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Ask PFW: Free agency is a one way street in New England

Do the Patriots plan on signing anyone in free agency this year? Will a running back slip to New England in the draft? Is Drew Rosenhaus e-mailing Ask PFW? The answers to these questions and many more in this edition of Ask PFW.

Hey guys, if Bobby Carpenter is projected to go to Dallas do you see it wise to trade up and take him? I feel while Carpenter is very good that there are other big, fast linebackers that Belichick likes that could be better picks like Manny Lawson or Thomas Howard. Also, why is it always said that the Patriots draft the best player on the board instead of drafting for need. Do you think this is wise because it doesn't seem to make much sense to me. I can see it in the later rounds in the draft but why early on? Wouldn't it make more sense to draft need in the beginning rather than the best player available?Jeff Thomson

I don't think the Patriots would trade up to get Carpenter unless they really love him but all the players you mentioned are possibilities, especially Lawson. I had Richard Marshall coming to New England with the 21st pick in my latest mock draft but that was before Willie McGinest's future become unclear. In my next mock that I'm working on now, I will probably have Lawson or a running back going to the Patriots with their first pick. Lawson, Carpenter and Howard would all be good fits here because they have the versatility to rush the passer and drop back in coverage. I think Patriots fans would be very happy on draft day if any one of those linebackers were selected in the first round. If I had to rank them in terms of being a Patriot, I would say Carpenter, Lawson and then Howard.

Every team has a different approach to the draft. Teams like the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers usually go with the best player available strategy. It's hard to argue with that method, seeing those are three of the most successful drafting teams over the past five years. Other teams draft by need but they tend to be teams that are picking near the top a lot. If you are the 49ers and you have Matt Leinart rated as the best player in the draft, it would be hard to justify selecting him when you just took Alex Smith with the first pick last season. Personally, I think if you don't have many holes to fill, picking the best player available makes sense. On the other hand, if you really need a running back, then draft a running back if there is a talented one on the board when your selection comes up.
-Tom Casale

Do you think there is a good chance that the Pats draft Mathias Kiwanuka as a possible outside linebacker with their first pick? The Pats have a history of turning defensive lineman into 3-4 outside linebackers (Bruschi, Vrabel). From what I have seen of Kiwanuka he seems like he has the Patriot attributes of talent (best defensive player on a good BC team) and brains (graduated from BC last year). He also carries himself well in public. If you look at his size he is actually a little lighter than McGinest and one inch taller. Willie is not getting any younger and I don't think Kiwanuka could have a better player to learn the position from. Many of the mock drafts I have seen have him on the board or going near when the Pats pick. The only issue I see with the guy is using such a high pick on a player to learn a new position. I would like to see them take the risk.Brian Helen

Kiwanuka (I will be calling him Kiwi from now on) is an interesting prospect. He had a productive career at Boston College but he faired poorly at both The Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. That's the reason why his stock has been dropping in recent weeks. I think he's going to be a late first round draft pick – which means he'll probably be on the board when the Patriots pick. Do I think personally that they'll draft him? No. I don't think Kiwi has the flexibility to play that edge rusher position that other guys in the draft like many Lawson and Bobby Carpenter do. However, Kiwi does have attributes the Patriots look for in a player. He plays with a high motor and is an upstanding person off the field. My guess is they won't draft him because I don't think he's a great fit for their system but in the same token, I wouldn't be totally shocked if he ended up a Patriot.
-Tom Casale

So just how many of these emails from supposedly random "fans" of a school or player are actually just fans and how many are agents pushing their clients? You guys get so many emails talking up so-and-so who "really should go high in the second round" and "ran great routes when they were at" Auburn/Miami/FSU/etc., I just can't believe none of these emails are from agents. At least, if I were an agent with a mid-rounder I was trying to push I'd spend the 20 seconds to write an email to every team's web site pushing my guy.Jason Jarvis

Well, you nailed it. I can't believe you figured us out. Brian Helen is actually Drew Rosenhaus. He was just writing in to us to try and increase the draft stock of Mathias Kiwanuka. We have many other agents who do the same thing because every NFL GM reads ASK PFW on a weekly basis to find out who Tom Casale, Andy Hart and Paul Perillo like in the draft. Seriously, I don't even understand this e-mail. We base our opinions of players by watching games, breaking down film and talking with people. We have no affiliation with any agents and quite frankly, it makes no difference to us who goes where in the draft. We're just passing along our opinion and some information we may pick up from time to time. NFL scouts, player personnel guys, head coaches and general managers decide which players go where in the draft. Unfortunately, the writers at Patriots Football Weekly aren't important enough to influence any of these people.
-Tom Casale

