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Ask PFW: Drafting up a plan

The offseason continues and the Patriots are working toward fine-tuning their roster for another playoff run in 2008. The draft and free agency are the main points of focus in this week's edition of "Ask PFW."

Am I disappointed still over the SB loss-Yes. As a season ticket holder and fan, to have such a great season come to an end that way didn't feel good at all. But I can't imagine that I feel worse than Junior Seau. I really wanted Junior to get a SB ring like he deserves. In the two seasons he's been in N.E. he's been nothing short of a class act, steady contributor and an all-around inspiration. What do you think are the chances of one more go round for No. 55? Has there been any rumblings as to what he intends?
Gary Abrams

So far there's been very little talk about Junior Seau this offseason and I wouldn't expect that to change. He was in the same position last offseason and he didn't make his intentions known until May. Considering his age I'm guessing he probably isn't all that interested in doing much offseason work in Foxborough and attending the OTAs at the stadium so I wouldn't be surprised if he waits as long as he can to decide again this year. He was quoted recently as saying he still has made up his mind, but he talked about choosing between going through another football season and surfing. Given those choices, at this stage of his life, I wouldn't be surprised if Junior hangs 'em up and waits five years for his Hall of Fame call. But you never know.
Paul Perillo

Would the Pats draft Darren McFadden if he is there at 7? He is a weapon in all eyes, could be a thunder and lightning combo with Maroney and he is versatile when he plays HB, WR and even QB. It would be a mistake to pass him up if he is there at 7.Josh K.

I'm pretty sure the Patriots wouldn't take McFadden and here's why. They already invested first-round money in a running back with Laurence Maroney two years ago, and having two guys making that kind of money at the same position, when really only one will be playing at a time, doesn't make financial sense with the salary cap. McFadden is outstanding – a true game-breaker in every sense. But I don't like the idea of taking a running back in the top 10 considering the pounding they take, which leads to a pretty short shelf life at the position. Plus, if Bill Belichick really wants to add a running back to go with Maroney, he can find plenty of good ones in this draft and easily could wait until the second round to grab one. Overall, I believe McFadden will be terrific, but as long as Maroney is here I don't think it makes sense to draft him.
Paul Perillo

There have been rumors of the Patriots being interested in Lito Sheppard from the Eagles to replace Asante Samuel. I think he would be great if they don't want too much in a trade. I say a third-round pick is good. Also what about a trade with DeAngleo Hall from the Falcons? What do you think?Matt French

I think that sounds great. I'll give Philly a third-round pick for a Pro Bowl corner. Now, I'm not sure the Eagles would agree, but sign me up. Sheppard is a solid player and would command more than a third-round pick in return in my opinion, although the Eagles may take less considering Sheppard is disgruntled and they just signed Asante Samuel. But the problem for the Patriots is twofold: they not only need to give Philly compensation but they also need to sign Sheppard to an extension since that's the reason he's available in the first place. If that's the case, the Patriots would have been better off just giving Samuel the contract he wanted rather than paying big money and losing draft picks. Same thing for Hall, although Hall's baggage would likely make the price lower, both for attaining his services and paying his contract.
Paul Perillo

What are your thoughts on bringing David Givens back? He and Tom Brady seemed to have great chemistry when he was here, and while we're at it why not bring back Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Adam Vinatieri and Willie McGinest. The Patriots can make one final run for the Super Bowl. That last part was a joke but I do like the idea of bring back Givens if he can stay healthy.Steven Morrison

Givens was a solid player for the Patriots and his toughness was underrated during his time in New England. But he suffered a sever knee injury two years ago that was considered career threatening at the time and he's yet to get back on the field since. I spoke with a writer from Tennessee at the time and he told me the Titans didn't expect him to ever play again – the injury and microfracture surgery was that extensive. If Givens were healthy the Titans wouldn't have let him go. As for your reunion tour, let's bring back Steve Grogan as Brady's backup too!
Paul Perillo

I haven't seen much written about Victor Hobson as a possible Patriot. Isn't he an unrestricted free agent and a 3-4 fit? I haven't seen the Patriots showing much effort trying to sign anyone at this spot. New signee Jason Webster is just another 5-9 cornerback. One of Ellis Hobbs' weaknesses is his height and although he was better than Randall Gay, I personally feel he is a No. 3 cornerback at best. We still need a lot of help at this position. Brandon Meriweather is still an unknown after one year. I hope Belichick and Scott Pioli will continue to do their normal great job and fill these spots soon with free agents and/or the draft.
Gordon Haym

I haven't heard anything about Victor Hobson but from what I saw of him with the Jets I'm not overly interested in signing him anyway. He played in the 3-4 in New York and if Eric Mangini felt he was a good fit for that system I doubt he would have let him walk away. It's not like Hobson would command a huge salary, and it's not like the Jets have been spending wildly thus far in the offseason. Clearly, if Mangini wanted him he'd still be a Jet. I do think he has the size to play both inside and out in the 3-4 and he could be a fit for New England because of that versatility. But I'm not as high on him as some others are, although he was quite productive in 2006 before a down season last year.
Paul Perillo

