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Ask PFW: Delayed version

In the last installment of "Ask PFW" a reader asked when the Pats and Randy Moss' agent would start negotiating a contract. As I understand it, a player cannot negotiate a contract more than once in a calendar year. If that's the case, won't the Pats have to wait until after the season to get something done with Moss since he restructured at the point they traded for his rights?
Grant Bronk

The 12-month renegotiation rule is probably the most misunderstood rule in the NFL. The rule is not that you cannot renegotiate the contract twice in the same year. The rule is that the second renegotiation in a 12-month period simply cannot increase the cap charge in the overlapping years. So, the Patriots could renegotiate Moss' deal today, as long as the new deal doesn't have a 2008 cap charge greater than his current $3 million cap charge.
For example, if the Patriots minimize Moss' salary for the rest of the year, moving it from $2.5 million to his minimum of $720,000, that would leave plenty of room to fit a new signing bonus in as part of an extension.

Tom Brady has been great for six years, but he is human. Why doesn't Bill Belichick give a backup some snaps in case Brady gets injured?
James Hogan

Learned Gentlemen - In the seemingly unending series of Patriots blowouts, would it not be wise to let Matt Cassel play a few downs. This might accomplish two things. One - It would give coaches, players (and fans) the chance to see Matt in real game conditions - the better to see what he really is. Two - It would help to protect "The Franchise" a little better. Come on, I know Tom Brady is "bulletproof" (Brett Favre Junior), but is it wise to temp fate?
Dick Goodwin

I've often wondered why Belichick doesn't take Brady out of games in the fourth quarter once the outcome is in doubt, and he's actually done that this season with both Matt Cassel and Matt Gutierrez going in to mop up late. But truthfully those snaps the backups get don't really provide much experience. The games are over at that point and the quarterback at most is simply handing the ball off to run out the clock and usually just kneeling on the ball. There aren't many cases where the backup can go in and throw the ball against an active defense that is playing at full strength, so really those situations don't provide much experience the backups can fall ball on in the future if they're pressed into service. And taking Brady out at that point in the ballgame really doesn't protect him much since he's just handing the ball off anyway.
Paul Perillo

Will the Giants game only be available on NFL Network? Comcast took that channel away, how can I watch that game?
Brian Kowlaski

The Patriots finish the season with a Saturday night game at the Meadowlands against the Giants in a game that will be televised by NFL Network. Locally in the Boston market, the game will also be shown on WCVB Channel 5. As a correction, Comcast does still offer NFL Network to its customers, it was just moved to a different tier of channels that requires a fee.
Paul Perillo

I frequently hear the statistic that Brady is something like 24-1 on artificial turf, but I was wondering what that meant for him as a quarterback. Does artificial turf make it easier for receivers to run, thus allowing Brady to complete timing passes more easily? That's the only hypothesis I could come up with.
Arjun Sharma

Brady is actually 27-2 on artificial surfaces, including the playoffs, but I'm not sure exactly what kind of conclusions can be drawn from that. I mean the guy is 86-26 overall, so it's not like he's losing all his games on grass. I'm sure with the weapons he's now surrounded by that playing on turf helps him and the rest of the offense. But his record was stellar long before Randy Moss and the gang came to New England. Turf definitely makes it easier for receivers to make their cuts, etc. It's a little bit different now that several teams have gone to artificial surfaces, but one reason for Tom's dominance on turf certainly has to be tied to the opponents. Buffalo and the Jets both play on turf and haven't been real strong teams in recent years (except for the Jets last year). I'm not sure if there are any scientific factors involved, but the record is quite impressive regardless.
Paul Perillo

What's Richard Seymour's status? Will he play in Week 5? What is his injury?Gene Majewski

Seymour is currently on PUP and is ineligible to return until after Week 6. At that point, he can begin practicing and the team could activate him. He can begin practicing any time between Weeks 6-9 and once he does, the team would then have three weeks to decide whether to put him on the active roster, place him on injured reserve or to release him. Seymour underwent knee surgery during the offseason and he's continuing to work his way back.
Paul Perillo

My question is about the salary cap. How do players that are placed on IR or on PUP affect the cap number?Chad

During the season, all players – IR, PUP, practice squad – count against the salary cap. During the offseason, only the top 51 players, based on salary, count against the cap.
Paul Perillo

The Bengals game was Asante Samuel's first big chance to show all 32 teams that he really is worth the money he expects. The only other big challenges on the regular season schedule seem to be T.O. and Marvin Harrison. This poses two questions. First, will he be used mostly man-to-man on the elite receivers or to shut down a side of the field like we usually did with Ty Law? Second, with a lack of elite receivers to face, what kind of stats will he need to post to keep his free-agent value where he believes it should be?John Constantine

