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Patriots Monday (WEEI Simulcast) Mon Dec 04 | 08:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Ask PFW: Free agent free-for-all continues

Just when you think the Pats are done signing free agents, they pull you back in. This week's edition of Ask PFW looks at the new Patriots and continues to keep one eye on the upcoming draft.

Hi guys - first of all I want to say what a great job you guys have been doing with PFW, it's really kept me up-to-date with the pats. My main question is about Stallworth. I have just heard confirmation he has signed a 6-year, $32million deal with us, which does seem a little bit high. What would be realistic goals for Stallworth (assuming he stays healthy) this year? By adding him and Welker to our receiving corps we have had a massive upgrade. This takes pressure off Jackson, so it's helping to ease Jackson in. Now that this has happened, do you think Troy Brown will retire?Dominic Finn

I'm interested in what you guys at Ask PFW think about Donte' Stallworth? Is he the type of receiver that can thrive with a premier QB like Tom Brady? It sure would be nice if we could get a 1,000 yard type receiver that is a threat to score on every possession.Rian Bednarz

I'm not sure if Troy Brown is going to retire but I don't think one thing has anything to do with the other. Brown is just a situational guy at this point in his career and the Patriots needed to upgrade the receiver position regardless, so they went out and did so. I'm not really concerned with the contract. First, all of the contracts the Patriots offered this offseason have been cap friendly. Second, I want them to try and win now. I keep hearing about the future. No offense but in 10 years are Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli all going to be here? Probably not. I don't see any way people can criticize these moves. If they don't work out, fine, but the Patriots did what they needed to do this offseason. They got better at key positions and now they can sit back and do whatever they want to on draft day.

As for Stallworth, he has chronic hamstring problems dating back to his college days at Tennessee. That means if history is any indicator, Stallworth will probably miss a couple of games this year. However, I think he will be a dangerous weapon with Brady throwing him the ball and 75 receptions, 1,100 yards and 8-10 touchdowns is a definite possibility if Stallworth plays at least 14 games.
-Tom Casale

Hey guys. Great stuff in the last issue, and from what I read, I think that Anthony Spencer is a guy who could really fit in and learn under our vets. Now I figure that if the Pats don't take him at #24 (if he is available at that point) I figure he's gone by #28. So what are your thoughts on Spencer and what the Pats might do at #28 now that they have Donte Stallworth signed?Andrew Callahan

Spencer is a good player who was very impressive at the Combine. However, most people I talked with believe he's a much better fit as a 4-3 defensive end. While that remains to be seen, I think with the signing of Adalius Thomas that inside linebacker and defensive back now become the two main areas that need to be upgraded. We are in the middle of watching film right now but one guy who really looks good is Florida inside linebacker Brandon Siler. I think he would be a great fit for the Pats if they can't get Willis and decide to trade down into the second round. Spencer is a very good player but he may not be a fit for this defense.
-Tom Casale

I like our free agent signing a lot, but I am a bit surprised how much we gave up for them: $5.3M for a 35 year old blocker Brady, and a 2d/7th picks for Welker. Isn't it the kind of compensation you give for Moss? To me it all shows that Pats are going to make a run at SB this year. As a fan - I can only enjoy the ride and hope it lasts.Ed

Yes, just enjoy the ride. It isn't your money so you shouldn't care if they spend it. In my opinion, I don't think the Patriots overpaid for anyone. Granted, you can certainly argue that a second round pick is too much to give up for Welker. Although, he's a player the Patriots like and they think he'll thrive in their system. If that's the case, I have no problem with it. To be honest, I wouldn't give up that kind of compensation for Welker but with all the draft picks the Patriots have (Expected to be around 10 after the compensatory selections are awarded), is it really that big of a deal? I say no.

And I don't know if you've seen all the crazy contracts being thrown around but $5.3 million is peanuts for a player who is going to be on the field a lot. I'm not just saying this but I honestly don't have a problem with any of the signings. If a team has Tom Brady at quarterback and they are spending money to win a Super Bowl, I'm all for it. Especially when the deals they made really aren't hurting their future cap space.
-Tom Casale

Looking at the cast of potential draftees, I notice a player named Quincy Black the linebacker out of New Mexico. I saw that he finished high on a lot of the scouting combine drills. What's the full scoop on this kid? Another draftee is this DB Fred Bennett kid he looks promising. He's out of South Carolina what's his story? Thank you and keep up the great job.Jeremiah Fitzgerald

Black is a tremendous athlete with great speed and quickness. He's a little raw but he does have the physical ability to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. His Combine numbers are more impressive than his actual production on the field, so I wouldn't fall completely in love with him based on that. Black is a mid-round prospect that has upside, but I would say he has a ways to go before he is a major contributor at the NFL level. He's more of a workout warrior than a football player right now.