I'm surprised I haven't heard much about Lawyer Milloy's release from Buffalo. I figured he'd replace Law as the big "potential return" candidate in the media and fan's sights. Do you feel he's just that out of the question? Also, will David Terrell have a chance to compete for a WR spot again? Lastly, are any of you guys prepared to go on record with your first round draft pick prediction yet? Thanks.John Constantine

I suppose there is a slight chance Milloy could return but I wouldn't bet on it. Right now, he's asking for way too much money. I know he's spoken with the Bengals and we'll have to wait and see if any team meets his salary demands. If not, the Patriots may be in contention but unlike Ty Law, Milloy and the Patriots parted on bad ways and I'm not so sure those fences have been mended. I wouldn't expect Milloy to be back and that's not really a bad thing because to be honest with you, he isn't that good anymore. David Terrell is a stiff. There's no chance he'll ever play a down for this team and if I'm wrong and he does, that's not saying a whole heck of a lot about the Patriots receiving corps.

As far as draft predictions, I do a mock draft on this site every two weeks and my last prediction was Richard Marshall, the cornerback out of Fresno State. However, that has since changed. In my new mock I will have the Patriots selecting either Manny Lawson or DeAngelo Williams. If they get Williams at 21, someone should call the cops on them.
-Tom Casale

Guys, how is it that Chris Hovan and La'Roi Glover got signed as free agents during this whole "Free Agency delayed" period while the labor talks were going on? Is it because they were released and that is how they became UFA's? If so, I am surprised especially because teams that know they will be under the cap regardless of what happens have not signed more guys that have been recently released. Thanks.David

The start of free agency isn't until Friday at midnight. But then why were the Rams able to sign La'Roi Glover, and the Eagles able to sign Shawn Barber?Jarrod Grant

Let me clear up the confusion for you. If a player is released, they automatically become an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team they choose to sign with. A player like David Givens, on the other hand, is under contract until the new NFL year begins. So, while a player like Glover could sign with a team right away, Givens had to wait until 12:01 AM Saturday before he was officially let go from the contract he signed with the Patriots.
-Tom Casale

Hi guys. Long time fan of Ask PFW, which continues to be the single best media source for Patriots fans. My questions revolve around the draft. First, how does the new CBA affect the rookie money pool and by extension the value of a draft pick? Second, could you give a complete list of this year's Pats picks? I can only find information for the first two rounds. Thanks.Brian Delfino

The new CBA agreement actually does nothing to the players coming out in the draft. It just gives teams more money to spend. For instance, if no agreement had been reached a team like the Jets would have had trouble signing their rookies because they would have been so far over the salary cap. Basically, the new agreement just gives teams more cap space to offer higher contracts to rookies.

For the complete listing of all the Patriots draft picks, go to our draft page at:

This page can also be accessed by going to the main page of and selecting "draft" from the drop down menu under news at the top of the screen.
-Tom Casale

I read on that Javon Walker is extremely unhappy in Green Bay and wants out. He even went as far to say that if he isn't traded he would retire so he wouldn't have to play for them next year. In 2004 he went to the Pro Bowl with 1300 yards receiving. He's bigger than any of our other receivers at 6'3" 215 and only four years in the league. Considering the extra picks and "if" Green Bay lets him explore his options, could you see the Pats trading a 3rd or 4th round pick to get him? Or is it too risky with him coming off of a major injury (ACL tear)?Todd

Well Todd, if the Packers only want a 3rd or 4th round draft pick for Walker, the Patriots would have some competition for his services because every one of the other 31 teams would be trying to get him as well. Walker is a great player and if he's traded, it's going to be for much more than a third round pick. My guess is that he's going nowhere. This is probably just a negotiating ploy to get more money from the team. The Packers have plenty of money to spend this year, so I expect they'll use some of it to get a long-term deal done with Walker. By the way, if Walker retires so will I. That kind of talk is all garbage from agents and players at this time of year.
-Tom Casale

I found this quote in the Providence Journal pretty interesting, "Damien Woody, Bobby Hamilton, David Patten, Ted Washington, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Tebucky Jones and Joe Andruzzi have all left the Patriots for more lucrative deals. Not a single one of them has played in a playoff game since departing the Pats. Nor will they ever enjoy the marketability in this region that they had before they left." Maybe Vinatieri should think about his chances of ever getting a ring again or being the hometown icon he is here. Look at Damien Woody and Lawyer Milloy, they chose money over another Super Bowl ring. Vinatieri could make that same mistake.Corey

