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Ask PFW: From cut-down day to opening night

I was really shocked that they released Gaffney and did not even put him on the practice squad. I am not for sure if it's just me but I am not sold on Blount. I don't see him attack the line. I think Bolden is a much better back for hitting the line hard and catching the ball. But I guess Blount gives them that goal line back that is big and strong to move a pile 1 yard. When I saw Gaffney get cut, I was hoping he would get picked up on the practice squad at least.
Jeff Wells

Gaffney was waived at the final cut down to 53 with an injury designation after limping off the field early in the preseason finale against the Giants. Gaffney then cleared waivers and, according to the Globe, reverted to injured reserve in New England. It's his third-straight season on injured reserve with the Patriots, failing to make it to the regular season in his three years in the NFL. He could potentially reach an injury settlement with the team at some point, depending on the severity of the injury he suffered. But right now, the bottom line is that Gaffney is hurt, on injured reserve and not eligible for the practice squad. That said, I share your uncertainty regarding the running back depth chart. Like you, I'm not sold that Blount is the guy to carry the rock – either short yardage or on a more regular basis. There is no real lead dog right now. Maybe Bishop Sankey is an option as he gets his feet wet as a former second-round pick on the practice squad. Only time will tell. I have my doubts about the Patriots ability to run the ball right now and I think that's a more than fair concern.
Andy Hart

Hello guys, nice work you do, big Patriots fan here from Mexico since 96. My question is: what if Jimmy G performs as a pro, and Bill B does the same as he did when he suited up Bledsoe 15 years ago, what would be the future of Brady on the team? And is it probable that Aaron Dobson wears the Patriots helmet again? I mean the guy performed very well in the preseason games as far as I saw what do you believe? Sorry for my English, I'm still learning the language. God bless you guys and the entire Patriots nation.
Carlos Corona

Don't worry about your English, most Americans haven't mastered the language either! I still believe that if Garoppolo does well in his fill-in role this year he will be a major trade chip this offseason. Brady hasn't shown any signs of slowing down and is under contract through 2019. Garoppolo, even after four games, will be somewhat unproven and his rookie contract will expire after 2017. He'll want to start somewhere sooner rather than later and the Patriots can't afford to pay both guys at starter money. I know people talk about it a lot, but I can't ever see the Patriots trading a healthy, productive Brady. Makes for a good radio topic, but the reality is it would be a crazy trade to actually pull the trigger on. The circumstances are quite different than those in place when Brady took over for Bledsoe. As for Dobson, I think you've seen the last of him in New England. The Patriots reportedly tried to trade the former second-round pick and then he when unclaimed when he was eventually cut. He did some nice things this offseason in a nice last-ditch effort to hang around for a fourth season, but apparently not enough. He just was never able to stay healthy enough or find a real fit in the Brady-led offense. I think it's probably better for both sides to move on permanently.
Andy Hart

I know that the Patriots defense is stacked at every position, but how do you explain losing Cre'Von LeBlanc to John Fox (Bears) on waivers while retaining Justin Coleman? LeBlanc played at least as well as Coleman during the preseason, at least as far as I could tell, is a year younger than Coleman and appeared to have the higher ceiling, having come out of Florida Atlantic (Coleman was from a big school - Tennessee). Was I over-evaluating LeBlanc? Under-evaluating Coleman?
Ralph Colucci

Coleman has something that LeBlanc did not at this point, and that's regular season game action. Coleman was impressive down the stretch when he was able to get healthy last season. He certainly had his ups and downs this summer, but he's also clearly a guy the Patriots want to keep working with. I also liked LeBlanc and thought he had a real chance to make the roster, but I expected it to be in place of fellow undrafted rookie Jonathan Jones and not Coleman. I thought LeBlanc had a nice knack for being around the ball and making plays in the limited time I saw him this summer. I don't really think these comparisons have anything to do with where a player comes from. New England has kept big and small school products in these types of battles over the years. Clearly Belichick and his staff liked Coleman and Jones better than LeBlanc, who it seemed that they hoped to sneak through waivers onto the practice squad. That never happened. Now, we'll be left to see what Coleman and Jones offer the team, whether they can be the depth at cornerback that New England has lacked a bit in recent years.
Andy Hart