I know that with the departure of Samuel there is a void for the Patriots, but I'm glad that he is gone. He played terribly in the Super Bowl, and I think that the Patriots would be better off drafting a player that can cover a receiver, rather than just an all or nothing player like Samuel. He seems to go for the ball more times than trying to stop the catch. He missed some huge stops in the Super Bowl against Steve Smith. What are your thoughts?
Nick Patel

I think I'm surprised I didn't get more questions like this considering Samuel is no longer a Patriot. But I'm proud to report we've received very few rip jobs on a guy that played very well for New England for five seasons, the last two of which were about as good as anyone in the league at cornerback. Samuel is a solid corner with big-play ability that is tough to teach. I disagree that he played poorly in the Super Bowl, as some fans are claiming now that he's with the Eagles. He was in covering David Tyree on the touchdown and was beaten to the inside. His coverage wasn't terrible on the play and he just missed knocking the ball down, but he was beaten no question. The interception everyone seems fixated on is the kind of play he's made for the Patriots countless times over the years. This time he couldn't quite make the catch so now he's a bum. I don't get that logic, and I also don't believe it was an easy play. He had to jump pretty high and also had the sideline to worry about. In my view the ball went off his hands; not through them like some have said. But that's my opinion and obviously Nick has a different one. I don't think Samuel is an all-or-nothing corner. I think he's one of the five best in the game and he generally gives the Patriots a solid performance. He will be missed.
Paul Perillo

Do you think Brandon Meriweather will get a chance to start next season with the way James Sanders has been playing at FS?
Joshua Brand

Not at safety. Sanders and Rodney Harrison have those spots nailed down. If Meriweather improves to the point where he could be a starter, it would have to be at cornerback, where he played throughout training camp until it was learned that Harrison was lost for four games due to his suspension. Meriweather made consistent progress late in the season and more improvement could put him in the mix for even more playing time. But I can't see him unseating Sanders, who was one of the bright spots in the Patriots secondary last season.
Paul Perillo

With the Dolphins uncertain of the future of Jason Taylor, is there any chance the Patriots may want him as a designated pass rusher?Paul Winkel

I think there's about as much of a chance that Bill Parcells would trade Taylor to the Patriots as Paris Hilton has of winning an Oscar. Parcells didn't become one of the best coaches/talent evaluators of the modern era by helping his competition, and I wouldn't expect Taylor to be wearing the Flying Elvis anytime soon.
Paul Perillo

Love reading your insight each and every week on the Pats. I was just wondering how the Patriots could go about addressing their cornerback situation. To me they have lost a cover corner type in Samuel and a good No. 3 in Gay. How I see it is that even drafting a "stud" CB (which doesn't seem to be the case this year) at 7 would still leave them vulnerable for a couple of years until the player matures in the system. So, free agency or trade seems like the best route this year. If Ty Law does return, I believe he'll fill the Gay role very well and is a mentor for Meriweather or other young guys who come in. However, to trade for a cover corner type seems the likely option (these guys are typically not cut). I have heard rumors about DeAngelo Hall possibly being on the market. With the Pats holding the 7 pick and with Atlanta in a current reshaping of the team, would it not make sense to try to package the pick and try to sign Hall here?
Frank T.

As I said earlier to Mr. French (for those of you old enough, not the one from "Family Affair"), it would cost a lot to get Sheppard or Hall because both would require compensation via trade and a new contract. If the Patriots were willing to give a corner a big contract, then my guess is they would have just re-signed Samuel and been done with it. Instead, it looks like they're going the quantity over quality route and have signed free agents Jason Webster, Lewis Sanders and Tank Williams to add depth to the secondary. Personally, I would rather have signed Samuel to the contract the Eagles gave him than acquired these three players, but I also haven't directed three teams to Super Bowl titles over the last seven seasons so what do I know?
Paul Perillo

I like that the Pats are adding depth to our secondary by signing veterans for well below market rates to keep us well below the cap. But no offense, are Webster, Sanders and Tank Williams really the answer? Do you see the Patriots making a run at trading for Lito Shepperd, D-Hall, or even Pacman Jones? Also, in your opinion, are there any DBs in the draft that warrant being picked at 7?Jason Breiter

Well make up your mind. First you said that you like adding depth with below market rate deals, but then you wonder if the players are the answer. Why do you think those players signed for such short money? The players that you want certainly won't be signing for less than $1 million like Webster, Sanders and Williams did. You have to pay for quality players – even ones with checkered pasts like Pacman Jones. My real fear for trading for Hall or Jones would be the character issues. Both have been problems – Hall on the field and Jones off it. Neither sounds like an ideal Patriot. As for the draft, I don't feel there's a corner worthy of selection at No. 7. I didn't like what I saw from Aqib Talib, more so from his work on the field at Kansas against passing teams like Missouri. He also had a lackluster Combine. Tom's boy Antoine Cason might be available later in the first round or in the second and could entice the Patriots to move up to get him. But I'd like to see a corner taken somewhere in the first three rounds come April.
Paul Perillo