While I agree Vinatieri has reached rock star status in New England, I feel that he will always have that no matter where he goes. In my opinion, three people – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Vinatieri – have earned a lifetime pass from Patriots fans. Plus, if he went to Dallas, he would be a God there too as soon as he makes his first clutch kick. I hear what you are saying but Vinatieri is much bigger around here than those other guys were. Vinatieri has three Super Bowl rings and if he feels it's in his best interest to sign with another team, I think Patriots fans should respect his decision. If you ever want to get on his case, put in a tape of that Raiders game. In my opinion, his 45-yard kick to tie that game in those conditions is one of the best plays in NFL history. Trust me, even if he leaves, Vinatieri can come back to the Boston area anytime he wants and open up a restaurant or do a Toyota commercial. His field goal against the Raiders kicked off (pun intended) the Patriots dynasty and any fan that ever forgets that isn't really a fan in my book.
-Tom Casale

OK, with the 2006 NFL now looking pretty much like the 2005 NFL after the recent labor agreement, I decided to really look at the 2006 opponents for the first time and try to get a feel for how the Patriots might fare this year. Now, maybe I am being a little optimistic (seeing as many of our playoff-savvy veterans repeatedly gave away the Denver playoff game with turnovers each time we threatened to take the lead - did we dominate every aspect of that game or what??), but I look at the 2006 opponents and I see 13-3 as the worst case scenario, barring key injuries etc. In the AFC East I see probably one road loss and I will chalk that up for Miami. Outside the division on the road, I will chalk up another loss to either Jacksonville or Cincinnati (with the Bengals probably the scarier opponent). And finally, while Indianapolis, Denver and Chicago are all good teams; I can't see the Pats faring worse than 2-1 against them in Foxboro. So I see another ho-hum :) 13-3 season and a first round bye and possibly even 15-1 if Rodney Harrison comes back fully as his old self by midseason and we get some of those more dangerous teams later on in the schedule. As early as it is in the free-agency period, and assuming that the disgraceful exit from the playoffs doesn't get into anyone's heads, what do you guys think? I don't see any of our opponents other than Miami being major players in free agency; in fact, teams like Indy are going to have to scramble to stay where they were in 2005, so I don't think that it is too early to start speculating on 06.Nate Stafford

Thank God for this e-mail. We here at the Patriots organization thought we were actually going to have to work this year. Now that I know 13-3 is the worst-case scenario, I'll let Belichick know not to worry about things like game plans and to start resting his starters in week eight. Come on my friend. The draft isn't even here yet and you have the Patriots going possibly 15-1? Despite the fact they haven't done one single thing to improve their team up to this point? That's craziness. First of all, in today's NFL different teams make the playoffs every year, so there's no way to predict who will be good and who won't. The Bears could stink this year and the Jets could win 10 games. No one knows so going over the schedule and trying to predict which teams the Patriots will beat and which teams they'll lose to is meaningless. Last year my good friend Andy Hart was slammed because he predicted the Patriots would go 11-5. People wrote in and said, "according to the schedule" they were easily going 14-2. Well, they went 10-6 and barely made the playoffs. Don't waste your time trying to predict what the Patriots record will be in March. Worry about it January.
-Tom Casale

Wow! Is it just me or did the Giants get an absolute steal by signing Sam Madison? A reported 4 year 7.4 million dollar deal - 2 million in bonus. That seems like a bargain for a starting CB and one who has been to multiple Pro Bowls. I know he will be 32 this year, but so is another free agent CB that we all know (and maybe still love?) who is reportedly looking for10 million in bonus alone. I know it's irrelevant now but out of curiosity, do you have any reason to believe the Pats would have been interested in Madison - especially at that price? More importantly, since it is reasonable to assume the Pats will once again look to add some good people to that part of the roster this offseason, what impact do you think that deal has on other free agent CBs? And yes, sorry in advance for this, even Ty Law?Eric

I think the Giants god a great deal with Madison. He's getting older but for the price they paid for him, it was a good move by the Giants. I would have thought the Patriots would have given him a look but right now they don't appear to be looking at anyone. They are just sitting back and waiting for the market prices to go down, which is how they usually approach free agency. As for Ty Law, the Patriots will never re-sign him for the money he's asking for. If he comes down on his offer, they might consider him but we all know Ty and it's doubtful his price is going to come down to the point where the Patriots can afford him. Law probably won't get the $10 million in guaranteed money he's asking for but some team – possibly the Chiefs – will give him more money than the Patriots are willing to spend on him.
-Tom Casale

