you could start questioning their system and if it works or not. I think the Patriots are doing just fine. They continue to draft well and if they can sign a couple of decent free agents this year, they'll be in position to make another Super Bowl run in 2007. And I don't understand the comment about Darrent Williams. What did he do wrong other than get brutally murdered? Everything out of Denver so far has indicated he was an innocent victim in that tragedy. I wouldn't put Williams in the same class with a guy who had enough ammo at his house to attack a small country.
-Tom Casale

Everyone is talking about our linebackers, safeties and corners, but I'd like to get a little feedback on our wide receivers. Do you feel there is a need to draft a wide receiver somewhere in the first two rounds? I was really impressed with Reche Caldwell and especially with Jabar Gaffney. I'd like to see both players stick with the team, and if Jackson can develop I think we'll be fine. Of course, it would be great to sign someone like a Randy Moss, but I think we'll get along just fine. What do you think?Gary Strasdin

I think receiver is a definite priority but with the depth at that position in this draft, I probably wouldn't select one in the first round. I think players like Washington State's Jason Hill and East Carolina's Aundrae Allison, among others, could wind up being steals in the middle rounds. I don't know if you should get too enamored with Caldwell Gaffney. I think they are what they are. Caldwell is a solid possession receiver but won't make many big plays, while Gaffney can make some big plays but is better as a slot guy than a starter. In other words, even if Jackson comes on next year, the Patriots still need to add a couple more players at that position. And I'll pass on Randy Moss. He stopped playing football three years ago, he just hasn't told anyone yet. No thanks.
-Tom Casale

Tom, What do you think of Jason Hill? He was a two-time 1,000 yard receiver who probably dropped in the draft because of his injury as a senior. I think he would be a great fit in our system and someone we could nab in the 2nd or 3rd round. Also how long is Jabar Gaffney under contract? If he plays this season like he did in the playoffs in '06 it could be a big year for him.Clint Scoles

I love Hill. I stay up late every Saturday night to watch Pac 10 games, so I've seen quite a bit of him over the last couple of seasons. He's one of those guys that isn't not getting talked about much because he plays on the West Coast and this draft is so deep at receiver. However, Hill is a playmaker and I think refined enough to come in and contribute as a rookie. At 6-1, 210 pounds, he has good size to go along with his deceptive speed. Hill's 32 touchdown receptions at Washington State is a school record and second in Pac 10 history, so he knows how to find the end zone. Hill is the receiver I'm actually projecting to the Patriots in this draft. I agree with you that he would fit well into this system and he has all the attributes the team looks for in a receiver. If New England can grab Hill in the third or fourth round, it would be a steal in my eyes and help add depth to the receiver position.

Gaffney is locked up for one more year. He signed a two-year deal with the Pats when they picked him up last season. I just hope fans aren't putting too many unrealistic expectations on Gaffney this year. He's a decent No. 3 receiver over a 16-game season. If fans are looking for Gaffney to put up big numbers week in and week out, I think they'll be disappointed. He can do some things to help the team win, but let's not go overboard because of a two-game stretch that was totally out of character for Gaffney up to this point in his career.
-Tom Casale

I know he has been injury prone in recent years, but LaVar Arrington is still a monster. Would his size, speed and hard nose style make him a good fit for our 3-4 scheme? I heard rumors about us trying to sign him last season, but that clearly did not happen. What do you guys think the likely hood of us bringing in this guy who's got some experience under his belt into Foxboro? By the way I read your guys' ASK PFW whenever their posted and you folks do an awesome job! Keep up the good work.Chris Wildman

I was on the Arrington bandwagon last year Chris because I thought with his talent, if Belichick got a hold of him, Arrington could really cause havoc in this defense. However, now I'm concerned with his injuries. A bad knee injury and a torn Achilles in the past couple of years will no doubt take away some of Arrington's athleticism. Now, if the Patriots could get him for a decent price, I would say take the chance. My guess is that Arrington will never be the player he once was after those injuries, so I would look in another direction, especially considering the extra baggage he brings with him.
-Tom Casale

I have a couple of questions for you guys. I would really like to see the Pats end up with big-time receiver, so, what do you think the chances are of the Pats possibly acquiring Randy Moss or trading up in the draft for Calvin Johnson? Johnson is definitely going to be a beast in the NFL. Do you think the Pats could try to move up in the draft or is there another receiver you think would fit in with the Pats from the draft?Steve Anthony

Like I said, I'll pass on Moss. I have to be honest with you, while he's still a dangerous deep threat, I think his overall skills have declined in recent years. My guess is teams will have to pay for the Randy Moss of five years ago but in my opinion, he's no longer that dominant kind of player. I can name at least 10 receivers you could easily argue are better than Moss. The only problem is, Moss will still want to be paid like he's the best receiver in the game, which he isn't. I'm all for brining in talented players, especially at receiver. However, I have no interest in a guy who seems bored on the field. And don't give me the Oakland argument. He was pulling that same kind of crap in Minnesota when the team was winning.

