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Patriots Replay Sat Nov 17 | 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Dealing Mitchell, adding depth and more

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The Patriots desperately need young talent at SS, but I don’t see the newly signed Eddie Pleasant to be much of an upgrade over Jordan Richards or a potential starter over aging Patrick Chung. Do you?
Ken K.

Based on what I’ve read about Pleasant I would agree that he doesn’t provide much as a potential starter over Patrick Chung. Pleasant has been in the for six years and started just one game. But I do believe he has the ability to provide more of a depth option than Jordan Richards while also providing the ability to play special teams. While Pleasant hasn’t been a full-time player during his time with the Texans, he has received some playing time in subpackages and has 116 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 17 passes defensed to his credit. He may not be a better option than Chung but he should be a more favorable alternative if injuries become an issue at safety.
Paul Perillo

Why are we still wasting time with the always injured Malcolm Mitchell, who has been injured and apparently still is, ever since he’s been here? Bill Belichick has never shown this kind of patience with an unproven player, ever, yet here we’re being told again he’s still in the wide receiver mix. For what, the injured reserve list -- again. Len Roberge

Mitchell is an example of one of those risks that teams sometimes take in the draft. He has a solid career at Georgia but his knee problems prevented him from staying on the field. That was the reason he was available in the fourth round in the first place. So the Patriots decided to give it a shot and he showed that he had the talent to compete but again the knee issues have been a major concern. Now he’s reportedly on the trading block and some are even saying his career might be in jeopardy. It’s unfortunate but I’m not sure why you feel there has been any wasting of time. Mitchell was on IR all of last year so it’s not like he took up a roster spot. Obviously the hope was that he would be healthy. It looks like he’s not, but I don’t view that as a waste of time. To this point it hasn’t worked out but it was a risk well worth taking – and he did show flashes during his brief time on the field as a rookie.
Paul Perillo

In camp, if the players fight, Belichick ejects them because that’s what happens in games. Do the players get fined by the team as well or any additional punishment? Or is it more of a blow over situation because tensions were high?
Jason Bickel

Excellent question but unfortunately it’s one I don’t have an answer for. In fact, the only part of your post that I can confirm is that players who fight during camp are sent off the field. Other than that, I’m not sure exactly how Belichick handles things. My guess is the punishment is having to miss the rest of practice but perhaps Belichick has some additional things (fine? running?) he imposes as well. Normally the coach is pretty tight-lipped on these types of matters so it’s hard to know for sure.
Paul Perillo

In the last Super Bowl, the Eagles decimated the Patriots secondary both by their receivers and their pass catching running backs. This year, we can expect both Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty to lose more step as they age. I feel that the Patriots could benefit greatly from adding at least one quality player to the secondary. Would you agree with that? Stan C.

I do agree with that, and while I like the addition of a veteran like Eddie Pleasant, I don’t feel that’s enough. I’m not overly comfortable with the depth in the secondary, both at corner and safety but particularly the former. Jason McCourty may very well prove to be a suitable replacement for Malcolm Butler but that’s not a guarantee. Eric Rowe is a serviceable third corner but in my mind nothing more. After that there are young players and injury concerns. Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen, JC Jackson and Ryan Lewis could be in the mix for playing time but all are unproven. Jonathan Jones is coming off a torn Achilles and will start camp (perhaps the season) on PUP and Cyrus Jones is recovering from a torn ACL. Not a lot of proven depth but the young talent does have me intrigued. Still, I’d like to see a veteran added to the mix, as you said.
Paul Perillo

Something that stands out in the offseason convention sized roster is the large number of wide receivers. Did Bill Belichick know that Julian Edelman might have a PED problem with the league? It looks like he was planning ahead for his top receiver losing some games. I’m going to cheat and ask a second question. I’ve been reading wonderful things about WR Riley McCarron. Does he have the potential to be the next Brown/Welker/Edelman? Does he have the potential to actually make the team? Gordon Rowlinson

I’m not sure when the team learned of Edelman’s pending suspension but I doubt that had as much to do with any potential roster adjustments as the fact that he is a 32-year-old slot receiver coming off a torn ACL. Also, having lost Danny Amendola and traded Brandin Cooks, Belichick knew there would be a lot of turnover at the position so he likely added some more options to the stable. I think those factors were more relevant in the decision-making process than the four-game suspension. As for McCarron, I haven’t really read much of anything about him. He spent last season on the practice squad so that should give him an edge in terms of knowing the system. But he didn’t really stand out at all during the spring, and that’s a time in T-shirts and shorts where small, shifty slot receivers usually pop. We’ll see where McCarron goes during camp and during the preseason but at this stage I’d say he’s a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
Paul Perillo

Since we are in the summer lull, I’ll ask a question that I wouldn’t normally bring up in season. The Patriots have seven numbers retired. They will obviously need to add 12 when that time comes. Any chance of them un-retiring some of these numbers. The cut off should be no retired numbers unless the player is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No disrespect to the legacy players, but Bob Dee and Jim Lee Hunt in particular are two easy examples of numbers that could be brought back into circulation without much fanfare. If the cut off is HOF, that leaves just three: Hannah, Tippett and Haynes. Brady would be the fourth and that seems like a reasonable number of retired numbers at this stage. With a 90-man roster in the summer, you simply run out of numbers to distribute unless some numbers are unretired or the offensive and defensive players share the same number, which is awkward, and what the Patriots have been doing. Thoughts? Alan Bernstein