With teams jumping at the chance to sign some FA running backs, I can't help but wonder if DeAngelo Williams and/or LenDale White fall to us. In this scenario I think we have to take one of these guys. According to the mock draft on this website, all the teams (aside from Houston) who mocked to draft a running back (Arizona and Edgerrin James, Baltimore and Mike Anderson, and Minnesota and Chester Taylor). So far, how good do you think the chances are of the Patriots being able to draft one of these two guys, and if given the opportunity, would they? Thanks, you guys rock!Billy Mondor

There will definitely now be one – if not two – of the top running backs available when the Patriots are on the clock. I don't think it will be White because he's the one power back in this draft. If it's Williams and the Patriots pass on him, I think they'll rue the day they did. In my opinion, Williams is a top ten player in this draft and a future superstar in the NFL. Think about it. This guy gained almost 2,000 playing with a third-string quarterback for most of the year. Another college running back did the same thing years ago. His name was Emmitt Smith and he too slipped in the first round of the draft. I think Williams is a faster, quicker version of Smith. At 217 pounds, he's built like a rock and he also has those Barry Sanders-like feet that make him almost impossible to tackle in the open field. I think Williams has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl NFL running back and I, for one, will not be happy if the Patriots pass on a player with his talent if he's available when they're on the clock.
-Tom Casale

As much as I would like to see Troy Brown and Doug Flutie in Patriots uniforms one more year, I think it's time. Sure, Troy could probably play one or two more years. I think it would open up much needed money. Doug should call it quits and retire a hometown hero. Do you think, or have you heard if they will?Raymond Boulay

I don't know what the Patriots plans are but I think they need to get a younger backup quarterback in here while Cassel is still developing. I mean, if Brady is lost for the season it probably wouldn't make a difference anyway. However, if he gets injured and is only going to miss six weeks, you would like to have a backup quarterback who can lead you to a 3-3 or 4-2 record in his absence. I'm not sure Flutie can do that at his age. I think in another year or two, Cassel will be an excellent backup but until he's ready, the team needs to bring in another viable option at quarterback in my opinion.

I think Brown is 50/50 right now. He will either come back and play one more season in New England or retire. I would be shocked if he played for another team, seeing he declined an offer to sign with the Saints last year so he could stay in New England. I think this decision may come down to Troy Brown himself and if the team thinks he can help them enough on the field for one more year.
-Tom Casale

I don't get it. I looked at the cap list and the Pats are 14th. There are only two teams over the cap. The Redskins are over, yet they are singing everybody. How is this possible? I thought Adam Archuleta was going to visit the Pats? Are we going to upgrade or keep anyone? I trust Bill Belichick as much as anyone but I thought we would make some moves.Dave Martin me out here guys. How come the same teams that are over the cap and have to cut players are always the first teams to sign overpriced players in free-agency? How do they do it? And then the Dolphins who I believe are over the cap have brought in just about free agent on the market to talk (Drew Brees, David Givens, Tom Ashworth, Lavar Arrington, Sam Adams etc.) I know that doesn't mean they are going to sign them all but do these teams at or above the cap sign a Drew Brees or a Lavar Arrington, do they back load the heck out of the contract? I can see how the Browns and Vikings can shop till they drop but what about the other guys?Chris Wheeler

Actually Dave, I'm not sure where you heard Archuleta was scheduled to make a visit but those rumors were false. From what I know, he was never scheduled to come to New England. Plus, we don't want him. Safeties that can't cover and can't tackle who sign contracts that pay them an obscene amount of money usually aren't in the Patriots plans. I know everyone is getting itchy about the lack of participation the Patriots have shown in free agency but just be patient. This is how the Patriots go about things so we really shouldn't be surprised. If you think about it – with the exception of a few teams – no one is really going out and signing a lot of players right now. Five or six teams are basically controlling the market right now. I'm sure the Patriots have a plan and they're just waiting to put in place.

As for the Redskins, they either have the best cap guy in the business or they're finding loopholes in the system. From what I was told, they are using free agency kind of like a credit card where they buy now and pay later. Every year we hear about how they're in trouble and every year they sign every player under the sun. Sooner or later it's going to catch up with them and they'll have to rebuild much like the Cowboys and 49ers had to do after their run in the 90s. Having said that, I like how they have improved their team with the exception of Archuleta – who can't play in my opinion. The Patriots will strike sooner or later just be patient. I know it sucks but hopefully it will pay off in the end.