Hi guys, I have two questions about position changes: 1. Wouldn't it be worthwhile to test Joe Thuney at right tackle? We already have young guards (Mason, Jackson and Cooper) but we don't have a young replacement for Vollmer, with Cannon as a proven liability and Thuney with a good season as left tackle, maybe would be interesting to see him as a tackle 2. Wouldn't D.J. Foster be better suited at slot receiver? We are thin at RB, but White is ahead in the depth chart, with Amendola getting off the PUP list one week before the first game, I think we have a bigger emergency at WR.
Gregorio Ladeira

I have wondered the same thing about Thuney given the relative lack of depth at tackle where the two starters – Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon – are backed up by LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming. (And seeing Solder limp off with a leg injury in the preseason finale didn't make me feel better about the positional depth!) Thuney has clearly impressed the coaching staff as a rookie third-round pick to the point he seems likely to start on opening night at left guard. Now, the depth at guard is a question to open the year with Tre' Jackson on PUP, Mason dealing with a reported broken hand and Cooper having a foot injury all summer after arriving via trade. Still, given that Thuney was an All-ACC left tackle last year at N.C. State (he also played guard for the Wolfpack) I was a little surprised to see him not take any tackle reps this summer. Not sure we're right, but it does seem there is more acceptable interior depth right now than there is on the outside, which can certainly be argued is a more critical position. Foster may see reps lined up in the slot, but I don't see him as a full-time player in that role. He was a RB/WR 'tweener in college. From the limited I've seen I think his skills are as a versatile passing back in the NFL. The Patriots have Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan capable of playing in the slot, even if Amendola needs time to knock the rust off. Of course in many spread sets you'll see running backs, fullbacks, tight ends and wide receivers all lined up wide as Josh McDaniels will always work to take full advantage of the entirety of his personnel. Foster is just another option in that mix right now.
Andy Hart

I don't understand why the Patriots cut Keshawn Martin; especially since they gave him an extension back in January? Also, why didn't the Patriots decide to claim Keenan Reynolds and Justin Forsett from the Ravens?
Mackenzie Kirkey

While it wasn't a stunner, I was surprised to see Martin cut. That's especially true given that New England also cut Dobson and Chris Harper. I thought at least one of those guys would be retained – Martin the most likely of the three – given the injuries dealt with this summer by Edelman, Amendola, Chris Hogan and rookie Malcolm Mitchell. Add in the $600,000 Martin got last winter in an extension and it is surprising that he's gone. He did look a little gimpy in the preseason finale, but not sure that played a part in the decision. He's a versatile veteran and I wouldn't rule out him seeing time in New England again in the future. Reynolds didn't have a great preseason and I don't think the Patriots saw him being worth a roster spot at this point, even for just a short time. Forsett re-signed with the Ravens and I think that was almost a procedural move based on circumstances. I don't think he was planning to leave Baltimore, nor do I think the Ravens expected him to leave. He could have signed with any team he wanted but I'm not sure anyone, including the Patriots, really would/could have tried to pay enough to lure him away from a return to Baltimore.
Andy Hart

Who made the. practice squad?
David Pothier

The Patriots announced on Sept. 5 that they had signed eight players to the practice squad: OL Chris Barker, OL Clay DeBord (duh-BOARD), DL Geneo Grissom, DL Woodrow Hamilton, LB Rufus Johnson, WR Devin Lucien, RB Bishop Sankey and WR Devin Street. Also, safety Vinnie Sunseri reportedly joined the squad a day later.
Andy Hart

Personally, I was shocked to see that we released Grugier-Hill. Granted, he was 10-20 pounds too light to really be effective in the run game, but he seemed like the ideal hybrid type "Moneybacker" that's trending in the NFL these days. He looked great on special teams throughout the preseason, and other than getting pushed around by tackles in the running game, seemed to be a quality pass defender. There were a number of plays where he absolutely smothered tight ends in man coverage. I don't see why he couldn't have evolved into a Deone Bucannon type player or a sort of poor man's Mark Barron if he bulked up. Can you guys provide some color as to what Belichick might have been thinking? Why not at least keep him on as a special teams contributor while he goes through a full NFL weight training season to get to a solid playing weight?
Ben Offen

While Grugier-Hill wasn't nearly the prospect of guys like Barron or Bucannon – the latter being the measuring stick at this point in the role you described – I was a little surprised to see him cut. He was being groomed as a core special teamer and option as a sub player on the front. I think Belichick has been looking for that type of versatile athlete for years and just hasn't really found the right guy. My guess would be that New England hoped/expected to slide the sixth-round pick through waivers and get him to the practice squad to continue to work with him. The Eagles made sure that didn't happen by claiming the athletic rookie out of Eastern Illinois. I don't think it's a huge loss, but still believe he was a guy Belichick would have liked to have tried to develop. Who knows how things play out, maybe he'll make his way back through New England in the future. Stranger things have happened.
Andy Hart