I agree with your views on the individuals who have had their numbers retired and the requirements to do so, but not for the reasons you suggest. Again, I like your idea of having the Hall of Fame being the benchmark. If you were great enough to be in the Hall, then certainly you are worthy of having your number retired. That would also create some debates, though, considering players like Mike Haynes and Nick Buoniconti are in both the Patriots and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Haynes’ No. 40 is retired but Buoniconti’s 85 is not. Both played seven seasons with the Patriots. And Andre Tippett’s No. 56 is not currently retired, although it has not been issued since he retired. Again, I agree with you that being in the Hall should be the requirement, but I don’t think there’s an issue with having too many numbers retired. Having players wear duplicate numbers during camp is not an issue – most teams do it. During the season there are plenty of available numbers to choose from even with seven (and Brady will make eight) out of the mix.
Paul Perillo

Who are going to be the Patriots WRs for the 2019 season? Cordarrelle Patterson, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan will all be free agents next year and Julian Edelman will be 33. And I’m not counting on Mitchell to stay healthy. Obviously a lot can change in 2018, but they might be in trouble. WR salaries are getting out of control and I’m sure a few of the guys in that FA group will leave for more dough somewhere else (assuming they even make the squad this year). This is where bad drafting is really going to come back and bite them. If they just could have hit on one of their tackle picks in 2017 they could have grabbed Calvin Ridley with the Cooks pick. Anyhow, I see them being forced to draft two and bargain shop for the other three or four. My optimistic prediction: Edelman, Hogan, Matthews, Berrios and two draft picks. That still scares me a bit. Chris C.

I’m not even sure what the group will look like in 2018 and you want me to project ahead a whole year? That’s a tough task. If Hogan and Matthews have productive seasons then they would be in line for some money, as you stated. If they don’t, then the Patriots won’t likely want them back. Either way, realistically I’d say only one would return. I also agree about the need to draft at the position next season. Ridley would have made sense but it’s tough to blame that decision on the 2017 tackles the Patriots drafted. Tony Garcia was a third-round pick and Conor McDermott was a seventh. Tough to expect either of those guys to emerge as the left tackle of the future based on where they were picked. Some certainly develop, but not many drafted that late do so that quickly. If Edelman is reasonably productive he should return. Beyond that, it’s a crap shoot.
Paul Perillo

Is it possible for lightning to strike twice by that I mean can Danny Etling becomes another Tom Brady or am I just a dreamer? Has he shown anything to give us hope that we have another seventh-round winner? William Sparkes

My short answer is no, it’s not possible that Danny Etling will become another Tom Brady. Neither will 99.99 percent of all other quarterbacks. Brady is the greatest of all time and to project someone as the next Brady is unfair. Etling had a reasonably successful college career, not anywhere near as successful as Brady’s, but he has a long way to go. He throws the ball relatively well but again, he has so much to learn and develop. We’ll get a better idea of what he has to offer once we watch him during camp and the preseason. The hope would be that he has the potential to be a backup in New England.
Paul Perillo

In honor of training camp starting next weekend, I have a question - what have been the worst player assessments that each of the illustrious PFW writers have made at this stage of the offseason? One player who you thought was lucky to eventually make roster but turned out pretty well and one player who you thought had the ability to be a good player in the NFL but ended up sucking as much as Erik’s pompous watermarks!
Edward Atkin

Great question but I’m not sure I have a lot of really good candidates to fill in. We’ve had some examples of players who were highly thought of heading into camp that once we watched practice we didn’t understand the hype. Specifically Adrian Wilson and John Lynch, two aging safeties, looked to be washed up immediately. Another guy I didn’t love was Aaron Dobson, and aside from a couple of brief periods of production he never really panned out. On the flip side, a couple guys I was high on that didn’t make it would be Chad Jackson and Taylor Price. I thought both were going to be great and neither did anything. The one probably missed on the most was Wes Welker. I once called him a “nice little player” and I thought he’d be fine. But I never felt he would be a star and I was way off on that one. Lots of players to discuss here but those are some that came to mind.
Paul Perillo

I’d be very disappointed if we don’t see a trade from B.B. over the summer, his constant wheeling and dealing is one of the more interesting aspects of being a fan. Which position could you see him addressing? It’s not a roster with a great deal of needs, but linebacker depth could be an issue depending on the development of our day 3 picks. Could you see another QB potentially being added? Brian Hoyer is an experienced head who is known and respected in the team but I can’t help but wonder what the price may be for one of the many holdovers that will eventually lose their job to a rookie such as Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford or Tyrod Taylor who would all represent a significant upgrade at QB2.
Alex Marr

I would definitely expect to see a Belichick trade because it’s what he almost always does. He’s pulled off many summertime deals and there’s no reason to think this won’t be another year when we see one. Reports already indicate the Patriots are looking for suitors for Malcolm Mitchell. I could see an addition at wide receiver or linebacker, as you mentioned. I also think the secondary could use some depth. I’m not as concerned about backup quarterback because I feel Brady is so vital to the offense that there will be a significant dropoff regardless. The time it would take a veteran to come in and learn the system might be too much to expect an upgrade over Hoyer. I feel Bridgewater and Bradford are better players than Hoyer, but not necessarily better options come September when they might be available. I don’t have any interest in Taylor. But to answer your initial question, I agree that Belichick will be looking to make deals. It’s what he does.
Paul Perillo

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