Bennett is a good player but because he's in a draft that's deep at the cornerback position, he could fall further than he should. I haven't watched tape on Bennett yet, so I won't have my official opinion on him until I do. I liked what I saw of him when I watched South Carolina play last year but after I see him on tape, I'll have a better idea if he fits in with the Patriots or not. Right now, Bennett looks to be a late-third/early-fourth round selection.
-Tom Casale

Do you think there is any chance the New England Patriots could buy an Arena Football franchise or would benefit from buying one? I believe it would provide a wonderful opportunity to try out potential talent while training operational persons and coaches close to home. The Teams existing infrastructure is in place and could be used. The Dallas Cowboys do this with the Dallas Desperados of Arena Football.Arthur Soule

Just for the record, the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game in 10 years, so I don't know if that's the franchise you want to pattern yourself after. Also, the AFL stinks in my opinion. Perhaps this explains the Cowboys lack of success over the years. Maybe if they knew how to draft and didn't rely on glorified college players to make the team, they would be more successful on the field. I'm just confused with your analogy. What have Jerry Jones and the Cowboys gained from owning an Arena Football franchise in regards to football personnel? My answer would be absolutely nothing.
-Tom Casale

With the recent signing of Adalius Thomas, it seems that the Patriots now have three potential starting OLBs. Assuming that Thomas already has a starting spot locked down, where does this leave Vrabel and Colvin? Will they compete for the second OLB spot or will Vrabel play inside again? I think Vrabel is a great player, both inside and outside, and really embodies what the club is all about, but I don't think anyone would argue that he's a true ILB. That said, with Thomas's versatility, might he play inside with Bruschi and leave the outside spots to Vrabel and Colvin, as last season?Robin Bullock

I don't think you'll see Thomas playing a lot of inside linebacker. I'm sure Belichick will have some packages where he'll line up inside but you are going to see Thomas play on the edge the majority of the time. Right now, I think you have Thomas and Colvin on the outside, with Bruschi and Vrabel playing inside. Thomas is much more effective as an outside pass rusher, so I imagine that's where he'll be most of the time. I agree that Vrabel isn't a true inside linebacker but unless something changes, he's the best option the Patriots have there at the moment.
-Tom Casale

The national media seems to have the notion that the Patriots are "breaking their mold" and basically breaking the bank to sign the people they want. Are we really the new Redskins? The Pats made some tough cuts last year and suddenly everyone was convinced they were cheap and always have been. It seems like the Pats took advantage of that and made free agents feel special with offers that were still below market value. How do you see this approach vs. past years?Will Bortolin

I think the reason you are hearing this is because the Patriots have never struck so early and so often in free agency like they have this year. Even back in 2003 when they signed Colvin and Rodney Harrison, it wasn't the free agent barrage like it was this year. The Patriots entered free agency with a specific plan and they worked quickly to implement it. I wouldn't call the team cheap, I would say "patient" is a better word to describe them. It doesn't mean one way is more effective than the other. It just means this year the Patriots had money to spend, targeted a few specific guys and went out and got them.

And to go even further, unlike the Redskins, they really didn't throw around a lot of crazy money for overrated players. Like I said earlier, critics can question giving up a second round pick for Welker but other than that, I don't see how you can argue with any of their other moves. They picked up solid players who fill needs without breaking the bank. That's good business in my book.
-Tom Casale

I'm wondering what it would take to get Cleveland's Andra Davis. He's 6-1 and 254 lbs; and, he can fill inside run lanes and is a very good tackler in the box. He also performs well in zone coverage. Maybe the second of our number one's and/or anything in addition to seal the deal.Bob Turner

Well Bob, if you like Davis and think he's such a great player, don't you think the Browns like him just as much? In order to trade for a player, that player has to actually be available, and Davis isn't at the present time. I seriously doubt the Browns are going to part with their best defensive player just so they can make the Patriots even stronger.
-Tom Casale

The Patriots were active in the opening stages of free agency. What might they do if anything thing in the middle or latter part? After Patrick Willis, I think David Harris from Michigan is the best ILB. Would it be a stretch to draft him in the first round? I think he would be gone before the third round.David Playe