This was one of the least surprising cut-downs of recent years. I'm uneasy about the D-line: Valentine's a rookie project. Johnson is a smaller pass-rush tackle. Aren't we a little light in the middle, especially given all the 3-4 looks we've seen in the preseason?
David Pineo

I agree that this was a pretty shock-less round of final cuts. The big stories had already come with guys like Bryan Stork and Terrance Knighton. Really, the thin numbers at wide receiver was the only real surprise to me. As for the defensive line, I'm not sure you need much more than three big-bodied defensive tackles right now. That's what you have with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and Vincent Valentine. Anthony Johnson can also fit that role in a pinch. But the way the league and the Patriots defense has been going, it's trending toward more athletic, versatile bodies. That means looks with ends like Chris Long playing inside. And if there is one position where the Patriots have shown the ability to pick up talent during the season over the years it's at defensive tackle. Not sure they will have to do that, but if they do I think they are good enough everywhere else to get by. To me the most interesting guy in the mix is Valentine. I didn't think he had a very strong summer or show me much. As a third-round pick I can't imagine he was in danger of getting cut. But I don't hold a ton of hope that he'll help the Patriots much this year.
Andy Hart

Guys love the continued work and analysis. Look I'm not crazy, but I was thinking to myself a couple preseason games in that Cyrus Jones has looked darn good with the ball in his hands when he's not botching it. When he gets going he's got some nice speed, shiftiness and playmaking ability. We need him for sure at that CB spot learning the position and I'm sure he has got a lot on his plate right now doing just that. However I just wanted to see what your thoughts were on possibly getting him some looks as a "3rd down back." I was hoping you guys could run the idea up the latter to Bill and get his take. Thanks fellas. All the best
Pat "The Real Deal" McGreal
Syracuse, NY

I'm gonna keep it real, McGeal. You are crazy. The kid is trying to learn his job at cornerback and had enough struggles settling into the punt return job. Now, you want him to be a two-way player? There is a big difference between catching a punt and making things happen in that role – which Jones has done very impressively this summer – and taking over the varied responsibilities as a third down back. The route running, the pass protection, the hands and endless other issues could derail him, never mind the fact that no one plays both ways with any regularity in the NFL. And in my opinion the Patriots need – not want, but need – Jones to develop into a starter at cornerback in the next year or so. His plate is completely full, and this idea needs to be sent back to the kitchen. Sorry.
Andy Hart

Martellus Bennett has been terrible. Not one question about it at Belichick's press conference. Are writers afraid to bring it up? Seems to me his shockingly poor pre-season was the elephant in the room. He's supposed to be a star player. The missed pass in the end zone last week was the kind of ball he should be expected to go up and get, he jumped about 3 inches off the ground in a half-hearted attempt. Yesterday's fumble and stat line are jaw dropping. We've got a lot of good players at that position, should we cut Bennett? Is his "who cares?" attitude a good fit for this club?
John Gary Vallely

Not gonna lie, the fact that this is signed using a middle name concerns me, especially since my answer is going to be a bit critical. So, J.G.V, are you telling me you are writing off Bennett? That he stinks and isn't fitting in Foxborough? Cause that's basically what you are expecting the media to ask Belichick at a very early point in the relationship. It's not going to happen. And as a fan I'm guessing you have watched plenty of Belichick's press conferences, so you know how the dance between the coach and the media goes on a daily basis. Bennett has not had a great summer. He's dropped too many balls and the fumble was not acceptable. But I'm not willing to write him off yet, either. I still think he and Rob Gronkowski can be a very productive, dangerous, complementary tandem. As far as his attitude, despite his past reputation I've yet to see much at this point to tell me he's not fitting in as a Patriot.
Andy Hart

First of all love your column and I read every week! I know this question won't appear in the mail bag until after the roster is already cut to 53 (if answered at all), but I have a question as to which players technically can and can't be added to the active 53-man roster. With Brady being suspended for the first four games I believe that opens his roster spot to another player, and the Patriots will have to release somebody in order to add him to the active roster before week 5. My question is, could the Patriots "stick it" to the NFL and carry an open roster spot into the season? Essentially they could leave Brady's spot on the roster open as kind of a middle finger to the NFL. Even better, can a suspended player be listed on the active 53-man roster at all? I would LOVE to see the final 53 released on Sunday and include Brady's name even though he can't play the first four weeks. Yes it's a bit of a vengeful question, but it did get me thinking about the rules concerning which players can be on the active 53-man roster. Thanks!
Chris Stadnicki