First, I disagree that the only elite receivers the Patriots will face this season are the one you mentioned. Miami's Chris Chambers, Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, Washington's Santana Moss, the Giants Plaxico Burress and the Jets duo of Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles are all very capable of having big games. None is as dangerous as T.O. or Harrison but all are very good. So he'll get plenty of chances to show he's worth the money he'll be looking for come the offseason. But in all honesty, if you've watched the first month and seen Samuel play, without the benefit of training camp, isn't it pretty apparent that the guy is not the one-year wonder that money claimed he was last spring? Samuel is not a shut-down corner in the Champ Bailey mold, but he's not far behind and he's definitely among the league's upper echelon. He won't likely be asked to cover just one man in any game since the Patriots don't normally ask their corners to do that. But if Belichick decides to do that Samuel is more than capable. As far as stats go, it really is largely irrelevant. Whether he has three interceptions or eight, general managers around the league will know if Samuel played well or not. So far, he's playing very well.
Paul Perillo

My question is do you think the Pats will bring in another kicker at some point to maybe rattle the cage a little? I ask because I just don't feel safe leaving a game winning FG in the hands of Stephen Gostkowski. I know he is great on kickoffs and I know he will one day be the guy but this year he seems like he took a step backward.Kenny Tasney

I think Gostkowski's situation has taken on a larger than necessary role as the team's one concern because of the overall dominance the Patriots have shown thus far. Gostkowski has struggled a bit, both in training camp and during games. Things haven't looked quite right in the kicking department, no question. But I don't think it's necessary to bring in a replacement to rattle his cage. If he continues to miss kicks, then maybe I'll change my mind. But right now, he's missed one field goal and had one extra point blocked (although that wound up going through anyway). Again, I agree that things haven't looked that great, but since people don't have anything else to worry about they've put their negative focus on the kicker.
Paul Perillo

I was watching the Rams at the Cowboys with Troy Aikman commentating last week. During the game he said that he thought that halftime adjustments were the most overrated thing in football and that they did not make any difference. Do you agree that that is the dumbest thing that you have ever heard? I think that is a big part of the Patriots success. I don't think you have to wait until halftime, but if your coach doesn't make adjustments he isn't much of a coach.Doug Ebadnit

Without having witnessed Aikman's comments myself, my guess is that he was talking specifically about halftime adjustments and not adjustments in general. Belichick has mentioned several times over the years how overrated halftime adjustments are because they need to be made well before then. He calls them first quarter adjustments and my guess is Aikman would agree since he was a pretty successful quarterback in his day.
Paul Perillo

Over the years, Adalius Thomas has been a tremendous pass rusher. In the first four games with the Patriots it appears his role on the inside has limited his pass rushing. I know he got his first sack last Monday night, but it still didn't seem that he rushed that often. Do you know how often he is dropping back in coverage versus rushing the QB? Do you think those skills are being underutilized?Austin W.

Thomas has been tremendous on the inside so far in all facets of the game. He's mostly been dropping in coverage and doing a great job in the middle of the field. He has rushed more often than you think, but it's mostly been on the inside. Last Monday against Cincinnati he seemed to rush more from the outside than he has thus far. Thomas is so versatile and athletic that he can make plays from pretty much everywhere, so I don't think his skills have been underutilized. It just depends on which plays you're looking for. If you're looking for a linebacker to pile up double-digit sacks, then yes he's probably being underutilized. But look at the play he made against San Diego when he dropped in coverage on a key short-yardage play and picked off Philip Rivers and returned it for a touchdown. That doesn't happen if he's rushing from the outside.
Paul Perillo

I am a Patriots fan in Texas. I have a question about a former player. There is a guy in my children's school named Andrew Banks telling people he played for the Patriots in the mid-'80s. He specifically mentioned Super Bowl XX. I have researched the past rosters with no luck finding his name. Before I confront him I would like to make absolute certain that he has not played for the Patriots.
Robert Jutras

According to the Patriots media guide, no player named Andrew Banks has ever played in a regular-season game for the team. There's a chance he could have played in training camp and/or during the preseason, but not in a regular-season or postseason game.
Paul Perillo

The Browns credit their recent defensive improvements to rotation, such as using seven LBs. In general, do you think that it is better to have a star LB to play all game or two good payers alternating?Stan P.

I'm not sure what Cleveland is doing or has done so far this year, but I'll take the star player playing as often as possible over any forced rotations. In other words, I don't want to see Adalius Thomas ever leaving the field unless he's tired or injured. Other than that, he should be out there every single down. Rotations should only be used to accentuate an individual player's strength, like Belichick has done with Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi, using both depending on passing or running situations and to keep both fresh.
Paul Perillo

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