There's no way the Patriots have the firepower to trade up and get Johnson unless he starts to slip. If Johnson is a top five selection, New England would have to give up more than its two first round picks to get up that high. In other words, it's not happening.
-Tom Casale

Am I the only Pats fan that is a little confused over the hype surrounding Pete Carroll for an NFL head coaching position? The media has made him sound like a franchise savior and seemingly, owners and team presidents have bought into it. Jerry Jones went so far as to interrupt Carroll's Costa Rican vacation and now there are reports that the Charger's have expressed interest in him as well. Yes, he did take the team to the playoffs for two out of his three years in New England, but after each season the team regressed. All in all, I feel Carroll's tenure in New England was rather mediocre. What makes people so sure he will be successful if in fact a team is able to pry him away from USC? I imagine I am not the only one a little skeptical of Carroll's ability to coach at the pro-level. Carroll at USC is one of those marriages where one spouse somehow stumbled into a jackpot and got incredibly lucky. For his sake, I hope he realizes this.Ben Bass

In my opinion, Pete Carroll was a pretty good NFL head coach. And if he returns to the pro level, I think he'll be a pretty good NFL coach once again. He's the kind of coach that can probably squeeze out 9-10 wins and sneak into the playoffs but that's about it. Kind of like Herm Edwards does. There are worse coaches in the NFL (amazingly) than Edwards but I wouldn't be beating down the door to hire him if I had a team.

I agree with you that teams are going overboard on Carroll. Offering him all this crazy money and total control of a franchise doesn't make much sense. Carroll is a master motivator and recruiter at the college level and I expect he'll stay at USC unless they get penalized for rules violations. My guess would be if you see Carroll making the move to the NFL, USC will be put on probation shortly after. I think Carroll would do a decent job in the NFL but I don't get this league-wide infatuation with him. Then again, Wade Phillips and Norv Turner both got another chance to coach in the NFL for some reason, so what do I know?
-Tom Casale

I really enjoy getting my off-season fix from your columns. Thanks for keeping the Patriot blood flowing. I was curious about the draft pick that was given in trade for Patrick Cobbs at the end of training camp by the Steelers. I know that Cobbs eventually found a home with the Dolphins but do the Patriots get any compensation for Cobbs or was that conditional on him making it off of the Steelers practice squad?Rob Mould

The Patriots will not receive a draft pick for Cobbs. Conditional picks are based on playing time and since Cobbs never saw the field, New England won't receive any compensation for him.
-Tom Casale

With not so talented, or over-aged prospects available in free agency as a third string QB, do you see the Pats maybe spending a late round pick for a 3rd string QB? If so who could it be and do you think Cassel has secured the no. 2 spot?Jesse M.

I think the Patriots could very well go with just two quarterbacks again next year. Yes, Cassel is very much entrenched as Brady's backup, so that's not going to change. If you are looking for a late-round/developmental-type, keep an eye on Matt Gutierrez out of Idaho State. Gutierrez was a blue-chip recruit coming out of high school and originally attended Michigan. He was set to be the starter when John Navarre graduated but was injured before the Wolverines first game with Miami, Ohio. That opened the door for Chad Henne's mediocre career and sent Gutierrez to Idaho State for his senior season. He's raw and needs a lot of work but Gutierrez is the kind of player the Patriots target. Someone who once was considered extremely talented but never lived up to his billing because of outside factors. Sounds like a couple of quarterbacks that are already on the roster, doesn't it?
-Tom Casale

Tell me why is it that if the Colts have such a good team and have just won the Super Bowl, why aren't they losing their whole coaching staff? We have lost coaches every year and it seems the core of the Colts staff and players seems to remain for years.Tom Raymond

This isn't necessarily true Tom. If you remember, the Patriots won three Super Bowl titles before they lost their coordinators. It's not like they lost their entire staff after one championship. My guess is if the Colts continue to win Super Bowls, they'll start to lose some coaches just like every other successful team.

The other reason for this is that the Colts defense was terrible all year long. Sure, it came on in the playoffs but no one is going to hire defensive coordinator Ron Meeks after his defense gave up 170 yards rushing per game. Offensively, Tom Moore doesn't get a lot of looks because of Peyton Manning. Teams probably don't want to give over their franchise to an offensive coordinator when his quarterback is calling most of the plays himself. So, there is a lot of differences between both teams but remember, it took four years and three Lombardi Trophies before New England started losing its coaches.
-Tom Casale

Hey I've been looking at several of the mock drafts and many have the patriots picking a receiver and a corner or OLB/DE 3-4 kind of guy. My question is about the status of Randall Gay. If he can stay healthy he has shown that he can contribute. Though I suppose his health is a big IF. What is the contract/injury status of Gay? Also, do you see the Patriots moving Wilson to corner if they have veteran help at the safety positions? Lastly, do you think they will draft to fill the "tweener" role that Willie used to play?Chris A

First let me say that I think we differ on how much Gay can contribute. I think he's a fifth corner and special teams player at best. Throw in the fact that he's missed most of the last two seasons with injuries and I see a player who will need a very good training camp just to make the final 53-man roster in 2007.

This is just a hunch but I believe Wilson will come back with a vengeance next season. I know he hasn't played all that great the last two years but something tells me he's going to be a big part of the Patriots defense in 2007. As far as him switching back to corner, I think that depends on what the team does this offseason at the safety position. However, I still think Wilson will remain the starting safety with Rodney Harrison. He hasn't played a lot of corner since college and with a player like Harrison next to him, Wilson's coverage skills in the deep middle of the field are a real asset. Like I said, it's just a hunch but my money is on Wilson bouncing back big-time next year.

There are a lot of 3-4 DE/OLB in this year's draft if the Patriots decide to go that route. I'm actually working on a story covering that very position for the combine. It will be on Patriots.com this Saturday after I talk to a lot of the players and also Mike Mayock from the NFL Network. Some of the players I'll be focusing on are Jarvis Moss (Florida), LaMarr Woodley (Michigan), Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), Anthony Spencer (Purdue) and Quentin Moses (Georgia). Those are the guys who could be around when the Patriots draft, so I'll see which ones fit best into their system and have that story up this weekend from Indianapolis.
-Tom Casale

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