Technically, Brady is not on the active roster but the reserve/suspended list. If the Patriots wanted to – I don't know why they would, though – the team could keep just 52 players. That would give the team fewer players to go to battle with for four weeks and force the team to make a decision on at least one player before it would otherwise need to. But Belichick's Patriots actually started the 2000 season with fewer than 53 players, so it's not unprecedented. And for whatever it's worth, the Patriots PR department lists both Brady and suspended defensive end Rob Ninkovich on the rosters it disturbed to the media this week. So those rosters technically list 55 players for New England, although Brady and Ninkovich are suspended for the first four games.
Andy Hart

What kind of money and terms is it going to take to lock up Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower to long-term contracts?
Hugh Smilestone

Many people have speculated that Luke Kuechly's contract with the Panthers – reportedly a five-year deal worth $62 million with $34 million guaranteed – could be a comp for what Collins might be in line for. Now, Kuechly is a former Defensive Player of the Year, so I'm not sure it's an exact comparison, but it's worth at least acknowledging. Hightower is probably not quite in the same potential salary bracket, with some using Bobby Wagner's contract in Seattle – four years for $43 million with $22 million guaranteed – as a possible comparison. It's also worth noting that the salary cap has gone up since those deals were done and that once a guy hits free agency (which neither of those guys did) his price tag usually goes through the roof. So projecting the two Patriots linebackers to surpass those deals – either in New England or elsewhere – is probably a somewhat safe bet at this point.
Andy Hart

Three years ago we thrashed Tampa Bay in the 3rd preseason game. To the point that Andy declared co-defensive player of the year winners in Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. Our D was not nearly that dominant in the regular season. After a very solid performance vs Panthers (although Cam never tried to run) do we loyal Pats fans need to reign in our optimism for this D or can it really be a possible top 5 unit in the league this year? (P.S. who do I email or text to help convince Bill to Sign the BIG 3!!)
Christian King

I remember it well, although I think I actually had Jerod Mayo and Carter splitting the DPOY votes! Anyway, I do think this 2016 Patriots defense has a tone of potential. I think the unit will be better in terms of points and turnovers than yards, but the potential to be a top-five unit is very much real. The group has impressive talent and versatility at all three levels. There are potential star playmakers and decent depth. There will be challenges – Cardinals, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and others – but the group brings a lot to like in those battles. The group was top 10 in both yards and points last year and should be better this season, assuming health isn't a major issue.
Andy Hart

First and Foremost I would like to thank you for the awesome work you guys do. My question is in regards Jimmy G and TB12. I see Jimmy G and the Patriots go 3-1. Do you guys think the Patriots could sign him for the long term? And when TB12 comes back do you see him starting immediately? I see him starting on week 6 or 7. What are your thoughts?
Miguel Pizano
Soledad, Calif.

As I said in an earlier answer, I don't see too much of a chance for Garoppolo to remain in New England for the long term, especially if he plays well. If the Patriots go 3-1 in the four-game stretch, it probably means he's going to play well. I don't see any way that Brady, assuming he's healthy, isn't the starter on Oct. 9 in Cleveland. Belichick made that clear before training camp even started and I think Brady will be crawling up the walls counting down the minutes to that start and return to action. Assuming he stays healthy, Brady will start the final 12 games of the year. It is what it is.
Andy Hart

What first-year players look to be a starter this year?
James Outland

It looks like Thuney is going to get the chance to be the starter at left guard, where he's been since pretty much the first snaps we saw of spring practice. He's had some ups and downs in the summer, but the coaches clearly feel comfortable with him in that spot. The only other rookie or first-year player I see likely to have high-level or starting reps is top pick Cyrus Jones. He could be both the top punt returner as well as the third cornerback, which has become almost a starting job in the NFL at this point. He should see plenty of action in the slot to prove his early worth. After that I think the bulk of the young players – Vincent Valentine, Malcolm Mitchell, Elandon Roberts, Ted Karras, Jonathan Jones, D.J. Foster and certainly Jacoby Brissett – will see only rotational reps and increased time as needed due to injuries.
Andy Hart

I live in Dallas but am a huge Patriots fan. Do you think we need a playmaker like a fast receiver?
Victor McMillon