Chris, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned back loading contracts. These numbers you hear coming out don't mean anything. It all comes down to guaranteed money. For instance, take the Ty Law contract that he signed with the Jets. He was owed a $10 million roster bonus but he never got it because they cut him. Look at Jamal Lewis' contract he signed with the Ravens. It's being reported that it's a three-year deal but in actuality, it's a one-year deal because the Ravens can terminate the contract at the end of next season. Just be careful when you hear all these crazy amounts of money that are being thrown around because in reality, most of the players that are signing those huge contracts won't see all that money. That's why we always hear about "guaranteed money." That's the key to any contract because that's the amount of money the player gets for sure. Now you know why Ty Law wants $10 million in guaranteed money.
-Tom Casale

For years we have watched teams like the Redskins spend money, shaking our heads knowing they would be in serious trouble sometime soon. Now the new CBA seems to have bailed them out, and they are able to go out again and spend like crazy. Do you think this is fair to teams that have spent wisely like the Patriots, who have probably had to pass on players they wanted because teams like the Redskins inflated the market? Or do you think that its all relative, that salaries in general will increase and it will all balance out, and this spending frenzy will just result in teams being in trouble again in a couple of years?J. Japers

Every team in the NFL can do what the Redskins are doing if they want to. To say that because they are signing a bunch of guys is unfair to the Patriots is ridiculous. The Patriots can go out and do the same thing; they just go about building their football team a different way. It's not like the Redskins are breaking the rules (At least there hasn't been any proof of that up to this point). If the Patriots want to sign someone, they have to pay what that player is worth or they will sign with another team. Just like Davis Givens did. It's that simple. Each team goes into free agency with a plan and obviously the Redskins and Patriots don't have the same plan. However, nothing Washington is doing is unfair to the Patriots - or any other team for that matter - in any way.
-Tom Casale

I have kept the faith when the Pats cut star players because they seem to get good draft picks and make great moves in free agency. Now, I know there is still a lot of talent available but...PLEASE tell me why it appears they are not doing anything but cutting. It seems they are just standing there watching our free agents sign with other teams and letting all the other free agent talent get signed elsewhere without expressing interest. Is there really that much hope in the draft? It appears that Romeo is stacking up his team with ex Pats...what's next? Willie Mac, Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy in Browns uniforms?Dave Cruz

I need to vent my anger once again due to the fact I am seeing countless potential Patriot free agents just disappear from contention. Randle El gone. Archuleta gone. Mike Anderson gone. Jurevicius gone. Tons of quality linebackers and wide receivers that could provide depth and youth are gone. What even makes me angrier is that WE HAVE 17 MILLION DOLLARS IN CAP ROOM. Its not like we don't have holes to fill. WE HAVEN'T SIGNED ONE PLAYER AS OF MONDAY NIGHT. It is a blow every time I look on the Internet and see another quality free agent off the board.Corey

Givens Gone. Fauria Gone. Brown Gone. McGinest Gone. No interest shown in signing Vinatieri. How much longer will the Pats stand back and watch as the Redskins and Browns clean up on available free agents? They have signed no one of any significance to help improve this team. Whom, if anyone, do you see the Patriots going after? That is, if anyone is left!!Roman DuVall

Okay everyone; don't jump off the bridge quite yet. Free agency is not even a week old and the panic is already setting in. Listen, is it exciting to be a Redskins fan right now while they sign every free agent on the planet? Yes, but how many Super Bowls have the Redskins won lately? This is typical Patriots. They sit back and just when you think they're not doing anything, they make waves by signing a Julian Peterson or Keyshawn Johnson (if he's released by Dallas). Heck, maybe they're even going after Terrell Owens. While that's not likely, my point is you never know with this team. They obviously have a plan and if you look at the guys that signed, the Patriots probably had no interest in most of them. I keep hearing the name Adam Archuleta. Has anyone ever watched a Rams game? The guy stinks and if he did come here, Patriots fans would want to know why he was getting beat for touchdowns on every other play. Yes, the Patriots have money to spend and at some point they'll spend it. Everyone just needs to be patient. Remember, that same patience has produced three Super Bowls in the last five years. My guess is Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli didn't forget how to run a team overnight. They'll get done what needs to get done, trust me.
-Tom Casale

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