As good as Sammy Morris was playing before he was injured, why not trade Laurence Maroney? Arizona is looking for help at RB and having trouble finding cap space for Larry Fitzgerald. With the depth at RB this year Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Mike Hart can be had in the second round or an Owen Schmitt or Jamall Charles later. Last year Donte' Stallworth didn't pan out but you put Anquan Boldin across from Randy Moss with his yards after catch ability the Pats would be unstoppable.
Gary Bird

Morris is a solid backup but he's not a lead back. So trading Maroney in my mind would be a mistake unless you could replace him with a comparable player. Morris has been in the league for a long time and never been asked to carry the load on his own. He filled in admirably last year when Maroney was injured but I don't think he's the answer. And I don't see why you would trade Maroney to draft someone else who at best would be that comparable player. Actually, the only one on your list I would consider potentially fitting that bill would be Rice. Hart will be available in the second round, and the third round, and the fourth round … you get the idea. Also, I don't necessarily agree that Stallworth didn't work out. He was signed to fill the role that Moss did, and when Moss was acquired it eliminated a lot of opportunities for Stallworth to succeed. That's why Stallworth's no longer here. And if you thought Maroney was good enough to trade straight up for Boldin, why wouldn't you just keep Maroney in the first place?
Paul Perillo

You guys do a great job. Is it reasonable to think the Patriots might re-sign Rosevelt Colvin to a more cap friendly contract? He certainly seemed to be a great linebacker for the Pats.
Jim Sharrock

It doesn't look that way. I think the Patriots had as many concerns about Colvin's health as they did with his contract. Colvin was a solid player for the Patriots despite battling a serious hip injury but I'm not sure the team wants to take a chance on bringing him back. Someone outside of the organization I spoke with told me the team may even be worried about the hip, not to mention the foot problem that landed him on IR.
Paul Perillo

Did Randy Moss receive a $12 million bonus this year for breaking the NFL touchdown record?
Paul Peak

No, the $12 million was his signing bonus for a new contract that he signed, not as an incentive from anything he earned as part of his deal from last year. Now, if you're asking if he made that much because he played so well, then obviously the answer to that would be yes. Record-setting receivers don't just grow on trees.
Paul Perillo

Any chance Belichick and the Pats take a chance on Adam "Pacman" Jones? Or is that too farfetched?
Scott Macone

If it were up to me, it would be too farfetched. But as I said earlier, I don't get to make these decisions. According to The Tennessean, the Patriots were one of a handful of teams that expressed some level of interest in Jones so perhaps Belichick is ready to take on his latest reclamation project. The problems with Jones are many, provided that he's even reinstated in time to play next season in the first place. First, he's a great return man but I'm not sure he's proven to be anything more than an average cover man. Second, and more importantly, he's been nothing but trouble for the Titans and another brush with the law could have him permanently expelled from the league by Commissioner Goodell. Personally, I wouldn't touch him.

I'm just wondering what thoughts you guys have on the players NE has picked up this offseason in regards to the secondary. Most people have never heard of Jason Webster or Tank Williams, what can they bring that they have not to the other teams they played for? Shouldn't the Patriots be trying to get some solid "starting" DBs with the loss of Samuel, Eugene Wilson and Gay?Dustin Michaud

While Webster and Williams aren't household names, they are proven NFL players who've been around for several years. They've been part-time starters and have experience to offer but neither will make anyone forget about Asante Samuel. But really they are similar in stature to Wilson and Gay – neither of which was a starting caliber player at this stage. I don't expect Webster, Williams or Lewis Sanders to come in and post an All-Pro performance but they'll get the opportunity to fight for roster spots in training camp and could provide some depth in an area that badly needs it. But I agree with you that a starting caliber corner is needed at this point.
Paul Perillo

I feel very good with our special teams, and offense, although I would love to see us upgrade at tackles. On defense, I still see a need for a starting ILB and corner. I have a feeling that we will draft a corner on Day 1, and he may see some playing time. But who will start as a strong ILB? Any ideas?Dan Doloff

That all depends on whether or not Seau returns. If he does, he and Bruschi will likely start inside with Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel on the outside. If he doesn't, then I think Thomas will move back inside and we'll be looking to fill an outside spot – maybe Pierre Woods or a rookie draft pick like Vernon Gholston? I'd also expect Belichick to add at least another linebacker via free agency since he seems to favor experience at that position. Either way, it remains one of the few questions the Patriots have at this stage of the offseason.
Paul Perillo

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