Need? No. Could every team in the league benefit from another fast receiver who can make plays? Sure. But when healthy I think the Patriots have an interesting corps of playmakers on offense. That includes a potential dynamic tight end duo in Gronkowski and Bennett. Then it moves along to slot receiver with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. This year also adds the new dynamic and potential of Chris Hogan and Mitchell on the receiver depth chart. Neither is a speed burner, but both can make plays on the outside. There is also the James White and, eventually, Dion Lewis combination out of the backfield. That's a pretty good roster of playmaking weapons to work with.
Andy Hart

Excluding Tom Brady, who I assume is most people's favorite, who is your favorite Patriots player both past and present and why? My favorite player of all time is undoubtedly Tedy Bruschi. He was never the most athletically gifted player but few players on our team matched his football IQ and his tenacity during the game. The way he came back to the game the next season after having a stroke solidified his place amongst the greats in my mind. Currently I would say Edelman because he's probably the most fearless player on the roster and is always putting himself on the line to come up big for the team. Your turn!
Logan Mullins

I have a long list of favorite players both from the current roster and from my years covering the team. In terms of combining skill and personality, right now Rob Gronkowksi would be atop the list. Others from the current roster include Rob Ninkovich and James Develin. Looking back a ways, Logan Mankins was an elite player and a great guy. Just in terms of personality, Tom Ashworth is one of the best to ever come through the locker room. Then, looking back to my youth growing up a Patriots fan, Andre Tippett would be the No. 1 guy. That's only been strengthened by getting to work with him now. Really, though, there is a long list of very good players and good guys who've made their way through New England over the years. But for the here and now, Gronk definitely tops the list.
Andy Hart

Game One ..... Thinking ahead to what the Cardinals are going to do to exploit the new NE look ... if it were me ... I would stack the box & make Jimmy G throw the rock ... What do you think? Can the retooled Scar2 line play smash mouth football yet? (with or without a jumbo package) ... Will play action work when you are stuffed on 1st & 2nd down & staring a 3rd & long??? From a third down conversion point, let's hope the Panthers game was just preseason noise and not an "Inception" moment ... Thoughts?
Mick Maguire

In theory it would be great if the Patriots could run the ball and then establish the rest of the offense off of that in Arizona. But New England doesn't seem to have the horses – either up front or in the backfield – to get that done. For better or worse I think Garoppolo is going to have to throw the ball out of spread sets and run the Patriots usual offense. They will probably be quick, high-percentage throws, but he'll still have to make a lot of them if the Patriots are going to move the ball successfully. And the offense as a whole has to stay away from the mistakes that lead to long-yardage situations. The margin for error is reduced with a first-time starter, there is no question about that. But the historically pass-first Patriots aren't built to really baby Garoppolo in his initial playing time, he's going to have to make throws.
Andy Hart

Hi, Guys. Been a subscriber for almost 20 years. First time writing. Look forward to getting my PFW out here in LA. Went to first Pats game in 1975 with my Dad and brother at Schaefer Stadium when I was 9 years old. Dad was the kind of fan who would drive through a snowstorm to New Hampshire in December to get outside the blackout radius just to see if the Pats would go 3-11 instead of 2-12. Dad passed away just before 9/11 so he missed the Dynasty. He couldn't have dreamed it would ever be this good. Here is my question. Why didn't BB draft or trade for an OT and RB this offseason? These both seemed like thin spits on the roster then, and even more so now with the injuries to Seabass and Dion Lewis. PS - Which roadie do you recommend for this year: Pittsburgh or SF? (Went to Dallas last year and
Razor in 2014 for Bears game with brother)
Anthony Salerno

Most of us so-called experts targeted tackle and running back as two of the Patriots biggest needs this offseason. Belichick did virtually nothing of note to address those situations. Not surprisingly we enter the regular season with those two spots as maybe the biggest areas of concern. Maybe Bishop Sankey will be a revelation at some point, but for now he's simply on the practice squad. Hard to climb into Belichick's brain and figure out his moves or lack thereof. Maybe he thought those positions were deeper than we did. (He does seem to like Cannon more than most.) Maybe he just couldn't find suitable additions at those spots that were good value. But they were thin areas in the spring and have only gotten thinner due to injury now that season is here. As for the best road game to see, it depends on whether you want the better trip or the better game. San Francisco is a cool city and a new stadium but not a very interesting matchup. Pittsburgh could be a battle between the two best teams in the conference and the weather there should still be nice enough relatively early in the season.
Andy Hart