Harris will be long gone by the third round. From the people I've talked to, Harris is a late-first/early-second round selection. I saw him on tape last week and was extremely impressed by him. Harris may be the fastest inside linebacker in this year's draft class. He's very good in coverage and is fast enough to chase down both running backs and receivers in the open field. One thing I really liked about Harris is he sticks to tight ends down the field in coverage. He's really shooting up draft boards and if the Patriots selected Harris late in the first round, I would have no problem with that at all. But a more likely scenario would be trading down a few spots to get him. As good as Harris is, make no mistake about the fact that Patrick Willis is by far and away the best inside linebacker in this draft.
-Tom Casale

Why have the PATS refused to fix the glaring problem at MLB??? Bruschi and Vrabel can't cover anyone. They are only so-so at run defense. The PATS need young big fast mobile MLB. Is the kid from New Mexico the answer??? Where can they get help???? The Colts made it all to obvious that our MLB are soft at best. Every OC that gets tape on that playoff game will go after the MLB like sharks after seals.Ed Di Biase

I don't know Ed, does every offensive coordinator have Peyton Manning at their disposal? I don't think you can say that just because the Colts have moved the ball well on the Patriots defense recently that every team in the league is all of a sudden going to start scoring 35 points on them. I agree that New England must address the inside linebacker position but as long as they have that defensive front and Belichick coming up with gameplans, I'm not too worried about the defense. Also, the kid from New Mexico is an outside linebacker and no, he's not the answer.
-Tom Casale

There was an NFL Blitz article that questioned giving a 2nd rounder for Welker, when it was possible to get Moss for that price. With Welker admitting to being best suited as a slot receiver, did the Pats give too much to get Welker?Moses Ip

Welker admitted to being best suited as a slot receiver because that's what he is. He'll play slot receiver and return punts for the Patriots, two areas that needed an upgrade in my opinion. This is how I look at the Welker deal. The Patriots are either getting Tim Dwight or Troy Brown. If they end up getting Dwight, it will be a bad move. If Welker ends up being more like Troy Brown, then it will turn out to be a great trade. They may have given up a little too much for him but like I said, with two first round picks and potentially 10 overall selections in the upcoming draft, they had the luxury to do so. Trust me, if New England only had four picks in this draft, I seriously doubt they would have made that trade.
-Tom Casale

I have noticed that over the past few seasons that the defense doesn't blitz like it once did. They seem to play more coverage than QB pressure. Our blitz packages use to fierce, and feared. Have we gone away from that because of lack of speed at LB, secondary inconsistency, or something else? Oh, and do you think Patrick Willis will fall to us at 24 even though SF, Balt, and Cincy are also looking LB. Do you think Chris Houston could be a good Pats fit?Jesse Malvesti

Willis could fall but it's highly doubtful. I started preaching about him as soon as the season ended and after watching Willis on tape, he's even better than I thought he was. The guy is a beast.

I absolutely love Houston. Some might think he was just a workout warrior at the Combine but that couldn't be further from the truth. In my opinion, Houston is the best cornerback in this draft and it isn't even close. The guy has it all. He's blazing fast and has great leaping ability but the thing I like most about Houston is his toughness. He's extremely physical pressing receivers at the line. On tape, Houston manhandled Dwayne Jarrett, Robert Meachem and Sidney Rice, not letting them get off the line of scrimmage. When he gives a receiver that initial "pop" in press coverage, he knocks them back and disrupts the timing of the route. Houston is one of the most impressive defensive players in this draft and superior to Michigan's Leon Hall in every way. I think he's the one true shutdown corner available and if New England lands him with one of its two first round picks, Patriots fans should be ecstatic.
-Tom Casale

Some non-patriots, non-football comments. Hoping this gets picked and answered. Does anyone in PFW team follow the game of cricket? If so, is anyone making it to watch the world cup matches in person? Worse come - you get a week off in the Caribbean. That's not bad. Is it? Cricket World Cup is being held in the Caribbean (or the West Indies as we call it out here in India & other cricket playing nations!) over the next 5 weeks. I am sure, with the sizeable south Asian population in US - there is going to be television coverage out there. Any thoughts?Kalyan Chatrathi

I just posted this because we all agreed that it was the strangest e-mail we've ever received. My answer is I have absolutely no idea what Cricket is if you aren't talking about that annoying insect that won't shut the heck up in the summer. And no it won't be on TV because, well, it's Cricket. Sorry.
-Tom Casale

Hey PFW...Just stopping by to say that Tom Casale is awesome.John Smith

In contrast, this is the best e-mail we've ever received. Keep up the good work John, we always enjoy reading intelligent e-mails like this one. You're right, Tom is awesome.
-Andy Hart

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