Am I the only one that has an issue with the Pats inking and extension with Freeny while doing nothing to lock in Collins, Hightower or Butler?
Stacy Hanson

Nope. Plenty of fans have brought this up on email and Twitter. It's more of a visual than it is a real issue, though. Clearly the deals for Freeny, and also Matthew Slater, are nowhere near what it will take to keep any of the big three guys. Those three are young, prime-of-career guys likely looking to cash in on their second NFL contract, the time when players are most likely to make the big bucks. Those types of deals aren't easy to do, taking much negotiation and give and take from both sides, even if they both truly want to get it done. Certainly the fact that there has been really no noise or reports regarding deals for the big three has concerned some fans, but these lesser extensions don't really factor into those one way or the other.
Andy Hart

Greetings from Kansas City. Been a Pats fan since I was born out in Mass. and still have tons of family ties back there. Was hoping to get perspective on a more general question. Earlier this summer I remember reading an article on picks for the Pats toughest opponent this season. Have any preseason developments or showings changed your mind? Love the insight you guys provide. Keep up the fantastic work.
Robert Hayes

Nope. I thought the Steelers were the toughest foe back then and I feel the same way today. It's a game at Pittsburgh and Le'Veon Bell will have returned from suspension. Big Ben will be ready. Antonio Brown should be cruising. Playing at Denver also remains a concern, due to location as much as about the Broncos defense, but I can't overlook the fact that the team doesn't really have a starting quarterback. The rest of the expected tough games – Cincinnati, Seattle and Baltimore – take place at Gillette Stadium, which is obviously a huge positive factor for New England.
Andy Hart

You may get this and not get to respond until after the cuts are made, but can the Patriots with their injuries and suspensions really afford to keep 7 or 8 guys whose primary role is special teams? I know the Pats value special teams more than other teams, in terms of roster makeup, but that seems difficult. I have Gostkowski, Cardona, Allen & Slater as certain locks. Then Ebner, King, Grugier-Hill, Grissom & Bolden. I know Bolden has some versatility as a bigger contributor but that's 9 guys!
Cory King

This is a topic of discussion every year as cuts approach. The Patriots put a premium on guys who are major factors in the kicking game, as we've seen with Slater, Bolden, Ebner and others. But it still comes down to a numbers game. This year we found out that Grugier-Hill and Grissom found themselves on the outside looking in at the end of it all. 
Andy Hart

How do you see the Cardinals lining up on us? I know they have arguably the best secondary in the league but how do you guard Gronk, Bennett, Edelman and Hogan all at once?
Robert Miles

This is the challenge that Arizona and defensive coordinator James Bettcher faces, assuming all those guys are healthy. All but Bennett have dealt with injuries this summer. And a lot of what the Cardinals do will be predicated on getting pressure on Garoppolo as much as covering. They love to send five rushers and will probably do so often in the opener. Garoppolo will have to quickly find his open guy and make accurate throws. If he doesn't playmakers like Patrick Peterson, Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu will make him and the Patriots pay.
Andy Hart

Although Kline is a decent guard I think the (rumored) trade for Eric Rowe with the Eagles is just great news! The talent behind Butler is there but I think we were really lucky our secondary managed to stay healthy throughout the season. Eric Rowe is a guy I was interested in during the draft and was a bit disappointed he wasn't drafted by the Patriots. Although it doesn't mean we add a starting CB, Rowe provides versatility and quality depth and has the potential to crack the starting lineup. Besides, we got about a thousand guards so letting Kline go will not be a problem. What do you think?
K.J. Fokkens

This is an interesting trade on a lot of levels. I like Kline, but think he's best suited as a versatile backup rather than a starter at any of the three interior line spots. That said, given injuries on the front to guys like Mason, Cooper and Jackson the depth inside could be tested early in the year. Rowe is a guy that was targeted as a potential Patriot by everyone and his brother leading up to the 2015 draft. I liked him coming out much more as a free safety type than a true cornerback. I like his versatility, but it's scary how fast the second-round pick fell out of favor in Philly, even with a change in the power structure. He's a big body, who Belichick has already said could be a matchup type player for New England. And you are right that he adds clear depth to the back end that got away with almost no depth a year ago at cornerback. Overall, I like the trade. It continues an offseason trend of the Patriots acquiring high picks that the team must have liked coming out of college who have not been able to find success elsewhere.
Andy Hart

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